The Icing on the Cake by Cressida McLaughlin

The Icing on the Cake by Cressida McLaughlin

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 51cxfwg0w3l

Publishing Date: 25th July 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus #4

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 100

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Part Four of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Can Charlie pull off the perfect showstopper?
Charlie has fallen in love with Porthgolow village and they adore her vintage bus, now getting a new lease of life as the best place to have a Cornish Cream tea in the whole of Cornwall. Charlie and her bus have heralded a new start for Porthgolow too, but the one fly in the ointment is Daniel Harper who is still resisting the charms of Charlie and her bus. Can Charlie bake her way into his heart or is it time to admit that her Cornish dream has got a soggy bottom?

Rating: four-stars

 

So, the highly anticipated final part of the brilliant series The Cornish Cream Tea Bus by Cressida McLaughlin has finally arrived. I loved the series, written in such a gorgeous, inviting and warm way, and Cressida McLaughling had me glued to the pages, enjoying the stories, characters and fabulous setting. And delicious, mouth – watering food, mmm.

 This part brilliantly ties up all the loose ends and everything is beautifully – if a bit too rushed, for my liking – wrapped up. Charlie has been taken – and we together with her – on a real roller coaster journey full of emotions, feelings, ups and downs but she was so determined and ambitious that she really didn’t allow anything to stand in her way. However, before it happens, she has to solve some problems that part four throws her way, and really, the author keeps us in suspense till the very end. Charlie also seems to have learnt a lessons, there is no more wild jumping to conclusions and she was able to find the truth without blaming all people around her, and I so wanted to give her standing ovation for this. 

Porthgolow is a place that is going to stay with me for longer, Cressida McLaughlin has created a fictional world that I’d love to be a part of, together with the lovely, noisy gang of characters that pulled together to create another wonderful festival. The title of this final part, “The Icing of the Cake”, is simply perfect, as it’s a real icing on the cake, this lovely, heart – warming and uplifting read, full of characters that you love or love to hate, gorgeous setting and perfect plot. Highly recommended!

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Scones Away! by Cressida McLaughlin

Scones Away! by Cressida McLaughlin

 

Publisher: Harper Collins cover156081-medium

Publishing Date: 11th July 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus #3

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 101

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

Part Three of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Charlie’s toughest technical challenge yet…
Now that Charlie’s Cornish Cream Tea bus has taken off, everything should be going swimmingly – the locals love her baking, Marmite adores getting his paws wet in the crystal-clear sea at Porthgolow beach, but Charlie has manged to get on the wrong side of the mercurial owner of The Porthgolow Hotel, Daniel Harper. He wants her to pack up her doillies and pastry cutters and take her bus elsewhere, but can Charlie convince him that they have just got off on the wrong foot and that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village?

Rating:  three-stars

 

“Scones Away” is the third part in the uplifting, wonderful series from Cressida McLaughlin, full of delicious descriptions of food and characters that I’ve immediately warmed to. Charlie is still full of ideas for her Cornish Cream Tea Bus Gertie but this time, ladies and gentlemen, our lovely Charlie annoyed me a little, jumping to conclusions instead of letting people speak or simply thinking things over – too much and too often for my liking. Not everyone in the world is against you, Charlie! 

This time Charlie is entangled  in a blossoming love triangle and it was so interesting to see which of her two admirers she’s going to choose, as they were so different! One of them open and honest, which is just what she needs, what with her trust issues, and the other not so easy to read but there is such sparkling chemistry between them! What is it going to be for Charlie, head or heart? Porthgolow finally seems to start accepting Charlie and her bus and it was lovely to have this heart – warming community spirit back and the locals enjoying her baking. The author has – again – created a world that I want to be a part of and try the famous cream tea. And I loved the idea of the tour that Charlie plans to establish with her bus, just imagine all the beautiful sights of the gorgeous Cornwall with the added bonus of Charlies’s brilliant food. But I also had a feeling that this time this part was not as filled with events and surprises as the previous two parts, and it dragged a little, but it’s still a warm, colourful read that I enjoyed, no worries! 

This part ends, of course, on a cliff hanger and I can’t wait to see how everything comes together at the end, and which surprises are awaiting us in the final instalment – with so many plot twists I am sure that Cressida McLaughlin has many revelations for us.

