The Cornish Cream Tea Summer – Cressida McLaughlin

Free-spirited Delilah is paying a visit to the charming Cornish village of Porthgolow and is helping out her cousin Charlie on her adorable vintage bus, which offers heavenly cream teas all year round.

When the director of a new TV series filming nearby pops in for a cappuccino, he tells Delilah that the bus would be the perfect addition to the production’s catering. It isn’t long before she is caught up in a lavish period drama and finds herself drawn to Sam, the charismatic lead.

Delilah has made a habit of making rash decisions in the past, but this might be one impulsive step too far. Or maybe this change of direction could be the start of something quite wonderful? Delilah thinks there’s only one way to find out…

The Cornish Cream Tea Summer is the second book by Cressida McLaughlin set in the Cornish village of Porthgolow.

This time we are introduced to Delilah, or Lilah, who decides to take a trip to visit her cousin Charlie. Everything is going wrong in Lilah’s life so a trip to Porthgolow seems like a good option. Once there though Lilah gets stuck in with Charlie’s Cornish Cream Tea Bus and village life.

Lilah is a wayward, enthusiastic and impulsive character but she also draws you in. Throughout the book we learn more about her and what drove her to taking the trip to Cornwall.

Alongside Lilah, we meet a number of new characters, mainly Sam and Keely, as well as more cast and crew from a TV series filming nearby. As well as all these new characters we see the return of the lovable Charlie and Daniel as well as villagers such as Hugh, Myrtle and Reenie.

I LOVED the first book and started this one straight after finishing the first and I can say I was definitely not disappointed. I loved Lilah’s story, the unexpected trip that the Cornish Cream Tea Bus goes on, the characters, the relationships and the setting.

These books are making me want to visit Cornwall more and more….and eat cake.

The Cornish Cream Tea Bus – Cressida McLaughlin

Next stop, Cornwall! Hop on The Cornish Cream Tea Bus for a delicious, romantic adventure….

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 a friend suggests that 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 sexy but reclusive owner of the posh spa retreat 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?

I loved this book from start to finish!

After reading the blurb of this book I had to pick it up as it sounded like everything I love in and out of a book, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Charlie’s uncle leaves his beloved vintage bus to her in his will, knowing that she isn’t destined to be a tour guide as he was but not wanting to get rid of the bus Charlie comes up with her own way to keep the bus in business, turning it into a café.

With the heartbreak that Charlie is going through a friend suggests she takes a break and stays with her in the Cornish village, Porthgolow. Charlie jumps at the chance and this is where her story truly begins.

I loved Charlie as a character, she is warm, friendly and determined. When she arrives in Porthgolow she meets a great bunch of characters, some pleased to see her, others not so much. Each of the villagers has a different personality and despite their differences everyone has the village’s best intentions at heart. It is this that pulls them all together.

With the book set in Cornwall, the images you get from the description of the scenery is beautiful and it fits so well with the telling of Charlie’s story.

Great characters, a village with a strong community spirit, beautiful scenery, and cream tea….what more could you want from a book.

I will warn you, whilst reading this it will make you want to go to Cornwall and it will make you want to bake. I’m off to do some baking and hopefully when the world is back to normal I will be able to take a trip to Cornwall. 

The Lake House – Christie Barlow

There’s a newcomer to the village of Heartcross and she’s never been more in need of a friend.

Ella is ready to start afresh – and that could mean there’s love on the horizon in the form of the gorgeous Roman, the local water taxi driver. Every day Roman is there to ferry Ella to the restaurant on the other side of the lake and every night he makes sure she gets home safe. But Roman has secrets of his own…

Can the Love Heart Lane community offer Ella a chance of a new life? Or will the ghosts of her past catch up with her?

Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Lake House by Christie Barlow. Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources, Christie and One More Chapter for allowing me to take part.

The Lake House is the fifth installment by Christie Barlow of the Love Heart Lane series.

This time round we followed the story of Ella. Ella moves to Heartcross after her life is turned on its head and her friend Callie (who we’ve met before) comes to her rescue. Ella moves in with Callie and gets a job at the Lake House restaurant that is owned by Flynn Carter, another returning character.

