The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas by Carole Matthews

chocolatelovers

Length: 496 pages

As always, the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

Christmas is just around the corner but the women of The Chocolate Lovers’ Club have more to worry about than present shopping . . .

Lucy loves running Chocolate Heaven but she hasn’t spent time with her boyfriend, Aiden, in weeks. And then her ex-fiance turns up and things become even more complicated.

Nadia hasn’t let herself get close to a man in a long time, yet she can’t help feeling drawn to Jacob. Will he be her last chance for a happy ending?

Chantal and her husband, Ted, are besotted with their baby daughter Lana – but she’s not sure that’s enough to base a marriage on.

Autumn is dealing with a tragedy that has hit too close to home. But when she doesn’t get the support she needs from her fiance, will she look elsewhere for comfort?

Can friendship overcome all in . . . The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas.

The review: Well, I’m not sure that this IS a review, given that I unfortunately called it a day at 36%, after two years and numerous attempts to read, but I need to let you know why I didn’t finish, so here it goes.

I requested this book on the back of numerous rave reviews, all four and five stars, from various bloggers out there. We all know that Carole Matthews and Sarah Morgan took their roles as queens of Christmas some time ago, and I’d read ‘Calling Mrs Christmas,’ and  ‘With Love at Christmas’ and I think one other and had always fallen in love with them and eaten them up over the holiday period. I found her descriptions magical and wonderous and everything a Christmas read should be.

I’m not sure whether it’s been since I’ve started blogging, and so have upped my range of books, but I found myself drifting away from the story, of Lucy, manager of ‘Chocolate Heaven, her friends, Autumn, Chantal and Nadia, and her boyfriend, Aidan.  I didn’t really connect with any of them, finding them a little immature and a bit selfish. What drove this home was that anytime anyone was ANYWAY nice to anyone else, there were cries of how lovely they were, how selfless etc, and as it happened a few times it began to grate a little.

From the start there was comedy, only because I wasn’t sure I liked the characters, I’m afraid it didn’t really connect. Interspersed with everything going wrong for Lucy, with some really funny moments that I honestly would have liked if I wasn’t finding it hard to connect with her, were some more serious issues, the story of Autumn’s past, which for the first time made me realise what people meant when they said some issues didn’t fit in with the chick lit genre and felt out of place. Jumping from fun and hilarity to this, with the drama dial suddenly upped out of nowhere just felt muddled and I found myself shrugging a little. Add to this their solution to everything was chocolate, and yes I know this is The Chocolate Lovers’ series, and so it’s a given, but it was mentioned so much the word itself lost all meaning.

The descriptions of setting, as they headed towards Christmas, as ever, were stunning, beautiful, magnificent, making you want to transport yourself to that time of year. And so I trundled on. I stopped and started this book so many times. I’ve only ever given up on three books in my life, and I couldn’t fathom that this would be number four. I know that there are a world of people out there that adore this book, and I’ve no doubt there will be so many people who will love it, and it will be a great Christmas read for them, unfortunately not for me. Thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review, and apologies it didn’t work out.

No rating as I didn’t finish.

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Cover reveal: Love Uncovered by Laura Barnard

Love Uncovered, the second standalone book in the Babes of Brighton series is now available for pre-order!

Love Uncovered Cover

Please note that the cover image leads to a pre-order Amazon link for the book

Synopsis

Independent woman to her core, Brooke Archer has always been happy to hit it and quit it with the men in her life. But when her beloved Nan suffers from poor health, Brooke realises just how precious life is and decides to it’s time to face her daddy issues and seek out her estranged father. Without so much as a name or photo, and a cagey Mum withholding vital information, it’s going to be no easy task.

Nicholas Parker is a relationship guy and always has been. Abandoned by his mum when he was seven he craves love and security. But finding a woman who can conquer his trust issues is no easy feat. Brooke is exactly the kind of woman he doesn’t need.

Pulled together by some invisible force, can Brooke and Nicholas overcome their differences to uncover true love?

