Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Guest Review: Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan

On the tiny Scottish island of Mure, Christmas preparations are even more hectic than usual . . .

Flora Mackenzie is worried about her brother. Fintan hasn't got over the death of his partner, Coltan, and Flora thinks he needs a project.

The Rock - the rambling, disused hotel on the tip of the island - was Coltan's passion project before he died. With Flora's help, Fintan is going to get the hotel up and running in time for Christmas, transforming it into a festive haven of crackling log fires and delicious food. But running a hotel, they are about to discover, is not that easy. Especially when their motley staff includes a temperamental French chef, a spoilt Norwegian kitchen boy who can't peel a potato without mutilating his own hand and a painfully shy kitchen assistant who blushes when anyone speaks to her.

Can they pull it together in time for the big opening?

And can Flora help her family find happiness this Christmas?

Review: This is the latest in a series of books by Jenny Colgan about the remote Scottish island of Mure, which in fact is closer to Norway than the Scottish mainland. The books have focused mainly on the MacKenzie family who have a farm there, but readers learn lots about other inhabitants as well. Because there are so many characters featured in the books, I would suggest that reading this book before any of the others would be confusing; they make a wonderful set when read together anyway. As the title suggests, this story is set in the run up to Christmas, and has a lovely festive feel about it. As usual with Jenny Colgan’s books, I sat down to read (or in this case listen) and didn’t want to pause until I reached the end. One comment I have about the audiobook is that I was disappointed to find that the narrator was different from the lady who has covered so many of Jenny Colgan’s previous books; I have no complaint about the new narrator, but it changed my perception of the characters I have come to know.

The story this time is set about a year after the end of the last one in the series, which ended really tragically for Fintan MacKenzie. He has now inherited The Rock, a rundown hotel at the end of Mure, and is trying to continue his husband Coltan’s project to open it as a luxury destination for tourists and locals alike. When he is showing little enthusiasm for the job, his sister, Flora, steps in to help. The aim is to have a grand opening on Christmas Day, but there is much to be done and many obstacles along the way. Fintan employs a very temperamental French chef whose ideas are not always suited to what is available on the island. In addition, the kitchen staff includes a Norwegian playboy who has been sent away by his family to learn some sense and has no clue about cooking, and a very shy village girl who lives with an overbearing mother who disapproves of her daughter working at the hotel. With such an assortment of kitchen personnel, can Flora and Fintan pull it off? Meanwhile, there is plenty of other activity on the island as people prepare for the festivities. The islanders we have met before are all present and correct, with developments in the story of the island’s doctor and his sons.

I can highly recommend this book to those who are following the continuing tale of the island of Mure. As I said at the beginning of this review, I’m not sure that it would be an ideal read for someone who has not read at least one of the other books in the series. I very much enjoyed catching up with all the goings on in the island. The staff at the hotel provided a great deal of amusement, the spoilt boy learning to do things he usually had a staff to deal with, and the chef impatiently getting used to island life. It was hard to know whether they would get the hotel up and running on time. In common with small communities everywhere, there was a certain amount of suspicion towards change, and such was the case with the introduction of Christmas lights - another amusing part of the story. As well as enjoying the characters in the book, I was once again struck by the rugged beauty of the island, with its sometimes stormy seas and lovely long beach, all brought to life so well by the author.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

November 2020 Unboxing & Book Haul | Which New Books Did I Get From Book of The Month?


Top Ten Tuesday: I'm Thankful For. These Nonfiction Books.. 24/11/20

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

Since it is thanksgiving on Thursday and it is also nonfiction November, I thought I would share some of my favorrite nonfiction books of all time. I am very very thankful for these books. 

And of course everything Bill Bryson has ever written!

Monday, 23 November 2020

Gilmore Girls Readthon Wrap Up-What Did I Read This Week?

 Well we have reached the end of the Gilmore Girls Readathon. I had a great reading week I think perhaps because I was really motivated and excited about what I wanted to read. It was a busy week for me (see the vlog that is coming up) and so I was very reliant on audiobooks this week. I got through a lot of audiobooks and they were really excellent. 

