HQ Digital UK

#Review Miss Marley; A Christmas Ghost Story, A Prequel To A Christmas Carol by Vanessa Lafaye & Rebecca Mascull (@rebeccamascull) @HQDigitalUK #MissMarley #AChristmasCarol

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Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

My View

This is utterly breath-taking! There is no other words for this beautiful book, once I closed the very last page, I was left in stunned silence and with tears in my eyes, this is the brilliance of this book the emotions that Miss Marley evokes in the reader is incomparable. It is full of tragedy, sadness and it is heart-breaking, as well as portraying the most beautiful message of just being kind to others, that money isn’t everything in life, what is important is family, love and living life itself.

This is the first I have ever read by the late Vanessa Lafaye and it saddens me to know that I may have missed out on something special, so I am unbelievably honoured that I got the chance to review this book. Ms Lafaye and Ms Mascull (who lovingly finished the book on Vanessa Lafaye’s sad passing) have written an atmospheric, realistic and touching story, the sights, smells and life of Dickensian London is brilliant captured which makes this book even more special.

This is the prequel to ‘A Christmas Carol’ and it tells the story of Jacob Marley through the eyes of his little sister; Clara Belle Marley. The story opens when they are nothing but children who are staving on the streets, after their parent’s died and their cruel uncle foisted them off into the workhouse they have nothing but each other. With Jacob’s intellect and wiles they soon find themselves off the street and into the nefarious world of ‘Money lending’. The story doesn’t he hard facts of life on the streets of the money lending business, it is raw and unashamed-idly real.

As the years go by, the siblings raise themselves from the streets, in due course Jacob meets his soon-to-be business partner; Ebeneeza Scrooge and is from here we see just how Jacob Marley found himself destined to reside for all eternity in chains; as we see in A Christmas Carol. Jacob Marley isn’t entirely a selfish man as he does have his moments when he cares for Clara, but there really isn’t an ounce of kindness in him. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Ebeneeza in a different light to the heartless, lost creature we all know him to be. In this there is a glimmer of goodness in him, but being around merciless Jacob has it’s effects on him, it was interesting to seeing the two men when they were young to see how the famous story began.

But the backbone to this is Clara Belle and her absolute love and loyalty to her brother, she is the absolute opposite to Jacob. Where he is hard, cold and ruthless she is kind, warm, caring and always wanting to help if she can. She has a good heart who tries in vain to change her brother’s ways, she has her own story to tell one that can melt the coldest of hearts, and one that will have you weeping.

Magical, charming, festive, beautifully written, heartfelt, captivating, reminiscent of Dickens himself, this is the perfect Christmas gift and one that I can see becoming a classic in its own right and one that will be repeatedly read year after year.

The most heart-warming and beautiful book I have read, perfection!

This was a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review, thank you Joe at HQ Digital UK for my copy.

Miss Marley is available at Amazon and I urge everyone to buy it, highly recommended!

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#Review – Love and Lies at The Village Christmas Shop by Portia MacIntosh (@PortiaMacIntosh) #Blogtour #Christmas #Romance #LoveAndLiesAtTheVillageChristmasShop @HQDigitalUK

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I have the great pleasure to be the last stop on this great blog tour, and to be sharing my review of Love and Lies At The Village Christmas Shop by Portia MacIntosh.

Blast the Michael Bublé, wrap your hands around a cinnamon latte and enjoy this warm, hilarious Christmas novel!

Ivy loves Christmas. As owner of Christmas Every Day, the year-round festive store, you’d expect nothing less!

The only thing missing in Ivy’s life is a dash of romance – something her twin sister Holly will not let her forget…

When her mother passed away, Ivy vowed to take over the running of her mother’s store and keep the Christmas spirit alive in the idyllic seaside town of Marram Bay.

But all this changes when an enigmatic businessman moves to the town, threatening to bulldoze her beloved shop to make way for a holiday complex.

Can Ivy save her shop before Christmas? Could there be a different side to the newest resident of Marram Bay that would make all her Christmas wishes come true?

The brand-new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from bestseller Portia Macintosh. Perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley and Tilly Tennant.

My View

Well this is splendid, what a great way to get yourself into the festive spirit! I will admit that this is ashamedly the first book I have read by Portia MacIntosh, where have I been to let this wonderful author pass me by? Anyway, I will definitely be seeking out more of Ms MacIntosh’s work because this was wonderful.

For Ivy there is nothing better in this world than Christmas, she loves it’s, breathes it and lives it everyday something that she shared with her dear late mother. So it will comes at no surprise that she runs a Christmas shop; ‘Christmas Everyday’ which used to belong to her mother. Situated in the little Yorkshire town of Marram, Ivy has vowed that she will always be here and run her mother’s shop as she would have wanted it to be run.

