Saturday 29 October 2022

Guest Review: Behind Closed Doors By Gary Lineker and Danny Baker

'Football is a simple game. 22 players chase a ball for 90 minutes, and at the end the Germans always win.'

This book is inspired by the stories Danny and I have shared with each other about what life in football is really like: in the dressing room, in the commentary box, on the pitch and - with the appropriate pixellation - in the showers afterwards.

What's it really like to play with Messi? I wouldn't know, but I have starred alongside him in an advert for Walkers crisps. And, well, his performance was world-class.

And what is a life in football really like? You won't learn much from the dull-as-dishwater post-match interviews - it's a world of secrets, superstitions, laughs and personalities, and let me tell you, half of it you won't believe.

I've looked back at my playing days, from England to Leicester, Everton to Barcelona, Tottenham to, er, Nagoya Grampus Eight, and shared the chaotic behind-the-scenes secrets of Match of the Day - and Danny has chipped in with stories from a lifetime following the game as a fan.

From Italia '90 to Leicester's Premier League fairytale, from yellow cards to World Cup trophies (I've never been awarded either), from Gascoigne to Maradona, you'll find it all here - everything you always wanted to know about football, but didn't realise that you did.

Inspired by the No.1 podcast Behind Closed Doors

Review: The TV presenter and former footballer Gary Lineker, and the broadcaster, journalist and writer Danny Baker have presented a series of lunchtime podcasts recorded in Gary’s kitchen. This book is based on, and is an expansion of, those podcasts, discussing aspects of football not always apparent to the public.

Gary, who holds the record for goals scored for England in FIFA World Cup finals and who won the Golden Boot for being the top goalscorer during the 1986 World Cup (he may mention this in the book) gives a professional footballer’s perspective, whilst Danny, a lifelong Millwall supporter, gives the fan’s perspective. The resulting volume is a very amusing, and sometimes irreverent, account of the beautiful game. A flavour of the book is given by the chapter headings, which are a collection of footballing clichés or famous quotes from matches. Hence, there are anecdotes from World Cup campaigns, nights out with Paul Gascoigne, and what happens in the “Match of the Day” studio with Alan Shearer and Danny Murphy. At the end of the book is an appendix giving the recipes of some of the dishes enjoyed by the two authors during their lunchtime sessions.

I found this a very amusing book and would recommend it to all football aficionados. It was also interesting to read the biographical details of the two authors and their different routes to enjoying the sport.

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

Thursday 27 October 2022

Guest Review: A White Christmas on Winter St. by Sue Moorcroft

When Sky Terran returns to the village of Middledip after losing the job she loves, she anticipates a quiet Christmas getting used to her new life. However, the annual street decoration competition is coming up and this year, the residents of Winter Street are determined to win.

As she is pulled into the preparations, Sky quickly grows to love the quirky, tight-knit community she is now part of. Including the extremely handsome Daz, who soon becomes more than just a friendly neighbour.

But when Daz’s ex turns up determined to win him back and it seems he might not be the man Sky thought he was, she remembers how much allowing people into her life – and heart – can hurt. As the snow falls, will she and Daz find a way through – and help win a Christmas victory for Winter Street?

Review: I am a confirmed fan of Sue Moorcroft’s writing and especially look forward to her Christmas book each year. She writes stories that are bound to leave the reader feeling well in the mood for the festive season. I was delighted to find that this book was going to take me back to the Cambridgeshire village of Middledip, the setting for many of her previous tales. As expected, I was quickly lost in the world of the characters and looking forward to Christmas in this little village.

The story concerns a newcomer to Middledip, Sky Terran. She has left her once-happy job working with a property developer who she has known since childhood, and bought a run-down house on Winter Street. She is planning to renovate the house and grounds  gradually, but the committee in charge of the annual Christmas decoration competition, entered by Winter Street this year, has other plans. She finds that she is expected to have her garden tidied and decorated within a matter of days. Luckily, she finds that she has willing helpers in her neighbours, especially Daz and his friends. As she finds herself becoming drawn closer to Daz, his ex-wife turns up obviously intent on winning back his affections. Relations become strained between Sky and this handsome man, but with the excitement of the competition growing in the background, can they overcome their difficulties and give in to the obvious attraction between them?

