Friday 8 December 2023

๐ŸŽ„Festive Read ~ A Winter Wedding at Starcross Manor by Christie Barlow

๐ŸŽ„Time for some lovely festive reads ๐ŸŽ„

Harper Collins UK
One More Chapter

28 September 2023

Love Heart Lane #12

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Fashion designer Libby Carter has always loved weddings, so when her brother finds himself in a bind and asks her to step in and plan the perfect winter wonderland wedding for guests at his hotel, Starcross Manor, she happily takes on the challenge. But this is no ordinary Christmas wedding and when everything starts to go awry Libby asks gorgeous videographer Guy Hart for help.

This isn’t single dad Guy’s usual gig – and he is not a fan of weddings – but saying no to vivacious Libby isn’t an option … especially when saying yes leads to one very unforgettable kiss under the mistletoe!

๐ŸŽ„My Review...

Fashion designer Libby Carter has just landed her dream job in New York when her brother asks her, at the last minute, to step in to help to organise an important wedding at Starcross Manor.  With her flair for design Libby faces the challenges of organising this wedding only to meet the most belligerent couple imaginable whose ideas for their wedding are rather unusual. Libby finds an ally in videographer Guy Hart and as the wedding plans get underway so does the attraction between Libby and Guy.

What then follows is a story filled with warmth and friendship and with a generous sprinkling of Christmas magic A Winter Wedding at Starcross Manor is a delight to read from start to finish.  The wonderful community around Starcross Manor really pull together to make this wedding a success but there are pitfalls along the way and all does not go smoothly. I love how the author weaves all the magic together and with a delightful twist this really is a story filled with the warmth of Christmas magic.

Set in the idyllic Heartcross this unashamedly romantic story is now the twelfth book in the successful Love Heart Lane series of rom-com novels and whilst some of the characters may overlap it is entirely possible to read A Winter Wedding at Starcross Manor without having read any of the previous stories however, this is such a wonderful series that it really is a delight to read the each of the books in order.

๐ŸตBest read with ...a delicious cup of spicy hot chocolate

About the Author

Christie Barlow is the number one international bestselling author of seventeen romantic comedies including the iconic Love Heart Lane Series, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm and Kitty's Countryside Dream. She lives in a ramshackle cottage in a quaint village in the heart of Staffordshire with her four children and two dogs.

Her writing career has come as a lovely surprise when Christie decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. 

Christie writes about love, life. friendships and the importance of community spirit.

Twitter @ChristieJBarlow #AWinterWeddingAtStarcrossManor



Wednesday 6 December 2023

๐ŸŽ„ Festive Book Review ~ Almanac : Twelve Poems for 2024 from Candlestick Press

๐ŸŽ„Time for some lovely festive reads ๐ŸŽ„

Candlestick Press
September 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this 

In this Almanac for 2024 you’ll find beautiful poems old and new, chosen to keep you company through the year.

We open with a poem that moves from mud and greyness to a vision of springtime-in-waiting, glimpsed in “a clutch of green spears”. Summer brings strawberries and swims by moonlight, while autumn is full of birds:

“Today I’m noticing wings – a swan
spreads its pinions wide, drinks
late, strange warmth from October skies.”

from ‘Callings’ by Sue Burge

The selection ends with a paean to winter sunshine, and an evening ร  deux beside an open fire. Poetry can find wonder in all seasons and all weathers, and this mini-anthology will bring delight from January to December.

Poems by Robert Browning, Sue Burge, Josephine Corcoran, Lucy Dixcart, Nicolette Golding, Lucy Ingrams, Stephen Keeler, DH Lawrence, Edna St Vincent Millay, Henrietta Cordelia Ray, Angela Readman and Edward Thomas.

Cover illustration by Angie Lewin.

๐ŸŽ„ My Review..

The older I get and the more I love to read an almanac. There is something quite special about starting a new year, looking forward and observing the changes of the seasons. This beautifully produced almanac includes poems which cover the twelve months of the year, each exploring changing times. As always, it is inspiring to see the work of lesser known poets alongside more recognised poems.

One of my favourite poets Edna St Vincent Millay is represented in She had Forgotten How the August Night

“..She had forgotten how the August night
Was level as a lake beneath the moon, 
In which she swam a little, losing sight
Of shore…”

I have particularly enjoyed dipping into and out of this rather special collection, finding something to enjoy in each of the featured poems and observing how the twelve months of the year unfold in imaginative detail. From the dark of winter, to the promise of spring, and from the brightness of summer to the browning colour palette of autumn there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Another of my favourites is from There’s nothing like the sun by war poet, Edward Thomas

“..There’s nothing like the sun as the year dies
Kind as it can be, this world being made so,
To stones and men and beasts and birds and flies,
To all things that it touches…”

Almanac : Twelve Poems for 2024 celebrates the new year in style. It would be a perfect Christmas gift for anyone who loves good poetry or instead of a card to celebrate the start of another new year which is filled with hope and promise.

