The Cosy Canal Boat Dream by Christie Barlow #Review & Q & A @ChristieJBarlow @HarperImpulse

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Today I’m thrilled to share my review for the delightful The Cosy Canal Boat Dream by the super talented Christie Barlow. Anyone who follows my blog will know I’m a huge crime thriller reader, and there’s only a handful of authors who I’m happy to leave the “dark side” for and Christie Barlow’s one of them.

I got to read this highly entertaining book a few months back and I will say I think it’s Christie Barlow’s best book yet. To find out why you can read my review further down this post.  The Cosy Canal Boat Dream will be published by Harper Impulse on the 22nd of August 2017 and I’ve included pre-order links further down the page. 

But before I share my review with you all I have a fabulous Q & A with Christie Barlow. 

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Hi Christie, I’m so excited to have you on my blog so welcome to The Book Review Café. Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thank you for having me Lorraine! Here’s a little intro! … I’m a 5ft 5in brunette born in the county of Cheshire and now at the ripe old age of 44, I lead nothing but a glamorous lifestyle: ironing, mucking out chickens and chasing after my mad cocker spaniel. I’m a mum to four, wife to one and my writing career came as somewhat of a surprise! Upon hitting my mid-life crisis (but dodging the tattoo and the sports car) after wholly dedicating my life to the care of my children, they asked me what I wanted to do in life while we were discussing their career options. ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book,’ I found myself answering, and so the notion was born. I self-published my first book, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother which became the talk of the town and hit the charts. Within 3 months I’d landed myself an agent, a book deal with Bookouture and recently signed to HarperCollins imprint HarperImpulse.
I’ve written six books to date, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances and The Cosy Canal Boat Dream. I’m currently working on book 7 to be published by HarperImpulse early 2018.

For those readers who haven’t heard of you and your book THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM can you provide us with an introduction?

The Cosy Canal Boat Dream is a roller-coaster of emotions, it begins with a powerful prologue that has already had numerous book bloggers and readers reaching for the tissues.

Here’s the blurb:
Welcome to the Little Rock marina – where hearts are healed and dreams are made…
For the last two years Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…
Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…

Where did the idea for THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM come from?

My new book ‘The Cosy Canal Boat Dream’ is a pretty special one as it will be my first published novel with Harper Impulse! How exciting! Well, and slightly nerve-wracking! That’s normal though, right? For this book, my inspiration was right under my nose – believe it or not! When I say under my nose, I also mean under Woody’s (my cocker-spaniel) nose! Every day prior to the book idea, my sidekick and I would go on a walk around Barton marina which has this beautiful, old picture house and a rather mouth-watering deli. And, if that wasn’t enough, the marina is even a home to multiple craft shops. It didn’t take me long to link Barton marina with the deli and old picture house in a storyline capacity. After all, with such beautiful views, stunning buildings, and wonderful smelling food to drool over; I would be doing the marina a disservice by NOT using it as my inspiration for my new book.

Do you have any strange writing habits or rituals?

I have a life size cut-out of Gary Barlow that keeps me company in my writing room and often I will run plot ideas past him!

What do your family think of your writing?

My family are so proud, they think it’s an amazing job to have and I have to agree with them!

My favourite character in THE COSY CANAL BOAT DREAM is of course Nell Andrews, who was your favourite character to write about?

I LOVED every character in this book, for five months they all became my new best friends but I too admire the wonderful Nell Andrews. Clearly I don’t want to give any parts of the storyline away, but, I can mention what inspired me to shape Nell’s character. You may have seen multiple posts online about women empowerment, yes? When I came to create Nell’s personality, I took my inspiration from women icons such as ‘Jane Eyre,’ the suffragette movement, and the inspirational women who are in my life. When you read the book, you’ll find out more about Nell, her backstory, and what shaped her as a person. Just like my other characters from my previous novels, I aim to build their lives with my own personal experiences in mind, and I feel that it’s important to be able to relate to who I am writing about.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author?

