Sunday, 19 November 2017

Book Review - The Oddest Little Mistletoe Shop by Beth Good

Amazon UK
Title: The Oddest Little Mistletoe Shop
Author: Beth Good
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Thimblerig Books
Publication Date: 1st November 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


Rose Mistletoe runs her family's flower shop on Christmas Parade, and loves every minute of her job. So when the Parade comes under acquisition by a redevelopment company, Rose forms a protest group against the bid. 

But business tycoon Nick Grimsby is determined to make her sell up. His company is planning to knock down the parade of traditional shops and build a block of exclusive apartments instead. And it seems the sexy billionaire will go to any lengths to get her shop.

As Christmas approaches and Nick dangles the proverbial mistletoe, can Rose resist his powerful allure? Given how gorgeous he looks in a tuxedo, the answer is probably no. But she's not going to make it easy for him!

Because Rose has secret plans of her own ...

Oh I do enjoy sitting down with a new book from Beth Good's Oddest Little Shop series, and this new ones is a delight of romance and humour, and so quick and easy to read too. 

Set on the appropriately named Christmas Parade the Mistletoe Shop, named after Grandpa Mistletoe, is a flower shop that is battling to stay open and independent, after bids from a tycoon to try and redevelop the parade into exclusive apartments. 

Rose Mistletoe, what a fab name that is, runs a flower shop and is determined to pain Nick Grimsby as the devil. She is very quick to jump to conclusions which lead to some very funny moments dotted about the story. 

I loved the writing, its warm, funny and the pacing was rather quick. Everything felt not rushed...but sort of frantic against time to get various things done by Christmas but there was no mistaking the chemistry between our two leads. 

This is another excellent story from Beth Good, which i am so pleased I was able to fit into my Christmas reading schedule. If you are looking for a novella that will make you laugh, smile and is great for the run up to Christmas then look no further. 

Thank you Beth Good for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Book Review - Winter at West Sands Guest House by Maggie Conway

Amazon UK
Title: Winter at West Sands Guest House
Author: Maggie Conway
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 8th November 2017
Rating: 3 Stars


Can Eva find love this Christmas?
Eva Harris has her hands full juggling a young son, a disobedient dog and running her thriving seaside guesthouse, so really the last thing she needs is to be distracted by her new neighbour, ridiculously handsome but arrogant Ben Matthews.

For one thing, she’s got nothing in common with the man, Ben’s a high flying lecturer at the town’s university while she barely scraped through high school, for another he’s fresh out of a relationship while Eva hasn’t been on one single date since the death of her husband, seven years ago!

She’s determined to keep her distance, but in a small town like St Andrews that’s easier said than done, and it doesn’t help that everyone, including her son Jamie, think Ben is wonderful! Breaking out of her sad but safe little bubble might be the hardest thing she’s ever had to do, but Ben might just be worth the risk…

The cover for Winter at West Sands Guest House is absolutely stunning and is ultimately what had persuaded me to give the story a go. However for a tag line that states Christmas romance, it had very little of the real build up to Christmas, and the festive season seemed to be passed over. 

I do agree that it was a romance, but  although there was plenty of chemistry between Eva and Ben,, it took ages for the characters to realise what the reader clearly new, and the ending was ultimately predictable.  

Hamish the puppy was one of the stars of the book, he was adorable and mischievous and no where near trained enough to be running around a guest house. Thankfully it was closed to customers over the winter so there was time to get him trained. 

Eva is an overprotective mother to Jamie, she has her reasons but I felt at times a bit like she was a bit too extreme.  Ben was hard to get a feel for to start with, but I ended up really liking his character, I just wish I knew more about him. 

For a debut book it was ok, and I am certainly curious as to where the author will go next in her writing career, its just that this book didn't fully work for me. 

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

Friday, 17 November 2017

Book Review - The Walls by Hollie Overton

Amazon UK
Title:  The Walls
Author: Hollie Overton
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Cornerstone
Publication Date: 10th August 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


What if murder is your only way out?

