Monday, 29 December 2014

Top 10 Reads of 2014!

Anyone else stunned at how quickly we've got to the end of the year? I cannot believe how fast this year has flown by. At the start of the year I set myself a challenge of reading 150 books. According to Goodreads I've read 170 so you can imagine how hard it was to whittle it down to my top ten! However, after much deliberation and some to-ing and fro-ing I have made my decision. Here are my Top 10 Reads of this year!

Number 10! 

Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Read my review here.

I started reading Sarah's books this year and devoured the O'Neill trilogy in quick succession! Two words - Tyler O'Neill. HOT DAMN that guy gives good book boyfriend! I really loved the way that Sarah tells her stories and how, in the series, you get to catch up with the other O'Neill brothers. I definitely recommend this series!

Number 9!

The Story of Us by Ellen Faith

Read my review here.

Ellen debuted this year with The Story of Us and I picked this up as part of the blog tour. I fell completely in love with her writing style which is great if you are a fan of Lindsey Kelk. There is a very realistic quality to the main character Lexi and hottie Ryan Furrows helps too!

Number 8!

What A Girl Wants by Lindsey Kelk 

Read my review here.

I was so, so glad to be back with one of my favourite authors this year! I have loved Lindsey's writing since I first read I Heart New York and I love the way her main characters could very well be your best friend. The narrative makes you feel like your experiencing the story first hand along the MC! This is the sequel to About A Girl and is all about Tess and her love triangle!

Number 7!

Beyond Grace's Rainbow by Carmel Harrington

Read my review here.

This story is truly amazing. I was awed by the writing and in complete emotional turmoil while reading it! Although it was published in 2013 I only got around to reading it this summer. I loved the delicacy that Carmel had when writing about the subject of cancer and thought she handled it in a poignant and sweet manner.

Number 6!

The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

Read my review here.

This was another STUNNING 2014 debut. I was so lucky to receive a copy of this from Hannah and Katie at Penguin.This is another real tearjerker which might be obvious from the title but I really, really enjoyed it. The story challenges you as the reader - have you lived your life the way you wanted to? It really makes you consider the "what ifs" in life and reinforces the unpredictability of it all. Amazing writing!

Number 5!

One Step Closer To You by Alice Peterson

Read my review here.

I was very fortunate to receive a copy of this from Margot at Quercus and also fortunate to have Alice as a guest on the blog near the publication date for this touching novel. In my review I stated that it was my favourite read in September, there was no way it wasn't going to be included in my final 10 for the year. It is so cleverly written with an entire mixed bag of emotions throughout. I read it in less than 24 hours so if you've not read it yet I definitely recommend it!

Number 4!

Echoes of Scotland Street by Samantha Young

Read my review here.

This was one of my most anticipated reads towards the latter half of this year and I was so lucky to receive a signed ARC of this! This is the 5th in her On Dublin Street series and is all about Cole Walker who has previously appeared in the series as a younger brother of another MC. Cole Walker is all grown up and has turned into one of my most favourite book boyfriends! He just exudes hotness and the fact that he's a SCOTTISH tattoo artist adds to it all! 

Number 3!

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Read my review here.

I was part of the blog tour for this book this year. One thing I thought right from the beginning of my book blogging journey was that if I was ever fortunate enough to tour with a book by Colleen Hoover or Jamie McGuire it would have been worthwhile and this year I got to do both of those things thanks to The Hot Bed at Simon & Schuster.

Number 2!

Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren

Read my review here.

This is the third in the Beautiful series by Christmas (&) Lauren - two authors not that you can tell! I read it as part of the #SexMeUpReadathon that was running in the summer and I have read it many times since. I am madly in love with Will Sumner!

**Drum Roll Please**

My favourite read of this year is....

Before Jamaica Lane by Samantha Young

Read my review here.

After reading On Dublin Street it quickly became apparent that Samantha Young was one of my favourite authors. The stunning writing style, true to life character and compelling story lines bring the On Dublin Street series to life and I was eagerly awaiting book 3 at the start of the year. Later in the year Sam sent me a signed copy of this book to complete my signed collection of her On Dublin Street novels. 

This is my favourite from the series, so far, although it was nearly knocked off its spot by Echoes of Scotland Street. Nate and Olivia's story is one of friends becoming lovers and there is just something about that plot in a novel that I love. Of course, the execution of this story together with the plot is what makes it my number 1 read of the year a I really enjoy Sam's writing style.

If you haven't read any of Samantha's books yet then I urge you to make it top of your priority list for next year!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Review! A Christmas Feast by Katie Fforde

The bit on the back…

Add some extra sparkle to your Christmas by joining Katie Fforde for a perfect, romantic Christmas feast of short stories. Collected together for the first time and including one brand new story.
Make your Christmas wishes come true...

Includes and exclusive sneak preview of Katie's new novel, A Vintage Wedding, coming in February 2015.

Firstly thank you to Cornerstone Digital for approving me for a copy of this title via NetGalley.

This is a collection of Katie Fforde’s short stories with one longer story entitled A Christmas Feast.
A Christmas Feast is all about flautist and music teacher Imogen and her fresh start in her new home just before Christmas.