If you missed my TBR and signup post, you can find that here to see what challenges I was intending to take on. 

Here's what I read...

224 Pages

288 Pages

416 Pages

432 Pages

256 Pages

224 Pages

288 Pages

240 Pages

308 Pages

285 Pages

256 Pages

288 Pages

159 Pages

3663 pages total!

I met all the challenge and filled in almost all of the bingo card getting 3 lines overall-yey!

Sunday, 22 November 2020

Movie Review: The Trial Chicago 7 | Is This Another Netflix Streaming Hit?


Blog Tour: Interview With Stacy Christopher Zaghloul Author of Lady Colombia @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours


Today is my stop on the blog tour for Lady Colombia by Stacy Christopher Zaghloul. I have an interview with the author to share with you today and if you like the sound of that you can click here to order your copy. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews.

Here's what it's all about...

Laidy is a young woman living outside Bogotá, Colombia. She applies herself in school, works a part-time job, and helps to look after her aging father. Her exertions begin to take an emotional toll. An estrangement with her sister is particularly painful, leading her to investigate unanswered questions about her past. To resolve these doubts, she must traverse the world of narco-traffickers, a task she is loath to do. Along the way, she travels to parts of Colombia she has never seen and learns that her family history is much more complicated than she ever imagined. A genre-bending novel which incorporates elements of the women's literature, Latina, coming-of-age, mystery, contemporary romance, historical fiction, family life and multicultural genres, Lady Colombia is a moving tale that guides readers through the splendid cultural weave of the land, whilst delivering on the promise of the unputdownable. This stunning debut work will resonate with readers for years to come.

Here's that interview for you...

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

Growing up, I loved books, storytelling, and writing. I was a teacher for several years, then became a lawyer. I had to leave the professional world to look after my two daughters and because of two international moves- one to Beijing, the latest to Bogota. While in Bogota, both my daughters were teens, so I had more time to myself. I became particularly moved and inspired by the culture in Bogota, so I actually sat down and composed Lady Colombia. I asked my daughters to look at it; they loved it. I showed it to my husband then, and my mother- my toughest critic. They told me the story had to be published.

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

I do now, because my oldest daughter is in university in Florida and my younger is finishing secondary school back home in Texas. I did record my memories of my year in Beijing several years ago- but it is nowhere near coherent; that was catch as catch-can; I was doing that between school runs, laundry, and doing side work editing scientific papers for professional industry.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer to write?

This is a difficult question to answer; my oldest brother says I write for readers, while too many writers attempt to write for other writers, if that makes sense. It is my voice behind everything I write. Genre is something difficult for me to pin down as well. Lady Colombia is technically literary fiction, but it could fit into many categories. My oldest daughter wanted it shaped into more of a romance, my husband, more of an action-adventure shoot-em-up Western type thing. I declined both suggestions, and I think the story is better for it.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

I cannot say how other writers create characters, but every character I write is based on people I have known for years, or a conglomeration of such. Laidy is a character that I imagined after seeing these same young women in Bogota over and over again- the clerk at the bank, the shopgirls, the neighbors in the next flat, young women walking down the sidewalk alongside me. My oldest daughter, however, will tell you that Laidy is her mother!

What was the inspiration behind your book?

Twenty years ago I was on flight to D.C., where I am a member of the bar association (I believe you call them barristers in U.K.). I always grabbed magazines or paperbacks before boarding-that was before the digital era. I read this stunning account in National Geographic or Foreign Affairs or something about a young woman who was living in Chile or Argentina (can’t remember which) who was living an ordinary life when she was brutally confronted with her past- her biological origins, which were directly tied to the political motivated “disappearances” that dominated the seventies and eighties in several South American countries. I tried desperately to locate that article, that woman’s story, but have been unsuccessful.

Fast forward to my years in Bogota, 2017-2018. While I was living there, I learned that the Colombian government was releasing a devastating report that disclosed the truth of Colombia’s own disappeared- more than Argentina and Chile combined. A mass grave was discovered in Medellin, in September 2019, after I had returned stateside. It is feared that the bodies interred there are many of the “disappeared”.

