31 December 2014

Festive Q&A Post 23: Sarah Morgan

Today is the finalé of my Festive Q&A, and I am delighted to welcome the wonderful Sarah Morgan to host the very last Q&A! Sarah has quickly flown up to the top of my must-read lists, and her Snow Crystal trilogy was absolutely brilliant, with the final book Maybe This Christmas being the perfect ending! Thank you to Sarah for taking the time to answer my questions, and I hope you've enjoyed reading these Festive Q&A's as much as I have!

You can buy Maybe This Christmas as a paperback or an eBook now.

Q1. Please tell me about your new festive book!

Thanks for having me here Chloe!
Maybe This Christmas is a friends to lovers story. Medal winning skier and single dad Tyler O’Neil has plenty of female fans, but the only woman who has stayed in his life is his best friend Brenna. Brenna has loved Tyler forever, but she believes his feelings don’t go beyond friendship. When a flurry of snow brings visitors flocking to beautiful Snow Crystal Resort, Brenna is forced to move in with him and suddenly everything changes. It’s a story about friendship, love and family all set against the winter wonderland of Vermont.

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?

I think the reality of Christmas for many people is hard work and high stress. The pressures to create a perfect Christmas leaves us running ragged as the big day approaches. Festive stories allow us to sink into a sparkly world that offers all the best parts of Christmas with none of the stress.

Q3. What is it you like about writing Christmas stories?

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year. I love crisp winter days, blue skies, the excitement of young children, the scent of the Christmas tree and noisy family gatherings. Christmas stories are an opportunity to fill a book with all the good things about the festive season. I’ve written a Christmas story every year for as long as I can remember. It’s become as much a part of my routine as choosing the tree! I love creating the snowy festive atmosphere we all hope to experience in real life.

Q4. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas?

Gathering together with family.

Q5. Favourite Christmas film?

While You Were Sleeping.

Q6. Favourite Christmas song?

Jingle Bell Rock (my kids used to dance to it when they were little and it always makes me smile)

Q7. Favourite Christmas tradition?

Choosing the tree.  We go to the forest and it’s always beautiful.

Q8. What are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year?!

I love small thoughtful presents. My sons know I’m addicted to notebooks so I’m hoping to have a new one to add to my collection.

Q9. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why?

A diamond ring. My husband proposed on Christmas Eve.

Q10. What is up next for you?

I have a new series of three books out next year called Puffin Island. It’s about three close friends, Emily, Brittany and Skylar who are always there for each other in times of trouble. Emily’s story, First Time in Forever, will be out in March, Brittany’s, Some Kind of Wonderful, in the summer and I’m just starting work on Skylar’s story which will be a wintery Christmas book. I’m looking forward to getting into the Christmas mood!

30 December 2014

Festive Q&A Post 22: Michele Gorman

Today I am thrilled to welcome the fab Michele Gorman to my blog for her turn at my Festive Q&A! Michele's latest festive offering is The Reluctant Elf, a lovely short story about hosting the perfect Christmas at a little hotel, and was a very enjoyable read! Thank you to Michele for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can buy The Reluctant Elf as an eBook now.

Q1. Please tell me about your new festive book!

Thanks so much for having me on the blog today, Chloe! The Reluctant Elf about an extremely undomestic goddess called Lottie, and her 7-year-old daughter, who find themselves in rural North Wales over Christmas trying to run their Aunt Kate’s B&B. Unfortunately they are Britain’s worst innkeepers. Here’s the book trailer: http://youtu.be/IjOS5PQQLa4

I had so much fun with this book, and was in Northern Wales when I wrote it, tucked away in a cabin in the woods with my husband for a writing week. It wasn’t Christmastime though, so I had to imagine roaring fires, snow and hot chocolate in May!

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?

I think they’re like comfort food – soothing and nostalgic – and they give readers a sense of anticipation about the upcoming season. It’s funny, because they include the same topics that we write about during the rest of the year, but somehow setting them at Christmas makes them more special.

Q3. What prompted you to write a Christmas book?

My friend, Talli Roland, began writing them several years ago and said it was fun, so, two years ago, I thought I’d try it. I’d written the sequel to my debut, Single in the City, and hadn’t planned to write a sequel to the sequel :- ) but kept getting emails and messages asking what happened next. I didn’t have time in my writing schedule for an extra novel, so I wondered if I could fulfil two objectives with a Christmas novella instead.

As it turns out, I absolutely Love writing novellas, and now write one every year! The length is really challenging and fun because it requires full character development but doesn’t allow for any extraneous, loose/baggy writing. Plus, it’s not long enough to get to that crisis of confidence point (which most of us get around 30,000 words, where we think the book is terrible and boring). So it’s fun to write the whole way through!

Q4. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas? 
Doing absolutely nothing. I’m so busy the rest of the year that it’s great to put the laptop away for the week and let the days unfold in such a relaxed way.

Q5. Favourite Christmas film? 
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the original, narrated by Burl Ives). It’s not a film but a Christmas TV programme from my childhood in the US.

Q6. Favourite Christmas song? 
The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York

Q7. Favourite Christmas tradition? 
Baking about a million cookies (all family recipes) for everyone I know!

Q8. What are you hoping to find under the christmas tree this year?! 
Actually, I’m hoping to find a new flat around my Christmas tree this year! We’re in the middle of renovations and I’m pulling my hair out – I’m hitting the eggnog early these days :- )

Q9. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why? 
One year my little sister, who was around eighteen at the time, gave me a Madame Alexander doll for the top of my Christmas tree. Our Aunt Lena had given me these dolls when I was very small, and I treasured them. Mom told me after I opened the present that my sister had found it nearly a year before and put it on “layaway” because she couldn’t afford it. She paid a tiny amount each week so that she could give it to me. It’s one of my most treasured possessions and I burst into tears every year when I put it on top of my tree… oops, sniffling now!

Q10. What is up next for you?
Well, back in March I signed a contract with Avon in the UK so they’ll be publishing my next two novels. The first is coming up quickly (January 15th)! It’s The Curvy Girls Club, a funny, heart-warming story about learning to love yourself. Here’s a happy little video that goes with the book :- ) http://youtu.be/qsNP-ganYno
I’m also writing my next book. The working title is Boyfriends Recycled, about four friends who upcycle their exes through their local boyfriend recycling website (RecycLove), but haven’t bargained on the consequences of the exchanges they make. It’s scheduled to publish in January 2016.
Thanks again, Chloe, for having me on the blog today, and I hope everyone has a fabulously fun and relaxing Christmas full of love and cake, lots of both!

