#BlogBlitz! #Review – Keep You By My Side by Callie Langridge (@clangridgewrite) @bombshellpub

Happy publication day to Callie Langridge and ‘Keep You By My Side’! I am honoured to be kicking off the blog blitz today with a review, many thanks to the publisher for the blitz invite and ARC.

Are family secrets the ties that bind or the lies that divide?

The secrets of one family live in the walls of a cottage perched high on a Dorset cliff. But secrets can only be kept for so long.

 Follow three generations of a family from war-torn London, to the permissive 60s and liberated 80s. Gertie, Rose and Abi live through joy, tragedy and heartache as they navigate complicated mother-daughter relationships and learn the importance of friends and finding love. When circumstances force them under the same roof, secrets begin to unravel and promises made in love threaten to tear them apart. 

 How far would you go to protect the people you love?

What does TWG think?

Having read and absolutely adored Callie Langridge’s debut novel, I could not wait to see what the author would bring out next. She had certainly set the bar high for herself with her debut, that’s for sure! I tried to ensure that I kept my mind open, reading the book as though I hadn’t read anything from the author before, purely because the bar was so high. I must admit that it didn’t always work though.

‘Keep You By My Side’ is gold from various viewpoints at multiple moments in time, with one character in particular telling her story during the war. It took me a little while to work out how all of the characters fit together, but when I did, I enjoyed being able to connect with the characters on a deeper level now that I was aware of their individual links in the storyline.

I would say that the romance element is evident throughout the entire novel, and it is also written in such a heartfelt manner so that even someone as unromantic as I, could fall under the heartwarming spell.

I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy ‘Keep You By My Side’ because I did, but for me personally, I didn’t find it as strong as the debut. Don’t get me wrong, Langridge told Gertie’s story beautifully and I was mesmerised by her journey, I just wanted more as I know the author has the outstanding talent to achieve that. This book was a very poignant and pleasing read, I just hope that the next novel comes back as strong as the first one.

As a story told by three generations, it was remarkable to see just how their personalities differed over the years, even though a lot of their choices and decisions were quite similar. My heart went out to Abi, but for me the star of the book was Gertie. I think that was because she reminded me of one of my own family members. Her story really touched me and I am delighted that I was able to be a part of that by reading it.

Overall, ‘Keep You By My Side’ was a very heartwarming and tender read which kept me cosy from start to finish. It is a lovely, lovely read which came across well, despite having to follow in the footsteps of the authors incredible debut novel.

Buy Now!

About the author.

Callie was born and brought up in Berkshire. After a brief teenage spell in the depths of Lancashire, she moved back to London.

 Having left school at 16, she studied drama before embarking on a career in marketing. This saw her work in music marketing in the heady days of Britpop in the nineties. She unleashed her creativity in the design of window displays and marketing campaigns for the leading music retailer. More recently she has followed her passion for history, working in marketing and communications for historical and cultural organisations.

 On hitting her thirtieth birthday, she decided finally to pick up her pen and take the first of many creative writing courses. A few years later and she has had a number of short stories published and plays performed at theatres and venues across London. Her first novel A Time to Change was published in September 2017.

 Her second novel Keep You By My Side will be published in October 2018.

 Callie lives in London with her long-term partner, an ever-growing collection of antique curiosities, and more books than any person really needs. 

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#BlogTour! #Review – The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove by Karen Clarke (@karenclarke123)

After seeing loads of pretty Christmas decorations in a shop today, I am very much in the Christmas spirit, just in time to review Karen Clarke’s newest novel. Thank you to Bookouture for the blog tour invite and the ARC. Here is my review:

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas at the café at Seashell Cove, where there’s hot chocolate to keep you warm – and the man of your dreams could be waiting…

Interior designer Tilly Campbell loves being carefree and single. But her latest job is redecorating the cosy local café for a Christmas party, and when her friends confess their plans for the big night – including a proposal, a declaration of love and a pregnancy announcement – Tilly starts to wonder if she might be missing out…

Transforming the café into a winter wonderland is more of a challenge than she thought, so when she bumps into gorgeous newcomer Seth, Tilly welcomes the distraction. Seth is a single father, struggling to settle his son Jack into their new cottage, and Tilly is determined to help them make their house into a home in time for Christmas.

But with the café still in chaos just days before the party it looks like it’s going to be a Christmas to remember for all the wrong reasons… With friends old and new relying on her, can Tilly save the Christmas party?

And could she finally find love waiting for her under the mistletoe?

What does TWG think?

