2019, Blog Tour, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: Q&A with Dean Burnett

Today I’m lucky enough to have two fantastic blog tour posts and this is a Q&A with Dean Burnett, the book Psycho-logical was very aptly released on World Mental Health Day.

1. What was your inspiration for writing Psycho-logical?

I’ve been writing about mental health matters for many years now, and people seem to really like when I do, and find it useful. I’ve long wanted to put all my knowledge down in a book, I figured that’d be even more helpful, Audible offered the opportunity to do so, so I took it

2. What do you hope readers get from it? And who are you aiming this audiobook at?

I’m hoping to ‘ground’ mental health matters in more tangible ways. By explaining the mechanisms and actual workings of the brain in things like depression etc, I can hopefully reduce stigma and further understanding. It’s aimed at literally anyone who struggles with, knows anyone who struggles with, or is just interested in, mental health issues.

3. I think it’s a subject we should speak about more and it’s something that needs to be done in a controlled manner. Would you agree?

Indeed. While I think it’s important that people can share their experiences, I feel it can often lead to things getting out of hand, and discussions can lose sight of the actual facts, as we see them

4. What’s your average writing day?

It’s mostly spent in my garden, where I have a dedicated writing cabin. It’s basically me, sat in a wooden box, typing for many hours a day, occasionally disrupted by my cat fighting other neighbourhood cats on the roof 

5. Did writing this audiobook take it out of you emotionally as well as physically?

Perhaps a bit, but this effect was mitigated by the fact that it’s all stuff I’ve been writing and teaching about for years. Hearing the contributions from my friends who shared their mental health experiences was often very moving though. 

6. Where would you like mental health to be in 5 years time? Do you think as a society we would have moved on into a way of helping rather than of taboo?

I wouldn’t be able to say exactly where mental health will be, but the progress has been good and I’m hoping it will continue. It’s more widely accepted and acknowledged now, compared to how it was, but i’d like to increase understanding and acceptance of the mechanisms and science, rather than a focus on inspirational memes or well-meant but largely meaningless platitudes

7. Who are your biggest inspirations in terms of writing and why?

I don’t really have specific inspirations or role models, I’ve always been sceptical about the idea of modelling your life and goals on someone else’s. I think, if I had to pick though, it was Spike Milligan who had the biggest impact, especially his war diaries. The mix of brilliant humour and deep tragedy and introspective analysis showed me that it was possible to do such a thing.

8. Did you write this from personal experience, and if so can you explain?

All the stuff I write is things I’ve learned, but I don’t have mental health problems of my own thus far. However, my background, growing up in a pub in a remote economically-depressed community, as well as being a resident of Bridgend and the suicide spate in the late 2000s, these all informed my compassionate approach and constant desire to improve mental health understanding.

9. What is your advice for anyone suffering?

It’s tricky. There’s so much advice out there, and a lot of it is contradictory or well-meant but ineffective. I guess I’d just want to point out that your issues and your suffering is genuine, and anyone dismissing it has no right to do so. It’s your mind, only you can say what goes on in it

10. What do you hope to Psycho-logical achieves?

I’m hoping it can reduce fear and uncertainty, and hopefully stigma, around mental health. If just one person feels better about their issues or situation, that would be enough.

Thank you Dean for joining me today…if you would like to know more about the book here is the blurb.

Countless charities and awareness campaigns work tirelessly to show people that mental health problems are common and serious issues. But when it comes to mental health matters, one question that’s rarely asked is…why?   

Why are conditions like depression and anxiety so common?

Why is our mental health so vulnerable to the stresses and events of modern life?

Why do so many mental health problems have pronounced physical symptoms?

Why, if mental health problems are so commonplace, does anyone need to be made ‘aware’ of them in the first place?

And why is there still so much confusion and stigma about mental health matters?   

 

 

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2019, Blog Tour, Blogtober, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: The Dead Of Winter by A B Gibson

Today I am pleased to be sharing two posts from two very different blog tours. See you get a delay from me and then bam two lots of goodness.

So without further ado I thank Kelly @ Love Books for inviting me on this tour. Today I will be sharing an extract from the book.

