This was a good read, but I wouldn't say a fantastic one. The idea behind Ella moving to the countryside to have a break from her boyfriend and fulfill her dream of working with children was a great one. And the story started off well, especially as George was such an adorable little boy. But when Poll, the character who owns Hideaway Cottage, reveals that she is actually taking in homeless people, I found this a strange concept. Ash, Billy and Trixie were all loveable characters, but I felt that they could have been included in a different way, even if they were just lodgers. And Ash was a nice main love interest, but Onyx (his 'girlfriend') was a bit irritatingly perfect. The TV cookery competition was really interesting to read about, as were the traditional farmhouse dishes that the Hideaway team created. But I felt a lot of this was rushed, and that it was far too easy for them to win it. I did enjoy reading this book, but I just wasn't hooked in the way I am with some books. A few simple changes to the plot could have made a big difference to me. I give this book 6/10.
As a member of my local WI, I was given this history of the Women's Institute to have a read. I don't normally read much non-fiction, but when I started to read this, I just wanted to carry on reading more. Although sometimes I got a bit confused with the different names, dates, policies, etc, I still found it very interesting. The book wasn't strictly chronological, which did confuse me at times as I found it hard to place certain events and people. And there seem to be gaps where not much is reported on, especially between the 1960s to present day. However, overall it was an interesting read and inspired me to get more involved with my local WI. I give this book 7/10.
This book was absolutely brilliant. A lovely story about friendship, tied around one of my favourite things - teacups! The three women were all in very different places in their lives, all with jobs that I would have loved and so loved to read about. Jenny worked for a country magazine, Maggie owned her own florist, and Alison made homemade crafts which she sold. I fell in love with all the women and loved to read about their lives, separately and as they came together. Maggie's ex-husband Dylan was suitably annoying, the Spencers were absolutely lovely and other minor characters, even the dog, were great to read about! This has definitely reached the list of my favourite books! Therefore I give it 10/10!
I didn't really think that this book was all too Christmassy - Christmas was barely mentioned except for the fleeting descriptions of Christmas decorations - although it was still a good read. The only problem was that I wasn't too keen about the main character, Beth. Her heart was in the right place, but she was so incredibly ditzy and such a pushover. Some of the embarrassing things she did were quite funny, but others just made me cringe. It was good how the story was split into both Beth's and Matt's perspectives. Matt's grandad was such a lovely character, probably my favourite in the book. I didn't really feel close to any of the other characters, though. Beth's best friend was fickle and rarely there for Beth. Beth's mother was pushy and rude. And Mrs Blackstock didn't really seem to care about the cinema she claimed to love. However, the storylines were interesting, and kept me wanting to read. There was just a little something missing that I get when I feel really attached to the characters in a book, which I just didn't feel here. I give this book 6/10.
This was a really lovely book to read as the winter is upon us. I get very excited about Christmas (I know it's only November!) so I loved it. I really enjoyed reading about all the different guests at the Sugar Loaf Lodge. Each hotel room had a separate chapter telling the tale of the guests inside. The variety of stories of how families spent their Christmases was interesting to read, and I felt like I really got to know the characters in each chapter. The only problem was that as I got further through the book, the characters would start to mention other guests, and because there were so many different characters it was sometimes difficult to remember who was who! I absolutely loved the sound of the Sugar Loaf Lodge, and wish I could stay there! The descriptions of the hotel and the grounds were beautiful. The story behind the hotel was fascinating, although the ghostly aspects did seem not to fit in with the book, even though I did enjoy it. The only other complaint was that it was more like a collection of short stories than a novel, because there were just so many different stories within it. But it was still an enjoyable read. I give this book 9/10.