Little Woodford by Catherine Jones

little woodford

 

Story Outline:

Little Woodford has a sleepy high street, a weekly market, a weathered old stone church and lovingly tended allotments. A peaceful, unexciting place, the very heart of middle England.

In Little Woodford, no one has fingers in more pies than Olivia Laithwaite, parish councillor, chair of the local WI, wife, mother and all round queen bee. So, of course, it’s Olivia who is first to spot that The Beeches has been sold at last.

Soon rumours begin to swirl around the young widow who has bought this lovely house. Why exactly did she leave London with her beautiful stepdaughter and young sons? Are they running from someone? Hiding something? Though if they are, they won’t be the only ones. Sometimes the arrival of newcomers in a community is all it takes to light a fuse…

Perfect for fans of Rebecca Shaw, Jill Mansell and Emma Burstall.

 

My Review:

Reviewed for Netgalley and Head of Zeus

On the surface, Little Woodford looks like any ordinary English village, but below the surface of Little Woodford, there are secrets and betrayals.

This was recommended by a friend who enjoyed it and upon completing it I understand why. It is a very accurate portrayal of village life. All the characters that you expect to find are present. The socialite, the town gossip and the ever-present and calming church influence. What I didn’t expect and thoroughly enjoyed was the depth of these characters and how they were all connected to each other. Some more obvious than others.

Catherine Jones has taken village life and placed it under a microscope for us all to see the true nature of people, both good and bad. I always find books such as these interesting to read.

The characters are extremely well written and come alive on the page. I felt as if I was right there on the page with them going through all that transpired. For me, the story flowed at a good pace, with so many things going on it was hard not to read this in one sitting. There are so many intertwining characters and situations happening that you just want to keep reading to find out what happens.

The one issue I have with the book was that the story jumped from one character to another without not a lot of warning. It would be better for the reader if there was a subheading with the characters name. But not a major issue but some might find it takes away from the flow of the story.

All in all a wonderfully entertaining and thought-provoking tale of life.

Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm by Rebecca Raisin

secrets at maple syrup farm

Story Outline:

Secrets…we all have them.

Clay’s inheritance of Maple Syrup Farm came at the perfect time. Leaving city life behind he headed for maple-tree surrounded Ashford, Connecticut. Getting the farm in working order again might be back-breaking work – but it seems to be the only way for Clay to finally forget about the girl who once broke his heart…

Lucy’s had enough of rules and the stress of planning her life down to the very last detail. Looking for an adventure she stumbles upon Maple Syrup Farm and its gorgeously gruff owner. This could be the perfect place to hide out…!

But the tranquillity and warmth of Maple Tree Farm is enough to heal even the most battered of hearts. There are very few problems in life that can’t be cheered up by maple syrup!

The new standalone novel from bestselling author of the Gingerbread Cafe trilogy and The Bookshop on the Corner, Rebecca Raisin.

 

My Review:

Like the previous book of Rebecca’s (The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées) that I had the pleasure of reading. This book was not just a story of budding romance but a book that captures the imagination and engages all your senses. I have never been a huge fan of romance in the past as it conjures up all sorts of images of heaving bosoms and manly protrusion, but it is not the case with this authors books. She writes her characters in such a way that the readers grow to love them as you get to know each of them.

I loved this book so much that I did not want it to end. My heart actually felt like it was going to break because I have to leave these characters behind. I truly wish that these people were real and the town of Ashford was an actual place. You do not just read Lucy’s story, you live it with her. Lucy’s adventure is one that will grab you by the heart and leave you wanting more. From her personal struggles being separated from her mother and wondering how she will make it through a whole year on her own. To finding a love she was not looking for and becoming part of a community that welcomed her with open arms. It will make you laugh, it will make you cry but more importantly, it will leave you feeling like Lucy, you have found friends for life.

Rebecca Raisin is a true master storyteller of the romance genre. Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm was a truly joyous experience I hope to repeat in the future.

The Little Perfume Shop off the Champs-Élysées (The Little Paris Collection, #3) by Rebecca Raisin

rebecca raisin

 

Story Outline:

What is French for falling in love?
When Del leaves small-town America to compete in a perfume competition in Paris, she thinks it is just the next step on her five-year-plan. It’s an exciting opportunity. What started out as just a dream for Del and her twin sister is nearly in her grasp. If she wins this competition, they are on their way to opening their very own perfume boutique!

