Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin

Christmas at Lilac Cottage (White Cliff Bay #1)

Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin
Published: 20th October 2016
Publisher: Zaffre (Paperback) Bookouture (Ebook)
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Penny Meadows loves her cosy cottage with its stunning views over the snow-topped town of White Cliff Bay, but not even the roaring log fire can keep her personal life from feeling frozen.

That is until dashing Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage for the festive season. And between decking the halls and baking delicious mince pies, Penny realises there is more to Henry than meets the eye.

With sleigh bells ringing and fairy lights twinkling, the ice-sculpting competition and Christmas Eve ball are in full swing. Will Penny be able to melt the ice and allow love into her heart? And will she finally have the perfect Christmas she's been dreaming of?

Christmas at Lilac Cottage is the first book in Holly Martin’s new White Cliff Bay series and it’s a book which just oozes Christmas from cover to cover. Especially the cover itself at its covered in super sparkly snowflakes which make you just want to dive in and read.
Penny Meadows is an ice sculptor who lives alone in Lilac Cottage up on the hills above White Cliff Bay and that is how she would like it to stay. But sadly Penny needs some extra income so has agreed to rent out her annexe to Henry and Daisy. Being single and suffering from heartbreak Penny is not looking forward to a couple sharing her home. So imagine the surprise she gets when she realises Daisy is actually Henry’s daughter! Despite Henry’s initial gruff exterior Penny finds herself more and more intrigued by this handsome man. With Daisy trying her best to set the two up, can Penny find a way to let love into her frozen heart.
I love Holly’s writing and her Christmas novels are some of my favourites, this one is just perfect for anyone who wants to overdose in Christmas cheer.  As with most of Holly’s characters I found Penny someone I instantly liked but was intrigued as to why she shut herself off from the rest of town so much, what could have happened to such a sweet girl to make her so isolated. Henry and Daisy are also great characters and have a lovely father/daughter relationship between them which was just lovely to read about.
White Cliff Bay is a place which Holly has brought to life perfectly, it’s a charming little town which just oozes Christmas spirit and the community really throw themselves into all things Christmas with ice carving competitions, Christmas Balls, ice-skating, it’s like a Christmas wonderland and somewhere I would just adore being over the Christmas period.
This book had everything I want in a Christmas novel, a beautiful setting, a romance which is both naughty and nice, adorable characters, a few moments of danger or uncertainty and most of all I want to laugh. With Christmas at Lilac Cottage Holly Martin has completely nailed all these aspects and written a truly wonderful book. I can see this being a favourite of my Christmas reads for many years to come.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Christmas Cake Cafe by Sue Watson

The Christmas Cake Cafe 

The Christmas Cake Café by Sue Watson
Published: October 12th 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 258
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

As the Prosecco chills and Bing Crosby croons, Jen Barker just knows that her long-term boyfriend is about to propose.  But instead of a diamond ring nestled in her champagne flute, Jen finds cold flat rejection.  Her once perfect life and dreams of a husband and family seem even further from reach.

A working holiday to the Swiss Alps with her younger sister Jody might not be the Christmas Jen had it mind, but it offers her the chance to recharge her batteries and recover from heartbreak.

When Jen meets handsome ski instructor
Jon Zutter her hopes for a happy-ever-after seem within her grasp again. Jon is kind and gorgeous and as they bond over Sachetorte at the picturesque Cake Café, Jen thinks he might just be her perfect man. But a relationship with him comes with a catch – and there are some things even cake can’t fix.

As the snow falls and Christmas approaches, could this be the place that restores Jen Barker’s faith in love?

Sue Watson is one of my favourite authors when it comes to Christmas novels, they are always full of fun and put me in an extra festive mood, her latest book The Christmas Cake Café could be my favourite so far.
Jen Baker has spent years planning and dreaming of the perfect Christmas and this year is the year its finally going to be perfect as she is sure that boyfriend Tim is just about to propose…instead he ends their ten year relationship and shatters poor Jens heart. Fast forward eight months and Jen is dreading being alone for Christmas, so when half-sister Jody offers her the chance to go to Switzerland for three months and work at a ski-resort she reluctantly agrees. After a bumpy start where Jen faces lost luggage and Jody’s drunk friends things start to pick up and Jen finds herself falling in love and not just with the gorgeous scenery and delicious pastries but with handsome German Jon.
Jen was a character I could identify with straight away, she’s a planner and just longs for every moment to be perfect and instead life seems to pass her by and she always ends up disappointed. She’s never felt she was really good enough after her father left her and her mother when she was ten years old to start a new family. I loved how Jen opened up more as the story progressed. Throughout the book she is often put in some awkward positions such as being the only member of the café to wear a cow onesie to work or to go on a sight-seeing trip wearing a see through dress. However as she begins to lighten up and laugh at these embossing situations and just go with it she has a lot more fun and begins to realise living in the moment is much more fun, something I found very inspiring.
I loved the way the romance developed between Jen and Jon, it was romantic but comical at the same time as things never quite went to plan. The part where Jen meets Ella for the first time was probably my favourite part of the book…awkward.
I found this didn’t take me long to read at all as with all Sue Watson books there is never a dull moment and the drama just keeps coming. The characters are all brilliant and there wasn’t one I disliked, well maybe Tim but luckily he’s not in the book for long.
This probably isn’t the most festive of Sue Watson’s books but it was definitely the funniest in my opinion. It’s a book which made me laugh all the way through and definitely one to pick up if you-re feeling a little down, I guarantee you will laugh.  I loved everything about this book and can’t wait to read what Sue brings us next.
Thank you to Bookouture and Netgalley for this copy to review.

