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26 December 2014

Review: 'The French for Christmas' by Fiona Valpy (2014)

Evie used to LOVE Christmas, but this year she can’t wait for the tinsel and presents to be a distant memory. 

When her best friends offer the use of their cottage in the beautiful French countryside, Evie jumps at the chance. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband, celebrity chef Will Brooke, plastered over the news with his latest ‘love interest’, leaving the country seems like the perfect plan.

Armed with her French grandmother’s tattered notebook of recipes, Evie is determined to ignore Christmas altogether and bake herself back to happiness. 

And when Evie meets her next-door neighbour – the très gorgeous doctor Didier she finds a very willing taste-tester. But is it possible that he could be interested in more than just her Tarte Tatin? 

With snow falling, a special Réveillon dinner and a little Christmas magic in the air, could Didier even be the one to thaw Evie’s heart? Or will a visit from the ghost of Christmas past change everything?

Another festive read with a lovely Christmassy cover, published by the wonderful people over at Bookouture! I was really excited when I got the chance to read and review Fiona Valpy's 'The French for Christmas', not only because of the great cover and interesting blurb, but also because I was already introduced to Fiona Valpy's work earlier this year. I reviewed her novel 'The French for Always' for my blog (click here to read my review) and I loved it. It was a novel I highly recommend to any chick lit fans, and I personally really enjoyed Fiona Valpy's writing style. So, when I discovered she was releasing a Christmas novel this year, I couldn't miss it!

Evie has had a rough year and she's ready to turn her back on it, but it seems she's standing still and not able to come to terms with things. After having given birth to a stillborn baby and her marriage falling apart because of that, Evie knows she needs some time by herself. Especially since she's confronted with her ex-husband's face everywhere, since he's now a famous TV chef with a new glamorous girlfriend. When a friend offers her a stay at their holiday home in France for Christmas, Evie can't say yes quick enough in order to get away from everyday life and all the memories. In France, Evie discovers the cottage is in quite a deserted area, with only two neighbouring houses inhabited by an elderly couple and a handsome young doctor named Didier. Will Evie manage to put the past behind her this Christmas and start over, even when the holiday season has a few surprises in store for her...?

Personally, I'm just not a big fan of France, but somehow Fiona Valpy manages to make me fall in love with it as soon as I'm reading one of her novels. Just like 'The French for Always', the other novel of hers I've read, 'The French for Christmas' is a wonderfully captivating story with a great cast of characters at its core. Evie is a lovely main protagonist and incredibly easy to warm to. She's been through so much and I really enjoyed seeing her get back on her feet again, trying to find new things in life to make her happy. It almost felt like the author matched the writing style with Evie's character development; the start of the book is quite slow, but as soon as Evie starts to feel better, the pace quickens and different things start happening. It somehow seemed to be linked, which made it even easier to connect to Evie and really dive into the story.

Next to Evie, I loved the other characters as well, especially Evie's lovely neighbours in France including Bradley Cooper lookalike and handsome doctor Didier. Evie used to love cooking, which is why all kinds of delicious food also feature throughout the book; perfect for a Christmas read, of course! Fiona Valpy's writing style is a true joy to read and mixed together with a captivating and hopeful storyline, a great group of characters and a good dose of romance and festivity, this makes for a wonderful read for this time of 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.

24 December 2014

Review: 'A Family Christmas' by Katie Flynn (2014)

Jimmy Trewin and his little sister are devastated by their mother's death and horrified to find themselves entrusted to the far from tender care of a hated neighbour, Mrs Huxtable. They hope their father will rescue them when his ship comes into port but this does not happen and when Cyril Huxtable is seen by the children hiding "a wad of notes" away, a wad which subsequently disappears, they realise they are in deep trouble. Cyril accuses them of theft and threatens a terrible revenge so they decide to leave Liverpool and try to find their mother's family in Wales.

Soon, they meet Miss Trent, a school teacher who has been unfairly dismissed, and agree to join forces since Miss Trent also hopes to find relatives in Wales. But Cyril has promised to pursue them until they hand over his property, and soon they realise he has picked up their trail...

