Books

Poppy’s Recipe for Life – Heidi Swain

I am a huge fan of Heidi Swain’s books and so I was thrilled to be back in Nightingale Square to catch up with all the goings on and see what is happening. The last time I was there, the community garden that had been created by the residents was just in its infancy.

Now the garden and the residents are thriving….as are two incomers.

Poppy has always wanted to live in the square and when she gets the chance, she jumps at it as she will be much nearer the garden and that means she can access to all the freshly grown ingredients to make her pickles and jams and even elderflower cordial.

This peaceful existence though is about to be shattered when she discovers her little brother has been left ‘home alone’ while her mother swans off to Spain. Reluctantly she takes Ryan in and all his sixteen year old hormones and issues. It is not going to be easy to get Ryan to embrace his temporary home and being part of a community. Poppy is nothing if not ready for a challenge even if it isn;t on of her choosing.

The other challenge she faces is her grumpy neighbour Jacob. Recently moved to the area, Jacob is very reluctant to be apart of anything whether it be neighbours, the community and certainly not the garden. He does not seem to trust anyone and won’t anyone get close to him to find out why.

That is until he starts to prove a great help with Poppy’s brother Ryan and it seems perhaps Jacob is just dealing with his past in his own way, just as Ryan is.

When events in the garden leave the whole of Nightingale Square questioning each other as to who they can trust and especially outsiders.

Trust is a major theme in this book and it shows the different ways in which mistrust and trust can manifest itselves, between siblings, between friends and also between neighbours. But what Heidi Swain does do is give you an abundance of love and faith in this and all of her novels no matter which one you pick up.

Something about Heidi’s novels makes me want to move straight in and become involved and if I could meet my own Mr Grumpy and drink elderflower cordial then I think life would be complete. In fact life is complete with any of Heidi Swain’s novels and this latest one is no exception.

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

Poppy’s Recipe for Life is published on 30 May 2019

Books

The House at Hope Corner – Emma Davies

Flora is a free-spirited florist who can see the world in the colour of flowers, plants and the landscape around her. Not only can she create wonderful blooms she can create beautiful drawings and prints.

She can see all of this at Hope Corner in the house she has moved into after a whirlwind romance with Ned, the farmer there. Trouble is the house and the farm is very much Ned’s parents domain, Fraser and Hannah and it is not just Ned, Flora is learning about it is them as well.

Fraser and Hannah are traditional people, almost set in their ways and they are rather taken aback by Flora’s approach to life – not living by a timetable, carved out from years of practice and one that is there for a reason.

Flora has trouble adjusting but they start to find a happy balance until tragedy strikes one day.

The whole equilibrium of Hope Corner, the house, the farm and all their relationships are thrown up in the air.

Emma Davies has captured something between the pages of this book. Whilst there is romance it is almost certainly not the predominant theme. The emotionally charged relationships between them all and the secrets that they are keeping from each other certainly made for sometimes difficult reading.

The characters all had their flaws, some more obvious than others and I was equally enamoured by Flora as I was exasperated by Hannah and wanting to slap Caroline. Ned was perhaps a bit weak, but living in the shadow of his father but more his mother, he needed to break the apron strings and look at the life that Flora was giving him.

Sometimes it needs an outsider to make you see what is wrong with the right way you have been living – that outsider is Flora and she brought a lot of hope to the house, to the farm and to the future.

This is a joyful heartwarming novel which kept my interest all the way through. So much so that I wanted to know more once I had finished and will now have to wait for the next novel.

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

The House at Hope Corner is published on 10 May. 

 

Books · Jottings

April Roundup

April is always a holiday time for me and this year I got a bonus few extra days, which were needed after a particular horrific two weeks preceding my leave. I was at the point when I was not even reading I was so stressed, but luckily I had only a little reading slump and with a rest, I soon found enjoyment again in picking up a book.

Caroline Roberts – Rachel’s Pudding Pantry is a first in a new series of books from this author. I have never read any of her work before but I shall go back and do so. This was a joyous and uplifting book I could not help but be caught right up in the story and the characters.

