Mini Reviews: It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans | The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

Today I want to share my thoughts on two lovely books that I read over the Christmas and New Year period. Both feature Christmas but can be read at any time of year.

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It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans

It’s A Wonderful Life is such a lovely Christmas film so when I saw this book I had to buy it. The novel follows Georgia Bailey, who manages a charity shop and one night she gets a call from a suicidal man on a bridge who has mistakenly called the shop instead of the helpline. Georgia knows she should give him the correct number but she finds herself talking to him instead. The next morning Georgia goes to buy a coffee and she hears a man talking and realises it’s the man from the night before. She knows she can’t let on that she knows so she resolves to find a way to help him. This is such a gorgeous novel – it doesn’t shy away from the severity of depression and grief but it also manages to remain a feel-good novel, which is an incredible balancing act. I loved the way the main street in the town is like a character in its own right and I felt like I had been there. I was willing Georgia and Leo on in their quest to bring this town back to life. There is so much love and joy in the novel and I very much enjoyed it. I will definitely be reading more by Jaimie Admans in the future!

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The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale

I bought this book when it was first published and then I borrowed the audio book from the library so I could part read and part listen. I adored this book. It’s such a magical novel and it really took me back to feeling like I did as I read books as a child. I loved the characters in the book – particularly Cathy and Kaspar, I was rooting for them all the way through. There is so much in the novel that made me feel nostalgic and melancholy but I was so enchanted by the magic running throughout it too. I really did enjoy this book and I’ll certainly be reading more by this author in the future too.

Weekly Wrap-Up (5 Jan 20)!

Weekly Wrap up SQUARE copyrighted

This week has been a quiet one for me due to additional medical issues so I’ve been escaping into books.

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I’ve developed something of a superstition in recent times around the first book I read in a new year – being that if it’s a fabulous read then I’m going to have a great reading year. Thankfully my first read of 2020 was Wham! George and Me by Andrew Ridgeley and I really enjoyed it. I read it all in one afternoon on New Year’s Day and it was a perfect start to the year.

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I then read the final third of a book I’d been reading on and off since Christmas – It’s A Wonderful Night by Jaimie Admans and I also really enjoyed this one. It’s festive but not so much so that I couldn’t still enjoy it after Christmas. This is definitely one I’d re-read one year over the festive period.

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The next book I finished was also one I’d started at the end of 2019 and I loved getting lost in the world of The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale. I’d had this on my TBR ever since it was first published and I’m so glad I finally got to it, it really is a gorgeous read.

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After finishing that I picked up The Choice by Claire Wade and I pretty much read it in one sitting. It’s a really gripping, thought-provoking novel. I’ll be reviewing it this week so look out for that!

 

 

 

As for blogging I always love the first week of a new year when I share all my favourite books of the past year and reflect on my reading.

 

 

First I posted my Christmas Book Haul as I was very spoilt with books over the festive period.

Then I shared my Reading Bingo post. I always enjoy putting this post together every year as it’s a chance to reflect on my reading and to share some of the books I’ve read.

Up next was the start of my Favourite Novels of 2019 countdown (I had to split it into two) with the first half of my Top 40 books!

I followed that with my final Top 20 Novels of 2019.

After that I shared my Top 20 NonFiction books that I read in 2019.

On Friday I posted my 2019 Reading Stats post. I love putting this post together and getting the chance to really look at the breakdown of my reading over the year. It’s always so interesting to me to see how my bookish year went.

Yesterday I shared a book haul of the books that I’ve managed to acquire since the beginning of the year!

 

So health-wise it could have been a better week but I’m thrilled with the books I’ve read and the posts I’ve written and shared on my blog so all-in-all I’m happy with how 2020 is going so far! 🙂 How has your week been?

 

My Christmas Book Haul!

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

I was very spoilt by my husband this Christmas with not only a stack of fab-sounding books but also a brand new Kindle Oasis. My Kindle was playing up and near impossible to use so I was beyond thrilled to open an Oasis on Christmas day. It really is a fab device and I’m over the moon with it.

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Now, on to the books he gave me…

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A Guinea Pig Nutcracker

I love guinea pigs and these little books are just fab! They make me smile so much.

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Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy Newman

I was delighted to open this book on Christmas day as it looks like such an interesting read. I’m keen to get to this as soon as I can.

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Look What You Made Me Do by Helen Walmsley-Johnson

This looks like a tough read but it’s one that I’m really intrigued to read.

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Wham! George and Me by Andrew Ridgeley

I’m so excited to have a copy of this as I’ve been so keen to read it. I’ve already started reading this one and it’s everything I hoped it would be so far!

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Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls

This is a book I’ve looked it a couple of times but never got around to buying so I’m thrilled to finally have a hardback copy. This looks like it’ll be a lovely nostalgic read.

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The Confession by Jessie Burton

I’m also excited to get a copy of this book for Christmas as it sounds like such a good read. This won’t be on my TBR for long either.

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Pages and Co. #2: Tilly and the Lost Fairy Tales by Anna James

I read the first book in this series earlier this year and adored it so much that I knew I’d want to read more. I was beyond excited to open this on Christmas day and I can’t wait to read it!

 

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The Institute by Stephen King

My lovely mum-in-law gave me and my husband thisbook to share as she thought we both might like it (amongst other lovely gifts).

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Is Mediatation Only For Buddhists? by Jack Kornfield

My best friend gave me this book, which sounds fascinating. I regularly meditate but have come so far away from the buddhism that I was very interested in years ago so this book sounds like it’ll be a really good read for me.

 

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So this my Christmas book haul and I’m so delighted at everything I was given.

Did you get any books for Christmas? Or did you treat yourself to any new books? I’d love to know what was in your Christmas book haul. Feel free to leave a link to your own post if you’ve written one. 🙂

 

Christmas Book Recommendations!

Today I wanted to share a selection of Christmas books that I’ve read and reviewed in recent years.

 

If you’re running short on time and want to fab festive read then I can recommend the following novellas and short stories:

The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

This is a lovely novella set in the four weeks running up to Christmas. It is magical and sweet and really makes you feel festive! My review is here.

Merry Mistletoe by Emma Davies

This is another beautiful novella set in the weeks running up to Christmas. It’s such a stunning book that I found immensely comforting and it’s a story that has really stayed with me. My review is here.

 

Christmas Spirit by Nicola May

Christmas Spirit is a beautiful, romantic and heart-warming novella and I highly recommend you grab a copy to read over Christmas! My review is here.

The Boy Under the Mistletoe by Katey Lovell

If you’re really, really short on time but want a cute Christmas read then this is the story for you. It’s part of the Meet Cute series and it will warm your heart. It’s the perfect read to escape into during a coffee break! My review is here.

 

If you have time to read a novel (or two or three…) over the festive period then I recommend all the following books:

One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

This is a gorgeous novel set in New York in the run up to Christmas. It has echoes of A Christmas Carol running through it and it’s a wonderful festive novel. My review is here.

How To Stuff Up Christmas by Rosie Blake

This is such a fun read that is perfect to read around Christmas-time. It is full of friendships and romance and recipes (some more successful than others!)! My review is here.

