Friday, 18 October 2019

Book Review - The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman - #HolidayReading Madeira

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Amazon UK
Title: The Girl at the Window
Author: Rowan Coleman
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Ebury
Publication Date: 27th June 2019 
Rating: 4 Stars

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It's also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from...

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present...

A hauntingly beautiful story of love and hope, from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book and The Summer of Impossible Things

First a disclaimer that I've never read a book by any of the Bronte's, nor before going into this story know much about them at all.  I'm also not typically a fan of books with large historical sections...

....but I am a massive fan of Rowan Coleman, so I put my trust in her that I would enjoy the book, and she hasn't steered me wrong. 

Although not entirely for me, I did thoroughly enjoy the story-lines, the parallels in the history. Through such evocative writing i felt as though I knew every nook and cranny of Ponden Hall, and even the sceptic in me was starting to believe in ghosts, such was the conviction of the storytelling. 

There is a lot going on this story, and I couldn't help but feel for poor Agnes. And then there is in the present day Will who is utterly convinced his father is still alive, they just have to look harder for him. 

Despite the multiple time lines, it was always clear which bit you were following, which greatly helped. I enjoyed seeing how Trudy and Abe got together, and also how the relationship between Trudy and her mum develops .

Hauntingly beautiful writing, which I suspect may just infiltrate my dreams this evening,  Just hope this hotel doesn't have any ghosts of it own!   What a fabulous start to my holiday reading,  

Thank you to Ebury and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Book Review - One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom

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Amazon UK
Title: One Winter Morning
Author: Isabelle Broom
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Publication Date: 17th October 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

Genie isn't feeling very festive this December.

The frosty mornings and twinkling fairy lights only remind her it's been a whole year since she lost her adoptive mother, who took her in as a baby and raised her as her own.

She's never felt more alone - until she discovers her birth mother's identity.

And where to find her: New Zealand, half the world away.

Travelling there could be her one chance to meet the woman who gave her up.

But will she find the answers she has been looking for? Or something she could never have expected?

One Winter Morning is a heart-warming, moving and life-affirming story for fans of Hannah Beckerman, Lucy Diamond and Paige Toon.

Simply beautiful story, beautiful location and beautiful people featuring in it. 

I loved every single moment of this book, words can't really do it justice, it is that good. 

It's the story of Genie who, a year after her mother dies, is encouraged to find and meet her birth mother, and it;s also the story of Bonnie, and just what lead to her giving up her baby. 

We get chapters from both perspectives, and seeing Bonnie tell her story was rather moving and completely gripping, But at the same time, Genie from the moment she lands in New Zealand, starts to feel free-er and more like her old self from years before. 

However the character that I loved the most was Tui.  She is a young lady, who has assorted conditions, and just the most amazing personality and zest for life.  She really is an inspirational character.  

I loved discovering Queenstown and some of the surrounding area in New Zealand.  Reading about penguins and seals is just magical, and for the animal lover there is a good amount of horses and time spent in stables, plus an adorable young dog. 

Isabelle Broom has outdone herself with this book, the writing draws you in, I could see everything so clearly and although I did have some suspicions about elements of the book, I was enjoying the journey and seeing exactly what would happen.   

It's a journey of self discovery for Genie, set to a fabulous backdrop, some brilliant characters that I loved reading about, and although it tackles adoption, and the sense of family, it does so in such a compelling manner.  

An incredibly good book, that you really should curl up and read one winter's morning!! 

Thank you to Michael Joseph and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Book Review - I'll Be Home For Christmas by Karen Clarke

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Amazon UK
Title: I'll Be Home For Christmas 
Author: Karen Clarke
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 14th October 2019
Rating: 4 Stars

Nina Bailey loves Christmas. Except this year she doesn’t. Because it turns out that her husband-to-be has been cheating on her – and her beautiful wedding ceremony in the snow is cancelled.

She’s not really in the mood to be jolly, sing carols, or go anywhere near gingerbread men – in fact, what Nina wants is to avoid the whole thing. So she’s come to stay at her Aunt Dolly’s cosy café to nurse her broken heart.

