Wednesday, 2 March 2022

The One - Claire Frost

About the book… 

What happens when you lose the love of your life just three months after you meet him?

Lottie Brown has finally found The One. Leo is everything she’s ever wanted – he’s handsome, kind, funny and totally gets her. Three months into their relationship, Lottie is in love and happier than ever before.

But then Leo tragically dies, and Lottie is left floundering.

As she struggles to stop her life falling apart, Lottie learns more about the man she thought she knew, and starts to question whether Leo really was as perfect as he seemed…

The brand-new heart-breaking novel of love, loss and learning to live again, from the acclaimed author of MARRIED AT FIRST SWIPE. Perfect for fans of Paige Toon, Holly Miller and Rosie Walsh.

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About the author… 

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.

Contact Links: 

Twitter: @FabFROSTY
INSTAGRAM: @therealfabfrosty

My thoughts…

Lottie is the central character in Claire Frosts new novel ‘The One”. Imagine twelve weeks into a relationship that you think is the most perfect relationship ever, your boyfriend suddenly dies!!  It would be absolutely horrific and that’s exactly what happens and how we are introduced to Lottie. 

Lottie is the middle of three sisters and living a life of mediocrity - she sees her life as average  - sandwiched between two sisters that seem to have everything sorted in life.  She thinks she is not as capable or clever as either of them and she doesn’t have the settled relationships they have either.

Her boyfriend Leo only held that title for twelve weeks before he suddenly died - we join Lottie as she has to begin navigating the dark path of grief and tries to overcome the feeling that she has lost her one and only chance of happiness - Leo was ‘the one’ he was perfect in every way and despite their relationship only spanning 12 short weeks she knows they were destined for a lifetime of happiness and she would have been on a par with her sisters and their settled lives.

Her journey sees her examining her relationship with Leo in minutiae, prompted and prodded by her sisters - this was at times extremely difficult to read and Lottie travelled the bumpy path of grief that finds her examining every aspect of her life.  Grief, love, relationships and family all come under the spotlight and assumptions, thoughts and opinions are exposed and sees her reevaluating everything she thought she knew - this made for raw reading, as situations are turned on their head and every aspect of Lotties life is laid bare.

The One is told both in the present and the past, it recounts the short but intense relationship between Lottie and Leo, her relationship with her sisters and her work colleagues. Emotions and feelings are laid bare and honest, open conversations take place. I was cheerleading for Lottie throughout and my own emotions dipped and rose with the pacing of the story. It was at times funny, light and uplifting and at others very sad, raw and heartbreaking.  I thought the author described the dynamics of the three siblings exceptionally well.  Without meaning to, all too often middle children can slip under the radar and Lottie has obviously fitted herself into this role all too easily.  Annie, the older sister on the face of it the strong, direct one - always in control and Em the youngest, more easy going, the relaxed stay at home mum. I loved that we got under the skin of both Laura and Em too and busted a few myths along the way.

Family dynamics are complex and not always what they seem but the fierce lion like loyalty of the sisters coming together to protect their cub ‘Lottie’ was truly beautiful to read about and Lottie got support and a hand of friendship from an unexpected source too - yes, I was willing this fledgling friendship on from the sidelines - who wouldn’t?  All of whom encourage Lottie, give her the support and space to unpack her thoughts and feelings and metaphorically speaking hold her hand as she navigates a new path - this was truly lovely to read, watching her find strength and courage to move her life onwards and upwards.

The One was a book that was sad but ultimately uplifting, it was bolstered by the strength of family and friendship - openness and honesty.  A beautiful story written with tenderness and sensitivity.

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Monday, 7 February 2022

The Start of Something - Miranda Dickinson

About the book… 

Two lonely people.
One note in the window.
And what happens when they reach out…

Lachlan Wallace is stuck at home after a car accident stalled his army career. With months of physiotherapy still to endure and only his rescue dog and cat for company, he’s taken to gazing out of the window, watching the world spin on without him. And then he notices a vase of flowers on the windowsill of the apartment opposite his. Drawn to their hope and colour, he decides to reach out and sticks a message in his window…

Bethan Gwynne is a stranger in a new town. Bringing up her son Noah by herself, she is slowly rebuilding her life, but loneliness is one obstacle she has yet to overcome. She’s intrigued by a glimpse of her neighbour in the apartment across from hers – and then, one evening, she sees a message in his window just for her:


And so begins a love story of two people reaching out, daring to trust a stranger…

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About the author… 

I am a six-times Sunday Times Bestselling author of ten books, have been shortlisted twice for RNA awards (for Novel of the Year in 2010 with Fairytale of New Yorkand again in 2012 for Contemporary Novel of the Year for It Started With a Kiss), have been published in fifteen languages and been a bestseller in four countries, have sold a million books and still can’t believe all of the above has happened to me!

