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Jo D'Arcy (Portsmouth, UK)
(VINE VOICE)   

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The Farm at the Edge of the World
The Farm at the Edge of the World
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cornish Poetry, 14 Aug. 2016
I rather foolishly thought when I picked up this book that I was going to get a book which fitted into the women's fiction category that sort comes under the terrible sub genre of chick-lit one of those books which you can read and then pass on, it was an enjoyment reading it but that is about it, it does not necessarily stay with you much after that.

What I got was a story with much more depth and in one of my favourite plot devices, dual narrative.

Evacuees Will and Alice are placed at Skylark farm in Cornwall, as far from London as they can get. To them it is on the edge of the world out in front of them the vast expanse of the Atlantic. Behind them, freedom they never knew existed.

They fit into family life on the farm with parents Evelyn and Joe and their daughter Maggie.

As war rages away far from Cornwall, it seems that nothing is going to touch this beautiful idyll. One summer though, everything changes and the consequences of actions are still felt some seventy years later.

Lucy's life it seems is falling apart. An error she makes at work, leads to her taking a leave of absence at the same time as she discovers her husband has been cheating on her. Lucy returns home to Skylark Farm. Her life in London a far cry from the sanctuary of home and the farm she left some years before.

She returns to a farm that is struggling and starts to learn about the past as she discovers herself amongst the cows grazing in the field and the waves as the crash against the shore.

Of course these two narratives are intrinsically linked and as the past is brought up and resettled, it helps the future and those that will continue to farm at Skylark.

This is a strong story and it does not shy away from the harsher aspects of life and farming, nothing remotely romantic about seeing you future go up in flames, whether it is with the discovery of foot and mouth or catching your husband having an affair.

There was something quite poetic in the way the author has described the Cornwall of the Nineteen forties and that of the present day, whilst the surroundings may have altered very little, the way life moves on has changed. Despite the tinges of sadness in both the narrative there is something hopeful about the story and the fact that everything is cyclical and it can all be reborn, even if it does take a number of years to achieve.

I highly recommend this book, it will affect you in many different ways, if nothing else it will take you to Cornwall and you can experience the magic of the place almost as if you were there.


Summer at Skylark Farm: The perfect summer escape to the country
Summer at Skylark Farm: The perfect summer escape to the country
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars She has not had a holiday for more than 3 years and positively cringes if anyone messes up her near perfect kitchen, by actually, 3 July 2016
Amber has her dream job, in London, she works hard, is on call it seems all the time and is in demand. However, she does not have that ever talked about work/life balance. She has not had a holiday for more than 3 years and positively cringes if anyone messes up her near perfect kitchen, by actually cooking in it.

When her boyfriend, Jake decides he is going to go back to help his Auntie Annie at her farm so that it can still remain in the family, Amber has to decide if she can possibly cope without him in her life, let alone whether she can cope living so far away from the city and all its delights. When a job opportunity raises it head, Amber has a difficult decision to make, but her boss gives her six months to think about it, which means she gets six months to see whether farm life is for her.....but she doesn't tell Jake any of this.

Amber embraces farm and country life fairly quickly, even if it is very much removed the country lifestyle magazines she has been used to reading. She gets on Annie and suddenly finds herself welcomed into this thriving community.

However, it was never going to be an easy transition, from incidents with kettles, emergency midwifery, the threat of cancelling the village fair, a wedding and even attempting to bake a cake in a kitchen far removed from the sterile environment in London that she was used to. Amber seems to take all of these challenges level headedly and uses the skills from her city job with as much aplomb in the country.

The one challenge she did not expect though is Jake's ex girlfriend. Returned from wherever she went and suddenly wanting to be everyone's friend in the village. It seems that Amber cannot manage this situation without her emotions getting in the way. The six months are nearly up and perhaps it is time to tell the truth before someone else beats Amber to it?

A really lovely read that had me in the mind of authors such as Trisha Ashley, Carole Matthews. A book with a sense of community, the coming together of everyone to fight a particular cause and the threat of the equilibrium being disturbed by a returning figure. A delightful summer read and one that makes you want to secretly don your own flower wellies and get stuck right in.


The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts: A feel-good funny summer romance
The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts: A feel-good funny summer romance
Price: £0.99

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All very different and all with a love of books, 3 July 2016
Posy Morland, lives above the bookshop where she works with her little brother after tragedy strikes. The only real family she has is her colleagues. All very different and all with a love of books, no more than Posy who finds her life and comfort between the pages of romances novels.

When Lavinia, the owner of Bookends dies and leaves the shop to Posy. Suddenly Posy needs to stop reading about a fictional life and start dealing with the real world, because everything she holds dear is about to be rocked at its foundations.

