Wednesday 30 November 2022

Book Review - All I Want For Christmas by Maggie Knox

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Amazon UK

Title: All I Want For Christmas
Author: Maggie Knox
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: 13th October 2022 
Rating: 5 Stars

When Sadie and Max are selected as contestants on the famed reality singing show STARMAKER's special festive season, Sadie thinks she's finally gotten her big break - and Max sees a chance to step out of his megastar father's shadow. But then they're paired up for duet week and stun the world with their onstage chemistry...

With fans going wild for #Saxie, the judges demand they remain a duo - on and offstage - or exit the competition. Faking a relationship shouldn't be too hard, except for one small problem: Sadie and Max can't stand each other.

But with their dreams just within reach, they agree to the ruse. Will their relationship lie be exposed before they can win? Or might their fake connection turn real by the Christmas finale?

A pitch-perfect festive rom com, perfect for fans of Sally Thorne's The Hating Game and Beach Read by Emily Henry

I am really loving Maggie Knox's writing. They have once again produced a completely irresistible Christmas story that I couldn't get enough of. 

There is something about a Nashville setting, plus music that makes me go weak at the knees, especially when you have good looking men involved.  Add in a clear chemistry between Sadie and Max even if it is allegedly fake at first as they can't stand each other and so many ups and downs between them, set to a backdrop of a TV talent show and this was 100% my sort of book. 

There is a whole will they, won't they get together for real sort of vibe, after #Saxie becomes an online sensation with the public, as their chemistry when performing is off the charts. 

They are also both dealing with things in their private lives which effects how they react to each other, and I enjoyed getting to know both Sadie and Max really well. 

There is a great cast of characters to support them, along with a sleazy music producer who made my blood boil.  But on the whole I loved the rest of characters and thoroughly enjoyed my time spend in the pages of this book. 

It's just pure romantic escapism at its very best, with a festive feel, but overly Christmassy, but it does add an atmospheric time of year setting for the story.  Just a all around easy, quick read which was right up my street. 

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

Tuesday 29 November 2022

Book Review - The Winter Killer by Alex Pine

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Amazon UK

Title: The Winter Killer
Author: Alex Pine
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: 13th October 2022
Rating: 5 Stars

Christmas has arrived in Cumbria, and wedding bells are ringing.
But an ice-cold killer is waiting in the fells…

As the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, DI James Walker receives a phone call that puts paid to his Christmas break. During the wedding of the year at a lakeside hotel, the bride’s sister has vanished.

When Rachel left the wedding breakfast before her speech, newly-wed Libby was furious. But as the night went on with no sign of her maid-of-honour, Libby started to realise something was very, very wrong…

Before the wedding night is out, the lake is being searched for a body.

Something old, something new. One guest is a killer. The question is: who?

The most chilling crime thriller you’ll read this winter, perfect for fans of Catherine Cooper’s The Chalet and Simon McCleave’s The Snowdonia Killings – and anyone who prefers their mince pies with a side of murder.

I am loving Alex Pine's DI James Walker series and think it could be getting better with each book. 

I was totally hooked on this investigation that was fairly quick paced, and had so many potential suspects that it was impossible to predict. 

In fact while there are regular interesting bits of information to come out over the course of the investigation, making many people a viable suspects, I would never have guessed the final outcome! 

I really enjoyed seeing how the police put together this case and discovering the truth about many of the characters.   I was pulled in many directions and was kept on my toes as I was reading, eager to see just what would happen next. 

It's another fabulous addition to this series, and I am already looking forward to the next book (assuming there will be one). 

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

Monday 28 November 2022

Book Review - A Little Christmas Panto by Angela Britnell

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Amazon UK

Title: A Little Christmas Panto
Author: Angela Britnell
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Choc Lit
Publication Date: 31st October 2022
Rating: 5 Stars

Can a little Cornish village panto convince a troubled Hollywood heart throb to act again?

