Books

The Little Village of Happiness – Holly Martin

Willow needs to start again with her life and what better place than somewher called Happiness.

The little village in Cornwall needs people and in return for a years free rent for both accommodation and shop, Willow sees it as the perfect opportunity to escape from the gossip of her town and to lick her wounds from being dumped the day after getting engaged.

However, Happiness is not all it seems.

The advertisement was far from the truth, crumbling cottages, unkempt gardens and not a very friendly atmosphere. But despite the breathtaking scenery there is a small glimmer of happiness – Andrew, the estate manager.

Willow is not looking for that sort of happiness but it seems the connection between herself and Andrew cannot be denied. When an idea to spread some more happiness through the villagers gathers momentum so does Willow and Andrew’s relationship.

But whilst Willow is falling into life in the village, spreading happiness and enjoying her time with Andrew. She feels that he is holding something back.

This is great story of upping sticks and starting again and making a whole new life for yourself. I fell in love with Andrew as much as I enjoyed Willow’s little eccentricities on how she can make the village more welcoming and give everyone a sense of community. Something I think which is lacking considerably in today’s society.

I could escape completely within the pages of the book. The characters made me laugh and cry – they also made me cross with their actions too! This books isn’t just full of light fluffy romance, there are some interesting issues dealt with sensitively and they made the plot so much richer and thoughtful.

I would gladly have decamped to the village of Happiness in my own cottage, I think I would have opened a book shop or a craft shop and if I could have found my own Andrew I would have truly found contentment.

A five star read.

Thank you to the author who kindly provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review. I have received nothing in return and the only thing I give is the recommendation to read this book. 

The Little Village of Happiness is out now.

Books · Jottings

June Roundup

Of course now we are into July you can start posting your Six in Six posts. If you don’t know what I am on about please check out the link here and share what has been good and not so good in the last 6 months.

I packed a lot into the month of June, mainly because we have had some awful rainy days where there is nothing better than curling up with a book but also some blistering hot days when it is too hot to do anything apart from read and cool down with a gin and tonic.

Of course when you read it can be summer all the time and this month was certainly in terms of reading.

I caught up with Liz Eeles – A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle, nothing better than a browse in a bookshop and a strawberry cake for a treat as well. I hope all is still well at the Cosy Kettle.

Not everyone has access to bookshops so the bookshop can come to them it turns out in Jenny Colgan – The Bookshop on the Shore revisiting characters I had not met but a wonderful story which means I need to catch up in what goes on in Scotland.

Scotland happened to be a frequent place for me this month. I was beyond excited to catch up with the villagers of Heartcross in Christie Barlow – Foxglove Farm and even more excited that there will be another book. I don’t get out much!

I embraced Kirsty Wark – The House on the Loch which was a story of a family where tragedy creates a place to stay and the past is clearly affecting the present. Fascinating and well written, I need to read Wark’s debut novel this being the ‘difficult’ second novel.

Then within a page or two I can be transported down to Somerset in Veronica Henry – A Home from Home more family differences and secrets to be discovered.

Somerset is the perfect stop on the way to Cornwall which is where I ended up with Holly Martin – The Little Village of Happiness the premise an intriguing one – come and stay in the village of Happiness for a year with your own house and shop for free. Some people need to work at their happiness.

Of course you can go abroad for the summer to find out the answers to some questions and find your own happiness as well, Italy seems a popular place. Alex Brown – A Postcard from Italy a mix of modern and historical fiction in a change from what you would expect from Alex Brown. Though the glorious village of Tindledale is mentioned as it is in the little short story as well Alex Brown – The Great Summer Sewing Bee.

Some people see festivals as their holiday time and interspersed with weddings they can also make a summer. Annie Robertson – Four Weddings and a Festival takes you there in what I can only describe as a love letter of a book to Richard Curtis films and Hugh Grant!

But even if it is not all romance and weddings, festivals and farms it can still be very much families as it was in Agatha Christie – Dumb Witness. Another one to tick off my list and realise the brilliance of the writing and the plot.

What has you start to summer been like?

Books

A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle – Liz Eeles

I am back in the Cosy Kettle for another cup of tea and a piece of cake and to catch up with the villagers of Honeyford.

In this second in the series, the main storyline features Flora, the owner of the Cosy Kettle and Bookshop in Honeyford who we met in the first book and was a characters who I thought was very reserved and quiet but I wasn’t sure why.

Now having met more of her husband, Malcolm and realised what you thought about him in book one is true and when Flora discovers his infidelity she suddenly realises that perhaps something is missing in her life. She has always been under someone else’s shadow and it is time for her to step into the light.

As she does, Flora becomes even more involved in village life, but after years of knowns the unknown seems very frightening and it be easier if she slipped back into her old life.

However, Honeyford, the book ship and the cosy kettle have other ideas for Flora.

Taken in by Luna, who runs the mystical shop, Flora embraces a different way of living and also has to share the house with Luna’s widowed son Daniel and his son, Caleb.

Getting involved in summer celebrations, Flora throws herself into hosting a famous author, a baking competition as well as trying to make a decisions about her husband means that Flora has a lot goign on.

But when she returns to Luna’s home, she can see the simplicity of nature and that all around her and she perhaps needs to make a change in her life to be able to move on.

Is Flora going to make the right change?

Another satisfying read and with the right amount of well developed secondary characters, Becca the manager of the Cosy Kettle, Knackered Mary, unlikely friends Millicent and Marigold, Callie (prominent in the first book), her eccentric grandfather Stanley still making his hilarious mark as well as some sumptuous descriptions of cakes and you have all you could want from a book.

Great for a light summer read!

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

A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle is published on 1 July. 

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?