However trying to revive a bookshop which hardly sees any customers and has as much dust as books, is going to be a challenge in the 6 month window especially when she has to deal with Sebastian.

Lavinia was Sebastian's grandmother and she clearly doted on him and spoilt him in abundance. He has grown up to be a 'man about town'. Andy anyone who is anyone has been seen photographed with Sebastian in London. Posy though remembers the days when they use to play as small children and she was always that little bit in love with him. Now though he has turned into the rudest man in town.

And he has other ideas about what should be done with this little bookshop.

It will no doubt been a battle of wills and one of them is going to have to back down. But who will it be?

To get her revenge and to deal with her thoughts, Posy begins to write a story in the style of a regency romance. As readers we get to see Posy's thoughts expressed in her writing peppered throughout this book.

As the struggle to bring the bookshop to life from the dream of Posy's mind faces some ups and downs and some interesting encounters not just with Sebastian but the other members of the quirky staff in the shop it seems that at least the shop will have a happy ever after.

I loved this book, it was already onto a good thing being set in a bookshop and being about books. The characters were strong, it made a nice change to have a different dynamic in the family background. Older sister, younger brother; loss of parents. Grandson and grandmother and also the delightful way of bringing regency romance novels to a wider audience. I agree go and pick up some Georgette Heyer and see how some things have not changed in all the years of women's fiction.

I am thrilled that this is the first in a series of books, but disappointed that I am going to have to wait so long for the next one.


The Little Village Bakery: A feel good romantic comedy with plenty of cake (Honeybourne Book 1)
The Little Village Bakery: A feel good romantic comedy with plenty of cake (Honeybourne Book 1)
Price: £1.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Another Village to visit, 15 Jun. 2016
I love village stories, the community feel that I can simply spy on and watch as all these wonderful characters interact with each other, the lives they lead are always or nearly always far more interesting than watching soap operas on television and the dynamic of people fascinates me. Add into the mix the mysterious stranger from out-of-town, a bit of romance and some scheme to save something dear to the village and you have me hooked.

The Little Village Bakery, ticks all those boxes and more. Millie has moved to the village Honeybourne, she is obviously escaping something and plows all her money and life into bringing back the Old Village Bakery. She wants to expand her loved hobby of making cakes into making cakes for a business, her own.

However, the ghosts of her past are never far behind and perhaps Millie will have to escape again.

Jasmine and Rich seem to be the village's golden couple and have no need to work at their marriage, with their adorable triplets and Dylan, Jasmine's brother who seems to be breaking hearts all over the village and beyond. This family is very much apart of the village. Jasmine and Rich have a very happy marriage, but when an opportunity looks like it is going wrong and a past confession comes back to threaten their stability, it looks like Jasmine and Rich might need to work even harder.

Jasmine offers help and friendship to Millie when she arrives in Honeybourne, as does Dylan but it seems his idea of help might be slightly different.

Can they help bring the bakery back to life? Will Millie be able to stay in Honeybourne?

Tilly Tennant has written a strong novel, I wondered for pages and pages what Millie was running away from and when the truth is revealed it was not what I was expecting. Which made me enjoy the book more, it did not have the predictability that sometimes women's fiction/chick lit can have.

I am glad that it seems to be the first in a series of books set in Honeybourne, because I want to go back to the village soon. This is the first book I have read from Tilly Tennant and I can honestly say it was delightful.

My only criticism is the tagline on the front of the cover - 'A feel good romantic comedy with plenty of cake' I agree with the former statement but not the latter, there is no mouth-watering descriptions of cake, which you would probably expect from a book about a bakery - this was a book with a very strong dominance of character and for me that worked better. You will have to provide your own cake when reading this!


The Chic Boutique On Baker Street
The Chic Boutique On Baker Street
by Rachel Dove
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

4.0 out of 5 stars There is no Sherlock in this Baker Street, 8 May 2016
Amanda has a successful career and a successful boyfriend and lives and works hard in the city.

Suddenly she has nothing, no career, no boyfriend. So she decides to disappear and take herself away and set up a boutique in Westfield, a Yorkshire village, selling the things that she enjoys making. It seems a good place to make a new start.

Ben, the local village vet is still hurting after his city loving wife leaves him for his best friend. When he meets Amanda, he sees another city dweller wanting to make it in the country and knows that they never last. And it is local villagers like him that have to deal with the fall out. Amanda and Ben do not get off to the best of starts!

Neither Ben or Amanda have banked on the local ladies of the village who have secret meetings not just about raising money to save the community centre roof but also have matchmaking down to a fine art. These eccentric bunch of ladies, with their baking and knitting bring a community together and are a rather humorous touch to the plot.

