Book Reviews

Audible Audiobook Review: The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits.

The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.

 

I was excited to be invited onto the Audible review tour for The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore.

The narrator is clear speaking and entertaining. Her welsh accent is particularly good. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook due to both Penny Scott-Andrews’s narration and Martin Gore’s story.

I’ve never been to Cromer but having grown up in a town with a pier, I could very easily picture the surroundings and setting. I love the feel of seaside towns and this novel captures the atmosphere of them perfectly. As I was listening, I was right there, by the sea. It brought back some lovely memories.

There is such a mixture of personalities in this novel and all of them seemed believable. There are quite a few of them introduced over the course of the book but they are pretty easy to keep up with.

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NK Chats To… Emily Carpenter

Hi Emily, thank you so much for joining me today. What’s your typical writing day like and do you have any pre-writing rituals, for example, needing coffee? Silence?

Thanks for having me! It’s funny, I don’t seem to have a typical writing day, which is something I actually enjoy. I will say, I’m not an early morning writer. Not a morning person in the least. I like to wake up, drink coffee and eat, get my son off to school and then exercise. Then I’m ready to sit down at the computer. I don’t really have rituals, but I do like to have the TV running in the background – a show or movie that I’ve seen before or don’t have to pay attention to. For some reason my brain likes multi-tasking in that way. Recently, I’ve been re-watching Peaky Blinders and it’s nice to, every once in a while, look up and go, “Oh, hello, Cillian Murphy, how’s the crime going?” I do firmly believe in hitting a minimum word count every day while I’m drafting a new novel. But if I don’t get my words, or I go weeks without writing, it’s fine. I kind of trust my creativity to lead the way and ask for what it needs.

 

Can you tell me about your novel, Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters and what inspired the story?

I had just finished my fourth book UNTIL THE DAY I DIE, which was an adventure-thriller, and I was feeling the need to get back to my Southern gothic, family focused work. I decided to write a sequel or follow up to my first book “Burying the Honeysuckle Girls” because there was still so much I wanted to explore with those characters. I toyed with some ideas, but it was when an author friend of mine said to me that this story was really about Dove Jarrod from “Honeysuckle Girls”, that it all came together.

The story is about Eve Candler (Dove’s granddaughter) who is in charge of administering her grandmother’s family foundation when she discovers that Dove may have been a con woman, thief and possibly a murderer. She has three days in Alabama to clear her grandmother’s name and protect her family’s legacy.

 

What elements do you feel make a good story?

Something unusual, that I haven’t seen before. I want a main character who’s dealt with very specific troubles from her past and who’s up against a really unique and specific problem in the present. You need the suspense and ticking clock and a vivid setting, yes, but unless your character and their problem isn’t specific, I find myself bored. I think it’s so fascinating how, the more unique those elements are, the more universal the story ends up being.

 

What were the biggest challenges you faced whilst writing Reviving the Hawthorn Sisters?

It was challenging to make the character of Eve, who’s living a quite unusual life, feel realistic and relatable. Eve’s a young woman but her job is maintaining her grandmother’s legacy as a beloved, famous tent evangelist / tent healer / miracle worker from the 1930s and 40s. Eve isn’t personally religious, doesn’t even believe that her grandmother actually ever worked a miracle, but she’s surrounded with people, like her mother, and all these donors who are true believers—and also it’s her job to raise money for the foundation. She doesn’t want to be disrespectful, but she’s dying to escape. She wants to fly – go to graduate school, have a romance, be a normal twenty-something. But she’s got to be this cheerleader for the memory of an old-time religious preacher.

 

Which authors do you admire and why?

Oh. So many writers today are just brilliant and creative and then, on the business side, just impress me daily with their marketing savvy. I think Ruth Ware tells epic stories. Riley Sager has his finger on the pulse of what people want to read. Shannon Kirk writes these vivid, incredibly poetic horror books that have created a fictional network of uber-rich American families whose descendants get away with murder.

