More Than Just Mum by Rebecca Smith

More Than Just Mum by Rebecca Smith

 

Publisher: One More Chapter 48228095._sy475_

Publishing Date: 7th December 2019

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

Number of pages: 368

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 20.02.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Hannah Thompson loves her family beyond words… but sometimes, just sometimes, she wishes she could be recognised as more than just ‘mum’.

Eldest son Dylan is soon to be flying the nest, sixteen-year-old Scarlet keeps asking about penalties for worryingly specific crimes, they’ve forgotten world book day and Benji absolutely will not be Where’s Wally again, and it’s at least two days before she and hubby Nick can sit down for Wine Wednesdays… and even longer until Fizzy Friday.

Determined to find herself a job that she loves, earn a whole lot of money and to have her teenagers respect her as ‘Hannah’ as well as ‘mum’; it might sound like a tall order, but she’s a mum on a mission.

A laugh-out-loud read of self-discovery, family chaos and love. Perfect for fans of Gill Sims, Fiona Gibson and Nick Spalding.

Rating: five-stars

 

Hannah Thompson is in her forties, married, has three children and is a biology teacher turned into an English teacher to a class nine students more interested in writing on each other’s clothes with felt – tip markers than learning about George Orwell. At home, her eldest son Dylan is soon off to University, the middle one, Scarlet, not only bothers her parents about her name all the time (have you noticed the single “t”? Exactly!) but also asks rather suspicious questions about specific crimes and the youngest Benji loses his hamster. Hannah and Nick try to not only to tame this chaos but also desperately need money. As an avid reader, Hannah decides to write a book and channels her inner E.L. James, writing erotica and researching some of the scenes on her husband… Can Hannah make it to Wine Wednesday?

It was probably one of the funniest books out there about motherhood, and what’s more, this humour didn’t feel forced, no, it run smoothly and naturally and this is what makes the book so brilliant. I loved how the author always found humour, even in the most dull situations but without being patronizing.

Hannah was a great character, and if you’re a mother yourself you’re so going to completely understand her and relate to her. She was actually my hero, juggling everything that comes her way, but still with her dreams, ambitions and with finding the courage to fight for her dream come true. And she’s not alone in all of this, as she is supported by her lovely, though rather clueless husband Nick, who’s always ready to help, even if it’s about trying new positions from Kamasutra for Hannah’s book, and her children who were brilliant and written in a great way, especially Scarlet with one “t”, but all three of them were really well developed: Dylan spends a lot of time in his room revising (albeit with his new girlfriend) and the lovely Benji is still the baby of the family, and even though he’s the patsy of his siblings, he’s still innocent and all he wants to do is play. I loved Hannah’s relationship with them, it was so natural and I would love to stay as cool as she was in some of the more burning situations with my daughter. She treated her children also like partners, depending on their age of course, and I could really put myself in her shoes, and my daughter talks also so much, and Hannah had it thrice multiplied. They are dysfunctional, full of flaws but it makes them so true to life and I really wouldn’t have wanted them different – they had me in hysterics, honestly. The banter, the interactions between them were not only incredibly funny but felt so natural and real.

The author is such a great story – teller! Her voice is distinctive and funny, and she describes Hannah’s life so well, vivid and colourful, with all its ups and downs, but making all the small details of daily live double interesting.

“More Than Just Mum” is an absolutely brilliant read to lighten up your day. And for me this book has ticked all the right boxes: humorous insights into real life, where the sink is full of dishes? Check. Lovely kids that are in turn absolutely charming and the next second whiny and argumentative? Check. Forgetting world Book Day costume? Check. Ordering take – aways because you can’t be bothered about cooking? Check. Rebecca Smith has written a book about me, ha – mum, wife, daughter, friend, teacher – how funny that usually all the scrummy mummies are teachers, no? Ladies – we are not ALONE! We all make mistakes, our children will do whatever they want, no matter what we say, we are absolutely not in control but it’s not the end of the world! And there is always place for love, friendship and fun. It was a warm, witty and laugh – out – loud story not beating around the bush what it’s like to be a mum and that I can’t recommend enough!