Blurb: Four young professionals pick the wrong weekend to visit a popular Pumpkin Patch Bed and Breakfast. It’s the last day of the season, and the weather and the farm are picture-perfect. Ma and Pa Winter are the consummate hosts, and they immediately win over Dillon, Tara, Josh and Julia with their homespun authenticity. Like the thousands of other visitors to Winters Farm and Orchard, the four are eager to pick apples and pumpkins and take the challenge of the Giant Corn Maze. But Ma Winter has other plans. A scary moonlight hayride spirals into a frantic twenty-four hours of deception and mayhem, and the group find themselves unwilling participants in a horrific family tradition.  

Dead of Winter purchase link

And here is the extract:

PA’S ROUGH, CALLOUSED HANDS HELPED steady the thirty-odd passengers up the steep and rickety steps of the old-fashioned hay wagon, where square bales lined the wooden fence-like railings for seating. The fresh, pungent aroma of the extra hay covering the floor added pleasant authenticity to the atmosphere, and a good whiff of Pas boozy breath added an element of danger.

The tall and ancient John Deere tractor with its rusted smokestack and pipes sticking out from all sides was reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting, and with giant tires as tall as Pa, the contraption appeared to be more than up to the task of pulling a wagon full of adults. To help seat her passengers, Ma used her flashlight like an usher, and she encouraged them to squeeze together and get cozy. Tara and Dillon found two bales next to each other and huddled under one of the quilts they brought along from the bonfire. Josh and Julia shared another, but they conspicuously did not huddle.

A nervous Carrie avoided eye contact with Ma as she boarded the wagon. She tried to slide unobtrusively on the bale next to Dillon, but Ma was quick to flash her light on an empty seat on the other side of the wagon and told her to sit there. “You know, for balance.” It was neither given nor interpreted as a suggestion, and Carrie reluctantly obeyed her order and made the switch.

Dillon lied to make her feel less afraid. “They probably shift people around all the time, like they do on small planes.” When Ma gave Pa a strange hand signal, he sensed another setup. “Uh-oh. This is going to be good,” he whispered to Tara.

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour

2019, Bath, beauty

Blogtober was….

Going so well until yesterday. Yesterday was my first ever late shift in my new job so I had no excuses really as I was at home for a massive chunk of the day, although I did run some errands and wash my hair and time just slipped by. I’d meant to post on my break and ended up reading.

My reading has been so so and actually having proper breaks means I get some in which is good. There’s probably a number of half started posts I could have finished but needed something light as I have a banging headache and should be sleeping now….

So…

This is the Body Shops coffee face mask and oh my I probably needed this in my system today. It’s very similar to that of Lush’s cup of coffee which has been a favourite for a while.

So what can I say about this. If you don’t like coffee steer clear as it’s a very strong and distinctive smell of caffeine. Which works for me. It also makes my face feel soft and hydrated.

Now here’s for one of those awful pics of me.

Ok so there’s two terrifying pics of me. Excuse the state but this stuff is fab. It’s worth every penny.

I’m sorry yesterday there was no post I’m eager to add different content to the blog and I would love to spend one day of my week answering questions here on Hayley Reviews so hit me..

2019, Author Love, Blogtober, christmas, Uncategorized

Blog Tour: The Christmas Calendar Girls By Samantha Tonge

Today I am delighted to share my second Christmas read of 2019 I never imagined I would be reading them in October. I’ve read a few of Samantha Tonge’s books and truly loved them so I was overjoyed to be invited onto her blog tour for The Christmas Calendar Girls.

Blurb: Christmas is meant to be a time of giving, so with Chesterwood food bank under risk of closure Fern knows just what to do to save it. She’s going to get the town to create a living advent calendar.

Fern, and her best friends, call for help from the local community to bring this calendar to life. When Kit, the new man in town, offers his assistance Fern’s heart can’t help but skip a beat (or two).

As they grow ever closer, Fern must admit that Kit’s breaking down the barriers she built after the death of her husband. But his past is holding him back and Fern doesn’t know how to reach him. No matter how hard she tries.

