*Book Review** The Gift of Happiness

The Gift of Happiness by Holly Martin.

Welcome to my stop on The Gift of Happiness book blog tour. I could not wait to post it… I had to really hold off on putting my review out sooner as I think you should get a glimpse into the village of happiness and honestly I think you should all read this and it’s prequel.

I am a massive, massive fan of Holly Martin and she mad kindly offered me a chance to read a few of her books before publication date in return for an honest review, a few things, 1) you all know I love reading so I was never going to turn that offer down, 2) I adore Holly’s work so I almost bit her hand off and finally, 3) I write my blog because I love to write and share, but it is a huge dream of mine to write things people find interesting and may help them, so overall, I love Holly’s work and she has given me a chance to fulfil a dream so I really do.

Anyway, I’m rambling again onto my review:

A sparkling, thoughtful romantic tale which gave me tingles and made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Christmas stories are my favourite kind of stories.

For me, it’s always about the characters. If I fall in love with one or all the characters, then it’s going to be a yes from me. The Gift of Happiness is no different, I love the characters – but then again, in a Holly Martin story, I always do! Like with people in real life, there are characters you will grow to love and some that you instantly fall in love with. Willow in the first book was an instant for me, Ruby was a bit of a grower, but I think she was written that way. You have to follow her journey, understand and learn why she is the way she is. I accepted her character early on as we should with people, she is the way she is, and she doesn’t want to change for anyone and I like that but I didn’t love her, not right away anyway, but when you start to learn her story and see her interactions with Willow, the villagers and Jacob and it soon wasn’t long before I’d fallen for her characters charm too, just as Jacob did.

I love how the characters were established a little in the first book and then grow in this one. I adore Hollys books where we are given a story and characters in one book but still get to hear from them in other stories. I love immersing myself in the Little Village of Happiness. Who wouldn’t want to live in this lovely, beautiful and unique place? I’m actually very jealous of all the characters.

I do find it hard to believe that both brothers could be so beautiful in real life but in a book I am a sucker for it. I read to escape and travel to new places and meet exciting new people. I am happy to suspend reality for a few hours and fall in love with two beautiful and amazing brothers.

I am not usually one for spoilers as I’d rather just give my open and honest opinion and hope this is enough for you to decide to go pick it up, on your own but on this occasion. I do want to give a little insight into the book and I will have a spoiler below, so if you don’t want to know please skip this next section.

The opening of the book sees Ruby, who we met in the previous book moving into Happiness. She had a few days of amazing sex with Jacob when she visited Willow in the summer but she is a lady who does not wish to settle down and is happy with no strings fun, or is she? As with all romance stories, this is just the start of Ruby’s journey. It’s Christmas time in Happiness, and the village is alive with all things festive and as always the gossips are out in full force as Ruby comes to town. Can she live in the village for the next year without falling into Jacobs arms, bed or heart?

***Spoiler alert***

The main theme throughout this story is dealing with loss, our fears and overcoming them. Although, we won’t all have the exact same experiences as Ruby, her story still resonates with me, as we all do often let our past, our fears etc dictate our futures. The loss of Ruby’s partner had me choked up and I cried whilst reading this chapter. A]if a character in a book can make me cry just by a few simple words, you know you are reading a good story. But more than the sadness of the tale, it was the understanding from Jacobs character which was incredible and got to me most. I love and hate reading, as real life men don’t always live up to literary ones.

**Spoiler over**

Deaf awareness and understanding in this story and it’s prequel is truly beautiful! Add to this, the inclusion of a Paralympic and the way he is living his life too, is remarkable. What an inspiring read! I would love to believe that if people were more like the characters in stories like this, the world would be a nicer place. Having health/mental/ physical differences doesn’t make the characters less of a person or ever come across as a negative. I love how it’s part of the characters but it’s not the defining feature. I especially like Ruby’s reasoning for learning to sign, “she knew it was partly to expand her skills and learn a new language and to be able to help understand people who might struggle to be understood.” People who learn languages so when they travel they can try to speak to the natives of that area is wonderful, I am one of those. I like to think that although my skills might not be great I am trying. Learning to sign to communicate with people who might struggle is, in my eyes even more wonderful. Imagine if we all did this, imagine if we all tried harder to communicate with everyone. Beautiful.

