Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown by Katey Lovell

joeandclara

Length: 339 pages

As always please note that the cover image leads to a universal Amazon buy link for the book

What they say:

As Christmas approaches Joe Smith knows he should be celebrating with friends and family, making the most of the season. But for Joe, Christmas only holds painful memories. Ones he can feel crushing his heart, a reminder of a time he can never forget.

Clara O’Connell loves Christmas. For her it is the most magical time of the year. And she’s determined to make Joe love it too! She knows he’s hurting, but maybe she can help to ease his pain. Her plan: One special gift every day to remind Joe just how loved he is.

But the clock is ticking. Will the Christmas magic wear off at midnight or will Clara’s Christmas countdown be the perfect gift to heal Joe’s broken heart? And in doing so, maybe she will get a gift in return…Joe’s love for Christmas and forever…?

The Review: You’ll remember I reviewed The Singalong Society for Singletons (review here) and raved about Three Men and A Maybe (read here ), and knew that Katey Lovell was sealed in my head as someone who’s Christmas reads were to look out for, thanks to sparkly, magical, warm settings that enveloped me like a warm blanket. And so to this-Joe and Clara’s Countdown, a book that did the same in terms of glitter and magic, but didn’t quite hold my attention in terms of drama or lead characters, which was a pity.

So we come into this book knowing that both Joe and Clara have issues, Clara has been cheated on and Joe has had something in his past we need to find out about plus issues with stress. I liked both characters, plus loved that Joe didn’t like Christmas while Clara loved it. And so Clara is charged with changing Joe’s opinion of Christmas. So far, so yay! It was a very descriptive book, which I’m not normally a fan of, but so magical, dreamy and faraway in terms of Christmassyness, that I was kept interested and smiling as we followed Clara’s journey to convince Joe of the majesty of Christmas. And this book had it all in terms of the festive season, people would be hard done by to not find themselves warming at all the traditions, some I knew, others I didn’t, as Clara and Joe manned Christmas at The Club Around The Corner, a youth club in bad need of funding, with the brilliantly forward Deirdre.

To be honest I missed any sense of urgency surrounding the plight of the club, and missed finding out a little bit more about the kids, which would have helped me feel for it a bit more. This seemed to be my problem throughout actually, as although I wanted to delve into Joe’s past, I didn’t feel any sort of a ‘will they, won’t they’. Instead I found myself wondering what was taking them so long, and even when their reasons were revealed, I just didn’t connect with them, and I think that was my problem.

I loved the references that were right up my alley, with X factor and Simon Cowell mentioned, Take That, Foo Fighters, Blink 182, Morecambe and Wise Christmas special, Gameboys and Morrissey having me nod along! All in all I think people who like light romance with some beautiful Christmas description. Conversely the people who generally skip descriptiveness, might not enjoy this as for me I was more invested in the magic of Christmas as opposed to Clara or Joe and their story or relationship. Saying that I am still a huge fan of the author, and will definitely look out her next book and hopefully it will strike the same chord as the two previous to this.

Thanks so much to Harper Impulse and Netgalley for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5/5

Fall Into Magic by Melissa Baldwin

fall

Length: 128 pages

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

What they say:

After a devastating breakup in the middle of her summer vacation, Summer Peters knows she needs something to distract her. What better than the arrival of fall, Halloween, and a new client? Though she assumes that Alexander Williams will be a hands-off client, she is surprised to find him very down-to-earth. She’s immediately drawn to him, much to the dismay of his overprotective assistant. When it becomes obvious that he feels the same, she begins to wonder if their meeting was meant to be.

Just when she thinks she could be ready to move on with her life, her ex-boyfriend Jake returns for a second chance. She’s in for even more of a surprise when she learns her nosy, meddling neighbor is actually a psychic pushing to reveal details of her future.

Summer doesn’t know which way to turn as she feels like she’s being pulled in different directions. Between Alexander, his assistant, and her ex-boyfriend, she fears she may not be ready to move on after all. She considers turning to her neighbor for advice but the fear of knowing exactly what the future holds is more frightening than not knowing.

The Review: From Christmas to Autumn (or Fall as it is known across the seas) and onto a another book I’ve been waiting to review for too long. This is part of the Seasons of Summer Series (see books on Amazon here) This follows Summer Peters, who has been dumped on holiday. Summer is lost and returns home to work away on ‘Summer Interiors.’ Here we get to meet Alexander, a new client, and I looked forward to the interior design aspect, which I’m always a big fan of in books.

