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Archiwum - Październik, 2015

Book of the Month: October + A Treat

30 paź

And so we’re back with our Book of the Month, plus a special treat :) And this special treat is a short Q&A with the author of one of the Books of the Month – a second is coming verrry soon. Because, yes, as you might have guessed, I couldn’t settle for only one book – nothing new then – and here are the two that took my breath away in October.

My first favourite book in October is „I Hope You Dance” by Beth Moran. I truly can’t find enough words to describe how much I loved this novel, it has everything that I’m looking for in a book and much, much more. I cried buckets when reading it, and I laughed out loud as well, I gasped, I cringed and it awoke in me those kind of emotions and feeling that I didn’t know I can have – it’s a wonderful book that everybody should read, and here is my review.

 

The second book was exactly as emotional, humorous and hilarious, and it introduced a bunch of the most wonderful, vivid, believable characters ever! This story perfectly blends everything that I so adore: romance, brilliant humour, families and their little dramas, and some deeper issues as well. It really starts to feel like Christmas! Ladies and gentlemen, here is to „One Wish in Manhattan” by Mandy Baggot!

I am also extremely thrilled to welcome Mandy Baggot herself to my blog! Here is a short Q&A with her about „One Wish in Manhattan” – enjoy!

 

1. „One Wish is Manhattan” is a lovely and complex story – where does the inspiration come from?

 I have no idea *laughs*. It’s my very first attempt at a Christmas book and the idea did scare me a bit! I think I looked at it, first and foremost, as a feel-good story that could be set at any time of year, but once you add in the location, the snow and the uplifting themes it changes into something a little bit magical. The New York winter setting just enhances the whole novel and makes everything more sparkly!

 

 2. We know that your daughters were the inspiration for Angel, but who inspired the other characters?

 Oliver never intended to come out like Scrooge but readers have likened him to the Dickens character! I just wanted to match two capable characters who underneath it all were vulnerable people just doing the best they can with the situations they find themselves in. Both Hayley and Oliver are strong characters on the outside but marshmallow on the inside.

 I don’t think either of the characters were particularly inspired by anyone – it’s my active imagination at work. Although I would quite like Chris Pine to play Oliver in the movie!

 

3. What is your favourite scene in the story?

 Just one?! I actually have two favourite scenes. One of them is when Hayley first meets Oliver at the fire exit of the Chinese restaurant. I had great fun perfecting that scene. And the other one is obviously the whole McArthur Foundation fundraiser night! I can’t give too much away but, for me, it’s like that perfect Dirty Dancing end scene where everything comes together!

 

4. What are your 5 top places to see/visit in New York in winter?

 I researched all the places Hayley, Angel and Oliver went in the book and picked the sights I would like to go and see:-

              1. Statue of Liberty

              2. Empire State Building

              3. Ice skating at the Rockefeller Centre

              4. Greenwich Village

              5. Horse and carriage ride around Central Park

 

5. Is writing a book set around Christmas different to writing other books? Special?

 Hard! Very hard because you’re writing it in summer. It’s quite easy to think of warmer climes when you’re cold in England because most people want long summer days and it’s easily conjured up. It was really difficult to put myself in the mood for winter when we were having a heatwave! I lit some Christmas scented candles, put on the Michael Buble Christmas album and some New York jazz and shut all the blinds. I think it worked!

 

6. What was your most favourite and least favourite aspect of writing „One Wish in Manhattan”?

 For me the joy comes in creating the characters. I’m not a planner. I don’t have a huge outline on the wall with Post It notes all over it, I just start writing. I can’t bear to know what’s going to happen in the novel before the characters do. Obviously I know we’re going to have a romance and a happy ending but as for the bits in between, they really do come in the writing process. I don’t really know my characters completely until I’ve spent time with them.

 The least favourite part is always the editing. Editors do a great job making the book as polished as it can be but us writers don’t necessarily think that at the time!

 

7. What’s been the most exciting moment of your writing career to date?

 I have two moments I’ve most proud of. The first one was back in 2012 when I won the Festival of Romance Innovation in Romantic Fiction award. It wasn’t an award for my writing, it was an award for my hard work in trying to do something different to promote my books. I’m a great fan of social media but I don’t just want to hit people with a hard sell, I want to give them something in 140 characters that will make their day a little better. I like cheeky tweets, tweets using popular culture and trends. A smile at one of my tweets is as good as a sale! And I want to be memorable!

 The other is Truly Madly Greekly giving me my best Amazon UK ranking to date. It hit the dizzy heights of #24 on Amazon UK this summer. Starting out as a full time writer in 2010 I never would have dreamed I’d be reaching those figures. And I couldn’t have done it without all the amazing support I get from book reviewers, readers and my fabulous street team, The Bagg Ladies. A huge thank you everyone!