Single mom Kristy Tucker works as a press agent for the Texas Department of Corrections handling everything on death row from inmate interviews, to chronicling the last moments during an execution. Her job exposes Kristy to the worst of humanity and it's one that's beginning to take its toll.

So when Kristy meets Lance Dobson, her son's martial arts instructor, she believes she's finally found her happy ending. She’s wrong.

Kristy soon discovers that Lance is a monster. Forced to endure his verbal and physical abuse, Kristy is serving her own life sentence . . . unless she's willing to take matters into her own hands. Perfectly poised to exploit the criminal justice system she knows so well, Kristy sets out to get rid of Lance - permanently.

210 minutes ago I started to read The Walls. I was pretty much hooked from the first few pages, and have not stopped reading it until I have just now come to the end of the book. 

Completely unputdownable it has taken me on a journey that at times were plain scary and others I was choked up with emotion. 

It tells the story of something that no-one should have to go through and just what happens when you reach the end of your tether.  What grabbed me even more than the shocking story between Kristy and Lance, was the letters that appeared between some chapters. 

They tell the story of one man on death row in Texas who was convinced of his innocence. I may be living on a different planet as until I read The Walls I was not fully aware that the death sentence was still in place in Texas, and reading a story of a press agent who sets up inmate interviews for those on death row, and that visits them in prison and witnesses their executions is completely different to anything else I have ever read. 

All of that along would have made one incredibly interesting story, but add in her new relationship with a martial arts instructor, that has fooled everyone into thinking what sort of man he really is, and you get a truly excellent book. 

I loved Baby Doll last year, and this year The Walls by Hollie Overton stepped up her writing a step further, and I am beyond eager to see what her next release will be.  Any book that has dragged me away from the work that I am obsessed with and won't let me go until I finish it, at the moment truly is fabulous, and I am delighted to have read it.  Of course I suspect I'm about to have some really bad dreams so may not be as pleased in the morning! 

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Cornerstone for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Book Review - Christmas at Bay Tree Cottage by Linn B Halton - Blog Tour

Amazon UK
Title: Christmas at Bay Tree Cottage
Author: Linn B Halton
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 3rd November 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


The countdown to Christmas is usually a magical time, but Elana James is fed up with living on a building site! The renovations on her beautiful cottage – like her heart – have been frozen in limbo ever since she was unexpectedly widowed.

Elana calls in a professional, Luke Stevenson, to help finish the cottage, so her little girl can send letters to Santa up the newly-repaired chimney. Luke’s kind, capable and sexy – but he’s also ten years younger than Elana. So why has her heart decided it’s finally time for a thaw?

Such a heartfelt story, full of deeper feelings and some absolutely beautiful moments, some of which will make you smile and others feel quite emotional. 

This is not your typical light fluffy Christmas book to get you feeling in a festive mood. What it is, is a fabulous story that gives you hope, it features two main characters each with similarities but also at times feel like a world apart from each other. 

There is Elana, single mother to Maya, and they are about to face their second Christmas since Niall died, Maya is convinced she still talks to her father and just wants the renovations on Bay Tree Cottage to be finished so that she can send her santa letters up the chimney for some Christmas magic. 

Luke is the builder working on the cottage, he is a bit younger than Elana, and just wants to spend more time with his young son Joe. They are both lonely but whether anything will ever happen between them, is what in part keeps you reading throughout. 

The story is told from both Luke and Elana's perspectives and there is a lot to learn about both of them. I couldn't help but feel a lot of sympathy for both characters, while their children were fabulous.  Maya is a fabulous character and seems a lot older than her 6 years would suggest in some of what she says. 

I loved seeing Bay Tree Cottage change in front of my eyes from a cottage in need of renovation, to a proper family home, which marks with it the personal journey that Elana is on too, in seeing whether she is finally ready to move on with her life. 

This is a fabulous story and one that I would happily recommend. 

