Tag Archive | christmas

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

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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.

Novella Review: The Snowflake Valley Advice Fairy by Holly Tierney-Bedord

thesnowflakevalley

Length: 95 pages

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

What they say: The author of Right Under Your Nose: A Christmas Story brings you another sweet, festive holiday novella.

At just twenty-five years old, Elinor has landed the job of her dreams: She’s going to be Merry the Advice Fairy for the Snowflake Valley Gazette. She’s ecstatic that she’s about to embark on a fun, cushy career while living in the cutest, quaintest town she’s ever known.

She’s barely settled into her desk at work when that famous Snowflake Valley shimmer starts to fizzle. The real Snowflake Valley bears little resemblance to the picture postcard tourist destination she and her family loved when she was a child. Her new co-workers are uninspiring, to say the least, and the problems that people are submitting to the Gazette are much weightier than what she was expecting.

Losing faith in herself, Elinor considers cutting her losses and moving on. However, the attention of hot young reporter Nile might be enough to get her past her chilly start in Snowflake Valley, and back to seeing its charm once again.

 
The Review: It’s funny that the last line of the blurb uses the word ‘charm,’ because no word is more apt for this gorgeous little novella. From the very beginning, where we meet Elinor as she introduced to her new surroundings at the Snowflake Valley Gazette, I could tell this was going to be special. Elinor has some very romanticized visions of Snowflake Valley brought about by her childhood memories of apple picking at Harvest Fest and caroling there at Christmas time, however she soon realizes that there’s a harsh reality out there, and her job is to deal with it, by turning agony aunt and answering the problems people send into the newspaper. I loved the letters, with problems that ranged from heartbreaking to properly hilarious, with one making me say ‘yes!’ as I laughed out loud.

The characters in this book were excellent, the romance lovely, the story brilliantly spun and actually, this is one that I’ll possibly read again. An extremely satisfying read and an author I will most definitely be back to for more and more (by the way I’ve reviewed Boots On The Ground by Ms. Tierney-Bedord here  , Weekend Immune System here and there’s an author interview here).

Thanks to the author for this book in return for an honest review .

Rating: 5/5

About the author

hollytierneybedford

Website

Blog

Twitter:  ( @hollytierney)

Facebook

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#amreading and #outnow ! A Drakenfall Christmas by Geralyn Corcillo

drakenfall-book-cover

Length: 203 pages

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Not long ago I was involved in a release for Catch a Falling Star by Geralyn Corcillo. In this, I told you, I had read a short story called ‘Upstairs, Downstairs and the Lift in Between’ in an romantic comedy anthology called  Love In An Elevator .

I had noted that this was the precursor to a novel and was beyond eagerly awaiting its release. Well, release day came and, alerted by the brilliant Karen Eleni, knowing and loving Geralyn on social media, and being such a fan, I felt I had to mark the arrival of a this gem somehow, knowing that I couldn’t post a review until I take part in its blog tour with H.C.L Book Tours and Author Services in November. So feast your eyes on this gorgeous cover and enjoy! Out now on Amazon and sitting on my Kindle right now!

What they say: Get ready for a Christmas treat, generously sprinkled with laughter and lavishly frosted with romance!

The magic of Drakenfall is in the air, spiced with cinnamon and mistletoe as Lord and Lady Mark and Maisy, along with their madcap staff, welcome Yuletide guests to their country estate-turned-resort.

In an uncharacteristic turn, unflappable house manager Glynis Ferry seems to be getting her duster ruffled every time she catches sight of Shaun Fletcher, the new head groom. Pippa Taylor, a whirling dervish of a domestic, works below stairs to make the magic of Drakenfall happen for everyone else. But will there ever be enough dazzle left over for her? There will if most worthy valet Kafi Diop has anything to say about it, as he tries to spin holiday enchantment every which way. But his best laid plans seem to go cataclysmically awry, even with Maisy helping out as his faithful sidekick.

And what about Kafi’s grandest of schemes, set to take flight at the Drakenfall Christmas Ball? He’s depending on guest Jamie Tovell, who’s depending on his long-time crush Lea Sinclair. But even if everything goes off without a hitch, will the secret Maisy’s been hiding from Mark all season pop up at the most inopportune moment to set everything asunder?

It’s a Drakenfall Christmas … topsy-turvy, romantic, quirky, and heartwarming!

