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Christmas at Kew Gardens 2015

Tuesday, 29 December 2015
On 27th December, my husband and I visited Kew Gardens in order to experience Christmas at Kew's seasonal illuminations. 

Once again, the beautiful gardens at Kew have been given a festive makeover with a mile-long illuminated path that winds its way past the Choir of the Holly Bushes, a scented Fire Garden, colourful lanterns and dancing fountains, not to mention the illumination of the magnificient and iconic Palm House.

The Palm House

Choir of the Holly Bushes

There are a lot of additional extras such as marshmallow roasting pits, food stalls and mulled wine - perfect for children and adults alike.

The Scented Fire Garden

The Scented Fire Garden

The Scented Fire Garden

One thing I should mention is that the food stalls at the end of the trail are limited. We saw signs for food approximately half way around the trail and should have looked at that stage for more options.


Colourful Cone Lanterns

Christmas at Kew is open daily from 5pm to 10pm between 25 November 2015 to 2 January 2016. Tickets cost £18 per adult and £12 per child between 4-16 years of age (with a £2 discount if booked in advance) or £55 for a family of 2 adults, 2 children (£48 if booked in advance). Under 4's and carers get free entry.

I particularly enjoyed the Choir of the Holly Bushes and the illuminated flower garden, both of which had a distinctly 'Alice in Wonderland' type feeling.

Overall, this really was a beautiful, magical experience and I am glad we decided to pay a visit.

Of note, I think this event is much more child-friendly than Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland. There crowds are smaller, there are fewer tacky stalls/rides and a lot less alcohol, although this is obviously balanced by the entry fee.

(Apologies for the poor photographs - I received a new mobile phone for Christmas and I am still getting to grips with the camera!)

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Curious Cat's Christmas Review: The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews

Title: The Christmas Party
Author: Carole Matthews
Publisher: Sphere (Little, Brown Book Group)
Publication Date: 7 August 2014 (ePub) and 23 October 2014 (paperback)

Twitter: @carolematthews 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Louise Young is a devoted single mother whose only priority is providing for her daughter, Mia. Louise has a good job in a huge international corporation and she's grateful for it. The only problem is her boss who can't keep his hands to himself, but Louise can handle him. What she really doesn't have time for is romance - until she meets the company's rising star, Josh Wallace.

Curious Cat's Christmas Countdown - Review: Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Title: Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper
Author: Debbie Johnson
Publisher: HarperImpulse
Publication Date: 5 November 2015

Twitter: @debbiemjohnson


Rating: 4 out of 5


You’ve seen Mark Darcy in the reindeer jumper his mother gave him, now meet Marco Cavelli in this season’s hottest Christmas knit!

For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it.

Curious Cat's Christmas Countdown - Review: What Happens at Christmas... by T.A. Williams

Friday, 18 December 2015

Title: What Happens at Christmas...
Author:  T.A. Williams
Publisher: Carina UK
Publication Date: 22 October 2015

Twitter: @TAWilliamsBooks


Rating: 4 out of 5


For the perfect Christmas…

When career-girl Holly Brice learns that her estranged father has died, she decides to take a trip down memory lane and find out about the man she never knew.

Curious Cat's Christmas Countdown - Review: Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Title: Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses
Author: Jenny Hale
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 16 October 2015

Twitter: @jhaleauthor


Rating: 4 out of 5


An uplifting, beautiful story about never letting go of your dreams, the special magic of a family Christmas… and the rush of falling in love under the mistletoe.

Single mother Abbey Fuller loves her family more than anything, and doesn’t regret for a moment having had to put her dreams of being an interior designer on hold. But with her son, Max, growing up, when a friend recommends her for a small design job she jumps at the chance. How hard can it be?

Book Review: Spellbound by Laurie Elizabeth Ashcroft

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Title: Spellbound (Armitage Black Book 1)
Author: Laurie Elizabeth Ashcroft
Publisher: Amazon Media
Publication Date: 24 July 2015

Twitter: @laurielisash87


Rating: 3 out of 5


When a number of unusual murders start happening in her village of Habely, 21-year-old Police Typist Armitage Black is beyond intrigued. The circumstances of each murder identical to the last, and when the man responsible is finally caught, he claims that he had been forced to do it by Elodia Knight – a witch with full-blown magic powers. 

But everyone knows that witches aren’t real…


Monthly Round Up - November 2015

Monday, 7 December 2015

It's that time again! Check out what I've been up to in November 2015.

New Books - received, bought & won

1.         The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith
2.         The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements
3.         The Silvered Heart by Katherine Clements
4.         The One-in-a-million Boy by Monica Wood
5.         The Killing of Polly Carter by Robert Thorogood

Book Review: Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Title: Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes (Rose Gardner Mystery, Book 1)
Author: Denise Grover Swank
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Publication Date: 19 March 2012

Twitter: @DeniseMSwank 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5


For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone’s toilet’s overflowed, but she’s never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain: There isn't enough hydrogen peroxide in the state of Arkansas to get that stain out, and Rose is the prime suspect.