On her first day in Heartcross Ella meets Roman, the water taxi driver for the crossing to the Lake House. There is an instant connection between them but Roman is also dealing with his own difficulties.

Both Ella and Roman have had their lives turned upside down for different reasons. Can they open up and help each other come through these difficult times? What we do know is that Heartcross is the perfect place to get your life back on track.

As with all the books in the series there is a strong sense of community in the village and Ella feels this straight away. That community means we see the return on much loved characters that we have met across the previous books. We also meet Dolores, and wow what a wonderful character she is, I loved her. All the characters in this book, and the previous ones, are all relatable and lovable, which makes these books such a delight to read.

This is a great heartwarming, feel-good read that is perfect to escape in, especially given the current lockdown circumstances here in the UK.

And the good news is that there is more to come from the village of Heartcross with the next installment, Primrose Park, is coming soon.

How to Fail – Elizabeth Day

Inspired by the award-winning podcast, How to Fail is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone.

Part memoir, part manifesto, and rich in stories from Elizabeth’s own life, How to Fail reveals that failure is not what defines us; rather it is how we respond to it that shapes us as individuals.

It’s a book that is uplifting, frank, funny and poignant. With chapters on dating, work, babies, anger, success and friendship. It is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger.

Because learning how to fail is actually learning how to succeed better. And everyone needs a bit of that.

How to Fail has been sat on my TBR pile for a while now. I purchased this book after hearing so many great things about it, as well as author Elizabeth Day’s podcast.

I am glad I finally got round to picking this one up. I like to start the year with a motivating non-fiction, something that will give me a bit of a kick as we start another year.

This year is also the final year of my twenties, so I found the chapter on twenties such a relief. I have been feeling like a failure, that I haven’t got anything to really show for myself and that I really needed to make this year count so that I go into my thirties a more accomplished and together person. Realistically that’s not going to happen and I will be setting myself up to fail. After reading this particular chapter I have felt this sense of relief. Ok, I might not be in a long term relationship, married or have kids, I don’t have a path set on a particular career, I don’t have my own flat/house or a car, but that’s ok, not everyone does.

I found this book enlightening in understanding how to let things go. We may have failed at particular things in life but that’s ok, it is allowing that to hold us back that makes us a failure.

This book covers a wide range of topics from work, family, friendship, dating, babies, success and being Gwyneth Paltrow.

Elizabeth Day talks of failure from her own experiences, so whilst she doesn’t pretend to understand what it is like for those in different circumstance whether that is race, sex, or class, it does mean that this is told from a more privileged perspective. However Elizabeth is honest about this from the beginning, and understands her position. 

This didn’t detract from being able to read this book and learn from it and to gain perspective. I shall be going and listening to Elizabeth’s podcast after this.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day – Milly Johnson

It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard.

Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there….

Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?

Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?

Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find there instead – and much more besides?

A story of knowing when to hold on and when to let go, of pushing limits and acceptance, of friendship, love, laughter, mince pies and the magic of Christmas.

My favourite kind of book is a festive book, and this one from Milly Johnson ticks every single possible box.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day introduces us to six characters, Bridge, Luke, Mary, Jack, Charlie and Robin, who all have to find shelter in Figgy Hollow during a freak snowstorm.

The characters in this book all have different personalities, and all of them you warm to instantly for different reasons, and some you grow to love more throughout the book as each of their stories unfold. Each of the characters are believable and they draw you into the book, wanting to know more about each one of them, how their existing relationships work and how others will evolve. Each character has their own personal stories and difficulties they have faced, some of which has brought them here, but throughout this book they unearth things about themselves and the time together provided an opportunity to learn from each other.

I have to say I grew an extra soft spot for Charlie, he sounded like the life and soul of the party as well as being wise, kind and loving. He sounds like someone we all need in our lives.

I found that this book had me smiling from start to finish, even with some emotional rollercoasters along the way. I loved the setting, and wish I could have been there with them at the Figgy Hollow inn.

The Figgy Hollow Six, as they become know, take refuge in the inn in the village they find themselves in. With the inn looking to be set to host a fabulous Christmas they take the opportunity to enjoy the provisions provided and make the best of the situation.