In this town, Kit’s not the only one with secrets. Domestic goddess Cara is behaving oddly, burning meals in the oven and clothes whilst ironing, and Davina’s perfect children are causing trouble at school leaving her son, Jasper, desperately unhappy.

Can the Christmas Calendar Girls find a way to bring the community together in time to save the food bank, while still supporting their families and each other? Can Fern find love again with Kit?

This is a story about kindness and letting go of the past. It’s about looking out for your neighbours and about making every day feel like Christmas.

Review: As I said above this is my second Christmas read and this one also is about so much more than presents. Samantha Tonge has openly spoken of her struggles and I love how she’s added an element of that in a few of her characters namely the elusive Kit. Going through hard and desperate times doesn’t make us bad people it makes us human. I loved seeing him transform as a character ultimately forgiving himself for his wrong doings. Most of the time we are our own worst critics and Kit learned the hard way and came out on top.

From the very beginning I loved Cara, Davina and Fern three very different feisty ladies who make the greatest army of friends. I loved how they pulled together and worked as a team. If you decide to read this novel you will see how ying and yang they are but ultimately they are the greatest friendship group. I loved getting to know them and seeing each of them hit bumps in the way and come out on top.

I have to mention Audrey who really did pull at my heart strings. She made me think of my beautiful Nan who is now one of the brightest stars in the sky she was fiercely independent right until the end and the cinema experiences had me back in my Nan’s front room watching films. I like to think my latest job move is linked to her and I feel a small sense of pride when I watch something I know she would have loved. It’s like a hug from her all over again.

I really loved the sense of community and sadly these days it’s not something that happens. I love the togetherness and the sense of hope and achievement. Another festive read that made me think of the true value of Christmas. Myself and my siblings now do a secret Santa and bar that we only go all out on the kids and my parents and that suits us. Although last year we all managed to work out who had who etc.

We’re not into the festivities yet as it’s only October but my nieces are taking part in harvest festival at school and are appreciating that there are others out there less fortunate than us.

A novel full of love, friendships and how loss in any way shape or form effects us all both young and old alike. A truly heartwarming story that will have you smiling once you close the book.

Be sure to check out the rest of the tour…

2019, Off Topic, personal, Uncategorized

10 years on…

Ten years ago tomorrow my life changed…some of you may sigh and call me dramatic but life really did change the minute we found out Stephen Gately had died.

I still to this day feel fortunate to have been at Emma’s I can’t imagine how I would have felt if I was alone. It’s funny as we had seen Ronan on a TV show about the Carpenters and then I stayed at Emma’s, we’d had a nice meal out with her family and gone to sleep like any other time.

To then be woken at 3am to Emma’s sister giving us the earth shattering news. Neither of us wanted to believe it, imagining it to be a sick joke. We’d both turned our phones off but when we powered them up we both had hundreds of messages from mutual friends, my family and school friends that neither of us had spoken to in years.

In speaking to loved ones and on Emma putting the TV on our fears case true.

Early that year we’d made comments on not understanding it when Michael Jackson died but when Steo passed it hit us like a train. I’d been a massive Boyzone fan since I was small and all I’d wanted was to meet them. I had met all of them bar Mikey during their solo time but when they reunited in 2007 I was given that chance to go all round the country seeing them and making friends.

That child I was would never have believed how lucky I was….Boyzone will always be a five piece and they will always mean the world to me. They let me escape when I needed to and their music always lifts my mood. Steo lives on in the music and he’s never forgotten.

This is still one of my most treasured photos

Grief is a funny thing that effects us all. I’ve changed so much since 2009 but that raw emotion is still there. It’s not always tears but it’s definitely there.

2019, Author Love, Author Q&A, Blogtober, Uncategorized

Q&A with Daisy Tate…

So I promised there would be two posts to honour yesterday’s Twitter poll. www.Twitter.com/HayleyTOfficial

I’m delighted to welcome Daisy Tate to Hayley Reviews today. I loved and truly adored part one of the Happy Glampers and once I’ve organised my reading and my new working patterns I will be getting stuck into part two.