Add it to your Goodreads shelf here

If you’d like to catch up with book 1, Excess Baggage, read it here

The book will be available to read for FREE via Kindle Unlimited from 28th September.

Connect with Laura

laura

Laura Barnard lives in Hertfordshire, UK and writes romantic comedy or ‘chick lit’ as its so often described. In her spare time she enjoys drinking her body weight in tea, indulging in cupcakes the size of her face and drooling over hunks like Jamie Dornan, Ryan Gosling and Leo Dicaprio.

She enjoys wearing yoga pants and reading fitness magazines while sitting on the sofa eating chocolate. She’s a real fan of the power nap, loves setting her friends up together and of course READING!

She writes not to get rich or famous, but because she LOVES writing. Even if one person tells her they enjoyed her book it makes the midnight typing worth it!

She’s an Amazon best seller and also the winner of Favourite British Author 2016 – Two Peas in a Pod Reader’s Choice Awards and Favourite Romantic Comedy Author 2016 – Obsessed with Books Indie World Awards.

Website

Goodreads

The Christmas Surprise by Samantha March @BySamanthaMarch

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Length: 77 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for the book

What they say: Juliette Mabry is a happily married stay-at-home wife and mother…until there appears to be trouble brewing in her nearly ten-year marriage. Juliette takes it upon herself to find out if her husband is up to no good, but does she want to know the truth? Everything is revealed on Christmas, and Juliette is in for her biggest Christmas surprise.

The review: First off I have to mention that the author of this book is none other than Samantha March, who runs blog tours on Chick Lit Plus. I have always followed Ms. March on both Facebook and her blog and love how her posts are so bright, inspirational and motivational. There was also the fact that I knew she had written a great deal of books (see them here) and so, when I saw this for free last year (£0.99 now), well, you know, you’re always curious, aren’t you? So I guess I’m starting off my Christmas books here. I know it’s early, but I think it’s going to be another year where there’s going to be a lot of excellent titles out here (last year I steered very clear but the year before I read a fair few, see wrap up here) so off we go!

This story starts with a lady in a toilet stall, listening to the rumour mill starting up about someone’s partner having an affair and I was intrigued straight away. The scene was reminiscent of Desparate Housewives, and indeed this programme was mentioned, with our protagonist wondering if they could be talking about her best friend, who had once been caught sleeping with her gardener. And this was the essence of the story, which had me so early on, and kept me through every twist and turn with its ‘who can you trust?’ tale of betrayal and deceipt. It featured lavish lifestyles, yoga and Botox, but with more likeable characters than I’d have expected from a book set in this backdrop. The descriptions were beautiful and grabbed you and put you right there, the suspence got you and I read it in an evening. The only issue I had was that I felt it could have been just a little braver, but saying this I enjoyed the ending. Add to this that it was a free Christmas read which made it that little bit more satisfying! This is a book that will definitely send me back to Ms. March’s back catalogue.

Rating: 4.5/5

 

The Breakdown by @BAParis @StMartinsPress

 

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Length: 337 pages

As usual the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say: It all started that night in the woods.

Cass Anderson didn’t stop to help the woman in the car, and now she’s dead.

Ever since, silent calls have been plaguing Cass and she’s sure someone is watching her.

Consumed by guilt, she’s also starting to forget things. Whether she took her pills, what her house alarm code is – and if the knife in the kitchen really had blood on it.

Bestselling author B A Paris is back with a brand new psychological thriller full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

The Review: To this, and a book that is probably on every single review website that I follow. I had heard so much about this book,  mixed reviews, with a lot of people saying it was a standout book for them and so I pounced. I have to say I did really enjoy this. This is very much a book for those who don’t like too much toughness or gore but enjoy their suspense. The beginning of the book IS probably a standout for me, despite all the thrillers I’ve read since I can still remember the weather, the torrential rain pouring as Cass tries to get home to her husband, Matthew. You know when the rain gets so bad that you’re staring in horror at the windscreen, thinking that anything could happen because you can’t see a thing? Well this is what happened to Cass, in the dark of night, and so she makes a choice that will change everything for her.