I had always been a huge fan of Latin American authors, particularly Colombia’s own Garcia-Marquez. But while living there, I found few English language works set in Colombia (political papers and travel books, yes) except for one, a volume which focused entirely on the narco terror that occurred in the years of Escobar. I felt that a book should be written about the beauty of the country, the beauty of the people. Colombia has fought long and hard to rid itself of narco violence and is truly the phoenix from the flame.

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time?

I do this thing where I have a notebook-just blank pages, and I record thoughts in it as they come to me; in the middle of the night, after hearing a song, while gardening, and particularly, while traveling. Then I begin to outline how these concepts weave themselves into a storyline. Some days, I can sit and write pages and pages (of a first draft). Those days are the ones that aren’t occupied with the demands of life. For me, my mind has to be relatively clear to churn out page after page in one afternoon.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

As I alluded to above, it is impossible for me to separate myself from my writing, unless, of course, I am writing an informational piece for my blog.

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing behind your book?

I did a tremendous amount of research prior to and while writing the book. This is partly my legal training- for me, authenticity is key. I wanted to highlight the beauty of Colombia, but in the spirit of walking in the truth, I had no choice but to tie the years of la violencia into my storyline. I asked my husband for a general background, he grew up in Venezuela, which borders Colombia. I then read political papers, recorded history, government documents by the score. I also followed the national news there, and still do, to this day.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

Reviews are tremendously importantly to me; even if I wholly disagree with the reviewer’s comments- I will address that in a moment- reviews are what makes readers want to read your book. That is the bottom line. So the feedback (if not specifically reviews) that I received from other writers prior to and post publication that I ignored included these notions-

Firstly, don’t include Spanish in an English novel. I wholly reject that concept. I grew up reading Amy Tan, who uses Mandarin and Cantonese phrasing in her books to provide cultural texture, which is vital to the experience she is providing her readers.

Second piece of feedback- don’t italicize Spanish in an English novel. I think this is nonsense. Perhaps because I come from the old school, but again, I refer to Tan- she italicizes Mandarin phrases. Even though I read Spanish well enough, I find it difficult to read a book that doesn’t italicize foreign phrases- I have to go back and re-read the sentence, which I find frustrating.

Third- and this came from two very well-read individuals- elaborate on this particular character’s story. That presents a challenge for several reasons, and I concluded that the best way to handle that would be a sequel, because that character deserves her own novel.

Fourth- Stephen King and a librarian friend of mine both warn that adverbs pave the road to hell. So I literally began, during the editing process, to attempt to eliminate them as much as possible. A frustrating experience if ever one existed. That night I picked up Joyce’s Dubliners- a work peppered with, and beautified, if you will, with adverbs. So they remained.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

Absolutely. I would have never kept at this if my husband and mom hadn’t encouraged me, as well as some writer friends. Some of my extended family had no idea I was writing fiction, it took them by surprise, but they were pleased by the outcome. My friends have been very busy during this time period- they have to work from home and look after their children, as the schools remain shuttered. So very few have been able to finish my book, a couple did and were delighted.

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

So the publication of Lady Colombia was really odd- after I finished it, the pandemic had locked down the states (in April). No agents and no publishers were buying books due to the economic downturn. So my family encouraged me to wait it out and keep writing other pieces. But in late June, my aunt died quite unexpectedly. What really upset me was that she would have loved to see the book published. It was devastating, we couldn’t hold a funeral, I couldn’t even travel home to Texas to be with my family. My husband started playing old Spanish songs to calm me. One of the songs, by Julio Iglesias, was “I forgot to live”. Something moved in me that day. I had forgotten to live. I had been waiting on other people- agents, publishers; wanting to give up on writing altogether. That day, I chose to live. So I self-published on Amazon, for kindle and paperback.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

I read a lot, about five books at a time, from multiple genres. For some reason, for the past two years, I have been stuck on Irish writers. I read all of Colm Toibin’s works and was blown away. Then I picked up a Colum McCann book on a trip in late 2018 and was once more blown away. I am reading one of his other books right now.