 

How do you approach the writing process, from idea to final draft and how long does it typically take you to write and edit a book?

Different books have different journeys. Some books take a lot of thought before I write. Some I’ll start writing the minute I have the idea. I am a bit superstitious about not talking about a book until it’s written. It’s taken me anywhere from a year to six months to one month to write different books.

 

Which fictional world would you like to visit and why?

Well, I say I’d like to visit 18th century Scotland like in Outlander but only if Jamie is there and also, honestly, I’d probably end up complaining about the lack of hot running water and electricity and constant danger.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

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Book Review: The World of Peter Rabbit – The Complete Collection of Original Tales

The classic gift set collection of Beatrix Potter’s original Peter Rabbit books.

This beautiful gift box contains all 23 original Peter Rabbit books by Beatrix Potter. Each tale is presented in its iconic white jacket and features a publisher’s note describing how the story came to be.

Ever since I was a small child, I have loved the Beatrix Potter stories, from Peter Rabbit to Jemima Puddleduck, to Tom Kitten, I have adored escaping into these classic, wonderful and beautifully illustrated tales.

This stunning box contains hardbacks of all 23 original stories. The box and books are great quality. It really is in keeping with Potter’s drawings and I can tell a lot of care has been put into creating this boxset.

The exterior has both whimsical colour and monotone illustrations of characters including Peter Rabbit, Mrs Tiggy-Winkle and Jeremy Fisher as well as elements belonging to Mr McGregor’s garden and I adore it. As you can see, it looks amazing on a book shelf. Yes, I know, I shouldn’t be caught up with how it looks but if I do say so myself, it looks pretty.

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Book Review: Christmas at Aunt Elsie’s by Emily Harvale

A distant relative. A blizzard. A Christmas of surprises.

Lottie Short isn’t looking forward to Christmas. Her boyfriend has dumped her and she’s also lost her job. Lottie and her beloved spaniel, Merry, are facing the festive season – and a bleak future, alone.

But a Christmas card and round-robin letter give Lottie hope. And as the first snowflakes fall, she’s on her way to the tiny seaside village of Seahorse Harbour to visit her distant aunt. She’ll stay in a cosy B&B and get some bracing, sea air. That might lift her spirits.

What she doesn’t plan for is a blizzard, her aunt taking a fall, or the dramas unfolding all around her. But at least there’s a warm welcome at Aunt Elsie’s cottage … and a roaring log fire in the village pub.

That’s not all that might bring a rosy glow to Lottie’s cheeks. Asher Bryant, the local vet is pretty hot, and Lottie also hits it off with another visitor to Seahorse Harbour. This festive season might be better than she hoped.

And when Lottie gets more than one surprise this Christmas, perhaps she and Merry won’t be spending the New Year on their own.

I was so pleased to be invited onto the one day blog blitz for Christmas at Aunt Elsie’s by Emily Harvale.

Reading Emily’s novels is like being under a warm blanket with a hot chocolate. Bliss. Although, maybe not Elsie’s hot chocolates. Those things sound lethal. LOL.

I’ve become such fan of Emily’s novels over the last couple of years and so I couldn’t wait to curl up with this latest book. The first in the Seahorse Harbour series, Summer at my Sisters is one of Emily’s books I’d not got around to reading (an oversight that will soon be rectified,) but I didn’t feel like I was playing catch up as Christmas at Aunt Elsie’s can be read as a standalone.

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Book Review: About Last Night by A.S. Kelly

Allow me to introduce myself.

My name is Tyler Hayes, and I’m a fireman.

Sorry to already disappoint you, but I’m not the person you think I am.

My charming uniform and seductive smile have caused nothing but trouble, and my not-so-honourable reputation, which I used to be so proud of, has kept me away from the one person I wanted to spend the rest of my life baking cookies for; my sweet, beautiful, slightly crazy Miss White.

