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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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 🇺🇸

#BookBoost Miss Wrong And Mr Right by Robert Bryndza @bookouture @RobertBryndza

 

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A huge happy publication day to one of my very favourite authors on the planet the awesome Robert Bryndza one of his RomCom books has been re-published by Bookouture and it’s hilarious. I’m not normally one who would pick up a book from what I call “the dark side” but I would highly recommend Miss Wrong And Mr Right, and just in case you’re  wondering if you should buy yourself a copy of this delightful feel good RomCom, I’ve included a link to my review……..
https://thebookreviewcafe.com/2016/11/22/miss-wrong-and-mr-right-by-robert-bryndza-robertbryndza-bookouture/

What people are saying about Miss Wrong and Mr Right:

‘I just love Robert Bryndza’s writing. He creates great characters and the funniest situations which could well have you laughing aloud! For all its humour, there is a lot of emotion in this book too…I felt that these were totally believable characters who I’d love to read more about and many of the funny situations could actually happen.’ Portobello Book Blog

‘When it comes to writing about family life and all the palava, Robert does this very well. They feel like real people…He writes great romantic comedy that you want to read again and again.’ Books and Authors UK

‘I found myself smiling continually…Robert Bryndza brings a wonderful turn of phrase to some of this characters, and Natalie’s Hungarian gran is a real tonic, and one of my favourite characters…some of what she comes out with will have you laughing your head off…an excellent romantic comedy.’ Rachel’s Random Reads

 

Miss Wrong And Mr Right by Robert Bryndza @RobertBryndza @Bookouture

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Book description

Natalie Love has worked hard to have it all. She runs a successful London theatre that’s about to host one of Hollywood’s leading stars, Ryan Harrison. She’s pretty sure she’s found her man in yoga boyfriend Benjamin, despite his annoying habit of saying Namaste! every time he speaks. And her eccentric, glamorous Hungarian Gran is always on hand to offer sage advice and steaming bowls of goulash.

Life in the bright lights of London has always been Natalie’s escape from her chaotic country family in rural Devon and Jamie, the childhood sweetheart she left at the altar fifteen years ago. Until he turns up at her theatre door…

Jamie is in town producing a West End show and with rivalry suddenly clouding old feelings, this isn’t quite the reunion Natalie was expecting.

Will Benjamin prove to be Natalie’s perfect match? With Ryan turning her head, Natalie is more confused than ever. And what about Jamie – could he be her second chance at first love?

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Now anyone who follows my blog will know I mostly read crime or psychological thrillers, once in a blue moon I turn to the dark side and read something that’s completely out my comfort zone. Now I could tell you a whopping big fib here and say I felt like reading a Romantic comedy but that’s wasn’t the case! The only reason I choose to read Miss Wrong And Mr Right is because it’s written by the very talented and one of my very favourite authors Robert Bryndza, if you follow my blog you will know I’m a huge fan of his crime series and have been known to be rather enthusiastic with my reviews, I wasn’t convinced this would be a book I would enjoy as there was no serial killer or bad ass Detectives in sight so with trepidation and a crime book at the ready just in case I hated it (Apologies Robert Bryndza if you just happen to come across this review for doubting you) I began to read Miss Wrong And Mr Right……..

The first thing I should state is this novel should come with a safety warning “do not read whilst drinking coffee and holding your kindle” I literally laughed so much I choked on my coffee and covered my kindle in the stuff! The story opens up with Natalie Love jolting her boyfriend Jamie at the alter, and deciding life has much more to offer moves to London. Fast forward 15 years and Natalie is now a very successful theatre manager, has a yoga-loving boyfriend and life is great or is it? When Natalie’s ex Jamie shows up to open a burlesque venue with his new girlfriend Tuppence Halfpenny, life is never going to be the same for Natalie.

Robert Bryndza has created an array of characters that are larger than life, I especially loved Natalie’s gran and with the Hungarian accent thrown in there are some very funny moments involving her. I loved Natalie with her frizzy hair and far from perfect figure, in fact all the characters were very likeable. The author certainly has away of describing and making his characters come to life, and some of the dialogue between the characters certainly made me laugh out loud.

This is certainly one of the better RomComs I’ve read, yes it maybe a bit predictable and corny at times, but I have to say I really enjoyed it. If you are looking for a novel to lift your mood and forget your woes look no further, Miss Wrong And Mr Right is the perfect read to do just that, it’s light hearted and entertaining and not a serial killer in sight!

5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Out of 5

Print Length: 339 pages

Publisher: Bookouture (8 Dec. 2016)

Amazon UK