Friday, 2 December 2016

Fabulously Festive Lovelies... Part One

December has now dawned and it is a PERFECT time to settle down under the twinkling lights of the tree and read a festive story. There is nothing like a good, well loved classic at this time of year, or a super spooky ghost story (something set in the Victorian era like The Woman in Black by Susan Hill?), but my favourites are light, contemporary reads, and these are a few of my favourites - a mixture of new and old:

Ali Harris: Miracle on Regent Street and A Vintage Christmas


These are a few years old now but absolutely adorable. I will go back and read them both each Christmas!

Miracle on Regent Street:

For the past two years, Evie Taylor has lived an invisible existence in London, a city she hoped would bring sparkle to her life. But all that is about to change. For winter has brought a flurry of snow and unexpected possibilities. 

Hidden away in the basement of Hardy's - once London's most elegant department store - Evie manages the stockroom of a shop whose glory days have long since passed. 

When Evie overhears that Hardy's is at risk of being sold, she secretly hatches a plan. If she can reverse the store's fortunes by December 26th- three weeks away - and transform it into a magical destination once again, she might just be able to save it. But she's going to need every ounce of talent and determination she has. In fact, she's going to need a miracle.




A Vintage Christmas is a shorter novella but no less lovely...

Evie has the perfect job and the perfect man, but keeping both in her life has become a serious balancing act... 

With the sales coming to a close at Hardy's, Evie must source new stock for the season ahead. Her mind is constantly buzzing with ideas and layouts, so much so that she is forgetting all about Sam. 

Can she learn to keep her work separate from her home life? Or will she lose everything... 


I LOVE Abby Clements books, and these two Christmas beauties will guarantee to make you warm and fuzzy.

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements



Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel used to be inseparable - but their lives have taken very different paths since they picked up their A-level results together. Now thirty-five, they have all but fallen out of touch; glamorous single girl Laurie is based in London and dedicated to her career in fashion; Rachel seemingly living the family idyll in Yorkshire.
But when Rachel's mother-in-law needs urgent treatment in London, and disasters at work and in her love life mean Laurie needs to flee, a house swap falls into place. Soon gentle Rachel is far from the village bake sales, braving the city's mean streets while trying to keep her marriage and family together; while Laurie attempts to work an Aga, befriend the wary village locals - and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart. Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home for Christmas?

Also...


The Winter Wedding



Hazel never set out to be a wedding planner. She was just helping her stressed sister Lila with cakes and décor for her big day. But when Lila and Ollie's summer ceremony is a runaway success, with guests raving about the food and styling at the pretty venue, word about Hazel's expertise soon spreads.

But Hazel's clients expect the very best - she's promised lawyers Gemma and Eliot a snow-covered castle in the Scottish Highlands, and laidback couple Josh and Sarah a bohemian beach wedding in a Caribbean paradise. But as weather, in-laws and wilful brides conspire against her, can Hazel get two very different couples to walk up two very different aisles to say 'I do'?


From Paris with Love this Christmas... 


I only recently discovered this fab read by Jules Wake as it was an Amazon.co.uk promotion, it is only 99p at present (02/12/16)


Just until Christmas…
That’s what Paris socialite Siena keeps telling herself. She’ll hide away in her sister Laurie’s cottage near London to escape her hot-tempered fiancé.
However, when Jason – gorgeous but a bit of a Grinch – picks her up from the airport, he reveals that Laurie hasn’t lived there for months, complicating Siena’s holiday getaway.
At first, Jason and Siena don’t see eye to eye. But after a weekend in the most romantic city in the world, experiencing all it has to offer – from the magic of a fir-lined Champs-Élysées, lit up by thousands of sparkling fairy lights, to the swoosh of skates on ice at the Eiffel Tower – Siena shows Jason her Paris, and a whole other side to herself. Suddenly Siena’s December deadline seems far too close…
My absolute FAVOURITE author Cathy Bramley released Comfort and Joy a little bit earlier this year, and it is THE perfect festive treat. 


