The Gift of Happiness – Holly Martin

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Christmas has arrived in the little village of Happiness, promising snowflakes, hot chocolate and plenty of seasonal romance. So snuggle up and fall in love with the gorgeously cosy new story from the bestselling author of Christmas at Lilac Cottage…
Christmas has always been such an important part of Ruby Marlowe’s life and at a time of year that always holds so many memories, Ruby likes to throw herself into the magic of the season head first. So when she is offered the opportunity to open a year-round Christmas shop in the little village of Happiness it seems like a dream come true.
Accepting the offer has absolutely nothing to do with sexy Jacob Harrington, the sculptor she had a fling with in the village during the summer.
After all, Jacob is known to love the ladies and has never had a commitment. Ruby, on the other hand, made the ultimate vow of love and suffered heart-wrenching loss in return. She vows she will never be committed to a man again.
But when fate throws Ruby and Jacob together in this town in the most magical of seasons, will more than snowflakes fall? As the Christmas celebrations get underway and Ruby tries to spread her own Christmas magic over the little village, can love sparkle and come back to life.

The Gift of Happiness by Holly Martin
Series: Happiness #2
on 25/10/2019
Pages: 256
Genres: AdultChicklitFeel GoodContemporary
Format: ARC
Goodreads

ENGLISH REVIEW 

In July I had the pleasure of reading The Little Village of Happiness. I loved it, but it was a book that needed to grow on me. I needed to find my own place in the village of Happiness. But by the last page, I was absolutely smitten with the town and its villagers. It is a bit of an understatement to say that I was very excited to return to the village and find out what everybody had been up to.

This time I was taken by the story from the first few lines and that was all because of the absolutely amazing main character Ruby Marlowe. We met Ruby in the first instalment of the series as Willows best friend, who pays her a quick visit and has an amazing three night stand with Andrews brother, Jacob. I knew I would like her as a protagonist, but I could not have expected to love her so much. Ruby is an absolute Christmas addict, who has sworn of men for the rest of her life. She is ready for a new start far away from everybody who knows her past and after seeing how happy Willow became in Happiness, she follows her best friend. Little does she know that she will be sharing a shop with Jacob and the sparks are still flying around.

The slow burning romance between Jacob and Ruby is one of the sweetest, but also hearth warming and hearth breaking romances I have ever read by Holly’s hand. Their story is a little more complicated than other romances I have read by her before. I found the struggle Ruby was going through very realistic and could absolutely understand her mood swings and mind-set. Holly has written such a sensitive and delicate romance with these characters.

Apart from that I loved to be back in Happiness. This time the village really jumped of the pages. It almost felt like I was walking in the street looking up at the slightly different Christmas lights that adorn Happiness. And it was so lovely to see all the villagers back. Especially the older generations brings that extra bit of humour to the story.

By now I have read numerous books written by Holly and every time she succeeds to amaze and surprise me. I love how every time she thinks of something new and quirky to give the story a little twist and bring a smile to my face.

The Gift of Happiness is not your typical sweet and fluffy Christmas novel. There is of course a whole lot of twinkling fairy lights, hot chocolate and kisses in the snow. But it deals with some real issues that give the story extra depth and make it a story to remember.

So close the windows, make yourself a nice mug of hot chocolate, grab a blanket and forget about the world outside. The village of Happiness and its inhabitants are expecting you! You won’t regret your visit!

Thank you Holly that I got to enjoy this wonderful story in advance!

A Spell of Murder – Kennedy Kerr

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Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories.
When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death.
If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again.

A Spell of Murder by Kennedy Ker
on 08/10/2019
Pages: 165
Genres: Adult, Feel Good, Cosy Mystery
Format: ARC
Goodreads

ENGLISH REVIEW 

I have been hearing a buzz about cosy mysteries in the book community for quite some time now. But I never read any book in the genre because thrillers aren’t really my cup of tea. But when I saw the cover of A Spell of Murder I was so intrigued I just had to request a proof copy of it.

And now I keep on wondering why I waited this long to dive into the genre! I absolutely loved A Spell of Murder. It ticked all the boxes for me. It has the cosy scenery that I absolutely in my feel good books. The quint little village, a bustling café were are the villagers meet and this mysterious Loch. But it has that little extra with murder on the scene and quite some mystery going on. It gave the whole story a little extra panache. Like a nice, warm hot chocolate with a little pinch of cayenne pepper. And it is witchy. Followers of my blog might know that I am absolutely obsessed with witches and books about witches.

The main character Temerity Love runs the family shop, Love’s Curiosities Inc and is renewed in the antiques field, because she can touch objects and feel their backstory and date them correctly. She lives with her older sister Tilda in the little town of Lost Maidens Loch, a remote village in the Scottish Highlands. When a local school teacher is murdered in the school staff room local inspector Kim Hyland and new constable Angus Harley call in the help of Temerity to solve the mystery around the murder.

I loved Temerity as a main character. She is a strong woman with a sad past she is trying to overcome. She has a wicked sense of humor and while reading I kept thinking I would have loved to join her for a full Scottish breakfast anytime.

Apart from Temerity I must say that all the characters are very well develop. They all have a background story and personal little story-lines. While reading you really got the feeling that you got to know all the inhabitants of Lost Maidens Loch and the small village. I loved how nothing was rushed and some story-lines were left open, because it made me long for the second book in the series.

After some research on the internet I found that Kennedy Kerr is a pen-name of author Anna McKerrow. Not an unfamiliar name on my blog since I reviewed her two books in the Eternal Kingdom series. It is an understatement to say I didn’t really enjoy those two books, so I was positively surprised that she wrote A Spell for Murder. It really felt like I was reading a story written by a completely different author.

I absolutely loved this book and can’t wait for the next installment of the series! If you are looking for a cosy, funny read filled with mystery then this is without any doubt the story for you!