Festive Q&A Post 21: Sue Watson

Another Festive Q&A, and today is the turn of Sue Watson, author of the new festive eBook Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake, one of my favourite Christmas reads of this year! I'm thrilled Sue was able to answer some of my Christmas questions, and thank you very much to Sue for taking the time to answer them.

You can buy Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake as an eBook now!

Q1. Please tell me about your new festive book!

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas cake is a story about two very different sisters – and what happens when they have to spend a Christmas together. Tamsin is posh, wealthy and doesn’t set the table – she has ‘table-scapes,’ whereas Sam, her younger sister is happy with sprouts and a few crackers!

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?

I think it’s nostalgia and aspiration. We all want to love Christmas again like we did as children... the cinnamon scented air, the distant sound of reindeer bells. And as adults we want to create that perfect Christmas for our friends and family – particularly our children. I think good Christmas books are pure indulgence – they take you back to those special Christmases while imagining the one ahead.

Q3. What prompted you to write a Christmas book?

My publisher Bookouture! Actually I’ve wanted to write a Christmas book for a while, but wasn’t sure I could write two books in a year. After writing Love, Lies and Lemon Cake I decided to write a Christmas book and if I didn’t finish it in time then there’s always next year... but I just became so engrossed in the lives of the Angel Sisters and Sam’s perfect little bakery I wrote it very quickly.

Q4. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas?

Christmas cake

Q5. Favourite Christmas film?

Miracle on 34th Street

Q6. Favourite Christmas song?

Silent Night (a hymn I know, but it gives me goosebumps, so atmospheric)

Q7. Favourite Christmas tradition?

Eating too much chocolate and wine and feeling sick... it’s not a good Christmas if you don’t feel sick!

Q8. What are you hoping to find under the christmas tree this year?!

A nice bottle of champagne to celebrate the good year it’s been

Q9. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why?

My kindle Fire – my husband bought it as a surprise and it changed my life. I have read so much more since I got it and I can now surf the web from the comfort of my duvet!

Q10. What is up next for you?

Another 2 book year ahead – a summer book with a little dip in Spanish waters – then a glamorous cake-filled Christmas extravaganza!

29 December 2014

Festive Q&A Post 20: Chrissie Manby

Another Festive Q&A for today! Now it is the turn of one of my favourite chick lit authors, Chrissie Manby. Her new book A Proper Family Christmas is the second in a new series starring the Benson family, and I really enjoyed the book! Thank you to Chrissie for answering my questions!

You can buy A Proper Family Christmas as an eBook or a paperback now!

Q1. Please tell me about your new festive book!

A Proper Family Christmas is the second in my series featuring the Benson family.  This time they're back home in Coventry but life is far from boring.  The daughter Jacqui admitted to having given up for adoption in A Proper Family Holiday is suddenly back in the Bensons' lives.  She's grown up to be Annabel Buchanan, a very posh forty-something living in an enormous country house.  She has everything money can buy.  But she can't buy health for her daughter, who needs a kidney transplant.  That's why Annabel has made the decision to track down her birth family at last.

Without giving too much away, I can tell you that it's not a happy reunion.  Ronnie and Annabel in particular take an instant dislike to one another.  But over the course of a few months, the sisters who grew up apart come to learn more about each other.  Does that make them like each other more?  You'll have to read the book.

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?

We all love Christmas, don't we?  I think part of the reason we like to read about the season is that it's actually so fleeting.  It's all done and dusted in a couple of days!  Reading festive novels helps to stretch the pleasure out and get us in the mood.  And perhaps give us ideas of how NOT to do Christmas too.

Q3. What prompted you to write a Christmas book?

My first book featuring the Bensons was unashamedly summery - it was set on a package holiday in Lanzarote - but it ended on a cliffhanger of sorts.  I wanted to pick up where I left off, which was in August, and the span of the story took me up to Christmas time. Perfect, since my next publication date was November!

Q4. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas?

Seeing my family and enjoying the festivities with them.

Q5. Favourite christmas film?

White Christmas!

Q6. Favourite christmas song?

The Coventry Carol.  Quite apt as the Bensons are from Coventry.

Q7. Favourite christmas tradition?

Dressing the tree with baubles collected over a lifetime.  I love savouring the memories each decoration holds.

Q8. What are you hoping to find under the christmas tree this year?!

I'll sent you my Net-A-Porter wish list!  Failing that, a box of Charbonnel et Walker's Sea-salt caramel truffles never goes amiss.

Q9. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why?

A typewriter and a guide to learning how to touch-type. Most useful skill I ever picked up. Dad found the second-hand typewriter and refurbished it for me. I used it to write the first story I ever had published.

Q10. What is up next for you?

More fun with the Bensons!  This time they're going on a Caribbean cruise.  Expect more family drama, plenty of mayhem, love, romance and lots more of little Jack.

Festive Q&A Post 19: Lucy Diamond

Today I am pleased to welcome the lovely Lucy Diamond to my blog for her turn at my Festive Q&A! Lucy is one of my favourite authors, and her and her last novel One Night In Italy was one of my favourite books of 2014. She also released a festive novella, Christmas at the Beach Café. Thanks to Lucy for taking the time to answer my questions!

You can buy Christmas at the Beach Café as an eBook now.

1) Please tell me about your new festive eBook!
Christmas Gifts at the Beach Cafe is the third story in my Beach Cafe series (although you don't need to have read the other two first!) The story catches up with Evie and her boyfriend Ed, at their beach cafe in Cornwall. Usually Christmas is Evie's favourite time of year, but unfortunately this one isn't shaping up too well: Ed is away, following some sad family news, while Evie has to stay in Cornwall due to the imminent arrival of her patronising older sister Ruth (currently going through a bitter divorce) and her three children. But all is not lost: there's a lost dog and the village Christmas bake-off in the mix - and one or two wonderful surprises in store too! It's a short story ebook rather than a full-length novel, but hopefully will whet your appetite for the big day.

2) What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?
I absolutely love Christmas stories - there's nothing better than curling up in front of a roaring fire with a plate of mince pies and a great Christmassy story to put you in a festive mood. I think the run-up to Christmas itself can be quite stressful at times - never-ending shopping lists, lots to organise, presents to buy and wrap and send... it can make us all a bit frazzled now and then. Reading a Christmas story takes the edge of a hectic day and makes me feel that yes, everything WILL be all right!

3) What prompted you to write a Christmas book?
I always find finishing a novel kind of bittersweet - while it's great to reach the end (hurrah!) I hate saying goodbye to characters when I've got to know them so well. Christmas Gifts at the Beach Cafe is my second Christmas novella, and (for me) is a perfect way to drop back in on beloved characters and see what they're up to, a year or so later on from my last visit. Just between you and me, I'm hoping there will be at least one more Beach Cafe story, so watch this space...

4) Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
I love packing my children's Christmas stockings last thing on Christmas Eve and then tiptoeing into their bedrooms to lay them on the ends of their beds. There is something so exciting and magical about it, even now they're too old to 'believe' any more. My husband and I put together Christmas stockings for each other too, and I love waking up and getting stuck in! You are NEVER too old to have a Christmas stocking, in my opinion.

5) Favourite christmas film?
No contest - Elf! It makes me laugh so much and is my ultimate feelgood Christmas film.

6) Favourite christmas song?
I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day by Wizzard. I know it's been around for years and the shops all play it to death but it reminds me of my childhood and still makes me smile. Altogether now: "When the snowman brings the snow..."

7) Favourite christmas tradition?
It's got to be putting up the tree. The smell of pine needles is instantly Christmassy and the whole family helps hang the branches with decorations old and new. The children choose a new decoration each year and we have all the cotton-wool snowmen and cardboard robins they made in playgroup, so the whole thing is a complete mish-mash of styles and colours. It wouldn't win any awards for beauty, that's for sure - but there's a memory and a story with each little bauble and reindeer which makes it really unique and personal to us.

8) What are you hoping to find under the christmas tree this year?!
I am very much hoping to receive Marian Keyes' new book this year... that's if I don't crack and buy it myself before then, of course. Huge temptation!

9) What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why?
This might sound a bit odd but... a piano! One of the pubs nearby was being refurbished and their piano was headed for the skip so my husband hired a van and rescued it. It stank of cigarettes at first, and there were pint-glass marks all along the top - there were even some bits of old crisp wedged between some of the keys (nice!) but we cleaned it up and tuned it, and everyone has loved playing on it ever since. So if you fancy carols around the piano this year, you know where to come.

10) What is up next for you?
2015 is going to be a busy year for me - I have two novels published! The first is out on New Year's Day, and is called The Year of Taking Chances, and then I've got Summer At Shell Cottage coming in June. I've just started thinking about the book after that... I'll keep you posted!

27 December 2014

Festive Q&A Post 18: Nic Tatano

Today I am delighted to welcome the lovely Nic Tatano to my blog for his Festive Q&A! Nic has quickly become one of my favourite Harper Impulse authors, and I've read a lot of his books which have been brilliant! His latest book Twitter Girl is sitting on my kindle waiting to be read! My thanks go to Nic for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can buy Twitter Girl as an eBook now.

Q1. You've yet to write a festive book - is it something you'd consider in the future?! 
I actually came up with a title for one last year and the plot has been kicking around in my head. Haven’t started writing it yet, but I will. I might start it when the decorations go up since that will get me in the mood.

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?
Pretty much everyone has a good Christmas memory, so when you put a happy ending and wrap it in a holiday setting, I think it makes for a special feel good experience. And these days the world needs more of those. Even if you’re feeling down around the holidays, a good Christmas story can pick you up and put things in perspective.

Q3. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
The food! I dig out all my mom’s recipes and go wild in the kitchen. There’s something special about cooking things you only make once a year while listening to Christmas carols and looking at the tree while a fire roars in the fireplace.

Q4. Favourite christmas film?
Gotta go with “A Christmas Story,” a movie about simpler times that reminds us we really don’t need much in the way of material things to be happy. It also reminds me of when one of my classmates in the third grade stupidly stuck his tongue to the railroad track (thankfully one that wasn’t used).

I particularly love Darren McGavin’s character of the foul-mouthed father. Reminds me of my dad, who used more colorful words than “Notafinger!”

Q5. Favourite Christmas song?
“Have yourself a merry little Christmas” by Frank Sinatra. (It should be noted that I drove my parents nuts with “Christmas don’t be late” by Alvin and the Chipmunks.)

Q6. Favourite Christmas tradition?
The Italians have a Christmas Eve dinner called “Feast of the Seven Fishes.” You cook seven different kinds of seafood and it is the best dinner of the year. (Of course the kitchen is an absolute disaster after this.) After dinner you are allowed to open one gift and we generally watch a Christmas movie.

Q7. What are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year?!
At my age I really don’t need any more “stuff” so I guess the words “best-seller” next to one of my novels would be nice. The one thing I don’t want to find under the tree is our cat, who seems determined to climb it.

Q8. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why?
When I was eight years old my parents got me a pool table, which was the perfect gift for an only child. You don’t need anyone else to play, so if there weren’t any friends around I had something fun to do. I still play almost every day.

Q9. What is up next for you?
Book two of the paranormal romance series “The Adventures of Jillian Spectre” is due out in January, though as I write this we don’t have a title yet. I’ve currently got two works-in-progress going, one a rom-com and the other a thriller.

Book Review: Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson

"For Tamsin Angel, Christmas is always the biggest and best… chic parties and a little showbiz sparkle are a must. This year though, things aren’t going quite as planned…

With bailiffs suddenly at the door and her husband nowhere to be found, it looks like Christmas just got downsized. Moving into her sister’s one-bedroom flat, she wonders whether things will ever be the same again.

After losing her husband on Christmas Eve, Sam Angel has rebuilt her life around her son Jacob and her new business – The White Angel Bakery. She’s also found herself a very handsome, loving boyfriend, but is struggling to let go of the past.

Thrown together with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, Sam and Tamsin might just learn a little more about each other – and themselves. But when disaster strikes at the bakery, will they be able to save the day in time for Christmas?"


Festive Feeling Rating:

I recently read Sue Watson's eBook Love, Lies and Lemon Cake, and I absolutely loved that book. Therefore, when I was offered the chance to review her latest festive offering, I was over the moon and had seriously high expectations for the book. The cover is utterly gorgeous, a bright Christmas red and it just looked like a book I would thoroughly enjoy. Luckily for me, Sue certainly hasn't disappointed and this eBook was one of my favourite Christmas books I have read all year! It's one you should definitely download and read now, here's why!

Christmas hasn't always been a time of happiness for Sam Angel. She lost her husband a few years ago at Christmas, and has been left to bring their son up alone, as well as running The White Angel Bakery by herself. Although she's got a rather nice boyfriend now, Sam is frightened to take it further with him and push away the memory of her late husband. Her sister Tamsin Angel seems to have it all, and Christmas is the perfect time for her to flaunt that. But when everything she holds dear starts to crumble around her, and the idyllic Christmas she had created melts away, Tamsin has to turn to her sister in her hour of need, and to a rather different Christmas altogether...