I always wanted to be a writer. My first ambition was to write a book worthy of display on the shelves of wonderful Kingswinford Library (which, at the time, was not much bigger than somebody’s living room, but to wide-eyed five-and-a-half year old me was a palace of dreams). Consequently, my childhood and teens were filled with lots and lots of ‘Chapter Ones’ and grand schemes for amazing stories that would set the world alight (if only I could write more than one chapter of them).

Then someone at sixth form college suggested that writing books was ‘childish’. So I stopped writing. It was a daft thing to do, but for the next ten years I didn’t write, choosing to believe the Sayers of Doom instead of listening to what my heart was telling me to do.

Fast-forward to 2001, when a lovely friend gave me a very old, reconditioned PC (which I was later to immortalise as Old F the coffee machine in my debut novel, Fairytale of New York). There was something about messing about on a computer keyboard that kickstarted ideas in my brain and one day I wrote a paragraph that began: This city is not mine by birthright… Seven years later, after one fatal PC crash, a very embarrassing email to a dodgy ex (who I’d sent the story so far to, asking for him to send me the chapters I’d lost) and a fantastically scary friend called Lindsey who wanted to read more than I had written, that paragraph had become Coffee at Kowalski’s – a novel I uploaded onto which, amazingly, was spotted by an editor at AVON (HarperCollins) and published as Fairytale of New York in 2009.

Fairytale became an instant bestseller, reaching number 8 in the Sunday Times Bestsellers List and staying in the top 10 for five weeks. To date, it has sold over 150,000 copies (I thought it would be awesome if it sold 500, so you can imagine my shock when it passed the 100k mark…)

My next five novels, Welcome to My World, It Started With a Kiss, When I Fall in Love, Take A Look At Me Now and I’ll Take New York have all become top 20 Sunday Times Bestsellers, followed by A Parcel for Anna Browne, Searching for a Silver Lining, Christmas in St Ives (an ebook novella and prequel to Somewhere Beyond the Sea), Somewhere Beyond the Sea and The Day We Meet Again. To date, I have sold over one million books worldwide. I am also the founder of WriteFoxy – offering a whole host of resources for writers at all stages of their writing careers, including inspiration days, online resources, vlogs and more to be announced soon. I’ve been vlogging about writing and my books since 2010 and you can watch them and subscribe to my channel HERE.

One note for you, if you’re a writer: the dream is possible. It happened for me, so it can happen for you. Never stop believing and never stop creating awesome word-worlds for people to wander through. And if you’d like to know more about writing (or anything else), email me at!

Contact Links: 

Follow Miranda's vlog at 
Visit her website: 
Follow Miranda on Twitter: @wurdsmyth, 
On Instagram: @wurdsmyth 
On Facebook: MirandaDickinsonAuthor

My thoughts…

The Start of Something is a story about new beginnings, and fresh starts from a place of zero expectation.

A budding friendship that is triggered by an innocuous question about a vase of flowers. We meet single parent Bethan as she works the clock around painting a flat before moving in with her son Noah and Lachlan who lives in the flat opposite with Ernie & Bert his rescue cat and dog.

Bethan is hoping for a fresh start with Noah and dreams of a better life for her and him. Hoping this new flat will be the catalyst to a better future. Lachlan is obviously recovering from an accident and he comes across as hard and angry. Both have a back story that we have no idea about, both of their characters and actions raise questions.

Both of them have independantly observed each other from a far, each wondering about the other. Bethan had noticed Lachlan’s cat sat basking on the windowsill and a tattooed arm stroking it - this sets off a wonder - she’s intrigued and would like to know the story behind the tattoo’s. Lachlan notices a bunch of flowers in the window of his new neighbour, and decides to post a question in his window asking what they are - what they turn out to be are a catalyst. A catalyst to a journey of self discovery, hurt, anguish and eventually self awareness and friendship. A single note becomes a series of notes and questions. Each one pushing them outside of their comfort zone, forging a bond that’s safe and secure - each safe in their own flat.

This was such a beautiful read, both Bethan and Lachlan's hearts and lives were so tangled in their own back stories, both were complex, heart rendering and sad. I was cheerleading from the sidelines, urging them on to gain courage and confidence, to build a proper friendship based on trust. They proved their own worst enemy time and again, the inner voices in their heads beating a tattoo that didn’t match the actual spoken words. Each translating the words they heard into a totally different meaning. For every step forward they took, they seemed to tumble two back. Self esteem, self believe and trust for both of them were fragile and shattered.

But, Miranda Dickinson sprinkled her magic, and as emotional as it was at times it was just beautiful to be a fly on the wall and watch as they each grew in strength and character - each fighting their own demons, needing to heal and grow before being able to cement a friendship on an equal footing.