Escape To Giddywell Grange -Kim Nash

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Maddy Young thought she had it all.
Swanky city apartment? – yep. Fancy car? sorted. High-flying career? – tick.
Even if she’s lost most of her friends because of spending all her time at work, and can’t remember when she last had fun, it’s worth it.
Until she’s suddenly made redundant. Now she’s 37, jobless, and after the breakup with the former love of her life, unhappily single.
Enter Maddy’s childhood friend, Beth, the owner of Growlers, the doggy daycare centre at Giddywell Grange, on a mission to make Maddy see there’s more to life than work.
Soon, Maddy is swapping spreadsheets for volunteer duty at the library, daily Starbucks for cups of tea with elderly neighbours, and her Prada handbag for doggy poo bags… And with Beth’s gorgeous brother, Alex, back from the States, Maddy starts to think that Giddywell Grange might just be her happy place.But when her old life – and her old boyfriend – comes calling, will Maddy go back to the job she loved so much? Or will she discover that the key to happiness lies in making others happy?

Escape To Giddywell Grange by Kim Nash
on 18/09/2019
Pages: 253
Genres: Adult, Feel Good
Format: ARC
Goodreads

ENGLISH REVIEW 

Before we dive into this review let’s start off with stating that I read this book in a huge reading slump. That is why it took me almost 3 weeks to finish this story. It says nothing about the story. Nothing about how good this book really was. It says something about my mind-set while reading it. If that stupid reading slump wouldn’t have hit me like a hurricane, I probably would have finish this little gem in two days tops.

I was actually drawn to Escape to Giddywell Grange because Holly Martin (aka my all-time favourite feel good author) was raving about it on her Facebook page. And after finishing this story, I can honestly say I understand her enthusiasm.

We follow Maddy, who is kind of a workaholic and lives for her job in PR. But when she is one day made redundant she loses her way and finds that her life is actually quite empty. When she returns to her hometown Giddywell, she finds that life is more than just work alone.

Maddy is my kind of female lead. She is a determined, funny, caring person who has lost her way. Throughout the story you really see her grow as a character. I absolutely loved how her best friend Beth pushed her out of her comfort zone to discover herself once again. These unexpected challenges Beth poses to Maddy made me laugh out loud numerous times, but at the same time they were heart-warming.

One little side note about this story the blurbs describe it as a romantic story and I couldn’t disagree more. There is almost no romance in the story. I personally love a good romance and actually missed some romance in the plot. But I think this is the perfect story for people who love the feel good genre, but are not too keen on overly sweet, romantic story’s. Escape to Giddywell Grange is not a romantic story, it is a story about learning to love yourself again. About finding out who you are and who you want to be. About roots, about family, about friendship and about dogs. Romance is one of the less important parts of this story.

I absolutely loved the story and would highly recommend for people who love a decent feel good story. I can’t wait for another novel by Kim Nash! She is a new force to be reckoned with in this genre!

The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge – Julie Stock

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When Olivia goes to manage Finn’s failing bistro, will they end up sharing a table for two, or will it be a recipe for disaster?
Olivia Fuller longs to manage one of the restaurants in her father’s chain and to break free to live the independent life she’s wanted for so long. When her father finally puts his trust in her and sends her to a failing restaurant in Devon, she’s confident she can prove herself capable of doing the job.
Finn Anderson is about to lose his beloved seaside bistro, unless the bank can find a buyer to dig him out. When George Fuller offers Finn a deal, he has no choice but to accept if he wants any chance of getting his bistro back one day. And then the new manager arrives…
Even after meeting the prickly chef and discovering his complete lack of business skills, Olivia is confident she can turn the struggling business round. But as Olivia and Finn start working together, a mutual attraction develops between them, and soon, nothing is going according to Olivia’s plan. 
When there’s a real chance that the bistro might be sold off, Olivia and Finn determine to fight for it, united by their hard work and their growing feelings for each other.
But can they save the bistro and be together, or does destiny have a different path in mind?

 

The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge by Julie Stock
on 6/08/2019
Pages: 210
Genres: Adult, Feel Good
Format: ARC
Goodreads

ENGLISH REVIEW 

The Bistro By Watersmeet Bridge drew me in with its stunning cover. Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that beautiful cover. It’s so picturesque and really invites the reader to visit this quaint little place. But apart from that I absolutely loved the short synopsis. As many of you might know by now, I am a sucker for books that take place in restaurants, pubs, bakery’s… anything that involves food really does it for me.
I had really high hopes for The Bistro By Watersmeet Bridge, but it hurts to say it didn’t rise up to the expectations. The story is without any doubt cute and a very quick read. But it lacks a little depth for me.
Let’s be frank here. In the feel good genre a new book hits the shelves every day. And they basically all sell the same story. So for me as a reader it is important that the author really puts her own stamp on the story. Sucks me in and makes me want to keep turning pages. And that is what The Bistro By Watersmeet Bridge failed to do for me. I didn’t bought the romance.
For one, the character of Finn is underdeveloped. He isn’t a bad guy or anything. But he’s just there. Like a cardboard figure in the background. He has no character development or strength. Olivia, the female protagonist is a force to be reckoned with. She is strong, fearless and ready to fight for the things she believes in. There was absolutely no chemistry between these two characters. So the romance developing between them was a little hard to understand. No wicked banter, no passionate fights, no smoldering looks. Nothing of that sort, apart from very sudden developments in their relationship. Which would have been believable if they were two people passionately in love, but that element of the story was completely lacking.
So yes, it was an enjoyable and easy read. But it was just that. Nothing I will remember in a few months’ time. And that’s the thing isn’t it. When a friend asks in a few months if I have good Feel Good recommendations I will have forgotten about this story. A missed chance for me, because the overall story was quite enjoyable.