I have to confess I really warmed to this book right from the beginning. I loved everything about it, but the best thing for me was just how festive it was right the way through! There wasn't just a bit of it that was Christmassy, the whole book was and I absolutely loved that about it. It begins with Tamsin's beautiful mansion, stuffed full of Christmas goodies and sounding rather perfect and posh, so you do have to feel very sorry for her when it all starts going horribly wrong, and there is nothing she can do about it. While Tamsin initially seems a bit of a snob and determined to be miserable once the bad things start happening to her and you find it quite hard to like her, she does thaw out a little bit as the book goes on, and you can see she really loves her sister. There was more to Tamsin than meets the eye however, and as she reveals things about her childhood, you can certainly understand why Tamsin is like she is, and I did feel very sorry for her.

Her sister is Sam, and she was my favourite character in the book. She is a single mum who has been widowed, and she still deeply misses her husband Steve who died in a tragic way at Christmas. It is very sad, but I enjoyed catching up with her and her son, seeing what a success they have made of their lives now, with the bakery going well, and the pair being happy together in their small one-bedroom flat. Sam has to show Tamsin that Christmas isn't all about money and what you have, but the people who you are with and the love for each other, but Tamsin wants to help her sister accept that love is coming for her again and it is okay to move on without forgetting her husband. There's a lot of emotion going on in this book, all wrapped up with the festive feeling and it was just wonderful.

The main stories in this book involve the sisters and their lives, and the bakery plays a large part in that too. Tamsin is determined to help her sister make the business more of a success than it already is, but Sam is feeling dubious that they can pull it off. As a Christmas party looms, it seems like Tamsin has really aimed too high, and I enjoyed reading about how they all worked together to try and pull it off, and the ups and downs that came along the way. There were a few supporting characters in the book, but for me it was really all about the Angel sisters. Sue Watson's writing is really enjoyable in this book, painting a very festive picture vividly in my mind as I was reading, and I was left with a lovely warm feeling as I finished the book. It's an emotional book, full of family, love and Christmas, and I enjoyed the entire thing. Sue Watson is fast becoming one of my must-read authors, and I can't wait to read more from her.

26 December 2014

Festive Q&A Post 17: Lucy Robinson

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you had a fabulous Christmas, and got lots of bookish goodies under your tree this year. Back to the Festive Q&A's here now, hurrah! I am thrilled to welcome the lovely Lucy Robinson to the blog today for her questions! Thank you to Lucy for taking the time to answer them!

You can buy The Unfinished Symphony of You and Me as an eBook now!

Q1. You've yet to write a festive book - is it something you'd consider in the future? 
Aha, well you say this, but as it happens I have a little something up my sleeve. It's called THE GREATEST CHRISTMAS OF ALL TIME. Tada! It's what anyone who read my debut novel will expect it to be - a Christmas follow-up to the story of Fran and Dave; possibly the world's most unlikely couple. I've written most of it but am not publishing it until next year, for various reasons. Anyone who enjoyed THE GREATEST LOVE STORY OF ALL TIME should enjoy it. I've laughed out loud several times while writing it. There's a lot of Fran-style disasters and some scary moments for Dave. Duke Ellington the cat steals the show more than once, and there's a lot of mulled wine and festive madness.

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?
For me, Christmas is a really nostalgic, special time that plugs me into strong memories of my childhood. Anything that can recreate those gorgeous memories is irresistible to me, and that's why I can't resist a Christmas story myself. It's an indulgence; a guaranteed shot of happiness and warmth.

Q3. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas? 
Mince pies. Sorry, I mean the birth of Jesus.

Q4. Favourite christmas film? 
The Snowman (the old version!)

Q5. Favourite christmas song? 
Once in Royal David's City. Followed by Wham.

Q6. Favourite christmas tradition? 
Not eating too much! No-one in my family has ever passed out after overindulging! (Odd, because we Robinsons love our food...)

Q7. What are you hoping to find under the christmas tree this year?! 
A magimix. Pleeeeeease.

Q8. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why? 
The Man and I spent Christmas together in Buenos Aires shortly after meeting. He bought me some knickers in a can because he couldn't find anything else. He was so embarrassed. I was so touched. I didn't buy him anything! I still have the knickers. I love them for everything they stand for.

Q9. What is up next for you? 
New Year means the start of novel 5. I know what it's going to be, I've just got to make it work!

24 December 2014

Festive Q&A Post 16: Jenny Hale

I am now thrilled to welcome the wonderful Jenny Hale to the blog for her turn at my Festiuve Q&A! Her latest festive read A Christmas to Remember is one of my favourite Christmas books this year, and I can most certainly recommend reading it this festive season. Thank you very much to Jenny for taking the time to answer my questions!

You can buy A Christmas to Remember as an eBook or a paperback now.

Q1. Please tell me about your new festive book!
A Christmas to Remember is about Carrie Blake, who loves her job as a nanny, but, while her friends are settling down, all of her 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 and missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter.

When Adam’s family arrive for Christmas, including his sensitive sister, Sharon and his fun-loving grandpa, Walter, Carrie thinks she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time to make this the best Christmas ever for the Fletcher family. And she may get a few Christmas surprises herself!

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?
For me, Christmastime is such a romantic time of year. It’s a time when families have big dinners together, when the cold outside pulls us all a little closer, a time for mistletoe and showing how we feel about each other. It’s the perfect backdrop for books. Festive books remind us about all those lovely things. And, no matter what’s going on in our lives, we want to be reminded of that kind of happiness.

Q3. What prompted you to write a Christmas book?
When I began my first book, Coming Home for Christmas, I had this big family  in mind—the Marleys—and I knew that the very best way to get them all together was to have the book set at Christmas. When it came time for my next winter book, I couldn’t help myself. It had to be another Christmas book.

Q4. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas? 
One thing?! Okay, Christmas morning with the family.

Q5. Favourite Christmas film? 
Love Actually. Home Alone. (I know. That’s two. I couldn’t help  it.)

Q6. Favourite Christmas song? 
“All I Want For Christmas Is You” by Mariah Carey

Q7. Favourite Christmas tradition? 
Making a gingerbread house.

Q8. What are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year?! 
A heartfelt surprise from Hubby. (I’d rather see what he can find for me.)

Q9. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why? 
A six-pack of Hoegaarden. Sounds weird, but I love beer and it wasn’t readily available at the time—I’d only ever had it in the UK. My husband searched for it for me and found it at a specialty beer shop in Richmond, Virginia. He put it in a gift bag under the tree. You should’ve heard the bottles clinking as I lifted it!

Q10. What is up next for you? 
I’m currently writing a summer book set on the shores of North Carolina. I’ve also been toying with another Christmas synopsis to submit to my publisher!

Thanks so much Jenny!

