Tag Archives: Giveaways

**Christmas with Orenda Books** featuring Johana Gustawsson @OrendaBooks @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks #Giveaway


Todays Christmas post is going to melt your heart, it features  Johana Gustawsson and her beautiful family. It’s hard to imagine this author writes such gory, gritty crime thrillers 😂.

This is my last post for Christmas With Orenda books, I’m feeling a bit sad, I loved reading theses posts and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading them too.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

It was the first Christmas I spent with my husband in France, back in 2011. He finally joined my family celebration in Aubagne, south of France. It was a very simple Christmas, just my parents, my sister, her soon-to-husband and their puppy, but it was a Christmas full of love, celebrating new beginnings.


Where will you be spending Christmas?

In Vikingland, Stockholm, at my sister-in-law’s place. My eldest and his cousin still believe in Santa so we will make it magical for them. I’m not sure the twins will grasp the concept at only two years old, but I think we will be in for a good laugh!


Do you have any Christmas traditions?

It depends on where we celebrate Christmas: if it’s Sweden, we follow the Swedish tradition where the big event is on Christmas’ eve lunch, with the famous smörgåsbord, a buffet with Swedish delicacies like herring, pork sausages and beetroot and cream salad, followed by the opening of the gifts which Santa delivers right when the boys are going to look for him in the neighbourhood!

If we are celebrating it in France, the big celebration takes place on Christmas’ eve dinner with foie gras, oysters, turkey and bûche de Noël, the traditional French Christmas cake. Santa then comes during the night and we open gifts on the 25th the morning. And if we are in London, we are doing a mix of it all!


What was your best ever Christmas present?

It was not a present made to me, but it was the arrival of the first dog in the family: in 2011, my sister and her future husband got a miniature pinscher, Honey. She was just 2 months old at the time and she was such a cute puppy! She is the only one who appears on the Christmas movies and photos!

What was your worst ever Christmas present?

I cannot think of anything! I can tell you though that we have a silly tradition in my husband’s family: my husband’s cousin and his wife got some very ugly wedding presents back in 2005, and one of those is a small flower pot in the shape of a very weird dragon/squirrel that they try to offer back to us every Christmas and that we of course give back the next Christmas. So you have to be very inventive in wrapping it, so that the person opening has no clue about the content of the box. We have had so many laughs with it! They are the ones having it now, so let’s see what they come up with this year!


Favourite Christmas tipple?

Glögg, the Swedish version of mulled wine, sweeter and with almonds flakes and raisins. Perfect with some gingerbread biscuits topped with blue cheese (stilton is the perfect match!).


What are you hoping for this Christmas?

To have my first holidays where the twins sleep! 

Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?

Thank you all for your unconditional support which makes my writing experience and path all so emotional and joyful. Wishing you all a wonderful celebration with your family and your friends, the family we choose. 

About Johana Gustawsson


Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, including Block 46, Keeper and, soon to be published, Blood Song, has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons.

Books published by Orenda Books

My thanks to Johana Gustawsson for writing this post and for allowing me to share photos from her personal collection. A huge thank you to Karen Sullivan for all her help with the feature, for the fab giveaway and to all the authors who took part.


I’m signing off now to the new year so I would just like to wish all my fellow bloggers, followers, publishers and authors ‘a very merry Christmas, and best wishes for the new year, and let’s hope it’s a good one for us all’

**Christmas with Orenda Books** featuring Michael J Malone #ExclusiveShortStory @OrendaBooks @michaeljmalone1


Today is the last day of Christmas with Orenda Books, and I have two special posts to end the series. Check back for the second one in a couple of hours, but first of all, I’m so excited I have been wanting to share this extra special post for ages. Are you ready? The one and only, super talented, (and one of my favourite authors) Michael J Malone has only gone a wrote an exclusive short story for this feature, how amazing is that? 

So Snuggle up in front of a roaring fire with a hot chocolate, and forget your stresses and read this exclusive Christmas story.



The Xmas Tree and the Queen of Chaos

It’s that time of year, when, with a sigh, I think about having to drag down my Xmas tree from the attic. And while I consider what a struggle that’s going to be, I think about the evening I “acquired” the bloody thing. 

The phone rang one late November evening. It was my twin sister, aka the Queen of Chaos (QC). She’s a lovely lady; four feet eleven inches, a size six, and thinks tact is something you stick your posters on the wall with.

‘I’ve been offered a Xmas tree for nothing,’ she said breathlessly. ‘Second hand. It’s quite tall and cost £190 new just 2 years ago. It’s bound to be a cracker. Only thing is I don’t have a car …’ like this is news. ‘How am I going to get the tree home to my flat? In Troon?’ Like I’ve forgotten where she stays.

My son is with me that night so I bundle him in the car and drive over to hers. She has a piece of paper in her hand with directions to the home of the tree which is fairly near where I live. The directions to the home of said tree were lousy – we got lost in a housing estate with one road in and one road out. 

Several phone calls later, with instructions from my backseat sister, me snapping at her and the wee fella giving me a row for being “bossy with my twin”, we make it.

We finally arrive to see an old lady standing by the door of her flat on the third floor wearing a look of relief. The look of someone who has just been told; yes it piles but we have a cream for that. She directed us to a cupboard in the communal hall and opened a large door. The only thing I saw was a huge white box. You know those containers you see on the back of ships? Roughly the size of one of those.

