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The Twelve Dates Of Christmas By Lisa Dickenson

The Twelve Dates Of Christmas‘The Twelve Dates Of Christmas’ is Lisa Dickenson’s first Christmas novel.

Claudia is a girl in a rut. At 30, her life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time to the Royal Opera House. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life – and Christmas – alone. Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It’s also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing’s for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different .

‘The 12 Dates of Christmas’ was originally released last year as a six part digital series and the lovely people at Sphere Publishers have re-released it again, this time as a complete novel for those who missed out the first time.

The story is written in the third person as Claudia, our leading lady tries to inject a bit of romance into her relationship with Seth on their date night. But it all turns sour when Claudia rejects his sexual advances resulting in him calling time on their relationship. Heartbroken and just in time for Christmas, Claudia then finds herself going on 12 dates with a series of friends and blind dates resulting in hilarious scenes and interesting characters.

As Claudia nurses her wounds and moves on, she suddenly finds herself experiencing unexpected and unwanted emotions towards her best Nick, the hero of the story. Handsome, kind and funny, he is always there for Claudia particularly when she’s down and provides a quip or a shoulder to cheer her up. During her twelve dates, Claudia finds herself getting closer to Nick, their dates are hilarious filled with good humoured and tender moments.

I really enjoyed this book, I enjoyed the pace it flowed at and settled into it straight away. The characters are great, Claudia is relatable with concerns about life and suddenly being alone. She had bigger dreams for her future, aspiring to be a ballet dancer but after an injury, that didn’t happen and she has regretted it ever since. Living in her best friends Penny’s shadow, she would love nothing more than to the stage. Sweet, witty and with an attraction to bad dates, she makes a wonderful lead. Seth, her ex is an undesirable character that gives the story a nice unexpected twist with his arrogance and vanity.

Fun from the very beginning ‘The Twelve Dates Of Christmas’ is a cleverly written, uplifting story packed with hilarity and festive cheer that will have you feeling warm throughout.

You can buy The Twelve Dates of Christmas: The Complete Novel

The Christmas Party By Carole Matthews

The Christmas Party‘The Christmas Party’ is Carole Matthews new Christmas book.

Louise Young is a devoted single mother whose only priority is providing for her daughter, Mia. Louise has a good job in a huge international corporation and she’s grateful for it. The only problem is her boss who can’t keep his hands to himself, but Louise can handle him. What she really doesn’t have time for is romance – until she meets the company’s rising star, Josh Wallace. Louise usually says no to evenings out but she’s decided to let her hair down tonight. It’s the office Christmas party, she has a pretty dress to wear and she’s looking forward to some champagne and fun. She’s completely unaware that others around her are too busy playing dangerous games to enjoy the party – until she’s pulled into those games herself.

Carole is back with another Christmas cracker of a book with ‘The Christmas Party’ filled with ghosts from Christmas past and present that will have you loving and loathing them in equal measures.

The story is primarily seen from the perspective of Louise, the heroine of the story, who has returned to work for the first time after having her little girl, the bubbly and outspoken Mia and looking forward to her first Christmas party for Fossil Oil which is taking place at a fancy manor estate. The only thing that she is dreading is her terribly hands on boss Tyler, who’s lecherous advances, she has been trying to avoid. The story then takes place on the night of the party which is Christmas Eve and the aftermath that follows on Christmas Day. The book is written in the first person for Louise, but the other supporting characters are written in the third.

Louise is a lovely lead in the story, warmhearted with a sweet nature, she wants nothing more to provide her and Mia with a comfortable life and doesn’t want anything to jeopardise her new job, even though her boss can hardly keep his hands to himself. Uncomfortable with his behaviour, she stays quiet not wanting to create a scene, so she is delighted to find solace in the company of Josh, her handsome co-worker. Handsome and charismatic, he is the Prince Charming of the story. The story is also seen through the eyes of Kirsten. Tyler’s wife who is unhappy with her life, aware of her husband’s affairs, she has turned a blind eye, after her one true love left her but now that he has returned, Kirsten has regained that loving feeling and spark back into her life. Melissa, is the wife of Lance, the overall boss of Fossil Oil, she too is unhappy with her life, having to deal with Lance’s alcoholism, she too finds company in affairs. And finally there is Tyler, the creepy boss who has no concept of personal space. Arrogant and vain, he injects an element of humour to the story, as he is subject to a number of unfortunate incidents throughout the night.

This is another charming story from one of my favourite authors, it’s perfect to curl up with this book and get lost in the festive season. Written in Carole’s humerus style, it’s packed with relatable characters, that you want to find their happy ever afters and get their comeuppance. With a beautifully illustrated cover, ‘The Christmas Party’ is a fun poignant and witty story that is impossible to put down!

You can buy The Christmas Party from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Conversations At The Mill With Jodi Picoult

Jodi PicoultIf you are a fan of Jodi Picoult and are living in Northern Ireland, then you will be delighted to hear that the bestselling American author whose books include ‘The Storyteller’ and ‘My Sisters Keeper’ will be doing a one off talk in Northern Ireland talking about her new book ‘Leaving Time’.

The event is taking place at Theatre At The Mill in Newtownabbey which has been hosting a series of events over the last couple of months featuring some well known and successful female authors such as Philippa Gregory, Jill Mansell and Tasmina Perry.