Festive Q&A Post 15: Miranda Dickinson

Welcome to another fabulous Festive Q&A, this time with author Miranda Dickinson! Miranda's latest book I'll Take New York is a fabulous story that I thoroughly enjoyed, and Miranda was kind enough to answer some of my festive themed questions! My thanks go to Miranda for taking the time to answer these, please enjoy!

You can buy I'll Take New York as a paperback or an eBook now.

Q1. You've yet to write a festive book - is it something you'd consider in the future?! (although I'd say your books always make me feel wintery and cosy!)
It's funny because my books have traditionally come out at Christmas so have wintry covers, yet with the exception of It Started With a Kiss, haven't specifically been set at Christmas. But I'd love to write a proper, full-on tinsel and snow-fest, so watch this space.

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?
There's something impossibly romantic about Christmas, or at least the notion of what Christmas could be. I think it's the childlike thrill of the season that stays with us and that feeling that anything could happen. Feel-good stories are best read surrounded by twinkly lights and snuggled up warm on cold winter nights!

Q3. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
Togetherness. I love hanging out with friends and family, especially because it's usually after I've been working for months on a book and haven't been able to see everyone.

Q4. Favourite Christmas film?
The Muppets Christmas Carol. I have to watch it on Christmas Eve, every year as a tradition.

Q5. Favourite Christmas song?
Driving Home for Christmas by Chris  Rea. I feel festive as soon as the piano intro starts!

Q6. Favourite Christmas tradition?
Every year I meet up with my best friends who I sing in the wedding band with, just before Christmas. Now so many of us are married and starting families it's fab to hang out like we used to and catch up on what everyone's been doing.

Q7. What are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year?!
Hopefully not Flo pulling baubles off! Books and candles are on my wish list, but I adore surprises so I really don't mind what's waiting for me.

Q8. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why?
I have to say my engagement ring - Bob proposed on Christmas Day in 2010 by icing 'Marry Me' on a gingerbread star and hanging it on the Christmas tree. He gave me my beautiful vintage diamond ring, which looks like a tiny star on my finger and I love it.

Q9. What is up next for you?
I've just written my seventh novel, which will be my first for my new publisher, PanMacmillan. It's called A Parcel for Anna Browne and it's about a woman who starts receiving mystery gifts which change how she sees herself. I'm really excited about the story because it has mystery, love and a journey for the protagonist to go on. It will be published in September 2015 and I'm looking forward to sharing it!

Thanks so much Miranda!

Book Review: 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…"


Festive Feeling Rating:

You can buy The Great Christmas Knit Off as a paperback or an eBook now.

There's something really exciting about starting a new book series, and the new one from author Alexandra Brown is one I have been looking forward to for ages now! I loved her 'Carringtons' series, and therefore hoped that this one would live up to my expectations as well. This book is set in the fictional village of Tindledale (which sounds utterl beautiful by the way). After being abandoned at the altar, Sybil throws herself into her knitting and her job to try and keep her mind off of the bad things in her life. However, when a big mistake occurs at work, Sybil decides she needs to get away and flees to see her best friend who runs the pub in Tindledale. Sybil is able to get into her hobby of knitting even more thanks to the local shop Hettie's House of Haberdashery, and she quickly makes some new friends too, including hotel owner Laurence, boutique owner Ruby and of course Hettie herself. Sybil quickly finds herself more at home in Tindledale than in her actual home, so when a knitting emergency arises, Sybil is more than happy to take charge...

I have to confess that from the very first page of this book, I was totally absorbed into the story and just did not want to put it down or stop reading. I immediately loved Sybil, or Sybs as she is more commonly referred to in the book, and you can't help but feel sorry for her current state of affairs. She's heartbroken, getting over the fact her ex-fiancé jilted her at the aisle, but has also run off with her twin sister. You can understand why she eventually flees to Tindledale, and how she so quickly comes to feel at home in the small, picturesque village. I could imagine myself the pub, walking down the main street, Hettie's shop and everything about Tindledale, it sounds perfect.

The characters in this book are what make it so great. While Sybs originally goes to Tindledale to see her best friend Cheryl and her boyfriend, Cheryl isn't there so Sybs is left to her own devices. She ends up staying at the local guest house, run by the lovely Laurence. Laurence was a fabulous character, so kind-hearted and keen on helping out Sybil, you can't help but fall in love with him! Then there's the local boutique owner Ruby, someone who seems a little stand-offish but once you  get to know her, you can see the warm heart behind that bravado. I also loved the delightful Hettie, the woman who owns the local haberdashery shop. Hettie is hiding her own problems and secrets, and afraid to ask for help, she ends up over her head. Sybil is determined to help her out, and the ensuing storyline is so touching, it made me feel all warm inside!

The village of Tindledale is the perfect setting for the book. It's quaint, old-fashioned and a really close knit community, and this just adds to the charm of the book. I loved that the residents can't get mobile signal there, internet usage is sporadic so the residents live in a world a million miles away from ours. Knitting is obviously a big thing in this book, and I was a little worried as although I can knit a basic scarf, that's about all I can do! However, I needn't have worried because Alexandra Brown makes it easy to read, with not too much techincal jargon in there - instead it is Sybil's love of knitting that really comes through, and the things that she creates sound just brilliant! The knit off at the end with the residents of Tindledale and Sybil was hilarious and so brilliantly done, such a perfect ending to this first installment in a series!

Hopefully I have conveyed in this review exactly how much I loved this book because it is definitely my favourite of all of Alexandra's books I have read so far! There was just something magical about the village of Tindledale, the wonderful warm Christmas feeling and all these brilliant characters that made this book completely and utterly readable - I devoured the book as quickly as I could, while at the same time not wanting it to end! I am so pleased there is going to be more in the Tindledale series, and I'm hoping we will get to explore more of the characters in it for the next few stories. This is one of my must-reads this winter, I loved everything about it, just brilliant!

23 December 2014

Festive Q&A Post 14: Carole Matthews

Another festive Q&A for today, and I am delighted to welcome the one and only Carole Matthews to my blog for her Festive Q&A! Carole is one of the queens of the festive novel, and her latest book The Christmas Party is a superb novel, I loved it! Thanks so much to Carole for taking the time to answer my questions.

You can buy The Christmas Party as an eBook or a paperback now!

Q1. Please tell me about your new festive book!

It’s the story of Louise Young, a single mum who’s just rejoined the world of work in a corporate environment what takes place over one night at an office Christmas party. Louise has a difficult boss, my pantomime baddy, Tyler Benson and she’s always treading on egg shells with him. She goes along to the office party hoping to have the time of her life, little knowing that what happens will change her life for ever.

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?

My Christmas books are usually warm, fun and filled with festive spirit. I think it gets readers in the mood for Christmas.

Q3. What do you love about writing Christmas stories?

