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31 December 2016

Review: 'A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas' by Darcie Boleyn (2016)

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

I was introduced to author Darcie Boleyn earlier this year when I got the chance to read and review her novel ‘Something Old, Something New’ (click here to read my review). I enjoyed that particular read and got excited when I stumbled upon ‘A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas’ on NetGalley and managed to get a review copy. I straight away liked the book cover, the title and the book description and already knew I’d enjoy the author’s writing style. The book gave me the lovely opportunity to step back into a bit of Christmas cheer as we are nearing the very end of 2016 and I planned on hopefully enjoying it until the very last page…!

Twenty-something Lucie Quigley has been through a lot over the years which has resulted in her definitely not being a fan of Christmas. When her good friend Petra asks her to be a bridesmaid at her December wedding in New York City, Lucie knows she can’t say no but it will be a difficult thing for her to do all by herself. Luckily her best friend Dale Treharne is willing to join her in Manhattan doing what it is he does best: being there for her whenever she needs some support. However, when they find themselves in the middle of New York during such a wonderful time of the year, other feelings start to come to the surface and Lucie starts to doubt whether she only sees Dale as a friend or actually something more…

New York is a simply fabulous setting for a festive Christmas story and combined with Darcie Boleyn’s writing ‘A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas’ is a thoroughly enjoyable fast-paced read. The story focuses on main character Lucie, who hates Christmas but will need to attend her good friend Petra’s December wedding in New York City. Luckily Lucie’s best friend Dale will be there to support her. I loved Lucie and Dale’s friendship; Lucie is a great character, easy to warm to, and Dale makes a wonderful book boyfriend. He’s a fantastic guy and I’m sure other readers will appreciate him and his gestures just as much as I did. The novel isn’t a really long-winded read; a lot of things are going on and the story held my attention throughout, making me finish it within just a few hours.

The story is told from both Lucie and Dale’s point of view, which always adds a nice touch to a romance novel, I think. It did take quite a bit of time before the characters actually arrived in New York, but when they did the story really kicked off and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I did feel the chapter division was a bit strange; there were a few really short chapters and several incredibly long chapters and I didn’t really understand why this particular division was made. However, that’s just a personal thing that didn’t necessarily affected the reading experience. All in all, ‘A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas’ is a fast-paced and festive Christmas romance that I can recommend to any chick lit/romance fan, and I personally hope we will get to read more by author Darcie Boleyn in the new year!
Rating:9/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

30 December 2016

Review: 'Christmas Under a Starlit Sky' by Holly Martin (2016)

Neve Whitaker loves managing the Stardust Lake hotel. She gets to work alongside her wonderful family and she’s spending Christmas on the most enchanting, snow-covered island in Scotland. So why is her heart so heavy this festive season? 

It might have something to do with the gorgeous actor Oakley Rey, the man she finished with before he left for California and the man she loves more than anything. With Oakley’s career in Hollywood soaring, Neve is convinced she’d only hold him back. She had to end it with him – at least that’s what she keeps telling herself. 

But now she has a secret she’s struggling to keep, and when Oakley arrives on Juniper Island determined to win her back, Neve is thrown off balance. Will Neve’s fear of having her heart broken again push Oakley away for good, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith?

Holly Martin is slowly on her way to become part of the royalty group of Christmas fiction, especially seeing as I have a review of her second 2016 festive read to share with all of you today! Last year I thoroughly enjoyed her December novels 'Snow Flakes on Silver Cove' and 'Christmas at Lilac Cottage', and this year I really loved 'Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky', the first part of her 'A Town Called Christmas' series (click here to read my review). I've been really excited about picking up this second part, revisit some of the familiar characters and read more about Neve in particular!

Neve Whitaker loves her job at the Stardust Lake Hotel which is owned by her brother Gabe. She’s close to her family and gets to live in a gorgeous location, but she can’t help but continue to feel that something important is missing. More particularly, someone important, namely famous actor Oakley Rey, whom she was in a relationship with until she decided it was better for them to call it quits. But then Oakley arrives on Juniper Island just before Christmas, ready to convince Neve they are meant to be together. At the same time Neve is struggling to keep a big secret from Oakley and her family, and she realises she will have to make some important decisions and she’ll have to make them soon.

It was great to revisit Juniper Island and the Stardust Lake Hotel, which were already introduced in the first part of Holly Martin’s ‘A Town Called Christmas’ series: ‘Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky.’ While that particular novel focused on Gabe and his childhood best friend Pip, we now get to learn more about Gabe’s sister, Neve, who also works at the hotel and is experiencing some romance problems. I really enjoyed the storyline between Neve and Oakley, her ex-boyfriend who also happens to be a famous actor (and a character I’m sure many readers will develop a crush on!). The setting of the novel is simply gorgeous, and I really enjoyed that the author decided to not simply focus on Neve and Oakley, but also include some background stories on other secondary characters, such as assistant manager Adam and Neve’s other brother Luke.

