blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Silent Stars Go By – Sally Nicholls*

Seventeen-year-old Margot Allan was a respectable vicar’s daughter and madly in love with her fiancé Harry. But when Harry was reported Missing in Action from the Western Front, and Margot realised she was expecting his child, there was only one solution she and her family could think of in order to keep that respectability. She gave up James, her baby son, to be adopted by her parents and brought up as her younger brother.
Now two years later the whole family is gathering at the vicarage for Christmas. It’s heartbreaking for Margot being so close to James but unable to tell him who he really is. But on top of that, Harry is also back in the village. Released from captivity in Germany and recuperated from illness, he’s come home and wants answers. Why has Margot seemingly broken off their engagement and not replied to his letters? Margot knows she owes him an explanation. But can she really tell him the truth about James?My thoughts:This is a lovely, bittersweet story of young love, war, family, hope and redemption. Having given her son James to be raised by her parents as theirs, Margot’s heart is breaking. Her fiancé Harry has somehow survived the war, despite being reported as missing, and now she must decide whether to tell him the truth about James.Margot returns home for Christmas, seeing James happily ensconced as the baby of the family and coming face to face with Harry for the first time.She wrestles with her decision, spends time with her siblings, parents and friends, trying to decide what the right thing to do is.This was a truly lovely book, the story was moving and a little heartbreaking, it was also educational – I didn’t know adoption was legal until the 1926 Adoption Act – and the thought of all those young women forced into giving away their babies before then were wronged.Although James is one of the lucky ones, his grandparents love him and treat him as they do the rest of their children, which makes Margot worry even more – will this destroy his happiness, if she and Harry married and took him with them?I was gifted a copy of this book by the publisher and if you’d like to see the special edition I received, I’ve shared it over on Instagram.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: One Kiss Before Christmas – Emma Jackson*

A romantic festive read from the author of A Mistletoe Miracle, guaranteed to warm your heart this Christmas!

Could it be the start of her happy ever after?
Ashleigh could use a little Christmas magic. She’s still living in Brighton with her Nan — who could
give the Grinch lessons in how to be miserable — her acting career has been reduced to playing one
of Santa’s elves, and not even the prospect of a friend’s winter wedding can cheer her up…

That is until Olivier, the gorgeous French chef, reappears in her life. Or more accurately, next door.
When they were teenagers, Olivier would spend every other Christmas with his mother, who just happens to be Ash’s neighbour and owner of the best chocolate shop in England.
If anyone can bring a little sparkle back to Ash’s life, it’s Olivier. All she needs is one kiss before Christmas…

Feel-good and festive, this is the perfect romance to curl up with this winter!

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Author of the Best Selling A MISTLETOE MIRACLE and contender for the Joan Hessayon Award 2020, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. Her latest romantic
comedy, SUMMER IN THE CITY, was released in June 2020.

Emma also writes historical and fantasy fiction as Emma S Jackson. THE DEVIL’S BRIDE was published
by DarkStroke in February 2020.You can find out news about Emma via her website, by signing up to her newsletter.

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My thoughts:

A lovely festive romance, complete with ice skating, elves and lots of chocolate.

Ash’s acting career has stalled and this Christmas she is once again playing Santa’s Helper, while struggling to get into the spirit. Until dashing French pastry chef Olivier comes to spend the festive season with his mum, right next door! Cue hearts and Hollywood montages.

Basically this is adorable, and also funny, with a grumpy Grandma, an over-affectionate dog, a lovely pair of gay best friends, a wedding, fairy lights galore and a Happily Ever After.

Perfect for reading under a blanket while the wind howls outside, just have the chocolate handy as this book makes you hungry!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: One More For Christmas – Sarah Morgan*

For sisters Samantha and Ella Mitchell, Christmas is their most precious time of the year—a time for togetherness, love and celebration. Most of all, it’s about making up for everything their childhood Christmases lacked. But this year, they’ll be buying presents for the most unexpected guest of all—their estranged mother. It’s been five years since they last saw each other. But when their mother calls out of the blue and promises that this Christmas will be different, Samantha and Ella cautiously agree to spend it all together…

Gayle Mitchell is at the top of her career, but her success has come at a price—her relationship with her daughters. She never seemed to say or do the right things. Her tough-love approach was designed to make them stronger, but instead managed to push them away…until a brush with her own mortality forces Gayle to make amends. As the snowflakes fall on their first family celebration in years, the Mitchell women must learn that sometimes facing up to the past is all you need to heal your heart…

My thoughts:

Sarah Morgan’s Christmas books are like a lovely hug, warm and friendly and they make you toasty inside. This is no different.

