I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review Jessica Redland’s latest book, Healing Hearts at Bumblebee Barn. I must admit, it was a surprise that Fizz from the Hedgehog Hollow series (you simply must read the series, if you haven’t already) turned up – but it was a lovely surprise and I immediately felt as though I was among friends. Barney simply had to be a decent guy, if related to Fizz and I instantly warmed to Amber and her family too.
If I was thrilled at Fizz’s part in the book – well – words alone cannot really convey my excitement at Samantha and her hedgehog rescue centre being involved in this book!
Amber was just the perfect Sister to Sophie, and I so wanted get to be lucky in love – but was Dan really the man for her? In fact I loved Amber’s whole family – such a wonderful, tight unit, within which anyone would surely feel loved. But what on earth had happened to Sophie when she was younger? Barney was an equally loveable character, but I was left in no doubt as to who would be the best love match for him!
Jessica Redland got just the right balance between introducing us readers to a new series of books, and giving us a few snippets from a previous series, and I am sure that this series will prove just as popular as her last series. I am very much looking forward to reading about Amber’s TV series about wildlife rescue centres!
I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review this latest book by Daisy James and I quickly warmed to its characters, but oh how I felt for them after the fire, and poor Tilly had yet more trauma to endure – it wasn’t surprising that she jumped at the opportunity to go and help out at her Sister’s Tuscan Teashop – surely anything, to get away! As for her erstwhile ex Josh – let him rot in his own Instagram mire!
The gorgeous Matteo is surely enough to make anyone feel better – he certainly helped to lift my January blues! How could Tilly not succumb to his manly whiles, although she was going to certainly be kept busy, preparing for the cafe’s entry to the San Vincente’s food festival, going up against the obnoxious blaggard, Rocco.
How was Tilly going to cope, working in the tea and cake industry, when she had an extreme dislike for both, all the while dealing with the disaster that is Eduardo? I could only hope that Matteo would ease the pain somehow, in my perceived panacean role for him!
I loved Tilly – she was a solid, honest character with immense likability. I also loved the location for most of the book and found myself happily enveloped in the sights, sounds and smells of Tuscany. Like Tilly, I prefer coffee to tea, but at even found my mouth watering at the descriptions of some of the teas. Saliva are us!
But who is trying to undermine Tilly’s success in the teashop? Can she overcome the efforts of her nemesis?
You will have to read on for yourself to find out?
To say that I was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to review Maddie Please’s latest book, would be a gross understatement, as I always so enjoy her books.
I immediately warmed to our Heroine, Elin, loving her take on life in airports to start with. ‘Go through those gates and anything could be possible’. What a wonderful outlook on life and living. Elin had quite rightly been rewarded with a hefty bequest from an elderly friend that she had cared for, with the condition that she must use some of the money for travel – what better way for Elin to live life a little, after her divorce. Incidentally, I was really taken by the title of the book, and it’s more literal meaning – about a group of older people getting together and travelling together (how much actual surfing takes place, is anyone’s guess), as opposed to the more modern assumption that we are talking about grey haired folk ‘surfing’ the internet. How utterly refreshing! Above all, as with the other Maddie Please books I have read, I was overwhelmed at the fact that our Heroine, Elin was not the stereotypical ‘twirty-something’ star.
Tom, Elin’s ex Husband was incredibly shallow and needy, downright needy and unpleasant despite having a new, younger Wife, and I thought that Elin deserved a medal for the patient way that she dealt with him despite him being the kind of man who acted as though he was the only person on earth who had ever had a newborn baby in the house! I mean really – babies cry, need need nappy changes and don’t seem to sleep an awful lot; get used to it! Elin’s Son, Dan may have inherited some of His Father’s neediness, with his washing?! However this book left me entertained from start to finish. I must confess to laughing out loud at the lasagne conversation! ‘Daily Mail’ sad faces also gave me a fit of the giggles; and as for the New Forest Hen party……..just a few of the countless LOL moments!
