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Review | Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe

Hi Lovely, 

I've just finished reading a truly gorgeous christmas novel and I wanted to hop on here and tell you all about it. 

I was in two minds whether or not to read another festive novel as I like to read a handful each year, but I just can't binge on one Christmas story after another. However I am so glad that I decided to read this book as it's been a real treat. So what book am I talking about? This gorgeous one by Katherine Garbera which has such a festive and delightful cover. 

Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe is published by HarperImpulse and is out now in eBook format with the paperback being released very soon. 

There’s nothing so magical as Christmas in New York…
Santa is coming to New York!
Snow is falling, excitement is high and the delicious scent of chocolate drifts along Fifth Avenue – the Candied Apple Café is ready for Christmas! And no one is busier than publicist Iona Summerlin. With so much to do, she doesn’t have time to think about men, dating, or the fact her last boyfriend ditched her for her brother… Relationships are off the menu!
Hotel boss Mads Eriksson is not looking forward to the first Christmas since losing his wife. His six-year-old daughter Sofia has lost her belief in Christmas magic along with her mother, and he has no idea what to do. But an unusually festive business meeting at the Candied Apple – and meeting the beautiful Iona – starts to defrost Mads’ frozen heart, and suddenly life seems full of light and sparkle again.
If only they dare to believe, maybe all their Christmas dreams will come true!

I will admit that to begin with I was so close to not completing this book because for me it was lacking something, and I couldn't put my finger on what it was. However I stuck with it because I desperately wanted it to transform into a magical story of hope and miracles at christmas. How glad am I that I stuck with it?! Very! From around 40% into the book I became hooked - probably because I got the sparkle of a little romance and I am a sucker for romance. 

We meet Iona who is a fierce character in the sense that she is intelligent, strong, ambitious, and she knows what she wants in life. She owns a cafe called Candied Apple Cafe and she's currently in talks with some big companies who want to turn this one little successful shop into a set of boutique cafe's around the country. Iona works to hide from something that hurts her and through the story we find out what that is. 

One of these big companies has a handsome man attached to it who has his own painful past and a very delightful and sweet daughter who I just wanted to scoop up and cuddle. Initially he wanted to sign her cafe to his company to develop its potential further, however it soon became "complicated" in one sense, and yet in another it was just the perfect romance that swept you away.

I eagerly turned the pages, purely enthralled with the romance and the emotion that blushed from the pages. I adored the characters and although with it being a romance novel you can anticipate the ending, it's the journey that deeply enchants me. 

Katherine has captured a beautifully emotive storyline that tugs at the heart strings this time of year, and I'm sure anyone who has lost a loved one will fail to not feel tears brimming at certain points, however Katherine has developed a heart-warming story of miracles, of hope, and of love at the most magical time of the year. I am awarding this story 4/5 for the beauty and wonder of the Candied Apple Cafe. 

To purchase your copy of Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe in eBook you can buy it here that will also give you the option to pre-order the paperback 

*Thank you HarperImpulse for giving me a review copy of this delightful story to read via NetGalley* 

Practically Magic - The Rules of Magic

Hi Lovely Readers, 

Happy Fri-Yay!! It's a cold one today and it's #BlackFriday, and do you know what I purchased on such a huge retail heaven date? A bookcase. :-D I also picked up a kettle and a cosy roll neck jumper. I have my priorities don't I? Haha. 

Anyway, today, I want to share with you what I've just finished reading, and it's a book I've been excited about it since the publishers at Simon & Schuster UK sent me a copy of it to review. It's a brand NEW book by Alice Hoffman ... Yes as in the Alice Hoffman who wrote Practical Magic that was made into one of my favourite movies of all time with Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman playing the leading roles of the Owens sisters. 

I absolutely adored that film but I always wondered what the entire family history was. And those aunts; Frances & Jet. Then there's the whole Midnight Margaritas -  you can thank me later ;) 

So what is it actually about? 

Everyone needs a little magic in their lives... The Rules of Magic is the long-awaited prequel to Practical Magic, to date Alice Hoffman’s biggest selling novel and a major Hollywood film.
In this sparkling prequel we meet sisters Frances and Jet and Vincent, their brother. From the beginning their mother Susanna knew they were unique: Franny with her skin as pale as milk and blood red hair, who could commune with birds; Jet as shy as she is beautiful, who knows what others are thinking, and Vincent so charismatic that he was built for trouble. Susanna needed to set some rules of magic: no walking in the moonlight, no red shoes, no wearing black, no cats, no crows, no candles and certainly, absolutely, no books about magic…

But the Owens siblings are desperate to uncover who they really are. Each heads down a life-altering course, filled with secrets and truths, devastation and joy, and magic and love. Despite the warning handed down through the family for centuries – Know that for our family, love is a curse – they will all strive to break the rules and find true love.