Families are complicated, difficult and Christmas can exacerbate all the things we hate about ourselves and our relatives.

Samantha and Ella have essentially no relationship to their work focused mother Gayle, but an accident brings them back together and soon they’re off to Scotland to spend Christmas in a remote manor house with the owners, a possible new experience for Samantha’s bespoke holiday company.

There’s a lot the three women need to talk about and a lot they need to deal with if they’re to rebuild their relationship, and being stuck in the snowy Highlands is perfect for long talks by the fire and healing.

This is a delightful book, enlivened by the presence of four year old Tab, reindeer and a spot of romance. Plus some delicious home cooked meals.

It really does have a cheering effect and makes the grey and miserable day melt away and leaves you feeling all cosy inside.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Winter Garden – Heidi Swann*

Freya Fuller is estranged from her parents and has been following her childhood dream of becoming a gardener ever since.When an opportunity to design a winter garden opens up at a Victorian property in Nightingale Square, Freya jumps at the chance to make a fresh start.But while the majority of the residents are welcoming, local artist Finn seems determined to shut her out, and when Freya’s family make a surprise appearance, it seems that her new life is about to come crashing down . . .

My thoughts:

I am utterly useless with plants and can just about keep a cactus alive but I do enjoy a beautiful garden and I could easily picture the stunning one Freya creates in this delightful book.

Perfect for curling up and getting cosy with this winter, the love story between Freya and Finn, the lovely little Nell, the kind and welcoming locals, the healing of nature, the crafts and creations people make, it all adds up to a really pleasurable read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Ticklemore Christmas Toy Shop – Liz Davies*

You’re never too old to fall in love…

There is a disturbance in the force and octogenarian Hattie Jenkins can feel it in her water. Still active and spritely, she guesses that the miserable-looking gentleman sitting morosely in the café where she works, might be the reason.

Widowed Alfred Miller has recently moved in with his daughter because she is worried that he’s becoming too frail and forgetful to look after himself. And he’s not in the least bit happy about it, especially since his home is soon be cleared and sold.

But when he enlists Hattie’s help to save some of his precious belongings, he doesn’t realise that Hattie’s mission is to save more than a few sticks of furniture. She’s on a mission to save him, too.

Amazon UK
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Liz Davies writes feel-good, light-hearted stories with a hefty dose of romance, a smattering of humour, and a great deal of love.
She’s married to her best friend, has one grown-up daughter, and when she isn’t scribbling away in the notepad she carries with her everywhere (just in case inspiration strikes), you’ll find her searching for that perfect pair of shoes. She loves to cook but isn’t very good at it, and loves to eat – she’s much better at that! Liz also enjoys walking (preferably on the flat), cycling (also on the flat), and lots of sitting around in the garden on warm, sunny days.
She currently lives with her family in Wales, but would ideally love to buy a camper can and travel the world in it.

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My thoughts:

This was a lovely, warm, feelgood story, definitely one for the festive season, all snuggled up in the house while the winter freezes outside.

Proving love is for every age are Alfred and Hattie, neither are young but don’t count them out yet. Hattie works in the café and that’s where she meets Alfred, a widower recently come to live with his daughter and her husband.

He’s lonely and a bit lost, but meeting Hattie helps give him a new lease of life and together they set up a special shop to sell Alfred’s handmade toys and raise money for charity.

The community rallies around them to help get it going and Alfred’s sadness lifts.

Like a warm mug of hot chocolate or a good hug, this book is just the right amount of sweet and cheering. Put it on your Advent reading list.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: The Bad Mother’s Christmas – Suzy K Quinn

Juliette and Alex are finally getting hitched, which should be joyous news. But Juliette is now entering `blended family’ territory: Alex will be Daisy’s stepfather – and Daisy’s real father is not happy about it. Yes, after messing up Juliette’s family the first time round, Nick is still trying to elbow his way back into her life, doing everything he can to stop her being with Alex. And Alex’s family are hardly rolling out the red carpet. To them, their new daughter-in-law is a slattern with a Jaffa Cake addiction. But Christmas is the thing that will bring them all together. And Juliette is determined that this Christmas will be a wonderfully happy family affair. Determined. Now where did she put that Jaffa Cake? The fourth in Suzy K Quinn’s bestselling Bad Mother series is a sparkly, shiny Christmas romantic comedy for mothers, and the perfect Yuletide treat.

My thoughts:

This is laugh out loud hilarious, I haven’t read the previous books in this series, and to be honest I don’t think it’s essential to do so. I was kindly gifted this book to read and review, but I think I would have picked it up anyway as it’s so entertaining.

The book feels like one of those sitcoms you find on Netflix that just cracks you up every time you watch an episode. I had to try really hard not to wake my husband while I was reading this in bed, purely as it was cracking me up so much.