25 Days in December by Poppy Alexander / Blog Tour

25 Days in December by Poppy Alexander

 

Publisher: Orion 41hngkpvdel._sx321_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 28th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

You can’t plan for the unexpected…

Kate Potter used to know what happiness felt like.

A few years ago, she was full of energy, excited by every possibility. But that was back when everything was different, before Kate’s husband went away with the army and didn’t come home. She can’t even remember what it felt like to be in love.

Then Kate meets Daniel. Recognising her loneliness reflected in his eyes, Kate vows to try and help bring him out of his shell. But as Kate plans to bring life back to Daniel, she might have stumbled on the secret to happiness…

Can one chance meeting change two lives?

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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On the Up by Alice O’Keeffe / Blog Tour

On the Up by Alice O’Keeffe

 

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton 48269657._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 11.06.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

By reading Style magazine, I was training myself not to want things. It was going quite well. I had already found that I did not want a pair of Yves Saint Laurent mules, a chandelier made from plastic antlers, or a diamond-encrusted necklace in the shape of a pineapple. I was still working on not wanting a fitted farmhouse kitchen in warm wood.

Sylvia lives in a flat on a council estate with her not-quite-husband Obe and their two young children. She dreams of buying a house on a leafy street like the one she grew up in. If she closes her eyes, she can see it all so clearly: the stripped floorboards, the wisteria growing around the door…

It’s not ideal that she’s about to be made redundant, or that Obe, a playworker, is never going to earn more than the minimum wage. As sleep deprivation sets in, and the RnB downstairs gets ever louder, Sylvia’s life starts to unravel.

But when the estate is earmarked for redevelopment, the threat to her community gives Sylvia a renewed sense of purpose. With a bit of help from her activist sister, and her film-maker friend Frankie, she’s ready to take a stand for what she believes in.

Warm, witty and brilliantly observed, On the Up is about relationships and community, finding a way through the tough times, and figuring out what’s really worth fighting for.

Rating:  five-stars

 

Sylvia and her nearly husband Obe live in a council estate flat with their two young children – toddler Larkin and a few months old That Baby (also known as Elliot). She dreams of owning her own home, with a garden for the children, but they will never be able to buy it. Or maybe they will? Is this stinky, old, half – demolished house their salvation? Sylvia is really desperate to move, especially as they’re constantly disturbed by their neighbour Dawn, with loud music and partying. Sylvia keeps a journal for the councils Anti Social Behaviour Officer, that slowly turns into her logbook. And then comes the bombshell that Priory Court, where they live, will be sold for development – can things finally get better for the family?

Really, this book was absolutely brilliant in my opinion. It was so uplifting – yes, you’ve seen the characters struggling and even though they might have lost hope once or twice there was still so much optimism in them and in the way they were written that I simply didn’t want to leave their world. I don’t always need a rosy fictional world in my books, I really like when the story feels so realistic like this one, but there is still the chance of a happy ending. Yes, here the end was maybe too cheesy but other than that I adored this book.

The characters were really well observed and drawn and I warmed to them immediately. Sylvia and Obe are your normal characters, people we get to meet and see everyday, full of humour but also filled with sadness, being forced to face all your typical troubles and problems that life tends to bring with itself. Yes, Obe made me feel desperate sometimes, with his poetry and his calm aura and the “everything will be OK” attitude, but there was also a charm in it. I’ve immediately felt a connection with Sylvia and I could truly relate to her dreams, needs and desperation, I’d go crazy with such a neighbour as Dawn with my perfect pitch – I need silence to be able to sleep! Even though, as Obe might have pointed out, Sylvia’s needs are an endless cycle of want, I couldn’t blame her for wanting something more from life, for wanting something better. Their relationship was really well captured, showing their real struggles, as parents and as a couple.
I also really liked the supporting characters, even though we don’t get to know them really well, and it was great to see them coming together after the news broke that Priory Court is going to be sold off for re – development and they’re going to lose their homes.