It’s been a busy year for Verity Bloom at the Plumberry School of Comfort Food, but Christmas Eve is finally here. With delicious treats all wrapped up and the ingredients packed away, Verity is looking forward to a relaxing few days with her new boyfriend.

Good food, family and friends – it’s a simple recipe for true comfort and joy, and all Verity’s friends in the village are full of excitement about the holidays too.

But the weather has other plans in store… Relentless rain leads to a power cut that spells disaster for many of Plumberry’s residents. It’s starting to look like this year’s celebrations could be a total washout.

With dreams of a perfect Christmas dashed, will the last of the festive cheer be swept away in the downpour? Or can the cookery school create a Christmas miracle for everyone Verity holds dear?


I ADORED The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alex Brown - in fact I'm going to re read this next...



Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.
There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…

Another perfect Christmas short is another from the lovely Alex Brown and is set in the village of Tindledale (the same as The Great Christmas Knit off)


Kitty, who runs the Spotted Pig Tea-rooms in the picturesque village of Tindledale, thinks she's come to terms with her husband Ed’s death on active duty. When she learns that Ed’s army dog, a black Labrador named Monty, is being retired and needs rehoming, it awakens her heartache once more.
Amber runs the pet parlour, but her love of dogs extends to rescuing abandoned pooches and now her tiny cottage is overflowing with homeless hounds. The only answer is to open a proper rescue centre but where will the money come from?
Kitty knows she could never take on Monty – it would be too painful, but with more than one dog needing a home this Christmas, is a miracle too much to hope for?
Have fun reading these...I will be back with Part Two next week!



Thursday, 13 October 2016

5* review - Comfort and Joy by Cathy Bramley




Curl up with this feel-good short story, full of romance, surprises and a sprinkling of Christmas magic…!
It’s been a busy year for Verity Bloom at the Plumberry School of Comfort Food, but Christmas Eve is finally here. With delicious treats all wrapped up and the ingredients packed away, Verity is looking forward to a relaxing few days with her new boyfriend.

Good food, family and friends – it’s a simple recipe for true comfort and joy, and all Verity’s friends in the village are full of excitement about the holidays too.

But the weather has other plans in store… Relentless rain leads to a power cut that spells disaster for many of Plumberry’s residents. It’s starting to look like this year’s celebrations could be a total washout.

With dreams of a perfect Christmas dashed, will the last of the festive cheer be swept away in the downpour? Or can the cookery school create a Christmas miracle for everyone Verity holds dear?


I was so pleased to be back in the village of Plumberry and it was extra special to celebrate Christmas with them, and what a Christmas it was!

Everyone's plans were affected as a huge rainfall fell in and around Plumberry, making travel impossible and unsafe. There was huge disappointment and none more so than when the power was interrupted meaning no one in Plumberry was to be fed and watered.

Verity and Tom are looking forward to a quiet Christmas, their first together, but Verity is feeling a little melancholy as she misses her family and the hustle and bustle of a normal family Christmas. 

Who will step in and save Christmas for the residents of Plumberry? Maybe Santa Claus himself?

How wonderful to sink into a Cathy Bramley book filled with humour and warmth at Christmas time - Comfort and Joy indeed. It is a wonderful treat if you have read The Plumberry School of Comfort Food but will be equally as enjoyable as a standalone read.
I made me feel squishy, warm and ready to face the festive season with cheer!






Tuesday, 11 October 2016

5* review: The Night Stalker by Robert Bryndza


In the dead of a swelteringly hot summer’s night, Detective Erika Foster is called to a murder scene. The victim, a doctor, is found suffocated in bed. His wrists are bound and his eyes bulging through a clear plastic bag tied tight over his head.
A few days later, another victim is found dead, in exactly the same circumstances. As Erika and her team start digging deeper, they discover a calculated serial killer – stalking their victims before choosing the right moment to strike.
The victims are all single men, with very private lives. Why are their pasts shrouded in secrecy? And what links them to the killer?
As a heat wave descends upon London, Erika will do everything to stop the Night Stalker before the body count rises, even if it means risking her job. But the victims might not be the only ones being watched… Erika’s own life could be on the line.

