Posted in Author Interview, Blog Tour, Book Review, Christmas Read, Family Drama, Festive Read, Friendship, Romance

Christmas Every Day Beth Moran 4*#Review @BethCMoran @BoldwoodBooks #FestiveRead #Christmas #BlogTour #Author #Interview #BookReview #bookbloggers

When Jenny inherits her estranged grandmother’s cottage in Sherwood Forest, she has nothing to lose – no money, no job, no friends, no family to speak of, and zero self-respect. Things can only get better…

Her grumpy, but decidedly handsome new neighbour, Mack, has a habit of bestowing unsolicited good deeds on her. And when Jenny is welcomed into a rather unusual book club, life seems to finally be getting more interesting.

Instead of reading, the members pledge to complete individual challenges before Christmas: from finding new love, learning to bake, to completing a daredevil bucket list. Jenny can’t resist joining in, and soon a year of friendship and laughter, tears and regrets unfold in the most unexpected ways.

Warm, wise, funny and utterly uplifting, what one thing would you change in your life before Christmas comes around?

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I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review


My Thoughts…

Jenny sees the rundown cottage, she’s inherited from a Grandmother, she hardly knew, as a lifeline from her imploding life. Romance, family and career disintegrate just before Christmas and she needs somewhere to heal and start again.

The cottage has issues and on first acquaintance seems to reflect her shattered life, but with help from the village community, she starts to repair both. There are lots of great characters in this story, the villagers and the members of the unusual Christmas book club are believable and in most cases lovely.

Romance realistically isn’t the focus of this story, but where it occurs, it is gentle and born out of friendship. The festive atmosphere is evident and given a quirky twist by the Christmas book club.

Humorous, poignant, with a romantic sparkle, this is a good festive read, that leaves you with a warm Christmassy feeling.

Author Interview – Beth Moran – Christmas Every Day

Do you enjoy writing festive stories?  If so why?

Christmas Every Day is the first festive story I’ve written, but as my other books are spread over several months, I always make sure I include some lovely Christmassy scenes. It’s one of my favourite times of the year, so I have great fun creating the warm, joyful atmosphere, and of course, it’s always a time when something magical might happen!

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?

I wrote a lot of the festive scenes for Christmas Every Day in a summer heatwave. To get in the mood I listened to Christmas music in my car, guaranteeing I ended up with a festive tune stuck in my head! I drink a lot of tea while writing, so I swapped to spicy chai tea with cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg in my favourite Christmassy mug. It was also a great excuse to spend ages admiring a lot of beautiful decorations, trees and all things festive on Pinterest!

Image Credit Beth Moran #GettingInTheFestiveMood

What inspired you to write this story?

I wanted to write about someone who had grown up in a cold, unfeeling family and ended up becoming part of one that was the complete opposite – warm, noisy, chaotic and bursting with love. I also walk a lot in Sherwood Forest, and had this picture in my head of a run-down, ramshackle cottage in the middle of the trees, and wondered how a woman would cope if she suddenly found herself living there.

As someone who loves books, I could easily spend way too much time reading about other people’s stories, rather than getting out there to live some stories of my own, so that was how the Christmas Book Club Challenge came about. But all that is just for starters – like any writer I’m nosy, and always picking up new ideas or overhearing snippets of conversation that get me thinking. I used to carry a pen and paper to jot down interesting ideas as they came to me, but now I just add them to the dozens of notes on my phone.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

My books are mainly set in and around Sherwood Forest where I live – I think for me to write with authenticity I need to stick to places I know, and my life doesn’t currently allow for many research trips elsewhere! So usually it starts with a plot idea – how would someone react to this happening to them, or what if someone did this. Then I start asking a lot of questions about who this person is, and who they might meet, and what would happen next, and it goes on from there. I got the inspiration for my first novel, Making Marion, while I was camping in France. I had a random thought about how a campsite would be a great place for a wounded woman to hide away and heal for a while. I then start wondering about this person – who is she, and what is she running from? – and took it from there.

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 so much about Christmas! These days, one of the best things is that my two eldest children come home from university, so the house becomes full of noise and laughter again. I’m a huge foodie, so really enjoy planning meals, shopping for ingredients and then cooking and baking it all. On Christmas Eve my mum and sister-in-law come over with my nieces, and we chop vegetables, make stuffing and do all the other prep for Christmas dinner for 10 people, while the cousins hang out together. So – I suppose food and family, and all our quirky traditions that have built up around them are the best things. I think the only thing I don’t like is all the mess afterwards!