I absolutely loved this story. As a regular reader of Sue Moorcroft’s books, I enjoyed returning to Middledip and some familiar faces and locations, although there were plenty of new characters to meet as well. I liked Sky and her determination to branch out on her own after she was let down by someone she trusted. I could understand her being pulled towards the lovely house she bought, but, with its run-down interior and jungle of a garden, what a job she was giving herself. She has had a troubled past and found it hard to accept help, but what better person could she open up to but the gorgeous and dependable Daz; he’s definitely a neighbour we would all like to have. I’m sure that even if you haven’t read any of the other stories set in Middledip, you can’t fail to be drawn to the village and its inhabitants, new and old. With all the twinkly lights and heaps of snow, this is one Christmas book that will leave all its readers humming Christmas songs and looking forward to their own festivities.

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

Wednesday 26 October 2022

Guest Review: Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

A family gathering
This Christmas the Miller siblings have one goal – to avoid their family’s well-meaning questions. Ross, Alice and Clemmie have secrets that they don’t intend to share, and they are relying on each other to deflect attention.

An uninvited guest
Lucy Clarke is facing a Christmas alone, and the prospect of losing her job – unless she can win a major piece of business from Ross Miller. She’ll deliver her proposal to his family home in the Scottish Highlands and then leave. After all, she wouldn’t want to intrude on the Miller’s perfect family Christmas.

A Christmas to remember
When Lucy appears on the Miller’s snow-covered doorstep, she is mistaken for Ross’s girlfriend. But by the time the confusion is cleared up, a storm has hit and Lucy is stuck. As everyone settles in for a snowed-in Christmas, tensions bubble to the surface and suddenly Lucy finds herself facing a big family fallout with a family that isn’t hers…

Review: I have been eagerly awaiting Sarah Morgan’s annual Christmas book. It is generally one of my favourite reads of the season, leaving me filled with Christmas spirit after reading of snow, delicious food and family gatherings. This one is set in the Scottish highlands and certainly promises plenty of snow and family drama.

The story centres on the Miller family. All of the Miller siblings (Ross, Alice and Clemmie) are coming home from London to spend Christmas with their parents and grandmother in the family’s lovely lodge. They are all hoping to avoid ‘interrogation’ from the older members of the family as they all have secrets they would rather not share with them. Also heading from London for the village where the family live is Lucy, a marketing specialist who is hoping to save her job and indeed the entire company by procuring a contract from Ross Miller. She intends to deliver her proposal and leave, but a misunderstanding and the weather between them contrive to see her stranded in the Miller home and unable to avoid intruding on their Christmas preparations. With all the secrets being bottled up in the household, the atmosphere is anything but relaxed and Lucy finds herself trying to hide away from the inevitable conflict, wishing to be back at home but, as a person with no family, at the same time envious of the warmth of the Millers’ family home.

As anticipated, I absolutely loved this story. It is full of such interesting characters and situations that could be found in any family, but not generally all at once and in a confined space. The older Millers are well-meaning, but they do tend to pry, and I could understand why the others wished to keep things from them. For me the star of the story was Nanna Jean, who understands her family best of all and refuses to be shocked by anything; she definitely added humour to the narrative. Of course, in the cosy family home there was lots of cooking going on and all sorts of tasty meals being served up. In addition, the Miller family has been producing shortbread for generations, so there is plenty of that being eaten as well; I was intrigued by the whisky shortbread. When I started reading this book, I thought I could predict the ending, but I had no idea of the twists and turns ahead of the characters. I can confidently recommend this book for anyone looking for a truly Christmassy tale with warmth and romance, and lots and lots of snow.

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

Tuesday 25 October 2022

Top Ten Tuesday: Books to Cozy up With This Halloween


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. 

Not into spooky and scary this halloween? Here are some books I'd love to cozy up with instead!

Monday 24 October 2022

Review: A Christmas Celebration by Heidi Swain

 When Paige turns up unannounced at Wynthorpe Hall, she discovers the place she knew when she was growing up has changed beyond all recognition. She’s only planning to stay for a short time, but is quickly pulled into local life.