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

This is a lovely romantic novel set in the lead up to Christmas. Interior designer Abby gets a job decorating Nick’s family home and things go from there. It’s really Christmassy and I very much enjoyed it. This has now been made into a film and I loved that too! My review is here.

Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

This is a a really gorgeous novel based on the ideas from It’s A Wonderful Life and I adored it. It really encapsulates so much of what Christmas is and the emotions it brings up. I love this book! My review is here.

The Mince Pie Mix-Up by Jennifer Joyce

This is such a brilliant Christmas novel. A married couple, Judy and Calvin, each feels that the other has the easier time of it so wish to switch lives in the run up to Christmas. One morning they wake up in each other’s bodies and fun ensues as they try to navigate their new roles! This is a really fun festive novel and I really want to re-read it! My review is here.

Snowy Nights at the Lonely Hearts Hotel by Karen King

This is such a lovely festive novel that really does capture Christmas spirit. It is one that I loved last year and I plan on reading it again in the years to come. My review is here.

What Happens At Christmas by T. A. Williams

This novel has everything you could possibly want in a Christmas story! It’s set at Christmas, it’s in a gorgeous location, it’s heart-breaking but more so it’s heart-warming, it has romance, it has crackly log fires, and it has snow! My review is here.

Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

This novel won’t fail to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s just a gorgeous Christmas novel that will give you butterflies and will warm your heart. My review is here.

Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

Christmas Camp is a really festive, feel-good novel and I highly recommend it. This is going on my list of books that I’ll read again in future at this time of year! My review is here.

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

I highly recommend this book, it’s wonderful. It’s one of those books that you can curl up with on a cold day and just escape, and when you’ve finished reading you feel all content and warm and smiley. My review is here.

Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin

This is a very funny and highly entertaining novel that will have you laughing out loud from the very first page! It’s also full of Christmas romance and just so gorgeous – you will not be able to put this book down! My review is here.

Snowday by B. R. Maycock

Snowday is a really engaging, fun read that shows the reality of life but with a fab dose of humour too. It’s such a gorgeous, wintery read and I absolutely loved it! I highly recommend adding this to your festive reading lists. My review is here.

The Snowman by Michael Morpurgo

This is such a lovely, magical book and I would have loved to have had this when I was a child. It’s always a bit of a worry when someone writes a variant of an old favourite but Morpurgo has been so respectful of the original story and this stands alongside it as an extra Snowman story that is just as wonderful. A gorgeous, magical and nostalgic read! My review is here.

And finally here are reviews of four of my favourite Christmas reads from this year.

One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen

One Week ‘Til Christmas is a gorgeous, romantic read that will really get you in the festive spirit! I adored this book and I will definitely re-read it over Christmases to come. My review is here.

The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain

The Christmas Wish List is a very special festive book, one that has stolen a piece of my heart. It is firmly going on my shelf of treasured Christmas books that I try to read every year. I highly recommend this one – it’s truly gorgeous! My review is here.

One Christmas Night by Hayley Webster

This book has sadness and difficult times but it’s still the most gorgeous and festive novel. It’s full of forgiveness and finding solace, it’s about making new memories and finding ways to move on while still remembering what came before. It really does capture the spirit of Christmas and it really is the most beautiful book! I’ll definitely be re-reading it over Christmases to come! I can’t recommend it highly enough! My review is here.

The Other Side of Christmas by Sharon Booth

The Other Side of Christmas really is such a gorgeous festive read, it is the perfect length for the story being told and it leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. My review is here.

 

#BookReview: The Other Side of Christmas by Sharon Booth | @Sharon_Booth1

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Katy’s driving home for Christmas – except an empty, cold caravan hardly seems like home, and it’s not feeling much like Christmas.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this: a few months ago she had her dream cottage, a loving fiance, and big plans for a perfect wedding. Now she’s in her car, travelling through the snow along dark, country lanes, heading towards a Christmas spent by herself, with nothing more to look forward to than a frozen turkey dinner and a box of Quality Street.

With her friends busy with their guests, her parents on a cruise, and her ex-fiance miles away, the only person Katy is expecting to see at all is Luke, the builder who has been working hard to transform Katy’s cottage before it goes up for sale on the other side of Christmas.

Arriving at last in the Holderness village of Weltringham, she’s disappointed to find both the cottage and the caravan in darkness, and Luke nowhere to be seen. It seems everyone in the world has abandoned her to her gloomy fate.

Is she doomed to have the worst festive season ever, or is someone about to save Katy’s Christmas?

 

I read a lovely review of The Other Side of Christmas at Being Anne and knew straight away that I had to put this book on my festive TBR and I’m so glad I did!

I loved this book! It opens with Katy leaving work pretending that she’s going to spend Christmas day with her parents when in reality she’s going to stay in her caravan on her own with no company at all.

As Katy begins her drive home we discover that Christmas wasn’t meant to be like this. Katy was supposed to be living in her dream cottage with her fiance and celebrating plans to marry. Instead she’s on her own as all of her friends are busy, her parents are away and all Katy has is a meal for one in a cold caravan. She’s hoping she might see Luke, the builder who is renovating her cottage but recent phone conversations have been quite stilted.

I was engrossed in the story of Katy and her fiance and was keen to know what had happened to leave her on her own over Christmas. I was also very intrigued by Luke and how he fit into the picture. Most of all I was just rooting for Katy to find happiness again, to get everything she wanted and for her not to be alone.

The sense of place in this novella is wonderful. It’s set in Yorkshire, around Hull, and you really do get a sense of place. It’s a part of the country I know so well having grown up near there. I no longer live there or am able to visit so it’s wonderful to find a novella set there that really brings the place to life in my mind. It gave me such feel-good vibes.

The Other Side of Christmas really is such a gorgeous festive read, it is the perfect length for the story being told and it leaves you feeling all warm and fuzzy inside. I recommend this one!

The Other Side of Christmas is out now and available here.

Last Christmas by Greg Wise & Emma Thompson

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The perfect gift book, featuring the writing of Meryl Streep, Bill Bailey, Emilia Clarke, Olivia Colman, Caitlin Moran, Richard Ayoade, Emily Watson and others, to coincide with the upcoming movie Last Christmas, starring Emma Thompson, Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding.

When you think back to Christmases past, what (if anything) made it magical? Looking towards the future, what would your perfect Christmas be? What would you change? What should we all change?

This is a beautiful, funny and soulful collection of personal essays about the meaning of Christmas, written by a unique plethora of voices from the boulevards of Hollywood to the soup kitchens of Covent Garden.

Away from the John Lewis advert, the high street decorations and the candied orange in Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas pudding, this gem of a book introduced and curated by Emma Thompson and Greg Wise celebrates the importance of kindness and generosity, acceptance and tolerance – and shows us that these values are not just for Christmas.

 

Last Christmas is such a wonderful collection of essays by such a wide range of people and is perfect for reading at Christmas.

I loved that this book has such a mix of people sharing their thoughts on Christmas. There are some lovely nostalgic recollections mixed in with people who struggle with Christmas, there are people who have been homeless at this time of year and people who volunteer at Crisis. It really serves to show the full experience of Christmas and it’s a reminder to remember those who are find this time of year difficult.

