Christmas Read: Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown – Katey Lovell – 4 * Review

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As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.
Clara O’Connell loves Christmas. For her, it is the most magical time of the year. And she’s determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he’s hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.
But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara’s Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe’s, broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe’s love for Christmas and forever…?

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My Thoughts…

Perfect, if you like your festive reads with a touch of realism. Christmastime is supposed to be fun but what if life gets in the way and makes it a time to endure rather than enjoy?
Joe lost someone he loved at Christmas time and now he just goes through the motions until the festive season is over. Clara is unlucky in love but having Christmas to look forward to helps her keep going. When she and Joe are thrown together helping Manchester’s youth and trying to keep their youth centre viable Clara can’t resist trying to restore the magic of Christmas for Joe by giving him a personalised advent calendar of special events. Joe sets out to make Clara see not all men are deceitful and a lovely, gentle Christmas story unfolds, which demonstrates the real meaning of Christmas.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Christmas Read: Coming Home to the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson – 5* Review

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Welcome to the cosy Comfort Food Café, where there’s kindness in every cup of hot chocolate and the menu is sprinkled with love and happiness…

When Zoe’s best friend Kate dies of breast cancer, her whole world is turned upside down. Within hours, she goes from being the wacky neighbour who can barely keep a houseplant alive to a whole new world of responsibility when she realises she’s guardian to Kate’s 16-year-old daughter, Martha.

 Moving to the little village of Budbury in the West Country, Zoe hopes the fresh Dorset sea breeze and the gentle pace of life will help them heal.

 Luckily for them both, the friendly community at the Comfort Food Cafe provide listening ears, sage advice, shoulders to cry on, and some truly excellent carrot cake. And when Martha’s enigmatic, absent father suddenly turns up, confusing not only Martha but Zoe too, the love and support of their new-found friends is the best present they could ask for…

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My Thoughts…

This is such a heartfelt story, It’s hard to read Kate’s letter to her best friend without putting yourself in the same situation and once that happens you are hooked and can’t put this book down. Zoe’s past has left its mark on her but Kate clearly saw something worth saving and this story proves her right. Martha is a rebel but with good cause. Even though this type of character is well used in women’s fiction, she is no stereotype and you want to reach into the book and hug her.

Cal is the romantic interest but it’s complicated and he has hidden depths that make him more than he first appears. The characters in the Comfort Food Cafe are delightfully familiar and still retain their magic.

The story follows the path you would expect but its an absorbing read with lots of humour and sadness bringing the characters to life. 

Christmas only has a small part to play in this story but it’s enough to make it an enjoyable festive read.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

The Cosy Christmas Tea Shop – Caroline Roberts – 5* Review

 

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Festive angst and cheer at the castle tea shop. Easy to read with believable characters and events, definitely my favourite book in this series. Romance, friendship and sparkling humour. Lovely down to earth characters, a perfect slice of cafe life at the castle for Christmas. I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Claude’s Christmas Adventure – Sophie Pembroke – 4*Review

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This Christmas a little dog is in for a BIG adventure…

Meet Claude. He’s a loveable, big-eared, permanently hungry French Bulldog, who loves his humans – the McCawley family of number 11 Maple Drive to be precise.

When Daisy and Oliver McCawley start using new words like, ‘ferry’, ‘chateau’ and ‘France’, Claude realises they won’t be spending this Christmas at home. Only, when he finds himself on the street, as the family car pulls away, Claude realises he is ALONE. And more importantly, he is without all the yummy treats he knows the festive season brings…

Cue the start of Claude’s Christmas Adventure. It all begins with a belly-flop through next door’s catflap, where he finds newly single and craft-a-holic Holly, Jack the ex-army postman, his arch nemesis Perdita the cat … and serious amounts of gingerbread.

Maple Drive’s cutest resident is about to bring the street together for Christmas, in ways no-one could have imagined …

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Claude’s Christmas Adventure

I read this lovely Christmas story a few weeks ago but the characters and humour have stayed with me and I am smiling again as I write this review. Although the circumstances leading up to Claude’s Christmas adventure seem unlikely, this doesn’t stop you enjoying it and becoming absorbed in the lives of the family who leave him behind and the street who take him in when they do.
Vivid characters and events characterise this Christmas tale, it’s easy to see it as a Christmas romantic comedy film. Naughty but loveable dogs, demanding children and an overworked mum, who has forgotten who she is as she tries to please everyone at Christmas with predictably disastrous results.
The characters are strong and realistic. Claude’s pursuit of gingerbread and his lost family brings, lots of laughs, poignancy and a delicious sprinkling of romance.
A light-hearted festive read, from a doggy perspective, which is worth reading.
I received copy of this book from Avon books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Claude’s Christmas Adventure by Sophie Pembroke

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Claude’s Christmas Adventure by Sophie Pembroke

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The Empire State Cat’s Christmas Gift – Nic Tatano – 5*Review

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The night her house catches fire, kick-ass lawyer Tish McKenna’s neatly ordered life is thrown into chaos. At least she’s alive—thanks to her adorable cat, Socks!—and after her near-death experience Tish realises she wants more in her life than late nights and case files…

Professionally speaking, hot-shot attorney, Spencer Capshaw hadn’t realised how far off track he’d come. Sure, he had his reasons originally—saving his dad’s life required more money than the DA’s office paid him—yet helping corrupt corporate bigwigs was not why he became a lawyer…

With a little help from a furry friend, these two lost souls find each other in the heart of Manhattan. But when Tish and Spence are pitted against each other in a trial that pushes them both to their limits, can their budding relationship survive?