I’ve really fallen in love with Juniper Island and Holly Martin’s writing is incredibly comfortable to get into and enjoyable overall. She knows what chick lit should be all about and creates stories with a large dose of romance, humour, great characters and a guaranteed happy ending. I have to admit I did enjoy ‘Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky’ a bit more than this one, just because I thought Neve and Oakley’s story was a bit slow-paced and I got a bit annoyed by Neve’s behaviour. When you are thinking about picking up this novel, I definitely recommend starting with the first part of the series, just so you know the background details and a bit more about all the characters. Overall, though, Holly Martin has treated us to another lovely festive tale in the form of ‘Christmas Under a Starlit Sky’; a stunning Christmas read which I can see myself picking up again next year, even if it’s just to get a good dose of romance and Christmas cheer!
Rating:9/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.


29 December 2016

Review: 'The Christmas Project' by Maxime Morrey (2016)

Professional organiser Kate Stone has never – NEVER – been tempted to hit a client over the head with a snow shovel, but Michael O'Farrell is the most obnoxious – and heart-stoppingly gorgeous – man she has ever met. If he weren't her best friend’s brother, she would not have waited on his doorstep in the freezing cold for five minutes, let alone an hour.

Kate knows, however, that her job isn’t just about tidying up, sometimes she needs to be part therapist too, and Michael clearly needs her help to declutter his heart as well as his home.

But with the festive season just around the corner there isn’t much time to get Michael’s house ready for the O’Farrell family celebrations, but everyone knows that at Christmas anything can happen…

Last year I didn’t get the chance to read Maxime Morrey’s festive novel ‘Winter’s Fairytale’, so when I was approved to receive a NetGalley review copy of ‘The Christmas Project’, her 2016 winter release, I was really excited to finally have the chance to check out her writing. Even though I didn’t hear too much about this novel before I stumbled upon it on NetGalley, I immediately liked the blue festive book cover and the description of the novel. I’d already had a good dose of festive stories this year when I got the time to pick this up, but there’s no such thing as too many Christmassy reads, so I looked forward to checking it out!

Kate Stone loves her job as a professional organiser but Michael O’Farrell is her first client that actually has her risking her career because she can’t help but want to hit him on the head whenever he opens his mouth. Kate promised her friend Janey to help out her brother Michael, who is supposed to host this year’s family Christmas but desperately needs some organising in his home and personal life. Yet, Michael isn’t the easiest person and him and Kate only seem to clash whenever they’re in the same room. But Kate has never turned down a challenge and she’s determined she can help Michael. As Christmas comes closer and Michael’s home becomes more organised, Kate can’t help but slowly start to warm to Michael. Could this Christmas perhaps have something more than just an organising project in store for her…? 

‘The Christmas Project’ has quite a classic storyline at its core and I personally really enjoyed how author Maxine Morrey gave it her own December twist. Professional organiser Kate can’t stand her latest client Michael, but she can’t break her promise to her friend Janey so she needs to take a deep breath and assist Michael in getting his home in order before Christmas, no matter how annoying she might find him. As the days go along, Kate can’t help but warm to Michael, and I really enjoyed reading about the two of them, specifically their banter. The story also includes an incredibly cute dog who I couldn’t get enough of, and the dialogue between mainly Kate and Michael was really entertaining. 

I have to admit I didn’t really think this was a real Christmas read. The title of the book suggested a project focused on Christmas, but I missed the descriptions of decorations, festivity planning, the Christmas atmosphere… In my opinion it is a read that can be picked up any time of the year, not specifically the December season. Next to that, while I did definitely enjoy it, I couldn’t help but feel that the story was a bit slow-paced and didn’t have enough going on to keep my attention at all times. Yet, my interest has definitely been sparked by author Maxine Morrey and I hope to read more of her work in 2017. Overall, ‘The Christmas Project’ is a lovely and entertaining read for any time of the year, and a read I personally quite enjoyed!
Rating:8,5/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

28 December 2016

Review: 'The Christmas Cake Cafe' by Sue Watson (2016)

As the Prosecco chills and Bing Crosby croons, Jen Barker just knows that her long-term boyfriend is about to propose.  But instead of a diamond ring nestled in her champagne flute, Jen finds cold flat rejection.  Her once perfect life and dreams of a husband and family seem even further from reach.

A working holiday to the Swiss Alps with her younger sister Jody might not be the Christmas Jen had it mind, but it offers her the chance to recharge her batteries and recover from heartbreak.

When Jen meets handsome ski instructor Jon Zutter her hopes for a happy-ever-after seem within her grasp again. Jon is kind and gorgeous and as they bond over Sachetorte at the picturesque Cake Café, Jen thinks he might just be her perfect man. But a relationship with him comes with a catch – and there are some things even cake can’t fix. 

As the snow falls and Christmas approaches, could this be the place that restores Jen Barker’s faith in love?

Even though Christmas 2016 has officially been and gone, I still have a few festive-themed reviews to share with all of you before the end of the year is really here, so we can at least pretend it's Christmas for a few more days...! Over the past few years we've been treated to a festive read by author Sue Watson each December, such as 'Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake' and 'Bella's Christmas Bake Off' (click here to read my review), and I'm glad to have received a review copy of this year's novel: 'The Christmas Cake Cafe.' I liked the cover and the blurb sounded promising, so I looked forward to sitting down with this new Sue Watson read, one that would hopefully transport me back to those lovely Christmas days...!

