When Jess Thornton’s dad was lost at sea, the family coped in different ways, alone in their grief. Now, her mum seems to be going off the rails and her sister, Isla, who moved to France, is now back and determined to get their old family home on the market. But the last thing Jess wants this Christmas is for renovations to start on the house. It’s sure to stir up all sorts of memories she’s desperate to avoid. And to make things worse, Isla appears to have hired the most obnoxious builder in the world to do the work. Jess could ignore the fact that women seem to be putty in his hands. But what she finds harder to ignore is the frisson she gets every time she squeezes past him in the mess that is now their beloved old home! Can the family finally start talking and find a way to move on from the past this Christmas?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A lovely story with a festive backdrop. Family drama and romantic comedy are beautifully interwoven, in this tale, which features two sisters, a mother who is lost in grief, and a father who went away to sea and never came back.
There are family secrets, hard truths and many misunderstandings, which have been ignored until now. The time is right for the family to rebuild, Jess is living a half-life, her mother is distracted, and now Isla is back, and being so defensive.
Can Jess keep her family together? Can she face Christmas again, and why does she feel so attracted to the sexy builder who is destroying all her childhood memories?
A poignant, heartfelt story, with believable,flawed characters, full of angst and hidden depths. The slow-burning and sweetattraction between Jess and Seb is tested with a myriad of internal and external conflicts.
Anemotional and realistic family drama. The resolution is in keeping with the story and brings this festive family story to a lovely conclusion.
Rosie has been scribbling stories ever since she was little.
Back then, they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’.
Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all – unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.
Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred around life in a village cafe. The latest, ‘Bonfires & Hot Chocolate at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, is out now.
Watch out for ‘A Winter Wedding at the Little Duck Pond Cafe’, which will be published Christmas 2019.
Rosie is also writing a full-length, standalone book for Christmas 2019, entitled ‘Snowflakes over Moondance Cottage’.
Claire lives with her family in a beautiful house overlooking the water. But she feels as if she’s married to a stranger – one who is leading a double life. As soon as she can get their son Joe away from him, she’s determined to leave Duncan.
But finding out the truth about Duncan’s secret life leads to consequences Claire never planned for. Now Joe is missing, and she’s struggling to piece together the events of the night that tore them all apart.
Alone in an isolated cottage, hiding from Duncan, Claire tries to unravel the lies they’ve told each other, and themselves. Something happened to her family … But can she face the truth?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I finished reading this story feeling incredibly sad, the ending is haunting, full of loss and wasted opportunity, and what if…
This story begins like the domestic thriller, I thought it would be, but it is essentially a suspenseful family drama. Claire’s home life is materially perfect, but under the surface, it is a maelstrom of claustrophobia, discontent and simmering hatred. She wants to escape, from her house’s emotionless perfection, and her empty marriage.
The story is told from Claire’s point of view, before and after Joe’s disappearance; her story is full of resentment, and as it is in the first person, intensely personal. Duncan’s point of view is after Joe’s disappearance, except for one later chapter. This is told in the third person, so his point of view is more objectively portrayed.
This is a family drama, interwoven with strange occurrences that echo what Claire is experiencing. She is an unreliable protagonist, tortured by a past secret, which has dominated her future life. Duncan is essentially an unlikeable character, abusive, and a serial philanderer. It is only when the reasons for this emerge that his behaviour becomes easier to understand. Joe their son is autistic, and he finds the coldness of his parent’s marriage hard to cope with, choosing solitude and the company of his dog in preference to theirs.
This is an unhappy, but believable story. The pace, for the most part, is slow, and the events ordinary and repetitive, because it portrays their life. The twists when revealed have more impact because of this.
The setting is atmospheric and described in detail. The folklore surrounding Claire and Duncan’s home provides an interesting strand of the story, and Claire is haunted by it, in her precarious emotional state.
Guilt and secrets underpin this drama, which is suspenseful, but not in the way you may expect. The ending is well-written and devastating. It draws all the plot threads, and the main characters together in a heartbreakingly tragic way, that resonates.
Poignant family drama, with a suspenseful thread, that explodes into an unexpectedly powerful conclusion.
There’s only one way out from rock bottom and
that’s up, and Teri Meyer is finally crawling out from the worst time of her
life – no thanks to her best friend Lee. But no matter, she’s finally found
love – real love with a real man, a successful man, a man who accepts all her
flaws. Teri’s never felt like this before, and yet it’s changing her in ways
she doesn’t understand.
And there’s only one person who can help, one
person who truly understands Teri.
It seems that no matter how hard Lee Harper
tries, there’s a battle awaiting her at every turn these days, and she’s tired.