There were also some poignant moments, in the book that made me feels rather sad, such as the elapsed time since Elin had actually seen her Australian family, and the way that Tom had, over time, eroded at her self belief. The way that he had instilled such self-doubt in her was terrible – tantamount to domestic abuse really. I loved the way that Elin enjoyed her long flight, with nobody to answer to and I could truly empathise with her particular enjoyment of any kind of meal that she had no part in preparing, cooking or clearing up after! As for being without Tom, it really tickled me that Elin loved it when she tried surfing – her enjoyment exacerbated when she thought about how badly Tom would have reacted to her enjoying herself! I laughed, but deep down, what a potentially devastating reaction from Tom. Elin really was so much better off without Tom in her life – and the sooner he could stop trying to contact her so frequently, as though she owed him some kind of favour, the better; his behaviour since the divorce was, quite frankly, outrageous.
I found myself kind of overwhelmed at Elin’s joy at seizing the opportunities to try new things, such as changing her wardrobe and driving her Aunt and Uncle’s camper van. I just found myself wanting to share even a tiny bit of Elin’s elation, such was her obvious thrill. I did laugh though, once she was ensconced in the camper van, at Elin’s thoughts about a place called civilisation, where toilet cassettes neither exist nor need attention! Elin’s ‘quickest route possible’ camper van trip, swiftly became a more scenic tour – could she possibly be falling for Kitt’s charm? My only concern was that he seemed too good to be true; how many genuinely available men of his calibre were available at his age? Could Kit really be the antithesis of Elin’s ex, Tom?
Once in Australia, I was blown away by the way that Rowan’s partner Shane’s face lit up when Rowan came into the room. Surely we all deserve to have someone in our lives to react like that when they set eyes on us!? As for Kit – what a pleasant surprise – or was it? ‘Will the real Kit Pascoe please stand up’! I kept on having to remind myself that this was just a book, but regardless I spent an inordinate amount of time willing the charming Kit on the plane to be the ’real deal’. Kit’s true personality was one of my big questions from this book – was he a good guy, or a money grabbing miserable so and so! Oh I did so hope for the former!
This comment is totally out of context on every level, but I do feel compelled, reader, to let you know that thanks to this book and Mr Google, I now know what a ‘Brush Turkey’ looks like, and indeed that it is a genuine species!
Elin’s holiday wardrobe seemed to reflect how she felt about herself – full of dull boring clothes that fit, as opposed to her loving them. I liked the idea of her filling her life with vibrant, fun things to wear, with this seeping out into her life in general. It was as though her first night back in Australia barbecue gave her an insight into how much fun her life could be, after so many years of living in the shadow of a grey, boring, controlling man, without even realising it.
However Elin felt about Kit, he most certainly seemed to be everything that Tom was not, and on their travels together, Elin was seeing more and more of the charming Kit she had first met; indeed the more we learn about him and his frustratingly lazy Brother, Shane, the more I think we can start to understand why he is so prone to grumpiness, especially concerning business matters with Shane.
As Elin and Kit drive slowly back to real life, they need to consider what that ‘real life’ will look like? Whilst she might be ecstatic to be living in a different country to Ex Husband Tom, how does Elin feel about living on a different continent to her Son, even if initially his only worry about her going to be in Australia, seemed to be how to get his washing done.
This is a wonderful story about rediscovering one’s self worth, having had it rather neatly, unceremoniously trampled into the ground for the last 30 years or so, hopefully proving that it’s never too late.
But are the sunny skies of Australia the catalyst for this rediscovery?
Could Elin continue as her new self back in the UK?
Would some kind of distant relationship work with frequent flyer Kit?
Can Elin cope with living in a different continent to her gorgeous but older (and potentially more unwell due to the that age) relatives again, now that’s she has rediscovered them and spent time with them and their ‘Silver Surfer’ friends?
Is what Shane is saying about Kit still true?
Skye rocks! She was marvellous at dealing with Tom!
