Title: Secret Santa
Author: Scarlett Bailey
It is but a few days before Poldore’s annual Christmas pageant and Sue’s usual Santa Claus has retired, parked the reindeer and hung up his present sack. Sue has to ensure that the event runs as smoothly as it does every year, not just because she is a control freak and town matriarch but also because the people of Poldore are only just getting over the devastating impact of last year’s inclement weather. On a more personal note, Sue also is trying to hold things together ever since her husband walked out on her a few days earlier. No, she needs to make this year special. She needs a Christmas miracle.
Whilst I did enjoy this short story I felt at a slight disadvantage being that I hadn’t read its predecessor. This is no fault of the authors or should in any way reflect on the short story Secret Santa; the fact that I knew that the characters had previously been written about is because of the conscientious writing of Bailey who introduced all the main players with thoughtful information from their book past. What Bailey has managed to do with this short story is intrigue me enough to want to read the rest of the books in the Poldore series.
Focusing on Secret Santa, this story gave me what the other festive texts have yet to do. It gave me that added bit of Christmas magic. There was a slight element of the unnatural, the unrecorded and whilst I have loved the books that I have read in my festive feature they have all lacked that element of magic that you can really only get away with at Christmas.
I loved how strong willed Sue was, how her determination to look after everyone took precedence over her own life. She seemed to be such a giving person. What I loved more about her though is that we were able to see moments of self doubt and weakness and that she wasn’t too proud to let others help her. Her strength didn’t become a detriment.
I was really impressed by Secret Santa and I am intrigued to read about the rest of the characters. This book should be on your Christmas to be read list. I know the rest of the series has been added to mine.
Secret Santa by Scarlett Bailey (Rowan Coleman) is available now.
You can follow Scarlett Bailey (@ScarlettBailey) on Twitter.
Title: Christmas with Billy and Me
Author: Giovanna Fletcher
Pages: 49 pages
It is Christmas time and Rosefont Hill is feeling festive; especially one lucky resident who is about to get the surprise of their life. Sophie May has been commissioned to arrange a fabulous festive secret proposal – even she doesn’t know who the lucky customer is. All she knows is that it has to be magical and Sophie knows that her little café is the perfect venue for such a romantic gesture.
I really enjoyed reading Christmas with Billy and Me. Here is why. It was like visiting old friends. Having read Billy and Me when it first came out a few years ago I have often thought back on it fondly. It was Giovanna Fletchers debut novel but there was something distinctly loveable about it. The character were very memorable, the heartache, the sadness and also the beautiful love story so it has been so nice to go back and see what has happened to them since then.
What Fletcher has managed to do is avoid writing the cliché. She could have quite easily overloaded us with schmaltz and saccharine sappiness but she didn’t. She took the road less travelled and made a damn fine short story because of it.
What I liked most about the book was how it sort of hinted at more tales of Sophie May and Billy. The open ending made me happy. Come on Miss Fletcher, make your fans happy and write about them again. Please.
Christmas with Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher is available now.
Billy and Me is also available and if you like that book then you should also check out You’re The One That I Want which is also available.
You can follow Giovanna Fletcher on Twitter @MrsGiFletcher
Christmas is all about families, as well it should be. However, the holidays bring with it tension, drama and good old fashioned family secrets.
When Thea’s parents, Anna and Mike, decide that they want one more big family Christmas before they permanently separate they guilt trip the whole family into joining them for a festive holiday in Cornwall. Along with the recently dumped Thea comes her sister Emily along with husband and two children and brother Jimi and his wife and teenage son. Everyone seems to have someone, reminding Thea once and for all that she is thoroughly alone.
Furthermore, the cottage becomes overrun with unexpected guests adding to the pressure and the tension to make this a good Christmas.
Will the family survive?
It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is a heart-warming tale of a slightly broken family. Each character seems to have their own reasons for trying to hold things together. The overly emotional Emily just can’t seem to win, feels like she is failing as a mother and wife whilst constantly finding fault with her husband, his role as father and how her children behave. She snipes at every opportunity and can’t understand why people aren’t as worried about things as she is.
Anna just wants things to be peaceful and has a grace and elegance that tends to offer a happy balance. However, she is no Superwoman and even the most graceful of birds can be knocked off their perch by their soon to be ex-husband’s bit on the side. Then she cannot complain when her toy-boy has unexpectedly shown up for her family Christmas, can she?
Then there is Thea who is nursing something broken inside of her. Yet she seems to spend more time almost sabotaging her own happiness by not seeing the woods for the trees.
