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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The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson

 

36634180Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 22nd February 2018

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 464

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change.

Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks.

But soon Marnie finds that Wychwell has claimed her as its own and she is duty bound not to leave. Even if what she has to do makes her as unpopular as a force 12 gale in a confetti factory! But everyone has imperfections, as Marnie comes to realise, and that is not such a bad thing – after all, your flaws are perfect for the heart that is meant to love you.

The Perfectly Imperfect Woman is the heart-warming and hilarious new novel from the queen of feel-good fiction – a novel of family, secrets, love and redemption … and broken hearts mended and made all the stronger for it.

Rating: five-stars

Marnie Salt hasn’t had an easy life – she was adopted and has never felt loved. She’s never had luck with people, family, boyfriends or friends. But on the cheesecake forum in internet she’s just met Lilian – the right person at the right time. Lilian is older than Marnie but it doesn’t stop them from forming a firm, strong friendship and soon Marnie finds herself in Wychwell. Marnie blossoms – she can finally bake cheesecakes and she’s finally happy with her life. She doesn’t plan on staying there forever, she only wants to heal her heart and consider her future. But then something happens that puts Marnie’s whole world upside down. She must make difficult decisions and must learn to stand up for herself. Will she manage?

One of the strengths of Milly Johnson’s books are the characters. She can brilliantly capture the essence of her characters and paint them in such realistic, but also friendly, way. They are full of flaws, they sometimes don’t tell the whole truth, they make mistakes but ultimately they are so human, and I simply love this. So I loved Marnie. Simply loved her. I would only like to see her telling some truths to her mother, because she should have done it. Marnie has problems, sometimes her decisions are not the wisest ones but that’s the thing – it only made her more down – to – earth and genuine. She had a big and giving heart and probably this is why all the problems always found her, as she was too trusty and naive and has seen only good things in people. She had a lot of growing up to do, our Marnie, and Milly Johnson really well led her main character on this journey.

The setting in this book is gorgeous and original, and Wychwell, small village in Yorkshire, has such a great story to tell! It was a village like no other, with its own rules and politics!
Yes, it sometimes felt like a witch – hunt there, and there were moments it felt so isolated and so closed but it was also the charm of this place and most of the villagers were great. Milly Johnson has so easily brought this place to life, and the map at the beginning of the book was one of the best ideas ever, it was so great to be able to really place the cottages and imagine the whole village. There was so much happening there, you can count on mystery, drama, scandal and tons of kindness and friendship. There are many subplots in this book but it doesn’t mean that I felt confused, oh no, it was perfectly planned and plotted. It touches upon many heavier issues, such as for example adoption or money fraud, but this all is almost always written with humour or at least in a lighter way.

Altogether, “The Perfectly Imperfect Woman” was a heart – warming, funny and poignant read. It is really easy to fell in love with this story immediately – the writing style is brilliant, easy to follow and chatty, and the plot brings some surprises that I would never expect. It’s just a book with a heart, you know, and you can feel it in every word, and it is great to read such a story. Highly recommended!

The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson

The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson

 

33862163Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 9th March 2016

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 496

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

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 04.05.2017)

 

Synopsis:

When Lewis Harley has a health scare in his early forties, he takes it as a wake-up call. So he and his wife Charlotte leave behind life in the fast lane and Lewis opens the antique shop he has dreamed of. Bonnie Brookland was brought up in the antiques trade and now works for the man who bought out her father’s business, but she isn’t happy there. So when she walks into Lew’s shop, she knows this is the place for her.

As Bonnie and Lew start to work together, they soon realise that there is more to their relationship than either thought. But Bonnie is trapped in an unhappy marriage, and Lew and Charlotte have more problems than they care to admit. Each has secrets in their past which are about to be uncovered. Can they find the happiness they both deserve?