Last year I got the chance to read and review Katie Flynn's Christmas novel 'A Christmas to Remember' (click here to read my review). It was my first Katie Flynn novel and I ended up quite enjoying her distinctive style. I really liked the historical feel of her stories, especially around Christmas time, which is something that set the story apart from other Christmas books I've read. When I found an unexpected review copy of another one of Katie's Christmas novels on my doormat, namely 'A Family Christmas' which was released by Arrow in October 2014, I looked forward to once again going back in time for a festive family tale set in the UK!

After the loss of their mother, twelve-year-old Jimmy Trewin and his little sister Mo were left behind by their father who went back to sea. They were forced to stay with the cruel Mrs. Huxtable and her son Cyril, who only want to use the children for their own benefit. The kids hope their father will come back to get them, but when this doesn't happen, they decide to leave Liverpool and go to Wales to find their grandparents. Thankfully, they cross paths with Glenys Trent, a school teacher who was dismissed and is also planning on travelling to Wales to find her family. Together, they start on a journey to hopefully find what they are looking for, but it doesn't take long before Cyril Huxtable manages to pick up their trail, determined to get back what is his...

This novel turned out to perfectly fit my expectations: an enjoyable historical family story in the distinctive style of the author, Katie Flynn. Even though I've only read two of her novels, Katie Flynn definitely has her own writing style and it is a style I personally quite enjoy. The first half of the book is dedicated to the two children leaving Liverpool and starting their search, and it's quite quick-paced with several things happening. The second part of the novel is a bit slower, but this also suited the things happening (I don't want to give too much away). Overall, the story was a bit predictable, but this didn't ruin the reading experience for me.

I quickly warmed to the three main characters: Jimmy is a lovely big brother to his sister Mo, who is quite grown up and determined for a six-year-old. Then there's Ms. Trent; I loved how she wanted to help the children and her story just really spoke to me. I do think it's a shame the book is not that festive; it wasn't a real Christmas read to me and could also have been given a completely different title. Yet, that makes this book even more suitable to be read all year through. 'A Family Christmas' is a real Katie Flynn novel with a wonderful British touch, a captivating storyline and a strong sense of the importance of family; a read I really enjoyed!
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.

23 December 2014

Review: 'Difficult Husbands' by Mary de Laszlo (2014)

Newly divorced Lorna is struggling to adjust to life on her own. When she discovers that her beloved godfather has left her the grand (and crumbling) Ravenscourt House in the heart of Sussex, she soon has a project on her hands.

Nathan sells delicious goodies at Mulberry Farm. When he meets Lorna at a Christmas market, neither of them can ignore the chemistry. But as they get to know one another, Lorna wants to know one thing – is he after her or the house?

Together with Gloria – whose marriage to alcoholic Adrian has hit rock bottom, and Rosalind – struggling to deal with her womanising husband Ivan, the three friends hatch a plan. They’ll ditch their difficult husbands at Ravenscourt House and enjoy stress-free Christmases with their families. But nothing is ever that simple…

Mary de Laszlo's novel 'Difficult Husbands' was released on the 31st of October by one of my favourite publishers of this year, Bookouture. I had high hopes for this novel because of the numerous other wonderful Bookouture reads I've had the pleasure of reading so far in 2014. I wasn't familiar with the author, even though she has published more than 11 novels already. After seeing the pretty cover and the promising Trisha Ashley quote (yes, I have to admit these quotes from other authors on front covers of books sometimes give me the last push when it comes to deciding whether to pick up a book or not!) on it, I was quite curious to check it out!

Lorna, Gloria and Rosalind are three best friends in their forties who are completely fed up with the men in their lives. All three of them married their older partners when they were young, and now, as the men have reached their sixties, the women decide they have had to deal with more than enough crap over the years. Lorna's ex-husband left his family to be with a much younger woman, Gloria's husband is an alcoholic who doesn't want to admit he has a problem, and Rosalind's husband is a womaniser who'd rather spend his time with other women than his wife. When Lorna unexpectedly inherits a big country estate, Ravenswood, from her godfather, the three friends come up with a scheme to get rid of their husbands for the holidays. The men will be sent to Ravenscourt for a boys' weekend, so the women can celebrate Christmas in peace with their children and families. As Christmas comes nearer, Lorna starts to doubt whether they will be able to pull the plan off, because ditching their men can't be that easy... Right?

