Review | Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe

Hi Lovely, 

I've just finished reading a truly gorgeous christmas novel and I wanted to hop on here and tell you all about it. 

I was in two minds whether or not to read another festive novel as I like to read a handful each year, but I just can't binge on one Christmas story after another. However I am so glad that I decided to read this book as it's been a real treat. So what book am I talking about? This gorgeous one by Katherine Garbera which has such a festive and delightful cover. 

Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe is published by HarperImpulse and is out now in eBook format with the paperback being released very soon. 

There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…
Santa is coming to New York!
Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!

I will admit that to begin with I was so close to not completing this book because for me it was lacking something, and I couldn't put my finger on what it was. However I stuck with it because I desperately wanted it to transform into a magical story of hope and miracles at christmas. How glad am I that I stuck with it?! Very! From around 40% into the book I became hooked - probably because I got the sparkle of a little romance and I am a sucker for romance. 

We meet Iona who is a fierce character in the sense that she is intelligent, strong, ambitious, and she knows what she wants in life. She owns a cafe called Candied Apple Cafe and she's currently in talks with some big companies who want to turn this one little successful shop into a set of boutique cafe's around the country. Iona works to hide from something that hurts her and through the story we find out what that is. 

One of these big companies has a handsome man attached to it who has his own painful past and a very delightful and sweet daughter who I just wanted to scoop up and cuddle. Initially he wanted to sign her cafe to his company to develop its potential further, however it soon became "complicated" in one sense, and yet in another it was just the perfect romance that swept you away.

I eagerly turned the pages, purely enthralled with the romance and the emotion that blushed from the pages. I adored the characters and although with it being a romance novel you can anticipate the ending, it's the journey that deeply enchants me. 

Katherine has captured a beautifully emotive storyline that tugs at the heart strings this time of year, and I'm sure anyone who has lost a loved one will fail to not feel tears brimming at certain points, however Katherine has developed a heart-warming story of miracles, of hope, and of love at the most magical time of the year. I am awarding this story 4/5 for the beauty and wonder of the Candied Apple Cafe. 

To purchase your copy of Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe in eBook you can buy it here that will also give you the option to pre-order the paperback 

*Thank you HarperImpulse for giving me a review copy of this delightful story to read via NetGalley* 

Practically Magic - The Rules of Magic

Hi Lovely Readers, 

Happy Fri-Yay!! It's a cold one today and it's #BlackFriday, and do you know what I purchased on such a huge retail heaven date? A bookcase. :-D I also picked up a kettle and a cosy roll neck jumper. I have my priorities don't I? Haha. 

Anyway, today, I want to share with you what I've just finished reading, and it's a book I've been excited about it since the publishers at Simon & Schuster UK sent me a copy of it to review. It's a brand NEW book by Alice Hoffman ... Yes as in the Alice Hoffman who wrote Practical Magic that was made into one of my favourite movies of all time with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman playing the leading roles of the Owens sisters. 

I absolutely adored that film but I always wondered what the entire family history was. And those aunts; Frances & Jet. Then there's the whole Midnight Margaritas -  you can thank me later ;) 

So what is it actually about? 

Everyone needs a little magic in their lives... The Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to Practical Magic, to date Alice Hoffman’s biggest selling novel and a major Hollywood film.
In this sparkling prequel we meet sisters Frances and Jet and Vincent, their brother. From the beginning their mother Susanna knew they were unique: Franny with her skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, who could commune with birds; Jet as shy as she is beautiful, who knows what others are thinking, and Vincent so charismatic that he was built for trouble. Susanna needed to set some rules of magic: no walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles and certainly, absolutely, no books about magic…

But the Owens siblings are desperate to uncover who they really are. Each heads down a life-altering course, filled with secrets and truths, devastation and joy, and magic and love. Despite the warning handed down through the family for centuries – Know that for our family, love is a curse – they will all strive to break the rules and find true love.

I was like a kid at christmas when I found out there was a prequel - that I was going to find out about the AUNTS...and the first thing that blew my mind was the mention of Frances and Jet's brother Vincent. I never knew they had a brother - but seeing as neither of them had a child and yet they were known as the Aunts - then reason says that there had to be someone else to bear children to add to the generations. Instantly I was intrigued. 

If you're a seasonal viewer/reader of Practical Magic then you'll know that the family have a curse, but no one really knew how this curse came about. In The Rules of Magic, we're taken on a journey right up until the moment the those two darling girls turn up on their Aunt's front porch, and throughout that journey glimpses of the origin of the curse is dropped like crumbs to lead Hansel and Gretel out of the forest. 