There are a few tickets left for the event, so I’d snap them up fast and at only £6, they are going like hot cakes!

For more information plus ticket bookings, see The Theatre At The Mill’s website.

Us By David Nicholls

Us‘Us’ is the latest book by David Nicholls.

Douglas Petersen understands his wife’s need to ‘rediscover herself’ now that their son is leaving home. He just thought they’d be doing their rediscovering together. So when Connie announces that she will be leaving, too, he resolves to make their last family holiday into the trip of a lifetime: one that will draw the three of them closer, and win the respect of his son. One that will make Connie fall in love with him all over again. The hotels are booked, the tickets bought, the itinerary planned and printed. What could possibly go wrong?

I love David Nicholls and have included ‘One Day as one of my all time favourite books so when I heard he was returning with ‘Us’, I was delighted to see him returning after his prominent absence.

‘Us’ is a story that is seen entirely from the perspective of Douglas Peterson, a biochemist with a literal attitude towards life. But, what he lacks in humour, he makes up in enthusiasm. Married to Connie, she is his polar opposite, outspoken with a zest for life, she is yang to his yang, she is his world. So when, they organised a huge inter-railing trip around Europe just before Albie, their only son goes off to university, Douglas’s life falls apart when Connie announces she wants to have a divorce and that she hasn’t been happy. This trip becomes their swan-song, as they revisit some of the cities that they fell in love with and harbour happy memories off and Douglas has to come to terms with realising that the woman he wanted to die with, no longer wants to be part of his life. As much as tries, Douglas finds it hard to have a proper relationship with Albie, they bicker and his laid back attitude annoys Douglas to the point that Albie runs away during the trip, leaving Douglas to run after him and try to bring him home and to convince Connie that he is a worthy man of her love.

This story is a heartbreaking one, that easily tugs at the heartstrings as we join Douglas on this lonely journey and the world that he adores is being taken away from him. I loved Douglas and my heart genuinely ached for him, he was constantly doing something wrong every time he tried to do something right. Eager and compassionate, he craved knowledge and wanted nothing more to share it with others and it seemed that Connie had grown tired of this. I tried to like Connie, but I found it hard as she was breaking Douglas’s heart but with every hard moment that they shared, there would be a tender one, that lures Douglas and the reader into a false sense of security,

A clever addition to the story, is that it is written in the past and present, so we see Douglas and Connie from the moment that they first meet and join them as their relationship develops, through the ups and downs and gives us a wonderful insight into the couples drama. Another thing that I particularly enjoyed was the information that flowed through the story as they travelled through each city, the history and background, almost like a tourist guide, it was helpful for upcoming adventures!

A beautifully written and poignant story and most definitely worthy of the Booker Man prize nomination, ‘Us’ tells the story of the demise of a relationship in a lighthearted and entertaining way, as we join one dysfunctional family on their road trip and as they try their very hardest to get along, I loved it!

You can buy Us from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Seafront Tea Rooms By Vanessa Greene

The Seafront Tea Rooms‘The Seafront Tea Rooms’ is the latest book by Vanessa Greene.

The Seafront Tea Rooms is a peaceful hideaway, away from the bustle of the seaside, and in this quiet place a group of women find exactly what they’ve been searching for. Charismatic journalist Charlotte is on a mission to scope out Britain’s best tea rooms. She knows she’s found something special in the Seafront Tea Rooms but is it a secret she should share? Kathryn, a single mother whose only sanctuary is the ‘Seafront’, convinces Charlie to keep the place out of her article by agreeing to join her on her search. Together with another regular, Seraphine, a culture-shocked French au pair with a passion for pastry-making, they travel around the country discovering quaint hideaways and hidden gems. But what none of them expect is for their journey to surprise them with discoveries of a different kind .

Vanessa Greene is back with lovely story that I found impossible to put down.

The story is about three very different women who become friends with their mutual love for tea and cakes. Charlotte is a journalist who is determined to find the best teas around but when her sister Pippa suddenly needs her help, Charlotte finds herself in a predicament, so she asks Kathryn and newcomer Seraphine to help her with the article, as the three of them bonded over cake one days. Kathryn is a struggling single mother who adores her little boy Leo and is trying to get a job to provide them with a better quality life but finds it hard especially when Leo goes to visit his father and she finds herself at a loose end and welcomes Charlotte proposal for work and friendship eagerly. And finally Seraphine is the youngest of the three girls who has come over to England to become an au pair and help teach a little girl called Zoe, French who tragically lost her French mother in a horse riding accident. Zoe is reluctant to learn the language as it brings back too many unhappy memories, but with Seraphine’s French charm and gentle persistence, she helps the little girl ignite her love for the language. Together their love of tea and cakes creates a friendship and shoulder for each of them as they deal with difficulties in their lives.

Like her previous books, this story is another charming and entertaining story of love and friendship. With quirky personalities and likeable traits, the ladies all bring something a bit different to the story, with their dramas, secrets and love interests, which makes the book indulgent reading that can easily be absorbed in one sitting.

Filled with cakes, recipes and plenty of secrets, ‘The Seafront Tea Rooms’ is poignant story that flows at a lovely pace and is perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan and Carole Matthews.

You can buy The Seafront Tea Rooms from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.