Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Secret by the Lake by Louise Douglas

A FAMILY TRAGEDY Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now.

A SISTER’S SECRET But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen.

A WEB OF LIES Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?

Having just finished reading The Secret by the Lake I can say this is easily the most chilling book that I have read this year. I made the mistake of starting this book late at night on my own which wasn’t the best idea as I had some freaky dreams that night!

When the family who Amy used to Nanny for finds their life changed dramatically they move back to the Lakeside Cottage and Amy returns to the family knowing that they need her now more than ever and yet when she arrives at the cottage she is uneasy from the moment she steps inside.  There are mysterious happenings in the house and secrets kept well and truly hidden and Amy has no choice but to get to the bottom of them.

This was such a deep dark and intense read that had me captivated from the first chapter. At points in this book I had goose bumps up my arms and tingles down my spine thanks to the creepy atmosphere that the author created. This was a very descriptive book which made me feel as though I could see, feel and hear everything that Amy could too, a part of me relieved a little of my childhood memories again so I wanted to join Amy in pulling a cabinet in front of the door so nothing can get in!

The book is set at a great pace slowly building up apprehension and intrigue and then the pace quickened as the secrets and clues were all discovered. I found this to be a unpredictable and shocking read that I found very disturbing and heart breaking as well as scaring the life out of me.

All of the characters in this book were so well drawn, I had my suspicions about various characters some which I was right to be and others that I got completely wrong. I found myself becoming quite protective over Viviane and urging Amy to help and protect her especially in something that I had an idea maybe going on.

This was a mysteriously chilling read that I could not put down as much as it was freaking me out.

Kindle                      Paperback

Sunday, 22 November 2015

A Wedding at Christmas by Chrissie Manby

What comes to mind when you picture a wedding at Christmas?
A gorgeous white dress accessorised with a thick velvet cape... bridesmaids in red velvet too? 
An arch of Christmas greenery: holly and ivy and boughs of fir. Candles and fairy lights. Snow! 
Chelsea Benson has just twelve weeks to organise her perfect winter wedding. Her family and friends pitch in to help, but sisterly squabbling, issues with money and an Ice-Queen mother-in-law soon threaten Chelsea's plans for her big day. And that's without the firework fiasco... 
Rescuing Chelsea's dream of a proper family wedding might just take all the magic of Christmas...

My favourite series of books recently have been the “Proper” books with the Benson family by Chrissie Manby, I absolutely adore the sparkly festive look to A Wedding at Christmas but I have to admit I can’t help calling it A Proper Wedding at Christmas!

Chelsea and Adam have a Wedding to plan but when is anything straight forward when the Benson’s are involved. The Wedding is brought forward leaving only 12 weeks to pull this Wedding off but with so many big characters and opinions emotions start running high and before long sparks are flying in more ways than one!

The humour which I loved in the previous books is still present in this book but we also find that parts of this storyline are very emotional too and I found myself reading part of this book on my course which wasn’t a good idea as it brought a tear to my eye.  The ending was a little predictable but the way it was handled was so beautifully written so this wasn’t a problem although it still broke my heart!

So often as books progress in a series I find that they start to feel drawn out and lose their appeal but this is really not the case with this book I can actually see that there could be one more book in the series but I can also see why Chrissie Manby may want to leave this series where it is. This could be read as a standalone novel as the important parts of the previous books are recapped during this book but personally this is my favourite series of books and I don’t see how anyone would want to miss out on meeting this family from the beginning so treat yourself to them all as they will all have you laughing out loud and loving this family even more.

I love every single one of the family and they all seem so life like, it is like reading about the family next door and I really don’t want to leave these characters. I usually find it quite hard to read books with children in without them being annoying and childish talk but the children in this book along with the others are developed so well and bring so many witty moments to the storyline, in fact the majority of the humour comes from them especially little Jack and I have to say he is easily my favourite character.

This book gets a massive thumbs up from me and I will definitely be picking a few copies of this book up for friends for Christmas.

Paperback               Kindle

Friday, 20 November 2015

Meet Me in Manhattan by Claudia Carroll

Today it is my stop on the Meet Me in Manhattan Blog tour I am joined by Claudia who is talking to us about which Literary worlds she would want to live in. Please stop by the other blogs on the tour to see what their thoughts on Meet Me in Manhaatan are.

If you could be taken into a book's world, which world would it be? 

