Friday 8 December 2023

Book Review - Flying Home For Christmas by Helen Whitaker

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Amazon UK

Title: Flying Home For Christmas
Author: Helen Whitaker
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 12th October 2023
Rating: 4 Stars

When her Christmas Eve flight home to London is grounded by a snowstorm, Thea is desperate to make it back to her family. The only flight available is first thing the next morning, so she books a night's stay at the closest hotel.

But there's a problem: there's only one room, and someone else has beaten her to it.

Logan is tall, gorgeous and charming - and determined to get home for Christmas too. The solution? They're going to have to share . . .

One thing's for sure: it's going to be a Christmas to remember.

Loved the meet cute between Thea and Logan, as they both end up booking the same top price hotel after being stranded at Portland airport due to weather cancellations. 

Naturally as this is fiction they after sharing a ride to the hotel, discover they have managed to double book the same hotel, and end up spending the evening together while they pass the time to the point where the airport reopens. 

However they soon go their separate ways for the holidays, but keep in touch only for more and more coincidental meetings to happen in the New Year. 

Despite the title this wasn't an overly Christmassy book in fact the majority of the story takes place in the year after the first Christmas. And thus it could easily be read at any time of the year. 

I loved getting to know Thea and Logan. Logan I especially loved his job in the same was as I hated Thea's boss. There is a lot of miscommunication throughout, and it's really touching some of the moments with Thea's family. 

I loved her voice notes to her Nan.  

This was an enjoyable story, from an author that made me very curious to visit Portland, as it's not a place I've ever read a book in before, but could really get the vibe of the place from her words. 

Thank you Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday 7 December 2023

Book Review - Chasing Dreams at Wagging Tails Dogs' Home by Sarah Hope

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Amazon UK

Title: Chasing Dreams at Wagging Tails Dogs' Home
Author: Sarah Hope
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 25th October 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

The Cornish sea air, old friends, and cuddles with a cute pup...
Sometimes you're just where you need to be...

After a difficult break-up, Poppy is keen to put the past behind her and what’s better than some relaxing time with her aunt in the picturesque Cornish village of West Par?

But life at her aunt Flora’s Dogs’ Home is anything but relaxing. When a poor little pup is stranded at the gates, Poppy takes them for a check up at the local vet, hoping against hope they'll be fine.

And there she meets Mack: the vet who is so charming and experienced with the dogs, but selfish and – dare she say it – money-grabbing with his clients.

But underneath that cold exterior, she's sure there's more to the story. If only she could convince him to open up. Because without him, the future of Wagging Tails isn't so assured...

I absolutely adore this series, from the furry four legged friends to the great community of volunteers at the Wagging Tails' Dogs Home, this is just gorgeous read perfection. 

And when you add in a rather sexy vet, even if he is presenting as a slight Scrooge - well  a Christmas loving Scrooge to be precise. 

I loved getting to know Poppy who has come to stay with Flora for the holidays, while she tries to get her life back on track, and she seems to a special affinity to one or two of the dogs in particularly. 

She's less keen on a vet who won't give the charity a discount, especially as the dogs' home relies on donations to keep going. 

From Christmas shopping, to Christmas lights, music, to trying to persuade an animal hoarder that they should give up some of their dogs, there is a lot of festive spirit in this book. 

I loved every second of it and once again surprised at how fast I was able to read this, which is a sign of how much I was enjoying this story. 

Dogs and Christmas, plus some romance, what an amazing combination. 

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

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Book Review - A Winter Wonderland by Rosie Green

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Amazon UK

Title: A Winter Wonderland
Author: Rosie Green
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 28th November 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

The fairy lights are sparkling on the Sunnybrook village green tree and festive excitement is in the air – and at least one Little Duck Pond Cafe regular is going to have the best Christmas ever!

Yay, it was a another book featuring Jaz as the leading lady, and we get to see more of her will she, won't she possible relationship with next door neighbour Milo. 

I loved seeing Emma and Mabel, their respective kids playing together, especially the way Mabel talks to Emma! 

And newcomer to the Sunnybrook Freddie has a storyline that enables everyone to display some big Christmas spirit while setting up a big Winter Wonderland. 

There is more from all of our favourite Duck Pond Cafe girls,  I do love catching up with all of them, and seeing Maddy so happy after the events of the previous book is great to see. 

I love this series so much and believe this is already book 31 and that I still have a thirst for more. It's a credit to Rosie Green's storytelling and writing skills that she has been able to keep this series as fresh and moreish as it was from the first book! 

I love spending Christmas in Sunnybrook and this was a joyful story to devour. And was really quick to read too! 

