This Christmas fall in love with the town of Chesterwood...
Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She's going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.
Fern, and her best friends, call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the mysterious school caretaker, offers his assistance, Fern's heart can't help but skip a beat (or two).
As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit's the first man to touch her heart since she lost her husband, but his past is holding him back.
In this town, Kit's not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Chummy is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina's perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.
Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?
This is a story about kindness and letting go of the past. It's about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day feel like Christmas.
About the author…
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women's fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists' Association romantic comedy award
Awwww what an absolute delight this book was. It was my first festive read of the year and the premise had me hooked from the moment Victoria at Aria Fiction first told me about it. 'A living Calendar" OMG Iso want to organise one!! What's not to love about the Christmas Calendar Girls. It has it all, it truly is a magical, read that had me totally hooked. It pulled at my heart strings and certainly gave me food for thought. It made me question what is important in life, when is it better to give rather than receive, to find acceptance within ourselves, to accept it's sometimes ok to follow your heart rather than your head. To look beyond the obvious, things aren't always what they seem at face value. It was desperately sad in places but counter-balanced with hope, fun and happiness in others. It's about love, friendship, solidarity and support - it's about friends, family and a community coming together to support and help each other. It's about picking your battles, knowing when to fight for what's right or when to acquiesce. It's what would appear at first glance to be a light, easy read and turns out to be anything but - it has depth, the characters and setting providing solid foundations for the story to unfold. It revolves around three friends, their friendship, their families and their community. They come together to support a fund raising event to save a vital public service, the local food bank. The story sees 'The Living Calendar' brought to life and I was giddy with excitement muttering to myself what an amazing idea it was and wondering when and how I could replicate it. It really was brilliant, I loved every aspect of it and dare you not to be touched by this incredible read.
I highly recommend this Christmas Read, it's definitely one readers will be sorry to have missed. Huge thanks for allowing me to be part of the blog tour all at Aria Fiction.
The new psychological thriller from master storyteller, Louise Jensen, will leave you breathless.
Laura is grieving after the sudden death of her husband. Struggling to cope emotionally and financially, Laura is grateful when a local community, Oak Leaf Organics, offer her and her 17-year-old daughter Tilly a home.
But as Laura and Tilly settle into life with their new ‘family,' sinister things begin to happen. When one of the community dies in suspicious circumstances Laura wants to leave but Tilly, enthralled by the charismatic leader, Alex, refuses to go.
Desperately searching for a way to save her daughter, Laura uncovers a horrifying secret but Alex and his family aren’t the only ones with something to hide. Just as Laura has been digging into their past, they’ve been digging into hers and she discovers the terrifying reason they invited her and Tilly in, and why they’ll never let them leave…
About the author…
Louise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead. Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.
Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a dog and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.
It's my stop on the blog tour for The Family by Louise Jensen. Grateful thanks to Jess at HQ Stories for my copy. I was hugely excited when I heard Louise had written another book, I have devoured every book she has written and with each the tempo, pace and bar is raised. She has immense talent, an author that sucks you right into the heart of the story from page 1.
This book follows the story of Laura and daughter Tilly as they navigate their way through the path of grief, Gavan, husband and father died tragically after falling from the roof of a house he was building. At the same time they are faced with sudden isolation from the rest of the family too, for reasons unknown to them. Almost from the very first chapter I had a nervousness low in the belly, a grey, miserable feeling of dread that hung like a cloud over me. Laura is struggling to cope both emotionally and financially and is trying to hold it together for Tilly. Tilly is finding herself without friends and ostracised at school by her friends and both try to keep their hurt and grief from each other.
There are hints and insinuations that Gavan, Lauras husband didn't die as a result of an accident and the insurance company are withholding payment of his life insurance whilst it is investigated. The family are at rock bottom and broken. Laura is about to lose the roof over their heads and has no idea what she is going to do, how they will survive, where they will live. She is thrown a lifeline in the form of Alex and Oak Leaf Organics - Saffron came to Laura's rescue one day after she fell ill and they became friends, she told her she should visit the farm, that she'd be made welcome whilst she gathered her thoughts and planned a strategy for the months ahead.
Laura reluctantly accepts the lifeline, she has no choice, things couldn't get any worse. Family have turned their back on her and she is desperate. As her car rattled up the potholed, lane to the secluded farm I was internally repeating don't do this, turn around, don't go in. The atmosphere as I read felt tight and claustrophobic I had the most uneasy feeling and my senses were on full alert.
The farm turned out to be a commune of sorts that was a refuge to several others - they were welcoming and caring and welcomed Laura and Tilly into their fold. So why did it feel so wrong, why did I feel anxious and had a gut feeling that screamed things weren't quite right? Laura and Tilly were at rock bottom, they'd lost everything and gave off a sense of empty hopelessness. Saffron, Alex & commune should be their saviour but oh boy, I so wished she'd had second thoughts. Oak Leaf Organics turned out to be both heaven and hell as both Tilly and Laura got sucked into the life there and were pulled in different directions. I didn't trust anyone.
