TWG’s #TopBooksOf2018! (@Bookouture @littlebookcafe @PanMacmillan @HarperImpulse @Headlinepg @TeamBATC @bwpublishing @MichaelJBooks @TransworldBooks @OrionBooks @AvonBooksUK @QuercusBooks @Aria_fiction) & more!

Oh my goodness me, what a PHENOMENAL year its been for books! I have had the pleasure of reading some truly amazing books this year, and whittling my 368 reads down to a selection of my favourites was incredibly difficult.

2018 has seen the growth of debut authors with debut novels, brilliant additions to intense series, and authors bringing out standalone novels which made me laugh out loud and my toes curl (clearly I mean two different genre’s…obviously!). Before I start sharing my favourite reads of 2018 with you all, let me just take this moment to say a MASSIVE thank you to all of the publishers who have sent me ARC’s in the post, approved me on Netgalley, asked me to be on blog tours – I am so honoured to work with every single one of you! Huge thank you to the publicists and blog tour organisers who also invite me to take part in some rather fabulous blog tours and who share my posts left right and centre, it is an absolute pleasure to work alongside you. Lastly, thank you SO much to all of the authors who continue to give me the escape and distraction I need from my everyday life with their incredible words – I am so excited to see what the new year brings for all of you. You are all amazing.

Actually, one last thing; thank you to all of my fellow bloggers for just being you and for supporting my posts, especially when I end up being on 6 blog tours in one day. Your support means the world to me and I cannot wait to follow your blogs again next year to see what fabulous reads have tickled your fancy.

So, let’s get to this list shall we? I’m cheating a little bit in my list as I have combined series as I couldn’t pick just one book from the series…so I chose them all. You’ll see what I mean when I get to it. This list is in no particular order, however when I get nearer the end, I will put a couple of the books in order to share my top read of 2018.

Ready? Let’s go!

#Review – The Endless Beach by @JennyColgan @littlebookcafe #TheEndlessBeach #publicationday

#BlogTour! #Review – #WeOwnTheSky by Luke Allnutt (@lukeallnutt) @TrapezeBooks

#BlogTour! #Review – #OnlyChild by Rhiannon Navin (@RhiannonNavin) @JessDuffyy @Panmacmillan

#BlogTour! #Review – The Little Wedding Island by Jaimie Admans (@Be_the_spark) @HQDigitalUK @NeverlandBT

#BlogTour! #Review – The Wedding Date by Zara Stoneley (@ZaraStoneley) @RaRaResources @HarperImpulse

#BlogTour! #Review – The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans (@HarrietEvans) @headlinepg @Annecater @Bookish_becky

#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Next Girl by Carla Kovach (@CKovachAuthor) @Bookouture

#Review – You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac (@CatherineIsaac_) @TeamBATC @SimonSchusterUK @BookMinxSJV

#BlogTour! #Review – #LittleBigMan by Katy Regan (@katyreganwrites) @panmacmillan @MantleBooks @ChablisPoulet

#BlogBlitz! #Review – One Way or Another by Colleen Coleman (@CollColemanAuth) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Gravity of Love by Noelle Harrison (@NoelleHarrison) @bwpublishing

#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Almost Wife by Jade Beer (@JadeBRIDES) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Island Villa by Lily Graham (@LilyGrahamBooks) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – No Further Questions by Gillian McAllister (@GillianMAuthor) @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90

#BlogTour! #Review – #NowYouSeeHer by Heidi Perks (@HeidiPerksBooks) @arrowpublishing

#BlogTour! #Review – Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman (@KathrynFreeman1) @ChocLitUK @RaRaResources

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheLightBetweenUs by Katie Khan (@Katie_Khan) @TransworldBooks @hannahlbright29 @AnneCater #RandomThingsTours

#BlogTour! #Review -Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard by Jo Thomas (@jo_thomas1) @AnneCater @HeadlinePG @Bookish_Becky @DavidHHeadley

#Review – My Mad Dad by Robyn Hollingworth (@MyMadDadStory) @trapezebooks @orionbooks

#BlogTour! #Review – In Bloom by C.J.Skuse (@CJSkuse) @HQStories

#BlogTour! #Review – Kiss of Death by Paul Finch (@paulfinchauthor) @AvonBooksUK #KissOfDeath

#BlogTour! #MiniReview – #WhileIWasSleeping by Dani Atkins (@AtkinsDani) @simonschusteruk @TeamBATC

#BlogTour! #Review – Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne (@Raeannethayne) @MillsandBoon

#BlogTour! #Extract – Perfect Silence by Helen Fields (@Helen_Fields) @AvonBooksUK

I’ve popped one book here for Lisa Regan and D.K.Hood, but for me the entire series are absolutely brilliant and I urge you to buy them all!