Oh no it won’t! At least that’s what Zach Broussard initially thinks when the eccentric Anna Teague tries to railroad him into helping out with her community pantomime production in the run-up to Christmas. Zach has his reasons for leaving Hollywood behind, and his retreat to the remote village of Polcarne in Cornwall signals the start of a new acting free life for him.

But when Zach meets Anna’s daughter, Rosey – an ex concert pianist who has swapped Mozart for panto tunes – he starts to wonder whether he could change his mind, and not just about acting.

If nothing else, will the residents of Polcarne ensure Zach has a Christmas he never forgets?

Oh yes they will!

It has been a while since I last read an Angela Britnell novel but when I saw the words Christmas Panto in the title of this one, I knew I would succumb. 

And wow I'm glad I did, as this was such a lovely romance, between two characters with a clear connection and all set to the backdrop of trying to get a panto ready to perform. 

We have Rosey who is an ex-concert pianist, and Zach who was a Hollywood actor but is in Cornwall to get over a big loss, and both of them are just wonderful people.  I loved getting to know them both,  in addition to Rosey's mum Anna. 

Now Anna is a larger than life character who is in charge of the panto and is just marginally obsessed with it in a good way. But not everything seems to be going smoothly with this years production of Aladdin - between some things going missing (which escalates),  some cast members with absolutely awful attitudes, to well the most amazing Panto Dame - this is just superb. Oh yes it is! 

There is more to the book than just a panto though, and there is a great deal of character growth within Zach, and I loved his budding friendship with Joe too. 

This is a light hearted, festive story that brings with it some of the traditions of Zach's part of America together with Cornish traditions in addition to the great British tradition of Pantomime! It's an all around enjoyable story, that I couldn't get enough of. 

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

Friday 25 November 2022

Book Review - Hideaway in Iceland by Victoria Walker

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Amazon UK

Title: Hideaway in Iceland
Author: Victoria Walker
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 1st November 2022
Rating: 4 Stars

PR executive Anna Mortimer has clinched the deal of a lifetime for the hottest celebrity couple to have their wedding covered by a glossy magazine, but when things don’t go to plan, she loses her job. With no job and no life outside of work to fall back on, an invitation to stay with her friend, Rachel, in Iceland is a well-timed distraction.

Ned Nokes has just left the most successful boy band in history to go it alone. With the eyes of the world on him, he escapes to Iceland in search of solitude while he plans what to do next. Not used to trusting anyone outside of the band that has been his life for the past ten years, he finds friendships in Reykjavik that he never expected.

Visit Iceland at its most beautiful as autumn turns to winter and find out whether the magic that helped Anna’s friend Rachel find her happy ever after, is still there…

I am really loving Victoria Walker's Iceland, and this although can be read perfectly as a standalone, is a fabulous follow up to Snug In Iceland. 

This time the story focuses on Anna, who is Rachel (the heroine from the previous book)'s best friend, who after being blamed at work for something she didn't do, loses her job and Rachel suggests she comes and visits her in Iceland. 

And we also focus on Ned, who was in a boy band, wants to launch a solo career but is having a crisis of confidence and struggling to write music and decides to go to Iceland for a few months to be completely incognito. 

It was wonderful catching up with all the characters I loved from the first book, while also getting to know Anna and Ned and seeing Iceland through their eyes. 

They had instant chemistry and I really enjoyed seeing how things would potentially develop between them.  There are some wonderful descriptions of Iceland, and I could picture everything so clearly.

This was just such a lovely read, featuring romance, Iceland, cosiness,  a sexy musician, friendship and just a pure escapist story. 

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

Thursday 24 November 2022

Book Review - Wishing On A Star by Mandy Baggot

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Amazon UK

Title: Wishing On A Star
Author: Mandy Baggot
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Embla Books
Publication Date: 10th October 2022
Rating: 5 Stars

A single mum. A superstar athlete. A Christmas like no other.

