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 Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

 

cover145117-mediumPublisher: Harper Collins

Publishing Date: 24th January 2019

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

Number of pages: 394

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 19.09.2019)

 

Synopsis:

Everyone’s invited…everyone’s a suspect…

For fans of Ruth Ware and Tana French, a shivery, atmospheric, page-turning novel of psychological suspense in the tradition of Agatha Christie, in which a group of old college friends are snowed in at a hunting lodge . . . and murder and mayhem ensue.

All of them are friends. One of them is a killer.

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

They arrive on December 30th, just before a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world.

Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

Keep your friends close, the old adage goes. But just how close is too close?

Rating: three-stars

 

“The Hunting Party” – and what a phenomenal title this is! – introduces us to a group of thirty – something close friends from Oxford University, who, after their degrees, stayed in touch and made it a tradition to spend time together. This time they gather over the New Year period at a secluded lodge in Scottish Highlands. On New Year’s Day though, the manager of the estate and the gamekeeper discover that one of the guests is missing and is then found dead. It quickly becomes clear that it was not an accident, that a murder has been committed. The place is closed off the world because of the snowstorms, the police can’t arrive and there is a killer among the guests – what’s going to happen now? Are they save?

I’ve been keeping seeing “The Hunting Party” everywhere, guys, everywhere, and well, yes, this whole hype made me desperate to read this book. Add to this the brilliant, chilling premise and I thought, yes, it’s going to be THIS read. Yes, I’m rather careful with books being advertised in such a way because I am always scared that they’re not going to live up to my expectations, as I think that you can expect something really amazing from them but as lately I’ve been rather lucky and so I started to read this book without any trepidation.
And I kept reading, kept reading and reading, finished the book and thought, and? Is this it? Where is the wow? Sadly, it didn’t take me by surprise. Sadly, I didn’t love it as much as I thought I’m going to. There were all the signals it could be a brilliant read. The setting for example, could you imagine a better setting for a psychological thriller than this remote and desolate exclusive hunting lodge, snowed in, next to a loch somewhere deep in Scottish Highlands? Brilliant, no? Also the way it was written, starting with the information that one of the guest has been found murdered, and then going back and forth over the few days revealing all the facts, interactions and dynamics between the characters should make it tense and on the edge, don’t you think? But then came the characters, and as this story was very character – driven they were the make or break of the book. For me, unfortunately, the break. In the end I simply couldn’t care less who’s been murdered and why because all of them somehow deserved this fate and they simply wasn’t worth saving. We have Emma, a relative newbie to the group and hence desperate to prove that she deserves to be their friend, to fit in, Mark’s girlfriend, and who has organized the trip this time. Mark turns out to be a little on the aggressive side – not that he’s aggressive towards Emma but there is this dark side to him. Miranda is the most beautiful, the most attention seeking, the most popular among the group, though she’s also probably the most spoiled and unpleasant but together with Julian, the good looking and successful one they seem to make the perfect power couple. Samira and Giles are married and arrive with their 6 – months – old daughter Priya, though you can’t tell more about them, to be honest, except that they seem to not coping too well with being newly parents. Nick has been in a long – term relationship with Bo, who has a history of being a drug – addict. And the only single among them, the power London lawyer Katie, who’s hiding a secret and has been Miranda’s best friend since schooldays, but recently they don’t see each other too often. There is also the addiction of the other guest at the lodge, two Icelanders, and of course we have Heather, the manager, with her own dramas and traumas, and Doug, the gamekeeper, an ex – marine, suffering from PTSD. Interesting group, no? Well, not so. And between the partying, hunting, drinking and drugs it quickly becomes clear that perhaps they aren’t as close – knit as we were supposed to think, and more and more secrets and lies come to light. Until the day when one of the guest is found dead. Murdered.

