Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing, the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree! The only problem could be her boss… single-dad, Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it?
Let the festivities begin!


I loved Love Me for Me by Jenny Hale so when I see the cover release of her new book A Christmas to Remember I couldn't wait to read another book by this author and knowing it was a Christmas read just appealed to me even more.

Carrie has been working as a nanny for a long time now and she loves her job, she is very good at it too but she feels as though it is time to start making a life and family of her own so she decided that this new job has to be her last as a full time live in nanny. When she arrives at the new job and meets the Fletcher family it soon becomes clear that her last job is going to be an emotional challenging one.

As much as I enjoyed Love Me For Me I have to say that A Christmas to Remember is in a completely different league. I found myself wrapped up in this storyline right from the first meeting of the Fletcher twins and I just couldn't stop reading so I finished this in one sitting. This is one of those few books where you can't help but love each and every one of the characters and even though the handsome Adam had his flaws you still can't help but love him. Carrie was such a fun, caring and down to earth character and she brought a ray of light to the children's lives as she let them be children again.

This book was predictable but it is one of those books where it's not about the ending it is about the journey and this journey was a joy to read. I loved the festive fell to it, it is nice to have a book with a Christmas cover and title that is full of festivity and excited children which really gave it an exciting and traditional feel. The storyline was actually quite realistic and it is heartbreaking to think that there are situations like this out in the real world I just hope they get someone like Carrie to teach them to love!

This was a wonderful read and I loved each and every chapter, I would definitely recommend this book and I can not wait to read another book by this author.


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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Christmas for One by Amanda Prowse



As a child, Meg always dreamed of the perfect Christmas... This year, she can make it come true for her own little boy. There will be turkey and all the trimmings, a glittering tree, and a stocking hung up by a roaring fire. Who cares if there's no devoted husband in the picture? She and Lucas will be just fine on their own. But then a chance meeting with a stranger in New York unravels everything she's planned. Will Meg finally get everything she wished for? Or will she be alone this Christmas after all?

I have never come across the author Amanda Prowse before but when I saw the cover for her new book Christmas for One it really caught my eye and the title hit a nerve for me because you never expect anyone to have a Christmas for one so I really wanted to read this book.

The storyline is predominantly about single mum Meg and her son Lucas. Meg never had traditional and happy memorable Christmases when she was growing up so she is determined to give her son a better life and happy memories especially not having a dad around. But when Meg has to fly abroad before Christmas for work a chance meeting with a stranger in New York changes  Meg's life.

I was so eager to read this book that I didn't realise that this is a follow on but I still found my way along with the storyline easy enough as a standalone book although now having got to know our main character Meg  and her adorable boy Lucas I would love to go back and read the previous book so I can get to know their background more. This was one of those books for me that I have found really hard to review because I did really enjoy the storyline and the characters, the author also has such an easy flowing writing style so it is a nice read but I don't think this one will be one that I will remember much about in a few weeks time because it really was such a light and easy read. I don't feel like this is a bad thing though as sometimes it is quite nice to read something light and not challenging so if you are in the mood for a book like that then this won't disappoint.

This is a modern day romance that will have you full of hope for poor Meg as she has had such a difficult life you just want to see a happy ending for her. Lucas was a great little character I would have loved to have see a bit more of him in the book. I did find it a bit hard to grasp that a woman whose childhood of Christmases were not good and often abandoned by her family would then find herself able to not spend Christmas Day with her own little boy but I think this is where the modern day love story part comes in love does crazy things to us!

A light easy read with a sprinkling of festivity and nice dash of romance.




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Friday, 21 November 2014

The Woman who Stole my Life by Marian Keyes



'Name: Stella Sweeney.
Height: average.
Recent life events: dramatic.'

One day, sitting in traffic, married Dublin mum Stella Sweeney attempts a good deed. The resulting car crash changes her life. For she meets a man who wants her telephone number (for the insurance, it turns out). That's okay. She doesn't really like him much anyway (his Range Rover totally banjaxed her car).

But in this meeting is born the seed of something which will take Stella thousands of miles from her old life, turning an ordinary woman into a superstar, and, along the way, wrenching her whole family apart. Is this all because of one ill-advised act of goodwill? Was meeting Mr Range Rover destiny or karma? Should she be grateful or hopping mad?
For the first time real, honest-to-goodness happiness is just within her reach.
But is Stella Sweeney, Dublin housewife, ready to grasp it?

