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Christmas Island By Natalie Normann

Christmas Island‘Christmas Island’ is the latest book by Natalie Normann.

After all the years of hard work it took Londoner Holly Greene to become a doctor, now it could all be taken away and she only has herself to blame. She’s retreating to her brother’s rustic home on an island off the coast of Norway to lick her wounds. Only, it’s the middle of winter and icy slush plus endless darkness isn’t exactly the cheery, festive getaway she had imagined. Nearly stumbling off the edge of a cliff in the dark, Holly is saved by Frøy, a yellow-eyed cat of fearsome but fluffy proportions, and his owner – grouchy, bearded recluse, Tor. Tor has his own problems to face but the inexplicable desire to leave a bag of freshly baked gingerbread men on Holly’s doorstep is seriously getting in the way of his hermit routine. Call it kindness, call it Christmas, but Holly’s arrival means midwinter has never looked less bleak.

If you’re a fan of Christmas and need a distraction, then I would wholeheartedly recommend this warm hearted Norwegian story.

The story is seen through the narrative of Holly and Tor who meet when Tor rescues Holly from almost falling off a cliff, when she first arrives on an island in Norway to visit her brother at Christmas. At first, the pair are tentative towards each other, they’re both at a crossroads in their lives and uncertain as to what will happen next so they decide to enjoy their time together, as they celebrate Christmas with the residents of the island.

I adored this book, life is grim right now with lockdowns and restrictions so it was wonderful to escape into this romantic and festive story that is brimming with delicious flavours, recipes and smells. Throughout the book, my mouth was literally salivating at the delicious food that was created and it was lovely to read the various traditions that are done each year.

The main characters are lovely, Holly is instantly likeable and relatable with her fun personality. Tor is quite a guarded character, who’s locally known as ‘the hermit of the island’ but Holly helps bring him out of the shell and embrace the locals. There’s an sense of underlying sadness with both characters, as they are both are going through hardships and they are drawn to each other for comfort. One of my favourite characters in the book was actually a cat called Frøy, I loved his personality and his mood swings, one minute he loved her owner Tor and the next he wouldn’t look at him. Even though, Tor is the hermit of the island, Frøy is notorious, going from various houses for food and comfort.

Beautifully written and wonderfully descriptive with heartwarming characters and flavours that will instantly brighten your day. ‘Christmas Island’ is a charming and engaging story about new friendships and new beginnings that read like a hug in a mug.

You can buy ‘Christmas Island’ 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.

Merry Christmas from Handwritten Girl

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Christmas is nearly upon us and I’ve found myself writing my annual sign off instead of wrapping presents that are still in their bags. Last minute as always!

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 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 2020.

A Mrs Miracle Christmas By Debbie Macomber

A Mrs Miracle ChristmasOn the book tour for Debbie MacComber’s latest festive story called ‘A Mrs Miracle Christmas’, enjoy an extract from the story.

“Caring Angels sent you?” Laurel asked, coming out of the kitchen after she had overheard the initial exchange.

“When I called earlier, I was told no one was available.”

“The office hadn’t been informed that I was free to accept another assignment. When I heard your situation was urgent, I came as quickly as I could. I trust I haven’t arrived at a bad time?”

“No, of course not. Please come in.” Looking relieved and grateful, Laurel quickly brought the older woman into the house. Helen sat quietly, observing the arrival of this stranger.
She sensed an immediate connection to this woman who had entered her home, yet she couldn’t understand why. It appeared that she and this Mrs. Miracle weren’t far apart in age. Somehow, though she couldn’t explain it, Helen instinctively knew that this woman had a warm heart, and that the two of them would get along famously.

“The agency said that you sounded quite desperate. The instant she discovered I was free to take on a new client, she gave me the referral. I hope I’m not interrupting your dinner.”

“No, no,” Laurel quickly reassured her. “We are all finished.” Laurel offered Mrs. Miracle tea or coffee, which she politely refused.

“You’re an answer to our prayers,” Helen said, still seated in her chair.

“I’m often told that,” Mrs. Miracle said. “But really, being a Caring Angel is my privilege. I enjoy the work.”

Helen could see the relief in her granddaughter’s eyes. She felt dreadful for causing such concern recently for Laurel and Zach and was determined to do everything she could to keep things straight. No more police, and no more getting lost, that was for sure.

In a businesslike fashion, Mrs. Miracle got right to work. “I understand you both have jobs outside of the home, so I brought the paperwork from the agency for you to sign.” Zach reached for the folder the caregiver handed him.

“No need for you to take time off work to come downtown to meet anyone, as you’ve already been introduced to Caring Angels over the phone. Once the paperwork is signed, I’ll hand it off.”

“Thank you. That’s thoughtful of you,” Laurel said. Mrs. Miracle looked toward Helen and winked. They shared a smile, and Helen was left to wonder what the wink was all about. She couldn’t keep from smiling and winking back at her new caretaker.

Zach looked up from the paperwork, his eyes full of surprise and relief. “This is far less expensive than we’d anticipated.”

“It’s the holiday special,” Mrs. Miracle explained. “Oh— and before I forget—
I brought you a little something.” She set her basket on the coffee table and removed
the red-checkered cloth covering it. “I like to bring a homemade item to my new clients on my first in‑​home visit. I enjoy baking and have several wonderful holiday recipes.”
Helen leaned forward to peek. “You brought us cookies?”

“These happen to be my personal favourites,” Mrs. Miracle said. “I dare not keep them around, otherwise I’d be tempted to eat the entire batch myself.”

Helen removed a large plate of snickerdoodles.

“Snickerdoodles,” Laurel said, a bit taken aback. “You brought us snickerdoodles? Nana was right. You are an answer to our prayers.”

You can buy ‘A Mrs Miracle Christmas’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Carole Matthews’ Re-releases Wrapped Up In You

Wrapped Up In You‘Carole Matthews has re-released her festive tale called ‘Wrapped Up In You’ with a new look.

What the back cover says –

Janie Johnson is ringing the changes this Christmas.

As a thirty-something hairdresser, Janie’s single status is a constant source of concern for her clients as well as her friends. So after one too many questions about her love life, a blind date disaster and hearing her ex-boyfriend is getting married, Janie decides it’s time to do something dramatic.

Leaving winter behind, Janie takes the plunge and books an exotic trip to Africa. Her friends think she’s mad and Janie thinks they may very well be right. Until that is she meets her gorgeous tour guide, Dominic.

But all good things must come to an end. Can Janie now face spending a snowy Christmas back home without him, or will she get her Christmas wish in Wrapped up in You

This speical edition book includes a bonus follow-up story, plus the first chapter of Carole’s new book ‘Sunny Days & Sea Breezes’.

You can pre-order ‘Wrapped Up In You’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 31st October 2019.