‘That’s your tree,’ says nice lady and runs back indoors before we can say anything else.

I couldn’t lift the box off the ground, never mind lifting it out to the car, but with the wee fella pushing and me dragging and QC carrying a free box of 30,000 lights the tree owner no longer needed, we made it. By which time my shirt was sticking to my back, my jacket was torn in three places, and I was wishing I only had brothers.

Outside, in the dimly lit car-park I looked at the box. I looked at the boot. Not going to happen. I open up the boot. Look at the box. Not a chance. 

Taking a breather from the tree struggle I noticed QC was standing to the side wearing an expression of mild panic. ‘It’s going to be too big,’ she says. ‘I don’t have big enough corners in my wee flat,’ she says. ‘You have it and I’ll take yours. It’ll be lovely for you and the wee man to have a nice big tree,’ She squeezes out a smile trying to sell me the idea.

‘Can we get it in the feckin’ car first,’ says I.

‘Dad!’ the wee fella gives me a look.

Eventually I worked out that if I moved the front seats forward and declined the backseats that there might be enough room. With more sweat, more pushing and some muttered curses, we made it. And we even managed to close the car doors.

Of course, we now didn’t have enough room for three people. So the wee fella (who’s nearly as tall as his aunt) sits on her lap and I drive to my house – but I have to go the long way as the short way goes past the police station. 

We get home safely – no blue flashing lights – and I realise that I can’t possibly drive to QC’s like this. I can’t leave the wee man at home on his own while I take the tree to hers. Besides, I can’t face the thought of lifting this humongous box up another three flights of stairs to QC’s flat. I face the realisation that I’m going to have to accept this bloody tree.

The next trick is to get the box out of my car. We all adopt the same activities as before – the wee fella pushes, I pull and QC stands wearing an expression of alarm. Eventually – presumably in the same time it takes a crane to lift a container from the ship on to the wharf, something gives – the car door handle- and the box is out of the car and with more pushing, pulling, and sweat, is in my front room.

While my son and I catch our breath, QC tears the industrial tape from the box – you know the silver duct tape kind that serial killers use in all the movies – just to see how big this tree is.

Think Norway’s annual gift to the British nation.

‘It’ll be lovely with lights on it,’ says QC with more than a hint of desperation, prompted by the fact that the room is so dark because the tree is blocking out all the light from the window. The expression of alarm on her face has deepened. 

She paused, ‘Where are the lights? Did you leave the lights behind,’ she asks me?

‘I was kinda busy with a big feckin’ box, sis,’ says I.

‘Dad!’ says the wee man.

QC’s last memory of the lights was while standing watching me wrestle the tree container into the car. She must have put them down somewhere, she surmises. On the pavement? So we all jump back in the car and go back to the tree lady’s building …and there in a dark corner of the car park was our box of 30,000 lights. Hurrah. Nobody had stolen them. No doubt any prospective thief had been put off by the thought of the increase to their electricity bill once they were switched on.

An old guy was walking his dog past the scene as we screeched to a halt. QC jumped out of the car before I could pull on the handbrake.

‘Forgot my lights,’ she explained to the man as if it made perfect sense, as she swooped for the box. 

By this time we had all worked up an appetite so we decided to go to Pizza Hut. Relieved the worst of it was over, we had a wee laugh about our adventures on the way to the restaurant. But, dear reader, it was to be an illusory moment of calm, for when we eventually got a seat, and put in an order QC realised she didn’t have her handbag. I reasoned that it must be in my house and besides I was NOT driving another inch without throwing something down my throat. 

But of course, by the time our food arrived, QC had worked herself into a frenzy of worry. Her house keys. Her mobile phone. Her purse.

‘Oh my fucking god,’ she screeched so loud a waiter walking past at that moment got such a fright he dropped the tray of drinks he was carrying. ‘My handbag can’t be in the house,’ QC asserted, face white. ‘It was on the backseat of the car while I was pushing the tree-box in. It must have got pushed out the other end? Either its in the same car park as the box of lights. Or maybe …’ her mouth fell open. ‘…the tree lady found it on her landing and maybe she’s emptied my purse, gone shopping on-line with MY credit cards and is now phoning a porn phone line in Chile using MY phone.’

While QC borrowed my mobile and phoned all of her friends to try and find out the tree lady’s number, the wee fella gave me another row.

‘You’re different with your sister,’ he said. ‘Way more bossy.’

Nobody had tree lady’s number. Cue more worry and more doomsday scenarios.

‘My house keys were in my handbag. You’ll have to kick in my front door. No, don’t. My neighbours are mental and while I’m sleeping tonight they’ll ransack the flat. And, I’ll have to stay awake all night. I’m a monster if I don’t get my sleep. Can you even get a locksmith on a Saturday night? Shame I fell out with my other neighbour – the witch – cos she used to keep a spare key for me.’

‘Let’s check my house first,’ I said. ‘Bet it’s there.’ If it wasn’t I’d need to change into my boots to help out in the door-kicking-in moment.

The food arrived and was eaten in Guinness Book of Records time, and there was a collective holding of breath all the way from Pizza Hut to my house. The wee fella worried that QC was going to have a rubbish Xmas. I worried that I was going to have a mad woman on my couch for the rest of the weekend and QC just worried. I pulled up in front of my house and we all took a deep breath and paused in prayer before we get out of the car.

