Book Review: Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson


Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

Publication: 3rd October 2016
Publisher: Sphere
Format: Ebook
Pages: 432
ISBN: 9780751563092

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Description

Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, ‘traditional’ Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she’s not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her co-workers are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in The Big Apple.

John, Olivia’s friend, on the other hand is so upset and is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when she adds handsome New Yorker Elijah into the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As December 25th draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Full of romance and festive magic, Mistletoe on 34th Street is the funniest and most charming love story you will read this Christmas!

My Review

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for my copy – I apologise it’s taken me so long to get to it but here it is!!!!

I’ve had this book on my shelf since last year, and I fancied some romance, Christmas, and a feel-good read. I’ve had Christmas on my brain since reading The Christmas Holiday and this book was everything I needed!

A bit slow to get going but when it did, I loved every moment of it.  I’m a huge sucker for Christmas books, set in New York.  This book was written well, it was funny, witty, and a has a fantastic plot.  Every Chapter is a step closer to Christmas and it works really well.  It made it feel like that it was building up to something amazing, magical, and a sense of purpose.

All of the characters were great.  Olivia was a brilliant leading lady.  She is definitely my sort of character.  She’s practical, independent, strong-willed and sure of what she wants. Or is she? John, Olivia’s friend, comes across as charming, a good man and is again, a great character. All of the secondary characters are fantastic, all with their own little stories.  They could all easily be someone you know. Or be you. They all work well together, except for the addition of Elijah but let’s not go there.  Excuse the language, but he was a Dick.

Any book set in the build up, or at actual Christmas time works wonderfully for me.  Everything always seems right within the world at Christmas and this book has that feeling.  It made everything seem right when everything was feeling wrong.  Everyone needs to believe in magic at Christmas time and I think this is the book to help people see that. Just brilliant – I know I’ve said that word a lot within this review but hey, I don’t see the problem!!!! 5/5 for me!!

 

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Blog Tour: It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan

It Was Only Ever You

It Was Only Ever You by Kate Kerrigan
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Published: 13th July 2017
Format: Paperback & Ebook
Pages: 448
ISBN13: 9781784082420
ASIN: B01AATYCBS

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Head of Zeus Link

Description
Set in late 1950s Ireland and New York, the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.
Set, like Maeve Binchy’s early bestsellers, in late 1950s Ireland and New York, this is the story of three women and the charismatic man with whom their lives are interwoven.
Patrick Murphy has charm to burn and a singing voice to die for. Many people will recognise his talent. Many women will love him. Rose, the sweetheart he leaves behind in Ireland, can never forget him and will move heaven and earth to find him again, long after he has married another woman. Ava, the heiress with no self-confidence except on the dance floor, falls under his spell. And tough Sheila Klein, orphaned by the Holocaust and hungry for success as a music manager, she will be ruthless in her determination to unlock his extraordinary star quality.

But in the end, Patrick Murphy’s heart belongs to only one of them. Which one will it be?

My Review

Thank you to the publishers and Kate Kerrigan for the chance to read this book and to be involved in the blog tour.

This book started slow to begin with, and it does jump around a bit between the women and with time, but it all slowly comes together in the end.  The way it is all done works well, there is a lot of path crossing and potentially big what ifs, but it does work.  It did get confusing with how quickly the time did move, and it made me question whether things were all moving at the same pace with all the people when it came to their chapters, or paragraphs.

The one person everyone has in common is Patrick, and it works perfectly.  All the women add something to the book, and all have their own parts to play when it came to him.  Of the 3 women, I felt more of a connection with Ava or Sheila.  I wasn’t really keen on Rose though, whether that was her naivety or her innocence, she just didn’t click with me.  Ava knew exactly what was expected of her, but she still bit the bullet and went for what she truly wanted.  Girl after my own heart.  Sheila had a sense of purpose, maturity, and a feeling of toughness that the other girls lacked.  I would say that Patrick is full of regrets, but does what is right and does what is for the best.  He loves Rose, and he does love Ava.  But his heart will always go to his music first, but he does finally realise who is love is.