‘I veer off to the left, taking the shortcut that Matthew didn’t want me to take. A horn blares angrily behind me and as the sound chases me down the pitch- black lane into the woods, it feels like an omen. Even with my headlights full on, I can barely see where I’m going and I instantly regret the brightly lit road I left behind. Although this road is beautiful by day-it cuts through bluebell woods- its hidden dips and bends make it treacherous on a night like this.’

Hook, line and sinker. I was totally in. What happens then is horrible but so realistic (in a way, if you know what I mean, I don’t come across this sort of stuff myself, but it could happen!) Cass sees a girl sitting in a car at the side of the road. She wonders should she get out, is the car broken down or is the girl just waiting out the rain like herself? and has that pull of conscience we all experience at times, she wants to get home to the safety of her own house, but doesn’t think it’s right that she should leave. Of course she justifies driving off (with justifications I’d have used myself) and everything trickles into motion for a book thats ridden with guilt and uncertainty. As you can see from the blurb above, Cass is what you call an unreliable narrator, we don’t know if we can believe her version of events and to cement this we get a story that deserves a special mention, that of her mother, which had me shed a tear at the story of Cass’ mother and which gave it an added edge over other thrillers.

I really really enjoyed this book, with its many characters, that did keep you guessing. I had an idea what had happened earlier on, but didn’t guess the finer details. I did think it could have been slightly shorter, there was a bit of repetition for me in the middle, and conversely the ending felt like it was thrust at you too quickly and to be honest was just an ickle bit far fetched. Saying that, as a read in its totality I didn’t want to put it down, I was glued in a way I’ve only been for a handful of reads. All in all very much recommended (and I will be recommending it!) and I look forward to reading Behind Closed Doors. Thanks to the lovely people at St Martins press and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: Even with my issues, I think it’s got to be a 5/5 !

 

About the author

baparis

B.A. PARIS is the New York Time, USA Today, and internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors. She grew up in England but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters.

Find her on twitter @BAParisAuthor

Saven Deception (Saven Series book 1) by Siobhan Davis @siobhandavis

index

Length: 437 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for the book

Another day, another person from the Imagine, Write Inspire Group that I am so lucky enough to be a member of (it’s led by the brilliant Carmel Harrington). And my word, what a person! Here was a USA Today bestselling author who was focused, motivated and super duper talented, but also incredibly, incredibly helpful and ready to give advice on all things writing and publishing to all who needed it. Her books (see them here ) were charting high and being gushed about by people I held in very high regard and so I jumped straight in. I’d actually never read a science fictiony, young adult book before The True Calling Series (I will get to them another day, needless to say I was fully grabbed by them), but with every syllable I was hooked. After such an experience where one of the first books I recommended to people was said series, I wondered whether I could possibly like these as much. There was no need to worry- this book (and series!) is EPIC (jumps about excitedly!!). By the way I feel I have to point out, she’s a book blogger too!! (Her blog is http://myyanabookobsession.com/ )

Note: I apologise for all gushing and exclamation marks used within this entire post, but I do feel they’re warranted(!;)) Also, I generally give a note with books I’ve received from the author to say I received it in return for an honest review. I bought this myself, but as you can guess I am wowed and in awe of Siobhan, and know her well from social media and have met her a number of times, so although ALL of my reviews are ALWAYS 100% HONEST, I feel I have to re-iterate that here, because I know people can have their doubts when it comes to people reviewing authors they have met/ know/ are inspired by ( a pity, but I don’t blame them.)

What they say: THE TRUTH DOESN’T ALWAYS SET YOU FREE

I’ve fallen hard for an alien, but he’s harboring secrets.
Massive secrets that threaten the very essence of humanity.
How can I give him my heart when his race plans on taking my future?