I unlocked the front door to my house and QC almost knocked me into next door’s garden in her rush to get past. The wee man and I looked at each other and waited at the door, afraid to look.

We heard a squeal. 

She’d found it. Care to guess where?

Under the tree.

About Michael Malone


Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

Books published by Orenda Books

My thanks to Michael J Malone for writing this fabulous story for the book review café.

**Christmas with Orenda books** Featuring Will Carver @Will_Carver @OrendaBooks


Here we are another day closer to Christmas and I have a fantastic post for you today from author Will Carver. I must admit I thought I had got my posts muddled when I put this one together, I even went back to the original email to check 😂.  I’m not sure what I expected, probably something grim and dark, but I’m pleased to report he sounds like a real softie at heart. I hope you enjoy reading this post…..

What is your favourite Christmas memory? 

I was eight (I think). It was Christmas Eve. I was as excited as any kid is, thinking that Father Christmas was going to magically appear in my house while I was asleep and fill my stocking with goodies. I’d left a mince pie on a plate with a glass of whisky and I climbed up to the top of my cabin bed and shut my eyes, hoping that the next time I opened them, he would have been. 

At that age, I was on the cusp of no longer believing in that aspect of the festive period. I fell asleep but woke up a few hours later to hear somebody in my room, putting things into my stocking and eating the food I had left out. 

It was a strangely magical moment for me. I wanted to open my eyes so much. I wanted to sit up and take a look. But something stopped me. Maybe I was trying to hold on to it for another year, maybe some part of me knew what I would see if I decided to look. It was a really defining Christmas experience. Neither joyful or sad. Nor was it bittersweet. I remember it fondly now as a time somewhere between being a child and growing up. 


Where will you be spending Christmas?

Things are a little up in the air on this. When you’re separated and have kids, and you’re with someone new, who is separated and has kids, the logistics can be a little challenging. All I can say at this time is that I will be spending some of Christmas with whisky, watching Die Hard, and some with the people I love, assembling Lego and playing novelty board games while eating my body weight in food drenched in MSG. Pretty much the same as everyone else.

Do you have any Christmas traditions?

Loads. It’s the best time of the year. The tree always goes up on 1st December. I make a picnic for the kids and boil up some mulled wine for myself. We watch The Polar Express while we decorate the tree. When we’re finished I have to pick both kids up – one in each arm – so they can put the star on top at the same time. 

I started a thing last year where I put together a box of things for the kids to have on Christmas Eve. Nothing extravagant, just some Christmas pyjamas and socks and sweets and a teddy and some bedding and a game and a light… Christmas Eve is the best. All that anticipation. I thought it would be something fun but they loved it, so that will be a new tradition. 

Also, the Michael Bublé Christmas CD goes into the car for the school run. I’m not ashamed. 


What was your best ever Christmas present?

I can’t think of a better present I have received at Christmas than my daughter, Phoebe. She squeezed her way into my life the day before that big, bearded man was supposed to shuffle himself down the chimney and it changed everything – especially Christmases. I don’t, actually remember much about her first Christmas as I’d been awake for about three days and was in some hallucinatory haze but it was a better gift than even my noise-cancelling headphones. 

This isn’t to say that she is any more special than my son, of course. He is the best New Year’s Eve I’ve ever had. 

It’s a very expensive time of year. 

What was your worst ever Christmas present?

It was either ’89 or ’90. The Gameboy came out. And I got one. Now, I know that sounds like it should be on my list of best ever presents, and it is, but what happened that Christmas sullied Nintendo’s wonderful innovation. 

I have a younger brother. When he was very little, he would cry. About everything. He’s 31 now and much better. He received lots of toys and games that year and I opted to have a smaller pile of presents and invest the money into something more significant. In this case, the Gameboy. 

I loved the beep it made when you switched it on and the Tetris music kicked in. Amazing. 

I had a few goes. It was brilliant. I was hooked on that tiny green screen. But my little brother wanted a go. So he cried. And my parents made me give it to him. 

Then, when I wanted it back, he cried again. And he didn’t stop. So he got to sit with my Gameboy all Christmas. It sucked. Still, I had some new pyjamas and a book and some Lego…

The next day, my parents went out and bought my brother a Gameboy, so that I could have mine back. They said it would have to be his birthday present – obviously it wasn’t because he couldn’t get nothing on his birthday. 

Look, the Gameboy was great, but it made that Christmas shit. 

On the plus side, I get to remind my mother and brother about it every year, so it’s not all bad. 


Favourite Christmas tipple?

I used to like a Snowball but had to stop that a few years back when I went vegan. My favourite is mulled wine/Gluwein. I used to live in Germany as a child and the Christmas markets over there are better than anywhere else. The smell of Gluwein is the scent of Christmas, to me. It brings back those wonderful childhood memories of living in a different country where we always had snow in December and ate mushrooms dipped in garlic mayo while we walked around the stalls and rides at the market. 


What are you hoping for this Christmas?

I’m hoping that my latest book, Nothing Important Happened Today, will be at number one on the Sunday Times Bestseller list. I’m hoping that it will snow at some point. 

