Friday, 8 December 2017

The Evacuee Christmas
Katie King
(Harper Collins)

Today, I am super excited to be hosting the blog tour for The Evacuee Christmas by Katie King. I absolutely fell in love with the cover of this book and it is on my TBR pile for the festive season.

Below is an extract for you, which is actually Chapter One. So sit back with a cuppa, perhaps a biscuit or two and relax while you read Chapter One of The Evacuee Christmas.....

Chapter One

The shadows were starting to lengthen as twins Connie and Jessie made their way back home.
They felt quite grown up these days as a week earlier it had been their tenth birthday, and their mother Barbara had iced a cake and there’d been a raucous tea party at home for family and their close friends, with party games and paper hats. The party had ended in the parlour with Barbara bashing out songs on the old piano and everyone having a good old sing-song.
What a lot of fun it had been, even though by bedtime Connie felt queasy from eating too much cake, and Jessie had a sore throat the following morning from yelling out the words to ‘The Lambeth Walk’ with far too much vigour.

On the twins’ iced Victoria sponge Barbara had carefully piped Connie’s name in cerise icing with loopy lettering and delicately traced small yellow and baby-pink flowers above it.

Then Barbara had thoroughly washed out her metal icing gun and got to work writing Jessie’s name below his sister’s on the lower half of the cake.

This time Barbara chose to work in boxy dark blue capitals, with a sailboat on some choppy turquoise and deep-blue waves carefully worked in contrasting-coloured icing as the decoration below his name, Jessie being very sensitive about his name and the all-too-common assumption, for people who hadn’t met him but only knew him by the name ‘Jessie’, that he was a girl.

If she cared to think about it, which she tried not to, Barbara heartily regretted that Ted had talked her into giving their only son as his Christian name the Ross family name of Jessie which, as tradition would have it, was passed down to the firstborn male in each new generation of Rosses. 

It wasn’t even spelt Jesse, as it usually was if naming a boy, because – Ross family tradition again – Jessie was on the earlier birth certificates of those other Jessies and in the family Bible that lay on the sideboard in the parlour at Ted’s elder brother’s house, and so Jessie was how it had to be for all the future Ross generations to come.

Ted had told Barbara what an honour it was to be called Jessie, and Barbara, still weak from the exertions of the birth, had allowed herself to be talked into believing her husband.

She must have still looked a little dubious, though, as then Ted pointed out that his own elder brother Jessie was a gruff-looking giant with huge arms and legs, and nobody had ever dared tease him about his name. It was going to be just the same for their newborn son, Ted promised.

Big Jessie (as Ted’s brother had become known since the birth of his nephew) was in charge of the maintenance of several riverboats on the River Thames, Ted working alongside him, and Big Jessie, with his massive bulk, could single-handedly fill virtually all of the kitchen hearth in his and his wife Val’s modest terraced house that backed on to the Bermondsey street where Ted and Barbara raised their children in their own, almost identical red-brick house.

Barbara could see why nobody in their right mind would mess with Big Jessie, even though those who knew him soon discovered that his bruiser looks belied his gentle nature as he was always mild of manner and slow to anger, with a surprisingly soft voice.

Sadly, it had proved to be a whole different story for young Jessie, who had turned out exactly as Barbara had suspected he would all those years ago when she lovingly gazed down at her newborn twins, with the hale and hearty Connie (named after Barbara’s mother Constance) dwarfing her more delicate-framed brother as they lay length to length with their toes almost touching and their heads away from each other in the beautifully crafted wooden crib Ted had made for the babies to sleep in.

These days, Barbara could hardly bear to see how cruelly it all played out on the grubby streets on which the Ross family lived. To say it fair broke Barbara’s heart was no exaggeration.
While Connie was tall, tomboyish and could easily pass for twelve, and very possibly older, Jessie was smaller and more introverted, often looking a lot younger than he was.

Barbara hated the way Jessie would shrink away from the bigger south-east London lads when they tussled him to the ground in their rough-house games. All the boys had their faces rubbed in the dirt by the other lads at one time or another – Barbara knew and readily accepted that that was part and parcel of a child’s life in the tangle of narrow and dingy streets they knew so well – but very few people had to endure quite the punishing that Jessie did with such depressing regularity.