When we moved to Oklahoma in 2019 (again, for my husband’s job), I began reading every Pulitzer winning novel in the fiction genre that I hadn’t encountered before. It has been truly rewarding. I loved Geraldine Brooks, Shirley Ann Grau. I love Cormac McCarthy, a fellow Texan, and Larry McMurtry, also a fellow Texan. But again, I love books from so many genres. I could never name them all.

Finally...what are you working on right now?

So I started a novel that is loosely based on the life of my mother-in-law, who is an Arabic Christian, she was living in Palestine during WWII, and was forced from her home. Her family fled to Jordan, where she met my late father-in-law. He took her to Venezuela, where she raised her family, including my husband, her last child. Her story is amazing, and the research is wonderful. I hope to finish it quickly, before her health fails.

About the Author

I am a proud graduate of Texas A&M University (whoop!) and SMU's Dedman School of Law. I am a happily inactive member of the District of Columbia's bar association. A native Houstonian, I have also lived in Dallas, Beijing, and Bogota.

I taught special education students and English language learners in Texas, and spent some years in the administration of special education services. I also had the privilege to advocate for students with disabilities in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. I recently published my first novel, Lady Colombia, for Amazon. I am currently writing my third book, loosely based on the life of my Palestinian Venezuelan mother-in-law.

When I am not writing, I am reading, gardening, listening to music, painting, and attempting to cook. I have been blessed with two lovely daughters, the eldest of whom is attending university in Florida, the younger completing secondary school in Texas. I live in Oklahoma with my husband Jose and my dog Jet.

Friday, 20 November 2020

Blog Tour: Interview With A Rainbow Like You by Andréa Fehsenfeld @acfcreative @lovebooksgroup #lovebookstours

Today is my stop on the blog tour for A Rainbow Like You by Andréa Fehsenfeld. I have an interview with the author to share with you today and if you like the sound of that you can click here to order your copy. Don't forget to check out the other stops on the tour for more exclusive content and reviews.

Here's what it's all about...

An iconic rock star with everything to prove.

A determined teen runaway with nothing left to lose.

When their fates intertwine, the most unexpected journey unfolds.

Adrian ‘Jazzer’ Johnson’s gilded rock and roll career is the stuff of legend. From out of the dive bars of Long Beach, this high school dropout rocketed his band to the pinnacle of success. But after a whirlwind decade ended with him broken and questioning, Adrian disappeared.

Now back on tour after a year in exile, Adrian’s still struggling and under pressure to deliver his next hit. The last thing he needs is to find a teen runaway hiding on his tour bus. As it turns out, Hastings Sinclair is a synesthete who can see music in colour. But her offer to help colour-blind Adrian unpack his creative block upends their lives in ways they never imagined.

Because Adrian’s troubles run deep—beyond what any song can fix—and Hastings hasn’t been upfront about hers. When calamity strikes, a perfect storm of fates unleashes and caught in the crossfire are Adrian’s bandmates, a fame-shy beauty he falls hard for, and a scheming journalist with a vendetta. With everything he values suddenly on the line, can Adrian reconcile his own brash history? Or will he be forced to face the music in a way he never has before?

Here's that interview for you...

First question-bit of a cliche-how did you get into writing?

I’ve always loved writing and reading; have been a massive book nerd my whole life. After working in TV for years, creating numerous shows and pitches, I committed to writing fiction. I sat down one September and wrote for an hour or two every afternoon. Six months later, I finished the first draft of a novel. That inaugural book will be released next year as book one in my new romance series…published under a nom de plume!

Do you write full time & if so, have you always done this?

Right now I balance my writing with TV production. They are very different worlds – one frantic and collaborative; the other quiet, with solitude to explore my own creativity. I like the blend of both. It’s a great balance for me.

Do you have a particular writing style or genre that you prefer to write?

I’m firmly in the contemporary fiction niche. I love suspense, although I don’t want to be pigeonholed into writing that all the time.

