Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland by Heidi Swain

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland

by Heidi Swein

 

 

40013831Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

After calling off her engagement, Hayley, the Wynthorpe Hall housekeeper, wants nothing more than to return to her no-strings fun-loving self, avoiding any chance of future heartbreak. Little does she know, Wynbridge’s latest arrival is about to throw her plan entirely off course . . .

Moving into Wynthorpe Hall to escape the town’s gossip, Hayley finds herself immersed in the eccentric Connelly family’s festive activities as they plan to host their first ever Winter Wonderland. But Hayley isn’t the only new resident at the hall. Gabe, a friend of the Connelly’s son Jamie, has also taken up residence, moving into Gatekeeper’s Cottage, and he quickly makes an impression on Wynbridge’s reformed good-girl.

As preparations commence for the biggest event of the season, the pair find themselves drawn ever closer to one another, but unbeknownst to Hayley, Gabe, too, has a reason for turning his back on love, one that seems intent on keeping them apart.

Under the starry winter skies, will Gabe convince Hayley to open her heart again once more? And in doing so, will he convince himself?

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland is the perfect read this Christmas, promising snowfall, warm fires and breath-taking seasonal romance. Perfect for fans of Milly Johnson, Carole Matthews and Cathy Bramley.

Rating: three-stars

Hayley is engaged and to be married soon, but at her engagement party she discovers that her boyfriend hasn’t been faithful to her. As things are also not at the nicest at home, she decides to take an offer of moving into Wynthorpe Hall, a place that she’s been working in for a long time already and that she loves. She just wants to forget and move on. But, as is turns out, she’s not to be the only one new resident to the Hall. Jamie’s friend Gabe is joining the family too. They’re both not interested in a relationship but they feel comfortable in each other’s company – however, can it be that fate has other plans for them?

I have a confession to make. Even though I have some of Heidi Swain’s book, this one, “Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland” is the first novel by this author that I’ve read. I’ve heard such great things about Ms Swain’s books and I thought, well, it’s highest time to read it. I was a little afraid, to be honest, as the novels are part of series, set in the charming Wynthorpe Hall and the surrounding village, afraid that I’d missed too much and won’t be able to keep on track. But no worries, guys, it really felt as reading a stand – alone book. There were enough background info to deduce what’s happened in the past to understand the whys and whats of the characters.

Our main character Hayley was a quirky, fierce girl who knew what she wanted. I’m sure it was properly explained in one of the previous books, the whole situation with her family and especially father but I was just thinking, oh boy, what must have happened for him to be so cruel towards his daughter, to be so cool, rejecting and not interested. The relationship between Hayley and her mother was also a bit enigmatic for me, it didn’t seem to be lots of love there, and it made me really sad. I definitely have to read the other book to get into the heart of their story. Hayley was hard on the outside, she had a big mouth but let’s be honest, she was really soft inside and she had a heart in the right place. And it was not a wonder that she was like this, what with her past that made her so out of reach and also short – tempered but if you get your time to get to know her, you’ll understand her motives. She may not be the easiest character to immediately like but this feeling comes really quickly, and I truly fell for her.
Gabe’s background history was incredibly sad and it made my heart break. He was an interesting character, what with him blowing hot and cold all the time, and yes, it started to be irritating, but then came the moment when he explained what has happened in the past and well, it changed my feelings a lot. There were many layers to him, as well as to Hayley, and I liked that their characters were not so straight – forward.

But, after reading so many brilliant things I was expecting something really brilliant. For me, however, it was just a normal story – it was nice, yes, but it didn’t wow me, I’m really sorry. It’s probably my fault, as I went into this book with very high expectations. Please don’t get me wrong, it was a cosy, lovely, Christmassy read, of course it was but I didn’t find there anything that would make me feel like so many other reviewers felt about it. I loved the idea of the Winter Wonderland and would love to read much more about it. I was also in awe how, short and sweet, they were able to organize it. OK, to be honest, I think I’d rather have many more chapters about it because it seemed a truly magnificent, fabulous and festive event. It was simply the best part of the book, enchanting and amazing. The rest – simply – didn’t wow me as much as I think it would.

