Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Book Review - Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea by Cressida McLaughlin - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK

Title: Christmas Carols and a Cornish Cream Tea  
Author: Cressida McLaughlin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 25th November 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

Can she spread Christmas cheer in Cornwall this year?

All Meredith Verren has ever wanted is to escape the holiday season without having to wear a Christmas jumper. Her new job at the cosy gift shop in a picturesque Cornish tourist spot is making it impossible for her to maintain her scrooge-like manner.

With their seasonal hampers on everyone’s wish list, Meredith must paste on a smile and fake some holiday cheer. Then she meets handsome new arrival, Finn, who wishes it could be Christmas every day and wants her to feel the same way too.

Can she embrace the holly and the ivy before the decorations are packed away for another year?

I absolutely adored this book, and there is a lot to love about this rather Christmassy tale. 

There are small things like the references Emma makes every time she talks to the choir she leads that made me smile, as they are linked, but I'll leave it you to work out what I'm going on about.  Then there are big romantic gestures, directions the story goes in that enhances it but were rather unexpected, and a wonderful awakening of the Christmas spirit in Meredith. 

For fans of The Cornish Cream Tea series, like I am, be aware this is set just down the coast from Porthgolow, in another small Cornish town, and there is only a small cameo from Charlie. It is in fact a whole new story, which does feature cream Tea hampers, but from the shop Meredith works in Cornish Keepsakes and not from the Cornish Cream Tea Bus.  Despite being the fifth book in the series it does as a result work completely as a standalone novel.  However I would have loved to see more from the characters I was expecting. 

But that is my only slight disappointment with the book, and once I checked the blurb, and realised that it was clearly separate, I stopped thinking about that, and moved onto just thoroughly enjoying this new book instead. 

Everything else was utter brilliance, I loved the interactions between Meredith and Finn, I loved Anisha, Meredith's best friend, and the massive all town Christmas plans they come up with. Despite Meredith normally doing her best to avoid all things Christmas.  And Finn is gorgeous and has the gift of the gab, plus he loves Christmas and even offers to be Meredith's reindeer for some VIP hamper delivering. 

I loved seeing how both of them developed over the course of the book, and indeed the Christmassy level of the book ramp up as it proceeded.  

This is a lovely warm and cozy book, that kept me on my toes, packs in a large amount of story and development, plus Christmas, and left me feeling emotional but very much smiling and happy too. 

If you love books set in Cornwall, featuring Christmas, small beagle puppies, handsome men, a large amount of Christmas music and a whole lotta festive feeling then this is a fabulous book and highly recommended for you. 

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

Please do follow along with the rest of this blog tour to hear what others think of it too. 



Monday, 29 November 2021

Book Review - A Match Made In Venice by Leonie Mack

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Amazon UK

Title: A Match Made In Venice
Author: Leonie Mack
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 9th November 2021
Rating: 4 Stars

Escape to the breath-taking beauty of Venice – The City of Love.
When pragmatic, sensible and resolutely single Deirdre York (Didi to her friends) is sent to Venice for work she is determined not to be taken in by the romantic clichés. Winter in the floating city may be breathtakingly beautiful, but she’s here with a clear purpose and will not let the magic of Venice distract her.

Piero Zanetti is the epitome of the handsome yet tortured artist. Heart-broken by the end of his love affair with a glamorous opera singer, he has lost his ability to work, and his inspiration has drained away, along with his zest for life.

But Didi needs Piero working – she has been tasked with commissioning him to do a glass centrepiece for a luxury department store Christmas display – some how Didi has to cheer Piero up or at least find him a new muse…

As Didi and Piero slowly become friends, and as Venice starts to melt Didi’s heart and gently nudge Piero out of the blues, something special begins to happen. Can Venice – the City of Love – work a Christmas miracle and help Didi and Piero to find their happiness at last…

With every book I'm reading from Leonie Mack, my overwhelming feeling is that I want to read more. I am loving this author and her writing. 

And what better setting than Venice, and although it has hints of Christmas, this is not a Christmas book not in the way I'd think. It is all about designing a massive window display for a department store for the following Christmas, and the season is present but it's not at the heart of the book. 