Is Kit who he really seems? His reasons for going on the trip might have been true at the time, but surely his feelings have changed now? I think that I know who I would trust most, out of Kit and Shane; Shane seems hellbent on causing trouble for others, especially his Brother, and I wasn’t convinced that he was faithful to anything or anyone other than the ocean’s surf.
Who is Sukie, and will she please withdraw her talons from Kit!?
Can Elin stand up to herself against newly single Tom?
You really must read this fantastic life affirming book for yourself to have some laughs and find out the answers to these questions and many more. You will not be disappointed – apart from when the book ends!
I was very much looking forward to reading this book, having thoroughly enjoyed all the books by Helen Rolfe that I have read before.
The Inglenook Inn immediately sounded idyllic, and I found myself desperately wanting to stay there, especially under the care of Rupert! Rupert seemed a lovely chap, to whom I warmed immediately. His obvious love for his family and more pertinently his Sister Natalie was a joy to behold, but it seemed to me that he was missing something in his life. Could this slot be filled by Katy, or do they both have too much going on in their respective lives? Natalie is certainly taking up a lot of his time, and not really in a good way.
I felt for Katy and thought she dealt with her family circumstances in a most admirable manner, and she seemed the perfect fit for the Inglenook Inn. She did however seem to struggle with the idea of her Father remarrying. As for the past, she seemed to be harbouring a secret – but I had no clue as to what Katy might be hiding, and indeed why, although Natalie’s situation was perhaps a little too close to that of Katy’s Brother, David.
As Katy’s time at the Inn progressed, Rupert’s feelings for her seemed to grow, although Kate remained professional at all times. I vehemently hoped that Rupert’s feelings were reciprocated, and the feelings were going to be allowed to grown into something ‘real’. Rupert’s feelings seemed to an extent to be somewhat ‘broken’ and I was curious about what events he was harbouring from the past.
I found this to be a superb read, full of fun, together with a bundle of secrets – everyone seemed to have one for me to fathom. Not to be missed!
Deep in the Somerset countryside, the Combe Pomeroy village library hosts a monthly book club.
Ruth, librarian fears she’s too old to find love, but a discussion about Lady Chatterley’s Lover makes her think again.
Aurora doesn’t feel seventy-two and longs to relive the excitement of her youth, while Verity is increasingly tired of her husband Mark’s grumpiness and wonders if their son’s imminent flight from the nest might be just the moment for her to fly too.
And Danielle is fed up with her cheating husband. Surely life has more in store for her than to settle for second best?
The glue that holds Combe Pomeroy together is Jeannie. Doyenne of the local cider farm and heartbeat of her family and community, no one has noticed that Jeannie needs some looking after too. Has the moment for her to retire finally arrived, and if so, what does her future hold?
From a book club French exchange trip, to many celebrations at the farm, this is the year that everything changes, that lifelong friendships are tested, and for some of the women, they finally get the love they deserve.
I find it hard to articulate just how pleased and honoured I am to have been given the opportunity to review Judy Leigh’s latest book. I just love the fun and adventure in Judy’s books and the fact that her heroines are often older than what is stereotypical. Knowing that I will love this book, I have selfishly chosen a weekend when I am ‘home alone’, when I should be doing all manner of things in the house. Instead I am choosing to ‘book-binge’ on ‘The Golden Oldies’ Book Club’.
Bring on the fun!
I instantly warmed to both Jeannie and her Mother Violet, although I think that life hasn’t always dealt Jeanie the best hands. I get the impression that she has always ended up picking things up are other people have left, for example her Son leaving his two teenage children in Jeannie’s hands. loved Violet, with a joke or a scathing comment for every occasion, for example when she was talking about Ruth ‘That’s the problem with small skinny people. They are bossy little dictators.’ If did seem as though Jeannie was somewhat at a turning point in her life – and why the hell not – there was undoubtedly more to life. Has she taken on too much though, looking after her twin grandchildren while they study for their A levels? Is the Blossom Time Festival one event too many? Would the ‘grande finale’ of the festival be good for Sharrocks or not?