Almost a year ago Jen Barker was incredibly excited to go out with her boyfriend Tim, expecting a proposal after years of dating. However, there is no ring in a champagne glass waiting for her, but actually a break-up speech. Newly single, Jen finds it difficult to get her life back on track again, so when her sister Jody suggests for her to come to Switzerland with her and her friends for a working holiday, Jen decides it might be just what she needs. Yet, Jen didn't count in the age difference between her and Jody and the non-stop partying soon takes its toll. Luckily, Jen meets ski-instructor Jon whom she can't get out of her mind. Is this Switzerland trip really what Jen needs in order to move on with her life or isn't she ready for this new phase just quite yet...?

Sue Watson’s ‘The Christmas Cake Café’ tells the story of Jen Barker, who is still struggling with the single life after her long-term boyfriend dumped her almost a year ago. Dreading spending Christmas by herself, she says ‘yes’ to her younger sister Jody’s offer to join her on a working holiday in Switzerland. The snowy mountains and ski resort really served as a great back-drop for a festive story and I enjoyed reading about Jen and Jody and their time in Switzerland. The age difference between Jen, who is forty-one, and Jody, who is in her twenties, resulted in quite a few funny and embarrassing situations, which in the end only contributed to Jen’s journey towards becoming a stronger person who knows what she wants from life.

Sue Watson is a funny author and I definitely laughed out loud a few times while reading this novel. While I did really enjoy the story, I couldn’t help but feel as if something was missing. Perhaps another storyline starring some of the other secondary characters could have added something; something that would have made me not want to put the novel down while reading it. I also didn’t really feel the sparks flying between Jen and Jon, the ski instructor, which was too bad. However, overall, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a Sue Watson festive read to dig into, and I really enjoyed ‘The Christmas Cake Café’, which is great to pick up if you’re looking for a funny and light-hearted winter read!
Rating:8/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

27 December 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Best Books Of 2016

'Top Ten Tuesday' is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. I love making lists, so this feature fits me perfectly! If you also take part in this feature or have any additions to my lists, please get in touch; I'd love to hear from you!
 
 
Top 10 Best Books of 2016

As Christmas has once again come to an end, it's time to already start thinking about another final moment, namely the end of this year! I love looking back at all the novels I've read over the year and pick my favourites, and I'd love to hear what everyone else considered their favourite reads of 2016...!

Be sure to share your own TTT's in the comments section below; I'd love to hear from you! 



1. 'The Birthday That Changed Everything' - Debbie Johnson


One of my first reads of the year and the first full-length novel by Debbie Johnson, who has turned into one of my favourite chick lit authors over the past 12 months.




2. 'The Dress' - Jane L. Rosen


This book was unlike anything else I've read before and I really loved it.



3. 'The Lonely Hearts Travel Club: Destination Thailand' - Katy Colins


'Destination Thailand' was the first part of Katy Colins' 'The Lonely Hearts Travel Club' series, which is undoubtedly one of my favourite book series of 2016, and Katy Colins has become one of my favourite authors as well...!



4. 'Wickham Hall' - Cathy Bramley


Cathy Bramley <3 Oh, I loved 'Wickham Hall', everything about it was just perfect.



5. 'The Trouble with Emma' - Katie Oliver


Modern-day retelling of Jane Austen's 'Emma'. Katie Oliver often writes about Jane Austen's stories, so I can't wait to check out more of her work next year.



6. 'No-One Ever Has Sex in the Suburbs' - Tracy Bloom


One of the funniest books I've ever read.



7. 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' - J.K. Rowling


How amazing to have another Harry Potter chapter to read <3



8. 'Blogger Girl' - Meredith Schorr


An example of chick lit at its best; so glad I got the chance to discover Meredith Schorr's writing this year.



9. 'Sleepless in Manhattan' - Sarah Morgan


A fantastic new series by Sarah Morgan that was released in its entirety in 2016.



10. 'Miss Wrong and Mr. Right' - Robert Bryndza


A really surprising read; ended up loving this!

26 December 2016

Review: 'All I Want for Christmas' by Jenny Hale (2016)

Snowflakes are falling, there’s carol singing on every corner, and Leah Evans is preparing for a family Christmas at her grandmother’s majestic plantation house in Virginia. It won’t be the same now that her beloved Nan is gone, but when Leah discovers she has inherited the mansion, she knows she can give her daughter Sadie the childhood of her dreams. 

But there’s a catch. Leah must split the house with a man called David Forester. Leah hasn’t heard that name in a long time. Not since they were kids, when Davey was always there to catch her. 

Now David is all grown up. He’s gorgeous, successful, and certain of one thing: Leah should sell him her half of the house. 

They can’t agree, but as they share memories over wine by the log fire, Leah notices a fluttering in her stomach. And by the look in his eyes, he’s starting to feel it too. 

Will it be Leah or David who must give up their dreams? Or, with a little bit of Christmas magic, will they finally understand Nan’s advice to them both about living life without regrets … and take a chance on true love?

