Books

The Cornish Cream Tea Summer – Cressida McLaughlin

I wanted a second book, a sequel, a follow on to the Cornish Cream Tea Bus and I have got it in abundance with story.

Charlie now settled into her way of life in Cornwall serving the best cream teas in the area and with the added bonus of being able to also provide tours of the local area as you drink in not just the views but the tea as well.

Of course nothing runs smoothly and when Charlie’s cousin, Delilah descends on to Porthoglow and straight into life with Charlie and life on the bus it seems that the perfect existence might be a but unsettled for a while.

Delilah is running from something, but it seems to follow her all the time. Delilah likes to become all consuming involved in things and when she signs up the Cornish Cream Tea Bus to be part of on site catering for a new period drama then there is bound to be a few issues. Especially when she doesn’t check with Charlie first!

But Charlie gives her a chance and along with her rather interesting coffee concoctions, she feels safe to leave Delilah alone on the bus whilst she goes away.

Surely nothing can go wrong?

In the midst of he glitz and the glamour of working on a tv set, it seems Delilah has had her head turned and she may have inadvertently found her niche in life where she was least expecting it.

What she also didn’t expect to find was love?

These things don’t happen to Delilah it will all end in disaster, so Delilah needs to react quickly. Are her actions the right ones and can she really find the thing she has been hiding from all these years?

This is another mouth watering tale from Cressida who writes such honest and warm books filled with delightful characters and delicious food. There has to be more to tell from this bus and the lovely characters created in this and the first novel and I am thrilled that there is to be a sequel.

 

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Cornish Cream Tea Summer is out now. 

 

Books

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts – Jennifer Joyce

Maddie Lamington is running a teashop having poured all her energy and money into setting it up, to take the focus of some life changing events that has happened to her. She enjoys the early starts and no doubt with a name like Lamington she is going to be good at baking!

Along with help Mags and budding pop star Victoria they are just about keeping their heads above the water. The teashop may well be in a little parade of shops but it is off the main high street and event heir neighbours are walking to the big branded coffee shops to get their daily fix.

Maddie needs to do something and fast. When she sees her lonely dad still pining after her mum, since their divorce suddenly get chatting to regular customer, Birdie over apple crumble. Maddie has an idea.

Speed dating but with cake.

Along with help from Mags, the regular customers that Maddie has managed to attract to the teashop as well as Birdie’s good-looking grandson, Caleb, her man obsessed friend Nicky and her Dad she tries out her theory. It works.

That is when the hard work starts, she needs to now make these regular feature and fast. Everyone pulls together and whilst they are working on introducing people to the possibility of romance, it seems that some is already starting and it doesn’t need any help from some cake either.

With all good romances there is always plenty of misunderstandings and some of the made me laugh out loud, especially when Maddie gets her words all the wrong way round and she is certainly not going to live that down. All of the characters have a story to tell and it forms part of the bigger story and they are all dealt with in equal measure and the book ends with for me all the ends nicely tied up and finished.

I read quite a few books so far this year which have had teashops as part of their storyline and this is one of the better ones. A great read for an afternoon with a large mug of tea and of course a large piece of cake!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book. 

The Little Teashop of Broken Hearts is out now.

Jottings · Witterings

Sneezing Sunday Snippets

It has been a while and I have not posted anything or had anything scheduled to post on the blog for a week – due to a combination of work, exhaustion and not enough reviews being written!

I thought I would pop in and say I am here;

Sneezing  – Hay Fever seems to be on us already and I foolishly drove home the other day with the windows of car open because it was too hot! I really should know better!

Eating – Sneezing makes me eat more, I am sure, in fact I know it does. Diet needs to be reigned back in, but I enjoy baking so much…..

Reading –  I have been honest gov’. It is just the reviews which seem to have been put off. I have read some good stuff as well.

Circuiting – (not sure if that is an allowable word) but I have embraced this exercise class wholeheartedly, my body seems to be taking a lot longer to enjoy it.