When it comes to gifts, I like getting books (obviously) and clothes that I can work out in. I’m a real gadget fan, I’m sure there will be something new that I don’t really need but would be fun to have. I tend not to want things, though. It’s great when somebody really puts thought into a gift, you know? It doesn’t have to be huge, just thoughtful. 

Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?

Be nice. Reach out. Give something back. Take more pleasure in giving. And buy my book.

About Will Carver


Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company.

He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraphand Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts

Books published by Orenda Books

My thanks to Will Carver for writing this post and taking part in this feature.

**Christmas with Orenda Books** featuring Louise Beech @Orendabooks @LouiseWriter #Giveaway #BookBundle


Oh my the days are beginning to run out before we reach the BIG day! I still have plenty to do between then but hopefully it will all be alright on the day! Today I’m thrilled to welcome Louise Beech to the book review café, and to learn more about ‘a Beech Christmas’.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

The one where I was almost nine months pregnant with my son. I was only twenty, and on my own, but so excited about becoming a mum for the first time. I wondered if we would end up with a Christmas Day baby because I kept getting backache – but he made me wait another two weeks!


Where will you be spending Christmas?

I’m excited to be going to my son Conor’s for Christmas. It will be my first time spending Christmas Day at one of my own children’s homes! They have both left home now, my daughter Katy for university in Lincoln, and my son to live with his girlfriend in Mansfield. It will be just the five of us; me, husband Joe, Katy, Conor and his girlfriend Ieva. Perfect. They will cook, and we are taking drinks, crackers and dessert.


Do you have any Christmas traditions?

I had some when the kids were little. Leaving the carrot out for Rudolph and some chocolate and whisky for Santa. Leaving one small gift at the foot of their beds to amuse them until a semi-human hour. All going downstairs together and ‘seeing if Santa had been’. Enjoying watching the kids open all their gifts before we even looked at ours.

What was your best ever Christmas present?

It was the first one my husband Joe ever bought me. We had only been dating about six weeks. It was back in 1996 before mobile phones. I only had one telephone in my house, downstairs in the kitchen. And we liked to talk late at night when I was in bed. So he got me twelve red roses and a telephone to plug in upstairs. So simple and so thoughtful.


What was your worst ever Christmas present?

I actually love gifts so much that I appreciate them all – even the ‘bad’ ones. So I couldn’t possibly say.

Favourite Christmas tipple?

You can’t beat the very 80s and naff Snowball. I don’t often drink red wine, but I do like a nice glass with the festive lunch.


What are you hoping for this Christmas?

That my family are happy, safe, and well. I’m also excited to see advance copies of my next novel, I Am Dust, as there is a good chance I will have one in my hand by Christmas. It might be book number six, but the excitement is just as clap-hands-jump-around-the-room as it was for my first.

Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?

I take the time to thank every single reviewer on my blog tours in the acknowledgments of the next novel. I am eternally grateful for readers who put reviews online or message me with their kind words. And endlessly appreciative of bloggers who read and share my books, simply out of love. They don’t have to do it. I hope they all have the most wonderful 2020, and that it’s a year of great books for us all.

About Louise Beech


Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a GuardianReaders’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle.

The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

Books published by Orenda Books

My thanks to Louise Beech for taking the time to write this post.



The giveaway includes all the books featured in the above photo, 18 fabulous books in total. The competition is open to UK residents only. Competition will close on midnight on the 19th December and please note the prize will be sent directly from the publishers (hopefully in time for Christmas) and you must be following my blog.

To enter click on the link and good luck Orenda Books Christmas bundle 📚🎁🎄

**Christmas with Orenda Books** featuring Simone Buchholz @OrendaBooks @Ohneklippo #Giveaway #BookBundle


Another day closer to Christmas, are you super organised like me or do you leave everything to the last minute? if I left everything to the last minute I would be having palpitations right now. Anyway it’s time to grab a coffee or something stronger, (depending on your day) open the mince pies  put your feet up for five minutes and learn more about ‘A Simone Buchholz christmas’ 

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

Reading a book in the early morning of December 25th, when everyone else in the house is sleeping, I am the only one who is already up, but I am still in my pyjama on the couch infront of the fire place next to the lit candles and the christmas tree … 

I must have been nine or ten years old that day, it was the time when I started reading heavily, and when I discovered the peace a book can give.


Where will you be spending Christmas?

At my parents house in the countryside near the Baltic Coast. There’s a forest and a lake and a little town near by and the sea half an hour away.

The perfect place for a few days off with the whole family.

Do you have any Christmas traditions?

Yes, and I love that one: In Germany the main Christmas event is on Christmas eve – that’s when the candles on the tree are lit, the Christmas presents are lying under the tree, the big dinner is taking place, just everything has to be ready in the evening. So my dad, my husband and our son have to leave the house around four in the afternoon on December 24th, because someone also has to check if Santa Claus is already around, is stuck somewhere, needs help, whatever. My mum started the tradition with my dad and me when I was a little kid, because she wanted some time alone at home to prepare the Christmas tree and stuff. I loved it, I still forced my dad to hang around outside with me when I was a teenager and already secretly smoking.

It’s so beautiful to stroll along the streets and see all the lights and Christmas trees blinking in the other houses, the people in the steamy kitchens preparing food, all these things. And then come home where it’s warm and everything’s ready. My dad and my husband started to go out in the afternoon with our son when he was one and a half year old. I still remember him coming back to his granny’s and grandad’s house after his first pre-Christmas-walk. Never forget the little red cheeks and the glowing eyes. He is eleven now and listens to Gangsta Rap all day, but if Santa Claus needs help in the late afternoon of Christmas eve, he will surely find him.


