#BookReview: The Present by Charlotte Phillips

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About the Book

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me … one romantic Christmas you won’t forget.

When helping to clear out her beloved grandmother’s home, Lucy Jackson discovers twelve beautiful Christmas decorations hidden in the loft. As she discovers their heartbreaking story, a touching romance develops with the handsome gardener next door.

My Thoughts

The Present is about Lucy, who is in the middle of trying to clear her beloved Grandmother Olive’s house to ready it for sale. Olive has had a fall and is in hospital so Lucy wants to move her in with her and her partner. It’s close to Christmas and Lucy is busy with planning for the holidays and really struggling with going through Olive’s belongings as it’s bringing up so many memories of her own childhood.

This novel is everything I want in a Christmas story, it really is a beautiful read. I felt so moved by Lucy having to sort her Gran’s things out, and not having support from her partner. I know what it’s like to have to clear out a loved one’s home and it’s so hard to let their things go. The antique Christmas ornaments that she finds in a dark corner of the attic are described in such a way that I could really envisage them and was excited to follow Lucy’s journey to work out what meaning they held for her Gran.

Olive’s handyman Jack is busy fixing up the house and he ends up helping Lucy empty the attic and gets drawn into the mystery of the ornaments. It was so lovely that Lucy found someone who wanted to help her and took an interest in what she’d found as her boyfriend just seemed so cold and disinterested. I was rooting for Lucy to find happiness throughout this novel and really hoping she would find a way to hold on to her Gran’s house.

Both Jack and Lucy begin to feel more reflective about their own lives as they discover more about Olive’s past. They each carry sadness about the people they’ve lost and gradually seem to help each other by sharing memories as the novel goes on. I loved this aspect of the novel because it is how grief is, it catches up with you eventually and when you find someone who really understands it eventually helps ease some of the pain you carry. There is a real message in this book about remembering and finding a way to carry lost loved ones with you, it’s so beautiful.

This is a gorgeous novel is set in the lead up to Christmas and all the nostalgia of the ornaments and then the back story of Olive’s life makes for a lovely, heart-warming read at this time of year. I definitely recommend this book!

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

The Present is out now and available here.

About the Author

Writer of funny, sassy, sexy stories for Harlequin KISS/Mills & BOON ModernTempted and HarperImpulse.

Also mum to three kids and a mad dachshund and terrible housewife to a heroic husband who doesn’t notice he is living in a hovel. Loves her sofa, her SkyPlus, her Apple TV and her pyjamas.

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This Week in Books (19 Dec 2018)! What are you reading this week? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

I’ve had this on my TBR for quite a while now so when I noticed it was set at Christmas I decided now was the time to read it! I’m only a few chapters in so far but I feel like I’m really going to love this book.

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

This is a rare re-read for me as my Christmas reads this week have been disappointing for the most part so I wanted to a festive read that I knew I would love. Last time I read this but this time I’m listening to the audio and it’s every bit as good. This is so festive, it’s gorgeous!

The Advent Killer by Alastair Gunn

I had to put this book to one side for most of the week as I needed lighter reads but I’m looking forward to getting back to this this week as I was really enjoying it.

 

Then 

A Lonely Dog on Christmas by Patrick Yearly

I found I had quite a few Christmas short stories that have been on my kindle for years now so decided to read them this week while I wasn’t feeling well. Unfortunately this one was such a disappointment. It’s told from the perspective of the family dog, which I thought might be quite cute but it just didn’t work for me.

A Christmas Gift by Stella Wilkinson

This is another festive short story and it was enjoyable enough but not very memorable. I wouldn’t read it again.

Christmas at Pebble Creek by Vanetta Chapman

I was looking forward to this Amish short story set at Christmas but it just fell flat for me, it felt like a draft for a story rather than a fully rounded story. It was an okay read but not the best.

Attend by West Camel

Thankfully Orenda never let me down and Attend was a brilliant read. I very much enjoyed this and it’s absolutely a five star read. I’ll be reviewing this on Friday so look out for my thoughts then.

The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

I listened to this on audio and enjoyed it. It wasn’t as festive as I was hoping it would be but it was still a really good listen. I’d recommend this one.

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

I enjoyed this book too, it’s a lovely festive novel and does help to get you in the Christmas spirit. I hope to squeeze a review in for this before Christmas!

The Parisian Christmas Bake Off by Jenny Oliver

This is another book that was enjoyable enough but, for me, it wasn’t really a Christmas read. It’s more about the main character furthering her baking career and there was way too little about Christmas.

The Christmas Bucket List by Ella Fairlie

I did really enjoy this novella and it was full of Christmas spirit and fun! I’d had this on my TBR for ages and I’m so happy that I finally read it this week. I definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for a short read to get you in the festive mood!

