The Escape by Clare Harvey / Blog Tour

The Escape by Clare Harvey

 

 

41519370Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A compelling wartime drama for fans of Lucinda Riley, Rachel Hore and Katherine Webb

Clara works as a translator for a Nazi-run labour camp for French workers. One winter morning in early 1945, Clara passes a group of exhausted British prisoners of war who are being force-marched westwards. The following day she receives an urgent message to contact the local priest. He is harbouring a group of escaped British prisoners of war in the manse: can she help?

London, 1989.  Monica is a 19-year old photography student in London, in thrall to her older boyfriend, a journalist called Quill. In November the fall of the Berlin Wall is all over the news. Quill asks Monica to come with him to Germany: before they leave, Monica’s grandmother gives her an old postcard of the village she was born in. Monica hopes that working together in Berlin will help cement the cracks in her relationship with Quill, but one night his behaviour spills over into violence, and Monica ends up fleeing through the rubble of the Berlin wall and into the East. As she travels further, she begins to suspect she’s being followed by the Stasi. If she goes on, she worries that she’ll be taken into custody and be accused of spying; if she turns back, it means returning to Quill.

At last her grandmother’s photograph offers the solution. She tells people that she is going to find her family in the East. The Catholic church, and the manse, opposite where her grandmother once lived, are still standing. And the secrets of the past begin to be revealed.

my-review

“The Escape” by Clare Harvey follows two different timelines and two women, sharing a history. Detta lives in a small village in Germany. The war is coming to an end and the Russian Army is on their way – to free people, but also it is rumoured they’re cruel and nothing and nobody is safe from them. One day, Detta passes a group of force – marched British prisoners. The following day, her help is needed – a day that is going to change her life for ever.
Miranda is a photography student and finds herself in Berlin in 1989 at the Wall fall. A granddaughter of Detta, she finds an old postcard of the village where her grandmother was born. Detta sends her on a mission there but Miranda is in danger – as she flees from an abusive relationship into the east, she starts to suspect she’s being followed by the Stasi. Why? Is she going to be able to help her grandmother?

This novel was brilliantly written and researched. The author can so incredibly well capture all the feelings and emotions, especially in those parts that take place during the war – fear, uncertainty, not knowing what’s going to happen and what the future brings, they’re all so very well written. While the times of the Berlin Wall fall are not so much in my area of interest, I’m always happy to read books set during the World War II, and even more gladly when there is Poland as setting involved. “The Escape” is mostly set in Germany, in and around Berlin, a little town in Poland also plays crucial role in it. It focuses on very dark and sad period of time in our history, and truly, the descriptions were heart – wrenching and tugging at the heart – strings, but this book is also full of hope and not at all depressing. It is moving, yes, but the author has managed, despite the topic being a serious and difficult one, to make it light and also uplifting.

This book was a slow burner. A very slow burner, and I’ve already found myself really irritated a few times, waiting for it to eventually kick off, for the story to finally start rolling. I’ll be honest with you – if I weren’t reading this novel for a blog tour, I’d most certainly put it away. It was only around the middle, after Miranda started searching and Detta’s story began to unravel, that I found myself glued to the pages, racing through them, desperate to see what has happened. I’d much more liked Detta’s plot to this of Miranda – I understand, after reading the author’s guest post on research, why Miranda was needed, she was like a significant tool to Detta, but I somehow couldn’t warm to her and to her story. I just felt there is no connection between us and also, she could be more fleshed out for my liking. Detta, however, was another story. There was a depth to her and she had really something to tell, and her tale was heart – breaking, full of loss but also hope. Sure, Miranda’s story was also interesting – the war is over but is there peace at all? As the two narratives interweave, the plot slowly starts to unravel, and there is a real sense of uncertainty, tension, of not knowing what’s going to happen and what has happened in Detta’s past.

Altogether, “The Escape” was a thought – provoking tale, full of questions what if and what would you do, how would you behave. It’s full of moral lessons without being patronising and the authors handles all the topics with care and gentleness. It was sensitive and compelling, and beautifully written and, as it was my first book by Clare Harvey, I’m already looking forward to read her previous novels, because “The Escape” was a great enough piece of historical fiction. Recommended.

