19 December 2015

Book Review: Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

""Single mother Abbey Fuller loves her family more than anything, and doesn’t regret for a moment having had to put her dreams of being an interior designer on hold. But with her son, Max, growing up, when a friend recommends her for a small design job she jumps at the chance. How hard can it be? 

Nick Sinclair needs his house decorated in time for his family’s festive visit – and money is no object. What he doesn’t need is to be distracted from his multi-million dollar business – even if it is Christmas. 

When Abbey pulls up to the huge Sinclair mansion, she has a feeling she might be out of her depth. And when she meets the gorgeous, brooding Nicholas Sinclair, she knows that she’s in real trouble… 

With the snow falling all around, can Abbey take the chance to make her dreams of being a designer come true? And can she help Nick to finally enjoy the magic of Christmas?"

Rating: 5/5

Available to buy now.

Jenny Hale's books are some of my favourites to read at Christmas, so when I received a Netgalley copy of her brand new festive read Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses, I was super excited to get stuck into it because I just knew it would be brilliant! Luckily, Jenny hasn't let me down, and I might go so far as to say this is my favourite of all of her books to date! I loved everything about it - the setting, the story, the characters - I really didn't want it to end!

Abbey is a single mum to her young son, but wouldn't change anything for the world. She is a nurse whilst her son is at school, and relies on the help of her mother and elderly grandfather to look after him while she is out earning money. When she gets offered her dream job as a decorator for local millionaire Nick Sinclair she jumps at the chance, knowing she'll never again have an opportunity to earn this much money in such a short time. She can't believe the size and grandeur of the house, or the fact she's given an unlimited budget, and soon sets about creating a Christmas wonderland for Nick, who is reluctant about it at best. Will she be able to melt his frozen heart and help him enjoy his Christmas at last?

Oh, there really is nothing to dislike about this story and I fell in love with it so easily! Abbey was a wonderful character - a caring, kind person, a devoted mother to her young son who is just the most adorable boy ever, and a bit down on herself too, unsure that anyone would take decorating advice from her. Luckily, Nick is around to take a chance on her, and so their tale begins! I loved how we are introduced to Nick as a bit of a grumpy mystery, with no idea why he is so unhappy about the festive season, or why he lives such a solitary life, despite his many millions in the bank. Abbey is the total opposite, loving to surround herself with family and enjoy the season together, although they don't have much by the way of money. Goes to show, having money doesn't always make you happy!

I'm not very clued up on interior decorating, preferring to stick to what I know, yet Jenny Hale describes everything so vibrantly, you can picture even the most minute detail in your mind! Each room really came to life in my head as I was reading, and it sounded absolutely magical, I could've quite happily moved in and been happy there for Christmas! Every detail is beautifully described, from the enormous, tall Christmas trees to the small details in the bedrooms, it sounded wonderful and was a joy to read. I enjoyed reading Abbey's mind processes to get to her final designs, and enjoyed seeing Nick come out of himself as the festive spirit overtakes him.

I loved both of these characters, and really became invested in their story. They are both very different people, living very different lives but gel in a number of ways that show each other a better side to life - Abbey learns the good that money can do, and Nick learns the importance of family, and opening up to someone, however distant they are from you. I was hopeful that there would be more between the pair than just a friendship, that's the old romantic in me, I can't help it! The two of them certainly had enough chemistry, and I certainly enjoyed reading their blossoming friendship throughout the book. Jenny Hale's writing was spot on for me, controlling the pace of the book, describing everything so wonderfully you feel part of the story. I loved the closeness Abbey, her son, mother and grandfather shared, it was so touching, and really was a joy to read. My favourite Christmas novel so far - I loved it!

13 December 2015

eBook Review: Wish Upon A Christmas Cake by Darcie Boleyn

"Katie Warham has just one wish this year…to have the best Christmas ever!

If only she could lock herself away in a cloud of flour and sugar at her cosy little tearoom, Crumbtious Cakes, instead of spending the festive season trapped with her judgemental mother, crazy Aunt Gina and loved-up celebrity brother Carl…

But Katie never expected her ex-boyfriend, widower Sam – and his two adorable children – to turn up on her doorstep. She didn’t think that any man could tempt her under the mistletoe this year, but Sam might just prove the exception! And as the snow begins to fall and Katie puts the final touches to her famous Christmas cake, she begins to wonder, could her Christmas wish actually come true?"

Rating: 4/5

Available to buy now.

Another festive read that has landed on my Kindle this year is the debut novel from author Darcie Boleyn. I feel it always bodes well when an author debuts with a Christmas novel because I do love a great Christmas story, and if they can make me fall in love with their festive story, then I'm definitely going to want to read more from them. I really like the cover for this eBook, I love that publishers are getting wise to the fact that eBook covers have to be just as attractive as traditional paperback covers, and this one certainly works for me. I enjoyed this story very much, its a wonderfully romantic tale that you will want to cosy up with this Christmas!

