The Pollyanna Plan – Talli Roland

Emma is something of a control freak; her life is perfectly ordered, she works hard as an insurance underwriter, she owns her own well organised flat and is engaged to a similarly employed suitable man, George. But within a week she is laid off at work and discovers George’s faithfulness isn’t quite as his boring personality would suggest. Her best friend Alice helps her pick up the pieces, and believes Emma should try acting her age (thirty-two) and having some fun for a change. Alice devises the Pollyanna plan- Pollyanna being a fictional character who always sees the positive in any situation- and challenges Emma to change her perspective on life. Thanks to some sensible savings Emma does not have to rush into her next job and makes some surprising discoveries.

Kooks for your Kindle?– Part of the story is told from the point of view of Will, the enigmatic stranger Emma meets in her local DIY store. His viewpoint allows us to understand his mystery, which stems from his difficult relationship with his father, the family business, and some health problems. Alice makes a nice contrast to the uptight Emma, she’s a more fun loving, daring actress/bartender. There are a few other minor characters, still with heartfelt roles, such as Will’s eccentric neighbour Lou, and Emma’s (oddly 25 years younger) half-sister Meg.

The Bella-Swan-Pathetically-Self-Sacrificing-Factor– Emma has some scars and they all hark back to the early death of her father and subsequent withdrawal of her mother. By keeping control of her adult life and not feeling anything she can avoid getting hurt again. Once she lets go and begins to live she has a bit of a scare, not really surprising with such a big change.

Painting a picture for your paperback?– The tale has both a sad and hopeful tone, and is a little more poignant and thoughtful than you might expect having seen the truly frothy cover. The setting is more picturesque than your average London-based story, with canal boats and a side trip towards the end which i probably shouldn’t reveal.

Evaluation of your eBook?– It’s fairly short as books go, I read it in just a few hours, but that might just be because it was quite gripping. The ending isn’t a big surprise but it’s a good journey, and an uplifting one at that. Emma’s personality changes are extreme, and the ensuing fear has a boomerang effect, but a nice balance is eventually achieved. There is one aspect of the story that concerns illness, and again I don’t want to spoil anything, so lets just say it was very nicely handled. Overall a nice easy read with a positive ending, cheap too.

Frothy Ranking: 4/5 cocktails.

Can be obtained from:

UK: Amazon for only 79p

US: Amazon for only 99c

Christmas Novellas

Mistletoe in Manhattan- Talli Roland

It’s short ‘n sweet and took about an hour to read, but something a little different. Holly is a true child of Christmas, her parents plan Christmas parties professionally, all year round. Holly was born on the big day, and has always indulged her parents obsession. But now she has a chance to prove herself by planning a massive party for a spoiled British actor- in New York.

A contemporary tale of a modern British girl on the loose in New York for the first time; she holds her own against her employer and his assistant, but will she cave in to pressure from her family and her (rather judgmental) new friend or can she cut the umbilical to her Christmas-obsessed parents?  A quick, cheap, read about adventure and family ties.

Only 77p from Amazon UK and 99c from Amazon US.

Bah, Humbug! Heather Horrocks

This is another quickie, only about an hour’s read, but that’s alright because it’s free from Amazon US and Amazon UK! Lexi is a TV homebody, a younger (unincarcerated) Martha Stewart. She gets by as a single mother to her two kids who are both fans of childrens’ mystery writer Kyle Miller. Just before Christmas they move to a nicer house that Lexi can finally afford- to discover Kyle is their next door neighbour and that he tried to hide a gun in their snowman- purely in the interests of research, fortunately. When Kyle turns out to be a lonely man on a book deadline with a sad family history, Lexi takes him on as a Christmas project; healing the problems with his father and brothers, and helping him regain his Christmas spirit. It’s a cute little love story, with interesting characters.

Santa Maybe – Scarlett Bailey

Saving the best for last- this one’s a little longer, at least two hours worth, and highly original. Thirty-ish Amy is woken on Christmas Eve by Santa- a very HOT Santa- and told it’s her turn for a wish to come true: He’s tasked with finding true love for her by the end of the night. As well as delivering all the gifts! There begins a night of travel over continents and time as they examine a past break up, her absent father, the rat-pack party scene in 1956, Bethlehem 2000 years ago, and snowy Lapland (which is not a lap-dancing club, contrary to the expectations of one elf). This book certainly defied my expectations with an original Santa mythology, unusual elves, and the aforementioned young Santa. This book is unusual fun, with some nice banter between the leads, as well as the minor characters.

Sorry, doesn’t seem to be available from Amazon US, but if you can get it from Amazon UK for £1.28, don’t miss it.