What is, is a clear love of Murano Glass, the techniques, and traditions of it, the island of Murano and a rather troubled but genius glassblower Piero Zanetti.  He is at the start struggling, but when Didi comes to him with a proposition well he's not keen but Didi herself seems to re-ignite Piero generally! 

And there is a theme of family relationships, and healing rifts and misunderstanding between family members, both for Piero and for Didi.  It was wonderful seeing how their stories and personal journeys developed over the course of the book. 

Then some of the descriptions of Venice made me feel as though I was there alongside the characters, And I thought it made a nice change to have a main character with diabetes and seeing how that can affect your day to day considerations. 

A really entertaining story that transported me to the island of Murano, and to Venice in winter, and gave me a new view of the place when it isn't drowning in tourists!  And a romance that will delight and frustrate in equal measure! 

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

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Book Review - A Winter Wedding at Mistletoe Gate Farm by Helen J Rolfe

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Amazon UK

Title: A Winter Wedding at Mistletoe Gate Farm
Author: Helen J Rolfe
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied Copy 
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 9th December 2021
Rating: 4 Stars

It's almost Christmas in Heritage Cove - the village tree is all lit-up, the bakery is full of festive treats, the tea rooms and waffle shack are welcoming locals inside out of the cold, and for some of the residents of the Cove, snow might not be the only thing they're wishing for this year...

Tilly is overjoyed when an estranged relative comes to Heritage Cove wanting to make amends. But as she lets him in to her life and Tilly’s Bits ‘n’ Pieces - the shop she owns and loves - her friends aren’t so sure whether everything is quite as it seems.

Benjamin’s parents run Mistletoe Gate Farm, selling Christmas trees, wreaths and mistletoe. Benjamin has always thought his family was as firmly rooted in the ground as the rows of Norway Spruce and Fraser Firs. But when he finds a letter that rocks his world he realises he may not be able to do anything to prevent the changes coming their way.

Benjamin and Tilly have been falling for one another since the summer but will family complications put an abrupt stop to what is looking like a burgeoning romance?

With festive cheer weaving its way through the Cove as two local favourites plan their wedding, there’s more than one relationship that could receive a little Christmas magic…

I do love spending time in Heritage Cove. I was a bit worried that I had missed reading book three, but due to that I can safely assure you this can be read as a standalone.  I was though very happy to see all the familiar faces from the first two books were back, as that made it that bit easier to feel back at home between the pages. 

This is Tilly's story, she runs a shop that seems to sell a bit of everything in terms of home décor, and would love to expand the store. She is flabbergasted when a long lost uncle appears in town that she never knew about, but whether he is too good to be true is another matter. 

Meanwhile at the Mistletoe Gate Farm, we have Benjamin, it is clear to everyone in Heritage Cove that he has feeling for Tilly, but she seems rather unaware.  He is a fabulous chef but also helps out on the tree farm, 

This just has just a warm and cosy feel to it, and I loved being right in my inklings towards Tilly's new family member,  I also would have loved to visit her shop and the Christmas tree farm as they both sounded rather wonderful. 

There are secrets to be uncovered, a wedding to be saved, and plenty of story keep you entertained, in this run up to Christmas.  It's just a really lovely, warm-hearted book which I thoroughly enjoyed. 

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

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Book Review - Dead Mercy by Noelle Holten - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK

Title: Dead Mercy
Author: Noelle Holten
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication Date: 19th November 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

A brutal murder…
When a burned body is found with its teeth missing, DC Maggie Jamieson discovers that the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues.

A dark history…

As the body count rises, the team becomes increasingly baffled by how the victims could possibly be connected until a clue leads them to a historical case that was never prosecuted.

A terrible secret…

In order to catch the killer, Maggie must piece together what happened all those years ago before it’s too late.

Such a gripping story, that I'm really glad I don't work for the police for, as i had no clue who was the killer in this instance, nor was I was sure how on earth it would all come together. 

For me the strength of this series and my fascination with it, is seeing just how various aspects of the police, social care, probation, and other units all work, and how tricky it is to necessarily share information between them all despite ultimately they all working towards making the area a safe place. 

And what a web is weaved with this tale, you just can't predict what will happen next which I loved. And i was completely absorbed in this case, while having a degree of sympathy for the villain, it is understandable but still utterly wrong. 