As soon as I had read the first few chapters of this book, I was quite engrossed by the story and was already wondering how everything would eventually work out for the characters, specifically the three women. I felt for the protagonist of the novel, Lorna, and there were plenty of secondary characters to fill the story. I really enjoyed the romantic storyline in the novel between Lorna and handsome Nathan who works at Mulberry Farm where he sells all kinds of delicious food. I was rooting for them and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending. I'm also a sucker for a big country estate like Ravenscourt, so I also really enjoyed the setting of part of the story and the descriptions of the big house, filled with history and memories.

I thought it was a bit of a shame that the novel seemed to mainly focus on Lorna, and not too much on Gloria and Rosalind. I would have liked it if their storylines had been focused on in more detail as well. Especially since the book is quite long, but not too much seemed to happen to really keep my attention at all times. Next to that, it also wasn't as festive as I had hoped it would be. A bit more Christmas cheer would have benefited the story, especially since the book is also promoted as a Christmas tale. While the book has some great basics, such as a cast of interesting characters, a lovely setting, and a promising storyline, I just had the feeling the book could have been much more but unfortunately wasn't. However, I am sure there will be readers out there who will definitely enjoy this novel, so do please pick it up and give it a chance if you like the sound of it!
Rating:7/10
 
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 2014

Review: 'Christmas for One' by Amanda Prowse (2014)

As a child, Meg always dreamed of the perfect Christmas...

This year, she can make it come true for her own little boy. There will be turkey and all the trimmings, a glittering tree, and a stocking hung up by a roaring fire. Who cares if there's no devoted husband in the picture? She and Lucas will be just fine on their own.

But then a chance meeting with a stranger in New York unravels everything she's planned. Will Meg finally get everything she wished for? Or will she be alone this Christmas after all?

I was incredibly glad and excited when I was contacted about reviewing Amanda Prowse's latest novel, 'Christmas for One', which was released on the 2nd of November by Head of Zeus. I couldn't say 'yes' quick enough, since I read Amanda's novel 'Will You Remember Me?' earlier this year; a book which really touched me and one I really enjoyed (click here to read my review). I specifically liked the author's writing style, so I was already keeping my fingers crossed for another Amanda Prowse novel to end up in my mailbox. And then it turns out to be one with such a gorgeous cover; it's like a stunning Christmas gift I can't stop looking at. In short, I was really excited about 'Christmas for One' and couldn't wait to sit down with it!

Meg has never had the perfect Christmas she always wished for as a young girl. Now, she has her own son named Lucas and she wants to make sure he gets the Christmas she always wanted but never had. However, when she's on a business trip for her job at Plum Patisserie, Meg's life is unexpectedly turned upside down. While she's busy preparing the opening of their new store in New York, Meg meets a simply wonderful and handsome man who seems to be just as interested in her as she is in him. Meg and Ed spend a magical few days together, but then it's time for Meg to go back home. But she needs to make a decision: does Ed deserve a place in her and Lucas' life? Will this Christmas, after all those years, finally be the perfect one Meg has been hoping for...?

I was immediately grabbed by the story and its main protagonist, Meg, who was just lovely and I instantly liked her. I especially loved the fact that she works for Plum's Patisserie, a chain of French-inspired bakeries that sell the most delicious treats. The owners, Pru and Milly Plum, are actually characters from another Amanda Prowse novel, but you don't need to have read this other book in order to understand this one. Amanda Prowse has a great talent for painting the scene and her complete cast of characters just fit together perfectly and each of them added something to the story. 

I also loved the setting of the story, which is set partly in the UK and partly in New York City. The whole Christmas atmosphere made it all just that bit more magical, and I especially want to applaud the author's descriptions, because I could imagine everything so easily and perfectly in my head. The plotline was captivating and held my attention from start to finish, and I honestly just didn't want the novel to end. Amanda Prowse is a wonderful author with a distinctive voice and I already look forward to hopefully reading more of her work next year. 'Christmas for One' is a warm, simply stunning and delightful Christmas novel which I couldn't get enough of; the perfect gift for any women's fiction fan this Christmas!
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.

21 December 2014

The Christmas Carol Book Tag!

Time for some more Christmas fun! I wasn't actually tagged in the Christmas Carol Book Tag (found on Always Me), but I found it while browsing other book blogs and it looked like a fun set of questions to get into the festive spirit! 