Another author I know I can rely on is Heidi Swain and her new novel, published at the end of May Poppy’s Recipe for Life takes us back to Nightingale Square and the community garden I would so love to be a part of. I am still one book short of having read all of Heidi’s current oeuvre.

Another author whose books I champion on this blog is Lucinda Riley and as I have received books from her publishers I don’t jump to read them immediately because I know I am going to be so engrossed and what to savour the time. This was no different with The Angel Tree which had been sat on my shelf for a while. Of the joy of holding a book, I so miss it when I am reading on my kindle. This is reissue of a previous novel (I had not read) and was a great book to get lost in, which I did.

I had a real sort out of books and tidied my shelves and having made one concerted effort to read an actual book I decided to attack some more so picked up Gervase Phinn – The School at the Top of the Dale. You cannot go wrong with some gentle Yorkshire humour, Yorkshire weather and the joys of children. This is the first in a new series, I hope there is more.

Less gentle fiction was with Anna Hope – Expectation her latest novel and such a difference to her previous two novel. Wake her debut novel stays with me to this day. This very modern book made me stop and think and wonder about what we all expect from life. Can we always deal with what it throws us?

Bella Osborne – A Walk in Wildflower Park her latest 4 part novella published as whole was again something I was not expecting. It was a story that could have gone many ways and it did but certainly not what I was expecting and was a real move away from perhaps the more gentle women’s fiction that I had come to expect from this author.

Making a dent in the number of books on my actual shelves made we also go through what I have languishing on my kindle. Which is why I decided to start Erica James – The Dandelion Years, an author I have not encountered before and I really don’t know why. This was a lovely story which took me back to Bletchley Park during the Second World War and to a house full of sadness and joy in the present day and the story of books, diaries and lost loves. I will be seeking out some other Erica James if they are all as good as this one.

Sticking with the past is how I ended up with Hazel Gaynor – The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter which told me a fictionalised story of Grace Darling but also a lot more besides. A poignant novel where the actions of one can have reactions for so many more that they live with for a very long time.

Still in Victorian times is how I ended up with Vivian Conroy – Death Comes to Dartmoor a cosy murder mystery novel, the second in the series. Not having read the first one I felt a bit out of touch with the characters but there was something about the book which just didn’t enamour me but I don’t know what it was and I did finish it – I think to see if I could work out who the culprit was more than an interest in anything else.

I am certainly going to start reading more of what I have on my shelf as I have made a real dent in my netgalley list. I have rejected a couple of books this month as well, one because it was not capturing me and then another because it was too upsetting. It was well written and the subject matter was clearly well researched but for me I found it such hard work as it felt I was almost within the pages experiencing it for myself I knew I didn’t have the emotional energy to get to the end of the book. A strange feeling.

As time goes on, I am trying to be more honest about giving up on books which are just not working for me.

So on with May……

Crafts · Jottings · Knitting

Parish Notices

Hello all – what’s been happening round your own little parishes?

April has been a month of reading, resting, Ragdale Hall and spring cleaning. Two weeks off can do that for a girl you know!

I have all these great ideas of blogging about other things and I even hinted as such in my last Parish Notices post – that has yet to come to fruition. I think maybe the lack of access to proper computer and not quite there with blogging on my iPad means I only use the computer blog when I am home with my parents or if I can sneak a few minutes at work to knock up a review or something and then email myself for editing later on.

The other thing that could be stopping me writing these posts is the reading – do check out these recent reviews and recently published books

I found this book such a joyous and uplifting read and showed you that you can diversify when you need to and keep those around you as close as you can – they will love you the most. A great read and if you like your stories, full of cake and countryside then this is a must. Think Countryfile and Mary Berry mixed together!

 

An enjoyable read which has everything you want from women’s fiction – to take you away on holiday, for romance, for laughs and for some wonderful food.

Phillipa Ashley has done it again and she is fast becoming an author you can rely on for great reads.

Then there is the wonder that is Ragdale Hall – one day from the return of one of my visits I will write all about it.