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Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey / Blog Tour

Whistle in the Dark by Emma Healey

 

40099420Publisher: Viking

Publishing Date: 10th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

In the award-winning Elizabeth is Missing debut novelist Emma Healey explored grandmother Maud’s attempt to solve a 70-year-old mystery as she succumbed to dementia.

Now, in her dazzling follow-up Whistle in the Dark, we meet Jen, mother to 15-year-old Lana – who has just been found after going missing for four desperate days. Lana can’t talk about the missing days. As her daughter’s life falls apart, Jen turns detective to discover what happened . . .

How do you rescue someone who has already been found?

Jen’s fifteen-year-old daughter goes missing for four agonizing days. When Lana is found, unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police think the case is closed. The once-happy, loving family returns to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school, and sleeping with the light on.
With her daughter increasingly becoming a stranger, Jen is sure the answer lies in those four missing days. But will Lana ever reveal what happened?

my-review

Jen Maddox is on holiday with her fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, when Lana goes missing. Four days later she’s found. It seems that nothing really bad has happened – she’s exhausted but there are no signs of violence. However, Lana insists she has no memory of whatever has happened and refuses to talk about it any more. Lana, together with her mother Jen, returns home to London. Jen tries to resume the normal family life but it turns out that it’s easier said than done – she simply needs to understand what has happened, why Lana went missing, what is happening with her younger daughter. She and her husband Hugh are loving parents of Lana and her older sister, they are a normal family, so why does she feel that she let her daughter down as a mother?

What I loved in this book so much was the relationship between Jen and Hugh. And also their characters, even with Jen’s paranoia and her desire to please Lana in every aspect of their lives – but I think this is the way mothers work, no matter what’s happening. Hugh being the laid – back one was perfectly complementing Jen’s parenting ways. They were so great around each other, there was the lovely easiness between them and it was crystal clear that they are the perfect couple.

I was incredibly grateful for the character of Meg, Jen and Hugh’s eldest daughter. She’s pregnant with her first child and she lives on her own but her occasional visits to her family home were the best moments probably. She was down – to – earth and she’s seen things how they were, and I think I simply needed it in the paranoid world of Jen’s and Lana’s depression and moods. Meg seemed to be the only one who was able to see through Lana, to deliver some home truths, to tell her sister some sharper words, and I think Lana deserved it, because, to be absolutely honest, I was not so convinced about her and this whole depression. I don’t know. I couldn’t put my finger on Lana. But we must appreciate the fact that Lana, mostly seen through her mum’s eyes, WAS an interesting, complex and complicated character, clever and with a sense of humour.
Under the mystery of Lana’s disappearance, I think that the main issue of this book was, in fact, Jen’s insecurity to fail as a mother. She was desperate to do everything as best as she could, to be accepted by her younger daughter, and respected as well, and as much as it made me feel angry towards Lana, with the way she has treated her mother, the way she behaved, I could understand Jen’s needs.

This novel was a real slow – burner, so be prepared. There is not much happening action – wise, but as it is a very character – driven book you’re going to receive brilliant, fleshed – out, relatable characters. Also the way Emma Healey writes about parenting, about all the emotional upheavals, challenges and emotions is very realistic and it rings the bell, as so many of her observations and insights are genuine and true. It was not the easiest read, it was too slow and too often it felt repetitive, recycling the same idea over and over again to be honest, but one that will for sure make you think. I also wasn’t sure how to feel about the end but, in retrospection, I think it was probably the only realistic, possible one. It’s not a twist that is going to change your life and make you go all wow, but it is suitable and I liked that Jen has got her closure – she really deserved it! So altogether, “Whistle in the Dark” is a brilliantly observed, humorous and poignant book about parenting, a brilliant mix of fear, family life and dynamics, insecurity. It’s Intriguing and clever, a real read with difference.

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The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup / Blog Tour

The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

 

40232719Publisher: Penguin – Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 10th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 512

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 05.09.2019)

 

Synopsis:

A NAIL-BITINGLY THRILLING CRIME NOVEL FROM THE SCRIPT WRITER BEHIND THE KILLING

Rosa Hartung is returning to her job as Minister for Social Affairs, a year since the disappearance of her twelve year-old daughter. Linus Berger, a mentally ill young man, confessed to her killing, but can’t remember where he buried her dismembered corpse.