Connie would confront the vindictive lads on her brother’s behalf, her chin stuck out defiantly as she dared them to take her on instead. If the boys didn’t immediately back away from Jessie, she blasted in their direction an impressive slew of swear words that she’d learnt by dint of hanging around on the docks when she took Ted his lunch in the school holidays. (It was universally agreed amongst all the local boys that when Connie was in a strop, it was wisest to do what she wanted, or else it was simply asking for trouble.)

Meanwhile, as Connie berated all and sundry, Jessie would freeze with a cowed expression on his face, and look as if he wished he were anywhere else but there. Needless to say, it was with a ferocious regularity that he found himself at the mercy of these bigger, stronger rowdies.

Usually this duffing-up happened out of sight of any grown-ups and, ideally, Connie. But the times Barbara spied what was going on all she wanted to do was to run over and take Jessie in her arms to comfort him and promise him it would be all right, and then keep him close to her as she led him back inside their home at number five Jubilee Street. However, she knew that if she even once gave into this impulse, then kind and placid Jessie would never live it down, and he would remain the butt of everyone’s poor behaviour for the rest of his childhood.

Barbara loved Connie, of course, as what mother wouldn’t be proud of such a lively, proud, strong-minded daughter, with her distinctive and lustrous tawny hair, clear blue eyes and strawberry-coloured lips, and her constant stream of chatter? (Connie was well known in the Ross family for being rarely, if ever, caught short of something to say.)

Nevertheless, it was Jessie who seemed connected to the essence of Barbara’s inner being, right to the very centre of her. If Barbara felt tired or anxious, it wouldn’t be long before Jessie was at her side, shyly smiling up to comfort his mother with his warm, endearingly lopsided grin.

Barbara never really worried about Connie, who seemed pretty much to have been born with a slightly defiant jib to her chin, as if she already knew how to look after herself or how to get the best from just about any situation. But right from the start Jessie had been much slower to thrive and to walk, although he’d always been good with his sums and with reading, and he was very quick to pick up card games and puzzles.

If Barbara had to describe the twins, she would say that Connie was smart as a whip, but that Jessie was the real thinker of the family, with a curious mind underneath
which still waters almost certainly ran very deep.
Unfortunately in Bermondsey during that dog-end of summer in 1939, the characteristics the other local children rated in one another were all to do with strength and cunning and stamina.

For the boys, being able to run faster than the girls when playing kiss chase was A Very Good Thing.
Jessie had never beaten any of the boys at running, and most of the girls could hare about faster than him too.
It was no surprise therefore, thought Barbara, that Jessie had these days to be more or less pushed out of the front door to go and play with the other children, while Connie would race to be the first of the gang outside and then she’d be amongst the last to return home in the evening.

Although only born five minutes apart, they were chalk and cheese, with Connie by far and away the best of any of the children at kiss chase, whether it be the hunting down of a likely target or the hurtling away from anyone brave enough to risk her wrath. Connie was also brilliant at two-ball, skipping, knock down ginger and hopscotch, and in fact just about any playground game anyone could suggest they play.

Jessie was better than Connie in one area – he excelled at conkers, he and Connie getting theirs from a special tree in Burgess Park that they had sworn each other to secrecy over and sealed with a blood pact, with the glossy brown conkers then being seasoned over a whole winter and spring above the kitchen range. Sadly, quite often Jessie would have to yield to bigger children who would demand with menace that his conkers be simply handed over to them, with or without the benefit of any sham game.

Ted never tried to stop Barbara being especially kind to Jessie within the privacy of their own home, provided the rest of the world had been firmly shut outside. But if – and this didn’t happen very often, as Barbara already knew what would be said – she wanted to talk to her husband about Jessie and his woes, and how difficult it was for him to make proper friends, Ted would reply that he felt differently about their son than she.
‘Barbara, love, it’s doing ’im no favours if yer try to fight’ is battles for ’im. I was little at ’is age, an’ yer jus’ look a’me now’ – Ted was well over six foot with tightly corded muscles on his arms and torso, and Barbara never tired of running her hands over his well-sculpted body whent hey were tucked up in their bed at night with the curtains drawn tight and the twins asleep – ‘an’ our Jessie’ll be fine if we jus’ ’elp ’im deal with the bullies. Connie’s got the right idea, and in time ’e’ll learn from ’er too. An’ there’ll be a time when our Jessie’ll come into his own, jus’ yer see if I’m not proved correct, love.’