Katie is determined to have her best Christmas ever, and will do anything to make it so. She loves running her own tea room, Crumbtious Cakes, with her best friend, but knows she needs some downtime over the festive season, and drives off to spend it with her parents. Whilst the relationship between her and her mother isn't the best, Katie is going to put all her feelings aside to make this festive season the best she can. However, she doesn't count on her ex-boyfriend Sam making a reappearance at the venue, with two children in tow. Will Katie be able to put her feelings aside, and let this Christmas be her best one yet?

I really was able to get into this story from the very beginning, and became quickly invested in Katie's story. There's a bit of a mystery with her, why she and Sam split up many years ago, and I was curious to find out what happened between them. As it's revealed, you can understand why Katie is as she is in the book, and why it has so profoundly affected her. This was a serious side to the story, and I felt Boleyn handled it really well, tackling the issue sensitively, allowing the emotion to come through. Katie was very likeable and I really did care about her story.

My favourite character though was Sam. He's a father now, and clearly is close to Katie's family, and as the story goes on, we find out more about why he is choosing to spend time with another family instead of his own. I loved his story, it was so well written, and the scenes featuring him and Katie were so beautifully written, you could really feel the chemistry between the pair. I loved the realistic obstacles they come up against - the children being the main one, and it all felt very believable as I was reading.  Nothing seemed forced between the pair, their friendship from years ago was still very evident, and it the pace of it all was just perfect. The characters of Sam's children were just as well written too, sometimes children can be horribly written in novels but they were written brilliantly here, and the conversation between them and the adults felt so real, it was a joy to read.

I thought this was a very enjoyable Christmas read, and I became very involved in Katie and Sam's story. The fact it was set at Christmas made it perfect for me, and I enjoyed all of the festive touches that Boleyn described, from the walks in the snow, to the Christmas trees and cakes that were dotted throughout the novel. Boleyn's writing was really enjoyable to read, she really puts across the more serious side of the story with sensitivity and gentleness, showing a more vunerable side to these characters. This was a very enjoyable read, one that I can definitely recommend, and I'll be looking out for more from Darcie Boleyn.

5 December 2015

Book Review: Never Kiss A Man in a Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson

"You’ve seen Mark Darcy in the reindeer jumper his mother gave him, now meet Marco Cavelli in this season’s Christmas knit!

For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it.

But this year, with both Ellen and Paddy away for the holidays, Maggie’s facing a truly blue Christmas – alone with nothing but a bottle of Baileys and an M&S turkey dinner.

Until walking the snowy streets of Oxford, Marco Cavelli quite literally crashes into her life – and, complete with broken leg, becomes her unexpected houseguest. All dreamy brown eyes and 6’5” of gorgeousness, the man is hotter and more delicious than a freshly baked mince pie.

Though Maggie always thought it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper?"

Rating: 5/5

I was super excited to receive a review copy of Debbie Johnson's fabulous new Christmas novel, simply because I absolutely adored the title and the cover of the book! I couldn't wait to find out more about the man in a Christmas jumper, and see just how festive the book was going to be overall. I read Debbie's debut book last Christmas, and whilst I enjoyed it, I was hoping for more festive feeling in this one. I had no idea when I began that it was a sort-of sequel to that book, so that was a nice surprise. I loved the book and couldn't put it down once I had begun, it was simply brilliant!

Maggie is a single mum, and has seemingly resigned herself to being alone for the near future, especially at Christmas. Her teenage daughter is ready to fly the nest this year, wanting to spend the festive season with her friends, and her father has booked a holiday away, something Maggie feels he deserves. So she keeps quiet, all set to be alone. But when she bumps into American Marco Cavelli on a bike and he ends up with a broken leg, Maggie feels a bit responsible, and ends up nursing him back to health in her small home. As the pair spend more time together, their friendship quickly hots up, but Maggie knows its going nowhere and is determined to keep her distance. After all, a man with such bad taste in Christmas jumpers can't be worth hanging on to, can he?

I didn't twig at first that the Marco in this book is the one we meet briefly in Debbie's first festive read, Cold Feet at Christmas. It wasn't until some other characters from that book start to put in an appearance that I realised how it was all linked, and I thought it was a really clever way of catching up with those characters, as well as bringing about a new story. Marco was the dreamiest character ever - thoughtful, handsome, funny - you can see why Maggie was somewhat taken by him! He seemed so lovely, and I loved that there wasn't really anything dislikeable him, he was just such a lovely guy, very family-orientated and kind-hearted.

Maggie was a great person to focus the story on. Her life has been a bit mundane up to now - she works making wedding dresses, and she's very skilled at her job. She's often invited to weddings to watch her bride's happy-ever-afters but never seems to find one of her own. In fact, some of the scenes at her wedding dress shop were so touching, Johnson perfectly describes the dresses and the skills involved, it was a lovely side story to the main one, and offered a more emotional side to the novel. She's a great mum to her teenager Ellen, but now she is growing up, Maggie is somewhat more alone than ever before. I liked how she befriended Marco so easily, the pair had a great chemistry, and I loved reading the scenes with the two of them together, they were so charming and always left me with a massive grin on my face.