The past three years have been truly amazing in the land of books and that is down to all the lovely readers, bloggers, friends and family. Just by choosing my book to read makes my day, but then when they send me all the kind words, tweets and messages I really have to pinch myself. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be doing the job I love, so thank you!

On the other side, what would say is the most challenging part of writing?

Writing fiction can certainly be a lonely job and ninety-five percent of that time is spent on my own, tapping at the computer with only my mad cocker spaniel for company, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Which of the books you have written is your favourite?

I thought about this for a moment and realised each book I’ve written has shaped the writer I am today. I love each book and every character for many different reasons.

What’s been your biggest pinch me moment to date?

The first pinch me moment was when I was travelling on a train to Birmingham. I was sat in the carriage watching the scenery whiz by when the woman sitting opposite me took out a book from her bag to read. It was my book, Kitty’s Countryside Dream! The second moment was when the publishing editor Charlotte Ledger from Harper Collins knew of my wonderful books and offered me a contract, oh and not forgetting my first book knocked David Walliams off the top spot! And I got to have a chat with him recently about that very moment at the Harper Collins 200th birthday party celebrations. Every day I pinch myself, I really do have the best job in the world.

Are you able to tell me anything about your next book?

I’m just writing my second book for Harper which is due for release early 2018, and all I can divulge at this stage is it begins in New York, and ends in England. There are secrets, hideaways and romance, but always a happy ending!

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Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty’s Countryside Dream, Lizzie’s Christmas Escape, Evie’s Year of Taking Chances and The Cosy Canal Boat Dream. She lives in Staffordshire with her husband, four kids, horses, chickens and a mad cocker spaniel. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA and Australia.

Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with poverish people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being as well as Literary Editor for www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk  bringing you all the latest news and reviews from the book world.

She loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via her website www.christiebarlow.com Twitter @ChristieJBarlow and Facebook page Christie Barlow author

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My review of The Cosy Canal Boat Dream

If you are looking for a book to read that’s not your usual run of the mill Rom Com then look no further, than The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, it’s a highly entertaining read, but it also has so much more to offer, it certainly made for an emotional read so a word of warning have the tissues at the ready! I’m going to say this is definitely Christie Barlow’s best book yet and made for a highly entertaining and emotional read.

Nell Andrew’s appears to have the perfect life she’s living the dream on a boat with the love of her life Ollie, but when he is killed in an accident all Nell’s hopes and dreams for the future are left in tatters. As she struggles to cope with her grief life takes an unexpected turn when an Irishman and a disused cinema come into her life. What follows is a heartwarming tale filled with bittersweet moments. My emotions were all over the place whilst reading this novel, there are so many sensitive and tear jerking scenes in this novel one minute I would find myself laughing uncontrollably and the next minute I would find myself sobbing into a tissue as I reached yet another poignant scene in this charming tale.

What I adore about Christie Barlow’s writing is that she has a knack of bringing her characters to life, friendship and humour play a big part in this novel and you can’t help but become attached to Nell, best friend Bea and the adorable Jacob who despite only being five has a big personality. The author’s characters are so credible and endearing, as usual I was left feeling bereft when I reached the last page of The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, as I’ve said in previous reviews for Christie Barlow’s books I always feel I’m saying “goodbye” to new found friends.

Christie Barlow is able to turn a Rom Com into something much more, yes there’s laughs aplenty, but she also draws on real life issues and writes about them with sensitivity, you can’t help but become involved in each characters story.  In my opinion Christie Barlow is one of the best writers in this genre her books are like a breath of fresh and yes they make me emotional, but ultimately they make for a heartwarming and “feel good” read. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a Rom Com with that extra special something.

Print Length: 272 pages

Publisher: HarperImpulse (22 Aug. 2017)
You can pre-order this fabulous book at : Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

A huge thank you to Christie Barlow for my ARC and for taking the time to answer my questions for the author interview.

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**Weekly Wrap Up**

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Well it looks like Two Books a week is my limit at the moment, so I shall move swiftly on and not bore you with the details 😂😂

Books I read this week

This weeks Book Post

I received these three amazing books in a book bundle from #DeadGoodReadersAwards, have you voted for your favourite books yet? There’s still time you can enter here….http://www.deadgoodbooks.co.uk/dead-good-reader-awards-2017/  winners will be revealed at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate this July.