Barbara really hoped that her husband was right. But she doubted it was going to happen any time soon. And until then she knew that inevitably sweet and open-hearted Jessie would be enduring a pretty torrid time of it.

To order a copy of this book click here 

Thursday, 7 December 2017

A Christmas Wish
Erin Green

Genre: Romance Contemporary
Release Date: 1st August 2017
Publisher: Aria Fiction/Head of Zeus

Flora Phillips has an excuse for every disaster in her life; she was abandoned as a new-born on a doorstep one cold autumn night, wrapped in nothing but a towel. Her philosophy is simple: if your mother doesn't want you – who will?
Now a thirty-year-old, without a boyfriend, a career or home she figures she might as well tackle the biggest question of them all – who is she? So, whilst everyone else enjoys their Christmas Eve traditions, Flora escapes the masses and drives to the village of Pooley to seek a specific doorstep. Her doorstep.
But in Pooley she finds more than her life story. She finds friends, laughter, and perhaps even a love to last a lifetime. Because once you know where you come from, it's so much easier to know where you're going.
A story of redemption and love, romance and Christmas dreams-come-true, the perfect novel to snuggle up with this festive season.


About Erin Green

Erin was born and raised in Warwickshire, where she resides with her husband. An avid reader since childhood, her imagination was instinctively drawn to creative writing as she grew older. Erin has two Hons degrees: BA English literature and another BSc Psychology – her previous careers have ranged from part-time waitress, the retail industry, fitness industry and education. She has an obsession about time, owns several tortoises and an infectious laugh!
Erin’s writes contemporary novels focusing on love, life and laughter. Erin is an active member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and was delighted to be awarded The Katie Fforde Bursary in 2017. An ideal day for Erin involves writing, people watching and drinking copious amounts of tea.

Twitter: @ErinGreenAuthor
Goodreads Author Page: Instagram: Website:

A signed copy of the book for 5 lucky winners! (UK only)

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Tuesday, 5 December 2017

House of Christmas Secrets
Lynda Stacey

Today I have an extract from the lovey Lynda Stacey's new novel House of  Christmas Secrets. She is such a lovely lady and so when she got in contact regarding her new book, I had no hesitation in hosting her on Boon's Bookcase. Happy Publication Day!

This year we’re just going to have a nice, normal Christmas… 
Last year’s Christmas at Wrea Head Hall didn’t quite go to plan which is why Jess Croft is determined this festive season will be the one to remember, for the right reasons. And she has plenty of reasons to be hopeful, she’s going to marry the man of her dreams, Jack Stone, seven days after New Year’s Eve. 

However, as family secrets are revealed in hidden letters and two unexpected guests turn up on the doorstep, Jess is left wondering whether her life will ever be the same again. 

Can Jess and Jack still experience a peaceful festive season that they had imagined or are there some problems that even Christmas can’t fix?