I love Christmas – the idea of carrying Christmas spirit/ magic all year round is something me and my mum have always done and I like to hope I’m passing that onto my kids! I always say we are Spirit of Christmas ambassadors. I love a Christmas story but a Christmas story about a lady I can relate to well that was perfection in a book. It’s not a secret that Holly is one of my favourite authors, it’s not often I pick her up her books and don’t instantly fall in love with everything about it. I love how she helps you connect with the characters and the story, but also with the places. Each time I discover a new place in Holly’s books, I want to go to and explore and find some of these treasures for myself. Happiness is almost a character itself. Overall, a book by Holly is probably going to be a hit in my house, a book by Holly about Christmas, well Christmas has arrived early in my house, and a little warning to my friends and family, you may all be receiving this book as a gift this year.

As a final note, I’d like to say a massive massive thank you to Holly for choosing British Heart Foundation as the charity her character chooses to support and for choosing to write about heart conditions and opening up discussions about BHF and what they do. I lost my dad quite young and he suffered with heart conditions. The work and research they do is so important and they don’t get government funding so all the help they get from donations etc is really appreciated. I would have loved this book anyway as Holly is one of my favourite authors, but when you add all the positives, the connection to the British Heart Foundation and everything about Christmas, it might actually be one of my all time favourites.

Overall, I love this book and if you want a festive, feel good read which will leave you feel all warm and fuzzy inside but also might make you jealous of all the beautiful, friendly and romantic feels – this is the book for you!

Onwards and upwards and all that Jazz!

I am not usually one for all of that New Year, New Start business, not because I don’t believe it’s good thing but because if I start something as a fad or because it’s the thing to do, I don’t generally have the willpower to follow it through! 😂

But when it comes to writing for my blog, it is a New Year, and is the perfect time to do a bit of writing. I took a break towards the end of the year, to try to get my life sorted, rest, have fun with my family and friends and just relax and bathe in the festivities of Christmas.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, I have been sharing some photos of our festive season, which I hope you have enjoyed but I haven’t found the time to do much writing, but in the New Year haze, it finally dawned on, I don’t think I’ll ever get my life ‘in order’ or sorted, as I quite like the semi-organised, chaotic version of my life. I love crazy, sporadic adventures, we will never be a really organised, on time family. It’s not how we are wired and I am ok with this. Yes, sometimes our life is crazy, and it’s tiring and frustrating but mostly it’s fun!

I love sharing on this blog. I like that I can share all of our exploits, I enjoy sharing my concerns and worries, and knowing that someone else out there is probably feeling the same and hopefully won’t feel alone anymore, I love that I get to share my loves and passions. Having a social outlet is amazing, and I hope to keep growing my blog in the coming year.

Mostly I look forward to connecting with you, my followers more over the next year. As much as I like to write, I love to communicate, I love nothing more than connecting with people, hearing stories and travelling the world without leaving my room. (I mean l love to actually travel too! 😂 but you get me). So please comment, message me, follow me on my other accounts, but please get in touch!

Just in case you missed it, here is a quick photo catch up of my ChristmaS.

Complete write off!

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“Celebrating New Year with a big kiss!!”

Hello Everyone! Firstly I have a massive apology to make, I had so many great ideas and things I wanted to share with you all over Christmas. But I was in hospital at the beginning of December, and I haven’t recovered properly now. I think I’ll cover my illness in another post, because I think it has lead to an important part of my life and deserves more than a gloss over. However, as I was ill for most of December and January has taken up quite a lot of my time and energy just getting the kids to school and myself to work, in between Drs appointments, medication and pain, I haven’t found the time to write. But I hoping, that as things settle, and my need to share with you all grows, I will slowly get back to my blog, reading and reviews.