The Eclair Affair by Cressida McLaughlin

The Eclair Affair by Cressida McLaughlin

 

cover153293-mediumPublisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus #2

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 103

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle 

 

Synopsis:

Part Two of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine ‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley ‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Charlie’s unveils her signature bake…
Charlie and Marmite finally arrive in the picture-postcard Cornish village of Porthgolow in thier vintage Routemaster bus. Not everything is as it seems and Charlie’s friend, Juliette, tells her about the owner of the big hotel up on the hill who has managed to upset the locals. That doesn’t stop Charlie and Marmite making new friends and the bus finds a new lease of life as the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea. But what will Charlie make of the enigmatic Daniel Harper when they meet, and more to the point, what will he think about Charlie and her bus parked outside his lovely hotel?

Rating: four-stars

 

As soon as the second part of The Cornish Cream Tea Bus became available, I downloaded it and started to read, still remembering how nice the first part was and looking forward to meet Charlie and Marmite and their new friends again, and see what the people of Porthgolow are to do with her fresh ideas to bring a little life to this coastal village.

Charlie is settling in Porthgolow, even though she was initially supposed to stay there for a few weeks, and not for a few months. She’s determined to make a name for herself but also to wake Portholow up, and so she’d like to organise Porthgolow Food Fest, inviting some of the best food trucks. And when she sets her mind on something, there is nothing stopping her. Or is there? Like some unwilling residents?

So. This short story. As usual, so colourfully, vividly written, and Cressida McLaughlin brings the place so easily to life. I loved the descriptions of the food festival and then the fire on the beach, they were beautifully and gorgeously written. Of course, the food sounds DE – LI – CIOUS, all the cream teas mentioned, cakes but also all kind of other goodies.

The more I get to know Charlie, the more I like her. She’s determined, consequent and also stubborn, but she wouldn’t achieve this what she has achieved till now without being stubborn, right? She has only good intentions and she gives always her best. The romance aspect that is looming on the horizon is also lovely and right now I can’t tell you in which direction is going to go, which is a great feeling as I love surprises! I have my favourite here already and I’m so curious if my gut feeling is right again.

I can’t wait for the next instalment, as we are – again! Again! – left on a cliff-hanger, with Charlie facing many decisions. Cressida McLaughlin has such a great way with words, and I adored this lovely, warm and welcoming story. Recommended!

 

Don’t Go Baking My Heart by Cressida McLaughlin

Don’t Go Baking My Heart by Cressida McLaughlin

 

42652169Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 13th June 2019

Series: The Cornish Cream Tea Bus

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 104

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle 

 

Synopsis:

Part One of the charming new series from the author of The Canal Boat Cafe. Perfect for cake lovers and old-fashioned romantics!

‘Captivating’ Heat Magazine

‘Beautiful… heartwarming’ Zara Stoneley

‘A wonderful ray of reading sunshine’ Heidi Swain

Baking fanatic, Charlie Quilter, is surprised when her late uncle bequeaths his vintage bus to her in his will. Charlie thinks it will be the perfect mobile café for afternoon tea, and when her friend, Juliette, suggests Charlie comes to stay with her in the picturesque Cornish village of Porthgolow, she’s thrilled at the chance of a new start.
Charlie and her cute dog, Marmite, make new friends wherever their bus stops – except for the attractive but reclusive owner of the posh spa up on the hill, Daniel Harper, who isn’t very pleased that her bus is parked outside his lovely hotel.
Has Charlie’s Cornish dream developed a soggy bottom? Or can she convince Daniel that her bus could be the start of something wonderful for the little village – and for them?

Rating: four-stars

 

“Don’t Go Baking My Heart” is a brilliant title, I love it, although I couldn’t spot its interrelatedness to the story – apologies if I missed something. It is also the first of a new 4 – part series and even though I usually don’t read books in series but I rather wait for them to be published as a gorgeous paperback, it’s from Cressida McLaughlin, and so I though, this time I can’t wait. I have to read it. So there.