The details about the old historical case, were trickier to read due to the subject matter, and even Maggie and her team weren't happy with the direction this new case appeared to be pulling them into. 

I loved as always Maggie's interactions with Julie the journalist, and I'm enjoying seeing her partnership with Kat in action. 

Another excellent addition to this series. 

Thank you One More Chapter and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

Please do follow along with this blog tour, and check out what everyone else thinks of the book. 



Friday, 26 November 2021

Book Review - Under The Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft

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Amazon UK

Title: Under The Mistletoe
Author: Sue Moorcroft
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 28th October 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

Christmas. A time for family, friends – and rekindling old flames…

When Laurel returns to the village of Middledip, she’s looking for a quiet life. Adjusting to her recent divorce, she’s ready to spend some time getting back on her feet amidst the glorious snow-dusted countryside.

Yet, life in Middledip is far from straightforward. Coming to the aid of her sister, Rea, as she navigates her own troubles, Laurel barely has a moment to think about where her own life is going.

However, time stands still when she sees her old flame, Grady Cassidy – and it’s soon as if they’ve never been apart. But through her happiness, Laurel remembers why she left the village all those years ago, as she recalls a dark night and Grady’s once-wayward brother, Mac…

Can Laurel learn to forgive and forget? Or will her chances of Christmas under the mistletoe with Grady remain a dream?

An enchanting, festive read, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan and Carole Matthews.

Sue Moorcroft has come up with another Christmas Cracker of a read, including an always welcome return to Middledip. 

I'll admit at times it can be rather uncomfortable reading as we get the details as to just why Laurel has rarely returned to Middledip until now. Equally there is another strong but equally sensitively written storyline involving Rea, her sister, which is interesting to see develop. 

But that is just a small part of the book and adds to the depth and reality of these characters who were really well written that I felt as though I knew them. 

And Laurel's niece Daisy is lovely too, and also has a tricky storyline at one point.  The rest of the time we are treated to the village at Christmas, with loads of fabulous crafts, and a romance that has the potential to go very awry and definitely isn't smooth sailing at all. To the extent that I really wasn't positive about the final outcome until I read it with my own eyes!

From Laurel who is a professional fine artist, to Daisy with her Christmas wreath enterprise, to Grady who is both talented at spray painting artistic designs onto cars, as well as decorating gourds, to all manner of other crafty wares, this all helps to give the book a creative but also cosy feel . 

The theme of forgiveness is strong throughout, and whether it is better to forgive, why people may apologise and some various barbs while a character is thinking revenge may make them feel better than forgiving! 

I thoroughly enjoyed this wonderful new book from an always talented and compelling to read author.  I was incredibly happy to be between these pages while I was reading it, and I was left with a smile, and a feeling that I wish I was craftier as some of the things being made sounded so so good! 

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

Thursday, 25 November 2021

Book Review - The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans

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Amazon UK

Title: The Post Box at the North Pole
Author: Jaimie Admans
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 18th October 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

Dear Santa, I wish I could believe in magic again.
From, Sasha Hansley.

Sasha Hansley hates Christmas. As a child, it was her favourite time of year, but ever since the tragic death of her mother, it has completely lost its magic.

But when she gets an unexpected phone call from her eccentric estranged father, she’s forced to dust off her snow boots.

He has been running a Lapland style Christmas village in Norway and after suffering a heart attack, he is on strict doctor’s orders to slow down. Eager to reconnect with her dad, Sasha books the next flight out there. Only she has never actually been on a plane before, let alone to the Arctic Circle.

Met at the runway by drop-dead-gorgeous Taavi Salvesen, they sleigh ride through the snow with the Northern Lights guiding their way.

When Sasha uncovers sacks of unopened Santa mail – letters that children and adults from all over the world write to Santa every year – she realises that she can send a little bit of magic out into the world by replying to some of them.

With Taavi on hand to help, will Sasha rediscover her own excitement for Christmas and find love among the letters?

The Post Box at the North Pole is like one big romantic mug of hot chocolate with extra whipped cream and a splash of Christmas magic! Fans of Holly Martin, Sarah Morgan and Heidi Swain will love this novel!


