Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Abby Clements
Paperback, 320 pages

Published 25th October 2013 by Quercus

Shelves: 
adult-fiction, books-i-own, chick-lit, christmas-books, mum-has, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Childhood friends Laurie and Rachel's lives have taken very different paths since they picked up their A-level results together. Laurie is living in London and dedicated to her career, keeping track of her friends on Facebook. Rachel is seemingly living the family idyll in a cottage in Yorkshire - except she worries her marriage is starting to show cracks. When Rachel's mother in law falls ill and needs treatment in London, and Laurie decides she needs to get away for a break, a house swap falls into place. Soon Rachel is braving the mean streets of London while trying to keep her family together, while Laurie tries to figure out how to work an Aga and befriend the locals - and forget the man who seems intent on breaking her heart. Will their relationships survive this test? And will they make it home in time for Christmas?


After reading Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream this year, when I found out that the author, Abby Clements, had written a Christmas-themed book, I put it straight on my must-read list for this year's festive season. I bought the book a few months ago, but as soon as the calendar announced that it was December, I couldn't resist picking it up and reading it! This story leads up to Christmas day and certainly has the right amount of Christmas spirit! 

I really enjoyed the build up of the holiday excitement that this book created and the festive atmosphere that it conjured - it is a really good book to get you into the Christmas mood. This book doesn't drown you in Christmas though, so I think that it would be a fantastic read at any time of the year. 

Abby Clements has such a lovely way of writing. Her writing is simple, fluid and so easy to read, it's a page turner and very easy to lose track of time when you're reading. However, despite the simplicity, the book is not missing anything, nothing feels inadequate - there is just the right amount of substance and enough detail to make the characters seem authentic and the settings realistic. There are surprisingly quite a few different issues with different characters in this book, but it really is well balanced and well paced so that there is no risk of becoming bored. Another positive in to this book was that it was refreshingly unpredictable - there were a couple of twists to the story that I really was not expecting!

I can honestly say that I liked all of the characters in this novel. Laurie and Rachel were our main characters and two very different people, lifestyle wise, but it was obvious to see why they made such a great pair of friends. Though they have different personalities, it was very easy to warm to them both and I felt like I was making new friends alongside the other characters in the book. It wasn't just Laurie and Rachel that impressed me though, all of the supporting characters were as equally well formed as our protagonists. Clements managed to create a surprisingly fun, older rural Yorkshire community and a very colourful and warm spirited community in urban London. The chemistry of the characters was interesting to watch and read about. I liked seeing the different characters help each other with their own individual thoughts and skills. 

One of the issues that the characters faced was Milly, Rachel's teenage daughter, who became interested in a guy she met in their village pub. I thought Clements handled the subject amazingly well, in such a realistic way, despite the complications. I particularly enjoyed reading about Rachel's family relationships, seeing how they all pulled together throughout a difficult time. 

Overall this book has confirmed what I already thought, Abby Clements is a very talented writer and her stories are just so easy to devour - I can't believe that this book was actually her debut novel, as she writes just as well, if not better, than many chick-lit authors with many years experience. I will definitely be keeping my eye on this author and check out whatever else she has to offer, it would only be a bonus if she wrote something else that was so festive! A top read for the winter months.


Sunday, 15 December 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (78)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


This week I received one book for review, which I am extremely excited about - it's called Mother, Mother and it sounds like it has the potential to be incredible! I'm sure it'll be one of my first reviews of 2013. I also snapped up a copy of Keeper of the Light which was only £1 (for a brand new copy) on Amazon this week.

Hope you're having a great December so far!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

From the Review Pile (81)

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------

This week, I'm going to showcase Wrapped Up In You!
This book was released some time ago yet I still haven't gotten around to reading it, despite my festive indulgence! I think that I bought this book last year. I plan to read the latest book by this author soon, so I'm hoping that I like her writing!

Wrapped Up In You by Carole Matthews
Paperback, 384 pages
Published 27th October 2011 by Sphere

A Christmas fling, or has Janie found the real thing? Thirty-something hairdresser Janie Johnson's single status is a constant source of gossip for her friends and clients. So after too many nights in with her cat, a blind date disaster and news that her ex is getting married, Janie realises it's time to do something dramatic with her life. It's time for an adventure! Leaving winter behind, Janie takes the plunge and books an exotic trip to Africa. Her friends think she's mad and Janie thinks they may very well be right ...but then she falls head over heels for her tour guide and fully fledged Maasai Warrior Dominic. But can Janie now face spending a snowy Christmas back home without him? Packed with unforgettable characters, romance and laughter, Wrapped Up In You is your very own perfect Christmas Carole!