When I think about Christmas fiction I immediately think of author Jenny Hale. I can still clearly remember enjoying her first festive novel released by Bookouture, ‘Coming Home for Christmas’, and in the years after we’ve been treated to lovely festive reads such as ‘A Christmas to Remember’ and ‘Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses’ (click here to read my review). Luckily, 2016 also has a holiday winter read from Jenny for us to enjoy, namely ‘All I Want for Christmas’, which immediately makes me want to sing Mariah Carey’s classic out loud! The cover of the book is gorgeous and the description promises a trustworthy Jenny Hale tale, so there was definitely more than enough for me to get excited about and I looked forward to checking out this read this Christmas season!

December is here again and Leah Evans can’t help but miss her beloved grandmother Nina even more, especially around this time of year. The only good thing is that Leah will most likely inherit her grandmother’s wonderful plantation home, Evergreen Hills, so she will be able to give her daughter Sadie a fantastic Christmas. But Leah is surprised to hear her grandmother changed her will last-minute: Leah now owns half of the house, while the other half has been given to one of her childhood friends who has recently returned to town, David. Leah has no idea why her grandmother made changes to her original plan, but she’s determined to celebrate Christmas at the plantation this year, even if that means including David and his family. The sparks between her and David are slowly reappearing and Leah will need to make some life-changing decisions for both herself and her daughter Sadie this Christmas…

What I love most about Jenny Hale’s Christmas reads is that you know what you can expect and the novel will undoubtedly live up to those expectations: a warm-hearted and touching festive story with a strong focus on family, friends and love. This is also the case with ‘All I Want for Christmas’, Jenny’s 2016 winter release, which focuses on the story of main character Leah who has inherited her grandmother’s plantation home and business, but is faced with quite a big surprise in the form of her childhood friend David Forester. I enjoyed reading about Leah and her daughter Sadie, and seeing the relationship between David and Leah develop, while there was also a focus on other secondary characters such as Leah’s best friends Roz and Louise and their children.
  
Jenny Hale’s descriptions are great and she really knows how to set the scene and convey a certain feeling with her stories. I personally loved how important memories are in this particular novel, and how Leah holds these memories close to her heart throughout the story. The entire book has that warm and lovely feeling to it; an American small town that is getting ready to celebrate Christmas.. I don’t really know how to describe it, but in my eyes it’s a typical Jenny Hale feeling, and a feeling I’ve come to love. While ‘All I Want for Christmas’ is not my favourite festive novel by this author, it’s still a warm-hearted and thoroughly enjoyable read and one you won’t regret picking up to get in that Christmas mood!
Rating:9/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

25 December 2016

Review: 'One Christmas in Paris' by Mandy Baggot (2016)

Ava and her best friend Debs arrive in Paris just as the snow starts to fall. The Eiffel Tower glitters gold and the scent of spiced wine is all around, but all Ava can think about is Leo, her no-good, cheating ex. 

Debs is on a mission to make Ava smile again, and as they tour the Christmas markets, watch lamplight glittering on the river Seine, and eat their body weight in pain-au-chocolat, Ava remembers there’s more to life than men ... Until they cross paths with handsome, mysterious photographer Julien with his French accent and hazelnut eyes that seem to see right inside her. 

Ava can’t ignore the intense chemistry between them, but her fingers have been burned before and she can’t forget it, especially when her ex, Leo, starts texting again. Can Ava really trust Julien – and what exactly is his secret? 

Will Ava go home with a broken heart, or will she find true love amongst the cobbled streets of Paris?

One of my favourite Christmas novels of 2015 was definitely Mandy Baggot's 'One Wish in Manhattan' (click here to read my review). The novel had this lovely Christmas touch to it, a wonderful setting, great characters and a good storyline with a fabulous romance aspect; everything a reader could possibly look for in a festive read, if you ask me! So, it's no surprise I was really quite excited to check out this year's Christmas release by Mandy Baggot titled 'One Christmas in Paris' and released by publisher Bookouture in October 2016. The sparkling snowy book cover already grabbed my attention straight away and I have to say I had pretty high hopes for this book, but also a good feeling I wouldn't be disappointed...!

Twenty-something Ava is still trying to get over the shock of discovering her boyfriend cheating on her. Without an actual job and her mother pushing her to do modelling work, Ava can't shout 'yes' quickly enough when her best friend Debs asks her to join her on a last-minute pre-Christmas trip to Paris. Ava knows this will be the perfect way to get her mind of everyday life. Parisian Julien has been through a lot and it's been difficult picking up his life again after the loss of his sister, especially when it comes to his passion photography. When Julien meets Ava, she has a positive effect on him; making him smile and wanting to grab his camera again. But is Ava really ready to spend time with this handsome Parisian man, and what exactly does Paris have in store for her for the holiday season?

