Book Review: Christmas at the Farmhouse by Rebecca Boxall

I am pleased to share with you a festive book review, Christmas at the Farmhouse by Rebecca Boxall.

Book Review: Christmas at the Farmhouse by Rebecca Boxall

Christmas at the Farmhouse by Rebecca Boxall

Title: Christmas at the Farmhouse

Author: Rebecca Boxall

Genre: festive fiction women’s fiction

Publisher: Wild Fox Press

Release date: 24 Oct. 2020

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Farmhouse-festive-author-Vicarage-ebook/dp/B08J7S6SZV 

US – https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Farmhouse-festive-author-Vicarage-ebook/dp/B08J7S6SZV

Blurb:

As the anticipation of Christmas builds in the Nielsen family’s cosy farmhouse, Jo, Magnus and their grown-up children begin to congregate for a hybrid Danish-Jersey festive season, each with a surprise of their own – though the surprise that arrives over Christmas is the most life-changing of all.

Fifty years earlier, in 1969, Susan Jones finds herself being pursued by Mr Jenners, her former English teacher, and at the age of seventeen is packed off to a Home for Unmarried Mothers in London by her uncompromising father. As Christmas approaches, all she can do is desperately hope to be rescued, but will anyone be able to reach her in time?

The two timelines of this festive story gradually weave together in a tale that examines whether love and hope can eventually triumph over even the deepest sadness.

Rebecca Boxall is the award-nominated author of five bestselling novels – Christmas at the Vicarage, Home for Winter, Christmas on the Coast, The Christmas Forest and Christmas by the Lighthouse.

My Thoughts

I was drawn to this novel because of the dual nature of the storyline and the promise of an emotional ride with Susan’s tale. I am a sucker for Call the Midwife and the blurb reminded me of the many heart-breaking pregnancies it shows. From the beginning the reader is thrown into heartache with Susan being forced to give up her much wanted baby. This connected me to her and I needed to keep reading to see how things came to be and what happened next. The two timelines are told in alternate chapters and highlight a big contrast between naïve Susan preparing for birth and Jo preparing for a large family traditional Christmas with unexpected surprises from all family members. Jo’s family is full of warmth, and the descriptions of mouth-watering food and festive traditions made me want to spend Christmas at theirs this year but it was Susan’s timeline I was constantly drawn to. It could have been a book on its own. The subject is well researched and sensitively told.

Would I recommend?

This is the first novel I have read by Rebecca Boxall and am pleased to discover she has a back catalogue of Christmas books to explore. Farmhouse at Christmas is an enjoyable, cosy but emotional read which explores family connections, reactions to unmarried mothers in history bundled to together with warm festive cheer.

Author Biography

Rebecca Boxall

Rebecca Boxall was born in 1977 in East Sussex, where she grew up in a vicarage always filled with family, friends and parishioners. She now lives by the sea in Jersey with her husband, three children and Rodney the cat. She read English at the University of Warwick before training as a lawyer and also studied Creative Writing with The Writer’s Bureau. She is the bestselling author of Christmas at the Vicarage, Home for Winter, Christmas on the Coast, The Christmas Forest and Christmas by the Lighthouse and was nominated for the Romantic Novelist Association Awards in 2020.

Social Media Links –

For more information please visit her website – www.rebeccaboxall.co.uk – or her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/christmasatthevicarage.

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and supplying me with a copy to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

If you would like to know more about this author and this book, why not pop along to other blogs on this tour.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

Book Review: The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

Today I am excited to share another festive book review, The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker. The blurb grabbed my attention because I am a great fan of the festive film, The Holiday starring Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet where they swapped houses for the Christmas period (Iris’ cottage is the ideal writer’s home) and I always wanted to know more about Australian traditions at Christmas; something I have never come across in UK fiction.

Read on to find out more.

Trailer for The Holiday

Book Review: The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker

Title: The Christmas Swap

Author: Sandy Barber

Publisher: One More Chapter, HarperCollins UK

Genre: Romance, festive

Release date: 16th October 2020

Blurb:

Christmas is coming and best friends ChloeJules, and Lucy are needing change… so swapping homes for the holidays could be the perfect present for all of them!

