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Christmas On Nantucket By Elin Hilderbrand

Christmas on Nantucket ’Christmas on Nantucket’ is the sequel to Elin’s previous novel, ‘Winter Street’.

Winter Street Inn owner Kelley Quinn and his family busily preparing for the holiday season. Though the year has brought tragedy, the Quinns have much to celebrate: Kelley has reunited with his first wife Margaret, Kevin and Isabelle have a new baby; and Ava is finally dating a nice guy. But when Kelley’s wife Mitzi shows up on the island, along with Kevin’s devious ex-wife Nora and a dangerously irresistible old fling of Ava’s, the Inn is suddenly overrun with romantic feuds, not to mention guests. With jealousy, passion, and eggnog consumption at an all-time high, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a Christmas miracle to get the Quinns – and the Inn – through the holidays intact.

If you are a fan of wholesome stories about family and love, then look no further than Elin Hilderbrand’s latest book, ‘Christmas On Nantucket’. This gripped my attention one Sunday evening when I should have been in bed, instead I kept reading until the final page as I couldn’t put the book down.

The story follows large Quinn family, as they prepare for the Christmas season as well they getting ready for the baptism of the first grand-daughter of the family. The story is seen through the narrative of the family members, as they all deal with the problems of their lives, as well as reflect on the year that is about to end. Kelley is just beginning to get used to not having a wife in his life until his ex-wife Mitzi suddenly reappears in his life. After conducting a 12 year love affair with the local Santa Claus, Mitzi finds it hard to adjust to the new life that she has chosen, regretting her decision as well as the heartbreak of her son missing in Afghanistan whilst on duty. She finds solace in drink and chatting online to mothers whose children are also missing whilst on duty. Meanwhile Margaret, Kelley’s first wife is a busy news anchor, sophisticated and cultured, she’s enjoying a new relationship and a taking a break from the limelight, her only daughter Ava’s in love with a kind and sweet man, but she keeps finding herself being drawn back to Nathaniel, the man before Scott and the only man she truly loved. And finally there’s Jennifer, the wife of Patrick, Margaret and Kelley’s son, who’s now in prison, she feels let down by his behaviour and hates the fact that their children feels that it’s on her fault, under pressure and stressed, she needs help.

The story covers a wide range of issues, adultery, lies, drug abuse and war and all this stories wrapped up in a festive book makes for compelling reading. The story flows at a warm and gentle pace and deals frankly and wittily with dysfunctional families, packed with vibrant characters, filled with humour and romance, ‘Christmas On Nantucket’ is a beautifully captivating story about the importance of family and coming together.

You can buy Christmas on Nantucket from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Secret By Katerina Diamond

The Secret‘The Secret’ is the second book by Katerina Diamond, who’s debut novel, ‘The Teacher’ was longlisted for the CWA John Creasey Debut Daggar Award and the Hotel Chocolat Award for ‘the darkest moment’

Bridget Reid has a secret, one that could get her killed… If she can escape the man who is keeping her locked in a basement bedroom. DS Imogen Grey is good at keeping secrets – truths she’d never reveal to her colleagues at Exeter Police. She worked hard to get where she is – she nearly died for it. Now her past is catching up with her. As DS Grey and her partner DS Adrian Miles search for Bridget, they uncover a terrifying web of abuse, betrayal and murder. And they realise that some secrets are better left buried…

I read Katerina’s debut novel, ‘The Teacher’ back in May of this year and found it to be one of the most compelling and gruesome stories that I’ve read in the while, it was a troubling and dark read and somehow I was unable to put it down.

‘The Secret’ follows in the exact format as the first book and follows DS Adrian Miles and DS Imogen Grey as they begin to investigate a new case, where bodies are discovered and a policewoman is missing. In this book, we read about Imogen’s past and I found this particularly interesting, as of the two characters, I found her extremely interesting, with her shady dealings in previous cases, a neurotic mother plus her razor sharp wit and passion for work, she makes for great reading.