 
 

(My Most Anticipated) November Releases

29 paź

So, and here we are again. It’s November already, and with all the Christmassy books it feels almost like Christmas already :) Also, the days are shorter, the evening are longer, and what is better than to curl up on the sofa with a great book? And the publishers are taking good care of us, releasing so many brilliant novels that we can curl up on the above mentioned sofa with. Here are my most anticipated.

The first on my list is for sure Rosie Blake with her second book How to Stuff Up Christmas . Rosie took her time to write this book, as her first book, „How to Get a (Love) Life” was published in 2014 and in a blogger life it’s AGES, but you know what, I was lucky enough to receive a review copy (YAY!!!) and I’ve read the book already, and it was worth this waiting! The blurb sounds amazing, and the book itself is fantastic, full of humour and it has the best opening scene in the history! Really! You must read it – it’s out on 5th November, published by Corvus.

There wouldn’t be Christmas without Karen Swan‚s book. Well, at least I can’t imagine it!  And this is why I am beyond excited that she’s back with Christmas on Primrose Hill – already reading the synopsis makes me feel festive! I am a big fan of Karen’s books, and she can truly bring the Christmas spirit to life, and I am so sure that we are for a real treat with this novel as well – and it has so a beautiful, wintery cover! The book is out on 5th November, published by Pan.

There is also one book very high on my November list, and it is  Boyfriend by Christmas by Jenny Stallard. It was love at the first sight – when I spotted this wonderful, festive cover I was already sold, then I’ve read the blurb and I was double sold. I had an incredibly good feeling that this book is going to be just what I’m looking for – a hilarious, romantic, funny novel, and yes, the synopsis promises this! And there are going to be bad dates – oh my word, what else do we need??? So looking forward to reading this book, that is out on 19th November, published by Penguin.

Also Fanny Blake is back in November with her brand new shiny book, House of Dreams. I loved those books by Fanny that I’ve had a pleasure to read, and so I will be starting this one very soon, with high expectations. It’s about this what I so like in the books: secrets, lies, choices made and to be made, set in Spain, so it can be a nice change to read not Christmassy book for once, ha!  Fanny Blake can write truly beautiful, engaging novels and I can’t wait to start reading „House of Dreams” – it’s out on 5th November, published by Orion.

I have already heard thousands of great things about Trust by Mike Bullen. It is a story about what happens to your relationship when there is no more trust – and  am very curious what happens then! My review copy is already at the top of my TBR pile and it will be sooner rather than later that I will be starting it with great anticipation! „Trust” is Mike Bullen’s first novel, he is better known as the creator/writer of the BAFTA award-winning series Cold Feet, about adults trying to be grown up, which is telling something already! It  is out on 5th November (what else, ha!), published by Sphere.

And guys, oh guys, the Bensons family is back, this time in A Wedding at Christmas! I  am such a big fan of this series by Chrissie Manby and each new book about this family is such a great treat for me! And this time it’s going to be a wedding at Christmas, what can you wish more? I so can’t wait for this book to hit my doorstep, you can be sure that I’m going to put everything away and start reading it IMMEDIATELY! It’s out on 19th November, published by Hodder & Stoughton. And just have a look at this gorgeous cover! I am already in love!

And oh my gosh, what a treat! Claire Sandy is also back with a Christmassy, snowy story! It’s her second novel this year and I am starting to feel overwhelmed with all the goodies from all the brilliant publishers! I love Claire Sandy and all her stories, her writing style, her dry humour and her down – to – earthness, and so I really can’t wait for  Snowed in for Christmas! Already the synopsis sounds like a winner, and then when you just look at this cover… So festive… So beautiful… Aaaah, roll on, 19th November, when the novel is out, published by Pan.

Oh gosh. There are many, many more brilliant books to come in November and I really need some free days, only for me, to be able to read them all – guys, we are for a real treat this month, no? What are your most anticipated November releases? Would love to hear about them!

 
 

Every Time a Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington / eBook Review

28 paź

Every Time a Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

 

Publisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 15th October 2015

Source:  Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley,  thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

An angel gets its wings…

Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating.

As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss.

Hence, Christmas is cancelled.

So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born.

But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…

Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life is the most wonderful life of all?

Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Carmel Harrington’s next book tells the story of Belle, a young woman and foster carer from Dublin who faces the hardest decision of her life this Christmas on The Ha’Penny Bridge.

Full of Irish charm, magic, and the warmth of the festive season this is an emotional, heartwarming story that will stay with you long after you’ve reached ‘The End’. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern & Jojo Moyes.

Carmel is the bestselling author of The Life You Left & Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, voted Romantic eBook of the Year 2013.