Why I think this book resonated so much was that this year, 2020, has taught us all, especially me, that we should be living in the moment, making the best of what we have and appreciating the small things. In this book this is exactly what the characters have to do. They all had plans for Christmas, loved ones they were supposed to be spending it with, and yet they are stranded in the middle of nowhere. What they do is make the best of it, enjoy each other’s company and the simplicity on offer and make memories.

This year has been hard for everyone, and this book to me sums up what we should cherish as we move forward to hopefully some normality.

In Pursuit of Happiness – Freya Kennedy

The world is waiting…but just outside of your comfort zone.

Jo Campbell is perfectly content in a perfectly structured life.

Nothing ever changes in Jo’s life, and she like it that way.

Or at least, she tells herself she does.

Most of the time, she manages to push down the tiny voice that tells her to chase her dream and maybe, just maybe, open her battered and bruised heart up to love.

But to chase her dreams she needs to takes chances that are way out of her comfort zone and learn to not put other people’s happiness above her own.

Most of all she has to learn to trust her heart, which may just be the biggest challenge of all.

Today is my stop on the In Pursuit of Happiness blog tour thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources, Freya Kennedy and Boldwood Books.

I agreed to take part in this tour because I loved the sound of this book, I am a sucker for a tale of someone stepping out of their comfort zones and chasing their dreams, probably because I am too scared to do it myself. I was even more delighted when I realised that this book was a return to Ivy Lane following on from The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn. However this book could definitely be read as a standalone.

This book follows Jo Campbell, she works and co-owns a pub with her brother Noah, but deep down her dream is to be a writer and publish a book. Jo also wants to find love, and when Lorcan turns up in Ivy Lane to visit his grandfather, can Jo open up her heart as well as chase her dream.

I was hooked on this book from the start, I found that I could relate to Jo, in fact it was almost like I was reading about myself at the start, someone who dreams of becoming an author and finding love. Jo is a believable and relatable character, as are the supporting characters in the book.

Jo’s story is full of love, hope and friendship and is the perfect escape, and a reminder to us all that we should be following our dreams and stepping out of our comfort zones.

Christmas at the Marshmallow Café – CP Ward

When downtrodden checkout assistant Bonnie Green receives a letter from a mysterious uncle, she can hardly believer her eyes.

Gifted a hundred-year lease on a famous café situated in the middle of a mythical theme park, Bonnie sets off with her best friend Debbie on an adventure to a hidden valley in the Lake District where they will find new friendships, love, and happiness, all set against the magic of Christmas….and more marshmallows than they can possibly eat….

Thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources I am taking part in the blog tour for Christmas at the Marshmallow Café by CP Ward.

Christmas at the Marshmallow Café is a wonderful light festive read set in the most wonderful sounding place. And I love the cover for this book.

Bonnie receives a letter from an uncle whom she hasn’t seen in years, inheriting his lease on a café in Christmas Land. Bonnie heads there with her unlikely best friend Debbie to discover the mythical place her father used to tell her stories of when she was a child.

Bonnie and Debbie are great characters, real and individual, and two people you wouldn’t ordinarily expect to be friends. The support that Debbie provides Bonnie is what turns things around for her. There are a host of exuberant characters that Bonnie discovers at Christmas Land.

Christmas Land sounds like the most magical place on earth! I love Christmas and this sounds like my idea of heaven. The location in which this story is set adds the air of magic that you feel throughout this book.

Christmas at the Marshmallow Café is a wonderful book to escape with this festive season.

I wish I was heading to Christmas Land this holiday season but I’ll settle for a hot chocolate with marshmallows.

The Spark – Jules Wake

Jess is falling for Sam.

Sam is falling for Jess.

But it seems life will do whatever it takes to make them fall apart.

When Jess and Sam lock eyes at a party, a spark ignites. The spark. But love at first sight isn’t like the movies, especially when Sam’s ex, Victoria, is determined to make their honeymoon period a living hell.

Is love at first sight enough?

Today is publication day for Jules Wake’s latest novel The Spark and today is my stop on the blog tour. Thank you to Rachel’s Random Resources, Jules and One More Chapter for the opportunity to take part.

I discovered Jules earlier this year when I read The Saturday Morning Park Run, and I was looking forward to reading her next novel and this one didn’t disappoint.