I am very, very sad that this story didn’t deliver for me. The pace of the book was slowed down by the very detailed descriptions of the lodge, the place, the food and clothes which – of course very vivid and almost poetically written – didn’t add much to the main plot. Also, maybe because of the writing style, I found it a little disengaging and cold. Whilst I absolutely loved the setting and the brilliantly captured, chilling atmosphere it was still too little to save the book for me, to make me emotionally involved. This dual timeline was also brilliantly written by the author, she didn’t give too much and yet tried to whet my appetite to find out what has happened, and it would work if it weren’t for this group of those petty characters. However, “The Hunting Party” was brilliantly observant. The author explores the dynamics of friendship, digs deep into them, revealing what’s really hidden under the surface – all the murky, dark secrets and lies. Lucy Folley has an incredible talent to capture all the details and nuances and the chilling atmosphere full of uncertainty and insecurity. So if you’re into reading about dysfunctional group of characters, into some mystery and psychological games this is a book for you.

 

Love Heart Lane by Christie Barlow

Love Heart Lane by Christie Barlow

 

cover150410-mediumPublisher: HarperImpulse

Publishing Date: 11th January 2019

Series: Love Heart Lane #1

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

Number of pages:

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to Love Heart Lane…

When Flick Simons returns to the small village of Heartcross she only expected to stay for a few days. The white-washed cottages of Love Heart Lane might be her home, but the place holds too many painful memories, and of one man in particular – Fergus Campbell.

When a winter storm sweeps in, the only bridge connecting the village to the main land is swept away! As the villagers pull together, Flick finds herself welcomed back by the friends she once left behind. And as the snow begins to melt, maybe there is a chance that Fergus’s heart will thaw too…

Rating: three-stars

Felicity Simons returns home to the Scottish Highlands after 8 years. Her departure was, in retrospect, very sudden and she burned a few bridges, to be honest. So it’s not a wonder that her return, that was prompted by her beloved grandma’s death, is not very welcome, especially by the one person that she cares about – and it’s the person she’s broken his heart. Felicity has a lot of fences to mend, especially with her friends, who couldn’t understand why she didn’t stay in touch with them. Being back, Felicity quickly realises that her hearts belong again to Heartcross. But will she be given a second chance?

There is a lot happening in Love Heart Lane for such a small place but I adored this village. The setting was beautifully idyllic but also dangerous, and so different. I’ve been reading the book at the same time when here, not far from where I live, there were incredibly heavy snowfalls, and the catastrophe alarm has already been introduced, so it was easy to imagine how Love Heart Lane looked like.

There is a whole cats of characters in the novel, and they are all lovely, warm and welcoming, probably sometimes too lovely, the small conflicts and misunderstandings weren’t too twisty. But the author for sure knows how to bring them all to life, and she brilliantly described how easily they all pulled together at the time of crisis. And I really liked the gang, the way their friendship survived, the way how they were around each other.

It was an absolutely lovely, nice read guys, that started in such a brilliant way. I thought, yes, I’m really into something great. And it was still an absolutely lovely, nice read until we reached the moment with the bridge. As of this moment I couldn’t stand Felicity. I know she was the main character but I had a feeling that every second word is either Felicity or Flick. Felicity this, Flick that. And of course Felicity was everywhere and she was able to do anything, starting with helping by the labour, through being chosen unanimously as a spokesperson for the village, finding Esme (of course!!!), finding herself in all the crucial moments in the right places and organizing everything smoothly and hassle – free. Well, I think I could take it but not the way she was crowding Fergus and his family – because it felt like this. I was wondering, hell, woman, who has given you the right to act like this? To decide over Fergus’s will? To impose yourself? To not give him a choice? Those things simply annoyed me, spoiled the book for me and made me not to really care about the characters and what’s going to happen. It was also impossible not to spot what was in the heart of the book: community, because it was also mentioned on every second page. I love books where the community feeling is so brilliantly overwhelming, where people support each other, but I also like to deduce it by myself, I don’t need to have it all the time mentioned. But yes, I liked how close knit the villagers were and how the pub and the tea shop were the places to be, to meet and to enjoy the company.

