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

Blurb
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. 
Review

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

Blurb
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?

Review
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
Pages:114
Available on Kindle
Rating: 5/5

Blurb
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?

Review
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

Blurb
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?

Review
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

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29982610-death-at-the-seaside?ac=1&from_search=true

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

Blurb
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 fa├žade, 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 . . .

Review

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

Blurb
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?

Review
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.