Anna Heath is divorced, a single mum and trying desperately to keep her life in order. Despite her friends' best efforts, Anna has stopped looking for love and is determined to give her daughter, Ruthie, a Christmas to remember.

Sam Jackman has just been dealt with life-altering news, and all he could think to do was run. He's left his American football team back in the US, stuck a pin in a map, and landed in Richmond, London.

When Anna and Ruthie literally bump into Sam on the snow-speckled streets, he finds himself being welcomed into their lives. But what begins as a night on the sofa turns into the start of something special...

I think this could be the best book the Mandy Baggot has ever written, and I've read the vast majority of them. 

I'm gutted that I've reached the end, it was just wonderful and I am already missing Ruthie. 

In a book that features and autistic teenager and another character with a degenerative genetic disease diagnosis, you may be thinking this is deep and heavy. But that couldn't be further from the reality.  Yes the bits with the diagnosis will make you think but from my knowledge of the disease which has mainly come from Neighbours, feels as accurate as I believe it to be which adds to the authenticity. 

Ruthie is easily my favourite character, she is a wonder, a joyous ray of light, and knows what she is and isn't comfortable with. I love the way she sees the world and I would happily read more books with her at the centre. 

This also felt like a bit of a ode to Richmond, perhaps Mandy Baggot should be working their tourist board in addition to writing amazing books, as I really felt as though I was in Richmond, and could picture this part of London, that I've only visited once, so clearly. 

Actually can I have more of Sam too, I think I might be a tiny bit in love with the guy, and after the first two chapters I was so surprised with how the two main character's stories would cross over, as they seem to be worlds apart. 

Add in a couple of mad cap animals, Anna and her friends who are a real tonic too, there is just so much to love in this book. 

I couldn't' get enough of this story and found I read it very fast. I thought it was superb and probably one of my favourite festive reads of the season.  Just brilliant. 

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

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Book Review - The Christmas Castle in Scotland by Julie Caplin

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Amazon UK

Title: The Christmas Castle in Scotland
Author: Julie Caplin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication Date: 31st October 2022
Rating: 5 Stars

Unwrap this gorgeous gift of a book for an escape to the snow-peaked caps of the Scottish Highlands and a romance that will melt your heart…

Izzy McBride had never in a million years expected to inherit an actual castle from her great uncle Bill but here she was, in the run up to Christmas, Monarch of her own Glen – a very rundown glen in need of a lot of TLC if her dream of turning it into a boutique bed and breakfast was to come true.

But when Izzy’s eccentric mother rents a room to enigmatic thriller author Ross Adair and the Scottish snow starts to settle like the frosting on a Christmas cake, it’s a race to get the castle ready before they’re all snowed in for the holidays.

I couldn't get enough of this book, I really wanted it to go on and on forever as I was enjoying it that much.  It's Julie Caplin at her very best. 

It's warm and cosy, its a hug of a book filled with nourishing food, a castle that is being turned into a hotel, a delightfully eccentric Xanthe (well she doesn't like to be called Izzy's mum),  an unexpected lodger, other waifs and strays, and lovely feeling of Christmas too. 

All set in the snowy Scotland highlands and the castle even comes complete with Duncan, who speaks with a thick local dialect, that I could hear clearly in my head (but since I'm bad with accents, would have been awful had I tried speaking it allowed).   This really does feel remarkably Scottish, and thankfully barely a bagpipe in sight. 

Definitely some kilts though, but first we have Izzy who has just done a cookery course in Ireland, and is the new owner of this castle. While she has been away Xanthe has been busy, with some good and some more stressful surprises.  

I felt transported to that castle, I could picture it so clearly, including the treasure hunt (which I had a strong inkling about), and all the decorations.  And I loved all the interactions between Ross and Izzy. Actually I just loved all the characters. 

It's another wonderful romantic escape from an author who combines destinations and food so so well wrapped up with some romance.  Just simply delightful. 