 Rating: 5/5

 

„Every Time a Bell Rings” is my Carmel Harrington’s first book – no need to explain why, as you know it as well as I do: time, or rather lack of it. I’ve seen many raving reviews for this book and it awoke my curiosity, so as soon as I’ve noticed it on NetGalley, I downloaded it to my kindle and almost immediately started reading it. „Every Time a Bell Rings” is based on the author’s favourite film, „It’s a Wonderful Life” and I must immediately fess up that I haven’t seen it, but truly, I didn’t have any problem to get into the heart of the story – maybe a little at the beginning, but that’s all. The book follows the story of Belle and Jim who got to know each other at their foster mum Tess’ home – from the very beginning I was enchanted by the bond they formed, it was incredible friendship and you could just see that those two just perfectly teamed up together.

But I’ll be honest. At the beginning I though, hmmm, where is the fire? For my liking, the story dragged on too much, and sure, it was interesting, captivating and heart – breaking, but I couldn’t see what is so special about it. But soon, the story gained incredible tempo and I could see now where the fire was! Later on there was still one moment, when the author introduced Nora to us, when I thought, NO WAY, impossible, it can’t be true and it’s not going to work, it’s too far – fetched, but it DID work!

Everything in this book was perfect. All the feelings and emotions were so brilliantly described, they were truly palpable through the pages, and I could feel the pain, hurt, love and hope that the characters felt. The way the foster parenting was described was so honest, the author has highlighted all the pros and cons and she made it feel so worth doing! For sure Belle and Jim were right persons in the right place. The story touches so many incredibly important issues, and no matter if it is about foster parenting, about children feeling lost, about loosing pregnancy or about feeling unsure about the future, it is all tackled with so much gentleness and tenderness.

The times in the story switch often, and at the beginning it was a little confusing, as it jumped between the times too much for my liking, but thanks to this way of writing it we could see how the relationship between Belle and Jim was growing, developing, blossoming, and we could also see what kind of lives those two had when their paths diverged, and how come those two are foster parents as well. It all was so realistic and I truly didn’t expect this magic element at all, but well, it’s set around Christmas, so it’s allowed, right? And as I have already mentioned, never in a million years was I expecting that it’s going to work out in this story, but it did – beautifully! I loved Nora and the way she showed Belle what she could lose or never experience and see.

Our main characters are Belle, Jim and their foster mum Tess. I adored all of them, but I think it was Tess that stole my heart totally. She was so warm, so full of love to their foster children and so down – to – earth, I loved her approach to fostering and the way she could explain how the world is working.
Belle seemed a little too meh for my liking, like the one who too often pities herself, but on the other hand I could also understand her and where it was coming from. It, in fact, was a pain to see her fighting her demons, to always keeping in mind that her mother didn’t want her – when she was a child, and when she was an adult. Yes, there were moments that I wanted to shake her and tell her to stop being so tender and also selfish, but then again, she had a right to be like this, and it was great to see how eventually she was starting to see what’s really important in her life. What I so liked in Bella was the fact that no matter what, she kept fighting, and really, learning about her past, her history made me warm to her and understand her.
But let’s not forget all the other characters in the book, all the foster kids – they were all so well developed and described, every time I picked this book up again I had a feeling I’m back with my old friends. The bond between Belle, Jim and Tess as a foster family was so touching, as it often isn’t so strong in real families. They had such a great influence and impact on each other. And of course they were not flawless, even if it sounds so, oh no.

Altogether, „Every Time a Bell Rings” is an uplifting, festive read that touches upon many important themes and how they can affect our lives. It is a beautiful book about appreciating this what we’re having and never doubting in the reasons why we were born, that we have our own mission to accomplish on this Earth. A read with a lesson in it, no matter if this lesson involved a lot of magic – it nevertheless sounded so real. It was a beautiful story that took my breath away, written in a brilliant way, full not only of gentle moments, but also a clever humour. Emotional, heart – breaking but also optimistic and full of hope, and twists and turns, and really there were moments that I haven’s seen coming. It was compelling and so fulfilling, and I think everybody should read it!

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 5/5

 

Blog Tour: A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley / Book Review

27 paź

A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley

 

Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 22nd October 2015

Source:  Copy provided by publisher,  thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Get into the festive spirit with this heart-warming, funny and simply gorgeous Christmas read.

The eagerly awaited new novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author.

This Christmas is about to go off with a bang!

Things can’t possibly get worse for Tabby. Framed for a crime she didn’t commit, she suddenly finds herself without a job. Then to make matters worse, Tabby’s boyfriend dumps her and gives her cat away to a shelter.

But rescue comes in the form of kindly Mercy. A master of saving waifs and strays, Mercy wants Tabby to breathe new flair into her ailing cracker business. Together, they’ll save Marwood’s Magical Christmas Crackers.

But someone has other ideas. Mercy’s nephew Randal thinks Tabby’s a fraudster. Stubborn, difficult and very attractive, her future depends upon winning him round. But it’s that time of the year when miracles really can happen. Standing under the mistletoe, Tabby’s Christmas is set to be one that she will never forget . . .