#BlogTour! #Review – Her Final Confession by Lisa Regan (@lisalregan) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Crying Season by D.K.Hood (@dkhood_author) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review -Before I Let You Go by Kelly Rimmer (@kelrimmerwrites) @headlinepg @phoebe_swinburn @annecater

#BlogBlitz! #Review – The Last Lullaby by Carol Wyer (@carolewyer) @Bookouture

#BlogTour! #Review – The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul (@GillPaulauthor) @Headlinepg @annecater

Right, we are nearing the end now so here are my favourite reads of 2018 numbers 11-2 (in no order)

#BlogBlitz! #Review – Moonlight on the Thames by Lauren Westwood (@lwestwoodwriter) @aria_fiction @rararesources

#BlogTour! #Review – I Wanted To Tell You By Anna Mansell (@AnnaMansell) @Bookouture

#Review – How to Walk Away by Katherine Center (@katherinecenter) @Panmacmillan @EllisKeene

#BlogTour! #Review – The Songs of Us by Emma Cooper (@ItsEmmaCooper) @HeadlinePG @AnneCater

#BlogTour! #Review – The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis (@EmilyGunnis) @HeadlinePG @AnneCater @Phoebe_Swinburn

#BlogTour! #Review – This Could Change Everything by Jill Mansell (@JillMansell) @Headlinepg @AnneCater

#BlogTour! #Review – The Memory Chamber by Holly Cave (@HollyACave) @QuercusBooks #MemoryChamber

#BlogTour! #Review – #TheConfession by Jo Spain (@spainjoanne) @QuercusFiction @AnneCater @QuercusBooks

#BlogTour! #Review – I Give You My Heart by SarahJane Ford (@sjfordauthor) @RaRaResources

#BlogTour! #Review – #MakeOrBreak by Catherine Bennetto (@cathbennetto) @Simonschusteruk @TeamBATC

I just want to say a special mention to Sarah Vaughan’s ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ – I read that book this time last year before it was released early 2018, and it’s a book I will forever be shouting about until I am blue in the face. I’ll even go as far to say that it is still a top book of mine a year after reading it. You can read my review here:

#BlogTour! #Review – #AnatomyofaScandal by Sarah Vaughan (@Svaughanauthor) @simonschusterUK

We have reached TWG’s Top Book of 2018!!!! I may be slightly cheating here as this book isn’t out until 1st February 2019, but due to the fact that I actually read this book this year, I felt that I was able to include it in my favourite reads of this year. I’m sure you’re wondering what that is……

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I haven’t written a review of this book yet as I am on the blog tour for it next year. However, ‘The Day We Met’ by Roxie Cooper completely blew my mind and left tears rolling down my cheeks like a homemade waterfall. Stephanie and Jamie are two, highly complex, emotional and brilliantly written characters, I cannot see how anyone wouldn’t fall in love with them like I did. For me this book was everything I could have hoped for and more.

I will do a full review on the blog tour next year, but if you fancy pre-ordering your copy now based on my views above, you can do so now here!

That’s it folks! TWG’s Top Books of 2018! How many have you read? How many are you going to read? Let me know in the comments and keep me posted! Thank you all so much for sticking with me for another year, here’s to yet another fantastic year for books.

See you next year, folks!!

Kaisha x

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TWG’s Top SIX #ChristmasReads of 2018! (@SarahWaights @Donnashc @Karen_King @SarahMorgan_ @RebeccaMascull) @Bookouture @OrionBooks @HQStories

Wow! How on Earth are we at the end of 2018 already? This has been an exceptional year for books and, although that is obviously excellent to hear, it has made my job of narrowing my favourite reads down, MUCH harder! Usually I would bung it all in one post, however, I felt that this year I would do something different and put my favourite festive reads in one post.

So, are you ready?

In no particular order, three of my top festive reads of 2018 are:

#BlogBlitz! #Review – Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel by Karen King (@karen_king) @Bookouture

https://thewritinggarnet.wordpress.com/2018/11/01/blogtour-review-missmarley-by-the-late-vanessa-lafaye-and-rebecca-mascull-rebeccamascull-hqstories/#respond

#Review – The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan (@SarahMorgan_) @HQStories

I adored all three of the above books, each ticking off various different boxes in their own right. Now, there were three other festive reads which blew me away as well, and seeing as I cannot choose just ONE as my absolute favourite Christmas book of 2018, I’m being greedy and choosing all three.

Here are my most favourite Christmas books of 2018:

Just like the previous three, you can read my thoughts of my top three here:

#BlogTour! #Review – I’m Glad I Found You This Christmas by C.P.Ward (@imgladifoundyo1) @rararesources

#BlogTour! #Review – #25DaysTilChristmas by Poppy Alexander (@SarahWaights) @OrionBooks

https://thewritinggarnet.wordpress.com/2018/10/06/blogtour-review-the-little-christmas-teashop-of-second-chances-by-donna-ashcroft-donnashc-bookouture/

Have you read any of the Christmas books mentioned? If so, what did you think? If you haven’t, these books can be read any time of the year, they are just brilliant!

Thank you to the authors for writing such fabulous reads, and thank you to the publishers/publicists and blog tour organisers for allowing me to read them!