However, the inevitable is going to happen pretty much from very early on in the book and this left me slightly disappointed. Sometimes I do not want it to be so obvious that is what is going to happen and who is going to end up with who.

That aside, Rachel Dove manages to weave a tale which did keep me reading despite knowing what was going to happen, because there were a couple of times I began to doubt it all and I wanted to bang both Ben and Amanda’s heads together. Whilst also secretly wanting to be the one that Ben puts his arms around. So it was a good read.

This book fits in very much with what I enjoy in contemporary women’s fiction. It has the strength of a community, the broody but good-looking man, throw in a project or two, like the community centre and some crafts, add in a bit of cooking and you have a book that I can while away a day with. In fact it took me a day tor ead it – I wanted to see what was happening.

I secretly (although I am telling you all readers) that Rachel Dove goes back to Westfield, because I feel that there are some more characters that could ben discovered and stories within the confines of the village.

The Chic Boutique on Baker Street is the debut novel from Rachel Dove, winner of The Prima Flirty Fiction Competition.

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


Kitty's Countryside Dream: A feel good romantic comedy about life, love and family.
Kitty's Countryside Dream: A feel good romantic comedy about life, love and family.
by Christie Barlow
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Kitty's Future, 28 Feb. 2016
Kitty finds herself suddenly alone in the world. Having lost her father when she was very young, at the age of 25, she has just lost her mother. She is rather lost and bereft.

However, it transpires she has a grandmother who has now left her Bluebell Lodge and Kitty suddenly finds herself not alone anymore.

Bluebell Lodge is a farm, a chicken farm, with lots of chickens. Trouble is Kitty knows nothing about chickens.

There is a lot to learn and the locals are there to lend a helping hand or two. Tom the farm manager, picks Kitty up and shows her the ropes, but it seems he is rather distracted. Jeannie, another worker on the farm, has her own secret to keep and her brother Robin, seems to only have eyes for Kitty. Lucinda the local baker relies on the fresh eggs from Bluebell Lodge and becomes friends with Kitty due to Kitty’s love of Lucinda’s flapjacks.

Kitty now has people in her life, people who care and want to see her happy. Even perhaps in love with her.

Kitty though still has a number of unanswered questions regarding her grandmother and with no parents or other family to ask, it seems that the mystery will remain that.

Until one day a discovery at the back of the farm safe leads Kitty on a journey back into the past. The diary of sixteen year old Violet seems to have some names in it she recognises.

Kitty might have some answers to the questions she has, but does she want to hear them?

This novel is very much in the style of Trisha Ashley, Carole Matthews, Cathy Bramley et al and if you are fan on their work you will certainly enjoy this novel.

There is plenty going on with all the characters not just the main one Kitty. Whilst I did guess the paths that this story was going to go down I still immensely enjoyed it as the writing was really good and the insertion of the diary entries of Violent gave it that dual narrative which I do enjoy in novels.

What made this novel for me, is I want a sequel to catch up with them all at Bluebell Lodge, but if one never comes then that does not matter. The book ended in the right place and it gives the reader a chance to use their imagination in what happened next.


Behind Closed Doors
Behind Closed Doors
by B A Paris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £3.85

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do you really know what goes on?, 28 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Behind Closed Doors (Paperback)
Define the expression ‘Behind Closed Doors’, think of this before you even turn the cover and start reading this debut novel from B A Paris.

Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the closed doors you walk past in your life? Even the ones that you are allowed a glimpse through for a while, they close behind you and you have no idea then what happens, do you?

Do you really want to know what happens……..

Grace and Jack, a newly married couple. A perfect couple, a perfect house, a perfect host and hostess. A perfect life?

Everyone seems to envy them, they all want a life that resembles Grace and Jack.

But everyone does not know what goes on between Grace and Jack behind those closed doors.

Now we have the opportunity to find out.

Behind that door is a prison, a prisoner, an inmate, an addict, a fighter, a carer, a survivor.

I felt claustrophobic as I read on, I wanted to throw the doors open and shout for help, but I couldn’t because I had to know what happens.

This novel captured me so quickly and cleverly by the author that if I had had the ability to get into the pages of this book, I would have not seen it right through to the end. I know I would have intervened.

Breathtaking and thrilling, I had to keep reading and work through the twists and turns until the bitter end for Grace and Jack. It was not what I expected.

If you like thrillers, then you will like this debut novel.


The Killing Of Polly Carter (Death in Paradise 2)
The Killing Of Polly Carter (Death in Paradise 2)
by Robert Thorogood
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poole solves Polly's Problem, 28 Dec. 2015
I am lucky enough to have received the second Death in Paradise novel via netgalley, which I was delighted to accept and even more delighted to read.