Arriving in Paris, watching the sun glinting off the Seine and wandering the Champs-Elysees, Del discovers the most perfect perfumery she’s ever seen. Yet, as the competition dawns Del realises that whilst she might have had the best nose in her small village, her competitors seem to know more than she could ever have dreamed. This competition isn’t going to be easy…

Del has the romance of Paris to sweep her away from her worries, but as the competition heats up, so does her desire for that which she cannot have! If only the dashing owner Sébastien didn’t smell so seductive, look so handsome and make her heart flutter like it never has before. They say love smells as sweet as a red rose in bloom, but Del would tell anyone that true love can’t be bottled – it’s beautiful and unique to everyone…even herself. With everything on the line for her future, can Del really let a little attraction get in the way of securing her dreams?

 

My Review:

Reviewed for NetGalley and HQ Digital

Due for publication 30th March 2018

Seeing as it is “the month of LOVE” I thought I would read books with a romantic touch to them. Rebecca Raisin’s book was the perfect way to start.

I have not read any of the authors books up to this point so I had no idea what to expect. What I discovered was an amazing heartfelt tale of loss, friendship and belief in your own abilities and finding the strength to change your life even when it feels you are making all the wrong decisions.

It is not just a tale about all those things, it is also a journey of the sensory kind, all the aroma’s Del’s experiences in the challenges set out for her make it a story not just for the eyes alone. I was so drawn in immediately to this adventure. I too could smell and see what Del could. There is nothing that pleases me more as a reader than to be able to connect to a character that way. It is also an emotional journey. Del had me laughing, crying and sometimes cringing.

The characters are bold, heartwarming and inspiring, I even had a soft spot for the not so nice Clementine who eventually showed her true colours when things didn’t go the way she planned. It is a rare thing for me to like a mean character but in this case, I did.

There are so many reasons you will fall in love with the story but I will let you find out for yourself. All I will say is once you read one Rebecca Raisin books you will want to read more.

Death Makes a Prophet by John Bude

death makes a prophet by john bude

 

Story Outline:

‘Small hostilities were growing; vague jealousies were gaining strength; and far off, wasn’t there a nebulous hint of approaching tragedy in the air?’

Welworth Garden City in the 1940s is a forward-thinking town where free spirits find a home-vegetarians, socialists, and an array of exotic religious groups. Chief among these are the Children of Osiris, led by the eccentric High Prophet, Eustace K. Mildmann. The cult is a seething hotbed of petty resentment, jealousy and dark secrets – which eventually lead to murder. The stage is set for one of Inspector Meredith’s most bizarre and exacting cases.

This witty crime novel by a writer on top form is a neglected classic of British crime fiction.

 

My Review:

Reviewed for Netgalley and Poisoned Pen Press.

Death Makes a Prophet would have to be on of the best crime/murder mystery books I have read in a long time. Originally published in 1947 it is still a wonderful book in 2018. It will please any fan of the genre. Because of the era it was written in there were a few words that I had to look up their meaning, but this in no way detracted from the story.

I found the style in which the book was set out really interesting. It is told in two parts. Part one introduces the reader to the setting of the story and all of its intriguing characters. We learn their secrets and how they all connect to one another. Part two sees the introduction of the Inspector when he is called in to solve the deaths. There are as many motives as there are suspects, even the Inspector begins to think it might be unsolvable, that is until a vital piece of information surfaces in seemingly bizarre circumstances.

I managed to figure out who was responsible but not the motives for the killing, but for me, that is half the fun of reading murder mysteries, you think you have it all figured out but things are never as they seem.

A thoroughly enjoyable read. I have become a fan of Inspector Meredith and will be reading more books in the series.

A Case of Syrah, Syrah: A Country Wine Mystery by Nancy J. Parra

A case of syrah, syrah

 

Story Outline:

Taylor O’Brian is a new businesswoman, founder of “Taylor’s Off The Beaten Path Wine Tours,” who lives on a small winery with her Aunt Jemma. She plans to take small groups around romantic Sonoma county to discover some of the county’s outdoor gardens. It’s all running as smooth as can be until Laura, the leader of the group of yoga instructors she’s leading, is found dead. And it’s Taylor’s corkscrew that’s found buried in Laura’s neck.