If I'm completely honest I've never really been the biggest fan of Paris; it's definitely not my favourite city in real life, but I do understand the magical touch it can occasionally have in novels, and that's also the case in Mandy Baggot's festive 'One Christmas in Paris.' Main character Ava ends up in the French capital with her best friend because she desperately needs a break from everything, especially her cheating ex-boyfriend. On her first day Ava meets photographer Julien and this is the start of a new friendship as the two continue to meet up. The story is told from both Ava and Julien's point of view, and I really enjoyed both of their storylines. Lots of things were going on, so there was always something to make me want to continue reading at the next chapter.

The book is definitely a Christmas read with many references to the festivities and decorations, so it's a good one to pick up in the lead-up to the holidays. I couldn't help but compare this one to Mandy Baggot's other Christmas read, 'One Wish in Manhattan', and have to admit I personally loved that one more than this one. I couldn't help but miss a bit of that magical romantic Christmas touch in this read, and Debs drove me kind of crazy with her over-use of the word 'totes'... However, Mandy Baggot still gave us an entertaining and warm-hearted Christmas read in the form of 'One Christmas in Paris', and even though it's not one of my favourite novels written by her, it's a read I definitely enjoyed and I'm sure many other readers will fall in love with!
Rating:8,5/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

24 December 2016

Festive Christmas Book Tag!

I can't believe it's actually the 24th of December which means Christmas is almost here! I'm on the one hand excited, but on the other hand also a bit sad that Christmas is here, because that means before we know it this lovely time of year will be over again...! However, no time to focus on that right now; it's time for some Christmas fun with this Festive Christmas Book Tag that I found on Reader Rayna
1. A fictional family you would like to spend Christmas dinner with.
There are quite a few fictional families I'd love to have Christmas dinner with, but if I have to pick just one I think I'm going to go with the March family from Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women.' They know what the true holiday spirit is all about and I think I would get along really well with all of the sisters.
2. A bookish item you would like to receive as a gift.
I actually stumbled upon this candle I found on Etsy the other day; it's a candle by Form & Flux that is supposed to smell like an enchanted library... I'm really curious to see what the candle exactly smells like, so would love to get it as a gift.

3. A fictional character you think would make the perfect Christmas elf?
Dobby from the 'Harry Potter' series. He's a house elf already, so the cross-over to Christmas elf shouldn't be too tricky!
4. Match a book to its perfect Christmas song.
Well... Emma Hannigan's novel 'Driving Home for Christmas' really fits the song 'Driving Home for Christmas' by Chris Rea. The whole family is coming together for Christmas, and this continues to be one of my favourite Christmas reads of all time.
5. Bah Humbug: a book or fictional character you’ve been disappointed in and should be put on the Naughty List.
I was quite disappointed with Lorelei Mathias' 'Reader, I Dumped Him', which was released quite early in 2016. I was quite excited about the book, based on it's description and lovely book cover, but it really wasn't the read I expected it to be.
6. A book or fictional character you think deserves more love and appreciation and deserves to be put on the Nice List.
That has to be Kimberley Long in Meredith Schorr's 'Blogger Girl' series. She really is one of my favourite chick lit heroines and she deserves some more attention from the chick lit world, if you ask me.

7. Red, Gold, and Green: a book cover that has a wonderfully Christmasy feel to it.
Two of my favourite 2016 Christmas covers are Holly Martin's 'Christmas Under a Starlit Sky' and 'All I Want for Christmas' by Jenny Hale.

8. A book or series you love so much that you want everyone to find it under their Christmas tree this year so they can read it and love it too.
'Harry Potter' for those people who haven't read it yet, and Lindsey Kelk's 'I Heart...' series for any chick lit fan out there who haven't been introduced to Lindsey Kelk yet!

23 December 2016

Review: 'Christmas in the Park' by Laura Lockington (2016)

30-something Sarah has finally decided to start her own business. 

After years of 5 a.m starts, running around a busy television studio, she has decided to hand in her resignation, and begin her dream of running her own cake making business. Swapping her stylish clothes for tracksuits and an apron she gets to work, and is thrilled when the local café agrees to start selling her treats. And – even better – she starts to get to know the handsome and single owner, David. 

Working from home also means she can finally do one other thing she couldn’t do with her hectic job – get a puppy. Deciding she wants a rescue dog, Sarah heads off to the local dog’s centre, and tries not to say yes to adopting the whole lot. One beautiful little Dachshund with adorable amber eyes immediately takes a liking to her. And Sarah knows there is no turning back. She bundles Malteaser up and takes him home, and before long he is helping her to meet new people in her local park. 

But Malteaser can be more than a bit of a handful. And Sarah knows she is no good at disciplining him... So when fellow dog-walker Nick steps in to give her hand she knows she should take his advice. But does he just want to help her out, or is he interested in something else? With an excitable puppy, and lots of orders to bake for the café, could Sarah be taking on too much? And could there be something there with David – or Nick? 

With Christmas on the way, and the café suddenly coming under threat, things get even crazier. And Sarah has to find a way to create a magical Christmas in the Park...