#Review – The Christmas Sisters by Sarah Morgan (@SarahMorgan_) @HQStories

It’s not what’s under the Christmas tree, but who’s around it that matters most.

All Suzanne McBride wants for Christmas is her three daughters happy and at home. But when sisters Posy, Hannah and Beth return to their family home in the Scottish Highlands, old tensions and buried secrets start bubbling to the surface.

Suzanne is determined to create the perfect family Christmas, but the McBrides must all face the past and address some home truths before they can celebrate together . . .

What does TWG think?

*Thank you to HQStories for the ARC*

Who would have thought that a lost toy would make my eyes spring a leak? I know – I wasn’t expecting it either yet there was just something so magical about the storyline of ‘The Christmas Sisters’ which made me realise that anything was possible.

Three sisters are coming together to celebrate Christmas at home but, due to their very varied personalities, their reasons for spending Christmas together couldn’t differ more if it tried. Whilst their parents are aware of their differences, it takes the season of ‘goodwill’ for emotions to be frayed and their lives to be put under the microscope. Although as an outsider looking in, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was their sisterly competing which was putting a spanner in the works for the entire family.

Of course – my outsider opinion was thought waaaayyyy before the ‘truth’ came out and I will admit that I was not expecting it at all. The storyline really tugged at my heartstrings in various ways – how could a family come back from such devastation?

Sarah Morgan has gone above and beyond in this book, creating characters which add such emotion and depth to every nook and cranny in the story. I loved how poignant the overall vibe of the book was – it certainly brought out emotion in me which had been buried away for a long time.

I genuinely cannot recommend this book enough, as I truly believe that it will open the eyes and hearts of readers everywhere. As I said at the beginning, I have no idea how a lost toy managed to make me cry, but it did and it ended up being my all time favourite part of the book. Why? Because it spoke volumes about the characters and the author, showcasing just how far the storyline had grown in such a short space of time. I absolutely adored this delightfully emotional treat

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – The Songbird Girls by Richard Parker (@Bookwalter) @Bookouture

I am super excited to be sharing my review of ‘The Songbird Girls’ by Richard Parker. Many thanks to Bookouture for the blog tour invite and ARC. Here is my review:

Her eyes were closed. From a distance the blood around her neck might have looked like a necklace, but up close her body told a different tale. She had been murdered. A tiny songbird lay beside her, its neck broken… 

 

Detective Tom Fabian’s past is catching up with him. It has been years since the most high-profile case of his career – when his evidence put infamous serial killer Christopher Wisher behind bars forever. But when Wisher summons a reluctant Fabian to his prison cell to hand over a diary, he realises that Wisher’s twisted games are far from over.

 

Shortly after Fabian’s visit, Wisher is found dead in his cell. And a few days later, the police find a woman’s body bearing Wisher’s signature, a dead songbird. But the police never released this detail to the public… so who has Wisher been talking to?

 

Fabian is desperate to find the killer before another innocent life is taken. But as more bodies turn up, Fabian begins to realise that Wisher may have handed him the clues before he died. Is the twisted serial killer still pulling the strings from beyond the grave…?

 

What does TWG think?

It feels as though it’s been ages since I’ve sat down and lost myself in a Richard Parker novel! ‘The Songbird Girls’ did not disappoint at all, and I am so pleased to see the author sticking to his guns when it comes to his twisted mind in this storyline. Twisted his mind may be, but bloomin’ ‘eck he can write!!

‘The Songbird Girls’ starts off slowly as it eases readers into a false sense of security with what’s about to come – it was as though one moment we were reading about Fabian having a natter with an inmate, and then the next minute everything had kicked off. I loved the slow, teasing beginning of the book as it ensured that the shocking scenes later on in the book were indeed that; shocking.

Richard Parker has written a brilliantly intense and clever storyline which kept me guessing. Fabian sometimes came across as a bit of a marmite character, but given the nature of this particular storyline, I felt that he had every write to be a bit cautious in the way he presented himself.

I loved how each individual event was cleverly linked to the one that followed – I can’t even begin to think about how much working out that must have taken to ensure the timeline was bang on.

As for the rest of the characters, there were a few which had me rolling my eyes in despair, yet they all added something vital to the overall vibe of the story which I thought was very important, especially as their likability factor doesn’t really need to come into it.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Songbird Girls’ from the dark moments to the psychologically damaging aspects, and everything in between. Such an intense and twisted read which I most definitely recommend.

Buy now!

Author Bio:

Richard Parker was formerly a TV script writer, script editor and producer before turning his hand to penning twisted stand-alone thrillers.

Author Social Media Links:

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

WEBSITE

INSTAGRAM

#BlogTour! #Extract from Love at the Northern Lights by Darcie Boleyn (@DarcieBoleyn) @canelo_co

Today I am delighted to be sharing an extract from ‘Love at the Northern Lights’ by Darcie Boleyn. Many thanks to Ellie and Canelo for asking me to be involved in the blog tour. Enjoy!