This is the third of Katie’s Christmassy shorts that I’ve read and enjoyed. Imogen is a well-developed character who appears to be loving and kind and also determined to achieve her goals. She is the main character and narrator throughout. Although she has her family and new carol singing friends the only other significant characters are her elderly neighbour and her nephew. I enjoyed this close knit group of characters and felt that the story allowed you to get to know Imogen really well.

You can read my reviews of From Scotland With Love and Staying Away At Christmas by clicking on the links.

I love the idea of this collection of short stories. The layout is that of a true Christmas feast with stories being served as courses meaning you can dip in and out of the stories as you fancy – a great idea for in between the madness this Christmas! 

Christmas Review! Driving Home For Christmas by A.L. Michael

The bit on the back…

Megan McAllister is home for Christmas…whether she likes it or not!

Christmas is about family…and for Megan family means two people: herself, and her daughter Skye. It doesn’t mean her parents who, ten years ago, saw her pregnancy as anything but a miracle. And it definitely doesn’t include her irresistible ex-boyfriend Lucas Bright.

So ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ has never been top of Megan’s festive playlist. But for Skye, she knows she needs to spend the holiday season with the people she’s left behind. She can do this. Even if the thought of meeting Lucas under the mistletoe still has her feeling like she’s drunk one-too-many Snowballs!

But somewhere between the hanging of stockings and the crackle of wrapping paper, Christmas starts to sparkle. And Megan begins to wonder if family could be bigger than her and Skye after all…

Firstly thank you to Carina UK for approving me for a review copy of this title via NetGalley. This is the first time, but certainly won’t be the last, that I had read anything by A.L. Michael.

Young, single mother Megan has brought her daughter Skye up with the help of her Aunt and a drag Queen. As a speech and language therapist, Megan is a fully functioning adult and a wonderful mother to her daughter. This is the story of her family.

I LOVED THIS. I loved it, actually. I laughed, I cried, I fell in love. All of the emotions were felt in the reading of this book and it is definitely one of the best Christmas releases that I’ve read this year.

The story is mainly told from Megan’s point of view however there are sections which come from some of the other people in her life. Although there are not many people in her day to day life there are very strong, influential characters which have helped to shape Megan and Skye’s life to what it is now. Megan is a wonderfully strong character whose actions and determination have built a really safe and fantastic life for her eleven year old daughter Skye. Skye is a really mature 11 year old which comes across as a result of her brilliantly evolved upbringing but her character adds an undertone of innocence to the story as a whole and allows the focus of this story to be centred on family throughout.

The story is full of emotion as Megan returns home after a ten year absence to find that everything has changed and that everything has stayed the same in its own way, including her ex-boyfriend Lucas. I felt nervous for Megan going home as it was going to be such an ordeal for her. The emotional rollercoaster is enhanced by the time flip element of this story which allows you to become acquainted with the story of teenager Megan without feeling like the story is being dredged up ten years later. The scenes from the past don’t appear in chronological order which cleverly builds up empathy between you as the reader and Megan.

Lucas has obviously been a big part of Megan’s life and I really completely fell for him. He exudes charm but when you get to know this grown up version of him you really can’t help but fall for him. He seems like such a great guy and that really comes across in his relationship with Skye too. I loved Megan’s story but Lucas really won me over.

This is a full length novel but with a variety of unique characters and a compelling storyline you will fly through it. I am definitely looking forward to reading more from this author now!

Christmas Book Boyfriend of the Week

My final gift to you all before signing off for Christmas is this! My last Christmas Book Boyfriend. This guy is gorgeous, he's an athlete, a bit of a ladies man and a great father. He's from Sarah Morgan's Maybe This Christmas and he is of course Tyler O'Neill!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Review! The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith

The bit on the back…

After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children--especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their "True Friends." As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.

Firstly thank you to Crown Publishing for approving me for a review copy of this title via NetGalley. This is the first piece of non-fiction that I’ve reviewed and I hope I can do it justice!

This is the true story of the Smith family’s first Christmas after the death of their Husband and Father Richard. This is unlike any Christmas story you are likely to read this year in two ways. Firstly the fact that it’s a true story and secondly it’s not a straightforward Christmas spirit filled story with joy and laughter and cheer.

Firstly to Joanne, congratulations and much respect to you for being able to share your story. I am awed by the honesty of this account of life after death particularly from the point of view of the loved ones left behind. The struggle with grief is real and palpable as Joanne tells her family’s story and I became completely engrossed in their lives.

While reading the story I was swept away with the very real and raw emotion running throughout from anger to guilt to sadness and finally to happiness. The retelling of this hard time for the Smith family allows you to appreciate the gift of a healthy and happy family and also the gift of friendship which is the main theme.

The kindness of strangers and the impact that they had on the Smith’s lives on the run up to Christmas really make you want to pay it forward in some other way. The story is completely inspirational and heart-warming. It’s full of emotion and the truth of dealing with such a tough situation. I definitely recommend this read and now want to find a way to pay it forward myself.