The writing style was light and not too complex, and there was warmth to it. The story was lovely and lovingly interspersing few threads and the author touches upon some very sensible and poignant issues, though she isn’t going too deep into them. I really liked and appreciated the way the author has decided to write the romance here, the ongoing will they/won’t they – yes, it was there, but it was not too overwhelming, not too long and the characters didn’t make you feel desperate to bang their heads together. There was some romance in it, heartbreak and secrets, and the setting was simply gorgeous. I’m really happy that I still have other Heidi Swain’s books to dive into.

 

Advertisements

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan

The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan

 

 

41589390Publisher: Pan

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Set on the scenic fjords of Norway, The Christmas Lights by bestselling author Karen Swan is a moving Christmas tale of love and heartbreak.

December 2018, and free-spirited Influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the ‘perfect’ life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can’t explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who’ll listen.

June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . .

The mountains keep secrets – Signy knows this better than anyone – and as Bo’s life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.

Rating: five-stars

“The Christmas Lights”, set in the beautiful and raw Norway, introduces us to a bunch of different characters. Bo and Zac are living the dream life, being the Wanderlusters who share their adventures on Instagram with their 9 + million followers. There is also Lenny, their photographer and manager who organizes all the trips and schedules. After their recent trip to Samoa they are travelling to the remote shelf farm in Norway to spend Christmas there. The owner of the farm is Signy – an older woman who’s going to change the lives of the threesome.

As usual, this book also starts with a chapter set in the past that ends with a cliffhanger and the story slowly unfolds, brilliantly and cleverly intertwined with this of Bo and Zac’s. This was the story of Signy, Anders’s grandmother, the owner of the shelf farm where our trio is staying. Back in 1936, Signy has experienced unforgettable summer when she worked with other girls as milkmaids, away from their families, there where the pastures were the greenest. I loved how the author put us up to different kinds of danger with those two subplots, and I must say that both of them had me on my tenterhooks.

I’ve mentioned it thousand times already, and I’ll repeat myself, that Karen Swan is my auto – buy author. What I absolutely adore in her books is the fact that her characters are so diverse, so different to each other, and their jobs are always unusual. This time Bo and Zac turned their lifestyles into job, they’re already a brand with over 9 million followers on Instagram. They walk the earth together with their photographer and their lives look so colourful, inspirational and perfect on photos, as they visit places that you won’t find on the tourist maps, spending at least a month or longer at their chosen place, to get the feeling of it, to turn into locals, as they don’t want to be perceived as the usual tourists. No, they’re Wanderlusters and they want to experience authenticity. But – are their lives really so perfect? Without cracks? The author has so gently hinted that Bo’s life is getting out of her control, and yes, I immediately fell for Bo, I liked her and didn’t want anything bad happen to her. The way she realises there is so much more to life than followers and sponsors makes her character so much more believable. And also, what made me like her even more is the fact that I have a feeling that at the end she’s chosen the right things for her. It hurt to see that she can’t trust anybody, how she tried to be heard by those closest to her and how she was left alone in all of this. That is, alone but for Anders, but it turns out that he also has a terrible secret – is there a single person that Bo can trust, who would understand her?

It was a read with a rather slow pace but there was not a single moment that it felt flat or uninteresting for me. On the other hand, I enjoyed the descriptions of the setting, the harsh nature of Norway, so raw and virginal and beautiful – yes, Karen Swan is the queen of choosing the most beautiful settings for her novels, and what I love is the fact that they’re not fictional places. They’re secluded, solitary but real and simply gorgeous. Another bonus is that she always adds truly interesting facts about those places and I couldn’t help but googled shelf farms – they’re brilliant. The setting is just fantastic and the author eloquently and vividly brings all the places she writes about to life. I’ve read some books set in Norway, and also some describing the Northern Lights but “The Christmas Lights” overdoes them all with its descriptions, the gorgeous, wild and austere nature of Norway.

I, however, immediately guess the “who”. For me it was obvious and there was no other option, even if the author has tried a little to put wool over our eyes at the end, trying to complicate things a little, to point us in other directions, but this is the one thing that she didn’t manage. Was it disappointment? To be honest, no. Not at all.