Monday, 12 December 2016

The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

The Christmas Promise

The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft
Published: December 1st 2016
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 325
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

For Ava Bliss, it’s going to be a Christmas to remember …

On a snowy December evening, Sam Jermyn steps into the life of bespoke hat maker Ava. Sparks fly, and not necessarily the good ones.

Times are tough for Ava – she’s struggling to make ends meet, her ex-boyfriend is a bully, and worst of all, it’s nearly Christmas.

So when Sam commissions Ava to make a hat for someone special, she makes a promise that will change her life. She just doesn’t know it yet…

The Christmas Promise is the first book by Sue Moorcroft that I’ve read and is one which I really enjoyed.
Ava Blissham is having a rough time and with Christmas just round the corner she feels it’s only going to get worse.  When friend Izz drags her out for her work Christmas party Ava bumps into her ex Harvey who tries to blackmail her by saying if she doesn’t go back out with her he’ll spread illicit photos of her all over the internet. Upset Ava rushes homes but is followed by Izz’s boss Sam who wants to make sure she’s ok. Sam takes Ava home where she shows him her hat studio and he asks her is she will make a special hat for his mother who has recently been diagnosed with cancer. Desperate for some money Ava agrees, it’s only when she meets Sam’s mother and realises that she’s under the impression her and Sam are dating. Which makes it more complicated when Harvey comes to the same conclusion.
This book deals with the effects of cyber bullying, financial hardship and tragically a cancer diagnosis which added a great deal of emotion and poignancy to be the story. Sam’s relationship with his ill mother brilliantly portrayed. He shows her he cares but doesn’t smoother her and make her feel “ill”.  Ava was a great character who I instantly liked, I wished she just forget about the whole “not dating” thing after Harvey and give lovely Sam a chance. I loved the wide mix of supporting characters in this book too from Ava best friend Izz, to Tod and Lindsay to the gem that is Auntie Val as they all added a little something to the story.
Some of my favourite scenes included when Ava first meets Sam’s mum, the charity fundraiser and the Christmas Day scenes all were very touching and they were moments when I did shed a few tears. Despite this being a serious book with real issues there are some light hearted and comical moments, the fancy dress party being ones of my favourites.
Harvey was an utterly horrible character and the plot to take revenge on him for his nastiness was genius and quite funny and I loved how it brought many of the sub character’s all together to help Ava and Ruby, a WAG who needed a little help with her media presence.
What I loved most about this book was that it was more than just a romance told at Christmas. It was a book which dealt with real issues, poverty, bullying and cancer may not be the cheeriest of topics but they are things which we are dealing with in today’s world and that made it a great read for me. This is a book which highlights that Christmas isn’t about how much money you spend on gifts and celebrations it’s about spending time with those we really care about and embracing life and making those special moments count because those are the things which are most important.
I’ve loved reading my first book by Sue Moorcroft and can’t wait to get started on my next. It’s the perfect book to read right now as we begin the final count down to the big day. Thank you to Avon and Netgalley for tis copy to review.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Blog Tour Review: Brides and Bouquets at Cederwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Brides & Bouquets at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin
Published: 24th November 2016
Publisher: HQ Digital
Pages: 102
Available on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

Christmas has come to Cedarwood Lodge in the second part of the feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!

Dreaming of a happily ever after at Cedarwood Lodge is Clio Winters’ current focus, especially with a winter wonderland wedding expo planned. But with brides coming from far and wide the heat is on for Clio to fulfil everyone’s dream of a Christmas wedding!

It seems like Clio’s new business might be off to a rocky start and surrounded by love struck brides she can’t help but hope for a little Christmas romance of her own…

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part Two.


Brides and Bouquets is the second book in Rebecca Raisin’s Cedarwood Lodge series set in the lovely town of Evergreen. This time its heading towards Christmas and Clio is upping her marketing of Cedarwood Lodge by holding a Bridal Expo so it’s all hands on deck as Clio and the team prepare for this wedding extravaganza which will hopefully put Cedarwood on the map as a luxury wedding destination.

I’m a huge Rebecca Raisin fan and have adored all of her previous books and this one is another winner for me. It leads perfectly on from the first book in the series, so I highly recommend you read Confetti and Celebrations first. Along with Micah and Isla, Clio has now been joined by New York best friend Amory and her boyfriend Cruz who despite having a few relationship problems jump straight in to help Clio succeed.

This is a story where there is always something happening and despite being fairly short Rebecca has manage to cram a great deal of drama including a number of mishaps and misunderstanding which may lead to the expo not being held. It’s not a book which lacks detail either, the Lodge and the town of Evergreen are described perfectly so I can really imagine the place when I’m reading and I would my own stay at Cedarwood Lodge is sounds absolutely heavenly.

