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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Missing Presumed – D.S. Manon #1 – Susie Steiner – 4 *Review

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Mystery Thriller Blurb

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

Mystery Thriller Buy Links

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Mystery Thriller My Review

A good crime mystery is defined by its detective. Manon Bradshaw is a complex, compelling creature who ensures you keep turning the pages even when the plot is a little pedestrian in parts.

I liked the carefully layered plot, which gradually gives the reader more pieces in the jigsaw, only to add tragic events and new characters which complicate rather than inform. It would have been so easy to write a sensationalised ending but ‘Missing, Presumed’, stays true to its credible roots and is believable. The story’s women’s fiction element is strong and makes it worth reading.The suspense is well written but this is more about familial relationships and friendships than criminals.

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

The Betrayal – The Guernsey Novels #6 – Anne Allen- 5* Review

 

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?

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My Thoughts…

 I love this series, it has all the best qualities of a cosy mystery in a breathtaking setting, with just a hint of the supernatural and historical flashbacks that illuminate the present mystery.

Believable, interesting characters are easy to empathise with and draw you into present-day Guernsey and it’s WW2 legacy, most notably the German occupation of the island. The gentle romance and supernatural elements enhance the storyline. The writing is clever as present-day events are determined by their historical roots. 

Whilst they are standalone read; characters and situations from previous novels inform this story. If you haven’t read the other books in the series check out my reviews and read them for yourself.

 This story is a pleasing, page-turning read, that makes me want to reacquaint myself with the mystical island of Guernsey.

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

 

Blackberry Picking at Jasmine Cottage – Zara Stoneley – 5* Review

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As the lazy days of summer ebb away and the hedgerows fill with rich, plump blackberries, Lucy Jacobs couldn’t be happier. She’s feeling more and more at home in the small village of Langtry Meadows and has fallen in love with idyllic Jasmine cottage – not to mention gorgeous vet Charlie.
But just as Lucy is thinking about putting down roots like the blackberries that grow in her garden, Charlie’s ex returns and threatens to put a thorn in their perfect life…

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My Thoughts…

Whilst this story doesn’t have the comic genius of the Tippermere series, its characters ensure that you keep turning the pages, eager to know what happens next. I missed out on the first book of The Little Village on the Green stories, but this one was easy to get into and has proved an enjoyable read.

The villagers are interesting characters and the romance between Charlie the village Vet and Lucy the village schoolteacher has a realistic edge to it. Custody battles and possible school closures, threaten the idyllic village setting and there are plenty of animal characters, full of antics to keep the villagers on their toes.

Elsie’s story has a particular poignancy and Lucy’s own parallels with Charlie’s daughter Maise makes it easy to empathise with her. Despite all the conflict, the ending gives the reader hope that our village lovers have a future. I can’t wait to return to Langtry Meadows and see what happens next.

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

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Christmas Reads: Phillipa Ashley – Christmas on the Little Cornish Isles – The Driftwood Inn. 5* Review

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For Maisie Samson, this Christmas is going to be different. After years working in a busy Cornish pub, she’s moved back to quiet Gull Island where she grew up, to help her parents run the family inn.

But even though she can’t wait for the festive season to arrive, Maisie cannot shake the memories of what happened to her last Christmas – the day she lost everything. She keeps herself busy, setting up the tree and hanging mistletoe ready for her first proper family Christmas in years.

Until a new arrival to the island walks into her bar and changes everything. Australian backpacker Patrick is looking for a job for the low season. When Maisie takes him on, she doesn’t expect him to last the week, but to her surprise, Patrick is the perfect fit. Charming and handsome, could Maisie allow herself to hope that she and Patrick could be more than just colleagues?

As Christmas approaches, Maisie finds herself dreading the spring, when Patrick is due to leave. With the help of a little Christmas magic, can Maisie get the happily ever after she always dreamed of?

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 My Thoughts…

There is something inherently captivating about island life, so for me, this story is a must-read. The Cornish Isles inaccessibility and the reliance on those you live so closely with makes for some fantastic characters and relationships, which the author captures beautifully in this simple tale.

Maisie’s fierce determination to rebuild her life among the people she grew up with, is the story’s focus. She is a strong woman, but Patrick’s unexpected arrival reveals her vulnerability and adds plenty of Christmas romance to this story.

 Written chronologically, in a style that reinforces the story’s credibility. The vibrant coastal setting and vividly described, cast of supporting characters leave an impression on the reader

I can’t wait to see what happens in Spring on the ‘Little Cornish Isles’.

A charming story with a twist of Christmas perfect for reading any time of the year.

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

Catch 26 – Carol Prisant – Review

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Paranormal Blurb

What if you could live your life all over again?