These three women make up the protagonist list in It Must Have Been the Mistletoe and each one has a strength that is enviable. They carry the story with their strong personalities and likeableness. Overall, It Must Have Been the Mistletoe is comedic, warm and entertaining. Who among us hasn’t felt the pressure to get Christmas right? What Judy Astley has done is make a Christmas to remember for this family but she has also made a Christmas story worth reading for us humble readers. This is definitely one you want wrapped up under your tree on Christmas day.
It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley is available now.
You can follow Judy Astley on Twitter @Judyastley
At the age of 36 Michelle, chicken packer extraordinaire, did not expect to be living in such a rut. Living in the shadow of her dead sister and pretty much abhorred by her teenage daughter Michelle knows she has to make a change. When she strikes a deal with her rebellious daughter to marry George Clooney her initial reasons were selfish – to stop her daughter Josie from sleeping with sweaty not-good-enough-for-her boyfriend Sean and well to possibly get to marry George Clooney. However, life has a funny way of twisting fate and making you see the bigger picture.
Ok, let me just start by saying two things. Firstly, I loved this story. It was funny, the characters were endearing and it was quite frankly unlike anything I have ever read before. Secondly, the storyline is absurd – people tend to take that word the wrong way. I assure I mean it in only the positive sense. It is such a bonkers, over the top, out of this world idea that it really did only have two ways of going. It would either work completely or it would fall apart hopelessly. Fortunately, for the readers of I Will Marry George Clooney (…By Christmas) and indeed for Tracy Bloom this book definitely falls into the former category.
What I think makes this book so special is that it focuses on the relationship between mother and daughter rather than the love story being the central theme; the uneasy relationship between Michelle and Josie strangely paradoxes the relationship between Michelle and her own mother, Kathleen. Michelle seems t get it from both sides. She cannot fill the shoes of her sister Jane who tragically died and she cannot be the mother that Josie wants her to be. Josie reacts and acts out due to the frustrations of not knowing who she really is and at her mother’s own willing to fade into the background rather than make anything of herself and, like any petulant teenager, makes Michelle feel all the more a bad mother for it by being snarky, disrespectful and disobedient. Kathleen doesn’t make things any easier on Michelle by always putting her down.
Yes, you can’t help but feel sorry for Michelle throughout this book, her confidence is at an all time low and she relies on her friends to remind her how wonderful she is. And truly, Bloom has created a rather marvellous character in Michelle. Bloom also succeeds in reminding her readers that life is short and you should become the hero in your own life story.
I Will Marry George Clooney (…By Christmas) by Tracy Bloom is available now.
You can follow Tracy Bloom on Twitter @TracyBBloom
When Tom wakes up to a note from his girlfriend Hayley saying that she has left but not left him, Tom’s life is thrown into turmoil. With only a small suitcase of her belongings gone, Tom is left in limbo. He tries to carry on as normal but when he hears a strange message on his answer phone from the mysterious Andy mentioning “the place” Tom becomes determined to solve the mystery of Hayley’s departure.
What ensues is a series of wacky misadventures, growing friendships and dare I say it – personal growth.
I have been toying with the idea of reading a book by Danny Wallace for a while. I have purchased a few and they sit on my shelf, tentatively and patiently waiting to be picked up and read. However, it was due to my desire to get my NetGalley percentage up that made me read Who Is Tom Ditto? Sorry Danny.
I’m awfully glad that I did read Who Is Tom Ditto? It is sharp, witty and a little bit bonkers. It is honestly like no book I have ever read before. The storyline came way out of left field. It has also made me a little curious as to whether there actually is a pocket of people who actually do follow people about. I will try to be a lot more aware of folks around me from now on.
Tom, bless him, was just a victim of circumstance. A too trusting guy who was dealt a massive bow by his girlfriend and it was endearing to watch him try to hold his life together and figure out what was going on in his life. The cast of characters around him all added to the story in colourful and interesting ways.
Strangely, even though the book tied everything up neatly at the end – which those of you who read my reviews know is often times my biggest bugbear – I really liked that there were no loose ends in Who Is Tom Ditto? Heroes became heroic and villains got there comeuppance.
One of the highest accolades I can give this book is that I read it in one sitting. I didn’t want to put it down. Danny Wallace has a new fan in Lisa Bentley. I will most definitely be pushing his other fictional work – Charlotte Street – higher up my personal TBR pile.
Who Is Tom Ditto? by Danny Wallace is available now.
You can follow Danny Wallace on Twitter @dannywallace