This year has begun with exciting news; I have been given a funded place on the New Writers Scheme with the Romantic Novelists’ Association. I can’t believe it and keep having to read the confirmation email to remind myself it is real. A big goofy grin appeared when I read the membership pack signed by Katie Fforde – yes, the Katie Fforde whose books line my mum-in-laws bookcase after I have read them – the Queen of Romance novels. I do not know who sponsored me, but I am very grateful. This chance feels like a big step in making my writing more than words on my screen and into a reality where others may read them. Last years’ luck of winning NaNoWriMo coaching gave me a confidence kick and a chunk of a WIP which has a romantic thread suitable for the RNA which enabled me to apply. I think the Gratitude Jar I started last week will be full of good memories by the end of 2019.
Nerves have kicked in. I doubt finances or health will allow me to join many events they offer but one event I would love to attend is the writing conference with workshops and talks. Fancy me being in a room of authors, editors and publishers. It is mind-blowing. I have highlighted it on my wish list. I just need the rail companies to sort themselves out, become co-ordinated with their times and change the rules to allow a small scooter on board so I can get there.
Thank you to Fiction Cafe Writers and Viola Bleu for telling me about the scheme.
Time to get writing as I have a novel to finish – gulp and a new adventure to begin.
While scribbling away towards my word count last month, I was lucky to win a signed copy of Erin Green’s book The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm. When it arrived I promised myself I would read it as my reward for surviving NaNoWriMo. December is here and the book has been read so scroll down for my review.
Author: Erin Green
Title: The Magic Magic of Christmas Tree Farm
Release date: 4th September 2018
The scent of pine fills the crisp air as local villagers select their perfect tree. Picking the tree is the easy bit, creating a perfect Christmas is a bit trickier…
Nina has the most magical job in the world, matching customers with their perfect Christmas tree. Working at Christmas Tree Farm is always fun and full of laughter but the weight of past tragedy bears down on her. Her admirer is a great distraction, but is he the right man for her?
Holly is just trying to be a normal teenager, having to deal with the mean girls in her class. But then the most handsome boy at school takes an interest in her. Have all her Christmases come at once?
Angie is trying to bring her family together and save her broken marriage. It’s not something she can force, but it’s the only gift she craves. Will her Christmas wish come true?
It’s the season of goodwill, and at Christmas Tree Farm anything could happen…
Perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Milly Johnson.
Last year I read Erin Green’s book The Christmas Wish, so I had high expectations for this novel. The joy of her last novel was the main reason I entered the competition, the other is signed books have a magic of their own which I love. I was not disappointed and in truth loved this story more. Told in three points of view, it covers three women’s Christmas and each are at different stages of their lives. Nina is in her twenties waiting for the moment she feels true love, Holly in her teens experiencing love for the first time and Angie, a divorcee realising maybe she has lost hers. They are all connected by the goings on at the Christmas Tree farm.
As a character, I felt an instant connection to Nina and Holly. I grew to love them more as the book progressed. Holly for being a rounded considerate teenager with a mature head on her shoulders who would have been a friend when I was her age and Nina for being herself. Unlike some books where the heroine is giddy with love Nina is dealing with grief and the emotions of the upcoming Christmas; she wants love, but it is not her main focus. This makes the whole novel more real, special and the bittersweet nature that runs through it makes it stand apart from many on the shelves this time of year. There are funny moments, sad moments and toe curling ones too. It has it all similar to life. As someone who was disappointed not to get a job as a Christmas elf, the farm is a magical wonderland I would have loved to work at and this setting adds the sprinkle of Christmas into the story.
The only thing I struggled with was Angie. She is well written and as real as the others but I struggled to connect with her selfish views. I could relate to her in many ways but there were moments I wanted to give her a shake or push her into the snow. If she was real, I would want to have a coffee with her to discover more about her psyche so I could decide whether or not I liked her.
Would I recommend?
Yes. This book is more than a festive read it is an exploration of love, family relationships and women. It deals with grief, divorce and first love. Grab yourself a hot chocolate, snuggly socks and curl up in front of the fire and enjoy.