I loved the way previous romances are simmering away and I cannot wait for book three to find out if Clio will open her and let love in. I’m also dying to know what Clio’s mum’s big secret is, spreading that over the series has been agony as I have no clue, so hurry up book three.

If you’re a Rebecca Raisin fan then this is definitely one to add to your Christmas reading.

Friday, 18 November 2016

The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime by Lynsey James

The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime (Luna Bay, #3)

The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime (Luna Bay #3) by Lynsey James
Published: 10th November
Publisher: Carina UK/HQ Digital
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

This Christmas pantomime is about to be the talk of the town!
Luna Bay’s festive preparations are well under way and the much anticipated annual pantomime is to be, once again, the highlight of the season. Too bad that the village’s very own actress and darling of Broadway, Alice Woods, isn’t feeling in the mood for Christmas.
Until the pantomime comes under threat and a grief-stricken Alice is forced to push her personal pain aside and step up to direct – after all, the show must go on…
So with (more than) a little help from her new found friends, not to mention one very gorgeous Hollywood A-list celebrity, the play begins to come together, but will Alice finally believe that Christmas is a time for miracles after all?


The Silver Bells Christmas Pantomime is the third book in Lynsey James’ Luna Bay series and is yet again a brilliant read. I was really pleased to find out that my hunch about who this book would be based around was right and that Alice Woods, who pops up briefly in The Sunflower Cottage breakfast Club is the main character in this new book.

Alice Woods used to be Broadway superstar until three years ago her world came crashing down and she was left heartbroken and alone in New York. Vowing never to act again Alice returns home to Luna Bay to hide away from the world, especially at Christmas time. But this year Alice’s mum has other ideas and is determined to see her bright and loving daughter embrace life once more. She makes a deal with Alice to take her away for a cruise over Christmas if Alice will at least try to partake in the Luna Bay pantomime, even if it’s just a backstage assistant.

Reluctantly Alice agrees to be involved in the panto and it’s not long before her acting buzz begins to return and she finds herself the new director of the panto. Can Alice take this big step and help the panto become more successful than in previous years? Surely she can with the help of her new found friends Lucy and Emily and a certain Mr Fox, the new Hollywood Mr Darcy himself.

I have adored Lynsey’s previous two novels set in Luna Bay and this one is just as good. I love how she has created the wonderful place of Luna Bay which just seems to ooze community spirit and be a sanctuary for people in need. I love all the characters she has created and am so glad some of my previous favourites have return in this third book. Most of all I love the little comedy moments in the realistic actions and dialogue of the characters which just makes me smile the whole time I read one of her books.

I loved Alice and the transformation she makes throughout the book. When we first met her in The Sunflower Cottage Breakfast Club she was shy, quiet and kept herself to herself, leaving me as a reader with a whole lot of questions about her. Slowly Alice, encouraged by her mother takes steps back into the public and gradually she begins to realise she can move forward and be happy again. I think is helped enormously by the gorgeous Ethan fox who just happens to appear every time Alice seems to set foot outside her house and would surely make any fell better.

I loved the simmering chemistry between Alice and Ethan and had my fingers crossed that she would take that final big step and reach out for her happy ever after.

This is the perfect read for fans of Lynsey’s books, people who want a little festive spirit and people who just love a good pantomime, I loved it!

Thank you so much to Lynsey and the publishers for this copy to review.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

A Year and A Day by Isabelle Broom

A Year and a Day

A Year and A Day by Isabelle Broom
Published: 17th November 2016
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Welcome to a city where wishes are everywhere
For Megan, a winter escape to Prague with her friend Ollie is a chance to find some inspiration for her upcoming photography exhibition. But she's determined to keep their friendship from becoming anything more. Because if Megan lets Ollie find out about her past, she risks losing everything - and she won't let that happen again . . .
For Hope, the trip is a surprise treat from Charlie, her new partner. But she's struggling to enjoy the beauty of the city when she knows how angry her daughter is back home. And that it's all her fault . . .
For Sophie, the city has always been a magical place. This time she can't stop counting down the moments until her boyfriend Robin joins her. But in historic Prague you can never escape the past . . .
Three different women.

Three intertwining love stories.

One unforgettable, timeless city.