Book Review: Fairytale Beginnings by Holly Martin

Friday, 4 December 2015

Title: Fairytale Beginnings
Author: Holly Martin
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 10 July 2015

Twitter: @hollymartin00


Rating:  4 out of 5


Love is an open door…except when it keeps slamming in your face

Hopeless romantic Milly Rose has had her fair share of heartbreak. Obsessed with all things Disney, she refuses to give up on finding her Prince Charming – he’s out there somewhere, isn’t he?

When Milly is given a job to investigate the origins of a historical building in the village of Clover's Rest, she’s not sure what to expect. What she discovers takes her breath away - a beautiful real life Cinderella castle, complete with turrets, a magnificent drawbridge AND a very handsome owner…Cameron Heartstone.

As Milly and Cameron begin to unearth the secrets of Clover Castle, they can’t ignore the intense chemistry building between them. But they’ve both been hurt badly before. Can they take a big leap of faith and find their own happily-ever-after?
A deliciously enchanting read that will delight fans of Rachael Lucas, Lucy Diamond and Miranda Dickinson or anyone who has ever blubbed at a Disney movie. Who says real life can’t be a fairytale?


Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book for review purposes.

If we consider all the elements of a traditional fairy tale – a protagonist with a thoroughly good character, an evil character, an element of royalty (i.e. king, queen, princess, castle etc…), poverty, romance, a supernatural element (i.e. poisoned apples, dwarfs, evil curses etc..) and universal truths - Fairytale Beginnings has them all. It really is a modern day fairy tale!

Milly Rose and Cameron Heartstone meet when she visits his family home, Clover Castle, to assess whether her company can help Cameron to restore the castle. He needs an injection of cash, otherwise the castle will need to be sold to a fairly unscrupulous hotel chain (royalty/castle -  tick; poverty - tick, evil character/company - tick). The setting of Clover Castle sounds delightful. The author brings to life a beautiful building full of turrets, dungeons, secret passages, hidden doors, ghosts and hidden treasure. It’s impossible not to be intrigued by the thought of exploring such a building.

Milly is a lovely main character with a love of castles and sparkly Converse trainers, she is bouncy, positive and energetic, going above and beyond her remit to help Cameron to find a suitable solution for his current problems. Milly is a very endearing character with a thoroughly good nature (good character - tick). Cameron is a hero worthy of the title. He is tall, dark and handsome. He is also funny, thoughtful and slightly mysterious! How can Milly possibly resist the man after a week in his smouldering company?!  The chemistry between Milly and Cameron is believable and sizzling hot! With their up and down dance of flirting and then backing off, I found myself anxious for them to get together before they missed their chance! The development of their friendship and trust was lovely to read.

The fun and humour of the story shines through from the start as Milly enters the odd, off-the-map village of Clover’s Rest in her ancient car, Dick, and meets the first of its unusual inhabitants. I particularly liked the scenes involving the weird and wonderful villagers and their unique outlook on life. This added a great sense of fun to the story. The Summer Solstice scene is certainly an odd moment. Whilst it doesn’t really add much to the story, it provides a humorous break from the main plotline and gives the reader chance to really understand what an odd village Clover’s Rest is.

The plot is interesting and it was impossible not to be intrigued by the mysteries of Clover Castle, the curse which Milly must help break and the castle’s very own ghost (supernatural element - tick).

Fairytale Beginnings is another beautiful and magical tale, showing the reader that with love is the power to defeat evil (universal truth - tick). You really get the sense that the tale begins with a “Once upon a time” and ends with a “Happily ever after”! I think I’ve now managed to tick off all of the fairy tale elements ;)

Fairytale Beginnings is a cute and entertaining read from the fabulous Holly Martin. If you are in the mood for an uplifting, feel-good, light-hearted romance, this may well be the book for you!

About the Author

Holly lives in sunny Bedfordshire in a house with round windows. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years' service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 6 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine's competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.

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Book Review: Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams by Sue Watson

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Title: Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams
Author: Sue Watson
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 1 July 2015

Twitter: @suewatsonwriter


Rating: 3.5 out of 5


Dance like nobody’s watching. Love like you’ll never get hurt…


Laura Watkin’s heart isn’t broken, she’s just forgotten how to use it. After years on her own, the highlight of single mum Laura’s week is watching Strictly Come Dancing with a glass of Pinot Grigio and a large helping of imagination.

Book Review: The Bookshop on The Corner by Rebecca Raisin

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Title: The Bookshop on The Corner
Author: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina UK
Publication Date: 17 June 2014

Twitter: @jaxandwillsmum

Rating: 4 out of 5


Who said that only real heroes could be found in fiction?

Sarah Smith had an addiction – she was addicted to romance novels. The meet-cute, the passion, the drama and the gorgeous men! Now this wouldn’t have been such an issue if she hadn’t been the owner of the only bookshop in Ashford, Connecticut.