I like to have a lot of fun with the themes around Christmas - love, loss, family, friends. The situations people - and my characters - find themselves in at Christmas are often amplified. Plus Christmas is always a great backdrop.

Q4. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas?

Christmas dinner. No sprouts in this house though. Bleurgh.

Q5. Favourite Christmas film?

I think Love, Actually is my favourite Christmas rom-com.

Q6. Favourite Christmas song?

‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ by Judy Garland

Q7. Favourite Christmas tradition?

Putting the Christmas trees up - mulled wine, mince pies, Muppet Christmas Carol on the telly.

Q8. What are you hoping to find under the christmas tree this year?!

Alexander Skarsgard. Or Ugg boots.

Q9. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why?

Last year Lovely Kev gave me the original illustrations of my book covers for A Cottage by the Sea and Calling Mrs Christmas signed by the artist, Alice Tait. That was special.

Q10. What is up next for you?

New hardback out in January - The Cake Shop in the Garden - introducing my gorgeous hero, Danny Wilde. It’s one of my own favourites. I think my readers will love it too.

Thank you for having me. A very merry Christmas to all of your readers!

C : ) xx

eBook Review: Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

"Running out on your wedding shouldn’t be this much fun!

A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life – but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancé halfway up the bridesmaid’s skirt just hours before the ceremony!

Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant – a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven!

And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas…"


Festive Rating: 

You can buy Cold Feet at Christmas as a paperback or an eBook now.

This is another book I have really looking forward to reading this year. It's Debbie Johnson's Christmas book which has been released through Harper Impulse, and it's called Cold Feet at Christmas. I love the cover of this, it's really eye-catching, and again I love the effort that Harper Impulse puts into their eBook covers. This book follows the story of Leah, a bride-to-be who ran away from her own wedding and finds herself stranded in the middle of nowhere in the freezing cold snow. She knocks on a nearby door and meet Rob, someone getting over his own heartbreak this Christmas. The pair share Christmas together, and then as the festive season passes and Leah realises she has to get on with her own life, Rob makes a very bold offer to Leah, but is one she is willing to escape?

This was a story I found it easy to get into, and enjoy right from the beginning. It kicks off meeting Leah in the middle of nowhere, as she's escaped her wedding and she hasn't got a clue where to turn next. Finding a house near her is a bit of a boon, and I enjoyed the introduction of the characters of Rob and Leah. The pair are stuck in this cottage, and turn to each other for comfort in their hours of need. You can understand why things progress as quickly as they did, but at the same time I found it a little odd that Leah was meant to be getting married yet she's jumping into something new so very quickly, it sat a little oddly with me in parts I have to admit.

You can see why she was immediately attracted to Rob however. He sounds pretty perfect as far as men go, even if he is a little damaged himself. We don't find out for quite a large portion of the book exactly what it is that he is hiding, and we're left to make our own conclusions for much of it. I hadn't guessed at all what his secret was, so when it was revealed I was quite surprised. I felt this part of the book, and his grief, was well handed by Debbie Johnson, you could certainly feel his pain as you are reading, and understand why he wanted to keep Leah at arm's length in an emotional sense. The pair had a really good chemistry and the part of the book set in the cottage was really readable.

However, there were a few parts of the book that I struggled with. Firstly, it was the fact that Rob makes the offer to Leah that he does after barely knowing each other, and odder still is that she accepts. Apparently it's fine to escape to the other side of the world on a whim and make a success of yourself. Who knew?! I know it's fiction, but I do like an element of realism to my books and I felt this was lacking in parts. Also, as I said, I found it hard to understand how Leah could move on so quickly and without emotion after her non-wedding. Surely there would be some element of feeling sad and bereft after leaving her wedding and life behind, but there seemed to be none of that for her. My other little bugbear was the fact that although it is marketed as a festive book, and the first part of it is at Christmas and does feel festive, well that's where it ends. The majority of the book isn't set at Christmas, and after the initial part, the festive feeling was lost which was a shame as it started so well.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, it was well written, the descriptions made it easy to imagine in my mind the cottage, the city that Leah and Rob travel to after their Christmas together, and the emotional side of Rob's story was extremely well written too. I did struggle to come to terms with Leah's actions and the speed of everything that happens afterwards, but if you can suspend your reality for a little while, I think it's an enjoyable little book. Some interesting characters, a few festive scenes and a well book, definitely a good novel from Debbie Johnson and one worth downloading to your Kindle this winter.

Festive Q&A Post 13: Kirsty Greenwood

Today I am pleased to welcome Kirsty Greenwood to my blog for her Festive Q&A! Her debut novel was released a while ago now, but it's still a brilliant read, and I am really looking forward to her next book The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance which is due in April! Enjoy the Q&A, and my thanks go to Kirsty for taking the time to answer my questions!

You can buy Yours Truly as a paperback or an eBook now!

Q1. You've yet to write a festive book - is it something you'd consider in the future?!
Although it wasn't marketed around Christmas, Yours Truly was a pretty festive book. It was set at Christmas and the characters were snowed in to the village of Little Trooley. I love writing about the holidays and I'm sure that one of the upcoming Jessica Beam books will be set at Christmas! Writing a festive book means you get to have an extra shiny cover too.

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?
The holidays are an awesome scenic backdrop to a novel - you've got the parties, the family gatherings, the alcohol and scrumptious food, the dramatic weather and usually a good dose of drama. And winter is the perfect snuggling up with a book season.

Q3. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
All dem presents I'm 'bout to get.

Q4. Favourite Christmas film?
Scrooged. Or maybe Home Alone: Lost in New York. No, Scrooged. Bill Murray beats Macaulay Culkin.

Q5. Favourite Christmas song?
Judy Garland singing 'Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas'.

Q6. Favourite Christmas tradition?
I think just getting together with my family. It's rare that we're all together at the same time so that's very special to me.

Q7. What are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year?!
Some nice new gloves, tickets to the ballet, and the Penguin Clothbound edition of Great Expectations.

Q8. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why?
Ooh. That is tough. I've been given some pretty epic presents over the years!  My parents got me a diary for Christmas when I was 11 and I still have it. It's a florally scented diary which has kept it's scent for twenty years, so every time I open it now the smell instantly transports me to that Christmas. It's like time travel!

Q9. What is up next for you?
I'm preparing for the release of The Vintage Guide to Love and Romance in April (I'm so excited for people to read it and meet Jessica Beam. Ooh, AND I'll be having a launch party!) and I'm currently writing book 3, which is the second book in The Vintage Guide series.

Thanks so much, Kirsty!

