Thursday, 14 December 2017

Review: No One Ever Has Sex on Christmas Day by Tracy Bloom

Don’t you always plan the perfect Christmas? 
Don’t you always think it will be the best one ever? 
And doesn’t something always come along and screw it up?

Katy’s been stuck in the office away from her family so she wants it all: snow (fake or real), the Michael Bublé Christmas album, whatever it takes. 

There’s only one thing missing as far as her husband Ben is concerned: another baby to complete their family. But Katy isn’t so sure she's ready yet…

Ben may be playing the role of Master Elf in the pre-school nativity but he is struggling to master his own family life. With romantically-challenged friends, an ex who refuses to go away and Katy's mum's 64-year-old toy boy thrown into the mix, Christmas looks like it could be going off the rails… Never mind family planning, can Katy and Ben even plan to make it to the end of Christmas Day? 

From the no. 1 bestselling author of No-one Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday, this book will make you cry with laughter, and then book your flights abroad for the festive season

Review: You must know by now that I am a massive fan of Tracy Bloom, her novels always have me in stitches and so I was very excited when I heard she was bringing out another festive novel-just what I need, laughs at Christmas time. But this novel gave me so much more than just laughs. This is the third in the no-one ever has sex series and so it was great to revisit these characters again. You don't need to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this festive offering, it definitely works as a stand alone but the other books are so great and you will learn so much more about the history of the characters that I definitely recommend doing that. 

The characters in this book are just funny in themselves. I love Katy as a character because she is a strong woman and so someone I love to read about and identify with. But she is no-one without Ben, he is definitely her comedy sidekick and he is just a real gem in terms of men in fiction. I'm not just being biased because he is a fellow teacher but he is just such a love a I love him to bits. Of course with the comedy couple, we need to the straight couple for them to bounce off and Annabelle and Katy's ex are definitely that, but they have their own storyline in this novel, which is great too, and so are just fab to read about. 

Now there is a nativity in this book and I really believe that, along with the one from the film Nativity! it may just be the greatest of all time. I want to steal it and do it with my future classes at this time of year because it had humour, it had songs and it had meaning and quite frankly I cried over it! I loved it and it was a major highlight of the book for me. 

I also loved the deeper meaning in this book. There are messages about the importance of family and about the idea of having it all and the fear of missing out. This is intertwined with the humour of the book beautifully and along with a festive nativity you really have it all. One last thing that I loved about this book was that it was set in Leeds and I am a northern girl so I could feel their northerness just leaping off the page. I really enjoyed this read and would definitely recommend picking it up!

Click the link to order your copy now: UK or US

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Guest Review: The Canal Boat Cafe Christmas (Parts 1&2) by Cressida McLaughlin

Summer and Mason take their upbeat and feelgood Canal Boat Café to London for Christmas, with unexpected results.
Port Out – Summer is so in love with her boyfriend Mason and dreams of taking the next step with him, but is Mason ready too? When her friend Claire offers Summer a chance to come to London with her canal boat, Summer thinks this will give them a chance to find out, and they embark on a magical journey on the canal all the way to the scenic beauty of Little Venice. But will it be plain sailing all the way?

The Canal Boat Café Christmas: Port Out (The Canal Boat Café Christmas, Book 1) by [McLaughlin, Cressida]

Starboard Home – Summer and Mason find themselves unexpectedly spending the entire Christmas holiday in Little Venice when the canal freezes over. But their idyllic winter excursion is thrown into turmoil when an unexpected visitor appears on the scene. Are Summer and Mason facing the Big Freeze in more ways than one? Or will this be one Winter Warmer that they’ll never forget?
The Canal Boat Café Christmas: Starboard Home (The Canal Boat Café Christmas, Book 2) by [McLaughlin, Cressida]

Review: This is a lovely Christmassy story in 2 parts (Port Out and Starboard Home) reuniting us with the Canal Boat Cafe, its owner and all the people we have met in other parts of the Canal Boat Cafe series from Cressida McLaughlin. Having said that, I don't think you need necessarily have read the other parts to follow what is going on in this 'Christmas special'; all is explained as we go along. 