It feels like ages since I was last in Seashell Cove! I was so excited to catch up with all of the characters and find out what they have been up to since I last ‘saw’ them. At first I didn’t recognise the place, probably because I half expected to be back with Meg as the main character. It was wonderful to see snippets of her story live on in this one though, that’s for sure.

I did find the book to be a little of a slow starter as I took a while to warm up to Tilly, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the overall vibe of the book. Once I got further into the storyline, my opinion of Tilly changed and I found myself warming to her like marshmallows to a fire. How the hell she put up with her sister, Bridget, without committing a murder is beyond me!! Romy, Bridget’s little girl, had me in hysterics! She reminded so much of my own little girl. If only we all went through life without a care in the world like children!!

Tilly is a very independent character who is so set on doing things for other people, she sometimes forgets just how much one person can hold on their shoulders. Fortunately for her, newcomer, Seth, helps her see otherwise. As for his mother though, geezzzzzz!!!!!! I don’t get why he didn’t stand up to his mother! I know that Felicity wanted to do right by her grandson, but surely she must have realised that alienating him wouldn’t be the answer?

Even though this is a Christmassy book, the festive theme isn’t overpowering for those who dislike Christmas in October. I do think that as festivities were an apparent part of the book, that there should have been more oomph with it. That said, Gwen’s antics with the Christmas pudding kept Christmas on the map.

All in all, The Christmas Cafe at Seashell Cove kept me thoroughly entertained from start to finish, with Romy being my star at the top of the Christmas tree. I really do hope we get to see more from the gang in Seashell Cove, as I can’t wait to find out what else others are hiding! A fun, light hearted and addictive read – a great follow up novel in an already fabulous series.

Buy now!

About the author.

Karen is the author of the popular BEACHSIDE and SEASHELL COVE series of romantic comedies, published by Bookouture. 

She’s also written three romcoms with a paranormal twist, all available to download

When she’s not working on her novels, Karen writes short stories for women’s magazines and has had over three hundred published globally. Some of them can be read in her short story collection ‘BEHIND CLOSED DOORS…and other Tales with a Twist’ 

Karen lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband and three grown-up children, and when she’s not writing loves reading, walking, baking and eating cake.

 

Author Social Media Links: 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karen.clarke.5682

Twitter:     https://twitter.com/karenclarke123

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

Website: http://writewritingwritten.blogspot.co.uk/

#BlogTour! #Review – The Little Christmas Teashop of Second Chances by Donna Ashcroft (@donnashc) @Bookouture

I am thrilled to be able to share my thoughts of Donna Ashcroft’s latest novel with you all today, as I host today’s stop on the blog tour! Huge thanks, as always, to bookouture for the blog tour invite and the ARC. Here is my review:

Snow is beginning to fall around the cosy Castle Teashop, with its toasty log fire, scrumptious mince pies and delicious hot chocolates. Romance is in the air and Lily King is hoping some winter magic will help to make her dreams come true…

Twenty-five-year-old Lily King is wondering when her life is going to start. She adores working at the much-loved Castle Teashop, surrounded by familiar faces and delicious cakes. But she’s stuck in a rut. She’s just been dumped by her boyfriend and her dream job seems to be slipping through her fingers.

When her best friend Emily Campbell needs urgent help to organise her enchanting Christmas wedding, Lily realises it’s finally her moment to shine and reach for the opportunities she’s been wishing for. Can she pull off the biggest celebration Castle Cove has ever seen or will something – or someone – make things more complicated than she imagined?

Rebellious and handsome photographer Josh Havellin-Scott has always felt like an outsider, especially next to his perfect older brother, who is about to get married. At the last minute, Josh finds himself roped into plans for the Big Day, the very last thing he wants to do, until he is meets creative and quirky Lily King…

When Lily and Josh are thrown together, it’s clear they couldn’t be more different. But they begin to realise that opposites can attract – and sometimes when you’re not looking for love, it comes and finds you when you least expect it. With some festive magic, will they manage to work together and save the day?

And could they discover a winter romance of their very own along the way?

What does TWG think?

Oh my mince pies, could this book BE anymore fabulous?!?! I really did enjoy the first book in the series, but I have to say that this festive delight is something else! I was hooked from the very beginning, intrigued about Lily’s personal past as well as what made Josh tick. Yes, Josh is one of those characters who you should instantly dislike due to his arrogant nature, however I couldn’t help but be taken under his spell almost straight away. How the holly and ivy Lily managed to be immune to his charms for a little while was beyond me!