๐ŸทBest read with...a celebratory glass of champagne

About the Publisher

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Mountains, Clouds, Walking, Birds, Wine and Happiness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

X @poetrycandle

Tuesday 5 December 2023

๐ŸŽ„Festive Read ~ Snowbound with the Brooding Lord by Sarah Mallory

๐ŸŽ„Time for some lovely festive reads ๐ŸŽ„

28 November 2023

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

A Regency reunion to capture your heart...

Will they forgive each other by the time the snow melts…? 

Years ago, Sabrina walked away from her first love, Jack, because she was duty bound to marry for money instead. Now a widow, she finds herself back in Jack’s intoxicating orbit, but he’s reluctant to trust her again. And it’s not just the brooding lord who has changed… 

Marriage has left a painful mark on Sabrina. So when they’re trapped by a snowstorm, will they find a way to finally be together?

๐ŸŽ„My Review..

On a magical night in 1810 Lord John Callater fell in love with the beautiful Sabrina Kydd only to have his heart broken when she unexpectedly married another man. Six years later Sabrina, now a wealthy widow, meets again with the handsome Lord John but tempers are heightened and there is too much angst between them for them ever to feel comfortable in each other's presence that is until they are trapped together in a raging snowstorm.
Beautifully written with gorgeous detail and a rich and spicy love story at its centre Snowbound with the Brooding Lord is a wonderful escape into the Regency world of romance which this author does so very well. The characters and situations in which they find themselves are always authentic and I particularly enjoyed reading more about the Spa Fields Riots which took place in London in December 1816.

Those who have read this author's previous book, The Night She Met the Duke will recognise some of the characters and after a fleeting reference to Lord John Callater and Sabrina Kydd in that story it has been a joy to follow their tumultuous love story through to its delightful conclusion.

๐ŸทBest read with...a glass of richly decadent Madeira wine,

About the Author

Sarah Mallory was born in the West Country and grew up with a love of books and history. She has had over 40 historical novels published and won the Rona Rose Award from the Romantic Novelists Association in 2012 and 2013.

Twitter @SarahMRomance


Monday 4 December 2023

๐ŸŽ„Festive Read ~ The Christmas Love Letters by Sue Moorcroft


๐ŸŽ„Time for some lovely festive reads ๐ŸŽ„

October 2023

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book

Tucked into a crook of the Norfolk coast lies Nelson’s Bar – an idyllic village where time seems to stand still. Maddy Cracey has called this beautiful spot home all her life, as had her husband Adey – until an epic row sent him storming out into a blizzard, with no sign of him since that fateful night.

Six years on, and Maddy’s life in the village has settled into a gentle pattern with her young daughter and Great Aunt Ruthie. However, when handsome stranger Raff turns up with a handful of long-forgotten love letters, their quiet life is upended as family secrets from the past are unearthed.

As Raff and Maddy get to know each other, they grow closer and a love story of their own seems inevitable. But when Maddy receives a mysterious message, she can’t help but wonder whether her own past is as distant as she'd thought it was...

๐ŸŽ„My Review

It's been almost seven years since Maddie Cracey's husband Adey disappeared and with no trace of him Maddie has made a home for herself and her daughter living with Maddie's great aunt Ruthie. This close bonded trio live a peaceful life in the pretty village of Nelson's Bar on the Norfolk coast but when a handsome stranger turns up with some devastating news for Ruthie, Maddie must do all she can to protect the woman who has been such a comfort to her. What then follows is a story about a long hidden secret which Ruthie has carried with her for forty years and when revealed it will change all of their lives forever.

The Christmas Love Letters is a lovely story with two romantic elements running through it both of which kept my attention as I was intrigued to discover more about Ruthie's secret but also fell completely for Maddie's relationship with the handsome Raff who I must say really steals the show with his kind hearted nature and genuine desire to make right the wrongs of the past. However, it's not all hearts and roses as there are some darker elements to the story with a definite sense of friction when the secret is discovered and both Maddie and Ruthie must learn to live with the consequences of their secrets being revealed.

Whilst the story has a definitely festive feel to it it is also one of those lovely stories which can be read at any time of year as this talented author always brings such warmth, love and empathy to her lovely stories that they are a delight to read all year round.

