Tag Archives: Christmas reads

My ten books of Christmas 2016 – festive reads filled with cheer!

20 Dec

I was planning to post this weeks ago but life got in the way! There’s still plenty of time to enjoy a festive book or two though and I’m hoping to work my way through as many of these as I can in the next couple of weeks!

Here’s what’s on my Christmas reading pile:

12 days of christmasTwelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber (Arrow)

I look forward to Debbie Macomber’s Christmas release each year and always read her latest in the run up to Christmas (read my reviews of Dashing Through the Snow and Starry, Starry Night ). Debbie’s books are full of warmth and always get to the real meaning of Christmas so I can’t wait to read Twelve Days of Christmas.

Julia is infuriated by her grumpy neighbour, Cain, who can’t even be pleasant when they bump into each other.

So on the suggestion of her best friend, Cammie, Julia concocts a plan. She starts a blog in order to clinch her perfect job, and now she has a subject. Over the next twelve days, she is going to kill Cain with kindness – and Christmas cheer – and document it for all to read about.

But as the experiment goes on, Julia realises she underestimated the effect it would have on Cain, and on their relationship, and things take an unexpected turn…

A Nightingale Christmas Carol by Donna Douglas A Nightingale Christmas Carol

Donna’s Nightingale Nurses series is a favourite of mine and I’ve read all of the books in it. I read this book last month and loved it (review here!) and if you haven’t tried the series yet you can definitely read this as a stand alone – it’s a great place to start.

All that Dora Riley wants is her husband home safe for Christmas…

The Nightingale Hospital, London, 1944: With her husband Nick away fighting, Dora struggles to keep the home fires burning and is put in charge of a ward full of German prisoners of war. Can she find it in her heart to care for her enemies?

Fellow nurse Kitty thinks she might be falling for a German soldier, whilst Dora’s old friend Helen returns from Europe with a dark secret.

Can the women overcome their prejudices and the troubles of their past to do their duty for their country?

winter magicWinter Magic curated by Abi Elphinstone

At the end of Noovember I won an amazing book advent (#bookvent) calendar from SJ at Books and the City, part of Simon and Schuster. I’ve been counting down through December opening a wonderful book parcel every morning – nothing will ever top it! Winter Magic is one of my favourite of my #bookvent books – I’m loving dipping into the magical stories; they are just the right length for bedtime reading!

A beautiful and classic anthology of frosty, magical short stories from acclaimed children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Berlie Doherty, Lauren St John and Katherine Woodfine, and edited by author Abi Elphinstone.

Dreamsnatcher’s Abi Elphinstone heads up this gorgeous collection of wintery stories, featuring snow queens, frost fairs, snow dragons and pied pipers . . . from classic children’s writers such as Michelle Magorian, Geraldine McCaughrean, Jamila Gavin, Berlie Doherty, Katherine Woodfine, Piers Torday, Lauren St John, Amy Alward, Michelle Harrison and Emma Carroll.

An unmissable, enchanting treat of a collection that will be enjoyed for years to come, by readers of all ages.

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnsoncomfort food

I loved Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe so ordered a copy of this novella sequel as soon as it came out. At just over 200 pages its the perfect length to fit in at busy Christmas time and Debbie’s writing always makes me smile!

Becca Fletcher has always hated Christmas but she has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch. Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

Little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill, it’s a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, new love can blossom and where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

Inviting readers new and old to pull up a cosy armchair, Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe is the novella-length follow-up to the 2016 best-seller Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe.

all wrapped upAll Wrapped Up (Geek Girl Special Book 1) by Holly Smale

I’m a huge fan of the Geek Girl series so I couldn’t resist a copy of this when I was in the supermarket one day. This is a lovey short and sweet story that takes place just after the first Geek Girl book and is filled with Harriet-style Christmas facts and more hilarious Geek Girl moments. A perfect stocking filler for Geek Girls of all ages!

Harriet Manners knows a lot about Christmas.

She knows that every year Santa climbs down 91.8 million chimneys.

She knows that Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer was almost definitely a girl.

She knows that the first artificial Christmas trees were made out of goose feathers.

But this Christmas is extra special for Harriet, because four days ago she had her First Ever Kiss.

Now she just needs to work out what’s supposed to happen next…

A romantic festive treat from the internationally bestselling award-winning author of the GEEK GIRL series. Also includes a BONUS previously unpublished GEEK GIRL short story TEAM GEEK!

lilac cottageChristmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

It was cover love at first sight when I saw Christmas at Lilac Cottage and this sounds like a wonderfully romantic Christmas read – I’m very much looking forward to discovering a new author in Holly Martin too!