Even though this story is full of tantalising, stomach rumbling treats and friendships to last a life time, the thing that got right under my skin in such a beautiful manner , was the cleverly incorporated ‘hidden’ theme which made me relate to Lily on such a deep level. Take it from me, we have all felt as though we aren’t good enough, and I am sure we have always ensured other people were happy before ourselves. And, I am also sure that a lot of us have put our emotions aside and done something because of someone else, ignoring our own personal feelings about the situation. Yes? Of course we have – we are human. It’s not until you sit back and think about it or, in this case, read it in black and white, that you realise you have been living your life in the way that other people would prefer you to. Before anyone says anything, I know that it is our choice as to how we live our own life, but sometimes emotions get the better of us, just like Lily’s in this book.

Lily’s situation caught me off guard, despite seeing some of myself in the character. Weirdly, it was quite emotional. I also think that a certain family member of Lily’s needs to get caught by some holly and ivy. What a bleeping bleep bleep they are!!

I absolutely loved this book from reading about the yummy treats, to following the characters around as they plan nuptials, to watching Lily and Josh’s journey play out. Donna Ashcroft’s novel is such a feel good, life affirming, huggable and touching novel which will leave you wanting to plan your own nuptials to Josh. He’s definitely my sort of guy! Why are all the good ones fictional?!?! Pfft.

Honestly though, this book gave me the feels and I couldn’t have wished for anything more as Donna Ashcroft ticked every single box. In my eyes, she is now the Mrs Claus of Christmas reads.

Buy now!

About the author.

Donna Ashcroft was born in London and grew up in Buckinghamshire. She went to university in Lancashire and, among other things, worked as a copywriter, buyer, waitress, secretary and marketing manager. 

Donna wrote novels for over ten years before being published. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and was a joint winner of the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017. 
Donna loves a happy ending and is never happier than when she’s escaping into a romance novel or movie. When she’s not reading or writing she’ll probably be found hoovering … or negotiating with her teenagers about who is doing the washing up.

Author Social Media Links: 

Website: www.donna-writes.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DonnaAshcroftAuthor/

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/Donnashc

#BlogTour! #Promo – Take Me, I’m Yours by Lizzie Lamb (@lizzie_lamb) @rararesources

I apologise for the…49 minutes lateness, however I am excited to be promoting Lizzie Lamb’s new novel as part of my stop on the blog tour!

India Buchanan plans to set up an English-Style bed and breakfast establishment in her great-aunt’s home, MacFarlane’s Landing, Wisconsin. But she’s reckoned without opposition from Logan MacFarlane whose family once owned her aunt’s house and now want it back. MacFarlane is in no mood to be denied. His grandfather’s living on borrowed time and Logan has vowed to ensure the old man sees out his days in their former home. India’s great-aunt has other ideas and has threatened to burn the house to the ground before she lets a MacFarlane set foot in it. There’s a story here. One the family elders aren’t prepared to share. When India finds herself in Logan’s debt, her feelings towards him change. However, the past casts a long shadow and events conspire to deny them the love and happiness they both deserve. Can India and Logan’s love overcome all odds? Or is history about to repeat itself?

For the duration of the blog tour – Take Me, I’m Yours will be downloadable for 99p

Purchase now from Amazon

About the author.

After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed by Boot Camp Bride. She went on to publish Scotch on the Rocks, which achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon and her next novel, Girl in the Castle, reached #3 in the Amazon charts. Lizzie is a founder member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press, and has co-hosted author events at Aspinall, St Pancras and Waterstones, Kensington, talking about the research which underpins her novels. Lizzie latest romance Take Me, I’m Yours is set in Wisconsin, a part of the USA which she adores. She has further Scottish-themed romances planned and has just returned from a tour of the Scottish Highlands in her caravan researching men in kilts. What’s not to like? As for the years she spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste. She is building a reputation as a go-to speaker on indie publishing, and how to plan, write, and publish a debut novel. Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband, David.

She loves to hear from readers, so do get in touch . . .

Lizzie’s Links

Amazon

Facebook

Website

Newsletter

LinkedIn

Goodreads

Pinterest

Twitter

#Tour! #Review – A Little Luck, A Lot of Faith by @LinnBHalton @Brookcottagebks @ChocLituk

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Linn.B.Halton returns to TWG with her newest novel; A Little Luck, A Lot of Faith, published by Choc Lit UK in 2016. Linn first appeared on TWG with her previous novel, you can find my review for that one here:  Blog Tour! ‘A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love’ by Linn B Halton (@LinnBHalton) @BrookCottagebks.
I hope you enjoy my review for this book! Keep your eye out for a fab giveaway further down the page too!

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Blurb.

When destiny calls, you need to pick up …

On the surface, Kristi Danielson has it all. She’s lifestyle coach to the rich and famous, has a bestselling book to her name and is described by her fans as “the veritable Queen of how to lead a fulfilling life”. But the harsh truth is that Kristi has never practiced what she preaches. Her home life is a mess, her relationship with artist boyfriend, Tom, not much better – and now she has to
redeem herself before all is lost.