Dear Santa

Please can you have a word with the heads of Disney, and get The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans turned into a blockbuster Christmas movie, so that the whole world can remember the magic of Christmas! 

Many thanks 

Rachel x


Do you believe in Christmas magic? Do you still believe in Santa? Well even if you are a bit of a cynic this book will have you rediscovering the joy of the festive season. 

And as a believer already, it is the most magical, heartwarming, festive feeling book I've read so far this year  and is likely to be up there with my all time top Christmas reads.  I'm ready to put up my tree in September, and start listening to Christmas music already, just from reading this book.  

Without a doubt this is Jaimie Admans best book yet, and I thought her previous Christmas books were marvellous, but this one ramps it up another gear even more. No idea how she can even try to top it next year, as this is Christmas perfection. 

I mean it's set at the North Pole Forest, in Norway above the Arctic circle, and its pure magic.  Although it's not really quite as spectacular as it was in its heyday, and the area really needs some new energy and repairs, but by the sounds of it, it used to be as spectacular as the Santa's workshops in films such at The Santa Clause and The Santa Claus movie. 

For there really is a Santa, he is real, but most of all what is so special about this book are all letters to Santa, and just what an impact replying to some of them can have.  

I truly believe this needs to become the next big Disney Christmas movie, it's the wrong setting for Hallmark, and I know Disney would turn it into an amazing film, it just that good and it needs to be seen on a big screen! 

There is romance, there is past tragedies, there are reindeer, oh so many reindeer, there's snow, and above all there is belief.  Belief in the Christmas spirit, and in Nisse (elves), and Christmas wishes, and so much more besides. 

And there is Tav who I have completely fallen in love with, and will happily fight with Sasha for! 

So so much amazingness is contained within these pages, that if you only read one Christmas book this year, you need to make it this one.  Especially if you just love reading books that really are about the spirit of the season! 

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

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Book Review - A Cosy Christmas at Bridget's Bicycle Bakery by Alex Brown

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Amazon UK

Title: A Cosy Christmas at Bridget's Bicycle Bakery
Author: Alex Brown
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication Date: 14th Oct 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

Bridget smiled to herself, certain she could see one of the stars twinkling extra brightly in that moment as if to acknowledge her wish and convince her that, yes, Mulberry-On-Sea was just the place they all needed to be. Surrounded by those happy memories of holidays and special times where nothing bad ever happened…

Finding yourself without a home in the weeks before Christmas would break most people, but for Bridget Carrington it’s a chance to start again. Mulberry-On-Sea has always been her happy place and she’s hoping it can work its magic this festive season and heal her family after a difficult year.

Now, as the community wraps Bridget and her children in its warm embrace, she starts to feel like herself again. With a new business, kids who are starting to smile, and the promise of a second chance at love, Bridget’s holiday season might just be a happy ever after…

I love, love, loved this book, but be aware it will most likely make you crave bread or other baked goods, so please makes sure you have something to hand to snack on while you are reading. 

And it was so good to be back in Mulberry-On-Sea, in this new spin off from the Carrington's' series, which I always loved. Rest assured though this is definitely a standalone with a whole new family at its heart. 

I was completely hooked by the first few pages, as Bridget moves her family to their new home in Mulberry-On-Sea, in the hopes that this may be a happier Christmas than the previous year when they had just lost Ted, Bridget's husband.  And there is a very memorably moment within that first chapter which was rather funny and great introduction to the tone of the book, and to a rather key character. 

Bridget as well as a keen love of baking, has twin teenage sons and 6 year old daughter Freya, in addition to Henry their dog who is rather bouncy. And he isn't the only rather exuberant four legged friend in this book! Freya, Oscar and Olly are still trying to come to terms with their dad's death, but it is soon apparent this change of scenery for them is going to do a whole world of good for the family. 

As Bridget starts to get to know her new community including the online sea shanty choir that was doing Christmas sons, shanty style (and I'd love to hear those), she also gets to know some rather lonely people, and is able to really help the whole community when the road to the big shops become unpassable and is able to supply bread to the town. 

There is so much to love about this book, but it was Jack who really stood out to me, I am completely in love with the man, he is so thoughtful, but also rather funny, and seems to like children in addition to their mum!  I just loved all the scenes he was in. 

