The Magic of Christmas Tree Farm by Erin Green

I am unbelievably lucky to call the lovely author Erin Green a friend. She is one of the most inspirational ladies I know and I have followed her writing career with great excitement and pride. So, imagine my surprise one grey day (pretty sure it was grey but that could be artistic licence) when I got a little message asking me which name I would like my character to have in her latest novel. As an avid reader and huge fan of Erin’s work, this was one of the most fabulous things to ever happen.

Erin’s third offering is a truly beautiful tale with a heart. Set at the most wonderful time of the year, it tells the tale of three lovely ladies who are at three very different stages of their lives but who all want the same thing – that very special stomach flip and the future happiness we all deserve. The tale centres around the delightful Christmas Tree Farm, a place that offers festive magic for all.

The real beauty of Erin’s writing is that you can relate to the characters and their experiences. We will all have felt Holly’s teenage fears, we all know that life can not always be all we imagined but it can still be our best life like Angie, and Nina’s loss will strike a note with anyone who has experienced something similar. This book certainly should come with a mascara warning because the story will catch you out unexpectedly with its beautiful sensitivity.

It was also a complete joy to recognise the little tributes to people that Erin (and in some cases, I) know. The inspirations were clear and wonderful. The little observations Erin has made of people are delightful. So, I can not thank Erin enough for such a lovely reading experience and opportunity (she even described my wedding dress perfectly).

So, whatever your usual reading pleasure, you will enjoy this novel. It does have romance, it has humour but most importantly for me it has some key messages about life. After a difficult year at points for me, this book was quite a support.

And, this year, I think I might wrap a couple of extra presents in memory of loved ones – and pass them on to people I know could really love them…

P.S Kitty is an awesome character!

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

I was first introduced to fabulous Louisa Clark in 2013. I remember it so clearly because my lovey friend Erin Green gave me the World Book Night edition of ‘Me Before You’ and I absolutely loved it. From that moment I was determined to follow the adventures of Louisa Clark and all the characters she meets along the way. After all, Lou feels like a long-lost friend each time you pick up one of the books.

‘Still Me’ is the third installment of Louisa’s adventure as she has taken the huge step to move to New York and work as the companion/PA to the incredibly rich Mrs Gopnik. There is absolutely no way that I can share spoilers to this story because I know that there is a whole world of Lou Clark fans out there. However, I will say that nothing is plain sailing and there is a host of colourful characters who help Louisa realise who she is and that she is ‘Still Me’.

This novel really make you feel like you are in New York (if you have been as a tourist – the Rockefeller Centre scene is perfect). You almost wish you were meeting the people our much-loved heroine is encountering (well, most of them anyway). It is an emotional read; I shed a few tears, but mainly because one event reflected my family experience at the start of the year.

This book has certainly reignited my desire to head back to New York, or at least embrace more adventure in my life. After all, ‘knowledge is power’ and you only have one life, so let’s make it count while we can.

If you have never met Louisa Clark, it is time to go back to ‘Me Before You’ and follow her adventures because you never know she may teach you some important life lessons.

The Single Girl’s Calendar by Erin Green

I am lucky enough to call the author Erin Green a friend. I have really enjoyed following her journey with her, and when the publication date of her second novel was brought forward to the 1st of January (after the enormous success of her debut novel ‘A Christmas Wish’), I made sure I had a copy.

The Single Girl’s Calendar is a wonderful concept at the centre of this novel. Esmé’s life ends up on a very different path to one that she intended and, to help her with this, the Single Girl’s Calendar gives her a task a day to get back on track. Although, Esmé ends up with another challenge of getting used to her new home: a house share with four of her brother’s friends. I can not reveal any spoilers, as I think everybody should give this bool a go, other that to say you will not want to put this book down and I defy you to not finish with a huge character crush on someone among these pages.

Esmé’s journey of self-discovery makes for a heart-warming read. There is a gentle humour throughout the novel, as well as moments where you can not help but shed a few tears of joy. Her adventures take place in the city of Birmingham too, so if you know the city, you can imagine observing the events as they unfold on the page.

If you want to read a book that leaves you feeling you have made a new friend – then make it your new year’s resolution to read ‘The Single Girl’s Calendar’. You might even find yourself setting a few day-by-day challenges.

A Christmas Wish by Erin Green

It’s a slightly unusual time of year to read a book with such a festive title, but I can make an exception when I am lucky enough to call the author of this book a friend. It is, also, her first published title, so I could not wait to get started.

This is a beautifully written novel with a great collection of characters. Flora, the central character, has one main wish for Christmas: to find out who her birth mother is.

This one main mission leads her on quite an adventure, starting with head butting a policeman, and introduces her to a whole host of colourful characters, as well as turning village life upside down. This book is a real page turner as you follow Flora (and others) on a voyage of discovery about themselves and the people that they love. You will be rooting for a happy ending for everyone – even Veronica.

There is a real humour and warmth to the writing, but you will shed a tear as you move to the conclusion of the story. Also, make sure you read the dedication, author note and acknowledgements in this novel, as it is as much a part of the story and the journey that Erin has been on writing this gem of a novel. (And there is another one coming in 2018.)

Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter – whatever the time of year, we should all enjoy ‘A Christmas Wish‘ (and very likely reread at Christmas time).