Rating: 4/5

 

Ah, the one and only Trisha Ashley! She’s back with „A Christmas Cracker” – and I love this title! It’s so Christmassy and suits the story ideally. I also love the cover of this book – it’s just gorgeous, with wonderful colours and it’s sparkly! It’s been a moment since I’ve read Trisha Ashley’s book, and my bookish relationship with this author is a rocky one, once at the top and once little lower, but I was incredibly happy and excited to be able to dive into this lovely, magic story.

The book started quickly, very quickly I’d say and to be honest, it took me a moment or two to really realise that yes, Tabby was sent to prison, even though she was innocent – she was set up and sentenced because the judge wanted to make an example out of her – that’s what I call bad luck. And also, everything there – Tabby’s fiancé, her friends, job, it all seemed too much on the surface – side and not too developed at the beginning. Then the book slowed down a little and then we were given a chance to get to know Tabby more, as well as her past.

So Tabby was sent to prison, and so what? It doesn’t mean that she’s a bad person. On the contrary, quickly after she’s been released it turned out that she’s clever, incredibly funny, has talent and is determined to forget about her past, follow her dream about being an artist and to succeed. And believe me, I was keeping everything crossed for her.
Of course Tabby wouldn’t be able to achieve so much in such a short period of time if she hadn’t met Mercy. The name is very suitable for this woman, and she is a character that everybody should have in their lives. She’s the opposite of the all – knowing grandmas or aunties that the books are so full of – she’s full of wisdom, of course, but it doesn’t feel to forced, and everything she says and does is so genuine, and she didn’t feel meh at all. Mercy is a Quaker, and as I have never before heard about them, it was a great new aspect for me.
Firstly I wasn’t sure where to place Randal – who is he and what’s he doing in this story, but slowly we learnt all about him, and also about his lovely (not) fiancée Lacey. Probably because I knew that Tabby is innocent I couldn’t warm to him too much as he was convinced that she was rightly sentenced, and he seemed so cold and correct. But the more we got to know him, the more I – maybe not liked him but – warmed to him.
There are also many other brilliant and colourful characters in the story, and they all made for a hilarious read. I loved the banter between them, their spot – on comments and sharp observations. And also, having a Christmas Cracker factory as a big part of the story was so new and so refreshing – I’ve never read a book about making Christmas crackers before.

Although the book had some elements that I so feared. Ms Ashley likes her characters to repeat the same things over and over again, for example on telephone or when they’re telling them other characters, and I’m not the biggest fan of it – I mean, I’ve read about something, it stayed in my memory, and there is no need to repeat it again and again, even if it is from different points of view. And it happened in „Christmas Cracker” again, but fortunately only at the beginning! Also, this book was like a real roller coaster ride – either super hilarious and fast – paced or there were moments that it was dragging on a bit, especially the scenes of the meetings and mill decorating, I’d love it more straight to the point. The chapters were told mostly from Tabby’s point of view, in the first person narration, it was full of „I” (naturally :) ). Occasionally the narration switched to the POV of Randal, and yes, the chapters were then captioned with his name, but nevertheless, after few chapters told by Tabby, the switching to other „I” was a little confusing for me and I was wondering if it’s Tabby talking to Lacey (no, it was Randal).

„A Christmas Cracker” is for sure a different read. It doesn’t follow the „girl meets boy, they fall in love and live happily ever after” format, as it also is with Trisha Ashley’s other books, and this is why you actually never know what to expect – we’re usually for a unconventional, original story when we’re to read a Trisha Ashley’s book – which is a brilliant fact. This time Ms Ashley doesn’t disappoint, coming up with a cracking (! Yes!), unique plot and very unusual setting – a crackers factory. Altogether, it’s a different but heart – warming story, full of Mercy (yes! Intended! I know it should be mercies :) ), forgiveness, trust, wonderful friendship and second (or third, or even fourth) chances. Full of humour and charm, unusual plotline and brilliantly written characters – a lovely introduction to the Christmas period.

 

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Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson / eBook Review

26 paź

Bella’s Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

 

Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 22nd October 2015

Source:  Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley,  thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials.

But this year things are going to be different.

For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever.

Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off…

After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember…

A hilarious, heart-breaking and feel good read about best friends, baking and the magic of Christmas.

Rating: 5/5

 

I have a feeling that every book by Sue Watson that I have a pleasure to read is better than the last one. I haven’t read all of her novels yet but Ms Watson has already got me used to the fact that I am for sure for a real treat when picking one of her books. I absolutely adore that she writes about totally normal, ordinary women, with bad – hair days, not wearing size 0, struggling with life and problems, but the books are still so optimistic, full of fun and hope. And „Bella’s Christmas Bake Off” has it all and much, much more – to be honest, I haven’t expected it to be SO good. In my opinion, it is Sue Watson’s best book that I have read.

