Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow #Review


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?


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 🇬🇧




**Holiday Reads September 2016**


Hello the book review café is back, did you miss me? Probably not!! Well here I am anyway and I thought I would share my holiday reads with you all. I’m glad to say I had the most relaxing holiday ever in Portugal, and I managed to read TEN whole books, yes you read that right! It’s the most I’ve ever read in such a short time, and my god I read some real corkers. I’m super excited that I have made a dent in my Netgalley reads (six of the books were Netgalley reads), and now I just need to try and stay away from requesting any books until I’ve posted my reviews, and my shelf will be reasonable (watch this space, note I said TRY😂🙈). Just in case you are wondering what I read I’ve included a list. As a blogger I like to write my review straight away, so I’m feeling slightly sick at the thought of having to write ten reviews, and trying to remember everything I want to include in my review. So don’t expect them any time soon 😀😀……so here are the books I read

Ward Zero by Linda Huber


Anything For Her by Jack Jordan


Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst


Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult


Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow


Untouchable by Sybil Hodge


The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe


Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land


Hide And Seek by M J Arlidge


No Way Back by M J Arlidge


**Weekly Wrap Up**


This week I have managed to finish one book, read another and start on my third so not to bad a week for reading

All Fall Down by Tom Bale


I absolutely loved this book, and I would love to share my review unfortunately you will have to wait until the 4th September, as I’m one of the bloggers on the blog tour.

They All Fall Down by Cat Hogan

imageA promising debut which I enjoyed, my review will be live next week

Portraits Of The Dead by John Nicholl


Book post I received this week
The Wharf Butcher by Michael K Foster


Arc’s I’ve received this week

I tried to keep away from NetGalley this week and failed miserably …..oh well there’s always next week 😂😂

Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow

The Taken by Casey Kelleher

Before I Let You In by Jenny Blackhurst

Hide and Seek DI Helen Grace 6 by M.J. Arlidge

Books I’ve bought

I bought three books this week……..

Cut by Marc Rabbe

The House on Cold Hill by Peter James

Bad Blood by Julie Shaw



Last week on The Book Review Café

Next week on The Book Review Café

Review for They All Fall Down by Cat Hogan

Review for Dead To Me by Lesley Pearce

#TopFiveThursday with Clair Boor

**Blog tour** Blood Sisters by Dreda Say Mitchell, author interview

Blogging news from The Book Review Café

Author Tom Bale tried to lead me astray when I moaned on Twitter I couldn’t read All Fall Down in one sitting as I had to go to work.



And what a fabulous end to the week Christie Barlow included me in her Thank you’s, along with some really brilliant bloggers, in her new book Lizzie’s Christmas Escape.


**Blog Tour** Something Old Something New by Darcie Boleyn & Giveaway


Today I am the next stop on the Something Old Something New blog tour, written by the very talented Darcie Boleyn, the tour is hosted by Jenny over at Jennyinneverland anyone who follows my blog will know I mostly review crime/pyschological/thrillers, but every now and then I like to throw in a “feel good” book, and Darcie’s Something Old Something New certainly fits the bill. You can read my review further down this post. Also don’t forget to enter the Givaway to win an Ebook of Something Old Something New, Darcie is kindly giving away three Ebooks.

Book Description

A heartwarming, giggle-inducing romance from Darcie Boleyn, just in time for the wedding season!

Will you marry me…again?

When Annie Thomas agrees to give her ex away at his wedding to his boyfriend, she thinks she’ll be fine. With her three children at her side, she can handle anything. Then she finds out her gorgeous first ex-husband Evan Llewellyn is flying in from his glamorous life in New York to attend as well!
An unexpected pregnancy ended their relationship and as she stumbles through the ups and downs of life as a working single mum – helping everyone else find a happy ending along the way – Annie refuses to believe their old and incredibly hot spark can still exist.
It’s only when she and Evan are forced to face up to the past together that they’ll discover if they can have their own happily-ever-after too!

Goodreads      Amazon

About Darcie Boleyn

Author Bio: Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.



Twitter     Facebook     Blog     Pinkinkladies blog



Click for giveaway



Once in a blue moon I like to drag myself away from serial killers, murders and gory deaths,
so I was really looking forward to reading Something Old Something New by Darcie Boleyn. I knew I was in for a treat with a dose of humour thrown in when I read the title of the first chapter “Dog Poo Divorce”, and I’m glad to say I throughly enjoyed it (despite there not being any serial killers hiding in the shadows).

Annie is fast approaching forty, twice divorced and struggling to balance her work and family life, she’s unintentionally funny, witty and a good friend and confidant to those around her. I loved the character of Annie she’s was very likeable, she is one of those women who always puts others before herself, even if it means putting her own dreams on hold to care for her family. I think most women will be able to relate to her in some way or another, which makes her credible as a character.