This is the first book I’ve read by Isabelle Broom so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I just knew that the cover was stunning and the premise had me very intrigued. What I found when I read this book is that Ms. Broom is a brilliant writer and in A Year and a Day, has created to truly emotional and magical read.
Three couples are heading to Prague for a few days, some for the first time and for some it’s like returning home. Megan, a photographer, has agreed to go with best friend Ollie who wants to research the city before he teaches it to his students in the New Year. She’s worried as she knows Ollie wants more than friendship from their relationship and deep down she doesn’t know how much longer she can resist her handsome best friend.
Hope and Charlie are heading off on their first romantic trip as a new couple. Charlie can’t wait to spoil Hope with everything she wants but Hope is feeling more and more uneasy about their relationship. Can Hope pluck up the courage to tell Charlie what she really wants.
Sophie has come alone, a few days before boyfriend Robin is due to catch up with her. Being without Robin is new to Sophie as the pair have been inseparable since they met ten years ago on the Charles Bridge, right here in Prague. As Sophie wanders the streets the familiar streets as she waits for her love, she becomes more and more lost in her memories of the past.
The first thing that stood out when reading this book was just how well Ms. Broom has captured Prague, she has described places in great detail and the city has taken on an almost magical quality within the pages of A Year and a Day, at some points it really felt like I was actually there. I loved the old folk story discovered by Hope which gives the book its name and love how it wove its way into each characters story.  Having read A Year and a Day, Prague has definitely worked its way up my list of places to visit as it just seems to ooze character, history and magic.
Although Megan, Hope and Sophie all appear to be very different, it’s clear that these three women just want to follow their dreams and in Prague they find the courage to do so. Initially I have to confess I didn’t gel with them totally, I’m not really sure why. As their stories are told through the switching narratives I began to understand more about them and what their fears and dreams were. After this I began to warm to Megan and Hope, but still felt something wasn’t quite right with Sophie. As the story unfolds Sophie’s behaviour becomes clearer I just wanted to give her a big hug.
This is a wonderful novel which was very difficult for me to put down, I loved the setting, and I found the relationships described to be honest and real and heart-breaking at times. It’s a novel which is incredibly romantic and a novel which says don’t let go of your dreams no matter what you’ve been through.
Thank you to the publishers for sending me a copy to review and thank you to Ms. Broom for writing such a beautiful novel, I can’t wait to see what you write next.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Blog Tour Guest Post & Review: Its Not You, It's Them by Portia Macintosh

Today I'd like to welcome Portia Macintosh to my blog as part of the tour for It's Not You, It's Them, today she's sharing three things to avoid at Christmas, so over to Portia:

Three things to avoid at Christmas

Christmas can be a very tense time, that’s why when I was writing It’s Not You, It’s Them, I decided that it had to be set at Christmas. Emotions are running high, everyone is working hard to make their loved ones happy – and all for one day of the year.

Obviously it would be nice if this one day was as joyous as possible, so here are three things you can avoid if you want everyone to get along well.

1. Don’t play games

No, I’m not talking about mind games – although probably steer clear of those too. Board games are one of the easiest ways to turn a nice day into a big argument. There’s a saying, in my family, that a game of Monopoly doesn’t end until someone has flipped the board over and stormed off angry. If you can do anything else to amuse yourselves, then do it. Just like a roll of the dice, how the game plays out will be complete luck. Don’t risk it.

2. No debates

Politics, along with debate of any description, is not something that should be discussed over dinner. One of the fastest ways to fall out is to break out your difference of opinion. Debates almost always lead to arguments, so avoid, avoid, avoid.

3. Be helpful

Even if it isn’t your job to prepare dinner, offer to help in any way that you can. When you have a lot to do, to please a lot of people, it can be hard, and stress levels going up can cause tempers to get shorter. Do everything you can to make sure that everything runs smoothly.


I love Portia Macintosh's writing style as it's full of comedy moments and quirky characters that just make you want to love them. Her latest book It's Not You, It's Them is no exception to this with slightly sex mad Roxie whose about to meet the in-laws from hell.

Roxie's dreams have come true, she's finally met the man of her Prince Charming in Mark. A man who adores her just the way she is and is only too willing to help with research for her job as a lifestyle joyrnalist, even if it means dressing up and acting out sex scenes from some of the most iconic movies. When he proposes Roxie is shocked but happy, until she has to meet her news in-laws.

While Roxie's parents are over the moon to have Mark join their family, his family are a little less welcoming towards Roxie. The couple decide to drive up to Yorkshire to his family a few days before Christmas and surprise them with meeting Roxie for the first time and by announcing their engagement.

Roxie, a born worrier is concerned about this and rightly so as Mark's family do not give her the warm welcome she is longing for, they are not horrible just too wrapped up in their own problems to really care about her presence. Apart from two people, Bea Marks ex-girlfriend and his mother, both of whom seem to be determined to makes Roxie's stay as uncomfortable as possible. Unfortunatley Roxie and Mark get snowed in and have to endure his family a little longer than expected. Will their relationship survive?

I loved Roxie, she appears to be self-assured and confident on the outside but on the inside she is a born worrier and that for me made her adorable. She tries so hard to engage with Marks family but with disasters following her around she always seemed to make things worse. Mark was lovely but his family although appearing close-knit didn't appear very loving towards each other and I really felt for Roxie being stuck in her Christmas nightmare. The worst character was Bea and how she was always trying to make Roxie feel small and inadequate and if I'm honest I was praying something awful would happen to her to stop her being so perfect.

I really enjoyed this book, it was full of humorous comedy moments which had me laughing out loud and sharing with my husband, we are both blessed not to have horrible in-laws! It's the perfect book to put you in a good mood and one which I can see I will read again and again.

Friday, 28 October 2016

Blog Tour Review: Snokeflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes by Lindsey Paley
Published: 15th June 2015
Publisher: Purple Heather Publishing
Pages: 178
Available on Kindle

When all-round buttercream princess, Millie Carter, becomes stranded at Craiglea Manor Cookery School, she believes her chance of enjoying a merry festive season is over.