With Christmas fast approaching, cafe owner Summer has decided to embark on an adventure, joining a band of waterborne traders in London's Little Venice for a week. Her nature journalist boyfriend, Mason, initially unsure about the trip, joins her as she reacquaints herself with the members of the group. Everything looks magical until a figure from Mason's past turns up out of the blue. How will this affect Summer's plans for her future with Mason? Another problem that affects the whole group this time turns up in the guise of extreme weather that alters everybody's plans for Christmas. However, all they can do is make the most of things. 

This is a really enjoyable Christmas story. It was great to catch up with the characters from the Canal Boat Cafe book and find out what has been happening to them all. Added to that, there was the excitement of the journey from the boat's home berth to London's Little Venice. The sights and sounds of London at Christmas are skilfully brought to life by Cressida's descriptions. Christmas onboard a narrow boat sounds fantastic. At the risk of overusing the word, I thought this was a really heartwarming, romantic tale. 

To order your copy now, just click the links: Part 1 UK or Part 2 UK  (sorry the US links weren't available!)

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books of 2017 12/12/17

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they are particularly fond of lists over there at The Broke and the Bookish. I'd love to share my lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Ok so this list is coming pretty early on in the year. I will probably do a bit of a revised version on my BookTube channel listing perhaps top ten of different genres or perhaps top 17 of 2017-let me know what you think in the comments. 

This is as always in no particular order-they are all number one in my book!

Its so much harder when I've read so many books this year, trying to pick less then 5% of the books for this list was really hard. I'm definitely going to do sub-genres over on my channel!

Monday, 11 December 2017

Review: Sleigh Rides And Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair by Heidi Swain

The new Christmas bestseller from the author of Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market!

When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.

A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.

Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all...?

Join Anna for a festive journey that is festooned with sleigh rides and silver bells and help her discover her happy ever after.

Review: This was such a heart-warming festive adventure of a book and I just loved every moment of it. It was great to be back in Wynbridge again, but this time up at Wynthorpe Hall, something a little different, a new location to discover. And of course with a new location come new characters. I really did love this setting within a familiar setting and thought it was a very clever way to incorporate readers who are familiar with Wynbridge and new readers who don't yet know the delights of this welcoming market town. I really did love this setting, it felt extra Christmas because it was a big old hall full of rooms which are rarely opened and stables and a great sweeping landscape. I could just picture it with christmas decorations and hosting big family dinners-it was perfect. 

And the new characters were also great, There were plenty of visits from old friends too, don;t worry if you are a fan of this series of books but I really loved having a new man character as the lynch pin of this novel. Anna was a great character to go on this journey wit. She has so much more to her than meets the eye and it was great watching it gradually reveal itself as the novel progressed. We really don't know from one moment to the next how she is going to react to events in the book and that makes for a great page turner too. 

Of course there are the family members who belong to Wynthorpe Hall to get to know too. I really felt like part of the family from the very first pages. Never mind whether Anna was going to stay and work with them or not, I was ready to jump right in there. I loved getting to know Jamie and his brothers and it was just lovely spending time and learning a family secret or two. 

Although this book is set at Christmas and is definitely a festive read, there is so much more to it than just Christmas time and tinsel. There are some really relatable issues that are covered in this book and the characters in the book all have their own things going on that I am sure we all have encountered in our lives in one way or another (no spoilers) and this is a sizable book to get your teeth into as well-although with everything going on between its pages, the time absolutely flew by for me!

All in all this was just a really lovely read. It was my first festive read of the season and I definitely started in the right place because it really got me in the mood for a mince pie or two! Because this book is so substantial it is great for reading at this time of year because it allows you some me time in a time normally filled with family obligations and other things to occupy your head space. I would definitely recommend putting this book on your Christmas list or just downloading it right now and allowing some time for yourself back in the fabulously festive Wynbridge. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Friday, 8 December 2017

Review: Some Kind of Wonderful by Giovanna Fletcher

When the love of your life says you're not The One, who are you? Lizzy and Ian have been a couple since the first week of university. Now, after celebrating a decade together, everyone thinks they're about to get engaged. Instead, a romantic escape to Dubai leaves Lizzy with no ring, no fiancé and no future. Lizzy is heartbroken - but through the tears, she sees an opportunity. This is her moment to discover what she's been missing while playing Ian's ideal 'better half'. But how much has Ian changed her, and who should she be without him? Determined to discover who she is at heart, Lizzy sets out to rediscover the girl she was before - and, in the meantime, have a little fun . . . 