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


ABOUT LINN B HALTON

Bristol-born Linn lives in the Forest of Dean, in the UK. She resides there with her lovely husband and cat, Ziggy. She has been writing novels since 2009 and has written short stories for a number of magazines. She is also known for her series of ‘Home by Design’ articles wearing her former interior designer hat.
"I'm a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache ..."
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in November 2015, Under The Stars also became a best-selling novel in November 2016. Linn's novels have been short-listed in the UK's Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.
Linn writes chick lit, romantic comedy, women's contemporary fiction and psychic romance. Publishers include Harper Impulse, Choc Lit and Endeavour Press. 
Goodreads Author Page: http://ow.ly/mk3H30atV5h
  
COMPETITION – No purchase necessary

A pamper kit (UK only)


Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Book Review - One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill by Mandy Baggot

Amazon UK
Title: One Christmas Kiss in Notting Hill
Author: Mandy Baggot
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Publication Date: 16th November 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


Imagine the perfect Christmas Kiss…

His strong arms around her waist, her hands on his face, the snow slowly starts to fall…

It’s enough to make Isla Winters cringe! While her sister can’t get enough of this – increasingly common – sight on the streets of London, Isla’s too busy trying to stop Hannah’s wheelchair from slipping on the ice, and making sure she’s not too late to her dream job at Breekers International. 

But everything changes with the arrival of Chase Bryan, fresh from the New York office. He’s eager to learn everything about Isla’s beloved Notting Hill, but as the nights get colder, will cosying up to him come at a price?

Fantastic Christmas romance, by one of my favourite authors.  I loved every second of this book, and it didn't take too long to make Chase Bryan my latest book boyfriend. 

For Chase is n London with his two daughters and needs to learn not everything is about work. He is the new CEO at Breekers and has huge plans for the business, however they are in conflict with a person who he becomes rather close to in London. 

For Isla, is his go-to-girl, ultimate problem solver and initially doesn't seem that impressed that Chase even exists let alone the premise of his large plans for the company. She also has other things on her mind like planning another spectacular works Christmas party, and seeing if she can give Hannah, her sister any more freedom. 

I loved Hannah, it is unfortunately so rare to see a key character in a book in a wheelchair, especially one as young as 20, but it was a greatly refreshing change, and I loved Hannah's humour, her determination, and her one main wish. She is determined that this year will be the year she has a film style perfect Christmas kiss in Notting Hill, so long as she can find someone to see past her disability. 

In the role of a tour guide, we get to see London and more specifically Notting Hill through the fresh eyes of Maddie and Brooke, Chases's children, while Isla shows them around her favourite places.  If you have ever wanted to get a feel for the real Notting Hill with all of its colourful buildings and independent retailers, the Portobello market and even more then you need to read this book as it gives a fantastic feel for the area. 

From the various Christmas books I have read by Mandy Baggot, One Wish in Manhattan had been my favourite, but I think this one has over taken it in my affections. I just loved this story, there is plenty of Christmas in here as well as some other storylines and themes that are just as important, if not more so. 

Another fabulous story from an author who is getting to be a drop everything and read when a new book by her comes out.  Already looking forward to seeing what 2018 brings for this author. 

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

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Book Review - Christmas at Butterfly Cove by Sarah Bennett

Amazon UK
Title: Christmas at Butterfly Cove
Author: Sarah Bennett
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 6th October 2017
Rating: 3.5 Stars


All she wants for Christmas…
When talented artist Nee Sutherland returns to Butterfly Cove for her sister’s wedding, it’s only a matter of time before she has to face her own bridegroom – Luke Spenser – the man she impulsively married, then left in the middle of the night.

Nee hasn’t picked up her paintbrushes in months, a part of her is broken. She knows Luke might never forgive her, leaving him was the biggest mistake of her life – but could coming home for Christmas be the best decision she’s ever made?

Maybe all she needs is a little Christmas miracle…

Absolutely loved the finale to the book which brought a good series to a lovely ending. However despite it only being a few months since I read book 2, I struggled with this third Butterfly Cove book. 