After a lot of clearing out and dusting, I made space again for the jigsaw and also found that the spare room is much better than the living room in terms of light. Many an hour has been lost….

Then there is wool, colour, crochet, knitting and blankets galore!

What has been keeping you occupied in your part of the parish?

 

Books

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry – Caroline Roberts

Three generations of women are living at Primrose Farm, they have lost their husband, father, grandfather and whilst still reeling from the event they are struggling to hold on to everything that is dear to them. Including the farm.

Rachel has taken on the mantle of farmer and not afraid to get her hands dirty or spend sleepless nights with lambing ewes, nothing is a bother even looking after her own small child, Maisie.

Jill, Rachel’s mum is famed for her baking and her pudding, although Rachel is just as good. as she emerges from a stage of grief, Jill takes to making puddings for more than just her family.

A small idea is transformed in a bigger one and when Jill and Rachel take on something on a larger scale it has to work to keep the farm going.

With any of these gentle tales, nothing quite goes to plan and that is what makes it such a lovely story to read, you are drawn right into the story, into the farm, the kitchen and the smells of the baking as you care immediately about all the characters and what happens to them.

Add in a big dollop of romance and all the fresh air of the countryside positively goes to your head. Tom the neighbouring farmer, attractive and still single, who is willing to help with whatever countryside or pudding emergency might be required. Can romance blossom over sticky toffee pudding and sheep? Or will exes, children and misunderstandings get in the way?

I found this book such a joyous and uplifting read and showed you that you can diversify when you need to and keep those around you as close as you can – they will love you the most. A great read and if you like your stories, full of cake and countryside then this is a must. Think Countryfile and Mary Berry mixed together!

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

Rachel’s Pudding Pantry is published on the 18th April. 

 

Books · Jottings

March Roundup

It has been a very odd month reading wise – work has been horrendous in varying measures and I have been so exhausted and stressed by it all I have probably not read as much as I normally do and had a slump of about five days when I just could not get into any book at all.

I felt disheartened, especially when I ploughed on with Judy Leigh – The Age of Misadventure when I perhaps should have given it up. It was an okay book, but nothing about the characters made me warm to any of them and if anything they were quite irritating and the plot meant you needed to suspend reality for a little while. I know some have loved it and will love it but it really was not for me. That will be my extent of my review on netgalley.

I did try to start a number of other books over the month, The Road to Grantchester was one, which I read quite a bit, but I found the war setting at the beginning rather harrowing and put the book down, as I felt it was not helping my mental state. In the end I just went a couple of days without reading.

It all sounds depressing but there was some lovely bright reads amongst my melancholy March!

Sarah Bennett – Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle this is the first in a new series from Sarah Bennett, who I have been reading since her first book was published and you will find her a popular author on this blog. This I think is goign to be the beginning of the best series so far. I am pitching it as Antiques Roadshow meets Downton Abbey – it will bring some much needed sun and warmth into your life. It helped me no end – and I cannot wait to go back to Bluebell Castle.

Of course Cornwall always brings as smile to the soul, even if I have never been and only lived the place vicariously through my reading. Phillipa Ashley – A Perfect Cornish Summer does just that and adds in a food festival to make your mouth water as you read. A perfect read for summer and holidays in fact at anytime!

So from Derbyshire with Sarah to Cornwall with Phillipa I then went to the Cotswolds with Liz and more food after all that travelling. Liz Eeles – New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle treats us to a cup of tea and a cherry tart if you fancy in the cafe situated in a bookshop. What more could a book loving customer want! And we can go back for seconds at the Cosy Kettle when the next book comes out.

The last few years my blog has been dominated by a lot of women’s fiction – I know that is not everyones cup of tea but isn’t that the great thing about reading and books? Something to fit everyone and every mood. Of course I do love a good historical saga and anything set in the past as well which is why some of the books I read are vastly different to the perhaps the majority!

That was the case with this debut novel Georgina Clarke – Death and the Harlot: A Lizzie Hardwicke Novel where I was transported back to the 18th century, to London, to highwaymen, murders and ladies of the night. What an interesting background for a murder mystery and an interesting twist of a sidekick for a detective!