The author is a brilliant observer of reality – she sees things as they really are and delivers them with wit, humour but also brutally honest. She wrote a book that shows a real life, but not in a desperate, grey, sad way. Even though it might not have been heavy emphasised in writing, it showed that there is usually a way out of troubles, and it did it in an entertaining way. It was simply warm, inviting and full of feel – good factor despite the fact that the characters’ lives were not beds full of roses. After reading the synopsis and the part that the Priority Court may be sold and that it immediately rises the community spirit I was afraid that it may be overdone in the story, that it will feel too cheesy and clichéd but I really like how the author has tackled this topic.

“On the Up” was warm and funny, sometimes touching and poignant read focusing strongly on family, friendships, relationships and community. It felt a little nostalgic but maybe it is the writing style? It was truly brilliant, light and engaging, and it didn’t sound like a debut. It was a witty and deep observation on what is important in life that I enjoyed from beginning to end – highly recommended!

 

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Things Can Only Get Better by David M. Barnett / Blog Tour

Things Can Only Get Better by David M. Barnett

 

Publisher: Trapeze 46019524

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adults)

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

*FROM THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF CALLING MAJOR TOM*

For elderly churchwarden Arthur Calderbank, there’s no place like home. His home just so happens to be a graveyard.

He keeps himself to himself, gets on with his job, and visits his wife everyday for a chat. When one day he finds someone else has been to see his wife – and has left flowers on her grave – he is determined to solve the mystery of who and why. He receives unlikely help from a group of teenage girls as he tries to solve the mystery, and soon learns that there is more to life than his little graveyard.

Set during the 1990s, Things Can Only Get Better is an uplifting story about the power of a little kindness, friendship and community for readers who enjoy Sue Townsend Ruth Hogan and Joanna Cannon.

Rating: five-stars

 

“Things Can Only Get Better” is a story about a group of truly unlikely friends who found each other rather accidentally. Arthur is a pensioner whose wife, Molly, died seven years ago but he still didn’t let her go and ended up living in the old chapel in the middle of the cemetery, becoming its caretaker and being not too far away from the love of his life. Arthur is very protective of the cemetery and is not happy with the neighbourhood children who dare to use it as a short – cut, or – even worse – a hung – out. In the meantime, someone has been leaving flowers on Molly’s grave on her birthday for the past few years and Arthur is determined to find who it is. But with this happening in the night and his deteriorating health, the teenagers promise him to help to catch the mysterious visitor. A unique bond is formed between Arthur and the kids and soon they find themselves in a few different battles – together.

You can’t help yourself but immediately fell for the characters. My heart went to Arthur and I was desperate to know what has happened to him to be leading such a solitary life, and then to the kids, seeing them growing up, their determination and their blossoming friendship. The author has breathed fresh air and life into them, and into the book, showing us a much bigger picture, showing that each story has different sides. You’ll end up willing the characters to succeed. Each of the four teenagers has their own story that is incredibly captivating and I loved how much focus they brought back into Arthur’s life. Their difficulties in fitting with the “cools” at school was so authentic and brutally honest. The way the kids were portrayed was heart – breaking, especially the way they were perceived by their school – mates, neighbours and other members of society They were all outcasts at their school because they didn’t fit the “description”, they found the courage to be different and have dreams, and hence they were judged by their teachers who didn’t believe they have a chance for a better future (and if you hear already at school that the only thing you can do is work as a secretary or at the factory, well, it’s not too promising and optimistic, right?), judged by their parent’s choices of life and really, it seems that nobody sees/doesn’t want to see their potential – except for Arthur.

When I started reading this book, I immediately fell in love with it. There was this “something” that made it feel so outstanding and special, the characters were like living and breathing people, and the story was heart – breaking and also humorous, and the more you read, the more you fell in love with it. However, I must admit, that somewhere around the middle, it lost its impact a little and started to drag on a bit, but it was still a compelling, addictive read.

Mostly the novel is about social inequality and about stereotyping and determination, about grabbing life by its horns and squeezing it like lemon. It also touches upon bullying, homelessness, mental illness, loneliness and other social issues with a great sensitivity, so I wouldn’t be afraid to give this book to my teenage child should I have one, as it deals with those issues, and with all the plotlines, in a brilliant, wise – but not too wise, you know what I mean? Not too patronising, not too I know everything better – way.