Next Christmas Will Be Different by Pauline Barclay

This was another short story and it was an okay read. I would have loved for this to be longer and to see more of this family at Christmas.

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

This is another audio book that I listened to and it was a sweet, romantic novel but again the Christmas part was really lacking for me. The book ends right before Christmas and I found this such a shame.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Mary Jane Forbes

This is a sweet Christmas fantasy story and was really enjoyable. I was a little confused about aspects of it because it’s not fully explained but it’s definitely Christmassy so I enjoyed that element.

 

Next

Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye and Becca Mascull

I bought this book on publication day and have been saving it to read right before Christmas and I’m so excited to finally get to it this week. I’m sure that I’m going to love this one!

Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak

I bought this book last Christmas and ran out of time to read it over the holiday so I definitely want to read it this week. I’ve heard good things about it so I’m really looking forward to it.

The Present by Charlotte Phillips

This is my last Christmas ARC so I must make time to read this in the next couple of days so that I can get my review up before Christmas. It sounds like a lovely read so I have high hopes for it!

 


 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in This Week in Books or WWW Wednesday please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

This Week in Books (12 Dec 2018)! What are you reading this week? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

Now

No One Cancels Christmas by Zara Stoneley

I’m really enjoying this Christmas novel and am looking forward to getting back to it!

The Advent Killer by Alastair Gunn

This is a serial killer crime novel set over Christmas. It’s really fast-paced and I’m intrigued to read more!

A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson

This is my current audio book. I’ve enjoyed previous Christmas novels by this author so thought I’d try her latest. It’s not got to Christmas yet but it’s a sweet, enjoyable story.

 

Then 

Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris

This is one of my favourite Christmas novels, I think I’ve read it most years ever since I first bought it! It’s a gorgeous novel about a stockroom girl who’s determined to help save the department store where she works. It’s full of vintage inspiration and is just gorgeous!

The Xmas Factor by Annie Sanders

I recently bought this on a whim as it sounded very festive and I enjoyed it. It felt like it took a while to get going but once it did I really liked it. It’s got so much Christmas in it and definitely helped lift my spirits when I was feeling unwell.

 

The Ice Monster by David Walliams

I listened to this on audiobook and very much enjoyed it. I highly recommend it on audio as it has a cast of famous people doing the different voices of the characters and I’m sure kids would love listening to it.

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

I fell in love with this novel – it’s so beautiful and utterly stunning. I reviewed this yesterday so you can read my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

White Christmas by Emma Lee-Potter

I’ve had this short novella on my TBR for a few years and finally picked it up this week. I needed something short to read as I was really ill over the weekend and my concentration wasn’t up to a longer book. This was an okay read but it felt like it took a while to get going and then the ending was a bit rushed. It’s quite festive though so I appreciated that.

All I Want for Christmas by Claudia Carroll

This is a short story that has also been on my TBR for ages. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this one at all. It’s clearly not a standalone story but a prequel to a novel and it doesn’t work on its own. This isn’t made clear in the blurb so it was a let down for me.

It Started With Christmas by Jenny Hale

I enjoyed this Christmas novel, it wasn’t quite as festive as I hoped but it was still a lovely book. You can read my thoughts in my review here if you’d like to.

 

Next

The Present by Charlotte Phillips

This is the last Christmas ARC that I have on my TBR so I’d like to get this read and reviewed asap. I’m looking forward to it.

Murder at the Mill by M. B. Shaw

I love the sound of this book – it’s a murder mystery set at Christmas so now seems the perfect time to pick it up.

2 A.M. At The Cat’s Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

I’ve had this book on my TBR for a couple of years now and I believe it features Christmas so I’m going to try and get to it in the coming days.

Dickens at Christmas by Charles Dickens

This is another of the gorgeous Vintage Christmas editions that I got as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago. I usually read A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve every year but I haven’t read many of Dickens’ other shorter stories so I’m planning to read one or two a day over the next couple of weeks.


 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in This Week in Books or WWW Wednesday please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

Mini Thriller, Crime and Christmas #BookReviews

Today I’m sharing four more mini reviews as I continue on my quest to catch up before the end of the year!

 

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This is How It Ends by Eva Dolan

This was such a good read, and one of those books that really stays with you. It’s told from two perspectives and is told in such a unique way. It opens with a party and leads to a dead body in an empty flat. Molly and Ella are left trying to work out what to do. The novel is then told from Molly’s perspective going forwards to see what happens in the aftermath, and Ella’s story begins at this point and starts going backwards in time so we slowly get to find out how she came to be here. I was hooked on this really clever novel and I can’t recommend it highly enough! I actually finished reading it a while ago now but it’s still really fresh in my mind, which is always the mark of a fab novel!