You can read my thoughts on the Happy Glampers Here

1.I read the Happy Glampers not knowing it was only part one and I loved it. Where did you get the inspiration for it?

The idea to write about Glampers was my editor’s idea. She wanted a four part series to release first online (available now) and then as an entire book (available in Spring 2020). I wrote a few synopses exploring different groups of friends/families who were either glamping or running a glamping business. Together we wove what is hopefully a magic mix of friends who glamp together (and stay together, obvs!).

2. As I say I didn’t realise it was only part one? What can we expect from the four friends, I cannot wait to read the rest.

I’m so happy you enjoyed it. The rest of the book takes quite a wild ride. The entire book takes place over the course of a year. Without giving too much away, each of the characters will take quite a wild ride that will make them take a hard look at their lives but with lots of laughs (and cake!) along the way. There will be camping in Wales, a trip to Scotland and possibly a trip down memory lane in Bristol!

3. This is your debut right? What else can we expect from you?

This is my debut. I was offered a two book contract so you’ll definitely see those and, fingers crossed, if you all enjoy the books, there will be more. One of my MANY fantasies is to write a book that becomes a film and/or a television series I started out wanting to be an actor and never lost the passion for TV and film. I then went on to become a news cameraman before I met my fella and we moved to the farm, so fingers crossed, I’ll get something up on the silver screen one day!

4. What’s your daily writing day like?

I get up pretty early. After a dog walk (if I haven’t convinced The Hubby to do it) and making a rather strong mug of coffee (about the size of my head), I head to the keyboard. Some days it’s a struggle ignore all of that exciting social media action out there, so it’s definitely an exercise in control. I tend to write until about midday when farm duties take over and from there on out it’s cows, chickens, bees and, of course, dog walks.

5. What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading THREE books at the moment (for some reason, I can never do just one!). I’m reading Everything I Know About Love by the soul baring Dolly Alderton, The Break by the fabulous Marian Keyes and My Not So Fabulous Life by the wonderful Sophie Kinsella.

6. What are you working on at the moment?

I am working on a book called A Bicycle Built for Sue – I’m in the throes of writing my second book called A Bicycle Built for Sue which is a standalone novel (no need to wait for all of the parts this time!). I’ve just returned from riding my bicycle on the coast to coast Hadrian’s Wall ride as research…so that’s your teaser.

7. What’s your earliest memory of books?

Ohhhh….I would say going to the library. My sister, brother and I read like hungry wolves attack, umm….a bucket of KFC. We would bring ‘the box’ and were allowed six books and half an hour to choose whatever we wanted. My mum also used to read the Little House on the Prarie series to us again and again and again and I LOVED it every single time.

8. How do you create your characters??

I tend to need an image of them to really nail who they are. When I am writing them I really like being inside their emotional centre, so if I have a picture of who I’m writing in my head (or, in this case, I pinned them up on the corkboard opposite my desk), it really helps.

9. When did you realise you wanted to become a writer?

I was a bit slow off the mark on this one! Everyone seemed to know but me. I was obsessed with becoming an actor and then when it came time to hit the real world, it turned out I hated auditioning. Ooops. Then, when I worked in news, I wrote every day. I also wrote little plays we took up to Edinburgh and I loved writing comedy sketches and comedy news pieces. It wasn’t until a friend dared me to try and write a Mills & Boon that I finally sat down and wrote an entire book. And after that? Well…here we are!

10. What is your ultimate goal?

I’d love to write a book that scoops up the reader’s heart, takes it on a tumultuous journey of laughter, emotional peaks and troughs and then at the last breath-taing minute, brings you back to earth with a nice cosy landing. And, of course, have it made into a major motion picture starring, say, Emma Stone and…oh…fill in whoever floats your boat! (This week I’m all about Tom Hardy because he loves dogs as much as I do.) I would also like to have about a hundred Bernese Mountain Dogs. And more cows. And make honeycomb crunch that isn’t chewy to squish into homemade chocolate ice cream sandwiches.