After reading The Girl in the Ice by Bryndza earlier this year I was waiting for more from him, it really was good and although the detective Erika Foster books are a series (this is no.2) they are easily a standalone.

It is summer in London, and an old lady goes to feed her son's cat while he is on holiday, but after letting herself in we realise he is not on holiday - he's been brutally murdered in his bed. And there is no trace whatsoever of the killer.

Erika Foster and her team are brought in to investigate (for readers of The Girl in the Ice, the old team are back together) and the rapport and chemistry between them is as good as ever. But the problem for them is that the death toll is rising, the Night Stalker kills again, and again is meticulous in hiding their clues.

We do learn who the killer is, and it's a shock, but very well played. It is then a game of cat and mouse throughout the book to find him before he kills again, he just needs to slip up.

The case is thrown by the murder of someone close to home, and goes in the wrong direction - one that Foster is outraged about so decides it's something she needs to solve alone...of course that goes well!

I really, REALLY enjoyed this offering from Bryndza, it's fast paced and well written, and the characters are really believable and well developed. I enjoyed how this story played out and fans of this genre should love it.

A highly recommended read, am just about to start Robert's new book - Dark Water (out October 20th) Dark Water on Amazon.co.uk

Many thanks to the publisher for providing an ecopy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review









Tuesday, 9 August 2016

5* Review - Found by Elle Field (Arielle Lockley series) GIVEAWAY





"How did people even come up with the idea of these dizzying skyscrapers, let alone work out how to make them possible? Whoever built the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, their legacy will live on forever. What sort of a difference will I ever make?"

Who knew one flight could change everything? When Arielle Lockley stepped on the plane at Heathrow, she never realised how different her life would be when she touched down in New York City. Now she’s dealing with that aftermath, as well as trying to find common ground with Etta, her new and unexpected business partner.

But, trying to sort out business in London whilst her fiancé, Piers, recovers from surgery in New York, is starting to take its toll on their relationship. Can Arielle and Etta work together to continue Felicity’s legacy without destroying it, and will Arielle and Piers even make it down the aisle to say "I do"?

Find out whether Arielle gets her happily ever after in the final part of the warm and wonderful Arielle Lockley series.



I have adored the Arielle Lockley series since first reading Kept, therefore it is with a heavy heart that I am actually reviewing the final book in Arielle's journey.

We join Arielle where we last left her, getting off the plane to Piers in New York after being called to say he was undergoing lifesaving surgery. As soon as Arielle's phone boots back up in the airport she receives dreadful news of her own though and has to face some devastating news.

Thankfully (as you will already gather) this is not about Piers, and he is waiting - albeit gravely ill in hospital for her. As he recovers he starts to feel like without work, which is deemed far too stressful in his condition, he is losing his identity which puts a huge strain on their relationship - along with the fact that they are meant to be planning a wedding and Piers is still too ill to fly back to Britain.

Back in Blighty Arielle's best friend, and as she describes him 'brother from another mother (and father)', Obelix, has news of his own, it pleases him but leaves Arielle suspicious and she is determined not to see him made a fool of.

Things aren't any better for Etta Millhouse either as her drug problem is nowhere near coming under control, and events take a turn that leaves Arielle in an incredibly sticky position, and one that she'd do anything to avoid being in.

We finally get to find out if Arielle and Piers make it down the aisle in Found, and discover if they get their happy ever after. 

I love these characters and have always had a soft spot for Arielle - even at times when she has made bad decisions that have left me shouting into my Kindle, and certain situations made me do that in this book. If she'd have listened to me early on in the book I could have made life a lot easier for her...