“Things Can Only Get Better” made me cry, laugh, made me angry but also filled me with hope with its warm glow. Ultimately, even though there is a lot of pain, disappointment and problems under the surface and the characters have to deal with many challenges, there is humour and moments of joy and it has the wonderful feel – good factor to it. It’s deeply moving and very close to life, a brilliant read that I highly recommend.

 

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Snowed in at the Practice by Penny Parkes

Snowed In at the Practice by Penny Parkes

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 44655866._sy475_

Publishing Date: 14th November 2019

Series: The Larkford Series #4

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

Number of pages: 496

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Welcome to the Larkford Surgery in the Cotswolds, the heart of a tightknit community as well as a hotbed of drama, rivalry, resentment and romance – and that’s just the doctors …

Dr Holly Graham is finding life with two sets of twins exhausting. Even with husband Dr Taffy Jones and devoted friend Elsie by her side, she is completely outnumbered. Making the transition back to work will be no easy feat but a regular slot on Radio Larkford as their on-air doctor might be the perfect stepping stone, until an unexpected job offer changes everything.

Dr Alice Walker’s new canine clinic at Larkford Surgery with Coco, her assistance dog, has been a storming success. If only shipping her best friend, Dr Tilly Grainger, in from South America to cover for Holly had been such a smooth transition. It seems that Tilly isn’t finding life in the peaceful Cotswolds valley as rewarding as she’d hoped, and she is causing chaos …

Join the residents of Larkford as secrets, drama and romance are revealed, in the new novel from the bestselling author of Out of Practice and winner of the RNA Romantic Comedy Award 2017.

Rating: five-stars

 

In “Snowed in at the Practice” we are back with old, good characters and introduced to some of the new ones. Holly is on maternity leave and in her place we have the feisty Tilly, and while Holly is dealing with her second set of twins, Tilly starts to find what it is she’d love to do – but will she be able to stay at the Practice? Especially as Holly is trying to work out how to return to work – she so wants to be more than just mum again, she needs this thrill of being able to help. But will the others support her in her decisions?

This book is a brilliant catch up with Holly, Taffy and their two sets of twins but it also introduces us to a new nanny, feisty and quirky and full of life and surprises, and Tilly, Alice’s friend, but also Connor, who has moved to Larkford, a former rock star trying to get to terms with his wife’s death, wanting to lead a quiet life far away from London and taking every stray animal that he sets his eyes on. But we also see Dan and Grace’s relationship developing and there are some most poignant moments including those two. And let’s not forget Elsie – the Grande Dame with head full of ideas.

I think that every new book in the series is better than the previous ones, and I think it is because of a few factors. Penny Parkes’s writing is getting better and better, firstly, it feels like a warm hug, is so inviting, warm and vivid. Then it is always great to be back with characters that you’ve already got to know, know what makes them tick and it is always nice to simply pick up with them where we left them in the previous book, without the necessity of great introductions. And, of course, the story itself, the plot but most of all it being full of emotions and feelings, turns and twists and the most poignant but also heart – warming moments.

It was really nice to be back in Larkford, and in the Practice. This book had, I don’t know how to call it, a feeling? It had this “something” that made it outstanding, brilliant read. No matter when you read the last book in the series, you will immediately feel at home, as if you’ve never been away from the characters and their lives. Lives that felt incredibly real and realistic, with problems that are so familiar, so it was so easy to fell for them all, knowing what they’re experiencing and what they’re feeling. And this time there was a lot in store for the doctors and people surrounding them. There was not a single flat moment, and even though the author again dedicated a lot of the pages to the Practice and its patients, describing their problems, this time those problems were incredibly relatable – at least, to me – and Penny Parkes treated them with tons of understanding, care and love. So yes, there were many storylines to follow, but they were so skilfully written and so engaging that I haven’t feel confused for a single moment.