What was your best ever Christmas present?

Our dog. My mum rescued her from an animal shelter when I was eight years old. As I have no silblings, she was very important for my teenage years. And whenever I see that kind of dog in the streets, not too small, not too big, black, long, fuzzy hair and all in all a bit weird and wild, comes a very special smile to my face, something between sad and happy and thankful.

What was your worst ever Christmas present?

A few years ago, I told my husband that I’d love to have a pasta machine for Christmas. ‘Oh, that’s horrible’, he said, ‘so much work to make your own pasta, so much cleaning afterwards, and honestly: I really like these Spaghetti bronzanti from our Italian supermarket.’

‘But Tortellini!’, I said. ‘Ravioli! Tagliatelle! I can do all that for us every weekend!’

‘Ok’, he said and sighed, and when Christmas eve came, there was a pasta machine for me under the tree.

It was a monster. Heavy. Big. Incredible to clean after the hours of work it took to get two plates of fucking Tortellini. We used it once and never talked about it again.


Favourite Christmas tipple?

Cremant d’Alsace. My mum and me are drinking it while cooking the Christmas menues for two days, and well, we usually start cooking in the afternoon of December 23rd. It’s my dad’s job to pour the Cremant into the kitchen chefs, while the chefs are pouring things into pans and pots.

What are you hoping for this Christmas?

I know it’s naive but: peace. That all the weapons around the world are silent. And that everyone in my family is doing well, especially the elderly ones.

Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?

Be kind and eat more vegetables.

About Simone Buchholz


Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award, and second place in the German Crime Fiction Prize, for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months.

The next in the Chastity Riley series, Beton Rouge, won the Radio Bremen Crime Fiction Award and Best Economic Crime Novel 2017. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son. Follow Simone on Twitter @ohneKlippo and visit her website: simonebuchholz.com.

Books available from Orenda

My thanks to Simone Buchholz for finding time to write this post and sharing her Christmas with me.



The giveaway includes all the books featured in the above photo, 18 fabulous books in total. The competition is open to UK residents only. Competition will close on midnight on the 19th December and please note the prize will be sent directly from the publishers (hopefully in time for Christmas) and you must be following my blog.

To enter click on the link and good luck Orenda Books Christmas bundle 📚🎁🎄

**Christmas with Orenda Books** featuring West Camel @OrendaBooks @West_Camel #Giveaway #BookBundle


Today I’m thrilled to welcome West Camel and to learn more about his Christmases past and present. I really have enjoyed reading these posts as I put them together, I hope you have too.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

I once introduced a Swiss/French boyfriend to an English Christmas. For him, back home, all the excitement would be over once he’d gone to bed on Christmas Eve. It was so great to show him how the pleasure extends for days here.      


Where will you be spending Christmas?

Here in London with friends, who host me most years. I live in the Stockwell area of South London, so I do the half-hour walk to their place in Pimlico through the deserted streets and across the river. It’s eerie and strange – but at the other end there’s a feast. 

Do you have any Christmas traditions?

The tree only goes up once I’ve finished work for the year. So that can be as late as Christmas Eve. Computer goes off and I dash out to get a tree – must be real, must be big. I nearly always haggle down the greengrocer (‘they’re selling them off at half-price outside the tube station’, etc, etc) and get a cheap one. 

What was your best ever Christmas present?

When I was 10 my parents bought a piano. I was told my actual present was the lessons, but no one else played, so the instrument was all mine! I’d longed for one for years and years. In the week leading up to Christmas I really believed the big object in the hall, draped with a blanket, was a cocktail cabinet for the neighbour. But on Christmas morning it was unveiled. 

508 Decorator Satin Mahogany

What was your worst ever Christmas present?

I do remember going to my grandparents to exchange presents one year, when I was around 18, and a committed goth. I was chatting and had their present, unopened, in my hands – it was soft, thick, a fair size. My brother said something, and I looked up to see him wearing the most hideous, garishly coloured body-warmer I’d ever seen. I froze – knowing that now I had to unwrap the body warmer that was in my hands, put it on and say it was lovely, just as my brother was doing. I pulled apart the paper and found a simple black sweater – which perfectly suited my goth attire! So not my worst-ever present, but it was a close shave… 

Favourite Christmas tipple?

I’m a big fan of mulled wine. I love making it, drinking it outside, drinking it inside… 

What are you hoping for this Christmas?

Mainly two weeks of holiday – reading, friends, family, lots of good meals, cinema trips maybe. Maybe even the ballet. And late nights and late mornings.  


Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?

December marks the first anniversary of the publication of my debut novel, Attend. Bloggers and readers have loved it – and I’m hugely gratefully for the messages of appreciation and for all the great reviews, interviews and features. The blogging community is hugely important to helping get odd, genre-bending books like mine to a wider public. More power to your reading elbows! Have a wonderful festive period all of you and keep up the wonderful work in 2020. 

About West Camel


Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch.

He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda Books with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost-writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.

Books published by Orenda Books


My thanks to West Camel for taking part in this feature.