Kate Kerrigan has a unique writing style, I enjoyed it, I felt for the characters and their love, their heartache, their losses.  This book was beautifully written, but it took me a long time to get into it.  While I enjoyed it, and did feel for the characters, I felt it was a little rushed and was missing something to make it spectacular.  I can’t pinpoint what I thought it was lacking though.  The ending was a sudden thing, I would have loved to have known if everyone was happy with their choices, and if it worked out well for them. It leftbtoo many what ifs and do they/don’t they for me, I would have liked things to be wrapped up neatly.

I give this book 3/5.  I liked the majority of characters, I liked the romance, loved the setting (who doesn’t love a New York story?!), the music references, it was written beautifully, but as I said, I felt it was missing a spark.  Something to make it so much better and mind-blowing. 

Book Review: Den Of Shadows by Christopher Byford

Den of Shadows: The gripping new fantasy novel for summer 2017 (Gambler's Den series, Book 1) by [Byford, Christopher]

Den of Shadows (Gambler’s Den #1) by Christopher Byford
Publisher: HQ Digital
Published: May 2017
Format: Ebook
Pages: 250 (Or 176 according to Goodreads)
ISBN13: 9780008257484
ASIN: B06XGKQPHK

Amazon UK
Goodreads

Description

The Gambler’s Den weaves its away across the desert… But will it stop at your station?
While fighting off poverty in the blistering desert heat a travelling casino offers one night of solace. One chance to change your fortunes. But once on board there is more to the show than meets the eye: enter Franco, the elaborate ringleader, Wyld the stowaway thief and Misu the fire breathing showgirl.
In a kingdom ruled by the law Franco ensures his den remains in line. But when he’s faced with saving the fate of the train, and those on board, he may be forced to break his own rules. Life on the den isn’t just a job but a way of life and once you’re in you’ll never be able to leave.

My Review
Firstly, let me thank Netgalley and the publisher for my copy in exchange for my honest review.

I feel this needs to be said. That cover is just beautiful. It is definitely one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen this year so far.  The colour is just spectacular, it makes you think of magic, of possibilities, of adventure.

This book has been had a lot of confusing thoughts from me.  I loved parts of it and never wanted it to end but then I felt it dragged on for too long on other parts.  The book is beautifully written, don’t get me wrong.  It’s descriptive, it gives you the backstory of characters, it gives you a sense of where they are from, why they wanted to be on The Gambler’s Den, it left nothing unanswered for me.  And yet, I feel a bit puzzled by it all.  There isn’t enough of it but then there’s too much of it as well.

Franco, being the main man, had the most page time.  I was intrigued by his backstory, and while I wanted to know more, I wanted to see more of his present than his past.  A likeable character, he was extravagant, not quite larger than life but very close to it. Flamboyant comes to mind.  He made me think of a Ringmaster at a circus in a way.
I would have liked to have known more about Jacques, Misu, and Wyld.  Maybe even some of the other showgirls that were mentioned. While we do get some backstory, it’s mainly the explanation of how they came to be on the Den.  I feel that we missed out on a lot about them, and had too much in one go about Franco.  All the characters are likeable though, and all add something to the storyline.

As I said, this book was beautifully written, with some glorious descriptive scenes.  The world has a lot of possibility, especially as we are on a train! This series of books has a huge about potential, I think it can only get better with each book.  And I’m very curious as to where it is going in the next.  The pace of the book can only improve for me, I hope anyway.  The only fast paced part of the book is near the end of the book.  Other than that it sort of plods along, taking it’s time with everything.  I’m hoping the next is better.

Overall, I’m giving this book 3/5.  With a huge amount of potential, I can only hope that the next is bigger and better.  I feel like I’m missing something from this review so it’ll probably end up getting edited at some point.