My TV career has definitely informed my fiction writing. I have a mad love affair with dialogue! It’s my favorite way to explore characters. I’m also big on structure. I’m thinking of each chapter as a scene in a TV show or film and a lot of reviews mention that my stories are very visual. And of course, a good twist is also vital! No one saw the ending coming in my debut novel, Completion and the twists in A Rainbow Like You are also very unexpected.

How do you develop your characters as you write, are any of them based on real people?

I avoid basing my characters on real people. It’s a lazy and dangerous habit. Characters develop as soon as I unleash them on the page. Then, I’m just hanging on for the ride, doing what they tell me.

What was the inspiration behind your book?

Aside from the premise of the story, the macro and micro themes of the book stem from the question: “What does it mean to be a successful musician in the year 2020?” It’s ironic that musicians barely make a living off music sales these days; touring and merchandise revenue are how they survive. But the touring life is a grind. It’s an isolating, nomadic experience, punctuated with extreme highs and lows. Relationships are constantly under strain. And within that pressure cooker environment, band members battle with their internal dynamics. I love settings with lots of natural tension and the drama surrounding a band on tour made it the perfect backdrop for a story!

What is your writing process-do you plan it out first? Write a bit at a time?

My stories always start with character. I tend to write a few chapters with a plot idea in mind, but it’s all about getting under the skin of the major players—when they start to interact on the page, they take flight and I understand them better. After that initial writing blitz, I fine tune the plot based on what they’re telling me.

How much of you is reflected in your writing?

There are always little snippets of me or my personal viewpoints coloring the story somehow. I choose not to reveal them, however. It’s better for everyone if I stay behind the scenes!

What kind of research did you have to do before/during writing behind your book?

I know quite a few people in the music industry, and they were generous in sharing their insight and stories. And I have seen over 400 concerts. The live show environment is something near and dear to my heart.

How much attention do you pay to the reviews that you get?

I love reading reviews. It’s interesting how people interpret my work. Authors get demoralized with reviewers who don’t gel with their books. I believe there is something to be gleaned from every review and don’t take anything personally. I don’t expect everyone to love my stories. My job is to provoke a feeling, a reaction, an emotion. It might be that someone doesn’t like what I’ve provoked in them and that’s okay. Writing isn’t a popularity contest.

Are friends and family supportive of your writing?

Yes, they are. My friends especially. It’s been wonderful how they’ve embraced my creative life. I’ve rotated through different sets of beta readers for my two novels and my friends know me enough to be honest about what’s working or not. My sister especially offers great feedback as I’m hammering out drafts. She’s an English teacher and always finds the grammar errors!

How do you feel leading up to your publication day?

Excited! It’s liberating to finally launch my material into the universe.

Which other authors inspire you or are there any you particularly enjoy reading?

I’m constantly in awe of how prolific the big authors are—King, Grisham, Baldacci etc. I try to read a little of everything, just to keep on top of the market/trends. Although my personal writing bent is far more contemporary and commercial, for some reason I’m drawn to literary works for my own reading pleasure. Go figure!

Finally...what are you working on right now?

I’m heading back into the suspense realm for my third novel. It’s got a killer title and an intriguing premise. I’m working on the twist right now. (love a good twist!)

My new romance series also launches next year! I am publishing sexy romance under a nom de plume. After finishing my first two novels, I realized how much I enjoy writing intimate scenes. Plus, sexuality is very personal and exploring characters through that prism is as fun as dialogue choices.

About The Author

Andréa is an award winning TV producer who has delivered more than 200 commercials, series and movies for Fortune 500 companies.

Her debut novel COMPLETION is being adapted for television.

A RAINBOW LIKE YOU is her second novel and will be released on October 27, 2020!

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Unboxing Enchanted Fandom November Drinking Vessel Subscription Box + Cocktail Recipe Making!


Review: I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day by Milly Johnson

 It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard. Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there…

Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?
Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?
Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find – and much more besides?
A story of knowing when to hold on and when to let go, of pushing limits and acceptance, of friendship, love, laughter, mince pies and the magic of Christmas. 