1. You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch - Name a villainous character you can't help but love to hate.
Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' (you can't not hate her after how she breaks poor Pip's heart), Mr. Collins from Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' (who is really funny but incredibly infuriating at the same time), and Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter series (oh god, don't even get me started on her!).

2. All I Want For Christmas Is You - What book do you most want to find under your Christmas tree this year?
Definitely 'Jane Austen: Cover to Cover', a book filled with covers of Jane Austen's books over the years. It looks so stunning and I can't wait to have a copy in my hands!

3. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer - Name a favorite character that had to overcome a major obstacle.  Why are they your favorite?
I think I have to go with quite a cliched answer here and say Harry Potter. Everything he had to go through in the entire book series is just amazing and such an emotional rollercoaster; I don't think any other book can come even close to that.

4. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - Which characters do you think are at the top of Santa's "nice" and "naughty" list?
Jane Bennet from Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' is definitely at the top of the nice list, while her sister Lydia will most likely top the naughty list. Another character on the naughty list is Miranda Priestly, the boss from hell from 'The Devil Wears Prada'. I still have the second book to read, though, but I don't doubt she will still belong on the naughty list at the end of that one!

5. Frosty the Snowman - What book just melts your heart?
Any Nicholas Sparks love story; they never let me down and always melt my heart.

6. Feliz Navidad - Your favorite book that takes place in a country other than you own.
Almost every single book takes place in a country other than my own (the Netherlands), haha! I'd have to go for Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' which is set in a lovely small town in England.

7. It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - What book do you read to get in the Christmas spirit?
Lisa Dickenson's 'The Twelve Dates of Christmas' was my favourite Christmas read of 2013 and the first Christmas novel I read this year to get into the festive spirit and it definitely did the trick. The holiday cheer is heavily present in this book and it never fails to make me laugh; one of my all-time Christmas favourites!

8. Sleigh Ride - What character would you most want to spend the holiday with?
I'd love to spend the holidays with Mr. Darcy at Pemberley, simply because I'd love to see Pemberley at Christmas time with big Christmas trees and lights everywhere... I think it'd be amazing. However, I also would love to celebrate Christmas at Hogwarts for one year.


9. Baby It's Cold Outside - First things first, I cannot stand this song! - What book do you hate so much you'd sacrifice it to the fire to stay warm?
Hate is a really strong word, but I really really really disliked 'The Great Gatsby', I never understood why so many people think it's a wonderful literary classic. I also really didn't like 'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close' and would definitely throw a copy into the fire to stay warm, haha.

10. Do You Hear What I Hear? - What book would you recommend to everyone?
I think it's really difficult to find a book to recommend to absolutely everyone, because people have such different tastes and I don't think there's anything EVERYONE enjoys. However, the book series that comes closest would have to be 'Harry Potter', because I do think this has something for everyone in it, because it deals with so many topics and issues and is just incredibly well-written and captivating.

19 December 2014

Review: 'Mr. Miracle' by Debbie Macomber (2014)

Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help Addie Folsom to get her life back on track - and help her find love.

Creating a happy ending for Addie and her neighbour Erich doesn’t seem like much of a challenge. But soon after arriving in the town of Tacoma, Harry realises he might need some guidance. Addie and Erich can't stand each other; growing up he was popular and outgoing, while she was rebellious and headstrong. Addie would now rather avoid Erich entirely, especially at Christmas.

Harry is going to need all the help he can get, and a bit of divine inspiration, to help Addie and Erich find their Christmas miracle.

Thanks to the lovely people over at Random House, I received an unexpected review copy of Debbie Macomber's festive release 'Mr. Miracle.' The soft colours of the cover straight away pulled me in and I got a feeling this was going to be a great Christmas read. I wasn't familiar with Debbie Macomber's work, but had heard much about her (she, for example, releases a Christmas story every single year), so couldn't wait to check it out. 

Harry Mills is a guardian angel who finds himself on earth, ready for his first ever mission. He is given the role of English professor at a local college in order to help student Addie Folsom. Addie has just moved back home again after having been away for six years. It's the first Christmas without Addie's dad, who passed away unexpectedly earlier in the year. As soon as Addie comes home, her mother tells her she actually planned to go on a cruise with her neighbour, to get her mind off things. When the neighbour's son and Addie's teenage crush Erich gets in a car accident, Addie is forced to take care of him so his and her mother can still go and enjoy their cruise. It's Henry's job as a guardian angel to take care of Addie, but will he be able to give her a happy Christmas this year?