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my-review-winter

The Empire State Cat's Christmas Gift

I enjoyed the first story in this series, ‘The Lost Cats and Lonely Hearts Club’, featuring career driven, intelligent best friends; Madison, Tish, Rory and A.J and their lovable kittens. This book, the second in the series is delightful with its festive twist. A good standalone read but I recommend reading book one first for maximum enjoyment.
There is a great love story, mixed with humour and suspense, which is an easy, enjoyable read. As you expect with Nic Tatano books, the characters are believable, complex and intriguing. The plot has plenty of twists and a lovely romantic ending.
The supporting cast of characters also make this book something special, especially, Socks the matchmaking kitten, whose antics will be familiar to every cat owner.
Tish is a lawyer and so is Spencer, so courtroom scenes are inevitable. These appear authentic and are full of crisp dialogue with moments of humour and poignancy. There is great pacing that moves the story along nicely and provides subtle clues to the plot twists and development of the romance.
A lovely festive read with an original storyline and memorable characters.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The Empire State Cat’s Christmas Gift by Nic Tatano

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Empire State Cat's Christmas Gift by Nic Tatano

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The Christmas Promise – Sue Moorcroft – 5* Review

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For Ava Bliss, it’s going to be a Christmas to remember …

On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.

Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.

So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…

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The Christmas Promise: The perfect cosy festive treat!This isn’t your usual festive tale, although Christmas cheer, or the lack of it is integral to the story. The concept is original. Ava is struggling to make her hat-making business pay, fending off unwanted attention from her ex and trying to rise above her ingrained dislike of Christmas. Enough conflict for a festive tale? Perhaps, but there’s even more in this complex story. Ava ‘s trust is abused, pushing her emotional limits to breaking point. The story focuses on important, relevant issues, which are the downside of our digital age.
Well developed, realistic characters define this story. Ava is easy to empathise with and the perfect women’s fiction heroine. Sam is attractive both in terms of his physical attributes and personality. He is the ‘good guy’ but not without his flaws, which threaten any chance he may have with Ava.
There are enticing twists in the plot that make this a page turner. The pacing is right for a women’s fiction book, steady rather than fast paced. There is a phenomenal amount of detail, ranging from how to make a couture hat, to how to run a viral social media campaign. Although this sometimes slows the pace, it is vital for the story’s authenticity.
Poignant moments are plentiful and there is a lovely romantic thread contrasting cleverly with the sometimes, sordid backlash of an intimate relationship. Despite the rollercoaster emotions and the seriousness of some of the plot themes, this story is an absorbing, easy read, set at lovely festive time of the year.
There is also an intriguing glimpse of the author’s next book, which I look forward to reading, next year.
I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

The Christmas Promise: The perfect cosy festive treat! by Sue Moorcroft

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Christmas Promise The perfect cosy festive treat! by Sue Moorcroft

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Sequins and Snowflakes-Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop #2- Jane Linfoot- 5* Review

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The snow is falling around Brides by the Sea, Cornwall’s cutest little wedding shop, and wedding dress designer Seraphina East is in her cosy studio designing exquisite dresses to make even the most demanding bride’s dreams come true.

Unless the bride is her big sister Alice of course. Saying that the two sisters don’t always see eye to eye is an understatement. Alice hasn’t even asked Sera to design her wedding dress. But when an absent groom and ill-fitting dress threaten to ruin Alice’s happiness let alone her big day, Sera’s determined to give her sister the winter wedding of her dreams – even if that means keeping not one but two irresistibly gorgeous best men under control…

Is Sera going to end up being the maid of dishonour…Or will repairing her frozen relationship with Alice be the icing on the wedding cake?

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my-review-winter

Sequins and Snowflakes (Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Book 2)Christmas in Cornwall is definitely on my wish list, so reading about a Christmas wedding in this idyllic part of England is the next best thing. I really enjoyed ‘Cupcakes and Confetti’, book one in the ‘Little Wedding Shop by the Sea’ and it’s great to reacquaint with some of the characters.
Overseeing her sister’s wedding is the stuff of nightmares for Sera, the bohemian wedding dress designer, especially when she has to work with the sexy but wild best man Quinn. Told from Sera’s point of view, the story has a diary like quality, which makes the reader’s experience more intense and personal.
Sera is a lovely character, the complete antithesis of her sister. Despite their differences and past hurts, there is an unbreakable bond between them. Sera wants Alice to have the perfect wedding, even if it means working beyond her comfort zone and risking her heart with ‘The Best Man’. Alice’s wedding is plagued with seemingly insurmountable problems but Sera wants her to have her happy day, and is determined to do whatever it takes. Maybe it’s just what Sera needs, something to focus on, beyond her design bloc.
Like all the best romantic comedy, the storytelling is image rich. It’s so easy to imagine the setting at the wedding shop, the farm and the lovely country house. The characters are vividly portrayed and the dialogue is easy to read and full of humour. A lovely romantic tale full of Christmas spirit.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Sequins and Snowflakes by Jane Linfoot

