#Review By Lou of A Mother’s Christmas Wish by Glenda Young @flaming_nora @HeadlineFiction @headlinepg @rararesources #ChristmasReads #Saga #FamilySaga #Christmas #BlogTour

A Mother’s Christmas Wish
By Glenda Young

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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Feeling Christmassy and/or all hopeful yet? This could be the book for you. It isn’t often that I read sagas, but this caught my eye. Today I’m on the blog tour of A Mother’s Christmas Wish, thanks to Rachel Random Resources and the publisher – Headline. Discover the blurb and review below.

Blurb

A Mother’s Christmas Wish

‘I hope this Christmas is better than last year’s.’

Following a scandalous affair, wayward Emma Devaney is sent in disgrace from her home in Ireland to Ryhope, where she will live with her widowed aunt, Bessie Brogan, and help run her pub. Bessie is kind but firm, and at first Emma rebels against her lack of freedom. Struggling to fit in, she turns to the wrong person for comfort, and becomes pregnant.

Accepting she must embrace her new life for the sake of her baby, Emma pours her energy into making the pub thrive and helping heal the fractured relationship between Bessie and her daughters. She catches the attention of Robert, a gruff but sincere farmer, who means to win her heart.

As December approaches, thankful for the home and acceptance she’s found, Emma is determined to bring not just her family, but the whole Ryhope community, together to celebrate – and to make one very special mother’s Christmas dreams come true.

Review

Behold, December 1923, it was quite a year for Emma and her mother, Nuala. The year they left Ireland to start a new start. They head to Ryhope, after sending a letter to Nuala’s sister, Bessie. Emma is sent there to help her aunt with what seems a high-spirited , lively pub with all sorts of village life within. Emma is feisty and rebellious, sometimes I’ll-tempered coupled with rudeness, but that being said, she still has warmth and that mother’s wish grows within too. She is also absolutely determined to give the pub her best shot and make a go of things to ensure it thrives.

 Her aunt Bessie is however, a kindly soul with heart and warmth, providing hope for the pub’s future too as well as hope that family rifts that occurred, can be healed.

What transpires is a look into small village living where people grow reputation, there’s crime, romance and marriage, employment, poverty. Glenda Young shows it all in a multi-layered story that is well-researched about how some people lived at the time, social views and attitudes and what society was like, especially in small places. It, ultimately gives a great look into the 1920’s (but away from the Flapper’s life) with a bit of grit and a good dose of hope that culminates into an uplifting family saga. This is a book that would be great on anyone’s Christmas list.

As an added extra, did you know Glenda Young also writes cosy crime? There is an excerpt of her next cosy crime novel – Murder at the Seaview Hotel. It gets off to a great start, set in Scarborough and something for readers to also look forward to.

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#Author #Interview Conducted By Lou for The Gentleman of Holly Street By Lotte R. James @lottejamesbooks @HarlequinBooks @rararesources #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #BlogTour #Christmas #ChristmasReads

The Gentleman of Holly Street
By Lotte R. James

Today I am delighted to be closing the blog tour with an interview session with Lotte R. James about her new historical fiction book – The Gentleman of Holly Street. Discover why she writes in this genre, but not always, the inspiration to themes and the rags to riches tale of her book, what’s coming next and more in 5 questions. I thank Lotte R. James, Mills and Boon and Rachel Random Resources for this opportunity. Without further ado, follow down to the blurb and then the interview.

Will this Christmas…
Change Their Lives Again

When self-made gentleman Freddie Walton rescued penniless Philomena Nichols at Christmas eight years ago, he never imagined that he would build his empire with her. Yet whilst they have created a life together as friends, Freddie can’t let their special connection become more than that. Not when his dangerous past continues to haunt him… But what happens when Freddie’s feelings for Philomena also refuse to stay hidden?

Welcome to my blog Lotte. Thank you for agreeing to take part in a Q&A session with me about your book and what’s next for you. 

  1. What inspired you to write Historical Romance and choose Mills and Boon as your publisher, or did they choose you?

I’ve always loved history, and I think that prompted my interest as a reader in Historical Romance. From there, it was really just wanting to write something in the genre that I loved so much. I did write my debut with Harlequin/Mills & Boon specifically with the Historical line in mind, as it was a literal dream to be part of that collection of incredible authors. It went through quite a few revisions and rewrites, but then I was lucky enough to get the call!

 

  1. You chose to work with some fairly strong themes – Anxiety, Houselessness, Childhood trauma, Mild violence, Mention of suicidal ideation. What inspired you to write about them?