One night while driving home after delivering library books and shopping to residents she stumbles across an isolated cottage and meets Albert, its elderly and rather grumpy owner. She quickly realises there’s more to Albert than meets the eye and the same can be said for the other man she can’t seem to help running into, handsome but brooding Brodie.

All three of them have a secret and a desire to hide away from the world, but with Christmas on the horizon, is that really the best way to celebrate the season?

Review: A Heidi Swain Christnas novel set at Wynthorpe Hall again? Yes please! I was so excited to get stuck into this book and see my old friends from Wynthorpe hall once again. I cannot tell you how wonderful it felt to read those first few pages. It was as wonderful and festive as always and the book lets you catch up with these characters just enough that you get some satisfaction from it but not so much that it detracts from the main storyline. We also get some nuggets of information about those other characters that leave me with some questions that I really hope will be picked up again in future books because I need my answers!

Fear not, if you have never read a book set at Wynthorpe hall before, or indeed a Heidi Swain novel before, you do not need to have to enjoy this book. This book works whether you are new to this author and her world or if you are a die-hard fan of this location like I am, there is quite literally something in here for everyone. I will also say that if you are worried that this novel will be too festive or too much about Christmas, please don’t worry. There are festive elements here and people are gearing up, as always, for the winter solstice as well but this book is about family and community and finding help in the most unlikely of places. 

We get to meet two fabulous new characters in this novel, what a treat. Firstly we have Paige who is a class Heidi Swain character. She is a bit broke and there is a certain element of mystery surrounding the fact that she has returned from her role in Jordan earlier than expected. Paige definitely needs some family and some rescuing and she will find that in ways she never imagined. Then we have Albert, a mystery himself, what is his back story and why is he living in the state that he is living in. I loved meeting both these new people and they slot into this world so perfectly, I can’t wait to hear more from them in the future. 

In terms of the romance in this book, it definitely wasn’t as hot and heavy as last year's festive offering but I enjoyed the slow burn and then the friendship and family elements of love that are explored in this novel. Everything feels warm and cozy and you are just so behind every relationship whether that is romantic or not. I definitely feel ready to open my advent calendar now and I feel sure that this book will leave you with a warm and slightly festive feeling too!

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

Sunday 23 October 2022

Movie Review: Black Adam. Did this Film and The Rock Change My Views on the DC Universe?


Blog Tour: Review of Three's a Crowd by S. R. Booker

It's my turn on the blog tour for Three's a crowd today. I have a review to share with you to celebrate the paperback publication of this fab read. 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: 

What happens when an estranged father and son unwittingly fall in love with the same woman?

Out-of-work actor Harriet is recuperating from a crash-and-burn affair with Damian – aka ‘Cockweasel’ – and making ends meet as a barista when she meets two rather lovely men. Tom is a regular at the café, and seems like such a nice guy. Smooth-talking DJ Richard is older, but in great shape – a real silver fox.
Deciding to take a chance on both of them, Harriet doesn’t realise at first that she is actually dating father and son. Tom and Richard aren’t on speaking terms, and don’t share a last name – so how was she to know? By the time everyone finds out, both Tom and Richard are truly madly deeply in love with Harriet, and she’s faced with an impossible choice.
But as the battle for her affections intensifies, ‘Cockweasel’ makes an unexpected reappearance and begs her to give him another chance…

Review: I love the premise for this story, two people in love with the same girl who just happen to be related. I think it would make an excellent limited series for Netflix and I can imagine is playing out with much humour on the screen. I was expecting a little slapstick humour in the book but it actually goes a lot deeper than that. This book tackles mental health head on, delving into topics not often talked about in a romantic comedy in this way and I definitely applaud Simon Booker for the content choices that he made. 

Harriet, Tom and Richard feel very true to life. Their careers, their home lives and their hopes and dreams all seem very easy to relate to and I felt like they could really exist. I listened to the audiobook for this and was lucky enough to listen on a couple of train/ bus journeys through London. Whilst listening I could picture the characters walking along the streets I was traveling  and I loved the TFL link with Harriet. 