We also meet apsychic, Mrs Rothera, and I was very intrigued as she dispensed advice that made me wonder what may lay in store for summer. Actually as this was so short I should just have read on and so I really have to get back to this series to see just how accurate Mrs Rothera was, with ominous warnings for Summer’s heart! Both comedy and drama were light and enjoyable and I liked the characters that were seemingly likeable and glowered at the characters who seemed to be troublemakers! I would have liked to have a bit more of the FEEL of Halloween and Autumn, but saying that it was still a warm, enjoyable and satisfying read and I will definitely look forward to reading on!
Rating:4/5

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

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Length: 400 pages

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

After yesterday’s review (Tracie Banister’s Mixing It Up) I wondered where to go next. At the mo I’m working through a list of titles which, criminally, I’ve read, made notes on, but not reviewed yet, and on opening it up, I came to this and my finger stopped. Since the previous review was all about sophistication, sparkle and amazing romance and chemistry, where better to move to than the gorgeous Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan?

What they say: Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog-walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list – dealing with Madi’s temporary dog-sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi – how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple – he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide 24-hour care. But there’s nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.

Ethan’s kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over, and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all – letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

The Review:

Here, we meet Harriet, who has a brother and sister who are in relationships. Harriet is lonely and wants to change something and so has decided to do one thing a day that challenges herself. I loved the idea of this, although I think I’d probably have liked to have seen a bit more of it, as I had ideas of far out, oddball things she could have done! Saying that, Harriet’s predicament at the start of the book had more than enough quirkiness to stand out and make it very memorable, having me settling down very excited to read on.

Harriet is co-owner of a dog walking business which I loved. The dog aspect of the book is brilliant, especially as we meet Ethan, a very organised ER doctor, who is not quite sure what to do with a dog that is disturbing the peace and his apartment. I loved how Harriet stepped in and immediately was part of the furniture and how everything developed from there. The setting, as always, was perfection, and I drew a breath at how beautiful and magical everything was. The comedy was subtle and well timed and suited me perfectly, as did their back and forths, and I really enjoyed the background characters and the drama, as well as learning about hospital life and procedure.

All in all, dogs, Christmas, comedy and beautiful romance, coated expertly in chemistry made this a very very satisfying Christmas read. People will already know that this book is part of the ‘From Manhattan with Love’ series, but these books don’t need to be read in order, they can most definitely be read as standalones, as the characters are delivered to us in their entirety, with any background needed nicely divulged along the way. Saying that I do have to direct you to some of the other of Ms. Morgan’s Christmas books I’ve adored, below,  as I think they slightly , slightly pipped this one to the post (I’d say just have a Sarah Morgan marathon this Christmas to be honest, she has got the title ‘Queen of Christmas’ for a reason!!!) including Miracle on 5th Avenue (book 3 of this series) or Christmas Ever After. Thanks so much to HQ for this book in return for an honest review.

Also just to let you know the order of the books in this series (universal buy link for them here)

Book 1 Sleepless in Manhattan (read review here)

Book 2 Sunset in Central Park

Book 3 Miracle on 5th Avenue (review 5 star here)

Book 4 New York Actually

Book 5 Holiday in the Hamptons

Book 6 Moonlight Over Manhattan (um, above;))

And, while we’re here I have to add one of my favourite Christmas books ever, Ms. Morgan’s Christmas Ever After, 5 star review here )

Rating: 4.75/5

 

Mixing it up by Tracie Banister

mixing

Length: 470 pages

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

What they say:

Born with a silver spoon in her mouth, Manhattan upper-cruster Cecily Sinclair now uses that pricey utensil to dish up fancy French fare on her cooking show, Serving Romance. When there’s an executive shake-up at the network, she’s not worried. Not much anyway. Her show’s a hit after all. Why would the new CEO want to mess with success?

The driving force behind several buzzed-about networks, Devlin Hayes is considered to be a wunderkind in the television industry. Although his plans to rebrand CuisineTV and make Serving Romance more Millennial-friendly don’t thrill Cecily, her charming, blue-eyed boss is a hard man to say “no” to and she really wants to keep her job—even if that means sharing screen time with a loathsome blast from her past.

Mercurial Italian chef Dante Marchetti a.k.a. “Il Duce” was once Cecily’s boss, and she has the PTSD to prove it. Now the owner of one of the hottest restaurants in town, Dante’s egomania knows no bounds and his constant attempts to provoke and upstage Cecily make her want to conk him on the head with a sauté pan. She thinks they’re toxic together, but viewers love their chemistry and clamor for more.