I'm highly suggestible and so automatically find myself inside whatever world the author has created for us. Reading Persuasion and suddenly I'm strolling through the Crescent at Bath in a corset and bonnet on my way to 'take the waters' at the Pump Room. Ditto with anything by the Brontes; suddenly I'm back in the Yorkshire moors in the wild wind and rain running away from Hindley Earnshaw. As you do. 
 One of the most perfectly evoked worlds to me though, has to be Oxford during the early 1920's in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisted. I was a student in UCD at the time I first fell in love with the book and can still remember cursing the whole 'concrete jungle' feel of the Belfield campus and longing for the spires of Oxford with boys in straw boaters and jackets punting past on the river. Dream on, says you! 
 Nancy Mitford is another author who excels at creating her own perfect little Mitford-ian sphere too and her characters, all loosely based on her own large and eccentric family are so vividly realised, that you're right in there with them. And I'm also a big fan of Young Adult books too and the more dystopian the better. I'd challenge anyone to read Susan Collins' The Hunger Games series and not imagine that you're marooned on that awful district with a gang of other teens, all of whom are after your blood. And of course I'd have to give special mention to the Harry Potter books, which I adored too. I've got seven Godchildren and each and every one of them fell in love with reading thanks in no small part to the genius of J.K. Rowling. They all want to go to Hogwarts and be taught by the likes of Severus Snape and Professor Minerva McGonagall, presided over by a wise and benign Dumbledore. 
 Mind you, kids books in my day were very different. I grew up on Enid Blyton's Famous Five and all I wanted to do was have adventures and solve mysteries with my brothers. I was a great comic reader too as a kid, although I did keep a few of my old Bunty's and Judy's and can't get over just how many heroines there were who fought crime in what looked suspiciously like their underwear. The Adventures of Valda in Mandy comic, anyone?

My Review
I have such a longing to visit New York so I can not get enough of books that are set there so you can imagine how thrilled I was as I was working my way through the Christmas books on my TBR pile and found Meet Me in Manhattan by Claudia Carroll. 
Holly Johnson has turned to the world of internet dating to try and find romance and as she gets talking to pilot Andy McCoy she starts to believe she may have found someone. After their arranged meetings hot some problems she beginnings to suspect something isn’t quite right so she decides to surprise him by flying over to Manhattan but will she be welcomed with open arms or will they both receive a surprise of their lives?

I did actually find this book a little difficult to get in with and I have to say twice I started reading this book and put it aside thinking it just wasn’t for me but I think this is because I have never done or had any interest in the whole online dating thing. I am so glad that I picked this book up again as once the storyline progressed to Holly jetting off to Manhattan the book really picked up the pace and took me in hook line and sinker. 

The author takes us on a journey of New York but not just our typical iconic landmarks but some pretty impressive hidden gems too which really got me hankering after New York even more. The way she described each of the places made it feel so life like and magic just reading about it I felt like I was there. 

There was a journey of emotions in this book, I was in complete shock with what Holly discovered on arriving in Manhattan I couldn’t have predicted what was revealed. As we get to know Holly a little more we begin to see her background story and this pulled at the heart strings and explained the reason why Christmas is not an exciting time of year for her and also shows the reason why she has built up so many barriers. There were exciting and humorous parts in the book alongside showing the dangers and repercussions of internet dating and identity fraud.

There was a lovely amount of festivity in this book with the book being set completely over the Festive period so it was a perfect read for this time of year. I am so pleased I gave this book another chance as I thoroughly enjoyed it after the slow start. 

Paperback                Kindle

Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Winter Wedding by Abby Clements

Hazel never set out to be a wedding planner. She was just helping her stressed sister Lila with cakes and décor for her big day. But when Lila and Ollie's summer ceremony is a runaway success, with guests raving about the food and styling at the pretty venue, word about Hazel's expertise soon spreads. 

But Hazel's clients expect the very best - she's promised lawyers Gemma and Eliot a snow-covered castle in the Scottish Highlands, and laidback couple Josh and Sarah a bohemian beach wedding in a Caribbean paradise. But as weather, in-laws and wilful brides conspire against her, can Hazel get two very different couples to walk up two very different aisles to say 'I do'? And will she find her own happy ending if she does?

