One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot / Blog Tour

Hi there! Today I am delighted to have Mandy Baggot stopping by with a guest post. Mandy is namaley back with her new release “One Christmas Star” that is receiving raving reviews – no wonder, as Ms Baggot is a real Queen of Christmas stories! Today however put your feet high and read about the power of hedgehogs! Yes!

 

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One Christmas Star –Mandy Baggot

The power of hedgehog

The main characters in my novel, One Christmas Starare schoolteacher, Emily Parker and troubled musician, Ray Stone, plus thirty-three ten-year olds at Stretton Park Primary School.BUT there are two little characters who havepushed their way into the limelight and have even scored a starring role on the front cover of the novel! Meet Olivia Coleman and Idris Elba –two of London’s declining hedgehog population.

Living in the countryside,I am really used to seeing hedgehogs all the time in my garden,soI never even considered that these cute little balls of spikes might be endangered. But, putting them into my book, a book set in and around Islington, London, I did some research about urban hedgehogs and was alarmed to realise how in decline they actually are.

Back in the 1950s there were over 30 million hedgehogs in London and now, scarily,there are thought to be less than 1 million. In fact,since the year 2000,the hedgehog population has declined by a third. This is huge! There are many, many reasons why this has happened, for example, less natural gardens (more decking and tidier grass spaces)and decline in their prey as we kill the beetles and slugsthat are their foodwith pesticides etc.But the London Wildlife Trust is doing their very best to tryto help.

In One Christmas Star, the children of Stretton Park add their sightings of the hedgehogs to an interactive map that helps plot where hedgehogs are livingin thecapital. This isso an accurate picture of activity can be established. This map isn’t something I’ve made up, it’s very real and it helps the London Wildlife Trust see theareas that need their help the most. You can find out more on their website and even download a booklet that tells you how YOU can help hedgehogswherever you live.

Here is the link:-https://www.wildlondon.org.uk/hedgehog-help

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One Last Greek Summer by Mandy Baggot / Blog Tour

One Last Greek Summer by Mandy Baggot

 

44027196Publisher: Aria

Publishing Date: 6th June 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 280

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 11.07.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Beth Martin is 31, newly divorced and wondering just what life holds for her…

Best-friend, Heidi, is adamant that all the answers lie in Corfu – the island where the girls partied away their youth. So cue a trip to a sun-drenched Greek island, ouzo cocktails, a trip down memory lane… and Alex Hallas, the man Beth has never quite forgotten.

As they dance under the stars, the sand beneath their toes, old feelings begin to resurface and Beth might just have a chance to take back her life. If they can learn to love the people they’ve become…

Rating: four-stars

 

Recently divorced Beth is trying to figure out what to do next. Her best friend Heidi not only throws her a divorce party at the office but also comes up with a plan of travelling to Corfu, just like 10 years ago, when they were both 21 years old and free – spirited. Moreover, this trip also ended up with a romance for Beth, so who knows what’s going to happen now?
However, the trip doesn’t start as expected, with a villa from hell and ceiling coming down. But then Beth meets Alex again, and even Heidi learns someone, but everything seems so complicated now, when they’re in their 30’s. Will the girls realise that they didn’t change so much at heart?

It was a lovely, summery story about friendship, second chances, new beginnings, hope and love, this all set against the most gorgeous setting ever – any book set in Greece, actually whatever set in Greece I’m going to love, that’s for sure, but “One Last Greek Summer” was also funny, entertaining and so easily written, so it’s a win – win situation.

I haven’t completely warmed to Heidi, I must admit, though there was nothing wrong with her, in fact she was a great friend, but there were moments that she was simply “too much” for me. Beth was great, a woman who knew what she wanted, and I loved seeing her growing up in confidence, starting to follow her dreams, evolving into a strong, independent woman. The friendship between those two was brilliantly captured, this is what I always imagined a real friendship should look like, being there for each other and telling things how they are.

As much as I enjoyed the flawless writing and the storytelling, there were moments that simply passed too slowly. I know, the author has decided to write about many subplots, as each of our characters, even the background ones, was significant to the story and had their own distinctive voice and story to tell, and so there was a lot to tell. I simply think there were passages that could be shorter, perhaps it would make the book this little bit more fascinating.