Sadie Owens has been slowly dying inside. Bit by bit, piece by piece, day by day. Trapped in a life she hates, she relies on only one person–herself.

Despised by her family and betrayed by an unscrupulous government, Sadie dreams of a different life. When she is chosen to participate in the government’s new social experiment, she is ecstatic at the prospect of spending six months in Thalassic City, the shiny new city under the sea.

Immediately drawn to Logan Chandler, Sadie is captivated by the beautiful boy with the ocean-blue eyes. Logan seems to embody everything that has been forbidden, but he isn’t all he appears to be.

Confused over Logan’s true intentions and concerned when best friend Jenna starts transforming in front of her eyes, Sadie partners with newcomer Jarod in a bid to uncover the government’s real agenda. The truth is more shocking than anything she could ever have imagined.

When Sadie finally understands why the Saven walk among us, will it be too late to save her heart and the human race?

The Review: I have to admit that I somewhat dropped the ball here, I should be quoting and quoting and quoting, but when I get fully invested in a book one of two things happen, either I highlight practically the whole book, or I forget to highlight and add notes altogether and next thing I’m a bit stuck, obviously, number two happened in this case, apologies.

The book opens with a definition of the word ‘conscience’ and a doctor, leaving her office. The scene is set immediately.

‘Dr Evan Taylor locked her office door and walked briskly out of the building. Tugging the collar of her brown cashmere coat over the nape of her neck, she strode across the empty parking lot, the wind whipping her long copper coloured hair in a mass of tangles over her face.’

There is an incident and we’re left with no doubt that Evana has been dealt a terrible, terrible hand, with no choice but to comply with people who have decided she is to be their teacher.

Next we move to the first person voice who has escaped where the toil she is supposed to be undertaken, and apprehended by the Robo-police who is – ‘part human, part-robot, and not one of the pure cloned kind’ who informs us that the escapee is

‘Sadie Owens. Seventeen years of age. Sector Fourteen. Medi-Tech employee’

who is out twenty three minutes before curfew. Now all the curiousity/ attention grabbing buttons were well and truly pressed. We are shown how life is divided in terms of class and we also see Sadie’s life outside of work, with a family that weren’t exactly showering her with love. As a result when she is told she is to take part in the government’s pilot programme ‘The Experimento’ where she is to be moved to a settlement under water she leaves quick smart, her only worry being leaving her beloved sister behind.

I cannot gush enough about this book. The pacing was amazing, with action suddenly hitting you between the eyes to make you sit up even straighter, the romance is perfection, captivating, but stopping before the over the top swoony stuff can occur, the characters all excellent in playing their necessary parts (you know, you like the ones you should, are deliciously shocked by those you don’t) and the way the scenes are set play like a film- I could see every mode of transport, every room, every setting with such clarity. Just to cement how much I liked this-after reading on Kindle Unlimited, I bought the boxset of 1, 2 and 2.5 and read all straight way ( I have just seen that the full set is available to pre-order on Amazon- due out this month!). Epic, epic, epic (and you all know how overused I think that word is!) Ridiculously highly recommended.

Rating: 5/5

The Other Side Of The Wall by Andrea Mara

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 Length: 402 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal buy link for Amazon

What they say:

When Sylvia looks out her bedroom window at night and sees a child face down in the pond next door, she races into her neighbour’s garden. But the pond is empty, and no-one is answering the door.

Wondering if night feeds and sleep deprivation are getting to her, she hurriedly retreats. Besides, the fact that a local child has gone missing must be preying on her mind. Then, a week later, she hears the sound of a man crying through her bedroom wall.

The man living next door, Sam, has recently moved in. His wife and children are away for the summer and he joins them at weekends. Sylvia finds him friendly and helpful, yet she becomes increasingly uneasy about him.

Then Sylvia’s little daughter wakes one night, screaming that there’s a man in her room. This is followed by a series of bizarre disturbances in the house.

