#BookReview: It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

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About the Book

Holly McAdams loves spending the Christmas holidays at her family’s cozy cabin, with its little red door and twinkling lights, tucked in the snowy hills outside Nashville. But this year will be different. Someone unexpected is joining them…

After Holly and her beloved Nana struggle through a snow storm to reach the cabin, they discover gorgeous and wealthy Joseph Barnes, who has been renting the cabin for the last few weeks, is now snowed in. And it looks like he’ll be staying for the holidays.

Determined to make the best of the surprise situation, Holly tries to bring everyone together by baking delicious treats and decorating the cabin with plenty of festive sparkle. She finds herself growing close to handsome Joseph, who is unlike anyone she’s ever met before, even if Nana isn’t so keen on the dashing stranger with the mysterious past.

But charming and irresistible musician Rhett Burton is also back in town. Thrown into close proximity with the person who used to be her best friend and the man who broke her heart, Holly realizes it’s time to face her feelings and figure out what she really wants from her life. But to complicate things, both Joseph and Rhett have secrets to reveal…

Will Holly be able to find herself and the love she’s always dreamed of this Christmas?

 

My Thoughts

Holly is spending Christmas at her family’s cabin with her lovely Nana. This is the first Christmas they’ve spent there since Holly’s Papa died so it’s a difficult time for them and then when they arrive they discover a man there! Joe has been renting the cabin and due to the snow has had to stay on a bit longer. Holly and Joe are attracted to each other and the Holly’s old friend, the singer Rhett turns up and declares he still had feelings for her!

I’m going to be honest and say that this novel wasn’t as festive as I was hoping it would be. There is a build up to Christmas but then it felt like it was over in the blink of an eye. Having said that the beautiful romantic treasure hunt on Christmas morning was so gorgeous and really epitomised the festive spirit. Nana was a wonderful character and seeing her find her way through her grief to re-connect with the happy memories she has of her late husband was so moving.

I found the potential romance between Holly and Joe was really endearing. I really felt their connection and felt sad for Holly when it seemed it wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t warm to Rhett at all though and was hoping Holly wasn’t going to end up with him. It was in the balance for most of the novel how things would work out for her and I did enjoy the uncertainty around her romantic life.

All in all this was a sweet and romantic novel with hints of Christmas running through it. I do love Jenny Hale’s writing and will definitely look out for her Christmas novels in the future.

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

It Started with Christmas is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

When she graduated college, one of Jenny’s friends said “Look out for this one; she’s going to be an author one day”. Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn’t until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to her.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can’t. Whilst she didn’t start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children and hundreds of thousands of words later, Jenny finished her first novel, Coming Home for Christmas, which became an instant bestseller.

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#BookReview: Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel by Karen King @karen_king @bookouture #ChristmasRead

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About the Book

Snowy rooftops, mulled wine, and a hot single dad. Not the Christmas Saffy wished for… but maybe the one she needs?

Twenty-nine year old Saffron Baxter knew her holiday plans didn’t stand a chance the moment her sister called to say she was stuck abroad with no hope of being home before Christmas. Saffy would just have to abandon thoughts of wild festive parties in the city and head down to remote Cornwall.

Because every year her sister hosts a huge Christmas meal for all the single parents in her village. And Saffy knows it’d break her heart to let them down.

Arriving as snow starts to fall over the thatched cottages of the little harbour town of Port Breok, she meets Logan – the tall, fair-haired, blue-eyed, devoted single dad who lives next door, with his adorable daughter Chloe. At first she thinks he might help her make Christmas Day extra-memorable, but he just seems convinced she’ll never manage – that she’s just a party girl who doesn’t care about Christmas, or anyone’s feelings.

Maybe he’s right. After all – she doesn’t want to settle down, she’s only there for a few days… But she’s still determined to do her sister proud with gorgeous decorations, the most beautiful real tree – complete with extra twinkly lights, and delicious mince pies. To make it a Christmas everyone will remember, especially little Chloe. Even if, when the mistletoe comes down, she knows she’ll probably never see Logan again…

 

My Thoughts

I couldn’t resist the fabulously festive cover of Snowy Hearts at the Lonely Hearts Hotel and I’m really happy to say that the novel more than lives up to the cover!