Blog Tour: Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks

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Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks.
Publisher: Piatkus
Published: 13th July 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
ISBN13: 9780349415505

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Synopsis
Cesca Shakespeare has hit rock bottom. Six years after the play she wrote bombed at the box office, she’s unable to hold down a job, keep an apartment, and worst of all her family have no idea how far she’s fallen. So when her fairy Godfather offers her the use of his friend’s Italian villa for the summer, she grudgingly agrees to try writing a new play. That’s before she finds out the house belongs to her arch-nemesis, Sam Carlton.

When Hollywood heart-throb Sam Carlton sees his name splashed across a gossip rag, all he wants to do is hide. That’s how he finds himself traveling to Italy, deciding to spend the summer in his family’s empty villa on Lake Como. Except when he arrives it isn’t as empty as he’d hoped.

Over the course of the hot Italian summer, Cesca and Sam have to come to terms with their pasts. What begins as a tentative friendship quickly grows into an intense attraction – and then a scorching fling. But they can’t hide from reality forever . . . as their different worlds collide, Sam and Cesca face a choice: is this just a summer romance, or could their love weather even the coldest winds?

My Review

A delight to read on a horrible wet, windy, typical British summer day.  Thank you to the publishers for the chance to read and review this spectacular book.  Any book set in Italy will always have me in its grips within pages, especially one written by Carrie Elks.  I have only read one  other book by her, but I loved this one just as much as that.  Her writing is wonderful, her characters bounce from the pages and read spectacularly.

Cesca was an amazing leading lady, going from her downward spiral unconfident ways to a confident, young woman who goes for what she wants.  She comes across as a bit of a stray to begin with, forever trying to find her place in the world.  She thought she had her place once, but then it all fell apart.  Since then, Cesca has always blamed one person: Sam Carlton.  I’ll get to him in a minute.  I loved Cesca’s story, her backstory, everything.  Her sense of loyalty to her family is wonderful, especially the bond she shares with her 3 sisters.

Sam, your typical Hollywood actor. Handsome, “chiseled”, charming, what else can you ask for?  Except, with the beginning of the story from Cesca’s view, he only ever thinks of himself.  But he doesn’t, and Cesca realises that.  I loved Sam.  He hides from his mistake, yes to protect himself, but also to limit the damage done to his family.  He cares about what will happens to his mother, and his sisters.  Not so much his father though.  Sam is caring, he comes across as a sensual man, a sexy man.  He definitely knows what he wants.

Chemistry flows from the page the first time they come into contact with each other, and it just gets more intense as the book goes on. With a few hot and steamy parts further on in the book, I was expecting it to be quite cheesy and a bit cringey but I was wrong. It was done in a non-cringe way and didn’t leave anything to the imagination.  They work well together, whether they are arguing, having a normal conversation or having sex.  They work perfectly.

I’m glad things work out well in the end, I don’t think I could have handled it if it didn’t.  I will happily read anything else to do with Cesca.  I wonder if we’ll be getting one for each sister? I’m very intrigued by them.  I would love to know each of their stories.

I happily give this book a huge 5/5.  In fact, I would happily give it 10/10!!!!

About the author

Carrie Elks lives near London, England and writes contemporary romance with a dash of intrigue. She loves to travel and meet new people, and has lived in the USA and Switzerland as well as the UK. An avid social networker, she tries to limit her Facebook and Twitter time to stolen moments between writing chapters. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found baking, drinking wine or working out how to combine the two.

 

ARC Review: The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara

The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara
Published: July 2017
Publisher: Sphere (Little, Brown Book Group UK)
Format: Ebook
Pages: 368
ISBN13: 9780751566215
ASIN: B01MQJVNBC

Goodreads
Amazon UK

Description

My Review

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for copy, in exchange for my honest review.  I’m so glad I got to read this, I’ve loved other books by Ali McNamara and this one does not disappoint.