22 December 2014

Festive Q&A Post 12: Holly Martin

Please welcome Holly Martin for today's Festive Q&A! Holly's latest eBook is a Christmas follow up to her brilliant story One Hundred Proposals, called One Hundred Christmas Proposals! This is a chance to catch up with couple Harry and Suzie again, and see what's happening in their lives. I loved the eBook, make sure you give it a try!

You can buy One Hundred Christmas Proposals as an eBook now.

Q1. Please tell me about your new festive book!
One Hundred Christmas Proposals is a festive sequel to my summer book, One Hundred Proposals. It sees Harry and Suzie as they spend their first Christmas together while they try to organise 100 festive proposals for their clients. But as snow falls on London, is everything still perfect in their own relationship.

When I write my books, I always doubt myself and think that it's rubbish. One Hundred Christmas Proposals is the first book and probably the last where I feel incredibly proud and excited about it's release. I just hope everyone else feels the same.

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?
People love Christmas, the snow, the lights, the time spent with families.  It is a magical time of year and I think people just love reading about it.  For me, Christmas stories fall into two camps, both equally wonderful; the sparkling, glorious, sweepingly romantic, snow kissed chicklits or the ones that share the humour of Christmas, of being with our families, however eccentric, of disastrous Christmas parties and terrible presents. I love them both.

Q3. What prompted you to write a Christmas book?
I wasn't going to, I didn't know if there was room for my Christmas story when every chicklit author seems to bring out a Christmas book, but the idea for the festive sequel to 100 Proposals just came to me one day and I knew it was a story I had to write.

Q4. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas? 
Spending time with friends and family.

Q5. Favourite christmas film? 
The Holiday or Love Actually.

Q6. Favourite christmas song? 
Fairy Tale of New York by The Pogues, not sure why.

Q7. Favourite christmas tradition? 
Playing games with my family

Q8. What are you hoping to find under the christmas tree this year? 
I never want anything and my friends always find it hard to buy for me as I never know what I want.  Just good health and happiness to all my friends and family and a super large Toblerone.

Q9. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why? 
My pet dog Bob, we had him as a puppy and he fit in my dad's hand when we first got him. Then he grew and grew and grew. He was such a character, he was gentle with us even though me and my brother would climb all over him. He was fiercely protective of us and would always want to sit on our laps for cuddles even though he was huge. We paid £5 for him and had him for 17 wonderful years

Q10. What is up next for you?
Hopefully, I should have a new book out in January called Lessons in Love.

Thanks so much Holly!

21 December 2014

Book Review: I'll Take New York by Miranda Dickinson

"Have you ever given up on love?

When her boyfriend lets her down for the last time, Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James makes a decision – no more. No more men, no more heartbreak, and no more pain.

Psychiatrist Jake Steinmann is making a new start too, leaving his broken marriage behind in San Francisco. From now on there'll just be one love in his life: New York.

At a party where they seem to be the only two singletons, Bea and Jake meet, and decide there’s just one thing for it. They will make a pact: no more relationships.

But the city has other plans . . "

Rating: 5/5

You can buy I'll Take New York as a paperback or an eBook now!

I was over the moon to be sent a review copy of Miranda Dickinson's latest book I'll Take New York, not least because of it's amazing purple cover, I'm a bit in love with that! However, I was a little worried when I read that it was a sort-of sequel to Miranda's first ever novel Fairytale of New York. I hadn't read that book, so this Autumn, I went back and read that book, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was now ready to take on I'll Take New York and find out all about the story of Bea and Jake. Having now read both, I can safely say you don't need to have Miranda's first book in order to enjoy this one, but it's nice to have the background info on the characters that pop up throughout this book.

Bea has had enough of love. She's been let down by her boyfriend Otis in front of all her family and friends, and so she ends things with him, swearing off men for good at the same time. She's got her bookshop, and her co-worker Russ, and that's all she needs. Pyschologist Jake Steinmann is coming to terms with the impending divorce from his wife Jessica, and he's had to leave his home in San Francisco behind and relocated to New York to start afresh. By chance, the pair meet at a mutual friend's engagement party, and they strike up a new friendship, both making a pact with each other that they'll happily enjoy being single. But are there other plans on the horizon?

First of all, I was taken by this book straight away. It took me no time at all to get invested in the story of Bea and Jake, and I enjoyed it right up until the last page. Bea was a strong character, perfect for the leading lady of the book. She's moved to New York from the UK, and has set up a successful bookshop which she runs with her close friend Russ. I loved the scenes in the bookshop - they sounded just perfect. It sounded so cosy, and exactly the sort of place I could imagine myself losing hours at a time in! You can see why Bea loves her job so much, and the relationship between her and Russ was lovely to read as well. As the story moves on and her friendship with Jake progresses, I enjoyed seeing Bea become happier and I was really hoping she would find her happy ending that she really wanted. The letters that she and her grandmother send each other were beautifully done, and I really enjoyed reading these parts, a wonderful addition to the book.

Jake was such a nice character too, you can see why Bea befriended him so easily and the pair got on so well. You do feel very sorry for him because he's clearly struggling with the divorce, something he doesn't really want himself, and I enjoyed seeing him come out of his shell more as he became closer to Bea. I really enjoyed the parts where he and Bea went exploring the city together, showing each other their favourite parts and why they were important to them. I've been to quite a lot of those places myself and it was fun to read about them all in the book again, especially the ice rink in Central Park! I just wished Jake had the courage to follow through with his convictions and tell Bea how he really felt, I did feel sorry for him having to keep it all inside.

As for references to Miranda's first book Fairytale of New York, we catch up with the main characters from that book, Rosie and Ed who work at the flower shop, Kowalski's. The pair are now engaged to be married and their wedding day is fast approaching. They are linked into this story because Jake is Ed's brother, and Bea's brother Stewart is in a relationship with Celia, one of Rosie's friends. I enjoyed catching up with familiar characters, and they play quite a big part in this book too. I love linking books together like this, and again, you don't have to have read the first book to enjoy this story, enough is explained for you to easily follow the story. We again visit Kowalski's a few times, the flower shop is as perfect as ever. In fact, the setting of New York is perfect for this book, it feels just right, and you can see why all the characters have fallen in love with the city, whether or not they are New York natives!

This was a beautiful book, and I can honestly say that I really enjoyed every single page of it. Miranda's writing brings the story to life on the page for you, allowing you to imagine everything from the bookshop, to Central Park to Grand Central Station with ease in your mind as you are reading. I became really invested in the story between Jake and Bea, as well as the other things they are dealing with in their lives. My favourite part though was how Miranda has linked this brand new brilliant story to her first book, it's so well done and you can't fail but love Rosie and Ed again. A superb novel, Miranda Dickinson gets better and better with each book she writes. This is my favourite by her so far, and I can't wait for more!