In this story there are a number of stories happening at the one time, there is the story of the missing undercover policewoman, Imogen’s previous police case and the mysterious inclusion of a story seen solely through the eyes of a young man over a period of years as he grows up and becomes exposed to drugs, sex and murder.

From the very first page, the story travels at a fast pace and is so cleverly and intricately written that it was impossible to put down as all the stories are all neatly worn together. Right away the reader is exposed to a world of prostitution, human trafficking and drug use and these scenes are quite difficult reading and are not for the faint hearted. The one that I’ve come to love about Katerina’s books, is the unpredictability of the story, none of the characters are safe and she’s cold heartedly ruthless with her writing and I absolutely loved the shock and underlying tension throughout the tale.

A dark and twisted tale that had me gasping in fear, ‘The Secret’ is another thrilling and grisly read that grips the readers attention right until the final page.

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

All She Ever Wished For By Claudia Carroll

All She Ever Wished For‘All She Ever Wished For’ is the latest book by Irish author, Claudia Carroll.

One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage.

‘All She Ever Wished For’ is another whimsical and heartwarming tale from one of Ireland’s best loved authors. The story is seen from the perspective of Tess Taylor and Kate King, two women from complete opposite backgrounds in life, but both their lives have come to a standstill as they are faced with life changing decisions when they meet one day, unaware of what life has in store for them.

Tess is in the middle of organising her wedding, settling for Bernard, a man fifteen years her senior, a quiet, art historian who enjoys nothing more than a quiet night with a glass of sherry, her outspoken parents are totally against the idea and think it’s a rebound wedding, since her last relationship fell apart. Determined to prove herself and them wrong, Tess wants to organise the wedding of the year, but fate has other plans for she has to be a juror in one of Ireland’s most prolific court cases of the year. After being taken for a mug for years, Kate King is after what is rightfully hers and takes her billionaire husband Damien to court. The court case has the nation divided in opinions as the divorced couple’s dramas take centre stage.

With its pretty and sparkly cover, this story was a joy to read from the very first page. Both leading ladies are engaging and relatable characters and both of them gave an insight into the polar sides of life. Tess is at a crossroads, everyone seems against her marriage to Bernard, even she is unsure, but with the court case, it gives her something else to concentrate on, other than table planning, Bernard’s parents and how little they have in common. As she settles into the life of juror, she meets interesting and fun characters, all with strong opinions on not only the court case and also with life, that makes for fun and enjoyable reading. One character in particular is a lovely addition to the story, a man by the name of Will, who Tess becomes friends with and is a welcome distraction from the pressure of wedding planning. On the other side of the story is Kate, a glamorous model worth millions, who has confused people as to why is after an incredibly expensive painting, people consider her a gold digger, but are unaware of the heartbreak and tragedy she has suffered over the years.

The story is mainly a romantic tale but there is a darker side to the tale, as Claudia reveals the backstory of Kate’s life and this makes for complex and compelling reading as the life that she is leading is far from what the press is reporting.

Packed with her trademark humour and wit and Claudia’s sweet storytelling style this book was a deliciously entertaining story that was incredibly well researched, filled with court jargin and historical facts that I found quite interesting. ‘All She Ever Wished For’ is another wonderful story from one of my favourite authors, a tender and emotional fairytale that made for entertaining reading with amusing and compassionate moments throughout, that made the book impossible to put down.

