Monday, 26 October 2015

Bellas Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials.
But this year things are going to be different.
For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever.
Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off…
After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember…
A hilarious, heart-breaking and feel good read about best friends, baking and the magic of Christmas.

I jumped at the chance to review Bella's Christmas Bake Off after reading Summer Flings and Dancing Dreams by Sue Watson earlier this year.

 I was certainly not left disappointed by the bake off antics, however you might want to avoid reading it on an empty stomach!

Before even starting the book, I could tell that it was going to be a laugh a minute, judging from the imaginative titles for every chapter. This is something I love about Sue's books, the fact that she goes to the effort of summing up each chapter with a hilarious title rather than just plain numbering them.

The story begins with Amy Lane, a maths teacher who's husband leaves her three weeks before Christmas (for a woman with a pole in her bedroom no less!!). Life is pretty dire for her at this point, with her children deciding to spend Christmas away from home, she is left on her own. She is then shown St Swithins, a homeless shelter that one of her fellow teachers volunteers at, who will have to go without a Christmas this year due to lack of funding.

In contrast, there's Bella Bradley, a successful TV personality who can throw money at everything, cooking with the most expensive and highest quality produce. However many moons ago, Amy and Bella were best friends but were tore apart over a 'secret', something which is hinted at throughout the book but is only revealed much later on. 

Wanting to get back in contact, Amy has been sending Christmas cards and her mum's recipes to Bella every year but to no avail. 
That is until Amy switches on the television to watch her old friend to see that she has created a Christmas recipe book, passing off Amy's mum's recipes as her own!! Amy is rightfully angry and when an opportunity comes along to win a week with Bella, Amy comes up with a plan to get her revenge, ensuring St Swithins won't go without this Christmas and hopefully getting a chance to make amends with Bella.

I won't spoil the rest of the book for you but it really is a heart warming and hilarious Christmas read. I love Amy and Bella's characters and as Amy steps out of her comfort zone, it's also apparent that despite having everything, Bella's life is not quite as it seems.
Sue's informal style of writing makes the book flow with ease and I love all of the references to Nigella Lawson and Mary Berry (not forgetting Bella's sliver fox husband who is reminiscent of Paul Hollywood). 

Despite tackling some serious issues, Sue puts a positive spin on things, keeping the book light hearted.  

Bella's Christmas Bake Off is a feel good Christmas read that will no doubt get you into the festive spirit and make you want to reach out for a mince pie or two - I give this 4 out of 5 stars.

I would like to thank Guest Reviewer Katrina for this fabulous review and the team at Bookouture for a review copy via NetGalley - this is our honest opinion.

Bella's Christmas Bake Off as been reviewed as part of #BookoutureXmas

Sue Watson

Sue Watson was a journalist on women’s magazines and national newspapers before leaving it all behind for a career in TV. As a producer with the BBC she worked on garden makeovers, kitchen takeovers and daytime sofas – all the time making copious notes so that one day she might escape to the country and turn it all into a book.
After much deliberation and copious consumption of cake, Sue eventually left her life in TV to write.  After a very successful debut novel, Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes, Sue signed with Bookouture and has gone on to write four fabulous books.

Giveaway Time!

Throughout the #BookoutureXmas event, I have a chance for you to win a Christmas book bundle to get your festive reading underway! See below for details!

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  1. I love it when the kids still believe in Santa, when they put there mince pies and carrots out.