This Christmas a little dog is in for a BIG adventure…
Meet Claude. He’s a loveable, big-eared, permanently hungry French Bulldog, who loves his humans – the McCawley family of number 11 Maple Drive to be precise.
When Daisy and Oliver McCawley start using new words like, ‘ferry’, ‘chateau’ and ‘France’, Claude realises they won’t be spending this Christmas at home. Only, when he finds himself on the street, as the family car pulls away, Claude realises he is ALONE. And more importantly, he is without all the yummy treats he knows the festive season brings…
Cue the start of Claude’s Christmas Adventure. It all begins with a belly-flop through next door’s catflap, where he finds newly single and craft-a-holic Holly, Jack the ex-army postman, his arch nemesis Perdita the cat … and serious amounts of gingerbread.
Maple Drive’s cutest resident is about to bring the street together for Christmas, in ways no-one could have imagined …
I read this lovely Christmas story a few weeks ago but the characters and humour have stayed with me and I am smiling again as I write this review. Although the circumstances leading up to Claude’s Christmas adventure seem unlikely, this doesn’t stop you enjoying it and becoming absorbed in the lives of the family who leave him behind and the street who take him in when they do. Vivid characters and events characterise this Christmas tale, it’s easy to see it as a Christmas romantic comedy film. Naughty but loveable dogs, demanding children and an overworked mum, who has forgotten who she is as she tries to please everyone at Christmas with predictably disastrous results. The characters are strong and realistic. Claude’s pursuit of gingerbread and his lost family brings, lots of laughs, poignancy and a delicious sprinkling of romance. A light-hearted festive read, from a doggy perspective, which is worth reading. I received copy of this book from Avon books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This weeks Author Blog Challenge is ‘The Best Holiday I Ever Had’. I’ve been thinking about this and it’s hard to narrow it down to just one holiday. So I’ve decided to highlight my favourite holidays and why, from childhood to my first holiday as a gran.
Holidays weren’t a big feature of my childhood but one that stands out is a holiday in Cornwall in the late sixties, when we stayed in St Agnes Bay and Penzance. I remember making a friend at the holiday camp we stayed at and eating butterscotch, we had a photo at Lands End and my parents bought me the cute cat ornament, which I still have today. Other holidays were in Bournemouth and there were always day trips to Mablethorpe on the east coast of England.
Camping holidays with youth club are the standout memories from my teenage holidays. Camping is not really me, the ground is too hard and I always get cold and dislike sharing my tent with a variety of insects. Nevertheless I always enjoyed these trips, especially the one where I got to know my future husband, we celebrate thirty three years of marriage today, so that was definitely a holiday worth going on.
My honeymoon should be my standout holiday of my twenties and it was lovely. Cornwall again, we went to Newquay, sun sea and lots of lovely memories. I visited a vintage kitchen shop in Penzance and bought some glass storage jars with cork lids and I still have them thirty three years later obviously a good buy!
I was first introduced to The English Lake District in my mid twenties and the scenery and beautiful lakes are still a favourite holiday destination of mine. So much so there are the inspiration for my first book The Dragon Legacy.
Brighton was the destination of my last twenties holiday with my lovely daughter 8 months old – Such a lovely time .
Holidays with my children
These were certainly fun. Bournemouth and Devon were favourite destinations. We even stayed in the prestigious Sandbanks. Woolacombe was another favourite, great for kids and dogs.
We also had a few holidays in Europe during this time. A camping trip to France’s Verdun region , turned out to be short-lived , after only four days we had to home as my mother was seriously ill. Holidays in The Costa Dorada in Spain and Lake Garde in Italy were more successful, although we did manage to get lost both times driving from the airport, not the best start to a holiday but the rest of it was full of great memories, as you can see from the photos. My trip to Lake Garde inspired the setting for my second book ‘The Revenge Masquerade’.
Regular blog readers will know I love Northumberland, I first visited in 2014 and went again this year with my new grandson Arthur. The weather wasn’t fantastic but we still had a good time.