At her wit’s end, Kristi is driven to seek out the help of Patrick Blakeslee, a tarot card reader and psychic medium, in an attempt to make sense of the mounting panic she’s feeling. But Patrick’s visits have an unexpected effect on Kristi, leaving her with more questions than answers – and a life-changing decision to make.

What does TWG think?

Having LOVED Linn’s previous novel; A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love, I had really high hopes for ‘A Little Luck, A Lot of Faith’, and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.

When we offer advice to others, the chances of us actually listening to our own advice is probably slim to none. We can help other people with their demons but as soon as our own demon comes knocking, we ignore our own advice and pretend the demon is really…chocolate (well I do, ahem). Luckily, it’s not just us readers that are like that! Take Kristi for example, a life coach who is at the top of her game when it comes to her career and offering life advice, yet when it comes to her OWN life and personal relationships, coaching herself isn’t top of her agenda.

I really, really wanted to fall in love with this book straight away; but for the first chapter or two, I couldn’t warm to it in a way I had hoped I would. I decided to put the book down to go and do something else for ten minutes, ensuring that I came back to the book fresh eyed. Well, that was the theory anyway. However after a mere few minutes, curiosity got the better of me and I found myself wondering what Kristi was up to, whether she was okay or whether Tom grown a pair yet. It turns out that I had warmed to the book and the storyline, it was just in a completely different way than before! From the moment the book was back in my hands, it stayed there until the words ‘The End’ appeared.

The issues that Kristi faced were exceptionally heart-warming and very relatable. In a matter of paragraphs she seemed to go from an icy character, to a character with a little naivety, and a lot of heart (see what I did there?). We were able to see a completely different side of her as a person, once she opened her eyes to her surroundings (and Tom). When the storyline introduced the psychic medium I really didn’t know what to think as I hadn’t really been in a position to think about, never had the need to. However, having never been involved with psychics in my own life, I couldn’t really form an opinion on the subject having never been in contact with it. That said, I loved absorbing the quirky topic and seeing how it fit in to Kristi’s life. Definitely opened my eyes to multiple possibilities, never say never!

As Linn has shown in the two novels that I have read of hers; her writing skill is one which oozes consistency and warmth. Despite the fact that Linn has written books about completely different situations, she still managed to hold my attention during the book and let her words do the talking without me feeling as though something was missing. A Little Luck, A Lot of Faith is definitely a book to curl up on the sofa with and just let Linn’s enchanting words pull you into the magic that is the story.

Linn.B.Halton is the type of author whose novels shout cosy and warm. I wish I could put my finger on exactly what it is that moves me about Linn and her novels, but I cannot put it into words. All I know is that if I need a hug or if I need to feel calm, I am confident to put my trust into Linn.B.Halton’s books to get just that.

If you haven’t read any of Linn.B.Halton’s books yet, you’re severely missing out.

Click this link to buy!

EXCERPT

I’m the middle child, sandwiched between my eldest brother, Luke, and the baby of the
family, Drew. My mother had three brothers and so, as the only two daughters in two
generations, we were always in the minority. That rather tends to shape the way you look at things and there are only two ways it can go. Either you are the one whose voice is seldom heard above the sea of testosterone around you, or you make yours the loudest voice of them all. You become the organiser; the one who leads – in short, my brothers accepted that I was in charge. Maybe it was because I had inherited the bossy gene, if such a thing exists. But, from a tender age, what I lacked in practical knowledge, I made up for with sheer common sense and the dubious ability to be believable.
I say dubious, because I learnt that I had the power to organise and control what went on
around me. I was a natural. What surprised me was the fact that people around me loved
being told what to do. They sought my advice, opening up to me and looking for guidance at every step of the way. As a teenager I felt I had a heady power and it gave me a sense of
confidence. At the time I didn’t understand that it was something to be treated with respect and a healthy dose of reality.

People simply lapped-up what I told them and that, I suppose,

was the blessing that has become a curse. When people are unsure about what to do next they look around for someone strong to advise them. In their desperation they are grateful and comforted and the person delivering the advice? Well, it’s addictive and each little success elevates you in their eyes, as well as in your own. The truth is that I am supremely confident when it comes to organising other people’s lives. I’m extremely proud of the fact that I can inspire others and encourage them to develop their full potential. When it comes to my own life, it’s held together with the emotional equivalent of string and Blu-tack. Simply put, I’m a fraud. Money and fame go hand-in- hand and there isn’t a chat show worth mentioning that hasn’t featured me at some point in the last few years. My name constantly crops up around the world and even in countries like the US, Japan, and Sweden, it’s instantly recognisable. Grab Life and Run With It is in its fourth season in the UK and I’ve just signed a contract for a further six episodes. My fan club is full of hopeful people, eager to share each of their milestones on Twitter, as they follow my celebrated Twelve Steps to Finding YOU plan.