Summer Heat – Rachel Van Dyken

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Spoiled Princess is what he used to call me.
We were an inferno of hate and passion wound up with a dash of chaos.
For four years I watched him mow my lawn.
For four years I watched my friends make fun of him.
For four years I hated myself for wanting him, but even more for the way I treated him.
And then I had him.
For one night, we put all labels away and I spent the best night of my life in his arms.
Then the next day, with my secret night under lock and key, I looked the other way while my friends shamed him.
But now the jokes on me, because the scrawny lawn boy who I secretly loved from afar is now the director of Hollywoods most exclusive summer camp.
And I’m on his staff.
Now it’s his turn to punish me. 
His turn to make me pay.
His turn to take his revenge after years of humiliation.

Summer Heat by Rachel Van Dycken
Series: Cruel Summer #1
on 2/08/2018
Pages: 122
Genres: Adult, New Adult, Romance
Format: ARC
Goodreads

ENGLISH REVIEW (KIJK SNEL EVEN HIER VOOR MIJN NEDERLANDSE REVIEW!)

Summer Heat gets raving reviews across the internet. So I was really intrigued. Especially because I don’t read a lot of new adult. The main reason why I don’t read the genre that often anymore is because I am pretty disappointed with the storys. Apart from Colleen Hoover there hasn’t been an author who really knew how to captivate my attention for longer than a few pages. I really hoped that Rachel Van Dyken could work her magic on me. Unfortunately, I was pretty disappointed.

Before diving into all the reasons I didn’t like this book, let’s talk about the fact that this is actually not a book. It is 122 pages, which in my honest opinion is a novella. 122 isn’t a lot of time and space to captivate a reader. It means you have to hit a home run as a reader. Summer Heat is the first instalment in a 3 book series, but they are all the same length. So for me I think they are just one full length novel that for some reason was divided into 3 little novella’s.

Now let’s get into the reasons why this book didn’t do it for me. When you read a book in this genre you are set on getting some tropes. You just know that… but here is was cliché after cliché. Rich, spoiled girl looks down on poor boy. They hate each other apart from that one night they let their true emotions show. Fast forward 4 years later and that poor, geeky boy has transformed in some Greek God Adonis. He has transformed so much that the girl who used to see him every day doesn’t even realise she is talking to him. Really? That’s what you want readers to believe? He has been to the gym! Not had a face transplant. People change, yes definitely. But not completely in four years.

Then there is the whole “enemies to lovers” theme in this book. I normally don’t have a problem with this storyline. But here the hate is real. There is a lot of baggage and both the characters treat each other like garbage. Mix that with a lot of very awkward sexual tension and you get a really weird, uncomfortable story to read. And then I am not even mentioning the sex scenes. Because… well they are awkward and not at all sexy.

I won’t be continuing the story. It ends with a huge cliff-hanger, something that is designed to keep people reading, right? Well, not for me this time. I close the book and though never again.

 

A Summer to Remember -Victoria Cooke

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After the tragic loss of her husband, Sam built a new life around friends, her cat Coco and a career she loves. Fending off frequent set-ups and well-meaning advice to ‘move on’, Sam is resolutely happy being single.
But when Sam gets seconded to her firm’s Boston office for the summer, it is more than her career that is in for a shake-up. A spur of the moment decision to visit the idyllic beaches of Cape Cod could end up changing her life forever.

A Summer to Remember by Victoria Cooke
on 05/07/2019
Pages: 384
Genres: AdultChicklitFeel GoodContemporary
Format: ARC
Goodreads
four-stars

ENGLISH REVIEW (KIJK SNEL EVEN HIER VOOR MIJN NEDERLANDSE REVIEW!)

Sometimes books take you completely by surprise. A Summer To Remember was such a book. I admit I was drawn in by the comparisation with Holly Martin. But honestly I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did.

A Summer To Remember is more than just another romantic, beachy, holiday read. It is more than that. It is a very emotional read which deals with difficult topics like grieve, letting go, self-love, and forgiveness.

Our main character Sam is a damaged heroine, eight years ago she lost the love of her life in a car accident and has been grieving ever since. She has focussed mainly on her career and this summer she is finally getting the reward she worked so hard for. She gets the chance to spend 3 months working in the Boston Office on a really important international campaign.

Of course this is a romantic contemporary. So yes, there are romantic scenes. But there is also much more. It is about Sam standing up for herself at work, making new friends and opening yourself up to life and the possibility of becoming happy again.

Sam is really struggling with her past and letting go of Kev, her departed husband. The inner turmoil she is experiencing felt very real to me and I loved how it wasn’t all wrapped up neatly with a bow. You see Sam making huge mistakes, just because she is scared. But you also see her grow and I absolutely loved the evolution she went through. Even the romance was spot on. In a book were grief is such a huge topic it would have felt completely wrong if it was love at first sight. Again the struggle with romantic feelings felt very realistic and well thought trough.

I am kind of hoping we will be visiting this cast of characters in a future novel. Because well… everybody should have a Barney and Harry in their lives! Can we get a whole book with them as the main characters, please?

And yes I am talking about another book, because Victoria Cook has skyrocketed herself in my top 3 favourite contemporary authors. I can’t wait to explore more books by her hand.

A Summer to Remember is a beautiful, emotional story. It is a heart-warming and completely addictive read. I was sucked in from the very first page and couldn’t put it away. Bulls-eye for me!

WAT VOND IK VAN A SUMMER TO REMEMBER?

Sommige boeken weten je soms echt te verbazen. Voor mij was A Summer To Remember zo een boek. Ik moet toegeven dat ik de ARC vooral aanvroeg, vanwege de vergelijking met Holly Martin. Ik had niet verwacht zo verliefd te worden op dit boek.

A Summer To Remember is veel meer dan het zoveelste romantische verhaal dat zich afspeelt op een locatie met zon, zee en strand. Het is een heel emotioneel verhaal dat moeilijke onderwerpen zoals rouwen, loslaten en vergeven niet uit de weg gaat.