Abby Clements is one of my favourite authors and she has delivered a sweet romantic storyline for us in her latest release The Winter Wedding. Rather than this being a festive read, like the title suggests it is more a Winter read full of romance

When Hazel steps in to plan her twin sister’s wedding for her at short notice she didn’t expect to become in demand from other bridal parties looking for her to take on their Weddings but with all this love in the air will Hazel ever find the love of her life?

Hazel was a very caring and creative character who didn’t seem to know exactly what it was that she wanted to do but she has a great unique talent in making the little sets, I had visions of walking into a room full of loads of miniature dolls rooms ready to coo over! The supporting characters were all likable characters but Hazel was easily took center stage in this book. I loved the friendship which blossomed between Hazel and Amber they had so much in common and also had a kind of respect for each other which is shown in a particular part of the book.

This book seemed very different to the author’s previous books, this was more of a gentle easy storyline compared to the deeper absorbing books I am used to from this author. This isn’t a bad thing it is great to see authors delivering something different and I did really enjoy this book and had to keep snatching chapters here and there but the difference being with this book is I felt like it was all wrapped up where as usually I am left wanting to meet the characters again because of the connection I have with them and their story, I can’t bare to leave them.

This is a wonderful fun and uplifting romantic read perfect for a cosy Sunday in away from the manic Christmas crowds.

Paperback               Kindle

I want to brighten someone else’s day with this book so I have a copy of The Winter Wedding up for grabs and this giveaway is open world wide so Good Luck everyone x

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Monday, 9 November 2015

Shopaholic to the Rescue by Sophie Kinsella

To Las Vegas . . . and beyond! 

Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) is on a major rescue mission! Hollywood was full of surprises, and now she's on a road trip to Las Vegas to help her friends and family. She's determined to get to the bottom of why her dad has mysteriously disappeared, help her best friend Suze and even bond with long-time enemy Alicia Bitch Long-legs (maybe...). 

As Becky discovers just how much her friends and family need help, she comes up with her biggest, boldest, most brilliant plan yet! 

So can she save the day just when they need her most?

The books that got me reading again as an adult were The Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella and to me it is like Christmas has come every time a new one is released as I can never get enough of Becky Brandon’s antics so when Shopaholic to the Rescue arrived I put my current read to one side and started on this one straight away.

Becky is determined to track down her missing father even if it means traipsing around Las Vegas with all her friends and family and not forgetting Alicia Bitch Long Legs! As ever Becky has dramatic plans to help her friends and family on this mission.

In this book we see the pressure on the friendship between Suze and Becky and I wasn’t sure if their friendship could survive or if they had just reached a point where they had grown apart and so the whole way through I was waiting with batted breath to see what the outcome would be.

As we have come to expect with the Shopaholic books there were laugh out loud moments my particular favourites involving Janice and her drug smuggling at the beginning of the book and my favourite part of the whole book the Mutton Bustin which had me laughing out loud around the side of the pool in Champneys Health Spa which was in silence apart from my snorts of laughter!

I never expected to say this but I actually thing the Shopaholic series has done all it can now, the storyline, although still enjoyable and entertaining it didn’t have the spark that the rest of the books have and Becky didn’t stand out in her crazy joyous way she usually does, I am so used to there being an upbeat lively feel surrounding Becky but this was lacking in this book. The storyline centered around characters who we are not familiar with and felt like our lovable characters were weaved around them rather than taking center stage.

I still found myself flying through this book and finishing it in a day because the author has such a enjoyable and easy writing style and I would still recommend this book as it is a great read but I do think here is where I will say goodbye to my favourite fictional heroine Becky. This is a hard book to rate as compared to the rest of the series I would say it is a 3 star book but trying not to compare to the other books and thinking of it as a standalone read I would still say it is worthy of a 4 star rating.

Hardback                Kindle

Thursday, 5 November 2015

How to Stuff up Christmas by Rosie Blake

Eve is heartbroken after discovering her fiance is cheating on her. Being surrounded by the joys of Christmas is more than Eve can bear, so she chooses to avoid the festivities by spending Christmas alone on a houseboat in Pangbourne. Eve gets gets an unexpected seasonal surprise when handsome local vet Greg comes to her rescue one day, and continues to visit Eve's boat on a mission to transform her from Kitchen Disaster Zone to Culinary Queen. But where does Greg keep disappearing to? What does Eve's best friend Daisy know that she isn't telling? And why is there an angry goose stalking Eve's boat?

