Friday, 25 November 2016

Christmas With Cathy Bramley

Hello everyone! Last Christmas I hosted a new festive feature "Christmas With..." and it was so popular that I decided to bring it back again in 2016. Once again it's time to get into the Christmas spirit by snuggling up with some Christmassy reads so I am inviting some lovely authors who have Christmas books out this year to come on the blog and have a little chat with us about all things festive!

Today I have Cathy Bramley on the blog talking about her new Christmas novella Comfort & Joy and how she celebrates Christmastime. So grab a hot chocolate, turn on your Christmas playlist and spend Christmas with Cathy Bramley...

1.) What made you decide to return to the Plumberry School of Comfort Food at Christmas? 
I love all the locations of all my books, but there is something about the village of Plumberry and the cookery school that has really stuck with me. The chance to go back and see how all the characters spent their Christmas was too good an opportunity to miss!

2.) How did you get into the festive spirit to write? 
Ha, good question! The weeks I chose to write this book were the hottest we'd seen in England for years! I made a Christmas playlist on Spotify and played it in my office, in the car and even when I was cooking to get in the mood!

3.) If you could spend Christmas with your characters what would you get up to? 
I'd get Tom cooking the dinner, Mags mixing up one of her cocktails and I'd sit down by the fire with Verity for a good old chat!

4.) Which festive food would you most like Verity to whip up for you?
Mince pies! I love mince pies but mine always burst and the mincemeat always bubbles over the lid. Perhaps I'm adding too much brandy to the mix...?

5.) What’s your favourite thing about Christmastime? 
Oh gosh, can I only choose one thing? Okay, well I'd have to say getting together with my family on Christmas Eve, when all the shopping and wrapping has been done and we know we've got a lovely day to look forward to together.

6.) Favourite Christmas movie?
The Holiday. I could honestly watch this on a loop. I love everything about it (except Jack Black - wrong choice)

7.) Favourite Christmas song? 
It used to be 'Last Christmas' by Wham! Now I like to cry buckets at 'Wherever you Are' by the Military Wives Choir

8.) What does Christmas mean to you? 
For me it's a family time, a chance to switch off from normal life and relax and have fun together. I can't wait...

 Comfort & Joy is available to buy as an e-book now.
 Add Comfort & Joy on Goodreads here
 Follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyBramley

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Bookish Christmas Gift Guide 2016

Buying books for book lovers is really hard because we already have ALL OF THE BOOKS! My family notoriously never know what books to buy me for Christmases and Birthdays unless I specifically ask for them because they never know what I already own, some even flat out refuse to buy me any books because I already have "too many" (as if there is such a thing!) So today I wanted to put together a list of alternative bookish gift ideas that aren't books for anyone wanting to buy something for the reader in their lives. There are always so many book blogger Secret Santa's going on at this time of year and the gifts in this guide would make perfect bookish presents with something to offer every reader.


I absolutely love a good bookmark and these handmade Bookbandz have to be some of the prettiest bookmarks out there. The bandz are made to order with different charms and beads to suit any taste. There are some beautiful Christmas charms available at the moment including gingerbread men, Christmas trees, angels and more. The owner Karen can also make bookmarks in the style of your favourite book with a charm of the books cover taking pride of place in the center surrounded by matching beads. For a unique, handmade, bookish gift you really can't go wrong here. The bandz are priced at £5 each or 3 for £12 so they're perfect if you've got a few people to buy for. To see the full range visit Karen here.


If the reader in your life prefers e-readers to psychical books then a gorgeous new e-reader case may be the way to go and Klevercase offers some of the best in my opinion. Their cases are designed to look like books and are made using traditional bookbinding techniques. There is a design to suit any reader although my personal favourite has to be the Book of Spells design inspired by Harry Potter. The cases are made to fit all of the popular e-readers and a really nice touch is that they can be personalized with a message for an extra cost. To see the whole Klevercase range visit them here. Prices vary depending on the e-reader.