Thank you once again Daisy and I cannot wait to finish the Glampers series. I am definitely a fan.

If you’re an author or blogger and would love to take part in one of my Q&A’s do get in touch…

2019, audible, Author Love, Uncategorized

Audible Review: Postscript By Cecelia Ahern

Thank you to those who posted on my Twitter poll. www.Twitter.com/HayleyTOfficial

It was a 50/50 split so I’m hoping to honour both. So this is the first of two posts today….I love love loved this book it was one of my September favourites and it’s taken me a while to put my thoughts into order to do it justice so without further ado I give you my thoughts on Cecelia Ahern’s fantastic sequel.

Blurb: It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.

She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

Review: I still remember the day Cecelia announced that she had written the sequel to PS I Love You. From the day of the announcement I knew that I wouldn’t be able to wait and I would need Postscript on release. I was so eager to have Holly & Gerry back into my life. And my oh my it did not disappoint, it was the last audiobook I’ve listened to whilst struggling with ear pain in my left ear.

Holly and Gerry came into my life 15 years ago I was at university and I remember purchasing it just before a term break, it would be my treat, and what a treat it was.

During my uni time I didn’t read a lot for pleasure as I just didn’t have the time or the brain power, to this day I can remember how empowered and full of love I was for Holly and Gerry and going back into that bubble both excited and terrified me. The saddest thing for me is that my auntie Bina loved reading PS I Love You after my uncle passed and since then she’s joined him, so she’s not here to enjoy the total beauty of Postscript, I know she would have had a heart full of love for it but I know she will also be happier by my uncles side.

What can I say to do Postscript justice, I honestly don’t know how I can. It was a beautiful and emotional read that will stay with me. I loved how Cecelia interlinked lots of PS I Love You, especially with the letters. It was lovely and nostalgic to take that trip down memory lane and 15 years on I’m still mesmerised and a blubbering mess. After listening to the prologue there were tears but it was such a beautiful emotion…

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.

It’s so hard to review something so beautiful and to something that’s a continuation. I love how Cecelia deals with grief and how she has portrayed that even after seven years you can be drawn back to that place that had you feeling so lost and alone.

Holly is a character I have loved since the first book and I love seeing how Gerry managed to empower her whilst struggling with his loss and how ultimately he can be her downfall also. It shows that Holly is not only real but she’s human.

Seeing the PS I Love You club blossom and change was heartwarming and heartbreaking. I can see why Holly had conflicting thoughts and I feel like as a reader I joined Holly on that emotional rollercoaster.

There are so many ups and downs within Postscript but it was a truly emotional journey that I wholeheartedly loved being on. I don’t want to ruin any of the story so I shan’t be saying too much more apart from to Cecelia thank you so much for bringing Holly and Gerry back to us. It’s everything I hoped for and so much more. I wish there had been a UK event for this masterpiece.

If you haven’t read PS I Love You I urge you to do so now…you won’t be disappointed.

2019, audible, Uncategorized

Audible Review: Down and Out in Paris and London By George Orwell

Blurb: An autobiographical study, Down and Out in Paris and London follows Orwell as he tramps around both Paris and London. Pawning his belongings to buy food, unemployment, drinking heavily and jostling for a place in homeless hostels are but a few of the experiences related with candour and insight in this unabridged exclusive audiobook. Orwell was arguably one of the first ‘gonzo’ journalists.
In this unabridged, enlightening and often shocking expose of life on the streets of two of Europe’s most romanticised and celebrated cities, Orwell describes in detail the day-to-day life of a ‘down-and-out’, which involves hunger, filth, derision and often prejudice and violence. Alcohol is also a staple distraction on both sides of the channel for the destitute, and Orwell’s comments on issues such as the emasculation of a man when he becomes a tramp (women see him as ‘less than’ a man and will not interact with him) are truly fascinating.

Review: I have been meaning to add some George Orwell to my reading in forever. So when this popped up on the audible daily deal it seemed like a no brainer. For an audio it wasn’t too long but I still spread it out over many walking and bus journeys.