The essay that most connected with me was Emilia Clarke’s. She writes of trying to find the perfect gift for her father. She eventually hits on the most perfect and magical gift for him and it’s so wonderfully received. It ended up being her last Christmas with him and that brought a lump to my throat. We did something similar for my mum in what turned out to be her last Christmas and I often think how much I would have regretted it if we’d waited to do it. It’s such a reminder to do things now with the ones we love, don’t wait!

I dipped in and out of this book over a few days and this was such a lovely way to experience these essays. Some days it made me smile, and others made me pause for thought. Overall the feeling the collection as a whole left me with is to be grateful for who, and what, I have in my life and to make sure to make the best that I can of the festive season. I definitely recommend this book!

Last Christmas is out now and available here.

 

Finding Christmas by Karen Schaler

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This year, Emmie can’t wait to share her favourite Christmas traditions with her boyfriend, Grant. So when his hectic work schedule has him more ‘bah humbug’ than ‘ho, ho, ho,’ Emmie creates a holiday-themed scavenger hunt to help him find his festive spirit.

But Emmie’s plan for a romantic mountaintop rendezvous backfires when a mix-up has the wrong guy showing up at Christmas Point. Sam, a bestselling mystery writer, thinks Emmie’s clever clues are from his agent, to help him get over his epic writer’s block. When the two come face-to-face, Emmie sees Sam only as the wrong guy, but Sam, intrigued by Emmie, decides to stay, hoping the small, enchanting town will help inspire a new book idea.

When Grant keeps getting delayed by work, he tells Emmie to start doing the special Christmas activities she planned without him. Emmie is disappointed, until Sam joins her and she starts wondering if the wrong guy is really Mr. Right.

With Christmas coming fast, Emmie will need the magic of the season to help steer her heart in the direction of true love . . .

 

I read Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler last year and really enjoyed it so I was delighted to discover a new book Finding Christmas this year and I loved it even more!

After reading a mixed bag of Christmas novels so far this year I’m delighted to say that Finding Christmas is jam-packed with Christmas!

Emmie is known as Miss Christmas as she absolutely loves the season. She starts her preparations early and she can’t resist adding more and more to her festive decor as Christmas draws near. Her boyfriend Grant is a workaholic though and he doesn’t really get Emmie’s love of Christmas. She decides to arrange a romantic Christmas break for them and she invites him along by setting up a scavenger hunt. Then there’s Sam, a mystery writer, who also loves Christmas but he’s struggling with writer’s block this year. So when his agent promises to help him and he gets given the first clue in a scavenger hunt he happily follows along!

Once Emmie is aware of the mix-up she gets hold of Grant and he promises to join her the next day but he keeps getting delayed by work. Sam is so embarrassed that he’s accidentally ended up in Christmas Point but he’s determined to enjoy it. So Sam and Emmie do some of the activities on Emmie’s list and they find that they have a lot in common!

Christmas Point is the ultimate festive town – there is snow and Christmas trees, hot chocolate and gingerbread. The Inn where Emmie stays is so well-described that I could completely envisage it all, it feels like somewhere I’ve been to. And I adored getting to know Dasher the dog, he was my favourite character in the book!

I really liked the way the characters in this book honoured their lost loved ones in the run up to Christmas. I know in my own life that I have things that I do each year in honour of my late mum. The scene in Finding Christmas with the snowmen brought tears to my eyes, it was so lovely.

My only slight criticism is that I didn’t like the promotion of Schaler’s other work towards the end of the novel, it took me out of the story somewhat. If I ignore that tiny element then I can honestly say that this book is a perfect read for anyone who wants a festive read that is truly all about Christmas. It really got me in the festive spirit and I adored it. Finding Christmas is Christmas personified and I very much enjoyed it. If you want a Christmas book that is full of festive spirit then this is the book for you! I recommend this one!

Finding Christmas is out now and available here.

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

It’s a Secret-Santa-off today as I review Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo and The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux!

Today I’m sharing mini reviews in the battle of the secret santas!

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The Secret Santa by Trish Harnetiaux

I love reading festive books in December and it’s always nice to mix up the romance with the crime fiction to keep it interesting! The Secret Santa is about secrets and murder in Aspen in the run up to Christmas! Real estate agent Claudine decides to combine the office secret santa with showing off a fabulous house to a pop star who is a potential buyer. It seems this house has a lot of history and someone in this group knows more than they’re letting on. I do love stories where a group of people come together and you know the past is going to catch up with them so this book was right up my street. I loved the snowy Aspen location and I enjoyed getting to know the characters. The secret santa game is done in such a way that it’s intense and people are clearly on edge as the gift giving goes along. The only thing for me was that I didn’t think the reader really had a chance at solving the whole mystery, it all felt a little out of nowhere but having said that there are more than one elements to the secret and the other reveals were brilliant. I enjoyed this book and will definitely look out for more by this author.

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Love, Secret Santa by S. A. Domingo

This book is set in a secondary school and follows Angel Green as she’s revising hard for her scholarship exam and also gets involved in organising the school Christmas fundraiser with her estranged friend Caspar. This school also has an annual secret santa so throughout the month of December everyone receives gifts from a person chosen at random. Angel’s gifts seem really quite meaningful and she’s incredibly curious about who might be behind them. As Angel and Caspar work together on the fundraiser they begin to remember how much fun they had together as children and wonder if they could be friends again but Caspar is flaky and often leaves Angel to deal with the fundraiser at the last minute. She is frustrated by this and can’t work out what is going on with him. I enjoyed this book, it’s an incredibly sweet YA novel set in the run up to Christmas. It reminded me of being a teen and the way you would have no idea if someone likes you or not, and you’re too scared to try and find out. It’s a nostalgic read and I’m really glad I read it.

When Stars Will Shine by Emma Mitchell | @emmamitchellfpr @BakerPromo #WhenStarsWillShine

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About the Book

When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

 

My Thoughts

I was delighted to be invited to take part in the blog tour for When Stars Will Shine compiled by Emma Mitchell. This is a short story collection from a wide range of authors and it’s such a brilliant read. All the proceeds from this book go to Help for Heroes.

I don’t read a lot of short story collections because I tend to find the stories get blurred together in my mind but When Stars Will Shine is packed with such excellent stories that they’ve genuinely all remained distinct in my mind. There is such a variety in the type of stories and that made this such an exciting collection to read, there really is something for everyone in this book.

The collection opens with a beautiful and poignant poem by 11 year old Megan Steer which sets the bar really high and every single story lives up to it. There are stories about redemption, about loss, about family and love. There are twists and surprises galore, it’s such a brilliant collection!

I can’t really pick a favourite story as I genuinely enjoyed them all but I will mention some of them briefly here:

The opening story is Frederick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman is such a poignant and moving story. Likewise, Malcom Hollingdrake’s Died of Wounds is stunning and a real tear-jerker. I find stories from either of the World Wars heartbreaking – my lovely Nan lost her father in WW1 and her husband went missing presumed dead fighting in WW2. These two stories just got me in the gut and made me cry but it really does give you a sense of the loss and pain of the war but also a sense of hope that comes in the aftermath and in the generations that follow.