'Christmas in the Park' was released by Endeavour Press in October 2016 and I was lucky enough to get a review copy of the holiday-themed novella via NetGalley. The book focuses on main character Sarah Nash who has given up her job as a producer on a morning TV show to finally start her own cake baking business. Her new career also provides her with the opportunity to do something she always wanted: get a dog. She adopts Malteaser from the local shelter after falling in love with him at first sight and her walks with him to the park are always eventful. They help her meet Nick, an owner of two dogs, who doesn't mind helping out Sarah with her new dog, but they also help her see cafe-owner David in a new light. With Christmas coming up, Sarah has more than enough to keep herself occupied with but the end of the year seems to still have quite a bit in store for her...

I wasn't familiar with author Laura Lockington's work before I picked up 'Christmas in the Park', but I hope to be able to check out more of her stories in the future because I really quite enjoyed this warm-hearted novella! The story focuses on main character Sarah who has recently quit her job within the world of TV to start her own baking business and finally get her own dog. Malteaser is quite a handful and makes sure Sarah finds herself in all kinds of situations. The story is quite fast-paced and I enjoyed joining Sarah and Malteaser on their daily walks to park and discovering what would happen to them and the other secondary characters in the book.

I have to admit I am not the biggest animal lover and usually don't really go for novels in which a pet/animal takes on an important role. Yet, I really enjoyed this and thought Malteaser definitely added his own touch to this tale. The story is a good one in the lead-up to the holidays (even though it's not necessarily that festive); it's easy to read, doesn't deal with too heavy or mind-blowingly complicated topics, and will bring a smile to your face. On the whole I think Laura Lockington's 'Christmas in the Park' is a cute, down-to-earth and fast-paced novella that I really enjoyed, and for me personally a promising first read by this author!
Rating:8,5/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

22 December 2016

Review: 'Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop' by Jane Linfoot (2016)

The snow is falling around Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, and wedding dress designer Seraphina East is in her cosy studio designing exquisite dresses to make even the most demanding bride’s dreams come true.

Unless the bride is her big sister Alice of course. Saying that the two sisters don’t always see eye to eye is an understatement. Alice hasn’t even asked Sera to design her wedding dress. But when an absent groom and ill-fitting dress threaten to ruin Alice’s happiness let alone her big day, Sera’s determined to give her sister the winter wedding of her dreams – even if that means keeping not one but two irresistibly gorgeous best men under control…

Is Sera going to end up being the maid of dishonour…Or will repairing her frozen relationship with Alice be the icing on the wedding cake?

Over the past few years I've had the pleasure of reading several of author Jane Linfoot's books, such as 'The Vintage Cinema Club' (click here to read my review), which I loved, and most recently the first part of her new series 'Cupcakes and Confetti: The Little Wedding Shop by the Sea' (click here to read my review). I really loved that one and as soon as I'd finished it I was already looking forward to the second part, 'Sequins and Snowflakes: Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop'. Luckily, the lovely Jane herself made sure I received a review copy of the novel (thanks so much, Jane!) and it has been one of this year's festive winter reads I was most excited about, because I had a good feeling it would end up being one of my favourites of this year...!

Seraphina East, known to her friends as Sera, loves her job working as a wedding dress designer in shop 'Brides by the Sea' in St. Aiden in Cornwall. Having to deal with her bridezilla sister Alice is a completely different matter, though. Sera and Alice don't always see eye to eye, and Alice's winter wedding, which she has been saving for and planning for the past three years, is one of the matters that causes quite a bit of tension. But when everything seems to go wrong, Sera is determined to fix things and give her sister the wedding she deserves. With the help of her wedding shop colleagues and the two best men, Quinn and Johnny, Sera tries her best, but will she be able to save the day or will a bit of Christmas magic and determination simply not be enough this time around...?

'Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop' is the second part of Jane Linfoot's series that focuses on 'Brides by the Sea', a wedding shop in Cornwall. In the first instalment we were introduced to Poppy, the wedding cake baker and close friend of our leading lady in this second book, Seraphina, who designs wedding dresses. I'm a sucker for novels about weddings and I have to say Jane Linfoot has done an amazing job with this series. The characters are wonderful (I already loved Poppy and other familiar faces such as Jess and Rafe, but Sera really won me over in this book that's all about her), the setting is stunning with great descriptions, the storylines are captivating and I just thoroughly enjoyed everything about it, really!

What makes this novel extra special is the added Christmas element; a winter wedding takes centre stage in the story and the descriptions were just gorgeous. Combined with the story it made me feel all warm inside, and I really didn't want the story to end. For those of you who haven't read the first part of the series, you should definitely give it a chance, but you can also start with this one because it can quite easily be read as a stand-alone. I could go on and on about the lovely wedding details and the handsome best men Quinn and Johnny, but it's best if you just go out and get a copy yourself! Jane linfoot has done an amazing job with 'Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop'; it's a gorgeous, festive, sparkling read that left me with a big smile on my face. I honestly already can't wait for the third part which will be released in 2017... Loved it!
Rating:10/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher and author for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

21 December 2016

Review: 'A Winter's Wish' by Alice Ross (2016)

Amelia is at breaking point. She’s just lost her job and Doug, the love of her life, still hasn’t broken up with his girlfriend. Surely a trip to the quiet countryside is just what she needs?