It has been a long time since I have read a book by Marian Keyes and in fact The Woman who Stole my Life is the first one I have ever reviewed. After seeing Marian Keyes on Lorraine talking about her new book I couldn't wait to read a new book by her and this one sounded intriguing.


The storyline follows three stages on Stella Sweeney's life present time, her time in hospital and her time in New York. For me my favourite was her time in hospital because I found this part so compelling, it had been very well researched and beautifully and cleverly written. Stella has Guillain-Barre disease which I knew nothing about but the author brings the reader knowledge about the condition and when she writes from Stella's point of view when she is stuck immobile in bed unable to communicate it really fascinated me how she had managed to get into the mind of someone who was caged in their own body. 

I did enjoy both the present and New York parts too but for me it was her time in hospital and her interaction with Mannix that really gripped me in this book. The book is a whopper at 531 pages and I do think in truth it was a little too drawn out especially the New York part.

There are some wonderful characters in this book some I loved like Stella and Mannix and some I loathed! In particular Stella's son Jeffery oh this boy needs some discipline he is so rude I couldn't bare him each time he appeared in this book.

I loved that the whole way through the book I had no idea what was coming next it is not a predictable read which is always a big bonus for me. I found the storyline really engaging and at times I found it slightly emotional, intriguing and also at times comical. Once you get over the hefty size of the book and the structure of the book with its to and thro style you will thoroughly enjoy this read. It was great to read another book by this author and I feel like her writing style has taken a new path and I loved it.


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Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Secret Santa by Scarlett Bailey


A self-confessed Christmas queen, Sue Montaigne prides herself on organising the annual nativity pageant in her small Cornish village of Poldore.
But this year, what with having to deal with the repairs on Castle House after it was wrecked by a terrible storm, training a new – and frankly flighty – Virgin Mary and managing a Joseph who is allergic to sheep, she is distinctly lacking a little bit of ‘me time’. And then there are the auditions for the new Santa.
But nothing prepares her for the beautiful man who turns up, a twinkle in his eye and a promise to make her Christmas dreams come true…

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if we didn’t have a festive story released by the Queen of Christmas novels Scarlett Bailey. Although this time it is a novella ( which I am not usually a fan of) I couldn’t not have my Scarlett Bailey fix and I really wanted to catch up with the village folk of Poldore!

Sue Montaigne is usually the one to keep everyone in line in Poldore, she is obsessively organised and she is always ready to do whatever she can for everyone who lives in Poldore even open up Castle House to everyone when they really needed shelter. But Sue isn’t living a perfect life everything is crumbling around her but will someone be there for Sue in her hour of need?

I didn’t want to give too much away with what happens in this book because with it being a novella it would ruin it. I thoroughly enjoyed this novella I usually feel like I have only had a little taster when I read novella’s and so am left disappointed but with Secret Santa it really felt like a packed read, I think it is helped by the fact we already know and love Poldore and its characters. Sue has obviously appeared in Scarlett Baileys previous book so we know of her but I can never say I really warmed to her she seemed like a bossy annoying woman to me but I actually really felt for her in this novella and I was really hoping that her Christmas wishes would come true.

This novella is full of Christmas spirit so you will definitely get your festive fix with this one, we all love an appearance from Santa!


Yet again Scarlett Bailey has delivered another festive delightful read and I do feel like Sue’s story was best told as a novella so I have to hand it to Scarlett Bailey she has got it spot on again! This is easily my favourite novella of the year.




Monday, 17 November 2014

The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster

Hollywood movie star Maggie and friend and manager Zoe need an escape from their complicated star-studded lives in LA.
With its history and Christmas charm, London feels like the perfect getaway. But can they truly leave their realities behind? In their luxurious quarters, the girls meet Holly who is ideal at showing Maggie and Zoe the sumptuous sights and sounds of London in their most glittering light.
But behind her bright fa├žade, Holly is hiding a secret: suffering from unrequited love, she’s looking for a Christmas miracle. 
Desperate to see an unattainable love story for Holly come together, will our LA starlets succeed in providing a Hollywood ending before the dawn of Christmas Day?


