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Claire Frost

Claire Frost“Claire Frost grew up in Manchester, the middle of three sisters. She always wanted to do a job that involved writing, so after studying Classics at Bristol University she found a job in magazines. For the last 10 years she’s worked at ‘The Sun on Sunday’s Fabulous’ magazine, where she is Assistant Editor and Books Editor. She can mostly be found at her desk buried beneath an ever-increasing pile of books or at home writing funny and heart-warming novels about love, life and social media.

  1. For readers of the blog who may not be familiar with you or your writing, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing.
    Hi Bronagh – and hi readers of the Handwritten Girl blog! I love writing fun, relatable, feelgood books about romantic relationships, female friendships and how we live our lives online and IRL. I am also a journalist and work as Assistant Editor at Fabulous magazine, where I edit copy plus review books and interview authors for the magazine’s books pages
  2. Can you tell us about your new book called ‘Married at First Swipe’?
    I would love to! Married At First Swipe is about Hannah, who is always looking for her next adventure but also wants to find someone she can settle down with, and her best friend Jess, who is married to her childhood sweetheart and they live with their lovely seven-year-old twins in a nice semi-detached house in a Manchester suburb. But when Jess reveals her dating business is on the verge of going under, Hannah comes up with a daring plan to generate much-needed publicity: she will let Jess set her up on the ultimate blind date – which will take place at the altar. What could possibly go wrong?!
  3. If you were to start your own book club, what authors would you ask to join?
    Ooh, I like this question! I am lucky enough to know lots of amazing authors, all of whom I’d love to start a book club with (in fact, a few of us are already in a book club together!), so I would invite all of them. And knowing I had them as my moral support, I would also invite some authors I’d love to fangirl embarrassingly at, such as Jilly Cooper, Kate Atkinson and David Nicholls.
  4. You also have the exciting job of being a magazine book reviewer, what’s it like now having people review your books?
    It’s, um, a bit weird, to be honest! But I also know just how many novels book reviewers get sent, so I am so grateful when people take the time to read and review my books. It means a huge amount when someone tells me they’ve enjoyed reading something I’ve written – whether that person is a book reviewer, blogger or any other kind of reader – and I don’t think that feeling will ever get old.
  5. What’s your favourite opening line from a book?
    I am not sure anyone will ever better the opening line of Dodie Smith’s ‘I Capture The Castle’: ‘I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.’
  6. What’s your favourite part of the writing process?
    The bit when I hold a finished copy of my book in my hands!
  7. Married At First Swipe

  8. What’s your favourite book of all time?
    Argh, this is SUCH a difficult one! But I will always love ‘The Secret Garden’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and more recently, ‘Life After Life’ by Kate Atkinson is breath-takingly amazing.
  9. Is there anything that you would change about your writing journey?
    I really try not to have regrets, but if there was one thing I could tell past-me (and, in fact, present-me!) it’s to have more self-belief in my writing. I have spent – and definitely still spend – far too much time doubting whether I can really do this. But I now have two actual paperbacks with my name on the front, so I definitely CAN do it!
  10. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you bring with you to pass the time?
    Hmm, if I was stranded for a very long time, I guess I’d want books I could re-read over and over again without getting bored. So I would choose the first three books of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Cazelet chronicles – every time I read the series (which I do every couple of years) I realise just how brilliant she was at creating characters who are both multi-layered, interesting and relatable.
  11. What area do you suggest a budding writer should concentrate on to further their abilities?
    I know everyone says this, but actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard!) is the only real way to improve and develop your writing. You can read all the ‘how to write’ book you want, but unless you are actually filling a page with words, the theory behind it all doesn’t mean anything. I know that every day I write I learn so much – and I hope that every book I write is better than the last.
  12. When sitting down to write, what is the one item you need beside you?
    A large cup of coffee (and my espresso martini scented candle!).
  13. And finally, do you have any projects or releases on the horizon which you would like to share with the readers of the website?
    I am working on my third novel right now – all I can say is that it is a little bit different but I am so excited about it!

    You can find Claire Frost on Twitter

    You can pre-order ‘Married At First Swipe’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 4th February 2021.