Extract from Chapter One
Jess hovered in the hotel’s grand hall and leaned against the huge inglenook fireplace. She brushed her dark, wild Afro hair away from her face, more out of habit than need, before allowing her hand to run across the stone mantel. Her fingertips traced the detail in the antique carved stone, and she tipped her head to one side in order to study it more closely. She had lived at Wrea Head Hall now for almost eighteen months, yet each and every day she found another thing of beauty that she hadn’t previously noticed.
Kneeling down by the tiled hearth, she felt herself shiver as she plunged her fingers into the thick pile of the new carpet. Everything was new and had been replaced after the fire that had almost destroyed the whole hotel just over a year before and now, instead of the dark blues that had previously run throughout the grand hall, everything was decorated in warm reds and golds, giving the whole room a rich and luxurious finish. Jess looked up to the ceiling, thankful that the ornate plaster had survived, along with the carved bosses within it that were painted gold on the white background. So much had been lost, yet miraculously much had also been saved or repaired. Even the Wren oak panelling had been restored, and Jess smiled at its beauty, grateful that the insurance had covered the work, and relieved that skilled craftsmen had pulled out all the stops to bring the Hall back to its former glory.
Jess picked up the long, cast iron poker, and began to stab at the embers in the grate, before carefully choosing a log, lifting back the fireguard and throwing the wood into the flames that already danced up the chimney. The sudden addition of another log created new flames of gold, orange and blue that wrapped themselves around the wood. For Jess the flames held a mesmerising magic and comfort that she couldn’t explain, and many a night she’d come down here with Jack after the guests had all gone to their beds. Together they’d sit on one of the settees, cuddling up, holding hands and simply staring into what remained of the embers.
‘Never waste a log,’ Jack often said to her; it was a saying he’d picked up from Madeleine’s father shortly before his untimely death. The saying always made Jess sigh and she wondered what life at the hotel would have been like had Morris survived. Would she be living here? Would she have got to know Jack? Would they have fallen in love? And what if they hadn’t, where would she be now and what would she be doing? She held a hand to her heart and acknowledged that she had so many reasons to be happy. Yet, she was fully aware that she was only happy because others, including herself, had previously suffered. She thought back to the year before, to how her sister Madeleine’s former boyfriend had terrorised them all and every single day she wished that Liam had never existed, that Madeleine had never met him and that he’d never got involved with their precious family. After all, he’d killed many of the people they loved and had almost succeeded in killing the rest. His obsession with Madeleine had caused each and every one of them more pain and heartache than Jess could have ever imagined.
Feeling a little warmer, Jess moved back from the fire, sat on the upholstered fender seat within the inglenook and thought about the past. It was times like this, as she sat watching the flames, that she’d think of her mother, of Madeleine’s father and of all the people that Liam had killed, while all the time feeling ridiculously overwhelmed and grateful to have survived his clutches.
‘This year we’re just going to have a nice, normal Christmas,’ she whispered to herself in full knowledge that the happenings of the year before had been somewhat extraordinary. In fact, she thought that this Christmas might end up being what most people would classify as boring. But she didn’t care; after being kidnapped, after thinking that both she and Maddie might die, any kind of boring would be absolutely perfect. The only good part of the Christmas before had been Christmas Eve, the wonderful meal that Nomsa had cooked and the fact that both Bandit’s grandmother, Emily, and his father, Arthur, had come
back to live at the Hall, where they belonged. It still seemed such an amazing coincidence that Bandit, the former gamekeeper of the hotel and the man Madeleine had fallen in love with, was a direct descendant of the family who had owned Wrea Head Hall for generations, before Maddie’s father had bought it and turned it into a hotel.
Ebook at:
Twitter @Lyndastacey Website

Monday, 4 December 2017

Brighter Days Ahead
Mary Wood

Today, I'm delighted to be hosting a Guest Piece by the lovely author Mary Wood as part of the Blog Tour for Brighter Days Ahead. I think it is widely known now that I am a sucker for family/wartime sagas and I really can't wait to read this one! Thank you so much Mary for writing a piece especially for Boon's Bookcase and I very much hope to be able to review Brighter Days Ahead soon.


Brighter Days Ahead is a moving story set against the backdrop of the Second World War, from Mary Wood, the author of In Their Mother’s Footsteps.

War pulled them apart, but can it bring them back together?

Molly lives with her repugnant father, who has betrayed her many times. From a young age, living on the
streets of London’s East End, she has seen the harsh realities of life . . . When she’s kidnapped by a gang and forced into their underworld, her future seems bleak.
Flo spent her early years in an orphanage, and is about to turn her hand to teacher training. When a kindly teacher at her school approaches her about a job at Bletchley Park, it could be everything she never knew she wanted.
Will the girls' friendship be enough to weather the hard times ahead? 