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Book description

New York Times bestselling author of THE GOOD GIRL, Mary Kubica is back with another exhilarating thriller as a widow’s pursuit of the truth leads her to the darkest corners of the psyche.

“The bad man, Daddy. The bad man is after us.”

Clara Solberg’s world shatters when her husband and their four-year-old daughter are in a car crash, killing Nick while Maisie is remarkably unharmed. The crash is ruled an accident…until the coming days, when Maisie starts having night terrors that make Clara question what really happened on that fateful afternoon.

Tormented by grief and her obsession that Nick’s death was far more than just an accident, Clara is plunged into a desperate hunt for the truth. Who would have wanted Nick dead? And, more important, why? Clara will stop at nothing to find out—and the truth is only the beginning of this twisted tale of secrets and deceit.

Told in the alternating perspectives of Clara’s investigation and Nick’s last months leading up to the crash, master of suspense Mary Kubica weaves her most chilling thriller to date—one that explores the dark recesses of a mind plagued by grief and shows that some secrets might be better left buried.

Books I bought this week

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Book description

Stockholm syndrome: the psychological tendency of a hostage to bond with his or her captor.

Beth Sutton is eighteen years old when Dominic Perdue abducts her. Held prisoner in a basement, she’s dependent upon him for food, clothes, her very existence. As the months pass, her hatred for him changes to compassion. Beth never allows herself to forget, however, that her captor has killed another woman. She has evidence to prove it, not to mention Dominic’s own admission of murder.

Then Beth escapes…

And discovers Dominic Perdue is not a man who lets go easily. Meanwhile, despite being reunited with her family, she spirals into self-destructive behaviour. Release from her prison isn’t enough, it seems. Can Beth also break free from the clutches of Stockholm syndrome?

A study of emotional dependency, The Second Captive examines how love can assume strange guises.

 Last week on the book review café

**Blog Tour** The Other Twin by L V Hay #GuestPost @LucyVHayAuthor @OrendaBooks | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/07/06/blog-tour-the-other-twin-by-l-v-hay-guestpost-lucyvhayauthor-orendabooks/

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel #Bookreview @HALeuschel | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/07/04/manipulated-lives-by-h-a-leuschel-bookreview-haleuschel/

**Blog Tour** Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear #GuestPost (@CazziF) @BonnierZaffre | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/07/03/blog-tour-sweet-little-lies-by-caz-frear-guestpost-cazzif-bonnierzaffre/

**Weekly Wrap Up** | The Book Review Café
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/07/02/weekly-wrap-up-33/

Next week on the book review café

Final Girls by Riley Sager #Bookreview

Those That Remain by Rob Ashman

Mid year freak out book tag

#TopFiveThursday is back and you don’t want to miss this one, it features one of my favourite #BookBloggers,  but for now my lips are sealed🤐🤐🤐🤐

News from the book review café

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I can finally share my fantastic news with you all, anyone who follows my weekly wrap up post’s will know a month or so ago I was privileged to read a “top secret” Arc, as some of you may have noticed it was The Cosy Canal Boat Dream by the awesome Christie Barlow. As followers of my blog will know I would say 90% (ok 99.9%) of the books I read and review are crime or psychological thrillers,  but every time I leave “the dark side” it usually involves the very talented Christie Barlow.

