Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Release Day: A Very Braden Christmas by Melissa Foster.

Discover the magic of New York Times bestseller Melissa Foster's writing and see why millions of readers have fallen in love with the Bradens.

A Braden Christmas celebration!

Family and babies abound during this fun-filled evening of love, laughter, and happily ever afters! Spend the evening catching up with our loving and loyal Bradens in this holiday celebration and fall in love all over again with each of the Bradens at Weston, and their children.

A VERY BRADEN CHRISTMAS is a novelette and part of the Love in Bloom big-family romance collection.

Family and babies abound during this fun-filled evening of love, laughter, and happily ever afters! A VERY BRADEN CHRISTMAS by New York Times bestselling author Melissa Foster is NOW AVAILABLE! 

New Release Spotlight & Review: Odette by Jessica Duchen

A 21st-Century Fairy Tale

by Jessica Duchen

Published by Unbound on 29 November 2018
£9.99 paperback, £3.99 e-book
ISBN: 9781789650006

Odette is the sixth novel by the author, music critic and librettist Jessica Duchen.

It has been 26 years in the making.
It is ideal for the Christmas season and its action takes place in December.
A wide audience knows and loves Swan Lake. This book brings the ballet’s heroine to life in our own world.
An unusual, whimsical book, magical realist with romance, music, humour and a feminist twist.
Likely to attract young adult readers as well as an adult readership, especially those who enjoy the magical stories of Joanne Harris, Philip Pullman and JK Rowling.
Could be described as Swan Lake meets Bridget Jones meets A Christmas Carol.
A positive, uplifting story about friendship, love, loyalty and empathy.
Deals at an oblique angle with contemporary issues including homelessness, exploitation, illegal immigrants and integration.

When a swan crashes through her window at the height of a winter storm, Mitzi Fairweather decides to nurse the injured bird back to health. At sunset, though, it becomes a human being.
This unexpected visitor is Odette, the swan princess – alone, in danger and adrift in 21st-century Britain, dependent on the kindness of strangers. Bird by day, woman by night, with no way to go home to Russia, she remains convinced that only a man’s vow of eternal love can break her spell.
Mitzi is determined to help Odette, but as the two try to hide the improbable truth, their web of deception grows increasingly tangled…
A contemporary twist on Swan Lake, Odette asks – in the best tradition of fairy tales – whether against all the odds, hope, empathy and humanity can win the day.

A thrilling read” – John Suchet, The Daily Mail, ‘My Best Read’, Best Books of 2016

Enthralling…Jessica writes with an unpredictable and original voice and a dazzling perceptiveness, and I was hooked from the first page. A sensational achievement.” – Joanna Lumley

Jessica Duchen’s libretto is powerful and poetic” – Richard Morrison, The Times (on Silver Birch)

It is very rarely that I find a new writer whose work I love so much.” – Katie Fforde

Gripping…moving and uplifting” – BBC Music Magazine, Book of the Month

Jessica Duchen has music in her soul ... and she uses the intrinsic harmonies that so patently instruct her own life as the inspiration for her clever and compassionate novels. – Lancashire Evening Post

A narrated concert based on ODETTE is in the planning stages with the award-winning violinist Fenella Humphreys. pianist Viv McLean and Jessica as narrator. Music will include a celebration of Tchaikovsky’s magical score for Swan Lake, plus works by Chopin, Liszt and Gershwin. The first performances will be at Music at Mansfield Street, London W1, 17 April 2019 and St Mary’s, Perivale, 27 April 2019.

For a longer synopsis and an extract from the book please visit:

'Tis the season to curl up and enjoy a magical modern-day fairy tale. Odette is a twenty-first-century retelling of Swan Lake.

It's more years than I care to remember when I saw the Swan Lake ballet at a theatre so, I read a little about the original story and origins before reading this novel, for no other reason than curiosity. My decision to do so in no way impacts my thoughts on this novel.

Living in the delightfully named fictitious town of Cygnford, single Mitzi Fairweather is a journalist with financial woes. When a swan crashes through the window of her rented flat, she's relieved the poor bird is alive, albeit injured. After taking the bird to see a vet, she decides to keep the bird at her home, while it recovers, only to find a woman in its place the following day.

There's plenty to appreciate in Ms Duchen's interpretation of Swan Lake. Her descriptions of the scenes and characters are laced with musical references which adds a wonderful depth to the narrative. Also included are topical references to today's society firmly cementing the authenticity of this contemporary narrative. The ending is a surprise and one which panders to my own personal reading taste, which is perfect. I love a novel which keeps on giving after the final words have been read and I'm lost in thought.

The writing flows at a steady pace to keep the reader invested in the narrative as it unfolds. It includes a strong message about the power of friendship which deviates away from a romance I was expecting. For me, there's a lack of emotion, a missing 'je ne sais quoi' to elevate this enchanting story to another level. Yet despite this, I still appreciated this adaptation.

Overall, an enjoyable novel with broad appeal especially at this festive time of year.

***Review copy generously received courtesy of the publisher***

Jessica Duchen is an acclaimed author and journalist, specialising in words for, with and about music. Her work has appeared in The Independent, The Guardian and The Sunday Times, plus numerous magazines around the world. Her first five novels have gathered a loyal fan-base and wide acclaim. Music plays a vital role in her books, and she frequently narrates concert versions of Alicia’s Gift, Hungarian Dances and Ghost Variations.

Jessica is the librettist for the opera Silver Birch by Roxanna Panufnik, commissioned by Garsington Opera and shortlisted for a 2018 International Opera Award. Current projects include the libretto for a youth opera with composer Paul Fincham for Garsington 2019 (an updating of an Oscar Wilde fairy tale) and two large-scale choral works with Roxanna Panufnik.

She was born within the sound of Bow Bells, studied music at Cambridge and held editorial posts on several music magazines before going freelance to concentrate on writing. She edited a piano magazine for five years and was then classical music and ballet correspondent for The Independent from 2004-2016. Her output also includes plays, poetry, biographies of the composers Erich Wolfgang Korngold and Gabriel Fauré (published by Phaidon) and her popular classical music blog, JDCMB. She lives in London with her violinist husband and two cats. She enjoys playing the piano, cookery, long walks and obscure books about music.