Month: November 2018

First Line Friday #91

There are only four Fridays until Christmas (I know- I hate the reminder!) So again this year for the next 4 weeks First Line Friday will be Christmas related!  This weeks is a classic, and though I have not read it, I loved the movie from 1994! Here is this week’s First Line Friday:

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with “woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the “girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK


Blog Tour: It’s a Wonderful Night

Today I am one of the stops on the blog tour for It’s a Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans. Jaimie will be telling us a little about the novel that is based on actual facts!  **If you live in the UK, there is a giveaway going on!**

Book Description:

One night will change their lives forever…

Georgia Bailey is closing up her little charity shop in Oakbarrow when she gets a mysterious late night call from a stranger, threatening to jump off the town’s bridge.

Something about the man’s voice is faintly familiar but all she can do is stay on the line and, after talking for hours and losing sense of time passing, coax him back from the edge.

The next morning, Georgia walks to work, buys a festive latte from Leo (who she’s had a crush on for months!) at the local coffee shop, and is shocked when she suddenly recognizes the voice from last night…

A heartwarming festive love story that reminds us that even in the darkest of times, hope is always just around the corner!

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK

**Also available from all other ebook retailers.**

*Oakbarrow is based on a real town.*

It’s a place I used to visit when I was young, a little town in Wales where I always went to do my Christmas shopping, and used to love going there every year. When I started thinking about It’s a Wonderful Night and where it would be set, this was the place that came to mind without consciously thinking about it. I could instantly picture the shops I had envisioned in the book in this real setting, despite the fact I haven’t been there for at least eighteen years. I went on Google Maps and had a look at the place on Street View, and instead of the bustling busy place that I remembered, now it’s all faded shops and boarded up empty buildings. It made me sad to see it as it is now – a real reminder of the ‘death of the high street’ stories we constantly see on the news. That inspired the part of the story where Georgia and Leo try to bring Christmas back to their own failing high street.

*Some of the things Georgia mentions actually happened.*

One of the things I love about writing books is that you can use little anecdotes from real life that you wouldn’t get to share anywhere else. For example, the part where Georgia tells Leo about singing along to The Wombles with a random woman in a supermarket – this actually happened to me! It was a brilliant moment, and I thought at the time that I would use it in a book one day! I used to work in a charity shop so I got to use a bit of experience from that, and when Georgia mentions that the shop phone is a wired one fixed to the wall because someone accidentally sold the cordless one – that genuinely happened in the charity shop where I worked!

*I got the idea after listening to Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie, and the soundtrack to the book was this and Being Alive from the musical Company.*

After seeing a poor cover version on TV, I was listening to the original on Youtube and the idea of someone working on a suicide prevention helpline and answering the phone to a voice she recognised popped into my head. I’ve always thought that the song inspired it somehow, even though I don’t quite understand the connection! I can’t listen to music while I write because it stops me concentrating, but generally each book has a ‘soundtrack’ – usually one or two songs that I listen to before I start writing each day. For this book, it was Under Pressure and the other song was Being Alive from Company, a line of which also became a theme in the book.

*The connection with It’s a Wonderful Life was kind of an afterthought.*

I’d already named Georgia Bailey and outlined the plot before I realised there were similarities between my story and our best-loved Christmas film! Georgia stops Leo from jumping off a bridge, like Clarence does for George in the film, and I realised I could use the similarities as a hook for my story. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to naturally fit, even to the point where Georgia pretends to work in a bank, similar to where the real George Bailey works in the film, and I didn’t even realise this myself until the moment Leo points it out in chapter three! I wanted a title that tied in with the film too, and my working title was Every Time A Bell Rings, which I didn’t expect to be able to keep, and my editor renamed it to It’s a Wonderful Night, which I love and is a much better fit!

*The character of Leo was inspired by a friend of mine.*

For about five years now, I’ve been friends with someone who I call ‘the happiest guy I know’. He makes me laugh every time I speak to him. If I’m feeling down, I send him a text or email because I know he’ll cheer me up. He’s never without a smile and something hilarious to say. And we were chatting one night and he opened up about having low self esteem, anxiety, and struggles with depression.

And it absolutely threw me, because it had never crossed my mind that there was something hidden underneath his cheeky grin. He was the last person I would ever have imagined suffering from mental health issues. It really made me think about that quote “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle that you know nothing about.”