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

Tuesday 22 November 2022

Book Review - A White Christmas on Winter Street by Sue Moorcroft

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Amazon UK

Title: A White Christmas on Winter Street
Author: Sue Moorcroft
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: 27th October 2022
Rating: 5 Stars

When Sky Terran returns to the village of Middledip after losing the job she loves, she anticipates a quiet Christmas getting used to her new life. However, the annual street decoration competition is coming up and this year, the residents of Winter Street are determined to win.

As she is pulled into the preparations, Sky quickly grows to love the quirky, tight-knit community she is now part of. Including the extremely handsome Daz, who soon becomes more than just a friendly neighbour.

But when Daz’s ex turns up determined to win him back and it seems he might not be the man Sky thought he was, she remembers how much allowing people into her life – and heart – can hurt. As the snow falls, will she and Daz find a way through – and help win a Christmas victory for Winter Street?

A gorgeously festive novel about love, family and the power of forgiveness from Sunday Times bestseller Sue Moorcroft, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan and Phillipa Ashley.

What a warm and cosy read this was. 

It was joyous to be back in Middledip once again, a village that I am utterly convinced grows quite a bit larger with each book that Sue Moorcroft sets there, as this predominately has a cast of all new characters, plus a fluttering passing of familiar faces. 

But 100% this is a standalone, it's just fans of the author will recognise this setting, and The Corner House on Winter Street is a wonderful focal point for this story.  As is the whole Christmas decoration contest pitting Winter Street against other streets in Cambridgeshire. 

But it is so much more than a Christmassy story, for Sky Terran is a wonderful character, and her relationship with Freddy, her foster brother is interesting to say the least. It is also at the start not in the best of places which is upsetting Sky and leads her to quit her job with him and move back to Middledip. 

And seeing Sky quickly become part of the community in the village is heartwarming to say the least. Especially her friendship with Courtenay and her son Wilf who have been going through a tricky time themselves.  

And Sky is easily able to relate in a way to what Wilf is going through and it is so sweet to see him come out of his shell as the story progresses.  She also cares about the environment and it was interesting to hear about solar powered Christmas lights, and fat cakes for birds in winter that  can double as decorations. 

And then there is Daz, who is a video game developer and tester which makes him my perfect guy on job alone, let alone all of his wonderful personality traits. 

I just loved everything about these characters and this story and it was told with Sue Moorcroft's trademark warmth and sensitivity. There is a generous helping of Christmas Spirit sprinkled throughout the book too. 

It is simply marvellous and really did make me feel as though I was in a winter wonderland at times.  Another triumphant story from an author I absolutely love. 

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

Monday 21 November 2022

Book Review - Wendy's Winter Gift by Debbie Viggiano

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Amazon UK

Title: Wendy's Winter Gift
Author: Debbie Viggiano
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author Supplied Copy
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 1st November 2022
Rating: 5 Stars

Everyone has secrets but some are bigger than others.

Wendy Walker can count on two fingers the number of birthdays until she’s fifty. She can also count on six hands the number of years she’s been married to controlling Derek. Whatever happened to the boy she used to lark around with in the back of a Ford Escort? Just like Derek’s hairline, that lad has gone.

Wendy yearns for freedom but is resigned to her lot. After all, there are others to think about. Like daughter Ruby who – as a teenage single mum still at home – needs supporting, especially since abandoning her hopes of being on Love Island and achieving fame as a reality star.

But secrets dare to spill at the most inopportune moments.

Ruby is nurturing a mystery romance that she frets about her mother discovering, while Derek finds himself under the spotlight in the most disastrous of circumstances.

But just when Wendy thinks her world is falling apart, she discovers that sometimes unexpected joy is just around life’s corner…

This was really funny, so many giggles were had as I read Wendy's regular daydreams and inner musings. She regularly went off at a tangent in her inner voice and it takes a bit to get used to that particular character trait but once you do it's rather endearing. 