And as if she needs the extra stress, Teri continues to create constant and unnecessary
drama. But Lee’s the only one who really knows what’s going on under Teri’s
hard, convoluted exterior, and that’s why she’s always been there for her.
But the question is: will Teri be there when Lee
needs her most?
The brilliant and entertaining final book in the
unique FRIENDS trilogy dishes out another dose of rib-tickling mayhem for our
favourite thirty-something professional women.
A Forsaken Friend (book 2): 99c/p from November 18 – 25 (UK and US)Amazon UK Amazon
I received a copy of this book from the authors in return for an honest review.
It’s not always easy reading a book that is the last in a trilogy, but the inclusive writing style drew me in, from the first page, even though I didn’t know the characters and ethos of the series.
I didn’t instantly empathise with the characters, they seemed constantly at odds from the start of the book, behaving more like teenagers than adult women, but as I read on, more of their background emerged and the up and down nature of their relationship became clearer.
The story is told in the first person from both women’s points of view. Teri is forthright and appears to run from one crisis to the next. She often speaks before she knows the implications of what she is saying, and this trait is the crux of her current falling out with Lee.
Lee is gentler, a reflective thinker, and more aware of others, and how her behaviour affects them. She is the perfect sounding board for Teri, but understandably this becomes draining and tiresome occasionally. Lee’s current emotional turmoil makes her less sympathetic and the women’s friendship reaches a new low. Is it strong enough to continue? You’ll have to read this humorous, poignant story to find out.
This story will appeal to older women. Lee and Teri appear older than they apparently are. Family drama and dynamics are familiar and often funny. The vacillating friendship is well-written covering all the emotional nuances.
An enjoyable, unexpectedly good read.
Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines and in public relations.
More recently they have worked in
higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at
Leeds Trinity University.
The pair, who have been friends for almost 30 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage), before deciding to turn their hands to fiction.
The first novel in their Friends
series, A Falling Friend, was released in 2016. A Forsaken Friend followed
two years later, and the final book in the trilogy, A Forgiven Friend,
published on November 19.
Sue, who is married with two grown-up
daughters, and the most ‘gorgeous granddaughter in the whole world’, loves
reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her
Susan is married and lives in a
village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the
Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.
Lucy fell in love with tumbledown Rosemary Cottage as a child. So thirty years on, when she loses her city job and discovers the cottage is for sale, it feels like fate. She’ll raise her children in Burley Bridge and transform the cottage into a B&B with her husband.
But a year can change everything . . .
Now Lucy is juggling two children and a B&B but on her own. Christmas looks set to be their last on Rosemary Lane – until she meets James, a face from her past and someone who might offer a different kind of future . . .
Should Lucy leave the cottage behind? Or could this winter on Rosemary Lane be the start of something new?
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Childhood memories can be powerful, and Lucy’s love of the cottage on Rosemary Lane stayed with her for thirty years. When her career reaches a crossroads, she convinces her husband that living there would be perfect for their family. For a while it is. Then life happens and tragedy strikes and Lucy is left to rebuild her family, but will it be at the cottage on Rosemary Lane?
Whilst this story is not exclusively festive, there are many Christmassy references and touches, which show the best and worst of the season. Told from mainly from Lucy’s point of view, this is a lovely tale of family life in a small Yorkshire village, it is a story of bereavement and loss and starting over. There are some strong friendships, and interesting romantic possibilities overlaid with courage, emotion and humour.The story draws you in, and it becomes important what happens to Lucy and her young family.
The rural setting is well described and the cast of characters diverse and realistic. James’ story is intricately woven into the main plot in a believable way, with just the right amount of serendipity. The story brings hope out of tragedy and leaves the reader with a feel-good hug.
Mother and Child by Sunday Times bestseller Annie Murray is a moving story of loss, friendship and hope over two generations . . .
Jo and Ian’s marriage is hanging by a thread. One night almost two years ago, their only child, Paul, died in an accident that should never have happened. They have recently moved to a new area of Birmingham, to be near Ian’s mother Dorrie who is increasingly frail. As Jo spends more time with her mother-in-law, she suspects Dorrie wants to unburden herself of a secret that has cast a long shadow over her family.
Haunted by the death of her son, Jo catches a glimpse of a young boy in a magazine who resembles Paul. Reading the article, she learns of a tragedy in India . . . But it moves her so deeply, she is inspired to embark on a trip where she will learn about unimaginable pain and suffering.
As Jo learns more, she is determined to do her own small bit to help. With the help of new friends, Jo learns that from loss and grief, there is hope and healing in her future.