Sylvia’s husband insists it’s all in her mind, but she is certain it’s not – there’s something very wrong on the other side of the wall.

The Review: I was very lucky to have read an earlier form of this book, as I’m blessed to share online space with Andrea Mara (a freelance journalist whose blog is the brilliant officemum.ie) in the Imagine Write Inspire writing group (come on, I had to!) , led by the most lovely Carmel Harrington, and was blown away that this was a debut. Enough about that, however. This book starts as every thriller should, in the middle of the night, with our lead character woken with a jump. After some time she looks out to see that there’s a child’s body floating in the pond next door, only, on further investigation, there isn’t. And so begins Sylvia’s story, where a series of happenings are making her wonder if there’s something going on with the new people next door, or whether it’s all in her mind.

We have multiple point of views here, as well as following Sylvia on her daily passage as a working mum. The author of this book has, as this is her forte, presented us with various mothers, there’s Sylvia, but there’s also Kate, who is a stay at home mum. I loved the lighter relief of their everyday routines, and the issues that arose with partners, relatives and work but was quickly reeled into the plights of various characters. I felt you were immersed time and time again in the everyday before a new build up started-something beginning to niggle at you before suddenly you were presented with a shock.

I was gripped by the back stories of the various characters (there’s a lot of jumping in terms of timelines, but I enjoyed the way it was done) and in particular that of Kate and her brother, Miller, which was the story that took over my mind both times (I couldn’t review until I had read it in its current form) I put the book down. I’ve probably told you before that my brother has AS and so every time I read about a character who is a little different it takes hold. The treatment of Miller really got to me and I started to feel that whatever we might learn he had done was justified (I know, I know!).

The storytelling was perfection, the descriptions excellent, and I’m always a sucker for multiple point of views and the fact that there were multiple mysteries to be solved too meant this suited me down to the ground. This book isn’t gory but there is the possibility of a few grimaces along the way, the idea of what one character does to another human being being a tough one to stomach. I will say that there was in particular one loose end that I would have enjoyed being tied up a little neater but it niggled at me at the time and then was quickly replaced with memories of other things that had happened. All in all a very atmospheric, memorable thriller (not listed as this on Amazon, is under sagas, literary and fiction?!) that rose to an excellent climax and is beyond beyond (done purposely!!) recommended.

Rating: 5/5

Excerpt: The Big Dreams Beach Hotel by Lilly Bartlett @MicheleGormanUK

 

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Amazon UK

Amazon US

Length: 228 pages

Please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

I’m afraid this is horrendously late, as it was due by the weekend, and a big big apology needs to go to both Michele Gorman and Harper Impulse, but I suppose the silver lining is that instead of telling you to pre-order, I can tell you that The Big Dreams Beach Hotel is now available on Amazon. I’m reading a lot of thrillers at the moment and wanted something a little lighter and I really enjoyed The Second Chance Cafe In Carlton Square (read review here), so when I remembered I had this to promote I went straight to Kindle Unlimited to download. Anyhoo, enough rattling on, here’s the story!

A heartwarming, cosy romance from Sunday Times bestselling author Michele Gorman, now writing as Lilly Bartlett

This is a brand new standalone novel from the author of the Carlton Square series with a whole new cast of characters to fall in love with!

What they say: Wriggle your toes in the sand and feel the warm breeze on your face at the hotel that’s full of dreams…

 Three years after ditching her career in New York City, Rosie never thought she’d still be managing the quaint faded Victorian hotel in her seaside hometown.

 What’s worse, the hotel’s new owners are turning it into a copy of their Florida properties. Flamingos and all. Cultures are clashing and the hotel’s residents stand in the way of the developers’ plans. The hotel is both their home and their family.

 That’s going to make Rory’s job difficult when he arrives to enforce the changes. And Rosie isn’t exactly on his side, even though it’s the chance to finally restart her career. Rory might be charming, but he’s still there to evict her friends.

 How can she follow her dreams if it means ending everyone else’s?