Believe by Mark Brownless is a really clever story. It begins as something that feels lovely and heart-warming and by the end my head was spinning. I love a story that can completely catch me off guard and this one certainly did that!

Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell is one of those perfect stories to read on a dark, cold night in the run up to Christmas, it had me gripped and I wasn’t sure how it was going to end. Excellent story!

Stewart Giles’ Free Time is such a well-written story. He has created a story that is so believable and scary to begin with and then it become even more horrifying as it goes along. I can’t stop thinking about this story and I now need to read more by this author!

I’m a huge fan of Louise Jensen‘s novels so was delighted to find a short story by her in this collection. Her story The Christmas Killer is brilliant! It appears to be a story about a lonely older man struggling to get through the festive period but it takes an unexpectedly dark turn!

Billy McLoughlin’s The Invitation is a gorgeous story about forgiveness, about finding people you’ve lost along the way and being able to move on from the past. This is a lovely story to read at this time of year and it’s one that is really staying with me.

Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli is such a heart-warming story, I adored this one. It shows how a small act of kindness can make a much bigger difference in life than you ever might imagine. A wonderful story for Christmas!

Jane Risdon’s Penance had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. This is a creepy, sad story that I was gripped by. I had no idea where it was going or how it was going to end. I loved it!

The collection ends with Family Time by Graham Smith and this story was brilliant! It’s one of those stories where you’re not quite sure where it’s going, it feels a little sinister as if violence is just around the corner but nothing is quite as it seems. I felt emotional by the end. An excellent story for this time of year.

When Stars Will Shine is a phenomenal collection of short stories that also serves as a fabulous taster menu for discovering new authors. My wish list is now huge with books by all the authors in this collection as every single story is so good that I now want to read more by each and every one of them. I highly recommend this book, it’s one I know I’ll re-read in the years to come and it’s one I think everyone will enjoy!

 

Here is the full contents page for the book:

Fredrick Snellgrove, Private 23208 by Rob Ashman

Four Seasons by Robert Scragg

The Close Encounter by Gordon Bickerstaff

Believe by Mark Brownless

What Can Possibly Go Wrong? by Lucy Cameron

Mountain Dew by Paul T. Campbell

The Art of War and Peace by John Carson

A Gift for Christmas by Kris Egleton

Free Time by Stewart Giles

Died of Wounds by Malcolm Hollingdrake

The Christmas Killer by Louise Jensen

The Village Hotel by Alex Kane

A Present of Presence by HR Kemp

The Invitation by Billy McLaughlin

Brothers Forever by Paul Moore

Girl in a Red Shirt by Owen Mullen

Pivotal Moments by Anna Franklin Osborne

Uncle Christmas by Val Portelli

Time for a Barbeque by Carmen Radtke

Christmas Present by Lexi Rees

Inside Out by KA Richardson

Penance by Jane Risdon

New Year’s Resolution by Robert Scragg

Family Time by Graham Smith

 

Many thanks to Emma Mitchell for my copy of this book and the invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

 

When Stars Will Shine is out now in paperback and ebook and is available here.

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Blog Tour Week One NEW

Blog Tour Week Two NEW

One Christmas Night by Hayley Webster

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About the Book

Nine lives. One street. And a secret behind every door.

Christmas is ruined on Newbury Street, Norwich.

Presents have been going missing from resident’s homes. There are rumours going around that it’s one of their own who’s been stealing from the neighbours. Festive spirit is being replaced with suspicion and the inhabitants of Newbury Street don’t know who to trust. The police presence isn’t helping matters, especially when they all have something to hide.

But Christmas is a time for miracles… and if they open themselves up to hope and look out for each other, they might discover the biggest miracle of all.

 

My Thoughts

Oh my goodness, I’ve just found my new favourite Christmas book in One Christmas Night! The novel follows nine people who all live in the same street, and each of them have their secrets! It’s almost Christmas and someone has been stealing presents and food from the residents’ homes and rumours abound that it’s someone who lives in their street.

There is a lot of suspicion and sadness in this book but the overwhelming takeaway from it is the sense of community and kindness that comes from darkness.

The novel opens on Christmas Eve with an unidentified person breaking into a home and gleefully stealing their gifts and food. It was horrible to think of someone doing this, especially at Christmas. We then get to meet the inhabitants of Newbury Street.

Poor Joanie has a dreadful shock early in the book and she was already feeling down. I really connected with her. She is struggling as it’s ten months since her beloved mum died, her dad is already in a new relationship and Joannie just wants to make Christmas how her mum made it. She’s frazzled and grieving. I remember my last Christmas with my mum when she was so ill, and the first one after she died. It’s never the same when you’ve lost someone important. I love how Joannie loves Christmas so much that she’s determined to keep going however hard it is. Hayley Webster captures life in such a beautiful way and her writing moved me to tears more than once as I read this book.

All the residents of Newbury Street know of each other but it’s a typical street in that some neighbours are friends, some know each other to say hello to and others are suspicious of each other. I loved how the owners of the local pub try to bring everyone together on Christmas Eve with a fundraiser.

The way the kinder residents of this street pull together and support each other made my heart sing. I turned the final page of this book and just felt such peace. This book has sadness and difficult times but it’s still the most gorgeous and festive novel. It’s full of forgiveness and finding solace, it’s about making new memories and finding ways to move on while still remembering what came before. It really does capture the spirit of Christmas and it really is the most beautiful book! I’ll definitely be re-reading it over Christmases to come! I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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

One Christmas Night is out now and available here.

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman | @LucyColemanauth @Aria_Fiction @rararesources

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About the Book

Christmas and romance are in the air…

It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.

So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?

Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!

 

My Thoughts

I was drawn to this book by the gorgeous festive cover and I’m really happy to say that the novel really lives up to it!

Magic Under the Mistletoe opens on 23rd December as Leesa is flying back to England to spend Christmas with her ex in-laws. The man she is working for, Cary, is on the same flight but whilst he’s up in first class, Leesa is crammed in economy and he keeps sending her more edits to do. As they finally land in England the snow is falling heavily and there’s no way for Leesa to get where she’s going right away so Cary offers to take her to his family’s home. Misunderstandings happen immediately when Cary’s grandmother assumes Leesa is his girlfriend and no one corrects her. This leads to Leesa and Cary forming a pact where they’ll pretend they’re together to help each other out over the holiday season!

This novel spans the course of a year but it opens with Christmas and it ends the following Christmas so there is a lot of the festive season in the book, which I loved. The year-long timespan gives space to really get to know Cary and Leesa, and they both have issues in their lives. There is some tough themes in the novel but they are handled really well and in a believable way. It’s cleverly handled because it grounds the book in reality but there is a real sense of fun and festivity throughout, and this is how real life is.

I loved Cary’s grandmother Cressida, she was adorable and I want to adopt her as my gran! She is desperate for both of her grandsons to be happy and loved but she’s never too interfering. I also loved the house she lives in – it’s a huge house but it sounded so cosy and warm. I could totally picture the huge Christmas tree in the hall and the decorations running throughout the house. It really made me feel festive as I was reading, and I already want to re-visit!