Thank you to the author for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Book Review - Eight Bright Lights by Sara Gibbs

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Amazon UK

Title: Eight Bright Lights
Author: Sara Gibbs
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Headline Review
Publication Date: 14th September 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

Pour yourself a mug of hot cocoa and settle in with this cosy festive read, perfect for fans of Beth Moran and Sarah Morgan!
The clock is ticking, and getting their happily ever after might just take a miracle...

Hannah is stuck - in South Devon and her dead-end job. But when her estranged father dies, she suddenly finds herself in Tel Aviv. With only her insufferable - yet irritatingly sexy - host for company, can she pick up the pieces of her father's life and make it home in time for her cousin's wedding?

More preoccupied with securing her dream job writing for an iconic fashion magazine, Rachel is already a distracted bride. But when an article unlocks a long-held family secret, will her simple Christmas wedding become much more complicated?

Spontaneously quitting her job was not wedding planner Ella's idea - neither was burning bridges with her terrifying boss. Left with only one client - and no money - how will she pull this wedding together, when everything else is falling apart?

Such an impressive debut novel, that features a diverse assortment of characters, in a holiday romance that believe it or not isn't Christmas. 

As you may have guessed from the title, this book is set at Hannukah, and it features three main characters, who for the majority of the story aren't ever in the same place at the same time. But it does all link together really well, and makes total sense.  There are even some fascinating sub plots at play too. 

Hannah's story takes her to Tel Aviv to set Shiva for her estranged father, only for there to be more to his life than she ever knew. For Hannah all of this is a journey of self discovery, and learning to be more of an adult.  

What I liked about Hannah's chapters was seeing Tel Aviv, which is a location I don't think I've ever come across before in fiction.  Hannah also has some views about the general political situation out there - and this was a book written before the latest war erupted (I know this for a fact given how many months the book had been unread on my kindle for, having downloaded it from Netgalley). In fact the mentions of anything to do with the conflict were the only parts of the book (and thankfully small) that I was less keen on. 

Mainly cos it was a bit too much like real life intruding on my fictional reading time! 

Rachel, was someone I could identify with to a certain extent,  not just cos we share a name, but also because we are both overweight (and not on a diet to do anything about it). There is a lot of body positivity in her chapters, as she gets ready to marry Chris on Christmas day.  I also reckon if I was to ever get married it would be like Rachel, and a marriage to a non Jew. 

Seeing Rachels's family dynamics felt so familiar, and I loved the sub plot with her Grandma. 

Yet it was probably Ella's storyline that I was most drawn to at times. She is also the person I want to give away the least details about - but will say the battle with her about to be ex boss was brilliant.  And learning about Ella's thought processes was eye opening. 

I'm pleased to say that although it includes Israel, Hannukah, Shabbas and a bit of religious thoughts, it is not a book steeped in religion, or faith, it is just a backdrop to the story of these three ladies, over the 8 days of Hannukah.  

And I loved how many of the North West Jewish London locations are familiar to me, or at least in passing and fairly local.  

There was a lot I could identify with, and generally found it an all around fabulous book to read. I'm already curious to see what this author will write next. 

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

Monday 4 December 2023

Book Review - The Love Department by Ally Bunbury

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Amazon UK

Title: The Love Department
Author: Ally Bunbury
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hachette Books Ireland
Publication Date: 2nd November 2023
Rating: 5 Stars

The countdown to Christmas is on at Shillington's luxury department store in Dublin city ...

Immy Brooks has just been put in charge of personal shopping and seems to have a gift for knowing exactly what people want. The one person whose mind she can't read is her best friend (and soon-to-be boss), Lando Shillington. The night before he leaves for Paris, the two share a drunken night of passion - but Immy hasn't seen or heard from him since ...

Lando can't get Immy out of his head but he is under pressure to save the family business and he's in Paris to learn the ropes from the retail magnate, Charles de Croix. Radical changes are needed if Shillington's is to return to its former glory. But Lando hadn't banked on getting on quite so well with Charles' daughter, the glamorous and eminently dateable Celine.

Christmas is in the air when Lando returns to Dublin with Celine and de Croix, both determined to give Shillington's a Parisian makeover, but does their arrival spell the end for Immy and Lando, before they even get started?

What an enjoyable story.  I love big department stores, and am sorry to see so many of the big chain ones having disappeared from the high street, so I was instantly enchanted by Shillington's, a struggling Irish department store that has lost its way a bit and basically needs a great Christmas season in order to stand a chance of surviving.

I loved everything to do with both Shillington's but also the French store we are first introduced to.  And the way de Croix and daughter Celine have come over to help godson Lando be able to take over the store from his mother, is fabulous to see. 

Of course it's not just about the magnificently and vividly described building, but also about the employees within. 

The story is told focusing on Lando and also Immy, but we get to know a whole bunch of other people and I get really invested in all of the subplots. 