The Excerpt:

New York is where I fell head over heels for a bloke named Chuck. I know: Chuck. But don’t judge him just because he sounds like he should be sipping ice-cream floats at the drive-in or starring in the homecoming football game. Rah rah, sis boom bah, yay, Chuck!

Believe me, I didn’t plan for a Chuck in my life. But that’s how it happens, isn’t it? One minute you’ve got plans for your career and a future that doesn’t involve the inconvenience of being in love, and the next you’re floating around in full dozy-mare mode.

I won’t lie to you. When Chuck walked into our hotel reception one afternoon in late October, it wasn’t love at first sight. It was lust.

Be still, my fluttering nethers.

Talk about unprofessional. I could hardly focus on what he was saying. Something about organising Christmas parties.

‘To be honest, I don’t really know what I’m doing,’ he confided as he leaned against the reception desk. His face was uncomfortably close to mine, but by then I’d lived in New York for eighteen months. I was used to American space invaders. They’re not being rude, just friendly. And Chuck was definitely friendly.

‘I only started my job about a month ago,’ he told me. ‘It’s my first big assignment, so I really can’t fuck it up. Sorry, I mean mess it up.’ His blue (so dark blue) eyes bore into mine. ‘I’m hoping someone here can help me.’

It took all my willpower not to spring over the desk to his aid. Not that I’m at all athletic. I’d probably have torn my dress, climbed awkwardly over and landed face-first at his feet.

Keep him talking, I thought, so that I could keep staring. He looked quintessentially American, with his square jawline and big straight teeth and air of confidence, even though he’d just confessed to being hopeless at his new job. His brown hair wasn’t too long but also wasn’t too short, wavy and artfully messed up with gel, and his neatly trimmed stubble made me think of lazy Sunday mornings in bed.

See what I mean? Lust.

‘I noticed you on my way back from Starbucks,’ he said.

At first, I thought he meant he’d noticed me. That made me glance in the big mirror on the pillar behind him, where I could just see my reflection from where I was standing. At five-foot four, I was boob-height behind the desk in the gunmetal-grey fitted dress uniform all the front-desk staff had to wear. My wavy dark-red hair was as neat as it ever got. I flashed myself a reflected smile just to check my teeth. Of course, I couldn’t see any detail from where I stood. Only my big horsy mouth. Mum says giant teeth make my face interesting. I think I look a bit like one of the Muppets.

‘Do you have the space for a big party?’ he said. ‘For around four hundred people?’

He didn’t mean he’d noticed me; only the hotel. ‘We’ve got the Grand Ballroom and the whole top floor, which used to be the restaurant and bar. I think it’s even prettier than the ballroom, but it depends on your style and your budget and what you want to do with it.’

Based on his smile, you’d have thought I’d just told him we’d found a donor kidney for his operation. ‘I’ve been looking online, but there are too many choices,’ he said. ‘Plus, my company expects the world.’ He grimaced. ‘They didn’t like the hotel they used last year, or the year before that. I’m in over my head, to be honest. I think I need a guiding hand.’

I had just the hand he was looking for, and some ideas about where to guide it.

But instead of jumping up and down shouting ‘Pick Me, Pick Me!’, I put on my professional hat and gave him our events brochure and the team’s contact details. Because normal hotel receptionists don’t launch themselves into the arms of prospective clients.

When he reached over the desk to shake my hand, I had to resist the urge to bob a curtsy. ‘I’m Chuck Williamson. It was great to meet you, Rosie.’

He knew my name!

‘And thank you for being so nice. You might have saved my ass on this one. I’ll talk to your events people.’ He glanced again at my chest.

He didn’t know my name. He’d simply read my name badge.

 

About the author:

Michele Gorman square (2015_02_13 17_34_58 UTC)

Lilly Bartlett’s cosy romcoms are full of warmth, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

Lilly is the pen-name of Sunday Times and USA Today best-selling author, Michele Gorman, who writes best friend-girl power comedies under her own name.