Book review of ‘Summer at Skylark Farm’ by Heidi Swain.

Summer at Skylark Farm by Heidi Swain.
Published 2nd June 2016 by Simon and Schuster.
Available to buy from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

‘Amber is a city girl at heart. So when her boyfriend Jake Somerville suggests they move to the countryside to help out at his family farm, she doesn’t quite know how to react. But work has been hectic and she needs a break so she decides to grasp the opportunity and make the best of it. 
 
Dreaming of organic orchards, paddling in streams and frolicking in fields, Amber packs up her things and moves to Skylark Farm. But life is not quite how she imagined – it’s cold and dirty and the farm buildings are dilapidated and crumbling. 
 
But Amber is determined to make the best of it and throws herself into farm life. But can she really fit in here? And can she and Jake stay together when they are so different?’

If you had to choose between a life in the city or a life in the country, which one would you choose? Would your answer still same the same if, say, you had only dabbled in one of those lifestyles and not the other?
When I was younger I used to prefer being in the hustle and the bustle of the city and only liked the countryside for the views. However, now that I am much older, I do enjoy going to the city as long as I’m left alone ha! To be honest though, if I had a new adventure to begin at Skylark Farm, I probably would get upon my sheep(!!) and head for a life in the countryside! (Note: I wouldn’t ride a sheep…I’d fall off).

Amber is going from strength to strength in her job in the city, and so is her relationship with her new man, Jake. Amber starts to realise that her workload doesn’t seem to be  showing signs of slowing down anytime soon, this leaves her questioning the amount of quality time that she has with Jake. Jake gets to dabble in life in the countryside with his Aunt whilst Amber dabbles in her life of last-minute work requests, but is it enough? Amber wants to try something new and rid herself of the rut she is stuck in and Jake may just have the solution to her problems. But can Jake persuade Amber to step out of her comfort zone and try for a new life, where her work outfit would consist of wellies? Will Amber put her relationship with Jake before her relationship with work?

Welcome to Skylark Farm! A farm where nothing is ever as straight forward as you would like, but the reward are overflowing. My heart went out to Amber throughout the story because she was thrown into the deep end on more than one occasion and nobody seemed to want to tell her complete stories, just snippets. Luckily for her, Jake’s Aunt Annie was always on hand to give her the confidence boost she needed, or grated potato…whichever came first! Skylark Farm was more of a shrine than a working farm, so when the opportunity arose for Amber to offer some input, she did just that.

‘Watching’ the changes and mini makeover happen on Skylark Farm felt like watching the film Calamity Jane. You know the part where she goes from hard as nails and potty mouth, to house wife donning a floral apron with white kitchen furniture? It was like reading a 21st century twist on a classic film, especially when Amber got her hands on the cottage (eventually).  I felt like I was ‘watching’ something magical happen as I read the story. It was as if the changes created a new life, not only in Skylark Farm, but Aunt Annie too. You really cannot put a price on a feeling as magical as the one you get from well written words.

Nine times out of ten when you meet new characters within a book, there are going to be some you instantly like, and some you instantly dislike. Summer at Skylark Farm was no different! Several characters made their way into my heart quite early on in the story, however, one or two characters couldn’t seem to find the right key. I didn’t seem to warm to them because their actions annoyed me! I get very involved with the characters in every book that I read! Each and every character is very unique, a few of them with more dented personalities than others, but I loved that because it gave the whole story more character.

What I admired most about Summer at Skylark Farm, was how it contained the ‘take a chance’ message. One day you might think that something is impossible to achieve, or that you don’t have the confidence to just go for it. But, if Amber can completely change her life and see more of certain animals than she bargained for, then maybe you could just take the chance?

Heidi has written such a cosy, comforting and warming story. So cosy in fact, that I just wanted Aunt Annie to come and give me a hug whilst I finished reading it. If you’re undecided on whether you should take a chance and head to Skylark Farm for a summer full of adventure, then the answer is YES. Just go for it, but remember to take your wellies!

Advertisements

My thoughts on ‘Time after Time’, NO, not the one by Cindi Lauper! Written by Hannah McKinnon.

Time after Time by Hannah McKinnon.
Published 2nd June 2016 by Maze (an imprint of HarperCollins).
Available to buy in E-book format from Amazon UK.

‘Have you ever wondered ‘what if?’
When Hayley Cooper goes to sleep wishing for a different life, then wakes up in bed with her first boyfriend, she can’t believe her eyes. She hasn’t seen Chris in over twenty years – but now she’s married to him. And Hayley is in for a few more romantic surprises . . .
Over a single weekend, Hayley lives her life time and time again, and as each of her former loves resurface, Hayley starts to realise that there’s some truth in the saying ‘be careful what you wish for.’ Yes, the past two years with her husband Rick have been tough, but is the grass always greener?’

Such a good question; have you ever wondered ‘what if?’. Have you ever wondered what things would be like if you had taken a different path in life? Have you ever wondered what your acquaintances from the past would be like after you have moved on? Lets just pause for a second whilst you get into the ‘what if?’ mind-set….