Nina is determined to get through Christmas with no tinsel, no fuss – and definitely no flirting. So when she arrives and meets infuriatingly handsome Ryan Sadler, with his gorgeous forest-green eyes, she is not best pleased. And when Nina overhears him making fun of her, she is furious. (There might have been an incident with a koala onesie and a spilled bottle of milk, but that really wasn’t her fault!) So despite the spark between them, and the fact that he can whip up a fabulous dinner faster than she can say Michelin star, romance and Christmas are off the menu this year.

Unfortunately, Aunt Dolly hasn’t quite got the message, going to great lengths to provide a proper British Christmas for her beloved niece: a true home away from home. With sparkling lights adorning every wall and a tree to equal the Rockefeller Center’s and, yes, mistletoe above every doorway, can Nina resist the magic of Christmas – and stick to her no-romance rule?

This heartwarming romantic comedy will have you reaching for eggnog, roasted chestnuts and gingerbread cookies! The perfect festive book to read curled up in front of the fire, for fans of Sue Moorcroft, Holly Martin and Debbie Johnson.

What a lovely gentle festive romance, and another great addition to the Little French Cafe series. 

This is a new standalone story, focusing on Nina, who is Charles (from the previous books) cousin, and Ryan, Charles' best friend, who both happen to be in France this Christmas. 

Despite both of them having broken engagements, and a whole lot of baggage, it doesn't stop Aunt Dolly to engage a series of not particularly subtle matchmaking efforts between the pair. 

Nina really isn't sure what she wants from her life, and seeing her thoughts on how she might be a travel blogger were amusing, especially given she isn't that keen on flying, and by the sounds of it she was struggling to take in focus photos!!  However it soon becomes apparent to everyone apart from her what she should be doing as a job! 

Whereas Ryan is struggling for inspiration for his new novel, and his first encounter with Nina was amusing and continually referenced throughout.   

 I enjoyed seeing whether Ryan and Nina would ever stop fighting the inevitable, and there are some really amusing part to the story too.  This was a really enjoyable addition to the series, I loved being back with familiar faces, and generally was good fun to see France in the snow.   

Thank you to Netgalley and Bookouture for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Book Review - Coming Home To Glendale Hall by Victoria Walters

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Amazon UK
Title: Coming Home To Glendale Hall
Author: Victoria Walters
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hera 
Publication Date: 25th September 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

No matter how far you go, home is where the heart is...

Beth Williams hasn’t been home for ten years. After falling pregnant at sixteen, she ran away from the imposing Scottish estate where she grew up rather than risk her family’s disapproval, working hard to build a life for herself and daughter Isabelle - but now she’s finally returning to Glendale Hall.

As Beth tries to mend her broken family ties, and fights to bring the community of Glendale back together, she realises that the story she has told herself for a decade might well be a very different one from the truth. Even though she ran from Glendale it has never left her heart. And, she soon realises, neither has Drew – Beth’s first love.

Will Beth be able to forgive her mother and grandmother (and herself) for what happened ten years ago? What will Drew say when he discovers the secret she’s been keeping from him for so long? Can a festive trail bring the village back together?

Will Christmas work its magic on Glendale - or will Beth be forced to run away from it all over again?

A charming, uplifting novel that will warm your heart – the perfect read to curl up with this autumn. Fans of Trisha Ashley, Debbie Johnson and Cathy Bramley
will love this gorgeously romantic read.

This is so much more than a Christmas book, although the festivities do take up a good part of the story.   It is more a book about family, forgiveness, and a fight to save a local high street and thus the community of Glendale. 

It's the first time that Beth has been back to Glendale Hall in 10 years, and the first time her daughter Isabelle  has ever been to Scotland, not to mention the Hall.   Beth has only returned because it may be her grandmother's last Christmas, and it felt like the right thing to do, even though it may have been her fault that Beth left the Hall all those years ago. 

There is 10 years of hurt to try to get past, and Beth is amazed how much has changed in Glendale, and how at home she and her daughter seem to feel there.  There are so many fabulously heart warming storylines in this book, and they all work so well. 

I loved everything about this book especially all the festive celebrations, but also ... well no I do mean everything. I'm not going to list fabulous things about this book, you are best discovering them for yourself. 

From the first few pages this story captured my heart, and it was a sheer joy to read it.  Between old friends, old loves, and rediscovering a love of Glendale and her family, it truly is a wonderful book.   I enjoyed curling up with it and throwing myself into loving every second of it. 

