Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Book Review: How to Stuff up Christmas by Rosie Blake

'Tis the season to be jolly. Unless you've found an intimate picture of another woman on your fiance's phone...

Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen.

But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?

As soon as I saw the beautiful, sparkly cover for How to Stuff up Christmas, I was sold. It's so festive and twinkly.. I love it. The title also made me laugh (and even got a seal of approval from my Dad, who picked it up from the coffee table with a quizzical look, followed by a belly laugh!)

Because of these things, I had high hopes for How To Stuff Up Christmas.... and my goodness did it deliver. This is a funny and emotional read, perfect to indulge in over the festive period (made even better by the delicious recipes between chapters). 

Firstly, I was amazed by Rosie Blake's writing style. I don't want that to sound like a bad thing, as it's not, it's just that I was taken aback by just how brilliant it is - she is so talented. Honest, witty and really well thought through, her writing  keeps you engaged from the very first page until the end of the book.

The main character Eve is brilliant - very real, down-to-earth and relatable - I loved her immediately. She's clearly hurting after finding out her fiance was cheating on her, but she ultimately does well moving on from him, and I was so glad - he's irritating, arrogant and fury-inducing. Deciding to escape Christmas and the memories attached to it (she was proposed to on the previous Christmas Day) she rents out a river-boat and, along with her dog Marmite, has some peace and quiet while she starts to mend her broken heart. 

While on the river boat (which I'll get to in a minute) she meets hunky local vet Greg. He's a wonderful character - kind, caring and funny - the complete opposite of her ex - and from their first meeting I was rooting for them to get together. He sees Eve in some hilarious circumstances (part of her charm is how clumsy she is, with a real ability to get herself in the most awkward situations. I won't say what they are as don't want to ruin some fantastic, laugh-out-loud moments for you, but you'll know them when you read them!) yet he is still intrigued and drawn to her. This led me to feeling soppy and romantic and yelling at a book for them to just GET TOGETHER ALREADY! (note to self: they can't hear you, as much as you want them to)

There's other brilliant characters in How to Stuff up Christmas as well as Eve, her sister and brother-in-law were particular favourites of mine as they provided some more hilarious situations. I loved their relaxed interaction with each other with Eve, and the way they support her throughout. Daisy, Eve's best friend is also great - she's funny and I loved their easy-going friendship. I also can't forget Marmite- he's the star of the show and all-round wonder. Although a pet, he brings a lot to the story and it wouldn't be the same without him. 

Now, I have to talk about this riverboat. My lord what a wonderful setting for a story! The boat sounded so cosy and homely, the perfect escapism. I want to go sit by the woodburner and drink mulled wine and cuddle Marmite (or Greg, I'm not picky). Anyway, it made for a great setting and Rosie describes it so brilliantly it's like you've actually been transported there. I love it when authors get creative with their locations and this one certainly delivers - it's fab!

One of the other things I loved about this story is the little added extras nestled between the chapters. At the start of some of the chapters there are recipes for the foods about to be consumed in that next scene. Not only did this give you a sneaky hint as to what the characters would be devouring in the upcoming chapter, it's also a way to get your stomach grumbling as many of the recipes are drool-worthy. They are mainly festive and all sound delicious, some of which I am planning to make as I can't miss out on these delights.

How To Stuff Up Christmas is absolutely bloomin' brilliant. I LOVED it. It had me smiling from the start and I couldn't wait to see what was in store for Eve - I hoped desperately that things would turn out in her favour. It's a fun and festive read, perfect to snuggle up with on a winter evening. This is certainly a festive read that will become a Christmas tradition for me- I'm already looking forward to reading it again next Christmas! I'd strongly suggest you grab a mince pie, some mulled wine and enjoy this Christmassy delight. 

*A Big thank you to the publishers of How to Stuff up Christmas, Corvus, for advance copy of the book via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review


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