The more I read, the more I couldn't shake the sick feeling of dread that rose from low in the heart of my stomach. I had that feeling that makes you want to stop reading or start reading in equal measures. Too scared to know what’s behind the story yet a burning need to know what comes next. This was a book that haunted me whilst I read it and haunted me when I finished it. Nobody is who they seem, everyone has a back story and a hidden agenda, with individual stories so separate yet joined like the links on a bracelet.
Louise Jensen is a firm go to author of mine, an author that I would buy and read without having read anything about the story. Louise thank you for yet another page turning thriller that hooked me in and gripped me so tightly I felt captive, breathless and broken as I walked in the footsteps of Laura and Tilly. An outstanding read that will stay with me forever, a read I have already recommended to so many friends, thank you.
This utterly addictive new novel from bestselling author Holly Martin will make you smile until your cheeks hurt, sob tears of pure joy and fall head over heels in love with a totally unforgettable romance…
Isla Rosewood is creating a new life for herself and her sweet nephew Elliot in their cosy, yellow-brick family cottage, brimming with special memories. Living in Sandcastle Bay was never part of Isla’s plan but, after her brother Matthew’s tragic accident, her whole world changed as she unexpectedly became a mother to the little boy she adores so much.
Leo Jackson was always known as Matthew’s fun-loving and wild best friend. But now Matthew is gone, it’s time to put his colourful past behind him. His role as Elliot’s godfather is the most important thing to him. And even though Leo and Isla are two very different people, they both want to give Elliot the childhood he deserves.
As the three of them enjoy time together watching fireworks, baking cakes and collecting conkers, Isla begins to see a softer side to charming Leo, with his twinkling eyes and mischievous sense of humour. And, despite herself, she begins to fall for him.
But does Leo feel the same way? Isla knows their situation is complicated but is it too complicated for true love… or will the year end with a happy new beginning for them all?
A glorious, feel-good romance that will make you want to snuggle up under a warm blanket with a hot chocolate and the one you love. If you enjoy reading Sarah Morgan, Jenny Oliver and Lucy Diamond this book is for you.
About the author…
Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by an even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.
Holly has been writing for 8 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014. She is the bestselling author of 18 books
I couldn't agree more, this book was utterly gorgeous, Coming Home to Maple Cottage was pure indulgence. Holly martin has the ability to make you lose all track of time and before you know it you've lost the morning and only have 20% left to read so it would be rude not to.
Coming Home to Maple Cottage focuses on Isla, Leo and Elliott. Isla and Leo had a one night stand four years previous, felt a connection but never pursued it - Leo has a reputation for being a bit of a bad boy, a serial womaniser so why would you? They are brought back together when Matthew, Isla's brother, is killed in a car accident and Isla is left with the job of bringing Elliott up, supported by godfather Leo.
This is a story that pulls at your heart strings, Elliott is an absolute dream, I wanted to gather him up and cuddle him - he's confident and happy and his open questions and statements had me guffawing more than once. Leo and Isla have a connection that is clear to everyone around them but to each other - neither is able to make the move. Isla doesn't know whether her feelings are reciprocated and Leo has such a bad reputation he doesn't want to tarnish her with it.
Holly intricately weaves their lives around each other, their family and friends want them to get together but the town is against it. I so was in their corner, cheering them on from the side lines, smiling and laughing out loud. Holly Martin writes some of the best one liners ever and the way she fed them through the mouths of babes made for a hilarious read at times. Add to the mix Leo's aunt Agatha, a character that is so unlike any elderly aunt I've ever met. She's wacky, outspoken and openly discusses and advises Leo and his brothers on bedroom activities that she thinks they should pursue in front of the whole town, she's taken the idea of an agony aunt to a whole new level.
This was one of the most touching books that Holly has written, softening the edges with humour, funny and embarrassing moments to lighten the more serious content. I loved every single page and can't wait for the next instalment.
‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes... Something is wrong.’
Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.
Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her...
From the no. 1 bestselling author of The Sister, The Gift and The Surrogate, The Date is a gripping page-turner that will keep you awake until the early hours. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train and Before I Go To Sleep.
About the author…
Louise Jensen is a Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate. To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.
Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at www.louisejensen.co.uk, where she regularly blogs flash fiction and writing tips.
I was given an ecopy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Bookouture, Louise Jenson publishers. This is something I am more than happy to do.
Where do I start with The Date, it was a tense, gripping read right from the very first page. I read this whilst sitting by the pool in Sicily and what a good job, the sweat was literally pouring off my forehead with fear as opposed to sweat from the heat - nobody could tell I was a gibbering wreck reading this.