I really like Mandy Baggot’s writing style. It’s full of sunshine, it’s vivid and light – hearted, and she drops the best one – liners on us effortlessly, also adding a word here or there that made me grin from ear to ear. It’s so welcoming and evoking and it mixes reality with tons of great humour. It would be great to be able to escape to the beautiful, sunny Corfu with my best friend to recapture some moments of our own. There were cocktails, fun, sun, sea and summer romance, and the whole story was filled with fun and surprises for the characters. Under the beautiful surface of Corfu there was so much more to this story – finding yourself and this what is important to you. A perfect summer escape, and be warned that after reading it you’re going to immediately plan your own holidays! Recommended!

 

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One New York Christmas by Mandy Baggot / Blog Tour

One New York Christmas by Mandy Baggot

 

 

42180340Publisher: Ebury Press

Publishing Date: 15th November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A festive break in New York

Lara Weeks is planning the perfect Christmas with her long-term boyfriend Dan until he drops a bombshell. I don’t know my Christmas plans yet. I think I need some space . . .

Pooling their funds together, best friend Susie persuades Lara to head to the Big Apple for a festive trip. In the snow-clad streets of New York, will it be break-up or breakthrough this Christmas? And will Lara get her happy-ever-after with the man of her dreams . . . or will she stay single for the season?

 

 my-review

Mandy Baggot’s Christmas offerings are always a treat, well, there wouldn’t be Christmas without her book, no? “One New York Christmas” has exceptionally gorgeous cover and it teams together two of the best things: well, yes – Christmas, and New York. It takes us on a journey from a rural, peaceful Appleshaw in Wiltshire to the city that never sleeps, and moreover, at the most wonderful time of the year. Lara, our main character, loves her town and she also loves Christmas, and is looking towards it, especially as she’s going to spend it with her boyfriend, Dan. Dan,  however, has other plans and decides they need “a break”, during which he’s going to travel to Scotland. With another woman. Here you go. Lara’s best friend Susie decides that Lara needs to make Dan jealous, and to do she needs to start tweeting some celebrities and get a reply from them (this is the bit that I didn’t fully get, to be honest, as I wasn’t sure how should it help). They both end in New York, in the company of Seth, an actor from Lara’s favourite series, who’s much more than meets the eye.


Lara was such a colourful, interesting character, and I liked her from the very first mention that she’s a lorry driver. I mean, how clever? How many lorry driver female characters have you met? Exactly! What I also liked in her was the fact that she just bitten the bullet and wasn’t afraid of trying, confronting, seeing – it was so refreshing, after so many heroines that simply bury their heads in the sand and wait for the problems to somehow disappear. Also, she was not a skinny – minnie swishing her blond hair around type of character, she was more of a tomboy – the lorry driving! – which made her seem a much more stronger person that she in fact was, but she wanted us to see the stronger version of her as well. I adored her passion and her love to her family. If you think about it, she’s really a kick ass, our Lara, fierce, bouncy and almost fearless. She’s not afraid of climbing trees, she rescues animals and she stands for herself or the things she believes in. Well, unless it comes to her love life. Then she lost her head, which is only understandable.

I also really appreciated the character of Seth, who, for once, was full of uncertainty and vulnerability, and was not a macho or too full of himself. There was warmth to him and I truly fell for him and I just wanted all the good things happen to him. His story added tons of seriousness to the book but the way Mandy Baggot tackled his issues was really great and she brilliantly captured him, and his coming out of comfort zones and confronting the past.

The supporting characters, both in the US and back in England, blend in brilliantly and complement each other in a great way.