What I wasn't expecting was the extent to how much my heart swelled and then broke through reading this book. It also left me with a hunger for more. That hunger is partly because we know the middle of the story, and now we know the start of the story - but what I want to know is what happens to Sally Owen's daughters after she find her man with "one green eye and one blue eye" in Practical Magic. Alice Hoffman has resurrected a much loved story of love, honour, curses and magic that we fell in love with through the reading of and our screens with the absolutely outstanding acting from Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. 

In The Rules of Magic we get to discover the darkness and heartbreak that surrounds the Owens family with especially poignant scenes from Jet's early childhood that had my heart breaking for the future that could have been for her. It warmed my heart just how true to herself and her feelings she was, and how much she honoured those feelings throughout her entire life. 
Frances was always the "cold one" but, what Alice has down through the writing of The Rules of Magic is she's allowed us a glimpse into Frances mind and heart so we can see the reasons why she is in fact the way that she is, and to be perfectly honest I am shocked that she's not colder with everything she had to face as a child.

Vincent, Frances and Jet are truly remarkable characters, and ones whom I now adore even more than before which I didn't think was at all possible. I have a deeply profound respect for these three siblings, and that's because of the remarkable talent of Alice Hoffman who certainly knows how to write a bestseller. Each of them have gifts of 'sight' and the way in which these interplay with each other is beautiful. Each character is strong, independent and courageous with or without the special tea from their aunt whom we also get to meet. 

Whilst the story is sprinkled with elements of magic, it is heavily blended with hidden love stories that in my opinion outweigh Romeo & Juliet. The love portrayed in The Rules of Magic is real, raw, pure, and undiluted. It's a love that's historically beautiful and recognisable. 

The ending of this book came with a tidal wave of exciting secrets spilling out that made me gasp with glee and shock with the revelations of just how this beautiful story of love and pain filters down into the characters that we fell in love with in Practical Magic. It is absolutely no surprise that Reese Witherspoon picked this book up and made it her October Must Read in her book club, and I can only hope that she will pick up the rights of this book and work her feminine magic on producing a movie from this that will capture the talent and audience just as Practical Magic did. 

I am undoubtedly awarding this book 5/5 and can only hope with eager anticipation that Alice and her publishers will consider a sequel to Practical Magic now, because I as I'm sure her readers will feel the same, would very much like to know what happens to the next generation of the Owens sisters. 

You can purchase your copy of The Rules of Magic here 

*Thank you Simon and Schuster UK for sending me a review copy of this amazing book, I have thoroughly enjoyed it* 

Awaken Your Creativity with Pam Grout

Hi Lovely, 

It's me, back again just as I promised :) 

Today I want to share with you a book that if I'd followed from cover to cover ...well you wouldn't be hearing about until next year. The book I want to share with you is one that centres on helping you unleash your creative side for an entire year. 

It's by Pam Grout, author of E-Squared, E-Cubed, and Thank and Grow Rich. Let's take a look shall we. 

Art & Soul Reloaded is written by Pam Grout, and is published by Hay House UK

With her trademark humor, enthusiasm, and no-nonsense guidance, #1 New York Times best-selling author of E-Squared Pam Grout invites you on a yearlong “apprenticeship” to recognize and unleash your innate creativity.
Making art does not necessarily mean painting a gallery-worthy still life or belting out a Grammy-winning song. It simply means finding a way to give your inner muse a voice in this world. Sure, there’s drawing, dancing, singing, and writing. But there’s also art to be made from creating your own pair of angel wings or inventing a new toy or curating your own at-home film festival.
Each week features a project of self-examination, an inspirational message, a real-world example of a celebrity who has addressed similar obstacles, and three zany activities to awaken your infinite creativity.
It’s time to declare the beat of your own drum.

I absolutely love anything that allows me to feel inspired, and either create something or write. It's one of the reasons I started this blog initially - because I love writing so much, and being creative.
I'm also quite partial to crochet and sketching on the odd occasion.
In this book Pam challenges you to a year long exploration of your creative self through weekly challenges that are designed to awaken your mind and get you thinking outside the box.
I really enjoyed reading the first 3-4 weeks in this book and have found myself to rekindle my love for being creative. So much so that I've found myself painting the classroom windows as part of displays - we have 2 kinetic letter monkey's and the window is now resembling 2 monkey's in a tree. I've also rekindled a love for journalling - something I did in my anxiety recovery but not since hitting recovery. It's a very therapeutic way of living, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else I can reload in my creative brain and soul. 

Awarding this book 4.5/5 stars 

Life Lessons Come In Nugget Size

Hey Lovely, 

How are you doing? I took the whole of September off to focus on getting back into the swing of work which meant that I didn't have much time for reading - not like I used to. It exhausting looking after 30 children every day and this time around they are the little ones, so I very rarely get to sit down for long at work. It's very busy and by the time I get home I'm just wanting to relax and sleep. 