It was a lovely, charming and warm book about families, showing how they come in different shapes and sizes, and that being a family doesn’t mean you must be born in it. It also touched upon such difficult issues like being a mother and trying to hush your guilty conscience when thinking about coming back to work but also how hard it is to be only a mum sitting at home, and how complex and complicated it may be trying to bring those two facts together. About how important it is to be understood and to have a support of your closest ones, and finally about the strength of friendship. And I love the fact that the author emphasised the importance of the assistance animals, and I loved the scenes including the dogs and also Banana – a wonderful idea! Highly recommended!

The Guardian of Lies by Kate Furnivall / Blog Tour

The Guardian of Lies by Kate Furnivall

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 46635448._sy475_

Publishing Date: 31st October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction (Adults), Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Discover a brilliant story of love, danger, courage and betrayal, from the internationally bestselling author of The Survivors.
1953, the South of France. The fragile peace between the West and Soviet Russia hangs on a knife edge. And one family has been torn apart by secrets and conflicting allegiances.

Eloïse Caussade is a courageous young Frenchwoman, raised on a bull farm near Arles in the Camargue. She idolises her older brother, André, and when he leaves to become an Intelligence Officer working for the CIA in Paris to help protect France, she soon follows him. Having exchanged the strict confines of her father’s farm for a life of freedom in Paris, her world comes alive.

But everything changes when André is injured – a direct result of Eloise’s actions. Unable to work, André returns to his father’s farm, but Eloïse’s sense of guilt and responsibility for his injuries sets her on the trail of the person who attempted to kill him.

Eloïse finds her hometown in a state of unrest and conflict. Those who are angry at the construction of the American airbase nearby, with its lethal nuclear armaments, confront those who support it, and anger flares into violence, stirred up by Soviet agents. Throughout all this unrest, Eloïse is still relentlessly hunting down the man who betrayed her brother and his country, and she is learning to look at those she loves and at herself with different eyes. She no longer knows who she can trust. Who is working for Soviet Intelligence and who is not? And what side do her own family lie on?

Rating: five-stars

 

Eloïse was born in rural France and grew up on her father’s bull farm, together with her two brothers. She loves the farm, but as soon as she can, she follows the footsteps of her older brother Andre and flees to Paris. She finds a job in the detective agency, as she’s fascinated by Andre’s – the brother she so idolises – job as a CIA Intelligence Officer. We get to know them both right in the opening scene that feels like a scene from James Bond film, a thrilling car chase in which Andre is injured. As she was driving, Eloïse is filled with guilt and decides to find out who has tried to kill her bother, and why. Summoned home, she doesn’t give up on her chase after the truth, but she also realises that the danger may be much closer home than she thinks.

I have immediately became absorbed in the story and the characters’ lives – but it hasn’t surprised me, as I wasn’t expecting anything different from Kate Furnivall’s book! As usual with her books, the characters felt like living and breathing people, and her leading female characters – in this case Eloïse – are strong – minded and brave. Eloïse was capable and determined, however I didn’t warm to her immediately. As much as I appreciated the fact that she’s so determined, she was also much too naive in my eyes and I had a feeling that she’s like the wind, moving in different directions, depending on what she was said. She also behaved too amateurish for my liking, lacked in skills that you’d need as an actual spy. She was too trusty, especially at the beginning, but then she started to have doubts, and she felt more mature. Nevertheless, she was so real with her emotions and feelings of guilt, fear and uncertainty, she wanted the best for all and to find peace. In her hurry and willingness to help, she often makes mistakes, and also tends to do the very opposite of what is said she should do, and really, more than once I was expecting the things to turn out not so rosy for her, and once I really thought that this is it for Eloïse. But altogether, the more I read, the more she grew on me, and I truly admired her determination and the fact that nobody and nothing could dishearten her to find the truth.
The relationships between the characters in this book are so well written! They were not easy, they were not straightforward, they were often thought – provoking but the loyalty Eloïse felt towards her family was lovely to see, even if sometimes this family didn’t show as much concern for Eloïse as she for them.