I have recently read two books The Soulweaver by Heidi Catherine and The One by John Marrs. They are different styles, different genres and plots but they have one thing in common – finding your soulmate, the one person who fits and understands you like no other. The One has a scientific approach while The Soulweaver is more spiritual but they are both driven by the human desire to be with and loved by that one special person.
The Soulweaver by Heidi Catharine
This book snuck in on my best reads of 2017 by default because I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy via NetGalley for review. It is now available to buy in paperback and Kindle.
She’s loved and lost him a hundred times across a thousand years. She can’t bear to lose him again. Lin’s dreams are haunted by faces of people she’s never met. Unable to shake the feeling she’s lived before, she’s drawn to Reinier—a stranger whose soul is heartbreakingly familiar from a time gone by. Reinier helps Lin unravel the mystery of her past life as Hannah, a girl who sacrificed herself for her true love, Matthew. As Lin falls hopelessly in love with Reinier, her memories of her life as Hannah sharpen, and she finds herself unable to let go of Matthew. With her heart torn in two, Lin must decide whether she should stand by Reinier’s side or track down Matthew and fight for his love. What she doesn’t know is that her decision will ripple across our troubled planet, affecting far more lives than just her own. Winner of Romance Writers of Australia’s Emerald Pro award, The Soulweaver is a story that will change the way you see the world
I have always had an interest in reincarnation so I was excited to read how Heidi Catherine would weave it into her story. The Soulweaver is well-written spiritual romance with vivid, detailed imagery for scenes that would be hard to imagine otherwise. I was drawn in by the first chapter and hooked as Lin traveled across the world as to seek answers for the memories she has of Hannah’s life. I found it is easy to connect with the main characters Hannah/Lin, Matthew and Reiner which led to some heart-tugging moments It is a book that will stay with me and one I will return to over and over.
The Soulweaver would be perfect for book clubs because it provides lots of material to discuss including characters, beliefs, and experiences. It leads me to want to read more about the topic of reincarnation and would love to have a cup of tea with the Heidi Catherine to hear about her ideas and how she researched this. I am already counting down to her next book The Truthseeker in May 2018.
Would I recommend?
Yes – if you love romance novels with a paranormal, spiritual edge
As a Jenny Colgan fan, I was excited to receive a copy of her latest book to review.
Title The Endless Beach
Author Jenny Colgan
On the quayside next to the Endless Beach sits the Summer Seaside Kitchen. It’s a haven for tourists and locals alike, who all come to eat the freshest local produce on the island and catch up with the gossip. Flora, who runs the cafe, feels safe and content – unless she thinks too hard about her relationship with Joel, her gorgeous but emotionally (and physically) distant boyfriend.
While Flora is in turmoil about her relationship. her best friend Lorna is pining after the local doctor. Saif came to the island as a refugee, having lost all of his family. But he’s about to get some shocking news which will change everything for him.
As cold winter nights shift to long summer days, can Flora find her happy-ever-after with Joel?
On a cold January day, there is nothing quite like a Jenny Colgan book to transport you to another place, in this case, The Endless Beach on the Scottish island of Mure. The scenery is breath-taking and the community is as close-knit as it was in the first book of this series – The Summer Seaside Kitchen. The book focuses on Flora with her bakery and the emotions of falling in love with Joel, her brother Fintan and Saif the island’s GP who is waiting anxiously for news of his family in Syria. Jenny Colgan’s writing has a relaxed, natural flow which drew me instantly into the story and fall in love with Mure all over again. Her collection of characters are always memorable and mainly down to earth. I would have read it in one sitting if it was not for life getting in the way. Instead, I stayed up until the early hours to finish it. For all the ideas I had about where the story was leading, I was not expecting that ending.
It is the perfect book if you love light romantic books for wintery nights curled up near the fire or on a beach on a summer’s day.
As common in her books, Jenny Colgan writes a welcome which I appreciate these as they recap what has gone before which is always handy and I love the recipes inspired by the book at the back. One day, I may even try them.
Thank you, NetGalley and Sphere for an advanced copy.