Wendy wants more than anything to be free from her husband Derek.  He is controlling and not overly pleasant and doesn't seem to like his daughter or granddaughter that much either. He is also adamant that divorce is waste of money and isn't too pleased when Wendy tries to ask for one. 

However that does set into play an a series of events that will ultimately change Wendy's life forever. 

I loved Wendy, she is s a dog walker, and amongst the dogs she walks there is the rather mischievous William Beagle who gets her into various amusing situations.  

And then there is the Paul Newman lookalike who Wendy keeps bumping into, normally in not the most straightforward of circumstances. 

Oh and I loved little Mo, Wendy's toddler grand-daughter, who has a fabulous habit of repeating new words from anyone around her, especially if they are naughty words! 

This is Debbie Viggiano at her humorous best. It's fabulous, I found it really quick to read and was thoroughly enjoying every moment I spent with this cast of characters. A triumph. 

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

Saturday 19 November 2022

Book Review - The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan

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Amazon UK

Title: The Christmas Bookshop
Author: Jenny Colgan
Format reviewed: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 27th October 2022
Rating: 4 Stars

The brand new feel-good Christmas novel from Sunday Times top ten bestselling author, Jenny Colgan.

Carmen has always worked in her local department store. So, when the gorgeous old building closes its doors for good, she is more than a little lost.

When her sister, Sofia, mentions an opportunity in Edinburgh - a cute little bookshop, the spare room in her house - Carmen is reluctant, she was never very good at accepting help. But, short on options, she soon finds herself pulling into the snowy city just a month before Christmas.

What Sofia didn't say is that the shop is on its last legs and that if Carmen can't help turn things around before Christmas, the owner will be forced to sell. Privately, Sofia is sure it will take more than a miracle to save the store, but maybe this Christmas, Carmen might surprise them all...

This feels like it's a Christmas redemption sort of a story as Carmen is rather tricky to get to know initially, let alone like, is the main character, and over the course of the book I found myself really warming up to her and loving her. 

She has a tricky relationship with her sister, and barely knows her nieces and nephews and isn't really that impressed with the job that has been found for her. 

But as the story progresses you see changes in Carmen, in part due to the attentions of two men in different ways, and in part it's an internal change. 

I loved seeing how she tries to transform McCreadie's bookshop and in fact is able to to do so much, she just doesn't believe in herself. 

I was frustrated with Carmen for parts of the book but ultimately really did love her, and was rooting for her.  

Set in a snowy Edinburgh, with a slight cameo from a character from one of Jenny Colgan's other Scottish based books in passing but enough to make me smile, and all manner of fabulous secondary characters, this is a book that ultimately stole my heart. 

Thoroughly enjoyed reading it, full of the author's trademark warmth, this really was a gorgeous Christmas story. 

Friday 18 November 2022

Book Review - Mistletoe and Magic for the Cornish Midwife by Jo Bartlett

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Amazon UK

Title: Mistletoe and Magic  for the Cornish Midwife
Author: Jo Bartlett
Format reviewed: Ebook 
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Publication Date: 27th October 2022
Rating: 5 Stars

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

But for single mum and busy midwife Nadia, it’s quickly turning into her worst Christmas ever.

Her marriage is over, and whilst her husband has moved on, Nadia finds herself back home, squashed into her mum’s spare room with her two small children. They might not be a perfect family anymore, but Nadia is determined to make this Christmas special for them.

Dr Hamish Spencer totally understands Nadia’s pain. As a fellow single parent, he’s struggling to cope with a rebellious teen daughter and a precocious six-year-old! Perhaps if he and Nadia join forces, they could make this Christmas slightly more memorable for everyone?

The last thing Nadia wants is a new man in her life, but she’d definitely like lovely Hamish as a friend. But Christmas has a way of melting the hardest of hearts and maybe a kiss under the mistletoe could change everything?