Watching – not very much. I am much intrigued by the move of Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans to presenter of Top Gear. The vitriol that has poured forth about this man is unspeakable. We may not all agree but out-and-out threats seem rather childish. One tweet to @chrisevans read simply. “DIE”. His response, “well I expect so eventually”. I think that sums it all up.

Thinking – I am being encouraged from outside sources to write something. Not sure what it will be but I am probably thinking initially of an article and see where it may lead me. Any thoughts of how you get an article published would be gratefully received.

Cuddling – there is a new addition to my family that will arrive in a few weeks time permanently, but in the meantime, weekly catch ups are a joy. I will post more about it soon.

Now I am off to write some reviews…..I promise.

 

Jottings

Sunny Sunday Snippets

Playing – Bingo! It’s all electronic now at the bingo hall, no more dibbers! To be honest I thought it would not be as much fun, but it does a lot of it for you and also shows you when you are close to getting a line, two line, full house. Much fun and a couple of wins in our little group.

Eating – differently and it seems to be working. The numbers are going down.

Missing – Poldark. Sunday Nights are suddenly poorer. More about that soon.

Baking – within the space of the last three weeks I have baked three cakes, 2 Guinness and a new recipe for me, Blueberry and Sour Cream loaf.

IMG_0723
Remainder of Guinness Cake

 

Scheduling – I have read some pretty fine books in recent weeks and you may have missed all about them. So I need to start scheduling some tweets so folk can find them again.

Feeling – slightly warmer, the windows are being left open rather than being shut at night. But the wind is still whistling.

Remembering – 70 years ago this week. VE Day and all those who lost loved ones during the whole conflict.

Voting – Thank goodness that is over. 2020 seems aeons away!

Books

A Piece of Cake – Trisha Ashley

You can probably review this very short story in one or two sentences. Many other reviewers before me have done so.

Kate a Wedding Cake maker is asked to make the cake for best friend, Laura who is marrying a well known footballer. Trouble is the best man another footballer seems to have the misfortune to be in the way of the cake. At a previous encounter with Kate and her cakes, he was right in the centre of it.  All Laura wants is to bring two people together, it seems Kate has other ideas.

The story is a good indication of the type of writing that Trisha Ashley is known for. However short the story, this exclusive on kindle is really about teasing you with quite a few pages from her new novel out in 2015. I for one, dislike the first chapter or chapters at the end of books and never read them, especially when you have to wait so long before you actually get to read the whole thing. It is like being given a chocolate bar, allowed to unwrap it and then told you cannot eat it!

I am sure those who buy these exclusives do so because they are fans of the author and therefore would buy the new book anyway, regardless of a few teaser chapters. I feel it is all a bit of a con. I am more than happy to read short stories by some of my favourite authors but I feel in this case I have been conned out of 99p.

 

 

Cooking

Anyone for Coffee?

I was in a baking mood again and lunch across at my friend and neighbours meant that if I baked I had an excuse and I would not eat it all myself!

Coffee and Walnut cake kept going round in my head, so it was that which I was going to make. I have made it many times, but wondered how it would work as a tray bake type of cake instead of a round sandwich type. Only one way to find out I suppose…..

It also gave me an excuse for using again my new Mary Berry Traybake tin, with markers for cutting which I bought from Lakeland last month. I have just realised I christened it with low fat chocolate brownies and I never even photographed them let alone write about them!

So using my 6 or everything method. (mentioned more in depth here) Obviously for the coffee element, I put a couple of teaspoons of decent coffee in a cup and poured a little boiling water on to make it liquid but obviously extremely strong and not meant to be drunk. I added this a bit at a time, until I felt that the mixture was the right colour, (there may have been a little bit of tasting). Then the walnuts, just broken up, scattered and folded in until I felt there was enough. As you can see no measuring with these things.

Then in the tray and in the oven and bake until skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool and then decorate.

I chose to stick to the buttercream icing and again added coffee in to taste. I used a different nozzle on my icing syringe this time and the end result was this…..

Coffee Cake Tray Bake

What would I do different – well the only thing is, I think make more of the mixture – 8 of everything instead of 6. There was not enough for a good even spread throughout the tin. And I need to practice ny icing a bit more, but this only about the 5th time of trying and I am not really trying to impress anyone, just enjoy the process.