Secondly, I usually go a little crazy at Christmas and i would usually have lots of events, trips, crafts and all sorts to share with you, but as I mentioned my December didn’t go to plan. I will cover a few little things we did, as it will be nice to share with you all, but unfortunately its too late to give out some inspiration which is what I love to do more than anything. I get my inspiration from everywhere, including reading some wonderful blogs online. My biggest dream for this blog would be to be that blog for other people. A source of inspiration, joy and love.

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“Feeling the love this year! Kissing my Maccy D’s Moose! Love him”

January has also not got off to the best start – in terms of having to fit lots of in, and everyone still be a bit tired and myself still suffering a bit so everyone else has to pick up the slack -but no fear, i won’t let it get to me. I am not a “January is rubbish, so the rest of the year will be” kind of person. I am more of a, “we only get given what we can deal with” sort of person, and I try to be a bright side person. I do have off days, and down days especially if I am in pain but mostly, I am just thankful for my children, my husband, and my family and friends.

So hopefully, I will catching up on a few blog posts on why I’ve been ill, hopefully spreading a bit of knowledge, christmas, what I have in store for the new year, I have completed a few books, so if you specifically like my book reviews, keep an eye out for them. I am also hoping to fit more fun activities and day trips with my children, so that will fun to share too.

It is a bit late but I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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The Return of the Elves.

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Larken The Elf

Meet Larken! Larken is a tricky little elf who visits us every year. He keeps an eye on the children, helps Santa, brings the children fun things to do leading up to Christmas but can be mischievous. He isn’t naughty, but often likes to play tricks and join in silly shenanigans.

Larken has been visiting our house for 6 years now, the children love him and they get so excited when he finally arrives. This year he arrived early! Normally, its the first of December. But horror of all horrors, he got lost on the way from the North Pole (we couldn’t find him). So in a panic, we got all the decorations down from the Attic early, but do not fear! Mr Butterfly Child saved the day, and all was not lost. So, rather than return everything to the attic for one more day, Larken has arrived early, but did he come alone?!

A few weeks ago, monkey asked when Larken would be here, and I said in a few weeks, the First of December as normal, and he looked puzzled at me. Monkey and Poppet sat at the Dining table whispering together, and I asked what they were up to? The cutest thing ever, was the answer. They had both helped each other write a letter to Santa asking if Larken could have a sister, and if we could “adopt” her too. So off the letter went to the North Pole and the children waited.

Larken brought a friend, a sister to be exact to help in the preparation for Christmas this year, and the children got so excited last night, I thought I would never get them to bed. I said they could each sleep with 1 elf for tonight, and after that they would need to report to Santa every night to check on toy making, the nice list and all the other things, busy elves have to help with.

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Lyric The Elf

I am not sure if I am crazy or stupid for adding an extra elf into the mix but the children love them, and Larken is very much part of our family. I was really sad when I couldn’t find him, so I am glad all is well and Christmas can continue in our house. As we have adopted her, she is quite new to the North Pole, Santa said we had to name the elf. We have a bit of a thing for “L’s” in our house, so we took to google to give us a list of names beginning with L. We searched and couldn’t agree on anything. We quite like unusual names so I came across this one, and asked the children. We had a winner, both kids like it and Mr Butterfly Child nodded. Mamma wasn’t too keen, but four out of five isn’t bad. Say hello to Lyric!

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I imagine Lyric is going to help Larken to get up to lots of mischief and will undoubtably be a pain in my … bum! But we love the fun and happiness the elves bring this time of year and I cannot wait.*

*A slight note of delay, usually I go crazy but as I am still in recovery, my kind Mum will be keeping a close eye on the elves for me!

C*******s is coming…

Yes, yes its November and I have heard a lot of mumblings of its too early and its twelve days for a reason etc., etc. Christmas is not a swear word in our house. Granted my husband is not a huge fan of getting excited too early, but each year we have been together, he relaxes that little bit more. So much so, that in November Christmas is now a word we use all the time.