Saffy is an independent woman who enjoys her career and her social life and doesn’t have much spare time for family but when her sister Hannah calls to say she’s stuck abroad and needs Saffy to help her out, Saffy feels she can’t say no.  Hannah runs a big Christmas party for all the single parent families in her neighbourhood every year and now Saffy has to organise the whole thing!

Soon after arriving Saffy meets her sister’s neighbour Logan and his young daughter Chloe. There is a clear spark between Saffy and Logan but the path to true love never runs smoothly and these two keep missing the mark with each other. Saffy is determined to focus on the party planning and to show her sister that she is capable and can do it.

I very much enjoyed this book. It’s set pretty much entirely over the Christmas period so is really festive! It’s got snow and party planning, romance and misunderstandings and lots and lots of holiday fun. It’s gorgeous – just the absolute perfect book to curl up with on a cold, wintery day! I highly recommend adding this book to your Christmas reading plans!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Karen King is a multi-published, award-winning author of romantic novels and children’s fiction. She has had four romance novels published to date, with another one due out next April, 120 children’s books, and several short stories in women’s magazines. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women  Writers and Journalists.

#BookReview: The Date by Louise Jensen @Fab_Fiction @Bookouture

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About the Book

One night can change everything.

‘I know it as soon as I wake up and open my eyes… Something is wrong.’

Her Saturday night started normally. Recently separated from her husband, Ali has been persuaded by her friends to go on a date with a new man. She is ready, she is nervous, she is excited. She is about to take a step into her new future. By Sunday morning, Ali’s life is unrecognisable. She wakes, and she knows that something is wrong. She is home, she is alone, she is hurt and she has no memory of what happened to her.

Worse still, when she looks in the mirror, Ali doesn’t recognise the face staring back at her. She can’t recognise her friends and family. And she can’t recognise the person who is trying to destroy her…

 

My thoughts

I’m a massive fan of Louise Jensen’s writing and always eagerly anticipate a new novel from her. I have to say that The Date is her best yet, I literally didn’t put it down once from start to finish!

The premise for The Date is utterly terrifying! Ali has been out on a date with a man she met on a dating site and the next morning she wakes up with her head bleeding, very little memory of what happened the previous night and when she looks in the mirror she no longer recognises her own face!

I had heard of face blindness before but rather ignorantly thought it was a condition where people found it difficult to remember faces of people they knew. I had no idea that it could be as serious as in Ali’s situation where she literally doesn’t recognise anyone – not herself, not her loved ones and not even actors in her favourite TV show. It sent chills down my spine to think of it and from this point on I couldn’t help but imagine how Ali must feel, and her fear got under my skin. I can’t remember the last time a novel made me as on edge as this one did!

Ali carries guilt from things that have happened in the past and this impedes her in making good decisions at times. I felt a real connection to her as the past was revealed – there is one part that actually made me cry. I had such empathy for her in that moment and it meant that I was rooting for her all the more as the novel went on.

As the book progresses we get the sense that something really terrible has happened and that Ali could be in danger but, like Ali, I found it difficult to piece it all together. I got swept along in her reasoning and felt like she was probably on the right track at times but then something else would happen and I would doubt myself again. I only partly worked out how it would end but mostly it shocked me, I wasn’t expecting it. The last page of this book gave me goosebumps and I felt glad I wasn’t home alone!

The Date is gripping, unnerving and an unputdownable read! I literally read it in one sitting as I just couldn’t put the book down until I knew how it was going to end!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts are my own.

The Date is due to be published in ebook on 21st June and is available here.

 

About the Author

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Louise Jensen is the Global No.1 Bestselling author of psychological thrillers The Sister, The Gift & The Surrogate.

To date Louise has sold approaching a million books and her novels have been sold for translation to nineteen territories, as well as being featured on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List.

Louise was nominated for the Goodreads Debut Author of 2016 Award.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

Mini Reviews: The Surrogate by Louise Jensen, After I’ve Gone by Linda Green, Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath & In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

 

This week I’m sharing some mini reviews on my blog in order to catch up before Christmas! I’ve not been able to write many full reviews in recent weeks due to my energy and strength being used on Christmas preparations but I hope these mini reviews will still give you a flavour of the books.