Review: This book instantly felt like a classic rom com as soon as I started reading it. The strong female lead, the rubbish boy friend, the whole premise of the book screams everything that I love from my favourite genre of book and it delivered as well. I loved the fact that we have a strong female lead in this book. All of Giovanna's books have this in common but this one seemed a little different from her others so I was a little worried that the lead might be a little more of a pushover but she is feisty and I loved spending time with Lizzy. The other characters in the novel provide great comedy moments and great moments of tenderness too. I loved that fact that Lizzy is close with both of her parents. She has an amazing best friend who is a serial dater and so has great stories to tell. My favourite supporting character though had to be sister Emily. She was wonderful, I want to be her and I loved every scene with her in. 

This book is also very easy to relate to. Lizzy is in her late twenties and so has a lot of the same teenage memories that I have. She has some really nostalgic moments that I was nodding along with thinking 'me too, me too' so that was wonderful. She is also at a bit of a crossroads in her life and so goes back and relies on the support of her parents, something which I could also identify with, and I;m sure a lot of readers out there will also be able to understand. This book is also set in a very relatable setting Lizzy doesn't have a glamorous London lifestyle, she lives in Essex, so not a million miles away from London but still embraces the village life and is around those she knew growing up, I really liked this aspect of the book. 

Although this isn't a Christmas book, Christmas does take place during the course of the novel and is a cosy family affair so I really enjoyed the fact that I left this book until December to really get into. There are also themes of a new beginning and reflection on the past which people do during the last month of the year before we see in a new one! I listened to this book on audiobook and I really enjoyed the voice that the narrator gave Lizzy, I found I could identify with her more because I got used to that particular voice. For more exciting moments though, the narrator was a little monotone. I couldn't imagine Lizzy not getting more than a little het up at an argument with her boyfriend or exciting moments on New Year's eve. 

If you follow this author on YouTube or Instagram then you will definitely be able to see parts of her personality in this book and I liked that, she also mentions the charity that she works with which I thought was great. one of the other moments that I really liked was that she mentions more of my favourites authors, Lizzy apparently has the same taste in book as me since we are both fans of Lindsey Kelk and Paige Toon. 

This was a really lovely read and if you are after a very classic, Sophie Kinsella feeling, romantic comedy then this one is most definitely for you. Although it isn't a Christmas book it makes for perfect reading at this time of year and so I would definitely recommend popping this one on your Christmas list or downloading it now and enjoying a moment of calm in the run up to the festivities. 

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Guest Review: Maybe This Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Following Sleigh Bells in the Snow and Suddenly, Last Summer, Sarah Morgan returns to snowy Vermont with Tyler and Brenna's story.
Brenna’s not dreaming of a white Christmas… As a professional skier she’s already had too many to count!
Brenna’s more concerned about finally spending the season with the man she’s loved as long as she can remember – her best friend Tyler.
Single dad Tyler is determined to make sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. He can’t afford to be distracted by Brenna moving into his family’s snow-capped ski resort. Especially as that mistletoe magic has him looking at Brenna in a whole new light.
Until a surprise kiss means the relationship Brenna’s always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it.
Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true?
The Snow Crystal Trilogy
Book 1 - Sleigh Bells in the Snow
Book 2 - Suddenly Last Summer
Book 3 - Maybe This Christmas
While the Snow Crystal novels can easily be read as standalone stories, you'll likely enjoy reading the earlier books in the series too.

Review: This is the final book in the Snow Crystal trilogy from Sarah Morgan. Each of the books centres on one of the 3 brothers in the O'Neil family who own the Snow Crystal resort in Vermont; hence the collection is also known as the O'Neil Brothers series. Having just finished books 1 and 2, I was looking forward to reading part 3 and finding out what will happen with the third O'Neil brother. As with the other 2 books, this was an easy read and had me hooked right from the start. The 3 books make a lovely, rounded trilogy, but each can perfectly well be read as a standalone. 