You can buy All She Ever Wished For from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Tammy Cohen

Tammy CohenTammy Cohen was born in Ibadan, Nigeria and then attended school in both Sierra Leone and California before moving to London. After taking an American Studies degree at Manchester University she taught English in Madrid. While working as a secretary back in London, she started writing features and hand-delivering them to the magazine publishing house around the corner. Tammy’s first book ‘The Mistress’s Revenge’, was followed by three more contemporary fiction titles under the name Tamar Cohen,’ The War of the Wives’, ‘Someone Else’s Wedding’ and ‘The Broken’. In November 2014, her first crime novel, ‘Dying For Christmas’ was published under the name Tammy Cohen, followed by ‘First One Missing’ a year later, her latest book is ‘When She Was Bad’ and has just been optioned for television. Tammy has just revealed that she will be writing a new book in a new genre for her called ‘A Dangerous Crossing’ under a new name

  1. To the readers of the blog, that may not be familiar with you or your writing, can tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?
    I always wrote, even as a very young kid. My poor parents were used to being presented with home-made books tied together with string that they had to dutifully enthuse over and declare brilliant. After uni I did a few odd jobs then fell into journalism after getting a job as a secretary in a marketing magazine. So I wrote features for newspapers and magazines for over twenty years, until print journalism went into decline starting around 2008 and the work started drying up. By 2010 I was angsting so much about money that I stopped sleeping for a while. And it was during this bout of insomnia that I wrote ‘The Mistress’s Revenge’, which became my first published novel. When life gives you lemons and all that stuff…
  2. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
    It always surprises me when people ask that because the better question would be where don’t you get your ideas. Every situation you get into, every person you meet, every newspaper you read, could be the starting point for a story. As novelists, we just take reality that one step further. So, for example, when my partner and I found ourselves dragged into our friends’ messy divorce, that became the starting point for The Broken. I just added into that already toxic situation a character with psychopathic tendencies, and suddenly I had the basis of a thriller. Similarly my latest book ‘When She Was Bad’, which is a psychological thriller set in an office, was inspired by a job I had years ago in a magazine office where a new, very divisive boss, caused relationships among the staff to unravel spectacularly.
  3. You have written both crime and women’s contemporary fictio novels. Is there one genre you prefer more than the other?
    I suspect you might call my first three books, which were very classed as dark women’s contemporary fiction, the antithesis of romance. In those books I explored the dark underbelly of marriage and relationships – a married woman driven crazy by the break up of her affair, who stalks her ex lover’s family, two women who discover at their husbands’ funeral that they’ve unwittingly been married to the same man. When I decided to start writing psychological crime, it actually wasn’t that big a leap from there.
  4. Was there a book that you read that didn’t live up to the hype?
    I must be the only person in the world who couldn’t even glance at ’50 Shades of Grey’. Everything I heard about it made me feel like I’d need to have a jolly good wash if I picked it up – not because of the sex, but because of the unhealthy power dynamics.
  5. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    I have so many favourite books – from childhood ‘Anne of Green Gables’, the first adult book that really engaged me ‘Catch 22’, but I think the book that’s had the most powerful effect on me is ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’, by Lionel Shriver which is all about the very darkest side of family life. That’s the book that made me think, I want to write like this.
  6. When She Was Bad

  7. What do you think makes a good crime book?
    Strong, believable characters and, most of all, a motivation that feels convincing. There’s nothing more irritating than investing time and energy in reading a book only to discover the driving reason behind the crime, the thing that underpins the whole book, is flimsy and un-realistic.
  8. From books and films, who has been your favourite bad guy?
    Voldemort is a great bad guy because even while he’s immensely powerful he’s also fallible. He has weaknesses and insecurities, and that’s what keeps us on our toes as readers throughout a very long drawn-out series.
  9. If you were to start your own bookclub, what authors would you ask to join?
    All the brilliant crime writers I know like Amanda Jennings, Clare Mackintosh, Marnie Riches who are such good fun. Also, I’m in a group called Killer Women which consists of sixteen brilliant female crime writers including Alex Marwood, Paula Hawkins, Louise Millar, Erin Kelly, Colette McBeth and loads more, so they’d all definitely get an invite.
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    ‘Apple Tree Yard’ by Louise Doughty, ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’ by Lionel Shriver and ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ by John Kennedy Toole.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    Stamina, without a doubt. You can have all the writing advice and classes you want but they’re worth nothing if you haven’t got the discipline and stamina to sit down and actually write day after day after day until finally you’ve got a book.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
  13. And finally Tammy do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I’ve just started writing a new psychological thriller set in a private psychiatric clinic. And there’s a secret project coming out next spring, which is a major departure for me. Watch this space!