Phil is about to leave beautiful Buttersley for the other side of the world! The sunny shores of Australia will mean a new life with his girlfriend, but something is holding him back…

Ella has never felt this way before – Jake O’Donnell is the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen. And the more time she spends babysitting his kids, the more her feelings grow!

Stan should be happy. He loves his wife and their adorable baby girl more than anything! So why, when everything’s finally going right, are they arguing more than ever?

One thing’s for sure, even when Buttersley’s first snowflakes begin to fall, it’s never too cold for love to blossom…

Today I’m sharing my review of a book I’ve been looking forward to sitting down with for quite some time! Several months ago I got the chance to read and review Alice Ross’ ‘A Summer of Secrets’, the first part of her ‘Countryside Dreams’ series which is being published by Carina UK. I really enjoyed the book (click here to read my review), which was followed by ‘An Autumn Affair’ (click here to read my review), another great read, and now we’ve been treated to the third part, ‘A Winter’s Wish.’ This one has a lovely winter cover and seemed to be a promising read to relax with during the lead-up to Christmas…!

This winter won't be a calm one for some of the inhabitants of Buttersley as the coldest season seems to have quite a bit in store... Phil loves his pub at the heart of the town, but he also loves his girlfriend Rachel who has asked him to move to Australia. He can't help but have second thoughts; is this a decision he will be able to make? Amelia is leaving her hard-working London-based life and tumultuous love affair behind her to visit her older sister Annie, hoping the quiet will help her to refocus and pick up the pieces. Stan is struggling as a new dad, but things with his wife only seem to be getting worse. Ella has a secret crush on her boss' husband; a crush she can't seem to shake off... What will the winter months have in store for all of them and will their Christmas wishes come true?

In 'A Winter's Wish', the third part of the 'Countryside Dreams' series by author Alice Ross, we once again return to the village of Buttersley where we are invited to join four new characters: Phil, Amelia, Ella and Stan. Each of these characters has their own story to tell in which we also meet some familiar faces from the previous instalments of the series. What I personally love about Alice Ross' writing and this book series is the fast pace and the focus on different characters that are in a way linked to one another. There definitely was no boring moment while reading this novel and I thoroughly enjoyed every single chapter, discovering more about the characters and their separate storylines. 

Even though this is the third part of a series, it is a novel that can quite easily be read as a stand-alone. This mainly has to do with the fact that while there are some familiar faces and places mentioned in the book, the focus lies on four completely new characters and you get more than enough background information to follow it all without any specific prior knowledge. I love how the book deals with different issues, as each character is going through something different; issues that are all linked to general women's fiction topics such as love, family and friendship. I already can't wait for the fourth part, even though I'll be quite sad to see the end of this book series! Overall, 'A Winter's Wish' is a wonderful and warm winter read; Alice Ross is a great storyteller and this series is one of my favourites of 2016, with even more to come in the new year...!
Rating:9,5/10
 
For more information about this book: Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com / Goodreads

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

20 December 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree

'Top Ten Tuesday' is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. I love making lists, so this feature fits me perfectly! If you also take part in this feature or have any additions to my lists, please get in touch; I'd love to hear from you!
 
 
10 Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Leaving Under My Tree

Christmas is a wonderful time of year; there are numerous reasons why it is so amazing, but one of them is definitely the chance to make a wishlist of books and keep your fingers crossed you'll find some of them underneath the Christmas tree...! This week's Top Ten Tuesday list is a fun one, because I already look forward to going back to it in one week and see which books I received from Santa and which I need to just go out and order myself as a late Christmas present...!

Be sure to share your own TTT's in the comments section below; I'd love to hear from you! 



1. 'The Girl from the Savoy' - Hazel Gaynor


Dolly Lane is a dreamer; a downtrodden maid who longs to dance on the London stage, but her life has been fractured by the Great War. Memories of the soldier she loved, of secret shame and profound loss, by turns pull her back and spur her on to make a better life.

When she finds employment as a chambermaid at London’s grandest hotel, The Savoy, Dolly takes a step closer to the glittering lives of the Bright Young Things who thrive on champagne, jazz and rebellion. Right now, she must exist on the fringes of power, wealth and glamor—she must remain invisible and unimportant.

But her fortunes take an unexpected turn when she responds to a struggling songwriter’s advertisement for a ‘muse’ and finds herself thrust into London’s exhilarating theatre scene and into the lives of celebrated actress, Loretta May, and her brother, Perry. Loretta and Perry may have the life Dolly aspires to, but they too are searching for something.

Now, at the precipice of the life she has and the one she longs for, the girl from The Savoy must make difficult choices: between two men; between two classes, between everything she knows and everything she dreams of. A brighter future is tantalizingly close—but can a girl like Dolly ever truly leave her past behind?



2. 'Lyrebird' - Cecelia Ahern


Life is in two parts: who you were before you met her, and who you are after.

A documentary crew discover a mysterious young women living alone in the mountains of West Cork. Strikingly beautiful she has an extraordinary talent for mimicry, like the famous Australian Lyrebird. The crew, fascinated, make her the subject of her story, and bestow the nickname upon her.