Christmas Review! A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt

The bit on the back…

Wealthy New York City girl Claire Lindell isn’t looking for a Christmas miracle or happiness when she abruptly decides to hole up for the holiday at her godmother’s cottage in a little Yorkshire village, and lick her wounds from a near disastrous romantic decision.
After her car skids into a snow bank, Claire may have accidently found her perfect Christmas and the family and love she’s craved when she offers Noah Bradford of Ayesgill Farm help to push the back end of one of his sheep out of the icy mud, even if she’s going to ruin a brand new pair of Prada boots during the rescue.
What’s a little leather when love’s on the line?

Firstly thanks to Tule Publishing for approving me for a copy of this title via NetGalley. This is the 4th novella in the Christmas Around The World series that I’ve read although it is the 2nd in the series. You can check out the reviews of the other novellas by clicking the link below.

This story is about New Yorker Claire and Yorkshire farmer Noah and how the two come to spend the festive period together.

I really enjoyed this story, I think it’s probably my favourite from the series and that has a lot to do with the style of Kate Hewitt’s writing. I was also really pleased to see the reference to the Bramble Cottage blog which is something that has had a little cameo in each story linking them all together.
Claire and Noah meet when Claire’s rental car ends up in a snowy ditch meaning she’s stranded and the prospect of her peaceful Christmas for one is suddenly shattered.

The novella can easily be read in an hour and although it’s a short story that takes place over just a few days the progression of the story felt natural with the connection between the characters being obvious from the beginning and growing throughout the story.

There is a sub plot running throughout with Noah’s daughter and this really added to the overall family Christmas feel. I really loved the epilogue and how it tied the story together reinforcing the realism of the situation with a realistic timeline. I can definitely recommend this series, especially this story!

Christmas Review! Secret Santa by Scarlett Bailey

The bit on the back…

A self-confessed Christmas queen, Sue Montaigne prides herself on organising the annual nativity pageant in her small Cornish village of Poldore.

But this year, what with having to deal with the repairs on Castle House after it was wrecked by a terrible storm, training a new – and frankly flighty – Virgin Mary and managing a Joseph who is allergic to sheep, she is distinctly lacking a little bit of ‘me time’.

And then there are the auditions for the new Santa. But nothing prepares her for the beautiful man who turns up, a twinkle in his eye and a promise to make her Christmas dreams come true…

This is the first book of Scarlett’s that I’ve read although I have a few in my TBR including another Christmas Story Santa Maybe! It’s a Christmas novella set in the village of Poldore featuring some of the characters from the novel Scarlett released earlier this year called Two Weddings and a Baby.

The story is all about head Christmas organiser Sue Montaigne and her last minute dash to find a replacement Santa.

I love Christmas stories and I’ve been trying lots of different authors and finding each one completely different! Scarlett sets the scene with a Santa-less Christmas looming and Sue adamant that she can find someone else to fill his boots instead. I really liked this part of Sue’s spirit. There is a lot going on in the background of her life with her home and her family but she is determined to put everyone in the village before her and give them all an excellent Christmas. It showed real strength of character and a real sense of what drove Sue.

The story is a bit of a mystery with some real funny and also romantic moments which will keep you turning the pages right until the very end. It’s only a short story so great to get carried away with for a few hours this winter!

Monday, 22 December 2014

Christmas Review! Blame It On The Mistletoe by Nicole Michaels

The bit on the back…

’Tis the season for small-town Missouri boutique owner Brooke Abbott to get crafty. Much as she adores making art for art’s sake—decorating windows, designing ornaments, crafting the perfect present for under the tree—this Christmas she needs the gift of good customers. Lots of them. Sweet Opal Studios will go under if she can’t do some serious business before the New Year…and she has no time to lose. What Brooke needs is an honest-to-goodness miracle. Instead, she finds a burglar lurking in the back room of her shop. And here she thought the holidays couldn’t get any worse!

Or maybe things just got a lot better. Turns out the burglar is none other than Alex Coleman—local bad boy slash legendary heartthrob, childhood best friend to Brooke’s older brother, and…future landlord? That is the question. He’s come home for the holidays to see his grandmother, make peace with his distant mother, and settle his grandfather’s estate, an estate that includes the building that houses Sweet Opal. What he never expected was to bump into a grown-up Brooke, whose spirit, charm, and irresistible good looks give him pause. Should he go back to Oregon as planned, or give small-town life a chance? The only thing Alex knows for sure is that before he walks out that door, he’s going to get Brooke beneath the mistletoe, where anything can happen…

Firstly thank you to St Martin’s Press for approving me for a review copy of this title via NetGalley. I was drawn to the book because of the cover and the Christmassy theme!

The story is all about creative Brooke Abbott and her old crush Alex Coleman.

I used to be completely unaware that Christmas reads were such a thing but I absolutely love them, especially at this time of year! I hadn’t ever read anything by Nicole Michaels before though so wasn’t sure what to expect of this Christmas romance and I really enjoyed it!

The story is short and sweet and follows Brooke as she becomes reacquainted with Alex after mistaking him for a burglar. I really liked the creative side of Brooke’s character. It was unique and original to her and her story. Brooke has had a bit of a troubled time with an ex and her store is her new beginning and safe haven. I loved her independence and determination to prove that she could make her dream come true.

