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All About Us By Tom Ellen

All About Us‘All About Us’ is the latest book by Tom Ellen.

Ben’s always loved the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And when his old flame Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago? He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind. Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

If you’re looking for a male perspective on love and relationships, then check out the latest book by Tom Ellen, a witty and poignant festive tale with a modern take on ‘A Christmas Carol’

The story is seen solely through Ben’s perspective, as he ponders what if. Having been with his wife Daphne for 15 years, Ben is beginning to get itchy feet in life. Far from being the successful writer that he aspired to be, his relationship is drifting further apart and Alice, his old friend from university has gotten in touch about meeting up. Ben wonders what life could be like if he hadn’t chosen Daphne in his path for life and went with Alice instead. But on Christmas Eve when Daphne has to go to a work party, Ben goes out with his best friend Harvey and finds himself approached by an old man with a broken watch.Taking the watch, which is stuck at 11.59 finds himself being sent back to key moments in his life where he is able to make changes and really find out if life is better on the other side.

This is the second book that I’ve read in 2020 by a man writing romantic comedy and it was a breath of fresh air, filled with wit and love and injected with festive nostalgia. Ben is an interesting character who’s struggling with his place in life. Having aspired to be a successful writer and follow in his father’s footsteps, Ben is working in a job that he’s not happy with and the divide between him and Daphne grow more as she becomes more successful and his resentment grows. I loved Ben’s best friend Harvey, who’s there to offer words of support and encouragement when Ben is at his worst.

The story then flows in past, present and future sequences as Ben gets to relive the most important moments of his life and change the path of his life. These moments include him and Daphne’s first meeting as well as Ben spending more time with his mother before her sudden death. I particularly enjoyed the moments with Ben and his mother, she brought him up as a single parent and it’s on this nostalgia journey that Ben really takes the time to appreciate everything his mother did for him and this makes for poignant and reflective reading. Throughout the story, the old man who gave Ben the watch reappears with wise words helping him get on the right path.

This is a genuinely heartwarming story that is filled with hope and love. Concentrating on the complexities of relationships on all levels and the pressures of life. Beautifully written with witty and tender dialogue, relatable characters and such vivid descriptions that the roasted chestnuts were literally dripping from the pages, ‘All About Us’ is emotional roller coaster of a story that will make you shed sad and happy tears.

You can buy ‘All About Us’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Finding Love At The Christmas Market By Jo Thomas

Finding Love at the Christmas Market‘Finding Love At The Christmas Market’ is the latest book by Jo Thomas.

Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners with her.Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a check-list of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.

Having consumed Jo’s previous book called ‘Escape to the French Farmhouse’ in one sitting, I was delighted to be offered the chance to read her new Christmas book about love, friendship and food.

The story is mostly seen through the narrative of Connie, a single mum who works for a local catering company that delivers food to a care home called Lavender Hill. It’s in this job, that has made friends with the residents of the care home, especially Pearl and has decided to help them with a task of bringing the ashes of their friend called Elsie back to her home country in Germany and be scattered at the Christmas markets. It just so happens that Connie is going to Germany to meet Heinrich, her last hope at online dating. With a minibus full of elderly people who have far from lost their lust for life. They begin a 5 day adventure in Germany, embracing life and new friendships.

I loved this book, it warm, full of heart and is the perfect distraction during a pandemic. I loved Connie, she’s a kind woman, who puts other people’s happiness before her own. When she meets Heinrich, he ticks all the boxes that she’s looking for in a man. Now that her grown up son has Sam has left the nest and got himself a girlfriend, Connie is looking for company but is wary of the deception that is involved with online dating. Even though Connie wants her heart to belong to Heinrich, she finds herself drawn to William, who just so happens to be Heinrich’s enemy. Their family have been at loggerheads for years and come from bakeries in the opposing parts of the town. William is hoping that this year will be the year that his bakery will win the Christmas cake of the year and help bring in some funds to the Old Town and help mend his relationship with his wife and son. I loved William, he’s kind with a huge heart. I loved the interaction between Connie and William, from their awkward first meeting to her helping him with the baking.

This book is the perfect festive book to read. Filled with graphic scenes of the Christmas markets to the heady scents from the Christmas baked goods that seemed to leap from the pages. The story is beautifully written with wonderful characters and really highlights how people can easily be forgotten when they get older and are put into homes and out of the way. It made for sad reading in parts, as the characters reflected on how they were made to feel when family only wanted them for Boxing Day or for expensive gifts.

The humans weren’t the only great characters in this book, there was the inclusion of a sweet and deaf dog called Fritz who was able to put people at ease with his gentle nature. Like Jo’s previous books, this book is heavily food based with traditional German sweets and baked goods and Jo has included the recipes should the reader decide to create their own.

A story of new beginnings and new memories, this festive story is filled with love and heart, ‘Finding Love at the Christmas Market’ is a fun and captivating story that is packed with Christmas cheer and love.

You can buy ‘Finding Love At The Christmas Market’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Rescue Me By Sarra Manning

'Rescue MeThe news that we’ve been waiting for is released, Sarra Manning has revealed the name and synopsis for her new book called ‘Rescue Me’.

What the back cover says-

Margot doesn’t have time for love.

Will is afraid to love.

And neither of them are expecting to fall in love with Blossom: a gentle Staffy with a tragic past, a belly made for rubbing and a head the size of a football.