Stack of Books Earrings

Another gift that I am absolutely loving are these bookish earrings. I think that they are so cute and make a really lovely gift if you'd like to give the reader in your life something other than books this year. There is so much bookish jewellery out there so it's worth shopping around to find the right style for the person you are buying for but for me personally it doesn't come much cuter than this. The earrings retail at £16.00 and can be bought at The Literary Gift Company.

 Bookish Mug

Another brilliant gift from The Literary Gift Company are their bookish mugs. I've given these as a gift before and they always go down a storm. Again there are many different mugs to choose from in this style ranging from reading, writing, blogging, tweeting etc so you can choose the best fit for the gift recipient. This mug costs £9.95 and is the perfect choice for anyone who doesn't like to be disturbed when they're reading (aka all of us!)

Bookstore Scented Candle

We all have that friend who can not get enough of the smell of books and at last that smell has been captured in candle form so that your room can smell like your favourite bookstore. Frostbeard are an Etsy seller that ship worldwide and some of their candle fragrances include Winterfell, Sherlock's Study and Pemberley Garden's to name a few. This would make the perfect gift for anyone who loves to burn candles whilst reading. To check out the full range visit Frostbeard's Etsy store here.

 Reading Journal

Another option that would be particularly perfect for book bloggers is a reading journal. I've kept a reading journal ever since I started blogging and I would be lost without it. They're a great way of keeping a record of what you've read and are great for jotting down thoughts about a book before reviewing. I particularly like this one from The Literary Gift Company selling at £9.95 I think this would make a nice, thoughtful gift for anyone who likes to keep track of their reading.

 Evie Seo Designs

My biggest recommendation for bookish gifts is for Evie Seo's designs over on Society6. Evie's artwork is so beautiful with a focus on books. Her designs can be printed on to t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, tote bags and pillows to name a few. Her range is extensive covering many different fandoms so if you're struggling to find the perfect gift you are guaranteed to find something here. I recently received the tote bag pictured as a gift and it's such good quality with thick handles and plenty of room inside. I can't see anyone disliking something by Evie and there are so many options depending on your budget. To view the complete range visit Evie here.

 I hope this gift guide helps make your Christmas shopping a little easier 
and that you find the perfect gift for your favourite book lover!

Friday, 18 November 2016

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on the A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas Blog Tour! Today I have a guest post from author Darcie Boleyn on Christmas memories. Enjoy!

Christmas Memories by Darcie Boleyn 
One of my earliest Christmas memories is of making sweet mincemeat with my grandmother. She lived in a small terraced house with a tiny kitchen, so we had to drag her foldable table into the centre of her living room in order to have enough space to work. 

My grandmother, or Granny as I called her, was a tiny lady. I’m only five foot but she was even smaller. She’d been a primary school teacher and a deputy head teacher, but she retired well before I arrived. Despite years of dealing with children under twelve, Granny had more patience than anyone I have ever known.

My Granny had an old-fashioned grinder that she attached to the side of the table and we passed a variety of ingredients through it. It wasn’t easy, as we had to turn the handle and it became tiring after a while, but we kept going until we had a large bowl full of sweet, fragrant minced fruit. She added a generous amount of brandy and spices and the mincemeat was almost ready.

The final product was then spooned into jars that we sealed with wax paper and string and secreted away at the bottom of her pantry (yes – she had a pantry!) for a few months to mature.

The whole process took the best part of a Saturday afternoon but it was really enjoyable. I loved spending time with my Granny and preparing for Christmas in advance; it built up the excitement that led to my magical childhood Christmases. These days, I try to capture similar experiences with my own children and I hope that one day I might be lucky enough to do the same with my grandchildren. Time is so precious and we all lose loved ones at some point, but memories and traditions help keep those we’ve lost alive.

Thanks for this touching post Darcie.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Review for The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer 
Publisher: Bantam Press
Release: November 17th 2016
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"There’s no safety in numbers...

Eve Singer needs death. With her career as a TV crime reporter flagging, she’ll do anything to satisfy her ghoulish audience.

The killer needs death too. He even advertises his macabre public performances, where he hopes to show the whole world the beauty of dying.