As Annie’s ex husband Evan comes back into her life, things take an unexpected turn and Annie will have to face up to her past before she can look to the future. Besides Annie there are multiple characters in Something Old Something New who all added to the enjoyment of this uplifting tale, and Annabelle Annie’s daughter was adorable and very mischievous, which added humour to the story.

There are real no surprises in Something Old Something New, but sometimes its just nice to read a book that you don’t have to think about to much, and this in no way distracted from my enjoyment of this heart warming tale of regrets, the power of love and friendship. Darcie Boleyn has written a uplifting tale that I’m sure fans of chick lit will really enjoy. It will make a perfect holiday read, so I suggest you Pour yourself a glass of wine, pull out a sun lounger, slather yourself in sun tan lotion and immerse yourself in this feel good book.

Publisher: Carina (16 May 2016)

Amazon UK

If you want to follow the blog tour, here is the tour banner and a list of the fabulous bloggers taking part

**Weekly Wrap Up**


Well this week I have only read 3 Books, and I’m half way through the fourth, my weeks holiday is over and now I’m back to work full time, so I don’t get to read as much as I would like, but I managed to read the following books

Deadly focus by RC Bridgestock

imageI’m on the blog tour next month for RC Bridgestock’s latest book When The Killing Starts, so I wanted to get a feel for the series and I have to say I really enjoyed Deadly Focus.

When He Fell by Kate Hewitt


Again this is a blog tour book I found this book to be really emotive and compelling, you can see my review on Sunday 12th June

The Madam by Jamie Raven


This week in case you haven’t noticed it’s all blog tour books and you can see my review for The Madam on Sunday 22nd May

The Safe Word by Karen Long


Another blog tour read I’m about half way through The Safe Word and so far so good, but you can catch my review on Thursday 2nd June

Book post I received this week


I received the following books in the post this week

How To Find Your (First) Husband by Rosie Blake 

Chosen Child by Linda Huber

Solomon Creed by Simon Toyne

Stalker by Lars Kepler

Watching Edie by Camilla Way 

Next week on the book review cafe

Dead Focus by RC Bridgestock review

Interview with Sanjida Kay author of Bone By Bone 

Last To Die by Arlene Hunt review

Something Old Something New by Darcie Boleyn blog tour Friday 20th May


**Weekly Wrap Up**


I thought I would have a change and do a weekly wrap up post rather than a Stacking the shelves post, so here it is…..

I’m on a weeks holiday at the moment and not been well, so on the downside I haven’t been up to much, but every cloud has a silver lining and all that jazz, and I have have managed to read 6 books

In to Deep by Samantha Haynes


you can read my review here……. In too Deep Review

Something Old Something New by Darcie Boleyn


I am taking part in the blog tour so check back on Friday the 20th May for my review, I did really enjoy this “feel good read”

The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza


My review will be up shortly for The Night Stalker, but I will say I absolutely loved this book

Daisy In Chains by Sharon Bolton


Again I will be posting my review soon, and Sharon Bolton is on form with Daisy In Chains

Blanket Of Blood by Eileen Wharton


You can read my review here ……Blanket Of Blood Book Review

My Girl by Jack Jordan


This is another book I’m reading and reviewing for the My Girl blog tour, you will be able to read my review on Thursday 16th June, if you love a dark and twisted crime thriller I would highly recommend you get a copy of My Girl

I bought three books this week, I use to read loads of real crime books, and so after seeing these posted on a thread on Facebook I decided to treat myself (well it is my birthday this weekend)

Coming next week on the book review cafe


Author interview with Mary-Jane Riley

Review for Daisy In Chains by Sharon Bolton 

Guest review by Virginia King for In Her Wake by Amanda Jenning 

Review for Play Dead by Angela Marsons


**Blog Tour** The Second Chance Shoe Shop by Marcie Steele & mini interview


Today I am very excited to be part of the blog tour for The Second Chance Shoe Shop by Marcie Steele, I absolutely loved this book. Marcie Steele also writes as Mel Sherratt (who I’m also a huge fan of by the way). I also need to give a big thank you to Kim Nash over at the fabulous Bookouture (one of the best publisher’s about at the moment, fantastic books and authors) for giving me the opportunity to take part …..sorry I’m digressing here so on with the questions I put to the very talented Marcie Steele


How did Kim Nash end up as a character in your book? (And for those who don’t know who she is could you explain Who this wonderful lady is), although I’m sure most people will know)

Kim Nash is the Publicity and Social Media manager for Bookouture. I’ve known her for years online, and met up with her finally last year. As I was writing the book, up popped a character and I needed a name. Often characters pop up and because I don’t want to stop writing, I will name them things like Taylor Swift or Simon Cowell, for example, so as I don’t stop writing, and then I go back and change them. When I reread the draft to edit, I saw I had used Kim’s name and thought it would be nice to keep Kim in there.