Of course we can’t forget the big elephant in the room – Karen Swan writes about the problems and dangers of living through social media, and I liked the way she has tackled this issue. We have Zac and Lenny, who live only through the numbers of followers and nothing is impossible for them, no matter how dangerous it is. Then we have Bo, whose eyes start to open and she starts to notice the dangers and issues of being in the centre of attention. And we have Anders, whose idea of living is totally different. Yes, Zac and Lenny come across a little obsessed and shallow, at least for me, as I do realise that the grass is not always greener on the other side and there are limits for what you can do to increase the number of your followers and your sponsors.

“The Christmas Lights” was a story full of action, hiking, gorgeous settings and characters full of personality – characters that are annoying, that have their flaws and secrets which only makes them much more interesting and believable. The author has also brought closer the Norwegian history and its present, traditions, habits, the language, food and drink. There was intrigue, danger and it was festive enough to get in the spirit of Christmas, this all brought to life through Karen Swan’s vivid, alluring and engaging writing style. A novel about relationships, loss, grief, love and adventures, living on the edge, full of heartbreak and hope. It’s much more than about finding your own strength, it shows that everything is possible, and it had me totally and completely hooked. Highly recommended!

 

The Insider by Mari Hannah / Blog Tour + Extract

Hi guys, and first of all, apologies. My stop on Mari Hannah’s blog tour was yesterday and I can’t express how sorry I am for not being able to post on my destined date – having some health problems I just wasn’t able to do this. But I have a brilliant extract from the book for you today – put your feet high and enjoy!

38965366

THE INSIDER – EXTRACT

1

It was the news they had all been dreading, confi rmation of a

fourth victim. For DS Frankie Oliver, the journey to the crime

scene brought back memories of her father driving her around

Northumberland when she was a rookie cop, pointing out the

places where he’d been called to investigate serious incidents

throughout his own police career, giving her the benefi t of

his advice along the way. He’d been doing this since she was

a kid, only with less detail, leaving out the unspeakable horrors

the locations represented. Back then, they were words.

Just words. Narratives that, if she were being honest, excited

her in ways they should not. And then there was the night

he stopped talking: an experience etched on their collective

memory forever more – a night too close to home.

Flashlight beams bobbed up and down, illuminating sheets of

horizontal rain. The detectives stumbled along the Tyne Valley

track, heading east on the Northern Rail line linking Carlisle

to Newcastle. No light pollution here. Under a dark, forbidding

sky, it was diffi cult terrain, rutted and sodden so close

to the water’s edge. The swollen river thundered by, a course

of water liable to fl ash fl ooding. Red alerts for the area were

a regular occurrence. At midday, Northumberland’s monitoring

stations had warned of a serious threat to those living

nearby. If the Tyne rose quickly, Frankie knew they would be

in trouble. Many a walker had slipped into the water here by

accident.

Few had survived.

Lightning forked, exposing the beauty of the surrounding

landscape. A high-voltage electric charge, followed by the

rumble of thunder in the distance, an omen of more rain to

come. The lead investigator, Detective Chief Inspector David

Stone, was a blurred smudge a hundred metres in front of

her, head bowed, shoulders hunched against the relentless

downpour.

Mud sucked at Frankie’s feet as she fought to keep up, two

steps forward, one back, as she tried to get a purchase on the

slippery surface. Her right foot stuck fast, the momentum of

her stride propelling her forward, minus a wellington boot.

She fell, head fi rst, hands and knees skidding as she tried

to stay upright. Dragging herself up, she swore under her

breath as brown sludge stuck to her clothing, weighing her

down.

Unaware of her plight, David was making headway, sweeping

his torch left and right in a wide arc close to Eels Wood. He

had one agenda and Frankie wasn’t it. With a feeling of dread

eating its way into her gut, she peered into the undergrowth

blocking her passage. Where was a stick when you needed

one? As she parted the brambles, there was an ear-splitting

crack, a terrifying sound. Before she had time to react, a tree

fell, crashing to earth with an excruciating thump, unearthed

by a raging torrent of water fi ltering off higher ground, its

roots unable to sustain the weight of a century of growth,

landing metres in front of her.

Frankie blew out a breath.

Only once before had she come closer to violent death.

Hoping her luck would hold, she vaulted the tree and

ploughed on. From an investigative standpoint, the situation

was grim. Had there been any footprints adjacent to the line,

they were long gone. As crime scenes go, they would be fi ghting

a losing battle to preserve evidence, assuming they ever

found the body spotted by an eyewitness, a passenger on an

eastbound train. Where the fuck was it?