Aurora really did seem like the life and soul of the party, albeit a little sad that she was getting older, but most of all, I felt for Danielle – or did I? I felt for her, with her cheating, conniving Husband, but then she lost some of my respect for not doing anything about him. But then I suppose that is a bit of a fleeting thought on my part, not having been in that situation myself. It cannot be easy to either uproot oneself, or to chuck out said ‘Despicable Him’. The big question is as to whether it not it really is over this time……again…! I liked Danielle and I really wanted her to come out of her toxic marriage with a fair settlement, despite her ex doing his very best to ensure she got nothing from their business.
Aurora was actually a big of a mystery. She seemed quite happy living by herself, yet she seemed to have a bit of a thing for a guitar playing chap from her past – a man that if you asked her about him, she would claim not to remember him at all, but she clearly had very fond memories of him. Could he possibly be about to make a return to the area?
Ruth, although the extreme opposite of Aurora, even down to their given names, was an interesting character, but I just felt that she needed some kind of boost – some kind of injection of ‘va va voom’ or some such panacea. I just kept finding myself desperately willing for some of the ofher book club members’ spirit and confidence to rub off on her. I loved how she seemed to change, dependent on the subject/storyline, once immersed in a book
Mark and Verity seemed an odd couple – or were they? Were they odd, or was the fact that they were attending a book club together, odd? At the risk of sounding sexist, all the book groups I have ever known have actually been an excuse for a bunch of female friends to get together and have a hood old gossip over a glass of wine, with the occasional literary discussion thrown in. Maybe that’s just me and my uncouth friends, or could it be possible that Mark either doesn’t actually trust Verity to meet her female friends without him, or that he just enjoys throwing the odd provocative remark at tbe group, just to put the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons? Given one word to describe Mark, it would be ‘odious’.
The arrival of ‘new to the village Antony Palmer was most certainly a welcome visitor to the group, with his ideas ready to flatten the pompous Mark. My initial hope was that, alongside his Brother, he would inject a bit of verve and vigour into the village as a whole. Was Antony holding a bit of a flame for Ruth? He certainly seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time in the inadequate sounding library!
Barney is a real character, and I would say an asset to Jeannie’s cider farm – full of good ideas to increase revenue. I liked him a lot. Violet, Jeannie’s Mother is a consummate joker, and isn’t backwards in coming forward to give advice to others. I think I liked her, but did wonder if she might be predisposed to make trouble, either through sheer boredom, or just by getting the ‘wrong end of the stick’. She was most certainly adept at the classic ‘game’ of Chinese Whispers.
A book club / twinning trip to France with the group sounded an absolute hoot! What could possibly go wrong! Each member of the group was very much in need of a holiday, albeit for very different reasons. I found myself desperately wanting them all to get what they went for, but feared they would not.
Jeannie had been toying with the idea of selling up the cider farm – but would her passion be reignited by the ideas she garnered in France? What all the friends seemed to find in France was contentment.
This book had its funny moments that had me roaring with laughter, for example the sand yachting trip, and especially Aurora’s experience!
Of the friends, who will want to go back to their life exactly as it was? Indeed, even if they wanted to go back to how things were, whose life might be changed due to circumstances beyond their control? Regardless, a good thing that seemed to come from the French trip, was a sense of almost sisterhood, between the book club friends (amongst the women that is). A reciprocal exchange trip, with the French cider farmers coming over for Apple Day, was sure to offer fun and surprises. Amelie and Bruno certainly proved themselves ‘a hit’ as far as French exchange visitors go, although tension did rear it’d head with Jeannie, Barney and Bruno together in the same room!
Can Mark and Verity resolve their issues?
Will Jeannie retire and will she take a love interest?
Will Aurora reunite with and stop hiding from her past?
Can Barney bring himself to retire?
Will Ruth come out of her shell and get the romance she seems to crave?
Will Danielle find something new to do with her life?
To find out these answers and more, you will just need to read this fabulous book for yourself. I was really taken with it, about how everything is seasonal and lives and dies; how the apples go through their stages from blossom to harvest, and the cider has its own lifecycle. Alongside this, we have our own lifecycle, and choices to make, legacies to leave, memories to treasure.