 

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You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke

I’ve been a huge fan of Lucy Clarke ever since her first novel came out and I’m so pleased to say that You Let Me In lived up to my very high expectations! Elle is feeling increasingly unsettled in her home ever since she rented it out when she was away. She can’t put her finger on what’s wrong but something just doesn’t feel right. The tension in this book keeps ratcheting up to the point where you can’t be sure if Elle is having a breakdown, or if she is right to be worried and that someone is out to get her. There are a few people who may have it in for her and so you’re kept on your toes all the way through this novel. I was sure I had it all worked out but I was wrong and the reveal when it comes is shocking! I definitely recommend this one!

 

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The Present by DS Devlin

I do love a crime thriller set over Christmas time so I couldn’t resist grabbing this one recently. It starts off so well when Anna, a journalist, receives a gruesome gift at her home in the days following the murder of a man and kidnap of his wife. It’s believed to be the work of the serial killer dubbed Santa Killer who has been killing people at Christmas for a few years. After a kill he leaves ‘gifts’ for twelve days of Christmas at which point the kidnap victim is usually found dead. The first part of this book had me gripped and I couldn’t put it down but it did all fall away a bit as the book went on. The problem for me is that there was only really two suspects in the book so it soon became obvious who the killer is and I just got increasingly frustrated with how Anna couldn’t work it out. I did finish the book though and I would be interested to read what the author writes next.

 

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The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm

This was a really good read too. Georgia is a courtroom artist who feels like she can see evil in people. She suffered a terrible trauma in her childhood and this has impacted her as an adult. She is forced to re-look at a conviction from early in her career and begins to question whether she might have helped put an innocent person in prison. The really fascinating thing about this thriller for me was the way it made me think about how I might look at a person and judge them. The novel really makes you question how often judgements are made when the person in question could be completely innocent. This is a thrilling novel that will keep you guessing right until the end, it’s such an engaging read and I recommend it!

This Week in Books (21 Nov 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

I’ve had a brilliant week of reading so I’m hoping the week ahead will bring more of the same!

Now

The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

This is my latest festive read and I’m really enjoying it.

Fukushima Dreams by Zelda Rhiando

I started reading this last night and it’s such a beautifully written book. It’s set in the aftermath of the horrendous tsunami in Japan a few years ago and follows a man and woman who have become separated from each other. It’s very dream-like and so good.

Twenty-Six Seconds by Alexandra Zapruder

This is another one of my picks for non-fiction November and I’m so glad I was able to pick it up this week. I started reading this yesterday and I’m three chapters in. It’s such a fascinating read, I had no idea what it was like for the Zapruder family living with the burden of the footage taken of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

The Upstarts by Brad Stone

This is also on my non-fiction November TBR as my audio book choice. It’s an interesting book to listen to and I’m enjoying finding out more about how Air BnB and Uber came to be.

 

Then 

Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler

This is a gorgeous festive read and I really enjoyed it. I do love when a Christmas book is full of the joys of the season so this was a lovely read. I’ll be reviewing it soon.

Bouncing Back with a Bang by Geraldine Ward

This is a powerful and moving poetry collection that I very much enjoyed. I reviewed it yesterday so you can read more of my thoughts on it here if you’d like to.

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983 – 1992 by Tina Brown

This was a non-fiction November pick and I’m really glad to have got it read this month as it’d been on my TBR for almost a year. It was enjoyable in places but particularly in the early part of the diary there were so many people that I had no idea about that it was a bit over my head. I’m in the middle of writing a review so my full thoughts will be posted soon.

No Such Thing as Society: A History of Britain in the 1980s by Andy McSmith

This is a non-fiction book about the 80s and I very much enjoyed it. A lot of things I already knew but this book helps put things into context that gave me new insight into some of the things that happened in the 80s. It’s a really accessible book and I recommend it.

The Present by DS Devlin

This is a crime fiction novel set near Christmas and while I really enjoyed the opening chapters, it did all fall a little flat for me after that. It was a fast read but it was missing something for me. I’ll be reviewing this at some point.

The Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah

I had an ARC of this on my TBR but spotted the audio book on my audio subscription service so I half read and half listened to this. It’s the first Poirot novel that I’ve read by Sophie Hannah and I enjoyed it so I’ll definitely be looking out for the previous ones by her. I hope to get my review of this posted soon too.

I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends by Kelsey Miller

I was looking for something light to listen to this week and this book caught my eye. I loved Friends back in the day and I’m now enjoying watching the repeats on Channel 5. This was a fun listen and I found out some things I didn’t know, and it was nice to think back over favourite episodes. I recommend this if you’re a Friends fan.