The story follows a simple and already known formula but it works, guys, it works brilliantly! Charlie, our main character, is simply great, so determined and funny, and the author couldn’t take a better character to play a reading role in this book. After her beloved uncle’s death, Charlie has been left his vintage bus. To keep his memory alive, she decides to turn Gertie into a bus cafe, and I loved the final result. Soon Charlie takes her new bus on a test run, to see how things work, and after a very minor disaster Charlie finds herself taking a sabbatical (or rather, being forced to take sabbatical), travelling with Gertie to her best friend Juliette in Porthgolow and causing problems there.

I think I can predict the direction the story is going to turn, and there is romance in the air as well, but it absolutely doesn’t bother me. It was a feel – good, humorous novella, a great introduction to the series and I will be for sure reading the next instalments. And I know I don’t gush over covers enough lately, but this one so deserves a standing ovation – it’s simply beautiful and so eye – catching, it’s a shame that it’s an ebook cover.

The pace of the story was great, things were moving really quickly and there was not a single moment flat. The setting was gorgeous, and I love the sound of Porthgolow, with its streets and suspicious residents. Cressida’s descriptions are so, so vivid, she brings the colours, places and characters so easily to life. Can’t wait for the next part!

 

The House of Birds and Butterflies by Cressida McLaughlin

The House of Birds and Butterflies by Cressida McLaughlin

 

39990510Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 26th July 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘With a heroine that you root for this is a sweet read with real heart and soul’ Sarra Manning author of The House of Secrets

Abby Field loves every inch of Meadowsweet Nature Reserve on the idyllic Suffolk coast where she lives and works. Especially Swallowtail House, the rambling but empty country house that seems to look out at her each time she passes it’s shut-up windows.

When a TV wildlife programme choses a rival location for their new series, Meadowsweet is under threat – unless Abby can whip up a plan to keep the visitors flocking. But she finds herself distracted by the arrival of a brooding – and annoyingly handsome new neighbour… bad-boy novelist, Jack Westcoat.

With the pressure on, Abby and her cute rescue huskie, Raffle, must pull something special out of the bag. But with Jack in need of a good friend – and Abby feeling the pull of attraction, she can sense her resolve fluttering away…

Rating: five-stars

Abby Field lives and works at a nature reserve in Suffolk called Meadowsweet – she’s full of passion for her work, and holds it so dear to her heart. However, it’s under treat and Abby’s job is to bring even more visitors there to save it from closing.
Jack moves to Meadowsweet looking for peace to write his new book and – shortly – to hide from a scandal that happened in London. his and Abby’s first encounter is not too promising, moreover, Jack’s letters get her in troubles with her boss, Penelope Hardings.
And apropos Penelope – there is this mystery surrounding her beautiful Georgian house that’s now left empty for many years and is becoming lost to nature.

I loved Abby’s passion and devotion and sometimes I really couldn’t understand why her boss Penelope is so unfair towards her – she really devoted a lot of her time to bring life, customers and money to the reserve and in my eyes it was just not spoken for for Penelope to treat her like that. I think she should be happy that Abby didn’t pack and go – but she loved this place too much to do such a thing. Neither she, nor her co – workers wouldn’t go down without a fight and I loved this spirit in them all. Nothing was impossible for them and I loved the ideas of events and walks that they organized.
All the characters worked together brilliantly, they just felt great in each other company, and even Jack turned out to be not so bad, no? I won’t say more, as I don’t want to spoil the reading for you, but let me just tell you, Jack, mmmm *swooning* – it was great how well Cressida tackled the whole Jack business. The characters were all enthusiastic and full of life. They were not flawless, they made mistakes but they also could admit when they were wrong, which is always a great thing and make the characters so much more true to life. The banter between them was so natural and easy and of course, as always when we dealwith such a small close – knit community, they knew everything about each other and yes, it was guaranteed they’re going to see you in the morning in your last – night clothes.

The only thing that bothered me a little was the fact that sometimes I had a feeling this story is not going to end. I mean, I love Cressida’s writing and the way she so brilliantly brings her characters and stories to life but there were moments that slowed the reading down too much. The characters were going on and on about their feelings, examined all the pros and cons, repeating themselves. I know this book was previously published as a four – parts series and probably it was needed but as a full – length novel it was just way too long and sidetracked me from the main plot.

