Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain / Blog Tour

Poppy’s Recipe for Life by Heidi Swain

 

42360579Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 30th May  2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Things haven’t always been straightforward in Poppy’s life but her dreams are finally within her reach.

She’s moving into a cottage in beautiful Nightingale Square, close to the local community garden, where she can indulge her passion for making preserves and pickles. She may not have the best relationship with her family but she is surrounded by loving friends, and feels sure that even her grumpy new neighbour, Jacob, has more to him than his steely exterior belies.

But the unexpected arrival of Poppy’s troubled younger brother soon threatens her new-found happiness and as the garden team works together to win community space of the year, Poppy must decide where her priorities lie and what she is prepared to fight for …

Rating: four-stars

 

Poppy is new to Nightingale Square, though I have a feeling that she’s not new to the residents of the Square, that all of them know and love her. Jacob is also new, but he’d rather keep himself to himself. Poppy works at the local greengrocers and creates all kinds of yummy sounding food. When her teenage brother Ryan suddenly appears in her life as a “full – time job”, Jacob offers to help Poppy to take a calm and measured approach in helping him coming out of his shell. Poppy takes this offer, as she was desperate to coax Jacob into joining in with the community garden.

“Poppy’s Recipe for Life” was not my first book by Heidi Swain but my first journey to Nightingale Square (yep. Apologies. From the bottom of my reading sofa. I have the other book but haven’t read it yet, must have been living under the rock) and as much as I had a feeling that the characters know each other really, really well, that they share a history and background, I didn’t feel left out, as if I was missing on something, so this is already a bonus point for the author and the book, to make it so inviting and drawing me straight into the heart of the story. Have I just written the longest sentence ever?

At the beginning the book reads just like your normal book, it was a nice story but on the average level, but then there came a moment, and I’m not even sure when it has happened, that the story started to feel totally different, more eventful and somehow I found myself not being able to put it down. Poppy was such a lovely character, caring and hard working and she always wanted all the kindness in the world for other people – but it didn’t make her feel too meh, no she was determined and passionate and she never gave up. Which could also be annoying but that was the way she was, so take it or leave it. The other characters, the inhabitants of Nightingale Square, were all so friendly and welcoming and no, it also didn’t make them feel too weak, they all had their own personality and distinctive voice. They supported each other and welcomed all new people with open hands, even the troubled Ryan, they understood the reason he was like this and it was so great to see them all help him to come out of his shell.

It was a lovely, heart – warming story about families, relationships, community spirit, friendship, trust and forgiveness. And gardening – don’t forget the gardening. But no worries guys if you, just like yours truly, don’t have green thumbs (I can kill every single plant in the world. Except for my orchids. No idea how I’m doing THIS), the gardening in this book is important but not too overpowering and overwhelming. And, to be honest, I’ve always admired those who can plant something and enjoy the results. Admired and envied. So altogether, “Poppy’s Recipe for Life” was a charming, lovely and cosy read with this so difficult to grasp feel – good factor. It was a tad predictable, yes, but it didn’t bother me too much, as it was full of other benefits and quirky characters, and the author has given a brilliant insight into their lives, really bringing them all to life, and the sense of community and the friendship were simply great. Recommended!

 

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The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater / Blog Tour

The House on the Edge of the Cliff by Carol Drinkwater

 

41trrnx2ctl._sx323_bo1204203200_Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 16th May  2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

From bestselling author Carol Drinkwater, comes an epic story of enduring love and betrayal, from Paris in the 1960s, to the present day.

No one else knows what happened that summer. Or so she believes . . .

Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.

She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.

Until one summer night shattered everything . . .

Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provençal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.

Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.

Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything, and won’t leave until he gets what he wants.

The past and present spectacularly collide in this gripping story of love and betrayal echoing across the decades.
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my-review

 

Grace fell in love with France almost a lifetime ago, when she was 16 year old girl and came there with her boyfriend Peter. Full of life and dreams then, now living a happy life in the idyllic home on the beautiful coast of Provence with – yes, Peter! However, this idyll is to be shattered with the appearance of a strange man. But is he really so strange? Did Grace used to know him and believed him to have drowned? As the past comes back to haunt Grace, she’s forced to re – examine what has happened all those years ago and at the same time to keep her family safe. Will she manage?

The characters are masterfully written and developed, and while I personally didn’t fell for them all, I nevertheless appreciated them. I must admit that I much more liked them as the adult versions from their younger ones. Grace is our main character and narrator of the story and her voice is distinctive, and there is something confessional in it, she’s not holding back, we get to know the whole truth.

The scenes set in the 1960’s in Paris were very detailed and felt as if they might have been autobiographical perhaps? So many details and so many insider knowledge were there. However, to be totally honest, these scenes were for me very slow going, I much preferred the storyline set in the present, the past simply focused too much and heavily on history and politics and it just didn’t grab me. In the end, I found myself skimming through those parts without a feeling that I’m missing on something. As the story progresses though, it gets darker and more serious, and I had a feeling that something really bad is going to happen.

Carol Drinkwater’s writing style is exquisite and her attention to the smallest details is incredible. The descriptions of nature, food, sea, weather but also feelings and emotions that were milling about on the pages of this book were mesmerizing. The setting of the story, especially the part set in France, is beautiful and I can’t imagine a better one for this book. I loved the idea of the lone house on a cliff, it was a brilliant setting for this story. The house was actually a character of its own, with its history and it changing hands in the family, being a place where everybody feels safe and loved.

There are for sure some twists throughout the story that, in the end, finishes with a satisfying conclusion. Sadly, though, this story didn’t appeal to me as much as I hoped it would – there is no particular reason for this, sometimes it works like this. It was full of dark secrets, misunderstandings and tension, riddled with tragedy. It was a multi – layered story, going back and forth in time. I really, really liked to see how the past has made the characters who they are in the present, to be a witness to all the changes, to watch them changing, making mistakes, growing and maturing. The writing style is descriptive and eloquent, and brings everything the author writes about to life. “The House on the Edge of the Cliff” was a very atmospheric novel about obsession, love, hate, betrayal, guilt and forgiveness.

 

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