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Sequins and Snowflakes (Christmas at the Little Wedding Shop by the Sea, Book 2) by Jane Linfoot

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Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe – Debbie Johnson- 5* Review

 

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Becca Fletcher hates Christmas so much, she’s considering getting ‘Bah Humbug!’ tattooed on her forehead. She has her reasons for being Little Miss Grinch; Reasons that make this the very worst time of year for her.

Now, though, she can’t avoid her version of ho-ho-hell – because she’s travelling to the Comfort Food Cafe to spend the festive season with her sister Laura, and her family. She’s expecting mulled wine, 24-hour Christmas movie marathons and all kinds of very merry torture.

But little does Becca know that the Comfort Food Cafe is like no other place on earth. Perched on a snow-covered hill on a windswept bay, it’s a place full of friendship where broken hearts can heal, new love can blossom and where Becca’s Christmas miracle really could happen – if only she can let it…

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Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe

I really enjoyed ‘Summer at the Comfort Food Café’ and as I’m a fan of festive books, I couldn’t wait to revisit the café at Christmas time. ‘Christmas at the Comfort Food Café’ is every bit as charming as the Summer but with snow. It is told in three parts: ‘Christmas Past, Present and Future’. It reads well as a standalone Christmas tale but if you haven’t read ’Summer at the Comfort Food Café’, don’t miss out.
This story reintroduces the reader to the delightful characters from the first book but concentrates on Laura’s sister Becca, who reluctantly visits Dorset for a month. Becca feels she is the antithesis of Laura. She is a loner, drawn to life’s vices, drink, drugs and one night stands. As Becca relives two life changing family Christmas days, we realise this is never going to be her favourite season.
Becca is soon charmed by Dorset and the regulars of the Comfort Food Café. The characters in this story are realistic and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the forthcoming festive wedding. Becca has left her teenage vices behind but we don’t know why. Even when her sister tries to fix her up with Surfer Sam she resists. Men are off the menu but he is drop dead gorgeous and she’s only human. Becca’s choice of confidant is not who you’d expect but when she reveals her secrets, her teenage bad behaviour reflects more as a cry for help than anything else. Becca’s emotional baggage threatens what she has with Sam but despite this, she leaves Dorset a changed woman.
Christmas Future offer hope and the chance of a happy ever after, the perfect start to any new year.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Christmas at the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

Debbie Johnson

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The Holiday Swap – Zara Stoneley – 5* Review

The Hoiliday Swap

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Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to a Christmas holiday fraught with potential pitfalls.

The Holiday Swap.

Florence Cortes has the perfect life – an apartment in the trendiest district of Barcelona, a job she loves and a boyfriend who’s whisking her away on a romantic break to Paris to no doubt propose.
Only, he’s planning something far different, and Flo soon realises her life isn’t so perfect after all.

Home loving Daisy Fischer is perfectly happy in her idyllic home in the Cheshire countryside, with an on-off boyfriend who might be slightly dull but is totally dependable. Until he issues an ultimatum, and Daisy suddenly realises that there might be a whole different world out there that she’s missing out on.

Have Flo and Daisy come up with the perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak?
Can a snowbound Christmas in Cheshire – with aristocratic, handsome Hugo as her neighbour, a house full of animals and a leaking roof – help Flo mend her broken heart, and remind her of what she really wants in life?

Can a sunny break in beautiful Barcelona – with the dishy but brooding Javier, a never ending supply of cava, and a sea view to die for – prove to Daisy that playing safe isn’t always the answer?

Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas – and in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it, but where will they be for New Year?

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My Review - Coastal

The Holiday Swap

The classic romantic comedy ‘The Holiday’ springs to mind reading the blurb for this story. As it’s a firm favourite of mine and I enjoy Zara’s Tippermere stories, I couldn’t wait to read this. I loved it.
For fans of Tippermere there’s a tantalising glimpse of village life in snowy Cheshire, as Flo returns to her childhood home and meets sexy Hugo. A lovely collection of animal personalities guaranteed to make you smile complete this part of the story perfectly.
However, it’s the Barcelona setting that draws you in. The passion and glamour of the city echoes Daisy’s new found passion for life and new love.
There is a definite festive theme to this story but it’s more about, friendship, realising your true potential and living your own life. Something both Daisy and Flo find out as they explore their new environments with new friends and experiences.
The characters are authentic and vivid. The plot comprises plenty of humour and lots of romance. Written in scenes, it’s easy to visualise the girl’s adventures as if you’re experiencing them first hand.
The perfect holiday read.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley

Zara Stoneley

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