So yes, let’s start with the characters. They are all so down – to – earth and true to life. They’re not perfect, oh no, they are full of flaws and this is what makes them so 3 – dimensional and realistic. They are your normal, every – day people, but with incredible will to live and who know where their priorities are – and they are in their families, friends and all the other small things that make your life full.
I loved Amy from the opening scenes and admired her for everything. No matter what happened, Amy was like this proverbial phoenix and there was nothing stopping her. She was really funny, intelligent woman with my favourite kind of humour and brilliant one – liners, and also teaching methods (have you ever heard about penis – maths? I thought so. I have – all thanks to Amy!).

But Bella was also an exceptional character, I think I haven’t come across such character in the books yet. The farther I was reading, the more I was wondering how many surprises are there for us in store, and how many secrets she keeps in her sleeve. She was so brilliantly portrayed, our Bella, with her moods and diva – like behaviour, and I never was sure what comes next when Bella was considered. What was great was the fact that you could hate Bella for most of the time, but there was also some kind of fragility in her that made me like her as well, from the beginning, and this feeling only solidified through the whole story. Yes, she was very over the top but it was a funny over the top and it really worked out in this story.

I absolutely loved how the author wrote the relationship between Amy and Bella. We know something happened in the past, and you know how sensitive I am for all the secrets being dragged on for too long, but here is was brilliantly solved. It was mentioned, we know something has happened, but it was not too overwhelming and – let’s be honest – among all this action and hilarious banter that had our whole attention, I needn’t to know it right now, right there. Don’t get me wrong, I was desperate to know what happened, but I was happy to wait for the whole explanation – I mean, the girls were the best friends once, through thick and thin, with Bella spending all her free time at Amy’s, so what happened that their paths diverged? And truly, when I eventually found out what happened, all the pieces of the puzzle just came to their places. The dynamics between those two women were brilliantly captured and they were a real joy to read, and the banter between them felt so genuine and honest, there was nothing forced there.

What I also liked was the fact that the story also strongly concentrates on the homeless problem and that it includes scenes in a shelter – and even though it is sad, Sue Watson has managed to write them in her lovely, light style, with a lot of humour. Also, the „behind – the – scenes” moments in the story were hilarious and gave us a brilliant insight into how does it really look like when making a cook – show!

As usual, the book is full to brims with humour, clever, intelligent humour. There were moments that had me laughing out loud, many of them, too many to mention them here. But also there were many tender, gentle moments that made me stop for a moment and think – about friendship, about forgiveness, about truth.

„Bella’s Christmas Bake Off” should have pride of place on your Christmas bookshelf! It is a warm, brilliant, lovely story that made me feel warm and good inside. Yes, it was partly predictable, but it didn’t bother me at all this time. I loved how the author has sneaked this wonderful message about what real Christmas is about, what is its true meaning, and showed us what a true friendship is. Sue Watson has just written a perfect, lovely story that mixes normal life with glamour, reality with fantasy, and this all with a lot of Christmas spirit and Christmas food. And yes, only writing this review has made me feel hungry. My stomach is rumbling There are so many delicious meals in this novel, you’d better be careful when you’re on a diet…. It had me laughing, but it also had me thinking and I liked how it showed two very different worlds – but is the world that seems to be so glamourous and flawless really like this? Highly recommended!

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 5/5

 

Weekly Wrap Up # 68

24 paź

Hi there! It’s Saturday evening again, the Little One is playing nicely, hubby is on his way bringing a big surprise home (!!!), I can’t decide what to read next, so to spend the time purposefully, let’s post the Weekly Wrap Up :) This week, together with 5 review (I’m on a roll, yuppi!), we have a brilliant Q&A with the Queen of Christmas, Carole Matthews – you can read it here and  a fantastic Guest Post from Emma Davies about inspiration for one of „Merry Mistletoe” characters – it’s here.

BOOKS THAT I READ LAST WEEK:

„Merry Mistletoe” by Emma Davies – reviewed

„The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas” by Carole Matthews – reviewed

„A Christmas Cracker” by Trisha Ashley – to be reviewed on 27th October

 

 Am reading right now:

„Every Time a Bell Rings” by Carmel Harrington

And can’t decide on paperback, there are probably to many, waiting to be read, but it’s probably going to be „The Christmas Cafe” by Amanda Prowse.

 

I REVIEWED THIS WEEK:

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella 5/5

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Lisa Dickenson 5/5

The Soldier’s Wife by Pamela Hart 4/5

The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas by Carole Matthews 5/5

Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies 3/5

 

BOOKS I RECEIVED/BOUGHT THIS WEEK

PAPERBACKS:

Vicky Pattinson „A Christmas Kiss”

Emma Hannigan „The Heart of Winter”

Fanny Blake „House of Dreams”

Paula Brackston „The Silver Witch”

Lucy Holliday „A Night In with Audrey Hepburn”

Amanda Prowse „The Christmas Cafe”

Jackie Kabler „The Dead Dog Day”

Rosie Blake „How to Stuff Up Christmas”

Judy Astley „A Merry Mistletoe Wedding”

KINDLE:

Lynda Cohen Loigman „The Two – Family House”

Debbie Johnson „Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper”

 
 

Guest Post by Emma Davies: Inspiration for Merry Mistletoe

23 paź

I am totally thrilled to have the very lovely Emma Davies on my blog today. Emma’s first Christmas novella „Merry Mistletoe” was published yesterday and she’s so kindly written us a fantastic Guest Post. Over to you, Emma!

