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Friday, 4 December 2020

Christmas at the Island Hotel by Jenny Colgan

 



Flora Mackenzie is worried about her brother. Fintan hasn't got over the death of his partner, Coltan, and Flora thinks he needs a project.

The Rock - the rambling, disused hotel on the tip of the island - was Coltan's passion project before he died. With Flora's help, Fintan is going to get the hotel up and running in time for Christmas, transforming it into a festive haven of crackling log fires and delicious food. But running a hotel, they are about to discover, is not that easy. Especially when their motley staff includes a temperamental French chef, a spoilt Norwegian kitchen boy who can't peel a potato without mutilating his own hand and a painfully shy kitchen assistant who blushes when anyone speaks to her.

Can they pull it together in time for the big opening?


In Jenny Colgan’s latest release Christmas at the Island Hotel we are heading back to our friendly community on Mure as Fintan is still coming to terms with the loss of Coltan. Coltan’s dream of having The Rock hotel a thriving success still needs to get off the ground and Flora is ready to step in and help Fintan to get things running and hopefully give him a distraction and a purpose. We welcome two new characters in the form of a temperamental French chef and useless, spoilt Norwegian guy!

Jenny Colgan never fails to provide us with a gripping storyline in a cosy setting, and even if you haven’t read the previous books in the Mure series I still believe you could read this one as a standalone although you would feel more connected to the characters and the goings on if you do treat yourself to the rest of the books.

I do love reuniting with old characters to see how things are progressing in their lives and it gives a feeling of familiarity and comfort which is perfect in winter novels but having the vibrancy of fresh new characters too bring an exciting bubble to the storyline too. Konstantin was an out and out spoilt rich man who really needed the push his dad gave him to actually do something with his life to make him grow up and start taking some responsibility and also to learn some basic life skills and what better place than Mure to learn. His character actually provided a few comedic moments and I had a little soft spot for him and was looking forward to watching him grow into skin.

There are a couple of delicate subject matters that are touched on in this book but wasn’t heavily featured so there was still an uplifting feel to the storyline but with an added depth with these matters gently weaved in.

There is a touch of festivity sprinkled into this book but it isn’t overly Christmassy so this book can still be read all year around. I loved my return visit to Mure and I am still not ready to leave yet so I do hope that Jenny Colgan has another return trip up her sleeve for us yet.


If you would like to try and help local bookshops after the effects this year has had on them then you can also order from the link below.


Thursday, 19 November 2020

Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas

 



Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she's feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie's residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market - with the promise she'll take a mini-bus full of pensioners along with her...

Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a checklist of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich's rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.


This years festive reads have been amazing, in previous years more often than not our teasing seasonal book jackets and our fabulously festive titles lure us in only to find barely a whiff of festivity inside but not this year, they are all oozing the festivity feels including my latest read Finding Love at the Christmas Market by Jo Thomas.

Jo Thomas has really blown me away with her last two novels and has crept up there with my favourite authors. This book is fast paced and packed full of love, friendship, hope and cheer. The descriptive writing style was bad for my waistline, I felt as though I was walking through the market and into the Bakery with our characters inhaling all the sweet heady rich smells from delicious warm gingerbread to the rich sweet hot chocolate all making my mouth water.

The traditional Bakery and the wooden cabins for all the stalls to hold their festive offerings at the market were so enchanting and I am so desperate to visit my first Christmas market now so Covid could you kindly do one now please!

Connie was a wonderful main character with a heart of gold who deserved a real chance at love and to find someone who will cherish her and have the same interests to live a wonderful life together and I enjoyed watching her journey to happiness.

The love and passion Connie and WiIliam both have for baking is infectious and I would have loved to see the masterpiece that they made. 

This book ticked all the boxes for me and will definitely be a book I will be gifting to friends this Christmas. I absolutely loved this book and I am excited to see what this author has lined up for us next.


