*Book Review** The Gift of Happiness

The Gift of Happiness by Holly Martin.

Welcome to my stop on The Gift of Happiness book blog tour. I could not wait to post it… I had to really hold off on putting my review out sooner as I think you should get a glimpse into the village of happiness and honestly I think you should all read this and it’s prequel.

I am a massive, massive fan of Holly Martin and she mad kindly offered me a chance to read a few of her books before publication date in return for an honest review, a few things, 1) you all know I love reading so I was never going to turn that offer down, 2) I adore Holly’s work so I almost bit her hand off and finally, 3) I write my blog because I love to write and share, but it is a huge dream of mine to write things people find interesting and may help them, so overall, I love Holly’s work and she has given me a chance to fulfil a dream so I really do.

Anyway, I’m rambling again onto my review:

A sparkling, thoughtful romantic tale which gave me tingles and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Christmas stories are my favourite kind of stories.

For me, it’s always about the characters. If I fall in love with one or all the characters, then it’s going to be a yes from me. The Gift of Happiness is no different, I love the characters – but then again, in a Holly Martin story, I always do! Like with people in real life, there are characters you will grow to love and some that you instantly fall in love with. Willow in the first book was an instant for me, Ruby was a bit of a grower, but I think she was written that way. You have to follow her journey, understand and learn why she is the way she is. I accepted her character early on as we should with people, she is the way she is, and she doesn’t want to change for anyone and I like that but I didn’t love her, not right away anyway, but when you start to learn her story and see her interactions with Willow, the villagers and Jacob and it soon wasn’t long before I’d fallen for her characters charm too, just as Jacob did.

I love how the characters were established a little in the first book and then grow in this one. I adore Hollys books where we are given a story and characters in one book but still get to hear from them in other stories. I love immersing myself in the Little Village of Happiness. Who wouldn’t want to live in this lovely, beautiful and unique place? I’m actually very jealous of all the characters.

I do find it hard to believe that both brothers could be so beautiful in real life but in a book I am a sucker for it. I read to escape and travel to new places and meet exciting new people. I am happy to suspend reality for a few hours and fall in love with two beautiful and amazing brothers.

I am not usually one for spoilers as I’d rather just give my open and honest opinion and hope this is enough for you to decide to go pick it up, on your own but on this occasion. I do want to give a little insight into the book and I will have a spoiler below, so if you don’t want to know please skip this next section.

The opening of the book sees Ruby, who we met in the previous book moving into Happiness. She had a few days of amazing sex with Jacob when she visited Willow in the summer but she is a lady who does not wish to settle down and is happy with no strings fun, or is she? As with all romance stories, this is just the start of Ruby’s journey. It’s Christmas time in Happiness, and the village is alive with all things festive and as always the gossips are out in full force as Ruby comes to town. Can she live in the village for the next year without falling into Jacobs arms, bed or heart?

***Spoiler alert***

The main theme throughout this story is dealing with loss, our fears and overcoming them. Although, we won’t all have the exact same experiences as Ruby, her story still resonates with me, as we all do often let our past, our fears etc dictate our futures. The loss of Ruby’s partner had me choked up and I cried whilst reading this chapter. A]if a character in a book can make me cry just by a few simple words, you know you are reading a good story. But more than the sadness of the tale, it was the understanding from Jacobs character which was incredible and got to me most. I love and hate reading, as real life men don’t always live up to literary ones.

**Spoiler over**

Deaf awareness and understanding in this story and it’s prequel is truly beautiful! Add to this, the inclusion of a Paralympic and the way he is living his life too, is remarkable. What an inspiring read! I would love to believe that if people were more like the characters in stories like this, the world would be a nicer place. Having health/mental/ physical differences doesn’t make the characters less of a person or ever come across as a negative. I love how it’s part of the characters but it’s not the defining feature. I especially like Ruby’s reasoning for learning to sign, “she knew it was partly to expand her skills and learn a new language and to be able to help understand people who might struggle to be understood.” People who learn languages so when they travel they can try to speak to the natives of that area is wonderful, I am one of those. I like to think that although my skills might not be great I am trying. Learning to sign to communicate with people who might struggle is, in my eyes even more wonderful. Imagine if we all did this, imagine if we all tried harder to communicate with everyone. Beautiful.

I love Christmas – the idea of carrying Christmas spirit/ magic all year round is something me and my mum have always done and I like to hope I’m passing that onto my kids! I always say we are Spirit of Christmas ambassadors. I love a Christmas story but a Christmas story about a lady I can relate to well that was perfection in a book. It’s not a secret that Holly is one of my favourite authors, it’s not often I pick her up her books and don’t instantly fall in love with everything about it. I love how she helps you connect with the characters and the story, but also with the places. Each time I discover a new place in Holly’s books, I want to go to and explore and find some of these treasures for myself. Happiness is almost a character itself. Overall, a book by Holly is probably going to be a hit in my house, a book by Holly about Christmas, well Christmas has arrived early in my house, and a little warning to my friends and family, you may all be receiving this book as a gift this year.