As Cecily battles to maintain the integrity of her show, she finds herself scheming and manipulating right along with Dante and Devlin. Is she fighting a lost cause? Does she really belong on TV, or would her culinary talent be better served elsewhere? And could one of the men who makes Cecily’s blood boil ignite a passion in her for something other than food?

The Review: Okay so I’m not going to bore you again with how rubbish I am at cooking, and how much food and baking and cooking stories and blogs make me so so happy. As a result when I saw this I was beyond thrilled, and, knowing Tracie Banister’s impeccible style and sophistication in terms of chick lit made me hit pre order straight away. It is beyond regretful that it’s taken me this long to get to the review, especially as I had read Ms. Banister’s ‘In Need Of Therapy’ (read review here) and loved it. No more that here, I often find reading blogs and blogging tears you away from the books you started the blog for, sparkling treats that pull you out of reading ruts, and this is one of those books.
We are set up with a bang into the world of tv cooking and this, put with that great cover, placed me firmly there, at Cuisine tv with Cecily Sinclair, whose identity is her cookery show Serving Romance. Of course in tv land nothing stays the same for long enough and, when a shake up takes place in the studios, Cecily’s show gains a guest host. I was excited that I heard Dante was difficult to work with, and settled into a read that beyond flew by.

The dialogue in this book (I won’t say between who!), when snippy, was so funny, and when loaded, was electric. The romance was of the fluttery yet hot type, the comedy sparkling, and the characters perfection. I actually learned from the food talk, and came away from the book feeling like I do when I get to watch QI, satisfied and that little bit more knowledgeable.  All in all this is definitely a book that fans of sophisticated, sparkly, bright, intelligent romance will love, as I did.

Rating: 5/5

Reach For The Stars by Coleen Coleman

Cover Reveal! The Choir on Hope Street by Annie Lyons

I’m thrilled today to be bringing you the sparkly new cover for The Choir on Hope Street by Annie Lyons, which I really enjoyed! Plus at the moment it’s only £1.01 on Amazon! And so to the lovely new cover!

thechoiron

Length: 337 pages

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

What they say:

It’s time to face the music

Natalie’s husband has just dropped a bombshell she never expected. Six little words no women ever wants to hear – ‘I don’t love you anymore’ – and her whole world has been turned upside-down.

Caroline’s difficult mother has been kicked out of her nursing home! And with no one else able to take her in, she’s going to have to put the past behind her and invite her to stay.

Nat and Caroline might live just a few doors away from each other but the two neighbours couldn’t be more different! Yet when the beloved Hope Street community hall is threatened with closure, only the community choir can save the day – if they can just find the perfect song in time…

A gorgeously uplifting romantic comedy to make your heart sing! Perfect for fans of Debbie Johnson and Kat French.

Review (posted first on April 3rd (read here instead if you want!) but reposted to make it a bit easier on you to find it again!):  I think one of the best parts of being a book blogger is when you review a book from an author that you know you enjoy (as you can see from my review of the brilliant Life or Something Like it which you can find here ), so to be part of the blog tour for said author is something very special indeed.

The book began simply but with a bang.

“‘I don’t love you any more.’ That was it. Six words delivered so simply, as if he were reading the news.”

From these few lines on I felt for Natalie Garfield, who had just been delivered the life shattering lines. Natalie isn’t quite sure where it all went wrong, they were the solid couple, the couple that would never be in trouble and yet here she is. Natalie was one heck of a character. A children’s book writer (yay!), she was understandably a bit of a mess, trying to muddle through for the sake of her child Woody (who was just so so gorgeous). What was so excellant was that even as she muddled through, even as she was down and falling apart, we could still see her character shine through, you could still see how much fun she was, how thoughtful and how out there she was and this made me want to read her story. There was another story going on at the same time, and what a tribute to Ms Lyons that I wanted to hear this one as much as that of the amazing Natalie.

Caroline, said other voice in the book, was right before my eyes from the second I began to read her- an always smiling, always in control, never a hair out of place, need to look good for the husband to keep the marriage alive type of mother who was just perfection.

“I don’t mean to sound judgemental but I despair of playground mothers sometimes. Where is their self respect? We’re all pushed for time in the mornings – the least we can do is apply a little eyeliner and make ourselves presentable. We’re supposed to be role models for the next generation, after all.”

I adored her too and couldn’t wait to see how the two characters would work/ clash with each other when they both decided to work towards keeping open the community centre on Hope Street by setting up a choir and competing to gain some coverage of the centre’s plight, aided by Natalie’s noteriety as a writer and Caroline’s can-do, must-do attitude.