I really like Ivy, she gave up a lot for the Christmas shop and her family, she gave up a brilliant carer as a chef, everything she has done has been for the shop and her family. She is a glorified book worm, she is more than happy sitting quietly in a corner reading. She is by far one of the most selfless women, she has given up her dreams of being whisked of her feet by a handsome stranger, her entire life solely revolves around the shop and I for one can relate to her. At times Ivy was so real to me it was like reading about myself, I have never related to a character as much as I have Ivy she spoke to me on a level I have never experienced before, I understood her. This for me is what makes this book such a winner, Ms. MacIntosh has created this real and likeable young woman who is very normal. There are no airs and graces about Ivy she is a normal, working class young woman who is in need of a boost of self confidence.

But all is not fine in the shop, Ivy is struggling to get people through the door other then at Christmas. After all not everyone is like he and her late mother, some are like her Christmas hating twin sister; Holly. Honestly you never have though that these two completely different women were even related let alone, twin sisters, they are like chalk and cheese and in many ways I think people will relate to Holly just as much as Ivy. She believes that there is more to life then Christmas trees, decorations and carol singing and she worries that her sister has given too much for their mothers Christmas shop legacy, I can see her point of view too. When Ivy finds out that he land lord is selling the shop to a mysterious stranger who wants to turn her precious mothers shop into holiday lets she now must fight for her mother’s legacy and for herself, especially once she meets the very man who could change her whole life.

Seb and Ivy are such a cute couple, even though they are in competition there is a lot of flirting, giggles and good natured bantering between them. He is a sexy, confident and kind man who knows what he wants and will do what ever he can to get it, even though that does sounds as though he is ruthless, but to me I think it’s more the fact that he is a charmer and everyone falls under his spell.

I have to say that even though Seb is mightily attractive and a decent man, I was more drawn to the rough around the edges, heavily tattooed and a but scruffy Gaz, and it has nothing to do with the fact that as soon he appeared in the book I envisioned Tom Hardy, oh, alright it has more or less everything to do with that  😉 he’s a bit gruff, but there is something very enticing about him.

Love and Lies and the Village Christmas Shop is a light-hearted, witty and seasonally perfect romance. The plot is fun, easy to read and entertaining, there is a lot of laugh-out-loud moments to be had, especially from the witty banter from all character’s. The cast of character’s are each brilliant in their own way, each one has his/her own style and quirkiness that you will instantly love. Ms. MacIntosh’s writing is a real joy to read, there is a lot of passion for the story and the character’s that really comes through in the story.

An utterly charming and feel-good festive romance that will have you reaching for the hot chocolate and fluffy socks and settling in for the night.

This was an ARC copy via the publisher for this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Love and Lies and The Christmas Village Shop can be purchased from Amazon.

How to Bake a New Beginning by Lucy Knott : Blog Tour, Review & Exclusive Interview.

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I have the very great pleasure to be the first stop on the How to Bake a New Beginning by Lucy Knott (one half of the lovely Blossom Twins) blog tour. I will be sharing my review on this wonderfully, uplifting book and I have an exclusive interview with Lucy.

About Lucy

Lucy

Lucy is a new author her up-and-coming debut How to Bake a New Beginning is a feel good, heart warming romance about family love and food. She is also a Book, Food, Family and Lifestyle blogger with her twin sister; Kelly who own the charming Blossom Twins Blog.

Website / Twitter @LucyCKnott / Twitter @TheBlossomTwins / Instagram / Goodreads / Facebook / Pinterest

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Interview

Frankie Hi Lucy, Congratulation’s on the book! Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today.

Firstly, what five words would you use to describe yourself?

Lucy Romantic. Sensitive. Passionate. Dreamer. Creative.

Frankie If you could take a holiday in any era and place, When and where would it be? And Why?

Lucy Ooh I would probably go back to The Beat Generation and the streets of San Francisco. I’d love to hang out with Jack Kerouac and experience a San Francisco night talking the night away and listening to music, then find quaint cafés to write in while drinking lots of coffee.

4Frankie Can you tell us a little about your latest release? This can be your most recent or up-and coming release.

Lucy My upcoming release is my debut novel. It’s called ‘How to Bake a New Beginning.’ It follows the journey of three sisters; all at different stages in their lives, all dealing with job struggles, boy troubles and finding the courage to take that next step in their lives and follow their hearts. After losing their beloved Grandpa they travel to Italy and events occur where they must start taking ownership of their feelings and of their dreams and their futures.

Frankie It really is a wonderful book, who was your childhood hero?

Lucy My childhood hero was professional wrestler Jeff Hardy, one half of the WWE tag team The Hardy Boyz.