I loved every single word of The Date it was incredible. Louise Jenson has stepped up to the plate and knocked the ball right out of the park with this one. It was like reading a living nightmare - I had heart palpitations and read quicker and quicker to get to the bottom of the story, wanting to save Ali from the living torture she was enduring.
Imagine waking up with the worst hangover imaginable, not knowing where you are, how you got there or physically able to drag yourself out of bed. When you do you don't recognise the face looking back at you or have any recollection of how you have got to that situation - a totally incredible, unimaginable, gut wrenching situation.
Ali is separated from her husband Matt and is persuaded by her flatmate and friends Chrissy, Jules and James to go on a blind date. She is reluctant - she still wants to be married and is in denial about how she has arrived in this situation - she had a loving, close relationship with husband Matt until his character changed almost overnight - within months he had distanced himself from her and she leaves the marital home to give them both some breathing space.
With each and every book I've read of Louise Jenson the intensity has ramped up another notch, she is one of my firm go to authors that I would read without even reading the blurb - she never fails to disappoint, that is until the last page is turned and I know I have a long wait until I can get my next fix. I can't recommend this book highly enough, huge thanks to both Bookouture for the opportunity to get an early read and to Louise for her writing.
You not that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you'd kill for it?
Be careful what you wish for...
Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up.. Then a chance encounter with Kat's childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.
But Kat and Lisa's history hides dark secrets.
And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.
As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat's perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises she must face her fear of the past to save her family...
From the no. 1 bestselling author of The Sister and The Gift, this is an unputdownable psychological thriller which asks how far we will go to create our perfect family.
About the author…
Louise Jensen always wanted to be Enid Blyton when she grew up, and when that didn’t happen she got a ‘proper’ job instead.
Several years ago an accident left Louise with a disability and she began writing once again, to distract her from her pain and compromised mobility. But writing turned out to be more than just a good distraction. Louise loves creating exciting worlds, dark characters, and twisted plots.
Louise lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, sons, a dog and a rather naughty cat, and also teaches mindfulness.
I was given an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Bookouture - Louise Jenson's publishers. This is something I am more than happy to do.
OMG - just wow. I had read Louise Jenson's previous books The Gift and The Sister and I was expecting wonderful things from her third novel The Surrogate. It met, exceeded and went way beyond my expectations - it is blimmin brilliant.
From almost the first page I was on edge and peeping around the next page. The pages literally crackle with nervous tension that is only heightened at several points in the story. The story flicks back and forth from the present day to a time when both Kat and Nick were growing up. It's very obvious that neither had an easy upbringing or time at school or early steps into adulthood both have history and clearly some excess baggage.
A chance meeting with childhood friend Lisa sees Kat losing her head. Her and Nick are having problems conceiving and the next thing we know Lisa is offering to be a Surrogate. Alarm bells started ringing loudly for me - Kat thoughts were like a ball bouncing from hand to hand - on the one hand she was beyond excited, an answer to their prayers and a chance to make amends for some past mistake, an opportunity to re-kindle a friendship that had broken down - a friendship that had left a gaping hole in her life. On the other hand there is a manic like panic and worry, Kat isn't ready to face her past nor confront her fears and doubts.
I devoured this book chapter by chapter, reading quicker and quicker in my quest to calm my beating heart and to try and mentally steer Kat - both she and Lisa made me feel edgy and anxious. So many times I had an idea of where this story was going only to sit mentally berating myself - I so didn't see that ending coming. A story that was bittersweet, love and hate, friendships, jealousies and lies all conspire in the most unimaginable ways that is both shocking and sad - an outstanding read that I feel I need to read again straight away - to decipher the words and look for the clues that I'm sure must have been there all along.
I can't recommend this book highly enough - utterly and totally compelling and addictive.
Christmas is the season the Gingerbread Café was made for…but owner Lily couldn’t be feeling less merry if she tried. She’s spent another year dreaming of being whisked away on a sleigh-ride for two, but she’s facing festive season alone – again. And, just to give her another reason to feel anything other than candy-cane perky, a new shop across the road has opened… Not only is it selling baked goods, but the owner, with his seriously charming smile, has every girl in town swooning.
But Lily isn’t about to let her business crumble — the Gingerbread Café is the heart of the community, and she’s going to fight for it! This could be the Christmas that maybe, just maybe, all her dreams – even the someone-to-decorate-the-Christmas-tree-with ones – really do come true!
About the author…
Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She's been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance.
Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.
I was asked by the author if I would be interested in reviewing Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe. Yes please!! I love a Christmas book, particularly as this weekend I've done my first lot of Christmas shopping. I read half of the book before I went and half when I came back. It really was a welcome slice of Christmas - that just hit the spot. As with all good short stories the author gave you just enough - leaving you satisfied but wanting a little bit more. Her descriptions were so vivid I felt I knew the characters particularly CeeCee and you can almost taste the cake and Gingerbread coffee - mmmm Can't wait for more from Rebecca. Recommend you read this short story - heartwarming and yummy.