Definitely a book to add to your winter reading pile! 

Thank you to Hera on Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Monday, 14 October 2019

Book Review - Escape to Giddywell Grange by Kim Nash - #HolidayReading Madeira

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Amazon UK
Title: Escape to Giddywell Grange
Author: Kim Nash
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hera Books
Publication Date: 18th September 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

Maddy Young thought she had it all.

Swanky city apartment? – yep. Fancy car? sorted. High-flying career? – tick.

Even if she’s lost most of her friends because of spending all her time at work, and can’t remember when she last had fun, it’s worth it.

Until she’s suddenly made redundant. Now she’s 37, jobless, and after the breakup with the former love of her life, unhappily single.

Enter Maddy’s childhood friend, Beth, the owner of Growlers, the doggy daycare centre at Giddywell Grange, on a mission to make Maddy see there’s more to life than work.

Soon, Maddy is swapping spreadsheets for volunteer duty at the library, daily Starbucks for cups of tea with elderly neighbours, and her Prada handbag for doggy poo bags… And with Beth’s gorgeous brother, Alex, back from the States, Maddy starts to think that Giddywell Grange might just be her happy place.

But when her old life – and her old boyfriend - comes calling, will Maddy go back to the job she loved so much? Or will she discover that the key to happiness lies in making others happy?

An uplifting romantic comedy that will warm your heart – perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Milly Johnson and Katie Fforde.

Kim Nash is on a roll, and is already after this the second book, starting to become a must read author for romantic comedy fans.  

I adored this book, Maddie is a fabulous main character, and although some of the surprises along the way I did guess, I was enjoying the journey far too much to mind. 

And there are dogs, I love Growlers at Giddywell Grange, it sounds like a fabulous place to leave your dog for a doggie holiday, and is a massive contrast for Maddie when she is made redundant from her high flying PR job, for her to help out at Giddywell Grange while her best friend recuperates from a much needed surgery. 

This is a story of self re-discovery for Maddie, as her life changes completely and she starts to find pleasure in the simpler pleasures of life.  

I loved seeing how Maddie develops over the course of the book, although I was worried about some of the decisions she appeared to be making. 

Baxter is one special dog and I doubt there is a reader out there that if they like dogs, that won;t fall under his adorable spell, and equally will enjoy getting to know Alice, his human too. 

You should have seen the great big grin on my face, when I spotted a quick cameo from a leading character in the author's previous book! I love it when authors do that sort of thing!

This is such a gentle story, written from Maddie's point of view, that I couldn't help but really love. 

I felt that Maddie was starting to become my own friend, and there are many many moments that made me smile in this. 

It's certainly a feel good, all around fabulous read.  It's got a different vibe from Amazing Grace, but this is  an author still finding her feet, and finding them well, proving already she can write in a multitude of ways. 

For me this was a fantastic holiday read, which I raced through the pages and couldn't get enough of in only a few short hours.   

I can happily recommend this completely whole heartedly for lovers of dogs, great story lines,  characters that feel real and that grow over the course of the book, and a whole lost of other plot points that I haven't even mentioned!!  

Thank you to Hera on Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Friday, 11 October 2019

Book Review - A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle by Liz Eeles - #HolidayReading Madeira

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Amazon UK
Title: A Summer Escape and Strawberry Cake at the Cosy Kettle
Author: Liz Eeles 
Format reviewed: Ebook 
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 1st July 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

The Cosy Kettle café is the perfect place to escape this summer, for fans of Cathy Bramley, Jenny Colgan and Debbie Johnson. Guests can tuck in to fruit puddings and strawberry-studded ice cream, but for Flora, the warm summer breeze is blowing in big changes…

When Flora finds out about her husband’s secret fling, she escapes to the one place she feels safe: her beloved café, the Cosy Kettle, in the charming village of Honeyford. Serving up cream teas to her café regulars is the perfect way to soothe her broken heart, and although she’s never lived in the area, the little community welcome her with open arms.