Snow is falling on White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air . . .

Penny Meadows loves her cosy cottage with its stunning views over the snow-topped town of White Cliff Bay, but not even the roaring log fire can keep her personal life from feeling frozen.

That is until dashing Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage for the festive season. And between decking the halls and baking delicious mince pies, Penny realises there is more to Henry than meets the eye.

With sleigh bells ringing and fairy lights twinkling, the ice-sculpting competition and Christmas Eve ball are in full swing. Will Penny be able to melt the ice and allow love into her heart? And will she finally have the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

stealing snowStealing Snow by Danielle Page

I’d had my eye on this book for a while – it sounds like the perfect winter fantasy romance read! I loved the two short stories that preceded the launch of Stealing Snow; Queen Rising and Before the Snow so I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave .

She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate.

A wonderfully icy fantastical romance, with a strong heroine choosing her own destiny, Danielle Paige’s irresistibly page-turning Snow Queen is like Maleficent and Frozen all grown up.

The Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by David Levithan and Rachel Cohntwelve days of dash

I read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares back in 2012 (yikes!) and it’s one of the Christmassy books that is on my ‘keepers’ pile so I was veery excited (and of course had to buy a copy) when I spotted a sequel had been released! This is another short read so great for fitting in around the Christmassy chaos!

Dash and Lily have been dating for nearly a year, but when Lily’s beloved grandfather falls ill, the repercussions take their toll on everyone. Even though they are still together, somehow the magic has gone out of their relationship and it’s clear that Lily has fallen out of love with life. Action must be taken! Dash teams up with Lily’s brother and a host of their friends, who have just twelve days to get Lily’s groove back in time for Christmas.

mistletoeMistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

A brilliant Christmas read from Lisa Dickenson – her best book yet! Read my review here to see why I loved it so much!

Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, ‘traditional’ Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she’s not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia’s friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

A Fairy Tale for Christmas by Chrissie Manby chrissie

A lovely cover and premise for Chrissie Manby’s latest novel – her books are always such a treat so I couldn’t resist adding it to the pile!

What could be more magical at Christmas than a fairy tale come true?

It’s the festive season and the members of the Newbay Theatre Society, more commonly known as the NEWTS, are preparing to put on a show. Being cast as Cinderella is the realization of a dream for newcomer Kirsty, not least because she hopes starring in a panto under the direction of her boyfriend Jon will bring them closer together.

But Kirsty soon learns that it’s not all glitter and good cheer behind the scenes at the amateur theatre as bitter rivalries nurtured through decades, wardrobe mishaps and suspicious near-fatal accidents threaten to derail the production. And then there’s Prince Charming himself. Will working together with Jon bring Kirsty her happy ever after… or reveal their love to be nothing but a ‘showmance’?

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s going to take more than a Fairy Godmother to get Kirsty and her cast-mates to the ball.

So there you have my Christmas picks – what are your recommendations for great reads this Christmas?

 

Five fab festive audiobooks (so you can ‘read’ whilst wrapping!)

15 Dec

2016 was the year that I got into audiobooks and now that I’ve discovered crochet my audiobooks are keeping me ‘reading’ while I work on my projects.

Audiobooks are great for keeping you company in the car or making repetitive tasks more interesting – I’m loving listening to Christmas stories while I wrap presents this year so here are my suggestions for a festive audio treat. I use Audible but other audiobooks are available.

christmas feastA Christmas Feast and other stories by Katie Fforde

Katie’s Christmas short stories are always favourites of mine so I was excited to see that they’d been brought together in a lovely festive collection and even happier that I can now listen to them!

A delicious Christmas feast of short stories from the Sunday Times number one best-selling author of A French Affair and The Perfect Match.

Add some extra sparkle to your Christmas by joining Katie Fforde for a perfect romantic Christmas feast of short stories. Collected together for the first time and including one brand-new story. Make your Christmas wishes come true….

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore Narrated by: Jeff Bridgesnight before

This is only short but its lovely and Jeff Bridges has the perfect voice for it! My sons both love this story/poem and we’ve been listening to it at bedtime in the run up to Christmas.

Academy Award Winner Jeff Bridges’ iconic voice brings the beloved holiday classic story “The Night Before Christmas” to life.