I love the cute, sparkly and festive cover for How to Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake this book is going to look great in the Christmas stockings this year. This was my first book by Rosie Blake so I was excited to see what this author was going to deliver and I was not disappointed.

Christmas is just around the corner and heartbroken Eve doesn’t want to spend Christmas with her family as it will just be a reminder of the previous Christmas and how much things have changed, so she decides to do something completely new to her starting with staying on a houseboat but what she didn’t expect was to meet the handsome village vet Greg who came to her rescue but can he help mend her broken heart too or is he hiding something?

This was such a delightful read that had a sprinkling of humour and a flurry of romance to keep you hooked on these cold winter nights. A lot of humour came from Eve’s poor cooking skills which I could sympathise with ( yes I am also not a natural in the kitchen unless it is reaching for the takeaway menu!) add a pesky Goose and a jealous peeping husband and you have a perfect mix to have you giggling away.

Eve was such a normal every day woman who was a very likable character so it was a joy to watch her on her little adventure to heal her broken heart with her dog in tow that she was holding hostage!
Greg was a perfect love interest, a pure gentleman with a secret that I have to say I guessed very early on but it didn’t ruin the storyline at all and actually there was another twist in the book that I didn’t see coming so that totally had me by surprise.

The storyline was very light and the chapters short so it was an easy read to pick up and put down, I was stealing moments between clients to read a chapter or two!

This is a wonderful romantic festive read which I thoroughly enjoyed and I loved the authors writing style which flowed so easily and made me eager to get back to the characters each time I put it down so this is an author whose books I will be looking out for in the future.

Paperback                Kindle

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan

Skylar Tempest has never understood Alec Hunter’s appeal. So what if he’s a world-renowned historian? He’s also cynical, aloof and determined to think the worst of her. So when a twist of fate finds her spending the lead-up to Christmas with Alec and his family, she’s not expecting the season to be either merry or bright.

Alec has learned the hard way not to trust beautiful women―and Skylar is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. But as he watches her throw herself into his family’s festive chaos, Alec realises there is far more to this blonde bombshell than meets the eye. With Christmas around the corner, Alec and Skylar return to Puffin Island, a tentative bond forged between them. Neither intends to fall in love but as the nights become darker, and the fire between them grows hotter, could this be the chance for Alec and Skylar to find their own happy ending?

I had such mixed feelings when Christmas Ever After arrived through the post box, I couldn’t wait to revisit Puffin Island especially at Christmas time but the other part of me really didn’t want to leave Puffin Island.

In this book we catch up with some of our much loved characters from the previous two books but this book centres on Skylar who early on in this book finds herself in a heartbreaking and delicate situation and the last person she expected to come to her rescue was Alec! To say the couple have had a prickly relationship is putting it mildly and yet the charming and caring Alec was on hand when she needed someone. Alec has plans for the festive season but cannot leave Skylar alone so as she joins him she experiences Christmas time that is more warming than she is used to.

This book really should have come with a warning as I sat down to start this book on Sunday evening next time I looked at the clock and it was gone half one in the morning and I had finished the book in one blissful sitting. Yes ok the outcome was predictable but this didn’t matter one tiny bit because the journey to the ending was exciting and comforting and had me swooning away and obviously a little bit hooked too. Watching the relationship blossom with lots of humorous moments made me sit smiling away at the book like a goon.

The setting of the book moves from London to the Cotswold's and to our much loved Puffin Island and all three of these places were all beautifully described and set the festive scene with the chill and snowy back drop, I so long to spend my Christmas on Puffin Island.

The true meaning of Christmas shines through and Skylar gets to see how other families and her friends spend Christmas and how different they are to the Christmases she has always know.
This book was just as good as the previous two and I think this is one of the few series of books where I don’t have a favourite as they all bring a little something different but then we are treated to little snippets of what is going on in the characters from the previous books so we always have that comforting and familiar feel to them.

I will be so sorry to leave Puffin Island behind, I really hope that Sarah Morgan revisits again in another book as it would be great to see how things have progressed with all of the characters as I really don’t think these characters are going to go away quietly as they still have little stories to tell ( this could just be me being greedy and having separation problems hehe).

This could be read as a stand alone but I urge you to read all three as they are wonderful books that you wouldn’t want to miss out on. This book gets a big thumbs up from me and so far from the books I have read this year this one has the most festive feel to it.

Paperback               Kindle
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