I guess now I need to tell the whole story.

At forty years old, following years of self-sabotage, I’ve suddenly found myself admitting that I know absolutely nothing. Maybe my friend Niall was right when he told me to accept the process and just grow up. And now it’s too late; I’ll never be able to keep her close to me. All that’s left to do is watch helplessly – but deservedly – as my world comes tumbling down around me.

 

I was very pleased to be invited on the blog tour for About Last Night.

This was the first novel I have read by this author so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The premise in general intrigued me and although it took me a while to get into the book, once I did, I couldn’t put it down.

I warmed to Holly pretty much straight away. I admire her pushing herself out of her comfort zone but I also had the feeling early on that there was more to her and the move to Ireland. I felt she was holding something back. I had a couple of theories as I read. I could sense a mystery and this was a great incentive to read on.

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Book Review: Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft

Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.

But fate is keeping them apart…

As soon as Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after.

When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?

I have just had the honour of reading the latest novel by Amazon #1 author, Sue Moorcroft, ‘Christmas Wishes’.

I’m a strong believer that there comes a time in every author’s career where they bring out ‘That’ story. ‘Christmas Wishes’ is ‘That’ story.

I’ve been left, in particular order – breathless, doubled-over in laughter, in tears, seething with anger. I don’t think I’ve ever ‘seethed with anger’ at a character? Wait until you meet Albin!

This story has a detectibly simple premise (IMHO) – can Hannah ever trust another man? More to my opinion, can any man deserve her trust, let alone her love? Is Nico, her Swedish protaganist, that man?

Wonderfully written from start until finish and chock full of storylines you will find in few other romance authors lexicon. Food and alcohol disorders, substance abuse, you name it, it’s pretty much here.

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Audible Book Review: Wild Sky by Lexi Rees

I am pleased to be welcoming Lexi Rees back to Novel Kicks with her novel, Wild Sky, the second book in the Relic Hunters series. 

After delivering the pearl, Finn and Aria thought life would return to normal.

But with the survival of the clans still in peril, they must continue their quest.

Can they find the next relic before the forces of evil?

Not everyone is who they appear to be, and time is running out …

 

Finn and Aria are no ordinary siblings. They are on the verge of gaining very powerful magic. They are also being hunted by Sir Waldred, who will do everything he can to stop them. The race is on for them to complete their quest before time runs out.

The premise of the Relic Hunters series intrigued me so I jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog blitz for Wild Sky.

Having not read book one, Eternal Seas, prior to being invited on the tour for its sequel, I made sure to read the first book. I am pleased I did as it meant that I could jump straight into the story and jump right in is what you do, as Wild Sky picks up exactly where Eternal Seas left off.

There is immediate tension and mystery for Finn, Aria, their parents and Pippin.

Lexi Rees does a really great job of creating a believable and exciting world for children but I think adults will get a lot out of the plot/story too as the main characters set out to find the air-rider relic.

There are plenty of twists and turns, along with an introduction to some new characters, such as Rahfi. I was also pleased that we got to know Pippin a little bit more. I related to her… I am also clumsy. Haha. Oh and I want Hobnob the cat to come live with me.

There is such an appeal to the Relic Hunters series. It has both strong characters in Finn and Aria but also has its fair share of sinister characters like Sir Waldred.

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Book Review: All Your Little Lies by Marianne Holmes

Hello to Marianne Holmes and the blog tour for her new novel, All Your Little Lies. 

When everything you say is a lie, can you even remember the truth?

Annie lives a quiet, contained, content life. She goes to work. She meets her friend. She’s kind of in a relationship. She’s happy. Not lonely at all.

If only more people could see how friendly she is — how eager to help and please. Then she could tick “Full Happy Life” off her list. But no one sees that side of Annie, and she can’t understand why.

That all changes the night Chloe Hills disappears. And Annie is the last person to see her.

This is her chance to prove to everybody that she’s worth something. That is, until she becomes a suspect.