Frankie If you could have one of your books made into a film, which book would it be and who would play your lead character’s?

Lucy Ooh that would be pretty amazing. I’d love it if this book was made into a movie. Let me think:

Amanda: Britt Robertson / Sabrina: Rachel Bilson. / Louisa: Lily Colins.

Dan: Harry Styles. / Levi: Chris Evans. / Luca: Giulio Berruti.

Blog 1 blog 2

Frankie Wow!! Gorgeous cast, this is a movie I would love to watch. Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?

Lucy Hmm, I love all my leading ladies because I feel like they are strong women, yet they have their vulnerable moments. It takes them a minute, but they go after what they want and follow their dreams. They all have good hearts and I love that about them. I do have a soft spot for all my boys too.

Frankie Where does your inspiration for your books come from?

Lucy My inspiration was very much love and my experiences. I’m a hopeless romantic and just wanted to write a romance that was quite simple, not too much drama, not too much back and forth, just something that focused on love conquering all and that fairy tales can exist. Also, my life in general, things that make me happy, things that I love, like Italy and sisterly bonds. I very much enjoyed writing about those things.

Frankie What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?

Lucy Always believe in yourself.

Don’t compare yourself/your book to others. No one else can write the book that you are writing. Your book is yours, it is special, and you must love it first and foremost and be proud of yourself for writing it.

Write, write, write.

Frankie If you were hosting a dinner party what three people would you invite? (They can be real/fictional, from any era)

Lucy Harry Styles, Sal Paradise (On the Road) and Angela Clark. (I heart series.)

Frankie Oooh, fabulous! I am a big fan of Angela and Alex. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, Lucy. I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?

Lucy Eeek I love food, so that’s a tricky one, but probably any and all Italian cakes and biscuits.

Frankie Sound’s good to me, Thank you Lucy!

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About the Book

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Three sisters. One trip to Italy. The chance to change their lives.

Amanda has always taken the role of big sister seriously. She has her life in order; a fantastic job in a great restaurant, a wonderful house and a best friend who’s a Rockstar. But, Amanda’s beginning to realise that her life is missing one monumental piece…

Sabrina is living the high life in LA. Her Instagram is full of lavish parties, her tweets are brimming with celebrity names, but in reality she’s stuck behind a desk working for a boss who is determined to make her suffer. Is it time for her to stand up and take charge of her life?

Louisa has always been drowned out by her sister’s successes. As the university drop-out she’s always felt third best. But a chance encounter in a little Italian village may be about to change that…

When their beloved grandfather passes away these sisters are forced to take another look at their lives. These three sisters are about to embark on a journey of self-discovery that could just lead them down a road of romance (with a little help from the kitchen)!

Perfect for fans of Jenny Oliver, Carole Mathews and Lucy Diamond.

How to Bake a New Beginning is to be released on 9th September and can be pre-ordered at Amazon.

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My Review

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This is a wonderful debut from a talented new author, who I am positive is going to go far with her writing career. I found Ms Knott’s writing to be fresh, stylish and full of real passion for the story. I was incredibly interested in this book when I first saw the cover, which is cheerful and eye-catching. I know we should never base our opinions on a cover, but on the word’s inside, but for this one, I couldn’t really help it. The cover is as charming as the word’s within.

This is the story of three completely different sisters, who are all at different stages of their lives and who are still trying to find themselves in such a hectic world. Even though two have great careers they are a little lost with the love side of things, as different as Amanda, Sabrina and Louisa are they are all devoted to their family, they may have gone down different path’s but that absolute love for family is the driving force for each of them. Which as someone who is as equally very family focused this really rang a bell with me. When their beloved Grandfather suddenly passes away, the sisters are forced to confront some very personal issues. They decide that to really say goodbye to their grandfather they travel to Italy, their trip turns out to be just as emotional as they expected, but in completely different ways. What started out as a farewell to grandpa trip, ends up with each of the sisters discovering themselves and learning how to take charge of their lives and more importantly how to love.

Each sister is so different, each has their own views and private heartaches, Amanda the eldest is the one with the real passion for cooking, she is doing what she has always wanted to do and is working as a chef, but beneath that stubborn and protective older sister mask there is a heartache, something is missing from her life, now she knows what but can she pluck up the courage to finally grasp it?

Second sister Sabrina is living the high life in LA, to the whole world she is a high-flyer spending night’s out at lavish celebratory parties, her social media is full of enviable pictures. But really, she is stuck in the office with a boss who wants to make her life hell and suffering her own heartache, she is far from the happy-go-lucky socialite that she present’s herself to be.

And finally, baby of the family; Louisa after dropping out of university she has always felt inferior next to her older and much more confident sisters. She is definitely the one most people can relate to, she has lost her way a little. She appears cocky and out spoken but beneath the surface there lies a shy, young woman who is desperate to find her way and I think she has lost a little self-confidence especially while sisters are around.