She’s not sure who to trust, and everyone around suddenly seems suspect. Only two weeks after the murder, her very own administrative assistant, Amy, marries Laura’s husband, Dan, who doesn’t seem very bereaved about being widowed, and the three yoga masters who were also out on the tour begin to seem shady. Taylor can’t afford to jump ship from her new business endeavour, but just as she begins her investigation, another dead body surfaces. This time, it’s Dan’s sister. And the killer is coming for Taylor next.

Now it’s up to Taylor to uncork this open-bottle mystery before more blood is spilt. For fans of Laura Childs and Ellen Crosby, A Case of Syrah, Syrah is the charming first in bestselling author Nancy J. Parra’s Wine Country mysteries.

 

 

My Review:

Reviewed for Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books

A Case of Syrah, Syrah is another hit in the cozy mysteries genre. Having only read a few books in this genre I was interested to see if I would enjoy it as much as I have previous titles. It did not disappoint.

What you find are some very interesting characters as well as an intriguing storyline. As with all cozy mysteries, I have read in the past this one had me suspecting every character of being the murderer. It was made more difficult, for me at least, as the main character Taylor was being framed for a murder she clearly did not commit.

The author has a talent for throwing the reader off the trail of the killer, for me, it happened on more than one occasion. I thought I had worked out a few times who had committed the crime, only to find out I was wrong. The story flows well, keeping the reading interested in what is happening to the characters. The characters were well written and relatable. There are several that I had thought could be the murderer. At one stage I even thought it might have been her best friend. She had her identity stolen which had happened to other people connected to Laura, the woman that was murdered.

To add further to the book’s depth, the author has included a section on wine and food pairing, which includes recipes and cheese that pair with Syrah wine which is the wine Taylors auntie produces in the book.

Highly recommended.

Reciting From Memory by Jim Landwehr

reciting from memory

My Review:
Reviewed for author for honest review

Jim’s poems were an eye-opening experience for me. As a person who does not read poetry very often and only for reviewing purposes, I always thought of poems being things that have to rhyme to make sense. This collection of poems are more like mini stories. They are beautifully written, giving the reader a great insight into one man’s life. It has not been an easy life by all means but the overwhelming love for family and faith shine through the sadness and brings light where darkness once prevailed.

If you are a lover of poetry with a difference. Prose that paints a very clear and vivid picture of life with all it’s joys and heartaches then this collection is definitely one worth reading.

Red Hill by Jamie McGuire

red hill

Story Outline:
When the world ends, can love survive?

For Scarlet, raising her two daughters alone makes fighting for tomorrow an everyday battle. Nathan has a wife, but can’t remember what it’s like to be in love; only his young daughter Zoe makes coming home worthwhile. Miranda’s biggest concern is whether her new VW Bug is big enough to carry her sister and their boyfriends on a weekend escape from college finals.

When reports of a widespread, deadly “outbreak” begin to surface, these ordinary people face extraordinary circumstances and suddenly their fates are intertwined. Recognizing they can’t outrun the danger, Scarlet, Nathan, and Miranda desperately seek shelter at the same secluded ranch, Red Hill. Emotions run high while old and new relationships are tested in the face of a terrifying enemy—an enemy who no longer remembers what it’s like to be human.

Set against the backdrop of a brilliantly realized apocalyptic world, love somehow finds a way to survive. But what happens when the one you’d die for becomes the one who could destroy you?

Red Hill grabs you from page one and doesn’t let go until its stunning conclusion. This is #1 New York Times bestselling author Jamie McGuire at her unforgettable best.

My Review:
When I first started reading Red Hill, I was not convinced that I would like or even enjoy it. I had never read a “zombie” story before. Halfway through I was still not sold on the whole flesh-eating creatures but the characters that the story was based on had started to catch my attention more. With less than a hundred pages to go did not want the book to finish and had become completely compelled to know how it would all end for them.
The story is told from the point of view of three characters, Scarlet, Nathan and Miranda. It was this factor that made the story a lot strong in my opinion. Seeing how each of these characters reacted to and dealt with the horrid situation they all now found themselves in was interesting. I also like how the minor characters had impacts on the main characters. It brought another level to the story. Writing stories that weave people together is a talent Jamie McGuire exudes.
Has the author convinced and converted me to like zombie stories? I am not sure but, it has proven to this reader to never say never.