Kate Forster is a wonderful author and she has now sprinkled some festive spirit for us in her new novella The Perfect Christmas.

Maggie is a famous actress but although her career is flying high things are not good in her home life and as she faces Christmas alone now she turns to her best friend Zoe for a Christmas trip to remember.

This is a light hearted, festive read that will get you in the spirit on your commute to work over this festive season. Maggie and Zoe have a lovely friendship and know how to have fun, they fully embraced the Christmas London style and they also brought a nice helping of romance to the story too. I really enjoyed this fast paced read and it really makes you think about what you can do to help someone else’s dreams come true this time of year.


A beautifully written modern novella by a very talented author that will spread the Christmas spirit.


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Sunday, 16 November 2014

Maybe this Christmas by Sarah Morgan



Brenna’s not dreaming of a white Christmas… As a professional skier she’s already had too many to count! Brenna’s more concerned about finally spending the season with the man she’s loved as long as she can remember – her best friend Tyler. Single dad Tyler is determined to make sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. He can’t afford to be distracted by Brenna moving into his family’s snow-capped ski resort. Especially as that mistletoe magic has him looking at Brenna in a whole new light.
Until a surprise kiss means the relationship Brenna’s always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it. 
Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true? 


I have loved each of the O'Neil books by Sarah Morgan and so as I was making my way through my Christmas reads I saw Maybe this Christmas twinkling away at me! It is such a beautiful festive sparkly cover and I couldn't wait to start this one to see what is going on at Snow Crystal now.

Brenna is still trying to keep her feelings for Tyler under wraps but when her girlfriends find out about her true feelings they decide it is time to intervene!

As the plan falls into place Tyler starts to question his true feelings but with daughter Jess now living with and facing her own troubles can Tyler really think about a relationship or does he just need the support of his best friend by his side?

Snow Crystal is the perfect setting for a festive read, Sarah Morgan has set such an idyllic scene for us with the chilly snowy backdrop, family and friends all together and a splash of romance too. I loved getting to know both Brenna and Tyler more they are both wonderful exciting characters and after their brief appearances in the previous books I was looking forward to getting to know these characters and their story more.

Although this is the third book in the series I do believe this can be read as a stand alone but I don't think you would want to miss out on the other two books because each of the O'Neil brothers just ooze sex appeal so you wouldn't want to feel left out!

The storyline is slightly predictable but its not always about the ending its about the fabulous journey to the end that matters and Sarah Morgan creates a fabulous storyline to keep us all hooked.

This was a book that I loved from start to finish and one that I think will be a great treat for the bookworms in your family this year.


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Thursday, 13 November 2014

The Oyster Catcher by Jo Thomas



Dooleybridge, County Galway. Population: 482 (or thereabouts). The last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night. 

But after the words 'I do' have barely left her mouth, that's exactly where she is - with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company. One thing is certain: Fi can't go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for Sean Thornton, the local oyster farmer, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and a wild, unpredictable boss if she's to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing - not even a chronic fear of water - is going to hold her back.

Join Fi on her romantic, unpredictable adventure as she learns the rules of the ocean - and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way...

 I have just finished reading The Oyster Catcher, I literally didn't put it down and ended up devouring it in one evening! The author Jo Thomas has such a beautiful and skilled writing style and she manages to draw you into the storyline with such ease. Never before have I read a book or even had any kind of knowledge when it comes to Oyster Farming so I was surprised at how. Ugh my interest was piqued in this book, I found myself getting quite tense and mad with the arrival of Pirates!

Our main character Fi quite clearly has a dramatic reason for arriving in Dooleybridge and I loved how the author slowly fed us snippets and clues as to what had really happened to her. Fate seems to occur when she is in desperate need of a job and lodgings she meets Sean who is also in desperate need for someone to help on his Oyster Farm. Sean was a lovely if somewhat spiky character but I soon felt he had a hard shell ( see what I did there!) with a soft centre. There were some wonderful characters in this book and also some wonderfully bad characters, I found the characters were all so engaging. 

There really is so much to commend in this book, from an interesting and unique storyline, a well written romance, a lot of down to earth humour, the odd touch of secrets and scandal, well written characters and a big dose of community spirit, what more could you ask for?