 

 

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The Surrogate by Louise Jensen

I’m such a huge fan of Louise Jensen’s writing so grabbed a copy of The Surrogate as soon as I saw it. I didn’t need to even read the synopsis because I knew it would be good… and it was so very, very good! I think this may be my new favourite of her novels and it’s a book that has really stayed with me. Kat and Nick had been trying for a baby for a long while and eventually turned to look at adoption. When this didn’t work out it leaves Kat devastated so when an old friend turns up and offers to be a surrogate Kat shrugs off her concerns regarding how they fell out years ago and agrees. This book has so many twists and turns, and actually had me gasp in surprise at one of them, that I honestly couldn’t predict how it would all turn out. The denouement when it comes is shocking and chilling and so utterly perfect. This is definitely a thriller not to be missed!

 

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After I’ve Gone by Linda Green

This is such a refreshing take on a thriller and I devoured it! Jess checks her Facebook on an ordinary January day and discovers that the updates are all from 18 months into the future and her friends and family are mourning her death. This grabbed me from the off as I can’t recall another novel told in this way. Jess initially thinks it’s a joke and then begins to question her own sanity. It leads her to make decisions in order to try and get some of the same outcomes she’s reading about but without it leading to her death. Things get really tough for Jess when she realises how she dies and it becomes apparent that she may not be able to get away. There are elements to this book that I wasn’t expecting and the controlling relationship was one of them. It is so well done though and really shows how easy it is for ordinary, intelligent people to become trapped in an awful situation. I was rooting for Jess all the way through this novel and hoping she could re-write her future just enough to get the good and then to escape. This is a really good thriller and one I recommend.

 

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Give Me the Child by Mel McGrath

This is a novel that really got under my skin. Cat Lupo suffered psychosis around her first pregnancy so when a devastating secret about her husband is revealed, it gradually leads to people close to her questioning her state of mind. I loved this novel. It was interesting to be unsure whether Cat was ill again or whether she was right to be so paranoid about what was going on with this child that has turned up in their lives. The tension in this book really did reach that point where I was literally on the edge of my seat reading as fast as I could because I simply had to know how things were going to turn out. If you’ve not already read this, I highly recommend it. I’m already eagerly anticipating what Mel McGrath writes next!

 

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In a Cottage in a Wood by Cass Green

The premise of this book drew me to it as soon as I read it – the idea of meeting someone on a bridge late at night and then two weeks later receiving an unexpected gift just grabbed me right away! I’m pleased to say that the book didn’t disappoint. The cottage in the wood is such a creepy location and it’s something in books that sets my nerves on edge so this book had me in it’s clutches. The novel didn’t end up being as scary as I was thinking it might be but it definitely had me feeling a bit jumpy in places. I also loved that while I thought I had it all worked out there was a twist that blindsided me, which was great! This is a book that’s definitely worth checking out on these cold winter nights.

 

 


 

 

I received copies of the above books from the publishers via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

All four of these fab thrillers are out now!

#BookReview: While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

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About the Book

You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?

Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbour Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.
And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?

A gripping, shocking psychological thriller, with a twist that will take you by surprise.

My Thoughts

I was intrigued by this book as soon as I saw the synopsis – the idea of waking up not knowing who is next to you and then finding that that person is dead is terrifying and such a great premise for a thriller.

I was immediately drawn into Tara’s story wanting to know why she was in Lee’s bed and whether she had anything to do with his death. The theme running through this book is secrets and lies and the damage they can do always makes for a thrilling read, and I was keen to find out what was going on under the surface of these characters’ lives.

I did find the plot quite far-fetched as it went on but once you realise that and are prepared to suspend your disbelief then this continues to be an enjoyable, intriguing read. It was one of those books that was an escape from my own life and I enjoyed it for that, it’s always nice to be taken out of reality whilst reading a book and this certainly did that for me.

This is a fast-paced read – I read it in just one or two sittings. It’s a gripping novel that really holds your attention all the way through.

I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

While You Were Sleeping is out now and available from Book Depository or Amazon