Anyway, I did manage to read a few books over an extended period which I will be sharing with you over the coming couple of weeks by way of catching up. We have lots to look forward to. 

First up is an absolute dream book for those of us who are so busy and need short and insightful. It's by a wonderful author whom I have so much love for; Julia Cameron. Some of you may know her from ther famous The Artists Way book that introduced the world to Morning Pages. I first discovered Julia at University when I was studying Creative Writing and I still to this day love her work and techniques I learnt from her. 

Shall we take a look at this book she's recently published? Good I'm glad you said so. 

Life Lessons : 125 Prayers and Meditations is written by Julia Cameron, and is published by Hay House UK

In her signature compassionate voice that has won over the hearts of millions, Julia Cameron offers a collection of inspiring and encouraging messages to help you notice the beauty of life, trust the unfolding of events and know that you being looked after and protected, no matter what is happening.

All too often we yearn for a more spiritual life but tell ourselves it's too difficult. But the smallest prayer is heard and answered. The simplest overture meets with a loving response. Each of the prayers in this book is a starting point. Taken collectively, they offer an approach to the Divine that is powerful as well as simple. These prayers not only allow us to reach out to God, but they allow the Divine Energy to reach out to us.

The book is called Life Lessons because each entry is a corrective to commonly held misconceptions of the divine. Like the postures assumed in hatha yoga, they stretch us gently. Through these prayers, we learn more of ourselves and the divine. 

A little different from the fictional books I usually review her but I found reading Life Lessons really inspiring. Literally a sentence of two to a page, Julia offers us inspiring wisdom that is a lesson of life for us to pray over, meditate on, or like me; think about or journal on. 

In the hectic daily lives that we all have, we seem to have less and less time to think about life or what it's trying to teach us and indeed what we are already in possession of in terms of life experience and wisdom. We just work to live rather than living to work. Life Lessons offers us that moment of stillness, of mindfulness to just stop, breathe and think. 

I loved this book and its placed near the front door so that just before I pick my keys up to leave I can read a nugget of wisdom, and do the same when I come home from work. 

I've found myself journalling on occasion on some of the nuggets to record my own thoughts. 

I really like this book, and award it 4/5 stars. 

Christmas Cover Reveal | Sue Moorcroft is BACK!!!

OK this is actually rather exciting for me as I am MORE than ready to start reading Christmas books. I know it's August but let's face it, Autumn is the best time of the year to snuggle up, get cosy with a book and a blanket. So, whilst I eagerly await all this years Christmas titles to arrive I am going through my back-catalogue and reading a few that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. Sometimes we find hidden gems of the past don't we? 

Anyway, TODAY I am excited to share with you along with everyone at HarperCollins and the bookblogging community my first Christmas Cover Reveal of 2017!!! 

Sue Moorcroft is back with this beauty ... 

Publishing in eBook: 9th October
Publishing in Paperback: 2nd November

The #1 bestseller returns with an irresistibly festive tale that you won’t be able to put down!
Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.
After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.
But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.
However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…
Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as you devour this irresistibly festive Christmas tale. The perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Blog Tour | True Love at the Lonely Bookshop

Hello Lovely, 

How are you? Have you been enjoying your summer? I'm still (only just about though) on my summer holiday before heading back to work in September with the kiddies where it will be all mayhem and tears with the little ones on their first day back. But I'll be spending time with each of them and sorting out their first reading book of the academic year. Which brings me nicely onto what I want to share with you here today. 

Annie Darling has written another beautiful story about a bookshop (Am I the only one to get ridiculously excited about a story set in a bookshop? - I hope not!) and this time, it's all about true love. In fact, can we just take a moment to gaze adoringly at the book cover please as we take a quick peek at what this books all about? 

True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop is written by Annie Darling, and published by the lovely HarperCollins. You can purchase it from Amazon UK in Paperback or eBook

It's a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman in possession of a good job, four bossy sisters and a needy cat must also have want of her one true love. Or is it?
Another delightful novel from the author of The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts. Perfect for fans of Lucy Diamond and Jenny Colgan
Verity Love – Jane Austen fangirl and an introvert in a world of extroverts – is perfectly happy on her own (thank you very much), and her fictional boyfriend Peter is very useful for getting her out of unwanted social events. But when a case of mistaken identity forces her to introduce a perfect stranger as her boyfriend, Verity’s life suddenly becomes much more complicated.
Johnny could also use a fictional girlfriend. Against Verity’s better judgement, he persuades her to partner up for a summer season of weddings, big number birthdays and garden parties, with just one promise - not to fall in love with each other…

Now doesn't this book just sound amazing? I'm very lucky that I don't often get a book to read/share on a blog tour that doesn't sound amazing - publishers do this amazing job of matching the right books to the right people (a little like a dating agency), and today, I have for you an exclusive and rather exciting extract to share with you from this book. So sit back and enjoy - I know I will. 