๐ŸทBest read with ...a warming glass of mulled warm and one of Maddie's mince pies

About the Author

Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author, #1 on Kindle UK and Top 100 on Kindle US and Canada. She writes two books a year for publishing giant Harper Collins and has won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Novel of the Year, Readers’Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Her novels, short stories, serials, columns, writing‘how to’and courses appear around the world.

Twitter @SueMoorcroft #TheChristmasLoveLetters

Instagram @SueMoorcroftAuthor


Friday 1 December 2023

๐Ÿ“– Featured Book of the Month ~ Divorced (Not Dead) by Harper Ford


Avon Books Uk

We’re going to need a bigger drink…

Meet Frankie - fifty, divorced and getting back on the horse.
After leaving Twatface – her husband of twenty years – she's starting again from scratch. And when her son also flees the nest for university, Frankie decides it’s time to throw herself back into the dating game with a vengeance.

On best friend Bel's recommendation, Frankie signs up to two dating one for love, another for casual hook-ups (because why the f**k not?!). However, as she navigates this new frontier of catfishing, kittenfishing, ghosts, GILFs and everything in between, she realises the whole dating thing has changed quite a bit – and it really is a bloody jungle out there…

Will Frankie find love on the apps? Or the perfect shag? Or – if there’s any justice in the world – both?

๐Ÿ“–My Review.

I am delighted to have ended what has been a difficult year with a book which has really made me laugh out loud and Divorced (Not Dead) ticked all the right boxes. It’s sassy, irreverent, gloriously funny, but also wise and absolutely wonderful.

Fifty year old Frankie Brumby is newly divorced from her coercive husband of two decades when, on the advice of her best friend, she enters the tricky waters of on-line dating. With her dating profile established and her confidence hovering around zero, Frankie soon discovers that there is a lot more to learn about this online dating malarkey. With a whole new online language to learn, and some pretty disastrous dates, Frankie eventually starts to have more fun than she could ever have imagined.

Whilst I laughed out loud at the online dating references, and learned things I had no idea about, the crafter in me thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with the wonderful characters who join Frankie at her weekly quilting group which shows the versatility of this talented author who can deliver two aspects of the same story, one filled with warmth and empathy and the other with a more ribald look at the vagaries of life. And then there’s Stephan, who adds a whole different dimension to the story, and who had me on his team from his first appearance.

Divorced (not dead) is absolutely fabulous, from start to finish, with a minor caveat that if you’re offended by the frequent use of the F-word or mild references to the sexual shenanigans of a newly divorced fifty-something then maybe this isn’t the story for you …however, if you love a rom com with a fair amount of sass, with a brave and bold heroine who fills your heart with delight and a cast of quirky characters who make turning the pages such a joy then, I am sure, this story will entertain you as much as it did me.

For making me laugh till I cried, I have no hesitation in making Divorced (not dead) my Book of the Month for December.

About the Author

Harper Ford is an author, much of the time. She started out as a writer of historical novels, then found she was funny during lockdown so decided to write contemporary romcoms too. She also a fellow of the Royal Literary Fund, based at the University of Lincoln. Divorced (not dead) is her debut in the women’s fiction space.

Twitter @AvonBooksUK

#HarperFord #DivorcedNotDead

Tuesday 28 November 2023

๐Ÿ“– Blog Tour ~ Welcome to the Cornish Country Hospital by Jo Bartlett


Boldwood Books
22 November 2023

My thanks to the publishers and Rachel's Random Resources for my copy of the book
 and the invitation to the tour

A new start… 

When Danni Carter moves to Cornwall from London, she hopes it will be the fresh start she so desperately needs. She’s nervous, but hopefully the change of scene will help her to finally forget her feelings for Lucas Newman, a man she can never be with, because he’s already engaged to Danni’s best friend, Esther. 

An Impossible Dilemma… 

But when Lucas and Esther decide to follow Danni to Cornwall, and both announce they will be working with her at the new St Piran’s hospital, Danni is thrown into turmoil again. She can’t lose Esther, but being near Lucas is getting harder to deal with. Will she have to give up her new life before it’s even started? A chance to start again? Throwing herself into work, Danni finds herself drawn to new patient, Connie Berrycloth, a woman Danni knows has dark secrets of her own. Secrets that are about to be revealed…

 As the two women form a friendship, Danni begins to realise that letting go of her dreams might be the only way of holding on to the people she loves.

๐Ÿ“– My Review…

It’s such a delight to open a new book by a favourite author and Welcome to the Cornish Country Hospital certainly gets this new series off to a splendid start as not only are we back in Cornwall, an area the author describes so well, but we also have a new cast of characters to get to know, with maybe a few familiar faces thrown in for good measure.