As much as this was a heartfelt, at times emotional read, the back stories raw it was also hopeful and uplifting at the same time. There was shining moments to counter the darker moments. As the story ended it wasn’t just Beth and Lachlan that had gone full circle, each stronger and happier, I too was left with a lighter heart and a smile on my face. Thank you, Miranda for yet another beautiful story centred around real life, open, honest characters, trust, love and friendship delivered in your usual sensitive, kind, straight-forward style - just perfect - I loved every single page.

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Saturday, 8 January 2022

The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures - Holly Hepburn

About the book… 

*The brand new novel from Holly Hepburn, perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Katie Fforde.**
Originally published in four parts this is the full story in one package.

When Hope loses her husband, she fears her happiest days are behind her. With her only connection to London broken, she moves home to York to be near her family and to begin to build a new life.

Taking a job at the antique shop she has always admired, she finds herself crossing paths with two very different men. Will, who has recently become the guardian to his niece after the tragic death of her parents. And Ciaran, who she enlists to help solve the mystery of an Egyptian antique. Two men who represent two different happy endings.

But can she trust herself to choose the right man? And will that bring her everything she really needs?

Buy Links: 

About the author… 

I’ve wanted to write books for adults for as long as I can remember but I was too scared to try. One day I decided to be brave and dipped a toe into the bubble bath of romantic comedy with my first novella, Cupidity, and I’ve never looked back. I often try to be funny to be funny, except for when faced with traffic wardens and border control staff. My favourite thing is making people smile.

I’ve tried many jobs over the years, from barmaid to market researcher and I even had a brief flirtation with modelling. These days I am mostly found writing.

I live near London with my grey tabby cat, Portia. We both have an unhealthy obsession with Marmite.

Contact Links: 

Twitter: @HollyH_Author

My thoughts…

After the biggest reading slump I’ve ever known we entered a new year and I was determined to read a book from start to finish.  My first read of 2022 was The Little Shop of Hidden Treasures by Simon & Schuster author, Holly Hepburn.

Where can I begin, I read it cover to cover over two days and what a belter - it was exactly what I needed to kick start the year and get me reading again!  The story revolves around Hope and The Ever After Emporium, a shop that has intrigued and enchanted Hope since she was a small child.

Hope has moved to York from London to be nearer to her family.  She was devastatingly widowed two years previously before being made redundant - she is lost and directionless, and as a reader she comes comes across as hollow and empty, I could feel her pain, and visualise her face and body language as clearly as if she was stood next to me.  You could tell she really was just going through the motions, nodding in the right place to appease her family, who clearly mean well but don’t really get where she’s at.

When Hope finds herself outside The Ever After Emporium she’s instantly transported back to her childhood, remembering the times she gazed whilst-fully through the window as a child in at an Aladdin’s Cave of eclectic artefacts and treasures.  As I read, I was transported to York - which is my most favourite City to visit by the way, to the Imaginarium a shop that is just exactly the same, an Aladdins Cave of interesting and different objects that you didn’t realise you needed in your life until you saw them in the shop.  I can lose hours in that shop!

Hope found herself applying for a part-time job that was advertised on a card in the window, thinking it would be perfect whilst she got her life back on track, although she did talk herself out of it thinking herself not suitable at one point, before suddenly we find she’s in the shop talking with the owner Mr Young and the next thing employed.  She hoped her family would see this as a positive step forward in rebuilding her life. 

The story centres around a spectacular piece of treasure that has been hidden for 90 years and is discovered by Brodie, the small niece of Will, a local jeweller.  Brodie also loves to visit the store and is as mesmerised by the contents as Holly was and she absolutely melted my heart!

Holly is tasked by her new employer with uncovering the history and true ownership of the treasure Brodie found.  As a reader, I virtually packed my bags and joined Hope on a romantic journey of discovery as we were transported between Egypt and York.  The past and present colliding as we pieced together a jigsaw that did more than pull at my heart strings. A story that was desperate, sad yet hopeful and alive - I just loved it and was totally absorbed. Hope was able to distract herself from her own situation because she was so engrossed in solving the mystery - it came at a time that was exactly right for her and at the same time she started to make some new friends in the other shopkeepers too.  It really was just lovely to see her filling out, moving beyond her initial empty shell like state, growing in confidence and stature and finding herself caught up in romance by not one but two very different men.

This story demonstrates how at certain times in our life, when we’re dealt a poor hand we have a choice. sink or swim, usually your gut instinct is the right one and that it’s ok to accept support and friendship whilst you pick yourself up but should then be given the space to make your own decisions. As in this book, time, quiet and space will usually allow for balanced decisions - none of us benefit from being told what to do. I felt an emotional attachment to Hope and rooted for her throughout, her voice wasn’t loud enough to fight for her self at times, drowned out by the white noise around her but she is a strong character and I willed her to take back control which she does with panache.

An absolutely wonderful read, that is uplifting, heart warming and hopeful. The hurt, intrigue and romance is heartfelt, the friendships strong and watching Hope emerge and fly like a butterfly was just lovely.

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