Verity couldn’t believe that she was talking about her imaginary boyfriend with a complete stranger. ‘I’m abso­lutely one hundred per cent happy being single but I’m having a hard time getting my friends on board with that.’
Johnny pursed his lips thoughtfully, which did delightful things to his mouth. ‘Maybe you just haven’t met the right person.’
‘I don’t want to meet the right person. I have a busy job, great friends, an extremely needy cat. I don’t need anyone else in my life.’ Verity clutched her glass tighter. ‘So, what’s your story, then? Surely you can’t have any trouble meeting women?’
Johnny ducked his head. Verity was sure it was to hide his pleased but bashful smile. He must have mirrors in his house so he could see that he was very pleasing aesthetically. ‘No, no trouble meeting women.’
Of course! It was obvious. Now that she was no longer crucified on the altar of her own embarrassment, Verity could process the raw data sitting opposite her. No man could look like that and . . . ‘Oh, right. You’re gay. OK. And you haven’t told your friends? Really? Well, it’s none of my business, I suppose.’
‘I’m flattered that you seem to think that,’ Johnny said, his voice all barbed wire now, instead of velvet vowels. ‘You didn’t even make it a question, just an unequivocal state­ment, but no, not gay.’
Verity put her hands to her crimson cheeks. ‘Sorry. I don’t usually run around outing people . . . One of my best friends from uni is gay. And two cousins. I’m all about the LGBT rights. I love the gays!’
‘Well, I’m glad to hear that but I’m still not gay.’
Johnny’s eyes were a very definite blue now. Like the sea in winter; frost-tipped and cold. Verity suspected that he was a Darcy. It was very rare to meet a Darcy.
It probably came from having read Pride and Prejudice so many times that she knew it off by heart, but on meeting new people, Verity always found herself assigning them roles in Pride and Prejudice. She’d met a lot of Jane Bennets and Charles Bingleys, far too many Mr Collinses, an occasional Wickham, but a Darcy was rarer than a single man in possession of a good fortune who was in actual want of a wife. And actually meeting a Darcy wasn’t that much fun.
In fact, it was unbelievably awkward for a count of ten, then Johnny’s phone beeped. As he picked it up Verity realised that there was no good reason to stay and suffer.
She said goodbye, quickly got up, though Johnny was riveted to his phone and gave no acknowledgement of her hasty departure. ‘Stick both glasses on my tab,’ she yelped at Luigi who still couldn’t hide his disbelief that Verity had broken with her usual Friday night routine for the first time in three years. Not only that, she’d also been seen in the company of a man.

I hope you have enjoyed reading the extract, if you loved it like I did make sure you pick up a copy via the links above and let me know what you think of the book. 

Also, if you haven't already, why not head over and visit some of the other blogs that have been taking part in the tour and show them some love. 

Blog Tour | To Provence with Love - TA Williams

Hello Lovely, 

How are you? I would ask if you are enjoying the weather, but right now here in the UK we're having a typical British Summer that feels very much like Autumn and fears of Summer having abandoned us early are unspoken. 

Today however I am stopping by to tell you all about a fabulous story that will have you dreaming of sunshine and escaping for summer from your daily grind. I am grateful to be taking part in the Blog Tour for TA Williams (he's a favourite author of my Mum's) and his new book; To Provence with Love. Shall we take a look? 

To Provence with Love is written by TA Williams, and it is published by HQ Digital. You can purchase a copy via Amazon

Escape to the south of France with this perfect feel-good summer romance!

Anything is possible…

Struggling writer Faye Carter just can’t believe her luck. She’s off to Provence to write the autobiography of a famous film star and she’ll be staying in the stunning chateau!

So when she meets charming (and completely gorgeous) lavender farmer, Gavin, she knows that she’s made the right choice – even if glamourous, elderly Anabelle seems to be hiding something…

But when the sun is shining, the food is delicious and the air smells of honey, anything seems possible. Will the magic of Provence help Faye finally find a happy-ever-after of her own?

At first I admit that reading a story set in France wasn't the top of my list - I'm much more fond of stories set in Italy BUT I'm so glad that I did because I would have missed out on a real gem of a book had I not. To Provence with Love is a beautiful story that had me reminiscing about films I've watched in the past and for this reason I was completely swept away by it. 

TA Williams, writes the most beautifully detailed descriptions of the location that I was utterly romanticized by it all and it had me wanting to book a ticket to the French countryside to see these lavender fields first hand (If only I had my passport!). If you think the cover to this story is beautiful, you will be mesmerized by the actual detail found within it. 