I was like a kid at christmas when I found out there was a prequel - that I was going to find out about the AUNTS...and the first thing that blew my mind was the mention of Frances and Jet's brother Vincent. I never knew they had a brother - but seeing as neither of them had a child and yet they were known as the Aunts - then reason says that there had to be someone else to bear children to add to the generations. Instantly I was intrigued. 

If you're a seasonal viewer/reader of Practical Magic then you'll know that the family have a curse, but no one really knew how this curse came about. In The Rules of Magic, we're taken on a journey right up until the moment the those two darling girls turn up on their Aunt's front porch, and throughout that journey glimpses of the origin of the curse is dropped like crumbs to lead Hansel and Gretel out of the forest. 

What I wasn't expecting was the extent to how much my heart swelled and then broke through reading this book. It also left me with a hunger for more. That hunger is partly because we know the middle of the story, and now we know the start of the story - but what I want to know is what happens to Sally Owen's daughters after she find her man with "one green eye and one blue eye" in Practical Magic. Alice Hoffman has resurrected a much loved story of love, honour, curses and magic that we fell in love with through the reading of and our screens with the absolutely outstanding acting from Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. 

In The Rules of Magic we get to discover the darkness and heartbreak that surrounds the Owens family with especially poignant scenes from Jet's early childhood that had my heart breaking for the future that could have been for her. It warmed my heart just how true to herself and her feelings she was, and how much she honoured those feelings throughout her entire life. 
Frances was always the "cold one" but, what Alice has down through the writing of The Rules of Magic is she's allowed us a glimpse into Frances mind and heart so we can see the reasons why she is in fact the way that she is, and to be perfectly honest I am shocked that she's not colder with everything she had to face as a child.

Vincent, Frances and Jet are truly remarkable characters, and ones whom I now adore even more than before which I didn't think was at all possible. I have a deeply profound respect for these three siblings, and that's because of the remarkable talent of Alice Hoffman who certainly knows how to write a bestseller. Each of them have gifts of 'sight' and the way in which these interplay with each other is beautiful. Each character is strong, independent and courageous with or without the special tea from their aunt whom we also get to meet. 

Whilst the story is sprinkled with elements of magic, it is heavily blended with hidden love stories that in my opinion outweigh Romeo & Juliet. The love portrayed in The Rules of Magic is real, raw, pure, and undiluted. It's a love that's historically beautiful and recognisable. 

The ending of this book came with a tidal wave of exciting secrets spilling out that made me gasp with glee and shock with the revelations of just how this beautiful story of love and pain filters down into the characters that we fell in love with in Practical Magic. It is absolutely no surprise that Reese Witherspoon picked this book up and made it her October Must Read in her book club, and I can only hope that she will pick up the rights of this book and work her feminine magic on producing a movie from this that will capture the talent and audience just as Practical Magic did. 

I am undoubtedly awarding this book 5/5 and can only hope with eager anticipation that Alice and her publishers will consider a sequel to Practical Magic now, because I as I'm sure her readers will feel the same, would very much like to know what happens to the next generation of the Owens sisters. 

You can purchase your copy of The Rules of Magic here 

*Thank you Simon and Schuster UK for sending me a review copy of this amazing book, I have thoroughly enjoyed it* 

Awaken Your Creativity with Pam Grout

Hi Lovely, 

It's me, back again just as I promised :) 

Today I want to share with you a book that if I'd followed from cover to cover ...well you wouldn't be hearing about until next year. The book I want to share with you is one that centres on helping you unleash your creative side for an entire year. 

It's by Pam Grout, author of E-Squared, E-Cubed, and Thank and Grow Rich. Let's take a look shall we. 

Art & Soul Reloaded is written by Pam Grout, and is published by Hay House UK

With her trademark humor, enthusiasm, and no-nonsense guidance, #1 New York Times best-selling author of E-Squared Pam Grout invites you on a yearlong “apprenticeship” to recognize and unleash your innate creativity.
Making art does not necessarily mean painting a gallery-worthy still life or belting out a Grammy-winning song. It simply means finding a way to give your inner muse a voice in this world. Sure, there’s drawing, dancing, singing, and writing. But there’s also art to be made from creating your own pair of angel wings or inventing a new toy or curating your own at-home film festival.
Each week features a project of self-examination, an inspirational message, a real-world example of a celebrity who has addressed similar obstacles, and three zany activities to awaken your infinite creativity.
It’s time to declare the beat of your own drum.