Frankie expected to see the dragon ahead, a wide-eye LED

searchlight used by emergency services, an intense beam of

white light guiding her. As far as the eye could see there was

no light visible, other than the beam of David’s fl ashlight.

Worrying. Exasperating. Frankie couldn’t be arsed with this.

Pulling her radio from her pocket, she pressed the transmit

button hoping her link to Control wouldn’t be affected by the

appalling weather. It would be a heavy night in the control

room, for sure.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

blogtour_theinsider

The Witches of St. Petersburg by Imogen Edward – Jones (Blog Tour)

The Witches of St. Petersburg by Imogen Edwards – Jones

 

 

42188918Publisher: Head of Zeus

Publishing Date: 25th October 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 04.04.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Inspired by real characters, this transporting historical fiction debut spins the fascinating story of two princesses in the Romanov court who practiced black magic, befriended the Tsarina, and invited Rasputin into their lives—forever changing the course of Russian history.

As daughters of the impoverished King of Montenegro, Militza and Stana must fulfill their duty to their father and leave their beloved home for St. Petersburg to be married into senior positions in the Romanov court. For their new alliances to the Russian nobility will help secure the future of the sisters’ native country. Immediately, Militza and Stana feel like outcasts as the aristocracy shuns them for their provincial ways and for dabbling in the occult. Undeterred, the sisters become resolved to make their mark by falling in with the lonely, depressed Tsarina Alexandra, who—as an Anglo-German—is also an outsider and is not fully accepted by members of the court. After numerous failed attempts to precipitate the birth of a son and heir, the Tsarina is desperate and decides to place her faith in the sisters’ expertise with black magic.

Promising the Tsarina that they will be able to secure an heir for the Russian dynasty, Militza and Stana hold séances and experiment with rituals and spells. Gurus, clairvoyants, holy fools, and charlatans all try their luck. The closer they become to the Tsarina and the royal family, the more their status—and power—is elevated. But when the sisters invoke a spiritual shaman, who goes by the name of Rasputin, the die is cast. For they have not only irrevocably sealed their own fates—but also that of Russia itself.

Brimming with black magic, sex and intrigue, The Witches of St. Petersburg is an exquisite historical fiction debut novel filled with lush historical details from the Romanov era.

My Review

“The Witches of St. Petersburg” introduces us to two sisters, princesses from Montenegro, married well into Russian aristocracy. However, no matter how much Militza and Stana try, they’re not being accepted by the court. They need the influence though – their father counts on Russian help, so the sisters ingrate themselves with the Tsar and Tsarina, bringing a holy man to help them conceive the son, the so – much – needed – to –  boost – morale Heir to the throne. When it doesn’t work, they try magic and another holy man in the person of Rasputin – but are they going to loose all their influence with his arrival?

Even though my knowledge of Russian history is rather non – existent, there are some periods of times that pick my attention, and the Romanovs’ story is one of them. This book has for sure delivered in matters of the descriptions of the Russian aristocracy, their lives and all the ins and outs of the court life. There were balls and parties, jewellery, incredible dresses, tons of gossip and conspiring and I enjoyed those parts of this story very much. Yes, there came a moment that there was a ball one too many, that they started too feel like a copy of each other but I still think that they were the most colourful and best parts of this novel.

There are many characters in this book. Hundreds of them, actually. Brownie points go to the author for the names – list at the beginning of the novel, although my copy being on kindle I couldn’t just turn back the pages to see who is this character and what’s their background, and I had really huge problems to keep on track with all of them, especially as their names either sounded all the same or changed all the time. Still, the characters were ones of a kind. There came a moment that I stopped to try to understand them – they had their own motives and motivations and of course we have to take into consideration the times the story took place – people needed something all time, there were political businesses to be done and they were not afraid to stop at nothing. They were selfish and looking after their own business only – though is it different nowadays? But it was also fascinating to see how the two “Black Princesses” worked their way into the Palace, how irreplaceable they became to the Tsarina – a thing that so many have tried and failed at before them.  They were incredibly interesting and different to all the characters that I usually read about. Especially Militza and her abilities, I was fascinated with her ability to see things other people didn’t notice, and of course with her magic skills. I think you could easily say that she was a powerful witch, but I also had a feeling that she was not a “complete” witch – she wasn’t able to do magic, just like that, she could use her skills only in particular aspects of life – or so, at least, it looked like for me.