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Make My Wish Come True


Make My Wish Come True by Fiona Harper
Paperback, 384 pages

Published 1st November 2013 by Mills & Boon

Shelves: 
adult-fiction, arc-or-review, awful-cover, books-i-own, chick-lit, christmas-books, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Family-orientated and Christmas-dinner cook extraordinaire Juliet is trying to keep it together in the wake of her marriage breakdown two Christmases ago, but the cracks are beginning to show.

Bright and vivacious Gemma was always the favourite daughter…So she has no qualms about leaving Christmas in her sister Juliet’s capable hands; and escaping the pressures of her glamorous job, and the festive madness by jetting off to somewhere warm. 

When Gemma shirks responsibility once too many and announces she’s off to the Caribbean (again!); Juliet finally snaps. Gemma offers her sister the perfect solution - to swap Christmases: she’ll stay home and cook the turkey (how hard can it be?) and Juliet can fly off into the sun and have a restorative break.

In the midst of all the chaos, there’s Will, Juliet’s dishy neighbour who’s far too nice to float Gemma’s boat and may secretly harbour feelings for her sister; and Marco, the suave Italian in the villa next door, who has his own ideas about the best way to help Juliet unwind. 

Will the sisters abandon caution and make this a Christmas
swap to remember?


I love books that set a traditional winter scene, something to get me in that festive mood, featuring snowy weather, warming up by the fire. So naturally, as soon as  I heard about Make My Wish Come True, a new book based around two sisters and their rather different Christmases, I had to pick it up. I loved the sound of the stay at home, traditional English country Christmas, though I can't say I was keen on the thought of a Caribbean Christmas. However, I picked the book up and was excited to start reading. 

This story focuses on two sisters - Juliet and Gemma. Juliet and Gemma are quite different characters, mainly reflected in the very different lives at they lead. Juliet is a single mother, highly organised but always running flat out doing everything she can for her children and community. Gemma is an actress, not often staying in one place and not one who takes on many responsibilities. Juliet is planning a big traditional Christmas, cooking a big meal for all invited. When Gemma tells her sister that she will be flying out to the Caribbean for the big day, a quick and somewhat crazy decision is made - for Juliet to take the break she needs by going alone to the Caribbean, whilst Juliet takes over the big festivity that was planned at home.

My Christmas book wishes were more than fulfilled with the experience of Gemma's quite dysfunctional English Christmas. With this Christmas I got everything I asked for for, from the little mentions of the decorations to the children's excitement and squabbles. Harper did fantastically well creating a real sense of festive spirit. Her half of the story really showed the spirit of the community around her as they all pulled together to make the day a good one.

Although I personally find the thought of a Caribbean Christmas awful, thankfully it was certainly not bad to read about. Harper was able to switch me from the a chilly cottage in England to the sweltering beaches in just a turn of the page. I thought it may be a bit difficult getting into two different main settings but it was surprisingly easy and it was actually really enjoyable to see the difference between the two and makes the festivity a little less 'full on' for those who just like general chick-lit. Of course, it also allowed for character reflection and for more, different character relationships.

I came to really like both Juliet and Gemma as the book progressed. From the beginning, I found Juliet nice enough and she had a real sense of realism - she is the character that I think that most will prefer at the beginning of reading. I didn't particularly like Gemma at the beginning of the book (though I didn't particularly dislike her, either) mainly because I didn't really get much of a sense of who she was. I most certainly warmed to Gemma throughout the book, as did other characters, by seeing her in a different light. The author did a really good job of helping us to understand how and why the sisters didn't fully understand or appreciate each other.

As with most chick-lit books, there were of course love interests for our two protagonists. I was completely caught up in the atmosphere with Gemma and Will, they worked surprisingly well together, though I admit I would haven't have been best pleased if I was Juliet. Juliet's relationship with the charismatic Marco was so fantastically written - though I was cautious, I was sucked in and I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach towards the end - but that's what good writing does! For me, it was the family relationship that really made this book what it was - seeing the family and friends come together definitely shone through the pages.

Make My Wish Come True is definitely on my recommended reads list, for anyone who is a fan of well written chick-lit. Whether you'd like a traditional country christmas or one in the sun, this book shows you what Christmas really is about, without losing any of the fun!



Sunday, 8 December 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (77)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


I received two books in the post this week. The first is a book that sounds very dark and different, which is why I am so excited about it - it is called Gretel and the Dark. Another book which I received and is set for release next year is Summer at the Lake - it may be quite the opposite to Summer right now, but I'm looking forward to the change, nonetheless. 