To the world it appears I have all of the trappings of success. The harsh reality is that I
spend my time trying to cover the tracks of a life that has no balance. All I have is my work –
there is nothing else.

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GIVEAWAY!!

CONTEST – OPEN INTERNATIONALLY – No Purchase necessary
Three signed copies of A Little Sugar, A Lot of Love paperbacks.

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To enter the giveaway click: HERE.

About the author.

Bristol-born Linn B Halton lives on the edge of the small market town of Cinderford, in the Forest of  Dean, in the UK.
“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of strong coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, writing … and house renovation! Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache”
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Under The Stars also became a best-seller in November 2016. Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.
Linn writes chick lit, women’s contemporary fiction and psychic romance for Choc Lit, Harper Impulse and Endeavour Press.

New year, New..? No! #TWGTalks

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Seeing as we are in a brand new year, I thought that I would revamp a feature from 2016 that seemed to be quite popular! If you’ve been following my blog since day one, you might remember ‘What’s on your mind TWG?’ where I took controversial book related subjects, and spoke about them. As you do. However, seeing as I am aiming to become a freelance writer (or thereabouts), I thought that it would be good to showcase my writing in the only way I know how: talking. I am called the WRITING Garnet after all!

So, the title of this post; ‘New Year, New..? No!’, it is pretty vague eh? We are now into a brand new year (well, 15 days into it, who’s counting?) and usually that comes with the ‘new year, new me’ and 134542473773 resolutions that are usually broken within 12 hours (I’m being generous). If you are one of the rare few that do actually keep their new years resolutions then that is excellent! However, do we really need to pile on the pressure every single year with the whole ‘new me’ fiasco? If you wanted to change part of your lifestyle or try something new, you could do that any day of the year and own it. Why is the nod from the New Year so important?

‘When I was just a little girl, I asked my mother what would I be, will I be pretty, will I be rich, here’s what she said to me’……

Go and be yourself and don’t give a fudgewallop what anybody else thinks!

You thought I was going to break into a bit of ‘Que sera sera’-ing didn’t you? My mum has actually said that line above by the way! Maybe not with those EXACT words, cough fudgewallop cough, but I am sure you get the gist. Did I listen to her though? Let’s just say that some human beans that I had the displeasure of being acquainted with, had other ideas for my confidence and self-worth. So yes, I did give a fudgewallop what everyone else thought of me and if I’m honest, I still do (to an extent). Recently I got betrayed by a person that I thought was a really good friend. They took my vulnerability and shredded it whilst trying to mould me into the person that THEY could ‘cope’ with. My illnesses, my struggles, my down days, the way I organised things in my home, everything – they all became problematic to that person. ‘What did you do?’ I hear you ask, I took a step back, removed their toxic asshat from my bubble and reviewed my life. Well, after bonding with tissues and coming to terms with the bullying & betrayal that is.

You’re probably wondering what my little story has to do with the new year, right? Fear not, I will explain…eventually. It dawned on me that I had spent most of my life changing myself to fit in with those around me, or making myself out to be something that I am quite clearly not. I lost sight of me, Kaisha. I didn’t know who I was, all I knew was what everyone else wanted me to be. But you know what? Nah, no more.

If you know me, you probably know my story (if not, it’s on a previous blog post, somewhere). You’ll know that my whole life is controlled by my body and things that I cannot see and cannot do anything about. Why the monkeybum would I want to then mould myself around other folk? I never knew that I was Play Doh!

Personally, New Year isn’t about creating a brand new you. By all means, if you want to do daring things, lose weight or have different aims in life, then go for it! You don’t need to become a brand new you to do that though, do you? If we stood in front of a mirror, it wouldn’t take us long to pick out all of the things that we dislike about ourselves. We have all done it, and we most probably will continue to do it. As Izzy from ‘A Year Of Saying Yes’ (part 1&2 are out now) by Hannah Doyle says; we don’t take the time to appreciate our lines, our beauty.

Don’t change yourself because we have entered a new year. Don’t change yourself because someone has a chip on their shoulder and your addition of salty sass ruins their vinegar. Make aims. Say YES to things (only if you want to though). Aim to become a better you, not a brand new you.