It's a story about healing, growing stronger, getting to know a new community, plenty of bread and baking, and of allowing yourself to move on.  All with a Christmas beachside backdrop. 

I'm already counting down the days until the next book in the series will be available, as I really want to read more from all of these characters.  A fabulous start to a new series. 

Thank you to One More Chapter and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Book Review - Christmas Wishes at Pudding Hall by Kate Forster

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Amazon UK

Title: Christmas Wishes at Pudding Hall
Author: Kate Forster
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Aria
Publication Date: 2nd September 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

Wrap yourself in the taste of Christmas with this fantastic festive romance!
Christa Playfoot is looking for a fresh start after her divorce. Having lost her Michelin-starred restaurant, she hadn't expected to be job hunting and single just before Christmas.

When her best friend says she's recommended Christa for a gig as a private chef over the Christmas period, Christa can't think of a reason to say no.

Christa has no idea what to expect but it's certainly not grumpy billionaire divorcee Marc Ferrier and his rambunctious twin sons, or the beautiful but cheerless country estate, Pudding Hall, that they inhabit.

With her knack for pouring love into her cooking, Christa is determined to make this Christmas sparkle for the Ferrier family and maybe get her life back on track in the process...

Warning: Before you start reading this book, make sure you have plenty of food to hand to snack on, it will make you hungry. In fact I decided to stop reading in bed about half way through and leave the book until lunchtime the following day, or I would have been too hungry to sleep that night, while I definitely wanted to keep on reading! 

It's been a while since I last read a book by Kate Forster, but I felt right at home from the first few pages, and found it to be as fast and absorbing to read as all the others I have read from her. 

And this as I may have mentioned is a food lovers paradise, and even has recipes between some of the chapters, but there is so much more to this book than that. 

Both Christa and Marc have come from tricky backgrounds and its is interesting to see how they differ in their outlooks to life at least initially. Christa is also determined to make the world a better place, or at least the less fortunate of York. 

After a brutal divorce she takes a job to chef at Pudding Hall for a month over Christmas, not really knowing who she is cooking for, and her arrival at the Hall was brilliant, and gave us a good idea about the various personalities staying there. 

I loved Marc's twin sons, they really grew on me, and once you get to know her the housekeeper Peggy is brilliant too. 

I loved the gradual festive feeling that embraced the book as Marc grew and started to overcome his dislike of the season.  And I loved Christa, firstly her name, being festive but not one of the same few that frequently appear in books, so that was rather refreshing, and the way she was with everyone was fantastic, including having a wonderful vision for the future. 

I have no issues with anything in this book, well other than Avian and Simon who I hated equally but we are meant to hate them so that is good.  

This is just so so good, and I loved it so much. Another wonderful book that hit all the right marks for me from an author that always writes great books! 

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

Monday, 22 November 2021

Book Review - Flora's Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

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Amazon UK

Title: Flora's Travelling Christmas Shop
Author: Rebecca Raisin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 28th October 2021 
Rating: 5 Stars

’Tis the season for mulled wine, mince pies, and magic under the mistletoe…

Flora loves Christmas more than anything else in the world, so she’s gutted when her Scrooge-alike boss fires her from Deck the Halls Christmas emporium. But now she finally has a chance to follow her dreams – and what better place to start than the home of Christmas?

Before she can say ‘sleigh bells’, Flora’s on her way to Lapland in a campervan-cum-Christmas-shop. She can’t wait to spend her days drinking hot chocolate and taking reindeer-drawn carriage rides, but something Flora didn’t expect was meeting Connor, a Norse god of a man who makes her heart flutter and snowflakes swirl in her stomach. There’s just one problem: Connor hates Christmas.

Can Flora convince Connor of the joys of Christmas – and will she find a festive romance along the way?

The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Debbie Johnson, Holly Martin and Jenny Colgan.

I've been absolutely loving Rebecca Raisin's books featuring Van Lifers, so when I spotted this latest book, featuring a travelling Christmas shop, I knew I would fall in love with it fast. 

And that would be the understatement of the year, it's the most wonderful time of the year, and the book epitomises that feeling. 