I loved the setting in this book, it was so unusual! I’ve never before read a book set at the nature reserve, full of unusual sorts of birds, bugs and butterflies. Cressida McLaughlin brings her setting and vivid descriptions to life so effortlessly and I loved all the descriptions, the views, the ideas that were supposed to help to save the reserve. And I loved Abby’s characterisations of birds at the beginning of each chapter! They made me curious and intrigued and I would love to see all those birds after reading Abby’s short notes

Altogether, “The House of Birds and Butterflies” was a sweet, cosy and heart – warming novel with enough dramatic to keep me on my tenterhooks. Yes, you could see where it is heading but there were enough twists and bumps on the way to make the outcome not so obvious and predictable. It was a lovely, charming story with unusual, gorgeous setting, also bringing the importance of nature and preserving it, showing how easy it is to appreciate and enjoy it. The end seemed a little too rushed for me, especially the subplot with Penelope but I could live with it, and there were enough twists and turns throughout the whole story. The mix between the wellies and walks through the woods and the glamorous life and lights of London showed and confirmed that I am the wellies – kind.
I’ve read all but one Cressida McLaughlin’s books and her stories and writing get only better and better. She can create the most wonderful, unforgettable and human characters, and not only those on two legs but she also has a heart for and understanding of animals, which she proved a few times already. Her settings are original and unusual and when I read her book I don’t have a feeling that “I’ve been there, I’ve seen it” – they’re like a breath of fresh air, and it was the same with this newest offering. Highly recommended!

The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthous by Cressida McLaughlin / #BlogTour + Q&A with the Author

Hello, hello, and – as usually – happy Sunday! I’ve warned you that there are many blog tours coming your way in July and ta – dah! Here is the next one, and I am SO, SO excited about this one because a) I love the author, b) I love her books, c) it was a brilliant story and d) I also have a Q&A with the one and only lovely Cressida McLaughlin! So put your feet high and enjoy!

The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by Cressida McLaughlin

34659064Publisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 29th June 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 464

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

The charming new bestseller from the No.1 bestselling author of The Canal Boat Cafe

Robin Brennan has come home to Campion Bay. Now her parents have retired, she’s set to become the new landlady of The Campion Bay Guesthouse.
Bookings have been as thin as the hand towels, and it doesn’t take long for Robin to realise that the place needs a serious makeover. Perhaps throwing herself into the task will help to heal her sadness at the tragic end to her dreams in London.
As she gives the guesthouse a new lease of life, Robin encounters old friends and new, including old flame Tim, who’d clearly like to reboot their romance. But what about Will, the new arrival at No. 4, who’s rocked up with the cutest dog ever?
Caught up in a flurry of full-English breakfasts and cream teas, Robin’s never sure what, or who, the next check-in will bring…

Rating: four-stars

I’ve been so eagerly awaiting “The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse” as one whole beautiful novel! I love Cressida McLaughlin’s stories and when this gorgeous baby arrived, I really wanted to stop all the people on the streets to show them my wonderful copy.

The story introduces us to Robin Brennan who has just come back home to Campion Bay. There couldn’t be a better timing, as her parents have just decided to retire, and so Robin takes over The Campion Bay Guesthouse. She quickly realises that there are things to do to improve the number of bookings and so the guesthouse soon faces a serious makeover. One of the things that brought Robin home was the need to heal her sadness, to leave a dramatic past of London behind – is time going to heal? Also, being back home means old (but also new) friends and ex – boyfriends with some strange ideas – what and who is future going to bring in Robin’s life?

I liked Robin from the beginning – she was just this kind of girl that you can’t NOT to like. She had her heart on the sleeve and she always wanted to please other people but it didn’t make her a doormat, oh no, I didn’t have a feeling that she let others use her. She knew what she wanted and she also knew when to go on or when to back away. I loved her amazing ideas, she was so creative and it was often one thing that would make her start and we could see brilliant events as the result. She was enthusiastic, full of drive and determination but she really knew when to say stop.

I adored the descriptions of the rooms in the guesthouse. The designs were unique, gorgeous and so very considered. There was always a story behind each of them and I really loved how much thought and heart were put into them. There was so much heart and soul in the whole guesthouse idea, you could see that Robin is the right person in the right place. And of course we have the lovely community spirit in this book, that Cressida McLaughlin captured just in the right way, and I so enjoyed visiting the little businesses on Goldcrest Road! And, as in all Cressida’s stories, there are some animal characters as well, and wow, can she write animals! Eclipse and Darcy, Robin’s little cat and Will’s cute dog, added so much joy and fun to the pages.