Drenched in atmosphere and taut with tension, All Your Little Lies takes a hard look at why good people do bad things.

All Your Little Lies was one of those thrillers that immediately drew me in from the first page. There was a tension that grew and grew the further I got into the book. I felt as though I was there, in that little town, with all of it going on around me.

Annie is a complicated character. She is hard to like but at the same time, I knew that there must be a reason behind her behaviour and I was desperate to learn more about her so I could at least begin to understand her.

As the search for the missing girl continues, Annie gets drawn further into the investigation. Her lies grow larger and more complicated. The mystery, both surrounding Annie’s past and Chloe’s fate had me wanting more.
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Book Extract & Review: An Unusual Boy by Fiona Higgins

I am pleased to be welcoming Fiona Higgins to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her novel, An Unusual Boy which has been released today by Boldwood Books. 

Meet Jackson – a very unusual boy in a world that prefers ‘normal’…

Julia Curtis is a busy mother of three, with a husband often away for work, an ever-present mother-in-law, a career, and a house that needs doing up. Her fourteen-year-old daughter, Milla, has fallen in love for the first time, and her youngest, Ruby, is a nine-year-old fashionista who can out-negotiate anyone.

But Julia’s eleven-year-old son, Jackson, is different. Different to his sisters. Different to his classmates. In fact, Jackson is different from everyone. And bringing up a child who is different isn’t always easy.

Then, one Monday morning, Jackson follows his new friend Digby into the school toilets. What happens inside changes everything; not only for Jackson, but for every member of his family. Julia faces the fight of her life to save her unusual boy from a world set up for ‘normal’.

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Fiona and Boldwood Books have shared an extract. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

‘Shhh! You’ll wake her up!’

Stifled laughter, the tinkling of a tea bell and the pungent smell of burnt toast drift beneath the bedroom door. Our three children are whispering outside, impatient to sneak in and surprise me. My hand slides across the mattress, reaching for Andy’s, before the crushing realisation swamps me.

He’s not here. Again.

A cold, hard nub of loneliness lodges in my chest. Andy’s overseas trips are an unavoidable by-product of his smashing career success; New York this quarter, London next, Tokyo in the spring. I should be used to it by now, but the thought of spending Mother’s Day solo makes me want to curl up under the covers and refuse to come out. For the sake of the children, however, I can’t. It’s my job to create magic on Mother’s Day now.

I stare at the paint flaking off the ceiling above our bed. Recalling the early, easy years with Andy, before there were any Mothers’ Days at all. All that spare time spent sleeping and strolling and staring into each other’s eyes. Two languid years of mutual adoration, before my body endured three pregnancies, two breastfed babies and the singular exertions of gravity itself. Back when Andy and I still saw each other, somehow.

Something clatters to the floor beyond the door.

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Book Review: One Family Christmas by Bella Osborne

A lovely hello to Bella Osborne. Her new book, One Family Christmas has just been released by Avon. 

A big family. A whole lot of secrets. A Christmas to remember…

This year, Lottie is hosting one last big family Christmas at the home she grew up in – just like her Nana would have wanted.

But when her relatives descend on the old manor house, Lottie gets more than she bargained for. Every family has its secrets, but in this family, everybody has one!

So, between cooking a Christmas dinner, keeping tensions at bay and a stray dog out of mischief, she has plenty on her plate and not just misshapen sausage rolls and a frozen turkey. And then her first love shows up – nine years after he walked out of her life.

Can Lottie make their last family Christmas one to remember… for the right reasons?

 

Lottie’s mission is to have one last family Christmas in the house she grew up in, just like her Nana would have wanted.

When her family descends, drama isn’t too far behind. Lottie quickly finds herself trying to juggle rising tensions, the appearance of a stray dog and meeting new people. On top of that, her first love reappears. She has not seen him since he walked out on her nine years ago.