The giveaway includes all the books featured in the above photo, 18 fabulous books in total. The competition is open to UK residents only. Competition will close on midnight on the 19th December and please note the prize will be sent directly from the publishers (hopefully in time for Christmas) and you must be following my blog.

To enter click on the link and good luck Orenda Books Christmas bundle 📚🎁🎄


#TheSilentPatient by Alex Michaelides (@AlexMichaelides @OrionBooks) #BookHangoverAward #Giveaway #Paperback #BlogTour

Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Silent Patient to mark its publication in paperback. I’m re-sharing my review from way back in early 2019, in my review I wrote ‘this book is going to be HUGE’ and I wasn’t wrong. The Silent Patient has been sold in 38 territories and Brad Pitt’s Plan B Productions has bought the film rights. The book made the New York Times bestseller, a couple of weeks after publication.

Alongside my review I’m also giving away my unread ARC   (I already own two copies, yes it really is that good!), you can find more about the giveaway at the bottom of this post. 


Alicia Berenson lived a seemingly perfect life until one day six years ago.

When she shot her husband in the head five times.

Since then she hasn’t spoken a single word. It’s time to find out why.



Now and then a book comes a long that causes a huge stir and unless you’ve been living on a desert island for the last few months, then you will know The Silent Patient, the debut novel from Alex Michaelides is the book everyone is talking about. I must admit I can see why, it’s a unique and a very disturbing character based psychological thriller, but how I loved it. The author sure knows how to weave a tangled web, and then keep the reader in his clutches with a well- plotted story. It’s one that pulls you in from the shocking opening chapter and keeps you captivated all the way to it’s explosive conclusion. I literally read this book in a day, the tension mounted as each chapter ended making this an impossible book to put down. Mark my words this book is going to be a HUGE hit.

Alicia is a Patient in The Grove a secure forensic unit for the murder of her husband, she has not spoken a word since his death and Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who believes he is the one to make her speak of what happened on that fateful night.  The author uses an intriguing concept As Alice refuses to talk after her husband’s murder, the reader is reliant on Theo’s interpretations of her thoughts and emotions, although the reader is privy to Alice’s journal which explores her life before Theo’s Murder. Even without a voice Alice is a strong protagonist, rather like Theo, you the reader are desperate to hear her voice and hear her side of the story. Theo is a man with his own secrets and troubled past, which make him an compelling character. The scenes between Theo and Alice crackle with tension, at times it felt like a battle of wits, as Alice battled to stay silent and Theo’s dogged determination to make her speak, these scenes give a sense of unease which grow as the story unfolds.

Anyone who reads psychological thrillers will expect there to be “twist” or two, after all isn’t that part of the reason we read these type of books? It’s the element of “surprise” that I always look forward to, it can turn an “enjoyable” read into a “OMFG I loved this book” type of read, so take a bow Alex Michaelides The Silent Patient definitely took me by surprise in fact I’m sure my jaw hit the floor at some point! I had an inkling where the plot was heading, but I guess I do not have the same twisted imagination as the author, he well and truly hood winked me, but so brilliantly executed. The Silent Patient is an assured debut from Alex Michaelides, he’s definitely an author to watch out for. Highly recommend if you enjoy a dark, shocking psychological thriller that will leave you speechless (excuse the pun!) 

  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (7 Feb. 2019)

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧       Amazon US 🇺🇸

It will come as no surprise but I’m giving The Silent Patient my shiny Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.


 About the author 


Alex Michaelides was born in Cyprus in 1977 to a Greek father and English mother. He studied English literature at Cambridge University and got his MA in screenwriting at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. He wrote the film The Devil You Know (2013) starring Rosamund Pike and co-wrote The Brits are Coming (2018), starring Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Parker Posey and Sofia Vergara. THE SILENT PATIENT is his first novel.


To win my unread ARC of The Silent Patient either leave a comment on this post or retweet my pinned post @reviewcafe. Competition closes Monday 16th, sorry but this giveaway is open to UK residents only and you must be following my blog. Good luck 📚📚


My thanks to the publishers for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased and honest review. 

Follow the blog tour……..



**Christmas with Orenda Books** featuring Paul Burston @OrendaBooks @PaulBurston #Giveaway #BookBundle

Another day closer to Christmas, Eeek it’s coming around so quickly and I have a pile of Christmas presents that need wrapping, but I’m digressing here! Today I’m thrilled to have the awesome Tom Bale pop by the book review café to talk about all things Christmassy, so pull up a pew, grab a mince pie and a coffee and escape for a few minutes whilst you learn more about a “Paul Burston Christmas”

What is your favourite Christmas memory? 

Waking up in the middle of the night, aged 5 or 6, and unwrapping my main Christmas present, which was an Evel Knievel action figure on a motorbike. You wound up the bike and Evel would perform stunts – jumping over rows of toy cars or lorries or, in my case, the inanimate bodies of my marionette puppets. I was a strange kid.


Where will you be spending Christmas?

In Tenerife. I’m a sun worshipper who suffers from SAD. So I try to fly south for a few weeks during the winter whenever possible. 

Do you have any Christmas traditions?

Not really. My partner is from Brazil so we used to spend Christmas in Rio until his mother passed away a few years ago. But I’m not big on family Christmases. Christmas with my family can be quite fraught so I tend to see them before or afterwards, when everyone is less stressed.

What was your best ever Christmas present?