I think all my books feature fairly strong themes to be honest. Merely because we face some very difficult things in life, and it’s important to me to represent that in what I write. I don’t believe all art should be a mirror of reality, don’t get me wrong, but I do feel that I am, and always have been, personally drawn to exploring the grey areas, of people, and of life. To exploring the challenges we all face, and I think to an extent, showing just how incredible humans are.

 

  1. What sort of empire does your main character – Freddie build up and what inspires you to a rags to riches story?

Freddie builds up a sustainable and ethical shipping empire. I’ve always loved rags-to-riches stories myself, and I think that’s why subconsciously, when I first introduced Freddie in The Housekeeper of Thornhallow Hall, I introduced him as a self-made man. Throughout history, you have incredible stories of people who succeeded – in a myriad of ways, I don’t mean success here to be merely financial – by being at the forefront of change, and I think that’s an aspect I am often drawn to as well. People who have the vision to make change happen.

 

  1. What advice do you have for anyone wanting to write in the Historical Fiction genre?

Be passionate about the period you want to write in, and of course, about the genre itself. It isn’t merely about loving old-time clothes, or more polite ways of courting. It’s about finding why you have to write Historical, rather than any other genre; what you want to say, and represent.

 

  1. What book are you currently reading and are you working on a new book?

I’m currently reading Rogue by Jennifer Bernard – which I’m enjoying very much so far – and yes, I am always working on a new book. Currently, I am juggling three main projects – one Historical and two Contemporary – because my brain will not let me stop… Though I haven’t started my next Harlequin/Mills & Boon yet – that will likely be how I start off 2023!

About the Author 

Lotte James trained as an actor and theatre director, but spent most of her life working day jobs crunching numbers whilst dreaming up stories of love and adventure. She’s thrilled to finally be writing those stories, and when she’s not scribbling on tiny pieces of paper, she can usually be found wandering the countryside for inspiration, or nestling with coffee and a book.

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A Christmas Carol – By Charles Dickens Adapted By Dave McCluskey, Narrated By Liam Scott- @demccluskey1 #Audible Version #Christmas #AChristmasCarol #ChristmasReads #Classics #ChristmasClassics

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens
Adapted By Dave McCluskey
Narrated By Liam Scott

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Today I have a review of the audio version (available on Audible) of a re-telling of A Christmas Carol. Thanks to Dave McCluskey for gifting me a free code to access this for honest review purposes. To listen to this for yourselves, I have a link after the review…

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Blurb

A classic Christmas tale, lovingly recreated in this beautiful audio book.

The reviled Scrooge is visited by three spirits who teach him the real meaning of life. 

The tale has been turned into rhyme, making this a delightful new twist to the story you know so well. Could it be a new addition to your Christmas traditions? 

Review

There are many re-tellings of A Christmas Carol and I am sure you know the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the 3 spirits visiting him, but this has been done differently. It is in rhyme.
Each time a new version is produced, I admit, I have reservations, but listen, even though with an air of trepidation and hope that whatever is produced is done well and does the original text by Charles Dickens justice. This one is surprisingly done well. At just over an hour long (bearing in mind the book itself is actually surprisingly short), this is easy to fit into anyone’s day for some family entertainment for Christmas.

The piano music in the beginning sets the atmosphere and is pitch perfect. It has been adapted well by Dave McCluskey, who has clearly paid attention well to the original as it is all very recognisable. This is re-written in quite a bit of rhyme to it and is easy to listen to and makes this accessible to many ages, which brings me onto the narrator. Liam Scott narrates all the parts well, bringing atmosphere and all the characters to life with some good voice acting. From his opening lines and then throughout, he has a good, strong rhythm, heard with all the pronouncing of the words, sometimes emphasising certain words. The rhythm that is set brings good pace and interestingly sounds between being Shakespearean in some places and Pantomime in others places.
Throughout the story, Liam Scott reads this iconic Christmas tale with conviction. Each character is brought to life by Liam Scott by the different voices he does, Ebenezer Scrooge sounds his age and the ghosts sound haunting enough. There is also some humour in this tale of ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Still to Come.

This is overall a pretty good adaptation and may become part of people’s ways of listening to this well-known story and for those who have not yet read or listened to the original text, then this may encourage people to do that too.

To listen click on the link that will take you to Audible – Amazon – A Christmas Carol

#BookReview By Lou – Every Day In December By Kitty Wilson @KittyWilson23 @0neMoreChapter_ #ChristmasRead #Christmas #December #EveryDayInDecember #Fiction #ContemporaryFiction #RomanceFiction

Every Day In December
By Kitty Wilson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Follow two lives, each with their ups and downs within them each day in December. A poignant romance for Christmas. Check out the blurb and the rest of my review below.

Every Day In December

Blurb

Every Day In DecemberTwo people. One month to fall in love.