For me this story was perfectly organized for being published as series, but not so as a whole novel. Don’t get me wrong here, pretty please, because I adored it, I only think that it was much better suited to seeing the world as series – it was rather on the slow side, and what slowed it down was the fact that every single guest in the guesthouse was introduced to us, and while I really see it working in parts, it didn’t work so much for me in the whole story. There was too much focus on the details than on the story itself – in the whole. It also felt a little repetitive – and again, it was absolutely OK for the series, probably it didn’t stick out so much then. I also had some problems with Will. I just had a feeling that he let Robin do all the chasing, that he wasn’t as interested as she was and that he just went with the flow – it didn’t let me to warm to him as much as I’d like to warm to the lovely Robin’s love interest. Also Robin’s ex – boyfriend – oh boy, was he creepy!

Altogether, it was such a lovely, heart – warming and uplifting story, and I really love this gorgeous, rich and vivid Cressida’s writing style. Her words have such distinctive voice and she easily brings everything: the setting, the characters, all the feelings and emotions, to life. The story flows, it is full of twists and turns, family dynamics, old and new friendships and relationships, and this all just works together. Each section of the novel ends – of course! – with a cliffhanger and it was such a relief to be able to keep reading! It was really a charming story, without unnecessary dramas but with enough surprises thrown our way. Highly recommended!

Q&A WITH CRESSIDA MCLAUGHLIN

  1. Do you have a favourite part or scene from your latest book? Could you tell us why you love it?

There is a scene about halfway through the book that takes place on Skull Island – the crazy golf course in Campion Bay.  I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s one of my favourite scenes because it’s the culmination of lots of things, it was really fun to write, and I also love crazy golf.  What happens afterwards is also one of my favourites parts of the book, but for very different reasons.  There’s quite a lot of drama in those two scenes!  Ooh, and there’s also a scene further on in the book that takes place at a stately home in Dorset, which I loved writing! The setting was fun to conjure up, and there’s quite a bit of tension and awkwardness. I love making my characters squirm.

  1. Robin hopes that the move to Campion Bay – and throwing herself into her new duties as the landlady of the guesthouse – will help her heal from the sadness of the tragic end of her dreams in London. Is that experience something close to your heart?

I’m very lucky that I haven’t had to deal with anything as tragic as Robin has, but I think a new start – for whatever reason – is something that everyone can identify with.  I’ve recently become a full time author, which is one of the most daunting decisions I’ve ever made, partly because it’s been my dream for such a long time.  I’m definitely throwing myself into it, and loving every moment so far!  Like Robin, I have also moved away from London.  I was born there, and stayed until I chose to go to university in Norfolk.  I’ve been here for 17 years now, so moving out of the big smoke and feeling at home somewhere slower-paced, embracing the countryside and the beautiful coastline, is something I can identify with.

  1. The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse is great for holiday inspiration! But what would be your ideal romantic summer getaway?

Somewhere quiet, staying in a B&B or hotel with sea views, close to a beautiful beach. We’ve had a couple of lovely holidays in Cornwall, but in the summer it gets so busy.  I also love Crete, so maybe going to one of the Greek islands with perfect, sandy beaches, glorious blue water and lots of fresh fish to eat.

  1. Besides a writer, what did you want to be ‘when you grow up’?

When I was little I either wanted to be a florist, or work behind the delicatessen counter in Sainsbury’s.  I got the chance to do the latter when I got a job at my local Sainsbury’s during my GCSE’s and A-levels, and sadly, though unsurprisingly, it didn’t live up to my expectations.  I still love the idea of being a florist, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers, creating inspiring bouquets and displays, but I think you have to work in the cold, and I’m not a fan of the cold.

  1. Apart from a survival guide, what book would you take with you on a desert island, to read over and over again?

Oh wow, just one book?  How about my Kindle?  Hehe.  Maybe the mammoth encyclopaedia of ghosts that I have.  I’m fascinated by ghosts and the supernatural, and that would definitely keep me interested for a long time.  Is an encyclopaedia cheating though? Novel wise, I would pick Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld.  It’s a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and it’s delicious in so many ways.  I could read that over and over again without getting bored.

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