It took me a while to get to know each character and adjust to the structure of the book, I started reading this one as an ebook but I kept losing which character was which and so that's why I downloaded the audiobook. The narration of each character really helped me get to grips with whose chapter we were on an I felt like I got a deeper understanding of who everyone was. The eBook felt a little slow in the beginning but once I got into the audiobook I flew through the rest fo the story. 

I really enjoyed the context and the way the storyline played out. I did find it funny and I was invested in Harriet's story. I warmed to Harriet as a character despite the questionable choices he made. I would like to revisit Tom's character again in the future to find out what has become of his dreams and his relationship with his family. I strong 2021 debut. 

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

Wednesday 19 October 2022

Guest Review: Christmas in Paris by Tilly Tennant

As the snow flutters down on the Eiffel Tower and fairy lights sparkle on the pavement cafés of Paris, meet the girl determined not to fall in love in the most romantic city in the world…

When Brooke arrives in Paris at Christmas, it feels like the perfect place to escape after being dumped by her long-term boyfriend. And while her head might be turned by the romance of couples strolling arm in arm along the riverbank, and the air scented with chocolat chaud, her heart remains firmly under lock and key – this trip is going to be about her.

Brooke might be able to resist the charms of one persuasive Frenchman who takes her to some of Paris’s most romantic spots, but when a chance encounter leads her to green-eyed Armand with his dark wavy hair and warm smile, she is annoyed to feel her heart skip a beat…

Still, what’s the harm of a holiday romance with no strings attached? Brooke is sure she can play it cool. But when Armand opens his heart to her in a candlelit restaurant and kisses her at the top of the Eiffel Tower, she throws caution to the wind. Armand isn’t her ex – and doesn’t she deserve a second chance at love?

But when Armand begins to blow hot and cold, she wonders if she has been taken for a fool. Why does he never answer his phone? Who is the mysterious tall blonde French woman who always seems to be watching Brooke? And when Armand leaves Paris without warning as Christmas Eve approaches, should Brooke try and find out more about the stranger she has found herself falling for?

Review: As other fans of her books will no doubt agree, Tilly Tennant writes great Christmas stories. The pull of the festive season in Paris coupled with the promise of romance from the wonderful cover had me excited to read her latest Christmas offering.

The story focuses on Brooke and her best friend and business partner, Felicity. Brooke is heart-broken after being dumped by her long-time boyfriend and both girls hope that a month in Paris selling their custom-made jewellery and fabric products at the Christmas markets may help her recover. The one thing that Brooke is adamant about is that she is not going to succumb to the charms of any Frenchmen, no matter how romantic the setting. However, she didn’t count on a chance meeting with the dashingly handsome Armand. Trying to keep their relationship low key doesn’t work, and soon she is falling in love. However, Brooke suddenly finds herself in the middle of a mystery, and at the same time Armand begins to behave in a strange way and odd things happen to herself and Felicity. She is left wondering if she has been foolish to let a man into her heart or if she should continue to find out more about him.

This is a lovely Christmassy story, with romance and mystery mixed in with the sparkling lights and tinsel, set against the backdrop of this famously glamorous city. The reader is taken on a tour of the sights and to many exotic locations, the writing so powerful that the sounds and smells of Paris came floating right off the page. I loved that there was an element of intrigue built into the story, taking it to a new level, with danger lurking in the background of the festivities. The central characters in the story are interesting and well developed. I particularly liked Felicity with her bold, no-nonsense attitude while being fiercely protective of her friend. Of course, who could not be attracted to Armand, a courteous and handsome companion with whom to stroll the streets of Paris. I would recommend this as a book which should definitely join the list to read this Christmas.

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

Saturday 15 October 2022

Guest Review:Don’s Great Escape: Life in a German POW Camp By Donald E Phillips Edited by Theresa M Ripley

Don’s Great Escape is one man’s story of being in a German POW camp in WWII. Don’s plane went down over occupied France in 1943. He was captured and sent to Stalag Luft III made famous by the 1963 movie The Great Escape. On January 28, 1945, Stalag Luft III was evacuated so the camp would not be captured by the Russians. After several days of walking and being transported by boxcars, the prisoners eventually ended up in Stalag VIIA at Moosburg. Don was liberated on April 29, 1945. His story is told by letters written home to his parents. 