Paperback                 Kindle


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Sunday, 15 November 2020

I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day by Milly Johnson

 



It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard. Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there…
 
Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?
 
Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?
 
Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find – and much more besides?


The one thing that has really helped we through this crazy year of madness especially now the colder and darker nights are drawing in is this year’s festive releases and believe me I think this is my favourite year of festive novel releases since I have started reviewing. One author we can always rely on when it comes to a jolly good festive novel that will bring a bag laughs with it is none other than Milly Johnson and her new release, I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day is a fabulous festive delight.

As a freak snow storm reaps havoc to many travellers plans this Christmas an eclectic mix of characters are brought together as they seek shelter and land upon Figgy Hollow. With no hope of being on their way for Christmas the group waste no time in getting to know each other and get stuck into preparing for Christmas celebrations in the sleepy little Inn.

I have to admit I was a little nervous when starting this novel because having so many main characters is something that I sometimes struggle with in novels but I was relieved that there were no blurred lines between the characters they were all developed really well and I never got muddled up with who was who and I loved each and everyone of them. All 6 characters had completely different personality traits and they all have their stories to tell from matters of the heart to troubled upbringings and health matters. There was something about Charlie that reminded me of Christopher Biggins with his uplifting, flamboyant and bright nature, he was a very wise man who had a heart of pure gold. His partner Robin balanced his character out and his love for Charlie was easy to see through his caring ways. Mary was a gentle character who I was desperate for her to have her love reciprocated and see her come alive. Bridget was a complex character who really touched my heart. She is a strong, confident, fiery and successful woman on the outside but when we delve deeper, we see why she is the way she is and that her determination is a result of her childhood. Luke is a successful entrepreneur thanks to his ex but as his life moves forward it is time to try and let go of his past. Jack was a character who I wanted to shake the most, he was so blinded to what was waving under his nose!

This is definitely one of those books that will take you on an emotional journey as we begin to create bonds with our characters and we will have our hearts warmed with the little Christmas celebrations they create from getting merry on traditional tipples and filling their bellies with mince pies and chocolate, we laugh with the characters but around the corner we also will have our hearts broken so keep those tissues to hand.

Milly Johnson always weaves a hint of magic into her novels and this was certainly the case with this novel. As I was curled up on the sofa reading the last few pages of this novel I didn’t want it to come to an end, I still feel like we have so much to see with these characters so I do hope that Milly will revisit them in future novels. I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day should be in every bookworm’s stocking this Christmas.


Kindle                    Hardback.



If you are thinking about treating yourself to I Wish it Could Be Christmas Every Day, think about trying to support local bookshops by ordering on the link below.


Thursday, 29 October 2020

One More For Christmas by Sarah Morgan

 



Gayle is a highly successful and motivated business woman, but her success has come at a price – she hasn’t spoken to her daughters, Ella and Samantha, for years. But when Gayle has an accident at work, she realises she needs to make amends with her family.

And so she invites herself to join Ella and Samantha for their Christmas in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The sisters are none too pleased that their mother has inserted herself into their Christmas plans. They have each other – and don’t need their mother back in their lives. Or so they think…

As they embark on their first family Christmas together in years, will the three women learn that sometimes facing up to a few home truths is all you need to heal your heart?