When I tell you that the two characters were both amazing in their own way, the journey they go through together is something special as they try to understand each other (including parenting styles), getting Caroline to face up to some very harsh realities, including her relationship with her mother which was both shocking and so so moving (yes, I did cry). Natalie and Caroline were a very special coupling, and it’s difficult to stop talking about them, but I have to, to remind you that this is a book about the setting up of a choir, with, again, brilliantly written, genius personalities, and magnificent descriptions of locations, buildings, songs and harmonies. I’ll be honest, I could gush about this book all day,  a fun, funny, beautiful, gripping, fantastic story that just cements Annie Lyons in my authors to remember list (yes, I do have one of these!) and tells me I have to get back to her excellent backlog (see them here). A must read. Thanks so much to Harpercollins and Ms. Lyons for this lovely book in return for an honest review.

About the author

annielyons

Do you know sometimes you can’t beat the words from the author themself? Read a detailed, absolutely lovely description of Ms Lyons’ Works and brilliant achievements here

Her books (again lifted from her lovely website!)

Amazon Author Page

Hope you enjoyed that, plus it reminded me to go back and read the review for Life Or Something Like It (read it here), which I adored, and in the meantime I also bought Not Quite Perfect here !)

 

No One Ever Has Sex On Christmas Day by Tracy Bloom

What better way to start December than a Christmas read? So here’s one that’ll be hard to beat!

noone

Length: 298 pages

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

What they say: A dream family Christmas or a total nightmare? Katy and Ben are about to find out…

Katy’s been stuck in the office away from her family so she wants it all: snow (fake or real), the Michael Bublé Christmas album, whatever it takes.

There’s only one thing missing as far as her husband Ben is concerned: another baby to complete their family. But Katy isn’t so sure she’s ready yet…

Ben may be playing the role of Master Elf in the pre-school nativity but he is struggling to master his own family life. With romantically-challenged friends, an ex who refuses to go away and Katy’s mum’s 64-year-old toy boy thrown into the mix, Christmas looks like it could be going off the rails… Never mind family planning, can Katy and Ben even plan to make it to the end of Christmas Day?

From the no. 1 bestselling author of No-one Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday, this book will make you cry with laughter, and then book your flights abroad for the festive season. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Milly Johnson.

The review: I know I’ve said this before, but how frigging excellent is it when you go looking for an author on Amazon because you loved their sense of humour, settings and everything else and find they have numerous books out?! (Yes, it’s gonna be another gushy one, everyone beware!)

So, to start off with, this is a book that has a smattering of characters, all with different roles, and all equally memorable, which is just how I like it. We begin the story with a  lead up to Christmas. Katy’s husband, Ben, has decided to pull out all the stops in terms of Christmas decorating, and we receive the news that Katy’s mum has been having a fling with a younger Spanish man, and wants to bring him to theirs for Christmas dinner.

From the off I found the humour to be loud, but not crude, which is exactly what I love and by only eight percent in I had already laughed (properly) or smiled about six times! I highlighted on and on which was ridiculous, but from the sense of being IN the story, to the comedy, to the characters-well, I just couldn’t stop!

There was Katy and Ben, where Katy wasn’t sure which should take precedence, her career or another baby, which was what her husband, Ben wanted. Ben was a stay at home dad, and I adored his little flip outs that reminded me of the crazy days- the ones where things don’t go to plan and you feel like you’re juggling everything on your own but don’t want to upset the bread winner, as they’ve so much on their plate too.

We also got to see into other people’s homes, Alison and Matthew, with Alison, hmm, let’s just say she was a little bit het up over things that may or may not have been necessary to get so upset over (her twins ‘ place in the nativity play ruining their whole future for one!). This also led us to meet the brilliant Ian, a well known womaniser with eyes for their nanny, much to Alison’s horror!

Their was also Ben’s best friend, Braindead who I adored (adored, adored!) who had decided that maybe he was one for committment with his long term girlfriend, another excellent character!

This is perfect for people who heart films such as ‘This Years Love’ with laugh out loud moments, heartwarming ‘aww’ moments, all put together with some nailbiting ‘what are they going to DO?!’ bits. Loved it! Thanks so much to Boookouture and Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Note 1: My only problem was that I hadn’t read Tracy Bloom’s other books first and met the characters. I had read it as a standalone but wished I’d read in order. But you can (and I will go back!)! Find them here!

Note 2: Watch out for where the title is mentioned in the book. You won’t expect it!

Rating: 5/5