I was really invested in the story and was enjoying every last word of it. This was my first introduction to Ally Bunbury's books and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for more in the future, 

This combined my love of shops, Christmas, sales, a sexy French accent, romance, an eccentric but surprising and well meaning relative all into one deliciously wrapped parcel of book.  With some fabulous comic scenes, and a very good reason as to just why this book is called The Love Department, this is one highly enjoyable and entertaining book. 

Thank you to Hachette Books Ireland and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Book Review - Strictly Christmas Spirit by Helen Buckley

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Amazon UK

Title: Strictly Christmas Spirit
Author: Helen Buckley
Format reviewed: Paperback 
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Choc Lit
Publication Date: 26th October 2021 
Rating: 5 Stars

From disco balls to Christmas baubles …
Ex-dancer Emily Williams turned her back on the sparkle of popular dancing show Strictly Dancing with Celebs to help those in need. Now the only dancing she does is teaching lonely pensioners to waltz, and the closest she gets to disco balls is making baubles with the homeless people in her Christmas crafts class.
She’s certainly not star-struck when Hollywood heart-throb Blake Harris is sent to her at short notice for community service, and has no desire to babysit the arrogant actor with his bad boy antics and selfish ways. Christmas might be a time for miracles, but Blake seems to be a lost cause.
But Emily’s reasons for abandoning her dancing passion means she understands the Hollywood wild child more than she’d like to admit. Could their time together, coupled with a dash of Christmas spirit, lead to a miracle change of heart for them both?
Book 3 in Helen's Spotlight series but they can all be read as standalone stories.

Besides the fact there is very little Strictly, or any other celebrity dance programme in the book, this is a very aptly named book, which is full of Christmas Spirit. 

I loved the dynamics between Emily and Blake, especially as they change over the course of the couple of weeks that mega star actor Blake is doing community service at the community centre that Emily is in charge of. 

It's clear they are total opposites to start, and Blake clearly doesn't want to be there, but slowly but surely we see a change in both of them. 

I found this to be a very fast book to read, and I couldn't get enough of it. I loved the focus on community and helping others, which is just what is needed at this time of year. 

It's a fabulous festive story that left me smiling. 

Friday 1 December 2023

Book Review - New Beginnings at Christmas Tree Cottage by Georgia Hill

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Amazon UK

Title: New Beginnings at Christmas Tree Cottage 
Author: Georgia Hill
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Bloodhound Books
Publication Date: 29th September 2023
Rating: 4 Stars

Christmas is the perfect time to fall in love. . .

The little English town of Lullbury Bay is a magical place to spend Christmas, and for Honor Martin it is the high point of her year.

However, newcomer Jago, doesn’t share her merry mood. After the devastating loss of his father he’d be happy to never hear another Christmas carol again.

But to help his little sister replace bad memories with good ones, he reluctantly joins in the festivities. As he gets to know her teacher, Honor, could she be the one to restore his love of Christmas?

Such a joyous story, about making a new life for yourself.  

Avril, Jago and Merryn move to Lullbury Bay during the Autumn term, after having had a horrible year. They aren't looking forward to spending their first Christmas without Kenan, but know they have to try to make new memories, especially for Merryn. 

It becomes apparent within a couple of days in their new home that Lullbury Bay is  rather special location, and Honor the schoolteacher loves Christmas and is fabulous at getting Children involved and engaged.  

There is a hilarious set of miscommunications that mean the romance I was wanting, took a lot longer to happen, but it was so fun seeing everything. 

And the festivities in the run up to Christmas in this bay were just brilliant.  I especially loved the yarn bombing, and the community spirit. 

As well as really enjoying the storyline involving the RNLI, which added depth to the book and brings great awareness of such a noble group of people. 

Add in a few animal friends, some new human friends, and this is a book set at the most joyous time of year, and really does help this family get over their terrible loss.  I thoroughly enjoyed every moment I spent in Lullbury Bay. 

Thank you to the author for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday 30 November 2023

Book Review - A Cosy Cottage Escape by Rosie Green

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Amazon UK

Title: A Cosy Cottage Escape
Author: Rosie Green
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Self published
Publication Date: 30th September 2023
Rating: 4 Stars

When the Little Duck Pond Cafe crew take a break away at Hallowe'en, they're expecting a lovely, relaxing holiday in the picturesque village of Silverbells. But both Ellie and Maddy have challenges to face, and when things start going bump in the night with alarming regularity at the haunted house next-door, it's clear they also have a perplexing mystery to solve. Can they pull together and get to the bottom of the spooky goings-on before their week is up?

Well this was a lot spookier than normal, then again it was set around Halloween, and set in Silverbells not Sunnybrook, with some of the key Duck Pond Cafe girls. 

All from Jaz's viewpoint, we see Maddy's relationship with Jack potentially implode, and Ellie is clearly hiding something. 