A few years ago my partner bought me a silver dinner jacket which I often wear on stage at my literary salon Polari. It’s a toss up between that and the aforementioned Evel Knievel!  

What was your worst ever Christmas present?

Someone once gave me a mulled wine set. I hate mulled wine. The person who gave it to me knows I hate mulled wine. I suspect it was an unwanted gift from someone else that was being passed on. 

Favourite Christmas tipple?

Bailey’s. It’s the only time of year I drink it. So to me it always tastes of Christmas. 


What are you hoping for this Christmas?

Warm sunshine, a chilled beer on the beach and a swim in the sea. For pretend, we’ll probably buy each other clothes in the Boxing Day sales. And book tokens are always welcome. 


Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?

Try to avoid spending too much time with people who drain you. Take time off for yourself. Go for a walk. Read a book. Don’t feel obliged to sit on the sofa all day, arguing over the TV guide. There’s a reason so many people fall out at Christmas. The pressure to spend so much time together can create tension. So try to be kind to yourself and others. 

About Paul Burston


Paul Burston is the author of five novels and the editor of two short story collections. His most recent novel ‘The Black Path’, was longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2016 and was a bestseller at WH Smith. His first novel, ‘Shameless’, was shortlisted for the State of Britain Award. His third novel, ‘Lovers & Losers’ was shortlisted for a Stonewall Award. His fourth, ‘The Gay Divorcee’, was optioned for television.

He was a founding editor of Attitude magazine and has written for many publications including The Guardian, The Independent, Time Out, The Times and The Sunday Times. In March 2016, he was featured in the British Council’s #FiveFilms4Freedom Global List 2016, celebrating “33 visionary people who are promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world”. He is the founder and host of London’s award-winning LGBT+ literary salon Polari and founder and chair of The Polari First Book Prize for new writing.

Books published with Orenda Books


My thanks to Paul Burston for taking the time to write this post.



The giveaway includes all the books featured in the above photo, 18 fabulous books in total. The competition is open to UK residents only. Competition will close on midnight on the 19th December and please note the prize will be sent directly from the publishers (hopefully in time for Christmas) and you must be following my blog.

To enter click on the link and good luck Orenda Books Christmas bundle 📚🎁🎄

**Christmas with Orenda Books** featuring Roxanne Bouchard @OrendaBooks @RBouchard72 #Giveaway #BookBundle

Another day closer to Christmas, and personally I can’t wait, I’m one of those people who just love to give presents. If you are still frantically running around looking for gifts, sorry I can’t help you there! but I can encourage you to put your feet up, grab a mince pie and a glass of sherry and see what author Roxanne Bouchard had to say when I put my Christmassy questions to her.

What is your favourite Christmas memory? 

In December 2011, I was crew on a sailboat near Bequay, which is a little island South of St-Vincent in the Carribean. My skipper and I were invited, by a sailor’s group in a little cottage for Chrismas Eve. When I arrived, a new friend came to me with a box.
—Do you mind wearing the red suit and playing Santa Claus for my two kids? They know all our friends and I’m afraid they will recognize them. So, if you don’t mind…
In the night, near the lamppost, he gave me the box.
—Here’s the kit.
He showed me a little house on the other side of the gravel road.
—Maybe you can ask there to put the suit on. Thank you!
He left.
crossed the gravel road and walked to the little house. There were two old women a little drunk on the patio. 
— Merry Chrismas, ladies, may I put a Santa’s outfit on in the house, please?
—Yes, yes…
—Go to the bedroom!
They showed me the room and I went there alone. I took a pillow in the bed and I dressed myself. When I came back in the kitchen and then, in the patio, I found the place empty. The old women had strangely left me alone in the house.
I walked to the party, knocked on the cottage’s door and did Santa’ s job with the kids. Then, I left the place to the little house to take off the suit.
But when I arrived on the gravel road, I understood why the old women had left the house: there were a lot of neighbors with kids along the road! They were all there… to see the real Santa Claus walking on the island!

88B5AC87-716C-41B9-B8C9-962FFC002C8FWhat was your best ever Christmas present?

Each year, my mother and father bless me. Still, at 47, I kneel to receive this precious gift.


What was your worst ever Christmas (story about a) present?

When I was young, my parents gave me a small oven for kids in which, I cooked my first chocolate cake. But just after my first recipe, my older brother came to me and said:
— I’m curious about your oven… 
He took it in his hands. That same brother had, a week earlier, sawed in half his GI Joe figure to know how it was made.
— You know what? I have an idea! We’ll unscrew the back panel, just to see how it works, O.K.?
He went in the workshop and came back with a screwdriver and pliers.
I have never been able to cook another cake in that oven, but my older brother became a really great engineer. 


Favourite Christmas tipple?

In Quebec, we have Caribou. There is a legend that this alcohol is originally made with caribou’s blood. Don’t worry: today, we make it with wine or port. This is an aromatic alcohol that we can drink cold or hot. 
• 30 ml (2 c. à soupe) de brandy
• 30 ml (2 c. à soupe) de vodka
• 75 ml (1/3 tasse) de porto
• 75 ml (1/3 tasse) de xérès
Put the ingredients in a pot, heat a little and enjoy.


Do you have any Christmas traditions?

For the past few years, on Chrismas Eve, my husband make a fire outside and the whole family goes out to drink a glass of warm caribou in the winter night.


