Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Emma's Review: The Windmill Café: Summer Breeze by Poppy Blake

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

The Windmill Cafe is open for business!

As Rosie Barnes serves glasses of tangy lemonade and ice-cold prosecco at her summer garden party, she couldn’t be happier. The Windmill Café, with its peppermint green sails is a roaring success and has given Rosie a chance to escape the heartbreak of her busy life in London.

But then disaster strikes when popstar Suki Richards is taken unexpectedly ill at the party. Now all eyes are on Rosie…have her famous raspberry cupcakes poisoned her most high-profile guest? Or is someone else trying to damage Suki’s chance of stardom?

If Rosie wants to save her picture-perfect life, and the reputation of her beloved Windmill Café, she’s going to have to get to the bottom of the mystery…and fast!

Amazon Affiliate Link: Kindle

Many thanks to Harper Impulse via NetGalley for my copy of The Windmill Café: Summer Breeze to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

Had I classed Poppy Blake's The Windmill Café: Summer Breeze as just another 'café' book and not even tried to read it then I would have missed out on a seriously good story. There sees to be an abundance of books this year with cafés as their main focus and I'm growing slightly weary of this but here Poppy Blake has brought something totally new and fresh to the genre and I loved this read from start to finish. I am a sucker for a lovely bright, colourful cover and admittedly this is what first drew me to the book. It's a gorgeous cover that draws you in and makes you want to discover the characters and story that awaits inside. I thought this would be a short novella as I knew it wasn't a full length book but I was pleasantly surprised at the length of it and the fact that the story had real depth and substance to it.

The writing is brilliant throughout so much so I had to stop every so often and reread a paragraph or two and absorb what was being said so deep and clever was its meaning. Such a wide range of vocabulary, sentiments and statements were used to convey a character's actions or thought process and it just felt the author had taken such care and time over how she wanted the plot and all the little details to come across. It was evident how much Poppy enjoyed writing this story and that she loved the characters and all their traits and quirks and I soon came to feel the same. I found myself nodding along in agreement at the way certain viewpoints were expressed and also the apt choice of words so carefully were they chosen and placed in each sentence. Simply I loved this book from start to finish.

Rosie is manager of The Windmill Café and presiding over the Summer garden party that all the residents of Willerby in Norfolk are invited to. She loves her job as it has afforded her the chance to break free from the shackles of the past and embrace a new step towards a better future for her. Owner Graham is away on holiday so Rosie in sole charge of both the café and the adjoining holiday site. It's a big responsibility but one she feels more than up to the challenge of. Ably helped by Mia all the preparations are complete with plenty of tempting, delicious treats available for everyone to enjoy. The descriptions of all the baked treats and goodies were mouthwatering throughout the book but they weren't the sole focus as more pressing matters over shadowed the success of the party at the end of the day.

Rosie feels maybe her luck is changing at last and is holding the party as a way of saying thank you to the villagers and to her friends Mia, Matt and Freddie for embracing her and welcoming her into the fold. It hasn't been that long since Rosie left London harbouring feelings of sadness, resentment and doom. At times now the affects of events in the big city still linger as 'She often felt like she was one of those characters from a comic book who walked around with a rain cloud dangling over her head whilst everyone else basked in glorious sunshine'. I felt awful that Rosie has these feelings but hoped her new found friends and the enjoyment she would continue to get from the café would have these emotions dispersing as quickly as possible.

It's not immediately clear why Rosie left London but as she says 'She'd had it with love' that obviously her heart got broken, battered and bruised and when the reason for her departure becomes evident I could understand why she fled to find a new sanctuary. Settling into The Windmill Café was giving Rosie that new lease of life and a chance to indulge her passion of baking. Yes she still has her bad days and internal wobbles but 'The Little Windmill Café had gently unwrapped the mantle of misery from her shoulders, and the warmth of friends she'd made here had helped plaster over the cracks in her heart so that now she greeted everyday with a smile on her face'. One thing the café hasn't cured is Rosie's obsession with cleanliness and the routines she has developed around this.

If she sees anything out of place or dirt, dust or grime dare to make an appearance then it drives her crazy and completely off track until she can sort it. The word OCD sprung to mind and clearly Rosie had used this as a coping mechanism in the past. Where there is chaos she needs order and cleaning and structure helps her to achieve this piece of mind. So what happens when Suki and her gang of friends arrive for the party and to stay on for the week in the holiday cottages. Suki is a singer on the cusp of stardom but when she falls seriously ill and the blame falls in Rosie's corner just how will Rosie cope? Will the café be shut-down? Will the past rear its ugly head undoing all the good work Rosie has done? Will she be run out of town for causing a celebrity to fall ill?

Rosie had put such trojan work into building up her self esteem given it had been so cruelly bashed that I thought this upset would really throw her back big time. When Suki and all her friends were first introduced I wondered why there was so much attention on her. William, Felix, Lucas, Jess and Nadia all were rapidly mentioned and started to feature and I had to remember how they were all connected. But it soon became apparent this little gang were not going to have the most relaxing of breaks as something devastating happens to Suki and for Rosie and the café to be exonerated a lot of questions needed to be asked. Rosie, Freddie, Matt and Mia began an investigation of their own. Sleuthing became the word of choice and it was this element of the story that set this story apart from similar books in the genre. This had me hooked.

Never before did a book like this take on this angle before and it was just such a joy to have something different from the norm. The boy meets girl and struggles ensue was firmly pushed to the background and the book didn't suffer in the slightest for this. Yes there was some romance and I think it will continue in the next two books that are planned but instead here I wanted to know what had exactly happened to Suki and why? So did everyone else and Matt and co didn't want to see Rosie's life destroyed through the actions of another. I loved how the mystery element really took over and that determination radiated from Rosie, Matt and Mia. They weren't going to stop until they reached the core of the problem and the reasons behind it. The fact that I was kept guessing as to the actual result was an added bonus as normally I can surmise pretty early on just what has occurred. Cracking the case becomes their goal and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey with the characters as they did so.

The Windmill Café part one was an excellent read that certainly gave me a lot more than I had first bargained for. This is an impressive début from Poppy Blake that makes her an author to watch in the future. If part one was this good I can only imagine what we have to come in Autumn Leaves and Christmas Trees later on in the year. The author has a real gift at storytelling and a love of writing that came across on every page. I relished every moment of this story and came to admire Rosie as a person. I'm interested to see how she will grow even further as a character in the future stories to come. One thing for sure I would have been gutted if I had let this book slip me by given how much I enjoyed reading it. Definitely one not to be missed.

All book titles in bold are Amazon UK Affiliate links which will earn me a few pence if anyone clicks through and makes a purchase - any money earned will go towards buying books or gifts for giveaways.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much, Emma! What a fantastic review! I'm thrilled you enjoyed your first visit to The Windmill Cafe. I'm also delighted to hear that you were kept guessing throughout! You're right - I love writing about Rosie and her cute cafe in the windmill. Love Poppyx