I hope you've had a lovely week!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

From the Review Pile (80)


From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

-----------------------------------

This week, I'm going to showcase Sleigh Bells in the Snow!
This book has already been released and I was actually sent it a couple of weeks ago for review, but as I have had such good experiences with Sarah Morgan's festive books in the past, I'm sort of trying to save this as my ultimate festive book indulgence, so I plan to read it around Christmas week... if I can wait that long!

Sleigh Bells in the Snow (O'Neil Brothers #1) by Sarah Morgan
Paperback, 384 pages

Published 29th October 2013 by Mills & Boon



Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year. 

Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus. 

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Christmas at the Crescent


Christmas at the Crescent by Veronica Henry
E-Book, 83 pages

Published 7th November 2013 by Hachette

Shelves: 
adult-fiction, arc-or-review, books-i-own, chick-lit, christmas-books, read, read-in-2013, realistic-fiction, short-stories
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Description via Goodreads:

Behind the gorgeous Georgian sweep of Pelham Crescent, Bath, everyone's getting ready for Christmas...

At Number 14, Josie Ballard is up to her ears in brandy, raisins and cherries as she battles to make forty Christmas puddings to sell at Bath Christmas Market. Ever since Giles walked out the day their baby was born, Josie has had to work twice as hard to make ends meet. Sacrificing a career as a chef, her famous steamed puddings keep her and her gorgeous baby boy Titus afloat. Almost. So when, in the middle of Stir Up Sunday, a new neighbour in the Crescent complains about the noise that Titus is making, Josie gives him a basinful...

Giles, meanwhile, is finding life in the fast-lane with his uber-glamorous new girlfriend Rebecca rather draining. With one party blurring into another, he's now wondering if he hasn't made a terrible mistake in abandoning Josie and his child. Isn't it time he grew up, his mother asks, and Giles is starting to agree. So when he discovers Josie has a handsome new neighbour, Giles decides it's time to step up to his parental duties...

Christmas just got complicated.



I am not one that usually reads eBooks, but even I couldn't resist a copy of a Christmas read! As you will all know by now, I love seasonal reading and thought that a short story would be a great way to slowly ease myself into the festive spirit! Christmas at the Crescent was a great choice as, though it would be nice to read any time of year, it had just the right amount of festivity.

Christmas at the Crescent is the first book I've read by Veronica Henry and I'm sure it won't be the last. For the most part, I enjoyed the writing and I think that she managed to create some solid characters and a vivid setting very well in such a short story. The pace was leisurely and pleasantly constant meaning that the story held my attention throughout. Although it was very easy to read and understand, at some points I felt as though some of the words that were used were a little grandiloquent and unneeded, losing the fluidity of the writing.

The story introduces to a flat in Pelham Crescent, home to Josie, a single mother devoted to her child, Titus, and baking. Josie is still slightly struggling with coming to terms with living alone since her ex-partner (Giles) left her on their child's birthday to live with the more outgoing and charismatic Rebecca. During this 'noella', we get to explore Josie's relationship with herself, her child, Giles and the man that has been living in the flat above her, Harry the script writer. I really enjoyed reading about all of the characters and exploring the chemistry between them.

Our protagonist, Josie, was a pleasure to get to know. Josie is one of those characters that is simply lovely, she seemed so authentic and I loved her down to earth personality. She is definitely a character that's both easy to sympathise with and to relate to. I wholeheartedly wished her well and was hoping the best for her.

I also had a real soft spot for Harry. I found him to be really interesting - I would have loved to have been able to read more about him and get some proper closure from his character at the end. On the other hand, I realise that this slight mystery is what made him an attractive character and this was a short story, so maybe I'm just being a bit greedy!

Overall, Christmas at the Crescent was the perfect start to my 2013 festive reading. This book is heartwarming, fun and atmospheric. If you're a fan of festive fiction or haven't tried any at all, this would be the perfect introduction. Though I'm sure that this read would be enjoyable all year round, it had that fantastic festive edge and is sure to get you into the Christmas spirit if you read it this December!


Sunday, 1 December 2013

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday (76)

Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's ReviewsShowcase Sunday is hosted by Books, Biscuits and Tea.
These memes are a replacement of The Story Siren's In My Mailbox.

Stacking the Shelves and Showcase Sunday make a place to showcase your new books,
whether you obtained them through the post or otherwise.


 I received three lovely books for review this week! I was particularly excited to receive another two Christmas themed books, Calling Mrs Christmas and Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop, and as it's December, watch this space for a lot of festive book reviews! I also received a very intriguing story which I can't wait to delve into at the end of this month, The Twins.

I hope you've had a great week!

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