Belle Wilde loves December. Yes, she’s just lost her job and Christmas is not a good time to find yourself ‘financially challenged’. And yes, her parents are still going on about the fact that she really should have it all together by now. But Belle believes that in December, magic can happen.

Rory Walters hates December. Whilst it looks like his life is together, he’s still reeling from a winter’s night five years ago when his life changed forever. Now back at home, he’s certain that this will be yet another Christmas to endure rather than enjoy.

But as midnight on December 31st draws closer, Belle and Rory’s time together is coming to an end. With a little help from a Christmas miracle could Belle find the one thing she really wants underneath the mistletoe?

Review

Each chapter leads readers into each day in December and into the main characters – Belle and Rory’s lives. Belle has fallen on hard times, which leads her into a different path in life. This is only the surface of her life. Going deeper in, she has had rough upbringing. She has far, far got her life sorted.
Rory’s life is also not going so well either and he has a lot going on, yet he seems destined to be with Belle, even if it is a slow-burner of a romance.

Belle shows that she has a passion for Shakespeare in inspires others as she talks about him to students and shows just how very relevant he still is, through the themes that he wrote about, which are still universal today.

There is also the equation of Belle’s God-daughter whom she has a close relationship with  and this brings a lighter dynamic to the story.

The book is also poignant about December and how the closer you get to Christmas holidays, the harder it can feel in if something bad has happened in your life. There are ups and downs that the main characters have to overcome.

There is some Christmas cheer to be found amongst the poignancy of Every Day in December.

#BookReview By Lou – Underneath the Christmas Tree By Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain @harriett_col @simonschusterUK @BookMinxSJV @TeamBATC #UnderneathTheChristmasTree #ChristmasRead #Fiction #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction #BlogTour

Underneath the Christmas Tree
By Heidi Swain

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Halloween is now over, so now is the time that is ripe for thinking about Christmas. I am pleased to be on the blog tour for Underneath the Christmas Tree for some festive cheer. I thank Simon and Schuster for the book and for the other gifts too (please note my review is not influenced by this). Please find more in the blurb and then head down to my review.

Underneath The Christmas Tree pic

Blurb

***The sparkling new Christmas novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Heidi Swain!***

Underneath the Christmas TreeWynter’s Trees is the home of Christmas. For the people of Wynmouth it’s where they get their family Christmas tree, and where Christmas truly comes to life.

But for Liza Wynter, it’s a millstone around her neck. It was her father’s pride and joy but now he’s gone, she can’t have anything to do with it. Until her father’s business partner decides to retire and she must go back to handle the transition to his son Ned.

When Liza arrives, she discovers a much-loved business that’s flourishing under Ned’s stewardship. And she’s happy to stay and help for the Christmas season, but then she has other plans. But will the place where she grew up make her change her mind? And can it weave its Christmas cheer around her heart…?

Underneath the Christmas Tree is the perfect festive read, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Cathy Bramley.

Review

It’s a joy to return to Wynmouth, on the Norfolk coast, and this book has so much warmth to it that makes it great for cosying up with thick cosy jumpers, doors locked and a nice drink and snacks so not much moving is required, until the end. Underneath the Christmas Tree is heartwarming in the colder weather, with life decisions to be made and a good dollop of Christmas cheer to brighten the darker days.

Things aren’t always easy or comfortable for Heidi Swain’s characters and this time it is Liza Wynter who has choices to make, especially about the Christmas Tree business – Wynter’s Trees that was once her dad’s. The business is full of Christmas cheer within its grounds and there’s a sense of heritage, of preserving what went before, which I like and appreciate and think is important, except this isn’t without its issues within the business itself as Liza wants to give up her shares in Wynter Trees, which she has with David and Edward (Ned). There’s the decision how to tell the public to be made, but there is also a feeling of gumption as she tries to do what she feels is right for her in deciding whether forging a new path, knowing the business could still be in good hands, is for her or not. There are sad an bittersweet moments with memories for Liza about her dad.

There is also Maya and a some jealousy emerges from Liza, even though Liza herself is more popular amongst the customers than she thinks. Tangled up in this is Ned and there comes a bit of a love story.

As with most books by Heidi Swain, there is some lovely sounding food and drinks to also get your appetite going.

This is a book that I thoroughly recommend to get you in the festive Christmas mood.

Underneath the Christmas Tree Blog Tour

#BookReview by Lou of Christmas With The Bobby Girls @JoBellAuthor @HodderBooks #ChristmasReads #ChristmasGifts

Christmas With The Bobby Girls
By Johanna Bell
Rated: 5 stars *****

An emotional, warm, fabulous page-turner that takes readers into the run up to Christmas and Christmas Day itself. The Bobby Girls Christmas is book 3 in this series and it is a joy to catch up with The Bobby Girls lives again.

