BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Cake Shop In The Garden’ by Carole Matthews, July 2015


Carole Matthews The Cake Shop in the Garden



Bestselling author Carole Matthews lives life to the full and seems to find inspiration for her riveting romantic fiction novels everywhere. She has lived in Milton Keynes with her other half, Lovely Kev, for fifteen years and many of her entertaining books are set in the new city.

Carole’s most recent yarn, The Cake Shop In The Garden, features the area of Milton Keynes (or “the Costa del Keynes” as she affectionately calls it when in discussion with readers on social media) surrounding the Grand Union Canal. The sights, sounds and domestic situations within a sprawling house in the pretty (and fictitious) village of Whittan spring off the page as soon as chapter one begins.

Fay Merryweather runs a popular cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up delicious treats, ensures her customers feel completely at home and tends to the grounds – all while also looking after her belligerent, bed-bound, mother. It very quickly becomes obvious that this particular protagonist could take a leaf out of our Carole’s book when it comes to seizing exciting new opportunities and taking responsibility for her own happiness.   View Post

BOOK REVIEW: ‘The Christmas Party’ by Carole Matthews, November 2014




The tree may not be up quite yet but now we have entered November there is a definite sense that Christmas – and the Christmas party – is not too far away. The shops are full of decorations and gifts; festive functions are being planned; and, more importantly, author Carole Matthews has a brand new seasonal paperback out.

The Christmas Party is Carole’s 25th novel and she has marked this impressive milestone by producing yet another warm, witty and wonderful story. Despite having penned so many unique and unputdownable tales, it seems that there is no shortage of ideas in this lovely lady’s imagination.

Drawing on inspiration from her own attendance as a guest at corporate Yuletide shindigs, Carole has created a cast of memorable and believable characters associated with the Milton Keynes office of a fictional oil company.

The book is set over just a few days: the day of the Christmas party, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. This may seem an exceptionally short timespan but it works very well and an awful lot of action is deftly packed into the narrative.

Through Carole’s usual lively prose, readers are introduced to various Fossil Oil employees and their other halves. With little preamble, we soon delve into their personal lives and are privy to the secrets – both romantic and professional – that make this Christmas party a night to remember for all concerned.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘A Place to Call Home’ by Carole Matthews, May 2014




Bestselling author Carole Matthews is celebrated for her romantic comedy novels but her latest paperback, A Place to Call Home, shows that she can sensitively tackle hard-hitting issues too.

Domestic violence, fear and cultural difference all feature in A Place to Call Home. However, through a cast of likeable characters and her usual lively prose, Carole ensures an uplifting read.

For most people, the maxim ‘there is no place like home’ rings true. But, for the less fortunate, home is not the sanctuary it should be.

This book emphasises the importance of the people we surround ourselves with. Sometimes it takes monumental courage, a lot of trust and a little bit of luck to overcome your difficulties and make a new beginning.

Central character Ayesha moved from her native Sri Lanka to Milton Keynes (a decade before the start of the story) to meet and marry her husband, Suresh Rasheed. Their first year of marriage was a happy one but, once baby daughter Sabina arrived, Suresh grew more withdrawn, possessive and controlling.

The story opens as Ayesha and eight-year-old Sabina flee the house they share with Suresh and his parents. In the dead of night they slip quietly away, leaving behind the life of mental and physical abuse that Ayesha has endured – and fears Sabina may fall victim to next. View Post

REVIEW: The Perfect Gift – charming products from Ballet Papier will delight dance devotees of all ages, whatever the occasion


Ballet Papier: From one dancer to another…

Georgina Butler introduces ballet fans to an exquisite e-boutique


Ballet Papier is the brand ballet lovers have been waiting for.

Unique and beautiful ballet-themed products can be difficult to find – particularly if the intended recipient is not a child. Insufficient attention to detail can render an otherwise attractive image or ornament undesirable to ballet fans with a keen eye for technique and an unwavering demand for positions to be illustrated in the correct way.

To be a great dancer takes knowledge, dedication, passion and immeasurable talent – and great artists require the same traits. Fortunately, the Ballet Papier range by Berenice Bercelli incorporates artistic flair and careful consideration of dance context to ensure charming, distinctive pieces.


Ballet Papier. Swan Lake outlet package. Ballet-themed products from Barcelona.

Ballet Papier goodies: My Swan Lake Outlet Package (T-Shirt of my choosing with a surprise notebook and surprise greeting card)


Berenice Bercelli is a Barcelona-based decorative arts brand created by artist María La Placa (an Italian artist now living in Spain).

The trade name encompasses several collections, including Ballet Papier’s beautiful ballerinas, magical fairies (Friendly Fairy), divine angels (Angel Dorado) and much more.

Having discovered the Ballet Papier range, I was drawn to the intricately detailed characters, which take inspiration from the best-loved narrative ballets (including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle and The Sleeping Beauty). Pieces also feature designs showing characters in dance class (complete with uplifting messages of encouragement) and The Dance Kingdom drawings capture iconic routines from the current series of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing.

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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Calling Mrs Christmas’ by Carole Matthews, August 2013


Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews, a seasonal book that is full of festive fun.



“Deck the halls with boughs of holly…!”


While the sun streams in through the open window and social media alerts inform me that everyone I know is jetting off on their summer holidays, I can be found with my nose in Carole Matthews’ latest Christmas-themed novel, Calling Mrs Christmas

Internationally bestselling romantic comedy author Carole lives in Milton Keynes and releases two books a year – one in time for some summer fun and one as a Christmassy treat. Tales of romance, family and friendship guarantee a page-turner every time and Carole’s dedicated fans eagerly await each new release.

Some of her books are set in the ‘Costa del Keynes’ (a little Carole-ism which I find myself adopting with frightening regularity) and showcase local haunts. The rest feature other parts of the UK, often with a few chapters spent in some exciting location or other (giving our Carole the perfect excuse to escape her office in the new city and enjoy a research trip with partner Lovely Kev).

I was fortunate enough to receive a pre-release edition of Calling Mrs Christmas, the twenty-third novel from this talented lady. Unsurprisingly, this Christmas cracker shot straight to the top of my “to read” pile!

Pick up any of Carole’s books and you can expect upbeat prose, a strong storyline and captivating characters. Calling Mrs Christmas delivers these and more. View Post