Review: During World War 2, Donald (Don) Phillips, brought up on a farm in Illinois, enlisted in the the United States Army Air Force. Trained as a navigator, he was posted to England and became operational with the US 8th Air Force in 1943. This eBook is an account of his wartime experiences based on his letters compiled, edited and published after his death by his niece Theresa Ripley.

In September 1943, Don’s aircraft was on a bombing mission over Germany. Due to difficulties caused by adverse weather conditions in locating the primary target, the ‘plane continued to the secondary target. Returning to base, the aircraft encountered more adverse weather conditions and was running out of fuel as it crossed France towards the English Channel. The crew decided to bale out and Don was captured and sent to the prisoner of war (POW) camp Stalag Luft III. The name of the book is a slight misnomer since Don did not attempt to escape. However, Stalag Luft III was the site of a mass breakout of 76 Allied prisoners, as depicted in the film “The Great Escape”, which explains the book’s title. The camp was divided into five separate compounds, and the escape occurred from a different compound from Don’s and he only found out about it after it had occurred.

POWs were allowed to write three single page letters home per month. The letters were kept by his parents and the book is a compilation of these letters interspersed with commentaries on major events occurring during the War, together with information gathered from other POWs, by his niece. The letters are mainly upbeat, but do give an impression of the boredom of a POW’s life, when letters from home and Red Cross parcels were major highlights. Throughout his captivity, Don was looking forward to his release and return home, and kept an optimistic view of when the war might end, aided by reports the prisoners managed to hear on their illicit radio set.

In January 1945, as the Soviet Army advanced through Eastern Germany, Stalag Luft III was evacuated and the prisoners were marched southwards in freezing conditions for four days before being taken by train to Stalag VIIA. Here they remained until liberated by the American Army at the end of April. Don was freed and finally arrived home in June 1945.

Although the format of the book, by the very nature of the limited correspondence Don was permitted during his time in captivity, is unusual and does not flow easily, it is essentially an uplifting story. It is a very personal history of one man’s war experience and offers a different perspective from the more familiar escape stories.

To order your copy now, just click here!

Wednesday 12 October 2022

Guest Review: Keeping a Christmas Promise by Jo Thomas

Four friends
Twenty-five years ago, Freya and her three best friends created a bucket list. The future seemed bright, full of hope and most importantly guaranteed . . .

One promise
Now they are travelling to Iceland in memory of the friend they've lost, determined to fulfil her dream of seeing the Northern Lights at Christmas.

A life-changing adventure
They didn't count on an avalanche leaving them stranded! Handsome local, Pétur, comes to the rescue, showing them how the community survives the hard winter. With Christmas approaching, Freya and her friends throw themselves into the festivities, decorating and cooking for the villagers using delicious local ingredients.

But will the Northern Lights appear so they can honour their friend's wish? And can Freya's own dreams come true, this Christmas?

Review: I love this time of year, when all the Christmas books begin to appear and I can escape into a world of snow and festivities even though it’s still warm and sunny outside. I know that one of my favourite books of the season will be from Jo Thomas; I am always sure of a trip to somewhere exciting, with lots of fun and delicious food. I was especially looking forward to reading this story as it is set in Iceland, a country I have long wanted to visit.

The story concerns three friends, Freya, Meg and Joanna, who are visiting Iceland the week before Christmas in memory of their dear late friend on what would have been her 40th birthday. One of her biggest wishes was to see the Northern Lights, and the trio are determined to fulfil that wish on her behalf. What they didn’t expect was that their trip would be longer than planned as they become trapped in a small village by a terrific storm, an avalanche blocking the road back to their luxurious hotel and spa. Luckily, they are taken in by local farmer, Pétur. When it becomes apparent that the friends will be spending Christmas in the village, they join in with the preparations and learn how the community pulls together to help each other when times are hard. While experiencing
a very different side of Iceland from the usual tourist sites, and learning a lot about themselves into the bargain, it seems that romance may be in the air for at least one of them.