As a final note, I’d like to say a massive massive thank you to Holly for choosing British Heart Foundation as the charity her character chooses to support and for choosing to write about heart conditions and opening up discussions about BHF and what they do. I lost my dad quite young and he suffered with heart conditions. The work and research they do is so important and they don’t get government funding so all the help they get from donations etc is really appreciated. I would have loved this book anyway as Holly is one of my favourite authors, but when you add all the positives, the connection to the British Heart Foundation and everything about Christmas, it might actually be one of my all time favourites.

Overall, I love this book and if you want a festive, feel good read which will leave you feel all warm and fuzzy inside but also might make you jealous of all the beautiful, friendly and romantic feels – this is the book for you!

***Book Review*** The Little Village of Happiness

The Little Village of Happiness

By Holly Martin

I don’t know how it happened but it was an absolutely wonderful day when I was asked by one of my favourite authors to write a review of her latest book. As a book reviewer, it is wonderful when you get approached to review a book. I don’t do blog as a business or for a fee, I just do it for my love of books and reading, and to be asked to do a review is, just, well it’s wonderful. So to be asked again, is a dream come true!

I couldn’t wait to start my new book, and Holly has wrote a beautiful, funny and lively story. Once again, I started and I couldn’t put it down.

As you are all aware by now, the plot of a book can be similar to others but I will still fall in love with it, if I can fall in love with the characters. Personality, character development and chemistry are all huge priorities for me. Holly ticks all these boxes and always delivers a wonderful storyline too, so I have no need to worry.

Willow has taken a leap of faith and moved to a little village called Happiness to start afresh after her long term relationship ended in a disastrous failed engagement. To avoid the stares, the gossips and the humiliation, not that she was too bothered but the break up, but gossip can take a while to disappear. She has taken a chance to move rent free to Happiness for a year to help the village grow. She has no idea what to expect and is slightly shocked to see the state of the village, however she is soon distracted by the presence of the very attractive and kind estate manager Andrew.

When I started The Little Village of Happiness I wasn’t sure about Willow, but it only took until the second chapter to fall deeply in love with her. Willow’s positive outlook in life, combined with her ability to not just see the beauty in the world, but also see the negatives and sadness and turn it into a positive experience is wonderful. She is a bubbly, flirty bundle of energy, I can relate to on a personal level.

Andrew might be the perfect literary man! I have never been instantly attracted by a character as much as am I to him. He is absolute perfection, he obviously makes a few mistakes but he owns them straight away and there is nothing more attractive than that. Between the two main characters, Willow has my heart. To move to some where new, taking a leap of faith and trying out new experiences, is incredible. I was in awe of her quirky, happy go lucky attitude throughout the whole book.

I love this style of book so I knew I was going to enjoy it before I even started to read it. But every author brings something new to the table when it comes to chick lit and Holly does it like no other. The Little Village of Happiness sounds so beautiful, I want to discover it for myself and pack up my bags and head there. I am not sure I would be able to add anything productive in a business sense to the village, but I think I would really fit in with the villagers. Throughout the story, I adore how it isn’t just the romance blossoming between our two protagonists that make this story shine. The idea of bringing happiness back to Happiness, and encouraging community spirit within the village is absolutely beautiful.

All the little tiny details in this story are what make it special, it is also these wonderful additions that will make me pick it up to read it again and again, and recommend it to other people. I love how Holly’s characters always add something new and different to the book. Willow is a small business owner, she makes candles. How cute and adorable is this, but also such a good business for a crafty person, but not something you might read about. There is an artist within the village, landlord and lady of the local pub, and the post lady controls the post office with a record book and a friendly face. How unusual but so quaint. Romance blossoms for a senior couple, and Willows friend Ruby might even find love in the village. Every little thing that happens, comes together to make this a really cute but wonderful story.

My final comment is about Andrews character being deaf, obviously this a huge part of his character and something that drives the story. Personally I have no experience with deaf people similar to Holly, (she mentions in her comment that she doesn’t either) and she was worried about writing this character. But I think it is awesome she still has chosen to write Andrew and with such confidence. I don’t know any deaf people but I have friends who have been labelled for other reasons, and I think Holly’s approach in this story is spot on; seeing deafness as something that is just part of a person, not a negative, not something to be ashamed of, but something we should empathise with and help/encourage if we can, not judge someone or alter our behaviour because of it. This is absolutely the best part of this book for me. Willows speech to a Ruby regarding Poppy is a truly inspiration and outstanding message and I think more people need to hear it.

“And stop with the ‘poor girl’ crap, Deaf people don’t need or want our pity, they don’t want to be labelled as an abnormality or different. They just want understanding, to have the same opportunities as us, to have access to the same stuff that we do. And sometimes that can be difficult for the, but they want empathy not sympathy.” Its a beautifully written speech, and shows Willows, and through her Hollys view of the world and it really impressed me. The whole book has left a lasting impression of kindness, understanding and empathy with me, and I think everyone should read it.