Follow Tammy Cohen on Twitter Tammy Cohen for updates or check out her website at Tammy Cohen

You can buy When She Was Bad from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

A New Years Eve Short Story By Claudia Carroll

All She Ever Wished ForToday on the book tour for Claudia Carroll’s brand new book, ‘All She Ever Wished For’, I’m delighted to have a short story from the well loved Irish author.

A New Year’s Eve short story.

I’d just stepped out of the shower to a pile of voice messages on my phone, each one sounding even more panicky than the last. First up, it was my best friend Jayne.

‘Suzy, are you getting my messages? I’m so sorry about this, the signal is lousy here! Thing is, I’m at the airport and my flight’s just been cancelled because of this terrible snowstorm. Oh honey, I’m so sorry to let you down, but it really looks like I won’t be able to fly down to Spain in time for your party tonight…’

Then hot on her heels, my sister Becky called.

‘Suzy, you just won’t believe this! It’s a blizzard here, complete and utter whiteout! So I just went online to check with the airline and it seems they’ve cancelled all flights out of Heathrow until further notice…I really am so sorry to miss your New Year’s Eve party. And I was so looking forward to our little girlie break in Malaga too!

In a panic, I flicked on Sky News, about the only channel I was able to get down here in English. And sure enough, there it was. All the confirmation I needed.

‘Freak snowstorms have brought the UK and Ireland to a halt and look set to last for at least the next seventy two hours. Travel chaos is set to disrupt all road and rail journeys and all of the main airports will remain closed until further notice. Passengers intending to travel should contact their airlines for further information.’

I grabbed my phone and called the girls back immediately.

‘Don’t worry!’ I reassured them both. ‘It’s an act of God and it can’t be helped. Just stay warm and cozy at home and hopefully you may be able to fly down here in a few days.’

‘I really hope so,’ said Becky. ‘Can’t tell you how jealous I am to think of you in that balmy sunshine while I’m snowed up here in sub-zero temperatures. And with nothing but left over Christmas food to eat as well. If I see another mince pie, I think I’ll throw up!’

I laughed at this and told her that I’d be here till mid-January anyway, so there really was so rush to get down.

‘But it’s New Year’s Eve!’ Becky insisted. ‘I hate the thoughts of you all alone in your apartment, tonight of all nights. Particularly after the year you’ve had. This is nothing like what we’d planned, now is it?’

‘Can’t be helped,’ I smiled. ‘So you just stay put and don’t worry about me.’

‘You’re sure you’re OK?’ she asked before hanging up. But then that’s the thing about sisters, isn’t it? They can always tell when there’s something up.

‘Absolutely,’ I lied stoutly, before we said our goodbyes.

I wasn’t though. And now to add to everything else, I found myself on New Year’s Eve, all alone and with the whole afternoon and evening stretching out ahead of me.

I glanced around the stylish, hacienda-style apartment I’d rented and felt a sharp pang of disappointment that all the trouble I’d gone to for tonight was for nothing now. The plan had been that the girls would arrive at 8pm local time, grab a cab from Malaga airport and still be here in plenty of time for a little New Year’s celebration.

My dining table was stuffed full with party food I’d baked from scratch earlier in the day, (thank you, Mary Berry,) and the smell of cinnamon from the mince pies I’d made earlier was wafting back at me from the kitchen. All the traditional, Christmassy smells that somehow seemed at odds with this gorgeous, sun-lit apartment with its breathtaking view down onto the swimming pool just beneath.

