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It Must Have Been The Mistletoe By Judy Astley

It Must Have Been The Mistletoe‘It Must Have Been The Mistletoe’ is the latest book by Judy Astley.

Thea’s parents decide to host a big family Christmas in a house by the sea… even though they are, in fact, about to split up. Thea herself is newly single – her sister and brother are both settled, with children, homes and a future. But Thea’s boyfriend has ditched her in favour of his pedigree dogs, and Thea can’t decide whether or not she minds. There will be copious food and drink, holly and mistletoe, lots of bracing walks and a wintry barbecue on the beach. If it seems an odd way to celebrate the final break-up of a marriage and the Moving On to new partners, no- one is saying so. But then no-one had anticipated that the new partners might actually turn up to complicate the sleeping arrangements. As Cornwall experiences the biggest snowstorm in living memory, the festive atmosphere comes under some strain. Will Thea manage to find some happiness for herself? Will the mistletoe work its magic on them all?

I was once a big fan of Judy’s books but life and time got in the way and I lost track with her novels so, ‘It Must Have Been The Mistletoe’ is the first book that I’ve read by her in a while.

I will be honest, when I initially started this book, I found it a bit slow to get into but once the family had gone off on their Cornwall adventure, I thought the pace sped up and I began to enjoy the festive story.

The story is seen from the perspective of the family members as they deal with the sudden news that this will be their last family Christmas together as their parents, Anna and Mike intend to divorce. This announcement has taken Thea, her sister Emily and brother Jimi completely off guard as their parents seem as close as ever and they are both quite amicable about the news.

The story is primarily seen through the eyes of Thea, the youngest daughter of the family as she deals with her first Christmas as a single lady and becoming affectionately known as the ‘maiden aunt’, when her fiancée broke up with her and was more focused on his pet poodle than the relationship. It is also seen from Anna’s perspective, the mother who wants their last family Christmas together to be perfect and her daughter Emily, a constant worrier who is looking for the worst to happen.

Bemused by how her life has turned out, Thea uses the break to reflect on her life, enjoy the family time and the new company from Sean, who owns cottage that Thea’s family have rented with his partner Paul. A handsome surfer who befriends Thea and becomes her escape when family life gets a bit chaotic, sweet with a kind heart and a friendly cat called Woody, Sean is a welcome distraction in Thea’s life.

Cleverly written and packed within the confines of the cottage, there is a host of interesting people and situations that makes the story quite captivating in parts, from the busy run-up to christmas, unexpected guests and a heavy snowfall, this book had me entertained throughout.

A warmhearted story about the importance of family and moving on, ‘It Must Have a Been The Mistletoe’ is a magical Christmas tale.

You can buy It Must Have Been the Mistletoe from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Sheila O’Flanagan To Release Children’s Book

Sheila O'FlanaganIrish author, Shelia O’Flanagan announced some exciting news this week when she revealed that she would be writing a children’s book called ‘The Runner’ with her publisher Hodder Books.

She revealed the news on her website –

“I’m really excited to tell you that I’m now also a children’s book author! The lovely people at Hodder book publishing will be bringing out my first every book for children in 2016. It’s a fantasy and will be for boys and girls in the 12+ age group. It’s called The Runner and it’s about a sixteen year old boy named Joe who is bullied at school and who one day steps through a portal into a different world. But he’s walked into training camp for young people who have a very special mission to carry out. The must venture beyond the Shield that protects their country to place the organic units that keep the Shield in place. This means they have to journey through enemy territory where one false move will get them captured and killed. Joe is forced to travel with one of the Runners, a clever and capable girl named Kaia who is determined to do whatever is necessary to protect her country….

I had great fun writing Joe’s story and seeing how he dealt with being in a different world with people whose values are very different to his own. I hope children and their parents will enjoy reading it too!”

Sounds like an interesting book, no matter the age!

For more information and updates, check out Shelia’s website.

Christmas With Billy And Me By Giovanna Fletcher

Christmas With Billy And MeIf you enjoyed Giovanna Fletcher’s debut book, ‘Billy And Me’ then you will be delighted to hear that Giovanna has returned to those characters with her short Christmas book ‘Christmas With Billy And Me’

The story of ‘Christmas With Billy and Me’ is –

Christmas has come to Rosefont Hill and it’s destined to be a particularly special festive season for Sophie May. When a smitten stranger emails Sophie to ask her if he can propose to the woman he loves in her little teashop, the romantic in her finds it impossible to refuse. Even though Christmas is her busiest time of year she has her own sweetheart, Hollywood actor Billy Buskin, to lend a helping hand. How could she say no to making someone’s dream come true? As Sophie and Billy work together to plan the perfect fairytale proposal for this couple, excitement in Rosefont Hill is mounting. Who is this mysterious man? And who is the lucky lady he’s about to get down on one knee for?