I found there were all these recurring characters from the first two books and although I remembered the main characters, its was all the family members and friends and how belong to who, and where and why, and bits of back story that were hinted at, but not enough of a reminder in it to help me out - and this is as someone that should know the relevant back story. 

I believe this is a book that is best read straight after the previous one in order to get that much needed continuity with it. 

That being said it was good to catch up with Mia and Kiki, but I felt that for a book that should have been focusing on getting to know Nee and Luke, that I struggled to connect with them, as there was just so much on all the other characters.  

Kiki's childrens were some of my favourite characters yet again, Matty and Charlie are just adorable and the latest addition to their family is incredibly cute too.  i also loved the new development with Mia and Daniel, but Lee and Nee I still don't feel like I know that well. 

Lovely to be back at Butterfly Cove, but ultimately to me this is the weakest of the three books in this series. There is a good story to it and if my memory for the other books had been stronger then I may have enjoyed it a lot more. Was a quick book to read and it does touch on some deep subjects, especially in Nee's backstory but I would have perhaps like to see more of Nee generally. 

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


Monday, 13 November 2017

Book Review - Christmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop by Kellie Hailes - Rachel Reads Randomly Book #77

First up an apology, I did start reading Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, but after 20% I just wasn't getting on with the book for various reasons. It has secured my knowledge that I'm not a fan of retellings though, even if they are Christmassy! As a result I read the runners up book, and the review is below! 

Amazon UK
Title: Christmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop
Author: Kellie Hailes
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: HQ Digital
Publication Date: 5th November 2017
Rating: 4 Stars

’Tis the season for second chances…
Serena Hunter loves her new life in the sleepy Devonshire countryside! It’s a world away from her crazy past as the wife of American bad boy rock star, Ritchie Dangerfield.

Now she spends her days making delicious chocolate using milk from the local dairy and she finally feels that everything is back on track. That is, until her handsome ex-husband arrives in the village to win her back…

Away from the limelight, Serena gets to know Ritchie all over again and realises that maybe a second chance at love is the Christmas miracle she’d been dreaming of all along?

How great it was to be back in Rabbit's Leap, the little town in Devon, that has such a quaint name, interesting traditions, and is gearing up towards Christmas, and this time with all new characters, although you will recognise some of the Rabbit's Leap regulars if you have read the previous two books. 

If you haven't read the previous two books then don't worry this can easily be read as a standalone, as its the first time we have properly met Serena and Ritchie. 

Serena is back in the town and is about to open a chocolate shop. She left her rock star husband a note 6 months before saying she was leaving, not expecting him to turn up days before the shop is due to open.  The story revolves around whether they can give each other second chances for various things. 

Surprisingly for a book involving a chocolate shop it didn't really make me that hungry, don't get me wrong there were some choccy descriptions, but on the whole I didn't find my mouth watering continuously. 

I was far more enthralled in the Serena and Ritchie story, and also Serena's relationship with her family, especially her mother.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this story, although was a bit surprised it finished at 85%. There are a few great romantic gestures in this, and some lovely Christmassy scenes too. 

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

This definitely worked a lot better than me than first place, so thank you to everyone that took part generally last week. Let's see what this week brings. 

Rachel Reads Randomly - Vote #78


 
Thank you everyone for your input last time. The results of the last vote were:

6 Votes -  The Best Little Christmas Shop by Maxine Morrey
8 Votes - Christmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop by Kellie Hailes
10 Votes -Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz 

Incredibly close vote last week which was great to see. Unfortunately the winning book really just didn't work for me, and was a DNF, which I never like admitting too.  I find now that I have less time than before, that spending time to read something I've started off not enjoying just doesn't make any sense to me. However I did read Kellie Hailes - Christmas at the Second Chance Chocolate Shop and really enjoyed that, so thank you to everyone that voted.  

It's official, its the run up to Christmas, hence its time for us to do a few weeks of Christmas random reads, or until I run out of eligible books! This is purely as I only like reading them at this time of year, and never like having too many left over year to year! For the next couple of months, there will only be 3 choices each week due to the smaller pool to pick from. I have added in this year a few of the wintery sounding books too, just for a bit of variety!  