Alex, oh Alex. He was gorgeous! Simply by name association I had Alex O’Loughlin in mind when I read this story. I imagined him completely different than who he turned out to be. He’s a bad boy with a really genuine nice guy quality to him too which makes him sweet!

The story is told with a dual narrative, which I really love in a book which allows the story and the characters to develop at a good pace in keeping with the length of the novella. Seeing the story from both sides here also gives you more of an insight into Alex’s character and the reason for his return home which Brooke isn’t privy too which actually makes you root for her all the more!

I can definitely recommend this read on the lead up to Christmas!

Christmas Review! Skating At Somerset House by Nikki Moore

The bit on the back…

There’s nothing Holly Winterlake loves more than Christmas and skating, so working as an Ice Marshall at London's Somerset House is a dream come true.

Noel Summerford hates the festive season and is a disaster on the ice, so taking his godson to Somerset House is his idea of the nightmare before Christmas!

Things are bound to get interesting when these two collide…

With a forty foot Christmas tree, an assortment of well meaning friends and relatives, and a mad chocolate Labrador, will this festive season be one to remember … or forget?

Firstly, thank you to Harper Impulse for approving me for a copy of this via NetGalley. I read Nikki’s Crazy, Undercover, Love in the summer this year and I really enjoyed her writing style so I was looking forward to more from her.  You can check out my review of her novel here.

This is the first in her brand new Love London series and is a short Christmassy read.

There are so many things to like about this series! Firstly the series format itself has been huge this year and after reading a few I’ve really loved being able to have lots of stories with the same cast of characters. Secondly it’s set in London and as I love London it seems particularly suited to me!

This first instalment is set mostly at the ice rink at Somerset House and sees two main characters Noel Summerford who is all anti-Christmas, meeting Holly Winterlake who is so very pro-Christmas.

I loved that this had a dual narrative, especially when it’s such a short story and you need to get inside the characters minds quickly and get on with the story so having that really makes this short story stand out. The characters have an almost serendipitous meeting thanks to Noel’s god-son and thanks to Noel’s lack of skill on the ice they end up very close very quickly! The chemistry is palpable and I loved how intense it seemed to be! I definitely can’t wait to read the rest of this series particularly because I love Nikki’s writing!

New Year At The Ritz is the next in the series.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Christmas Review! Miracle At The Museum of Broken Hearts by Talli Roland

The bit on the back…

All Rose needs is a Christmas miracle... or does she?

When chief romantic Rose Delaney scores her dream job at London's quirkiest new attraction, The Museum of Broken Hearts, she thinks she's got it made. Sure, it's a little depressing dealing with relics of failed relationships each day, but Rose is determined not to let it break her 'love conquers all' spirit. After discovering the museum's handsome curator is nursing a broken heart of his own, Rose steps in to fix it. Can Rose heal the rift in time for the holidays, or will this Christmas crush her fantasies forever?

This is the third of Talli’s short Christmas Novellas that I’ve read. You can find the links to the reviews of the other two here – LastChristmas & Mistletoe In Manhattan.

Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts is all about main character and aspiring curator Rose.

The story starts off with an introduction to Rose’s life and her potential involvement with the museum and goes on from there. I’ve always found Talli’s books to be easy to read and really funny – this one is no different!

The main characters are all down to earth and normal meaning they’re easy to relate to. I loved Rose’s optimism even though the main theme of the story is the antithesis of her romantic notions!
Along with hunky owner Heath, Rose works to complete the museum on time hoping for a few Christmas miracles along the way!

This is fast paced read to while away a Christmassy afternoon!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Review! Sealed With A Christmas Kiss by Rachael Lucas

The bit on the back…

Kate has taken to life on the remote Scottish island of Auchenmor like a seal to water: she's given a new lease of life to the Laird's estate in her day job; she's befriended the once-nosy locals; and even young Laird Roddy is not quite so grumpy these days.

Better still, Kate has just had her best idea yet: they'll turn the castle into the most gorgeous wedding venue in Scotland. The pressure's on as the first wedding is booked in for Christmas Eve - just weeks away. But with a mismatched bride and groom, a hysterical PR on her case, her own relationship woes and a huge storm blowing in, can Kate pull it off in time?

Earlier this year I was fortunate to be given a copy of Rachael’s novel Sealed With A Kiss – find my review here. I fell in love with the location and the characters and when I saw this Christmas novella was due to be released I was over the moon to be approved for a review copy on NetGalley so thank you to Pan for that!

The story takes us back to Duntarvie House and back to Kate and Roddy. The house and island are both going from strength to strength in terms of tourists and in an attempt to bring in more business they decide to turn Duntarvie into a wedding venue.

I am so glad to be back with these characters! I loved the whole Monarch of the Glen feel that it had and it has a really nostalgic element for me too because I used to live right on the edge of a Scottish country estate so I could totally buy into the remote countryside feel of the story! Kate is our narrator again and it’s great to see her a year on now that she’s settled into her new life. Roddy, handsome and rugged estate owner really reminded me of Alistair from Monarch of the Glen and I loved the sexy relationship they had, especially the little things about Roddy’s interaction with Kate.