We meet Faye who I could closely identify with - she's a school teacher who loves her job but is rather fed up with the administration of the school -in particular the head teacher. I can 100% relate to this, and so when Faye is offered the chance to do something different and get paid to do it she jumps at it. Like Faye, I've been given the opportunity to get out of a similar school and work somewhere else - not as exciting as Faye's opportunity - but I still grabbed the opportunity for myself.

Faye heads off to Provence to write an autobiography for a famous old lady who is Hollywood royalty and gets swept away with not only listening to Miss Beech's life story unfold, but her own starts to take a turn. Of course there are two men who Faye meets; Obelix...I'll let you discover that one! and Gavin the hunky dark haired gorgeously handsome farmer...But after Faye having her heart broken by her womanizing ex she's not interested and Gavin has Dominique anyway...doesn't he? So she's thrilled that she can be just friends. 

I'll be honest and say that I haven't quite finished the book yet so even though I would never spoil the story for you - I couldn't anyway because I don't know just yet. I'm enjoying the storyline, and the setting. The characters are warming, honest and enjoyable to read. Even though I've not yet finished, I'm awarding this book 4/5 because it is an amazing story, superbly written and a joy to read. 

All About The Author

I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...

I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.

I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.

I've been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she's right.

The Book That's Made Me Broody!

Hi Lovely!

How are you? How was your weekend? I'm just sitting with a nice lemon tea (my favourite beverage) and thought I'd pop in and have a chat with you about a book that I've recently read. This book is not only a real treat to read that actually helped me get out of a reading slump, but it's actually making me feel quite broody! Now my Mr is aware I've been reading the book and he said "the book sounds so good" but I don't think he quite knows the fact that its made me broody haha. So, Mr, if you're ready this on your day off whilst I'm being "Moaning Myrtle" - as in Myrtle Warren (HARRY POTTER DAY!) at work then - .... Surprise haha, Your girlfriend is officially broody! 

So, this book is a beautiful looking book that is absolutely a winner in my eyes for being a debut. Let's take a look shall we? 

The First Time Mums' Club is the debut novel from Lucie Wheeler. HarperImpulse published it and I was fortunate enough to receive an eBook ARC from them (Thank you HarperImpulse). 
You can purchase your copy from Amazon here (paperback is out 13th July) 

As you can see, the cover is delightful, and you can obsviosuly work out that it's a novel about a group of women who are pregnant - for the first time. Shall we see what the blurb says? 

A gorgeous, heartwarming debut for fans of Giovanna Fletcher, Paige Toon and The Unmumsy Mum!
Meet Pippa…
After years of trying and a failed IVF attempt, Pippa is thrilled to see two little lines appear on a pregnancy test. Finally a precious baby to call her own. This is all Pippa has ever wanted…if only husband Jason could show just a little excitement.
A baby is the icing on the cake for Imogen and Alice – proof that their love for each other can overcome any obstacle. But when Imogen starts receiving malicious texts, it's clear that not everyone is thrilled about the girls' good news.
And Ellie…
A drunken one-night stand and Ellie's life is ruined! Pregnant, jobless and the relationship with her best friend, Chris, over- forever. Because Chris just happens to be the father of Ellie's baby…and potentially the love of her life!
For these first time mums the road to motherhood is bumpier than most!

I loved this book from start to finish, I genuinely did. I am very fortunate that 98% of the books I receive are spot on with regards to my interests and this was one of those. I love supporting debut authors because you are potentially holding their dream, their 'book baby' in your hands and they are trusting you to be honest and be gentle with it. This can sometimes scare me as a blogger because I always have to remind myself - that I have nothing of their previous work to compare it to, this is it. This is the first impression going out into the world.

Lucie, I'll put you at ease; as far as I'm concerned you have a beautiful bouncing book baby here and I can't wait to see what you bring us next. 

So why did I like it so much? 

Well, firstly the topic; new mums. This is something that of course at my age I've thought about and I've talked about - a lot, it is something that I've literally dreamt about on many occasions. Literally. Becoming a mum for the first time as much as it can be joyous, i'm sure that a lot of mums will agree with me here when I say that it can be the most terrifying, emotional, scary yet exhilarating experience ever. I know for myself personally, as much as I a m looking forward to becoming a Mum - and believe me I am - I've got the crochet homemade baby blanket patterns, ideas and booties all ready in my mind, along with the nursery decor, it actually does scare me a little. 

Lucie shares this journey with you in The First Time Mums' Club so brilliantly and she weaves in so many possibilities for a first time pregnancy that I am sure there is something that everyone can identify with. We have the couple that's been trying for years, couples who've tried IVF, same sex marriage and parenthood, couples who break up, couples who do the unthinkable, and then we have the "friends with benefits" couple. It's jam packed with gorgeous storylines that you will find it very hard to become bored with the story. 