Celebrate the holiday season with the only audiobook of “The Night Before Christmas”, read by Jeff Bridges. No other narrator brings Santa and these merry scenes to life quite like Mr. Bridges – it’s an instant Christmas classic! Create a new family tradition as you add this audiobook to your holiday activities leading up to December 25th.

xmas factor audioThe Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders

This is my all time favourite Christmas book so it’s lovely to have an audio version too. You can read my review here: http://www.onemorepage.co.uk/?p=1872

Meet two women with two totally different approaches to the festive season. Beth: it’s only September and already she has performance anxiety. Not surprising when she has agreed to lay on the annual Christmas Eve village bash – the piece de resistance of her husband’s former wife – not to mention having to host Christmas for his difficult offspring. New to this frenzied build-up to the festivities, Beth begins to lose sight of what it all means. To her the Christmas lights are looking more like the headlamps of an oncoming train. Carol: glamorous magazine editor, who put her aspirational Christmas issue to bed sometime in July and is so involved in finding a scoop to save her ailing magazine that she fails to notice the impending festive rush. Panicked and wracked with guilt, she is determined to make it a picture perfect time for her little boy and, opting for convenience, books a lovely-sounding cottage in a quaint village. Even the best laid plans have a habit of unravelling – and no plan at all is a recipe for disaster. So when these two Christmases collide, it looks like it’s going to be anything but goodwill towards men…

christmas carolA Christmas Carol: An Audible Original Drama by Charles Dickens

This Christmas Classic narrated by a sparking star cast has just been released by Audible and if you’re a member it’s free to download at the moment!

Jenna Coleman, Miriam Margolyes, Derek Jacobi, Brendan Coyle and Roger Allam are amongst the celebrity voices coming together this Christmas in a brand new multi-cast dramatization of Charles Dickens’ ghostly Christmas tale, A Christmas Carol.

letters from fatherLetters from Father Christmas by J.R.R. Tolkien Narrated by: Derek Jacobi

Another lovely listen for all ages with beautiful narration and music.

Can you imagine writing to Father Christmas and actually getting a reply?

 Every year, the children of J.R.R. Tolkien would write to Father Christmas, and the letters they received told wonderful stories of his adventures at the North Pole.

These humorous tales are brought to life by Derek Jacobi as Father Christmas, John Moffatt as Polar Bear, and Christian Rodska as Ilbereth the Elf, complete with specially composed music.

Do let me know what your favourite Christmas stories to listen to are – I’d love to add to my collection!

Happy listening!

 

Serial spotlight: The Reading Group (December, January and February) by Della Parker

21 Nov

Meet the Reading Group: six women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together every month to share their love of reading. No topic is off-limits: books, family, love and loss . . . and don’t forget the glass of red!

Today I’m delighted to be the starting point for Della Parker’s blog tour for her new serialised novel, The Reading Group. The first three stories in the series will be published on 1st December in ebook formats and publisher Quercus kindly sent me preview copies of parts 1-3 to review for this tour. Having joined a local reading group myself earlier in the year, I was very intrigued by the premise for this new set of short stories and having read the stories for December, January and February, I think that Della has captured the friendships, support and comfort that can come from being a member of a reading group very well.

decemberPart one, The Reading Group: December is a short introductory story of about 30 pages that introduces us to all of the main members of the reading group; Grace, Kate, Anne-Marie, Jo-jo, Serena and and sets the scene for the months to come which each focus in on a different member of the group. Each month the group are reading a literary classic. For December its A Christmas Carol and readers familiar with the story will recognise some of the themes of the Christmas favourite within the contemporary story that Della is telling as group member Grace has to face the possibility of a less than merry Christmas. Grace is mum to five year old triplets and this endeared her to me straight away. I really enjoyed this introductory story and it left me looking forward to the next part and getting to know the group better. The good news is that The Reading Group: December will be free to download when it is released so you can all try it soon too!

The Reading Group: January sees the ladies of Little Sanderton reading Jane Austen’s Emma and the storyjanuary focuses on the youngest member of the group: Anne Marie. I loved the way Della modernised the story of Emma for this part of the series and Anne Marie’s antics made me smile. Her character is lovably flawed and in keeping with the classic, this is a lovely romantic part to the series. The descriptions of Little Sanderton come alive in this part too and as regular readers will know, I have a weakness for seaside-set stories so this was right up my street!

februaryFebruary sees the romance turn a little more sultry as the group turn their attention to Lady Chatterley’s Lover and Kate is the focus for the story. Again, I enjoyed how the classic that the group are reading linked to the story and I’ve enjoyed the variety of storylines that each of the parts of The Reading Group have  featured so far. The Reading Group: February highlighted for me how quickly friendships can flourish in a group where the members trust and confide in each other and how wonderfully supportive this can be.