Once again Jo Bartlett delivers a book filled to the brim with drama, excitement, emotion and of course a way to catch up with all the other midwives we have met too. 

This is another excellent addition to the series, and there is one storyline in particular that had me welling with emotion fairly early on.  Then there are as you would expect a variety of different births, given Frankie and Nadia both work on the midwife unit, some rather unexpected and all quite varied in circumstances. 

It was lovely to meet so many more expectant mothers within the Three Ports area, and I have to say that Cornwall by now must be undergoing a baby boom! 

Frankie and Nadia are our main characters this time, along with Dr Hamish. Nadia and Hamish are both single parents and their 6 year old daughters are best friends. They are though both single for very different reasons and I was fascinated by their back stories. 

And it was great getting to know Frankie a lot better too, and she is also struggling with a family relationship, not with her daughter Nadia, but her son Hari and her mother are both being completely and utterly unreasonable and I really wanted to knock some sense into then. 

And although the book does take part in the run up to Christmas, it was more as backdrop, than a key part of the story, so if you are dubious about reading festive things too early in the year, then this one should be fine as the emphasis on the story is more on a variety of relationships both romantic and family.

I absolutely adored this book, and this series as a whole, I love the authors writing style and felt as t though I was returning to friends, such is the sense of community that has been created.  I really hope there will be more books to this series. 

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

Thursday 17 November 2022

Book Review - The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop by Cressida McLaughlin - Blog Tour

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Amazon UK

Title: The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop
Author: Cressida McLaughlin
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: 10th November 2022
Rating: 5 Stars

Ollie Spencer has started a new life in the idyllic Cornish seaside town of Port Karadow. Throwing herself into her job at the town’s bookshop, A New Chapter, is one way to make friends. The shop is glitzing up for first Christmas and Ollie hopes her inspired ideas will give the shop the edge it needs to dazzle the town.

But far from being the Sugar Plum fairy the place needs, Ollie is fast becoming its Christmas pudding. With the bookshop’s success at stake, Ollie turns to twinkly-eyed cafĂ© owner Max for help. Can he help Ollie to turn the page, and put the sparkle back into her Cornish dream?

Always lovely to be back in Port Karadow and this was another excellent addition to the series.  I absolutely adored Ollie and how enthusiastic she is for her new job, organising events for a new bookshop in Cornwall. 

She is like the energizer bunny, she doesn't stop and literally has idea after idea after idea, all of which I loved in theory, although some worked better in practice than others. Especially loved Book Wars! 

And then there is Max who I definitely fell for, there is nothing not to love about him, and the whole town seems to agree! 

Any story set in a bookshop is a winner with me, and this one mentions many authors I've enjoyed reading, in addition to just being a fabulous story.  I enjoyed seeing all of Ollie's ideas, and also loved seeing how the town was preparing for Christmas. 

Was great to see familiar faces from elsewhere in the series too, I always love it when that happens, and was especially pleased to be able to catch up with Meredith. 

I also loved the that there was a small mystery in the story, about a series of Cornish mystery books that went out of print many years ago, that were based on local legends.  I really enjoyed Ollie's discovery of these local legends and trying to find the locations and some rather weird goings on at the same time. 

Just all around this is another excellent book from Cressida McLaughlin, who is an author I always thoroughly enjoy. 

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

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Book Review - The Great Christmas Cook-Off by Helen Buckley

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Amazon UK

Title: The Great Christmas Cook-Off
Author: Helen Buckley
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Publisher supplied copy
Publisher: Choc Lit
Publication Date: 15th November
Rating: 5 Stars

It’s the festive showdown to end all festive showdowns …
“Queen of Chocolate” Beatrice Wodehouse, known for her decadent desserts, is ready to go head to head with her social media nemesis, clean lean baking machine Charlie Simmonds, in the Great Christmas Cook Off TV show.
Beatrice is fed up of Charlie’s sanctimonious attitude and is ready to show him that food is there to be enjoyed. Surely she’ll blow his keto, low sugar, low-carb mince pies out of the water with her chocolatey creations?
Except filming for the Cook Off turns out to be anything but sugar, spice and all things nice when the contestants realise there’s a festive saboteur in their midst – leading to melted ice cream, trifle mishaps and private stories leaked to the press.
As the countdown to the final commences, suspicions run high and sparks are bound to fly – and not just from the flaming Christmas puddings!
Part of the Spotlight series but it can be read as a standalone story.