I loved the ending, although bittersweet for me as I'd have loved Field to squeeze in another book or two from Arielle, it was brilliant. I was pleased with the way things turned out but would have liked to see a happier ending for Etta who I went from viscerally hating to feeling extremely sorry for!

Well done, Elle on creating a wonderful world of fashion, fun, love and humour that has kept me hooked since first reading Arielle's story. I loved her progression from spoilt 'it' girl to sassy business woman who manages to build an equal relationship with love of her life, Piers.
There were some really sad, poignant moments along the way and a lot of laughs.

Arielle...I salute you and your snappy dressing wonderfulness! 


Many thanks to the author for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway:

To celebrate the publication of Found, Elle is running a giveaway. Prizes are an Amazon voucher, paperback copies of B-Side and Found, plus a handmade necklace from Vaux Street (x2).

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Author profile:


Elle Field writes coming of age romantic comedies, and is the author of the Arielle Lockley series and Geli Voyante’s Hot or Not. She grew up in Yorkshire, then moved to Scotland to study International Relations and Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews.

Elle now lives in London with her boyfriend and their cat. She’s a massive fan of sunshine, giraffes, The Killers, Audrey Hepburn movies, playing Scrabble, musicals and tea. Oh, and reading, of course!

You can buy Elle’s books here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00CHIC1GE














Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The Moment She Left by Susan Lewis - Review & Giveaway!



Kesterly-on-Sea is full of secrets. 

Some are darker than others; many are shameful. One is even deadly.

Andee is an ex-detective whose marriage is breaking up. So when a young female student disappears without trace, she throws herself into the search.

Meanwhile, the town’s beloved Rowzee Cayne has just discovered that she is terminally ill, and doesn’t want to burden her family and friends with the news.

Andee and Rowzee don't know it yet, but their journeys are going to help them uncover a secret. One that is going to affect them more than they could ever imagine.


We're back in the town of Kesterly on Sea where some of Susan Lewis' best novels are set, this time with Detective Andee Lawrence whose marriage is in crisis, and the Leonard family whose daughter, Jessica disappeared two years previously whilst at uni in London. She was happy and chatting on the phone then was never seen again. Andee is determined to help the family find the truth about what happened to their daughter.

Alongside this storyline is also Rowzee Cayne (I have to admit now the spelling of this name did irk me throughout the book). Rowzee has been diagnosed with terminal cancer and is trying her hardest to keep this fact from her family, she has her own plans on how her life will end and she feels determined to go out her own way.

I do enjoy how there are a lot of strong women in Lewis' novels, and these two are no exception. I loved the way Rowzee's story played out and the strong family ethos there was.
When the truth came out I was pleasantly surprised by the way the storylines were all intertwined, and without spoilers, enjoyed the extra family that Rowzee discovered.

I will be truthful in the fact that this was not my favourite of Lewis' books, but is well worth reading, especially if you are a fan.



GIVEAWAY:

I have four paperback copies of the excellent - The Girl Who Came Back to giveaway...


a Rafflecopter giveaway








Many thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

5* review: The Bookshop on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry



Take a trip to the Yorkshire village of Burley Bridge, where a very special little cookbook shop is about to open its doors…
In the beginning…
Kitty Cartwright has always solved her problems in the kitchen. Her cookbooks are her life, and there isn’t an issue that ‘Cooking with Aspic’ can’t fix. Her only wish is that she had a book entitled ‘Rustling Up Dinner When Your Husband Has Left You’.
Forty years later…
On Rosemary Lane, Della Cartwright plans to open a very special little bookshop. Not knowing what to do with the hundreds of cookbooks her mother left her, she now wants to share their recipes with the world – and no amount of aspic will stand in her way.
But with her family convinced it’s a hare-brained scheme, Della starts to wonder if she’s made a terrible decision. One thing’s for sure: she’s about to find out…

The book opens with a snippet of Della's childhood; her father had left and Della clearly needed to take the reigns to feed their family. It was okay though as her mother had an extraordinary amount of cookery books to choose from, so she knew just where to begin.