If it turns out that people cannot handle you, handle yourself and OWN IT. If you are having a asshat of a day and can’t stop crying; DON’T! It’s your life.

It’s YOUR song so YOU choose the dance.
New Year, I’m still me, and you’re still you.

Book review – You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane.

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Blurb.

What happens when the one that got away comes back? Find out in this sparkling comedy from #1 bestseller, Mhairi McFarlane.

‘Think of the great duos of history. We’re just like them.’
‘You mean like Kylie and Jason? Torvill and Dean? Sonny and Cher?’
‘I think you’ve missed the point, Rachel.’

Rachel and Ben. Ben and Rachel. It was them against the world. Until it all fell apart. It’s been a decade since they last spoke, but when Rachel bumps into Ben one rainy day, the years melt away.

They’d been partners in crime and the best of friends. But life has moved on: Ben is married. Rachel is not. Yet in that split second, Rachel feels the old friendship return. And along with it, the broken heart she’s never been able to mend.

Hilarious, heartbreaking and everything in between, you’ll be hooked from their first ‘hello’.

What does TWG think?

I apologise for what I am about to do…..wait, no I don’t actually! HELLOOOO FROM THE OTHER SIDEEEEEE, I MUST’VE CALLED A THOUSAND TIMESSSSSS, TO TELL YOUUU, IM SORRRYYYYY, FOR BREAKING YOUR HEARTTTTTTTT.
Yes….this book title had me go all Adele on you. Multi-talented, you impressed? Booya.

Anywhoo -clears throat-. Mhairi McFarlane is a name that I have seen multiple times because of her recent novel ‘Who’s that girl’ (which I still need to read). So when I felt the urge to buy a new book for my kindle, not that I needed anymore, Mhairi was first on my list. Yes, I did buy this particular book because the ‘hello’ made me sing Adele. I admit it (sorry not sorry).

Imagine that you’re planning your wedding, discussing the entertainment with your fiancé, how exciting would that be! Except, you’re no longer doing that, everything just….stops.
It’s times like those when you need your friends, luckily for Rachel, she has an incredible support network. However, one person from her support network gives her news that completely throws her off guard. A piece of news that will either bring her more hurt, or give her the happily ever after she craves. There’s one teeny tiny catch though, the news is male. What are the odds of him recognising her though? Will it be ‘Hello!’ or ‘Goodbye’?

As you’re already aware, this was the first book of Mhairi’s that I had ever read, part of me wasn’t sure what to expect. But, seeing as I follow her on Twitter, I knew (and hoped) that I would be laughing.
Oh and I did, multiple times! ‘You had me at hello’ had me in absolute stitches. It was written as though Mhairi wasn’t talking to readers, she was talking to a good friend. The way the book flowed was very laid back in a brilliant sense as it made it really easy to read, and that itself, makes it more enjoyable if you’re not sitting questioning the book.
The character’s had their own individual personalities and completely gelled as a group. My favourite would have to be Ivor! He does not give a flying monkfish! I must say I did take an instant disliking to Rhys, I found him to be such a pretentious and selfish bellend (sorry). It did make for great reading though as I was certainly giving Rachel the old ‘GO ON GIRL, YOU TELL HIM’. No seriously, I was. Girl power!

When it came to light about the male news that Rachel was given, it reminded me of the scene in Notting Hill where Hugh Grant is utterly determined to find the beautiful woman who caught his eye (Julia Roberts). Roles reversed obviously, and not EXACTLY like that, but yeah, definitely reminded me of it. I did work out where the storyline was going, well, at least I thought I did! Mhairi turned the storyline on its head at one point and I was in hysterics as she did so. The whole book for me was very cleverly written. The humour was brilliant. My sort of humour as it was dry, sarcastic with added blunt moments.

‘You Had Me At Hello’ is a hilarious book which highlights the importance about being true to yourself in such a light-hearted way. Life throws us curveballs all the time, but it’s what you do with them that is important. Mhairi McFarlane gave her character’s power to go for ‘it’ and leaves you feeling as though you have just gained a whole group of friends. A fun, easy-going read, definitely not one to be missed!

You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane, published by Avon, can be bought right now from Amazon UK.

**New Feature** 1st class mail from TWG & friends – A letter to your younger self!

Welcome to yet another brand new feature on The Writing Garnet! A couple of weeks ago I put multiple posts out on social media asking for people to get involved, and by golly they did! What would YOU tell your younger self if you could? Would you give them advice based on what you know now?
Those were the questions I had everyone keep in mind for writing their letters. Hopefully people (you) will continue to be involved as this feature will only run as long as I have your lovely letters to post.
If you fancy getting involved by writing a letter to your younger self, e-mail me at kaishajayneh@gmail.com. Thank you to those who have e-mailed me so far!