Rating: 5/5

Oh yes, it was the perfect – and highest! – time to dive into the new Milly Johnson’s book, “The Queen of Wishful Thinking”. It is already a long time since I’ve read last Milly’s book – it’s the lack of time’s fault! – so I was incredibly giddy with excitement to receive my review copy and started to read it almost on the spot. And my verdict is – it was gorgeous! It was so great to be back with Milly Johnson’s brilliant writing and storytelling, to get to know the new fantastic characters. So I can tell you right at the beginning of my review, whatever you do, guys, just drop it and make sure you have this book on your list – it is warm, uplifting and incredibly genuine. This is for sure Milly Johnson at her best. I think that if you gave me the book without telling who the author is, I’d guess it immediately – Ms Johnson’s writing style is one of the most recognisable and inimitable. It’s lovely, it’s warm, it’s inviting and it is so very easy to feel part of the story. She has again delivered a brilliant novel full of friendship, loyalty, finding courage and starting new.

There is probably the greatest bunch of characters in this book, and I mean not only the main characters but the colourful group of antique dealers who are always there when Bonnie needs them. They all had their own stories and they were all full of love, friendship, broken hearts and happy endings – though not always, but they were always warm and uplifting. Also, they all had lovely nicknames that usually described what they were most interested in, and they all knew Bonnie since she was a child and they for sure knew what the word loyalty means, and I applauded them for it so very much.
All the characters are so different, and their lives are different as well. The story shows how some of them has changed because of the money went straight into their heads and how some of them must live, trying to keep their heads above water, and the contrast was so huge and greatly portrayed.
I loved Bonnie, simple as that. Yes, there were moments that I felt desperate with her, felt sorry for her living a life so manipulated but they quickly passed away – the more I got to know her, the more I understood her and I really could get where she was coming from and why she was so scared. She was a woman with a heart in the right place and she was always looking for good in people, even if they didn’t deserve it. Kind, polite and creative and even though she lived with a secret that overwhelmed her, she’d rather live like this than betray the memory of the person.
Stephen is a character that you start to dislike at the very beginning. Bonnie’s manipulative and controlling husband and to say that he was cold – hearted would be an understatement. Blackmailing his wife to stay with him, even though he didn’t love her, he just needed someone to boss around. I also think that there was something wrong with the mental state of his. While Lewis was, of course, a very different story! The owner of the antique shop Pot of Gold where Bonnie finds her second job, he was a lovely, fair kind of man – unfortunately married to a very awful woman who so didn’t deserve him!

I love when the stories in the book interweave together and in this novel it proceeds seamlessly. I also loved the antiques thread in it and I love the descriptions of the items that were for sale or were bought and how this works. This book is written in the best way possible – you feel immediately at home with the story, you immediately fell for the characters, you keep your fingers crossed for them or want to punch them in their faces. It is light and easy to follow and it flows effortlessly, from one scene to another and there is not a moment of confusion or a single moment flat. Yes, it is a long story and actually the most things happened in the last part, and it was then that I was literally glued to the pages and shooed off all those that wanted to disturb me my reading, but even if the rest of the story was slower there were enough things and information to keep us hooked, and yes, the author took her time to reveal the secret and then the consequences that followed but she has done it in a perfect way. You know, sometimes the authors mention a secret almost on every page and when it comes to revealing it you are so tired of it that no matter how life – changing or twisty it may be it just doesn’t sweep you off your feet, which was absolutely NOT the case here. We knew something happened, we knew Stephen has something in his hand to keep Bonnie with him but there were so many other important things and subplots that the waiting for it to be told didn’t drag on. But back to the writing itself – there were moments that the story made me feel sad but there were also many moments to make me laugh out loud, especially at the (in)famous articles from the local magazine Daily Trumpet. Milly Johnson’s sense of humour just wonderfully match my own.

Really, guys, it’s hard to do this book justice in a review, as it was SO good. Feel – good and totally honest and genuine, full of colourful characters that you root for, I won’t hesitate to say that “The Queen of Wishful Thinking” is a must – read this spring and I will be recommending it to all my friends.

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