16 December 2014

Festive Q&A Post 11: Ruth Saberton

Welcome to post 11 of my Festive Q&A, and today I'm happy to introduce Ruth Saberton for her Q&A! Ruth's latest book Escape for Christmas, and follows on from her summer story Escape for the Summer which I loved. You can read it stand-alone too, and it's certainly enjoyable, I'm almost at the end of it now! Thank you to Ruth for answering my questions :)

You can buy Escape for Christmas as an eBook now!

Q1. Please tell me about your new festive book!
My new festive book is called “Escape for Christmas” and it is the second installment in the adventures of Gemma, Angel and Andi, whom readers first met in “Escape for the Summer”, although it can be read as a stand alone book too. The story picks up about 18 months after the book finished and centres on Gemma, who is looking forward to a very romantic festive season with her partner, Cal.  Gemma has made all sorts of plans but when she discovers that Cal’s has been meeting his gorgeous ex in secret events take an unexpected turn and her perfect Christmas suddenly isn’t quite so perfect after all…

Q2. What do you think it is about festive books that readers love so much year after year?
Everyone loves Christmas and curling up in front of the fire with a festive novel has to be one of the nicest things about the season. It’s a busy and an expensive time and a Christmas book is the best way to escape the chaos of getting prepared for the big day without breaking the bank.  The covers are gorgeous and there’s the Christmas magic between the pages too – digital or paper!

Q3. What prompted you to write a Christmas book?
I am living in the Caribbean at the moment and although we all go Christmas crazy here (the Christmas lights are something else!) I really do miss Christmas at home. I know I am spoilt rotten to lie on the beach on Christmas Day but there’s a big part of me that longs to be in a big jumper and watching the snow fall while we cook Christmas lunch (Richard Curtis movies have a lot to answer for!) Writing a Christmas book is my way of going home for the festive season and a wonderful way to travel back without having to fly. I was also asked by lots of readers if they could have a sequel to “Escape for the Summer” and this seemed the perfect solution. Cornwall at Christmas time is simply wonderful and when I wrote the scene where Gemma and Angel are shopping in Truro I was almost shocked to look up and find myself back in  Grand Cayman.  Maybe lowering the air con to a chilly seventy F was something to do with it?

Q4. Quick fire questions! What's your favourite thing about Christmas?
Spending time with my boyfriend, family and friends and my horses!

Q5. Favourite christmas film?
The Muppets’ Christmas Carol! I know all the words and sing the whole lot. Show me an English teacher who doesn’t love that movie.  As soon as the film begins I’m instantly in the festive spirit.

Q6. Favourite Christmas song?
Can I cheat and say Rafe Thorne’s “One Christmas Kiss” from my novel “Dead Romantic”? It is the song her writes for Cleo, his ‘one who got away’.

Q7. Favourite Christmas tradition?
Watching The Muppets’ Christmas Carol with my Year 7 class!

Q8. What are you hoping to find under the Christmas tree this year?!
Lots of happy readers who enjoy my books! That’s the best present any writer could hope for.

Q9. What's the best Christmas present you've ever been given and why?
Can I say my divorce? That was a fantastic present and came just in time for Christmas : )

Q10. What is up next for you?
Next year is looking very busy for me. I have four books out and a new project planned which I can’t say much about yet.  “Katy Carter 2” should be out in the spring and I am so excited about this. The title hasn’t been decided yet but maybe “Pinchy the Lobster Strikes Back”!

Thank you Ruth!

15 December 2014

eBook Review: The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman

"Meet Britain's Worst Innkeeper

Single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie, has five days to become the ultimate B&B hostess to save her beloved Aunt Kate’s livelihood.

When Aunt Kate ends up in the hospital, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter are called to rural Wales to stand in at the B&B. Without the faintest idea how to run a hotel (she can barely run her own life), Lottie must impress the picky hotel reviewer and his dysfunctional family who are coming to stay over Christmas. Without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.

But will Danny, the local taxi driver who she hires to help her, really be Santa’s little helper, or the Grinch who stole Christmas? "

Festive Feeling Rating:

You can buy The Reluctant Elf as an eBook now.

Sometimes it is nice to pick a short story, and know that you can finish reading it pretty swiftly and you haven't got nights of reading ahead of you. I was really pleased to be sent a review copy of The Reluctant Elf which is Michele Gorman's latest festive short story. I loved her 2013 short story Christmas Carol so had high hopes for this one. Luckily, it didn't let me down.

Lottie is devastated when her beloved Aunt Kate is in an accident and ends up in hospital in a coma over the festive period. What makes it worse though is that her Aunt runs a B&B which is due to be inspected over Christmas by a special Christmas visitor... a hotel reviewer. Lottie has to make a dash to Wales to the B&B, and is shocked by the dilapidated state it's in. She recruits Danny, a local taxi driver to help her refurbish the outdated and rundown B&B, but the pair are really up against it. Lottie knows nothing about running the B&B, and wants her Aunt Kate to be okay more than anything. Is Lottie going to be able to make her 2 Christmas miracles come true?!

Knowing this is a short story means the pace moves quite quickly, and we are thrown straight into the story from the very beginning. We discover about Aunt Kate's accident, and are on the train to Wales with Lottie immediately, and this is how we get to find out about her and her family set-up. Apart from her daughter Mabel, Kate is the only family that Lottie has left, hence the connection the pair have. I really liked how it was written that Lottie discovered the state of the B&B, and you can't help but feel devastated along with her. The strange friendship she immediately strikes up with taxi driver Danny is odd, but somehow works for the story.

We read about how the pair work as quickly and frugally as they can to restore the B&B to its former glory, using the things in the house as they've been snowed in and can't get to the shops, never mind the fact it's nearly Christmas and most shops are closing, let alone living in the middle of nowhere! Reading some of the things they did put a smile on my face, and there were certainly some hilarious moments in there too. The arrival of the hotel inspector ensured more hilarity, and there were some real laugh-out-loud moments, I don't know how Lottie kept it together to be honest! It does feel very Christmassy though, with Lottie and Danny hurrying to decorate the B&B, and pull together a Christmas dinner with an unusual theme twist...

This was a really enjoyable and light-hearted read that left me with a smile on my face as I finished it. There's lots going on to keep your interest throughout the story, and you can't help but wonder how Lottie ever thinks she is going to be able to get a good rating for Aunt Kate's B&B as things swing from bad to worse! The arrival of the reviewer and his (awful) family allowed for some seriously funny moments, and really put the pressure on poor old Lottie and Danny too. I enjoyed reading this eBook from start to finish, it's the perfect thing to curl up with for a while and enjoy in one sitting, and it'll definitely leave you feeling warm and festive!