Okay, so this is how the feature is going to work. Each Sunday until further notice, I will share each of the letters that I have received so far. Seeing as some of the letters belong to authors and bloggers, their social links will also be included so you can see what they are up to now compared to the contents of their letters! Don’t worry, you don’t have to be an author/blogger to take part. Anyone can!
Now I have told you all of the important information, let’s get this show on the road!

young self

TWG is delighted to welcome fellow blogger and new-found friend, Jo Robertson, to the blog! Get ready for honesty with a few giggles as here is what Jo would write in a letter to her younger self.

Dear Joanne,

I should probably start by reassuring you that the path you have taken, although not the one you planned on, is a good one and you will be in a happy relationship with a wonderful husband and children (plus grandchildren but I don’t want you to freak out about that! Yes, you’ll be a young Nana but it’s amazing!).

You won’t be going to uni to study English like you wanted but not getting those grades means that you will become part of the wonderful NHS caring for people who is what you do best. Just have the confidence to know what is right for YOU! Don’t be pushed down a road you don’t want to travel down.

Those books that you hide away to read, keep reading them! Books will always be part of your life and one day you will find that the knowledge and background that they gave you, will lead to one of the most exciting times of your life! You will become part of a community where you aren’t looked at as some kind of nerd. You will have found your place.

Don’t be ashamed that you didn’t like Catcher in the Rye!!! Have the confidence to tell people why you throw it in the New Year bonfire!! And life is too short to read Ulysses by James Joyce. Just leave it on the bookshelf!

You won’t ever be that writer you wanted to be, life gets in the way, but be amazed at how ahead of your time you were! Those exercise books you steal in school to write those instalments of your “novel” when you’re 16, the ones that you used to pass around all your friends, well they were the way forward! The adventures of Christie, the teenage pop star and her liaisons with her fans and her much older manager were a little bit shocking for some of your friends (and the mother who felt she had to have a word with mine!) But I wish you had kept them!! You could have been the first E.L. James!

And wear a bikini!!!!! Yes you may be pear shaped with a big bum and tiny waist but embrace your curves, there’s not an ounce of fat on you. Someday you will be Apple shaped and wish you had that body now that you have the confidence to wear that bikini! And don’t worry about that gorgeous curly hair you are bullied about, GHDs are on their way and anyway, those curls are your best feature, embrace them too! And keep drinking all that water! Your 51 year old face will thank you for it!

Lots of love

Jo (Book reviewer and blogger at mychestnutreadingtree)

Thank you so much Jo for kicking off TWG’s new feature! You look younger than me so go rock that bikini!!!!

Here are Jo’s social links so you can find out what she is about now!
Jo’s Blog
Jo’s Facebook Page
Follow Jo on Twitter

Book review of ‘The Wedding Date’ by Jennifer Joyce.

The Wedding Date by Jennifer Joyce.
Published 28th March 2016 by Carina UK.
Available to buy from Amazon UK.

‘Will you…date me?
Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…
So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!
Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?’

Ah, weddings! They can be stressful can’t they? I mean, you need to ensure you’re looking your best, preened to perfection from head to toe with every single thing organised. Plus there is the added stress of invitations. Without those, nobody would turn up, obviously, but then you have to painstakingly sit there and work out who you’re going to the wedding with……
Oh, no, sorry, I’m not on about the stresses for the bride!! The bride will be with her husband! I was on about who would have the privilege of accompanying a singleton to a wedding, a plus one, a wedding date. STRESS!! Now if that wasn’t enough to send your mind into overdrive, you then find out from the bride herself that your ex partner will be at the wedding. Not just a quick fumble type ex, an ex that truly broke your heart and has moved on faster than a conveyor belt at the supermarket.
Single, going to a wedding, ex partner to be there with NEW partner, did I say single? Surely it won’t be that much of a disaster….will it?

My, my, myyyyyy Delilah. Yes, I did it. Sorry Delilah! Delilah has six months to find herself a date for an old friends wedding. Usually it would be a simple task as she could have taken her best friend, however, her ex Ben is going to be there. Cue major girl drama and her two best friends (and sister) trying to set her up with every Tom, Dick, and Harry. Well, Delilah’s sister’s choice of men is quite questionable. A man and a computer, what could possibly go wrong….