When I think of typical idyllic locations for a festive get away I have to admit the Scottish Highlands isn’t the first place that comes to mind and yet having just finished reading Sarah Morgan’s recent release One More for Christmas I feel like I have found a hidden festive gem!
Career driven Gayle has been estranged from her two daughters for the past 5 years but when she has an accident and is taken to hospital her daughters are called. Something changes in Gayle and she wants to try and build bridges with her daughters Samantha and Ella, can a Christmas get away to the Scottish Highlands be the place to mend their hearts?
Quite simply this is my favourite novel by Sarah Morgan. this isn’t just a wintery read this has a wonderful sprinkling of festivity flowing through the storyline too, from Christmas baking, reindeer rides, Christmas tree gathering, snowman building the list goes on and after this mad year we have had it was a real treat to read this novel that provided pure escapism and has started the excitement bubbling of the Christmas spirit.
Each and every one of the characters were loveable with no exceptions, yes there are secrets and mistakes that have been hidden that shows that they are slightly flawed but typically this is because the secrets were hidden to protect others. It shows the importance of talking to one another and that it is never too late to build bridges and to learn to forgive and forget.
Tab who is Ella’s daughter is a little ball of energy and certainly helps to bring everyone together, her constant questions soon wore me out! Samantha and Ella have such a strong sisterly bond, it is apparent that their upbringing with their mother has affected them both but it has made them be there for each other through thick and thin.
As ever with a Sarah Morgan novel there is a swoony romance with a loveable Laird that will warm your heart.
This one certainly ticked all the boxes for me and as I reached the last couple of chapters I was reluctant to finish because I didn’t want to leave these characters behind. I certainly think there is more that can be done with each of these characters so I hope we will be reunited with them soon.

Paperback             Kindle 

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Meet Me In London by Georgia Toffolo

 



Aspiring clothes designer Victoria Scott spends her days working in a bar in Chelsea, and her evenings designing vintage clothes, dreaming of one day opening her own boutique. But these aspirations are under threat from the new department store opening at the end of her road. She needs a Christmas miracle, but one is not forthcoming.

Oliver Russell’s Christmas is not looking very festive right now. His family’s new London department store opening is behind schedule, and on top of that his interfering, if well meaning, mother is pressing him to introduce his girlfriend to her. A girlfriend who does not exist. He needs a diversion. Something to keep his mother from interfering while he focuses on the business.

When Oliver meets Victoria, he offers a proposition: pretend to be his girlfriend at the opening of his store and he will provide an opportunity for Victoria to showcase her designs. But what starts as a business arrangement soon becomes something more tempting, as the fake relationship starts to feel very real. But when secrets in Victoria’s past are exposed will Oliver walk away, or will they both follow their hearts and find what neither knew they were looking for…


Meet Me In London is the debut novel by Georgia Toffolo, perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Sarah Morgan.

When a new department store is set to open on Victoria’s doorstep it feels like an unreachable dream of seeing her vintage designs out in the world has just become impossible.

Oliver has been whisked in to save they day when his families new department store is due to open but is way behind schedule and now not only does he have a lot of work on his hands but he also has the pressure from his mum to meet his fiancĂ© only problem is he hasn’t met her yet himself!

An eventful meeting aligns Victoria and Oliver’s paths, could they help each other in their times of need or will things just get a little too complicated?

This was such a sweet modern love story perfect to cosy up with on these winter nights. Victoria has an incredible talent but she has been tragically hurt in the past in more than one way which has left her confidence in herself wavering and yet she has a heart of gold and is front of the line to put everyone else first and to help anyone in need.

Oliver was a little gentleman, he wasn’t our usual swaggering, uptight business man he was very good at his job but lacked the ability to let love and emotion into his life.

One thing that shines through in this novel is the wonderful supportive tightknit friendship group between Victoria and her girlfriends, it was heartfelt what the girls went through to solidate their friendship and to see the effects this had on each of the girls but no matter what even though they are now all living far apart they are always there for each other in their times of need. We only get little snippets into the actual characteristics of each of the girls and I am intrigued to find out more about each of them so you can imagine how pleased I was when I got to the end of the novel to then find a extract for another book!

The novel was a little predictable but the excitement around the romance and the community spirit in helping small businesses which is more relevant now than ever all made this such an enjoyable read. This book was a winner for me with its engaging characters and its entertaining storyline, I can’t wait to pick up with the characters in Meet Me In Hawaii.


Paperback                    Kindle

Thursday, 22 October 2020

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

 



Quinn and Minnie are born on New Year's Eve, in the same hospital, one minute apart.