Last year, my mum was in hospital for nearly the whole of December so we didn’t do as many of the wonderful festivities and activities as we normally do, so this year I wanted to make everything perfect. Obviously life had other plans as I am now, lay up in bed recovering from appendicitis or something. But I will not be deterred, Christmas is an amazing time of the year, and my favourite time of the year. My mum and my husband, thankfully are happy to pick up some of my slack, I am hoping I recover quickly so we can do all the things I have planned; from an at home nativity, carol singing to crafts and visits to Santa, I love everything about Christmas and as I am feeling sorry for myself I thought now was a good time to start looking into things I can do from my sickbed.

On this note, we don’t put our decorations up until at least the first of December, and we have a friendly elf that comes to stay with us. So even though, we have a few more days until Christmas goes full steam ahead in our house, now is a good a time as any to start thinking about activities and crafts. Stay tuned for my round ups of Pinterest arts and crafts, what will probably be some hilarious practices of our “at home nativity”, written and starring my two beautiful children in various roles, a countdown to Christmas and possibly other musings as they spring to mind.

*Book Review* Mistletoe Murders

Mistletoe Murders and other stories

P D James
This was only my second experience of P D James. Being a Jane Austen fan, Death at Pemberley was my first. So I had no expectations. I enjoyed Death at Pemberley, but I could never be sure if this was due to James storytelling or my love of all things Bennet and Darcy.

I can honestly admit, I loved it. James has a way of a setting a scene like no other. I could easily picture the Hall in which she went to stay as a young widower, her vivid descriptions pulled me in and got me trying to seek out clues and figure out the mysteries alongside our heros and heroine. I must admit, as a lover of murder mysteries and crime dramas, I thought I knew a thing or too, but I was tricked and sailed alonged with the rest of the captivated audience.

Mistletoe murder combines all my loves into one, a history of mystery and intriguing characters, a murder, a heroine and Christmas! The story may be similar to other murder mysteries but James tells it in such a way, that when the twist comes, it even fooled me. I saved this book for my lunchtime reading at work, but as I neared the end of the first story, I found I needed to know, so I took it home and completed the first story that evening.

The second story is just as intriguing and shocking. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first because I do love a story where you can love the titular character. There was  nothing you could like about Ernest Gabriel, I think he was written to be a character you shouldn’t like or feel anything for, but I do love to get attached to my book characters. However, the story still kept me on the edge of my seat and even surprised me at the end.   I honestly did not see the end coming, which thinking about it, was probably quite naive of me, but this just made my experience of the story even better.

For me, the third story is close to my heart as it reminds me of my parents, and is the driving force for choosing my next book. My parents watched Dalgleish on the TVs, and although I never got into that specific programme, they are the reason I love mysteries, crime dramas, thrillers and good old “who dunnits”. I would love to read more of the Dalgleish series. As I said I love a good character, and the little glimpse I got in this short story is begging me for more.  The short story was incredible and really gave a glimpse into the character, and how he works. I also loved the story within this one, the idea of secrets and lies going hidden for years, is exciting and kept me interested right until the end.

The final story in the book, for me was the low point. I did not enjoy it as much, I didn’t feel the suspense or intrigue I had felt with the others. I am a lover on ending on a high, and I don’t believe this booklet did that. The story was not bad, but it gave no insight into characters, I didn’t connect with the story like I had the others. The general storytelling was missing a little bit of James usual vivid atmosphere and descriptions. It also didn’t take much for me to guess what was happening before it happened, which I like to try to solve along with the detective/main character etc.

Overall, this collection of short stories was well worth the money and gave me an insight into P D James that until now I had been missing. I can’t wait until my next visit to the book store, a P D James novel will definitely be on my list. My one objection, is in part due to the last short story, although I guess it was a little evident in all the stories. They sometimes felt a little rushed, sometimes the build up of a mystery, and the character development is what makes a story, and within a short story, there isn’t always time for that. I will definitely be recommending this book to family and friends, and I am on the look out for my next read.

I am giving this collection of short stories:

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ★ (4/5 stars)

Well worth a read, and good for a quick read on your lunch break.