I want Delilah’s job, she works in a biscuit factory. Unfortunately, she doesn’t work where the biscuits are made, that is the only downfall. Although, she does work next to something else that is ‘sweet’. Meet Adam, one of the new guys in her office, everything about him shouts ‘dunk me’ (Peter Kay reference anyone?). Not only has Delilah’s two best friends pushed her to go on multiple dates courtesy of online dating, Adam manages to catch her eye. However, whilst that sounds perfect, Delilah believes that she isn’t good enough after Ben broke her heart, so she feels the need to tell one lie, then two, then….see where I’m going with this?

I knew Jennifer’s books were funny, but I underestimated how funny. Sarcasm + one liners + character’s with questionable personalities = TWG snorting. Classy, right? Many times throughout the book I kept changing my mind about where I thought the story was heading. Some situations were saying one thing, and others were changing my train of thought completely. However, I was still surprised, probably a bit like Delilah was when she found out her ex Ben was going to be at the wedding!

There are a few situations in the book that had me covering my face because I was cringing and thinking ‘did that just happen?’. No, not because of Jennifer’s writing, but because of several characters and their one track minds. I may have been cringing, but I loved it. ‘The Wedding Date’ is such a light-hearted and easy flowing read, nothing within the book was a hardship to read. I genuinely didn’t want the book to finish as I wanted to find out what happened AFTER the wedding. The characters had such depth that I felt they had more to give and perhaps needed another story to breathe in. If that makes sense? Maybe I am just being greedy and wanting more. That isn’t a bad thing though! Definitely recommended as one of my ‘Must reads of 2016’!!

I do want Jennifer Joyce as my new BFF though, her humour is pretty much like mine. One thing though Jennifer, please don’t set me up with any….computer exploring guys, if you catch my drift! I am looking forward to read what you have in store next!

I need a coffee and a yummy cake, ‘The Cherry Tree Cafe’ anyone? Heidi Swain?

The Cherry Tree Café by Heidi Swain.
Published 16th July 2015 by Simon & Schuster UK.
Available to buy from Amazon UK.

‘Lizzie Dixon’s life feels as though it’s fallen apart. Instead of the marriage proposal she was hoping for from her boyfriend, she is unceremoniously dumped, and her job is about to go the same way. So, there’s only one option: to go back home to the village she grew up in and to try to start again.
 
Her best friend Jemma is delighted Lizzie has come back home. She has just bought a little cafe and needs help in getting it ready for the grand opening. And Lizzie’s sewing skills are just what she needs.
With a new venture and a new home, things are looking much brighter for Lizzie. But can she get over her broken heart, and will an old flame reignite a love from long ago…?’

You know what springs to mind when I hear/read ‘The Cherry Tree Cafe’? No? Well, no, I guess you won’t know as I haven’t told you yet! The word ‘cosy’ springs to mind. Before I started reading the book, I envisioned a vintage style café with cakes, floral decoration and a homely, cosy feel to it. Funny how much a title of a book and its cover can make you think isn’t it!

Lizzie is at a standstill in her life thanks to her wonderful boyfriend, sorry, EX boyfriend. She could stay working in the job that HE got for her, or she could go back to her home town and await all the told you so’s from her mother. Damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t really. Poor Lizzie.

Lizzie decided to go for the latter. Go back to her home village and deal with the comments when they arose. However, little did Lizzie know, her life was about to get even more complicated. Even more complicated that one of Jemma’s cakes couldn’t even fix it. I wonder if Jemma makes humble pie?

I adored following Lizzie’s new venture and ‘seeing’ her make good use of the talents that she had to put aside for many years. Heidi described every little detail of everything that was made. It was as though I had the items right in front of me. Maybe I need to sweet talk Heidi into ‘getting’ me a memento from the café -flutters eyelashes-.

I did find Lizzie to be a little bit of a lost character. She came across as though she didn’t have a clue what she wanted, but was easily tempted by things that she thought she wanted. I must say, I got a little frustrated at her choices during the story. But I guess it is easy for an outsider to say that though isn’t it? All Lizzie wants is to be loved for who she is, and to be settled in a life that she chose NOT what she had to go along with.

When friendships and relationships get put to the test, it becomes perfectly clear why Lizzie has issues with trust. I felt quite sorry for her. Despite the fact that I worked out where the story was heading about half way through, it didn’t ruin the rest of the story for me. I thought it may have done, but I was getting excited waiting for it all to happen and take place. I just wanted Lizzie to be happy and those around her to realise the error of their ways.

I really enjoy reading books about cafe’s and shops because the likelihood of me actually working in one, are slim to nil. Plus, if I read fun books about them, like this one, I can be transported to The Cherry Tree Café without even leaving my bed! The Cherry Tree Café is definitely a fun, cosy read; ideal to read especially if ‘stress’ has become your middle name. Why? Because as soon as you ‘walk’ into The Cherry Tree Café, your problems disappear.