Climbing out the window in her dress and tiara wasn’t exactly how Frankie imagined her wedding day…’

Runaway bride Frankie Ashford hops a plane to Norway with one goal in mind – find her estranged mother and make peace with the past. But when a slip on the ice in Oslo lands her directly in Jonas Thorsen’s viking-strong arms, her single-minded focus drifts away in the winter winds.

When it comes to romance Jonas knows that anything he and Frankie share has an expiration date – the British heiress has a life to return to in London that’s a world away from his own. But family is everything to Jonas and, as the one man who can help Frankie find the answers she’s seeking, he’ll do whatever it takes to help her reunite with her mother.

Now, as Christmas draws closer and the northern lights work their magic Frankie and Jonas will have to make a choice…play it safe or risk heartbreak to take a chance on love.

Extract

In the airport cafe, Frankie tucked her suitcase under the table then wrapped her hands around the mug of coffee. She could see the entrance to the toilets from here and winced every time someone went in or came out, wondering if she’d see someone emerge carrying the tote bag of treats. The light was fading outside and she realized she had no idea what time it was or how long she’d been sitting there, lost in her thoughts.

Her bones ached and she wished she could curl up under the table and sleep. Instead, she picked up the almond croissant she’d purchased and ate it quickly, washing each mouthful down with coffee, aware that she needed to put something into her empty belly.

Soon, the croissant and coffee raised her blood sugar and the headache she’d blamed the tiara for began to fade. But there was still a question burning inside her: what was she going to do now?

‘What time’s your flight?’ The woman at the next table spoke into her mobile. ‘Uh… aha… right. Well, see you when we get there.’

She cut the call then looked at Frankie.

‘My brother.’ She waved the mobile. ‘He’s getting married in Cuba next week, so we’re heading out there early to take in some of the sights first.’

‘Cuba?’

‘Yes and I’m so excited. It’s my first holiday with my boyfriend too.’ Her eyes sparkled and her cheeks were rosy, presumably with the first flush of love.

‘That’s nice. I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.’

‘Thank you. Where are you going?’ The woman’s eyes flickered over Frankie’s tiara and she touched it self-consciously. It probably did look strange with her casual attire.

Frankie opened her mouth to answer, hoping something would spring to mind, but a tall sandy-haired man arrived at the woman’s table and she jumped up and hugged him, so Frankie was spared the embarrassment of admitting she had no idea. The couple gathered their bags then left the cafe arm in arm, leaving Frankie staring at the table they’d vacated. It must be wonderful to truly love someone. Sure, she’d enjoyed spending time with Rolo in the early days and they’d had some fun – in fact, she’d hoped it was love that she felt for him – but she’d never experienced a burning need to see him, to touch him and to be close to him. In reality, they’d been a lot more like polite acquaintances than lovers about to marry. Perhaps that had been because she’d known she didn’t really love him and had been holding back. And what had been holding her back? Not just a lack of love and desire but her need for independence. Her need to experience freedom, to know what it was like to be happy with who she was and what she was doing. Had she ever really had that sense of personal satisfaction?

No.

Not in her job. Not in her relationship. And certainly not in her home life, where even though her father had tried hard to fill the gap left by her mother, it had been there… a chasm of emptiness and sadness, a constant awareness that the woman who should have loved her more than anyone else had walked away from her and not cared whether she lived or died. It had also, unsurprisingly, been laced with a bitter anger.

Until she dealt with that, Frankie realized, she would never be able to move on and be happy.

She drained her coffee then opened her bag and pulled out her purse. She had a variety of credit cards and some cash, so she could easily book a flight. At the back of her purse, folded over, was something she carried with her. Always. She pulled it out and unfolded it, then pressed it flat on the table and gazed at the image of a snow-covered landscape. It was dark and the trees cast bushy shadows across the ground. It made Frankie shiver just imagining how cold it must be there. But above the snow, brightening the dark sky with swathes of luminous green, blue and purple, were the northern lights.

Every time Frankie had looked at this postcard over the years since she’d turned eighteen, something had tugged at her heart and made her yearn to see these lights in person. They were beautiful, mystical, magical. Even though she’d read about them and knew their true cause, Frankie still believed that there was magic in nature if it could create such beauty. And, of course, she wondered if her mother had seen these lights… if she had thought of her daughter as she watched the shimmering display.

Her mother had sent cards every year on birthdays and at Christmas when she was growing up. They had been pretty cards featuring beautiful paintings but the messages inside had been brief, almost impersonal, as if her mother had either not cared to write more or had been holding back. However, now that she thought about it and tried to rationalize it, perhaps her mother had cared if she was alive and well. She’d noted every changing of the year in her daughter’s life, hadn’t she? And yet… how much did sending a card really prove? Was her mother actually just assuaging her conscience and nothing more?

Frankie wanted to believe that it was more than just that but what proof did she have other than cards?

She turned the card over and ran her eyes over the familiar words, words she knew without needing to read them, but still, looking at them again helped her confirm that they were real and not a figment of her imagination.