I simply loved the descriptions of New York. They were so vivid and full of details and the fact that the city was seen through Lara’s eyes for the first time made it even more exciting and beautiful. The author has so easily transported us to New York, brought this place to life, made it jump off the pages.
The story, however, dragged a little too much for my liking. I wanted action and things happening, and I got too much of the characters’ inner indecisions and monologues, and it bothered me a little. Lara was also an adult and well, I just don’t get this whole checking and showing and posting your life to the social media, to looking for comfort there, looking on Facebook at what it is your boyfriend is doing, checking there your relationship status – I mean, do I live in reality or do I live through social media? No, thank you. And I also missed this Christmas vibe – yes, the book was festive enough but this sparkle, this vibe wasn’t there. It was also this little bit too predictable, you could see things coming a mile off, but oh well, yes, I could live with this. Also, referring to Aldo as “almost – brother” made me grit my teeth – either he was a brother, or not, no matter if he was adopted or not. And the regular reminders of Lara being so unusually a truck driver were not so necessary. Mandy Baggot’s writing style is like a hot chocolate, drawing you in and you simply want more and more of it. It’s easy to follow, inviting and full of humour – though it took me some time to get into the book, no reason probably, just one of the things, and as I’ve already mentioned, it was a little too slow, especially at the beginning. It gained speed a little more in New York, when Lara and Seth started sight – seeing.

Altogether, “One New York Christmas” was a festive, funny and romantic read, full of unforgettable scenes, both funny and poignant. It’s not as good as Mandy Baggot’s “One Wish in Manhattan” that was a fantastic, festive novel that I loved with all my heart, but it’s a nice enough, light – hearted book with a hidden depth. A lovely story about family dynamics and following your heart, full of heartbreak, hope, romance and happiness, it’s a great way to cosy yourself in a blanket on a dark, cold evening. Recommended!

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One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill by Mandy Baggot

One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill by Mandy Baggot

 

34322561Publisher: Ebury

Publishing Date: 16th November 2017

Source:  Received from publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Isla Winters loves Christmas – especially the parties! Prosecco-infused everything is her ideal start to the busy festive season, and she can’t wait to wow her contacts in international construction throughout the month of December. But everything changes when she’s given a new remit: right-hand girl to the head of the New York branch.

Chase Bryan’s marriage has fallen apart. Given a secret project, he moves to London for the holidays with his two young daughters, hoping to dive in and ignore the distractions of Christmas. Problem is, he’s been saddled with Little Miss Candy Cane.

Isla’s wheelchair-bound sister, Hannah, lives life to the max. Isla’s unofficial second job is to keep her sister from trying to take over the world – but what will happen when Hannah starts to pay attention to Isla’s love life? One moment in Notting Hill could change everything…

Join Isla and Chase in a sparkly, festive London, where a little winter magic is just around the corner.

Rating: five-stars

I really think that Mandy’s Christmas offers are much better than her summery ones – not stating that the summery are not worth reading, though, nono, far away from this, but “One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill” is a book that is going to give you a very happy feeling. There is already plenty of festive feeling in this novel, and oh my god, let’s not forget the cover! It’s gorgeous, and so Christmassy, and it glitter! I could look at it all the time.

I immediately warmed to all the characters. Loved the fact that one of the leading ones was Hannah, sitting in a wheelchair after an accident – it doesn’t happen often that your main character is disabled like this. She was a lovely person, full of humour, she had of course better and worse days but it’s totally understandable, and she was full of determination and optimism. Isla was a person that you couldn’t not like, I think. She was a great carer of her sister and whatever she did, she did it with a view of Hannah. There was a passion in her, she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, she loved her job and life generally and you could feel the good vibes that she was radiating through the pages. She was feisty and bubbly and didn’t look for romance, but then Chase enters… mmm. He has two daughters, is a workaholic, suffers with self – doubt and has a wicked past and yet he is brilliant. He is capable to admit when he’s made a mistake and he knows he’s not perfect. There is an incredibly romantic side to him, he gleams warmth and I just liked him very, very much.
All the other background characters, especially Chase’s daughters, were so brilliantly developed, full of life and heart and such a great positivism – I felt warm when reading about their adventures, their problems and troubles and loved how they tried to work the best possible ways for them.
There was a brilliantly captured chemistry between Isla and Chase. It was realistic, genuine, not too pushy and so relaxed, and it was a real pleasure to see how it developed, in which direction was it going to go. I really enjoyed the love stories in this book (because there were more, yes!), they were great romances, not too wishy – washy, not too meh, and I liked that it also included the families of the characters’ involved.