This is the first book I’ve read by Lucy Colman but it definitely won’t be the last! Magic Under the Mistletoe is a gorgeous, warm-hearted novel that will give you all of the Christmas feels! I recommend it!

Many thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book and the invitation to take part in the blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

Magic Under the Mistletoe is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. She writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

Website: https://linnbhalton.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LucyColemanAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LucyColemanAuth 

 

Giveaway to Win a Signed paperback copy of Snowflakes over Holly Cove and Christmas Pamper Pack. (UK only)

Mistletoe prize Rachel

Click here to enter the giveaway!

 

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

 

 

You can find the rest of the tour at the following blogs:

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One Week ‘Til Christmas by Belinda Missen| @belinda_missen @rararesources

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About the Book

Two people. One chance meeting. Seven days to Christmas.

Isobel Bennett is waiting for the number 11 bus when a man quite literally falls into her lap. Snow is falling, Christmas lights are twinkling, and a gorgeous man with dark brown hair has just slipped on ice and is now pressed against Isobel.

Isobel knows she’s not imagining the chemistry between them. But then his ride arrives and, embarrassed, he beats a hasty retreat, murmuring apologies – and Isobel realises only too late that she didn’t manage to catch his name…

When she runs into him again the next morning, she decides it’s fate.

It’s a second chance for Isobel and Tom – but there’s only one week until she’s leaving London for good. Seven days of enjoying all the festive delights the city has to offer: ice-skating at Somerset House, mulled wine on the Southbank, Christmas shopping at Liberty.

There’s magic in the air and mistletoe in the trees – but what will happen when the week is over?

 

My Thoughts

I’ve been so looking forward to reading One Week ‘Til Christmas ever since I first saw the gorgeous festive cover and I’m really happy to be able to say that the novel absolutely lives up to it!

One Week ‘Til Christmas follows travel journalist Isobel as she arrives in London for a short holiday. As she waits for a bus to her friend’s house a random stranger runs into her and there is definitely some sparks between the two! Both go on their way and that seems to be that but then there is another random meeting the next day and it seems to be fate!

This is such a gorgeous novella set in London in the week leading up to Christmas. It has romance and snow, Christmas markets, ice skating and lots of lovely-sounding food! Everything is described so beautifully that I feel like I have been to all of the places in this book.

The romance in this book is a total whirlwind! Tom and Isobel spend a lot of time together in the few short days that Isobel is in London but their romance felt completely believable to me, I got completely swept up in it. I love how they spend so much time walking around London landmarks, and seeing all the Christmassy sights whilst talking about their lives and hopes and dreams. It felt very romantic and so possible.

One Week ‘Til Christmas is a gorgeous read that will really get you in the festive spirit! I adored this book and I will definitely re-read it over Christmases to come. I recommend this one!

Many thanks to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for my copy of this book and for my blog tour invitation.

One Week ‘Til Christmas is published today and available here.

 

About the Author

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Author and sometimes foodie, Belinda is a ridiculous romantic who met her husband after being set up by a friend two states away.

Residing in country Victoria, surrounded by books, cat-fur, and half-eaten cake, Belinda divides her days between writing rom-coms, baking, and indulging her love of comic books.

Social Media Links –

www.belindamissen.com

facebook.com/BelindaMissen

twitter.com/belinda_missen

Instagram @belinda_missen

 

You can find the rest of this blog tour at the following stops:

 

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The Christmas Wish List by Heidi Swain | @Heidi_Swain @TeamBATC #TheChristmasWishList

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About the Book

After being let go from her job in a swanky hotel just weeks before Christmas, Hattie is feeling lost. Even more so when her high-flying boyfriend announces he’s landed his dream job in Abu Dhabi and asks her to move with him. Luckily, Hattie’s long-time friend Dolly is on hand to help and invites Hattie to spend one last holiday in the small, festive town of Wynbridge, determined to give her a Christmas to remember . . .

Upon Hattie’s arrival, holiday preparations are in full swing. But for Hattie, whose Christmas cheer has long since run out, it’ll take more than mince pies and mistletoe to open her heart to the season once more. Relishing the task of reigniting Hattie’s Christmas spirit, Dolly suggests they create a wish list of all the things the season can offer, and with the helpful hands of Wynbridge’s resident handyman, Beamish, Hattie finds her frosty exterior is starting to thaw.

As Wynbridge prepares for its most spectacular Christmas yet, will Hattie leave snowy England behind for life in a sunnier clime, or will she in fact realise that her heart’s desire lies much closer to home?

 

My Thoughts

I was so excited to find that I’d recently won a copy of The Christmas Wish List in a giveaway and I just knew it had to be my first festive read of the year. I’m really happy that this is how I kicked off my festive reading because this book is simply gorgeous!

We follow Hattie as she is unexpectedly made redundant from her job at a swanky hotel, she wasn’t expecting it. And then her boyfriend announces that he has just been offered his dream job in Abu Dhabi and wants her to go with him! This all seems like perfect timing and the chance for a brand new start for Hattie but she’s just feeling a bit lost and overwhelmed with all that’s happening. So she decides to take up her old friend Dolly’s invitation to stay with her in the gorgeous village Wynbridge.

As soon as Hattie arrives in Wynbridge she begins to relax, and I could feel the weight falling from my own shoulders as I felt I was right there with her. Dolly is such a wonderful character – she’s shrewd and she can see Hattie isn’t happy but she doesn’t push her to talk about it. Instead she suggests that the two of them make a Christmas wish list of all the things they want to do in the run up to the festive season. Hattie isn’t all that bothered about Christmas ever since she fell out with her parents a few years earlier but she feels she should join in for Dolly’s sake. Dolly enlists Beamish, a very handsome school caretaker, to help with some of the items on the wish list and there is a definite attraction between him and Hattie!

This book is full of love and joy as we get nearer to Christmas but it’s not all smooth-sailing for Hattie. She inevitably has to work out how she really feels about Beamish, and more importantly how she feels about her boyfriend. She begins to realise that she perhaps wasn’t as happy as she thought she was and that things need to change.

There are some really heartfelt moments in this novel and they did make me cry a little bit. They brought back memories of things in my own life from years past but it was lovely as it made me recall some of the happiest of memories.

I adored this book! It’s the perfect novel to curl up with in the period leading up to Christmas as this is the time spanned in the book. As the residents of Wynbridge begin their Christmas preparations, it starts to feel a little magical and then you find yourself completely swept away in all the wonderful, heart-warming things that Hattie and Dolly, and Beamish, are ticking off their wish list. Before you know it your heart is bursting with festive feelings and you’ll be wanting to put your Christmas decorations up (even though it’s only October)!

The Christmas Wish List is a very special festive book, one that has stolen a piece of my heart. It is firmly going on my shelf of treasured Christmas books that I try to read every year. I highly recommend this one – it’s truly gorgeous!

Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for my copy of this book and for my blog tour invitation. All thoughts are my own.

The Christmas Wish List is out now and available here.

