At thirty, Claudia’s life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life – and Christmas – alone.
Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It’s also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing’s for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different . . .
I’ve loved all of Lisa Dickenson’s serialised novels to date and had read all of her books except for her debut, The Twelve Dates of Christmas. The book was actually released in 12 parts previously and is being released for the first time as a complete paperback on Thursday 22nd October. The cover for the paperback is absolutely gorgeous and I just couldn’t resist so I’ve broken my rule of ‘no Christmas books before November’ to bring you a review of this lovely novel today.
The Twelve Dates of Christmas has jumped straight in to my top Christmas books list and is an absolute treat to read. I absolutely love Christmas and this novel captured all of my favourite things about the festive season and showed off sparkly, glittery Christmass London at its very best. On top of that it’s a laugh out loud funny read as well as being ‘magic moment’ romantic!
The story centres on Claudia, who as we meet her is planning to bring the romance back to her long term relationship with boyfriend Seth by taking him on a romantic date. Things do not go according to plan and as the date goes from bad to disaster, Claudia is faced with an impending festive season as a single lady. On top of that she’s having a bit of a career crisis and needs some serious cheering up.
Thankfully Claudia has two fabulous best friends in the shape of ballerina Penny and set designer Nick and between them they are determined to get Claudia over Seth. Nick and Penny arrange a series of dates for Claudia and I loved the mixture of adventures that she ended up on and the London sights that she visited. With dates ranging from bizzare to full on romance and including ballet in Covent Garden, WinterWonderland in Hyde Park and Carols at St Pauls there’s something to make everyone smile in this book and melt the heart of even the most hardened Scrooge!
Claudia, Nick and Penny are all great characters and each had their own surprises to bring to the story. Nick will have you swooning and Penny and Claudia’s banter made me chuckle. I’d also like to give a special mention to Claudia’s lovely Dad who is one of the loveliest book Dads I’ve ever come across.
As a winter wedding looms, we find Claudia wondering if she’ll ever get her happy ending. You’ll have to read the book to find out if she gets her Christmas wish but I will say that this book left me with a wonderful winter warm glow and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Christmas presents sorted – grab a sackload and spread the Christmas fun!
The Twelve Dates of Christmas is released in paperback format on 22nd October and is available in ebook fomats now.
Find out more about Lisa and her writing at: http://www.lisadickenson.com/
Earlier today I reviewed Nicholas Sparks latest release, See Me and now I’m delighted to be able to offer a signed copy to be won by one lucky reader.
To enter this giveaway just leave a comment in the box below telling me which is your favourite Nicholas Sparks novel or film (or if you haven’t read any yet, just tell me why you’d like to win!) and I’ll draw a winner using Random.org after the closing date.
This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at midnight on Sunday 18th October.
At twenty-eight, he’s focused on getting his teaching degree and avoiding all the places and people that proved so destructive in his past. The last thing he’s looking for is a serious relationship. But when he crosses paths with Maria Sanchez one rainswept night, his carefully structured life is turned upside down. And when Maria, a hardworking lawyer, meets Colin she begins to question every notion she has ever had about herself and her future – and what truly makes her happy.
Before the couple has a chance to envision a life together, menacing reminders from events in Maria’s past begin to surface. And as the threat of violence begins to shadow her every step, she and Colin will be pushed to breaking point.
See Me is the latest novel from multi-million copy bestseller Nicholas Sparks. I’ve become a bit of a fan of Nicholas’s novels over the last few years and find myself looking forward to his new releases so I was very excited when I was sent an early review copy of this book and asked to be part of the blog tour. See Me is the perfect example of why Mr Sparks’ books are such hits; with romance that sweeps you up, thriller style action and a good mystery to solve, this book had me gripped from the intriguing prologue to the last page.
This is probably my favourite of the novels by Nicholas Sparks that I’ve read so far and in a large part that was due to the two lead characters in the book. Let’s start with Colin; apart from his unfortunate name (sorry to all the Colin’s out there but it just doesn’t conjure up cage fighter romantic hero to me) Colin is a man with an intriguing past and a take on life that I found thought provoking. Essentially Colin has major anger management issues and is one step away from a life behind bars. But he’s been given a second chance and with the help of best friends Evan and Lily is trying to make the most of it. I like nothing more than an underdog to root for and in Colin Nicholas Sparks has created a character full of surprises that you can’t help falling for. He also makes one of the most romantic declarations that I’ve read this year. Yes, despite his name I am a huge fan of Colin.
As is Maria, the leading lady in See Me. Maria is a hardworking junior lawyer and pretty conservative and cautious due to a case that had repercussions in her past. On paper Maria and Colin shouldn’t gel but as fate throws them together they find that they actually do like each other. I love the way Nicholas Sparks gets inside his characters’ heads and this is particularly important in See Me to make the relationship between Maria and Colin believable.
The supporting characters are also very well written and I liked Maria’s huge Mexican family and the way that they supported each other but I loved Evan and particularly his fiance Lily who is a true Southern belle and made me smile many times through the book. As Maria comes under threat and Colin’s willpower is really tested, I enjoyed how the supporting cast were woven into the story and the twists kept coming.
This is quite an action packed novel towards the end and that surprised me but I enjoyed it and my heart was in my mouth for most of the last hundred pages! I could certainly see this book making its way to the big screen as many of Sparks’ previous novels have and I think the writing and setting had a cinematic quality to them.