This short story centres around the idea of turning the house into a wedding venue and stress descends on the island. I got all swept up in the flurry of activity and loved seeing Kate’s plans coming together. One big spanner in the works threatens to end all the fun but I loved seeing how the island pulls together in true community spirit to pull off a wedding as scheduled. I can definitely recommend both Sealed With A Kiss and Sealed With A Christmas Kiss!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas Review and Christmas Read of the Week!

This week's read of the week is I Heart Christmas from Lindsey Kelk's I Heart series! I was so lucky to get a review copy of this last year. Here is my review!

The bit on the back…

Angela’s planning her very own fairytale of New York…

• Enormous Christmas tree

• Eggnog

• Eccentric British traditions

• Gorgeous man

But Santa’s throwing her a few curveballs – new job (as if it’s not mental enough already), new baby-craze from her best friend Jenny, and Alex determined they should grow up and settle down. Once friends start turning up uninvited on her doorstep (and leading her astray), can Angela really have a merry little Christmas? So much for happy holidays – something’s got to give…

To be honest I’m not even sure how to start writing this review, so I will firstly say thanks to Harper Fiction and Net Galley for the ARC.

I want to make sure I do this justice, and get across exactly how much I completely enjoyed this story – so here goes.

As you will know the story is the next instalment in Lindsey’ I Heart series. Number 6 to be exact. The whole series is about MC Angela Clarke. In this story we meet up with Angela again in New York. Her very own magazine is doing brilliantly. So brilliantly that her editor has decided she is ready to take the reins on a trial period. If this isn’t enough stress for Angela, Alex is trying to get her to make grown up decisions and Jenny is making grown up decisions she’s not grown up enough to make. All of this makes for an epic challenge, but add in the hard task of trying to plan the perfect Christmas and it seems like it’s just a struggle for Angela to get out of the bed in the morning!

I absolutely adore Angela, in a recent guest post I even went as far as to say if I could be any character ever, it would be her. She is just amazing, quite simply. One of the things I love most about Angela is her sense of humour. Lindsey has written her with expert wit and honestly almost everything she says has me actually laughing out loud. So much so that I was told off by my boyfriend. I think the thing that really gets me about her sense of humour is that I think it’s quite similar to my sister’s and my own. So Angela’s point of view is often like something that I would say myself. I thought I would pick a quote from the story to get my point across, and picking just one was a hard task, but here it is.

“Megan’s eyebrows were so high up her forehead I was amazed we hadn’t had a call from air traffic control asking her to bring them back down”

The next best thing about this book, is Alex. Alex Reid. Alex super hot musician/book boyfriend Reid. I’ve always had a thing for him, right from the beginning. I think one of the biggest draws about Alex is that he really really loves Angela and it’s quite obvious, even though the narrative is only ever from Angela, through his actions in the story. He is really sweet to her and he is really super cute with Angela’s best friend’s baby. I think the fact that he has always tried to stick by Angela in her craziness also speaks of just how much he loves her. 

I heart Alex.

This story has something a little bit different to the others in the rest of the series. It has quite a good message behind the whole thing for modern women in our society! Every woman dreams of having it all, after all we are told we can have it. But how practical is it in real life to keep all your balls up in the air? Angela is testament to the modern day girl who has a high flying career but who also wants to have a family. This scenario really makes her even more relatable than before I think as it’s something that almost all of us will face.

Another epically funny story from Lindsey, with equal measure of love and tequila thrown in.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas Giveaway

This is my third and final Christmas giveaway and fittingly it's three stories in one! Debbie Macomber, Robyn Carr and Sherryl Woods join together in That Christmas Feeling!

The bits on the back...

Silver Bells

Phillip Lark’s daughter has hatched a plot to find her father a wife and lovely Carrie Weston fits the bill. Will the magic of the holiday season – and Carrie’s wonderful charms – see the single dad finally saying “I do”?

The Perfect Holiday

Could bachelor Trace Franklin become a groom-to-be by Christmas time? If Savannah Holiday’s aunt Mae has anything to do with it, he will! Fingers crossed for marriage under the mistletoe!

Under the Christmas Tree

When a box of puppies is found under the town Christmas tree the community call on vet Nathaniel Jensen for help. But it’s his budding romance with Annie McCarty that really has tongues – and tails – wagging!

This is INTERNATIONAL so make sure you enter below!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Christmas Book Boyfriend of the Week!

This is the penultimate Christmas Book Boyfriend this Christmas and he is from one of my favourite Christmas books this year! I posted a review yesterday of A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale and this week's Book Boyfriend is the gorgeous Adam Fletcher!

My Adam is Chris Hemsworth, Jenny told me herself she thought of Liam as Adam so I wasn't far off with my guess! Here is a double Christmas treat!

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Christmas Review! A Christmas To Remember by Jenny Hale

This is one of my favourite reads this year! I posted this review earlier this year as I was so fortunate to receive a review copy! Here it is now!

The bit on the back…

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing, the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree! The only problem could be her boss… single-dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin!

Firstly a massive thank you to Kim at Bookouture for sending me a copy of Jenny’s latest Christmas novel to review. I first fell in love with Jenny’s writing last Christmas when I read her novel Coming Home for Christmas so I was really looking forward to reading this.

