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3 December 2013

Blog Tour: 'The Twelve Dates of Christmas' by Lisa Dickenson

Claudia is a girl in a rut. At 30, her life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time to the Royal Opera House. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life - and Christmas - alone.

Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It's also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing's for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different . . .

A couple of months ago, I met a lovely person through Twitter named Lisa Dickenson. She was busy with her upcoming Christmas novel while tweeting about the fierceness of Beyonce, the amazingness of Pacey Witter and everything else ‘Dawson’s Creek’, and the fabulousness of book series like ‘The Babysittersclub’ and ‘Sweet Valley High’ (yes, I desperately wanted to start my own babysittersclub and have an amazing twin sister, didn’t we all back in the 90’s?). How could I not like this person?! So, ever since I heard about Lisa’s upcoming book ‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’, I’ve been excited about it and couldn’t wait to read it. Luckily, I managed to get a spot on Lisa’s blog tour and I’m so excited to not only review her novel today, but also have a special feature for all of you in which Lisa talks about her own favourite Christmas books!

Claudia loves her boyfriend Seth, but after several years of being together the spark has somehow left their relationship. So, when they have an exclusive date planned at the Royal Opera House, Claudia wants to give it her best shot to find back that missing spark. However, her first December date doesn’t exactly go according to plan, and at the end of the night she finds herself alone, not knowing what to do with herself or her life. However, with the help of her amazing best friends, Penny and Nick, Claudia is ready to face the upcoming Christmas holidays. The most wonderful time of the year, which will present Claudia with twelve dates that will surprise and inspire her to find that spark in her life she has been missing. 

‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’ is released in quite an original and exciting way, namely in six different parts. The first part, Dates 1 & 2, was released on the 11th of November and the last part, Dates 11 & 12, will be available from the 16th of December. I was lucky enough to receive all parts bundled together in one paper copy to review, so I read the story as a whole, without wanting to put it down! Wow, what an amazing read! I expected I would really enjoy this novel, but I have to say it managed to exceed my already high expectations. Lisa Dickenson’s writing style is fantastic: the story flows easily, the scene setting makes it so easy to picture it all in your mind (there’s nothing like the city of London at Christmas time, I absolutely loved all the places Claudia visited and the way Lisa described it all in perfect and festive detail), and I found myself laughing out loud so many times (which resulted in quite a few strange looks from other train passengers). The humour in this book is definitely one of its main strengths, and also one of the reasons why I enjoyed the story so much.

Claudia is a funny, sweet, loyal and relatable heroine; I think every single female reader will be able to recognise herself in Claudia one way or another. Next to her, there are some brilliant other characters as well like Penny, Claudia’s best friend, and Nick, who made my heart beat just that tiny bit faster every single time his name appeared on the page (I want one just like him underneath my Christmas tree this year, please!). There’s honestly nothing negative I can say about this book, because I really loved it and it’s without a doubt one of my favourite releases of 2013, and my absolute favourite Christmas-related release of this year. ‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’ is an incredibly funny, magical, and simply brilliant read which will undoubtedly get you into the Christmas spirit. I’m already excited about 2014, because I honestly can’t wait to read more of Lisa Dickenson’s work! 

Rating:10/10 (with a special dose of glitter and sparkly Christmas lights!)  

As I already mentioned above, I'm so excited to welcome the absolutely lovely Lisa Dickenson to 'A Spoonful of Happy Endings' today to entertain us with her favourite Christmas books! :)

My Favourite Christmas Books
Let me set the scene for you. Close your eyes. No WAIT! Open them, because otherwise you can’t read this. Oh, what a crap start. Can we begin again?

Let me set the scene for you. It’s six in the evening and you’ve just got in from work. In the dead of winter, the world outside has been inky black for nearly two hours already. It’s also bloody cold. You’ve thrown on the heating, showing festive spirit and blatant disregard for the electricity bill. The [insert favourite meal here] is in the oven. The Christmas lights are on and your cosy home is twinkling. Pour yourself a Baileys. A bit more. Come on, there’s plenty more in Tesco, pour yourself a proper one. Now you can submerge yourself into that fabulous festive read you’ve been saving. It’s all yours, and by the end you know you’re going to feel ten times, a hundred times, more Christmassy than you do now.
Picking the perfect Christmas read is hard. You know that absolute horror of spending Christmas with a different family for the first time, perhaps because you’re staying with your partner this year, or you’re with friends, or all your relations have merged into one uber-Christmas which seemed like a fab idea until someone got the party games out? And suddenly you’re aware that not everyone does Christmas Day Exactly Like You. In other words, they do it wrong. And that’s why picking a perfect festive read is hard because you need to read what makes you feel the most festively festive.
I guess what I’m rambling on about is just to say that my choices of favourite Christmas books aren’t a definitive list of what are The Best Christmas Books Of All Time. You might think they’re rubbish. You might love every one of them (in which case, I think we should spend Christmas together!). But the important thing is that from now on your favourite Christmas book is The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Lisa Dickenson.

A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens 
Charles Dickens totally started the Christmas fiction trend, as far as I’m concerned. And as much as I love the Muppet adaptation, the book is *nearly* as good. The evocative language completely enfolds you into a Dickensian London at Christmas, and the story of grump-bag Scrooge and his Bah Humbug-ways as he’s visited by three ghosts (four, including Jacob Marley) make perfect dead-of-winter reading.

Winter Wonderland, by Belinda Jones
This is a lovely, heart-warming and original Christmas book which is as much about the magical, wintery setting of Quebec as it is about the budding romances between the characters. It follows Krista (sidenote: love that name) who embarks on an unexpectedly life-changing trip to Canada for her travel writing website. While she’s there we read all the twinkling Christmas loveliness we’d expect from a rom-com, but with added dog-sledding, ice hotels, Cirque du Soleil and hunky French-Canadian gents. It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a Belinda Jones fangirl (I just LOVE books set abroad) but this has to be one of my faves.


Big for Christmas (Sweet Valley Twins), created by Francine Pascal
Don’t judge me. It’s just… I “used to” read this a lot when I was younger. I mean, it’s basically a rip-off of the movie Big, but with those Californian blondies with the ‘blue-green eyes the colour of the pacific ocean’. If that alone doesn’t make you want to spend the 1p it costs to buy it from Amazon right now, here’s the storyline: Jessica and Elizabeth, are like soooo prepping to go to the Christmas party of the year when their parents say they’re too young! Then some magic stuff happens and they wake up to find themselves as twenty-somethings with BOOBS and HIGH HEELS and stuff. It’s amazing.

The Night Before Christmas, by Scarlett BaileyFirstly, I love the cover. Secondly, I think this is a fab idea for a Christmas story – one girl, going to the idyllic Christmassy cottage with her friends over yuletide, who ends up torn between three men – her current boyfriend, her ex-boyfriend who’s lumbered over to join them, and a hunky new chap. It’s funny and festive and as warm and mulled wine!

The Jolly Christmas Postman, by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
This is such a good Christmas book, and I thoroughly recommend anyone with kids, or nieces, nephews, godchildren, nearby schools that need books, etc. to buy this. It’s basically a children’s story book about a cheerful postman who delivers Christmas parcels and letters to the local fairytale folk (i.e. Red Riding Hood et al) but the VERY BEST THING is that you get to open real envelopes and inside are real letters and real presents! It’s just… I can’t… it’s awesome.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, by Clement C. MooreTechnically this is more a poem than a book, but it’s been turned into books so many thousands of times that it counts. The last thing that’s read in millions of homes around the globe before going to sleep on Christmas Eve means there’s no way I could leave this off the list.

 Happy Christmas everyone!

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