Australian Chloe spends her Christmas in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England. She is totally star-struck when she discovers who lives across the road.

Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.

And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend her Christmas on a beach with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away is just what she needed.

The only thing better than one Christmas romance is three, and this wonderful festive novel is perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Holly Martin and Karen Swan.

Purchase Links

Amazon

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-christmas-swap

https://books.apple.com/gb/book/the-christmas-swap/id1522992097

https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/fiction-poetry/the-christmas-swap,sandy-barker-9780008390044

https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-christmas-swap/sandy-barker/9780008390044

My Thoughts

The first chapter is a Beachesesque introduction to three young girls from different places in the world, forming a friendship that will span a lifetime and shape who they are. Strong female friendships in novels are a joy to read, and this was no exception. From the start, I was connected to them, making me turn the page.

The idea of the swap was sown when Australian Chloe’s parents abandon her over Christmas and she reveals her longing for traditional family celebrations as seen in the movies. I loved the premise of experiencing three distinctly different Christmases, especially the one in Australia. I always struggled to comprehend the notion Christmas day was in the middle of summer and celebrated without a turkey and all the trimmings. My sister lives there, and reading this novel made me feel closer to her.

These friends experience snapshots of each other’s lives and it highlights even the best friends do not share everything and there are aspects of your life you keep to yourself. There is a character for every reader to connect with and love, and I enjoyed watching them grapple the different traditions, slot into the different ways of living, and discover the closest friendships have boundaries. With stunning locations, festive atmosphere, chemistry between love interests and swoonsome embraces, it was a tonic for grey, drizzly Autumn days and perfect escapism.

Would I recommend?

Yes! This is my first experience of this author, but I loved her style. This book is an entertaining, refreshing read, and with three Christmas stories in one, how could I not love it? It is on for my forever shelf for a reread in the future.

Author Biography

Sandy Barker

Sandy Barker is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list. She loves exploring new places, outdoor adventures, and eating and drinking like a local when she travels, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, film buff, wine lover and coffee snob.

Social Media Links –

https://twitter.com/sandybarker

https://www.facebook.com/sandybarkerauthor

https://www.instagram.com/sandybarkerauthor

https://sandybarker.com/

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources and One More Chapter for my advanced copy so I could give my honest and unbiased opinion.

If you would like to find out more about this book and Sandy Barker, why not visit other blogs on this tour.

Have you had your own Christmas swap and experienced a different festive day? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading and stay safe!

Love

Book Cover Reveal: Christmas in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

I am excited to reveal the book cover for the next installment of the Cockleberry Bay series by Nicola May. Here is Christmas in Cockleberry Bay.

Christmas in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola Bay

Christmas in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

Title: Christmas in Cockleberry Bay

Author: Nicola May

Release date: 4th December 2020

Blurb

Meet old and new characters in the Bay for Christmas fun and frolics.

With both the Corner Shop and Cockleberry Café in safe hands, Rosa turns her attention to Ned’s Gift, the charity set up in memory of the great-grandfather whose legacy turned her life around.

Over at the Ship Hotel, Lucas has his work cut out with his devious new girlfriend and the mystery poisoning of an anonymous hotel inspector. Will the hotel still get its 3-star Seaside Rosette?

Will Mary find true love at last? Can Titch cope with the demands of the shop and being heavily pregnant. And can Rosa, with a baby of her own, pull off the Cockleberry Bay Charity Christmas Concert in time?

Christmas in Cockleberry Bay is a festive delight for fans of Rosa and her cheeky mini dachshund Hot, delivering a feast of unpredictable events and surprises.

Pre-order Links

Kindle – UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08JHJKLQF/

Kindle – .com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08JHJKLQF/

Paperback  – http://eye-books.com/books/christmas-in-cocklberry-bay

Author Biography

Nicola May

Nicola May is a rom-com superstar. She is the author of eleven romantic comedies, all of which have appeared in the Kindle bestseller charts. Two of them won awards at the Festival of Romance, and another was named ebook of the week in The SunThe Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay became the best-selling Kindle book in the UK, across all genres, in January 2019, and was Amazon’s third-bestselling novel in that year.

She lives near Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan.

Follow Nicola May

Website – www.nicolamay.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMayAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/nicolamay1

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/author_nicola/

Happy reading!

Love

Book Extract: Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage by Lucy Coleman

I am excited to share with you an extract from Lucy Coleman’s new festive novel, Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage. I have read a few of Lucy Coleman’s books and they always sizzle with festive cheer.

Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage by Lucy Coleman

Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage by Lucy Coleman

Title: Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage

Author: Lucy Coleman

Publisher: Boldwood Books

Genre: Festive Romance

Release date: 3rd September 2020

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3fGdGvu

Blurb

Join us for Christmas in the Cotswolds in this perfect festive escape, from the bestselling Lucy Coleman.

Imogen Tolliman never knew her mother. And when an accident robs Immi of her father too, she goes to live with her grandfather, Tollie, in his picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage by the Aysbury marina. 

Tollie is the star of the Santa Ahoy Special each Christmas – a festive boat ride along the canal that enthralls both children and adults alike. And as Immi grows up, she starts to appreciate the magical community she is lucky enough to live in. 

When Immi meets Gray Adams, she instantly realises he’s someone special. And as their relationship gets serious, they start to plan for the Christmas to beat all Christmases.  

But as the day approaches, and the romantic snow showers turn into blizzards, their dream of a Christmas to remember, looks set to be one they’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons. Can they salvage the festivities, or will old secrets that are finally uncovered turn Immi’s life upside down forever?

Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to a dreamy Cotswolds Christmas full of snowflakes and secretslog fires, mistletoe, friends and much-loved traditions. Perfect for all fans of Trisha Ashley, Holly Martin and Sue Moorcroft. 

Extract from Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage

‘Right, what can I get for you, Immi?’

‘One of your surf and turf sharing platters and a bottle of something special, please. I don’t suppose the Christmas beers have arrived yet?’

Our community is very proud to have a celebrated microbrewery virtually on our doorstep. The Middle Norton Brewing Company have made a real name for themselves and it’s become quite an attraction for the marina.

Sarah nods her head. ‘This morning. Two Santa’s Helpers? Or how about trying the new one – The Bullrush Christmas Brew?’

‘You didn’t!’ I exclaim.

‘We did. We put the proposal to Pete and David, and they thought it was a great idea. Ten pence from every bottle sold will be donated to The Santa Ahoy Christmas charity fund. When Tollie pops in later, Kurt is going to tell him the news. And Pete just rang to say they are going to run a promotion on it via their stockists, which will run into January.’

‘Wow, thank you, Sarah. I mean, that’s simply amazing.’

‘What’s amazing?’

I spin around and it’s as if a cloud of happiness has wafted in through the door. Gray throws his arms around me, lifting me off the floor as he raises me up to plant a kiss firmly on my lips.

‘I’m back. What’s happening?’ He pulls away, tilting his head to peer over my shoulder. ‘Hi, Sarah, you’re looking good, and busy. Have the Christmas beers arrived yet?’

‘It’s great to see you, Gray. And yes, Immi just placed your order and it’s on the way. Grab a table quickly, guys, I’ve just cleared one upstairs.’ Sarah nods towards the door and a large group about to step through.

‘Will do. Catch up with you later, Sarah,’ Gray calls over his shoulder. Grabbing my hand, he leads me upstairs.

As my foot hits the last tread and I look out over the canal, I get the familiar thrill I always feel to see the boats. This evening everything is right in my little world and my heart soars. I squeeze Gray’s hand and quicken my pace as he strides forward to claim the last table by the window. But before he lets me go, he spins me around into his arms and we stand there for several seconds. Resting my head against his chest and, oblivious to the background chatter, I close my eyes, savouring the moment. Just to feel the solidness of him and breathe in the smell of that lemony aftershave balm he uses is heavenly.

I hate it when we’re apart, but since last October, Gray’s life has had to revolve around his mother, Rona. She’s a lovely woman who dotes on her wonderful son. Sadly, just over a year ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After a gruelling programme of treatment, she began having the most awful panic attacks and became a virtual recluse. Gray and I put our plans on hold because family comes first. But for Gray he has had to struggle to work to keep the bills paid and be her only form of support, so it would be a lie to say it hasn’t affected our relationship. True love never dies, but it needs constant care and attention. We’ve both been miserable and lonely, but as hard as it’s been for me, it’s been even harder for Gray.

Rona has been on her own for a long time, since Gray’s father, Grayson Alexander Adams, returned to the States when his son was five years old. Gray has never been to America, or met his grandparents.

I think that’s one of the things that drew us together when we were first introduced, almost three years ago now. Neither of us have siblings and both have just the one parent figure in our lives, albeit mine is a grandparent. There’s a sense of responsibility that accompanies that, I’ve discovered as the years have passed. Granddad worries about me, but now I worry about him – constantly. It’s been the same for Gray. He ended up having to move back into his family home, as Rona floundered to cope with day-to-day living. And suddenly, it wasn’t just our plans for last Christmas that fell apart, but our dream was put on hold.

I try not to dwell on the seemingly impossible question over whether Gray and I will ever be able to get together as a couple, permanently. Rona won’t consider leaving the house she’s lived in since the day Gray was born and Tollie, well, the marina has been his life for more than fifty years. He’s spent the last thirteen years making sure I’m okay, but as time passes our respective roles have begun to change.

Author Biography

Lucy Coleman

Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/LucyColemanAuthor

https://www.instagram.com/lucycolemanauthor/

lucycolemanromance.com

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/lucy-coleman

http://bit.ly/LucyColemanNewsletter

Thanks Rachel Random Resources and Boldwood Books for inviting me to this tour.

Happy Reading and stay safe!

Love

Book Review: Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl

December is only days away; are you ready? I am eager to get our decorations up and celebrate the season thanks to the pile of festive novels I have read recently. Today’s book, Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl  has a festive theme but is different to my expectations. Read on to find out more.

Book Review: Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop by Hannah Pearl

Daisys Cover

Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop

Title: Daisy’s Christmas Gift Shop

Author: Hannah Pearl

Genre: Festive Romance, Woman’s fiction

Publisher: Ruby Fiction

Release Date: 29th October 2019

Blurb

Struggling to find the perfect Christmas gift? Step into Romantic Daze …

Daisy Kirk is a sucker for a love story, which is why she opened up her gift shop – because there’s nothing that makes Daisy happier than when she’s helped a customer achieve their own ‘happily ever after’ by finding the perfect Christmas gift for their loved one. And she absolutely does not just sell ‘soppy presents and frilly pants’ as her brother’s infuriating best friend, Eli, is so fond of suggesting.

The sad fact is that whilst Daisy is helping others with their love lives, hers is non-existent. But when unusual circumstances take Daisy and Eli on a road trip from London to rural Wales, will she finally get the happily ever after to her own Christmas love story?

Buying Links:

Kindle UK: https://amzn.to/2kdCgNf
Kindle US: https://amzn.to/2lNhpR0
Apple Books: https://apple.co/2kdtGOu
Nook: https://bit.ly/2jUJghL

My Thoughts

I thought I knew what I was about to read when I read the blurb but I was wrong. It is an entertaining  novel based around Daisy’s shop, Romantic Daze, in the run up to Christmas like I expected but it is also so much more. An unexpected twist sends the usual romance of “will the main characters get together?” into a different direction adding  thrill, suspense and adventure into the mix making this a quirky book to remember.

Daisy’s shop is adorable and I love the idea of a unique shop sourcing specialised and bespoke gifts to show someone you care. The description brings it alive and I long to visit. Daisy is relatable but the characters around her to steal the show especially Lily and Ben. Lily is vibrant, fun and adventurous and in contrast to Daisy’s shop of romance hers sells sexy lingerie and sex toys. They complement each other well.  Ben, Daisy’s brother,  is a likeable genius whose quirks and outlook suggests he is on the autistic spectrum. As the plot unfolds he becomes more than a side character and I enjoyed that he was integral to the story.

It is a tale about family, romance, complex reactions to grief and, of course, Christmas.

Would I recommend?

Yes. I have previously read Hannah Pearl’s debut novel It’s My Birthday and I was impressed by her writing style. This book is a refreshing Christmas read and is perfect for curling up under the duvet with a hot chocolate.

Author Biography

Hannah Pearl Author Photo

Hannah Pearl

  

Hannah Pearl was born in East London. She is married with two children and now lives in Cambridge.