This novel was a quick but touching and entertaining read, and a wonderful introduction to Debbie Macomber's work! I was really curious to read the novel because the blurb already told me one of the main characters in the novel is a guardian angel. This topic has always fascinated me and I couldn't wait to see how the author would deal with it. Thankfully, Debbie Macomber did a great job. I really liked reading about how Harry is trying to adapt to being a human being and living on earth, which was a fun storyline next to the main plot which follows Addie and Erich. They were two interesting characters and I couldn't help but root for them to get together!

The story isn't very long and quite quick-paced, which unfortunately did not provide the author with enough space to really go into the background stories of Addie and Erich, which was a shame. I would have loved to have learned more about them and the reasons for the decisions they've made and are making in their lives. However, this did not make the story any less compelling or entertaining. 'Mr. Miracle' is a fast-paced, uplifting, sweet Christmas story about love and hope, important aspects to hold onto during the holiday season. I really enjoyed it and already look forward to hopefully reading and reviewing more of Debbie Macomber's work in the future!
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.

18 December 2014

Weekly Feature: Once Upon a Christmas Story...


 'Once Upon a Story' is a weekly feature in which we go back in time and focus  on a specific novel that was released in the same month we're in right now. Since it's Christmas month on my blog, I thought it would be fun to look back at Christmas novels that were released during the past few years. So, if you're still looking for a lovely festive read, be sure to check out any of the novels mentioned below!  

This week, we're travelling back to 2013 to look back at some of the Christmas novels that were released in that particular year!
 

 

Jenny Hale - 'Coming Home for Christmas'

Allie Richfield loves Christmas, so when she lands a job as House Manager for the amazing Ashford Estate—which includes organizing the Marley family festivities—she is in her element. With a budget bigger than her life savings and a team of staff, how hard can it be?

As one-by-one she meets the Marleys, she’s about to find out…

Allie’s new boss, Robert, might be gorgeous, but he’s also colder than the snow outside and refuses to come home for Christmas. Robert’s playboy brother, Kip, flirts with her relentlessly; and his sister, Sloane, arrives home with baggage—both the divorce-kind and the Louis Vuitton kind. Their ninety-two year old grandmother, Pippa, spends her day grumbling at everybody from her mobility scooter.

With Robert intending to sell Ashford, it’s the Marley’s last chance to create some happy memories in their family home—and Allie is determined to make it happen… even if it takes a little Christmas magic! With the festive spirit in full swing, she might even discover a little happiness of her own…
 

 

Scarlett Bailey - 'Just for Christmas'

Her best friend's wedding...

When Alex Munro learns that the love of her life is getting married to another girl, all she wants is to be alone - and as far away from Edinburgh as possible.

Moving to a Cornish cottage, which comes complete with the world's scruffiest dog, Alex finds that her new neighbours are determined to involve her in their madcap Christmas festivities.

Then she meets her sexy neighbour Ruan - and somehow Alex doesn't want to be alone this Christmas after all. But having lost one fiance, Ruan has no intention of letting anyone get close to him again...
 

 

Lynn Marie Hulsman - 'Christmas at Thornton Hall'

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!

So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the Earl of Gloucester’s impossibly grand ancestral pile.

The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.

But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?

As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!


Sarah Morgan - 'Sleigh Bells in the Snow'

Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year. 

Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

 

Lisa Dickenson - 'The Twelve Dates of Christmas'

At thirty, Claudia's life is stale and the romance with long-term boyfriend, Seth, has disappeared. Determined to inject some festive spark back into their love life, Claudia and Seth go on their first date in a very long time. But when the night ends in disaster, Claudia suddenly finds herself facing life - and Christmas - alone.

Life alone is exciting, scary and full of soon-forgotten exercise regimes and ill-advised attempts at crafting sexy underwear. It's also filling up with dates, surprisingly. With best friends Penny and Nick at her side, a surplus of festive markets, mulled wine and Christmas tunes, Claudia attempts to face all this change with gusto. One thing's for certain: this year, Christmas is going to be very different...