Review: I pre-ordered the audiobook of this title because it has a wonderful narrator and I really thought she did a great job of bringing this story to life. One of the things I love most about this book is the ensemble cast. It can be difficult to keep track of who is who when you first start listening but the synopsis is so well written that I referred back to that to ensure I had everyone memorised and could really settle into the story. 

This was one of those books I saw playing out in front of me like a movie or a television show. I saw everyone on  their own journey, make the detour to the inn and each character on their own journey of person discovery. This is almost like a mid-life coming of age story for most of these characters. This tiny inn and everything that surrounds it is the perfect setting for these characters to really take a look inward and have a think about where they are, where they've been and the next step they want to take. 

I warmed to Bridge and Luke straight away. They have been on a journey together and they were very easy to relate to, I could see them slotting into my own life as neighbors or friends of friends. Their story is a little bitter sweet and I really loved the way they bonded together as they bonded with the other characters. Mary and Jack are that classic combination of a hard working woman and a man who doesn't see how hard working his assistant is just because she is so hard working. She is the swan and he is he passive recipient of all of her time saving efforts. I loved watching Mary step outside of her comfort zone and seeing if Jack would realise her worth. 

Charlie and Robin were my favourite characters, the true hedonists of the group. I felt sorry for them that they had to detour on their way to Scotland but I loved that they got to interact with the other characters because I think they really brought out the best in everyone. Their story is definitely the most emotional but that because fo the passion that the two of them throw into their lives. I would definitely have found myself drawn to their pair if I was in that inn too. 

Fans of Milly Johnson will know that he books often feature the newspaper The Daily Bugle and whilst that paper doesn't feature in this book, it has been replaced with another form of media to provide comedy interludes in this narrative. I loved tuning into Radio Brian and really would have enjoyed his festive musings myself I am sure. This book is just the right balance of festive, funny and introspective and I really enjoyed the audio. I did laugh and I did cry so you know you're in for a good time with Milly Johnson's latest.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Guest Review: The Cornish Cream Tea Christmas by Cressida McLaughlin

Hannah Swan is looking forward to Christmas for the first time in years. Her new job as an eco-consultant is taking her – and her geeky colleague, Noah – to the beautiful Cornish village of Porthgolow for the first time.

They’re are helping the Crystal Waters Hotel to ramp up its green credentials, though after a bumpy journey, Hannah can’t shake off the feeling that Porthgolow is strangely familiar. Never able to resist a mystery, her interest is piqued when the hotel’s staff and customers report odd noises and sightings, believing the hotel to be haunted.

When bad weather cuts off Porthgolow, Hannah and Noah are looking at a Cornish Christmas. It gives them plenty of time to work out what is really going on, but will their yuletide escape send shivers up their spines? Or will it be as warm and toasty as a glass of mulled wine?

Review: This is the third book in a series about The Cornish Cream Tea Bus, an old red Routemaster bus that has been skilfully converted into a tea shop that can usually be found beside the beach in the fictional Cornish village of Porthgolow. The owner, Charlie, brought the bus there on a holiday, but never really left, so it is now a famous fixture in the community. Charlie’s boyfriend, Daniel, runs the luxurious cliff top hotel, Crystal Waters, and it is the hotel that brings the heroine of the present tale to Porthgolow all the way from Edinburgh. In common with many of Cressida McLaughlin’s books, this story was originally published as a series of 4 ebooks. I have waited until finishing all the parts before writing this review.

The story revolves around eco-consultant Hannah, who travels to Porthgolow just a couple of weeks before Christmas to assess the eco rating of the Crystal Waters Hotel and suggest any improvements. She is joined by local freelance assessor Noah, who seems at first cold and uncommunicative. She soon becomes enthralled by the village but can’t shake the feeling that she has been there before during childhood holidays in Cornwall. However, her mother is being quite evasive on the subject and Hannah wonders what she is hiding. When a tremendous storm hits the area and makes her planned journey back to Edinburgh impossible, Hannah enjoys getting to know the locals and spending more time with Noah. She also becomes intrigued by reports of paranormal activity at the hotel and an interesting episode in its past. As it seems less and less likely that Hannah is going to get home for Christmas, she ponders on her future, having become smitten with this village, and, increasingly, with Noah.