I am such a huge fan of Bella’s novels and was so excited that she was releasing a book set at Christmas, especially one with such a beautiful cover. One Family Christmas did not disappoint and it’s not just about Christmas. It has so much more to it than that.

Immediately, I loved Lottie and I really felt for her. She is a person with the weight of the world on her shoulders and I wanted to jump in and help her, especially as she has just lost her Nana.

Despite the fact that she gets many things thrown at her (believe me, what can go wrong, does,) she shows resilience and strength.

Joe is a mystery and the layers to him are gradually revealed through the course of the book.

The other supporting characters are a brilliant mix of personalities. There were some I related to more than others but by the end, I wanted everyone to be OK.

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Book Review: The Ticklemore Christmas Toy Shop by Liz Davis

A lovely big welcome to Liz Davis. She’s here with her book, The Ticklemore Christmas Toy Shop. 

There is a disturbance in the force and octogenarian Hattie Jenkins can feel it in her water. Still active and spritely, she guesses that the miserable-looking gentleman sitting morosely in the café where she works, might be the reason.

Widowed Alfred Miller has recently moved in with his daughter because she is worried that he’s becoming too frail and forgetful to look after himself. And he’s not in the least bit happy about it, especially since his home is soon be cleared and sold.

But when he enlists Hattie’s help to save some of his precious belongings, he doesn’t realise that Hattie’s mission is to save more than a few sticks of furniture. She’s on a mission to save him, too.

 

When Hattie Jenkins first spots Alfred Miller in the café where she works, she gets a feeling that she is meant to help him in some way.

Alfred has just moved in with his daughter and is faced with the prospect of his home being cleared and sold.

When he enlists Hattie’s help to rescue some of his belongings before it’s too late, he has no idea that Hattie is not only on a mission to save his things, but to save him too.

There were so many wonderful elements to this novel, I am not sure where to begin so let’s start with the cover and how absolutely magical it is.

From the first chapter, I immediately got pulled into the lives of these characters and it was not hard to quickly grow fond of them (Sara took a bit longer to like than the others.)

The dynamic between Hattie and Alfred was one of my favourite parts of the book and it was lovely to see how their relationship developed through the novel.

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Book Extract: The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge

Welcome back, Samantha Tonge. Today, the blog tour continues for her fantastic novel, The Winter We Met. 

When charming, mysterious, Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. With the help of Nik, and her best friend Oliver, Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen! But time is running out and Oliver isn’t the only one who has suspicions about charismatic Nik’s intentions.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?

 

Samantha and Aria have shared an extract today. As this is set at Christmas, grab that hot chocolate, a comfy chair and play that Christmas song. I won’t tell, I promise. Enjoy! 

 

*****beginning of extract*****

 

‘So, you’ve been to England before?’ I asked and took a sip.

‘Yes. It’s only the last few years or so that I’ve been going to the trade fairs on my own. I joined the company straight from university and Mum and Dad have been teaching me the ropes ever since, taking me on work trips abroad.’ He ran a finger around the mug’s rim. ‘They brought me here as a teenager though, on holiday to see the sights. Mum and Dad went backpacking during university holidays and always said there was nothing quite like travel for broadening the mind. They liked discovering unusual places. We travelled the length of the country, from Newcastle to Bournemouth.’

‘Wow. Any favourite places?’

‘Stonehenge was amazing – so atmospheric. And we rented a cottage in the Cotswolds for a few days, in a quiet little village. It looked like a picture off a chocolate box and ducks visited the back garden – Mum fell in love with it. Manchester was pretty cool with trendy independent coffee shops and warehouse stores. We had to visit the Cavern Club in Liverpool as Dad had always been a massive fan of The Beatles and we also took a wonderful steam engine trip through Norfolk. We only spent one day in the capital so I don’t really know London.’

‘It sounds as if you’ve seen more of my home country than I have. So what got your parents interested in toy manufacturing?’