Finally, I loved the location for this story. Set by the coast in Wilmington, I thought the descriptions of the town and coast were lovely! I predict another big hit for Mr Sparks.
See Me is out now in hardback and ebook formats.
Find out more about Nicholas Sparks and his writing at: http://uk.nicholassparks.com/
Stop by again later today for a chance to win a signed copy of See Me!
Today I’m delighted to be hosting the second stop on Josephine Cox’s Lonely Girl blog tour. Josephine is one of the UK’s biggest and best-loved authors, and is consistently a number 1 bestseller. She has sold over 20 million books, was recently awarded the prestigious RNA Lifetime Achievement Award and is one of the most borrowed authors in UK libraries. Josephine’s editor (and all round lovely lady!) Kim Young from Harper Collins is joining me today with a fab post on working with Josephine and that special magic that creates a number one bestseller! Welcome Kim.
Jo Cox is without doubt one of the nation’s favourite number one bestselling authors! It’s such a privilege to publish Jo’s books – not only is Jo a huge amount of fun to work with, she’s so hardworking and absolutely dedicated to her readers. Jo gets more fan mail than any other author I know, and come rain or shine, tight schedules or gruelling book tours, Jo replies to each and every one of her readers personally with that special magic that only Jo can bring.
As a publisher I often get asked, what’s the secret to writing a bestseller? For me Josephine Cox has that magic combination – she’s a natural born storyteller, she puts the reader into her character’s shoes so that you laugh with them and cry with them. Jo herself has an incredible work ethic and a connection with her readership that has spanned decades and generations.
It is huge fun working with the team on Jo’s publications – we publish her hardback in spring and the paperback follows in late autumn. This means double the work to make sure that every detail is right – from the cover to the publicity plans, from the supermarket orders to the marketing ideas. There is a big team behind the scenes that works on Jo’s novels, whether that means talking to the designer about the right shade of foil finish for the cover (the blue on Lonely Girl is my favourite!) or working on Chatterbox, the fun newsletter we send out to Jo’s fans with over 20, 000 subscribers, we work around the year.
Everyone at HarperCollins knows that Jo is a huge fan of Christmas – even our CEO comes along for a carol or two for our Christmas lunch with Jo in December! This year we came up with the idea that as that we would run a competition with Tesco for one of Jo’s readers to win £1000 of vouchers to make their Christmas dreams come true! It’s the sort of idea that takes a lot of work from all sorts of people behind the scenes to make real – but when we see Jo hand over a GIANT cheque to one of her readers and take the worries of the Christmas bills away, it will make it all worthwhile. I can’t wait!
Jo’s latest book is, incredibly, her 51st novel, and Lonely Girl has many of the ingredients that has helped Jo grow an incredibly loyal readership over the years – heartbreak and loss but with a glimmer of hope and happiness. I always have a tear in my eye when I read the ending of one of Jo’s books, but I’ve always laughed along the way as well! Jo Cox keeps it real – she knows that life isn’t full of daydreams and happy endings, and that into each life, rain will inevitably fall. But with courage and determination, and family and friends by your side, anything is possible. That’s the essence of Jo’s world for me, and it’s one I’m very proud to be a part of!
Lonely Girl is released on Thursday 8th October in Hardback and ebook formats from HarperCollins.
Find out more about Josephine Cox and her writing at: http://www.josephinecox.com/
Last week I was very lucky to be invited to a special lunchtime Q&A session with Candace Bushnell. Aside from being a huge fan of Candace’s most famous creation Sex and the City, I’ve also read all of her other novels and I love her stories so it was a very special treat indeed to be able to meet her in person and listen to her speak about her writing and her latest novel, Killing Monica.
In the suitably swish surroundings of the Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design in London’s Soho, Candace was interviewed about her books, her writing and her career to date. From starting writing at 15 to moving to New York at 19 and getting her big break writing the Sex and the City column at 34, Candace has so many stories to tell and it was wonderful to her anecdotes first hand. Her love for her ‘home’ city of New York is clear and I was fascinated to hear that my favourite of her books, One Fifth Avenue is about how the city defines the people who live in it and that Candace says New York never really changes.
It’s clear to me that there’s a lot of Candace in her most famous character Carrie Bradshaw but unlike the protagonist of her new novel, Killing Monica Candace insists that she has no desire to be rid of her most famous creation! Killing Monica tells the story of P. J. Wallis, an author whose creation, Monica has become too big for her to cope with and is blurring the lines between reality and fiction but Candace says that in a wider sense the theme of the book is about self reinvention and taking stock at different points in your life.
Moving on to wider topics Candace also had some excellent advice about how we might see our careers in terms of a relationship with ourselves – and it’s not always going to go smoothly! As the questions were opened to the audience there was an expectant hush as the possibility of a third Sex and the City film was raised. Candace admitted that she’d love to see the characters return to the big screen but thinks its now unlikely that a third movie will happen. The good news is that she has plenty more books planned starting with a Young Adult novel that will be her next release.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meeting with Candace and look forward to reading Killing Monica very soon.
Killing Monica is out now in hardback and ebook formats from Little Brown.
Find out more about Candace Bushnell and her writing at: http://www.candacebushnell.com/