Have you thought about it yet?

What about now?

Now?!

We’re only human, of course we are bound to wonder ‘what if?’ whenever relationships end, or we make a huge decision in life. However, we cannot wave a magic wand, or close our eyes and be back in time, to a life that never was. Well, WE can’t, but there seems to be just one person that can. Does the name ‘Hayley Cooper’ ring a bell to you? No? Well it should! (Why haven’t you read this book yet?! :o)

Hayley Cooper is in a difficult situation in her current life and it’s safe to say that she is pretty peeved with the way things are going. She wants a different life, and it gets her wondering about her ex boyfriends. Little did she know she would come face to face with them when she woke up the next morning.

That reminds me, what day is it today? Monday, or Saturday?

The cover of this book totally threw me. I had seen it multiple times over on Twitter and Amazon but hadn’t had the chance to click buy. So, when Avon publishers tweeted about it again one night, I made sure I got it there and then. Not only is it a memorable cover, it is also a very romantic looking cover, although I stupidly judged the book by its cover and wondered why I was getting confused. Only a smidge though, honestly…

Hayley is the main character of the story. She is married with children but there is something about her life that isn’t sitting right with her. Something doesn’t seem quite right and she cannot seem to put her finger on it. That is of course, until she follows all the paths of her past that she never took. Hayley seems to like the weekend in this book because she re-visits the same day multiple times! If you went back in time to visit all of the ‘what ifs’ of your past, do you think that you would be met with positivity, with everything the same as you have always dreamt about?

That is a tough one to answer. Although in Hayley’s case, it was definitely an eye opener for her (and for me, her past is fascinating!). My opinion of Hayley changed throughout the book because of how the story unfolded. One moment I felt incredibly sorry for her, another time I felt infuriated with her because she just could not see what she had which meant her decisions were otherwise jaded. Hayley’s best friend is a hoot, my sort of person with a mouth that’s always on fast forward.

Considering the amount of to-ing and fro-ing this book does, it didn’t actually get me flustered, which is surprising. Books like that usually do, but maybe because the switch was always expected, it didn’t confuse me. Whilst the book contains very funny moments, as well as some difficult situations, it made me think about my life. What if I had chosen different paths? Obviously I can’t do anything about it now, but it’s only natural to wonder.
Hannah has written such a heart warming and emotionally driven book, which was full of depth and relatable situations. The message behind the story is a rather powerful one, however, the added softness in terms of humour and sarcasm, turns it into a light-hearted read as well.
I must say, I am looking forward to whatever Hannah has up her sleeve next. I can promise you one thing though, I won’t ever be thinking ‘what if’ about this book because I know I took the right path by reading it!

Which would you choose? Review of ‘Truth or date?’ – Portia Macintosh.

Truth or date? by Portia Macintosh.
Published: 11th April 2016 by Carina.
Available on Amazon in Kindle format.

‘Falling for the man of her dreams…

Ruby Wood is perfectly happy playing the dating game – until she has a red-hot dream about her very attractive flatmate, Nick. He might spend every day saving lives as a junior doctor, but he’s absolutely the last man on earth that fun-loving Ruby would ever date!

The solution? Focus on all of Nick’s bad points. And if that fails, up her dating antics and find herself a man! So what if she manages to make disapproving, goody two-shoes Nick jealous in the process…

Only, after a series of nightmare first dates, there’s still just one man on Ruby’s mind. Maybe it’s time to admit the truth and dare to ask Nick to be her next date?’

Well!! What can I say about ‘Truth or date’? Thank you to Netgalley and Carina for the early copy! Apparently blue balls are a ‘thing’, and I don’t mean the bouncy kind. According to Ruby, you’ll meet her in a moment, it is a line guys use to lure women into their love shack! Who knew?! Ruby Ruby Ruby!! Ruby is the person whose life you will follow, I say life, but I mean dating and alcohol central.  She has the ‘I don’t give a fudge cake’ about everything, mainly guys, relationships, oh and walking around with partly pink hair! Who here has been in a situation where you get nowhere with dates and always fall into the ‘friend zone’? Or having a massive crush on somebody and trying to change yourself to be like all the ‘popular’ people? Yes? If that is the case, you’re going to love this book.
As you can gather by what I have mentioned already, Ruby seems to have one or two problems with dates. The main reason being that they’re only after one thing. Think Netflix and chill…without the Netflix. Following? Good. Ruby seems to be stuck in a bit of a rut with all the dates, going to bars with her guy best friend, and mucking about instead of working. Now Ruby has a choice to make, should she follow her heart or live with regrets for the rest of her life?
Should Ruby carry on believing that everything about her is an issue due to the guys that have let her down, or should she believe that there is someone out there for her? But which path does she choose…..truth….or date….
Truth or date? is an absolutely hilarious read. By the second chapter I was having a coughing fit by laughing so hard. There is sarcasm and humour is all the way through, including mentioning ‘punched lasagne’ (that phrase is following me everywhere this week!) Everyone is Ruby. Everyone has been Ruby. I have been Ruby. Unfortunately I have been in the situation where I have been treated like scum by guys, and still am. Just like Ruby, my confidence was shattered (and still is), so instead of feeling self worth, it’s a natural defence mechanism to use humour. That is exactly what Portia has portrayed within Ruby. She acts like she doesn’t give a muffin, but she really does. She is such a relatable personality that I am sure her outlook may help those who always get let down. Her best friend Millsy, is the typical lad and he is hilariously annoying, but he is the only one that has stuck by her since she will little. I felt so sorry for Ruby, she was trying to be strong throughout all of her issues, but still was getting trodden on and made to feel like she wasn’t enough. It is so refreshing to read a book that covers a real-life situation like dating; especially in today’s society with social media and so-called ‘role models’.
Having been the first book that I have read of Portia’s, I had no idea what to expect, but I am thrilled that I found her books. Hilarious and refreshingly brilliant all the way through. Quote me if you like, but this is my heart-warming humorous book of 2016. Fantastic!