Below is my initial theory for this feature, and then a bit further, what you are all waiting for... This weeks's vote! Enjoy!

I am also awful at deciding what book to read next, as I often have about 10 titles or authors jumping into my brain at any time, shouting at me to read them, and I tend to worry I have made the wrong decision while reading a perfectly good book. I am hoping this will save me having to make at least 1 choice a week, while possibly providing a review to the site of a book you all either love or are curious about yourselves. 

So what I am proposing, is my lovely loyal readers of Rachel's Random Reads, select one book for me to read a week, and I will post the review the following week. 

This week's random numbers are...

And the books these numbers correspond to are...


So the 3 choices with my gut feeling responses are:



4 - A Winter's Tale by Carrie Elks - Really looking forward to this second book in The Shakespeare Sisters series - I even have a spare paperback copy of this for a giveaway as and when I do review!
13 - Christmas at the Candied Apple Cafe by Katherine Garbera - I tend to really enjoy this author when I read her and a Candied Apple Cafe sounds divine!
16 - And a Sixpence For Luck by Lilac Mills - I have loved Lilac's previous two books this year and have sat down to start this one at least 3 or 4 times, only for my finger to slip on my kindle and I've ended up reading something else instead. 

What a delightful selection this week, truly looking forward to reading all 3 of them hopefully before the end of this Christmas reading season, but would love to know which of them I will end up reading first - so its over to you! 

And authors, if its your book up on this feature, feel free to take part, vote for yourself, or stir up excitement amongst your fans! 

Pick your favourite or the one you most want me to review, or just the one you are curious about, and leave me a comment below, before midnight on Wednesday. 

I look forward to seeing what I will be reading over the weekend, courtesy of you all. 

The explanation if you haven't seen the feature before. 

How is this going to work?

Every Monday, I am going to have a post like this, which is going to have some choices on it. I am planning on using random.org to select 7 random numbers, to coincide with my spreadsheet of unread books.  

I will from that produce a list of hopefully 5 books, I reserve the right to veto any books, and will give reasons for them, if it occurs.

I will take screenshots and post them, of the chosen books, and also give you my instinctive reactions to the choices (without checking blurbs or any other info about them, which could be interesting as there are probably many forgotten about books on my spreadsheet!). 

Your task is to post a comment on this post, with the book you would like me to read this week. At midnight on Wednesday I will take a tally of the votes and the book with the most, I will read and review for the following Monday, where you will also get a new choice post. 

In the event of a tie, I will chose which one appeals most, for the Monday review, and possibly try and read and review the other to appear when I can. 

I am hoping this will provide some variety to the books appearing, and will let me potentially read or discover some great authors that I have wanted to read but not got around to yet.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Book Review - Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove by Emily Harvale

Amazon UK
Title:  Christmas Secrets in Snowflake Cove
Author: Emily Harvale
Format reviewed: Ebook 
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Crescent Gate Publishing
Publication Date: 26th October 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


The perfect book to snuggle up with this Christmas.

Christmas is a time for family and friends, miracles and magic, falling snow and roaring fires, fun, laughter and festive feasts. In Snowflake Cove, it’s also a time for secrets to be revealed...


Evie Starr is hoping for more than a sprinkling of magic this Christmas. The family-run Snowflake Inn is virtually empty and the Starr’s financial future isn’t looking bright. But Evie’s gran, Jessie has a secret that might help.


Enigmatic, Zachary Thorn is every woman’s dream. He’s also ex-SAS, so his secrets are classified. The Christmas Special of his feel-good, TV show is set in Michaelmas Bay – until a phone call means he’s spending Christmas in nearby Snowflake Cove.


Evie’s best friend, Juniper thinks boyfriend Darren has a secret. Evie knows he does. And Evie’s niece, Raven is hiding feelings for Juniper’s brother - who has a secret crush of his own. But the biggest secret in Snowflake Cove is the identity of Raven’s dad.