There are some more touching, sad parts too, balancing the plot quite nicely. The supporting characters are well developed, even though it’s written as a diary, and you see everyone through Juliette’s lens. Her family in particular are great fun, and I would love a book just about them all running their pub.

If you’re looking for a light-hearted, entertaining read for the holiday season, this one is fantastic – just make sure you put your mug down first so you don’t spill while laughing!!

art, Christmas, gift guide, reviews

Under the Tree: Print Panoramics

Another day, another excellent option for your Christmas shopping.

Print Panoramics are a cool online company that help you create amazing prints from your photos – something that would make a fantastic gift for a loved one.

You pick the size, style and type of print, upload your image and the team will print it for you, ensuring it looks the best.

The team at Print Panoramics have kindly offered my readers a 15% discount, valid until 31/12/2018 (UK only, includes shipping, minimum spend £50). Enter code MADSPP15

You can also follow Print Panoramics on Instagram and see some of their great images.

art, Christmas, reviews

Under the Tree: personalised art from Karishma, London Life Drawing Girl

Today’s gift idea is a bit different and something that could be ideal for an art loving friend or family member.

I’ll let Karishma, aka London Life Drawing Girl introduce herself;

“Hi, I’m Karishma, a 26 year old, London based artist. I love to draw and paint buildings and skylines around the world. These can be anything from a favourite city, a special building, or home. I work in the city by day and sketch in my spare time.”

If you want to buy someone an amazing hand drawn image of their favourite London landmark or somewhere that means something special then head to her website and order via the form or by email.

And Karishma has kindly offered all my followers a Christmas order discount – just add code MADS for a cool 10% off one of her drawings.

You can also follow Karishma and see some more of her amazing art on social media, Twitter, Instagram

Christmas, gift guide, reviews

Under the Tree: Prestige Hampers

A festive classic, the hamper is a great gift when you’re not sure what to get someone or need to send a gift well packaged.

Prestige Hampers are based in Yorkshire and offer a wide range so you can pick the perfect hamper for your chosen recipient.

This particular number has a great selection of sweet and savoury treats, guaranteed to give the lucky receiver a delicious Christmas.

I remember as a kid my dad used to buy hampers for clients at Christmas, a little way to say thank you for their support and custom. I always wanted someone to send me one as they seemed exciting and fun.

You can follow Prestige on social media too. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

beauty, Christmas, cruelty free, lifestyle, make up, skincare

A Very Soap & Glory Christmas…

This Christmas I didn’t do too well on the beauty gifts but I did receive a lot of Soap & Glory gift sets, which after missing out on their Advent Calendar, was pretty nice. 2018 I’m going to be squeaky clean. 

The Hello Soaper Spa set was probably the most wasteful in terms of packaging with a cardboard cover over a plastic, non-recyclable, tray inside. It contained Sexy Mother Pucker lip gloss, Face Soap & Clarity Vitamin C face wash, The Righteous Butter body wash, The Scrub of Your Life body buffer, The Righteous Butter body butter & Sugar Crush body wash. 

Glow Ball is housed in a round tin, that if you had an enormous tree could be a bauble. It was a bit tricky to open and I had to get C to help me. Inside was a shower puff, Smoothie Star Breakfast Star body polish, Smoothie Star body buttercream, Hand Food hand cream & Rich and Foamous body wash. 

The Lime of Your Life is also in a reusable tin, full of travel sized goodies. Sugar Crush body wash, Clean On Me and Rich & Foamous body wash pods, Sugar Crush body scrub, Sugar Crush body buttercream and Hand Food hand cream. 

 
Spa of Wonder is a reinforced cardboard hamper with a clever holographic lid. Inside it is absolutely packed full of Soap & Glory. Bright & Beautiful mask, The Scrub of Your Life body scrub, The Righteous Butter 3-in-1 body wash, Clean On Me shower gel, Smoothie Star body milk, Thick & Fast mascara, Sexy Mother Pucker lip gloss, Supercat liquid eyeliner, The Righteous Butter body butter, Face Soap & Clarity Vitamin C face wash. You might be thinking, good grief that’s a lot of shower gels but they will all get used. I love a nice hot shower with a moisturizing skin friendly body wash. 

The only product that won’t get used is the two lip glosses – something in them triggers an allergic reaction. 

Soap & Glory is a cruelty free brand so that’s an added bonus and I have it on good authority (aka I asked them) that the microbeads in the face wash are biodegradable and don’t cause any harm to the environment. 

If you know me irl then I recommend going to Boots and sniffing a few products so you will know 2018’s signature scent – my Soap & Glory Christmas obsession.