I’m really in two minds about this book. It could be a great read but I had a feeling its potential hasn’t been used there. It felt chopped and not too coherent,  and the jumping between things and events and time seemed as if it wasn’t planned. Some of the scenes were really too much for me – the half – developed chick, keeping of the miscarried fetus or simply the idea of the Tsarina dropping to her knees to eat someone’s vomit… I’m not too soft nor sensible but well, no. Just no. On the other hand, I do understand that the story needed it. And to be honest, the pace felt too slow. It is a large book, with almost 500 pages and it simply started to feel repetitive – the sisters try to help the Tsarina all over again, they attend one ball after another and they’re not accepted and are being called they’re witches smelling of goats we get this on repeat. There was so much potential in this book, and some really interesting concepts but the development was what was being missed for me. It was as if the author had some great ideas but didn’t know how to execute them.

“The Witches of St. Petersburg” is a book that plays with supernatural, with dark magic, with paganism. In a brilliant way it describes the shallowness of the Russian aristocracy, it deals with using and being used. The characters are full of charisma and even though you may not understand all of them, I think you’re still going to appreciate them for their personalities. It was vivid, engaging and gave a great insight into Russian history – in retrospect you can’t help but understand the fact of the revolution, with Tsar under cocaine influence and his wife, not being able to think for herself without asking Rasputin for an advice. A captivating and different read about power, about favours, mixing reality with supernatural.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

thumbnail_image001

Darling Blue by Tracy Rees (re – post)

Happy publication day, Tracy!

Darling Blue by Tracy Rees

 

39289997 Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 576

Genre: Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback 

 

Synopsis:

Blue lives a charmed life. From her family’s townhouse in Richmond, she lives the life of luxury and couldn’t want for anything – well, on the surface at least.

Then on the night of her twenty-first birthday her father makes a startling toast: he will give his daughter’s hand to whichever man can capture her heart best in the form of a love letter. But Blue has other ideas and, unwilling to play at her father’s bewildering games, she sets out on her own path to find her own destiny…

Rating:  four-stars

“Darling Blue”, set in 1920’s London, follows the story of three women – Blue, Midge and Delphine and their families. It starts at Blue’s 21st birthday – her “coming of age”, when her father announces that the possible suitors should woe his daughter by letters. While marriage is not what Blue is looking for at the moment – she’d rather focus on her career as a writer – she’s horrified. But what is done is done and what is said is said and soon Blue receives a few letters that are going to change her life.
Soon after her birthday she meets Delphine, who has escaped a very abusive marriage – she never wants to return to her previous life but is it possible? However, no matter what, Blue and her family takes Delphine under their wings.

Tracy Rees takes us again on a journey in the past, in a different time – zone again. This time it’s Richmond in London in 1920’s and, as usual, she presents us with beautiful, vivid and rich descriptions of the setting, the weather, the clothes and she easily captures the atmosphere of the times, and she pays a great attention to deatils and has a great eye for them. It was, on the surface, a light – hearted story with lovely and kind characters, but deep down touching upon some serious issues, such like bullying or post – natal depression. To be honest, such depth and seriousness really surprised me, especially after the light beginning, but Tracy Rees has already got me used to the fact that she’s not afraid to write about some more sensitive stuff.

This book follows stories of three different women. Blue’s real name is Ishbel and she’s adored everywhere. Her stepmother Midge has problems of her own and she has a huge secret. But as much as you could think it’s going to be about Darling Blue, it equally focuses on the lives of Midge and Delphine, and it was a great move, to be honest, as those two women add tons of significance to this book. In my opinion, they were simply better developed and rounded than Blue, although please don’t get me wrong, she was also an interesting character that had something to say, and her desire to work and be independent was adorable. On the other hand, she was a little too self – absorbed and I had a feeling that she likes when the whole world is running in circles around her. But there was enough empathy in her, she was a great friend and open person and it was not hard to like her.
But altogether I only had a feeling that the characters were just too simple for such an author as Tracy Rees – they were either perfect and incredibly kind, or awfully unpleasant, and sometimes this just felt unrealistic.