 

Inspiration for Merry Mistletoe

 

I’ve never written a Christmas novella before even though much of the action in my previous book, Letting In Light, takes place at Christmas. It a time of year I love, and so writing about it is something I really enjoy.

As is often the case, inspiration for a story can come quite unexpectedly and from an unusual source, although my inspiration for one of the main characters in Merry Mistletoe has to be one of the strangest. This came to me well over a year ago while I was out driving somewhere, doing the food shopping probably. I pulled up behind a motorbike at a set of traffic lights and the bike had a personalised number plate which read AM05 FRY, or Amos Fry. I thought it was such a wonderful name that immediately in my head I began to picture this dark curly haired man who wore bright red shoes and who was a little mysterious. By the time the lights had turned to green I already had a very firm idea of this character in my head, and indeed where he might appear. Shortly afterward I started to plan the novel that would feature Amos Fry as its main character, but more about that later.

So when I came to think about my Christmas novella I knew that I needed to get the setting just right. My books have a very strong sense of place and it’s an important part of my planning process. The perfect solution came to me suddenly one morning as I was brushing my teeth! Just a few miles from where I live is a small market town, which is quite unremarkable except that at Christmas it hosts an annual mistletoe sale to which people come from all over the country to sell their holly and mistletoe. I knew straight away that this would make a perfect setting for the start of my story and so I began to research the sale and its history, but also the mistletoe plant itself.

I hadn’t realised that mistletoe is surrounded by a series of myths and legends and has long been considered to be a very special plant, even one with miraculous healing properties. According to a pagan calendar it also has its own day; that of the 23rd December, and so the more I learnt, the more the story began to take shape. To make the book really Christmassy though I knew I needed to work in a little seasonal magic and straight away I thought of Amos’ character; he was perfect and when you read Merry Mistletoe I hope you’ll see why.

Amos still has his own story to tell though and I hope to give him his very own book next year, something which I’m very excited about.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Emma Davies once applied for her dream job in the following manner;  

‚I am a bestselling novelist currently masquerading as a thirty something mother of three.’ Well she’s now a forty something mother of three, and is working on the rest.

By day she’s a finance manager and looks at numbers a lot of the time, but by night she gets to use actual words and practices putting them together into sentences. Her twitter bio says she loves her family, her job, reading, writing, singing loudly in the car, and Pringles, so that must be true then.

Wave to her on twitter @Emdavies68

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Guest Post

 

Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies / eBook Review

23 paź

Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies

 

Publisher: Lawsome Books

Publishing Date: 22nd October 2015

Source:  Copy provided by publisher via NetGalley,  thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

Sherbourne Mistletoe has been prized and sold at the annual Mistletoe Fair for over a hundred years; but could this year possibly be the last? With her father’s sudden death and debts mounting up it looks as though Freya’s only hope for the future is to sell her beloved family home. And to make matters worse, the only contenders to buy Appleyard Farm, are the people she’d least like to sell it to – the dreaded Henderson brothers who seem always to make life so difficult.

It’s magical stuff though, mistletoe, and the arrival of the mysterious Amos Fry brings a glimmer of hope that just maybe Freya can fall in love with Christmas all over again.

As the snow begins to fall, cosy up and find your sparkle this Christmas with another big-hearted, and wonderfully warm read from the author of Letting in Light.

Rating: 3/5

 
„Merry Mistletoe” is my first book by Ms Emma Davies, and again I’m very happy to discover her for me. I didn’t hesitate to hit the „request” button, the blurb sounded so inviting and I truly loved the cover. And even though this is a novella, not a full – length novel, I could immediately feel the warmth and feelings shining from the pages. Writing style is one of the biggest highlights of this story, I think, it’s exceptionally lovely, tender and it just envelopes you with its warmth.

It is a lovely Christmas story that put friendship in the centre, written in a very lovely, eloquent way. The idea of Mistletoe Day was totally new to me, I’ve never come across this in books or internet, but sadly, after reading „Merry Mistletoe” I still am not sure what it is. This novella was also full of Christmas spirit and felt truly festive, with all this snow falling down, and well, in fact there was a great warmth to this story.