The first A Meditation of Murder sets the scene and characters for those who have not watched the original television series. This the second, I think is very much more comfortable as a novel than the first, Robert Thorogood seems to have found his writing way.

Clearly from the novel's title we know the victim's name, so Polly Carter's death comes as no surprise, but what does come as a surprise as it was suicide.

Or was it?

The age-old question - Did she jump or was she pushed?

The only other person there at the time was her wheelchair bound sister, Claire. She argued with her before her fall to her death.

Her sister's nurse, heard raised voices whilst walking back through the garden to the house.

Two other guests as Polly's house saw the nurse in the garden. The nurse saw one of them at the window of the house.

They all seem to have alibis, therefore it could not have possibly been one of them.

But of course there is more to this death than meets the eye. We have secret tunnels, drugs, fame, affair and a yellow coat.

Of course it is all in a day's work for DI Richard Poole, and his wonderful team, Camille, Fidel and Dwayne. They have questions which lead to other questions, they have theories that lead to other theories but in the delightful way of an old-fashioned murder mystery which I happily place this one it will all come together in the end.

The denouement of the real murderer reminds me of the gathering of all the suspects of a Poirot novel and it works, somehow the simplicity of it all works. In this novel is the added bonus of the visitation of DI Poole's mother, someone who is only referred to in the earlier episodes of the televison series.

This book has the whole package if you are looking for a complete murder mystery novel with the added bonus of sandy beaches, blue skies a laid back way of life and a very stuffy English policeman clearly out of his comfort zone.


The Mistake I Made
The Mistake I Made
by Paula Daly
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Would You?, 31 Aug. 2015
This review is from: The Mistake I Made (Hardcover)
Roz is holding on to everything she has got, but it is slowly slipping away from her. She had a successful physiotherapy practice, but that went, she had a marriage, but that went, she had a lifestyle, but that went.

All she has now is her son who seems to be unsettled at school. Debts which are becoming unmanageable and..... an eviction notice.

Roz is desperate and has to consider doing anything to put everything right.

She meets Scott and it seems he can make it all right for Roz.... for a price.

It could solve a number of Roz's problems. But can she morally justify to herself this type of behaviour. Does she have a choice?

Roz has got in too deep and the consequences reach far and wide.

As the book goes on, you question many of Roz's actions that have led her to the place she is in. I also questioned whether I should like Roz or not? Yes or No? It is very conflicting, you can see how she got into the mess, you can also see how she could have gotten out of it, but chose not to take those options, you understand the basic need to survive at all costs. Then suddenly with a complete twist which the author brings out of nowhere, I had the utmost sympathy for her. Perhaps I do like her?

Although in books like this, character dominates greatly, here the author has kept it authentic and grounded by Roz's occupation as a physiotherapist. You learn much about how the body works, which for me as an interesting concept. Roz knows how the body works, but can she possibly begin to understand how you can detach a working body from the emotion and feelings that are generated in the situation she finds herself.

Then there is the location of the book, the Lake District. Beautiful scenery is described as we see actions unfold, that it almost taints the surroundings.

Somehow, Paula Daly brings everything together and writes a cracking good page turner. This is a book which had me open-mouthed at various points, is a thriller which you simply cannot put down.


The Flower Arrangement
The Flower Arrangement
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Heady Floral Read, 27 Aug. 2015
Flowers mean different things to different people. They can be for romance, for weddings, for forgiveness, for birth, for death and everything in between. Each chosen flower has a story and whoever ends up with those flowers has a story to.

Lara owns the florist Blossom & Grow in Dublin. It was not her first choice of career but she has come to it, after reassessing her life after tragedy strikes. Her sensitivity with flowers is astute and she seems to make sub conscious choices for anyone that visits.

But whilst helping others Lara loses something of herself and when another tragedy strikes in her life, she wonders whether it is worth anything at all bringing these flowers into other people's lives when hers is so damaged and broken.

As each different customer walks through the door of Blossom & Grow, or has some connection with Lara or the other main characters, Ella Griffin weaves a tale like a ribbon around a blossoming bouquet. Everything eventually comes back to Lara and Blossom & Grow, but for a time we are taken through other characters lives and how flowers have helped them.

This is such a sensitively written novel, I was so drawn into the flowers and the way that different ones take us all to different places and evoke different memories, that it simply enhanced a wonderful plot.

At times I felt I was reading a book full of some short stories and some long, perhaps reflecting the length of life certain flowers have when they are cut, but what the author, in my opinion has cleverly done is bring everything together as such just like a bouquet. A really warm, uplifting story and flowery in all the right ways.


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