So many important topics came up in this book that I feel I need to mention; same sex marriage and the trials and tribulations that come with it, miscarriage, abortion, decision making, infidelity, twins, juggling motherhood and work. And that's just to share a few. 

All I will say, is that the epilogue could have been lengthened and turned into a follow up book because I would have loved to have read about the first year as parents. Other than that, it is a splendid debut, a spectacular storyline and one that I will be recommending for a long time to come. Congratulations Lucie!!! 

Therefore I am awarding this book 4.5/5 stars. 

We are all ONE

Hello Lovely, 

I've started to get back into my reading now that University has finished for the year (Yay!). I feel that I haven't been able to fully immerse myself into reading for quite some time but that renewed sense of passion and enjoyment has returned, gladly. 

Today I want to share a book with you that I had on my kindle sitting patiently for some time and I managed to read it only through it being required reading for my final university assignment. I believe this book to be one of a kind and one that truly touched me deeply with the topic it centred around. If you've not yet read it then I urge you to do so at the earliest possible time. It will warm your heart and break it utterly and completely. 

One is written by Sarah Crossan, published by Bloomsbury Children's, has 192 pages. I read the ebook version that I purchased myself and which you can purchase here

This book won a lot of awards which is why it was a required reading for my children's literature university course. Shall we see what the blurb says? 





Grace and Tippi don't like being stared and sneered at, but they're used to it. They're conjoined twins - united in blood and bone. 

What they want is to be looked at in turn, like they truly are two people. They want real friends. And what about love?

But a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead for Tippi and Grace. One that could change their lives more than they ever asked for...

This moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate? 

The ONE book you have to read this summer! Incredibly moving and extraordinarily crafted, it explores the unbreakable bond and love between sisters. Winner of The CILIP Carnegie Medal in 2016.

You can see from the blurb that this book sounds brilliant can't you? I have to say that I found this book to be an incredibly easy read and that was for 2 reason's; (1) It was a beautifully gripping storyline that just hooked you in and made you want to keep turning pages and (2) because of the format in which it was set out in. The layout of the text in this book looked a like the way in which one sees poetry written and published. 

What I loved about this book was that you could very easily tell that Sarah has researched the storyline with incredible detail, compassion and a level of authentic understanding. As this book is the story of conjoined twins; Tippi and Grace the story is narrated by only one twin. We learn the 'normality' of their life and the fact that they are very much aware of 'those questions' so many want to ask about their daily lives that they dare not to. Questions such as; "Is it hard to shower and see each other naked?" "What's it like when you go to the toilet?" "Will you be able to have children of your own?", "Do you wish that you were normal?". All very valid, and private questions. However what this book does spectacularly well is bring to light the true question; What is "normal"? 

But the reality of their life is that during their childhood, as the children growing up today, we live in a very social media focused world. We see it every day with events happening all around the world, in seconds, an event, an accident, or for teenagers today, an embarrassing moment in their life can be streamed live across the world at the touch of a button. Tippi and Grace live in this world which is hard enough for any teenager, but for conjoined twins who are prone to being looked at and treated like a circus act it is understandably difficult. 

Tippi and Grace are my sheroes this year. They embrace all of life's 'challenges' and they swat them away without a second thought. However, as we see in this book, being so 'medically challenged' as some would say leaves them open to all sorts of medical challenges. Challenges that not even the medical staff at the top of their game know the answers to. And I for one can completely understand just how terrifying that thought is. 

We see that Tippi and Grace are just normal girls, growing up, learning how to navigate their way in life and the trials of being a teenager. Subjects that we take for granted; falling in love, dating, learning to drive, recovering after an illness, and such. 

Without spoiling the story, I have to say that the ending utterly broke me. I lay in bed eager to finish this book before falling asleep and I sobbed my heart out. I sobbed because of the true brilliance of Sarah's talent for writing, I sobbed for Tippi, and I sobbed for Grace. But just like in recent weeks here in the UK, at times when things are really horrific and heartbreaking in the most painful of ways, we see figures of the public pull together and show true compassion and humanity. If anything, this book truly shows that no matter just how ripped apart we can be and how life can throw the most cruelest of curveballs of loss, pain, and difficult decisions, it can also bring with it unconditional love, understanding, togetherness and unity. 

Truly this book shows that no matter what. We are all ONE. Which is why I easily award this book 5/5 stars. 

I would like to dedicate this review to all the victims that have suffered here in the UK in the past few weeks; the victims of the Westminster Attack, the beautiful people who are victims of the Manchester Attack, and the victims of the awful tragedy of Grenfell Tower Fire. Each and every ONE of you are in my heart, faces and names that I promise I will never forget. My love, my thoughts, and my prayers are forever with each and every one of you. 