Forward forty years and Della's mother is about to take her last breath, and Della feels she'll even mess that up by missing it. She's hitting mid life, her daughter is growing up fast and on the verge of starting uni and her husband, Mark, seems far more interested in his job caring for other people's scabby feet than her.

Things in Della's mind seem to change though when she inherits her mother's seemingly endless supply of cookbooks and it causes tension around the home, with the question keeping cropping up - 'Just what was she going to do with them?'

She decides to inject some purpose into her life and transform a little shop in the village she grew up in into a specialist shop for cookery books, and she has all the romantic notions of how it will look, and who will shop there - just not that much idea how to run it!
But in seemingly the style of capable Della, she formulates a plan and does not let the way her life is panning out get in her way.

I found Mark deplorable from the off - bad husband he was, and the rest of her family didn't offer much support to her but that just went to illuminate what a strong woman Della was. I was so pleased the way her life worked out and was surprised by the curve ball that delving into her mother's past threw her.

I loved the characters, especially Della (of course) and Monica, the older lady Della befriended in unusual circumstances.

All in all I found this first offering from Ellen Berry a lovely, feel good story and I really can't wait for the next two books out in this series.

A well deserved 5/5!



Friday, 22 July 2016

5* Review: Falling by Julie Cohen


Honor’s secret threatens to rob her of the independence she’s guarded ferociously for eighty years.

Jo’s secret could smash apart the ‘normal’ family life she’s fought so hard to build.

Lydia’s could bring her love - or the loss of everything that matters to her.




I first discovered Julie Cohen when Transworld kindly sent me a copy of Dear Thing in 2013. I was hooked after a few pages and fell in love with Cohen's storytelling voice, her warmth and humour. The award winning Where Love Lies was to be released the following year and that too was wonderful, a very different story but just as good. I was ecstatic when I saw that there was a new release on the horizon and quickly requested a copy to review but I am always wary when I really have loved an authors previous work...what if this one doesn't live up to my expectations?

There was certainly nothing to fear!

I read Falling in two days - completely destroying my own word count, but it was totally 
worth it.

The story is centred round a three women within a family: octogenarian grandmother, Honor, mother to Lydia and daughter-in-law to Honor, Jo, and sixteen year old Lydia. The chapters are told from each of their points of view offering all round windows into their lives.

Honor is a cantankerous old woman, doesn't like mess or noise in her home and likes her own way. So when she has a fall and breaks a hip she is mortified to have to move in with Jo and family for a while. She and Jo do not see eye to eye and tensions have been very strained since Stephen, Honor's son died ten years previously when Lydia was very small. Jo remarried and had two more children so Honor felt truly a stranger in their home.

Jo's husband left her holding the babies and ran away with the au-pair, charming character. She's run ragged, has no time for herself whatsoever and feels old and dowdy...until an interesting new neighbour moves in. She really is a wonderful, kind, caring mother though and seems to have the patience of a saint! (at this point it is clear to me that I identify more with Honor. We share the same level of cantankerousness).

And lastly, Lydia. Sixteen, with all the social worries of a sixteen year old, about to take her GCSEs and harbouring a huge secret that would rock her world if it came out. Plus she misses the father she never really knew, she has to help out with her younger brother and sister who although she adores - are really taxing at times.

The dynamics of the family are just wonderful, I absolutely ADORED Honor's character - and there are certain scenes in the book, especially with the children that were so comical and heart warming, it really is a wonderful book.

As always, secrets don't necessarily stay buried - and this builds up to a massive climax, with a wonderful ending. There is such an undercurrent of encouragement in this book, it was extremely uplifting to read!

If I could give this book more than 5* I would, and it has definitely gone in to my top 5 reads of all!

Many thanks to Transworld for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.