I was so excited and immersed in this storyline that now I am finished I feel a little flat! This is such a wonderful read one of my favourites of the year, I do love it when I find a new talented author and I am so shocked to find that this is a debut as for me this book was flawless, I can not wait for another book by this author.



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Saturday, 8 November 2014

The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty


'This is your last chance to change your mind, Rose. After today we can't go back. Ever.' Seventy-three years have passed since sisters Rose and Connie found an abandoned baby in the only other house on their little island, Scribbly Gum. With both parents vanished without a trace, Rose and Connie made the decision to take the baby in as their own. And since then the 'Munro Baby Mystery' has brought them fame and fortune. But now, with Connie dead and outsider Sophie Honeywell inheriting her home, Rose begins to wonder if they made the right decision all those years ago. With the anniversary looming, and people still trying to solve the mystery, how much longer can they cover up the lie that has sustained their little community for four generations? And what other secrets are about to be revealed?



I have enjoyed all of Liane Moriarty's books so far and when I read the synopsis of The Last Anniversary I was really intrigued. The story line centers around the Munro Baby Mystery, sisters Rose and Connie discovered an abandoned baby on the island of Scribbly Gum, the parents of the baby seemed to have disappeared into thin air and years later there are tours on to the island with people coming to see the Munro house. Connie has now died and has left a surprise in her will that will bring someone back to the Island.

There is such a large group of characters in this book and yet they all came to life in this book and no-one was forgotten and after the first few chapters when I became familiar with who was daughter/son to whom I the didn't get confused with who was who through the rest of the book. It is one of those rare books where I loved each and every one of the characters too. I love how each of the characters own story lines are all weaved so beautifully into the main story line especially Grace whose emotions really flowed through the pages and I actually found it quiet heartbreaking to see the mindset of someone going through her situation.

I was so enthralled by this story line, the mystery really had me gripped and I actually had no idea as to what the outcome was going to be so I was gripped the whole way through. If that wasn't enough the final twist just made this book complete for me! 

This is my favourite book by this author and is one I would definitely recommend you to read.


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It's Not Me It's You by Mhairi McFarlane

Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong. When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault. When she realised life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault. And when he wanted her back like nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame… From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back.



Mhairi McFarlane is back with a bang with her new book It’s Not Me It’s You. This book had me in stitches especially early on in the book, I haven’t read a book in a long time that has made me laugh out loud and the humour in the book is very believable and realistic situations and events which is why it is funny because you can relate to it.

Delia was a fabulous main character she seems to dig herself into a whole and often make situations so much worse. She was a very likeable character who is very strong and I like that she didn’t just sit and cry and mope or be easily forgiving she was determined to make a change.

I had an idea how I thought the book would end but I even found my own opinion wavering towards the end as the author managed to throw a few spanners in the works to make me doubt myself!


A great read by this author


Difficult Husbands by Mary de Laszlo

Three friends. One surprise inheritance. And the perfect plan to deal with troublesome husbands at Christmas time… Newly divorced Lorna is struggling to adjust to life on her own. When she discovers that her beloved godfather has left her the grand (and crumbling) Ravenscourt House in the heart of Sussex, she soon has a project on her hands. Nathan sells delicious goodies at Mulberry Farm. When he meets Lorna at a Christmas market, neither of them can ignore the chemistry. But as they get to know one another, Lorna wants to know one thing – is he after her or the house? Together with Gloria – whose marriage to alcoholic Adrian has hit rock bottom, and Rosalind – struggling to deal with her womanising husband Ivan, the three friends hatch a plan. They’ll ditch their difficult husbands at Ravenscourt House and enjoy stress-free Christmases with their families. But nothing is ever that simple…



I love the gorgeous cover to Difficult Husbands by Mary De Laszlo it has a beautiful light festive feel to it and the synopsis sounded like an unusual one so I was looking forward to reading this one especially because this was a new author to me too.

Lorna, Gloria and Rosalind are three great friends who are all having a difficult time when it comes to their marriages. With Christmas looming the ladies are worried that their children will find other ways to spend Christmas because of the way their Fathers are behaving so they hatch a plan to send the men to Ravenscourt but will their plan be a success?

Lorna was a great main character her thoughts and feelings flowed through the pages and I really felt sorry for her, unfortunately I didn’t really warm to her friends Rosalind and Gloria, poor Rosalind doesn’t really feature in the book much so I didn’t really have time to connect with her and Gloria I just found to be very bossy! One character who did make an impression for me was Nathan he provided a nice helping of gentlemanly eye candy.