As ever, with audio I often mention the narration, as sometimes it’s just not great. On this occasion I feel that Jeremy has the right voice for this type of story. In listening it made me feel like I was in old London and Paris. I wasn’t around during the old money times and I still don’t really understand it, but I can understand in some aspects.

The talk of poverty in London and Paris is surprisingly sad, the things that these men went through just to get by is sad and it truly makes you think. To think this was set in a totally different time and I feel like poverty and homelessness is a lot worse these days.

It really does make you think, a lot of the time these people all of us have walked on past have a story. Many of them have hit hard times due to loss, illness, health issues etc. What I will say is think the next time you walk past someone who is homeless, it could honestly happen to any of us.

George Orwell really does write a fascinating insight to a time that could well come round again. The strains many of us face on a day to day basis could take us here. Never ever forget what you have and always be grateful for what you do have. As I can guarantee there is someone out there having a harder time than you. Take a step back and breathe, this is what I truly love about reading. I must admit I’m missing the audiobooks may have to get a little listening time in at home.

Have you read any of George Orwell’s work if so what would you recommend next?

2019, A thought? A question, Off Topic, personal, Uncategorized

Senses…

Now to start this post I’m going to have to ramble slightly so I apologise in advance. At the beginning of July well to be honest it could have been from the end of June but I remember it being July as I had tried to get a doctors appointment before my weekend in Dublin. I had been struggling with a piercing earache where it was leaking and all sorts leaving me in pain and slightly death.

It seems whenever I’m unwell I cannot be seen by a GP so I’m usually sat in urgent care or listening to advice from others. I went to Ireland for the weekend and I had a great time although I was still struggling with an earache. So on my return I went to Boots and purchased Earex, it helped for a bit, the puss stopped and the pain subsided temporarily at least. Mid August I was seriously struggling but with a holiday looming I wanted some answers and I wanted something to dull the pain so I went through the process of trying to be seen.

In August I was given both ear drops and then antibiotics (first via urgent care, second via an actual appointment with a GP) it improved but I knew deep down I wasn’t done with the ear pain. I then managed to get a doctors appointment and was seen by a helpful lady who told me what I knew, my ear was still blocked and I would need to be seen by ENT. That again seemed to be another battle, if they had listened to me before my holiday I would have been seen by ENT earlier.

My first experience in ENT left me in tears and I was grateful for a good book and to have work to get back to. Not only did I feel lost I felt vulnerable, having studied Physical Education and most recently fitness I know a lot of technical terms but of the ear I’m baffled. I understand that the NHS do an amazing job and are seriously stretched but on the occasions I’ve been seen I’ve been made to feel like an inconvenience. I didn’t understand what the doctors were telling me and I instantly burst into tears.

Thankfully my fears weren’t as bad as I first thought but it’s a long process that I’m still waiting on. I had to go back the following Monday – the hearing test was well explained to me and I felt somewhat better now I was being listened to. When I was then called in to see the doctor I instantly felt that vulnerability and sadness once again. On my initial appointment I was told on my next visit I would have the hearing test and the MRI and from there I would know if I needed an operation. That wasn’t the case and when I explained my frustrations and asked if there were any dos and don’ts in the meantime whilst I await the MRI letter I was merely treated like an inconvenience – like why would you ask something so stupid?

Here I was thinking that your hearing was an important part of daily life.

To my surprise it wasn’t an eight week wait for my letter regarding an MRI appointment on 1st October I arrived home after my induction for my new job to a letter for an appointment on 4th October. So as I type the continuation of this blog post I’ve had my MRI and it wasn’t fun in the slightest. That’s over with now to await my results.

Having just started a new job it’s not ideal at all but I’m hoping that seeing as I was seen a lot sooner than expected I hope that means my full hearing could be back with me soon.

The one thing that’s terrified me in this whole experience is how vulnerable I have felt. I can’t hear people walking by me until they are right in my face. It’s also made me value my senses a lot more than I have before. Feeling helpless is heartbreaking and my journey isn’t over yet but I’m trying to make the best of a bad situation.

I love audiobooks but as it stands I’ve put a hold on my audible account as my hearing is limited unless I’m listening in the comfort of my own home. I guess the positive there is that I save some money.

