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

 

My ‘to do’ blogging list … scuppered!

I posted this to Facebook this morning (sans pictures with links embedded of course!):

To do list for blogging before Christmas:

Review Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

everytimea bell
Review The Art Of Christmas by Jane Lovering

the art of christmas

Finish reading:
My Big Fat Christmas Wedding by Samantha Tonge (which am loving so far!)

mybigfatchristmaswedding
The Chocolate Lovers’ Christmas by Carole Matthews (I won’t lie, I’m struggling with this one)

thechocolatelovers
A beginner’s Guide to Christmas (book before the Beginner’s Guide to Salad, which was one of my favourite books this year, still to be reviewed, by Jennifer Joyce)

abeginnersguideto chrisbeginnersguidetosalad
The Mince Pie Mix up also by Jennifer Joyce. Loving this!

 

the mince pie mix up

Read
Wish upon A Christmas Cake by Darcie Boleyn

wishuponachristmascake
and
The Boy Under the mistletoe by Katie Lovell (a short, have read all the others in the ‘Meet Cute’ series and they’re so handy and lovely

theboyunderthemistleto
So this is all narrowed down from all the Christmas books I accumulated recently. I had such plans but just didn’t have the correct timeline in mind. I can now see why people have Christmas during the year segments to help them catch up but I’ve narrowed down the above because they’re special to me and the only one am struggling with is Carole Matthews, which is a pity as I have so many of her Christmas paperbacks at home from when I was younger, perhaps it’s a case that I’ve grown out of her work:(

Lastly, sit down and write my ‘wrap ups’ for Christmas and 2015. Really looking forward to this!

 

About five minutes after I posted this, I looked over to see my one year old had my Kindle. You can guess what happens next. As I was thinking ‘I’d better grab that off him,’ he threw it to the ground and now the screen has gone. Long story short I’m taking it as a sign from the gods and now I will be reviewing and wrapping up only before launching into the paperbacks I’ve had waiting for eons from Sophie Kinsella and Marian Keyes and a few glitzy magazines and Sunday papers I haven’t been able to relax enough to read!!! My Christmas reading list is gone. As I said above I had narrowed down my Christmas reading list and was sure I’d have had my final books done by Wednesday at the latest to give readers a chance to use my reviews to pick their Christmas read. I was so close. So very close. Gutted.

Snowed In For Her Wedding (a short story) by Emma Bennett

 

Snowed In For Christmas

What they say: It should be the perfect wedding day . . . But has Gwen’s groom got cold feet and will he make it through the snow in time?

A lovely Christmas romance short read that you won’t want to put down.
Christmas is coming to the little Welsh town of Tonnadulais, and the much-loved characters from ‘The Green Hills of Home.’ But this year it’s somewhat overshadowed by a rather special wedding taking place on Christmas Eve.

Local girl Gwen Jones is finally marrying her man, London publisher John Thatcher, and she couldn’t be happier. Though as her friends and beloved mother help her prepare for the big day, Gwen can’t suppress the little nagging doubt that John shouldn’t still be stuck working in London the day before their wedding. Has the city boy changed his mind about marrying his country girl?

When a huge snow storm hits, it seems John might not to be able to make it back to her, whether he wants to or not.

Join Gwen, John, and Oscar the dog, in this Christmassy treat guaranteed to get you in the festive spirit!

Emma Bennet is the best-selling romance author of His Secret Daughter, I Need A Hero, and The Green Hills of Home.

The Review: You’ll probably remember that I quickly became a fan of Emma Bennet on reading I Need A Hero. I have recently devoured His Secret Daughter (review to come) and so when I saw this FREE on Amazon I was tres excited! I’m afraid one book I haven’t got to is The Green Hills of Home, which comes before this but it’s a given that I’ll be heading there very soon (it worked fine as a standalone but once you read this you’ll be wanting to head back to it so maybe get that first!).

From the start I was taken by the country house in Tonnadulais, with Gwen Jones, her mother Edith and her best friend, Sarah, excitedly planning the wedding of Gwen and John, who had been engaged for more than a year. The flurry of activity, the house and its surroundings were warm and homely, and added to the sense of Christmas. We soon met John and realised that his priorities were a little different as he rushed to get work done that didn’t seem to be connected to the wedding.

I was quickly sucked in to Gwen’s insistences that the wedding would NOT be called off, despite building snow, and adored the off the wall contingencies put in place to replace the more traditional wedding fare. The race to the altar was simultaneously funny and heart-warming and the people of Tonnadulais stole my heart as they rallied around their girl, Gwen. In short, loved all the characters, inhaled the drama that was so light and yet pulled me along with it, craved the beauty and festiveness and all in between. Free on Amazon and one of my top reads this Christmas. Enough said. Go get!

Rating: 5/5

Another Heartbeat In The House-nominated for The Irish Book Awards Best Popular Fiction Category

AnotherHeartbeatInTheHouse
What they say:

Two women living a hundred years apart. One home that binds them together.