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

As a writer, I try to read a variety of different genres. I grew up reading my dad’s crime and thriller books and was a real Tolkien geek. Since then I’ve broadened into women’s fiction – I love how Cathy Lamb and Kristan Higgins write books that make you laugh one page and cry the next. I also became a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books several years ago – I love the detailed history, and how she’s written a powerful love story that takes places over several decades. Of course, I love a good festive read, and every December treat myself to Karen Swan’s new Christmas book. Generally speaking, I will give most things a go as long as they don’t leave me feeling too depressed afterwards!

What are the best and worst things about being a writer? Why?

The best thing is when other people let me know how much they’ve enjoyed one of my books. One of my greatest treats in life is discovering a new author who keeps me reading far too late into the night because I can’t put a book down, those books that make our hearts swell and our spirits soar. Knowing that what started out as a hopeful jumble of ideas in my head has become one of those books for someone else is priceless, and such a huge joy. I consider myself very blessed to get to do this for a living.

The worst thing is probably the inevitable moments of doubt. I take months to write the first draft, and in all that time no-one else reads the book apart from me, so when I hit a plot snag, or a character won’t behave themselves, it can be easy to get discouraged. That’s when the messages from people telling me they love my books become so helpful in motivating me to stop faffing about on the internet and get back on it!

What are you currently writing?

I’m currently writing a book about someone who as a teenager was a sporting celebrity, and then gave it all up for a man who promptly dumped her. She’s spent thirteen years raising her son alone while battling agoraphobia and crippling shame, but thanks to a scary invitation, a fabulous running club and a very lovely personal trainer, things are about to change…

#BethMoran

Beth Moran is the author of three previous books, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest.

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Posted in Book Review

A Year of Finding Happiness – Lisa Hobman – Q&A – 4* Review

 

Happiness doesn’t factor on the deliciously rugged but utterly heartbroken Greg’s radar much these days. Only his beloved Labrador Angus seems to understand his search for a way to make sense of tragedy until he meets new neighbour Mallory Westerman…

Instantly they know that the other understands how they feel, and over time, as romance blossoms, they dare to wonder if they might, one day, be truly happy again…

There are two sides to every story, and A Year of Finding Happiness is Greg’s journey back from the darkest depths to happiness…

A Year of Finding Happiness was previously published as Bridge of Hope.

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Lisa Hobman – Q&A

What inspired you to write this story?

This story was written as a result of reader requests. After the release of ‘A Seaside Escape’, Greg seemed to capture the hearts of people all over the world! I was asked for his story and I was only too happy to oblige!

I love stories that feature animal characters. Do animals play a big role in your life?

I love animals! I have two rescue dogs of my own—in fact, the dogs in A Year of Finding Happiness are based on my very own canine companions. They both have their individual personalities and were great fun to write about. I love that they are also represented on the book covers!

Where do you do most of your writing? Why do you like writing here? 

I have my very own office these days. It’s at the top of the house and it overlooks my garden. I can see the birds on the feeder from there and have been known to daydream and get distracted.

Are you an avid reader? What genres do you enjoy and why?

I don’t read as much as I used to because when I’m writing—which is most of the time—I like to keep my head clear for my own stories. But when I do read I love books by Heidi Swain, Ann Cleves and Lisa Jewell. I like to try new genres and crime fiction is the latest genre I’ve tried.

Are you a full-time writer? What do you enjoy about writing?

I’m no longer a full-time writer. I also work part-time at a museum, purely for my own sanity. Writing is fantastic but it’s quite an isolated role and I’m very much a people person. My favourite thing about writing is the fact that I get a chance to invent new people and I get to choose their life path. I guess it calls to the hidden control freak in me!

What’s next for Lisa Hobman?

I’ve just finished edits on my next book so that will be out later this year or early next year. And now I’m on to the next project! Of course, it will be based in Scotland because I love this place so much. I intend to keep writing until the ideas stop happening—which I hope is never!

My Thoughts…

Greg has not been lucky in love. Alice his first love broke his heart with her betrayal and deceit, and Mairi loved adventure more than him and left him too. With only, Angus his dog and an ever-present bottle of Malt Whisky he is lost in grief. After such a bleak start the reader longs for light relief and the support Greg receives from the community and his meeting with Mallory provides this. A romance set in the Scottish Highlands and Isles is a treat and gives this story a unique feel.