Hello Julie and Everyone. Lovely to be here as part of my first blog tour. 
In this guest blog, I have chosen to give a small insight to part of my writing year.
Writing books is something that I do all year round, but at the start of winter, when those first winds begin to bite, and the swaying trees are bare of their summer-green glory, my mind turns to warmer climes.
And so, the ferry is booked, the car packed with items from home that we need, and off we set. Our destination is – to me, the lovely jewel in the crown of Spain – The Mar Menor (The little sea)
Life now takes on a different mantle, as truly there are, BRIGHTER DAYS AHEAD, (very apt, as that is the title of my latest release – read more about it below) as grey skies are swapped for rich blue, and the odd snatched day sitting in the garden, for the endless available days when this is possible. And writing seems almost like a hobby, rather than my way of life. 
A very enjoyable hobby it is, though.
I still start my day very early in the morning, but with a difference. At home, I begin work at 5 am and sit in my little-bedroom-office away from the world and usually to the pitter-patter of rain hitting my window. Here, once it is light, I am part of life as I sit opposite my husband Roy on our balcony, laptop on my knee, feet up and warmed by the sun, while Roy reads his paper. 
At the moment, I am writing the third in a trilogy, which to date, doesn’t have a confirmed title, only a working title of: ‘The Girls Who Went to War’. The first of this trilogy is due to be published a year from now, after my Northern Historical Saga – The Street Orphans, which will be released in May 18. 
Here, in my winter retreat, I find the words flow from me, as now, the sounds around me are the swishing of palm trees, and the rippling of the communal pool – its water too cold to be disturbed by swimmers, whose glee would upset my peace – oh dear, that sounds a bit ‘grumpy old woman’, but no. I love to hear folk having fun, but not while I am writing, then, I need quiet around me.
I am in writer’s bliss. And feel blessed and very lucky as all cares, health worries – arthritis doesn’t hurt half as much in the suns warm rays – and stress, melt away from me, leaving me free to go into the world of my characters. 


Thank you, Julie, for having me guest on your blog. Much love to you and to your followers. Mary Wood x

To order a copy of the book on Amazon click here

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

The Secret Child
Kerry Fisher 

Guest Review
Julie Williams
Publication Day!

I loved this emotion packed story from the start it has characters that I really connected with. 

Set in Portsmouth in the 1960’s part 1 is told by Susie who is forced to give birth to her second child In a Mother and Baby place and then give her baby boy Edward up for adoption. Susie finds the whole experience harrowing and insists on caring for her son for the first six weeks of his life, which she cherishes, before the fateful day arrives where he is handed over to complete strangers.

As her story unfolds we learn of the impact this event has had on Susie, the torment she endures and the effect of those around her. Often her husband Danny and two daughters Louise and Grace bear the brunt of the guilt and regret she feels, yet she is unable to tell them her secret. 

With the birth date etched firmly in her mind Susie secretly reminisces each year causing even further relationship problems in the household. Her friend Jeanie is the only other person to share her true feelings with but Susie is always on tenterhooks in case she lets slip her secret.  

Part 2 is told by grace and I found her story particularly captivating as the relationship between her and her Mother is turned on its head with heart felt outcomes. As the truth reveals itself it is like a bomb exploding. How each member of the family react is not predictable. 

My thanks to Net Galley for the ARC, this is my own opinion . 

The Last of The Shackdwellers
Lena Kennedy

Release Date: 18th January 2018

The evocative autobiography of the author Lena Kennedy who was sixty-four before her first novel, `Maggie` was accepted for publication. This book examines the inspiration for her novels, such as the bestsellers Eve`s Apples and Lily My Lovely and describes the long search for a publisher, as well as her joy at finding success.

In this, story of her life as a writer, Lena Kennedy looks back on the formative influences that shaped her career, such as the idyllic summers spent at her family`s holiday home in Kent, where among the `shackdwellers` of the woods and the simple beauty of the countryside she began to realise her growing need to express her feeling through writing. But the realisation of the need to write is only the beginning, as Lena soon acknowledged when her career took its first faltering steps, and the setback late in life that nearly robbed her of many year``s work. The Last of the Shackdwellers is told in her inimitable style, sheds much light on the life of this much-loved writer. Lena Kennedy died in August l986.

Amazon UK - 
Amazon US -


Lena Kennedy (June 15, 1914 - August 1 1986), was an English author. Her books were mostly historical romantic fiction set in and around the East End of London where she lived for all her life. Some of her books, including her autobiography, were published posthumously. She appeared, as a subject, on the television programme 

This Is Your Life shortly before her death in 1986. 

Amazon Author page:

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Can You Keep a Secret
Karen Penny
Blog Tour

Guest Review
Julie Williams

Thank  you to the lovely Julie Williams for agreeing to review this book for me as part of the Blog Tour. Find her review below, sounds intriguing........


This mystery, crime fiction novel is mainly central to Thornbury Hall home to the Bagenal family.  The book has alternating chapters between 1991 and 2017.