We are all ONE. 

Why BrexitLand is as Entertaining as it Sounds

Hello lovely, 

How have you been? We really must meet up here more often with a cosy cup of coffee. I can't stay long today as I've got a lot going on at the moment which is why I'm not popping in here as much as I used to but I do want to have a coffee with you and tell you about this book I read recently. 

As you know, here in the UK we're heading to the polls in a few days time and we've had some truly devastating attacks in our country that I think has shocked us all to the core. When times get tough I like to escape by reading a good book. It helps to just "get away from it all" in your mind. 

Get comfy and let me tell you about my latest read that you simply have to read. 

Alice in BrexitLand is written by Lucien Young and published by Penguin Random House, part of Ebury Press. I am grateful to the publishers for sending me an advanced review copy to read. 

You can purchase from Amazon here

When I read the blurb the first time, I had to smile. I knew it was going to be enjoyable. Have a read and see what you think; 

"Lying on a riverbank on a lazy summer’s afternoon – 23rd June 2016, to be precise – Alice spots a flustered-looking white rabbit called Dave calling for a referendum. 

Following him down a rabbit-hole, she emerges into a strange new land, where up is down, black is white, experts are fools and fools are experts...

She meets such characters as the Corbynpillar, who sits on a toadstool smoking his hookah and being no help to anyone; Humpty Trumpty, perched on a wall he wants the Mexicans to pay for; the Cheshire Twat, who likes to disappear leaving only his grin, a pint, and the smell of scotch eggs remaining; and the terrifying Queen of Heartlessness, who’ll take off your head if you dare question her plan for Brexit. 

Will Alice ever be able to find anyone who speaks sense?"

Without giving away too much, I have to say that quite a few times through reading this book I found myself giggling away to myself. If you're anything like me when it comes to election time you recognise how important it is that we each vote, but tend to get really P-ed off with all the constant backbiting that goes on, the arguments and the sheer drivel and 'empty promises' that get made. 

Whilst this book doesn't feature on a general election - what we're going to the polls for in a few days - it does relay the many thoughts and feelings when the UK voted to leave the EU and Brexit became a thing. 

The characters are all based on the traditional children's story of Alice in Wonderland - with a twist of going down a rabbit hole with Dave the white rabbit (who sounded like he'd gone to a posh expensive school for rabbits!) heading down the hole to BrexitLand. 

People who find politics - especially right now - a joke will enjoy this book, and even though it does make digs at Polish workers (Ahem! I am of Polish descent (My Grandfather came to the UK in WW2 to escape the Nazi's who had tortured his family before his own eyes - and just whilst we're on it... he immediately signed up with the British Army and fought against the Nazi's) - so you know... be careful as it can really offend some people! They aren't the only Europeans who have come to the UK recently from the EU) it is all rather tongue in cheek.  

It's a fun enjoyable read and one that I'm sure people will enjoy reading as it's just a fairly quick read. 

It's not going to become the "new" classic, but right now, with the times we are living in, and the right audience, it could be a fun read of the moment. 

So, my overall rating has to be 3/5 on this one. 

Why Italy Stole My Heart in 2 Books

Hello Lovely, 

Thank you for stopping by, it's been a long time hasn't it? But as you can see, I've had a bit of a renovation here, we've had paint charts, material swatches, and in the end we came up with this... a gorgeous Cath Kitson inspired cosy nook in blues and reds, florals and a gorgeous bunting to boot! I do hope you love it as much as I do. 

I'm glad that you stopped by today actually, because I wanted to tell you about two absolutely gorgeous books I've read during the renovation - you just have to down tools and relax sometimes don't you think? 

Well, these books are by one of my favourite authors, you've perhaps heard of her; Tilly Tennant ... yes, she has two gorgeous new books out and they scrumptiously follow on from each other. I love it when you discover a series of books and fall in love with them don't you? These books are set in my ultimate dream country; Italy, Rome in fact. You might remember me saying that I can't wait to travel to Rome with my handsome other half, well I had a bit of a sneaky trip reading these books. 

Shall I tell you more? Good, I was hoping you'd say that. Grab a cuppa, and snuggle down in my cosy nook  for the love of books... 

Rome Is Where The Heart Is by Tilly Tennant, is published by Bookouture. I had the pleasure of reading an advanced review copy in ebook format (thank you Bookouture). 