That day a young single mother is found murdered at her home in the suburbs of Copenhagen – she’s been tortured, and one hand has been cut off. Thulin and Hess, sent to investigate the crime, arrive to find a chestnut figure hanging from a playhouse nearby.

When yet another woman is murdered, and another chestnut figure is found, Thulin and Hess begin to suspect that there’s a connection between the Hartung case and the murdered women.

Thulin and Hess are drawn into a race against time, as the murderer is on a mission that is far from over . . .

Rating: five-stars

“The Chestnut Man” introduces us to Naia Thulin and Mark Hess, two detectives in Homicide’s Murder Squad, trying to solve the mystery of Laura Kjaer’s murder. It doesn’t look like it is a beginning to a series, and that it will eventually lead to a disappearance of Rosa Hartung’s, Minister of Social Affairs, young daughter. The girl’s killer has been caught, but as Thulin and Hess start to dig deeper, his testimony simply doesn’t make sense. And moreover, in the place of Laura Kjaer’s murder they find a figure made of chestnuts with an evidence linking it to Rosa’s daughter Kristine. As further murders occur, with a similar pattern and more chestnut men with Kristine’s fingerprints on them, the race against time begins – are Thulin and Hess going to solve the case on time?

So, there was the best opening ever in this book. I was actually afraid that I’m not going to be able to read it, judging on the opening, on the awful, gory details but I just couldn’t stop reading. There was something in this book that kept me glued to the pages, and even though I’m a little softie when it comes to crime scenes, and if the children are involved, all the descriptions didn’t dishearten me.

Almost every chapter – and there were 130 of them, bear with me! – introduced us to a new character. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but there were tons of characters in this book and it was simply impossible to keep track on all of them, and I quickly decided that I’m not even going to try, even though I couldn’t be sure who’s important and who’s not. However, the few main characters are the most important, although all of them, even the background ones, are really well developed and fleshed out. You can’t help but be wary with all of them, as you don’t know whom you can trust. And I really felt involved in the characters’ lives. Naia Thulin feels unchallenged at her job (that is, until the chestnut man case arrives!) and wants to transfer to NC3 (National Cyber Crime Centre). She’s a single mother to Le. Mark Hess is a bit of enigma but there was much more to him than met the eye. He’s been pushed out of Europol because of some issues and finds himself back again in Denmark, on the case with Thulin – though it’s obvious he doesn’t want to be there (that is, until they find the connection to Kristine’s case and he starts to put two and two together). But their partnership was really sparkling and they were completing each other. Their characters develop throughout the story.

Yes, of course, one could say this book was full of clichés. We have here your usual detectives couple: the clever young girl who, despite her lack of experience, is your top girl, single mother and with great ambitions. The laid – back detective with unresolved issues, discredited, with a tragic past, forced to leave Europol, scruffy and harsh but with a heart made of gold. They make a lot of mistakes and also decisions they really shouldn’t make by themselves, the killer is always one step ahead of them, the colleagues are more interested in their own careers and vendettas etc, etc . But it didn’t bother me and it didn’t take away from the story. I was totally drawn to it, I’ve breathed and lived it and I told anyone that was in my vicinity and wanted something from me to simply go away because this book is so good.

Now, guys, I’ve guessed the culprit. I can tell you exactly what page it was that gave me the tip that made me feel so sure but I’m not going, oh no. However, it didn’t make me feel smug or whatever, no, it made me race through the pages even faster as I desperately wanted to know why – what was the reason, how deep did it sit in their soul, what turned them into a killing monster.

It was an addictive and captivating Scandi – Noir, brutal psychological thriller, very realistic and very sharp and very complex. It was dark and bleak and grimy and so incredibly absorbing. It was a chilling, disturbing and gripping debut novel, full of tension and suspense and the feeling that something is going to happen, that it’s not enough, that something is lurking around the corner – the atmosphere was really well captured. Haunting and truly unforgettable. The writing style was so chilling and so down to earth, yet it simply sucks you in. The author has an ability to write gruesome scenes that will make you feel unsettled. The last part of the book felt much more faster as the first two – thirds, a lot happened then and there and maybe in comparison it should be a little slower. But altogether, “The Chestnut Man” was an exciting and fast – paced book, and the short chapters made it even more pacy, and they were full of twists and turns and cliffhangers that make you hold your breath and lead to a satisfying conclusion. I personally absolutely loved it – highly recommended!