I'm also a sucker for a Hallmark Christmas movie, so absolutely adored Flora's best friend Livvie, persuading Flora to live her life as though it was a real life Hallmark movie, and with every scenario that comes up in Lapland, they manage to liken it to various Hallmark tropes and plot points - which I thought was so clever and I found myself loving their conversations. 

Plus it's a great philosophy to live your life by, and Flora is a wonderful leading lady. She has a tendency to speak before she thinks, which leaves her to struggle to hold down a job, but she loves all things Christmas and has always wanted to visit Lapland, so when it's suggested she becomes her own boss and perhaps create a pop up Christmas shop, she takes it one step further and finally gets to Lapland. 

And I just loved everything about the massive Christmas spectacular market she becomes a part of, I could picture it so clearly and would have loved to jump on plane to join all of the characters there. 

And our love interest in a rules loving, bit of a Grinch, who just happens to be the manager of the market, and has a funny and memorable meet cute with Flora. 

I just loved the the interactions between Connor and Flora, they continually made me smile. 

Well the whole book really made me smile, and feel rather festive. I'm starting to think I'd love to live in a van and sell things and travel continually (but I don't drive, and think I'd feel claustrophobic rather fast).  I definitely need to add Lapland onto my bucket list, so many fabulous activities are mentioned that I would love to experience. 

It's another fabulous book from one of my favourite authors, and definitely a top festive read for this year! 

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

Friday, 19 November 2021

Book Review - The Killer in the Snow by Alex Pine

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Amazon UK

Title: The Killer in the Snow
Author: Alex Pine
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 11th November 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

The first fall of snow can be fatal…
A year has passed since DI James Walker cracked his biggest case yet, and he’s hoping for peace and quiet this festive season.

But across the fells, a local farmer returns home on Christmas Eve to find footsteps in the fresh snow that lead down to his unused basement – and no footsteps leading away. Days later, his body is found, alongside those of his wife and daughter.

Without a neighbour for miles, there are no witnesses and little evidence. And the crime scene has strange echoes of another terrible murder committed at the farmhouse, twenty years earlier…
 
James knows that to catch this killer, he needs to solve a case that has long since gone cold…

Perfect for fans of smash-hit TV series Whitehouse Farm, Simon McCleave’s The Snowdonia Killings and Catherine Cooper’s The Chalet.

I don't think you could come up with a more intriguing crime scene if you tried.  There are so many elements to it, it's hard to know where to start.

Add in a very similar thing happened in the farm house over 20 years ago, and rumours the house could be haunted and it becomes more interesting still.

So I was hooked rather early on as to how DI James Walker and his team would unravel this. 

I think I half guessed briefly about one small aspect but without the details, and everything else kept taking me ab the police by surprise.

We get flashback scenes to key events in the past which helped give the reader more understanding to the situation.

Meanwhile DI James Walker's own nemesis is at large and still threatening him and his family. So there is that element to contend with too.

There is a lot to keep you on your toes, and I loved being drawn into this crime and seeing how it would turn out.

Another fabulously wintery crime novel from Alex Pine and I'm certainly keen to see what complex case he will come up next. 

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

Thursday, 18 November 2021

Book Review - Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop by Helen Rolfe

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Amazon UK

Title: Christmas at the Village Sewing Shop
Author: Helen Rolfe
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Orion
Publication Date: 14th October 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

Can three sisters stitch their family back together?

Loretta loves running the little village sewing shop in Butterbury. Some of her most precious memories are sitting with her three daughters Daisy, Ginny and Fern, stitching together pieces of material - and their hopes and dreams.

But this Christmas the family is coming apart at the seams: Fern feels like she's failing at motherhood and marriage, Ginny's passion for her job as a midwife is fading, Daisy is desperate to prove she ' s changed since her wild younger years - and most of all, Loretta seems to be hiding something...

As they come together to create a new festive quilt, the bond between the sisters begins to heal. But when Loretta reveals the real reason she's brought them all home, can the sisters mend the quilt, and their family, in time for Christmas?

Full of kindness, community and festive magic, this is a treat to curl up with this Christmas! Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Jenny Colgan and Ali McNamara

I loved my return to Butterbury, and this entirely new standalone story that has almost made me want to get my own quilt. 