I love serialised novels; they give me quick bursts of a story that I can fit in when I don’t have time to sit down and get engrossed in a full book and I’m delighted to have discovered a new author in Della Parker. I can’t wait to read parts four, five and six when they are released early next year!

The Reading Group December, January and February will be released in ebook formats on 1st December.

To celebrate the launch, Quercus and Della Parker are holding an online book club on Friday 2nd December – full details below! Please do join us!

Online Book Club Invite

My best and worst Christmas presents by Bella Osbourne

19 Nov

Please join me in welcoming Bella Osbourne to the blog today on the latest stop of her Willow Cottage: Christmas Cheer blog tour. This is the second part of the seasonal Willow Cottage series and Bella joins me today to talk about her best and worst Christmas presents! Welcome Bella!

High-res-Bella-Osborne-218x247Hi One More Page, Thank you for having me on your blog today. Isn’t this a delicious subject with a huge opportunity to offend my family and friends!

So let’s start with the easy ones here’s my top three Christmas presents of all time:

1. An Adidas tracksuit

Now you may be surprised at this but perhaps less so when I tell you that I was eleven years old, very allergic to nylon and virtually the only person in my class that didn’t have a tracksuit. So the fact that my Grandma managed to track down one that was made of cotton (even if it was forest green with yellow stripes) made for the best present that Christmas.

2. A sign

It’s a very simple sign and it hangs above my writing desk. It reads:

‘Careful, or you’ll end up in my novel.’

It makes me smile every time I read it and for a short spell when I had a particularly unpleasant boss I hung it over my desk in the office but unfortunately it didn’t have the desired effect

3. A sealed box

I know this sounds very dull but that all changes when you read the poem that was attached to it. It was given to me by my father who I didn’t reconnect with until I was in my twenties. Here’s the poem:

This is a very special gift

That you can never see

The reason that it’s special

It’s just for you from me

Whenever you are lonely

Or when you’re feeling blue

You only have to hold this

gift and know I think of you

You never can unwrap it

Please leave the ribbon tied

Just hold this box close to your heart

It’s filled with love inside

It’s something I will always treasure.

Now for the really fun bit (insert villainous laugh here). Here are my top three worst Christmas presents received ever:

1. An Insulated Gravy Boat

Yes, readers, such a thing actually exists – I too was amazed. Why? I asked, would you need to keep gravy hot for longer than it is passed around a table and poured onto food? It was also quite an unattractive looking thing – try to imagine a kettle sized plastic jug in hearing-aid beige with a screw top lid. Hopefully now you see why this had to be on this list.

2. A used lipstick

Surprisingly you did read that correctly, yes, I was given a used lipstick for Christmas. It was packaged in a lovely make up bag (with labels attached) and I think the giver thought I needed an example of what it was for. This is in itself quite worrying that she felt I was that stupid, but let’s not dwell on that point. Anyway, when I pulled out the lipstick, in an interesting shade of bright pink, I could see that it’s surface was no longer pristine, shall we say. It could be that the giver recycled it or it could be that they purchased a tester product by mistake, which is something I have almost done in the past and I like to think that was what happened here.

3. A jumper

I know this sounds like an innocent item, however, there was more to it than met the eye. Firstly, this jumper was purchased from a shop that I believe you have to be over 65 to enter – I am not ageist but let’s say this shop caters for a target market that I am not currently part of. Secondly, it had a large sequined tree on the front, which was possibly one of the most unattractive things I’ve ever seen (and that includes Donald Trump). Thirdly, it was in a particularly generous size 16 – my issue here is that I am a size 10 and very boringly have been so since the age of sixteen. Seriously, you could have easily fitted three of me inside it! This oversight could be overlooked unless of course you factor in that the person who bought it was my mother*. I rest my case.

There you have it, I hope I haven’t upset too many insulated gravy boat owners in this process and that you all have a fantastic Christmas with lots of wonderful presents!

Love you Mum – but really what were you thinking?