But they aren't the only ones, for there are some rather creepy and spooky goings on in this village and the girls can't resist but to get to the bottom of them, for the sake of their new friend Kate. 

I really wasn't sure what to believe, although I did guess parts of it, there were definitely a few surprises for me. 

I loved spending time with some of our favourite characters from the series, especially with them spending extra time with each other, due to being on holiday together,  

It's a charming addition to the series, shows yet another string to Rosie Green's incredibly talented bow and I already can't wait for the next book in the series, which sounds like it could be festive (for a holiday I'm not scared of!). 

Thank you to the author for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Book Review - Murder Under The Mistletoe by Liz Fielding

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Amazon UK

Title: Murder Under The Mistletoe
Author: Liz Fielding
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Joffe Books
Publication Date: 7th November 2023
Rating: 4 Stars


Abby Finch arrives at the old church hall armed with festive mistletoe and holly, ready to decorate. But within moments of her walking through the door, tragedy strikes . . .

Edward Marsh reaches to test the antique star at the top of the tree. There’s a fizz and the lights go out.

Abby hears the sickening thud of a body hitting the floor. When the lights turn back on, Edward is dead.

It soon becomes clear it was no accident.

The real victim should have been Gregory Tatton. Dapper silver fox. Popular with the ladies of the seniors’ lunch club. A known blackmailer . . .

Abby is desperate to find out the truth, but putting herself in danger isn’t on her Christmas wish list.

Who’s been naughty? Who’s been nice? Who’s hiding the fact they’re a murderer?

Having previously read some of Liz Fielding's romances, I was curious to see how she would take to writing cozy mysteries. 

I needn't have worried, this was a very enjoyable story, that had me scratching my head as to who the killer was, while definitely being convinced  that there was one person who was truly despicable. 

There are plenty of red herrings, and some twists to keep you on your toes. 

I hadn't realised before I had downloaded this that it is in fact the second book in a series.  I do think it can be read as a standalone, but there were definitely mentions of what happened in the first book, which it would have been nice to know the details of, but equally didn't for me detract from the clearly new crime and case that was occurring in this story. 

I enjoyed getting to know Abby Finch and her family, and seeing how she is moving on with her life.  I like how she is part of the community, and her amateur detecting with her best friend was fun to read.  I am though rather intrigued as to some of the details of why Gregory thought he could blackmail Abby - but unsure whether it refers to things that were made clear in the first book... or a hint of some other reveal in a future book! 

A really delightful story, that I could barely put down for the second half of it.  I'll definitely keep a closer eye out for more books in this series. 

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

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Book Review - A New York Winter by Isla Gordon

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Title: A New York Winter
Author: Isla Gordon
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 23rd November 2023
Rating: 4 Stars

Curl up this Christmas with the ultimate city escape, and get ready to fall in love with NYC

Will her dreams come true in the city that never sleeps?

When she was nineteen, on a magical trip to New York City, Ashling created a list of her five life goals. There, she'd felt inspired to dream big, but now, ten years later, with four out of five goals having crumbled before her, she realises she has only one option left to live the life she's always dreamed of: move to New York City, before it's too late.

Armed with a ninety-day visa, she's sure that a winter in the city that never sleeps will help her finally get her life on track. However, after arriving in the Big Apple with nowhere to live, Ashling realises that she may be in over her head, until she meets River . . .

River is miserable. He's newly single, recently demoted and feeling entirely lost, but sensing Ashling could do with the help, he offers her his sofa bed. Despite their clashing personalities, over the course of the winter, outgoing Ashling finds herself growing closer to quiet, geeky River - but is he just shy or is there another reason he's holding back?

With snow falling on 5th Avenue, a Thanksgiving parade and a fun-filled Christmas in the most romantic city in the world, can Ashling once again learn to follow her dreams - and maybe even her heart?

How wonderful to visit New York at Christmas, from the comfort of my armchair, without the need to freeze in the cold! 

And I truly feel as though I have experienced the holidays in New York after reading this, as Ashling fits so much into her time in the city. 

Ashling at times drove me slightly mad with her need to find new dreams for the rest of her life, but other than that, I loved every moment of the book. 

From the run up to Thanksgiving,  including the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, to Christmas, including the Rockettes Christmas extravaganza and the Times Square Ball drop - this must have included just about every iconic New York Christmas thing you could do.  And I was so living it up alongside Ashling. 

But we also get to see some of the less touristy things, and spend a fair bit of time in Greenwich Village too. There's even a road trip to another gorgeous American wintery location.  I'm positive this book will do good things for New York tourism. 

Everything was described to perfectly.  But it's not just an ode to New York, there is a lovely story within the pages too, about Ashling trying to work out what she would like to do with her life next, after a freak injury means she can no longer fly planes. 

This is just a charming story that totally transported me. Another great book from the always talented Isla Gordon. 

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

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