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday By Milly Johnson

I Wish It Could Be Christmas EverydayIf there’s one book that will get you into the spirit of Christmas this year, it’s Milly Johnson’s latest festive offering.

Six people all going to different places are forced to hole up in a small inn on the North Yorkshire Moors. Bridge is meeting her soon to be ex-husband Luke to sign a piece of paper that will officially begin the end of their marriage. She wanted to see him for five minutes tops, because she can’t stand the sight of him. Or is she just afraid to be in his presence for any longer than that because what she feels isn’t the hate she pretends to have for him? Luke is meeting his soon to be ex-wife Bridge for the shortest of meetings. He has moved on from his disastrous marriage to her and the last thing he needs is to be trapped with her for four full days when dangerous old feelings could resurface. Industry boss Jack is on his way to a meeting with a Japanese client who cancels at the last minute. It’s a dratted inconvenience having to spend Christmas with a bunch of strangers. But is it really – for someone who is lonely and craving company? Mary has been in love with her boss Jack for four years and this was her big chance to show him she was flesh and blood not the mere useful equivalent of an office stapler. Now she has four days to show him that he needs her in his personal life… but has that chance come too late? Charlie and Robin are going to Aviemore for a snow-filled, luxury Christmas with all the bells and whistles they can muster. Having to spend it with a group of strangers instead, cooking their own dinner would be a complete and disastrous let down to them… wouldn’t it? Six people – some at peace with themselves, some work in progresses, some lost… all take and give from each other in this festive fun-filled feast. A story packed with broccoli, snowmen, carols, paper chains, mince pies, plum tomatoes and cherries… kindness, wisdom and above all hope.

The story is seen through the perspective of 6 people who are all travelling on a snowy winter’s night. The weather is so torrential that they all pull over in a hotel called Figgy Hollow Inn, that is lying vacant but is completely prepared for Christmas. The 6 people are all at crossroads in their lives but during the 23- 27th December, they become firm friends and come to some realisations about themselves.

Outspoken Bridge is meeting her ex-husband Luke to finally sign their divorce papers, married couple Robin and Charlie were off to Scotland for their Christmas celebrations, whilst businessman Jack and his PA Mary were on their way to an important business trip.

As usual, Milly has produced another book that will literally have you feeling warm and glowing inside. With the magical setting of the Figgy Hollow Inn, it’s festive and welcoming setting as well as the wealth of indulgent food on offer that literally has the reader salivating with each page.

I loved the characters so much and had a connection with each one. Bridge and Luke are a complex couple, after years of arguing and moving on, they’ve finally decided to sign the papers but whilst in Figgy Hollow, they remember the good times when money was less but they still loved each other. These parts make for poignant and warm reading as the couple reflect on old times. Robin and Charlie bicker like a old couple, but there’s a deep love between them even though there’s quite an age age between them. Charlie was the gentleman of the story, exuding charm and wisdom to the party with his gentle nature. Whereas Mary has been in love with her boss for years, but Jack has never seen her in this light, but it seems the magic of Figgy Hollow is making him look at his PA in a new way. The magical setting of Figgy Hollow is making everyone reevaluate their lives as well as the importance of friendship at this time of year.

‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ is another charming story from Milly, delivered with her trademark tenderness, love and wit and is story of hope, magic and new friendships. This book is Christmas wrapped up with a festive bow.

You can buy ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

My Top Ten Favourite Festive Activities By Heidi Swain

Christmas RoomToday on the book tour for her new book Christmas book called ‘The Winter Garden’, Heidi Swain is sharing her Top Ten Favourite Festive Activities because she is a HUGE fan of Christmas!

So, here we go…

“Heidi

Reading
I’m sure it’s no surprise that books bagged the number 1 spot! December 1st is always reserved for Mr Dickens. The month simply wouldn’t work if I hadn’t reacquainted myself with A Christmas Carol. I also read Trisha Ashley’s Twelve Days of Christmas too and treat myself to new festive fiction. Louise Marley, Sophie Claire and Victoria Walters are on the list this year and I’m starting earlier than usual because otherwise I won’t fit them all in.