She’s soon lodging with local eccentric Luna in her remote and beautiful Starlight Cottage, snuggled between rolling green hills. Luna’s handsome son Daniel lost his wife several years ago, and as Flora gets to know him, sharing walks through the blossom-scented woods, they both slowly begin to heal… and she realises that behind Daniel’s quiet exterior, there’s a passionate nature that makes her forget all about her ex-husband.

As she settles into her new life, hosting a baking competition for the village’s summer celebration seems like a great idea… but with Daniel’s mysterious silences leading Flora to believe he’s hiding secrets, she can’t help but wonder if she can really trust him. And when the race to bake the perfect Victoria sponge stirs up old rivalries between locals, Flora starts to feel like she’s bitten off more than she can chew.

After her new start, will Flora ever truly belong in Honeyford? And, this summer, can she risk opening up her heart again? 

This is the second standalone book in this marvellous Cosy Kettle series and this time we get to know Flora a lot better. 

I hated Flora's husband with a passion, and had everything crossed that she would come to the right decision. 

I love the combined cafe and bookshop, and catching up with the characters from the previous book, and seeing how they are all getting on. 

The town of Honeyford is rather special and I really loved Flora's story, involving Luna, Daniel, Caleb and a mystery author. 

There is a plot featuring a self published author which Flora as a bookseller was championing, which I could really identify with as a book blogger, as I love the idea of being able to promote a gem a book that you have found, including this one!

This was a delight to read, and I'm already looking forward to seeing Becca's story in the Christmas book. 

Thank you to Bookouture on Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily 

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Book Review - Seven Days by Alex Lake

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Amazon UK
Title: Seven Days
Author: Alex Lake
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Felicity Denham at Harper Collins
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 10th October 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

A race against time to save her child…

In seven days, Maggie’s son, Max, turns three. But she’s not planning a party or buying presents or updating his baby book. She’s dreading it. Because in her world, third birthdays are the days on which the unthinkable happens… she loses her child.

For the last twelve years Maggie has been imprisoned in a basement. Abducted aged fifteen, she gave birth to two sons before Max, and on their third birthdays her captor came and took them from her.

She cannot let it happen again. But she has no idea how to stop it. And the clock is ticking…

OMG - WOW!!! I have no other words...

.... go buy and read this book now, it is that AMAZING!

I've literally just sat in my garden for two hours and have devoured every last word of this book - there is great amounts of tension and the question that keeps driving the story forward is, will Maggie be able to save her son in 7 days time, and if so how. 

She was kidnapped and imprisoned 12 years before that and the man who took her, has fathered three children with her, and each one was taken away on their third birthday, never to be seen again.  Maggie is determined that it won't happen again this time, but equally she has no idea just what will work as she has tried to escape over the years. 

From the readers point of view we see the present day situation with Maggie, in addition to sections from her family members and police, all in incredibly short and more-ish chapters.   All the time lines are introduced clearly so you always know where you are in the story and who the current focus is on. 

I think the very short chapters work really well in this book as they create as sense of urgency, and I wouldn't  have been able to put this book down if you had asked. 

I've read most of Alex Lake's books and without a doubt this is an author who started off with fabulous books and is improving and writing even better, more addictive stories each time. This must be her best yet. 

From our viewpoint, we knew how had taken Maggie, but I just couldn't quite reach inside the pages and tell the police what was going on.  

Maggie's experiences are horrifying, I would hate to ever be in a similar situation but we also see how her being missing has affected the entire family.  

Simply put this is one fantabulous book, which hooked me in really quickly, from the prologue and didn't let me go until the last page. 

Thank you to Felicity Denham for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Book Review - One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK
Title: One Christmas Star
Author: Mandy Baggot
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 12th September 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

Emily Parker is set to have the worst Christmas ever!
Her flatmate's moved out, she's closed her heart to love and she's been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero musical ability.

Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick PR turnaround. Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.

Ray needs Emily's help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show. As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance...

I've known for years now that Mandy Baggot is one talented author and fabulous story teller.  However within this book we  discover she is fabulous lyricist too.  Well at least her character of Ray is, as he helped Emily with her schools Christmas show. 

I loved seeing all these new lyrics to old Christmas favourites, and I couldn't help but sot of get the feeling that the show itself had the same feel to it as the film Nativity.  