I absolutely love anything that allows me to feel inspired, and either create something or write. It's one of the reasons I started this blog initially - because I love writing so much, and being creative.
I'm also quite partial to crochet and sketching on the odd occasion.
In this book Pam challenges you to a year long exploration of your creative self through weekly challenges that are designed to awaken your mind and get you thinking outside the box.
I really enjoyed reading the first 3-4 weeks in this book and have found myself to rekindle my love for being creative. So much so that I've found myself painting the classroom windows as part of displays - we have 2 kinetic letter monkey's and the window is now resembling 2 monkey's in a tree. I've also rekindled a love for journalling - something I did in my anxiety recovery but not since hitting recovery. It's a very therapeutic way of living, and I'm looking forward to seeing what else I can reload in my creative brain and soul. 

Awarding this book 4.5/5 stars 

Life Lessons Come In Nugget Size

Hey Lovely, 

How are you doing? I took the whole of September off to focus on getting back into the swing of work which meant that I didn't have much time for reading - not like I used to. It exhausting looking after 30 children every day and this time around they are the little ones, so I very rarely get to sit down for long at work. It's very busy and by the time I get home I'm just wanting to relax and sleep. 

Anyway, I did manage to read a few books over an extended period which I will be sharing with you over the coming couple of weeks by way of catching up. We have lots to look forward to. 

First up is an absolute dream book for those of us who are so busy and need short and insightful. It's by a wonderful author whom I have so much love for; Julia Cameron. Some of you may know her from ther famous The Artists Way book that introduced the world to Morning Pages. I first discovered Julia at University when I was studying Creative Writing and I still to this day love her work and techniques I learnt from her. 

Shall we take a look at this book she's recently published? Good I'm glad you said so. 

Life Lessons : 125 Prayers and Meditations is written by Julia Cameron, and is published by Hay House UK

In her signature compassionate voice that has won over the hearts of millions, Julia Cameron offers a collection of inspiring and encouraging messages to help you notice the beauty of life, trust the unfolding of events and know that you being looked after and protected, no matter what is happening.

All too often we yearn for a more spiritual life but tell ourselves it's too difficult. But the smallest prayer is heard and answered. The simplest overture meets with a loving response. Each of the prayers in this book is a starting point. Taken collectively, they offer an approach to the Divine that is powerful as well as simple. These prayers not only allow us to reach out to God, but they allow the Divine Energy to reach out to us.

The book is called Life Lessons because each entry is a corrective to commonly held misconceptions of the divine. Like the postures assumed in hatha yoga, they stretch us gently. Through these prayers, we learn more of ourselves and the divine. 

A little different from the fictional books I usually review her but I found reading Life Lessons really inspiring. Literally a sentence of two to a page, Julia offers us inspiring wisdom that is a lesson of life for us to pray over, meditate on, or like me; think about or journal on. 

In the hectic daily lives that we all have, we seem to have less and less time to think about life or what it's trying to teach us and indeed what we are already in possession of in terms of life experience and wisdom. We just work to live rather than living to work. Life Lessons offers us that moment of stillness, of mindfulness to just stop, breathe and think. 

I loved this book and its placed near the front door so that just before I pick my keys up to leave I can read a nugget of wisdom, and do the same when I come home from work. 

I've found myself journalling on occasion on some of the nuggets to record my own thoughts. 

I really like this book, and award it 4/5 stars. 

Christmas Cover Reveal | Sue Moorcroft is BACK!!!

OK this is actually rather exciting for me as I am MORE than ready to start reading Christmas books. I know it's August but let's face it, Autumn is the best time of the year to snuggle up, get cosy with a book and a blanket. So, whilst I eagerly await all this years Christmas titles to arrive I am going through my back-catalogue and reading a few that I haven't gotten around to reading yet. Sometimes we find hidden gems of the past don't we? 

Anyway, TODAY I am excited to share with you along with everyone at HarperCollins and the bookblogging community my first Christmas Cover Reveal of 2017!!! 

Sue Moorcroft is back with this beauty ... 

Publishing in eBook: 9th October
Publishing in Paperback: 2nd November

The #1 bestseller returns with an irresistibly festive tale that you won’t be able to put down!
Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.
After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.
But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.
However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…
Settle down with a mince pie and a glass of mulled wine as you devour this irresistibly festive Christmas tale. The perfect read for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.