It took me awhile to get hold my attention as at first I thought the story was just about eccentric adults and posh stuck up kids which I couldn’t relate to. However, I persevered with the story and clues were hinted at which finally revealed secrets hidden in both eras.

This novel reminds me of a mishmash between Downton Abbey and Murder She Wrote.

In 1991 Rachael Bagenal and her friend Lindsey just 15 years old are enjoying life with weekends and holidays spent at Thornbury Hall with Rachael’s parents who accept Lindsey as one of their own and Patrick Rachael’s brother and his friends. The place appears so lively and fun, something that Lindsey doesn’t have within her own family. This quite idyllic time comes to an abrupt end when the sudden death of Peter Bagenal occurs leaving everyone in shock and they go their separate ways. 

It is not until 2017 when Lindsey, now a forensic photographer, meets up again with Patrick that she falls in love with him and a reunion weekend is planned for a final shindig at the now crumbling Thornbury Hall before it is sold. Hidden secrets are finally revealed with horrendous consequences that left me shocked and aghast. 

Thank you to Julie for asking me to guest review this book on her blog. 

Friday, 17 November 2017

The Missing twin
By Alex day
Published 18/08/17
Harper Collins –Killer Reads
Guest Review
Julie Williams

This gripping psychological thriller debut was hard to put down, it had my attention throughout which is just what I like for this book genre. 

Edie has always felt inferior to her twin sister Laura but of course they are the best of friends.  When Laura joins Edie on a surprise visit to the gorgeous island where Edie is now living and working she couldn’t be happier to have her sister there. However this joy is short lived as no sooner that Laura arrives, she goes missing without a trace and Edie cannot seem to get any help in her search, even from her boyfriend Vuk, who is a particularly strange character.

Fatima’s story tells a completely different one yet it is also addictive to read. When Fatima arrives home with her twin girls she cannot believe what she is faced with, as her home has been reduced to rubble and her beloved husband dead. She decides that she must make the torturous journey to find a new country to give both her and the girls a better life away from the war torn country they have lived in. Fatima endures trauma and tragedy beyond belief yet it is these experiences that give her a new strength and courage.

The chapters of this book alternate between Edie and Fatima’s stories and when reading I kept wondering just they are connected.

A compelling read with a massive twist at the end that is so unexpected.

5 Stars *****

My thanks to Net Galley for the ARC this is my own honest opinion. 

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Christmas at The Candied Apple Café
Katherine Garbera
Blog Tour

Christmas at the Candied Apple Café
There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…
Santa is coming to New York!
Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!

Amazon UK: 
Amazon US: 

Christmas Q&A for Boon’s Bookcase

1. What is your favourite holiday hostessing tip?

My best hostessing tip is to find easy to make recipes that are easy to replenish and serve. I tend to make too much food when I know people are coming over but I’d hate for anyone to go hungry. I always have a crudité tray with dips on it and I have a chaffing dish that I make queso salsa in and set out with tortilla chips.  Here is the recipe for my queso:

1 pound cheddar cheese, cubed
1/2 cup milk, or as needed
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
2 (4 ounce) jars of salsa
Place cheese, milk, and butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Cook until cheese has melted, stirring frequently. Stir in salsa. Add more milk if dip is too thick. Heat through and serve immediately.

2. What is your favourite way to relax over the holidays?
I always plan one night for just my husband and I where we just listen to our Christmas playlist, drink Bailey’s and have the Christmas tree lights on.  We have a quiet night watching the tree and talking.

3. What is your favourite Christmas tradition?
I think it would have to be Christmas Eve. My husband, kids and I always make a seafood dinner that usually includes salmon with a tomato and onion salsa or sometimes handmade lobster ravioli.  Then we watch Home Alone on TV and drink hot chocolate before we all head outside to check and see if we can spot Rudolph-The-Red-Nosed-Reindeer in the sky leading Santa’s sleigh before the kids hang their stockings and head up to bed.

Author Bio 

USA Today bestselling author Katherine Garbera is a two-time Maggie winner who has written more than 60 books. A Florida native who grew up to travel the globe, Katherine now makes her home in the Midlands of the UK with her husband, two children and a very spoiled miniature dachshund. 
Social Media Links  
Twitter @katheringarbera

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Friday, 10 November 2017

Last Christmas In Paris – A Novel Of World War 1
By Hazel Gaynor & Heather Webb
Guest Review
Julie Williams

Published William Morrow Paperbacks 05/10/17

Last Christmas in Paris is a clever collaboration by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb and what a terrific job they both did in bringing to life the tragedies and hopes during WW1.