I was completely captivated by this story. Jo Thomas has, in my view, surpassed herself with this wonderful tale of a group of friends discovering an Iceland which is never seen by possibly the majority of visitors, and learning so much about themselves and the world in which we live. There is happiness and sadness along the way as they come to appreciate their surroundings rather than worry about when they will get home. I loved the stories that Pétur told about elves and trolls and the local customs. There are also strong messages about the importance of considering the environment. With Freya being a chef, the reader is treated to some mouthwatering descriptions of dishes she is learning from the local women, and some interesting ways of preparing food using natural resources. This is definitely a different festive story and one which I can highly recommend.

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

Thursday 6 October 2022

September 2022 Reading Wrap Up

 Despite the fact that September wasn't a GREAT reading month for me, I'm still happy with the fact that I read something from every category and I also read from my TBR yey!

I did have 1 DNF this month but other than that, I liked everything that I read. 


Physical Books



Wednesday 5 October 2022

Guest Review: Mistletoe and Mulled Wine at the Christmas Campervan by Caroline Roberts

Christmas feels like a real gift for Lucy this year. Her cosy coastal cottage is starting to feel like home, her new pizza business is getting the locals ‘All Fired Up’, and she can’t wait to spend it with her new flame Jack, the charismatic owner of the Cocktail Campervan.

Winding along the snow-dusted Northumberland coast for a whirlwind of Christmas markets and celebrations, Lucy and Jack can’t resist stealing a few kisses under the mistletoe. But there’s a twist in their romantic tale when Lucy’s ex turns up in the village. As her past closes in, Jack becomes increasingly distant. And Lucy worries he’s holding back a few secrets of his own . . .

Review: This is Book 2 in the Cosy Campervan series from Caroline Roberts, following on from The Seaside Cocktail Campervan, by the same author. Although this book contains the same principal characters as the previous one, each can still be enjoyed as a standalone. I certainly enjoyed the first book in the series, and looked forward to learning more about these characters and their unusual food vans. 

This story takes place a few months after the first book in the series, and Lucy and Jack are now a couple. With Christmas fast approaching, both are in demand at events, Lucy with her pizza horse box and Jack with his converted VW campervan from which he serves cocktails, mocktails and other beverages. Things are going well until Lucy’s ex, Liam, appears on the scene, hoping to win her back. Jack doesn’t take kindly to this, and their relationship becomes strained. Add to that a few problems with the winter weather and a growing concern that Jack may be keeping something from her, and Lucy’s festive spirit is subsiding fast.

I very much enjoyed this second story in the series. It was nice to be able to catch up with Jack and Lucy, and, of course, Lucy’s adorable Dachshund Daisy. There are some wonderfully descriptive visits to the beaches of the Northumberland coast where the three of them go for long walks; I could almost feel the sand under my feet and the sea spray on my face. Lucy and Jack take the food vans to many different types of venues showcasing the natural beauty of the area. Naturally, there is lots of scrumptious food and drink being prepared and consumed as all sorts of food vans gather at the various events they attend. In addition, the village where Lucy lives is home to a coffee shop that serves mouth watering cakes. This is definitely a book to be read with accompanying snacks to prevent a rumbling stomach. Even once you have finished with the story, the author has thoughtfully added some recipes for festive cocktails, sweet treats and even Lucy’s Christmas dinner-themed pizza. I would not hesitate to recommend this book; it can’t fail to fill the reader with Christmas cheer.

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

Tuesday 4 October 2022

October 2022 TBR: New Release Recommendations, Book vs Movie and Other Audiobooks I want To Read!


Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Bookstores


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. 

This week's topic celebrates national bookshop day in the UK (1st October) and I am so in agreement with that! I have some very specific bookstores that I never miss a chance to visit...

Monday 3 October 2022

October 2022 TBR: New Release Recommendations and Audiobooks I Want to Read

 So here we are in October, I don't know how that happened but I am excited to get on with some October cosy reading. October half term is in sight and Nonfiction November is on the horizon. So reading plans for October involve some holdovers from September as well as a new release, some book to movie and some other audiobooks. Let's dive right in...

October Releases

27th October

Book Vs Movie Titles

Some holdovers from September

And a couple of audiobooks for good measure...