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Tell Me a Secret by Jane Fallon / Blog Tour

Tell Me a Secret by Jane Fallon

 

41946727Publisher: Penguin – Michael Joseph

Publishing Date: 10th January 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 416

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

**The million copy bestselling author of Faking Friends and My Sweet Revenge is back – pre-order now!**

Holly and Roz spend most of their days together. They like the same jokes, loathe the same people and tell each other everything.

So when single mum Holly gets a shot at her dream job after putting everything on hold to raise her daughter, she assumes her friend will be dying to pop the champagne with her.

But is she just imagining things, or is Roz not quite as happy for her as she should be?

As Holly starts to take a closer look at Roz’s life outside their friendship, she begins to discover a few things that don’t add up. Who is the woman who claims to be her ally?

Perhaps it was a mistake to tell Roz all her secrets.

Because it takes two to forge a friendship.

But it only takes one to wage a war . . .

Rating: five-stars

 

Holly has always prioritised her little family so when, after years, she gets her dream job on a popular TV soap she’s over the moon, and also determined to pass the probation period, to prove that she’s really the right person in the right place. But quickly it turns out that not everyone in the office agree with her promotion, as a not a very subtle campaign full of sabotage and accidents takes place. Holly is in shock and taken aback – who is behind this all? She tries to unveil who the person is, but in the meantime she must be prepared for a life full of twists and turns, sometimes better than in the soap opera she’s working on.

The characters were absolutely brilliant. Not only Holly, but also the side characters that were so well developed and fleshed out. Jane Fallon is perfect when it comes to capturing people’s characters, their personalities and mentalities, and she’s a real queen of revenge novels, guys. The characters always feel realistic, they are engaging and genuine, and the way she writes about friendship dynamics is absolutely brilliant, as she isn’t shy of stirring things up and complicating them. She’s a great and sharp observer of everyday interactions and she can brilliantly transfer them onto the pages of her novels. Holly was so human, with all her insecurities, and the need to prove herself that she’s got the promotion rightly and so she puts herself under a lot of pressure. I can only guess how weird and difficult it must have been for her, suddenly managing people that she used to work with and who are now to report to her but I think she really did her best, even though it couldn’t have been an easy task, especially with all the back – stabbing and the uncertainty of what’s going to happen yet. I really loved to see her growing in confidence, it was the best thing to see. It was also refreshing to see Holly as a single woman, not looking after a romance or a man that she could relay on – she didn’t need it, she had her best friend Dee, and I loved their interactions and how far would Dee go to help Holly.
But I also think we shouldn’t demonize the other character, the one that sabotaged Holly. Of course our sympathy is on Holly’s side, there is no other option, but I think we should also stop for a moment and think what was it that made her act like this, to put people so down. And this also what I so love in Jane Fallon’s novels, the diversity, the way she is able to portray different types of friendship! There is the perfect mix of characters that we love and we love to hate.

This book follows the Jane Fallon’s proven formula and guys, it turns out I could read the books like that over and over again, it doesn’t grow old or boring for me. Though, in my opinion, this novel is not as bitchy and as sharp as the previous books. It’s not a criticism, oh no, it’s just my simple opinion, I am used to much more trouble, fret and paperchase. Also, in the previous books we were not directly told who is the frenemy and here we actually know from the very beginning who’s sabotaging Holly, the question is now – why. But – just as with Ms Fallon’s previous books I was so close to put this book down because I simply couldn’t take the tension! This is why I don’t watch films – because I can’t stand sitting here and not being able to do anything, and it is the same with “Tell Me a Secret”. You’ve no idea how much I wanted to punish the character in question, and I’m usually really a very peaceful person, so that’s saying something, that my blood was boiling and I so wanted her to happen to slip up eventually. Sure, there were things that were perhaps happening too convenient, and right people in the right places so that the plot could flow seamlessly towards the happy end, but honestly, it didn’t bother me.