I found this to be a magical story, full of folklore, history, mysteries and romance.  It was interesting to read the different legends.  I know it’s a fictional place, but it made me realise that everywhere has these little stories, legends, rumours, whatever you want to call it.  They all stem from somewhere don’t they?

Written well, as always for Ali McNamara. The characters all had feeling, depth, and a likeability that touches you.  There is a lot of eye-rolling though, and winking. What’s that all about? Anyway, I liked all of the characters.  The setting was beautiful, as is all of Ireland.

Ren is determined, stubborn, but a very likeable woman.  Kiki plays well against Ren. For Ren’s matureness, Kiki is the opposite. She’s ditzy, doesn’t get a lot of Ren’s references, but she’s still very likeable.  Finn.  I’ve been trying to find the right words for Finn but I’m struggling.  He’s likeable, you get to see a little of his history, his backstory but on the other hand I don’t know…  I felt like I didn’t get a lot from him.  I don’t know.  All the characters worked well together, there is chemistry between all the characters, a fondness between them.  Kiki and Ren found their home in Ballykiltara and it shows.

It makes a nice change that the loss that a character’s suffers is an animal.  Many stories centre around the loss of a person, not an animal.  People’s lives are affected by the loss of a pet or like Finn, a business.  it shows that it does change the way people are.

This book was just great.  I loved how it was written, I loved the majority of the characters, and I just really enjoyed it.  I give it 4/5.

 

Blog Tour: Q&A/Review: The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by Cressida McLaughlin

The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by [McLaughlin, Cressida]

The Once in a Blue Moon Guesthouse by Cressida McLaughlin
Publisher: HarperCollins
Published: 29th June 2017
Format: Ebook
Pages: 500
ISBN13: 9780008219284
ASIN: B01MY458DB

Goodreads

Amazon UK

Synopsis
Robin Brennan has come home to Campion Bay. Now her parents have retired, she’s set to become the new landlady of The Campion Bay Guesthouse.
Bookings have been as thin as the hand towels, and it doesn’t take long for Robin to realise that the place needs a serious makeover. Perhaps throwing herself into the task will help to heal her sadness at the tragic end to her dreams in London.
As she gives the guesthouse a new lease of life, Robin encounters old friends and new, including old flame Tim, who’d clearly like to reboot their romance. But what about Will, the new arrival at No. 4, who’s rocked up with the cutest dog ever?
Caught up in a flurry of full-English breakfasts and cream teas, Robin’s never sure what, or who, the next check-in will bring…

Q&A With Cressida McLaughlin

1. What does your writing day look like? And do you have a favourite place to write?

My brain is much better first thing, so I like to start early, 7.30 or 8am, and will try and work through until lunchtime on writing or editing, whatever stage I’m at. After lunch I’ll do other things, social media or blog posts or Q&As like this. The main hazard is Twitter, which can suck up hours of my time if I let it. I should put one of those ‘no internet’ thingies on my computer, but it would frustrate me not being able to look something up if I needed to. (Which is obviously a rubbish excuse from a Twitter addict.)

I have an office in one of our spare bedrooms at home, and I love it. I can have music playing, my sparkly lava lamp on, coffee and tea when I want, a candle burning. It’s very snug and colourful – it has lots of Poldark postcards on the walls – and it’s the ideal space for me to be creative.

2. Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? Can you tell us a bit about it?

I feel bad that I don’t remember the first story I ever wrote, but I do remember that whatever I did write, I always wanted it to look like a book. I folded sheets of A4 paper in half, stapled them at the fold and then drew a cover on the front, writing the words and adding pictures on the pages inside. My parents taught me about the magic of books from day one, and I loved the idea of my words being inside one – an ambition I feel very lucky to have realised. I remember very vividly a murder mystery my sister wrote for primary school. The story was brilliant, it was put together like a proper book, and I remember wishing that I’d written it. That has stayed with me much more than any of the stories I wrote when I was small – she was definitely an inspiration to me.