The story this time relates to Tyler O'Neil, one-time ski champion who has had to retire from competitive sport following a horrific injury on the slopes. He is now resident instructor and guide at the Snow Crystal resort where he and his brothers grew up. He lives in an idyllic house overlooking the lake with his teenage daughter, Jess. Unbeknown to Tyler, Brenna, who he has known all his life and is now also an instructor at the resort, has been in love with him since school days. When the resort is fully booked and Brenna has to move into Tyler's house because her lodge is required for paying guests, she hopes he may notice her as a woman rather than just as a best friend. With Christmas preparations all around them and the whole O'Neil clan rooting for the pair, the reader is left to wonder what is going to happen. 

I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it highly, especially as a story for the festive season. As I've said earlier, it can be read as a standalone, but having read the books that preceded this one, I liked finding all the familiar characters popping up and getting involved in the Tyler-Brenna relationship. I loved that the author made Tyler a man of contrasts, gruff and noisy with everybody except his daughter; although claiming not to know how to bring up a teenage girl, he seemed to be doing OK. The will-they-won't-they aspect of the story was really tense and kept me guessing, and hoping, right to the end. All in all, another heartwarming festive romance from Sarah Morgan. 

To order your copy, or the whole trilogy, just click the link: UK or US

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Review: It Had To Be You by Keris Stainton

Twenty-five-year-old Bea is a hopeless romantic – with a hopeless love life. She’s been single ever since her awful ex broke her heart, and the only thing she gets up to in bed is watching rom coms on her laptop.

When Bea meets Dan, who is basically the man of her dreams, she knows she can’t let him get away. They might not have fireworks, but not everyone can be fighting and (loudly) making up every night, like Bea’s housemates.

But Bea can’t shift the feeling that something just isn’t right. As time goes on, Dan seems less like Mr Right, and more like Mr Couldn’t-Be-More-Wrong… Will Bea be brave enough to change her dreams – and dare to ask for more?

A laugh-out-loud tale for anyone who’s ever dreamt of a fairy-tale romance and found a real-life happy ending.

Review: I always enjoy Keris Stainton's writing but I have been loving her romantic comedies, emphasis on the comedy, that she has released recently. This book had me laughing out loud, had me championing the main characters and is so easy to relate to. I love the premise behind this book, that you can meet someone who seems like your perfect guy and meets all the criteria you have learned to put in place from watching romcoms, but something just isn't right. It is so true to real life, as so much of this book is. There are moments in this book where I said out loud "that's just like me/I did that/I've soooo been there' and I think if something is going to be easy to relate to, that's what you should be doing as you are reading it. 

I really loved the characters in this book too. You are dropped right into the middle of their lives and yet you feel like you've always been friends with these people. I could so easily picture their shared house and their work place. I really liked Bea as a character. She is slightly unsure of the world and we get to see that through her eyes although she doesn't really want to let on to her Friends that this is the case. Again something we can probably all relate to!. I also really loved the fact that she is in her twenties and yet we don't see her being sexually active. I think there is often a stereotype that is embraced in books about twenty somethings that they are always looking for their next sexual partner and that they are incredibly sexually experimental, and whilst that is true in some cases and I absolutely embrace that, it isn't always the case and so not every twenty something character has to be portrayed this way. 

I love Bea's group of friends too. Henry is so down to earth, and like Bea, he is single for the majority of the time that we know him! Freya is amazing gives great advice and has amazing stories abut her own hookups with women all over London. And then there is the couple of the house, Adam and Celine. We've all been in that house share where we can hear someone we live with having sex and so again, so easy to relate to this friendship group. They also have an amazing restaurant where they go fro brunch with a sage Mrs C character, who is Greek. Again, I swear I have met this person before, she is so like people I know who have played that exact same character in my life!

There are plenty of moments of real truth as well as comedy in this book. Bea has some issues with her family and spends some time with them, she isn't sure about her career choices and she is obviously questioning her romantic choices. The story about her ex is very real as well and is an unfortunate reality of life. But whilst this story definitely keeps it real there are some proper crying with laughter moments and I had to try really hard to laugh quietly when reading this book in public or when my husband was still asleep!

I wold definitely recommend this read. It is fast-paced and fun, but with a real message that I'm sure we can all relate to. If you are fans of romantic comedy films, you will definitely love this and even if you are not, I will guarantee that this will make you laugh. Download it to read over the holiday period to give yourself some much-needed me time, you won't regret it!

Click here to order your copy now: UK or US