What made you decide to write a book about a shoe shop? 

Originally it was going to be about three women who worked in the offices of a shoe factory that had been threatened by closure. But because I had never worked in a factory before, I thought it would be more authentic if I set it in a shoe shop. I haven’t worked in one of those either, but it was the background that I needed. So Chandler’s was created – and I’m so pleased that I did now.

Why did you decide to change genre and your name, after your success as Mel Sherratt?

I started writing women’s fiction first and then turned to crime. But I had written as Marcie Steele for a while without telling anyone my pen name. Bookouture offered me a three-book deal for two books that had previously been published, Stirred with Love and That’s What Friends are for, and a new one, which is now The Second Chance Shoe Shop. Off the back of the success as Mel, I’ve had lots of my readers follow me over to my ‘pink’ side.

Do you have a really expensive pair of shoes?

I don’t have any expensive shoes as I have a fair few pairs and I don’t spend excessively. I like a bargain just like anyone else. But I do have to pay more for comfort these days!

What’s next for Marcie Steele?

Well, I had a three-book deal and this is the third book, so it depends very much on the success of this one…


About Marcie Steele

Marcie Steele also writes under the name of . She considers herself to be a romantic at heart and has always wanted to write about characters who were not necessarily involved in the darker side of life. Coffee, cakes and friends are three of her favourite things, hence Stirred with Love for her first book writing as Marcie Steele. Her second, That’s What Friends are For, was published in December 2015 and her new book, The Second Chance Shoe Shop will be out on 8 April 2016.

As Mel Sherratt , She write crime thrillers, psychological suspense and fiction with a punch – or grit-lit. Shortlisted for the prestigious CWA (Crime Writer’s Association) Dagger in Library Award 2014, her inspiration comes from authors such as Mandasue Heller, Lynda la Plante, Mandasue Heller and Elizabeth Haynes. Since 2012, all eight of her crime novels have been bestsellers, each one climbing into the kindle UK top 20 and She has had several number ones.

Marcie lives in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, with her husband and terrier, Dexter.

Links to Marcie Steele

Goodreads    Twitter   Bookouture    Facebook    WordPress



Book description

All Riley Flynn wants is to meet someone who makes her happy. But attracting the right kind of man is not easy, and with her heart still hurting from her last break-up, Riley believes she’ll never find love again.

A year ago, Sadie Stewart’s whole world was shattered when her husband, Ross, died. She has struggled to keep herself together for the sake of their young daughter, but with the anniversary of his death approaching, Sadie finds herself overwhelmed by grief.

Sadie and Riley work at Chandlers shoe shop, in the charming town of Hedworth. But when Chandlers is threatened with closure, the friends are confronted with the loss of not only their jobs, but also their support network – the glue that holds them together when they are close to breaking.

As they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, Sadie realises that she might just be learning to live again. Could it be that new beginnings are just round the corner? The campaign also finds Riley unexpectedly crossing paths with charming photographer, Ethan. Maybe her second chance at love is right under her feet …

A delightfully romantic tale of love, friendship and putting your best foot forward, for fans of Carole Matthews and Amanda Prowse.

When I pick up a Marcie Steele book I know I’m in for a real treat, and The Second Chance Shoe Shop did not disappoint, this is definitely Marcie’s best book yet. If you were to walk down the high-street of a small town I’m sure you will see a shoe shop similar to Chandlers slightly outdated with practical but boring shoes adorning the window display. Good friends Riley (who has a habit of attracting the wrong men) and Sadie (a grieving widow with a young daughter) work at Chandlers shoe shop, to them it’s more than a job, it’s the one place they have stability and support in times of crisis, Threatened with closure they put together a plan to save their beloved shop, plans that include Twitter, hash tags and flash mobs, which give a refreshingly bang up to date feel to the tale.

Marcie Steele has an amazing way of bringing her characters alive, they are so well developed with dialogue that flows seamlessly, that you are happy to invest time and emotions in this superbly written book. Friends Dan (looking for love), Ash (has she find true love?) and cooper (a girls best friend), who collectively make up this circle of friends. I loved all the characters as they had such depth to them, I felt I was part of their life’s, as they were so realistically portrayed. As with any group of friends there is heartbreak, love, honesty and laughter with plenty of drama! But their tight bond shines through.

As the story evolved I became so enthralled with the characters I didn’t want the book to it end, and come the end I shed a tear because it was so touching and heartwarming. For me this book was character driven and bought The Second Chance Shoe Shop to life, making it a very enjoyable read. If you are expecting this book to be a run of the mill chick lit tale, then you will be sadly mistaken, it is so much more than that. It’s a book full of gentle humour, friendship and new beginnings, second chances and shoes of course! with an original plot thrown in. Even though this is only Marcie’s third book in chick fiction, she certainly gives more established authors in this genre a run for their money

Print Length: 262 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (8 April 2016)