Basically, it was a story about one year in a family’s life, though a very turbulent one. Mostly, it was well paced though there were some moments that if dragged a bit. Also, as much as I love a happy end, here it left me feel a little insatiable as the actions of one of the characters were forgotten quite quickly and quite easily, and she was welcomed back to the family without a word, and it was this little bit unrealistic, non – credible and little bit rushed, and I also had a feeling that maybe the author didn’t have a better idea how to solve this particular subplot? Also, as much as I appreciated the mysteries in this book, I quickly guessed what was going to happen. I also had a feeling that there was a very long build – up to them and then, when it finally came to the revelations, it was too rapid and not dealt with, just done and forgotten.

“Darling Blue” is a book that isn’t mostly about actions and events but mostly about characters, feelings and emotions. They are written in a gentle and captivating way that makes the pace bearable and I was actually glued to the pages – yes, waiting for something to happen, as I could feel with my whole body that there is something going to happen, but at the same time perfectly entertained by the distinctive voices of the characters. It was a great historical fiction about family, love, friendship, grief and forgiveness, with a great sense of period and written in a beautiful, colourful and detailed way that is going to sweep you off your feet for a few hours. While “Amy Snow”, Tracy Rees’s debut novel remains still my favourite of hers, I can say that with “Darling Blue” she’s following closely. Recommended!

Darling Blue Blog Blast poster

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft / Blog Tour

A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft

 

 

41562375Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 484

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘I love all of Sue Moorcroft’s books!’
Katie Fforde

A sumptuous, festive read from the #1 bestseller, Sue Moorcroft.

Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.

To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

Curl up with the gorgeous new book from the Sunday Times bestseller, perfect for fans of Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

My Review

Georgine France’s life used to be a bed of roses, until her family fell from grace when her father has lost his construction firm, her mother left and she had to leave university and find a job. And recently, her ex – boyfriend has left her, leaving debts and bailiffs for her to deal with. She works as an event director at Middledip’s performing arts college Acting Instrumental and she loves her job, so she completely immerses herself into the organization of this event, trying to forget about her financial problems. Joe Blackthorn has just returned to the village to be Georgine’s new assistant. Nobody knows that he was someone else in the past, the child of two alcoholics, living in the wrong part of the village, often hungry and dirty. Also nobody knows that he’s a drummer of one of the most successful British bands, now back home to lick his wounds after a falling out with the band. He never supposed to meet Georgine in Acting Instumental – his old crush that he hurt when they were teenagers. Is he going to make her life even more complicated?

The characters were easy to like and they really felt so close to life and I liked how challenging their lives were and how deep the problems were. Both Georgine and Joe had unhappy pasts and they really knew some struggles, both in mental and financial aspect. I really connected with them and I fell for them, and their problems hit me truly hard. They were both so brilliantly passionate about things they loved.

There came a moment when the story started to be more of Joe than of Georgine, though I didn’t have any problem with this. I liked Joe and I’m sure I’d feel comfortable in his presence, just like Georgine did. Jeez, I must pay so much attention when writing this name, to spell it right, it’s really annoying. The name itself too. It happens sometimes, that I don’t like the main character’s name, and it was the case here but no worries, it didn’t affect my feelings towards her. Maybe I’ll just call her G. I appreciate the fact that the author touched upon some more serious issues but sometimes the way she wrote about them felt too patronizing, there was too much stressing on them and it made them feel not too natural. And it was also somehow not too real that so many of the characters suddenly had the same kind of problem with money. But hats off to Sue Moorcroft for touching upon such things as poverty and bailiffs at all, it isn’t a common theme in women’s fiction.
To be absolutely honest, the descriptions of the show and preparations were not my cup of tea and I’ve voluntarily skipped most of them – in my opinion, even if they were a part of G’s life, they were not so significant nor too important for the plot. I simply wanted more of Joe and G’s stories, they were much more interesting and had so many layers.

“A Christmas Gift”, although not too Christmassy, it succeeded in putting me in the festive mood. It was a warm, uplifting story about second chances, friendship, families, some harsh truths and living in poverty, but also about neglect and abuse. This is a book that has it all: bouncy, full of life characters, some romance, tons of troubles, humour and sadness. Sue Moorcroft’s writing style is so lovely and full of passion and compassion and she handles each of her topics with the same attention. There is depth to this story so please don’t expect only a fluffy Christmas romance, because there is much more to it, and I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this fact as much as I did.

FOLLOW THE BLOG TOUR:

a2bchristmas2bgift2bblog2btour2b-2boct

A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe by Debbie Johnson

 

 

39783948Publisher: Harper Collins/ HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 18th October 2018

Series: Comfort Food Cafe #5

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Cosy up at the Comfort Food Cafe for a romance that isn’t just for Christmas…

‘As cosy as a buttered crumpet’ Sunday Times bestseller Milly Johnson

Christmas has never been Katie Seddon’s favourite time of year. Whilst everyone else shares memories of families coming together and festive number ones, the soundtrack to Katie’s childhood wasn’t quite so merry.

But since she moved to the village of Budbury on the gorgeous Dorset coast, Katie and her baby son have found a new family. A family who have been brought together by life’s unexpected roads and the healing magic of a slice of cake and a cupful of kindess at the Comfort Food Café.

This year, Katie’s new friends are determined to give her a Christmas to remember, and with a gorgeous newcomer in town, Katie’s Christmas wish for a happy home for her son might just come true.

Rating: four-stars

Katie is a single mum to a little boy Saul. She moves to Budbury hoping to find peace there, to just have a simple life, far away from her childhood home and her parents’ constant fighting that outshone them the real needs of their daughter and the real sense of life. Katie doesn’t want such life for her son. Budbury is full of wonderful people that want to help each other, people who embrace Katie without asking, who accept her immediately. But can Katie leave her past behind? And can her past leave Katie behind? Is she going to find what she’s looking for in Budbury?

I really am not sure what to say more about the Comfort Food Cafe series that I haven’t already said. It is really hard to write another review about a book that you loved – and please, please, please don’t get me wrong, I could read books set in Budbury all year long – but they start to feel the same. “A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe” is a brilliant, funny, uplifting story, with beautiful characters but for me there was nothing that I haven’t come across in previous books in this series.

But. Having said that I can only admit that Debbie Johnson has written another fabulous, full of feelings and emotions story. I loved getting to know Katie and her son Saul, though I must admit that the parts where the characters from the previous books entered the scenes brought me so much more joy, especially all the surprises. Katie, I think, was not the easiest character to like – she was challenging, with her moods and blowing cold and hot but it was, of course, absolutely understandable. Already at the beginning of the story we learn about her life and to say it was turbulent would be an understatement – hence the habit of running away when the troubles come. But now Katie found her place in Budbury – didn’t she? I loved seeing Katie coming out of her shell, leaving her comfort zones, to have the guts to do something new, to perhaps start to trust again. However, when the troubles came back to literally knock on her doors, she started reverting back, packing her bags and it was incredibly sad to see. On the other hand, I think Debbie Johnson has captured here the most realistic, genuine emotions – the need to just bury your head in the sand, to repeat the old pattern because they were working, and this is what Katie’s initial thoughts were, which was really understandable. It takes a lot of courage to overcome the old habits and it was truly brilliantly described by the author, and Katie felt so genuine, and I loved it. I think she just needs a chance, so please just give her some time, you will really like her and understand her.

Of course the story touches upon many sensitive issues and Debbie Johnson proves again that she can tackle them with so much sensitivity and also humour. I also adore this overwhelming sense of familiarity, belonging and community in her books. Debbie Johnson never disappoints with her stories, and the Comfort Food Cafe series is one of the best ever. They are books that you don’t want to end, that you immediately feel like a part of the characters’ world – that doesn’t feel fictional at all and reading “A Gift from the Comfort Food Cafe” was like being back with your old friends. Really, opening this book was like stepping back into a parallel world, a world that you know is just one page away. I immediately felt comfortable, as if I’ve came back to a place where I belong, and it is a great feeling.

It was a warm and feel – good book, perfectly mixing humour, fun and poignant moments. Despite some sadness, it was full of this overwhelming feeling of happiness and content and you know what, I’d love to be a character in Johnson’s books, even if there are many challenges awaiting them because at the end they always find love, luck, come out of their shells and feel good on their own skin. It was a lovely story about friendship, letting go, finding yourself – highly recommended, even if you haven’t read the other books in the series: every single one of them is a good start.