I did find that the storyline felt a little dragged out to be truthful and I found that I was actually more interested in finding out the outcome with Lorna’s daughter and also the meetings between Nathan and Lorna rather than the main storyline of the difficult husbands. I loved the opening to the book when we first meet Lorna and Nathan and I did find that the first chapter did tickle me a bit so it made the book feel light and entertaining I just wish that the book had followed more in this direction.




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Friday, 7 November 2014

A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby Blog Tour Interview and Review


Today I am on the tour for A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby 
We are lucky enough to have this talented author talking to us
on the blog today and also my review for this 
beautiful, sparkly book.




Work by photographer Michael Pilkington


1) I was so excited about the release of A Proper Family Christmas because I loved A Proper Family Holiday so much, when you began writing A Proper Family Holiday did you have in mind that you would write a sequel? (or was it us pesky bloggers pestering you!)
The Christmas sequel was planned at the time I wrote Proper Family Holiday and I was still scribbling it as that book came out so I was hugely relieved that the Bensons got such a warm welcome on their first outing. I’m not sure what I would have done had Proper Family Holiday been slammed! 

2) The cover for A Proper Family Christmas is stunning, sparkly and festive, do you have much input when it comes to the covers of your books and what do you think of this cover? 
I was absolutely thrilled when I saw the finished copies of A Proper Family Christmas because it really looks just like a beautifully wrapped gift. I don’t have a great deal of input into book covers because decisions on how a book should look are so complicated. You need to make sure you’re targeting the right market and often an author doesn’t have as strong an idea of what’s working well as the marketing department at the publishing house does. I’m very lucky that the art department at Hodder is full of seriously talented people. I think the covers of A Proper Family Holiday and A Proper Family Christmas are both lovely and original. 

3) The characters in your book have a large family Christmas together, how do you typically spend your Christmas?
I usually spend Christmas with my family on the South Coast. My sister has two children and it’s great to spend at least part of the holiday season with them. They are always so full of excitement and that’s wonderfully infectious! One of my favourite parts of the day itself is going for a long walk by the sea with the whole gang after lunch. 

4) What did you do to get yourself in the Christmas spirit to write this book seen as it wasn’t written in the festive season?
I bought some mince pies. Fortunately, the supermarkets don’t seem all that bothered about sticking to the calendar. As I put the finishing touches to A Proper Family Christmas in August, it was already easy to find all the mince pies I could eat! I also read Christmassy novels, such as Michele Gorman’s Christmas Carol, and listened to carols on YouTube. That said, a huge chunk of my novel isn’t actually set at Christmas time. The action takes place over a whole year so there were summery bits to write as well. 

5) I am a Beauty Therapist when my nose isn’t in a book and I find when it comes to Christmas presents I can guarantee I will get a blunt manicure tool set every year!
What has been your best and worse presents that spring to mind and do you tend to get writer themed gifts? One of my best ever Christmas presents is writer-themed. It’s an elegant pen from Dupont, engraved with a secret message on the clip. I take that with me wherever I go. I wouldn’t say I have ever had a bad present but I do get a lot of tea-related gifts because I drink about ten cups of the stuff a day. I am a tea fiend. 

6) The big question is this where we leave the characters of The Proper Family Books or do you have more planned for them?
The Bensons and their friends will indeed be back. I’m about to start writing a third book in the series which will be set on a cruise. Granddad Bill has won the lottery. It’s not a big win, but it’s enough to treat the whole gang to a trip around the Med. Expect more family drama and mayhem and a big starring role for little Jack.


 Thank you for featuring me on your blog, Rea. I know it’s still early but I’d like to wish your readers a very merry Christmas indeed!



Review

I remember earlier in the year reading A Proper Family Holiday and being fit to burst as I was trying to write my review because I loved it so much but I had so many questions still at the end so I tweeted the author straight away to say I sure do hope she is at home locked away writing a sequel! What a little diamond of an author Chrissy Manby is because not only has she written the sequel I longed for but it is also a Christmas sequel I bow down and thank you Chrissy!