Carols from King’s
My Christmas Eve revolves around this choral festive treat. My to-do list has to be completed so I can be ready to watch and listen with a cup of tea and a mince pie. As a person of Pagan persuasion, I find this much-loved tradition of mine something of a surprise, but the voices are so stirring as the light begins to fade. I love it!

Christmas shopping
I love Christmas shopping, as long as I have my trusty list. The chilly weather, bustling streets and frequent tea and cake top ups make it all the more pleasurable. I know it won’t be the same this year, but I can hang on to the memory of those wonderful excursions for now.

Finding the right gift
Nothing beats the pleasure of watching someone opening their gift and seeing their face light up. Finding the perfect present isn’t always easy, but it’s totally worth the effort.

Baking
I’m certainly no Jemma from The Cherry Tree Café, but I do love some festive baking. My repertoire is limited, but nothing says Christmas like a stint in the kitchen assembling my easy cheat mince pies and sausage rolls, with the festive tunes cranked up, a glass of mulled wine to hand and my Santa apron in place.

Scents of the season
Not strictly an activity you might argue, but it can be! Mulling your own wine with festive spices and studding oranges with cloves to release that seasonal smell feels like a pretty good way to spend an afternoon to me.

Decorating
Dressing the house is always a favourite festive activity and generally happens the second weekend in December. I know exactly what’s packed in the boxes in the loft but opening them is always a treat. The hearth is dressed with holly, ivy and mistletoe and the tree is topped with two angels, both created by my son and daughter in Year R. Given that they are 25 and 20 now, the loo rolls and pipe cleaners have certainly seen better days, but up they go!

Festive films
I love snuggling under a blanket to watch a festive film. Like everyone else, I have a teetering pile of DVD’s and it’s an annual treat working my way through them all. I also love the Hallmark channel and all the made for TV films. A totally festive indulgence! I don’t think I could pick a favourite, but ‘Love Actually’, ‘Elf’, ‘Muppets Christmas Carol’, ‘Nativity’… nope. I can’t do it! I’ll just end up listing the lot!

Winter walks
As you may already know, I’m always trying to get folk outdoors in the fresh air, whatever the weather. Although I draw the line at heading out in driving rain! I love getting wrapped up in warm layers and striding out for a bracing walk around my local patch. It’s a great mood soother and in the run up to Christmas, when it’s tempting to stay inside, a super way to recharge the batteries. Throw some snow in the mix and I’m even happier!

'The Winter Garden

Taking in the sights of the season
This is a separate trip to the shopping expedition and with a completely different purpose. Norwich always has beautiful light and window displays and I really enjoy going up to the city, towards the end of the day, to simply admire the decorations and soak up the atmosphere. We’d had the lovely of tunnel of light for the last few years and then there’s the animatronic tableau in the Forum and Jarrolds. All so superbly seasonal!

Crikey, that was the speediest Top Ten I’ve ever written and I could have easily added more favourite festive activities to the list. I know there’s nothing unusual or surprising written here, but these are all things I love to do in the run up to Christmas and beyond and this year more than ever, I’m going to take comfort in the familiarity of them all.

Wishing you all a safe and healthy festive season.

With love
Heidi x

You can buy ‘The Winter Garden’ from Amazon and is available from other good bookshops.

My One True North By Milly Johnson

My One True NorthMilly Johnston is back on our bookshelves with witty and poignant story about lost love and new beginnings.

Laurie and Pete should never have met. But fate has pushed them together for a reason. Six months ago, on the same night, Laurie and Pete both lost their partners. Struggling to manage the grief, they join the same counselling group – and meet each other. From their sadness, Pete and Laurie find happiness growing and they sense a fresh new beginning. Except, the more they talk, the more they begin to spot the strange parallels in their stories. Then Pete discovers a truth that changes everything. But, as surely as a compass points north, some people cannot be kept apart.