You can purchase from Amazon here 

The blurb is delightfully exciting, here read it yourself and see what you think; 

"Can a holiday romance ever have a happy ending? Escape with Kate to the sun-drenched city of Rome where a love affair is just about to begin…

When Kate’s husband Matt dumps her on Friday 13th she decides enough is enough – it’s time for her to have some fun and so she hops on a plane to Rome. A week of grappa and gelato in pavement cafes under azure blue skies will be just what the doctor ordered.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting and falling for sexy policeman Alessandro. But the course of true love doesn’t run smoothly – Alessandro has five meddling sisters, a fearsome mama and a beautiful ex Orazia. They’re all certain that Kate is not the girl for him.

Can Kate and Alessandro’s love last the distance? Or will she return home with the one souvenir she doesn’t want – a broken heart …"

I don't know about you but I am a complete magpie to any book that even slightly mentions Italy, so when I saw this beautiful book cover with the title "Rome is Where The Heart Is" I fell instantly in love. I recall gazing at the ebook cover for quite some time as I didn't want to turn the page to begin reading as it would mean I would no longer see the cover. 

However, intrigue soon got the best of me and I couldn't wait to begin this story. I was swept into the storyline like a sweet breeze, however the setting at first was anything but when the domestic situation Kate found herself in with her husband, Matt left much to be desired for. Matt was a complete and utter idiot for doing what he did, but I think, Kate was better off in the end. 

Doing what she should have done all along, Kate followed her heart (and mine) and boarded a plane to Rome...if only she'd told me she was going  :)  

The description of Rome had you feeling torn between downing the pages to book a flight yourself, and eagerly gripping the book in order to not miss one single detail out. Tilly created such highly detailed descriptions that you almost kid yourself into thinking that you were there yourself! Each chapter came with more exquisite imagery, and the plot literally thickened especially when that sexy Italian policeman in his uniform showed up...between just you and I, I was categorically drooling myself for Alessandro. 

The romance that blossomed between those pair in my opinion could give Romeo and Juliet a run for their money, but set in such a romantic place, romance had to blossom didn't it? But, as in all truly beautiful love stories - they do not always run smoothly...

I am giving this book 5/5 because I simply loved it!  

I devoured each page like a delicious bowl of pasta (I love my carbs), and I couldn't wait to get my hands on the next book to see exactly what happened with Kate and Alessandro. Luckily for me, I didn't have to wait that long before ... 

A Wedding in Italy by Tilly Tennant, again published by Bookouture. I had the privilege of reading an Advanced Review Copy in eBook format. (Thank you again, Bookouture). 

You can purchase from Amazon here

Fancy reading what this one's all about? Let's read the blurb... 

Sun, spaghetti and sparkling prosecco. When it comes to finding love, there’s no place like Rome… 

Kate is living the dream with her gorgeous boyfriend Alessandro in his native city, but the reality is sometimes a little less romantic than she’d hoped. Every day in her new home is a fight against leaking pipes, her cantankerous landlord and her less-than-perfect grasp of the Italian lingo. 

All around her there is talk of weddings, but when a secret from her past is thrust out into the open, Kate must fight to prove to Alessandro’s Mamma – and the rest of his formidable family – that she truly is Italian marriage material. 

With the women in Alessandro’s life on a mission to break them apart, the cracks begin to show and Kate starts to question if Alessandro really is the man of her dreams. Can love and the city of romance conquer all, or is that just a fairy-tale?

Well, this one had me excited from the very beginning as it mentions a wedding. I knew of a wedding to take place but the plot wasn't exactly what I thought. Alessandro's sister was getting married to her true love, and then there was a 'black sheep of the family' that showed up - *whispers* "he was divorced!", and then there was the American who called Kate and mentioned Vegas. I can't say anymore. 

What I can mention is that I really sympathised with Kate as she tried so hard to make a new life for herself in Rome. She searched for a new job, she worked hard, she ignored those who doubted her, she had troublesome meddling women in her life who in my opinion just needed to mind their own business! And then she had the sexy Italian policeman in and out of his uniform.. I'm not jealous. Honest. 

Italian tradition means that getting married to a non catholic, non italian divorced woman is a HUGE no no! So Kate has to prove to Alessandro's mum that she is marriage material. 

I adored this book with all my heart, both books in fact. However, I am going to be a bit picky here - I just wish the final chapter was stretched out and made into a third book because I really think it could have been. BUT I am hopeful still that we see another installment in this series because I loved the characters, I loved the setting, I loved the twists and turns in the plot, I love the important issues raised in the book, and I just miss them to be honest. I've had book-hangover since finishing this. 

I am giving this gorgeous book 4/5 just because I wanted it to be stretched a bit further. 

If Italy is a place your heart travels to, and you love romance, then this series of books is a MUST this year. 

Have you read these books? Let me know below, leave me a little message because I've got to pop out now, but I'll read them when I get back. 

I've loved having you around, please come back soon, and we can chat more about books in my cosy nook for the love of books,

Love Dawn-Tracy xxx