This trip to Italy is the chance all three of them never expected but also what they needed, but will they have the courage and take control of the lives?

This is a wonderful holiday read, the relationship between the sisters is very real and relatable, the love that they share for their family is the driving force of this story. Ms Knot has done a cracking job at engaging the reader with her relatable character’s, beautiful setting and wonderful storyline. From page one you are immersed into the sister’s lifes, the story and relationships develop and evolve in a natural way and the story moves along at a brilliant pace.

You can real get a sense of how much this book and story means to the author, her heart and passion is evident in every scene, the driving force of the story is absolute family love, this really resonates with me. Another thing I love is how each chapter starts with a recipe, it’s cute and personal and links each chapter together nicely.

This is a delicious book, that you will devour in one bite! (Sorry I couldn’t help the food reference)

This was an ARC copy via the author as apart of this blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

New Review – Fatal Masquerade #LadyAlkmeneMysteries book 4 by Vivian Conroy @VivWrites @HQDigitalUK #BlogTour

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Masked danger…

Lady Alkmene Callender has always loved grand parties, but when she receives an invitation to a masked ball thrown by Franklin Hargrove– oil magnate, aviation enthusiast and father of her best friend, Denise– she’s never seen such luxury. The estate is lit up with Chinese lanterns in the gardens, boats operated by footmen float across the pond and the guest list features the distinguished, rich and powerful!

But below the glamour, evil is lurking. When a dead body is discovered, it forces Lady Alkmene to throw off her mask and attempt to find the true killer before Denise’s family are accused. If only her partner, Jake Dubois, weren’t hiding something from her…

This case might just be more dangerous than either of them could have imagined.

My View

Book four in the Lady Alkmene Mysteries sees our lady sleuth invited to a masquerade party at the home of the wealthy Franklin Hargrove as soon as she steps through the front door it is instantly clear that there is something very wrong with the household which intrigues our Alkmene and when journalist Jake Dubois turns up under the pretence of writing a story about the lords new foray into motor engines she knows that something is amiss. Why would Jack be there just to write a story about a motor engine? Especially as Jack has unashamedly can’t stand the aristocracy and he too is acting rather secretive.

With the Masquerade party in full swing Alkmene being her usual some what nosey self, but not surprising with this odd bunch of people who all have secrets she needs to find out. There is the very unsettling psychiatrist Theobald Zeilovsky and his wife who tend to turn up in the most unexpected places, the acid tongued Mrs Hargrove who is keeping secrets and threatening any one who gets too close, aunt Felicia who seems too jumpy whenever the Steeplechase case is mentioned, but why? Then there is the odd behavior of a particular footman. Cobb caught her eye right from the moment she stepped through the doors, what is it about him that put our lady sleuth on edge? But it’s not just the other household guests and servants that we acting odd, so is Jake, why is he there?

Jake put the notebook in his pocket and extracted a black silk mask. He made a face at her before slipping it on. It transformed him from a handsome man in a tuxedo into an intriguing rogue….

With all of this swirling through her head she isn’t expecting to find the murdered body of none other than the odd footman Cobb and for her to have the finger pointed at for it! But who really stuck the knife in? There seems to be an endless list of people who have a reason for wanting the cocky footman dead, was it a member of the Masquerade?

As usual our Lady sleuth and her faithful handsome journalist set out to uncover the truth but what they find is shocking and disturbing and leads to quite an unexpected ending.

Just like with book one; A Proposal to Die For, the atmosphere between Jake and Alkmene crackles. There is something there between these two, from the little looks and the thoughts that crosses Alkmene’s mind right at the end, you know that there something must happen. There is a blossoming romance between them and I hope that if we get a fifth instalment that Jake and Alkmene finally get the chance to give it a go.

You will be careful, won’t you?’ Alkmene’s heart was beating fast, and she suddenly felt there were so many things she’d wanted to say to Jake, but never had. Now she might never get another chance…..

I love the cliff hanger ending, if it were a TV show it would freeze frame on our Jake Dubois with “To be continued…” running along the bottom of shot, Ms Conroy has left book four in such a place that there must be another episode, we need to know the answers to the questions that circulate the last scene.

I thoroughly enjoy this series, its like being transported to another, more glamorous and deadly time. With twists and unexpected turns Fatal Masquerade keeps you hooked from page one to the very last and beyond as you are still wondering where we are going from here. The writing is riveting and charming especially Alkmene and Jake who are still fun and engrossing.

Another winner and highly recommended.

This was an ARC via the author in exchange for an honest review.

Fatal Masquerade is out today and can be purchased from Amazon.