The story begins in 1968 but it is the letters written during wartime that tells the very moving tale of just how the brutality of war changes everyone. Evie Elliott, her brother Will and their childhood friend Tom are desperate to serve their country with the belief that the war will be over within months and normality will resume. 

With Will and Tom off to do their bit in 1914 the correspondence begins and becomes quite regular and most welcome especially between Evie and Tom. Evie finds herself desperate for news from the battle grounds while Tom is anxious for the companionship the written words bring. 

When Evie is given the opportunity to become a journalist she is set free to tell the truth of how the effects war is having first hand and not everyone is happy with the content in her column. Evie also takes up the role of delivering post, much to her parents dislike, but to her this position means she is helping the war effort by giving much awaited news to those left behind. Evie also corresponds with her dear friend Alice who has taken a nursing post in France and often writes of her wish for them all to spend Christmas in Paris. All letters are eagerly awaited but those between Evie and Tom are lifelines but neither sadly feels they can declare their love for each other.
I felt all the emotions that this this book offers, which at times are hard to bear. A truly powerful read that has passion, courage and breath holding moments that ooze page after page. 

I was lucky enough to win this book from a lovely book blogger and certainly consider it a contender for book of 2017.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Fifth Letter 
By Nicola Moriarty

Guest Review
Julie Williams


This is my first read by this author, the cover and synopsis drew me in as well as seeing it on Twitter and Facebook.

It tells the tale of four women now in their thirties who have been best friends since their first day at High school, so over twenty years. Joni, Deb, Trina and Eden follow a tradition and meet up annually for a holiday which is organised by Joni.

This year Joni chooses a house which is in a bit of a remote location in the hope of getting them to reconnect, as she feels they are each so busy with their lives that they are drifting apart as a group. She has also asks them to each write an anonymous letter sharing a secret. These four letters cause quite a stir in their own right but when Joni discovers a fifth letter discarded in the fire grate, suspicion and mistrusts are rife.

I liked the concept of the plot and found myself trying to guess who had written each letter. It transpires that not everyone is honest with their letter and each friend has to decipher between truths and lies. They also discover that none of them lead the perfect life each had imagined and guilt is just one of the emotions that is displayed in the conundrum of this story.

Each of the women has different characteristics and in the beginning I felt that Joni was the strongest, the organiser and the bossiest, but I changed my mind as the story unfolded.

I enjoyed the chapters where Joni had her confessional sessions with Father O’Reilly interesting as the Priest, an outsider of the group, guessed who had written the fifth letter with accuracy and wisdom.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Christmas at Baytree Cottage
Linn B Halton

Genre: Romance/women’s contemporary/holidays
Release Date: 3 Nov 2017
Publisher: Harper Impulse

The countdown to Christmas is usually a magical time, but Elana James is fed up with living on a building site! The renovations on her beautiful cottage – like her heart – have been frozen in limbo ever since she was unexpectedly widowed.
Elana calls in a professional, Luke Stevenson, to help finish the cottage, so her little girl can send letters to Santa up the newly-repaired chimney. Luke’s kind, capable and sexy – but he’s also ten years younger than Elana. So why has her heart decided it’s finally time for a thaw?
The perfect read to curl up by the fire with … for fans of Rebecca Boxall.

 ‘Mum, can we light the log fire tonight?’ Maya looks up at me with eager eyes.
‘I think we should wait until the weekend, darling. There isn’t really time to appreciate it on a school night, is there? Besides, I’m not even sure whether there are any logs left in the store. I promise to get it sorted as soon as I can.’
It was Niall’s job, sorting the fire. He would have booked the chimney sweep in early autumn and had the logs all ready and waiting, stacked neatly against the back wall of the garage. Ironically, last year I was much more organised. I suppose it was one of my coping mechanisms during those raw, early weeks and months. Keep going; keep doing something – anything, so I didn’t have to listen to what was in my head. But I feel bad. Maya will remember that this time last year we spent every evening huddled together on the sofa in front of the fire, reading. Hour upon hour we escaped into alternative worlds inspired by some wonderful authors. Roald Dahl’s Matilda, E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and Maya’s favourite, Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch, a story of tenderness and triumph. 
It was the very worst of times, but I focused on getting us through it one day at a time. My gut instinct, immediately after the accident, had been to sell the cottage just to escape that prevailing sense that something was missing. Niall was no longer here and it would never, ever be the same again. But soon realisation dawned that Maya needed a sense of continuity; the memories trapped within these walls were a lifeline for her, although a cruelly painful reminder for me. In a way she feels her dad is still here and I can’t take that away from her.