Danni Carter has taken up a position as an A&E doctor at St Piran’s hospital in Cornwall where her professionalism and empathy make her one of the most popular doctors in the accident and emergency unit. Danni loves her new life and having moved from London she now is starting to call Cornwall home. That is, until the arrival of her friends, Esther and Lucas who will also be working at the hospital, all should be well but Danni is keeping a huge secret from Esther and with one secret leading to another, Danni gets inadvertently drawn into the plight of one of her patients who also has a long held secret which will have far reaching repercussions.

This is such a lovely story and although it touches on some rather serious topics there is never a moment when the story doesn’t pull you in and pretty soon I was so invested in the lives  of all the characters I found I couldn’t put the book down. Most of the characters are lovely and bring such a sense of joy to the story however, there is one in particular who I couldn’t help but dislike and really hoped that they would get their just deserts. 

Filled with the warmth of friendship, the burden of hidden secrets and the joy of discovering love in unexpected places, this  imagined Cornish town comes wonderfully alive, whether it be waiting in a cubicle at St Piran’s A&E unit , out on the wards with Doctor Danni, or even walking along the coastal path watching for baby seal pups, there is so much to enjoy and I really can’t wait to pay another visit to the Cornish Country Hospital just as soon as this talented author takes us there.

About the author

Jo Bartlett is the bestselling author of over nineteen women’s fiction titles. She fits her writing inbetween her two day jobs as an educational consultant and university lecturer and lives with herfamily and three dogs on the Kent coast.

Twitter @J_B_Writer #WelcomeToTheCornishCountryHospital

@BoldwoodBooks #BoldwoodBloggers


Thursday 23 November 2023

๐Ÿ“– Book Review ~ Christmas Walk : Twelve Poems for Rosy Cheeks


Candlestick Press
September 2023

My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this pamphlet

The antidote to festive stodge and too much television, a Christmas walk has become as traditional as turkey and crackers. Whatever the weather, we don hats, scarves and boots to venture outside. The point is to crunch over snow, stamp through puddles or just to breathe the different air – all while sharing time with loved ones.

In these twelve poems – the winners in our seasonal competition – we experience everything from a holly-gathering expedition in a country lane, to a beach in Australia where “the sand is white as snow”. Over and again comes the idea that a walk can be a pilgrimage, sparking memories and a sense of the abiding presence of the past:

“I once walked up the lane with my children
by moonlit snow, power lines down – in the deepest dark
they had ever known; we made a small hand-held line…

from ‘A low owl at Christmas’ by Valerie Bence

Poems by Bill Adair, Valerie Bence, Jane Burn, Martyn Crucefix, Kerry Darbishire, Marie-Louise Eyres, Annie Kissack, Aoife Mannix, Charlotte Oliver, Penny Sharman, Giles Watson and Miriam Wei Wei Lo.

Cover illustration by Jenny Hancock

๐Ÿ“– My Review..

There is nothing more special than a Christmas walk especially if there is a covering of snow on the ground, experiencing those muted sounds which seem to enclose you in a magical world. The twelve lovely poems in Christmas Walk describe the sights, sounds and sensations of walking off the Christmas excesses and bring a sense of comfort and joy. None of the poems disappoint, some are poignantly about loss, others are reminiscent of times past, a couple of poems focus on nature and there’s even an Australian beach scene.

Intimate Pavements by Bill Adair is a nostalgic look back at a childhood Christmas:

“..This is the house of my granny’s Christmas shortbread.
The walls look the same, but different windows 
Have allowed my memories to scatter.
New family. New recipes..”

I loved Annie Kissack’s lyrical poem Winter Gathering:

“..Here we go gathering sticks and stems
Endless fronds in frozen hands.
Here we go gathering half the lane
On a cold and frosty morning..”

So many lovely poems to enjoy and as added bonus each of the twelve poems in Christmas Walk : Twelve Poems for Rosy Cheeks are the recent winners of a Candlestick seasonal competition and whilst each poem is different the theme of Christmas comes across loud and clear. The poetry pamphlet would be perfect as a Christmas stocking filler for anyone who appreciates a diverse collection of poems or instead of a card  and something different to send in the run up to Christmas.

A shout out to the talented cover designer for a beautifully festive cover, its cheery robin and pastoral country scene are perfect for the festive season and compliment the poems perfectly.

About the Publisher

Candlestick Press is a small, independent press publishing sumptuously produced poetry pamphlets that serve as a wonderful alternative to a greetings card, with matching envelopes and bookmarks left blank for your message. Their subjects include Mountains, Clouds, Walking, Birds, Wine and Happiness. Candlestick Press pamphlets are stocked by chain and independent bookshops, galleries and garden centres nationwide and available to order online.

X @poetrycandle