I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A thought-provoking read, which focuses on a personal tragedy for Jo and Ian, and how they learn to live again after their devastating loss. Estranged, through their different ways of dealing with loss, they decide a physical move might help, and relocate in Birmingham close to Ian’s family roots.
Ian withdraws into his work, leaving Jo alone, not wanting to continue her life. Dorrie, Ian’s mum requires care and support. Gradually as their relationship deepens, from mutual need and proximity, Jo begins to feel she has a role in life. Dorrie tries to unburden herself and help Jo by sharing her painful past. This part of the story goes back to historic Birmingham between the wars and makes interesting poignant reading.
Inspired by an article, written about the aftermath of the 1984 Bhopal disaster, she reads, Jo finds it resonates. She wants to do something to help the people, who are still suffering over thirty years on, in the wake of the chemical disaster.
Through new friendships forged out of her need to move on, she finds like-minded women, who together make a difference for Bhopal in terms of fundraising and help Jo to find a worthwhile purpose for what remains of her life.
This is a poignant story of loss and the wasteland it leaves behind, which echoes the loss in Bhopal and the devastation, in terms of lives lost and blighted since the disaster. Jo finds new purpose by helping those who are still suffering, and whilst this book is an intelligent sensitive story, it also highlights a real human disaster that will remain for generations to come.
In the book, you can read more about what happened in Bhopal and about how the book itself came to be written.
Annie Murray was born in Berkshire and read English at St John’s College, Oxford. Her first ‘Birmingham’ novel, Birmingham Rose, hit The Times bestseller list when it was published in 1995. She has subsequently written many other successful novels, including The Bells of Bournville Green, a sequel to the bestselling Chocolate Girls, and A Hopscotch Summer. Annie has four children and lives near Reading.
As the snowflakes start to fall, Holly Cove welcomes a new tenant to the beautiful old cottage on the beach…
For lifestyle magazine journalist Tia Armstrong, relationships, as well as Christmas, have lost all their magic. Yet Tia is up against a Christmas deadline for her latest article ‘Love is, actually, all around…’
So, Tia heads to Holly Cove where the restorative sea air and rugged stranger, Nic, slowly but surely start mending her broken heart. Tia didn’t expect a white Christmas, and she certainly never dared dream that all her Christmas wishes might just come true…
Set in Caswell Bay on the stunningly beautiful Gower Coast, the cottage nestles amid the limestone cliffs and the woodlands, where the emotions run as turbulently as the wind-swept sea.
I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
If, like me, you’re a reader who likes to empathise with the story’s characters, feel every emotion, and experience something magical as you turn the pages this is the story for you.
Christmas has always been important to Tia, even when her life is hard, Christmas is time to celebrate and escape. After the death of her mother, Tia struggles to come to terms with her loss. Her job is busy, and she hopes this will get her through the grief that threatens to destroy her. Her latest assignment has her living in a picture-perfect cottage by the sea, the setting is breathtaking, and straight away she feels its healing presence. Life gets complicated, and she still has Christmas to face, but will Tia emerge stronger at the end of this experience?
The vividly described coastal setting comes alive the first time Tia visits the beach you can feel the sea spray on your face and appreciate the power of the sea. The characters are varied and realistically portrayed, you can imagine having a conversation with them. The perfectly orchestrated romance is lovely and gentle and full of magic in this poignant, story of coming to terms with life’s setbacks and valuing family and friendships. There are many lighthearted moments to offset the heartaches, rather like life itself.
A festive read that you can enjoy all year long with characters to treasure in a perfect Christmas card setting.
Interview Questions – Lucy Coleman – Snowflakes Over Holly Cove
Do you enjoy writing festive stories? If so why?
I’m lucky enough to have some truly wonderful childhood memories of Christmastime and when I had a family of my own, naturally I wanted my boys to have that, too. So, after I married, the wider family always came to our house. One year we even had to take off a door and turn it into a makeshift second table to fit everyone in! Memories like that are why I love it whenever Christmas features in a story of mine – it’s a magical time.
Festive stories are often written out of season, to fit in with publishing schedules, how do you get in the festive mood in the Summertime?
It’s always Christmas in my heart, so it’s easy. This summer I’ve been walking around singing and humming Christmas tunes as I write my Christmas 2020 novel. My family don’t think that’s strange for me. It does, however, see me counting down the months and wishing I could pop up to the loft and get out the trimmings!
What inspired you to write this story?
Whilst Holly Cove is a fictional place, the setting is real. Walking the headland between Caswell Bay and Langland Bay on the Gower coast is where I go to de-stress and relax. My husband and I stayed there in an apartment overlooking the sea almost ten years ago now and felt a real connection to the place. Like a spiritual home. On one of our walks, the idea popped into my head and when I sat down to write it, it virtually wrote itself.