About Linn B Halton

Bristol-born Linn lives in the Forest of Dean, in the UK. She resides there with her lovely husband and cat, Ziggy. She has been writing novels since 2009 and has written short stories for a number of magazines. She is also known for her series of ‘Home by Design’ articles wearing her former interior designer hat.
"I'm a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. 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-selling novel 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, romantic comedy, women's contemporary fiction and psychic romance. Publishers include Harper Impulse, Choc Lit and Endeavour Press.

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Saturday, 4 November 2017

Dark Chapter
Winnie M Li


They say events like this change your life forever. That your
life will never be the same as it was the day before it happened.
Or even two hours before it happened, when I stood waiting
for that bus out of Belfast, along the Falls Road to the west
of the city.
Is it melodramatic to think of life like that? Of a clean split
struck straight down the breadth of your existence, severing
your first twenty-nine years from all the years that come
after? I look across that gap now, an unexpected rift in the
contour of my life, and I long to shout across that ravine to
the younger me who stands on the opposite edge, oblivious to
what lies ahead. She is a distant speck. She seems lost from
my perspective, but in her mind she thinks she knows where
she’s going. There is a hiking guidebook in her hand and a
path that she is following: it will lead here, up this slope, and
then along the edge of a plateau to gain the higher ground
merging with the hills above the city. She does not know who
follows her. She is only thinking of the path ahead. But some
things she cannot anticipate.
I stand now on this side of the ravine, desperate to warn
my earlier self of the person trailing her, skulking from bush

to tree in her wake. Stop! I want to shout. It’s not worth it!
Just give up the trail and go home. But she wouldn’t listen

anyway. She’s too stubborn, too determined to hike this trail
on a day this crisp and clear. And now, it’s too late. She is
in isolated country, and even if she were to turn back, she
would inevitably encounter him, because he is behind her.
Watching her.
By now, she has traversed the slope and found the trail
that runs between a sunlit pasture and the steep incline of the


glen. She pauses for a moment, breathing in the beauty of this
green track, the tree branches arching over the path, the bright
field that stretches to her left. She has escaped the city. This is
where the countryside really begins. It seems like a little bit
of heaven, for one last, peaceful moment. But she is perched
on the edge, and to her right, the ground plunges sharply into
the ravine.
The river below is a distant roar. The air up here smells of
manure and sun and warm grass, and lazy insects drift in the
filtered light beneath the trees. And then, glancing down the
wooded chasm to her right, she sees a figure coming up the
slope, trying to hide in the brush of the forest. Something skips
unnaturally in the beat of her heart. Only then, does she realize
she is being followed.
Now, years later, it is as if I am the one following my
earlier self. Haunting her every step, like some guardian
angel arrived too late. She parts the branches in front of her,
and I do it too, invisibly. She quickens her pace to lengthen
the distance between them, and I fall in step. She instinctively
knows she must reach the open ground before he catches her,
so she tries to cover the last few yards of the path as it clears
a ridge. With an invisible hand, I want to hold back the little
bastard, lock him into position like a rugby player, while
shouting to her to keep on going, to reach the meadow and
then abandon the trail, forget about the hike, just head straight
to the busy road and go home. But I am powerless to stop it.
Events must unfold as they already have.
The past is our past. So I am stranded here on this side
of the ravine, watching as he catches up to her. I don’t want
to see the rest of it. I have replayed it enough times already.
If I could just freeze it there – in that final moment, perched
between the sunlit pasture and the plunging abyss – then
everything would still be fine. Only then, it would not be
my life. It would be someone else’s pleasant stroll through
the Irish countryside on a spring afternoon. But my journey
turned out to be a little different.