It certainly had me feeling warm and cozy, like I was wrapped up in a loving hand made quilt as I was reading this truly lovely story. 

And you can certainly feel the touch of the season of goodwill while you are reading, as there are strong themes of family, love, forgiveness and personal growth within the pages. 

Loretta is clearly hiding something, you get that feeling from the opening chapter, and is determined to have her three adult daughters back home for a few weeks in the run up to Christmas, in the hopes they will reconnect and feel like a family again.  But just what is she keeping from everyone. I had an inkling really early on and was delighted to be very wrong! 

Fern is a bit of a control freak with her family, but is definitely struggling. She was for me the hardest to gel with initially. Ginny is fairly easy going, but is starting to feel like she doesn't want to keep travelling around the world.  While Daisy is the one working in the family's sewing shop but it's clear she has other passions and some secrets, And just what caused her to go off the rails as a teen.  Ok that one I had a strong inkling and I was partially correct about! 

The three sisters are all so different, and the story is told in 4 alternating view points, each of the siblings plus Loretta.  After about two rotations so about eight chapters I had a grip on the characters at least at which point I started to enjoy the book a lot more, as felt once I knew who was who, it became a lot more interesting, as the family dynamics start to become clear, and change. 

I just loved the whole vibe of this book, and there was plenty to keep me on my toes and thoroughly enjoying everything. I found I loved all four of our main characters by the end, and just wanted good things for the whole family. And there were definitely many moments that made me smile. 

Another wonderful book from the always talented author.  I loved it! 

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

Wednesday, 17 November 2021

Book Review - Christmas at Lobster Bay by Annie Robertson

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Amazon UK

Title: Christmas at Lobster Bay
Author: Annie Robertson
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Welbeck
Publication Date: 4th November 2021
Rating: 5 Stars

When Emma and Aidan decide to expand The Guesthouse at Lobster Bay, Emma feels certain it's the project she needs to develop her beautiful retreat, and to keep her and Aidan together.

She has three months to complete the project before her guests arrive for a sumptuous Christmas break. But unforeseen problems soon turn her and her loved ones into festive humbugs.

Unexpected structural problems, the arrival of a long-term guest, and an errant puppy who is determined to chew her way through every piece of pipe and furniture, push Emma and Aidan to their limit, and it's not long before cracks begin to show in their relationship.

Determined not to give up, Emma pushes on. But when a winter storm blows in, work grinds to a halt, pushing Emma and Aidan to the brink.

As Emma battles to keep her dream alive, will it be at the expense of her relationship? And will she eventually, with the help of her friends, finish the house and welcome her guests, with carolling and good cheer, to Christmas at Lobster Bay?

It is always a sheer pleasure when I'm able to sit and read two books in a series back to back, and in about a day each, which was the case with The Guesthouse at Lobster Bay (book 1) and Christmas at Lobster Bay. 

Set about 18 months after the end of the first book, this can easily work as a standalone, and I was delighted to be back with Emma, Aiden and Wilbur. 

Emma though is starting to feel the need for a new challenge but given the way everything progressed she and I both wondered if she had bitten off more than she could cope with , between expanding the guest house,  planning an epic 3 day Christmas break for her guests,  and somehow being persuaded to take on a puppy too. 

Add in Rhona being pregnant but having relationship issues, her eldest daughter clearly hiding things, the new lodger in the guest house perhaps being better looking and more available to Emma than Aiden is, and literally nothing running smoothly and this is an action packed book that I couldn't get enough of. 

There are moments of high drama, trips to the emergency room for various things, being on the verge of tears and one rather touching and emotional point, not to mention cutting comments from Emma's sister who I really dislike, and some "interesting" decisions being made. 

And the discussions about the menus between Emma, and Peggy are fabulous, as Emma wants things modernised while Peggy seems stuck in the 80s with her taste in food, and her bafflement over slightly more modern cuisines and presentations! 

This is action packed, and completely addictive to read, I was loving it whenever I was between the pages and back in Lobster Bay with all the regulars, plus a couple of new faces.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and really hope it isn't the last we see of these characters and location. 

Thank you to Welbeck and Netgalley for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily, 
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