The book is written in a form of a countdown to Christmas, but also it was a kind of end to something and new beginning of something. The story doesn’t introduce us to many characters, so it is really easy to quickly understand who is who and that something happened to them in the past, that there is a secret or two that need to be revealed. The characters are easy to like or to dislike. I think that, even though I didn’t get him so much, it was Amos that was the most colourful character – he was kind and took the things as he got them, and even though it is not deeply explored, or isn’t explored at all and we are left to guess, there is the overwhelming feeling that Amos had history, that something happened to him.

I truly liked how much Freya was involved with her farm, Appleyard, and she would do anything to save it, but that she also knew when she must say „I can’t anymore”, which doesn’t mean that she gives up! I really kept my fingers crossed for her and it was sad to see how she was struggling – there was this overwhelming feeling of sadness around Freya, I was guessing that her past was not the easiest one, and I really wanted that she succeed. You can’t help but feel empathy and sympathy to Freya.

„Merry Mistletoe” is a sweet, charming story that, sadly, didn’t wow me as much as I hoped, and as other bloggers, so probably „it’s not you, it’s me” case again. It just felt a little too unrealistic for my liking, and yes, I did like Freya, she was a lovely girl, but there are limits to a character being lovely. Everybody loved her, she could make no mistake, everybody was rooting for her, and there was not a single flow to Freya. It was just too saint – like for my liking. And I still can’t put my finger on Amos – where did he come from, and who he was in fact? Santa Claus? Guardian Angel? What was his role? (Update – if you are as confused as I was, please read Emma Davies’ brilliant guest post about inspiration for writing Amos – she explains it really great here ). Also, the past of Freya and the Henderson brothers was not explained in as many details as I would like. In fact, the story felt a little too flat and too abrupt, and this is perhaps why I couldn’t warm to the characters or to the story itself.

But. This is a very gentle and very intelligent novella that combines a little romance, troubles and Christmas spirit. I liked the moments when Freya was in the village at the auction or just strolled through the streets decorated for Christmas – it all looked very peaceful, and very cosy, and I love such places, and Emma Davies has wonderfully brought it to life. She has created a warm and fast – paced novella with a sparkle of magic with some twists and turns about friendship, Christmas magic and finding happiness.

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 3/5

 

Q&A with Carole Matthews

22 paź

Carole Matthews‚ new novel (27th already!), „The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas” is out today, and you can read my review here. It’s a gorgeous, festive story about friendship through thick and think, full of festive spirit and chocolate – of course!

I am super excited to have Carole today on my blog – we are chatting about her book, but also about chocolate! Thank you, Carole, for taking time to answer my questions, and to Jo for making it possible to happen!

Carole, over to you!

Carole, why write a third book in the series after so much time?

I’ve never quite finished with the ladies of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club, but other books that I wanted to write got in the way. Then, happily, someone tweeted me and said, ‘Please write another chocolate lovers’ club book, Carole.’ I forwarded the tweet to my editor and she came back with ‘I’m in!’. All sorted out in five minutes on social media and I couldn’t have been happier. These have been my most popular books worldwide and writing about chocolate and Christmas combined is a dream!

 

How did it feel to be again with the characters?

Great! It was like hooking up with old friends and I hope that my readers will feel like that too. When you’ve finished some books the characters leave you straight away, but these ladies always stay with me. I’m not done with them yet.

 

How did your research look like? (In fact, I’d love to ask, how many chocolate did you eat during writing this book?).

I get to eat LOTS of chocolate which is great. I have to balance it with eating LOTS of salad!

 

White or dark chocolate?

Tricky. But I think I’d go for dark. I eat Lindt 70% chocolate every day.

 

And finally, when did you find time to write this book among so many activities that you post about on Facebook? Is it a question of good organization only or there is some kind of magic? :)

I love to be busy, so I do lots of crafts and take lots of trips. I do Zumba classes and Pilates too. And, of course, I’m an avid reader. Plus, I have to do lots of things to be able to write about them – you never quite know what might be research. In terms of writing, I’m really disciplined and work from 8am – 6pm every weekday with an hour for lunch. That’s what gets the books written! I would sometimes like a clone though.

Thank you for having me on your blog, Aga! C : ) xx

 

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases

 

The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas by Carole Matthews / Book Review

22 paź

The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas by Carole Matthews

 

Publisher: Sphere

Publishing Date: 22nd October 2015

Source:  Received from publisher,  thank you!

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Christmas is just around the corner but the women of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club have more to worry about than present shopping . . . Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn’t spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden, in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated. Nadia hasn’t let herself get close to a man in a long time, yet she can’t help feeling drawn to Jacob. Will he be her last chance for a happy ending? Chantal and her husband, Ted, are besotted with their baby daughter Lana – but she’s not sure that’s enough to base a marriage on. Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn’t get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort? Can friendship overcome all in . . . The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas.