The village of Aisford is Christmas-card perfect, but Millie hates it - she hates the snow, her freezing fingertips, and being forced to look like her Aunt Marjory in a mud-splattered wax jacket and wellies instead of her beloved shorts and sparkly sandals. 

She plots her escape but ends up locking spatulas with the estate manager, Fergus McKenzie, who is forced to rescue her before she succumbs to a severe dose of hypothermia. Things start to improve with the arrival of handsome Sam Morgan, fresh from the beaches and rum shacks of the Caribbean. 

Can Millie accept her fate? And will Aisford sprinkle some of its seasonal magic on her troubles? 

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is a festive story of love and friendship and reaching for the buttercream icing and edible glitter when life gets tough. 

Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes is the first book in Lindsey Paley’s Camille Carter series and is a book which is full of mishaps and festive treats surrounding Camille Carter or Millie as she prefers to be known.
Millie Carter’s a girl who adores the sun and living in the south of France she gets plenty of it, this year she has reluctantly agreed to spend Christmas with her sister Nicole in cold and wintry England.
Arriving in London with not even a coat Millie is about to get a shock when sister Nicole suddenly cancels their holiday plans and asks Millie a huge favour. Will she replace Nicole as a cookery demonstrator at Criaglea Manor in the Lake District to deliver a course on the perfect Christmas dinner. With no other option Millie agrees and heads north towards Criaglea Manor and hopefully a cosy Christmas sharing her passion for cooking with a group of enthusiastic learners.
However as Millie arrives things are not as she dreamed, Aisford where Craiglea Manor is situated is covered in snow, the only way to get around is via quad bike and she’s going to need to buy herself a huge coat to keep out the chill in the air. When she arrives at the Manor things are even worse the heating’s broken and the cookery course has been cancelled.
Stranded at the Manor for the weekend with no way of escape Millie entertains herself with thoughts of handsome estate manager Sam, baking up a mountain of Christmas treats and most of all trying to avoid the frosty Fergus who sees Millie’s whole presence an inconvenience, especially after he has to rescue her from hyperthermia when she tries to make her way back to the train station.
As Millie reluctantly settles into village life for the weekend and meets many of the villages lovely residents is there someone special who can thaw her heart and convince her life in the snowy village isn’t as bad as she thinks.
I really enjoyed reading this book and found myself warming to Millie despite her being quite a standoffish and cold character to begin with.  I liked her a whole lot more once she began to get settled in the village and could see her fitting in well with the group of characters who became her friends.
I thought she was quite a lucky lady too as there seemed to more than one man who had noticed her arrival and I was glad with the choice she finally made.
I loved that this was more than a chick-lit romance and had some more serious moments involving some of the characters. I also loved the comedy moments Millie provides by being angry and clumsy. The aftermath of her kitchen bake-off I can totally relate, I also leave a trail of mass destruction wherever I go so loved this characteristic in Millie.
I’m so glad this is part of a series as I’m really looking forward to reading more about Millie and hopefully other characters from the village. This story was well written with some heartfelt moments and plenty of laughs, an ideal read for a wintery afternoon by the fire.
Thank you to Neverland Book Tours for inviting me to be part of this tour and for the review copy of the book.
Giveaway:  open to UK residents only
1 eBook copy of Snowflakes and Christmas Cakes and an actual Christmas cake. Mmm!

Click on the link below to enter, good luck x

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
14th July 2016
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Pages: 302
Available in Hardcover and on Kindle
Rating: 3/5

You never know what's happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn't want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn't stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You'll have the baby monitor and you'll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She's gone.

You've never had to call the police before. But now they're in your home, and who knows what they'll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

I really wanted to love Shari  Lapena’s debut novel The Couple Next Door, it had what I thought was a fantastic premise for a story and has received rave reviews all over social media but it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be.
Anne and Marco Conti have been invited to their next door neighbours for a dinner party. At the last minute their babysitter for six month old Cora cancels on them. With strict instructions from neighbour Cynthia that the evening is to be a baby free zone. Marco and reluctantly Anne agree to leave baby Cora at home, take the baby-monitor with them and pop back every half an hour to check on her. The evening goes well and the couple become quite drunk and don’t return home till after one in the morning, where they find their front door open and baby Cora missing from her cot. The couple call the police and then we follow the police investigation as Detective Rasbach tries to uncover the kidnapper of baby Cora.
I loved the idea of this book as who really thinks it’s a good idea to leave a six month old alone in a house, nobody normal anyway. Well Marco and Anne are not normal, they are weak, selfish and stupid people who I had no sympathy for at all. Anne seems far too reliant on other people to make decisions for her, like calling her parents for help almost as soon as they called the police. I disliked Marco immensely, he seems to only be focused on making money and even though he dislikes his in-laws is only too happy to receive their money for his business and for buying his large house.
I was mad at Marco for suggesting the idea in the first place and even madder at Anne for agreeing with him, even though deep down she knew it was wrong. I felt she was such a weak character for not putting her baby first. Then they both get so drunk they’re not sure what time they checked on the baby and if they shut the door or not, just irresponsible parents which made me mad.
This did make the beginning quite good though as I was full of emotion, even if it was anger and was longing to know what had happened to Cora. As you keep reading though you realise you’re going to be slowly spoon fed every little point without any guesswork, which is not what I want from a psychological thriller, I want surprise and mystery and somethings only hinted at, there was very little of that as we’re told everything, even down to what each character is thinking.  It felt to me more like reading the police report of events rather than an actual novel. Halfway through we find out who the kidnapper is and to be honest I wasn’t surprised at all
This style of writing did make the novel quite intense as the paragraphs swap from character to character so often it does build up the confusion of what exactly is going on. This makes the novel quite a fast paced read and at times it did feel a little like information overload. I would much preferred if the novel was written in the first person from just one character’s point of view, perhaps as Anne as she seemed the most emotional and most concerned about the well-being of her baby once she was missing.
I was also confused by the setting of this book. We are told Anne and Marco live in New York which to me conjures up images of large townhouses and apartment blocks on busy streets. But when the police arrive at their house they have a nice long garden which backs onto a little lane not used by many cars, this seemed small English country village than a busy New York street. There was also mentions of lakes being a close drive away from their house which didn’t seem to fit.
I think the best part of the book was the twist right at the end which I didn’t see coming and left me with some questions which is what I was longing for all the way through the book. The Couple Next Door is a good read but it’s not a book which has blown me away like other books of this genre have this year. It’s a book which examines the relationship between Marco and Anne and makes you question what is really holding them together.
 I’d like to thank Transworld Digital and Netgalley for this review copy.  