When he contacts Eve, she welcomes the chance to be first with the news from every gory scene. Until she realizes that the killer has two obsessions.

One is public murder.

And the other one is her..."

The Beautiful Dead is an impressive crime novel with stunning prose, complex characters and a plot that crackles with tension. I’d heard great things about Belinda Bauer and I was not disappointed in my first read by her. I raced through this book with my heart in my throat and was blown away by its explosive conclusion.

The story follows Eve Singer a woman who has built a life for herself out of death. As a TV crime reporter it’s her job to give her audience the grisly details as a new serial killer emerges during Christmas time. This killer is an exhibitionist who takes pleasure in displaying his victims around London and Eve is unwittingly giving him the audience he craves as she reports each new murder. After all, every showman needs an audience, and so the killer approaches Eve with an irresistible offer: the inside scoop on each murder as it happens, an opportunity that will secure Eve’s uncertain career in a cut throat industry. However, working for the devil comes at a price and this deal might just cost Eve her life.

The Beautiful Dead is less of a whodunit choosing instead to focus on when and where the killer will strike next, as time counts down until the killers next “performance” you can’t turn the pages fast enough knowing that the next murder will be more sinister than the last. The book is told in alternate chapters between Eve, the killer and his next victim keeping the plot slick and fact paced. The chapters where we get into the killers head are particularly menacing as we slowly learn more about him and come to understand the way he thinks.

In many ways this book is more than just a crime novel and also explores themes such as dementia and sexism in the workplace. One of my favourite things about this book was Eve’s bond with her father, the author takes great care in exploring how his illness affects their relationship.

Overall The Beautiful Dead is an incredibly accomplished thriller that stands out as one of the best of 2016. Belinda Bauer has a new fan in me and I’m looking forward to catching up with her other books, if they’re as good as The Beautiful Dead then I’m in for a real treat!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Review for Comfort and Joy by Cathy Bramley

Comfort and Joy by Cathy Bramley 
Publisher: Transworld
Release: October 13th 2016 (ebook only)
Genre: Chick lit, Women's Fiction, Christmas
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"It’s been a busy year for Verity Bloom at the Plumberry School of Comfort Food, but Christmas Eve is finally here. With delicious treats all wrapped up and the ingredients packed away, Verity is looking forward to a relaxing few days with her new boyfriend.

Good food, family and friends – it’s a simple recipe for true comfort and joy, and all Verity’s friends in the village are full of excitement about the holidays too.

But the weather has other plans in store… Relentless rain leads to a power cut that spells disaster for many of Plumberry’s residents. It’s starting to look like this year’s celebrations could be a total washout.

With dreams of a perfect Christmas dashed, will the last of the festive cheer be swept away in the downpour? Or can the cookery school create a Christmas miracle for everyone Verity holds dear?"

I make it a rule to not read any Christmas stories before November but I could not resist diving into Cathy Bramley's festive little number in October!

Comfort and Joy is a Christmas short story featuring the cast from The Plumberry School of Comfort Food a book that I read and loved earlier this year. It was so lovely to catch up with all of my favourite characters and find out where life has taken them since we parted ways.

Our main character Verity Bloom is looking forward to taking a break from the Plumberry School of Comfort Food over the holidays and spending Christmas day snuggled inside with her new boyfriend Tom. But it seems like the weather has other ideas as heavy rain lashes down leading to flooding and power cuts, meaning that for the residents of Plumberry, Christmas is canceled. Can Verity and the Plumberry School of Comfort Food save the day and bring Christmas to an entire village?

I loved every moment reading this book, I wasn't expecting to feel Christmassy so early into the season but this book put me in the festive spirit! I loved the sense of community, kindness and sharing that is explored in this story, all essential ingredients in the true meaning of Christmas. 

Comfort and Joy does exactly what it says on the packaging, whether you're in the mood for Christmas yet or not Cathy Bramley's short story will make you feel cosy and happy bringing a smile to even the most hardened of Scrooges faces.

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