The Spark is a love story and one that made me smile from the off. You could feel the spark between the leading characters, Jess and Sam, coming through the pages.

When Jess and Sam meet Sam is in a relationship with Victoria, but he can’t get Jess off his mind. Same ends his relationship with Victoria and after a while Sam and Jess start dating. Victoria isn’t willing to let their relationship go and throws many obstacles in Jess and Sam’s way.

I really like Jess and Sam as individual characters and their stories that have lead them to this point. And you can see that they are meant to be together from the start. I really liked Jess’s extended family, her aunt, uncle and cousin, and whilst her mum didn’t always treat Jess that well, their relationship was a vital part of Jess’s story and how she would be able to face Sam’s ex, Victoria. At the start I was sympathetic towards Victoria, nobody likes to have their heartbroken, but her behavior throughout the story made me lose this sympathy.

I really enjoyed this book, I smiled from start to finish and can’t wait to read what Jules brings out next.

Solo: A Down to Earth Guide to Travelling the World Alone – Aaron Hodges

Feeling alone? Trapped? Lost?

Time for an adventure!

The bad times won’t last forever, and for more than five years, Aaron Hodges has journeyed the globe alone, visiting everywhere from Istanbul to Argentina. Honest and insightful, SOLO is packed with his personal travel tips and humorous stories. Learn about the ups and downs, the triumphs and the pitfalls of venturing off the beaten path. Follow his guidelines for exploring the world alone and be inspired to take the trip you’ve always dreamed of.

Discover the world of solo travel.

Go Solo!

Today is Solo: A Down to Earth Guide for Travelling the World Alones birthday and I am taking part in the blog blitz thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources and Aaron Hodges.

Reading this book wasn’t like reading at all, it felt like I was sat chatting to a friend and them giving me advice and sharing their travelling stories.

I agreed to take part because, like many this year, I have felt stuck and contemplative and wanting to escape ‘life’. Travelling the world has been something that I have always dreamed of but felt like something that was out of reach for me personally.

The idea of backpacking my way around the globe is something that brings me a lot of anxiety but reading this it eased those thoughts. It sounds like too good an opportunity to let worry get in the way.

Aaron shares his experiences of over five years of travelling solo. He gives practical advice from what to pack, ‘planning’ your trip and what to do/expect once at your destination. He also shares experiences of travelling in specific places, such as Southeast Asia, Central America and Mexico and South America.

I really enjoyed reading this. And I hope that one day I can use Aaron’s advice and find the courage to go travelling.

Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights – Carole Matthews

Fay and Danny are madly in love it’s all Fay’s ever dreamed of. But she’s had to leave everything behind – including the delightful cake shop she used to run – to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat. And she soon finds out that making delicious cakes on the water isn’t always smooth sailing!

Then Fay gets a call that sends her back to where it all began; back to where she first met Danny, back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. Even as Fay happily returns to dry land and her passion for baking, she knows it will be hard being away from Danny, especially with Christmas around the corner. But their relationship is strong enough to survive…isn’t it?

Can Fay really get everything she ever wanted in….Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights.

Christmas Cakes & Mistletoe Nights is the sequel to Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews. I haven’t read the first book and was able to get stuck into this one. All it did was leave me intrigued to how Fay and Danny’s story started.

This book is full of festive fun which have to be experienced whilst battling against many obstacles.

Fay and Danny have been traveling the waters of Britain on his canal boat but Fay returns home after a phone call from her friend, leaving Danny behind. Once home she realises how difficult things have been for her friends and gets stuck back into her old life. All that’s missing is Danny.

Fay is a wonderful character with a heart of gold and who puts everybody before herself. She is supported by a great bunch of other characters with such contrasting personalities. Returning from the first book alongside Fay are Danny, Lija, Stan and Edie. I think my favourite might be the new member of Fay’s ‘family’, Rainbow, she sounds like the perfect tonic and she brings such joy to the room. What I loved about them all is despite them all being so different is how well the fit together to form their own family.

Despite all the obstacles that Fay and the gang have to face on her return, they do so with much resilience and despite everything they find a way to pull through.

I found myself smiling throughout this book, and especially at the end. I know need to get my hands on the first installment.