I won’t be sharing my review just yet as ***squeals with delight*** my review will be published in September’s edition of Mama Life Magazine http://www.mamalifemagazine.co.uk. I can’t believe I’ve been given the opportunity to actually write a review for a magazine,  and although I’m thrilled I’m also very nervous, self doubt rears it’s ugly head as usual! I can’t help thinking readers of the magazine will hate it 🙈

And on a finally note I would highly recommend The Cosy Canal Boat Dream I think it’s Christie Barlow’s best book yet, her writing goes from strength to strength……. and a word of warning have the “tissues at the ready” And here’s another teaser for you all………

**Weekly Wrap Up**

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Oh dear oh dear! I have only managed one book this week, the good news…. my neck is much better so I’m back to work, but the bad news is it means I have little time to read. So after much consideration I’ve come up with a solution which will hopefully give me more time to read, no im not retiring! I’ve decided I spend too much time browsing social media so for one day a week I’m not going to log in to Twitter, Facebook etc or share posts. I love to support fellow bloggers but some evenings I spend much of the evening sharing posts, RT, liking, and commenting. I’m  sure every blogger on the planet knows what I mean here, so I’m going to use this one day a week to use as reading time only. I’m sure I will be itching to turn on my IPad but I’m going to give it a go. I’m not scheduling any posts next Tuesday so if you see me pop up on social media I’ve failed miserably 😂

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what I read this week

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Book description

Babs had all the world ahead of her, until she got pregnant and the father did a runner. Salvation comes in the form of a man who’ll look after her. Or so she thinks. Stan Miller is really the devil in disguise… and over the next twenty years, Babs will have reason to regret she ever met him.

Starting in the 70s, BLOOD MOTHER is the second thrilling installment in the Flesh and Blood series, capturing a London that was very different from today but where some things still hold true: be careful what you wish for, and watch out for who you trust…

Book post I received this week

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Book description

She Loves Me
A woman’s body lies in the road. At first it looks like a tragic accident. But when Helen Grace arrives on the scene it’s clear she’s looking at a coldblooded killing. But why would anyone target a much loved wife and mother?

She Loves Me Not
Across town, a shopkeeper is killed while his customers are left unharmed. But what lies behind the killer’s choices?

She Loves Me
Who lives? Who dies? Who’s next? The clock is ticking.

She Loves Me Not
If Helen can’t solve this deadly puzzle then more blood will be shed. But any mistake and it might be her own …

This weeks ARC’s

Method 15/33 by Shannon Kirk

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Book description

Imagine a helpless, pregnant 16-year-old who’s just been yanked from the serenity of her home and shoved into a dirty van. Kidnapped…Alone…Terrified.

Now forget her…

Picture instead a pregnant, 16-year-old, manipulative prodigy. She is shoved into a dirty van and, from the first moment of her kidnapping, feels a calm desire for two things: to save her unborn child and to exact merciless revenge.

She is methodical—calculating— scientific in her plotting. A clinical sociopath? Leaving nothing to chance, secure in her timing and practice, she waits—for the perfect moment to strike. Method 15/33 is what happens when the victim is just as cold as her abductors.
The agents searching for a kidnapped girl have their own frustrations and desires wrapped into this chilling drama. In the twists of intersecting stories, one is left to ponder. Who is the victim? Who is the aggressor?

The Quiet Man by James Carol

I love this series and Faber & Faber granted my wish over on the dreaded NetGalley, so how could I refuse 🙈

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Book description
The hugely popular Jefferson Winter series returns in a gripping new thriller.

In Vancouver, the wife of a millionaire is dead following an explosion in her own home. Everyone thinks her husband is responsible, but former FBI profiler Jefferson Winter isn’t so sure.

The method is too perfect; the lack of mistakes, uncanny. He’s seen a series of carefully orchestrated murders – once a year, on exactly the same day, a woman dies in a situation just like this one.

That date is fast approaching and Winter knows another victim has been selected. Can he identify the quiet man before he strikes again?

Books I’ve bought

I haven’t bought any book this week, Shock! Horror! But I treated myself to a year’s subscription of True Crime Magazine. Going back a few years ago I only ever read true crime books, I like to think they give me insight in to why people do such terrible things, I’m not sure they answer all my questions by any means but I do find them an intriguing read.

