Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Interview with Carole Matthews - Author of With Love at Christmas

I'm delighted to welcome Carole Matthews to the blog today...

Please tell us a little about 'With Love at Christmas'

It’s a story about a chaotic family Christmas - we’ve all had them! The mum, Juliet Joyce, is a Christmas addict and can’t wait for it to come round every year. But this time she has a lot on her plate, her son is unemployed and living back at home as is her daughter, Chloe. She’s pregnant with her second child and has just left her partner. Juliet’s mum, at best eccentric, is behaving ever more erratically and her father is recovering from a heartbreak of his own. She’s doing her very best to hold it all together, but when she discovers texts from a mystery woman on her husband’s phone, she wonders if she’s been neglecting him too much. All she wants is her family to be happy and her home to be filled With Love at Christmas.

 Which character did you most enjoy writing about in the novel?

I think Juliet. She’s the linchpin of the family and always tries to do the right thing while all hell is breaking loose around her. The only constant in Juliet’s life is her dog, Buster! He doesn’t give her any trouble. The whole family were features in an earlier book called That Loving Feeling and I enjoyed that all so much that when it came to do this year’s Christmas book, I thought they would be the perfect people to revisit.

 With Love at Christmas is set around the traditions of the Joyce family. Do you have any specific traditions at Christmas?

My Christmas is full of little rituals that I always look forward to. Like Juliet in With Love at Christmas, I always have a glass of wine and a mince pie when I’m putting up my tree. We’ve also got into the habit of going into our next door neighbour’s house on Christmas morning, which we love. We start the day with a few glasses of fizz and a chat and then I go back to cook my Christmas dinner in a very happy state. We always watch The Muppet Christmas in the run up to the big day too. Once we see Kermit, that’s when Christmas really starts!
 What is your favourite thing about Christmas?

The food! Mince pies are my weakness and now that I write Christmassy books, I have the perfect excuse for eating them from July onwards. Thankfully, the shops are happy to oblige. I do take shortcuts with my Christmas day meal though. No one should spend Christmas morning peeling veg, so I buy everything pre-prepared from Marks and Spencers. A bit more expensive, but so worth it. I also love putting up my tree - so much so that this year we’re going mad and having two trees. I can’t wait.
 What are you working on now?

I’m currently writing my novel for summer 2014. My next book - A Cottage by the Sea - is already delivered and is out at the beginning of the new year. So not long to wait! There’ll also be a Christmas book for next year to keep my readers happy. 

Thanks Carole. Scroll down to read our review of With Love at Christmas.

Review of With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews

With Love at Christmas is a heartwarming novel from one of my favourite authors - Carole Matthews.

It follows the life of Juliet Joyce as she prepares for Christmas. Juliet’s family life is anything but straightforward and seems to be getting more complicated as Christmas draws closer. Her mother’s behaviour is becoming stranger and more erratic by the day. Her father has his own tragedy to deal with and her daughter, Chloe, is expecting her second baby but has moved home without her partner. When Juliet’s husband Rick starts acting strangely she wonders if he has some secrets of his own.

I loved all of the descriptions of getting ready for Christmas and the preparation of buying presents and food. Matthews really brings the Joyce family to life and there are lots of storylines woven into the plot that make an addictive read.

This is another lovely novel from Carole Matthews. There are lots of hilarious moments, but also quite a few heartbreaking ones too. The perfect book to get you in the mood for Christmas!

Thank you to Sphere for sending me a copy to review.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Review of A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams

Set in the village of Hope Christmas, the novel opens as the festive season comes to a close.

Cat, Pippa and Marianne are friends living very different lives. Cat is a cook and tv personality who is trying to juggle her work/life commitments whilst writing a Christmas cookbook. Things take a turn for the worse when her teenage daughter Mel starts acting differently and her mother becomes very ill with alzheimers.
Pippa is a busy mother and farmer's wife with a disabled daughter and two young sons. She finds her life changing dramatically when her husband Dan has a serious accident.
Marianne is mother to young twins and stepmother to Steven. Dealing with family life, Steven's difficult mother Eve and her job as a teacher at the local primary school begins to become very stressful. How will life pan out for these three in the run up to the next Christmas?

A Merry Little Christmas is a thought provoking story focussing on the importance of family and friends. I was completely absorbed from the very first page and I loved the way that Williams gives each of the main characters an equal space in the book. It made me feel that I could really get to know each character.

This is a lovely read with a stunning cover.HIghly recommended, especially in the run up to Christmas.

Thank you to Avon for sending me a copy to review.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Review of Stop the Clock by Alison Mercer

Stop the Clock opens on New Years Eve 1999. As three friends Lucy, Natalie and Tina pose for a photo on the beach they cannot imagine how much their lives will changes over the next decade.

Tina is determined to work her way up the career ladder, Lucy craves a stable family life and Natalie would like to settle down and be happily married with children. How will their lives really turn out ten years later?

I enjoyed the way that Mercer has successfully divided the narrative, so that each of the three main characters have an equal part. It made me feel that I knew each one well and allows the reader to form strong opinions of each person. The characters are so well formed that I think that readers will find one that they feel they can relate to their own lives or circumstances. The storyline is really addictive to read and I did not want to put it down. I would love to read a sequel to this novel to find out what will happen to their lives further into the future.

This is such an amazing debut novel – I can’t wait to read more from Alison Mercer.

Thank you to Transworld for sending me a copy to review