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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Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland by Heidi Swain

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland

by Heidi Swein

 

 

40013831Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

After calling off her engagement, Hayley, the Wynthorpe Hall housekeeper, wants nothing more than to return to her no-strings fun-loving self, avoiding any chance of future heartbreak. Little does she know, Wynbridge’s latest arrival is about to throw her plan entirely off course . . .

Moving into Wynthorpe Hall to escape the town’s gossip, Hayley finds herself immersed in the eccentric Connelly family’s festive activities as they plan to host their first ever Winter Wonderland. But Hayley isn’t the only new resident at the hall. Gabe, a friend of the Connelly’s son Jamie, has also taken up residence, moving into Gatekeeper’s Cottage, and he quickly makes an impression on Wynbridge’s reformed good-girl.

As preparations commence for the biggest event of the season, the pair find themselves drawn ever closer to one another, but unbeknownst to Hayley, Gabe, too, has a reason for turning his back on love, one that seems intent on keeping them apart.

Under the starry winter skies, will Gabe convince Hayley to open her heart again once more? And in doing so, will he convince himself?

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland is the perfect read this Christmas, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Cathy Bramley.

Rating: three-stars

Hayley is engaged and to be married soon, but at her engagement party she discovers that her boyfriend hasn’t been faithful to her. As things are also not at the nicest at home, she decides to take an offer of moving into Wynthorpe Hall, a place that she’s been working in for a long time already and that she loves. She just wants to forget and move on. But, as is turns out, she’s not to be the only one new resident to the Hall. Jamie’s friend Gabe is joining the family too. They’re both not interested in a relationship but they feel comfortable in each other’s company – however, can it be that fate has other plans for them?

I have a confession to make. Even though I have some of Heidi Swain’s book, this one, “Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland” is the first novel by this author that I’ve read. I’ve heard such great things about Ms Swain’s books and I thought, well, it’s highest time to read it. I was a little afraid, to be honest, as the novels are part of series, set in the charming Wynthorpe Hall and the surrounding village, afraid that I’d missed too much and won’t be able to keep on track. But no worries, guys, it really felt as reading a stand – alone book. There were enough background info to deduce what’s happened in the past to understand the whys and whats of the characters.

Our main character Hayley was a quirky, fierce girl who knew what she wanted. I’m sure it was properly explained in one of the previous books, the whole situation with her family and especially father but I was just thinking, oh boy, what must have happened for him to be so cruel towards his daughter, to be so cool, rejecting and not interested. The relationship between Hayley and her mother was also a bit enigmatic for me, it didn’t seem to be lots of love there, and it made me really sad. I definitely have to read the other book to get into the heart of their story. Hayley was hard on the outside, she had a big mouth but let’s be honest, she was really soft inside and she had a heart in the right place. And it was not a wonder that she was like this, what with her past that made her so out of reach and also short – tempered but if you get your time to get to know her, you’ll understand her motives. She may not be the easiest character to immediately like but this feeling comes really quickly, and I truly fell for her.
Gabe’s background history was incredibly sad and it made my heart break. He was an interesting character, what with him blowing hot and cold all the time, and yes, it started to be irritating, but then came the moment when he explained what has happened in the past and well, it changed my feelings a lot. There were many layers to him, as well as to Hayley, and I liked that their characters were not so straight – forward.

But, after reading so many brilliant things I was expecting something really brilliant. For me, however, it was just a normal story – it was nice, yes, but it didn’t wow me, I’m really sorry. It’s probably my fault, as I went into this book with very high expectations. Please don’t get me wrong, it was a cosy, lovely, Christmassy read, of course it was but I didn’t find there anything that would make me feel like so many other reviewers felt about it. I loved the idea of the Winter Wonderland and would love to read much more about it. I was also in awe how, short and sweet, they were able to organize it. OK, to be honest, I think I’d rather have many more chapters about it because it seemed a truly magnificent, fabulous and festive event. It was simply the best part of the book, enchanting and amazing. The rest – simply – didn’t wow me as much as I think it would.

The writing style was light and not too complex, and there was warmth to it. The story was lovely and lovingly interspersing few threads and the author touches upon some very sensible and poignant issues, though she isn’t going too deep into them. I really liked and appreciated the way the author has decided to write the romance here, the ongoing will they/won’t they – yes, it was there, but it was not too overwhelming, not too long and the characters didn’t make you feel desperate to bang their heads together. There was some romance in it, heartbreak and secrets, and the setting was simply gorgeous. I’m really happy that I still have other Heidi Swain’s books to dive into.