‘Mum was studying a degree in arts and Dad a design degree with modules in consumer engineering. He was left some money from his grandparents – enough to start the business. Also both of their families are big and even in their twenties, between them, Mum and Dad had lots of nephews and nieces and loved entertaining them and Grams and Grandpa – Mum’s parents – would often talk about how Mum was always making her own toys as a child out of food packaging and scraps of materials or plastic.’ He smiled. ‘She encouraged me as a boy. I used to love crafting with the week’s leftover cereal boxes and plastic butter tubs. I guess that passed the passion onto me.’

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Book Review: The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

A peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

When I heard that Richard Osman was releasing his debut novel, I was excited to say the least. In my opinion, this novel didn’t disappoint.

There are so many wonderful elements to The Thursday Murder Club.

The characters are a joy especially when you get the four members of the club together. I found myself really smiling through the scenes with them. There were many laugh out loud moments. I am not sure whether chemistry is a thing amongst fictional characters but if it is, Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron have it in spades. I have grown so fond of them and they are already some of my favourite crime solvers. As a group, they reminded me of how my Nan was around her friends, although there was no crime solving as far as know. In any case, this reminder further made me smile.

It was fun seeing them run the occasional rings around the other characters, especially DCI Chris Hudson and PC Donna De Freitas were a good balance as the police team.

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Book Review: The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge

Today I am pleased to be taking part in the publication day tour for The Winter We Met, the new novel by Samantha Tonge.

When charming, mysterious Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen!

But time is running out with the closure looming and Jess becomes increasingly drawn to enigmatic Nik who joins forces with her and best friend Oliver to realise those plans.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?

Jess feels fairly happy in life. She is the manager of a lovely toy shop, she is close by to the grandmother that raised her and her flatmate, Oliver, is her best friend.

When she meets Nik on the way back from a toy fair, she quickly starts to believe he’s the last piece of the puzzle, especially when everyone around her seems to adore him. Could he be too good to be true? Oliver certainly thinks so.

This is one of the reasons why I love this time of year. Not only can the warm jumpers come out of storage, the festive themed novels start to be released. Speaking of which, The Winter We Met was released today and I am not ashamed to say that it’s put me in the festive mood early.

From the beginning, the characters in this novel felt like extended family I cared about very much.

Jess is a wonderfully strong female character but there is also a vulnerable side to her; one she doesn’t reveal too easily.

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Book Review: Snowflakes Over Bay Tree Terrace by Fay Keenan

As the snowflakes fall, new love blossoms…

When teacher Florence Ashton receives a surprise inheritance, she decides to make the life-changing decision to up sticks to the charming town of Willowbury in Somerset. With a new house and a new job, she’s too busy putting down roots to think about love.

Air Ambulance pilot Sam Ellis is definitely not looking for romance either, especially not on his doorstep. When Florence, his new neighbour, complains about his noisy housemate, he feels more cross than star-crossed.

But as the nights draw in and both find themselves thrown together in Willowbury’s seasonal drama production, will they overcome their differences and allow a little bit of winter magic to fall along with the snow? And what secrets will be revealed by the box of memories Florence finds in the attic at Bay Tree Terrace?

 

This is definitely my kind of book – romance, wonderful characters and Christmas.

Florence is instantly likeable, as is Sam. I very quickly grew attached to both of them. I adored the relationship that promises to develop between them throughout the plot. Josie was also a lovely addition.

Even though Elsie has passed away prior to the beginning of the novel, the author has very much given her a presence even though she’s not physically there.

Aiden’s backstory is heartbreaking and I fear not as uncommon as we think. I felt the issues raised with this character were done with sensitivity. Overall, I wanted all the characters to be OK.

The setting for this novel couldn’t have been more perfect. Willowbury sounds like the type of place I want to be around at Christmas; the quintessential English town all dressed up for the festive period. Sigh, can I just leave, step into the book cover and go there now?

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