Mallory’s story features in the first book in the series ‘A Seaside Escape’. She meets Greg at a pivotal time in her life and after a shaky start values his friendship but does she want more, or is that enough? This story reads well as a standalone, but I would like to read Mallory’s story too.

Told from Greg’s point of view it gives a refreshing perspective to grief and falling in love from the male perspective. His character is realistic and strangely endearing. Full of guilt and raw edges Greg pushes away Mallory because he feels disloyal. Mallory’s hurting too, and you wonder if these two damaged souls can find solace with the other. Greg is so sad and broken you want him to find happiness and eventually, it seems he might but then the past rears its ugly head and happiness is just an illusion it seems.

I like the way music plays an important part in this story, Greg uses it to express his feelings and as a balm to his pain, this is believable and something we all do at various times in our lives.

A story of grief, friendship, forgiveness, healing and the power of love, realistic and romantic and lovely book to read.

I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Lisa’s debut novel was shortlisted in the 2014 RNA. Her stories centre around believable, yet down to earth characters and the places in Scotland she has visited and fallen in love with. She is a happily married mum of one with two energetic dogs.
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Posted in Book Review, Sampler

The Endless Beach – Jenny Colgan – Two Chapter Sampler – 5* Review

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My Thoughts…

The first two chapters of ‘ The Endless Beach’ give the reader a taste of the island of Mure and its inhabitants, through the eyes of Flora, an Islander, who has returned to Mure after working in London. Despite the allure of the bright lights, the island called her home, and she sees it with new eyes, delighting in its natural beauty and people.

For most people, seeing a whale would be a memorable experience, and Lorna agrees but knows the island’s people are superstitious, and see a whale sighting as bad news.

This story has an air of mystery and intriguing characters.

Will Flora and Joel take the next step in their relationship? What happens on Flora’s visit to London? Does the whale signify bad luck? Is their romance on the island for Lorna?

I can’t wait to read the rest of the book to find out.

I received a two chapter sampler of this book from The Little Brown Book Company UK Sphere via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

5* Review: Finding Sarah – Wendy Lou Jones (Echoes of Nutt Hill #1)

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Poppy - Blurb

Sarah, a mother of grown children, finds herself without a husband and starts over in the sleepy village of Lower Nutton.
But a chance meeting with a mysterious stranger wakens something inside her. Something long forgotten.
Can people from two different worlds really find happiness together?
In a village where everyone knows everyone, nothing remains private for long…

Flowers - Buy Links

Amazon UK

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Flowers - My Review

If you like realistic, often surprising, unique women’s fiction, then ‘Finding Sarah’ is for you. Sarah’s reasons for moving to Nutt Hill are not what I originally thought and the twists keep on coming, as her story progresses.

Sarah is a lovely woman, although her lack of self belief is frustrating. The reasons for this are not immediately self evident but when they are revealed, you understand why she doubts herself.

Sarah’s emotional past makes a simple romance unlikely, her children, although adult, still need her and are judgemental when she falls off the pedestal they’ve put her on. This coupled with the shadow of her past love, makes her new life complex and angst ridden right to the end.

Nick is not your typical vicar, or maybe he is? Nick blows away any preconceptions you have about country vicars. His flaws don’t dim his likeability and his attraction to and eventual love for Sarah makes him a keeper.

The village characters are vivid and recognisable. I especially liked Maggie, who is the archetypical fairy godmother, essential for romance to survive. The expert inquisitiveness, only found in small communities, punctuates Nutt Hill’s tranquillity. Some gossips are kindly but there are some with darker motives and these threaten Nick and Sarah’s happiness.

‘Finding Sarah’ is a delicious slice of village life, full of heartache, romance and the best and worst of human emotions. I’m looking forward to reading ‘Sun on Sunday’ and ‘Chances Are’, the next two books in the series.

Poppy - Author Bio

back to fz50 150Wendy Lou Jones was born and raised in West Sussex, in the south of England. At 18, she moved to Birmingham to study Medicine at University, where she was lucky enough to meet her husband. She worked in hospitals, general practice and palliative care before starting a family, at which point she took a step back from medical life to concentrate on being a mum.

She now lives in a little village in Herefordshire with her husband and two grubby boys and discovered a love of writing not long after their youngest son started school. And if you were to ask her what it was that made her make the switch, she would tell you quite simply, that it started with a dream.

 

Poppy - Links

 

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