[display postcard]

Dear Frances,

Happy 18th Birthday. I knew this day would come and yet, I cannot believe how the years have flown. Now that you are an adult, I feel able to give you my address. Please know that you are welcome to come and visit me anytime you wish. I would love to see you. However, I understand if you do not want to come. I will not contact you again unless I hear from you, because I don’t want to trouble you if you would prefer not to hear from me.

Yours truly,

Freya X

[/display]

The postcard had arrived in a sealed envelope, presumably to prevent Grandma from reading the message, and Freya’s address was printed in the top-right corner, leaving her to make the decision. She had not gone when she was eighteen, nor when she was twenty-one, nor when she turned twenty-nine. It had seemed better to leave things as they were, to build her own life and not rake up the past. She didn’t want to hurt her father or upset her grandmother, and knew that visiting her mother could well do both. Her grandmother was a stern, aloof woman, but she had always been around – she had not left Frankie behind – and because of that, Frankie owed her loyalty – although her behaviour earlier today had made Frankie question her grandmother’s motives. Her father had been a kind and caring parent, but he had a haunted quality about him, as if he’d never recovered from losing his wife. Frankie had felt protective of him, even though he had been the adult and she the child.

Buy now from Amazon.

About the author.

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

 

#BlogTour! #Review – A Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas (@jo_thomas01) @headlinepg @bookish_becky @AnneCater

I have just this moment finished reading ‘A Winter Beneath the Stars’, hence the blog post now! However many thanks to Anne Cater for the blog tour invite, and thank you to Headline for the ARC. Here is my review:

On a courier trip to Tallfors, deep in Swedish Lapland, everything is going to plan. Halley has her bag, with two precious wedding rings inside for delivery… until she doesn’t.

The only way to save the wedding is to team up with mysterious reindeer herder Bjorn, the one person who can lead her across the snowy tundra to be reunited with her bag.

On a journey of a lifetime beneath the stars, with only the reindeer and a bad-tempered stranger for company beside the fire, Halley realises that she will need to confront her past heartaches in order to let the warmth of love in once more…

What does TWG think?

It was made clear from the onset that Halley had a story to tell. What that story entailed, however, was something the readers weren’t made aware of until later in the story. Now, there may be a few readers who would be able to read between the lines where Griff was concerned, but either way, the emotion behind Halley’s story is incredible strong, regardless of what point in the story it became clear for you personally.

As a courier, Halley’s job has taken her all over the world, embarking on adventures she would never have dreamed of before. Like the one in Sweden. After all, it’s not everyday you find yourself digging holes for the dogs now, is it?

I haven’t read many books set in Swedish Lapland, but I have to say that it was such a refreshing change. And no, I don’t mean because of the snow! It was just a unique experience following the journey of a reindeer herder – I can’t say I have ever felt the need to Google it before because, naively, I thought that there wouldn’t be much to it. Boy was I wrong, and wow what a lovely way of finding out about it. As daft as this sounds, I genuinely felt as though I was with Halley all the way, taking on the challenges with her, facing the fears which she had kept locked up for many years. Such a powerful experience for sure.

Jo Thomas is brilliant at telling stories – not only does she set the scene beautifully, she writes with such grace which allows her characters to flourish at their full potential, even when they emotions are being put under the spotlight.

‘A Winter Beneath the Stars’ is such a poignant and heartwarming novel, I didn’t know whether to laugh alongside the characters, or join them as they shed tears. Such a wonderfully written and eye-opening read – Jo Thomas has covered me in goosebumps once again. I loved it.

Buy now!

#BlogTour! #Review – Christmas Secrets by the Sea by Jane Lovering (@janelovering) @farragobooks #ChristmasSecrets

Many thanks to Farrago Books for asking me to kick off the blog tour for Jane Lovering’s latest novel, ‘Christmas Secrets by the Sea’. Here is my review:

Christmas by the sea – that sounds romantic, right?

Tansy Merriweather is down on her luck. She’s lost her business and her relationship, and instead of a glamorous London apartment, her home is now a campervan on a Dorset beach. And as if things couldn’t get any worse, a scruffy dog called Brian with a taste for sardines has adopted her.

When Tansy’s new-found friends at the cafe in the bay help her find a job as a location scout for a new TV show, things start looking up. However, when she finds herself babysitting the show’s grouchy star, Davin O’Riordan, she’s not sure she wants to stay around. But when Brian forges a touching romance with Davin’s elegant whippet Seelie, Tansy begins to see another side to Davin.

As Christmas approaches, secrets emerge and Tansy and Davin discover a bond between them. But how will they cope with the storms headed their way – and can they save the cafe from closing?

What does TWG think?

Special mention needs to go to the doggy characters in this book!!! What hilarious additions to the storyline they are, especially Brian!

Tansy went to Dorset to think and clear the cobwebs from her mind, as life hadn’t been treating her so nicely recently. Everything she once knew was no more and she no longer knew her place. People say that change can be a good thing, but how can it be when your life becomes so strange to you, you have no idea how to just….live?

Of course if Tansy was left to think then there wouldn’t be a story! It didn’t take long for Tansy to find herself caught up in the community’s dramas….well, her and Brian, naturally.