Willow Cottage: Christmas Cheer is out now in ebook formats from Avon.

image001Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green

in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

Guest post: My inspiration for A Nightingale Christmas Carol by Donna Douglas

18 Nov

I’m very pleased to welcome Donna Douglas back to One More Page today as part of her A Nightingale Christmas Carol blog tour. Donna is one of my favourite historical saga authors and writes the hugely successful Nightingale series about nurses at the Nightingale Hospital in London and The Nurses of Steeple Street series about district nurses in Leeds. I’m a big fan of both series’ and I love the mix of historical detail and gripping story-lines that Donna always includes. Today Donna joins me to talk about her inspirations for A Nightingale Christmas Carol. Welcome Donna!

Donna DouglasThe idea for A Nightingale Christmas Carol came about entirely by accident, while I was researching a previous Nightingale novel. I was browsing on The People’s War, a BBC online archive of personal stories and firsthand accounts of life in the Second World War. If you haven’t seen it, I’d urge you to take a look if you have any interest in wartime history. There are so many fascinating and heartbreaking stories there, they could fill a hundred novels!

Anyway, I was researching nursing when I came upon a fascinating story from a young trainee nurse who was given the job of caring for German POWs in a British hospital. Apparently there were so many enemy casualties after D-Day that the local field hospitals couldn’t cope and they had to ship them to hospitals over here.

That set me thinking. What must it be like for a young British woman, perhaps someone with a loved one who had been killed or injured fighting in Europe or during the Blitz, to suddenly find herself in the position of looking after her sworn enemy?

And so the idea for A Nightingale Christmas Carol was born. The main character, Dora, has waved her soldier husband Nick off yet again, with the lurking fear that she may never see him again. She tries to bury her worries by throwing herself into her work as a nurse at the Nightingale Hospital. But then she is assigned to a new ward looking after German POWs.

And she’s not the only one, either. Fellow nurse Kitty has lost her beloved brother to a German U-Boat. And ward sister Helen has her own scars to bear from her time as a military nurse in Europe.

A Nightingale Christmas Carol is about how they all come to terms with putting their duty before their heart, which apparently many of these young women managed to do in real life.

It’s a side of the war that rarely gets written about, which is what attracted me to it. Germans are generally seen as ‘the enemy’, but they were also human beings – scared young men with loved ones at home who worried about them.

This is what the nurses came to realise, as they got to know their patients better. There were even stories of romance blossoming on the ward, although as you can imagine, this was incredibly frowned upon. A prisoner who fell for a local girl could find himself sent to another POW camp at the other end of the country. And a girl who fell for a German might find herself branded a traitor, or far worse.

But many of the wartime stories had happy endings, with couples finding that love really can conquer all. But will this happen in A Nightingale Christmas Carol? You’ll have to read it to find out!

A Nightingale Christmas Carol is out now in paperback and ebook formats from Arrow.

Find out more about Donna and her writing at:

Do stop back later today for my review!

A Nightingale Christmas Carol

The Nightingale Hospital, London, 1944

All that Dora Riley wants is her husband home safe for Christmas…

 With her husband Nick away fighting, Dora struggles to keep the home fires burning and is put in charge of a ward full of German prisoners of war. Can she find it in her heart to care for her enemies?

Fellow nurse Kitty thinks she might be falling for a German soldier, whilst Dora’s old friend Helen returns from Europe with a dark secret.

Can the women overcome their prejudices and the troubles of their past to do their duty for their country?

Book review: Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

7 Nov

mistletoeOlivia has never experienced a snow-covered, ‘traditional’ Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she’s not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia’s friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

If Mistletoe on 34th Street doesn’t put you in the mood for Christmas, I don’t know what will. Set between wintry New York and snowy London, Lisa Dickensen’s latest Christmas novel is a tinsel bright story filled with so much Christmas spirit you’ll be tipsy after reading it! The combination of my favourite city with my favourite time of the year is enough to have me swooning already but throw in one smart and sassy heroine, a little romance interests and a some truly cringeworthy but hilarious moments and you have the perfect recipe for a Christmas read that will leave you smiling.

Olivia is an up and coming member of the team at Girls of the World. When her boss has an accident, Olivia gets the opportunity to lead the team at the annual winter conference in New York City. When I wasn’t envying Olivia’s very cool job, I was marvelling at Lisa’s comic timing and ability to create humour out of almost any situation. I’ve read all of Lisa’s books to date and I’m consistently impressed by the way that her characters are relatable, funny and likeable but also able to get a lot of very important messages across to readers. I think Mistletoe on 34thStreet is her best book yet and I love how Lisa has given her unique take on the Christmas novel with an uplifting and empowering dose of feminism!