 

You can follow the rest of this blog tour at the following stops:

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Cover Reveal: When Stars Will Shine complied by Emma Mitchell | #WhenStarsWillShine @BakerPromo @emmamitchellfpr @Lets_Get_Booked @TheQuietKnitter

I’m delighted today to be taking part in the cover reveal for the Christmas short story collection When Stars Will Shine compiled by Emma Mitchell in aid of Help for Heroes!

 

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Isn’t this cover absolutely stunning?! I’m going to be counting the days now until I can read the stories inside!

 

About the Book

When Stars Will Shine is a collection of short stories from your favourite authors who have come together to deliver you a Christmas read with a twist.

With true war tales that will break your heart, gritty Christmas crimes that will shake you to your core, and heart warming tales of love lost and found, this anthology has something for everyone. And, with every penny made being sent to support our troops, you can rest assured that you’re helping our heroes, one page at a time.

From authors such as Louise Jensen, Graham Smith, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Lucy Cameron, Val Portelli, and Alex Kane, you are in for one heck of a ride!

When Stars Will Shine is due to be published on 9th December and can be pre-ordered here.

 

A Note From Emma Mitchell:

As the blurb tells us, When Stars Will Shine is a multi-genre collection of Christmas themed short stories complied to raise money for our armed forces and every penny made from the sales of both the digital and paperback copies will be donated to the charity.

Working closely with Kate Noble at Noble Owl Proofreading and Amanda Ni Odhrain from Let’s Get Booked, I’ve been able to pick the best of the submissions to bring you a thrilling book which is perfect for dipping into at lunchtime or snuggling up with on a cold winter’s night. I have been completely blown away by the support we’ve received from the writing and blogging community, especially the authors who submitted stories and Shell Baker from Baker’s Not So Secret Blog, who has organised the cover reveal and blog tour.

When Stars Will Shine is available for pre-order now and will be published on 9 December 2019.

There isn’t anyone in the country who hasn’t benefited from the sacrifices our troops, past and present, have made for us and they all deserve our thanks.

It has been an honour to work on these stories and to create this anthology and I hope you enjoy reading the stories as much as I have.

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My Christmas Book Haul! Stacking the Shelves (29 Dec 2018)! #Christmas #bookhaul

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Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews and Reading Reality, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

 

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I haven’t done a Stacking the Shelves post for a little while now but I was super spoilt by my husband who gave me a mountain(!) of books for Christmas and I wanted to share my lovely book haul!

 

First up the novels:

 

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The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

I’ve been wanting to read this book ever since it was first published so I was hoping to get a copy for Christmas. It was the last gift I opened and it rounded off such a perfect day.

 

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The Burning Chambers by Kate Mosse

This is another book that I’ve had my eye on but it’s a bit intimidating seeing just how big it is! I’m looking forward to getting completely swept up in this novel.

 

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A Keeper by Graham Norton

I hadn’t seen this book in real life until I opened it on Christmas day and it really is a gorgeous looking book. I have high hopes for the story inside, fingers crossed it’s as good as the cover!

 

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A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe

This is a novel that I knew nothing about but reading the blurb it sounds like a really good read.

 

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The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

I’ve had this on my wishlist for a while so I was delighted to open this parcel on Christmas day. I think this will be a quick read so I plan on reading it very soon.

 

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After the Crash by Michel Bussi

Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi

Don’t Let Go by Michel Bussi

I’ve never read any Michel Bussi but his books sound like my kind of reads so I was happy to open three of his novels and hope to read them soon.

 

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A Table Near the Band by A. A. Milne

Chloe Marr by A. A. Milne

Mr Pim Passes By by A. A. Milne

Two People by A. A. Milne

Four Days’ Wonder by A. A. Milne

It was not long before Christmas when these books were recommended to me and they sounds like just the kind of books I like to read when I’m not feeling well. It was fab to open these gorgeous new editions and I’m keen to read these!

 

A poetry collection:

 

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The Latest Winter by Maggie Nelson

I adore Maggie Nelson’s writing so was delighted to open this poetry collection on Christmas morning. This book has such a gorgeous cover I want to have it on show on my bookcase!

 

Some new non-fiction:

 

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Missions to the Moon by Rod Pyle

Ever since I was a young child I’ve been fascinated by space travel and the moon landings. Opening this book on Christmas day took me right back to the excitement I had as a child! This book has stunning photos and is also full of augmented reality so when it mentions a speech or a take off you can scan it on your phone or iPad and watch it there and then. I’ve been reading this book on and off ever since Christmas and I love it!

 

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Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

I’ve done a lot of work on both my physical and mental health this year and am keen to do more next year so this book feels like it’ll be a perfect read for the start of the year to help me focus on keeping my life as stress-free as possible.

 

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Dear Mr Murray by David McClay

This is a beautiful book of letters sent to the publisher Mr Murray. I’ve only flicked through it so far but I can already see that this is going to be an utter delight to dip in and out of.

 

Some gorgeous childrens’/middle grade fiction:

 

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The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch Strikes Again by Jill Murphy

A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch All At Sea by Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch Saves the Day by Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch to the Rescue by Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch and the Wishing Star by Jill Murphy

I completely and utterly adored the worst witch books as a child but my copies sadly got lost a long time ago. Recently I’ve been longing to read these books again so it made me so happy to open this lovely boxset of the first seven books in the series!

 

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The Trials of Morrigan Crow: Nevermoor #1 by Jessica Townsend

I’ve heard so much about this middle grade book and have been so keen to read it so it was wonderful to find a copy of it under the Christmas tree this year. I can’t wait to read this in January when I know I’ll need the boost.

 

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Tilly and the Bookwanderers: Pages and Co. #1 by Anna James

This is another middle grade book that I’ve been wanting to read. This is such a beautiful book and I’m so happy to have this in hardback. I really want to read this book right now but I’m going to save it for next month when I know it will be a soothing book to get completely lost in.

 

Two gift books from a friend and my mum-in-law:

 

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Grumbles, Grizzles and Gripes: A Little Book of Grumpy Moments

My very good friend and I always seem to be putting the world to rights every time we talk so this gift from her gave me a giggle when I opened it. It’s a fun book to dip in and out of, I love it!

 

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The Story of Brexit: A Ladybird Book

This was a stocking filler for me and my husband from my mum-in-law and gave us such a wry laugh when we opened it. It’s actually an amusing book, and it also reminded me of all the ladybird books I used to read as a child.

 

So that’s my amazing Christmas book haul. I still can’t believe how many books I got this year, it’s a real book mountain! My husband really spoilt me as he also got me two records (Green by REM, which is one of the first albums I ever bought when I was a child but I’ve never owned it on vinyl! And Everyone Else Is Doing it, so Why Can’t We? by The Cranberries. I adored this album, and still love it to this day but again have never owned it on vinyl so it’s fab to have a copy of it now). He also bought me a Dyson Supersonic hairdryer! That was a total surprise and utterly perfect timing as my old hairdryer literally stopped working the day before Christmas Eve!

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I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and that you got some lovely new books to read. I’d love to see the books you were gifted or have bought for yourself recently so please either tell me about them in the comments or leave a link to your blog if you have a book haul post up.

#BookReview: The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan @Susan_Buchanan @rararesources

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About the Book

Christmas is coming, but not everyone is looking forward to it.