Their lives may begin together, but their worlds couldn't be more different.

Thirty years later they find themselves together again in the same place, at the same time.

What if fate is trying to bring them together?

Maybe it's time to take a chance on love...


I am a complete sucker for foiled covers and This Time Next Year is a real beauty with its rose gold foil title and the storyline inside is just as stunning.

A chance meeting one New Years morning brings Quinn and Minnie together, call it fate because the pair were both born in the same hospital only one minute apart but their lives couldn’t have panned out more different. As the pair get to know each other they realise they have more in common than they think.

Sophie Cousens has such a beautiful writing style that manages to grasp your attention from the off and keeps you intrigued the whole way through with never a slow moment for your attention to waver.

Both Quinn and Minnie are likeable characters each have their challenges in life which with Minnie is apparent to see but with Quinn he manages to conceal a lot of his issues which just goes to show you never really know what is going on behind closed doors. Minnie unintentionally provides a few witty moments mainly around what she calls her " New Year Jinx"  

I am not going to lie the romance was predictable but this really didn’t matter because the journey we take with Quinn and Minnie was a joy in itself and by watching the pair get to know each other and tackle their problems we get a great insight into these characters and we are soon longing for a happy ever after.

I loved this book and found it fast paced and oozing with romance helped with a little sprinkling of wit too. I can not wait to read more novels by Sophie Cousens and will definitely be gifting this book to a couple of friends this Christmas.


Paperback                       Kindle 

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Because of You by Dawn French

 



Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.

The old millennium turns into the new.

In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.

Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.

Anna leaves with empty arms.

Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.

The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.

Perhaps beyond . . .


Because of You is the first novel I have read by Dawn French so I was a little unsure of what to expect but when I read the synopsis it appealed to me and let me telly you now that I have finished this book that it sure was a thought provoking read that is going to leave a mark on me.

Anna and Hope are both in hospital and their lives are about to change, both are in labour but one of them will leave with a beautiful baby girl whilst the other leaves with a world of pain and a broken heart.

Fast forward 17 years and the truth comes out and is set to impact all of those involved. Can forgiveness be given and can a wrong be put right?

Wow

Wow

Wow

I am not sure where to begin with my review for Because of You because I have so many different emotions rolling around in my head and my heart right now. This sure is a life affirming book and it questioned everyone of my morals.

The opening of the book has a dramatic start and I was gobsmacked with Hope’s actions which was why as the storyline progressed, I surprised myself with how much I come to love her character and almost felt like what she had done was understandable. I knew undoubtedly that what Hope done was unquestionably wrong and that I should see her as a criminal or a villain certainly not someone who I would expect to actually like but when you see the whole picture it soon makes you take everything into perspective and understand the reason for her actions.

My heart really went out to Anna, what she was going through is something no one should ever face and to then not have the love and support of a loving partner by her side just made it even more unbearable and I think it is because of how self absorbed and pig headed her husband is that pushes the reader to justify Hopes actions almost like she has protected Minnie.

I really do not want to give any major spoilers away but what I will say is there is a part in this book that absolutely floored me and I even had a tear escape too as my heart broke a little at Hope’s actions but that is all I will say on that matter as the reader needs to be in the dark about this for it to have the same impact as it had on me.

I loved watching the mother daughter bond blossom over Minnie’s 18 years, they were a strong loving unit and Minnie grew up to be an incredible young lady who lived a wonderful life surrounded by nothing but love and support.

There was always an unpredictability about the storyline never quite sure when or if the truth was going to come to light and this kept me intrigued the whole way through as I greedily sped through each chapter trying to find out what was going to happen next.

This is up there with my top three books of the year and I will definitely be recommending this one to all who will listen and gifting a copy or two as Christmas presents this year as I guarantee this book will have people captivated and in shock by how it can play with your emotions and morals. Anyone who watched the series recently The Secrets She Keeps and was hooked then this is definitely the book for you.



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