 

Karen Swan - 'Christmas at Claridge's'

‘This was where her dreams drifted to if she didn’t blot her nights out with drink; this was where her thoughts settled if she didn’t fill her days with chat. She remembered this tiny, remote foreign village on a molecular level and the sight of it soaked into her like water into sand, because this was where her old life had ended and her new one had begun.’

Portobello – home to the world-famous street market, Notting Hill Carnival and Clem Alderton. She’s the queen of the scene, the girl everyone wants to be or be with. But beneath the morning-after makeup, Clem is keeping a secret, and when she goes too far one reckless night she endangers everything – her home, her job and even her adored brother’s love.

Portofino – a place of wild beauty and old-school glamour, and where a neglected villa has been bought by a handsome stranger. He wants Clem to restore it for him and it seems like the answer to all her problems – except that Clem has been there once before and vowed, for her own protection, never to return... 
 

 

Alexandra Brown - 'Christmas at Carrington's'

Carrington’s Department store is thrown into a spin when the staff learn that a hot new reality TV show is to be filmed in-store, featuring the formidable retail guru, Kelly Cooper. Georgie Hart, in charge of Luxury Handbags, is reluctant, but quickly realises that the show could give Carrington’s a new lease of life. With Christmas around the corner, she’s also hoping that the season will deliver her the perfect Christmas present, in the form of Tom, the store’s dishy boss.

When the film crew arrive, things start to go wrong. One of Tom’s old flames, Zara, is working on the show and then, to top things off, Tom and Zara are sent off to Paris and New York for a spot of extra filming. When Georgie settles down in front of the box to watch the first show, worse it to come – Georgie is shown in a far from flattering light and she is horrified to learn what Tom has been up to.

Georgie fears this is turning out to be the worst Christmas ever, but Santa might have a got a little surprise in store for her stocking this year – but she’ll just have to wait until Christmas to find out!

 

Fiona Harper - 'Make My Wish Come True'

Family-orientated and Christmas-dinner cook extraordinaire Juliet is trying to keep it together in the wake of her marriage breakdown two Christmases ago, but the cracks are beginning to show.

Bright and vivacious Gemma was always the favourite daughter…So she has no qualms about leaving Christmas in her sister Juliet’s capable hands; and escaping the pressures of her glamorous job, and the festive madness by jetting off to somewhere warm. 

When Gemma shirks responsibility once too many and announces she’s off to the Caribbean (again!); Juliet finally snaps. Gemma offers her sister the perfect solution - to swap Christmases: she’ll stay home and cook the turkey (how hard can it be?) and Juliet can fly off into the sun and have a restorative break.

In the midst of all the chaos, there’s Will, Juliet’s dishy neighbour who’s far too nice to float Gemma’s boat and may secretly harbour feelings for her sister; and Marco, the suave Italian in the villa next door, who has his own ideas about the best way to help Juliet unwind. 

Will the sisters abandon caution and make this a Christmas

swap to remember?


Talli Roland - 'Last Christmas'

For Lucy, the best Christmas present is forgetting the past.

Eager to banish the ghost of Christmas past – when her boyfriend dumped her on the streets of Paris – Lucy is determined to make this the best Christmas ever. She rallies friends and family for an epic celebration that just happens to fall on the same day as her ex’s festive wedding. Furious at how she’s been treated, Lucy can’t help relishing the party v wedding smackdown.

But when the wedding is threatened and only Lucy can help, can she find the spirit inside to save the day, or will this Christmas be even more disastrous than the last?


Trisha Ashley - 'Wish Upon a Star'

Single mum Cally’s life is all about her little girl Stella. She’s resigned to the fact that the only romance she’s going to get is from the rom-coms she watches, and with her busy job and her daughter, she doesn’t have time to even think about love.

But life gets very tough when Stella gets sick. Balancing her job as a recipe writer and looking after Stella is all consuming, so when Cally meets handsome baker Jago the last thing she wants to do is fall in love, especially when she’s been badly burned by a Prince Charming from her past. Can laid-back, charming Jago unlock Cally’s frozen heart and help her find true love and magic under the mistletoe?
 