Freya Halliwell is looking forward to marrying the man of her dreams and starting their new life together. After the death of both of her parents, Ollie, along with Freya’s aunt, are the only family she has, but all the family she needs.
Until Freya discovers a shocking secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her once happy family and especially the man she used to call dad. Devastated and feeling more alone than ever before, Freya needs time and space to come to terms with the news. But until then the wedding is off!
Seabreeze Farm is the perfect place for Freya to recover. But could this beautiful farm perched high on the cliffs, also hold the answer to Freya’s past and reunite her with the family she never even knew she’d been wishing for?
I found myself rather excited to be reading a new book (the first of a new series?) by Jo Bartlett, having so enjoyed her Cornish Midwife series.
I immediately like both Freya and Ollie. I empathised with Freya, having suffered 2 bereavements (her parents) and I am a total sucker for someone with ‘kind eyes’, like Ollie. The couple were introduced in such a way, that I really felt immersed in their excitement at getting married, starting new jobs, and moving home, to live in London. Everything seemed just about perfect for the young pair. Life was good.
As for Karen and Ellie at Seabreeze farm – I truly admired their desire and drive to reinvent the farm – transforming it from a money pit into a money making concern. I must however confess to a bit of a ‘LOL’ moment, at the description of Ellie’s homemade Victoria Sandwich, the crunch being the ‘crunch factor’, courtesy of the added eggshells!
I totally warmed to the characters in this book – they just seemed so giving – for example the way that the Seebreeze Farm folk welcomed Freya into their family life. Freya for her part gave back, even helping with an inadvertent home birth (a sneaky bit of midwifery creeping in!)
I so wanted Freya to find her Father, and to perhaps revisit the episode with Ollie – was all exactly how it seemed?
You will of course need to read this great book for yourself, to find out what happens, but you will NOT be disappointed.
Dax Hartley has made flowers his entire life, just like his late father did.
When his dad’s old florist’s shop is up for sale, he has to have it. Only problem is, he’d need to sell a kidney to afford it.
The reality show Battle of the Blossoms is the perfect opportunity to win the money he needs, but when his childhood crush blows back into his life, distractions risk taking his eyes off the prize. He needs his head and heart to start working together to ensure he doesn’t miss the opportunity of a lifetime.
Hollyn Matthews has made some colossal mistakes in life.
When she’s dumped just as she’s expecting an engagement ring, she knows she’s put her heart into the wrong man. Hoping for a second chance at being a grown-up, she moves home to stay with her brother and his best friend Dax, a boy whose memory faded as she ran away from her past. Facing the hurt she left behind means facing some home truths about herself, but there’s one boy who has always loved her, if only she’d take the time to notice him.
I was very much looking forward to trying this book from a new (to me) author, and I must confess to welling up at the dedication to the author’s Father at the beginning of the book. I am sure he is looking down very proudly.
For me, this book started with an ‘explosive’ LOL’ moment at the wedding involving flowers and Dax, resulting in my instant warming to his character. I had an almost immediate juxtaposition of emotions however, upon meeting Hollyn. Needless to say, she needn’t have practiced her ‘surprised’ face. Battle of the Blossoms did however sound as though it could go some way towards solving Dax’s financial problems with regards to his Late Father’s flower shop. I looked forward to how this storyline was going to pan out, aided by Hollyn.
I did love the relationship that Hollyn had with her Brother River; he sounded like the perfect support in a time of crisis. It seemed right that Hollyn would turn to River at this time of need. I wasn’t sure what to expect of Hollyn staying over at River’s place, with his fiat mate, Dax, who has had a latent crush on Hollyn since childhood. I liked both characters, so would be open to them getting together, although it seemed as though Hollyn had a lot of pain to deal with in the first instance. It certainly seems however, that Dax has improved with age, like a fine wine! Tristan, on the other hand, was a complete waste of space, and downright unpleasant to boot!