I do love a Jane Fallon novel, that’s not a secret, and “Tell Me a Secret” was a light – hearted, entertaining novel, full of intrigue and hidden depth. There is the safe and proved Fallon’s trademark that explores the themes of friendship, rivalry, betrayal, jealousy and deception, and it’s sometimes so refreshing to read a book without a romance in it. It explores toxic friendships in such an eye – opening way, with all its ups and downs. It was, just like all the other Fallon’s books, a fast – paced and addictive read that made my heart go faster and me to clench my fists. It was a complex, thought – provoking and clever read, very well developed and written in this brilliant, sharp writing style. Even though it’s pretty sure who the “bad one” is, there are moments that I started to doubt myself, and started to suspect everybody, that I was wondering perhaps they are all involved? The author knows how to complicate the things, how to pool wool over our eyes. Highly recommended!

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Cuckoo by Sophie Draper / Blog Tour

Cuckoo by Sophie Draper

 

41061962Publisher: Avon

Publishing Date: 29th November 2018

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

Number of pages: 297

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

’Spooky and absorbing. I was gripped from the first page!’ CASS GREEN

There’s a stranger in your house…

When her stepmother dies unexpectedly, Caro returns to her childhood home in Derbyshire. She hadn’t seen Elizabeth in years, but the remote farmhouse offers refuge from a bad relationship, and a chance to start again.

But going through Elizabeth’s belongings unearths memories Caro would rather stay buried. In particular, the story her stepmother would tell her, about two little girls and the terrible thing they do.

As heavy snow traps Caro in the village, where her neighbours stare and whisper, Caro is forced to question why Elizabeth hated her so much, and what she was hiding. But does she really want to uncover the truth?

A haunting and twisty story about the lies we tell those closest to us, perfect for fans of Ruth Ware and Cass Green.

my-review

Caro, after the death of her mother and then father, has been raised by her stepmother. They’ve never seen eye to eye, so when after her death Caro finds out that she – together with her sister with whom she had grown apart – has inherited the house, she’s surprised. Even more so when her sister relinquishes the inheritance. Recently separated from a boyfriend, and with job as an illustrator that she can do everywhere, Caro decides to take on the task of clearing the house out, while waiting for the probate to clear. Soon strange things begin to happen at the house, and Caro starts to ask herself what’s happening. She also finds things that she doesn’t remember from her childhood, photos and different things that make her start to wonder why can’t she remember so much from her childhood? Why did Elizabeth hate her so much?

The author managed to capture the creepy, chilling atmosphere however there was no tension for me. It started in a great way, intriguing and full of questions, the odd things happening at the house Caro was staying at were intriguing at the beginning but quickly it dramatically slowed down, the things started to feel repetitive and not so dramatic, and yes, the author’s writing is very descriptive and vivid but I could live without reading about every single detail of the house, or the town – there was no progress to the story. And so I started to skim – reading: firstly because the pace was much too slow for my liking, and secondly, because I desperately wanted to arrive at the final twist that so many of the reviewers rave about. And when it happened… Well, guys, what shall I say, I’ve guessed it already long ago. I was of course hoping till the last moment that it wouldn’t finish in such obvious way, but well, it did.

I couldn’t put my finger on the main character. I suppose I should have compassion with her, fell for her but I simply couldn’t understand her actions. She seemed to be very naive and to make every mistake possible, and to make any bad choice possible. Yes, usually characters that have flaws feel much more realistic but not Caro, and moreover, she didn’t learn by her own mistakes. While sometimes it could make you, the reader, feel compassion, maybe understanding, for me it was just frustrating. She never tried to overcome her problems and fear, she just went with the flow, agreeing to everything that was happening in her life. Laptop suddenly gone? Oh well, it simply happens, right? The end left me thinking if Carol really did get her “happy end” or if she was too gullible to see the real intensions of Craig, or what were his intentions, to be honest.

The setting of the house, creepy, old and solitary, out of a small town, with unfriendly neighbours, in the middle of winter, snowed in couldn’t be better. But the potential in this simply hasn’t been taken.

It’s not that I didn’t like this book but I also didn’t love it. There was a great potential to it and it pained me to see that it wasn’t utilised. The turns and twists were there, and the author tried to make them unpredictable and unique. There is the constant feeling of isolation and that something is going to happen which is necessary in this kind of books. I think that the problem is with me, and I’m guessing that if I haven’t been reading so many books in this genre, I’d enjoyed “Cuckoo” much more. So if you’re into a slow – paced creepy story about abused and neglected child, about family secrets, about hate and revenge with a ting of gothic to it simply try this novel.