When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?
It varies. My ideas are usually inspired by a one-liner thought. For Snowflakes over Holly Cove, it was the setting and the sense of healing I always feel whenever I’m in Caswell Bay. I found myself imagining a cottage, nestled in a tiny cove beyond the bay. Tia Armstrong’s story is about learning to focus on the happiness life can bring and the way a community pulling together has the power to heal. Kindness is all around us, but at Christmastime, many people go out of their way to share the joy. And that’s special.
What are the best things about Christmas for you? Is there anything about the festive season you don’t like? Why is this?
I love trimming up. Our trimmings are new, though, as on a recent house move some black sacks containing them were mistaken for rubbish and taken to the tip! It was gutting at the time, although most of the hand-made decorations made by our boys when they were young had already been handed back to them to grace their own trees.
So, it was new house, new decorations and as I’m not one to get attached to things, it simply meant a hurried trip to the shops. I’m rather minimalist, anyway, so it didn’t break the bank.
However, I’m not big on Christmas presents, to be very honest with you. I think it’s great for the kids and I love shopping for them – that’s a big part of my Christmas buzz. But as for the adults, I’d rather give money so they can treat themselves.
What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?
Having a hectic writing schedule, I don’t get as much time to read these days as I would like. But when I do relax with a book it has to have that ‘feel-good’ factor. With bad news constantly grabbing the headlines these days, the good news is often side-lined. I’m all about good karma and positivity, as a reminder that the good outweighs the bad. Acts of kindness are an inspiration and I’m all for a happy ending. There truly are a lot of those out there in real life and that’s a cause to celebrate!
What are you currently writing?
I’m a third of the way through my 2020 Christmas novel, so I’m in my happy place. But having flown off to Lisbon in May, that story is clamouring to be written. I need to keep stopping to scribble notes, as a new set of characters are making quite a bit of noise in my head. Guess I’m just going to have to write quicker!
Thank you so much for the invite, Jane – it’s always a real pleasure to be here!
Lucy lives in the Forest of Dean in the UK with her lovely husband and Bengal cat, Ziggy. Her novels have been shortlisted in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Lucy won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award
I received a copy of this book from SilverWood Books in return for an honest review.
Based on a true crime, although ‘The Birthday House’. is a fictional interpretation of the events before, during and after the tragedy. The characters too are fictional, although the author did know the young girl who was murdered.
This is a short story, but it has depth and impact, more so because this is based upon a real, historical crime. Told from the viewpoints of the people involved it paints a picture, which is both poignant and inevitable. The housekeeper, who made the discovery, and its aftereffects on her. The wife, the child, the friend, the child’s best friend, the husband, who committed such a grievous atrocity, and the grandmother left only with her memories and regrets.
The story reads well, drawing you into the 1950s Dartmouth community. There is something fatalistic about it, so many opportunities to circumvent the eventual tragedy, but still, it happened. A well-written thought-provoking story,
I started writing in a red shiny exercise book
when I was seven years old. But in that time and place it was an ‘invalid’
activity, was overlooked, but never went away. It was many years before I felt
able to call myself ‘writer’.
But there came a day when the phrase ‘I am a
writer’ no longer sounded pretentious, but legitimate, and even necessary. Was
it because I had a writing room instead of the corner of a landing? Or because
I spent more time writing? Or because I’d got better at it? Or because I get
miserable and bad-tempered if I don’t write? Probably a combination of all of
Writing is my third career. The first was as a social worker with children and families, a job I loved but left because I could no longer cope with the system.
This led to a freelance career as an
independent management consultant, helping people to handle emotions in the
work context. I worked in the IT industry, in companies large and small, as
well as public organisations. Later I became involved in research projects
concerned with the multi-disciplinary approach to social problems such as child
abuse. So, in a sense, I had come full-circle.
All these experiences feed into the process of
writing fiction, while my non-fiction book ‘The Wise Woman Within’ resulted indirectly from the consultancy
work and my subsequent PhD thesis,‘Bridging Incommensurable
Paradigms’, which is available from the School of Management at the
University of Bath.
I live in Devon and visit Cornwall frequently
and these land and seascapes are powerful influences which demand a presence in
Writers’ groups and workshops are a further
invaluable source of inspiration and support and I attend various groups
locally and sign up for creative courses in stunning locations whenever I can.
I try doing writing practice at home but there is no substitute for the focus
and discipline achieved among others in a group.
I have written some short stories and recently signed up for a short story writing-course to explore this genre in more depth.
I live with my husband in South Devon and
enjoy being involved in a lively local community.