When they leave, they take Lyrebird with them back to the city. But as she leaves behind her peaceful life to learn about a new world, is she also leaving behind a part of herself? For her new friend Solomon the answer isn’t clear. When you find a rare and precious thing, should you share it – or protect it… 



3. 'Commencement' - J. Courtney Sullivan


The bestselling author of Maine brings us a sparkling tale of friendship and a fascinating portrait of the first generation of women who have all the opportunities in the world, but no clear idea about what to choose. 

Assigned to the same dorm their first year at Smith College, Celia, Bree, Sally, and April couldn’t have less in common. Celia, a lapsed Catholic, arrives with a bottle of vodka in her suitcase; beautiful Bree pines for the fiancé she left behind in Savannah; Sally, preppy and obsessively neat, is reeling from the loss of her mother; and April, a radical, redheaded feminist wearing a “Riot: Don’t Diet” T-shirt, wants a room transfer immediately. Written with radiant style and a wicked sense of humor, Commencement follows these unlikely friends through college and the years beyond, brilliantly capturing the complicated landscape facing young women today.



4. 'Searching for a Silver Lining' - Miranda Dickinson


It began with a promise...

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything...

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.



5. 'Landline' - Rainbow Rowell


Georgie McCool knows her marriage is in trouble; it has been in trouble for a long time. She still loves her husband, Neal, and Neal still loves her, deeply — but that almost seems beside the point now.

Maybe that was always beside the point.

Two days before they’re supposed to visit Neal’s family in Omaha for Christmas, Georgie tells Neal that she can’t go. She’s a TV writer, and something’s come up on her show; she has to stay in Los Angeles. She knows that Neal will be upset with her — Neal is always a little upset with Georgie — but she doesn't expect him to pack up the kids and go home without her.

When her husband and the kids leave for the airport, Georgie wonders if she’s finally done it. If she’s ruined everything.

That night, Georgie discovers a way to communicate with Neal in the past. It’s not time travel, not exactly, but she feels like she’s been given an opportunity to fix her marriage before it starts...

Is that what she’s supposed to do?

Or would Georgie and Neal be better off if their marriage never happened?



6. 'Mistletoe on 34th Street' - Lisa Dickenson


Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, 'traditional' Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she's not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her co-workers are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in The Big Apple.

John, Olivia's friend, on the other hand is so upset and is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when she adds handsome New Yorker Elijah into the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As December 25th draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?



7. 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' - J.K. Rowling


When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt's fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best.



8. 'We Were On a Break' - Lindsey Kelk


Is it a break? Or is it a blip? 'You've just had a holiday,' I pointed out, trying not to yawn. 'Wasn't that enough of a break?' 'I don't mean that kind of break.' There's nothing worse than the last day of holiday. Oh wait, there is. When what should have been a proposal turns into a break, Liv and Adam find themselves on opposite sides of the life they had mapped out. Friends and family all think they're crazy; Liv throws herself into work - animals are so much simpler than humans - and Adam tries to get himself out of the hole he's dug. But as the short break becomes a chasm, can they find a way back to each other? Most importantly, do they want to? 



9. 'Northanger Abbey' - Val McDermid


Cat Morland is ready to grow up. A homeschooled minister’s daughter in the quaint, sheltered Piddle Valley in Dorset, she loses herself in novels and is sure there is a glamorous adventure awaiting her beyond the valley’s narrow horizon. So imagine her delight when the Allens, neighbors and friends of her parents, invite her to attend the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh as their guest. With a sunny personality, tickets every night and a few key wardrobe additions courtesy of Susie Allen, Cat quickly begins to take Edinburgh by storm and is taken into the bosom of the Thorpe family, particularly by eldest daughter Bella. And then there’s the handsome Henry Tilney, an up-and-coming lawyer whose family home is the beautiful and forbidding Northanger Abbey. Cat is entranced by Henry and his charming sister Eleanor, but she can’t help wondering if everything about them is as perfect as it seems. Or has she just been reading too many novels?



10. 'The House on Sunset Lake' - Tasmina Perry

1995. Savannah, Georgia, where the sunsets are long and golden and the air is hot and heavy with promise. Student Jim Johnson isn't happy when he has to abandon his plans of a carefree month of inter-railing to spend the summer in the Deep South with his mother and his father, a down-on-his luck author who has been sent to Savannah to rediscover his muse. But when Jim meets the beguiling Jennifer Wyatt, the daughter of the owners of Casa Seta, the mysterious plantation house on the shores of a lake, Jim knows he has made the right decision in coming along. Until an event happens that shatters Jim and Jennifer's lives for ever and sets both their lives on a different course.

2015. Twenty Years later Casa Seta stands abandoned and neglected, a victim of tragic events that everyone wants to keep buried. But when Jim Johnson's boss buys it as the latest acquisition to his hotel chain, Jim is forced to return to the house and restore it to its former glory. Fate throws him back into the orbit of Jennifer Wyatt, the woman his heart has never truly got over, but as he tries to put the ghosts of the past behind him, he unearths a chilling secret that makes him wonder what he has ever really known about the people he loves.