I have read and enjoyed all of the books in this Cream Tea Bus series, and wouldn’t be able to choose which I liked most. I would definitely recommend this book as a festive read. It could certainly be read as a standalone, but the three books go together to make a lovely cosy tale. The series is full of wonderful characters and locations. Making the old bus into a cafe was a great idea, just right for the setting in the little village. I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that I could climb on board and sample some of those lovely cakes whilst looking out over the beach. I don’t know if Cressida McLaughlin is planning more stories about Porthgolow and the bus, but I for one would love to know what happens to the inhabitants I feel I have come to know.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Livestream to Celebrate 1000 Subscribers. Come and Chat With Me!


Review: Nothing Like I Imagined Series by Mindy Kaling

 Freaked out by her fortieth birthday, the creator and executive producer of Never Have I Ever reflects on the importance of good friends—and the mortifying obligations it takes to keep them.

Yes, Mindy Kaling is the genial Hollywood celebrity who posted twelve selfies from a single Oscar party, but that smile took work. In this hilariously honest essay, Mindy reflects on the social anxiety that she traces back to the slices of white cheese her parents served at her ninth birthday party. Little has changed in thirty years—least of all the fear of being judged forever. It’s probably best to just back away.

From the acclaimed writer, actor, director, producer, and New York Times bestselling author comes Nothing Like I Imagined. In these essays, Mindy Kaling shares the latest chapters of a multitasking life in Hollywood. Read or listen to them in a single sitting. Either way, they’re pitch-perfect.

Review: Oh I loved this series. These eBooks are free from Amazon Prime members but you can also download the accompanying audio and so I listened to these on audiobook. I really recommend the audio if you can access them because Mindy Kaling reads them herself and so each short feels like listening to a podcast episode or just sitting down for a chat in the car with Mindy herself!

I don't know why I'm surprised that I laughed at a series of books written by a comedy writer but I chuckled at all of these. I particularly enjoyed Once Upon a Time in Silverlake and Please Like me. Those essays made me laugh the most and I really loved hearing both of those stories. In terms of being open and honest, Help is On the Way and Searching for Coach Taylor are brutally honest about single motherhood and asking for help when you need it. Big Shot deals with the reality of being 'a celebrity' and what that entails and then Kind of Hindu talks openly about religion, family and Mindy's roots.

The thing that I loved most about this series, aside from the humour and the fact that the audio is read by the writer herself is the honesty with which Mindy Kaling writes. Many people who are in the limelight like she is would cover the fact that sometimes she doesn't want to socialise or that she has help being a mother or that she's fine being single but these are all things that Mindy Kaling fully explores in these short but sweet stories.

I really recommend this series and if you can access the audio, they really are fabulous!

To order the series yourself, just click the link: UK or US

Monday, 16 November 2020

Gilmore Girls Readathon Sign Up and TBR

This week I will be taking part in the Gilmore Girls Readthon. You can check all the details of this readathon over on their Instagram and I will be vlogging the week over on my BookTube channel so keep an eye out for that video up next week!

Here are the challenge, I will be making my TBR from books already on my November TBR with a couple of extras...

Read a book set in a small town.
Read a book set during fall/winter.

Read a book with complicated love interests

Read a book by an Asian Author

Read the next book in a series you haven't finished

Bake a fall treat and watch your favourite episode... 

I'm not sure which episode I will watch but I think it will probably happen towards the end of the week...

Read a book that features a mother/daughter realtionship...

I'm not sure if any of the book on my TBR have this so I'm going to have to let you know on that one however I will be kicking off the readathon by listening to a favourite nonfiction of mine since it is nonfiction November so this leads me into the bingo challenge and other books I might pick up this week!

I'll be starting with:

The bingo card...

So some of the other books that are on my November TBR but don't meet the readathon challenges will definitely tick off some of the bingo card. You'll need to keep an eye on my social media and watch out for the vlog to see which books meet which square!