So really, if it weren’t for Felicity, I think I would totally adore this book. Shame. However, I am in minority here, guys, as all the other reviewers are RAVING about this book, so no matter what please do not feel put out by me and simply read this novel. It’s light – hearted and fast – paced and if you’re like this kind of read it’ll give you the warm fuzzies. The narrative flows and it’s very easy to read. And the cover is simply gorgeous! It deserves a standing ovation.

 

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

Christmas at the Beach Hut by Veronica Henry

 

40917823Publisher: Orion

Publishing Date: 15th November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

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

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

When Lizzy writes her annual Round Robin to send out with her Christmas cards, she realises it’s all about the rest of her family. Fed up and exhausted by yet another year of singlehandedly trying to make it a perfect Christmas, Lizzy takes a pile of books, her cosiest clothes and the Ocado order and escapes to a beach hut on the North Devon coast. This year, Christmas is going to be all about her.

Meanwhile, the other inhabitants in the beach huts are trying to escape Christmas too. But somehow, the spirit of Christmas wheedles its way back into everyone’s hearts and Lizzy is at the centre of the activity. By Christmas day there are fairy lights strung up round the beach hut and a turkey roasting on the barbecue!

So when Lizzy’s family track her down, just how will they convince her she means the world to them – every day of the year?

Rating: three-stars

Lizzy loves her family and her home. However this year, shortly before Christmas, she starts to realize that they… well, they take her for granted. she’s always there for them but they don’t respect her wishes and think only about themselves. So she decides to take matters on her own hands and decides to leave. Not for good, oh no, only for Christmas, to think things over and figure out why she isn’t happy any more. She flees to Everdene, where her friend has a beach hut where she can spend her time on her own – right?

The chapters changed between different points of view. Lizzy is actually our main character and I liked her from the very beginning. I could totally get her frustration and her need to just flee after years of taking care of everyone else and putting her own needs behind. She was so relatable, and the way she wasn’t sure what to do next, her feelings and emotions were so easily brought to life by the author. Hats off to Lizzie for doing what she did, it takes for sure tons of courage to make such a step. She was such a great wife and mother but she didn’t feel appreciated, and no wonder, as she was really take for granted.
But the novel also tells us about Harley and Jack who, as well as Lizzy, want to escape Christmas. They all have their own personal reasons for this and believe me guys when I tell you that their stories are poignant and heart – breaking. You will understand those reasons and fell for them quickly. The author seamlessly and effortlessly allows us into the characters’ heads, how gradually we learn about them, about what make them tick, about their background and histories and start to understand them.

The beach hut was so welcoming, and it was a perfect place to stay – I loved the descriptions of it, it really felt as if it was a place where you could forget about all your troubles and problems and I would love to have a possibility to escape there as well.

I was a little afraid to start reading this book as it is the next to “The Beach Hut” and “The Beach Hut Next Door”, both of which I have yet to read, but I can easily reassure you now, after reading it, that it is a perfect stand – alone novel. However, this book didn’t wow me as much as I think it would. There was nothing particularly wrong with it, it was a perfectly nice read, it was probably the last finish touch that I missed. It also felt too slow and there weren’t really many turns and twists. It took a long time for all the threads to come together and there were too many characters with name that started with “H” – Hal, Hayley and I think there was another one, Hattie, and I was confused for a long time before I finally started to tell them apart.

But altogether, it was a very enjoyable book about family, putting yourself first at least but not forgetting about other people, about courage and priorities. Although it is not my favourite by this author, I’d still recommend it to you if you’re looking for a relaxing and relatable read and it is for sure a book that can’t be missing on your Christmas wish – list or reading pile if you’re Veronica Henry’s fan. It touched upon many different issues, some of them more difficult and heavier than the others: mental abuse, grief, taking for granted. Veronica Henry has way with words, she’s a brilliant storyteller and her writing style is easy to follow, light and inviting. It was a heart – warming, poignant, full of emotions escapism, full of stories and characters that are true to life and relatable.

 

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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More Than a Feeling by Cate Woods

More Than a Feeling by Cate Woods

 

41213431Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 27th December 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 432

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

‘Cate Woods is laugh-out-loud funny and life affirming’ Closer. The second novel from Cate Woods, author of the laugh-out-loud bestseller Just Haven’t Met You Yet.