The storyline didn’t grab me at first because it seemed to take a while to find out just why Tansy was in Dorset. At times I felt as though I was left waiting for things to happen more than they actually did happen. However, I felt that just after the halfway point was when things started to come together and the storyline had the bounce I was so desperately craving.

Looking back now, that sounds quite harsh as it was the latter half of the book where we found out about Tansy’s situation. I wasn’t revelling in her turmoil, not at all. It was actually quite emotional to read and definitely tugged at my heart strings multiple times.

I thought that Jane Lovering filled her storyline with such dry and brilliant humour, catching me off guard with the sarcasm that fell out of her characters mouths. It was lovely to see multiple flawed characters come alive and come together due to the situation they found themselves in, and I thought that the author wrote from the heart until the very end.

Overall, ‘Christmas Secrets by the Sea’ was a pleasant and heartfelt novel to read.

Buy now!

#TheMotherofAllChristmases by @MillyJohnson #12daysofChristmas #BlogTour #Review @TeamBATC @ed_pr

On the 11th day of Christmas TWG gave to me; ‘The Mother of all Christmases’ courtesy of TeamBATC…..and EdPr. Can you tell I am excited? Today it’s my turn to host Milly Johnson as part of the blog tour! Many thanks to EdPr for the blog tour invite and review copy. Here is my review:

Eve Glace – co-owner of the theme park Winterworld – is having a baby and her due date is a perfectly timed 25th December. And she’s decided that she and her husband Jacques should renew their wedding vows with all the pomp that was missing the first time. But growing problems at Winterworld keep distracting them … 

Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, and are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child. But when Annie finds that the changes happening to her body aren’t typical of the menopause but pregnancy, her joy is uncontainable. 

Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will get her out of the gutter in which she finds herself. But when the couple she is helping split up, is she going to be left carrying a baby she never intended to keep?

Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Christmas Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor to help mums-to-be mingle and share their pregnancy journeys. Will this group help each other to find love, contentment and peace as Christmas approaches?

What does TWG think?

Milly Johnson can do no wrong – I have no idea how she manages to produce storylines that manage to melt my ice cold heart, but she does and she does it good!!

‘The Christmas Pudding Club’ was genius!! What a clever, non invasive way for Christmas mums to come together without feeling as though they’re forced….like other mother and baby groups. Eve, Palma and Annie have a busy festive season ahead of them in more ways than one. Firstly, the ladies couldn’t be more different if they tried. Secondly, their road to motherhood wasn’t exactly without roadworks, and thirdly, they all have other things going on in their lives as well as their impending new addition.

Milly Johnson has captured each character beautifully, bringing their different personalities together as though it was the most natural thing in the world. Every time I read a novel by this author, I feel as though I’m coming home to my ‘safe place’ due to the cosy feeling I get each and every time. ‘The Mother of all Christmases’ was no different and, even though the storyline consisted of many laugh out loud, sarcastic moments, the overall storyline itself wasn’t without the hurdles of thought provoking situations.

Palma’s situation got right under my skin and I couldn’t help but empathise. I think I found myself being taken under Annie’s wing more than the others, whereas Eve was a tough nut to crack.

‘The Mother of all Christmases’ is such a lovely, heart warming read which opens many doors at once, allowing readers to escape into the wonderful world of Milly Johnson and her puddings. Brilliant!

Buy now!

#12DaysofChristmas #BlogTour! #Review – Part time Working Mummy by Rachaele Hambleton (@PTWMummy) @TrapezeBooks @tr4cyf3nt0n

On the 11th day of Christmas TWG gave to me, a review of ‘Part Time Working Mummy’! I am so pleased to be involved in the #12DaysofChristmas blog tour – many thanks to Tracy Fenton for the tour invite, and thank you to Trapeze Books for the review copy. Here is my review:

Want to know the truth about what life is like as a mum and step-mum with a chaotic patchwork family?

This book is everything I’ve been through that’s made me who I am, plus the lessons I’ve learned from many mistakes. I hope that it will make you laugh as well as give you strength to keep going when times get tough. After all, we are all in this together…
Rachaele, aka Part-Time Working Mummy

Hundreds of thousands of fans flock to the PTWM page online and now, in this book, Rachaele shares her behind-the-scenes experiences with single parenthood, unexpected pregnancy, domestic violence, relationships, bullying and much more – spreading kindness amidst the crazinessalong the way!

What does TWG think?

Some of you may have already heard of ‘Part time Working Mummy’ AKA Rachael’s Hambleton, especially if you follow her life on Facebook and other social media. For those who aren’t aware, Rachaele is an avid supporter for mental health and domestic abuse charities, as well as being an extremely popular parent blogger and mum/wife/step-mum. Her honest approach to life as a parent has given her just under 500,000 followers on Facebook. How amazing is that?