The second chance shoe shop – Marcie Steele.

The Second Chance Shoe Shop by Marcie Steele.
Published by: Bookouture on 8th April 2016.
Available to buy on Amazon in Kindle format.

‘All Riley Flynn wants is to meet someone who makes her happy. But attracting the right kind of man is not easy, and with her heart still hurting from her last break-up, Riley believes she’ll never find love again.
A year ago, Sadie Stewart’s whole world was shattered when her husband, Ross, died. She has struggled to keep herself together for the sake of their young daughter, but with the anniversary of his death approaching, Sadie finds herself overwhelmed by grief.
Sadie and Riley work at Chandlers shoe shop, in the charming town of Hedworth. But when Chandlers is threatened with closure, the friends are confronted with the loss of not only their jobs, but also their support network – the glue that holds them together when they are close to breaking.
As they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, Sadie realises that she might just be learning to live again. Could it be that new beginnings are just round the corner? The campaign also finds Riley unexpectedly crossing paths with charming photographer, Ethan. Maybe her second chance at love is right under her feet…..’

Before I begin, who here likes shoes? Okay, not just likes, LOVES shoes? You? Good, because if you didn’t, I would be wondering why you were reading a book about a shoe shop, which, believe it or not, has shoes in it! Funny that! Now I LOVE shoes, the higher the better, ones with prints, loud colours, you know, the ones you probably shouldn’t walk in but you do because everyone says that you can’t…sorry….shouldn’t.
It really is ‘the life of Riley’, well, and friends. Poor Riley has gotten herself into a bit of a pickle in her personal life, and unfortunately, her work life looks like it’s going to have several issues as well. Her colleagues Dan and Sadie, are extremely optimistic that everything will be fine and that the big boss lady, Suzanne, isn’t about to make life a lot tougher for all of them. Or is she?
Sadie lost her husband and she is left to raise their daughter by herself. Ross’s one year anniversary of his death is nearing and she finds herself reaching for more support, online. But does that make it harder for her to let go? Or will it be the comfort she needs, especially as she finds herself feeling lonely, despite her friends support?
Riley and her colleagues find themselves in a position that can be seen as ‘make or break’, but luckily for Riley, a handsome chap re-lights her fire. Little does she know that he has a few skeletons in his own closet and they’re about to put the fire out. Unfortunately, in more ways than one. Could Riley get her fight back? Will Riley be strutting her stuff in her amazing shoes, just like before? Time to give ‘The Second Chance Shoe Shop’ a first chance and find out.
Oh my goodness me! Yes, I will admit I chose this book because it is about shoes, and I don’t know if I have told you yet (ahem), but I adore shoes. Straight away I was hooked on Riley’s life and drama, wondering if she would ever find true happiness. The entire storyline, thankfully, isn’t that straightforward and will have you hooked all the way through. Her friends find themselves having their own problems and having to stand on their own two feet for once. I love how modern the storyline is, including social media and how much power that can have over people. For example, the negativity that can appear and how much people can actually believe words on a screen if they’re against somebody. Marcie Steele has written the story in such a way, it can show you how to deal with any negativity that you might have faced on social media, well, and what not to do!
The Second Chance Shoe Shop is such a warm story that I felt like I was just sitting having coffee with friends. There was always something happening. Not only did it make me laugh, but it did make me cry. The emotion that can be felt throughout the whole story is incredible, and probably to many, many people, the circumstances are extremely realistic. I unfortunately have been on the receiving end of cyber bullies, it is a horrible feeling, so it is very refreshing to see it being covered in a light-hearted but important manner. I am very grateful to Netgalley and Bookouture for giving me the chance to read this book before publication, it really is a truly wonderful read. A work of art from a truly lovely author. Marcie Steele (Mel Sherratt), it has been an absolutely pleasure and I cannot wait to see what else you have in store. #shoelove #shoelove #shoelove!!