The tin makes 12 and I know there are 9 in the picture but well you have to taste test – don’t you?

So what next, I am thinking perhaps some biscuits – so will look out a suitable recipe.

 

Books

Cherry Cheesecake Murder – Joanne Fluke

Hannah is back in Lake Eden at The Cookie Jar and when we last left her she had to make a decision between the dentist, Norman and the sheriff, Mike. Which one is she going to choose and will it be the right one, and what will happen to the man who is turned down?

Nothing, because somehow as sweet as the cookies that she makes she agrees to both and neither all at the same time. Quite an achievement. And just when she thinks everything is back on an even keel, another admirer pops into town.

A film crew is in town and the man helping it all happen is an old friend of Hannah’s. Everyone is excited, everyone is going to get to be in the film and Hannah finds herself with the task of making cherry cheesecake to placate the rather irate and cantankerous director every day. Apparently the right cheesecake will make everyone’s lives easier.

But if you know Hannah, then a body is not far away, and in fact she is not on her own when it is discovered as there is a whole room full of people who witness the death.

Was it suicide, it an accident or was it deliberate? Only one way to find out is to leave it to Mike the sheriff of course. Well that’s what Hannah tells him, in the meantime she uses her baked goods to gain further information.

And so as all things that happen in Lake Eden, we are delighted with recipes for more lovely tasting things that are no good for us I am sure but also how Hannah comes to the right conclusion and will she catch the man or woman who committed murder right in front of everyone. But will she ever make her mind up about Mike and Norman?

The business of who Hannah is going to choose is starting to wear a bit thin. Although I went straight on and read the next book in the series, I am wandering if she ever makes her mind up? This was quite a strong story compared to some of the previous novels, it builds up to something as opposed to being an instant murder near the beginning of the book. 

These are pure cosy crime books – and recommended if you want to read but know that your brain perhaps cannot cope with anything too deep or complicated. They could even be my guilty read, if a thing should ever exist! 

Books

Peach Cobbler Murder – Joanne Fluke

Hannah Swensen is back in Lake Eden and her business is starting to struggle, as a bakery opens up across from her in town and all the locals seem to be over there, doing research and checking out the opposition. Apparently the amount of offers, free baked goods and wonderful Peach Cobbler that are going out mean that the Magnolia Blossom Bakery is busy and Hannah’s Cookie Jar is not.

To add salt to this business wound, is the fact that the owner is Shawna Lee, a rival in the affections of one of Hannah’s beaus, Mike Kingston. Hannah is trying to remain outside of this jealous bubble that seems to be created every time she sees Mike and Shawna together, and when they both don’t turn up for Lisa and Herb’s wedding, Hannah tries not to think the worst.

But then when she sees the lights on at the Magnolia Blossom Bakery after the wedding reception, she decides that perhaps she needs to find out the truth. But what she does find is not pleasant, and Shawna is not a threat any more. But someone else must be and Hannah knows that her jealousy makes her a potential suspect so she needs to clear her name.

Along with the help of her ever efficient sister Andrea and her ultimately nosey mother Delores who seems to have problems of her own that both women have to deal with as well as trying to find the culprit of yet another murder in Lake Eden.

A typical Hannah Swensen book which is ideal for  those who want a cosy read with a sprinkling of crime and spot of cooking along the way.

I have no idea why these books appeal to me, but when I have had a particularly taxing time at work or been reading a book which remains with you so much, these are ideal for a light diversion. In fact I have forgotten who in fact committed the murder, but that bit is really no relevant as when you pick up the next one, you just get stuck right into the goings on of the Lake Eden residents. My only wish, is that Hannah makes her mind up about Norman or Mike soon, it is just not fair on them or us! 

Books

Wedding Tiers – Trisha Ashley

Friendships that start at school can last a lifetime. That is the case for Josie and Libby. Thrown together when Josie having lost both her parents has to start at a new school now she lives with her Granny in a cottage in Neatslake, Lancashire. It is up to Libby to show her round and befriend her. Then they probably did not realise how life was going to turn out for them both. But friendships like theirs never dies.