With snow falling thick and fast and secrets being revealed one after another, will everyone be snuggling up by the fire on Christmas Eve, or are some secrets best kept hidden...?

My overwhelming initial reaction to having finished this book is to crave more, I need more Michaelmas Bay and I definitely need more from the Starr and Thorne families.  I was enjoying the book so much that I really didn't want it to end. 

There is what could be considered an overwhelming amount of characters in this story but once you work out who is who and how they are related, it just adds to the fun of the book - with so many sub plots and secrets everywhere.  Although Evie is the focal point you learn loads about her friends, family and business too. 

The Starr family run The Snowflake Inn, on Snowflake Isle off Snowflake Cove - yes the setting is that picturesque and aptly named - and they have an unexpectedly large booking from Zachary Thorn's team who are making a Christmas special in the bay. 

I loved all the characters in this book and they really are what made the story special. It is another fabulous book from Emily Harvale, I love the writing style, the sense of humour and just how vivid some of the scenes were.  This is a gem of a book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Thank you to Emily Harvale for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Book Review - Christmas at the Little Clock House on the Green by Eve Devon

Amazon UK
Title: Christmas at the Little Clock House on the Green
Author: Eve Devon
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publication Date: 3rd November 2017
Rating: 4.5 Stars



Welcome back to the village of Whispers Wood where Christmas magic is in the air…

After giving his heart last year only to have it given away the very next day, Jake Knightley is opting out of Christmas—permanently! But then a beautiful new village arrival sets mayhem in motion, upsetting all his carefully laid plans.

Emma Danes has said goodbye to Hollywood and will do anything to help make the clock house a success, even working closely with the tempting Mr Knightley.

Now, as snow starts to fall and romance starts to bloom, Emma and Jake may just find themselves repeating Whispers Wood history beneath the mistletoe…

At times this book was completely hilarious, it was just so, so enjoyable, and there are a few scenes that will stay with me for a while. 

You definitely need to keep an eye open for a rather special "reindeer" which was one of the funniest things I've read for a while.  It isn't just all laughs though as there is a story too, and the hope of a romance between Jake and Emma. 

Jake is hoping to avoid Christmas this year, for reasons best explained by the Wham song Last Christmas, whereas Emma has come to Whispers Wood to forge a new path, after falling out of love with acting. There are instant sparks between them, at least they seem to rub each other up the wrong way. 

Having read the first book, I'm not even going to try and claim if this one works as a standalone as I was so happy to be back in Whispers Wood, and excited to see how plans for The Clockhouse on the Green are progressing.  We also get to catch up with all the key characters from the first book, some more so than others, and see how their stories have continued. 

I loved Emma's character, she is so warm hearted and helpful towards others, completely selfless. She is an excellent bar manager and has all manner of great ideas to help her friends and the business.  She is like an extra best friend to everyone. 

I all around just really enjoyed this book and am already looking to book 3 featuring these characters. I can't wait to see where they go from here. 

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

Friday, 10 November 2017

Book Review - Snowflakes on Christmas Street by Ivy Pembroke

Title: Snowflakes on Christmas Street
Author: Ivy Pembroke
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Sphere
Publication Date: 17th October 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


On a little street in a big city, everything is changing

Bill has lived on Christmas Street since he was a young man. He's seen families come and go, watched children grow up... Now he wants to be left alone.

Everything seven-year-old Teddy loves is in America. But his widowed father, Sam, has brought them both back to England to be closer to their family. Sam's one wish is for Teddy to be happy again.

As Teddy and Sam settle into their new life, a very special four-legged neighbour is determined to make them feel at home. Jack, the Christmas street dog is welcome in everyone's house - but will it be in his power to help a little boy and a lonely old man remember the true meaning of the season?

As the snow sparkles on the ground, one small act of kindness will give a whole street a happy Christmas...

Uplifting and heartwarming about one rather special street in London, called Christmas Street.  