The story is all about MC Carrie Blake. Carrie is a nanny and spends her life looking after other people’s children and often looking after the whole family’s needs but now she feels like it’s time to put her own life first.

I loved Carrie immediately. A slight worrier, Carrie is a big fan of self-help books and is armed with a phrase or quote to apply to almost every event in her life. I loved this little quirk and how a new quote opened a new chapter throughout the story. Carrie is a really kind and caring character with such a warm personality that you can’t help but love her. I really liked her determination to look after everyone particularly the children in the families she looks after and I really enjoyed reading how she approached changing and enhancing the lifestyle of the children she looks after.

By chapter two I had fallen in love with the story and Carrie’s gorgeous new boss. I actually think that the Hemsworth brothers could fit the position of any book boyfriend and this time Chris was Adam Fletcher for me. Adam is described as this gorgeous guy with a great smile and a successful business. He has gorgeous children but doesn’t realise that he’s missing out on being a bigger part of their little lives. I loved the connection between Carrie and Adam from the start of the story and how Carrie tried to show Adam what he was missing without trying to force a change on him. I enjoyed seeing their relationship and feelings towards each other changing throughout the story and although the narrative is all from Carrie you get a glimpse of what Adam might be feeling through his words and actions and I love that in a book!

The cast of characters surrounding Carrie and Adam are Adam’s family from his parents to his Grandpa and I loved what they brought to the story. I loved how Walter had some wise words for Carrie and just like a papa should, he cheered everyone up with stories from days gone by and dodgy jokes. The kids, David and Olivia are written really well in this story. Their personalities and how they come across in dialogue during the story seemed pitched perfectly for their ages and I found myself really loving them. I can see how Carrie felt about the end of her job coming nearer.

One thing I really loved alongside the story itself was the reappearance of the characters from Coming Home for Christmas – Robert and Allie. I loved catching up with them and getting to see how their story worked out.

This, along with Jenny’s other novel Coming Home for Christmas feel like they could become one of those books that you read every year as a tradition. I absolutely love Jenny’s writing and I definitely recommend it, especially if you are a fan of Paige Toon too. 

Monday, 15 December 2014

Christmas Review! Christmas At Waratah Bay by Marion Lennox

The bit on the back…

Sarah’s committed to her stellar modelling career in New York, but there’s an obligation she needs to fulfil. Harold was a Grandpa to her when she needed him most. Now all Harold wants is one last Christmas in his beloved Waratah Bay Homestead. Sarah’s not that so hot on baking and Christmas seems a bit… challenging… but she’s prepared to fly half way round the world to give it a try.

The only problem is, Harold no longer owns Waratah Bay Homestead. Farming tycoon Max Ramsey owns it now and he doesn’t like company, he doesn’t like Christmas and most of all, he doesn’t like Sarah.

When the two clash, enough sparks ensue to light a Christmas tree. How many enemies does it take to cook one Christmas turkey?

Firstly thank you to Tule Publishing for approving me for a copy of this title via NetGalley. This is the first book in the Christmas Around The World series by 4 different Tule Publishing authors. Although it’s first, it’s the third book in the series that I’ve read so I would say don’t worry if you read them out of order!

The story is all about farmer Max and model Sarah and their Waratah Bay Christmas.

When the series title suggests that the series is Christmas around the world it doesn’t lie! Book one kicks off in Australia in Waratah Bay. I find it really hard to imagine what Christmas in a country like Australia would be like when the weather is completely opposite to Scotland’s so I loved the trip my imagination took in this short read!

Sarah and Max find themselves together in unlikely circumstances and the pull together to bring their old friend home for what they think will be his last Christmas. This storyline is quite heart wrenching and the emotions and feelings of the character seem real. As it’s a short story there is a lot happening in a short period of time and there definitely is some Christmas magic at work! The only thing for me was the relationship between the two main characters progressed at the speed of light and that didn’t feel real but on the whole the characters were well developed and came with backstory that was well detailed and easy to imagine.

Check out my reviews of the third and fourth books in the series here!

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Christmas Review! Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

The bit on the back…

Brenna’s not dreaming of a white Christmas… As a professional skier she’s already had too many to count!

Brenna’s more concerned about finally spending the season with the man she’s loved as long as she can remember – her best friend Tyler.

Single dad Tyler is determined to make sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. He can’t afford to be distracted by Brenna moving into his family’s snow-capped ski resort. Especially as that mistletoe magic has him looking at Brenna in a whole new light.

Until a surprise kiss means the relationship Brenna’s always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it.

Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true?

Firstly a massive thank you to the wonderful guys over at Harlequin for approving me for a review copy of this title on NetGalley. This is the third book in Sarah’s Snow Crystal series. I read the books completely out of order which you totally can, but if you’ve read them in order then this is number three and it’s all about Brenna and Tyler.

If you’ve read the other two books, Sleigh Bells In The Snow and Suddenly Last Summer you will already have snippets of information and back story about Brenna and Tyler and if you haven’t it’s  easy to pick it up because Sarah subtly writes their back story into their narrative without making it feel like a rewrite for those who’ve read the other two!

Brenna and Tyler have been best friends for years and years but now that business is starting to boom at Snow Crystal they are forced to get a bit too close for comfort!