Further forward to the Second World War with Lorna Cook – The Forgotten Village a dual timeline and narrative about a village requisitioned and never returned to its residents. It still lays empty today.

Even further forward to the 1980s and 1990s, as I grow older I realise this is very much the past and history for some! Tracy Buchanan – The Family Secret  a new author to me and one who I will return to. This is a story of mothers, of loss and of secrets that are kept to protect and punish others. Fascinating and gripping!

All of the books read in March are from netgalley requests and I think I need to spend some time reading off my shelves for a while. So many books calling out to me and with two weeks of holiday about to start, there is plenty of time for reading.

Happy April everyone!

Books

Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett

Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle

She wasn’t looking for love…

When Lucie Kennington flees the bright lights of London for the quiet Derbyshire countryside, she’s shocked to discover that the heir to the Bluebell Castle estate is far from the wizened employer she expected.

In fact, Arthur Ludworth might just be the most handsome man Lucie’s ever laid eyes on – and a terrible distraction! So when she stumbles across a legendary painting feared lost for centuries, she can’t believe her luck – perhaps this is the hidden treasure to save Arthur and his family from ruin?

But it’s only a matter of time before Lucie’s past catches up with her and by then it’s too late, she’s falling for him…

Perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley, Rachael Lucas and Hilary Boyd.

MY REVIEW

Lucie is on the run. On the run from something she did not actually do, but in the world of antiques, auction houses and reputation she needs to disappear for a while. Holed up in a castle seems a good as place as any.

But there is work to be done at this castle – answering the job advertisement for a curator to record all the artefacts held within Bluebell Castle. Lucie has visions of Arthur Ludworth the current Baronet as some old relic who is going to be as difficult as he is helpful.

What Lucie does not realise is she is about to walk into something out of an Arthurian Legend.

Arthur Ludworth, eldest of triplets by minutes is left the legacy of Bluebell Castle and all the bad investments and therefore debts that his father left behind. He knows that he needs to capture the idea of perhaps opening up his home to cash in on the Castle’s history as well as its artefacts, but there is also talk of a missing painting which might explain the obsession that all Ludworths have had with Arthur, Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table.

Lucie finds herself enthralled by the story of the legend, the artefacts in the castle, the diaries and Arthur Ludworth certainly not an old relic but one who is distractingly handsome.

Will the missing painting remain a legend?

Will Lucie’s past catch up with her?

Will Bluebell Castle survive the debts, the intrigued and the new love burgeoning within its walls?

Not up for me to tell you – go and read this wonderful new novel in the first of a new series from Sarah Bennett.

It has everything that I could possibly want from a really good story; romance, mystery, history, a castle and even a Butler! If all or any of these things, fascinate you then read the book, it will bring joy to you in abundance.

It is like the Antiques Roadshow meets Downton Abbey and I am totally in love with it! Sarah Bennett has done it again and I think this is going to be her best series to date.

 

Thank you to the author, netgalley and Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to read this book and be part of the Blog Tour. 

Great news to – we are going to return to Bluebell Castle later in the year!

In the meantime you can buy Spring Skies Over Bluebell Castle on

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

Apple

Kobo

Who is Sarah Bennett?

Sarah Bennett has been reading for as long as she can remember. Raised in a family of bookworms, her love affair with books of all genres has culminated in the ultimate Happy Ever After – getting to write her own stories to share with others.

Born and raised in a military family, she is happily married to her own Officer (who is sometimes even A Gentleman). Home is wherever he lays his hat, and life has taught them both that the best family is the one you create from friends as well as relatives.

When not reading or writing, Sarah is a devotee of afternoon naps and sailing the high seas, but only on vessels large enough to accommodate a casino and a choice of restaurants.

Sarah is the author of the Butterfly Cove, Lavender Bay and the forthcoming Bluebell Castle trilogies, published by HQ Digital UK.

Find Sarah on Social Media:

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Amazon Author Page