Het hoofdpersonage Sam heeft grote wonden op haar hart en ziel. 8 jaar geleden verloor ze haar grote liefde in een ongeluk en sindsdien is ze in diepe rouw. Ze heeft zich volledig op haar carrière gegooid en deze zomer krijgt ze eindelijk de beloning waar ze al Jaren van droomt. Ze mag 3 maanden gaan meedraaien op het hoofdkantoor in Boston om daar mee te werken aan een internationale campagne.

Natuurlijk is dit boek een romantisch verhaal. Maar het is ook heel veel meer. We volgen Sam terwijl ze leert op te komen voor zichzelf en haar ideeën op kantoor. We zien haar nieuwe vrienden maken en relaties met anderen aangaan. Een voor een zien we langzaam haar verdedigingsmechanisme afzwakken.

Sam heeft het heel moeilijk met haar verleden en zelf na 8 jaar heeft ze haar echtgenoot nog niet kunnen loslaten. Ze voelt zich echt verscheurt en deze verhaallijn werd heel realistisch naar voren gebracht in het verhaal. Sam is bang om gekwetst te worden. Bang om zich open te stellen. Maar ook bang om het verleden recht in de ogen te kijken. Ook de ontluikende romance in dit boek was erg realistisch. Een passionele coup de foudre had hier totaal misplaatst geweest. Ik kon het dus enkel maar appreciëren dat de vlinders in haar buik heel wat tegenstrijdige gevoelens opriepen en Sam echt met zichzelf in gevecht lag.

Ik hoop stiekem dat we de personages in dit verhaal snel nog eens tegen het lijf mogen lopen. Iedereen zou een Barney en Harry in zijn leven moeten hebben. Hopelijk komt er een boek met hen als de hoofdpersonages.

Victoria Cooke wist zich in mijn top 3 van favoriete auteurs te katapulteren. Ik kan niet wachten om nog meer boeken van haar te ontdekken.

A Summer to Remember is een prachtig, emotioneel verhaal. Hartverwarmend en complete verslavend. Ik kon het amper wegleggen. Een schot in de roos voor mij!

 

The Little Village of Happiness – Holly Martin

Willow McKay needs a fresh start. Her recent break-up may not have left her heartbroken but it’s certainly wounded her pride. Desperate to escape the whispers and stares of her town’s gossips, an advert offering homes in a picturesque village in the grounds of a majestic castle on the Cornish coast sounds like just what she needs. Without thinking twice Willow applies for a cottage and packs up her life for the village of Happiness.
But when Willow arrives she finds a crumbling ruin and ramshackle cottages, nothing like the pretty picture the advert had boasted. It seems Happiness was too good to be true. That is until she meets the incredibly handsome estate manager Andrew Harrington…
His passion for restoring the village to its former glory is contagious and soon they are working together to bring happiness back to Happiness. And as sparks fly between them Willow can feel herself falling. But Andrew is holding something back.
Can Willow risk her heart again? And will they succeed in transforming the old village to its original beauty before it’s too late?

The Little Village of Happiness by Holly Martin
Series: Happiness #1
on 05/07/2019
Pages: 379
Genres: AdultChicklitFeel GoodContemporary
Format: ARC
Goodreads
four-stars

ENGLISH REVIEW (KIJK SNEL EVEN HIER VOOR MIJN NEDERLANDSE REVIEW!)

You are probably thinking, of course it is a Holly Martin book, she loved it. And I did… but this one took some time to grow on me.  With other books by Holly I am mostly captivated by the story from the very first lines… The Little Village of Happiness took me a while longer to really connect with.

I think the location plays a big part in my “connection” problems and I keep on wondering if Holly did it on purpose.  In the story we follow Willow to a privatly owned village on the Cornish coast where you get a great deal from the town owners. You get to live there for free during 12 months, you only have to give something back to the village.  When Willow arrives at Happiness she is quite shocked to find such a sad looking town. Not a lot of inhabitants, houses that are falling apart.. it is all very gloomy and sad. So I think it might have been Holly’s intention to make you feel what Willow is experiencing. Willow doubts her choices and is really questioning if Happiness is worth saving. But together with Willow you fall in love with the village and its inhabitants. So it slowly grows on you and suddenly you realize how invested you are.

Of course that very hansom handymen has something to do with it. I absolutely love Holly’s male leads. They are always perfect boyfriend material. (Dare I say husband material. )  But Andrew is multi layered. There is more to him that what meets the eye and it gave the story so much more debt. I really loved how everything was handled and how Andrews story-line was brought. Very realistic, very integer and very well researched.

Willow, our main character is one of my favorite Holly characters ever. She is such a bubbly, impulsive, funny, good humored girl. I loved her from the very first page. She is so optimistic and good natured. I would love to have her as a friend in real life! I know in the next story set in Happiness we will follow another character, but I am really looking forward to see Willow again. Because quite frankly, it was hard to let her go. I would have read a 1000 page novel about her.

I absolutely loved The Little Village of Happiness. It’s classic Holly Martin. It is heart warming, at times laugh out loud funny, but at the same time deals with harder subjects. I was especially happy with the little cameo from one of her previous series. I hope this will be a little surprise we will encounter in more books of her in the future. (Have i mentioned I can’t let go of characters I really love?)

Absolutely recommended read for the summer! Go get yourself a copy now!

WAT VOND IK VAN THE LITTLE VILLAGE OF HAPPINESS?

Nu denk je waarschijnlijk, het is een Holly Martin boek dus Silke gaat sowieso erg enthousiast zijn. En ik ben ook enthousiast, maar ik ga ook eerlijk bekennen dat dit boek toch wel wat meer tijd nodig had om bepaalde gevoelens bij me los te krijgen. Meestal weet Holly me vanaf de eerste pagina compleet te betoveren, maar nu verliep het allemaal wat moeizamer.