I adore Holly Martin and I love this book and I cannot wait for the next instalment to see what happens between Ruby and Jacob. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all the residents of Happiness. I especially liked the idea of secret gifts; what a wonderful idea to spread community spirit and joy. My favourite is Roger asking for a Chris Hemsworth half naked calendar, I can fully appreciate that gift.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5/5 stars. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a cute, romantic easy read. Would be ideal to take on a summer holiday.

*Book Review* The Summer of Chasing Dreams

The Summer of Chasing Dreams by Holly Martin

Once I picked this book up, I couldn’t put it down and I finished it in one night. Within a couple of hours; which is impressive, even for me. It is a truly uplifting, romantic and beautiful read and so inspiring. Reading at home in bed, my first thought was how much I wanted to get up the next day and start exploring the world.

Everything about this book, from the beautifully written landscapes and adventures, to the amazing characters is wonderfully well written and makes me crave for an adventure of my own.

As you all know, I am a sucker for falling in love with a character. And yes I think everyone will fall in love with Thor a little bit, but for me, it’s all about falling in love with Eva and seeing the world through her eyes.

Holly Martin has done it again, I think the idea of an around the world trip appeals to anyone. Seeing the world and trying all these exciting things, well it’s exciting and amazing – especially for someone like me who is scared of flying, the dream and the reality are two very different things. I loved this book as it was a great read but on a personal level, I love reading books where I get to discover the world and see more of it, as I may not get to discover the real thing. Holly writes each new place beautifully, and certainly makes me want to travel to all these places, but as with her heroine Eva, seeing the world through Holly’s eyes is just as wonderful.

Not only does she write about some of the most beautiful and wonderful places, but she also has this romance blossoming all the way through it. Now you all know I am not one for spoilers, so I won’t be going into much detail. Eva is a young woman, who lost her mum and is trying to navigate life without her. She and her mum were polar opposites by all accounts, unlike her mum Eva never had any desire to travel. But upon discovering her mums lists of dreams she wished for as a teenager, Eva decides to set off on a once in a lifetime trip around the world with a dedicated travel guide, to keep her company. After some initial upset, enter godlike beauty Thor form stage left and undoubtedly, romance, drama or all of the above will ensue. If like me you like a good chick lit romance, you might think you know what will happen. But let me tell you now, as much as this story does have some of the usual traits of a romance novel, it is also something quite special.

I don’t think it follows the usual trope of a romance story. I think Eva is a very real character, and she moves the story along beautifully, she is brave and bold when she needs to be, with a slight naivety about her that is endearing. And as with most stories when the ‘plot thickens’, and you expect the drama to ensue, the nervous and slightly scared character we meet at the beginning of the story has grown and evolved, it’s not unrealistically and although there is slight drama, our Eva doesn’t back down or get scared and so inevitably, she becomes the heroine of her own story and I think I fell a bit in love with her.

I wish I could be as brave at conquering my fears, and maybe then I could see some of this glorious world, that Holly Martin so beautifully describes.

As with everything, I like to hope that I don’t look at everything with rose tinted spectacles, so was there anything I didn’t enjoy or like. Well, it ended far too soon. It left me wanting more ( 😊😍obviously this isn’t really a criticism.) I love and hate when a story leaves me wanting more, I love it because it means I enjoyed the story and I fell for the characters, so I really want to know more, but I am sad, as most of the time, there is no follow up. But I have a good imagination, I can imagine their future into existence in my mind.

I did have one wish whilst reading this story. I really would have liked to hear more from Laurel, I know she isn’t supposed to be as exciting as Eva’s mum, but I liked her relationship with Eva, it would have been nice to hear more of it. Possibly, hearing more from other characters too, I know it is Eva and Thor’s story, but you know me, I love good characters, so I love hearing all the stories of background characters. I especially like Thor’s parents, and I think I would have liked to hear more from Thomas too.

But as far as the story goes, I really, really enjoyed it. I think anything about exploring the world, seeing beautiful places and having fun adventures would appeal to me, but having the romance, friendship, family, love and slight drama thrown in, really sold it for me.

Holly Martin is one of my favourite authors, with her quirky humour, cute and romantic storylines and steamy, sexy scenes, she never fails to cheers me up every time I pick up one of her books. She did a wonderful job in making me fall in love with all of these extraordinary and unique places in her own unique way. I have always wanted to see the world and reading this story, has made me want it even more, never in my life have I wanted to see Hanami (Cherry blossom festival) in Japan as much as I did after finishing this book. She also created characters that I wanted to have happy endings, she made me fall in love with these people too. I love reading about a character and feeling like I’ve found a friend.

Overall, this is a sweet romance story enclosed in a beautiful travel adventure, that ticks so many boxes, how could it not be a wonderful read? The characters are adorable and you will undoubtably fall in love with at least one character. The scenery and places Eva discovers are described amazingly, and they are a wonderful back drop to a very cute, and refreshing love story.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (5/5 stars) I would definitely recommend this for anyone who loves Holly Martin already, anyone who craves adventure or romance or someone looking for something exciting or inspiring. It definitely inspired me to want to seek out more adventures.