Some years later Libby returns to the village she never thought she would, with two marriages behind her which left her very comfortably off and one rather sulky teenager daughter, she falls head over heels with a man who is selling the crumbling house she always wanted to live in. Can she now save this house and find happiness back there?

Josie, has never left she has become part of the village and village life. The cottage becoming hers when her Granny dies. She continues to plant, weed and harvest in her garden. Her products are turned into cakes, pies, jams and some particularly lethal pea pod wine. On the side she makes the most magnificent and rather eclectic quirky wedding cakes. Then she spends her time writing wry observations about her almost self sufficient life for an online magazine. Which also chronicles her time with the Artist. Ben is his name and he has been a part of Josie’s life since she arrived in the village.

What more could these two women want? Well actually it is not a case of what they want but what others want and what develops is a true Trisha Ashley story where everyone pitches in to help with the latest project, in this case Libby’s new business adventure. Then when Josie’s life is turned upside down, she suddenly sees what she may have been missing since living in Neatslake and not venturing really any further than the end of her garden.

In fact the book is so rich in content, like Josie’s produce that it is far too easy to give something away unintentionally. All I will say is, if you are looking for a novel that has it all, life’s ups and down’s, romance, cooking, quirky individuals and where dreams come true through sheer hard work then you can do no wrong in picking up this novel. It is a really chunky novel at over 350 pages and for that you are getting so much! Enjoy.

I am starting to run out of Trisha’s books to read. I have A Winter’s Tale on my shelf which precedes this novel and I am looking forward to dedicating a weekend in the winter to read that. Tea and cake at the ready! 

After that I am going to have to seek out the rest of her novels that remain unread. They are a great tonic.

I recently interviewed Trisha on this blog and if you missed out on that then please go back and have a look here and find out more about one of my favourite authors! 

Books

Interview – Trisha Ashley

Like I seem to do I  have come quite late to Trisha Ashley novels, reading my first The Twelve Days of Christmas in December 2010 and then onto Chocolate Wishes and The Magic of Christmas in 2011. 2012 so far has brought me Sowing Secrets and her latest novel Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues. I am ready charged with two more in paperback and on kindle so I think by the time the next Trisha Ashley novel is published I could be well caught up!

In the meantime, I thought I would perhaps ask Trisha a few questions about herself, writing and books in general so without further ado it is over to Trisha

Trisha Ashley (Website)

Tell us about yourself.

  I think the foreword to my quarterly newsletter says it all:

The plot so far: Except when she is occasionally let out to enjoy a couple of days of frenetic partying in London, or to give a talk, Trisha lives in beautiful North Wales, together with the neurotic Border Collie foisted onto her by her student son and an equally neurotic but also vain, bad-tempered and chancy Muse.  Muse, whose first name is Lucifer, slipped into her head and took up residence while she was reading Paradise Lost at school and refuses to leave.  He is male, steely-blue, wears a lot of leather, is winged, has talons (so that’s where her blue nail varnish went, then) and is devilishly handsome, if you like that kind of thing.  He only eats words, but gets through a lot of Leather Food and Trisha is starting to suspect that he does more with it than just rub it into his wings…

If you were not an author, what would you be or like to be?

I can’t imagine not being an author and I have been published since the early eighties…off and on.  I have also always been a painter and I would be someone else if you removed those elements.   Of course, I have held many diverse jobs over the years to support my writing, from lead light making to working in a National Trust stately home and also done manuscript critiques for various agencies for over twenty years.

Do you have any tips for budding authors?

Get on with it: if you are a writer, you write and, as Rose Tremain said, life is not a dress rehearsal.  If you are totally at a loss how to start, then read Natalie Goldberg’s book called Writing Down the Bones.  If you want to know what the reality of the journey to publication is like, then Stephen King’s book On Writing tells it like it is.

Why did you want to return to Sticklepond in your latest novel Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues?

I wanted to see what the characters from A Winter’s Tale (Jo – Ooo I did not realise this was a Sticklepond book) and Chocolate Wishes were doing.

 Do you think you will return there again in some future books?