 

Carole Matthews - 'Calling Mrs. Christmas'

Cassie Smith has been out of work for a while but she has an idea. Drawing on her love of Christmas, she begins charging for small things: wrapping presents; writing cards; tree-decorating. She's soon in huge demand and Cassie's business, Calling Mrs Christmas, is born.

Carter Randall wants to make Christmas special for his children so he enlists Cassie's help, and his lavish requests start taking up all her time. Thank goodness she can rely on her partner Jim to handle the rest of her clients.

When Carter asks Cassie to join them on a trip to Lapland, she knows she shouldn't go. As much as tries, Cassie can't deny how drawn she is to Carter and everything he has to offer, but she still loves her warm-hearted Jim. Suddenly Cassie finds herself facing a heart-breaking choice that could change her entire life.


Katie Flynn - 'A Christmas to Remember'

A few days before Christmas Tess Williams rushes into Albert Payne’s tobacconist shop, with two boys in hot pursuit, saying she’s a thief. Albert chases the boys away, and though Tess does not realise it, this incident changes her life.

Tess lives with her grandmother, Edie, in a small flat on Heyworth Street in Norwich.She has recently returned from Bell Farm, where she was evacuated during the war, and is being bullied by her schoolmates, but when the handsome Snowy White comes to her rescue she thinks her troubles are over, and returns for a working holiday to Bell Farm and her old friend Jonty.

This leaves Edie to her own devices, however, and Tess is jealous of the friendship which blossoms between her grandmother and the tobacconist.Yet though Tess resents Albert, it is to him she turns when things start to go wrong…

 

Debbie Macomber - 'On a Snowy Night'

The Christmas Basket
More than ten years ago, high-school sweethearts Noelle McDowell and Thomas Sutton planned to elope-but then he jilted her. This Christmas, Noelle is home to celebrate the holidays, and she and Thom discover they are still in love. Now only the decades-old rivalry between their mothers stands in the way of a second chance together.

The Snow Bride
It's a month before Christmas and Jenna Campbell is flying to Alaska to marry a man she met on the Internet-until her seatmate takes it upon himself to change her plans. Which is how Jenna ends up stranded in tiny Snowbound, Alaska, alone with Reid Jamison (plus a bunch of eccentric old men and a few grizzly bears). And then there's a blizzard... Maybe she'll be a Christmas bride after all!
 


Lindsey Kelk - 'I Heart Christmas'

Angela’s planning her very own fairytale of New York…

• Enormous Christmas tree
• Eggnog
• Eccentric British traditions
• Gorgeous man

But Santa’s throwing her a few curveballs – new job (as if it’s not mental enough already), new baby-craze from her best friend Jenny, and Alex determined they should grow up and settle down. Once friends start turning up uninvited on her doorstep (and leading her astray), can Angela really have a merry little Christmas? So much for happy holidays – something’s got to give… 

17 December 2014

Review: 'It Must Have Been the Mistletoe' by Judy Astley (2014)

Thea's parents decide to host a big family Christmas in a house by the sea. even though they are, in fact, about to split up. Thea herself is newly single - her sister and brother are both settled, with children, homes and a future. But Thea's boyfriend has ditched her in favour of his pedigree dogs, and Thea can't decide whether or not she minds.

There will be copious food and drink, holly and mistletoe, lots of bracing walks and a wintry barbecue on the beach. If it seems an odd way to celebrate the final break-up of a marriage and the Moving On to new partners, no- one is saying so. But then no-one had anticipated that the new partners might actually turn up to complicate the sleeping arrangements.

As Cornwall experiences the biggest snowstorm in living memory, the festive atmosphere comes under some strain. Will Thea manage to find some happiness for herself? Will the mistletoe work its magic on them all?

If I have to pick one review copy from this year that really immediately put me in the Christmas spirit, it's most likely Judy Astley's 'It Must Have Been the Mistletoe'. Not only is the cover simply lovely, but the review copy was actually wrapped as a Christmas present when it arrived in my mailbox! I thought this was a great touch (almost as if Christmas had come early!) and it only made me more excited about picking up the book. I was really looking forward to reading another Judy Astley story after having read 'In the Summertime' (click here to read my review) earlier this year; a novel which I really enjoyed. So, I had my fingers crossed for another enjoyable read!