Ik denk dat de locatie van het verhaal daar voor een stukje tussen zit en ik vermoed eigenlijk ook dat het expres gedaan is. In het verhaal volgen we namelijk Willow, die ingaat op een heel uitzonderlijk aanbod. Ze mag een jaar lang gratis in het dorpje Happiness gaan wonen, de enige tegenprestatie is dat ze iets terugdoet voor het dorp en zijn gemeenschap. Wanneer Willow echter aankomt in Happiness is ze geschrokken om een bouwvallig, vooral leegstaand dorp terug te vinden. De huizen zijn allemaal versleten en er hangt een droevig sfeertje van vergane glorie. Ik denk dus dat het misschien wel Holly’s bedoeling was om je als lezer echt mee te nemen in de gemengde gevoelens van Willow.  Maar samen met Willow wordt je stap voor stap verliefd op het dorpje en zijn inwoners.

Misschien dat de knappe klusjesman daar ook wel voor iets tussenzit. Sowieso ben ik een grote fan van Holly’s mannelijke hoofdrolspelers. Ze zijn allemaal perfecte vriendjes (durf ik zelf te zeggen de gedroomde echtgenoot?) Maar Andres heeft meer lagen. Wanneer ze hem beter leert kennen ontdekt Willow dat hij toch wel enkele onverwachte geheimen heeft. Deze geheimen spelen een belangrijke rol in het verhaal en worden erg mooi naar voor gebracht. De manier waarop de problematiek waar Andrew mee geconfronteerd wordt in beeld wordt gebracht is heel integer, mooi en geloofwaardig.

Willow is dan weer zonder twijfel een van mijn favoriete personages uit Holly haar boeken ooit. Ze is ontzettend optimistisch, een echte flapuit, vrolijk dartelt ze door het leven. Ik was meteen dol op haar vanaf de eerste pagina. Jammer dat ik geen vriendinnen met haar kan zijn in het echte leven. Ik weet dat het volgende verhaal dat zich afspeelt in Happiness een ander personage zal volgen, maar toch zit ik echt al op hete kolen om te zien hoe het met Willow gaat. Het was moeilijk om haar los te laten.

Ik heb echt ontzettend genoten van The Little Village of Happiness. Het is echt een klassieke Holly Martin. Hartverwarmend, met momenten zat ik hardop te lachen, maar het gaat ook zwaardere onderwerpen niet uit de weg. Ik was erg blij met de kleine cameo van een personage uit een andere reeks. Ik hoop dat dit een trend blijft en dat we zo nog kleine cameo’s krijgen in de toekomst.

Een absolute aanrader voor de zomer!

Foxglove Farm – Christie Barlow

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Isla and Drew Allaway appear to have the perfect life – a strong marriage, two beautiful children and their picture-perfect home, Foxglove Farm.
 But, new mum Isla is struggling.  She loves her little family but with Drew working all hours on the farm, Isla’s lonely.When she discovers that Drew has been keeping secrets from her, Isla has to face losing the home they all love.
Can the Love Heart Lane community pull together once more to help save Foxglove Farm?  And can Isla save her home…and her marriage?

Foxglove Farm by Christie Barlow
Series: Love Heart Lane
on 28/06/2019
Published by HarperImpulse Pages:
Genres: AdultChicklitFeel GoodContemporary
Format: ARC
Goodreads

ENGLISH REVIEW (KIJK SNEL EVEN HIER VOOR MIJN NEDERLANDSE REVIEW!)

I was really looking forward to dream away on the Foxglove Farm, but I have to say that my trip to Love Heart Lane was a little disappointing.

Foxglove Farm is the second instalment of the Love Heart Lane series, but it can be read as a stand-alone without any further problem. I haven’t read the first book in the series either, but that is not really a problem. Of course you feel that you miss a little background story, but I think most of the details were filled in by the author. Ideal for new readers and a nice little refresh for people who read the first book.

The story focusses on Isla and her husband Drew, who run Foxglove Farm. But the couple is struggling and Isla tries to understand why her husband is moody and distant. From that moment the story really kicks off.

All in all the story wasn’t all that bad. The overall storyline was quite entertaining and I loved the whole idea of Isla finding a solution to all there problems and by finding that solution finding that she is a strong, independent woman.

But the author completely lost me with a certain storyline dealing with a certain medical condition. I really hated the way that storyline was executed. Sadly enough I have seen this disease wreak havoc in my family and seen what it can do to people. So it kind of hurt if that makes any sense to see it played down in this story. Things like this don’t disappear just with a few hugs and kisses. Not all is good in the world because you have mentioned the unmentionable to your loved ones. I just wanted to throw this book away and yell to the author while reading this. A strong reaction, I know and maybe a little exaggerated. But if she ever experienced anything like this in real life I don’t think she would buy her own storyline.

Such a shame because I actually quite enjoyed the rest of the story. I absolutely adored Isla’s grandmother Martha, who is a force to be reckoned with. And the whole book breathed such a strong community feeling. So lovely.

Maybe this book just wasn’t for me. I might give one of her other books a chance in the future.

WAT VOND IK VAN FOXGLOVE FARM?

Ik keek er echt naar uit om helemaal verliefd te worden op Foxglove Farm. Jammer genoeg moet ik vaststellen dat ik behoorlijk teleurgesteld ben in het verhaal.

Foxglove Farm is het tweede deel in de Love Heart Lane serie, maar je kan het ook perfect als stand alone lezen. Ikzelf had het eerste boek in de serie niet gelezen, maar kon perfect het verhaal mee volgen. Af en toe merk je wel dat je misschien iets mist. Maar de auteur zorgt ervoor dat er genoeg toegelicht wordt. Ideaal dus voor nieuwe lezers, maar ook als korte opfrissing voor oude gekende.

Het verhaal focust zich op Isla en haar echtgenoot Drew, die samen de boerderij Foxglove Farm uitbaten. Maar het koppel heeft wat problemen en Isle probeert er achter te komen waarom haar echtgenoot zo afstandelijk is.