It was just coming up to three in the afternoon, so with a nothing better to do I slipped into a strappy little sundress, poured myself a crisp glass of white wine and padded out onto my favourite sunlounger on the balcony. This was by far the best time of the day, if you asked me. Just pleasant enough to sit out in without shivering, so unlike what everyone else was suffering through back home.

New Year’s Eve. This was meant to be a whole new start for me, a chance to turn a fresh page and finally try to put the past to bed. Because last year was certainly one I don’t think I would ever possibly want to re-live, I thought, sipping on the delicious wine and really savouring it.

They have a way of quantifying what I’ve recently been through you know. They call it Holmes and Rahe scale of the most stressful events that a person can possibly experience and last year, I managed to score an astonishing four out of five on it.

Firstly, after twenty-five mostly happy years, suddenly and most unexpectedly my marriage broke up. Derek announced he was packing in his job, upping sticks and moving to Scotland if you don’t mind, to work as a theatre administrator. Derek, who had to be physically dragged to see a play or any kind of cultural event. Classic mid-life crisis, Becky had said supportively. Wait till you see, the eejit will be off getting a tattoo, a younger girlfriend and a Harley Davidson next.

For me though, it meant one full year of unbearable heartache as I watched the last two and a half decades of my life spectacularly implode. Then as if that wasn’t enough, my daughter Rachel left home to go to college which meant of course there was just me at home, rambling around a way-too big house all by myself.

But I refuse to wallow in this, I thought to myself. A brand new start; that was just what I needed. The house was getting in on me, every corner held a precious memory and it was impossible to escape ghosts of the past. The Living room, where Rachel had taken her very first steps. The Dining room, where Derek and I had hosted so many happy family Christmases in the past. Even the giant master bedroom which he and I had shared, made me shudder now. Because for the last few years when I thought we were a perfectly normal, compatible couple rubbing along nicely together, turned out he’d been plotting and planning his escape the whole time.

It was a horrible thought and one I couldn’t get away from, no matter how positive and forward-facing I tried to be. So I joined support groups, went for counseling and started an evening class to learn Spanish, something I’d always wanted to do and just never had time for. I even took up golf for God’s sake, in the hopes it would get me out of the awful rut I found myself in, but nothing seemed to work.

Then it was Becky, my gorgeous, whacky, dippy sister who hit on the perfect solution.

‘A change of scenery,’ she pronounced over dinner one night. ‘That’s exactly what you need. Right now. You’ve got to strike when the iron is hot. Rent out that mausoleum of a house of yours and take yourself off somewhere sunny and exotic for Christmas. Trust me, you won’t know yourself.’

‘But I can’t just up sticks that easily!’ I spluttered into my glass of wine. ‘For a start, what about Rachel?

She’d be devastated not to have Christmas at home, like we always do.’

‘Rachel is a grown adult and she’ll get over it. Besides, we’ll all come out to visit you for New Year’s Eve.

Why not try Spain? You love Spanish culture and here you are even learning the language. Just give it a whirl. Make some new Spanish friends. What’s the worst that can happen?’

So I found myself trawling estate agency websites till I found my perfect apartment, this blissful sanctuary where in spite of everything I actually did manage to have a happy Christmas. Rachel flew down and we had a fabulous few days re-bonding together, but then of course she was anxious to get back to her college pals for New Year.

Leaving me here alone and now with no one to even ring in the stroke of twelve with. Cursing myself I though, why haven’t I reached out more with people here? I had a great social circle back home, but how could I ever possibly expect the same lifestyle in Spain unless I at least tried to make friends? Wasn’t that what this whole Spanish sojourn was meant to be about in the first place?

It was twilight by then and that’s when I first noticed a shift in the atmosphere. Twinkling lights were glistening through the trees and there was the tinkling sound of chatter coming from the pool beneath.

Curiously getting the better of me, I slipped on my flip-flops and padded downstairs, just to check it out for myself.