There’s just one catch…

Frannie Turner is a plain, middle-aged housewife married to Stanley, a self-absorbed retired dentist who hasn’t slept in her bed in years. No children to love and be loved by. No exciting career to look back on. Just loneliness and lost dreams. So when the mysterious new hairdresser in town offers her the chance to get everything she’s ever wanted, Frannie figures she has nothing to lose -except her soul. And surely, as a stunning twenty-six-year-old singleton in New York, finding true love within the stipulated year should be a piece of cake, not to mention a hell of a lot of fun!

But New York City is no place for the naïve, and Frannie will soon learn just how dangerous a deal with the devil can be…

Paranormal Buy Links

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Paranormal My Review

Catch 26: A Novel

I liked the idea of this story, but I  didn’t connect with the central character and  the story didn’t fulfil it’s potential. I didn’t finish this book, which is rare for me.
This story is too dark, the main character doesn’t seem to have any good memories in her life  and came across as someone who lets life pass her by. This passive personality trait makes it unlikely she would ‘make a deal with the devil’, as we are supposed to believe. If she couldn’t break away from a man who clearly thought of her as a possession rather than a person how could she make such a risky, out of character choice? It’s the lack of credibility of the main character that spoils the story.
There are many humorous moments and plenty of passion as she searches for her true love but these don’t compensate for the lack of authenticity for me.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Catch 26: A Novel by Carol Prisant
My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Catch 26 A Novel by Carol Prisant

Carol Prisant

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Christmas at the Cornish Cafe – The Penwith Trilogy #2 – Phillipa Ashley- 5*Review

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blurb-winter

Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so.

She and Cal are keeping their fledgling relationship under wraps for now. But then Kit Bannen, a hunky, blond – and somewhat mysterious – writer arrives at Kilhallon Resort, and not everyone is charmed. Cal is sure that Kit is hiding something. But is he the only one guarding a secret?

Demi is busy baking festive treats for the newly opened Demelza’s cafe, but when Cal’s ex Isla arrives to shoot scenes for her new drama, Demi can’t help but worry that things aren’t quite over between them. Kit flirts with both women, fuelling Cal’s suspicions that Kit has hidden motives for staying on at Kilhallon. Then Cal has to go to London, leaving Demi and Kit to decorate the cafe for Christmas . . . all by themselves.

A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?

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my-review-winter

Christmas at the Cornish Café (The Penwith Trilogy, Book 2)

A festive, gentle romantic story with complex characters and an interesting plot. The story concentrates on opening the café and there are lots of new characters. One threatens Cal’s new found happiness with Demi.
A lot happens in this story. Demi achieves her potential by leading the café project. She carries more than her share of emotional baggage and this influences how she perceives her relationship with Cal. Cal continues to battle his own secret demons, leaving him moody and unapproachable. He’s a good guy at heart and you want him to overcome the horrors of his past.
There are some unexpected plot twists and surprising character developments, which illustrate the village’s comaradie and the overriding spirit of the novel. A good mix of questions answered and new ones posed make reading the last book in the series essential. There is no cliff-hanger ending but it is hopeful, just as a festive read should be. I can’t help thinking the problems for Cal, Demi and their friends may not be over yet.
Cal and Demi are the contemporary counterparts of Poldark and Demelza and Cornwall steals the show in this novel too.
I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Christmas at the Cornish Café by Phillipa Ashley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Christmas at the Cornish Café (The Penwith Trilogy, Book 2) by Phillipa Ashley

Phillipa Ashley

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Christmas Cheer – Willow Cottage #2 – Bella Osborne – 5*Review

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blurb-winter

Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a warm, caring and safe place for little Leo.

When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.

Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…

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my-review-winter

Christmas Cheer (Willow Cottage, Book 2)This is the second instalment of Bella Osborne’s seasonal series Willow Cottage. This one has a festive touch and the renovations at the cottage are taking shape. Beth begins to find out the villagers have hearts of gold under their eccentricity. There are some hilarious scenes in this story and all the characters are vividly wtitten but believable.
Jack is still a man of mystery but Beth starts to trust him, even bonding with his delightful dog Doris, who contributes her own brand of humour to the story. Carly and Fergus, Beth’s London friends have their own relationship problems and Nick, Beth’s abusive ex is still in the picture, casting a shadow over Beth’s new life.
Christmas day is certainly cheerful but New Year’s Eve has a sting, which forces Beth back into her shell, although I think she has misunderstood her friend’s well-meant warning. The book ends on a cliff hanger, leaving me hoping the next instalment isn’t far away.
Funny, poignant and romantic, a lovely festive read.
I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Christmas Cheer by Bella Osborne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Christmas Cheer (Willow Cottage, Book 2) by Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne

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