We meet a new family in this book the Buchanans who are wealthy and live in a grand house and they are polar opposites of the much loved, loud down to earth Bensons. The Buchanans family has been rocked by the author news that daughter Izzy is dangerously ill and with neither her parents Annabel or Richard able to help it turns to Annabel with their only option left which is to find her birth mother to see if they can help. When the two families meet will it be with open arms or will emotions be running high?

What an amazing sequel this was the author has done us proud yet again. This time the book is a little deeper with a heartbreaking subject matter but of course there still has to be a touch of humour when our little Jack and his sonic screwdriver are around. The Buchanans and the Bensons couldn’t be more different if the author had tried! It was quite comical to see both of the families opinions of each other and as usual it is the adults that are childish about it, it really tickled me. Ronnie still comes across a spoilt and insecure woman but I love her character because she is such a natural, believable character. Annabel is prim and proper and although I didn’t warm to her as a character (mainly because she is like an ice queen) I still really felt for her in the situation because I am sure as a mum all you want is to protect and look after your child and you would do anything for this to happen so I did sympathise with her and I felt like her character was mellowing as the storyline progressed. Other than Jack my favourite character in A Proper Family Holiday was Chelsea and although she wasn’t a main character in this book I was so glad that she did appear at times so we get an update as to what is going on in her life now.

Whilst some parts of the book were predictable there were also parts that I didn’t see coming so my interest was piqued all the way through. I found this book really enjoyable and I am so glad that the author did write a sequel and a great one at that. I do think this could easily be read as a standalone book but you would be missing out on so much because A Proper Family Holiday was a great read and really made the reader get to know the family really well so treat yourself to both.

For those of you who loved A Proper Family Holiday you must read A Proper Family Christmas too you will not be disappointed.

Festive Cover
Festive Storyline
Overall Rating


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A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby,
Out 6th November published by Hodder, £6.99
© Chrissie Manby 2014

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown


Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale. There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…



I am a BIG Alexandra Brown fan, her Carrington's series was fabulous, so when I heard she was releasing a new book away from the series called The Great Christmas Knit Off I was excited to read another book by her but I have never had any interest in knitting so I was a little unsure if I was going to enjoy this book, then the cover was revealed and OH MY What a Beauty!

Sybil or Sybs as she is know to her friends is well and truly down on her luck, still heartbroken after being jilted at the alter and now with a big scandal that has occurred at work which she is pretty sure was her Sybs needed a break and a friendly shoulder to lean on so she and her dog Basil set of to the little village of Tindledale where her best friend Cher has just taken over the running of the village pub. 

Hettie loves her home and Haberdashery shop but customers don't seem to be rushing through the door anymore and her greedy, nasty nephew wants to ship her off in a home.

Both Hettie and Sybs have a passion for Knitting, will they be able to find a friendship between them to help them in their hours of need?

I am so upset that I have finished this book already! I don't know how I am going to wait until the next book in this series because the characters in this quaint little village were so down to earth and loveable that I don't want to leave them behind. Having started this book 4 hours ago and now just finished I really want to start reading it all over again.

This book has such a wonderful set of characters all of whom I loved and the feeling of community spirit really came across in this book to which was nice to see. There are many characters in this book and as the storyline progresses we are introduced to more and more characters and yet I never felt confused by who was who. Sybs was such an adorable loving and caring character and she fit in so well in this little village and the villagers took her under their wing and didn't want her to leave. Hettie who is another main character in this book was a very intriguing character she had a very soft vulnerable side to her but there was also an air of mystery around her and her past, she was much loved by the other villagers as well as me! This author has also thrown in a nice helping of testosterone for us romance lovers and Dr Ben sure sounds like a character who has quite a few admirers. 

I had no need to worry about my lack of knowledge or interest in knitting I still absolutely loved this book and I have to admit it has sparked my interest a little in knitting but I can't sacrifice my time reading for knitting so I will have to rely on Alexandra writing a sequel soon to get my new knitting fix!

I never thought I would be saying this but I loved this book so much more than the Carrington's series ( I feel so naughty saying that) this had that cosy traditional feel to it with a beautiful village setting compared to Carrington's modern hip feel. I really hope that the publishers have locked Alexandra away to get a sequel out for us quickly! I am so eager to see what happens next in this village and with Sybs. 