I always admire Kate Furnivall’s skills to create a brilliant, engaging and complex plot, no matter what period of times her novels are set in. This time she takes us to the mid century France involved in the Cold War. I admit, it is not a period of time that I know much about, so the more interesting it was for me and I have learnt more about post – war France that I could hope for. The loyalties of the French, that were split between America, and the communist Soviet Union, and the tension and unrest it has provoked, provided an interesting and engaging background and she creates a perfect sense of time and place.

Mostly the author has played real mind – games with me and I was like Eloïse, not knowing who was telling the truth and who was telling lies, who was the good and who was the bad one, who wants to help Eloïse and who wants to see the back of her, and how does her family fit into all of those situations. It made my head spinning but it was enthralling and very entertaining.

“The Guardian of Lies” was meticulously researched, vividly written in a way that awakens all your senses while living the story through along with the characters, and brilliantly crafted novel from one of my favourite authors. She has – again – provided us with engaging and complex plot and multi – faceted characters, bringing them all to life and effortlessly transporting the readers into the setting of her novel. It was a fast – paced, unique, compelling and addictive story about love and betrayal, courage and subterfuge, making you feel as if you had your heart in your mouth. Highly recommended!

 

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Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

 

Publisher: Bantam Press 43811208._sy475_

Publishing Date: 17th October 2019

Series: Shopaholic #9

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

Synopsis:

Celebrate Christmas with the ultimate Shopaholic!

The brilliant laugh-out-loud festive novel from the Number One bestselling author.

Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adores Christmas. It’s always the same – Mum and Dad hosting, carols playing, Mum pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the next-door neighbours coming round for sherry in their terrible festive jumpers.

And now it’s even easier with online bargain-shopping sites – if you spend enough you even get free delivery. Sorted!

But this year looks set to be different. Unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocado, Becky’s parents are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch and have asked Becky if she’ll host Christmas this year. What could possibly go wrong?

With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear . . .

Will chaos ensue, or will Becky manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas?

 

Rating: five-stars

 

In “Christmas Shopaholic” Becky Brandon (neé Bloomwood) is supposed to host Christmas for the first time. It not only throws her into a buying frenzy – as we all know, Becky doesn’t need excuses like Christmas for a shopping – but also put her under tons of stress. She has a big family and a huge bunch of friends who are all invited and all of them are either fighting with each other or have special requests, or suggest what would be best, or there are also people who will try to sabotage Becky’s day. From inventing a new word that goes viral, through marking Luke, having 30 lbs of frozen salmon on the front lawn, to being locked in a pet store on Christmas Day – will Becky manage this time?

“Christmas Shopaholic” is everything I have expected. It’s fabulously entertaining and it has moments when it feels really poignant, and no matter what you think about Becky, how frustrating she can be, she has one of the biggest hearts in the world and it is impossible not to love her. It is a series that has potential to be never – ending and personally I wouldn’t say no to another book, and another, and another one, while theoretically the shtick should be already stale on the series, but no, Becky still entertains and still sounds genuine and her usual self.

There were so many funny and hilarious scenes, and while many of them made me smile, the one when Becky was trying aftershave on Luke made me laugh out loud, oh help, really, I’m still laughing only thinking about it. The emails, messages and Google searches at the end of some chapters were abso – bloody – lutely brilliant, I really laughed my head off when reading them.

I am always amused with Becky’s antics – she never lets me down, and yes, the way she does her shopping sounds very familiar. Sure, she can be too much sometimes but she’s also charming and adorable in her spontaneity and thinking about everybody else, about creating the perfect Christmas and forgetting about herself. She may worry too much what other s think of her and she may still make bad choices when it comes to shopping, but she is warm, caring and lovely mum, friend, sister and daughter.
The book also features all of the other characters that we got to know so well and love, and it was a real joy to see them again, hear their banter and the way they complicated their lives. There were moments that I frown at Suze, she was somehow, I’m not sure, so cold and not so friendly to Becky, and Jess, well, Jess was not funny anymore, oh got, she was exhausting.

It was a fast – paced, amusing and brilliantly written light – hearted book full of festive spirit. I loved spending my time with Becky, seeing her interacting with Luke and Minnie. It was touching, it left me feel warm inside and the end, well, the end was epic! Highly recommended!