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Last week on the book review café

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/03/06/blog-tourthe-good-daughter-by-alexandra-burt-extract-giveaway/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/03/07/the-promise-by-casey-kelleher-bookreview-caseykelleher-bookouture/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/03/08/blog-tour-dead-embers-by-matt-brolly-guestpost-matthewbrolly-fayerogersuk/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/03/09/evies-year-of-taking-chances-by-christie-barlow-review-christiejbarlow-bookouture/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/03/10/top-five-friday-with-the-book-review-cafe-thewowfactor/

Next week on the book review café

Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson – review

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

#TopFiveThursday

Top Five Friday- Crime books stand-alones

**Blog tour** Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski

 

 

Evie’s Year Of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow #Review @ChristieJBarlow @Bookouture

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Book description

It’s Evie’s birthday and the start of a year she’ll never forget. An emotional story of love, friendship and grabbing life by the horns.

Evie’s job has always been her safe haven. As a librarian in the little town of Becton she loses herself in books – after all it’s far easier to read about other people’s problems than set about solving her own.

Then, one birthday, everything is turned upside down. A mysterious parcel containing a beautiful book with a poignant inscription arrives for Evie. It’s the beginning of a new chapter for Evie and she’s inspired to try and find her real mother.

Evie’s search leads her to meet handsome author Noah Jones. Charming and intelligent, Noah seems the perfect catch but what Evie doesn’t realise is that he is hiding something – a key to Evie’s past.

As Evie gets closer to Noah and discovering her mother, she must take a giant leap of faith. Can she embrace the new and make this her year of taking chances? And if she does, will she get her heart broken?

img_1258Normally nothing can separate me from my crime thriller reads but I have one exception to this rule and it comes in the shape of Christie Barlow. I would be the first to hold up my hand and admit I’m not a big fan of Rom Coms, I know I shouldn’t generalise but I usually find they all pretty much follow the same formula boy meets girl, lots of misunderstandings and then “happy ever after”, but this author provides the reader with so much more, her books have hidden depth, the dialogue is refreshing and superbly written and her characters are so well developed by the time you reach the End Of Evie’s Year Of Taking Chances you feel like your heart will break as you say “goodbye” to new found friends.

Evie has a good life she loves her job working in a library , she has wonderful relationship with Irene her foster mother and she has Clara the best friend anyone could ever wish for, but this doesn’t stop Evie wondering about her birth mother, as you can imagine there are so many questions Evie needs answering as to why she ended up in foster care. In finding the answers she hopes she can bring closure to her difficult childhood and start a new chapter in her life in the shape of Noah a handsome author, but like real life Evie will first have to face many “up and Downs” before she can’t find true happiness.

What I absolutely love about this authors books is her attention to her characters, they are so believable real that you find yourself becoming completely immersed in their story’s.
My emotions were all over the place whilst reading this novel, there are so many sensitive and heart breaking scenes in this novel one minute I would find myself laughing uncontrollably and the next minute I would find myself a snivelling mess as I reached yet another poignant moment in this delightful tale.

Christie Barlow has the unique ability to turn a Rom Com into something much more, yes there’s laughs a plenty, but she also draws on real life issues and writes about them with sensitivity, you can’t help but become involved in each characters story. Evie’s Year Of Taking Chances is like opening the most delicious box of chocolates a treat to be savoured. In my opinion Christie Barlow is one of the best writers in this genre and I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a Rom Com with that extra special something.

Print Length: 350 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (10 Mar. 2017)

Amazon UK 🇬🇧             Amazon US 🇺🇸

**Weekly Wrap Up**

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Another good week for reading I read four books this week, unfortunately I spent another week in terrible pain, but fingers crossed the medication finally seems to be helping and I’m hoping to return to work tomorrow. This is going to be a short wrap up basically because I forgot to write one until late last night 😂😂

The Escape by C.L. Taylor

Blood Mother by Dreda Say Mitchell

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

Evie’s Year Of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow

No book post at all this week, and although I’ve missed that satisfying sound “thud” of  book post landing on the mat it does mean I haven’t added to my TBR pile.