Well I cannot tell you how much I have been anticipating this read. The Snow Crystal trilogy focuses on the lives of the three O’Neill brothers who are all infamously smoking hot! I already knew Tyler to be a bit of a bad boy and seriously sexy but getting to know him in his own right just doubles it! He’s an ex-world champion downhill skier (so he’s ripped like crazy) and after crashing out on a downhill race his career is over. His new focus though is on his daughter Jess who came to live with him. In the foreword Sarah introduces this story by telling the readers it’s about love – not just between lovers but family love too. I think I fell for Tyler even more after seeing him with Jess! He’s got a bit of a reputation as a player and his celebrity status means there’s a lot of hype about his personal life but I loved how down to earth he was and how much of just a normal guy and a good dad he was!

The story is dual narrative which is great because it builds the story up nicely. You get to see both Brenna and Tyler’s thoughts and feelings about the other first hand and feel that intensity building up. I cried for about half an hour about 2/3 into the book and I was in complete emotional turmoil when I couldn’t work out what was going to happen with the characters and I was worried and my anxiety levels were through the roof! All turned out well though and that’s partly due to the fabulous family members that Brenna and Tyler are surrounded by.

I cannot recommend this series enough. If you read just one book from it then I think it should be this one. I think it’s definitely my favourite and I loved the friends to lovers’ storyline. Imagine Tyler is the hottest book boyfriend you’ve known and times it by a million. The relationship between Brenna and Tyler is so romantic and the relationship Tyler has with Jess is beautiful and compelling. A definite recommended Christmas read!

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Christmas Review! Married By Midnight by Talli Roland

The bit on the back…

Christmas is coming . . . and so is the biggest day of Kate's life.

While choosing a vintage dress for her Christmas Eve wedding, Kate finds a cryptic note pinned to the inside of a 1930s gown. As doubts about her own ceremony loom, Kate is determined to track down the dress' owner and determine what became of her - and the marriage.

Will Kate find the answers she's seeking to propel her down the aisle, or will her discovery prompt her to call off the wedding for good?

Firstly a massive thank you to Talli and Notting Hill Press for sending me a copy of Talli’s latest Christmas novella. This is the 4th Christmas novella of hers that I’ve read so safe to say I’m a fan! I’ve been really looking forward to this since I received the e-mail from NHP!

The story is all about main character Kate who is a big believer in fate. She’s engaged to be married on Christmas Eve but her wedding dress sends her off on an impromptu but magical adventure.

I totally didn’t see the story going the way that it did and I loved how the whole plot line tied back to Kate’s love and belief in fate. The story is romantic and sweet and will have you oohing and aahing.

Married By Midnight is the epitome of Christmas miracles and it’s a heart-warming story if you have a spare hour over Christmas! 

Friday, 12 December 2014

Book Break - Christmas Special!!

Join #BookBreak this lunch hour for some extra special reading inspiration!
In episode eight of BOOK BREAK, anchored by author Alexandra Heminsley (Running Like a Girl), we are joined by Betty Trask Prize winner David Whitehouse and Ben Collins, more commonly known as former Top Gear’s “The Stig”. We also have a special guest appearance of Film Director turned Children’s Author, Garth Jennings, as he undergoes the rigorous questioning in our Writer’s Room. 

As the former “The  Stig”, Ben Collins appeared on Top Gear for seven years, taking us from series three to series 15 of the TV phenomenon. He’s raced cars in almost every class you can imagine and performed as a stunt driver in films such as Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises, he talks to us about his latest release, How to Drive, a perfect stocking filler for all petrol heads.
Award winning author of Bed, David Whitehouse’s breakout second novel is Mobile Library. Quirky, dark, magical and full of heart, Mobile Library is both a tragicomic road trip and a celebration of the adventures that books can take us on. It's a love-letter to unlikely families and the stories that shaped us. Mobile Library tells a tragicomic adventure about a troubled adolescent boy who escapes his small town in a stolen library-on-wheels.

Garth Jennings is best known as a film director, although he started out directing music videos for the likes of Blur, Radiohead and Fatboy Slim. He moved into feature films with The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy which he followed with Son Of Rambow. He’s now turned his talents to Children’s Literature with THE DEADLY 7 and he talks about his work as an author and the inspiration behind this book.
Finally Alexandra will share her recommendations on books you might like to buy for your friends and family this Christmas – as well as the books you might want to keep for yourself!

Christmas Review and Christmas Read of the Week!

This week's recommended Christmas Read of the Week is Coming Home For Christmas by Jenny Hale! I absolutely fell in LOVE with this book last year... here is my review!

The bit on the back…

Christmas is a time for family... isn't it?

Allie Richfield loves Christmas, so when she lands a job as House Manager for the amazing Ashford Estate—which includes organizing the Marley family festivities—she is in her element. With a budget bigger than her life savings and a team of staff, how hard can it be?

As one-by-one she meets the Marleys, she’s about to find out...

Allie’s new boss, Robert, might be gorgeous, but he’s also colder than the snow outside and refuses to come home for Christmas. Robert’s playboy brother, Kip, flirts with her relentlessly; and his sister, Sloane, arrives home with baggage—both the divorce-kind and the Louis Vuitton kind. Their ninety-two year old grandmother, Pippa, spends her day grumbling at them all from her mobility scooter.