I don’t usually review short stories for the fear of giving too much away especially with this sweet festive story being just 52 pages long.

But I wanted to give it a little review, as it is the return of our favourite couple by Giovanna Fletcher from her debit novel Billy and Sophie as they prepare for Christmas and Sophie has been given a special task for Christmas Eve.

‘Christmas With Billy And Me’ is an enjoyable and warmhearted festive story that is perfect to curl up with a cup of tea. Packed with joviality and Christmas magic this book is lovely reading!

You can buy Christmas With Billy and Me from Amazon and is available to buy from Waterstones.

It’s Not Me It’s You By Mhairi McFarlane

'It's Not Me, It's You‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ is the latest book by Mhairi McFarlane.

Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong. When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault. When she realised life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault. And when he wanted her back like nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame. From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back.

I’ve been a fan of Mhairi’s books since the release of her first book, ‘You Had Me At Hello’. I’ve loved her stories of fiery heroines who fall for unfortunate heroes and this book was just the same as Delia had thought that she had found her happy ever after, only to discover her Prince Charming was cheating and the life that she dreamed off was suddenly snatched away.

Desperate to escape the horror, she leaves Newcastle and disappears to London and lives with her best friend Emma, who helps her set up a new life and a shoulder to cry on. She is fortunate that she finds a job quite quickly and settles to her role at Twist and Shout comfortably, a company that handles celebrities and politicians. But when she meets Adam, a handsome hipster journalist who wants to know all about the dodgy dealings of the company and her sleazy Australian boss, Delia finds herself in awkward situations.

This story is a delight to read from the very start. Here, we have a heroine who puts her heart on the line and asks her boyfriend off ten years to marry her only for it to be broken, when he mistakenly texts her instead of his lover. Broken and bitter, Delia rallies on with the help of her innocent and sweet game loving brother, Ralph, her outspoken best friend Emma and council hating Joe. She works hard at forgetting the hurt, even though Paul tries hard to win her back. Mhairi has once again created a character that you want as a friend, a friend who can help mop up a broken heart as well as make an excellent drinking buddy and that is what Delia is, fun loving with her quirky fashion sense, she exudes vibrancy across the pages.

As well as Delia, there are a host of characters in this book that make for extremely fun reading. Joe and Adam in particular, I enjoyed, Delia’s friendships developed between the two. And the occasional love/hate banter that Adam and Delia did having me sniggering to myself. Even though the story is quite lighthearted, there is one harrowing part of the tale that did leave me bawling at my work desk, so I would suggest having tissues close by when reading the book.

A delicious story that I would happily read again and again and which most definitely has to be my favourite cover of the year. ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ is a wittily written uplifting story about overcoming heartbreak, new friendships and realising that you’re never too late to start over.

You can buy It’s Not Me, It’s You from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Rick’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies From The Stall Of Second Chances

The Stall Of Second ChancesToday I’m hosting the book tour for Dana Bate’s new book ‘The Stall Of Second Chances’ and I’ve a recipe to share that is included in the book. So let’s crack open our eggs and sieve our flour and get stuck into Rick’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. 

Rick’s Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
For big cookies à la Rick, use an ice-cream scoop with a 2-inch diameter to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheets. For smaller cookies, reduce the baking time. You can use dark raisins if you like, but Rick and I prefer golden ones. This recipe can easily be doubled.
 
Makes 15 cookies
Ingredients:
? cup plain flour
? teaspoon baking powder
? teaspoon ground cinnamon
? teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (? pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
? cup light brown sugar, loosely packed
? cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1? cups rolled oats (old-fashioned, not quick-cooking)
? cup golden raisins
 
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
 
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
In a large bowl, beat the butter, brown and granulated
sugar together with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low and add the egg, followed by the vanilla.
With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Then add the oats and raisins and mix until just combined.
Using a 2-inch ice-cream scoop, drop the dough onto the baking sheets, spacing the scoops 2–3 inches apart. Flatten the tops slightly with a damp hand. Bake for 15–20 min?utes, until lightly browned but still slightly soft in the centre. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a minute or so, then transfer them to a baking rack and cool completely

You can buy The Stall of Second Chances from Amazon from is available to buy from good bookshops.