In her twenties, Annie Taylor was sorted: she had her dream job, an amazing social life and was happily single. She had bags of confidence and played up her likeness to a young Barbra Streisand in turbans and winged eyeliner. Annie knew exactly who she was, and her future looked bright and full of adventures.

Life, however, hasn’t turned out quite how she expected. Now 33, Annie is living with her boyfriend Luke and is a stay-at-home mum to their baby daughter, Dot. The promising photography career has petered out, and with it her confidence and creativity. And when Luke does the unforgivable, Annie finds herself suddenly, terrifyingly, on her own. With the help of her group of loyal friends, Annie faces the challenge of building a new life for herself and Dot – while at the same time trying to reconcile the glamorous, carefree Annie of old with the knackered mum-of-one she sees in the mirror today. Is old Annie gone forever, or could this finally be the chance to find herself once more?

Rating: three-stars

Annie Taylor lives in London with her partner and their four – months – old daughter Dot. She used to be a fashion photographer and spent her time between work and partying. However, this changed after a family tragedy. When she thinks she’s come to terms with her life and plucks up the courage to be happy, she finds out that Luke has been cheating on her. Annie leaves, and now it’s a question of what it is she wants to do with her life – get a job, find a place to live, rediscover the old Annie…?

The characters were relatively well drawn, though, to be honest, I didn’t feel any connection with them. The way Annie changed, from the colourful, wild and free bird into the cautious, prudent person after her parents died didn’t feel too natural, and I really had a feeling she doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin. It took her a lot of time to eventually realize what it is she wants, however all the dilemmas and wondering and comparing the Annie from then and the Annie from now simply didn’t sit with me and they didn’t correspond with Annie. It was as if the death of her parents was simply an excuse, though I’m not sure from what. I also understand there must have been the will they/won’t they cat and mouse play, to make the story unpredictable and excitable, but oh my word, guys, I beg you… Half of the book was about Annie wondering what to do, even though it was obvious what she should do and what Luke is up to.

The story felt very repetitive and slow, I eventually found myself skim – reading, skipping passages to finally arrive at some action. I also had a feeling that the author has just tried too much, with everything – characters that in the end turned out very stereotyped, with plot that didn’t bring anything new, with humour that unfortunately felt much too forced and didn’t make me laugh. I couldn’t wait for Annie to FINALLY, EVENTUALLY make up her mind, at anything at all. The way she always hoped everything will sort itself out till the next time was annoying – she was 31years old, for God’s sake, you can’t live avoiding confrontations or hoping that all the bad or uncomfortable things will melt away in the air. So sadly, very sadly, I didn’t enjoy this book as I hoped I’m going to, and Cate Woods’s debut novel “Just Haven’t Met You Yet” was much, much better. But the book altogether was not bad, oh no, guys, don’t get me wrong. It was funny, it had its moments, actually when I couldn’t sleep last night I’ve remembered something from the novel that made me smile, and the author is a brilliant story teller, she writes in a vivid and descriptive way and she delivered a light – hearted story full of your usual trials and tribulations, ups and downs. The plot felt tired but there was a lot of potential and I am already looking towards Cate Woods’s third book.

 

One New York Christmas by Mandy Baggot / Blog Tour

One New York Christmas by Mandy Baggot

 

 

42180340Publisher: Ebury Press

Publishing Date: 15th November 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

A festive break in New York

Lara Weeks is planning the perfect Christmas with her long-term boyfriend Dan until he drops a bombshell. I don’t know my Christmas plans yet. I think I need some space . . .

Pooling their funds together, best friend Susie persuades Lara to head to the Big Apple for a festive trip. In the snow-clad streets of New York, will it be break-up or breakthrough this Christmas? And will Lara get her happy-ever-after with the man of her dreams . . . or will she stay single for the season?