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25 Days ’til Christmas by Poppy Alexander / Blog Tour

25 Days ’til Christmas by Poppy Alexander

 

cover150320-mediumPublisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 1st November 2018

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

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Christmas is a time to get together…

Kate Thompson used to love Christmas. But that was before her husband went away with the army and didn’t come home. Now she can hardly stand the festive season.

But Kate knows there is more to life than this, and her son Jack needs a Christmas to remember. What she needs is a Christmas miracle, and if there isn’t one on its way, she’ll just have to make her own.

So begins Kate’s advent countdown to the best Christmas ever. She has it all planned out, but you can’t plan for the unexpected, and when her life starts to unravel can her friends and the community around her help her save Christmas for all of them…?

Curl up and countdown to Christmas with a heart-warming festive romance, perfect for fans of Jenny Colgan, Debbie Johnson, and Holly Martin.

Rating: five-stars

Kate Thompson hates Christmas, since her husband was killed four years ago during his service abroad as a soldier. However, her son Jack is desperate to have a lovely Christmas, with a tree and presents. Kate, struggling financially and emotionally, doesn’t know what to do and how to do this. She’s stuck at a low paid job, now she must also sell Christmas trees dressed as an elf and freezing and is not sure what the future is going to bring. Her friend comes up with an idea of doing a special advent calendar with a festive activity to do together for every day in the countdown to Christmas.
Daniel is not looking towards Christmas after the death of his sister. He used to buy Christmas trees from Kate and he knows only as Christmas tree girl. They start to bump into each other more and more and soon realises there is much more to Kate than meets the eye. But Kate’s life is really complicated – can she cope? Will she cope? Can somebody help her?

Kate was a great leading character – there were so many challenges on her way, her life was so demanding and yet she more than often put others above herself. Struggling with money, with being a single mum, she was a realistic, genuine character. It was beautiful and also heart – breaking to see how much she tried to organize the unforgettable Christmas for her son and how far she’s go to guard him. The idea of Kate creating the advent calendar for Jack and making the time so special for her and her little boy was brilliant. The Christmassy things that they were supposed to do in the countdown to Christmas were so nice and so different to everything that we’re used to, and now I really feel like preparing something like this for my family.

The pace in this story was just spot on, and there were many things happening, and the book itself brings together threads of different characters. The chapters are more or less a countdown to Christmas – it is a second book in the last weeks that I’ve read written this way, though they were both absolutely different in style and voice but this way worked great in both of them. I loved how it shows that Christmas is not only about commerce and presents but about what it really is that counts – family, friendship, helping each other, appreciating what we have. It was a real rollercoaster journey, full of ups and downs, filled with feelings and emotions. It tugs at all the right heart – strings, it’s this kind of book that’ll make you smile and cry, that is poignant and uplifting. The author has in such a gentle, subtle way dealt with so many tough and heavy issues and there was the overwhelming festive spirit. She has touched upon different things, some of which I don’t often read about, and it was truly great, thought – provoking and eye – opening. Poppy Alexander is for sure an author to have on your radar, I’m already waiting for her next offering. Highly recommended!

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The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson / Blog Tour

The Mother of All Christmases by Milly Johnson

 

40200649Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 15th November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 528

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Eve Glace – co-owner of Winterworld – is pregnant.  This sends the whole of the theme park into baby mania, especially as the baby’s due date is 25th December. But their joy is soured by the fact it appears someone is trying to sabotage the Christmas celebrations.

Annie Pandoro and her husband Joe own a small Christmas cracker factory, are well set up and happy together despite life never blessing them with a much-wanted child.  Now, Annie thinks she is going through the menopause and any vestige of hope has been extinguished.

Palma Collins has agreed to act as a surrogate, hoping the money will give her a helping hand out of the gutter in which she finds herself.  But when the couple split up just after she finds out she is pregnant, she is left carrying a baby she never wanted in the first place.

Annie, Palma and Eve all meet at the ‘Pudding Club’, a new directive started by a forward-thinking young doctor, who was Palma’s first love at school.  Though their lives have gone in very different directions, will this group help each other to find happiness and peace as Christmas approaches?