The story is primarily seen from the perspectives of recently bereaved people Laurie and Pete, who’s partners were tragically killed in a car accident. Now, months later the pair of them are trying to deal with their loss and with the help of their friends join a group for people dealing with grief. The group is lead by Molly, a kind woman who helps people deal with losses after the death of her own partner. In this group we meet a range of characters who are recovering from the loss of people and pets and the impacts that these deaths have had on their lives. The people are an interesting collective who are at different stages of their journey and are there to offer support and friendship when things get tough.

I adored this book and absorbed it in one sitting and was disappointed in myself for not reading it sooner. Pete and Laurie are two fantastic lead characters, both are united in grief and are heartbroken for the lives that were tragically taken from them. As the pair of them join the group, we see them tentatively embark on a new friendship and an understanding as they both share their grief and stories. It’s lovely to join them on their brave steps of making first solo cinema trips, dates and adventures together. As the story progresses we see that the pair have more in common than they could have ever imagined and that the lives they were leading, were far from perfect.

The story is a tender and poignant one that focuses on loss and how different people deal with it but with every bittersweet moment in the book, Milly delivers some wit with her Yorkshire humour that brightens the reader up. Having sadly experienced her own loss in the last year with the death of her father, Milly’s writing is reflective and tender with a special insight on grief.

The story sees the return of ‘The Daily Trumpet’ the local newspaper that is always printing apologies for errors in articles, whether it’s a wrong name or an incorrect letter to a word that gives a story a completely different angle. Alan, the poor the editor is regularly using creative and colourful language to describe his staff and the situations and these scenes with Alan genuinely make for hilarious moments.

‘My One Truth North’ is another wonderful story from Milly that delivers laughs, tears and new friendships, filled with warmth and charm, this is another stunning story from Yorkshire’s finest author.

You can buy ‘My One True North’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Minute I Saw You By Paige Toon

'The Minute I Saw You’The Minute I Saw You’ is the latest book by Paige Toon.

Some people believe that it’s possible to fall in love simply by gazing into another person’s eyes, but Hannah, who spends her working life staring into the eyes of strangers, has never felt anything out of the ordinary for any of her clients. Then she meets Sonny, and a spark ignites between them that’s hard to ignore and impossible to forget. Weeks later, they cross paths again, but Sonny’s whole demeanour has changed. Gone is the sexy, laidback, confident man that Hannah was so attracted to, and in his place is someone who can barely make eye contact at all. It soon transpires that Sonny is at a crossroads. He’s committed to making serious life changes, but these changes can’t and won’t include romance.
Hannah, who is only temporarily housesitting her uncle’s cottage, has her own reasons for wanting to keep their budding friendship platonic. But as summer hots up and the chemistry between them sizzles, Hannah and Sonny discover that there’s more to each of them than meets the eye.

Yesterday I spent my day with my head buried in Paige’s latest book, a story of new beginnings and friendships.

The story is seen through the narrative of Hannah, who works in an opticians and it’s in this job that she meets Sonny Denton. Both are attracted to each other but agree to be friends, but as they spend more time together, they realise that it’s difficult to maintain a platonic friendship.

I’ve been a fan of Paige’s books for years, they’ve accompanied me on many a bus or train journey, transporting me to another time and place and her latest book was just as absorbing.

Paige has an incredible skill of creating handsome and charismatic men and Sonny was no different, charming, witty and slightly damaged that made the reader want to look after him. I loved Hannah as well, fun and relatable and I really enjoyed the scenes of banter between the pair of them. Both of them have underlying secrets and problems and it’s through their confidence in each other, that they grow strength to face them. There is also the addition of an adorable dog that added a hint of cuteness to the story.

The story is set in Cambridge and is filled with vivid descriptions of the city and the canal activities that was very prominent in the story. The story also included the return of Joe Strike and his wife Alice from Paige’s previous book called ‘One Perfect Summer’ and it was lovely to see the return of the dynamic couple.

A fun and sexy story that was a joy to read from start to finish. Paige has written another tender and uplifting book that will have you laughing and crying in equal measure. ‘The Minute I Saw You’ is an unique tale, with relatable and fascinating characters that stays with you long after you close the final page.

You can buy ‘The Minute I Saw You’ from Amazon and is available from good bookshops.