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Happy Christmas from Handwritten Girl

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

It’s nearly Christmas and I’m a delighted to say I’m a bit organised this year. The presents have been wrapped and are under the tree, but no food has been bought!

Before I sign off, I would like to say a huge thank you to all the lovely publishers and authors who introduced me to some of the most wonderful books this year, from intense thrillers to happy romances, there’s something for everyone to curl up with during the cold winter nights and poolside reads.

Most importantly, thank you to the readers of the website for taking the time to read a review, tweet, Favourite or Like a post, your support is appreciated tremendously.

I know this isn’t the Christmas we were hoping for but I hope you all have a safe and relaxing Christmas and receive loads of treats from Santa Claus, especially books as there are some great ones out there.

Have a Happy New Year and I shall see you in 2022.

Handwritten Girl’s Top 12 Books of 2021

Handwritten Girl's Top 12 Books of 2021

It’s that time of the year again, where I sit and deliberate my favourite books of the year and 2021 was just as difficult as previous years. And as per usual, my top 10 ended up being the top 12.

2021 saw us being introduced to some fantastic debut authors whose novels of dystopian worlds not far removed from now gripped us, broken hearts and relationships made us cry and psychological thrillers had us reading into the early hours.

We saw the return of some of our favourite authors, as well as the 25th anniversary release of ‘Rachel’s Holiday’ by Marian Keyes ahead of the eagerly anticipated sequel ‘Again, Rachel’.

If you’re looking for some ideas for Christmas reading or gifts, check out my top 12 books of 2021 with a link to each review.

1. Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes
2. Last One At The Party by Bethany Clift
3. The Split by Laura Kay
4. The World At My Feet by Catherine Isaac
5. The Push by Ashley Audrain
6. The Heights by Louise Candlish
7. The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell
8. Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
9. The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee
10. Bad Choices by Lucy Vine
11. Girl A by Abigail Dean
12 Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane

Celebrations at the Chateau By Jo Thomas

Celebrations at the Chateau‘Celebrations at the Chateau’ is the latest book by Jo Thomas, so sit back and enjoy an extract from the story.

‘It’s like . . . Hogwarts!’ I say, peering through the early- morning autumnal mist. At least, I think it’s me who says it out loud.

Tiredness and shock has mashed my brain and blurred my vision. But I’m pretty sure it’s what we’re all thinking, for once, all on the same page, as we sit inside the hire car.

‘I’m waiting for Frank-N-Furter to come and meet us,’ says my eldest sister Nellie, short for Elinor, but no one calls her that and she doesn’t mind.

‘Who?’ I ask, questions whizzing round my brain, like eggs in a blender, turning to froth.

‘Never mind, you’re too young!’ says Lizzie, my middle sister, short for Elizabeth, but no one calls her that and, yes, I think she does mind.

‘Er, not that much younger than you!’ Nellie reprimands.

‘It’s fine,’ I say. ‘Let’s just find out where we’re sup- posed to be and what’s going on.’

And they both close their mouths, like bickering children who have been silenced.

‘And Hogwarts is a lot bigger,’ says Nellie, but quieter. She would know, bringing up three boys.

‘But just as creepy,’ says Lizzie. ‘This is . . .’ She carries on staring at it from behind the steering wheel, through the big metal gates.

‘This is a joke, right? Someone’s idea of a practical joke! Wait until I find out who’s responsible for this!’ Nellie shakes her head.
But who would do that? Especially not now, not with our grandfather only just buried. Tears, which seem to have been constantly ready to spill for the last month, prickle again.

‘Or someone’s got their facts wrong, which is more likely!’ Lizzie likes to have facts and answers. She works on logic. ‘An overnight ferry crossing, on choppy waters, then driving on the wrong side of the road for over an hour in a hire car for a wrong address!’ she says, sound- ing fearsome. I just know that someone is going to be in big trouble if this turns out to be the case.

We sit in the car, the heaters blowing on our cheeks, looking at the listing iron gates and the long tree-lined drive to the left, covered with fallen late-autumn leaves. And beyond that, shrouded in mist, is what I can only describe as . . .

‘It’s a castle.’ I say what we’re all thinking.

‘A château,’ Lizzie corrects.

‘Yes, a château,’ I agree. ‘I’ve seen one on television with Dick and Angel.’

‘Who?’ Lizzie asks.

‘Daytime telly,’ Nellie confirms.

Lizzie tuts and purses her lips.

Neither of us says any more. Lizzie doesn’t do day-time TV. In fact, I don’t think she does telly of any sort. She just works and she isn’t happy about taking time off to be here. We all sit and stare through the gates.

Lizzie grips the steering wheel. ‘Check the satnav again,’ she instructs, jabbing a short painted fingernail at my phone.

I do as I’m told. ‘You have arrived at your destination. You have arrived at your destination,’ it repeats, grating on our nerves.

We all look around and behind us, but there’s nothing else. Just these gates, the long tree-lined drive, a field of brown and white cows to the right of it and a farm- house with lights on. And, beyond the gates, this building, glowering at us with a Gallic glare. Suddenly, there is a flickering of lights from a window in the turret closest to us – there’s one on each side of the building. Again they flicker and go out, flicker and go out.

We look at each other nervously.

‘Are you sure we own this?’ I ask again, hoping there’s been a big mistake.

You can buy ‘Celebrations at the Chateau’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Book News – I Have Something To Tell You By Susan Lewis

I Have Something To Tell You‘Sunday Times’ bestselling author Susan Lewis has returned to our bookshelves with a new thriller called ‘I Have Something To Tell You’.

What the back cover says –

High-flying lawyer Jessica Wells has it all. A successful career, loving husband Tom and a family she adores. But one case – and one client – will put all that at risk.

Edward Blake. An ordinary life turned upside down – or a man who quietly watched television while his wife was murdered upstairs? With more questions than answers and a case too knotted to unravel, Jessica suspects he’s protecting someone.

Then she comes home one day and her husband utters the words no one ever wants to hear. Sit down … I have something to tell you

Now Jessica must fight not only for the man she defends, but for the man she thought she trusted with her life – her husband.

For fans of psychological thrillers, ‘I Have Something To Tell You’ is a must read!

You can buy ‘I Have Something To Tell You’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Fractures, Dreams and Second Chances by Stephen Anthony Brotherton

Fractures, Dreams and Second Chances‘Fractures, Dreams and Second Chances by Stephen Anthony Brotherton’ is the latest book by Stephen Anthony Brotherton.

“This is my story of first love, but it is told through the eyes of two fictional characters, Freddie and Jo\-Jo. My life, like Freddie’s, was fractured by my dad’s death when I was seven years of age. As a teenager, at the end of the 1970s, I had a first love relationship that I dreamed would last a lifetime. My partner, like Jo\-Jo, was strong, independent and had her perfect world dreams, but she was haunted by her own fractures. In 1980 a heartbreaking event killed our love and, for us, there has been no reunion. But I’ve always wondered, what if? This book explores that possibility. It tells the story of Freddie and Jo\-Jo’s fractures, their teenage romance, their lives apart and their attempt to reignite their love after being separated for over three decades.

You can buy ‘Fractures, Dreams and Second Chances’ from Amazon and is available from good bookshops.