How have I not ready any of Helen Buckley's spotlight series before? I mean they all sound like my sort of book but I finally knew I could resist no longer when it came to The Great Christmas Cook-Off. 

After all I love Christmas I love Bake Off,  I love romance and am fascinated with the behind the scenes of reality programmes!  So this hit all the boxes. 

And it was even better than I could have anticipated. I loved the nature of Beatrice and Charlie's rivalry but also enjoyed how their feelings towards each other changed many times over the course of book. 

They both have pre-conceptions about the other that will be challenged over the course of the book, and both of them bake the way they do thanks to things in their pasts. 

There is plenty of sweet treats in this story and I found my mouth-watering especially at anything that Beatrice and Alex were baking. 

Yet the eliminations on this show aren't necessarily down to the worst taste as it soon becomes apparent that the so called mistakes being made, might just be sabotage, which adds an air of mystery to the story. 

This was a quick and easy story to devour and I absolutely adored it. It felt hungry and festive while reading, while wondering if the couple that I was sure would happen, if they would indeed ever get together or not.  

Just a Christmas joy to read! 

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

Tuesday 15 November 2022

Book Review - The Sh!te Before Christmas by Serena Terry

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Amazon UK

Title: The Sh!te Before Christmas
Author: Serena Terry
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 10th November 2022
Rating: 5 Stars

Christmas time, toddler meltdowns, teenage angst, marriage problems and WINE.

This year, the perfect Christmas is going to take a miracle…

Twas the sh!te before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring except for … mum!

Like every mum, Tara wants a perfect Christmas for her family – but no-one else is lifting a finger and she’s losing her elf-ing mind. From the kids behaving badly (vaping! Potty training! The Nativity!), to a distracted husband acting very out of character, the last straw is Tara’s glamorous, feckless, boundary-less mother moving herself back in for the holidays.

Can Tara pull off the holly jolly Christmas of her dreams? Will she deck the halls and not her family? Or is this a Christmas catastrophe waiting to happen?

What a wonderful follow up to Mammy Banter. 

Set throughout Christmas, this was fast paced, manic and so much fun, while also had me exhausted thinking about trying to Tara and dealing with everything she is. 

This is a warts and all look at motherhood in the run up to Christmas, complete with Tara's own mother paying a visit and to say she has been an absent mother / grandmother is an understatement.  Paul also seems rather distant and I'm incredibly glad the conclusion I jumped to, was completely wrong. 

I loved seeing Gemma's dfiffernet sides to this teenagers personality, and how she grew over the course of the book was really lovely.  And then there are Jax and Nathan who come out with easily all of the best lines. 

Then there is Tara's catastrophizing, her inner monologues which once you are used to them, are a wonder to behold.  

My only issue with this book was one specific chapter which I had the misfortune of hitting at the point my dinner arrived in the restaurant I was at while reading, and I basically had to skim the chapter because the level of details involved were making me feel ill and severely putting me off my food - far too much expulsion of things from a body at all ends from multiple family members.  I'm squeamish anyway but this painted a disgusting picture - but fairly sure one a lot of parents would fear. 

I especially loved the various ideas Tara and her family had for Wee Donkey and just what mischief he could get up to each day! 

Other than that I adored this book and couldn't get enough of it.  It's a joy to read and I really loved the ending which was just perfect! I can't wait to see what Serena Terry writes next. 

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