Rebecca has just been dumped and the prospect of spending the holiday period with her parents is less than appealing.

Eighty- two year old Stanley lost his beloved wife, Edie, to cancer. How will he cope with his first Christmas without her?

Jacob’s university degree hasn’t helped him get a job, and it looks like he’ll still be signing on come New Year.

Workaholic Meredith would rather spend December 25th at home alone with a ready meal and a DVD box set. Can anything make her embrace the spirit of the season?

The enigmatic Natalie Hope takes over the reins at the Sugar and Spice bakery and café in an attempt to spread some festive cheer and restore Christmas spirit, but will she succeed?

My Thoughts

The Christmas Spirit is a gorgeous festive novella. We meet Natalie who has come to run the local cake shop for the weeks leading up to Christmas, and there is definitely something magical and sparkly about her. In the town there are a handful of people who need Natalie’s help and she’s determined to sort their lives out.

Stanley was my favourite character in the book. He’s a lonely widower who’s lost without his wife. I was so hoping that he would find a purpose and some happiness. There is also Rebecca who is a meek character that can’t seem to stand up for herself. She works for Meredith who seems like an awful, uncaring woman. Then there’s Jacob, a recent graduate who can’t find a job even though he’s trying so hard.

Natalie is a fabulous character. She hits the ground running at the cake shop and is a whirlwind at baking. All the new cakes sounded amazing and my mouth was watering every time one was described! She quickly brings real warmth and heart to the cafe and makes time for all the customers. I feel like she worked her magic on everyone in the town, not just the four people she was there to help. 

The Christmas Spirit is set from the 1st December right up until Christmas so it’s full of festivity and sparkle. I loved this novella, it warmed my heart! I definitely recommend picking this up in the run up to Christmas!

I received a copy of this book from Rachel at Rara Resourses. All thoughts are my own.

The Christmas Spirit is out now and available here.

About the Author

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Susan Buchanan lives in Scotland with her husband and their two children. She is the author of four novels: Return of the Christmas Spirit, The Christmas Spirit, The Dating Game, and Sign of the Times. She is currently working on books five and six: The Proposal and Just One Day.

Susan is also a proofreader, editor and translator, and when not working, writing, or caring for her two delightful cherubs, loves reading, the theatre, quiz shows and eating out – not necessarily in that order!

Social Media Links

Facebook – www.facebook.com/susan.buchanan.author

Twitter – susan_buchanan

Blog – Sooz’s journal – www.susancbuchanan.blogspot.co.uk

#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.

#BookReview: The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson @millyjohnson @simonschusterUK #ChristmasReads

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About the Book

Eve Glace – co-owner of the theme park Winterworld – is having a baby and her due date is a perfectly timed 25th December. And she’s decided that she and her husband Jacques should renew their wedding vows with all the pomp that was missing the first time. But growing problems at Winterworld keep distracting them …

Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, and are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child. But when Annie finds that the changes happening to her body aren’t typical of the menopause but pregnancy, her joy is uncontainable.

Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will get her out of the gutter in which she finds herself. But when the couple she is helping split up, is she going to be left carrying a baby she never intended to keep?

Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Christmas Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor to help mums-to-be mingle and share their pregnancy journeys. Will this group help each other to find love, contentment and peace as Christmas approaches?

 

My Thoughts

I’m fully immersed in my Christmas reading now and my most recent festive read was The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson!

This is a lovely novel following three women. Palma has agreed to act as a surrogate for a couple as she desperately needs money. She’s such a sweet young woman and all through the novel I was wanting life to work out for her. Annie runs a Christmas cracker factory with her husband. She’s in her late 40s and is living with the sadness that comes with having been unable to have a child and now seems to be starting the menopause. Eve owns Winterland, a Christmas theme park and finds herself pregnant and planning her vow renewal service for the festive season!

All three women were such great characters and I enjoyed reading about all of them. The peripheral characters were all so brilliant too – I especially loved Iris! Milly Johnson is so good at writing really believable characters, all of the people in this book felt real and that gave it such warmth.

This book isn’t set entirely at Christmas, it’s more the few months leading up to it but it does still feature a reasonable amount of the holiday period and Christmas planning. There are such gorgeous friendships formed in this book that it felt like it really embodied the Christmas spirit and I loved it!

This is a light-hearted read but it has some real heart-felt moments in it too. The sad moments are handled so sensitively and the real Yorkshire spirit that comes from some of the characters helps bring the novel back to being light, without ever dismissing the harder times. This is my new favourite Milly Johnson book, I very much enjoyed it! I definitely recommend this one!

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

The Mother of All Christmases is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Milly Johnson was born in Barnsley, raised in Barnsley and still lives in Barnsley – although she did study in Exeter for four years and emigrate to Haworth in West Yorkshire in the 1980s. She trained as an actress, teacher, an accountant, a Customer Services and Suggestion Scheme Manager as well as working in a variety of administrative posts for companies dealing with anything from antique furniture to plastic injection moulded poop scoops. Eventually she found a happy existence writing poems and jokes for the greetings card world – helping to kick off the hugely successful Purple Ronnie project – which she still does on a part time basis whilst penning her novels.

#BookReview: Snowday by B R Maycock @BRMaycock #Snowday

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About the Book

Sometimes hot cocoa just isn’t enough to keep you warm in the snow…

Eloise is too busy juggling the chaos of three kids, an ever present ex-husband and a demanding boss to even remember the last time dating crossed her mind.

But as soft snow falls silently all around, romance twinkles with the flakes.

After being single for so long, Eloise suddenly has a lot of choices. Too many choices. Will anyone be worthy of melting the guard around her heart to let love in?

My Thoughts

At this time of year I can’t resist books with gorgeous snowy covers and Snowday definitely caught my eye with its festive cover! I’m so pleased to say that the novel itself totally lives up to the cover and I loved this book.

Eloise is recently separated from her husband and is struggling to juggle their three children and a full-time job. Her estranged husband loves the children but turns up randomly to see them making Eloise’s life even more stressful. He’s also in a new relationship and she’s not sure how she feels about that.

Over the course of the book we see the love Eloise has for her children and what a great mum she is. She clearly loves her family but just wishes her life was a little less hectic. Things become more interesting when she finds herself with two potential love interests and a neighbour across the road who seems to blow very hot and cold with his attitude towards her.

Eloise spends a lot of her time feeling utterly frazzled, trying to be everything to everyone. Her attempts at dating were very amusing. I don’t have children but I remember what it was like to be going on dates again after coming out of a long term relationship and I felt for her. She’s such a genuine and relatable character and I was rooting for her to find some happiness for herself.

I loved how as the novel heads towards Christmas, and Eloise is gradually making peace with the way her life has turned out, there is another surprise in store for her. This is a book that’s full of honesty about family life and break-ups and yet packed with humour and joy too.

Snowday is a really engaging, fun read that shows the reality of life but with a fab dose of humour too. It’s such a gorgeous, wintery read and I absolutely loved it! I highly recommend adding this to your festive reading lists.

Many thanks to Bernadette Maycock for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Snowday is out now and available here.