3. Do you have a favourite film adaptation of a book? What was it and why?

I thought the adaptation of Gone Girl was excellent, and very faithful to the book, but my favourite has to be the BBC adaptation of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, with Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret Hale and Richard Armitage as John Thornton. It’s bleak, dramatic and very romantic. The scenes in the mills, with the cotton falling like snow while John Thornton stalks about in his stark black suit and hat, are so powerful. It’s a classy adaptation that I never get bored of re-watching.

4. If you were forced to write a different genre, what would you chose?

Creepy ghost story, definitely. I may have the beginnings of one on the go at the moment, just to see if I can do it . . .

My Review:

Firstly, thank you to Netgalley, and the Publisher for my copy of this book in exchange for my review.  Also, for letting me take me part in the blog tour.

A light hearted story, revolving around Robin who is starting fresh in her home town of Campion Bay. Taking over her parents guesthouse, she starts from scratch after losing her friend and closing her events business.  A likeable character but a little predictable. She comes across as kind, caring, thoughtful, if not a little held back because of her time in London.  The whole story was a little predictable but then again that’s what we all need as a pick me up from time to time!! This book is definitely a pick me up book. It was heartwarming, friendly, a little amusing, and has some delicious recipes at the end.

Throughout the whole book we have likeable characters, from Molly, Will, Paige, the guesthouse guests and other people from the town. Of course, we have a villain (in a sense anyway) in the form of Robin’s childhood sweetheart, Tim. Not so much a likeable character but it works for this story.  He comes across as sleazy, a little too confident and thinks he’ll get his own way no matter what.

The writing style was easy to read, it kept me reading and was easy enough to keep track off. The book is separated into 4 parts (I think they were published individually before?), each part flows brilliantly into the next. The time frame is only over a couple of weeks but doesn’t feel like that as you read it.  But then on the other hand, it goes by so quickly you don’t really get a sense of the timeframe of everything.  Such a quick pace is always good for me, I love getting caught up in everyone’s stories.

I think it’s safe to say that I liked this book, a lot.  I loved the writing style, the quickness of it, the characters.  I can’t really pinpoint one thing that I didn’t really like about it.

I give this book 5/5

Mid-Year Freak-Out Book Tag

So, I read this over on Thrice Read and thought that as we in fact 6 months, nearly 7 months, into the year that I would do just a general post with this book-tag.
Just for an update: My Goodreads Reading Challenge is set at 100 again for this year, and currently I am reading book number 69.  I seem to have been flowing through this year, without struggles or what not.

On to the Book Tag questions I go….

Best Book You’ve Read So Far in 2017

I can’t decide on just one book, so here is the top 5 so far.

The Little Café of Second Chances by J.D. Barrett    The Perfect Present by Karen Swan   Heartless by Marissa Meyer   The Rome Affair by Karen Swan   The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley

I’ve picked (In no particular order):

  • The Little Cafe of Second Chances by J. D Barrett
  • The Perfect Present by Karen Swan
  • Heartless by Marissa Meyer
  • The Rome Affair by Karen Swan
  • The Storm Sister by Lucinda Riley

All of them have something special about them, all of them being exceptional books.

Best Sequel You’ve Read So Far in 2017

 

Oh, god… I think I’ve only read 2 sequels this year.. If you can even call them sequels

Turn Towards the Sun by Emma   Davies   Secrets and Fries at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox

The ones that I have read are:

  • Turn Towards the Sun by Emma Davies
  • Secrets & Fries at the Starlight Diner by Helen Cox

Again, both great books, I would not be able to pick my favourite one.

New Release You Haven’t Read Yet but Want To

      

They are all very, very different books.  I’m excited to read Kat French’s The Bed and Breakfast on the Beach purely because I have loved all of her others.  One Hot Summer was one of my favourite reads on 2016.  Godblind has had so much hype, I see it everywhere on social media at the moment, it isn’t something I would probably pick up straight away but I’m really excited to eventually get to this one in a couple of weeks!! Flame in The Mist’s cover looks stunning, that’s what attracted me first but it does sound like a pretty amazing story.

Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of the Year

   

These are the only 2 I have covers for, the third book would be an upcoming Lynsey James book, I believe it’s coming about October time (well, that’s when I’m booked in for a blog tour).  The above books are: Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody and The Honey Farm on the Hill by Jo Thomas.  Why am I excited for theses? Ok, the first book includes a circus, I love books like this.  And the second? Jo Thomas. her books always make me feel warm, loved, happy. They are pretty special books.

Biggest Disappointment

Caraval (Caraval, #1)

This is easy for me. Caraval by Stephanie Garber.  I was expecting so, so much for this book. But.. I just didn’t particularly enjoy it. I got the story, the characters, I understood everything and the world of Caraval was certainly magical but I just didn’t enjoy it all. There were parts that just didn’t really fit the book, the magical setting.

Biggest Surprise

Seven Steps to Happiness by Stella Newman   Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal

Seven Steps to Happiness by Stella Newman and Birthrights by J. Kyle Mcneal. Both completely different books but I was pleasantly surprised by both.

Favorite New Author

Without a doubt, Karen Swan.  I think I have read 3 of hers this year, and each book has giving me something amazing from it.   The ones I’ve read are The Rome Affair are The Perfect Present. I’ve got a couple more either on my kindle or my bookcase and I plan on reading both before the year is out.

Favorite New Crush

Hmmm…. Sam Carlton from Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks or Maverick from Lost Rider by Harper Sloan. Both very sexy, hot men.

Summer's Lease by Carrie Elks   Lost Rider by Harper Sloan

Favorite New Characters

I can’t pick, I honestly cannot pick.  There are characters that stand out at me while looking at me list of books read this year.  Like Dade from The Breaking Light by Heather Hansen, Cesca and Sam from Summer’s Lease by Carrie Elks, Catherine from Heartless by Marissa Meyer, and Whym and Quint from Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal.

Summer's Lease by Carrie Elks   The Breaking Light by Heather    Hansen   Heartless by Marissa Meyer   Birthrights by J. Kyle McNeal

Books That Made You Cry

I don’t think any have made me cry so far this year.  It’s been a close thing, but no definite tears which is highly unlike me.

A Book That Made You Happy

Can I just say all the ones I’ve rated 4 stars or higher? I don’t think I could even pick 5 of them to be honest.

Most Beautiful Books You’ve Bought So Far This Year

The Chalk Artist   The Waking Land (The Waking Land Series)   The Night Circus   Crooked Kingdom (Six of Crows, #2)

I haven’t read any of these yet.  I was sent The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman and The Waking Land by Callie Bates for review, and I was lucky enough to be given Waterstones vouchers as a gift so The Night Circus was a must buy, along with Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo.

What Books Do You Need to Read Before the End of the Year?

My whole Netgalley shelf? Impossible as that is though, I’ll select a few that I’m planning blog posts for in the future couple of months.

            Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1)      The Waking Land (The Waking Land Series)         The Stolen Marriage   Two By Two   Keep Me Safe (Seal Island #1)

So, there’s 12.  Hopefully I’ll get round to reading them all, and hopefully I’ll get to do a blog post on each of them.  The list is:

  • Carnegie’s Maid by Marie Benedict
  • The House of Secrets by Sarra Manning
  • The Inheritance by Angie Coleman
  • The Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer
  • Carve The Mark by Veronica Roth
  • The Summer of Serendipity by Ali McNamara
  • The Waking Land by Callie Bates
  • Traitor to the Throne by Alwyn Hamilton
  • From Rome With Love by Jules Wake
  • The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain
  • Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks
  • Keep Me Safe by Daniela Sacerdoti

So, how has your first 6 months of reading in 2017 been? Have you got some disappointments? Or some big surprises? I’d love to hear if you have or not!!