‘Well hello there!’ I heard from behind me, making me jump. Turned out it was an older lady, laden down with three bottles of sparkling water. Funny thing was though, I felt like I almost knew this woman. Her face was so familiar to me; but then I’d seen her strolling around the complex all week with an incredibly handsome husband at her side. He was a lot younger than her, about my own age, sallow skinned and with the blackest eyes I’d ever seen. Spanish, I’d figured, thinking how lucky she was to have such a gorgeous guy on the go.

‘You’re in apartment 7A, aren’t you?’ this stranger smiled warmly.

‘Yes, that’s right,’ I said. ‘I’m Suzy, great to meet you.’

‘And I’m Clare,’ she said shaking my hand. ‘So, if you don’t mind me asking, are you on your own?’

I filled her in on what had happened and she nodded in recognition.

‘Snap! Same here,’ he said. ‘My son and some of his mates were all due to fly out today, but of course that’s all cancelled now. So what are you doing for New Year?’

‘Looks like it’ll be an early night for me,’ I laughed.

‘Don’t be daft. Come down to the pool and meet the rest of my family. We’ve all been wondering who the glamorous lady in 7B was all week. We’ve been inventing all sorts of fictitious backstories for you.’

So first up, I met Claire’s cousin Lisa who was lazing in a sunlounger by the pool cousin and she turned out to be just lovely and full of fun and chat. Next thing Claire’s husband/boyfriend/partner strolled in casually to join us.

‘Well, look who it is!’ he said, the black eyes dancing as he shook my hand. ‘So we finally get to meet our mystery neighbor in apartment 7B.’

‘Hi,’ I said, flushing a bit, but then exposure to good-looking men tends to do that to me.

‘We’ve been seeing you about the place all week you know,’ he chats on easily. ‘But you were with a girl who looks just like a younger version of you….’

‘Ah, that’s my daughter Rachel,’ I explained.

‘Well you both looked like you were having such a good time we didn’t like to intrude. But it’s great to finally meet you,’ he said, still holding onto my hand, I noticed, with a gorgeous, warm, crinkly smile.

‘You too,’ I smiled back, then hastily added, ‘and of course your wife too.’

That’s when there was a chorus of loud guffaws.

‘Are you kidding with all that husband rubbish?’ laughed Claire, ‘this is Don, my baby brother!’

Brother, I thought, recalibrating everything in my head.


So I happily sat around the pool for the next hour or so with Claire, Lisa and Don, all of them, full of chat and good-humoured fun. Then the most astonishing thing of all, as I discovered after a good hour with them.

Turned out Don and I were in exactly the same boat; his marriage had broken up in the last year too and he’d found himself at a loose end over Christmas.

‘So my big sis here came to the rescue,’ he smiled, again that gorgeous crinkly smile. ‘She suggested I book a flight down here and stay for the whole holiday.’

‘Mind you, he’s driving me mental now and I’ll be shoving him back onto the plane come next week!’ Claire joked and we all laughed. The next hour just whizzed by and I completely forgot about airports and snowstorms and cancelled flights and visitors who wouldn’t now be arriving after all.

Next thing Don glanced down at his watch.

‘T minus two hours,’ he said. ‘We’re getting closer to the stroke of midnight. So what do you ladies fancy doing? Apart from belting out a few choruses of Aul Lang Syng, of course.’

‘Actually, I’ve got a suggestion,’ I offered tentatively, as a fresh thought struck me.


‘Well it’s just I’ve got a fridge full of party food in my apartment, not to mention a few lovely bottles of wine. So if you’d all like to ring in the New Year with me, you’d be so welcome.’

‘Wow, that’s so generous of you,’ said Don.

‘Fab! So what are we waiting for?’ said Claire.

And this, I though happily is what New Year’s Eve is all about. Not forgetting old friends but never being afraid to reach out to new.

And who knows? Maybe, just maybe this might be a Happy New Year.

You can buy All She Ever Wished For from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.