About the Author

thumbnail_GeralynCorcillo

Geralyn’s website: geralyncorcillo.com

Geralyn’s books on Amazon

Geralyn on Goodreads

Geralyn on Facebook

Geralyn on Twitter

My Christmas Wrap up (and an extra little something for Christmas…)

Well, all that’s left is to give an overview of all the Christmas books on my blog. I have to say I enjoyed the books of the festive season so much, they really brought forward all the excitement and cheer of Christmas so that I got into the mood in early October! They were so diverse that I have a few favourites. Not only that, but there’s a few I have no doubt I’ll be recommending a few years on, they dragged me in and wouldn’t let me out of their warm, beautifully festive clutches! You’ll guess what they are from the reviews.

So here it goes. Obviously the list isn’t complete due to the demise of my right hand, my Kindle, but I’ve covered those that I would have gotten a chance to read had my one year old not been curious about the device he sees in my hand most days (read all about it and take a look at the books I had to leave behind here!) The reviews are linked in with the name of the books to make it easier for you. Enjoy and merry Christmas!

If you like them a little bit dark,  geeky … and brilliant The Art Of Christmas (a short story) by Jane Lovering is for you

the art of christmas

If you like them warm, beautiful and magical, with lashings of fairy dust and charm, then Every Time a Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington is for you

everytimea bell

If you like them charming, funny and gorgeously festive, with romance and a nice hint of suspense, then Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence (a novella) by Holly Hepburn is for you.

Snowdrops

If you love a bit of a dash to the altar, coupled with warmth, beauty, festiveness and all in between then Snowed in For Her Wedding (a short story) by Emma Bennet is for you.

Snowed In For Christmas

If you like short, hilarious, mad cap ‘mom lit’ that’ll make you laugh out loud and while away the hours after the kids are gone to bed, then Survival of The Christmas Spirit by Aimee Horton (short story) is for you.

SurvivalOfTheChristmasSpirit

If you like them spooky, kooky and yet warm, christmassy and funny then Make A Christmas Wish by Julia Williams is for you.

make a christmas wish

If you like books with  beautiful characters, stunning Christmas scenes and gorgeous romance with some comedy in there too, then Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan is for you.

ChristmasEverAfter

If you like a warm, magical, festive ‘dreams can come true’ romantic comedy, then Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale is for you.

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses

If you like them to be all about family getting together at Christmas, with pandemonium and brightness and festiveness, tears and smiles, then An Endless Christmas (a novella) by Cynthia Ruachti is for you.

Anendlesschristmas

If you want to go on a Christmassy road trip, that’s bright, festive, and all about goodwill and cheer, with a reminder of the holy side of Christmas, then The Christmas Joy Ride by Melody Carlson is for you.

TheChristmasJoyRide

I’ll finish with All I Want for Christmas, a piece I’m very proud of as it was written by our Imagine, Write, Inspire writing group led by the amazing Carmel Harrington (I know, blatant self promotion here, but I honestly think you’ll enjoy!). So if you like one long festive, quirky romantic comedy, narrated by different people to give different parts of our lead character’s story, then All I Want for Christmas is for you!

alliwant

 

 

The Art of Christmas by Jane Lovering

the art of christmas

What they say: What if the memories of Christmas past were getting in the way of Christmas future?
It’s been nearly two years since Harriet lost Jonno, but she’s finally decided that it’s time to celebrate Christmas again.

Then she finds a stash of graphic novels belonging to her comic book-loving husband in the attic, and suddenly her world is turned upside down once more.

With the help of eccentric comic book dealer Kell Foxton, she discovers that the comics collected by Jonno are not only extremely valuable, but also hold the key to his secret life – a life that throws Harriet’s entire marriage and every memory she has of her husband into question.

As Harriet grows closer to Kell, she begins to feel like she could learn to love Christmas again – but first, she needs to know the truth.

The review: First off, look at that gorgeous cover, I think it is one of my favourite covers this Christmas! Actually, speaking of Christmas, before I do my Christmas wrap up I have to say a lovely thing to do is to go on Amazon and do a Christmas search and look at all the fabulous covers of the reads, and associated and recommended reads that come up. There are some shockingly stunning beauts out there and hopefully you’ll enjoy thralling through them all!

This is for those of you that want something that little bit different this Christmas. We meet Harriet as she wonders how to start living again, after the loss of her husband. This involves an attempt at making life festive again through rediscovering the trappings of Christmas, which are done beautifully. She finds some comics that are called Corinthia and The Bear. The artwork and the story-line grabs her, as she finds parallels between herself and Corinthia, a character who is beautiful, strong, but dark and tormented. I have to admit my inner geek adored the stories, I found the descriptions enthralling and would have loved to see them myself! The introduction of Kell is great and brings with it some twists that had me lapping up every word. I suppose my only issue with it would have been the time line, which I just have to mention as it niggled at me a little as I’m not a fan of books where romance develops so suddenly. Kell was a fantastic character, as was Harriet, and their chemistry was beautiful.