I’m hoping my next holiday in Woolacombe in September will be full of good memories too. I’m really looking forward to holidaying with my kids and little grandson and Jazz and Oby of course. We’re staying close to the wonderful child and dog friendly beach so look out for more blogs on this in September.
So that’s a whistle stop tour of my holiday memories. Share your holiday memories with me in the comments below or on #LifeBooksWriting
The Comfort Food Café is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.
For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.
But following the death of her beloved husband David two years earlier, Laura knows that it’s time to move on. To find a way to live without him, instead of just surviving. To find her new place in the world, and to fill the gap that he’s left in all their lives.
Her new job at the café, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.
For her, the Comfort Food Café doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…
Even at the story’s poignant beginning, the humour shines through, in the words of the enigmatic Laura, the heroine of this unusual story. I loved that we gathered all the necessary back story information, in letter form, as she answered a unique advertisement for a strange but intriguing, lifestyle job. Laura is honest, loyal and has a lovely self -depreciating humour that is recognisable to most women, who have families, where they are the unappreciated lynchpin. The journey to their new adventure shares similarities, with most people’s long car journeys, with children and animals. The realistic dialogue and bordering on chaos scenarios made me giggle and reminiscence. Despite Laura’s fragile emotional state, a delightful sense of humour runs through this story. From the first meeting with the ‘Tall bloke.’ the visuals are great, so easy to imagine, especially ‘the flying undies as the top box is unpacked’. The VIPS that make up the cafe regulars, all have a story to share as they reveal idiosyncrasies and secrets. Laura starts to heal as she listens to the cafe’s regulars stories and Matt (the tall bloke), help’s her discover the side of herself she never really knew existed. This is a story of healing, family and being brave enough to dip your toe back in the pond again, after life’s unpredictable knocks. I would love to find this Cafe that restores your faith in human nature. I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins in return for an honest review.
Brides by the Sea, the cutest little wedding shop in all of Cornwall, has it all, including cake baker Poppy who lives upstairs. But wedding planning is not the piece of cake Poppy thought it would be, and when her best friend Cate’s wedding planner walks out, Poppy has to tie up the loose ends so her bestie can tie the knot. Double-booked venues, ‘rustic’ locations and gorgeous but grumpy farmer Rafe have this wedding pro feeling like she could be Cate’s ‘something blue.’ Will the wedding, the shop and the cake all come crashing down on her? Or will Poppy pull it off to give Cate – and herself – the happy ever afters they deserve?
So, are cupcakes, an unlikely wedding planner and a grumpy but gorgeous farmer, the perfect recipe for a romantic comedy? Definitely. I’ve eagerly anticipated reading this story and the reality far surpassed the expectation.
Poppy our cake maker, extraordinaire becomes a reluctant wedding planner at the insistence of her best friends. Her first encounter with Rafe, is messy, the second is disjointed and strangely confusing. As the months pass she learns there is more to her disinterested and often rude boss, than she first thought. Not just in terms of personality. Told from Poppy’s first person point of view, you quickly discover she is a delightful character. Loyal, hard working and determined to rebuild her shattered life after her despicable ex and the unexpected death of her mum.
Poppy, Cate and Immie’s long term friendship makes for lots of funny dialogue and amusing anecdotes.
Rafe is complex and has a heart of gold beneath his gruff exterior, the perfect romantic comedy hero. His love of slogan T-shirts makes for amusing reading, there is certainly a market for these.
There are lots of ‘laugh out loud’ scenes that had me crying with laughter. The setting, both at the farm and the wedding shop is full of vivid imagery.
The scenes in Poppy’s eyrie at the top of the wedding shop are so well described you can practically smell the baking cakes and taste the sweet icing.
Poppy and Rafe’s relationship simmers in a believable way and has many romantic and comic moments that have you rooting for their happy ever after.
Funny, poignant and unashamedly romantic, this story is a summer treat you won’t want to miss.
Jane Linfoot writes happy books, with feisty heroines and lots of heart. She lives with her family and pets in Derbyshire, and loves hearts, flowers, happy endings and all things vintage.