I loved the setting of this book, London, and more specifically, Notting Hill. You could say you know all about Notting Hill but then you start to see it again through the eyes of the total newcomers, Maddie and Brooke, Chase’s quirky daughters, and the author brings all those places so easily to life.

The end seemed much too rushed for my liking, the things were incredibly quickly wrapped up and if you think how long it took to build up to them then the ending may be a little disappointing, and just this little bit too far – fetched. I mean, “we saved Notting Hill”…? But it worked well in this book, don’t get me wrong, it was just tad unbelievable for me. Altogether though, “One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill” was a lovely, warm and funny Christmas romance and I absolutely adored this story, with its quirky characters, embarrassing moments, cheeky teenager and that dealt with serious issues in a lovely, gentle way. The story interwoven many sub – plots and touched upon many issues, and there were all the time many things happening, so no single moment flat, guys, but that is great! It was easy and light – hearted and written with a lot of heart. Highly recommended!

Single for the Summer by Mandy Baggot

Single for the Summer by Mandy Baggot

 

34211677Publisher: Ebury

Publishing Date: 27th July 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 432

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

***the beach-read of the summer, from everyone’s favourite getaway Queen, Mandy Baggot***

Tess Parks has made up her mind: love isn’t for her.

When it comes to dating she has one rule: after six weeks with a guy, she ends it. So when her heartbroken best friend invites her for a girly getaway in Corfu, Tess is sure she can stick to their pact to stay single for the summer.

But then she meets the gorgeous restaurateur Andras

To keep his overbearing mother off his back, Tess agrees to pretend to date him. But as the two spend time together, Tess begins to realise that this fake relationship is starting to feel like the best one she’s ever had…

A feel-good escapist beach read set against a beautiful Greek island backdrop. From the award-winning author of Truly, Madly Greekly and Those Summer Nights.

Rating: four-stars

Setting of Greece makes me feel like a bee around the honey pot – I love this country, its culture, people and tradition, so it is not a wonder that I am reading as many books set there as possible, and I am really lucky here as many authors lost their hearts for Greece as well. “Single for the Summer” by Mandy Baggot happens on Corfu, and one look at this gorgeous cover and the synopsis had me sold – and my first impression only came true as the story was heart – warming, and it brought together sun, beaches, delicious food, sexy as hell hero and Greek traditions – just what I wanted!

This is a story about Tess Parks and her rule of dating for 6 weeks only. Yes. And God forbid any of the boyfriends to pop THE question! Because when it happens, Tess goes into some kind of a meltdown. Tess’s best friend Sonya, who was about to go to Greece with her boyfriend, unexpectedly finds herself “on a break”, so the two girls pack their suitcases and travel to Corfu. What is better than sun, sand and blue water and NO DATING?
Well, I’d say, sun, sand, blue water and DATING. But unexpectedly. And actually fake – dating. And crazy tortoise Hector who can’t stay long in one place. Sounds like a perfect holiday, no?

I have immediately warmed to all of the characters, well, maybe not so to Andras’s mother. I need to have a little whinge, please do let me get it off my chest, but she annoyed the hell out of me. I understand tradition, I know Greek mothers have always right and I know they keep everything with an iron fist but I just couldn’t stand her and her rudeness. Because for me there was nothing charming or funny in the way she has treated Tess, Sonya and her own son, for me it was pure rudeness, period, and this interfering irritated me incredibly.
Tess was great, I really liked her. She was sharp – minded, quick in making decisions and she’s never regretted things that she did or said. She had rules and she followed them but then it was also great to see how she started to come out of all her comfort zones, started to relax and this relaxed version of her I liked much, much more.
Andras was your typical sexy Greek god, but there was much more to him than the first (sexy) impression. I was really admiring his patience though there came a moment that I so wanted him to tell his mother to eventually back off – I know, impossible. Greek families, traditions etc.
And the whole cast of the supporting characters is as colourful as a rainbow. They added so much personality to this story, so much humour and warm feelings, and Andras family, with of course the exception of his mother and his cousin was brilliant, with all the preparations for wedding and rolling babies on the beds – loved this idea, btw.