Before Sam and Teddy moved to Christmas Street, no one really interacted with each other, they were pleasant of course, but no real sense of community.  They did and do still have Jack, a rather special dog who was left behind from his previous family and the street has sort of adopted him. 

Jack goes from house to house, bringing people together, and of course on the scrounge for more food. It is through Jack and also Sam's desire for him and son Teddy to make new friends that very slowly the neighbours all start to get to know each other in unlikely ways. 

The book even within each chapter does small segments about the residents of each house in the street, so you really get a good glimpse at all of their lives and just what is going on with them all. I really loved all the families, although there were a few characters that I wasn't as keen on until towards the end. 

Although the street is called Christmas street - it isn't purely set at Christmas, as the story spans the summer through to the day itself, so its easily a story that would be quite easily read all year around.  The messages throughout the book though most identify with the season of goodwill - its uplifting, slightly emotional and heartwarming. 

I read the whole book in a few short hours as every time I tried to put it down to get on with life, I found it was calling me back for "just one more chapter" until I ran out of chapters!  Any book currently that can hold me attention to that extent deserves special praise, and I just thoroughly adored this story. 

This was the first book I have read by Ivy Pembroke and I'm already very curious as to what she has in store for us next, as this is a very accomplished debut novel. 

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

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Book Review - Christmas at Carly's Cupcakes by Jessica Redland

Amazon UK
Title: Christmas at Carly's Cupcakes
Author: Jessica Redland
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Author supplied review copy
Publisher: Little Bear Books
Publication Date: 4th October 2017
Rating: 5 Stars


Christmas at Carly’s Cupcakes is a cosy heartwarming tale of friendship, family, putting the past behind, and embracing the future.

It’s Christmas in Whitsborough Bay. With fairy lights connecting the shops and caf├ęs on either side of the cobbles, Castle Street seems magical. And in such a magical place, surely Christmas wishes can come true.

Carly Travis, owner of Carly’s Cupcakes, has two Christmas wishes this year. Her first is for her younger sister, Bethany, to focus on the positives in her life, including her Christmas wedding, instead of writing herself off as a failure. Bethany's attempts at cake-decorating aren't going to win any awards, but she’s certainly great with customers. Carly’s second wish is for her best friend, Liam, to come home for Christmas.

When Liam calls to say he’s been granted leave from the army, Carly makes a third Christmas wish. It’s the one she’s made every year since she was a teenager and, if she’s really brave, could this be the year when it finally comes true?

With Liam coming home, the shop having its best year yet, and a wedding to look forward to, it’s shaping up to be the best Christmas ever for Carly. But for Bethany, things are starting to unravel …

I do love a good cupcake and Carly's cupcakes is filled to the brim with cakes, icing, funny moments and a story of two sisters. 

One sister is lucky in love, unlucky in career choices, is a bit clumsy and suffers from self esteem issues. The other has a fabulous cake shop, but is lusting after her best friend who is away with the army.  Two very different sisters in one run up to Christmas including bitchy bridesmaids, some slight icing disasters, self esteem issues and fingers crossed a happy ending for each of them. 

This is another fabulous return to Whitsborough Bay, and I always love seeing what previous main characters are getting up to now. It is a location that is really starting to feel very familiar to me, having read seven books there so far, and I just love it and the people.  Christmas at Carly's Cupcakes though is a completely standalone novella, you don't need any prior knowledge to enjoy it. 

Bethany as a character that frustrated me, Carly's younger sister who is convinced everything she touches will go wrong. I wanted to knock some sense into her, as she had plenty of good points, in amongst the ditzy, clumsiness of her nature. It is clear though how much her fiance loves her. 

Carly just has the magic touch when it comes to cakes, she is imaginative and very creative and I loved the thoughts of all of her Christmas cakes and celebration cakes. I could really picture them and taste, and just wish I had had some cupcakes to hand while reading this story. 

Another thoroughly enjoyable book by Jessica Redland that I loved every second of. 

Thank you to Jessica Redland for this copy which I have reviewed honestly and voluntarily. 


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