Again I failed at keeping away from NetGalley, but only because Bookouture put this little beauty on NetGalley and the book description sounds so intriguing

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Description
Lizzy pulled the covers over her head. Then she realised what was being dragged behind the person with the torch. She rammed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from screaming…

For decades, The Moore Asylum was home to the forgotten children of Brooklyn Bay. But ever since a scandal forced its closure, the abandoned building has cast an imposing shadow. Until now – when an elderly man is found dead, his body strapped to an ancient gurney…

Detective Lucy Harwin, still reeling from a previous case that ended in the devastating murder of a mother and her child, finds herself on the trail of a killer ruthlessly fixated on avenging the asylum’s wrongs.

What disturbing secrets lie within the asylum’s walls? Together with her partner Detective Mattie Jackson, Lucy begins to unearth its terrible history, and the horrors endured by the vulnerable children.

As the attacks escalate and a woman is murdered on her own doorstep, Lucy is forced into a terrifying game of cat and mouse with a twisted individual. But can Lucy stop a murderer with nothing left to lose?

Last week on the book review café

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/03/03/top-five-friday-with-the-book-review-cafe-psychological-thrillers/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/03/02/topfivethursday-with-bookblogger-jessica-aka-jessicasreadingroom/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/03/01/book-of-the-month-february-2017/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/02/28/the-roanoke-girls-by-amy-engel-bookreview-emilykitchin/

https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2017/02/27/the-caller-by-chris-carter-book-review/

Next week on the book review café

**Blog Tour** The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

Evie’s Year Of Taking Chances by Christie Barlow- review

**Blog Tour** Dead Embers by Matt Brolly

The Promise by Casey Kelleher- review

My Top Five Friday

And that’s it folks I told you it would be a short post  😀😀

 

🍂🎃🍁Fall Activities Book Tag🍂🎃🍁

 

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Its not often these days I get the time to take part in book tags, but after I was tagged by the fabulous Sharon over at ChapterInMyLife I thought it would definitely be a fun tag to take part in.

Scroll down to the bottom to see who I’m tagging – and if your name is mentioned, please comment below and send me a link to your post (no pressure to take part, I know how busy everyone is).To take part then simply have a look at the books I have chosen for each title; then you chose your book – I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

APPLE PICKING (A book on your TBR pile that looks so good you can’t wait to take a bite out of it!)

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RagDoll by Daniel Cole 

I’m desperate to read this one and I love the cover, it’s near the The top of my TBR and I can’t wait to read it

CORN MAZE (A book that is fun to get lost in)

Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow

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I mostly read crime and psychological thrillers but every now and then I like to pick up a book that helps me to escape for a couple of hours and Christie Barlow is the author I always turn to when I’m looking for a fun read

HAUNTED HOUSE (A Book that scares you silly)

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It by Stephen King

I read this book years ago and I’m sure this book is where my fear of clowns originated from basically  there’s this murderous monster clown invisible to adults who feeds on children in a small Maine town.. I couldn’t read this book now it would seriously scare me! and how can anyone think clowns are funny, I think there anything but! A certain author mentioning no names (Caroline Mitchel) seems to have great delight in sending me clown GIF I can’t think why!

PUMPKIN PATCH (last book you picked up/purchased)

Snatched From Home and I Know Your Secret by Graham Smith

I bought two books at the same time after I read Noelle’s rave reviews for them over at CrimeBookJunkie

SCENIC DRIVES (a book that is lyrically beautiful)
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Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop

This one is on my TBR pile and just looking at the cover, the beautiful photographs and the descriptive writing it conjures up images of Greece

PUMPKIN CARVING (A book you didn’t enjoy so much and you wouldn’t mind carving up!)

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Baby Doll by Hollie Overton some bloggers raved over this book, but I really struggled with this one and found it a mediocre read and the characters just grated on me

DRINKING APPLE CIDER (A book to curl up under the covers with)

Robert Bryndza 

Any of the of the books in the Erika Foster series by Robert Bryndza, I love his books he’s probably my favourite author at the moment and I totally loose myself once I start reading one his books.