Now, I’m sure that there are people out there who are probably wondering ‘what makes her so special?’. Not a negative thing to ask after all, we are inquisitive human beings. My answer to that is this: the fact that she owns her bad choices and realises that several of her decisions in the past have been monumental eff ups, whilst also being a domestic abuse warrior, mental health advocate, massive supporter of multiple charities linked to the above, a mum to three daughters and a step-mum to two boys, makes me think ‘okay, this lady has balls of steel and a story to tell which a lot of us could learn from’.

Hence her blog and now her book. When I fell pregnant, all I saw on social media was how perfect the mum life was, as though getting covered in baby shit wasn’t the norm…when it is. PTWM (Part time Working mummy) isn’t saying that being a mum can’t be perfect because it can be your own sense of perfect. However, what she is saying is that becoming a parent is something which needs to be approached with eyes open and no rose tinted glasses. As mums (and dads), we often feel like we can conquer the world one nappy at a time whilst also balancing a cup of tea on our arses as we do the downward dog yoga pose – when in reality we can’t. After all, who wants a burnt foof?

PTWM highlights the hurdles she jumped over, face planted into, and barely made as she became a mum for the first, second and third time, whilst also dealing with horrific domestic abuse and body issues. So yes, even though I laughed my backside off reading this book, a lot of PTWM’s experiences hit home because she doesn’t mollycoddle it or pretend it never happened. Instead she says it how it happened, admits her faults and tries to put several taboo situations in the spotlight to gain the awareness and support it so desperately needs.

I’m going to talk personally a second – I was a victim of domestic abuse, and for 10 years of my early life I was the child who witnessed the devastation of domestic abuse and alcoholism first hand. It really is something you think only happens to ‘other people’ when it happens to you, and being a child and hearing your mum screaming due to the abuse, and being the one to creep downstairs to wipe the tears from your mums eyes at the age of 6 – it stays with you. Okay, like PTWM says on more than one occasion in the book, people automatically wonder why the victim doesn’t leave and, even though it is far too easy for us to sit there and judge a situation we aren’t in ourselves as every situation is different, the reality is a tough pill to swallow.

PTWM, in my eyes, is exceptionally brave to be to open and honest about her past. I’m not saying that she should be ashamed of it because she shouldn’t, but again, like she said herself in her book, putting yourself out there is daunting because there will always be people who will be nasty heffers, even towards the most broken of people.

As well as talking about her past, PTWM explores the hurdles of becoming a patchwork family and just how stressful being a ‘step’ parent can be. Social media can make things look a lot easier than they seem, and I think it’s brilliant that PTWM has decided to share the lows along with the high by being realistic and certainly relatable.

I am in awe of just how much PTWM does for other people, whether they are a parent or not. I will admit that, at times, I did wonder how her experiences made her more clued up on things than other people, and that was wrong of me to think that because she doesn’t once say that she’s perfect in this book. She says that she is human and that she makes mistakes. She says that her life has been extremely difficult and that she was at breaking point, yet she also states how being a mum is the most rewarding thing she has ever done. So it’s not the case of PTWM trying to show that she’s ‘better than everyone else’ because it’s very clear that she still suffers with effects of her past. Instead it’s a case of being open and honest about heart wrenching situations, in the hope that one person may find the strength in her words to walk through the tunnel in their own lives. Nobody can really fault the PTWM for that now, can they?

PTWM – A Patchwork life, is an inspirational, raw and extremely poignant memoir that is guaranteed to make you react in multiple ways. I am in awe at Rachaele and everything she has come through, and I think the way she has put pen to paper by putting her story on the table, was incredible and extremely brave. When I grow up I’ve decided I want to be like PTWM ;).

Buy now!

About the author.

Rachaele Hambleton, aka Part-Time Working Mummy, is one of the most popular personalities in the parenting blogosphere. She is a full time mum to three daughters, step-mum to two boys and is recently married to her ‘bird-boy’ Josh. Her successful blog documents the highs and lows of life as a family of seven… with two dogs and two guinea pigs thrown in for good measure. As well as blogging and bringing up 5 tiny humans, Rachaele fights hard for awareness and funds for domestic abuse and other charities. 

facebook/PartTimeWorkingMummy
Instagram: @PTWMUMMY
Twitter: @PTWMUMMY

#BlogTour! #GuestPost from author of ‘The Other Miss Bates’, Allie Cresswell (@alliescribbler) @RaRaResources

Another RaRaResources blog tour for you all this afternoon, and another guest post! Many thanks to RaRaResources for inviting me to take part in the blog tour for Allie Cresswell’s ‘The Other Miss Bates’. I have a guest post to share with you all for my stop on the tour. First, here is a bit more information on Allie’s book:

Jane Bates has left Highbury to become the companion of the invalid widow Mrs Sealy in Brighton. Life in the new, fashionable seaside resort is exciting indeed. A wide circle of interesting acquaintance and a rich tapestry of new experiences – balls at the Assembly rooms, carriage rides and promenades on the Steyne – make her new life all Jane had hoped for. 

While Jane’s sister Hetty can be a tiresome conversationalist she proves to be a surprisingly good correspondent and Jane is kept minutely up-to-date with developments in Highbury, particularly the tragic news from Donwell Abbey.