The festive feeling in this book was lovely. It was set in the build-up to Christmas, and it felt festive all the way through. As it built towards the ending and Christmas day got nearer, so did the festive feeling, and I loved that part of the book. However, Johnson contrasts this happiness and joy with a more serious side to the book - Maggie is hiding her own sad secret which is holding her back in her love life, and there's a bit of a sad story involving one of her brides-to-be too, that left me with tears running down my face. But somehow it worked really well in the story, and all came together beautifully in a wonderful Christmas package! I loved every page of this book, and I can only hope we see more of Maggie and the Cavelli's in future books, they have fast become one of my favourite book families! This was a joy to read, and I'm excited for Debbie Johnson's next read!

2 December 2015

Book Review: One Wish in Manhattan by Mandy Baggot

"It’s the most wonderful time of the year… to fall in love.

The temperature is dropping, snow is on its way and Hayley Walker is heading for New York with one wish on her mind…to start over. 

With her nine year-old daughter Angel, Hayley is ready for an adventure. From hot chocolates and horse-drawn carriage rides in Central Park, to ice-skating at the Rockefeller Centre, and Christmas shopping on 5th Avenue – they soon fall in love with the city that never sleeps. 

But there’s more to New York than the bright twinkly lights and breathtaking skyscrapers. Angel has a Christmas wish of her own – to find her real dad. 

While Hayley tries to fufil her daughter’s wish, she crosses paths with Billionaire Oliver Drummond. Restless and bored with fast living, there’s something intriguing about him that has Hayley hooked. 

Determined to make her daughter’s dream come true, can Hayley dare to think her own dreams might turn into reality – could A New York Christmas turn into a New York Forever? "

Rating: 5/5

Available to buy now.

I was a bit disappointed earlier this year when I read Mandy Baggot's summer read, Truly, Madly, Greekly, because lots of other book bloggers were raving about it, and I just didn't enjoy it as much as I had hoped. However, when I found out that Mandy had a Christmas novel coming and it was set in New York at Christmas, I was eager to find out if I would enjoy this one more and.... I did! This was a beautifully written tale that I thoroughly enjoyed, and definitely recommend to you all this Christmas!

Hayley Walker is determined to make her daughter Angel's Christmas wish come true, no matter how impossible it might feel. All Angel wants is to find her father, but given that she is the product of a one night stand in New York nearly a decade ago, Hayley is unsure where to even begin looking for him. She decides to go to New York for the festive season to find him, staying with her brother Dom who works for multi-millionaire businessman Oliver in the technology business. Hayley unwittingly bumps into Oliver in a restaurant and the pair strike up an unlikely friendship, and sparks begin to fly. Is Hayley about to make more than just her daughter's wish come true this Christmas?

Now, I have been lucky enough to visit New York at Christmas, way back in 2005, so I love reading books that transport me back there, to one of the best holidays I have ever had. I have high hopes for how authors describe this beautiful city, and everything Christmassy about it, and luckily Mandy Baggot has done a brilliant job on this front for me. She described everything to perfection, from the streets and building, to the tall glittering tree at Rockefeller Centre. Her descriptions really bring it all to life, and the memories came flooding back for me, so this certainly added to my overall enjoyment of the book.

I did really like Hayley's story too. For some reason, I kept muddling up Hayley and Angel, assuming that Angel was the older of the two (I think it was because I envisioned Angel being more of an adult name in my eyes), but once I'd got it straight, I was fine! The pair had a lovely close relationship, and I thought Mandy did a great job of a writing a realistic child character, something some authors don't quite manage to do. I really did want Hayley to make Angel's wish come true, given that it was something so precious to Angel, and enjoyed the twists and turns the story took as Hayley desperately hunted across the city for any sign of him.

However, although I loved the tale involving Hayley and Angel, my favourite part of the story was Oliver and his life. Oliver has had a bit of a sad life, losing both his dad and his brother to a hereditary condition, which he is sure he also has, and is therefore also sure he's going to die young. I felt so sorry for Oliver, feeling like he was in an impossible situation, and not knowing how to deal with his emotions, and his still-raw grief from losing his brother and father. His relationship with his mother is also very strained, so you could see why he was quick to befriend Hayley, someone new who had no idea about his life or his family. I loved seeing him develop as a character as their friendship brought him out of himself more, and I really did love him as a character, he was just such a lovely person!

This was a perfect Christmas read in my eyes, it had everything I could wish for in a Christmas book - lots of Christmas feeling and spirit, romance, humour and just a brilliant story that you as a reader can get invested in. As I said, being set in the magical city of New York added to the magic for me, and if you haven't been, you certainly will feel like you have once you've read this book. I thought Mandy's writing was spot on in this book, and I really didn't want it to end, although of course it had to. It's the ideal read to curl up with in your living room with the beautiful Christmas lights dotted around, and will leave you with a lovely warm feeling inside. A beautiful book!