Op zich is de verhaallijn zeker niet verkeerd. Het verhaal is interessant en ook best vernieuwd met de alpaca’s en het leven op een draaiende boerderij. Ik hield ook ontzettend van de ontwikkeling die Isla doormaakte. Ze nam echt de koe bij de hoorns om haar problemen op te lossen en ze bleef niet bij de pakken zitten.

Maar dan trapte de auteur echt op mijn tenen. Er is namelijk een verhaallijn waarin een bepaalde medische aandoening een hele grote rol speelt. Wel die verhaallijn was een echte aanfluiting voor patiënten. Jammer genoeg ben ik in het verleden van dichtbij meermaals met deze aandoening geconfronteerd geweest en weet ik wat voor een moeizame, pijnlijke weg dit is. En wat voor wonden deze ziekte achterlaat zowel bij de patiënt als bij diegene die veel van hem houden. Ik vond het dus een regelrechte aanfluiting dat de auteur zo snel over de problematiek heen ging. Deze aandoening los je echt niet op met een paar knuffels en kusjes. Er waren momenten dat ik het boek echt vol walging van me af wou gooien en eens goed wou roepen en tieren. Ik vermoed dat de schrijfster zelf geen praktijkervaring heeft met deze aandoening, anders zou ze haar eigen verhaallijn hopelijk even schrijnend vinden als ik.

Jammer want zoals ik al zei is het verhaal op zich zeker niet slecht. Vooral Isla’s grootmoeder Martha is een heerlijk personage. En het dorpsgevoel in het boek is echt schitterend.

Misschien was het boek gewoon niet voor mij bestemt. En wie weet geef ik haar boeken in de toekomst nog wel eens een kans. Als mijn woede over dit boek een beetje bekoelt is.

Summer at the Little French Cafe – Karen Clarcke

summer at the little french cafeIn the beautiful village of Chamillon lies the Café Belle Vie, where you’ll always find croissants and friends when you need them the most – and where Elle is hoping to uncover the truth about her past…

Thirty-year-old Elle Matheson has decided it’s finally time to find the mother who gave her up as a baby. With a faded postcard from the Café Belle Vie in hand – one of the very few things she has from her mother – she heads straight to the Île de Ré to begin her search.

With only the postcard and the ivory shawl she was wrapped in as clues, finding her mum is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, even with the help of friendly – and gorgeous – café-owner Charlie. And since Elle hasn’t exactly told her younger sister what she’s up to, the little white lies about where she is are starting to add up…

But Elle is really starting to feel at home on the beautiful island. The locals are welcoming, the café is homely, and Charlie is always there with a helping hand, a listening ear, and a pain au chocolat.

Is Elle about to discover not just where she came from – but where she belongs?

Summer at the Little French Cafe by Karen Clarke
Series: Little French Cafe #2
on 27 June 2019
Published by Bookouture Pages: 281
Genres: AdultChicklitContemporaryFeel Good
Format: ARC
Goodreads
three-stars

ENGLISH REVIEW (KIJK SNEL EVEN HIER VOOR MIJN NEDERLANDSE REVIEW!)

A while back I read Karen Clarckes series at Seashell Cove. It was a series I had pretty mixed feelings about. One book in the series really stole my heart, while the others were quite mediocre. But I wanted to read something else by her hand, because I wanted to see if I would love her other work more.

Summer at the Little French Café is the second installment in the series, but can be read as a standalone. There are some tiny little pieces of the puzzle that you might be missing, but overall you never feel left out as a reader. The main character of the first installment is only mentioned in this one, so it’s not like you get a glimpse on their further lives as is sometimes the case with these series. Might be a little disappointing for readers of the first book.

I think I can now safely say after reading four of Karen’s books that they are not my cup of tea. I think they are just mediocre in the genre and don’t really bring anything new to the table. They are okay and have their strong points, but for me they are just not good enough.

The story overall was pretty interesting. With Elle trying to find her birth-mother, with only a scarf, a bracelet and a postcard to go on. It felt like a little mystery that needed to be solved. And I really enjoyed the wrap up of this story-line. It was heart-warming and different from what I expected. So absolutely found this story-line interesting, refreshing and it kept me reading.

What didn’t keep me reading was the romance in this book. There are some potential love interest for Elle in the Chamillon. But I just couldn’t see her with any of them. There was zero chemistry between Elle and any of the men she got to know. I found the eventual come out pretty predictable and I kind of hated the in between story-line. I found it unnecessary and kind of bad executed.

One of my major complaints about this book however was the fact that the location is so very important for the story. I mean the book is named The Little French Café. Even the series is named after this café in France. The setting on Ile de Ré is important. The setting at times feels like an important character in the story and normally I absolutely love it when authors do this. Because it gives the story an instant injection of vacation and exploration. But that only counts when the setting is brought to life on the pages. And I don’t think Karen was able to do is. Chamillon never came alive. It was just descriptions on paper. When I was reading I could not hear the sea or smell the saltiness in the air. The same counts for the café. Numerous pastries are mentioned, but I never got that mouth-watering feeling that I love in feel good books about cafes and restaurants.

Overall it wasn’t a bad book. It was a fast read, with an interesting story-line. But I don’t love the writing and think this book is not outstanding enough in a genre that gives us so many new books every month. It is just another book.. nothing new, nothing refreshing, nothing I haven’t read before. It would maybe have been a different story if the writing would have been captivating and I would have felt like I spend some time on Ile de Ré, but sadly I closed the book and almost immediately forgot half of the story.

 

WAT VOND IK VAN SUMMER AT THE LITTLE FRENCH CAFE?