After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will’s obsession for micro-managing and clear-cut boundaries and Margot’s need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands.

Can they put their differences aside to become successful “co-pawrents” and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?

With a stunning cover and a lead canine that sounds as lovely Sarra’s beloved Miss Betsy who sadly passed away last year, ‘Rescue Me’ sounds like an absolute treat of a story.

You can pre-order ‘Rescue Me’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from 21st January 2021.

Out Of Love By Hazel Hayes

Out Of Love‘Out Of Love’ is the debut book by Hazel Hayes.

As a young woman boxes up her ex-boyfriend’s belongings and prepares to see him one last time, she wonders where it all went wrong, and whether it was ever right to begin with. Burdened with a broken heart, she asks herself the age-old question . . . is love really worth it?

On Sunday morning, I curled up on my sofa and started this book and found it impossible to put down. A touching and honest reflection and observation on the breakdown of a relationship and how it all can go tragically wrong.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of the protagonist of the story, who’s never named at the exact moment that her ex boyfriend returns to their house to pick up his stuff. It’s whilst this happens that the story then deals with the aftermath of the relationship as well as as travelling back in time to key moments in the couple’s relationship.

For me, this book really struck a chord. It literally felt like Hazel has delved into my mind and written about my own relationships and insecurities. I connected with the character on such a level that I hasn’t happened to me for a long time with an author. The loved the protagonist in this story, she’s flawed, unsure but embraces all of it with wit and warmth that made for gripping reading. It was atmospheric from the first page and the vivid descriptions of nights out in Dublin literally leapt off the pages at me. I too, have experienced the cattle market that is Coppers and Hazel’s description of it described it perfectly, I only wish I had known about this third hand when I visited.

Beautifully written, the story is observant and reflective piece on the breakdown of a relationship, when the passion and love is replaced by tension and misery and the only option is to let go. ‘Out Of Love’ is a beautiful debut that is On Sunday morning, I curled up on my sofa and started this book and found it impossible to put down. A touching and honest reflection and observation on the breakdown of a relationship and how it all can go tragically wrong.

The story is seen solely through the narrative of the protagonist of the story, who’s never named at the exact moment that her ex boyfriend returns to their house to pick up his stuff. It’s whilst this happens that the story then deals with the aftermath of the relationship as well as as travelling back in time to key moments in the couple’s relationship.

For me, this book really struck a chord. It literally felt like Hazel has delved into my mind and written about my own relationships and insecurities. I connected with the character on such a level that I hasn’t happened to me for a long time with an author. The loved the protagonist in this story, she’s flawed, unsure but embraces all of it with wit and warmth that made for gripping reading. As the story delves into her past, we are confronted with her struggles with abuse and mental health and how she has become the strong woman that she is now. It was atmospheric from the first page and the vivid descriptions of nights out in Dublin literally leapt off the pages at me. I too, have experienced the cattle market that is Coppers and Hazel’s description of it described it perfectly, I only wish I had known about this third hand when I visited.

Beautifully written, the story is observant and reflective piece on the breakdown of a relationship, when the passion and love is replaced by tension and misery and the only option is to let go. ‘Out Of Love’ is a beautiful debut that is witty and warm tale that had me laugh at the Irish charm and cry at the brutal honesty.

You can buy ‘Out Of Love’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Never Saw You Coming By Hayley Doyle

Never Saw You Coming‘Never Saw You Coming’ is the latest book by Hayley Doyle.

Zara Khoury believes in love – so much so that she flies from Dubai to Liverpool to be with a man she barely knows. It’s a risk, but she’s certain that uprooting her life for Nick is the new start she needs.Jim Glover is stuck. Since his Dad died, he’s put his dreams aside and stayed at home in Liverpool to care for his mum. Trapped in a dead-end job, he’s going nowhere – that is, until he gets a phone call that just might change his life. Zara and Jim aren’t supposed to meet. But then fate steps in, and when their worlds – and cars! – collide, the real journey begins.

When Zara packs up her bags for Liverpool to declare her love for the man who rescued her one night in Dubai, the last thing she expected was to find it was all the lie. Heartbroken, she heads for the next flight home with her tail between her legs only to crash into the BMW that Jim had just won and was planning to sell it to buy tickets to Florida for his mother to see her grandchildren. Now with a broken heart and car, Jim offers to take Zara for her flights with some unexpected drama along the way.

This is the perfect story to read if you’re a fan of romantic comedies, it’s quirky and fun and makes for light hearted reading during this dark time.

Both characters are lovely, but I particularly liked Jim, he’s sensitive, kind and has a lovely relationship with his mother. I felt genuine pain when his plan fell apart and was almost angry with Zara for being oblivious to what she had done. Zara’s an interesting character, she’s confident and quite self absorbed, unaware of the chaos the she leaves behind. Off the pair of them, I would wholeheartedly prefer to be stuck in a car with Jim than Zara.

The book is written wittily as the pair of them bounce of each other and their banter is quite to witness, as they discover things about each other along the way.

The story is written from the perspective of both characters giving an insight into each other’s thoughts and opinions of each other, which was a nice addition to the story.

A story about a chance and when two lives collide, ‘Never Saw You Coming’ is a fun and easy debut about love, friendship and how some things are meant to be.

You can buy ‘Never Saw You Coming’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.