Monday, 24 October 2016

Celebrations and Confetti at Cederwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Celebrations and Confetti At Cedarwood Lodge

Celebrations and Confetti at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin
Published: 24th October 2016
Publisher: Carina UK
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.
Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.
Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?

Celebrations and Confetti at Cedarwood Lodge is the first book in Rebecca Raisin’s new three part series being released in the run up to Christmas. Like all her other novels it’s a book which instantly has you wrapped in Rebecca’s warm and cosy writing style.

Clio Winters used to be a wedding planner in New York until a little honesty landed her in a lot of trouble and without a job, now she’s heading back to her hometown of Evergreen after using all of inheritance from her father to buy the run-down and forgotten Cedarwood Lodge. A place where Clio and her best friend Micah spent many happy hours playing in the grounds when they were growing up.

With the help of handsome project manager Kai and the shy garden designer Isla, Clio and Micah hope to bring Cedarwood back to its former glory and hopefully soon as they have their first booking for a 50th wedding anniversary just weeks away. Can Clio and her team work their magic on the lodge despite a few mishaps along the way and can Clio work out why her mother is not as pleased as Clio hoped about her being back in Evergreen.

This was such a joy to read and for me was Rebecca Raisin at her best. I adored Clio instantly and loved how she had such a beautiful vision to restore Cedarwood.  She hasn’t let her past mistakes put her off making her dream come true and her enthusiasm for the project bubbled off the pages as much as it did among her team members.  I loved her easy going relationship with Micah and how they had their own long lasting jokes. She gives Isla a shoulder to cry on and when around Kia provided me with a few chuckles as she tries to keep up with his wacky exercise requests.

The town of Evergreen itself was a lovely place to live. It has that small town charm where everyone knows each other and pitches in to help if there is a problem. It’s a place with community at its heart and it was lovely to see Cedarwood Lodge become part of that again and to still keep an air of mystery as it’s yet to divulge all of its secrets.

Rebecca has even included a little piece of food heaven like many of her other books in Puft, a gourmet doughnut shop run by Clio’s Aunt Bessie….hazelnut filled doughnuts anyone?

Just like all Rebecca Raisin stories, this book has a project to work on, a mystery to solve and some romances to watch develop, it’s a formula which never fails to have me hooked and wanting more. This first part in the series could be read as a standalone novel but if you’re a Rebecca Raisin fan like me you will be desperate for the next part of the story.

Thank you to Carina UK and Netgalley for this copy to review

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Sunshine on a Rainy Day by Bryony Fraser

Sunshine on a Rainy Day

Sunshine on a Rainy Day by Bryony Fraser
Published: 8th September 2016
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 400
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 4/5

It’s Zoe and Jack’s first wedding anniversary party. They’ve got an announcement! They’re getting divorced.
Marriage isn’t for everyone – something that Zoe and Jack discovered only after they’d walked down the aisle. Bad timing, huh?
So now they’re stuck together in their once harmonious marital home, neither one of them willing to move out of their lovely house.
With Zoe’s three sisters always wanting a say, and Jack’s best friend trying his best to fix things between them, misunderstandings arise. Tempers flare. ‘Accidents’ happen…
Zoe and Jack are going to be lucky if they’re still alive when the twelve months are up. But maybe things aren’t quite as final as they seem?