She has previously worked as a Criminology researcher, as a Development Worker with various charities and even pulled a few pints in her time.

In 2015 she was struck down by labrynthitis, which left her feeling dizzy and virtually housebound. She has since been diagnosed with ME. Reading has allowed Hannah to escape from the reality of feeling ill. She read upwards of three hundred books during the first year of her illness. When her burgeoning eReader addiction grew to be too expensive, she decided to have a go at writing. In 2017 she won Simon and Schuster’s Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine, for her short story The Last Good Day.

Hannah is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.

Blog – dizzygirlwrites.wordpress.com 

Twitter – https://twitter.com/HannahPearl_1

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this blog tour and the advanced copy to review.

Happy reading!

Love

Daisys Christmas Gift Shop Full Tour Banner

Book Review: Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye

Christmas is not Christmas without reading or watching A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The Muppets version starring Michael Caine is traditionally watched on Christmas Eve by the whole family but other versions are watched too throughout the month. On 1st December, I take my illustrated version of the tale off my forever shelf for its annual read. This well-known story is perfect for Christmas with its cruel villain, lessons on love and redemption as well as its powerful festive imagery. So I jumped with glee when I was offered the chance to read the prequel Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol.

Miss Marley

Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol

Title: Miss Marley: A Christmas Ghost Story – a prequel to A Christmas Carol

Author: Vanessa Lafaye

Genre: Festive, general fiction

Publisher: HQ

Release date: 1st Nov 2018

Blurb

Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

My Thoughts

The beautiful red cover with gold lettering is attractive and oozes Christmas spirit. It was a joy to hold it in my hands adding to my excitement to reading it. I was concerned it would not live up to my expectations after all it is aspiring to be like to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol but I did not need to have worried this book is a wonderful delight. It captures the soul of the original, the language and grittiness of Dickensian life. Her words provoke powerful, colourful imagery as the original did; I was immersed in the stench of poverty at times and in heaven with the aroma of fresh loose leaf tea in their chests. I could hear the swish of the women’s long skirts and would be happy to gaze in the toy shop window for hours. The characters are vivid and I could not help connect with the strong, smart and caring Miss Clara Belle Marley as she tells the story of her life with her protective brother, Jacob and her meeting with Ebeneezer Scrooge.

It is emotional, and I never expected I would hate another fictional villain as much as Scrooge but I do now.

Talented Rebecca Mascull completed the manuscript after Vanessa Lafaye’s death and it is a seamless blend of writing. Unless I had read the postscript, I would never have known. It was written after a conversation about the setting up of A Christmas Carol Appreciation Society. If it ever exists, I like many would love to join -please.

This small novella is on my forever shelf and will become part of my Christmas tradition to read every Advent along with the A Christmas Carol. It gives a warm feeling in my heart with its timeless magic. The only way it could be improved is a glorious illustrated version to be enjoyed and sit with my illustrated A Christmas Carol.

20171224_114302

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Thank you Harper Collins Publishers for my copy so I could give my honest, unbiased opinion. I will treasure it.

If you are only reading one Christmas book read this. If I could, I would become a book fairy and bundle it in a festive bow and leave in unexpected places to spread the Christmas cheer.

Do you have a book you turn to every year? Let me know in the comments below.

Merry Christmas! Happy reading

Love

Christmas is coming – let the countdown begin

As we hurtle towards December, it is the perfect time to find an advent calendar to help you countdown to the day.

Luckily, Flamingo Paperie have a range of advent calendars for you to view.

As I said before, my favourite is the Reindeer Stable but I am tempted by the others too. They are different to many calendars because instead of opening windows to reveal an image or chocolate, an item is added to the scene. The lack of chocolate makes them is ideal for people, like me, who are on a diet or have dietary restrictions.

The high quality means they can be used next year if they are cared for and can be added to the annual family tradition.

For those who desire the more traditional design with windows, there are the popular advent calendar cards. I find these ideal for friends and family so they have an additional treat from the Christmas greetings.

November is also the time I settle down in the evening with a festive book to get me into the seasonal mood. I have a stash of new and old ones to choose from. Do you have a favourite book I could add to my to-be-read pile? I would love to hear from you.

Love

Katie signature pink