With Robert intending to sell Ashford, it’s the Marley’s last chance to create some happy memories in their family home—and Allie is determined to make it happen... even if it takes a little Christmas magic! With the festive spirit in full swing, she might even discover a little happiness of her own...

This is the story of Allie Richfield. She is about to start work as House Manager at the Ashford Estate. The Ashford Estate is for sale after being the Marley family home for many, many years. Her job is to ensure that the day to day running of the house is carried out, but also to ensure that the family celebrate their last Christmas at Ashford, well some of the family.

Immediately I loved Allie’s character. I loved her independence but also loved her absolute love for her family. Her love for her family, her mum and her sister, overflows into the Marley household, as she uses it to try and inject some warmth into the old house again.

At first when we meet Richard there is an instant connection between him and Allie, but this is put on the back burner as he is completely shut off and reserved, feeling like he is very cold in his attitude to his family and the house.

We meet the other members of the family as they all return to Ashford one last time. Kip, Robert’s brother is an absolute player, he wins Allie’s affections straight away with his outright flirty manor. Robert’s sister Sloane appears to be a little wary of Allie at first but when the story unfolds you get to learn a little more about Sloane’s current family situation. Then there is Robert’s grandmother. She is somewhat of a mystery. Robert’s description of her makes you think of a frail little old lady who’s house has outgrown her. But when you really get to know her you discover her true family spirit and the tragic events which dominate her relationship with Robert.

This story is centred around the family coming home for Christmas, but it also so much more than that. The story is predominantly about family, about the relationship we have with our family members but also how blood is thicker than water and that truly family can overcome anything which is beautifully portrayed in the story between Pippa and Robert.

I really enjoyed that the focus was also on Christmas as it resonates with the family theme that runs along with it in the story. A really, truly great story which will warm your hearts and show you the true meaning of family at Christmastime.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas Giveaway

Christmas giveaway number two is here! Over the next few days you have the chance to win this...

Angels in the Snow by Sarah Morgan! This is a double whammy! A two story Christmas compendium from Sarah!

The bit(s) on the back...

Snowbound: Miracle Marriage
When E. R. doctor and confirmed bachelor Daniel Buchannan is left in charge of his brother's kids for a few days he needs help and fast. There's only one person Daniel can turn to—Stella. Stella's heart was crushed when Daniel broke off their engagement. But for the sake of his adorable little niece and nephew Stella agrees to be the stand-in mom this Christmas. Snowbound with his makeshift family, Daniel realizes he can never let Stella go again. And when Stella opens his very special secret-Santa gift, she finds that Christmas really is a time for miracles!

Christmas Eve: Doorstep Delivery
Bubbly midwife Hayley Hamilton has lost her heart to the intoxicating man she spent one magical night with—a man she has been completely unable to forget! So imagine her surprise when taking a job as a housekeeper leads her to exactly where she needs to be. . . .

Obstetrician Patrick Buchannan hasn't been able to forget his night of reckless abandon with Hayley either, but he's the father to two young children and can't simply follow his heart on a whim. But a knock at his door on Christmas Eve and an unexpected delivery are about to change everything!

 This is an INTERNATIONAL giveaway please enter below!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Christmas Book Boyfriend of the Week

That time again! This week's Book Boyfriend is one I have been in love with for A WHILE, like a long while. He had a cameo in the review I posted yesterday and his name is.... ALEX REID! I love this guy btw, I've loved him since I first read I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk years ago and I've loved him in every book in the series since. Here is my Alex...

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Christmas Review! Jenny Lopez Saves Christmas by Lindsey Kelk

The bit on the back…

Jenny Lopez has had a rubbish twelve months. Determined to turn her festive frown upside down, she plots an escape to Vermont, the best Christmas tree the world has ever seen and more bottles of champagne than is legal to transport across state lines. Someone’s got to cheer up her friend Angela’s holiday season.

Nothing goes according to plan, starting with work and ending with her travelling companion. But this is Jenny Lopez. She’s going to have the best Christmas known to man, even if it means dragging a turkey three miles in the snow.

Single-handedly and in an inappropriate outfit Jenny Lopez is determined to save Christmas. Whether it likes it or not.

Firstly I was beyond excited to read this! I need Angela and Jenny back in my life! This is the first of the two Jenny Lopez novellas that I’ve read and now I definitely need Jenny Lopez Has A Bad Day in my life!

Our favourite BFFs are back and looking for a Christmas miracle.

Even though this is a short read it is chock full with Jenny-isms, great banter, laughs and boys (I mean have you met Alex?!) Jenny is the narrator in this short but I already felt as though she was my best friend by default after reading the 6 books in the I Heart series. She tells the story exactly as I imagined she would and I love being in her head.

Jenny, ever the problem solver, is out to save Christmas as the title suggests and I loved seeing her plan forming and coming together. Jenny is feisty and independent and fiercely loves her friends. I really love that about her character and it’s great to experience what drives that!

I adored this short Christmas story, and loved having the guys back up to their usual tricks. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry and you’ll swoon over this classically Lindsey novella.