As a fake girlfriend, Tess and Sonya are being invited to many family meetings and meals, and this is why the fun ends, because Andras’s mother is always there! The chemistry between Tess and Andras was brilliantly captured. You know how it sometimes is, that this just feels so forced and pushed on the characters but here, in this book, it was just great. It felt honest and genuine,

This is this kind of a story that envelops you and takes you with on a journey. I laughed with the characters, I cringed, I sighed and shook my head with disbelief and I felt like a part of this book. There were many (MANY!) hilarious situations which made the reading so entertaining and light – hearted, there were truly crazy scenes that made me laughed, and there were also some sad scenes, and it was very well balanced.

Of course the descriptions of Corfu are beautiful! Vivid and colourful, they just made me wonder if I should change my plans from Rhodes to Corfu next year? But really, I could feel the sun shining, picture the sea and all the smells, and of course the gorgeous food made my mouth water.

It was a lovely story about re-evaluating your life, a great escapism and I enjoyed every page of it. This book has it all – laughter, tears, some drama, exciting romance and gorgeous setting, with endearing, believable characters. Already looking forward to Mandy Baggot’s Christmas offering and in the meantime recommending “Single for the Summer” as a great summer read.

One Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot

One Christmas in Paris by Mandy Baggot

 

31750478Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 7th October 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 394

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

They say Paris is the City of Love, so bring your je ne sais quoi and don’t forget the mistletoe!

Ava and her best friend Debs arrive in Paris just as the snow starts to fall. The Eiffel Tower glitters gold and the scent of spiced wine is all around, but all Ava can think about is Leo, her no-good, cheating ex.

Debs is on a mission to make Ava smile again, and as they tour the Christmas markets, watch lamplight glittering on the river Seine, and eat their body weight in pain-au-chocolat, Ava remembers there’s more to life than men … Until they cross paths with handsome, mysterious photographer Julien with his French accent and hazelnut eyes that seem to see right inside her.

Ava can’t ignore the intense chemistry between them, but her fingers have been burned before and she can’t forget it, especially when her ex, Leo, starts texting again. Can Ava really trust Julien – and what exactly is his secret?

Will Ava go home with a broken heart, or will she find true love amongst the cobbled streets of Paris?

Join Ava and Julien in the most romantic city in the world this Christmas, as they discover the importance of being true to themselves, and learn how to follow their hearts.

Rating: 3/5

I was desperate to read “One Christmas in Paris” by Mandy Baggot – firstly, because I’ve missed on her summer book, even though it is on my kindle (time! More time please!) and secondly, because I absolutely, totally adored Mandy’s last Christmas book, “One Wish in Manhattan”. You can probably imagine how excited I was to start reading it, no? I thought, one impromptu trip to Paris at Christmas will do me for sure good.

So it could be the best romantic comedy, guys, but not for me. For me it felt flat, there was not a lot happening and I felt as if I was reading a travel guide on Paris. I was hoping for many wow – moments, however I felt disappointed and the whole book felt just flat. Also, the characters were not as outstanding and memorable as the ones from “One Wish in Manhattan” and I missed on humour that made me love the previous book so much. It just felt too far – fetched and too forced for me, I didn’t feel any connection with the characters and as much as I feel really sorry for this I can’t change my feelings.

Also, I had problems with the characters. They all felt too under – developed and the women were so incredibly childish and the over – use of the word “totes” made me gnashing my teeth – I get it that it was the character’s hallmark, I really do get it, but it annoyed the hell out of me.

But sure, the story was full of warm fuzzies and I can see where all the raving reviews are coming. The romance, even though not too believable, was cute and not too rushed. The characters develop and it is a story about finding your own self, about understanding yourself and letting the past go. And OK, let’s forget that there were too many and they were very detailed, I did appreciate the descriptions of Paris and the author could effortlessly transport me to the city of love. Also, it was nice of Mandy Baggot to add some deeper elements to the storyline and to mention some of the situations that happened in reality and will make a history. So yes, I am torn about this story, on one hand it felt too flat and too predictable, on the other I really appreciate the author’s lovely writing style. Probably it’s me, not the book, as it already has tons of devoted fans, and it’s great – it was just not the perfect read for me, however I am waiting already for Ms Baggot’s new release.