I’ll keep you posted…that’s if your interested.

2019, Author Love, Blogtober, christmas, Uncategorized

Book Review: Coming Home To Glendale Hall By Victoria Walters

Blurb: Beth Williams hasn’t been home for ten years. When she fell pregnant at just sixteen, knowing that her family would never approve, she ran away from the imposing Scottish estate that had been her home, building a new life for herself and her daughter hundreds of miles away.

But when her father begs her to return home to see her gravely ill grandmother, Beth is apprehensive at the thought of seeing her family again. With her daughter Isabelle, now a feisty ten-year-old, in tow, she plans to cut her visit as short as she can whilst fulfilling her duty.

Beth has worked hard to leave her past behind her, living in London with Isabelle and working hard to be the best single mother she can be. Returning to the Glendale Hall estate means facing her strict and unaffectionate mother, formidable grandmother, as well her teenage boyfriend, Drew, who broke her heart and doesn’t know that he has a daughter.

But Beth is about to discover that everyone has their own version of the past, and the true story she thought she knew for the last ten years might well be a very different one to the truth. Will Beth be able to find it in her heart to forgive her mother and grandmother (and herself) for what happened ten years ago? Or will she end up running away all over again?

Your home isn’t a place, it’s the people you share it with.

Review: Wow!!! Where do I start? I don’t usually read Christmas books at the end of September beginning of October but I had been waiting for this one and had pre ordered. So I couldn’t wait for too long and was it worth the wait, you bet it was. I always say I will re-read books but it very rarely happens as there are always so many on offer, but I feel like if I proper needed a Christmas boost this would be the book to give me that.

Firstly Victoria Walters writes a compelling read that will have you truly mesmerised from the very first page. I remember reading that blurb of this and being intrigued that intrigue, want and pure joy carried on throughout.

From the beginning I adored Beth and I loved everything about her, her story was hard and at some points truly heartbreaking but as a sixteen year old girl she made a decision that would ultimately change her life.

I have to mention Izzy – what a great kid I love how gutsy and determined she is although she thinks of others before herself – meaning her mum doesn’t always know what’s on the ten year olds mind. What I loved about her the most was how into books she was and the fact she wasn’t scared to say how she felt – there were a few occasions when she just blurts out what many of the adults wouldn’t or couldn’t.

This story gives you love, loss, regret, forgiveness and the art of family.

Deep down we all have a family, granted each of ours is different and depending on your communication it really does depend on how close you are. I love how Victoria has written a story about a family unit with a whole host of issues but who deep down love each other deeply. They may not have always shown it and their lack of communication and love was paramount at times but when push came to shove they pulled through as family for themselves and the sake of Glendale.

The element of loss really hit home to me, transporting me back to that time when I first experienced losing a loved one and how hard it is. There was another segment of loss in realising when someone has truly left this world another feeling I’ve experienced and I believe that this was done so well and with grace.

I also love the elements of friendships reconnecting. Heather and Beth had obviously been thick as thieves as kids but had lost touch when Beth fled. It was heartwarming to see their friendship come back together seamlessly.

Victoria awakened the romantic in me, I was left truly gushing at this book and there were times when I became increasingly frustrated with Beth and Drew and there was an addition that annoyed me from the off. But I feel I called what happened – long before it transpired on the page. What kept me smiling was the pure romance of a first love that never dulled. A sparkle that was always there no matter the time apart. Leaving me feeling elated and longing for that kind of love.

There were so many fantastic elements to this book that really made me think of the true aspects of Christmas it’s so much more than the presents. It’s about spending time with those you love and truly appreciating that time. As each and everyone of us will leave this world at some point. It’s made me think of my Christmas traditions and now my nieces and nephew are growing it changes the real value of Christmas for me. As long as they enjoy the magic I’m perfectly happy to sit back with a book and a festive drink. Although in London we rarely get the magical white Christmas but I cannot wait to devour It’s a Wonderful Life again it took me forever to watch with my mum and I couldn’t imagine a year without it now.