When handsome Lieutenant Weston returns to Brighton Jane expects their attachment to pick up where it left off in Highbury the previous Christmas, but the determined Miss Louisa Churchill, newly arrived with her brother and sister-in-law from Enscombe in Yorkshire, seems to have a different plan in mind.

Buy now!

Guest post.

I can think of no character in Jane Austen’s completed works who would qualify as what we understand today as being ‘disabled’. And yet it seemed to me that a book set in Brighton in the 1780s would be unrealistic if it did not include at least one character physically incapacitated in some way. 

Brighton was a town just beginning to be fashionable as a health resort due to the recent discovery of the healthful properties of sea water; the sea was used for bathing and for drinking – which must have been revolting. The fashionable folk of Georgian England began to use seaside towns as an alternative to spas like Bath and Cheltenham. The medical profession burgeoned to take advantage of the new obsession with health, and doctors  some of questionable qualifications – congregated at health resorts where patients were numerous.In Brighton, as elsewhere at this time, with the American war of Independence being fought as well as wars with Spain, France and Holland, it is inevitable that wounded soldiers would have been commonplace. Add to this that life in Georgian England was dangerous, even for the well-to-do. Carriage and horse-riding accidents were everyday occurrences, claiming many victims.

Having decided to set The Other Miss Bates in Brighton and because it was inspired by Jane Austen’s fourth novel, Emma,it was inevitable that illness should play an important part in it. Illness – real or imagined – is a frequent theme. Imagined illness – such as that suffered by Mary Musgrave in Persuasion, is used to imply weakness of character, a lack of fibre, selfishness or at least self-absorption, all characteristics to be mildly disapproved of. Actual illness occurs infrequently in Jane Austen’s books but always to great dramatic effect. (Think of Louisa Musgrave’s concussion in Persuasion, Tom Bertram’s illness in Mansfield Park and of Marianne Dashwood’s fever in Sense and Sensibility.) The plot of these books absolutely pivots on the life-threatening illnesses depicted in each, and, crucially, on the way the principal characters respond to it. The illnesses themselves are generally a physical result of some morally reprehensible behaviour, like Marianne’s unchecked ardour for Willoughby.That Jane Austen was interested in the narrative possibilities of illness and the influence of illness on character is illustrated by her final – unfinished – novel Sanditon, which is set in an imaginary seaside town and peopled by characters variously unwell or believing themselves to be so.

I felt justified, then, in tackling it, but wanted to explore a different aspect of the subject, so I invented two characters who are confined to wheelchairs. Mrs Sealy is a young and wealthy widow, rendered disabled  by a carriage accident. Captain Bates is a casualty of war whose initial injury was compounded by poor medical treatment to leave him an amputee.

Disabled people are not necessarily ‘ill’ although of course sometimes their disability is a consequence of illness or causes issues of ill health. I didn’t want my wheel-chair bound characters’ disability to be a tool of the plot; that would have been cynical and patronising. Their being in wheeled chairs affects their actions just as much as their behaviour, choices, attitudes and values. Like all Jane Austen’s characters they are weighed morally. Although both are ‘victims’, ie, were not born with a disability, they deal with their situations very differently. Mrs Sealy is without self-pity; she is always cheerful, dressed beautifully, attends balls and parties a-plenty and has herself carried from one place to another by an extremely handsome, well-muscled young footman by the name of Ironside. Her being a woman of her time – not her disability – makes her vulnerable to the terrible machinations of her step-son. 

Captain Bates on the other hand has allowed his life-affecting injury to rule his life. In an effort to compensate for the admittedly terrible time he had under the surgeon’s knife he treats himself constantly to food, drink, fine clothes and expensive trinkets. It is this self-indulgence – especially to food – which is the real cause of his incapacity; he has become too fat to move, even with a rudimentary prosthetic (wooden leg).

I think the way I have handled these characters is true to Jane Austen’s technique. They are not judged by who or what they are, their birth, wealth or cleverness but by how they behave. I agonised over them, though. I did not want them to be pitiful, nor villainous, nor ridiculous. Just because Jane Austen chose not to represent the disabled in her books did not seem a valid reason for me to omit them from mine although in all other aspects – plot, character, tone and language – I have attempted to reflect her style.

With trepidation, I invite you to read The Other Miss Batesand let me know how you think.

About the author.

Allie Cresswell was born in Stockport, UK and began writing fiction as soon as she could hold a pencil.

She did a BA in English Literature at Birmingham University and an MA at Queen Mary College, London.

She has been a print-buyer, a pub landlady, a book-keeper, run a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Nowadays Allie writes full time having retired from teaching literature to lifelong learners.

She has two grown-up children, two granddaughters, two grandsons and two cockapoos but just one husband – Tim. They live in Cumbria, NW England. 

The Other Miss Bates is her eighth novel and the second in the Highbury series

Social Media Links 

www.allie-cresswell.com

https://www.facebook.com/alliescribbler/

@alliescribbler