Where will you be spending Christmas?

In Joliette, Quebec, with my family.


What are you hoping for this Christmas?

I hope all the family will be together and healthy.


Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?

May I suggest something?
I suggest that everyone send a Christmas card to someone who is alone to offer solidarity and a little warmth in this peaceful night.

About Roxanne Bouchard


French-Canadian Roxanne Bouchard is a multi-award-winning author and playwright from Quebec, Canada, and We Were the Salt of the Sea is her first novel to be published in English. She is currently writing an essay on literary creativity, and plotting the next Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès investigation, which will be published in English in 2020. Follow Roxanne on Twitter @RBouchard72 and on her website:

Books published by Orenda Books


My thanks to Roxanne Bouchard for writing this post and taking part in this feature.



The giveaway includes all the books featured in the above photo, 18 fabulous books in total. The competition is open to UK residents only. Competition will close on midnight on the 19th December and please note the prize will be sent directly from the publishers (hopefully in time for Christmas) and you must be following my blog.

To enter click on the link and good luck Orenda Books Christmas bundle 📚🎁🎄

**Christmas With Orenda Books** featuring Vanda Symon @OrendaBooks @vandasymon #Giveaway #BookBundle


Eeek another day closer to Christmas, and I’m thrilled to have Vanda Symon pop by the book review café to discuss all things Christmassy. So why not put your feet up and grab a mulled wine and take a moment to read all about a “Vanda Symon” Christmas.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

My favourite Christmas memories involve the excitement and fun of decorating the house. The hours spent cutting and folding crepe-paper to make streamers and stapling loops of paper together to make paper chains. When I was little my Dad used to suspend a hula hoop around the central light in our lounge, then we’d attach the multi-coloured streamers to the hoop and then run them twisting out to the walls creating the effect of being in a vibrant and shimmering marquee. Add the Christmas tree in the corner with its wonderful pine scent, and tinsel by the mile… magic!


Where will you be spending Christmas?

We’re celebrating Christmas at home this year (and don’t tell anyone, but that’s the way I like it!) It will be a low key affair with family – but I can promise you the house will be decorated within an inch of its life – and I’m already buying more sparkly lights. Christmas in New Zealand is in the heart of summer, so think hot sunny days, Christmas lunch cooked on the BBQ, chilling out having eaten too much pavlova, reading a good book in the shade. If we feel overly energetic we’ll head down to the beach…

Do you have any Christmas traditions?

My Mum had the most wonderful tradition where every year she would buy all her grandchildren a Christmas decoration each, so over the course of their lives they built up an eclectic and special collection. They are even more poignant now she has passed away, and when we decorate the tree and my boys pull out their special Gran boxes of decorations we have a wonderful reminisce about how special she was, and a little cry.

What was your best ever Christmas present?

This probably sounds corney, but the presents I have cherished the most have been the wee home made ones my boys have made over the years. There has been some lovely home-made jewellery that I happily and proudly wear. And one year my youngest (then 13) did such a spectacular job of decorating the gift wrapping, that I have kept the origami flowers he painstakingly folded.


What was your worst ever Christmas present?

It wasn’t my worst ever Christmas present, but more my most unfortunate. I was 10 and really hoping to get a swingball set for Christmas and couldn’t believe my luck when I went looking under the tree and there was a suspiciously long and rectangular box. I ripped off the paper and hello, there it was – sooo excited. So we went outside and went to push the base into the ground, but it being summer and all the ground was baked pretty hard, one of the adults went and got a hammer to help bang it into the ground. And bang away they did – but it didn’t occur to them to pop a block of wood on top of the tube and hit that with the hammer, noooo, they hit the top of the metal tube, and munted it completely, closing it up so you couldn’t slot the top half of the swing ball in. Wrecked it, totally wrecked it. I was devastated.

Favourite Christmas tipple?

Bubbles. Got to have the bubbles. We never have Champagne any other time of year, and certainly never drink in the middle of the day, so it makes Christmas feel extra special when we bust out the bubbly at lunchtime!


What are you hoping for this Christmas?

It’s funny how your priorities change as you get a bit older, and Christmas becomes less about the stuff and more about the people. We are at a stage in life where we are beginning to lose loved ones, and others are of fragile health. And next year we will have had both our boys fly the nest, so the dynamics and practicalities of us all gathering at Christmas time in the future cannot be taken for granted. So other than a new book (always hopeful) what I’m really hoping for this Christmas is a relaxed and happily memorable time with family. 

Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?

I adore Christmas and see it as a special fun time with family. But for some it can be a very sad time and a very stressful time. I am concerned when I see people become overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations, spending more than they can afford, and running around trying to please everyone – particularly the mums out there. My message would be step back from the hullabaloo, keep it simple, look after yourself and look out for each other. Reach out to those who are lonely. Christmas is a time to celebrate people, and cherish those you love. 

About Vanda Symon



Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.

Books published by Orenda books

My thanks to Vanda Symon for taking part in this feature.



The giveaway includes all the books featured in the above photo, 18 fabulous books in total. The competition is open to UK residents only. Competition will close on midnight on the 19th December and please note the prize will be sent directly from the publishers (hopefully in time for Christmas) and you must be following my blog.

To enter click on the link and good luck Orenda Books Christmas bundle 📚🎁🎄