As soon as I read the blurb for this book I really wanted to read it as it sounded refreshingly different to the get married, live happily ever after storyline. In Sunshine on a Rainy Day Bryony Fraser as knocked this idea on its head and given us a story of matrimonial disaster.
Sunshine on a Rainy Day starts with Jack and Zoe announcing on their first wedding anniversary that they’re getting a divorce. We’re then taken back through the previous twelve months to relive their nightmare year of being married and find out exactly what went so wrong with these two people who were so in love. As we follow Jack and Zoe through their wedding and first year of marriage we are also given flashbacks of how these two met and how their relationship has developed over the last seven years, which was a brilliant way of storytelling as you could see those pivotal moments which had affected their feelings towards marriage.
Despite wanting to love this book I had one major problem with it, Zoe. I just didn’t like her at all. I really couldn’t get my head round why getting married changed her so much. Before the wedding she seemed a kind caring and devoted girlfriend who would do anything for Jack. After she became like a spoilt child when they don’t get their own way, moaning at Jack for everything, picking fights over silly things and always assuming he’s wrong without ever giving him chance to speak. I felt a bit like Jack and wondered where has his lovely Zoe gone and why. From the flashbacks I can kind of understand where she was coming from but I felt so sad for Jack that she never seemed to give their marriage a chance to work.
Apart from Zoe this is a really good read. Jack is such a lovely guy and totally someone I think most of us would enjoy being married to as he was so kind and considerate to Zoe even when she was being ridiculous. I also loved the other characters in the book, Zoe’s sisters and their own little dramas, but my favourite had to be Liz and her plan of dating a guy she hated so she’d appreciate the next guy more was so funny.
The pace of this book is quite fast and even though I kept putting it down as Zoe irritated me I found myself sneaking a couple of chapters when I got a chance as I kept wanting to see  what would happen next and after a couple of days I was finished.
With this book I felt a wide range of emotions, I laughed, I cried and I got mad. It is a book of love, friendship, family and above all following your instincts when something doesn’t feel right. I enjoyed it and am looking forward to seeing what Bryony Fraser comes up with next.
Thank you to Avon and Netgalley for this review copy.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Blog Tour Review: Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody

Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody
Published: 6th October 2016
Publisher: Piatkus
Pages: 389
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating 5/5

Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there.
Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma's daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma's current gentleman friend.
Kate can't help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller's shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby's idyllic façade, it's up to Kate - ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden - to discover the truth behind Felicity's disappearance.
And they say nothing happens in August . . .


Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody is my first Kate Shackleton mystery and one I was very much looking forward to as being a Yorkshire girl I love it when places are set somewhere I know, like Whitby which is a place I love.

Kate Shackleton a woman who has been widowed by the WW1 and has taken up investigating with her friend Jim Sykes and her housekeeper Mrs Sugden. This story is set in August 1927 when Kate and her assistants believe nothing much will happen in their hometown of Leeds so decide to each have a well-earned break on the East Coast.

Kate heads to Whitby to visit old school friend Alma and her daughter Felicity. On arrival Kate takes a walk round Whitby reacquainting herself with memories from her past with husband Gerald. When she enters the jewellers where Gerald bought her wedding and engagement rings Kate makes a shocking discovery, the owner Jack Phillips is lying dead in the back room. Alarmed by her discovery Kate goes for help and soon finds herself as a prime suspect for murder.

To make Kate’s visit even worse she discovers that her goddaughter Felicity has disappeared along with her boyfriend Brendan and a pawned watch-guard. Can Kate help Alma find Felicity and work out who killed Jack Phillips and are the two things linked? One thing is certain, Kate is going to get the nice relaxing holiday she was planning.

The overwhelming feeling I had when reading this book was how much like an Agatha Christie novel this was with murder described in not much detail and the sleuthing taking place by amateur investigators at a very gentle pace. Kate Shackleton reminded me instantly of “Miss Marple”, but a few years younger with her need to solve the mystery. I loved her very English and “proper” way of doing things like when she was reluctant to meet with new acquainted men in the hotel bar.

I think Frances Brody has perfectly captured the essence of Whitby and the period of the 1920s from the details of the town to the descriptions of social etiquettes of the time. It shows she has done her research well to make a realistic story.

I loved the flow of this mystery a number of people are suspected and there are a few twists to overcome before the murderer is revealed making this a very enjoyable read. I’m so glad to have found this new to me author as I love her writing style and am looking forward to going back and reading her previous works as they are perfect for when you want a little mystery but nothing too gruesome.

I’d like to thank the publishers Piatkus for this copy to review in exchange for my honest opinions and also for inviting me on the blog tour.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky

Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin
Published: 22nd September 2016
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 322
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Christmas under a Cranberry Sky is the first in Holly Martin’s A town Called Christmas Series and it’s a book which oozes Christmas and romance off every page and once again she has proved she is a master at bringing the magic of Christmas to life.
Piper “Pip” Chesterfield has spent her life traveling the world as a mystery guest reviewing hotels for The Tree of Life Magazine. Pip has never found a place to call home after a disastrous accident left her with no remaining family and trust issues among those who used to be closest to her. After ten years of travelling Pip has decides to take some time off and try and put down some roots, her trip to Juniper Island to review the new Stardust Lake Hotel over Christmas will be her last.
Gabe Whitaker has spent his life wondering what happened to the golden-haired love of his life Pip after she just disappeared one-day. As owner of the Stardust Lake Hotel Gabe has built a new life for himself and daughter Wren on Juniper Island after numerous failed relationships have left him longing to forget Pip.
So imagine the surprise of these two when these two childhood sweethearts bump into each other outside the hotel. Forced to spend time in each other company can love give these two a second chance or love or will their hearts remain broken forever?
I adore Holly’s Christmas novels, they include everything I want in a festive read, a little romance, a beautiful setting, wonderful characters that you can really relate to and that special magic that’s only found in Christmas books.
I instantly warmed to Pip. She was such a caring and thoughtful character the way she instantly wants to help Wren when she meets her and how helps Gabe with finishing touches for the Christmas village. I was longing for her to find somewhere to call home as she’s had such a tragic past right from being abandoned in an orchard as a baby up until the heartbreak from losing Gabe as a teenager. I loved the way she was hesitant to begin a new romance with Gabe and I found this made me keep reading to see if they would get their happy very after.
My favourite character in the book though has to be little Wren. She was such a joy to read about and reminded me so much of my own Frozen obsessed little lady. I loved the way she was a little sneaky saying things to various adults to get what she wanted…like an early trip to the Ice Palace and I loved her amazement when she finally got her wish.
I think the most magical thing about this book is the setting, Holly has managed to create the ideal romantic Christmas wonderful and if it were a real place I be booking my husband and I a trip there for sure. Everything about it was perfect from the little log cabins to stay in each with their own Christmas tree, the dining room looking out over the lake, the Ice Palace. But two things really make this place special for me, firstly the glass igloos so you can watch the stars and hopefully the Northern Lights above you while you lie in bed, is there actually anything more romantic than that? Also the Christmas market sounded like a dream place to wander about, each house offering its own seasonal speciality, wooden tree decorations, snow globes, churros and a chocolate fountain…umm yes please!
I utterly adored this book, it’s one of the most magical Christmas books I’ve ever read and definitely one not to be missed, thank you Holly for writing such a fantastic book.
I’d like to thank Netgalley and the publishers for this review copy in exchange for my honest opinions.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Blog Tour Review: Nice Day For A White Wedding by A.L. Michael

Nice Day for a White Wedding by A.L. Michael
Published: 22nd August 2016
Publisher: Carina UK
Pages: 187
Available on Kindle

Sometimes, Happy Ever After is where the real trouble begins...
Chelsea Donnolly wasn’t supposed to amount to anything. But if there’s one thing the bad girl
from the estate liked better than trouble, it was a challenge. So, to the amusement of her best
friends Evie, Mollie and Ruby – and the disbelief of her teachers – this bad girl turned good.
These days, Chelsea is the kind of girl people are proud to know – and, after a surprise trip to
Venice, she has a ring on her finger to prove it. But to get there, she’s had to learn to keep her
deepest secrets from everyone – even her fiancé. And when wedding preparations threaten to blow
her cover, Chelsea can’t help but wonder: in her battle to the top, might she have left the best parts
of herself behind?

 Nice Day for a White Wedding is the second book in the Camden House series by A.L. Michael. It follows on from the first book Goodbye Ruby Tuesday but this time the main character is Chelsea and not Evie.
At the beginning of this book life couldn’t be better for Chelsea, she’s back in touch with her old school friends and their creative arts project The Ruby Rooms is doing really well, she’s doing great in her job and things are perfect with boyfriend Kit. When Kit whisks Chelsea off for a spur of the moment romantic holiday and proposes in Venice Chelsea couldn’t be happier, until she realises that they will have to now meet each other’s families. Something Chelsea has been dreading for months as Kit has no idea about Chelsea’s past or even her real surname, so meeting her family will be a shock for him.
Kit suggests they spend a few days with his family at their Italian holiday home. Reluctantly Chelsea agrees and what she finds when she arrives makes her wish she hadn’t. Kit’s family (apart from his sister) are awful snobs and almost immediately they see Chelsea as an outsider. As the week goes on Kit starts to change and Chelsea begins question whether or not he’s the right man for her after all. Can these two overcome their differences concerning money and their backgrounds and make things work?
I was a bit unsure about this book at first when I realised Chelsea was the main character as I didn’t like her as much as Evie and Mollie in Goodbye Ruby Tuesday. However we see a different side to Chelsea in this book and learn more about the way she ticks. Coming from a poor estate background Chelsea has learned the money can mean the difference between eating and not eating and has grown up still being extra careful with her money and spends it wisely even though now she has a good job and can afford nicer things. When she meets Kit’s family she is disgusted by the way they waste money and their attitude that because they have lots of money they are better than anyone else.  His mother Jemima being the worse for this as despite being wealthy she is still a vulgar horrible person who is incredibly rude to Chelsea for no reason and quite possibly the worst mother-in-law you could have.
As Kit and Chelsea try and work through their differences we are given lots of drama from the additional characters which had me hooked and made this a really enjoyable and well-rounded story full of brilliant comedy moments. My favourite scenes involved Chelsea having her eyebrows shaped, comedy gold I loved it!
I love A. L. Michael’s writing, she creates wonderful characters and drama filled stories which are both funny and emotional. I’ve loved Nice Day for a white Wedding and am really looking to book three.  I can highly recommend this to anyone who wants to get lost for a few hours in this wonderful read.
Thank you so much to A. L. Michael, the publishers and Neverland Blog Tours for this copy to review and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour.

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