 

 my-review

Mandy Baggot’s Christmas offerings are always a treat, well, there wouldn’t be Christmas without her book, no? “One New York Christmas” has exceptionally gorgeous cover and it teams together two of the best things: well, yes – Christmas, and New York. It takes us on a journey from a rural, peaceful Appleshaw in Wiltshire to the city that never sleeps, and moreover, at the most wonderful time of the year. Lara, our main character, loves her town and she also loves Christmas, and is looking towards it, especially as she’s going to spend it with her boyfriend, Dan. Dan,  however, has other plans and decides they need “a break”, during which he’s going to travel to Scotland. With another woman. Here you go. Lara’s best friend Susie decides that Lara needs to make Dan jealous, and to do she needs to start tweeting some celebrities and get a reply from them (this is the bit that I didn’t fully get, to be honest, as I wasn’t sure how should it help). They both end in New York, in the company of Seth, an actor from Lara’s favourite series, who’s much more than meets the eye.


Lara was such a colourful, interesting character, and I liked her from the very first mention that she’s a lorry driver. I mean, how clever? How many lorry driver female characters have you met? Exactly! What I also liked in her was the fact that she just bitten the bullet and wasn’t afraid of trying, confronting, seeing – it was so refreshing, after so many heroines that simply bury their heads in the sand and wait for the problems to somehow disappear. Also, she was not a skinny – minnie swishing her blond hair around type of character, she was more of a tomboy – the lorry driving! – which made her seem a much more stronger person that she in fact was, but she wanted us to see the stronger version of her as well. I adored her passion and her love to her family. If you think about it, she’s really a kick ass, our Lara, fierce, bouncy and almost fearless. She’s not afraid of climbing trees, she rescues animals and she stands for herself or the things she believes in. Well, unless it comes to her love life. Then she lost her head, which is only understandable.

I also really appreciated the character of Seth, who, for once, was full of uncertainty and vulnerability, and was not a macho or too full of himself. There was warmth to him and I truly fell for him and I just wanted all the good things happen to him. His story added tons of seriousness to the book but the way Mandy Baggot tackled his issues was really great and she brilliantly captured him, and his coming out of comfort zones and confronting the past.

The supporting characters, both in the US and back in England, blend in brilliantly and complement each other in a great way.

I simply loved the descriptions of New York. They were so vivid and full of details and the fact that the city was seen through Lara’s eyes for the first time made it even more exciting and beautiful. The author has so easily transported us to New York, brought this place to life, made it jump off the pages.
The story, however, dragged a little too much for my liking. I wanted action and things happening, and I got too much of the characters’ inner indecisions and monologues, and it bothered me a little. Lara was also an adult and well, I just don’t get this whole checking and showing and posting your life to the social media, to looking for comfort there, looking on Facebook at what it is your boyfriend is doing, checking there your relationship status – I mean, do I live in reality or do I live through social media? No, thank you. And I also missed this Christmas vibe – yes, the book was festive enough but this sparkle, this vibe wasn’t there. It was also this little bit too predictable, you could see things coming a mile off, but oh well, yes, I could live with this. Also, referring to Aldo as “almost – brother” made me grit my teeth – either he was a brother, or not, no matter if he was adopted or not. And the regular reminders of Lara being so unusually a truck driver were not so necessary. Mandy Baggot’s writing style is like a hot chocolate, drawing you in and you simply want more and more of it. It’s easy to follow, inviting and full of humour – though it took me some time to get into the book, no reason probably, just one of the things, and as I’ve already mentioned, it was a little too slow, especially at the beginning. It gained speed a little more in New York, when Lara and Seth started sight – seeing.

Altogether, “One New York Christmas” was a festive, funny and romantic read, full of unforgettable scenes, both funny and poignant. It’s not as good as Mandy Baggot’s “One Wish in Manhattan” that was a fantastic, festive novel that I loved with all my heart, but it’s a nice enough, light – hearted book with a hidden depth. A lovely story about family dynamics and following your heart, full of heartbreak, hope, romance and happiness, it’s a great way to cosy yourself in a blanket on a dark, cold evening. Recommended!

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