Olivia’s family don’t really do the traditional Christmas; they usually head for the sun so she hasn’t grown up with the British family Christmas traditions that many of us know and love. I liked that Liv wasn’t a scrooge character but just wasn’t really that into Christmas – it made a nice change and I really enjoyed reading as New York and Chrostmas got under Olivia’s skin!

In three parts and following a diary-style format, the novel counts down to the big day from 5th December as we follow Olivia and the team before during  and after the big conference. Olivia’s colleagues are a lovely mixed bunch of characters and I liked that Lisa gave them each their own little quirks and that they all had their own little surprises to bring to the story.

This novel feels very current with lots of references to Christmassy songs and films and to tv and films set in New York. I enjoyed picking out the little mentions and now have a nice little list of ‘must watch’ films. I also have another little list of places I must visit if I ever get to go to New York at Christmas!

As events conspire to keep Olivia and her team in the city that never sleeps, Lisa Dickenson turns up the wow factor and creates a winter wonderland full of perfect New York moments that had me longing to visit again. Grab a box of quality street and a cup of eggnog, sit back and enjoy the magic!

5/5

Mistletoe on 34th Street is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Lisa and her writing at: http://www.lisadickenson.com/

Short story spotlight: Comfort and Joy by Cathy Bramley

13 Oct

comfort and joyIt’s been a busy year for Verity Bloom at the Plumberry School of Comfort Food, but Christmas Eve is finally here. With delicious treats all wrapped up and the ingredients packed away, Verity is looking forward to a relaxing few days with her new boyfriend.

Good food, family and friends – it’s a simple recipe for true comfort and joy, and all Verity’s friends in the village are full of excitement about the holidays too.

But the weather has other plans in store… Relentless rain leads to a power cut that spells disaster for many of Plumberry’s residents. It’s starting to look like this year’s celebrations could be a total washout.

With dreams of a perfect Christmas dashed, will the last of the festive cheer be swept away in the downpour? Or can the cookery school create a Christmas miracle for everyone Verity holds dear?

I’ve broken my ‘no Christmas books before November’ rule today to bring you a review of Cathy Bramley’s festive short story Comfort and Joy – Cathy is one of my favourite authors and her stories are always guaranteed to leave me with a happy smile on my face so I couldn’t resist reading Comfort and Joy as soon as it was available.

For fans of Cathy’s books, this story provides a delicious chance to revisit the village of Plumberry, the setting of Cathy’s last novel The Plumberry School of Comfort Food. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with Verity and the gang in Plumberry and Comfort and Joy provides a lovely update on their stories. Cleverly though, it also stands perfectly well as a story in its own right, so if you haven’t read Cathy’s earlier book, don’t worry, you can definitely read this as a lovely festive standalone.

And what a delicious treat this short story is! Starting on Christmas Eve in Plumberry, the story follows Verity and friends as they prepare for the big day. When floods hit the region of Yorkshire that Plumberry is in, a number of Plumberry’s residents find themselves having to change their long awaited plans for Christmas Day. As you might expect from a story that is set around a cookery school, the descriptions of food and drink in this story are just wonderful and had me ready to break out the mice pies and mulled wine right now!

But it was Cathy’s descriptions of the village, businesses and homes in Plumberry that really had me wishing that it was December 1st and I could put my tree up! I’m a huge fan of Christmas and I can’t wait to get the decorations out so Cathy’s descriptions of window displays, fairy lights and cosy cottages with real fires made my heart sing!

As with all of her novels, Cathy also tugged on my heart strings with this story and as the floods strike and plans have to change I even found myself welling up a little at certain points but Cathy also has a fabulous sense of humour and Comfort and Joy also made me smile. As the community pull together, Comfort and Joy gives a lovely reminder about what Christmas is really about and as you can probably tell by now, I loved it.

This is the perfect short story to curl up with as the nights draw in and is just the right length to fit in between present wrapping ;-) A delicious festive treat with lots of lovely surprises!

5/5

Comfort and Joy is published today in ebook formats and is currently just 99p on Amazon!

Book review: Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe

25 May

dear fangDear Fang, With Love tells the story of seventeen-year-old Vera – ravishing, troubled, wildly intelligent – who travels to Europe with her estranged father, hoping that an immersion in history might help them forget his past mistakes and her uncertain future.

Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after a decade of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera’s life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother’s homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth? Skillfully weaving family mythology and Lithuanian history with a story of mental illness, inheritance, young love, and adventure, Rufi Thorpe has written a breathtakingly intelligent, emotionally enthralling book.

Dear Fang. With Love is a complex and beautifully written story of a young girl trying to make sense of the world around her whilst dealing with a myriad of issues that range from her own mental health, her difficult relationship with her Dad, her complex family history and whether or not her boyfriend is staying faithful to her whilst she is out of the country!

The letters that Vera writes to her boyfriend Fang while she is away from him give a startling insight into Vera’s thoughts and feelings and I couldn’t help but hope for a happy ending for her as I read. Vera comes across as incredibly intelligent but also very insecure and struggling to make sense of her upbringing, her parents’ relationship and her own health. Her thoughts and analysis made my head spin at times; Vera is one of the most complex characters that I’ve read in recent years and I won’t forget her easily.

This is a novel that isn’t afraid to look at hard hitting issues head on and covers mental health, rape and the holocaust in its pages but despite dark moments and topics that can’t help but bring up complex emotions, there are also lighter moments and I found Vera’s ability to tell it like it is both refreshing and funny at times.

Dear Fang, With Love is undoubtedly Vera’s story but it is also the story of her father Lucas and his were my favourite parts of the book. I enjoyed Lucas’s narrative and perspective and it was lovely to read from the point of view of a father for a change; particularly one who is trying so hard to do the best for his daughter. Lucas’s own family history is the reason he takes Lithuania for a holiday – he wants to discover the truth about his grandmother and I enjoyed how his family stories and history were woven into the plot.

Having studied history myself, the details of Lithuanian history captured my attention and  I enjoyed reading about a place that I knew little about. As Vera and her parents begin to face sometimes uncomfortable truths, I was completely drawn into their story. Dear Fang, With Love would make an excellent choice for book groups to read as there are so many strong themes to debate.

4/5

Dear Fang, With Love is released in trade paperback and ebook formats on 2nd June.

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Rufie Thorpe and her writing at: http://www.rufithorpe.com/

Book review: Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber

14 Dec

dashing through the snowAshley Davison is desperate to spend the holidays with her mother in Seattle. Dash Sutherland has an interview for the job of a lifetime in Seattle and must arrive by 23 December. Both frantic to book a last-minute flight out of California, Ashley and Dash collide at the airport to learn that there are no flights and only one rental car available. After a rocky start, the two reluctantly agree to drive to Washington together. But their journey isn’t without obstacles, and a misunderstanding with the law threatens to ruin their holiday plans altogether.

Will Ashley make it home in time to surprise her mother? Will Kevin report to duty as expected? And most importantly, will they both have the opportunity to discover the greatest gift of all?

Dashing Through the Snow is a fun Christmas comedy of errors from Debbie Macomber. At just over 200 pages, this is a great short novel, perfect for curling up with on a cosy winter night or for fitting into those breaks from all the Christmas preparations. Fans of the movie When Harry Met Sally will love this book as it features a car journey similar to the one at the start of that film.

Dash and Ashley are both trying to get to Seattle for Christmas. Ex-military intelligence officer Dash has a job interview that he can’t miss and student Ashley really wants to surprise her Mum by being there with her on Christmas day. At the airport both Dash and Ashley find themselves unable to get a flight and fighting over the last hire car at the airport and so their adventure begins as they agree to help each other and share the last car.

I liked both Dash and Ashley straight away even though they didn’t seem to like each other much! Ashley is feisty and quick thinking, determined to get what she wants and seems to open her mouth before considering what is going to come out. Dash on the other hand is much more controlled and formal, fitting to his ex-military role. Debbie Macomber always writes excellent developing relationships and as the two drive to Seattle, there’s plenty of different emotions going on! It helps that Dash is a very handsome travelling companion for Ashley but as he makes it quite clear at the start that he’s not the relationship type, Ashley has her work cut out!

Ashley has had her heart trodden on by her ex-boyfriend but as the journey progresses she finds herself liking the idea of getting to know Dash better! The banter between the two ranges from outright argumentative to fun and flirty and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next.  There’s also quite a bit of drama in the story, particularly when a police officer at the airport has some major concerns about Ashley and her identity. This element to the story gives it a really unexpected twist and kept me guessing how the journey would work out right to the end.