The List That Changed My life by Olivia Beirne

I loved this book. It was heart-warming and life-affirming and it was just a gorgeous book. I’ll be reviewing this for the blog tour next week so look out for that on Tuesday.

 

Next

Snowday by B R Maycock

I’m so looking forward to reading this winter read. It sounds like a gorgeous book to curl up with on a cold snowy afternoon so this is the week for this one!

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

I was so excited when a proof copy of this arrived recently and I can’t wait any longer to start reading it! It feels like another perfect book for curling up in the chair with on a cold wintery day.

Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough

I’ve had this on my TBR since it was published earlier this year and I’m just in the mood to read it so hopefully I’ll get to this one in the coming week.

Mansfield and Me by Sarah Laing

This book is on my non-fiction November TBR and I’d really like to read it soon. It’s been a while since I read a graphic novel so this should be a lovely change.

 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in This Week in Books or WWW Wednesday please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂

This Week in Books (14 Nov 2018)! What are you reading at the moment? #TWiB

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Today I’m taking in part in This Week in Books, which was started by Lipsyy Lost and Found! If you want to join in you just need to share what you’re reading now, what you’ve read over the last week, and what you hope to read next.

 

Now

I’ll Be There For You by Kelsey Miller

I spotted this on my audio book subscription yesterday and couldn’t resist downloading it. I’ve been re-watching Friends since it’s been on Channel 5 and it’s made me nostalgic so this book is a fun look back at the series. I’m really enjoying it so far.

The Present by D.S. Devlin

I’ve got a lot of festive reads for this year but it still seems a little early to fully get into reading them so I’m starting with the crime novels set at Christmas. This one is really good so far, it hooked me straight away and I’m keen to get back to it asap!

The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983 – 1992 by Tina Brown

This is one of my non-fiction November picks and also an ARC that I’ve had for absolutely ages so I wanted to make sure I got to it this month. I’m only a little way in but it’s an interesting read so far and I’m looking forward to reading more. I plan on dipping in and out of this book so it may be a little while before I finish it.

The List That Changed My Life by Olivia Beirne

This book is utterly wonderful! I knew I was going to enjoy but it’s even better than I was expecting. I’m so glad I picked it up and I already highly recommend it.

 

Then 

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

I bought this book when it was published and have held off reading it because I was saving it (I don’t know why I do this…) but it was calling to me this week so I picked it up. I devoured this novel, I utterly adored it and I already want to go back and read it all again.

I Will Find You by Joanna Connors

This is a non-fiction book about a woman who was raped and many years later she decides to find out what happened to her rapist. It’s a really interesting and honest memoir.

Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets by Jessica Fox

This was also on my non-fiction November TBR and I was so looking forward to it as I’d owned it for a long time and had such high hopes. Unfortunately, I found it a real let down. It just wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and so much of it got on my nerves. I see on Goodreads that a lot of people loved it so maybe it just wasn’t for me.

The Diary of Two Nobodies by Mary Killen and Giles Wood

This book was adorable! I love Giles and Mary on Gogglebox and their personalities just shine off the page in this book. I recommend this to all Gogglebox fans, it’s fab!

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

This has also been on my TBR since it was published but I finally picked it up late last week. I part read it and part listened to the audio book and I absolutely loved it. It was a joy to read and I got so engrossed in it. I’m so happy that I finally read it and even though it’s enormous I think this may well be a book I re-read at some point!

Good Samaritans by Will Carver

This book was brilliant! I wasn’t sure what to expect going in to it but it’s gripping from the opening pages and is so dark and twisty but utterly compelling. I loved it. I’ll be reviewing it for the blog tour next week so keep an eye out for that if you want to know more!

 

Next

The Christmas Spirit by Susan Buchanan

This coming week feels right for me to start reading my Christmas books so I’m beginning with this one. It looks like such a gorgeous festive novel and I’m really looking forward to it.

Twenty-Six Seconds by Alexandra Zapruder

I’m continuing with my non-fiction November picks too and next up I think will be this one as I’ve been keen to read it for ages. It looks like a fascinating read about the man who filmed the Kennedy assassination and what happened to his family as a result of owning that piece of film.

Snowglobe by Amy Wilson

This looks like a beautiful, magical winter read and feels like a perfect book for this time of year so I’m excited to get lost in this one. I think it’s a middle grade book and I haven’t read anything like this for such a long time so I think it’ll be a wonderful escape.

How to be Human by Ruby Wax

This is another pick for non-fiction November and I really do want to get to this soon. It’s a review book and one that I’ve put off until I knew I was in the right head space to read it. I think I’ll aim to at least start it in the coming days.

 

 


 

What have you been reading this week? I’d love to hear. And if you take part in This Week in Books or WWW Wednesday please feel free to leave your link below and I’ll make sure to visit and comment on your post. 🙂