Apologies for the briefness of this review but as you know my Kindle was damaged and I have now lost some of the notes that were on it. I definitely recommend this for something that little bit darker (just a shade) for Christmas and was disappointed that it wasn’t a book I heard more about because it was just the thing for me and I definitely think it’s worth a go for others (it’s also only 77 pages long so really, why wouldn’t you?!) Highly recommended.

Rating 4.75/5

Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

everytimea bell

 

What they say: ‘Beautiful and uplifting…Written with such heart it warms the soul’ – Claudia Carroll, bestselling author of ‘Meet Me in Manhattan’

‘A compelling, magical, festive cracker of a book’ – Alexandra Brown, bestselling author of ‘The Great Village Show’

An angel gets its wings…

Belle has taken all the Christmas decorations down. This year they won’t be celebrating.

As foster parents, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life. They’ve loved them as if they were their own. They shouldn’t have favourites but little Lauren has touched their hearts. And now her mother is well enough to take her back and Belle can’t bear the loss.

Hence, Christmas is cancelled.

So when Jim crashes his car one icy December night, after an argument about Lauren, Belle can only blame herself. Everything she loves is lost. And Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born.

But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening…

Will Belle realise, before it’s too late, that her life iof all?

Inspired by the timeless tale of beloved Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, Carmel Harrington’s next book tells the story of Belle, a young woman and foster carer from Dublin who faces the hardest decision of her life this Christmas on The Ha’Penny Bridge.

Full of Irish charm, magic, and the warmth of the festive season this is an emotional, heartwarming story that will stay with you long after you’ve reached ‘The End’. Perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern & Jojo Moyes.

Carmel is the bestselling author of The Life You Left & Beyond Grace’s Rainbow, voted Romantic eBook of the Year 2013.

 

The review: Just to start by saying I was thrilled to finally get to this book who is by Carmel Harrington, the mother hen in the Imagine, Write, Inspire group (apologies for the link, but you NEED to see their work!), a writing group of which I am a proud member (now apologies for this blatant self promotion, as I have contributed to all books here!). Carmel’s success from uber-successful self publisher to ultra-successful published author is the stuff of legends (you’ll hear many a writing group leader sit down to wondrously tell the story to their charges);), and I was so excited to hear she was putting out a Christmas book!

Every Time a Bell Rings is one of those Christmas books that fits in perfectly with the time of year. Just look at that beautiful cover! The wondrousness of the season was sealed from the start as we meet Belle and Jim, happy and so in love. There is then a whoosh back to when Belle is eight and we learn of her unhappy childhoods moving from foster home to foster home until she settles with Tess. Tess was warm and loving and I knew that she would change things, especially when held up against their social worker, who was quite the witch. I then promptly worried to what was going to happen to her! The scenes of Belle’s childhood are well done, we get a real sense of who she is and what she’s come to expect of life, as well as how life has let her down. We then continue on to her new life with Jim.

Now, the blurb tells us all about Belle and Jim but actually what happens to them doesn’t come until sixty percent on the Kindle, the book is as much about their pasts than anything else and, for me, that’s as great as what happens after (it’s all good!). When things do start to happen for Belle, it is done absolutely brilliantly. I know that Ms. Harrington had said that this was based on ‘It’s a wonderful life,’ but I couldn’t remember the film so I’m just going to say it also resembled A Christmas Carol (no hate mail concerning my ignorance, please!). The magic, the angel, the way it all kicks off, was spine-tingling and yet also funny and I truly could not put it down. When I had to (kids ), it tumbled around in my head, my mind trying to figure out what was going to happen. I was not disappointed.

Great book, heartwarming, beautiful and unputdownable. I would have but two things about Every Time a Bell Rings, firstly, I have to warn that there is some cursing. As you know this has to be mentioned as I have received emails (albeit only two, but still!) saying that I should warn about bad language in reviews, so while it isn’t too bad, there’s a little bit in it. The other thing is the irish-isms. There’s a lot of them, it’s very irishy. A lot of slang sayings I’ve heard used and some I haven’t. To be honest that wouldn’t usually be my cup of tea but it fits in with the book nicely so it didn’t quite bother me as much as it usually would.

The last thing I have to mention, because I adored them so much, was the little quotes at the start of each chapter. There were some serious gems in there that I highlighted to look at again and they were so diverse in origin, adding to their value.

All in all, a beautiful book that I would highly recommend if you want to sprinkle some fairy-dust onto your Christmas reading pile this year.

Rating 4.5/5