Een tijdje terug las ik de Seashell Cove serie geschreven voor Karen Clarcke. Hier had ik best gemengde gevoelens over. Een boek in de reeks wist een plekje in mijn hart te veroveren, maar de anderen konden mij niet overtuigen. Toch was ik benieuwd om nog een boek van haar te lezen. Misschien kon dit mij wel overtuigen?

Summer at the Little French Café is het tweede deel in een reeks, maar kan ook gelezen worden als alleenstaand boek. Er zitten hier en daar wat kleine verwijzingen in die je misschien niet direct snapt, maar op zich is het perfect aalleen te lezen. Het hoofdpersonage uit het eerste boek wordt enkel vermeld. Ze speelt geen actieve rol meer in dit deel, wat meestal wel gebruikelijk is in dit soort series. Dus misschien wel jammer voor lezers die graag nog iets wouden vernemen van Nathalie.

Ik denk dat ik nu met een gerust hart kan zeggen dat de boeken van Karen niet meteen mijn favoriete leesvoer zijn. Ik vind ze maar gemiddeld binnen het genre feel good. Een gevalletje dertien in een dozijn. Ze zijn zeker niet slecht, maar ze zijn niet vernieuwden of betoverend mooi.

Het verhaal op zich was best wel interessant. We volgen Elle op haar zoektocht naar haar biologische moeder. Het enige wat ze heeft als aanwijzingen zijn een armband, een sjaal en een kaartje van haar geboortedorp. Het voelde een beetje als een mini mysterie dat opgelost moest worden en wist me echt wel te boeien. Ook de uiteindelijk uitkomst was verrassend en hartverwarmend. Geen klachten op dat vlak!

Wat er voor zorgde dat ik echter niet wou blijven lezen was de romantiek in het verhaal. Er zijn een aantal potentiele romantische kandidaten voor Elle, maar naar mijn gevoel had ze met geen enkele man die ze tegen het lijf liep enige connectie. Er was geen chemie en er werden zogenaamde “spannende” scenes gecreëerd om toch maar de indruk te geven dat er aantrekkingskracht was. Ook de manier waarom de verschillende mannen omgingen met Elle vond ik behoorlijk misplaatst en niet noodzakelijk voor het boek.

Maar mijn grootste ergernis met dit boek was toch wel het feit dat de locatie zo een belangrijk rol had moeten spleen. Het boek en de serie noemt tenslotte het kleine franse cafe. De setting is dus erg belangrijk. Ile de Ré en het dorpje Chamillon voelen soms zelf als een hoofdpersonage in het boek. Ikzelf hou er ontzettend van als schrijvers een belangrijke locatie echt tot leven weten te brengen op papier. Dat je als lezer echt het gevoel krijgt daar op locatie te zijn en mee te wandelen langst de zee met de personages. Jammer genoeg niets van dat alles in The Little French Cafe. Nooit kreeg ik het gevoel de zee te kunnen horen of zelf maar het zilte van het water te kunnen opsnuiven. Alles bleef vlak en een dimensionaal. Daarnaast speelt ook het cafe een belangrijke rol. Ik kan zo genieten van levendige beschrijvingen van koffiekoeken, maar ook hier weer een hele droge opsommingen zonder iets echt tot leven te wekken. Chamillon never came alive. It was just descriptions on paper. When I was reading I could not hear the sea or smell the saltiness in the air. The same counts for the café. Numerous pastries are mentioned, but I never got that mouth-watering feeling that I love in feel good books about cafes and restaurants.

Al bij al was het een slecht boek. Het was heel snel uit en de zoektocht naar haar biologische moeder was boeiend om te volgen. Maar ik vind dat het boek niets nieuws aanbrengt binnen het genre. Het is het dertiende boek in een dozijn en dat binnen een genre waar elke maand tientallen nieuwe boeken de markt overspoelen. Voor mij geen aanrader en niet sterk genoeg om een vaste waarde te worden in mijn bibliotheek. Ik sloeg de laatste pagina om en was de helft van het verhaal al vergeten. Een gemiste kans…

One Last Greek Summer – Mandy Baggot

one-last-greek-summerBeth Martin is 31, newly divorced and wondering just what life holds for her…

Best-friend, Heidi, is adamant that all the answers lie in Corfu – the island where the girls partied away their youth. So cue a trip to a sun-drenched Greek island, ouzo cocktails, a trip down memory lane… and Alex Hallas, the man Beth has never quite forgotten.

As they dance under the stars, the sand beneath their toes, old feelings begin to resurface and Beth might just have a chance to take back her life. If they can learn to love the people they’ve become…

One Last Greek Summer by Mandy Baggot
on 6 June 2019
Published by Aria Pages: 280
Genres: Adult
Format: ARC
Goodreads
four-stars

Are you ready to spend a summer on the beautiful island of Corfu falling in love with life itself?!

Ben jij klaar om een zomer door te brengen op het prachtige Griekse eiland Corfu en om verliefd te worden op het leven daar?

ENGLISH REVIEW (KIJK SNEL EVEN HIER VOOR MIJN NEDERLANDSE REVIEW!)

In the past few years I have enjoyed Mandy Baggots book that are set in Greece, Corfu to be specific. I think nothing can ever chance my love for Those Summer Nights, but I must say that One Last Greek Summer is pretty high in my favourite list.

Actually I went in with low expectations, because last year I felt a little let down when I read Single for the Summer. But I was still very curious when I saw One Last Greek Summer announced.

In this book we follow Beth, who is recently divorced and is trying to find her place in the world. When her best friend Heidi comes up with the plan to travel to Corfu and re-enact the summer they spend there when they were 21; Beth is at first a little hesitant. She is totally different woman now. But Heidi can be very persuasive and once on the island Beth realises she hasn’t changed that much. She just lost herself and the things she loved. One of the things she loved is the beautiful Greek DJ Alex, who crosses her path one again.

Needless to say is that I absolutely love a Greek setting. Mandy Baggot is so very good at bringing Corfu to life on the pages of her books. The description of the sea and the beaches are spot on. You just have to close your eyes and you are there in Corfu, with the main characters. I could taste the gyro and the wine. I just felt like I had a really short break to Corfu.