I really enjoyed getting to know the children in Emily's class, and although they may not have been completely key to the main story, it didn't detract from loving her class, and seeing how she reacted to various situations as a teacher.  Was also amused to see the various wildlife that ended up in her classroom. 

Emily and Ray are from completely different walks of life, and under normal circumstances would have probably never, met, but now that they have, this fledgling friendship was enjoyable to watch develop. 

And seeing how Ray, famous singer, songwriter is coping with the blatantly untrue bad press he is getting is admirable, although I was completely shocked when the truth came out, as I hadn't even considered it as a possible outcome. 

I found the book got off to a bit of a slow start, but once I got into the swing of it I was wholeheartedly enjoying it.  i connected with Emily rather quickly, but it took Ray a short while to warm to, and when I did, well you could't have asked for a nicer hero. 

It was great getting to know Emily and Ray's friends and families, and seeing how different their feelings for Christmas. are. 

Many fantastically festive moments in this story, far too many to mention in this incredibly charming festive romance. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Aria for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Please take a look at the rest of the stops on this fabulous blog tour. 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Book Review - Reach For A Star by Kathryn Freeman

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Amazon UK
Title:  Reach For A Star
Author: Kathryn Freeman
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Choc Lit
Publication Date: 24th September 2019
Rating: 5 Stars

​What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them?
How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life – there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor.

At least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. The premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!

As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?

How I absolutely loved Jessie and Michael's story. 

Jessie has always had a crush on Michael Tennant, but never dreamed in a million years that she may even meet him, let alone be partnered with him on a reality TV show.  Her sons has written in and she had been picked as a contestant, to improve her singing with Michael as her partner. 

For a superstar, Michael  is actually an introvert and seems to struggle with interacting with other people, so to say that Michael and Jessie got off to a slightly rocky start would be understatement. 

What did though soon become apparent was there was chemistry between them, although both tries to fight it. 

They are from worlds apart, as Jessie is a pharmacist, single mum with two pre-teen boys, whereas Michael is about to embark on an 8 month long world tour,  

The majority of the book is about just what on earth happens with them both once the tour starts, and whether you really should ever meet an idol, let alone fall for them, and whether opposites really do attract.  

I just love Kathryn Freeman's writing style, and completely believed the chemistry between our two leads. I think I feel for Michael a bit myself, and seeing him try to interact with Luke and Jack was really amusing.  Everything in the book felt so familiar, realistic and I just really enjoyed every moment. 

At times I really couldn't work out if we would get the ending I was hoping for, which is the sign of a good writer, that even though its a romance, and should have a HEA, I wasn't completely convinced there would be one! 

Kathryn Freeman at her best with a very enjoyable story. 

Thank you to Choc Lit for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Monday, 7 October 2019

Book Review - Magic Under The Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK
Title: Magic Under The Mistletoe
Author: Lucy Coleman
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 5th September 2019
Rating: 4 Stars 

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

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

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

A unique take on the fake date trope.  

Wow there is a lot of story in this book, there are so many threads, characters, storylines, with more developing the whole time, that by the time I'm trying to write this review, I can't work out what was early enough in the book I dare comment on. 

Cary and Leesa start as colleagues and get to know each other a bit better on a long haul flight back from Sydney and then with some bad weather, Leesa ends up going to Cary's family home for the night. 

Neither of them are particularly relishing their Christmas this year,  Leesa it turns out for incredibly good reason. 

Even as we got to know Cary better, I still couldn't quite gel with him, I can't put my finger on it.  I liked him, I just didn't fall for him at all.  I loved his grandma though, Cressida was wonderful.   Actually I loved all of Cary's family more than Leesa's. 

There are all manner of secrets and surprises to be uncovered as you turn the pages, its certainly a book that keeps you on your toes.  Plenty going on in it, but equally really easy to follow. 

At times I wanted to slam Leesa and Cary's heads together, at others I wondered if we learnt a bit too much about their working lives.  I really felt for Leesa at times, and the rest I wasn't as sure.   I suspect that had I connected to characters a bit more, I would have enjoyed the book even more, than I did.  But that is more down to personal preference than anything particularly wrong with the book. 

It is a really enjoyable story, and where Christmas is involved it does feel festive, especially the finale.  

Thank you to Netgalley and Aria for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Please do follow along with the other blogs on this tour

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