I found Hollyn’s relationship with her parents, in particular her Mother, most distressing. It broke my heart when her Mother acknowledged and ‘allowed’ Hollyn to apologise for being such an awful Daughter! Methinks the apology should be reversed! Very very sad, although her Dad did redeem himself when he stood up for her when Tristan turned up!
So, will Dax be able to continue denying that he has any long held feelings for Hollyn? Will het get to buy his late Father’s shop?
You will find these answers and more, when you read this great book for yourself.
I loved reading about the eclectic characters in this book, all of whom I warmed to pretty much immediately, but particularly Elodie and Gabriella. I also enjoyed discovering/rediscovering Juan-Les-Pins with them.
Gabriella does seem to have a number of secrets that she is keeping from Elodie though. You will have to read this great book for yourself to find out about those secrets, but if you enjoy this book half as much as I did, then you’ll be ok!
Another year has passed and it’s Christmas again. This year best friends Chloe, Jules and Lucy are all loved up but living worlds apart.
Chloe is madly in love with her celebrity beau, Archer, but after a whirlwind year in Hollywood’s limelight, she’s desperate to get away and spend some quality time together.
Jules loves her Melbourne life – and gorgeous winemaker Matt – but a crowded flat share has her longing for a place of her own.
Meantime, Lucy is stuck in a long distance relationship, jetting back and forth between Colorado and London to see Will.
When Archer’s plan to whisk Chloe to Paris goes awry, he surprises her by bringing her friends together for a Christmas to remember..
I have so enjoyed the previous books by Sandy Barker, so I was very muck looking forward to reading this festive treat.
Chloe, Jules and Lucy seem to be living their best, albeit separate lives, but circumstances collude to bring them together in Hawaii for Christmas, years after the ‘May Girls’ first met as youngsters.
Will Lucy get over her other half agreeing to this trip without asking her? Can her friends work out what is up with her?
Is Audrey’s unexpected arrival going to cause any kind of issue?
As for Archer’s proposal plan – what an possibly go right wrong?
Does Audrey really have eyes on Will?
Is Madison going to turn up and make a scene?
Could anything come from the flirting between Nate and Sean?
Will the three ‘May Girls’ see the other side of Christmas with their relationships intact?
Will this Christmas trip turn out to be one they will never forget? Read this great story for yourself, to find out.
Izzy McBride had never in a million years expected to inherit an actual castle from her great uncle Bill but here she was, in the run up to Christmas, Monarch of her own Glen – a very rundown glen in need of a lot of TLC if her dream of turning it into a boutique bed and breakfast was to come true.
But when Izzy’s eccentric mother rents a room to enigmatic thriller author Ross Adair and the Scottish snow starts to settle like the frosting on a Christmas cake, it’s a race to get the castle ready before they’re all snowed in for the holidays.
I have loved the previous Julie Caplin books that I have read, so, Halloween over, this new book seemed like the perfect opportunity to ease myself into the festive period once more. I must confess to suffering from a little turret envy. I simply cannot walk past that rare entity – a house with a little turret, without a few wistful thoughts. I haven’t ever dreamed of living in/staying in/owning, a whole castle however!
I immediately warmed to Izzy, but her Mother Xanthe did seem a bit of a handful – a character and a half. As for Ross, the enigmatic author renting a room (via Xanthe) at the castle, much to Izzy’s chagrin, what’s not to like! But what is he hiding? John from the farm shop also provided a potential romantic interest – although it seemed there was maybe history between John and Ross? I did however feel for Izzy though, upon hearing about Xanthe’s plan for Christmas!
25k to rent the castle out for a week – but can Izzy and Xanthe pull off making the castle look half way decent in six weeks?
The wild campers in the castle grounds were a bit of a mystery, but Izzy showed her true colours, by being more than kind to them. As for the castle sapphires, was there any truth in the story or was it just folklore?
I loved the way that Izzy seemed to collect waifs and strays at the castle, such was her kind heart, but it seemed that they all wanted to help herewith Christmas, as a kind of payment for her kindness, which was really quite heartwarming.