But apart from that I loved this story because it contained so much more than just a holiday romance and some beautiful descriptions of Corfu. It is a story about divorce and finding yourself after losing everything that is important to you. I really enjoyed the fact that Beth is one of the strongest main characters I have read about so far in one of Mandy’s books. Even looking at her past and her failed marriage, you see that she always made well thought trough choices and always put her loved ones first. You really saw her growing throughout the story and I really appreciated the fact that we got to see Beth breaking loose from her failed marriage.

Of course there is romance between Beth and her long lost vacation love Alex. I am not spoiling anything by telling you that, because let’s face it, it is even in the synopsis. I wasn’t buying their love story from the get go, because well it clearly was lust at first sight. But when you keep reading this story takes a bit of a different course from earlier books I read by Mandy and I really appreciated that.

The only thing that annoyed me beyond words, where the cringe worthy sex references throughout the book. Readers of my blog know how much I love a hot scene and some sexy talk in my books. But this was just… well cringe worthy like I said. If you can’t do explicit, then just don’t try it. It felt forced. Well, mostly it felt like someone used a dictionary to look up all the synonyms for vagina.

But don’t let that put you of. It’s not an erotic book, so the not so sexy wording isn’t an overall big point. One Last Greek Summer feels like a little trip to Corfu. I read it in the first warm days of the year and after finishing it I felt like I had been on holiday. Relaxed, happy and with a pretty big appetite for gyro.

So hurry to the store! Because you need this book to read over the summer by the pool!

WAT VOND IK VAN ONE LAST GREEK SUMMER?

De afgelopen jaren genoot ik meermaals van Mandy Baggots verhalen die zich afspelen op het Griekse eiland Corfu. Ik ben er vrij zeker van dat Those Summer Nights altijd mijn favoriet zal blijven, maar ik moet bekennen dat One Last Greek Summer mij toch ook wel kon bekoren.

Ik begon nogthans met weinig verwachting aan dit boek. Vorige zomer was ik namelijk behoorlijk teleurgesteld in Singe For the Summer. Maar bij het persbericht dat One Last Greek Summer ging uitkomen was mijn interesse toch wel gewekt. –

In dit boek volgen we Beth, die recent gescheiden is van haar rijke, succesvolle man. Beth is volop op zoek naar haar plek in de wereld, wat een beetje stroef verloopt gezien ze elke dag geconfronteerd wordt met haar oude leven op haar job. Wanneer haar beste vriendin Heidi voorstelt om naar Corfu af te reizen en daar nogmaals een geweldige zomer te beleven twijfelt Beth. Want het was een geweldige ervaring toen ze 21 jaar waren, maar 11 jaar later is er heel wat verandert. Maar Heidi sleept Beth toch mee naar het eiland en daar ontdekt ze al gauw dat ze nogsteeds diezelfde Beth is. Ze was gewoon alle dingen waar ze van hield een beetje uit het oog verloren. Een van die dingen is de knappe Griekse DJ Alex.

Het is waarschijnlijk onnodig om te zeggen dat ik telkens helemaal betoverd wordt door de prachtige Griekse setting. Mandy Baggot weet perfect hoe ze Corfyu tot leven moet brengen op de pagina’s van haar boeken. De beschrijvingen van de zee en het strand, zorgen ervoor dat je enkel je ogen moet sluiten en de zee effectief hoort ruisen. Ik kon de gyros bijna op mijn tong proeven. Het voelde als een kleine trip naar Griekenland.

Maar dit verhaal wist me ook te charmeren omdat het over zoveel meer gaat dan gewoon een vakantieliefde en strand. Het gaat over de naweeën van een echtscheiding en hoe je jezelf moet herontdekken nadat je alles beth kwijtgeraakt dat veel voor je betekende. Beth is een van de sterkste hoofdpersonages die ik reeds in een boek van Mandy tegen mocht komen. Zelfs als je terugkijkt naar haar verleden dan zie je dat ze altijd een erg sterke vrouw is geweest, die haar geliefden op de eerste plek zet. Ik kon het erg appreciëren dat we Beth echt zien loskomen uit haar mislukte huwelijk en zien groeien tijdens haar verblijf op Corfu.

Natuurlijk speelt ook de romance tussen Beth en haar vakantieliefje van weleer Alex een belangrijke rol. Dit zijn geen spoilers want dat kan je zelf vinden op de korte inhoud. In het begin geloofde ik niet zo in hun aantrekkingskracht. Er was duidelijk spraken van lust op het eerste gezicht, maar liefde… dat ging voor mij niet onmiddellijk op. Het verhaal neemt echter een ietwat onverwachte wending en hierdoor kon ik hun connectie beter appreciëren.

Het enige waar ik me tijdens het lezen echt ontzettend aan heb zitten ergeren, waren de seksscenes en de zinsspelingen op zin hebben in seks. Mijn haar kwam hier echt recht van omhoog te staan. Lezers van mijn blog weten dat ik absoluut niet vies ben van stomende scenes en een beetje seks talk in mijn verhalen. Maar in dit geval was het zeker geen meerwaarde. Het voelde erg onnatuurlijk en geforceerd aan. Met momenten leek het wel of iemand alle synoniemen voor vagina had opgezocht in het woordenboek.

Maar laat je dat zeker niet afschrikken. Het is geen erotisch verhaal, dus de seks bewoordingen zijn slechts in kleine mate aanwezig. One Last Greek Summer is sowieso het lezen waard. Ik las het tijdens de eerste warme dagen van het jaar en kreeg echt het gevoel alsof ik kort op vakantie was geweest. Ik hield er ook een gigantische zin in gyro aan over.

Een absolute aanrader voor deze zomer bij een lekker glaasje wijn en een ruisende zee!