With capers that involve a cute puppy, a scary  motorcycle gang and a funny karaoke moment, Dashing Through the Snow is a light-hearted and fun read that will make you smile this winter. Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas for me now without a story from Debbie and this one was a fab romantic treat!

4/5

Dashing Through the Snow is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

Find out more about Debbie and her writing at: http://debbiemacomber.com/

I’d like to thank the publisher for sending me a review copy of this book.

Guest post: My Dream Cast for From Paris With Love This Christmas by Jules Wake

10 Dec

It’s my stop on the blog tour for From Paris With Love This Christmas today and I’m delighted to welcome Jules Wake to One More Page to talk about her dream cast for the book. Jules always wanted to be a writer and blames this on her Grandmother taking her at a young age to the Brontes’ parsonage at Haworth. From Paris With Love This Christmas is Jules’ second novel with HarperImpulse and is out now in ebook and paperback formats. Welcome Jules!

893527_537347366356378_857582925_oIt’s quite tricky when people ask you who might play your characters in a film as most of the time they pop into my head fully formed as people in their own right.  Occasionally one of them may look like a real person. For example, Cam in From Italy With Love, bears a striking resemblance to the actor Eoin Macken who appeared in the TV series Merlin as Sir Gawain.

Kit Harington

Kit Harington

In From Paris With Love, the male character Jason is scruffy and rather addicted to a distinctly unfashionable double denim combo.  He’s definitely dark and needs a regular shave as he’s prone to that five o’clock shadow.  If I had to cast him for a film I’d be leaning towards Game of Thrones boys, Richard Madden or Kit Harrington.

The female character Siena, who arrives rather unexpectedly from Paris, has a very distinctive look, you’d spot her in a crowded room because she’s always so well put together.  Even without her designer clothes, she looks like a clothes horse with long limbs and perfect proportions, as well as long blonde hair. She knows how to put together a great outfit whether she’s combining Gucci with New Look or pure Primark.  There are quite a few actresses I might pick to play her, but Lily James from Downton Abbey would definitely be a good call. Plus, she and Richard Madden have already proven their chemistry in Cinderella… If she’s not available, the American actress Amber Heard who’s in the forthcoming film The Danish Girl would definitely do the trick.

000024be3-Ben_Cohen

Ben Cohen

Sweet, naïve Ben, Jason’s brewery assistant, takes everything literally and has a heart as generous and kind as he is big and brawny. This handsome sidekick just happens to be a dead ringer for the rugby star, Ben Cohen.  Perhaps Mr Cohen could be persuaded to start a movie career as I can’t think of anyone else who could play this part.

2015-02-06-9759-0565_Charlotte_Rampling_IMG_x900

Charlotte Rampling

Celeste, Siena’s mother, is one of a kind and not your standard motherly type.  She’s one cool customer, who doesn’t show any emotion or warmth.  Her glacial looks are set off by her effortless style (which is probably where Siena gets it from) and she’s always chic. In fact the word could have been invented for her. Charlotte Rampling, with her understated elegance and brilliant acting, could carry this part off beautifully and like Celeste, she is British born but lives in France.

And last but not least, Will.  One of my favourite characters, I know him well and he has own story to tell.  He’s definitely blonde and he favours the surfer dude type look. Patrician. Tall. Slim verging on skinny.  He has a certain arrogance about him. All this I know about him, but the jury is still out on who might play him.  Simon Baker, star of the Mentalist would have been perfect ten years ago. So if anyone has any brilliant ideas, do let me know.

From Paris With Love This Christmas with quoteJust until Christmas…

That’s what Paris socialite Siena keeps telling herself. She’ll hide away in her sister Laurie’s cottage near London to escape her hot-tempered fiancé.

However, when Jason – gorgeous but a bit of a Grinch – picks her up from the airport, he reveals that Laurie hasn’t lived there for months, complicating Siena’s holiday getaway.

At first, Jason and Siena don’t see eye to eye. But after a weekend in the most romantic city in the world, experiencing all it has to offer – from the magic of a fir-lined Champs-Élysées, lit up by thousands of sparkling fairy lights, to the swoosh of skates on ice at the Eiffel Tower – Siena shows Jason her Paris, and a whole other side to herself. Suddenly Siena’s December deadline seems far too close…

This Christmas, jet off to Paris with Siena and Jason and experience the magic of the holiday season.