Rating: 5/5

 

Few years ago I’ve read and totally enjoyed the first two books in the Chocolate Lovers’ series, so when I heard that Carole Matthews is writing not one, but TWO new books about the four friends, I was over the moon. I mean, lovely friendship and tons of chocolate in one book – nothing could beat it, right? I was so hoping to re – read both previous books in preparation for the new one, because well, it’s been few years already, but as always life got in the way and my re – read will have to wait. Nevertheless, the author gives us just the right amount of a catch – up, so no fear if you haven’t read the previous two books – but I’d advise to read them in the right order.

I have a feeling that this book is like the old ones by Carole Matthews. I mean, the last few books were gorgeous and I loved them, but they were more serious in tone and, for me, there was a little melancholy in the writing style… They were just not so light – hearted like the other books. But „The Chocolate Lover’s Christmas” reads like Carole’s earlier novels, and it made me feel so, so warm inside, and I truly loved this feeling.

I immediately felt at home when I started reading the book, and in fact after the first sentence I was sold – „It’s a well – known fact that if you break chocolate outwards, all the calories fall out! – I mean, how clever is this? I’m going to print it out and hang on the wall. But it felt as if I never left the girls, they stayed somewhere deep inside me, and with no problems I picked up on everyone.

The absolute highlight of the book is the friendship. The girls are together, through thick and thin, and no matter what happens they support each other and can count on each other. This time Ms Matthews has also introduced an old – new character to us, Stacey, and tried to integrate her with the four girls, but no matter what Chantal and the other said about Stacey, I couldn’t warm to her, somehow she didn’t fit in the group, and, it turned out, my gut feeling was right again!

What makes Carole Matthews’ books so outstanding is the fact that she’s not afraid to make their characters lives’ complicated. It was the same this time, and the lives of Lucy, Nadia, Chantal and Autumn were not bed of roses. Lucy is now managing Chocolate Heaven and she couldn’t dream of a better job for herself, but this job is taking all her time and there is a little left to savour a life with Aidan „Crush” Holby. Moreover, there is Marcus on the scenes, her ex – boyfriend, who’s just realised that he still loves Lucy… And the owners of „Chocolate Heaven” want to stay in France for ever, so what’s going to happen with the shop?
Nadia is trying to come to terms with the fact that, after her husband’s death, she’s a single mum now. Estranged from her family, but there comes a very unexpected message from her sister – are they going to mend fences? But together with the sister, there comes the sleazy brother – in – law with his wandering hands…
Chantal is trying to re – built her life with her husband Ted. They have a little girl now, Lana, but Ted has a second daughter as well… Are they going to stay together for the sake of their baby?
Autumn still can’t come to terms with the death of her brother, and it doesn’t help with her relationship with her fiancé. And Autumn has also a big, big secret…

The girls were brilliant together. Their interactions felt so genuine and their friendship was so honest, you could feel through the pages that they feel so good in each other’s company, and they are so welcoming that I also felt like an old friend of theirs by the time I got to the end of the story. The novel picks up where „The Chocolate Lovers’ Diet” ended and leads us, through many twists and turns, to a very beautiful Christmas. Truly, there are many surprises waiting for our girls, and not all of them are nice ones. They of course put themselves into some troubles, especially when Lucy and her plans are considered, and those were truly laugh – out – loud moments. But the book has also the more tender side to itself, and often I found my heart breaking at some situations. But Lucy brought so much fun to the story, she knew no limits in supporting her friends, and she is the one that usually was in troubles, but I loved her being so skittish, as it was out of goodness of her heart. She had also had a tendency to send her sexy messages to the wrong person – I’d die out of embarrassment, really.
In fact all the girls were struggling with something. Nadia and Autumn were trying to cope with life after the death of some of the closest people in the world, and perhaps this is why they understood each other so well. I was truly happy at the smallest sign of them feeling better or overcoming problems. They were both hurting, but they were also strong women and I was really cheering them on. But not only those two, as Lucy and Chantal had their own problems as well, and I really hated to see them feeling so low and unsure – the girls were so great characters that I could only keep my fingers crossed for them. So well, this was not all fluffy, easy – peasy life for them, and the author is mentioning other gentle issues in the story as well, because life is not always only a bar of chocolate (unfortunately).

The storytelling is flowing in this book, and all the sub – plots just interweave seamlessly alongside each other. And, of course, we can’t forget the chocolate in this book as well – well, the descriptions had me salivating, I tell you. It is a beautifully written story not only about friendship, but about making decisions. This is a lovely, festive read, a real page – turner, and I couldn’t wait to see what’s going to happen. While some of the things were easily predictable, there were also those that took me totally by surprise, and there were a lot of moments that made me laugh with all of my heart. With characters that you can relate to, that are believable, with wonderful, engaging writing, brilliant plot this is a really fantastic, entertaining read, and I can’t wait for „The Chocolate’s Lovers’ Wedding”.

 
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Napisane w kategorii 2015 Releases, Rating 5/5