Thea's parents, Anna and Mike, have decided to get divorced after many happy years of marriage, but they want to have one more big happy family Christmas before everything changes. For this occassion, they have rented a big holiday home in Cornwall where all family members are expected to spend the holidays. While her siblings Emily and Jimi will bring their partners and children, Thea knows she will be going alone after her longterm boyfriend decided it wasn't working out between the two of them. Thea wants to do anything to keep her mind off her broken heart, and with the new partners of her parents unexpectedly arriving in Cornwall, combined with the visits of handsome holiday home owner Sean, there is more than enough to keep her distracted...

I honestly loved everything about this novel; such a wonderful Christmas read! There's an interesting storyline, a great cast of characters, and I personally fell head over heels in love with the setting, the holiday home in Cornwall. Judy Astley managed to make it sound like such an incredible place; the beautiful home near the sea, the snow, and combined with that magical Christmas feeling it seemed just perfect. Thea was a lovely protagonist; I easily warmed to her and kept my fingers crossed for a happy ending for her. Her family members are all entertaining characters as well, and I also specifically liked Sean, the owner of the holiday home the family is staying at. He's an amazing guy, and in my opinion a Christmas novel is never complete without a touch of romance!

This is the second Judy Astley book I've read and I have to say I really enjoy her stories. Her writing style is well-paced and detailed; she's a great storyteller and I will definitely pick up more of her works in the future. I don't really have anything else to add; this book is jam packed with Christmas cheer, family troubles, romance, snow and mistletoe, and I didn't want it to end! 'It Must Have Been the Mistletoe' is a wonderfully festive read that is all about family and being with the ones you love and a novel that definitely has that magic touch of Christmas!
Rating:10/10
 
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.

16 December 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books I Read in 2014

'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 Books I Read in 2014

I have to admit this is one of the Top Ten Tuesday lists I look forward to every year, but also one of the most difficult ones! 2014 has been a brilliant year in which I've had the chance to read some amazing books, not just chick lit but other genres as well. It's always difficult to just pick 10 books out of the pile which I enjoyed the most, but I tried my best and the 10 titles mentioned underneath are definitely at the top of my 2014 reading list!



1. Amy Silver - 'The Reunion' 



'The Reunion' was one of the first books I read this year and one that stayed with me for months to come. I've been recommending it to lots of people, because it is an amazing novel filled with so much emotion. As soon as I'd read it I knew it would be part of my top 10 of this year, and here it is!




2. Hannah Beckerman - 'The Dead Wife's Handbook'



One of the most touching novels I read this year and also one of the best debuts of 2014. If you're looking for an emotional read that will certainly make you shed a few tears along the way, definitely pick this up because you won't be disappointed.




3. Rachel Hollis - 'Party Girl'



This is one of those novels I enjoyed from start to finish and which I just didn't want to end, ever. Such a fun and entertaining chick lit read, I can't wait to read more of Rachel Hollis' work in the future! 




4. Jane Green - 'Tempting Fate'



The first Jane Green novel I read and it blew me away. Another read I couldn't put down and a story that stayed with me.




5. Laura Tait & Jimmy Rice - 'The Best Thing That Never Happened to Me'



A brilliant debut novel by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice; perfect for fans of romantic comedies, like me. 




6. Lisa Dickenson - 'You Had Me at Merlot'



I honestly think Lisa Dickenson is one of the upcoming chick lit queens of the future. Her novels are so entertaining and funny, I honestly can't get enough of them and I really hope I'll get to read some more of her work in 2015!




7. Sophie Hart - 'A Girl's Guide to the Birds and the Bees'



One of my favourite books and favourite covers of 2014. Sophie Hart has a wonderful writing style and I couldn't get enough of her characters and the stories they had to tell.




8. Ellie Adams - 'It Had to Be You'



Another fabulous chick lit novel which I can't recommend enough. I loved this, every page of it, and it rightfully deserves a place on this week's list!





9. Giovanna Fletcher - 'You're the One That I Want'



Giovanna Fletcher's second novel 'You're the One That I Want' was another fantastic read, just like her debut novel, and I hope we will be treated to another one of her books in 2015!




10. Claudia Carroll - 'Love Me or Leave Me'



Undoubtedly one of the best chick lit novels of 2014, in my opinion. A great book with a great cover and one I highly recommend to all chick lit fans.

Which books made your top 10 of 2014?