JUMPING IN A PILE OF LEAVES (A book that reminds you of your childhood)

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Any book by Enid Blyton reminds me of my childhood I use to save up my pocket money to buy them, I loved all her books. Whilst looking for a photo to add to this post I was shocked…. WHAT have they done to the covers? the new updated covers are hideous! I loved the retro look of the original ones

SCARY MOVIE NIGHT (favourite spooky read)

Time To Die by Caroline Mitchell 

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This is the second book in the Jennifer Knight series which has a paranormal element to it, add to the mix ravens (which terrify me!) and it made for a very spooky read.

I tag………

Emma  at http://damppebbles.com

Emma at http://www.emmathelittlebookworm.wordpress.com

Janel at http://keeperofpages.wordpress.com

kaisha at https://thewritinggarnet.wordpress.com

Jo at https://mychestnutreadingtree.wordpress.com

and anyone else who is reading this and wants to take part

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Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow #Review

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Book description

Every Christmas Lizzie promises herself that things will change and she will leap into the new year a new woman. And yet here she is again, at the beginning of December and nothing is different. Her girls have grown up and left home, her husband Henry is slumped in front of the TV and she is alone in the kitchen, seeking refuge in the cooking sherry and talking to her Gary Barlow calendar. She’s also been very diverted by handsome new neighbour Marcus and she knows she shouldn’t be …

So when best friend Ann suggests a weekend away in the country, Lizzie jumps at the chance. Will this Christmas escape give Lizzie some much needed perspective and allow her to mend her marriage? Or will Marcus prove to be too much of a distraction?

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Even though I’m a huge fan of crime/psychological thrillers there are a small bunch of authors who write what I call “need to escape, cheer me up books” and the very talented Christie Barlow is one of those authors, and she certainly never disappoints me. I’m sure millions of women will relate to Lizzie on many levels, she’s in a humongous rut, her marriage is stale, in fact she has better conversations with her Gary Barlow calendar than she does with her husband! her children have flown the nest and she’s not sure where her life is going (ring a bell anyone?), but then the very handsome and charismatic Marcus moves into her street and things take a turn for the better or do they? You will just have to read Lizzie’s Christmas Escape to find out!

What I absolutely love about the authors book is her attention to her characters, they are a joy to read about, they are so well developed by the end of the book you really do feel you are saying “goodbye” to old friends. The relationship between Lizzie and Ann was heartwarming and very genuine, they are the best of friends and you couldn’t help wishing for a friend just like Ann or Lizzie. Their friendship is one many woman could only wish for they are supportive, loyal of one and other and the humour and banter between them helps them through the difficult times, and there are plenty of those! The dialogue between the two friends was so realistic at times I thought I was eavesdropping on a friends conversation, it’s full of humour and honesty that only true friends would understand, and at times I laughed out loud at some of their conversations.

Lizzie’s story reminded me very much of an old adage “the grass isnt always greener on the other side”, or is it? this was something Lizzie was forced to find out for herself I’m afraid. Lizzie’s story made me laugh and cry, sometimes all in the same chapter, you can understand Lizzie feeling fed up with life and why she strived to find something better, but life is what you make it, and just maybe Lizzie will have to learn this lesson through making her own mistakes. As Christmas approaches you can’t help feeling sorry for the two friends (everything seems so much worse during this period, don’t you think?), as they experience what could be their worse Christmas ever.

What I would say about Lizzie’s Christmas Escape is its a shame that many readers will only pick this book up if they are looking for a “Christmassy” read, I read it whilst led on a sun lounger in Portugal, and I feel this book has so much more to offer than a mediocre Christmas read, it’s about family, reaching a crossroads in life, and the importance of family and friends, with a “just what the Dr ordered, a dose of humour thrown in”

Christie Barlow has again written a captivating and charming book packed full of characters you will care about one way or another, full of drama and bucketfuls of humour. So I would recommend you pull the curtains, light the fire (unless you have an electric one of course!) and pour yourself something sparkling and immerse yourself in Lizzie’s heartwarming tale. This is a book I would recommend to anyone looking for “a feel good read” and definitely NOT just to be read at Christmas!

5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️out of 5

Print Length: 348 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (21 Oct. 2016)

Amazon UK 🇬🇧