Rating: five-stars

“The Mother of all Christmases” by Milly Johnson – when you read this book you’ll appreciate how adequate this title is! – follows stories of three very different women, Palma, Eve and Annie. Palma is the one from the wrong side of the town and with a painful past and finds herself in a very difficult situation. Because of her financial troubles she agrees to become a surrogate for a couple who can’t have children. Eve and her husband Jacques run the Christmas themed Winterworld park and are up to their noses with organizing things. Eve knows her husband want a baby with his all heart and well, she doesn’t say no as well, but there is never the right moment for a baby, right? And Annie and her husband Joe, who run a cracker company have been desperate for a baby all their life but it just never happened. There were failed IVFs, a failed adoption and well, they came to terms with the fact that it’s only the two of them. Until it turns out that it’s not the menopause Annie thinks it is.
The three women meet at the Christmas Pudding Club, a club for pregnant women, and they hit it off immediately – their friendship start and they go together through happy and hard times, and there are going to be plenty of those for them.

I don’t know how Milly Johnson does it but each and every book of hers is simply brilliant – she for sure keeps her standard high, and “The Mother of all Christmases” is another cracker (pun intended) from this author. This book was so full of surprising moments, there were twists that I haven’t seen coming and that broke my heart more than once, but then mended it again. It made me cry ugly tears and it made me laugh out loud. It was clever, poignant, uplifting and simply beautiful.

What I found so brilliant and clever was the fact that we already know some of the characters in the book, and not only this, but also The Daily Trumpet, with all its hilarious spelling errors is back. Eve and Winterworld we’ve got to know in “A Winter’s Flame”, as well as some other characters and places from Milly’s previous books and it was so nice to be back with them, to see what’s happened to them and how they’re doing.
However, no worries, it is absolutely a stand – alone novel! But it’ll only make you wish you had read the other books as well, so be prepared, and maybe have the books on pre – order already, if not at your side already.

There are relatively many characters being introduced to us in this book but I coped! Actually, very easily. I had no problems to quickly get who is who, why and to whom they belong. All the characters tell their own, beautiful, sometimes very poignant, stories. The female leading characters Palma, Annie and Eve, even though they don’t know each other yet, have one thing in common – they’re all find themselves pregnant. It took some time for all of them to realize that they’re pregnant, especially in Eve’s case, and yes, she made me feel desperate at the fact that she didn’t notice/didn’t want to notice things that were obvious but well, she had her reasons. All the pregnancies were different – one that might be considered a controversial one, then a very unexpected one, and one simply a nice surprise. I loved all of the three characters though, probably not surprisingly, my heart went to Palma. Her story was so heart – breaking and it will probably stay with me for a very long time yet.
And I must mention one of the male characters – Tom. Guys, he was Mr. Perfect. Milly Johnson has so brilliantly captured the essence of him and has made him, a boxer, so human and so vulnerable, and the things he said to Palma… well, if somebody told me such things I’d print them, put them in frames and hang them on the wall.
The thing with Milly Johnson is that, even if it’s crystal clear that she herself loves her own characters, she gives them all her whole heart and soul, and she makes their lives happy and lets them look optimistically into their futures – then bang, and something happens. Something unexpected, something that turns their worlds upside down. There is actually a tension detectable through the pages, I personally couldn’t shake off the feeling that something bad is going to happen, and I kept everything crossed that it won’t happen. It doesn’t happen often that I’m so deeply involved in the characters and their lives, but in this book I actually lived and experienced things together with them, I fell for them and I couldn’t bear the thought that something could go wrong for them.

“The Mother of all Christmases” deals with many issues, some of them lighter, some heavier, and with Milly Johnson’s writing that is full of heart you’ll find yourself laughing, crying, smiling and laughing again. It is truly Milly Johnson at her best. She deals with the stuff that life throws at her characters in such a down – to – earth, casual way, she’s not afraid of throwing many challenges at her characters, of making their lives complicated and difficult. It is so well written, so full of events and there is not a single flat moment, the story is just flowing and you together with it. It was a story about friendship, sisterhood, loss, love, grief, relationships, second chances and many other things, beautifully and seamlessly binding all the threads and events together. It didn’t feel too overloaded, the pace was perfect and you’ll quickly find yourself engaged in the characters’ lives. Highly recommended!

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