This book has got a festive feel to it but I would be happy to read this book anytime of the year. I can not recommend this book enough so make sure this one is on your Christmas list this year.


Festive Cover
Festive Storyline
Overall Storyline



Kindle                        Paperback


This is the best Christmas book I have read so far this year and also one of my overall favourites of the year too so to celebrate and share my love of this book I am going to be doing a giveaway for a paperback copy of The Great Christmas Knit Off and this time as promised this will be open as a WORLDWIDE Giveaway
( please remember to bare with the postage times overseas I know the excitement can be too much!)


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Monday, 3 November 2014

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley


Today it is my stop on the It Must Have Been the Mistletoe blog tour.
We are joined by the lovely Judy Astley to talk about her new 
book and all things festive!
We also have my review of this festive read and
also thanks to the lovely elves at Transworld we have a copy
of this book up for grabs ( UK Only).


Hi Judy thank you for stopping by the blog today and congratulations on the release of another great read, I hope you plan to celebrate is style!



1) Your characters all come together in It Must Have Been The Mistletoe for a traditional family Christmas, how do you typically spend your Christmas Day?
A typical Christmas for us is often the entire family getting together on the day. That’s my husband, me, our daughters, the four grandchildren plus some or all of his three sisters, brother and their various partners and offspring and a couple of strays with nowhere else to be. I think our record was 27, all at our house. It takes a lot of furniture re-arranging and food preparation sharing-out but it works. Just! 

2) This book is set in the gorgeous setting of Cornwall which is where a number of your books are set, if you could travel to any country/city for research for a festive book where would you like to go?
I’d probably just stick with London. I hate it that Christmas starts too early in the shops but I do like the glitter and bustle of Christmas shop windows and the buzz of urgent shopping. I’d quite happily spend all of Christmas in Liberty’s. 

3) What time of year did you begin writing this book and how did you get yourself in the Christmas spirit?
I started planning it just before last Christmas and actually writing it in late January. It felt odd, getting into this kind of book just after Christmas was over and I could feel spring coming along fast. I didn’t finish till the end of May and it was pretty warm by then but I’d got into the mood of the book and it just about worked, I hope. 

4) If you were approached for this book to be made into a film who would you pick to play Thea, Sean and Charlotte?
I don’t really see that many films so I’m not exactly up on which actors are which but for Thea I’d love Sheridan Smith. Everything she does is brilliant. Sean – tricky. Maybe Orlando Bloom? They’d have to scuzz him up a bit. I don’t like ‘tidy-looking’ men. I prefer them a bit rock n’roll. Charlotte – I’d want someone curvy and funny, possibly Isla Blair? Though she’d have to fatten up a bit. 

5) Have you started writing your next book and have you got anything you can tease us with?
I haven’t started one yet but I am at the stage of putting together a lot of ideas. All I can really say is that it will probably involve houses (think Location, Location etc) and a very annoying ex-husband.


It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is out now on Kindle and on paperback on the 6th November.

My Review

I have just sat here and devoured It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley, it does feel a little wrong to be reading a Christmas read in October but I really don't mind because this author has actually brought us a festive cover with a real festive storyline too!

As Christmas approaches Anna and Mike have something they need to discuss with their adult children and so they want to create a prefect family Christmas and book for them all to spend Christmas at a holiday let in Cornwall. Thea, Emily and Jimi all have problems of their own but they are looking forward to taking their families down to Cornwall for the festive season but will the arrival of two unexpected guests put a strain on the family Christmas?

I loved this family they were so down to earth and like many families have many ups and downs but always come together as a family and do the traditional things associated with Christmas. I did find the book quite predictable I have to say but it didn't effect my enjoyment of this book because it was a perfect warm festive storyline with a fabulous group of characters and all of this was set in a beautiful setting too, I just think a little bit of a twist would have been the icing on the cake.

Thea really took centre stage in this book and she was a loveable character and she seemed to be the core of the family, someone who all the family members gravitate to. She has had a difficult time recently but she is embracing Christmas with her family rather than wallowing and this I admire her for. 

The whole of the book is set around Christmas so it is a real traditional festive family read which is nice to see.
Festive Storyline
Overall Rating

Festive Cover









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If you can't wait to get your hands on a copy then here are the links to Amazon so you can get your copy quick!

Kindle                    Paperback

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