I really wanted to show this through Leo. I wanted to show that no matter how much someone laughs and jokes, you have no idea what’s going on behind their smile. I wanted to show that he makes Georgia happy every morning but he’s struggling so much behind the bright smile he gives her every day.

I’ve lost family members and close friends to suicide, it’s something I care about a lot, and as I write romantic comedies, I never thought I’d get a chance to write about it, but I wanted to show that even the people you think are fine can find themselves at rock bottom, and I sincerely hope I’ve handled it sensitively enough and with hopefully a bit of humour too.

About the Author:

Jaimie is a 32-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots.

She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She is the author of chick-lit romantic comedies The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, The Little Wedding Island, It’s a Wonderful Night, and Kismetology, and she has also written young-adult romantic comedies Afterlife Academy, Not Pretty Enough, and North Pole Reform School.

Contact Jaime:
Twitter @be_the_spark


Win an It’s a Wonderful Night Goodie bag which includes:

*It’s a Wonderful Night notebook
*It’s a Wonderful Night fridge magnet
*A signed postcard of the cover
*A copy of It’s a Wonderful Life on DVD because this is the inspiration behind the story.
*An invisible spine Paris notebook because it’s where Georgia wants to go more than anywhere in the world.
*A light-up Christmas tree pen, because who doesn’t need a light-up Christmas tree pen at this time of year?!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kids, Camels, & Cairo by Jill Dobbe

Author: Jill Dobbe
Published:  May 28, 2016
168 pages

Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: November 12-16, 2018
Jessica’s Rating: 4 stars

Book Description:

Each morning my eyes popped open the second I heard the call to prayer resound through the air. At 7:00 A.M., I walked out onto a rare quiet Cairo street and waited for the school van to pick me up. Climbing onto the van, I found a seat alongside the foreign and Muslim teachers, where I was only one of a few women not wearing hijab. It was Sunday morning, the start of another Islamic week of trying to discipline rich and apathetic students.

Traveling across the globe to work in an international school in Cairo, Egypt, was not exactly the glamorous lifestyle I thought it would be. I cherished my travels to the Red Sea, delighted in visiting the Pyramids, and appreciated the natural wonders of the Nile River. However, I also spent days without electricity or internet, was leered at by rude Egyptian men, breathed in Cairo’s cancerous black smog, and coaxed school work from students.

KIDS, CAMELS, & CAIRO is a lighthearted read about Jill Dobbe’s personal experiences as an educator abroad. Whether you’re an educator, a traveler, or just a curious reader, you will be astounded at this honest and riveting account of learning to live in an Islamic society, while confronting the frustrating challenges of being an educator in a Muslim school.

Jessica’s Review:

Jill Dobbe has written her memoir of her two years of life in Egypt while working in an international (though mainly Egyptian) school. She was there with her husband and daughter. Dobbe is from Wisconsin and that is a whole world of difference from Cairo, Egypt!  We experience the cultural and religious shocks that she experiences. 

I was looking forward to reading this memoir as I visited Egypt back in 2006. Dobbe really delivered with her descriptions of Cairo which included the dirtiness of the city and the extreme differences in the poor and wealthy.  As I was reading, I felt myself returning to Egypt myself and remembering some of the places that we both visited. We also lived through her two years of teaching, which at times was difficult for Dobbe, in particular not knowing the language. It seemed at times she was unprepared for the cultural differences of Egypt compared to the USA.  Though adjusted, it did not seem like they researched Egypt before moving there. I felt for her daughter who moved with them during her senior year of high school.  Senior year is a special time of change for a student and I feel Dobbe’s daughter missed out on some of the usual experiences that a senior faces. Granted, her daughter did get a once in a lifetime experience: a year of school in a foreign country. I just would not have picked my child’s senior year as the year to move to Cairo.

We were able to take trips with Dobbe and her family as they took vacations to various parts of Egypt that many Americans may never get to see. Dobbe describes everything very well, you really feel like you are with her while reading this novel. Dobbe also includes a few pictures of her time in Egypt which enhances the read.  Reading Kids, Camels, and Cairo had me wanting to go back to Egypt again! Reading this memoir helped me to remember my trip fondly. 

I enjoyed this memoir and look forward to reading Dobbe’s other memoirs. 

Kids, Camels, and Cairo is recommended! I received a copy of the memoir from the author. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK