Christmas Under a Starlit Sky by Holly Martin / Blog Tour

Hi again guys, hope your Thursdays is running very smoothly – if it is, but also if it isn’t, you can do one thing: treat yourself to a copy of “Christmas Under a Starlit Sky” by Holly Martin. It is a second book in The Town Called Christmas series, and, as usually, it is full of festive spirit, ups and downs and loveable characters. There is something magic in Holly Martin’s writing, something warm and uplifting and you can always be sure that her books will brigthen the days. So don’t hesitate, order your copy and enjoy Juniper Island!

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky by Holly Martin

 

31700615Publisher: Bookouture

Publishing Date: 19th October 2016

Series: A Town Called Christmas #2

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley  in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 252

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Step inside a beautiful winter wonderland where love, laughter and cosy nights by the fire will make this Christmas one to remember.

Neve Whitaker loves managing the Stardust Lake hotel. She gets to work alongside her wonderful family and she’s spending Christmas on the most enchanting, snow-covered island in Scotland. So why is her heart so heavy this festive season?

It might have something to do with the gorgeous actor Oakley Rey, the man she finished with before he left for California and the man she loves more than anything. With Oakley’s career in Hollywood soaring, Neve is convinced she’d only hold him back. She had to end it with him – at least that’s what she keeps telling herself.

But now she has a secret she’s struggling to keep, and when Oakley arrives on Juniper Island determined to win her back, Neve is thrown off balance. Will Neve’s fear of having her heart broken again push Oakley away for good, or is it time for her to take a leap of faith?

Get swept away by this deliciously sweet and heartwarming tale, and spend an unforgettable Christmas on Juniper Island.

Rating: 5/5

So guys, it is official now, not only is Holly Martin the real Queen of Christmas stories, but Juniper Island stays my absolutely favourite fictional setting! This picturesque island has just got under my skin and even though I am much more this person who’d rather spend her days enjoying the warmth of the sun, I’d make exception for Juniper – please, take me there any time! And the more snow, the better! The story picks up right where “Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky” ended, introducing us to a very shocked Neve seeing her ex – boyfriend arriving at the island, and this time the story focuses closely on their relationship and their will they/won’t they. In theory you could read “Christmas Under a Starlit Sky” as a stand – alone novel but I’d advice you to read the book in the right order, as there is just too much to miss!

“Christmas Under a Starlit Sky” is the perfect mix of the most beautiful Christmas spirit, drama, humour and gorgeous settings. However, I really liked the fact that this time Holly Martin put a stop to too many descriptions – don’t get me wrong, I love her descriptions, I think you could show Holly a gray stone and she would be able to write about it in the most beautiful, descriptive way, totally bringing it to life, so what I mean by saying that she put a stop to them is that she described the island and its surroundings in a very detailed way in the first book in the series, and in “Christmas Under a Starlit Sky” she focused more on characters. And apropos characters – boy, am I glad that I’ve read “Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky”, as I think I’d be a little too overwhelmed by the number of the heroes just entering the scenes – there were many of them, but all of them already known to me, so I didn’t have any problems with knowing who is why and why and what they’re doing – but, to be really honest, I think if I haven’t read the previous book, I’d be confused, as Holly didn’t explain who are all the people, which is only obvious, as we got to know them before.

I enjoyed both the storylines running in this book, this of Neve and Oakley and this of Ivy and Adam – though I have a feeling that the second was a little too chopped, too far – fetched at the moments, but of course I do understand where both of them were coming from and why such reactions. But still, I totally enjoyed the fact that Holly Martin didn’t make the romances go too smoothly, that they were not so straight – forward and that, to be honest, every outcome  was possible.

As usually, the characters were created with so much love and feeling! They were all enjoyable and full of depth and for me it is impossible not to fell for Holly Martin’s characters. They make mistakes, they often have some life – changing decisions to be made and they always feel so realistic and true to life. They are also always full of stories, and often they are heart – breaking, but with this author you can be sure one thing, that they are going to get their happy ever after after all – because they all deserve it! I adored Adam and kept my fingers crossed for him and the misunderstanding between him and Ivy made me feel so, so desperate and so, so mad, especially as I liked also Ivy, and I so, so wanted that everything would work out well for them! You know, sometimes you just know better than the characters themselves, you have the feeling that they should be together no matter what, and I had this feeling with Adam and Ivy this time. There are also some mentions of Gabe, Pip and Wren and it was lovely to see them all again, going strong. Holly just always makes it so easy to like her characters, to grow attached to them, and it is always a great joy to see them all again.  

Oakley Rey was a very macho character and I have to admit, I had some troubles to get to like him. He was just too confident for my liking, too straight – up and he behaved as if we owed him. Sure, yes, I get it, a film – star, but still, the introducing scenes where he’s just come to the island and behaved as if he was expected there, and going straight to Neve’s room were too much for me. However, quickly I started to warm to him and even if I can’t say that he’s my favourite character, I liked how hard he was on the outside and soft inside, and how he wanted to win his love back – even though it turned out to be not so easy task. However, this time, I had some issued with this love that was to be won back – Neve. I’m usually not so bothered when the characters make decisions that are controversial or are not up to my street, because why shouldn’t they, right, but Neve has reached a totally different level here, in my opinion of course. I don’t want to spoil the reading for you, so I won’t say what was it that bothered me so much, but let me just tell you that it was childish and the never – ending “sacrifices” of both sides were too much.

There was this overwhelming warmth in this story and the feeling of being welcomed and I found “Christmas Under a Starlit Sky” really unputdownable – I wanted to know how it’s going to end and how many curveballs the author is going to throw at the characters. It is a wonderful, festive romance, full of poignant and humorous moments, and it is really all what I could ask for. This story blends secrets, lies, surprises, hope, accidents, misunderstandings together and the end result is a hooking, atmospheric and down – to – earth novel with characters that you root for. I loved to be back to Juniper Island, immediately felt at home there and it was great to be back with the characters that truly felt as your best friends. There is all the time something happening, there is a lot of drama, but it is also full of happy moments. I highly recommend it – and not only to the fans of Christmas, because I am sure that everyone will find something to love about this book.

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My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood / Blog Tour

Hi guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of Nuala Ellwood’s blog tour and to present you my thoughts on her incredible, compelling debut “My Sister’s Bones”. It is a book that makes you think and it’s an unforgettable story, which for me is always a sign of a really good book! Make sure you read it when it’s out!

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My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

 

512nlbeoxwl-_sx323_bo1204203200_Publisher: Penguin

Publishing Date: 9th February 2017 (Hardcover) / 1st November 2016 (ebook)

Source:  Received, in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Thriller

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Kate Rafter is a high-flying war reporter. She’s the strong one. The one who escaped their father. Her younger sister Sally didn’t. Instead, she drinks.

But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return home. And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream.

At first Kate tells herself it’s just a nightmare. But then she hears it again. And this time she knows she’s not imagining it.

What secret is lurking in the old family home?
And is she strong enough to uncover it…and make it out alive?

 

Rating: 5/5

“My Sister’s Bones” is Nuala Ellwood’s debut novel – although I really can’t believe that it’s a debut, as it is one of the most complex, compelling and thought – provoking books that I have ever read. It was a story touching about some very present issues and the fact that the author herself comes from a family of war reporters only made the read so much more realistic. You could so easily spot that she knows what she’s writing about. But Nuala Elwood didn’t stop at showing a real picture of  Aleppo, she also added an element of a very incredibly and very well plotted mystery, which made the book even more hooking, even more complex.

It is a story about dysfunctional families – Kate’s father was an alcoholic who abused her and her mother. Her younger brother drowned when he was a baby and Kate’s father blamed Kate and her mother for this. Kate’s younger sister, then their father’s pet, now is following in his footsteps, drinking hard, and she has already driven away her own daughter that she had when she was a teenager. The sisters were never close to each other, and now, after their mother’s death, there is really nothing more that could make them feel closer and like a family.

The group of characters was incredible. I can’t say that I fell for them, that I loved them because there was something in them that made them not so easy to like. I, however, felt sympathy to them, although those feelings were jumping from person to person – I found myself trusting one of them, only to start to develop feelings of mistrust some time later and to wonder if it is really as they say. In this story full of twists and turns, secrets and lies of the worst category, incredible curveballs we got to know Kate and her background slowly, bit by bit, when she’s being questioned by a therapist at the police station, and there were surprises at almost every turn. The author has in a very realistic way brought all Kate’s anxieties and fears to life, in a great way she has shown how a mind of a PTSD person works – and it was terrifying to see it, to be honest. Kate was a very strong person but the author’s ability to pull the wool over our eyes and to play with our minds made me feel uncertain about Kate’s sanity, to be honest – I really didn’t know what I should believe in. But she felt so incredibly strong and real in her fight to keep sane.

Also Sally, Kate’s sister, was brilliantly developed and her character was not at all straight – forward. I think Nuala Ellwood didn’t create her characters to be liked by the reader, but they for sure don’t leave us indifferent – I wanted to shake Sally, there were moments that I despised her even, but I also wholly and totally fell for her later on.

It was a clever, complex and addictive read. I found myself totally engrossed in this story and I couldn’t see all the twists and turns coming, even though I was desperately trying to piece all the things together – I actually knew WHO, I guessed it relatively quickly (for my detective skills, of course) but I didn’t know why and to whom – it totally, absolutely took me by surprise, I just haven’t seen it coming, even with all those hints – because I think we can say that the author was from time to time hinting at this person. However, I just didn’t see it.

It was a disturbing, depressing story but reading it didn’t make me feel like this. Sure, I was not laughing out loud or something, oh my word, of course not, but you know how sometimes, when a book is so depressing it makes you feel exactly the same. This time though I felt anger, desperation, compassion, I truly felt like a part of the characters’ world, as if I was witnessing it with my own eyes – the author has incredible way with the words and she can perfectly get into her characters’ heads, taking us with her. You mostly really don’t know who to believe, what is real and what is a lie, and I absolutely loved this tangled web of uncertainties. The end though, in comparison to the whole book, was much faster, things happened there almost with the speed of light, and in comparison to it the whole book feels much slower.

The author has written a truly though – provoking and controversial story and if you have a chance to read it, do not hesitate – it is clever and compelling, a thriller with a difference. Yes, it is not the easiest read, there are some really dark and depressing issues touched upon in it, such as the war in Syria and the situation of the refugees, or, closer home, mental terror, blackmail, alcoholism, domestic abuse, and I probably read it in the right moment in my life, because I think you really need to be in a right mood to appreciate it. However, I think you won’t want to miss it, as it’s a great page – turner, an emotional rollercoaster of a journey, full of shocking revelations. “My Sister’s Bones” is  about love and hate, loss, forgiveness and families, with a very – VERY – good plot full of things that I haven’t seen coming, not in a million years. Hats off to the author for not only writing about Syria but also for the great research on how PTSD can impact an individual person who experienced an indescribable trauma. It kept me on my toes all the time and I really didn’t know where it was going. The writing was very realistic and easy to follow and the brilliantly developed characters just got under my skin. Highly, highly recommended!

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