My new book, which I am currently writing, is also set in Sticklepond.  After that, I am going to go and revisit one of the other villages.

I absolutely wanted to scream at Tansy’s two stepsisters – were they easy characters to write about?  Are there any characters from this book or others that are more difficult to write about?

Writing ‘bad’ characters is very enjoyable, though often they do have some redeeming features, or the possibility of change.  In one or two of my books where the heroine is in a difficult marriage, readers often ask me why she puts up with her awful husband: but of course he was not horrible when they fell in love and married.  Change takes place gradually  over several years, so it takes some sudden event or disclosure to make the heroine step back and perceive what has been happening.

You have written a couple of Christmas themed books which really get me in the mood for Christmas.  Do you write them in the middle of summer or in the depths of winter?

Always in the spring and summer: I am playing carols and baking mince pies while the visitors are out there on the beach.

Do you have any say about the covers of your books?

No, though I do see it in its final stages.  I am very lucky that my publishers (Avon HarperCollins) have used the same very talented illustrator for all my covers.

Recipes feature heavily in your books, so much so that I want to get up in the night and start cooking!  Do you have a particular favourite recipe?  And in terms of writing – what comes first, the book and the recipes fit in or the book has to fit around the recipes.

The recipes are incidental to the books – I just add those for one or two of the things my heroine has been cooking up or brewing.  The Meddyg in Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues was a fairly important element, though.  The fruit cake recipe is a favourite because it is no-fail: the worst thing that can happen is the edges get a bit too brown, or the fruit will sink to the bottom, and it will still taste wonderful.

Is there a genre of novel that you wish you could write about but currently don’t?

In a few of my novels the heroine is an author in a different genre – for instance, in Singled Out, she writes horror novels, while the heroine of  my Regency romance, Lord Rayven’s Revenge, is a Gothic novelist.  There are pieces from the novels they are writing in both books, so I have actually plotted and part written a few novels in other genres.  Maybe I will write them in full, one of these days…

What novels have your really tried to read but just cannot get into and therefore remain sadly unread?

Lots – though I am not sad about it.  I read a few chapters and if it isn’t grabbing me, then I go and find something that does.

Do you plan your books and know exactly what is going to happen or do you just start off and see where the characters take you?

I am character driven and the novel unfolds before me as I write.  This is not to say that I am unaware of the themes, symbolism and plotlines as they appear, which form the warp to my weft, and which will be brought out more clearly in the second draft.

How do you cope with ‘bad’ reviews or do you simply not read them?

Not everyone is going to like your book, and usually they will loathe the elements that the ones who do love your book like best.  Nasty reviews are upsetting, but it is my readers whose opinions are important and they are going to make their own minds up.

I do think that Amazon reviewers should only be allowed to review under their own names, ( Jo – totally agree) though, which would go some way to cutting out the ones who like to say horrible (and generally untrue) things about an author’s work because they get some kind of kick out of it.  Then there are the ones who say how awful a book is and then put in a link to their own/a friend’s book, saying it is much better!

I collect some of my worst Amazon reviews (Jo – Will pop back and check my reviews!) to read out when I’m giving a talk, because they are unintentionally very funny: I am a firm believer in composting my life and growing something fresh from it.

A popular question at the moment: do you think the eReader and paper books can survive quite happily together?

I have discovered that most of my readers buy both the Kindle and paperbacks of my books, though some say they are not going to open the paperbacks, just keep them in pristine condition on the shelves!   I do think the paperback will survive, since many people will want a ‘real’ copy of their favourite authors as well as a kindle one.  I think what would be a good idea is if bookshops stocked the paperbacks with the Kindle download together as a package: I’m sure this could be done.

And what is next for Trisha Ashley?

I moved house at the end of last year on the day a novel was due to be delivered and have been constantly working since, so it would be pleasant to finally finish unpacking and sorting the house out.  I am currently writing a new novel for late next year but also looking forward to the re-publication of Good Husband Material in March, which has long been out of print.

Thank you very much Trisha for taking the time to answer my questions.

Trisha’s website can be found here

Facebook Page

Twitter @trishashley