About the Author

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When Bernadette Maycock isn’t dreaming up vibrant leads for romantic comedies, she’s ingesting books for her blog (https://brmaycock.wordpress.com/), in particular chick lit (her first love!) books, romantic comedies and thrillers. She can also be found playing footie or watching Marvel, DC or Star Wars movies and cartoons in Co. Westmeath, Ireland with her brilliantly out there husband, Keith, and their four epic little men.

Her debut ‘It Started With A Snub’ and Christmas romantic comedy ‘Snowday’ are available now on Amazon, and Bernadette is currently working on a three part series about AbbeyGlen Village, whose luck is about to change …

#BookReview: Christmas Spirit by Nicola May @nicolamay1 @rararesources

Christmas Spirit

About the Book

It’s two days before Christmas – and Evie Harris finds herself both manless and jobless. After a chance encounter with handsome Greg (and egged on by her toy-boy-eating friend, Bea) she agrees to work at a homeless shelter on Christmas Day.
Striking up an unlikely friendship with homeless Yves, Evie begins an unwitting journey of spiritual awakening, all set against the sparkling winter backdrop of London landmarks.
A New Year’s Eve revelation is on its way . . . but will it leave Evie with a happy heart, or will she allow the pre-Christmas past to dictate her future?

 

My Thoughts

I’m delighted to be helping out on the blog tour for Christmas Spirit today and sharing my review of this gorgeous novella!

Christmas Spirit is about Evie. It’s almost Christmas and she’s utterly fed up having just split up with her boyfriend. On a night out with a friend a man asks her to help out at the homeless shelter over the festive period and Evie is persuaded to say yes; this decision changes her life!

I adored this book! First off I was utterly delighted to find that Christmas Spirit is set entirely between Christmas and New Year! I can’t help but be disappointed when there isn’t much mention of the holidays in a supposedly festive book so I can assure readers who feel like me that Christmas Spirit has all the festive feelings you could want in a novella!

I really felt for Evie throughout this book, especially around her sadness at having lost her beloved mum. I know how much harder everything feels when you no longer have a mum to turn to so I was rooting for her from the start. Breaking up with a boyfriend and not being able to call your mum makes it really tough. I was glad that Evie had such a good friend in Bea, she is such a great character and I knew she would make sure Evie was okay.

I was intrigued when Evie first met Yves; it seemed very apparent that there was something special about him but it wasn’t what I was expecting. He opens Evie’s eyes to all the beauty that is still around her, despite her loneliness and her recent break up. The way we get to see London throughout this novella is just magical.

The very end of this Christmas Spirit had me sobbing, it was so perfect and so beautiful and it just made this book really special for me. It’s made this a novella that I won’t ever forget and it will be on my list of Christmas books to re-read in the years to come.

Christmas Spirit is a beautiful, romantic and heart-warming novella and I highly recommend you grab a copy to read over Christmas!

My thanks to Rachel of Rachels Random Resources for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Christmas Spirit is out now and available here.

 

About the Author

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Nicola May lives near the famous Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan.  Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks – and, naturally, enjoying a flutter on the horses.

Nicola likes to write about love, life and friendship in a realistic way, describing her novels as ‘chicklit with a kick’.

She has written eight novels, with Christmas Spirit being her first novella.

 

Follow Nicola May

Website – www.nicolamay.com

Facebook –https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMayAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/nicolamay1

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/author_nicola/

 

You can find the rest of this tour at the following blogs:

Christmas Spirit Full Tour Banner

My Christmas book haul… Stacking the Shelves (13 Jan)!

Christmas Book Haul!

It’s Stacking the Shelves day! Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews, which is all about sharing the books that you’ve acquired in the past week!

I was very spoilt at Christmas by my husband who got me lots of fabulous gifts including a Sonos speaker with built-in Alexa, which I love because I can now just ask it to read me my audiobooks! Seeing as my blog is a book blog though today’s Stacking the Shelves post is all about my Christmas book haul! I know we’re already well into January now but I’ve had a horrible virus and so am slower than usual to post this.

Anyway, here is the book mountain I received…

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There are twenty-four books in total and I’m so excited to read every single one of them!

 

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Winter by Ali Smith

The books included the gorgeous new Ali Smith book, Winter, which I’m currently reading and very much enjoying.

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Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

I also got the beautiful new hardback edition of Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I’ve already read this – I spent a whole afternoon curled up reading it from cover to cover and it felt like such a treat.

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David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones

I can’t resist biographies of David Bowie so I was very happy to open this new one on Christmas morning. It’s a doorstop of a book so I haven’t started reading this one year but I hope to very soon.

 

I hadn’t heard of these two books but they both sound very interesting and I’m looking forward to reading them.

 

I was thrilled to get these two books about space travel! One is a non-fiction look at the final days of spaceflight and the other is short stories based around space travel. I’ve always been fascinated by space and astronauts so I’m very keen to read these books soon!

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Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

This is a book I’ve been wanting to get so it was lovely to open it on Christmas day. I hadn’t seen it in real life before I got it so it was fab to see how it’s a gorgeous naked hardback. I’m always interested to read more about Jane Austen so it’s lovely to have this one to read.

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How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

This is such another gorgeous hardback book and one that I’m intrigued to read soon.

 

I’ve wanted to read both of these books for a while so I’m certain that these won’t be on my TBR for very long.

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Noughts and Crosses series by Malorie Blackman

This set of books is a series that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time now so I’m hoping to start reading it soon. I’ve heard only good things about it!

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Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

I’ve wanted to read this short story collection ever since I first heard about it so I’m beyond excited to have my own copy!

 

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The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

I read The Red Parts by Maggie Nelson in 2017 and I found the writing utterly stunning so I’ve been wanting to read more of her books. I’m thrilled to have a copy of The Argonauts and am really looking forward to reading it.

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Women & Power by Mary Beard

This is such a gorgeous hardback book, and I’m really keen to read it very soon. I’m enjoying non-fiction so this will be high on my TBR for this year.

 

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Excellent Women, No Fond Return of Love & Crampton Hodnet. All by Barbara Pym

I’ve never read any Barbara Pym before but she’s an author that I’ve been interested in reading. It was lovely to open these three books by her in the gorgeous Virago editions.

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Angels in America by Tony Kushner

I’ve had this book on my wish list for absolutely ages but never got around to buying it so I was very happy to open a copy on Christmas day. I really want to read this one soon but am saving it for the right time.

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The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I first read The Handmaid’s Tale many years ago. I’ve been wanting to re-read it ever since watching the recent TV adaptation but my battered old copy seems to have got lost in one of my house moves so I was very happy to get this brand new hardback edition. It’s such a beautiful looking book and I’ll be making sure this one doesn’t get lost!

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A Guinea Pig Romeo and Juliet

I’ve had pet guinea pigs for years and my husband has bought me one of these guinea pig re-tellings of a famous novel or play and I just adore them! This is the latest one and I’m so excited to read it. I would’ve tried to get a photo of the book with my guinea pig but he  likely would have eaten the pages!

 


 

Did you get any books for Christmas? Or have you had a recent spending splurge on books? I’d love to know about your most recent book purchases, and if you take part in Stacking the Shelves please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll check out your post!