What a surprise and sheer delight to be invited by Hodder and Staughton to review The Bobby Girls Christmas. Thank you to Hodder and Staughton and Johanna Bell for this opportunity and for providing an e-book.

Please follow through to find out more about the author, the blurb and my review.

The Bobby Girls Christmas

Blurb

In the midst of war, can they find a reason to celebrate?

1915. 
Patrolling is the last thing on the minds of Women’s Police Service recruits Annie, Maggie and Poppy right now, because Annie and her fiancé Richard are about to get married. She’s been waiting for this day her whole life, but when it finally comes it brings only heartache and Annie doesn’t know if she can go on.

The influx of soldiers to the capital means that the WPS’s work is more important than ever, though, and Annie’s country needs her. She and the girls are posted to the bustling heart of the city and she hopes the new job will distract her from her sorrow.

It certainly does that. Soon the biggest bombing raid of the war causes chaos on their patch. On top of that, Annie suspects that a group of men are forcing European refugees into prostitution and resolves to stop them by Christmas. But by the time she realises just how high up the scandal goes, she might be in too deep to get out . . .

The Bobby Girls Series is perfect for fans of Dilly Court, Daisy Styles and Call the Midwife

The Bobby Girls Vid

Review

Such a delight to be back in 1915 with Annie, Maggie, Poppy and Irene, who are The Bobby Girls. Readers will first find them in London in a train station. It shows that some things never change with people hurrying out of the station without much of a care, but Maggie, Poppy and Annie are observant as they come across a soldier displaying some distress from the effects of war that could end up with a devastating result. In amongst the action and potentially dangerous situations, the blossoming friendship is still depicted with heartwarming joy and there is a wedding to still finish planning for one of the girls. There is high emotion that depicts the effects of war very well between Annie and Richard. It’s powerful and meaningful and feels real.

The build up to the wedding is one of excitement and beauty until something so utterly devastating happens. The mix of emotions is there and because there’s so much to like about the girls, readers will be pulled into this too. The emotion and love is shown in a letter by Richard that is beautifully and realistically composed and emotions of sheer grief and shock are there in abundance and are natural. The support they give each other is strong and meaningful and heartwarming. Instead of it all being nostalgic, there’s something in this that society could take the goodness from and apply to today’s times. Resilience is also shown and even when the worst possible things happen and emotions run high with grief, The Bobby Girls still manage a certain professionalism and tackle situtations as they arise, in a way that is believable

There is a lovely and very interesting look back at some of the rivalries and the history of the WPV – Women Voluntary Patrol that fits in well with the plot, that then also explores The Foundling Hospital and its purpose. Moving around London shows some great places and then in the calm, Zepplins appear in the sky and the girls have to summon up all their courage to stay calm and to direct people to places of safety as the turmoil, confusion and casualties unfolds. There’s also a mention of a battle that was also going on between Serbia and Bulgaria.

The book may be set during World War 1, but shows that certain things, perhaps, for now, never change as it highlights human trafficking and the girls want them behind bars before Christmas. It puts a different slant on a run-up to Christmas story with dangerous men and then the prostitutes who are needed to be allies; so whilst most people think about presents and decorations etc, The Bobby Girls are hard at it at work. The atmosphere all becomes tense and it’s quite the page-turner. There is a touch of sadness that turns into some hope where Poppy is concerned about perceptions on life.

It all culminates in a Christmas Day that many people will be able to empathise with and relate to, which creates yet another fabulous book about The Bobby Girls that easily holds attention, even in the most challenging of times.

The Bobby Girls Vid

Praise for The Bobby Girls:

‘Filled with richly drawn characters that leap from the page, and a plot that’s so well researched and well written you will believe you are in the thick of wartime policing, The Bobby Girls is a must-read for all saga fans.’

– Fiona Ford, bestselling author of Christmas at Liberty’s

‘I really enjoyed reading about Britain’s first female police officers. A lot of research has gone into this book and it’s all the richer and more readable for it. An exciting new voice in women’s fiction.’

– Kate Thompson, bestselling author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

‘I really did enjoy The Bobby Girls. It has a lovely warm feeling about it and is excellently written.’

– Maureen Lee, RNA award-winning author of Dancing in the Dark

‘Written with warmth and compassion, the novel gives fascinating insights into the lives of three courageous young women.’

– Margaret Kaine, RNA award-winning author of Ring of Clay

‘Johanna Bell has hit the jackpot with this striking WW1 crime story. The author places the focus firmly on the girls’ growth into independent members of society in a rapidly changing world. It’s a heartening central message conveyed with verve and empathy and remains relevant to today’s readers, both young and old.’

– Jenny Holmes, author of The Spitfire Girls