When Edie Chadwick travels to Ireland to close up her uncle’s lakeside lodge, it’s as much to escape the burden of guilt she’s carrying as to break loose from the smart set of 1930’s London.

The old house is full of memories – not just her own, but those of a woman whose story has been left to gather dust in a chest in the attic: a handwritten memoir inscribed with an elegant signature . . . Eliza Drury

As she turns the pages of the manuscript, Edie uncovers secrets she could never have imagined: an exciting tale of ambition, hardship, love and tragedy – a story that has waited a lifetime to be told. . .

‘A delightful story, rich, engrossing and vividly told’ Rachel Hore

‘A compelling, atmospheric story brimming with period detail about two feisty, independent heroines who will steal your heart’ Cathy Kelly

‘With a marvellously evocative setting, strong and believable lead characters and a pacey plot, Another Heartbeat in the House is a thoroughly compelling love story’ Liz Trenow

 

The Book:

When I received a request to inform readers of the presence of this book among the other gems in The Irish Book Awards 2015 in The Best Popular Fiction category, I was very excited as I’d noticed it when I first rummaged through the contents of the Awards (I’m a big fan and vote and look forwards to them every year). I had previously heard of Liberty Silk, and the gorgeous cover of ‘Another Heartbeat in the House’ was so beautiful that, coupled with the eloquent blurb, I downloaded to my Kindle for future reading straight away!

You can vote for it in the Best Popular Fiction category here
Note: Voting closes at midnight 20th November 2015. Only one vote per email address is accepted.
About the author
Kate Beaufoy

 

Kate Beaufoy has an MA in French and English literature from Trinity College, Dublin.  She began her career as a professional actor – winning a Dublin Theatre Festival Best Actress award – before becoming a full time writer. As Kate Thompson she has had a dozen novels published, including the Number One bestseller The Blue Hour, which was shortlisted for the RNA award.

Kate’s novels have been translated into French, German, Greek, Italian, Czech and Dutch. She has contributed to numerous newspapers and magazines in Ireland and the UK, written and broadcast for RTE, and is regularly invited to participate in literary events across the media.

As Kate Beaufoy her first novel – the critically acclaimed Liberty Silk – spent four weeks on the Irish Times bestseller chart.   Another Heartbeat in the House – charted last summer and, inspired by William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, it tells the story of the woman who became governess to his children and who may have been the prototype for literature’s most enduring and engaging heroine, Becky Sharp.

Kate lives some of the year in Dublin and some on the West coast of Ireland. She is an advanced-level scuba diver, a wild swimmer, a keen practitioner of Bikram yoga, and the fond keeper of a bewitching Burmese cat.

 

Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan

ChristmasEverAfter

What they say: Skylar Tempest has never understood Alec Hunter’s appeal. So what if he’s a world-renowned historian? He’s also cynical, aloof and determined to think the worst of her. So when a twist of fate finds her spending the lead-up to Christmas with Alec and his family, she’s not expecting the season to be either merry or bright.

Alec has learned the hard way not to trust beautiful women―and Skylar is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. But as he watches her throw herself into his family’s festive chaos, Alec realises there is far more to this blonde bombshell than meets the eye.

With Christmas around the corner, Alec and Skylar return to Puffin Island, a tentative bond forged between them. Neither intends to fall in love but as the nights become darker, and the fire between them grows hotter, could this be the chance for Alec and Skylar to find their own happy ending?

Fall in love with the all new Puffin Island series from Sarah Morgan, the bestselling author who brought you Sleigh Bells in the Snow:

Book 1 – First Time in Forever – Out Now!

Book 2 – Some Kind of Wonderful – July 2015

Book 3 – Christmas Ever After – October 2015

‘A gorgeously sparkly romance about letting go and learning to love again. The perfect Christmas read!’ – Julia Williams, bestselling author of Coming Home for Christmas

The Review: “Skylar Tempest stepped out of her hotel and lifted her face to the sky. Soft, thick flakes of snow drifted down from a sky of midnight blue, dusting her hair and blending with the wool of her white coat.”

And so it begins. A beautiful, simple snowy scene as our lead character, Skylar, leaves to attend an exhibition of her new jewelry collection. It is described as the most important night of her life and what follows is indeed that, though not in the way she thinks. Cue the most gripping proposal scene I remember to date, with a result that is unexpected to say the least.

We meet Richard, a character that is absolutely hideous, and yet Ms. Morgan makes him thoroughly believable. In fact the characters in Christmas Ever After all played their parts flawlessly, Alec Hunter, who has a hate/ hate relationship with Sky but becomes a knight in shining armour, his family in the Cotswolds, who are warm, charming and funny, and Sky and Alec’s friends in the beautiful Puffin island. The banter between Alex and Sky was brilliant, as was the way Sky kept surprising everyone. I loved her independence, her work ethic and her personality, especially her sharp wit.

The Christmassy descriptions were beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. The heat between the characters was fan-frigging-tabulous, and perfect! All intense and electrifying and yet so romantic and gorgeous. Swoon. This went hand in hand with the romance which was exemplary – this was possibly one of the most heart catching (you know what I mean) books I have ever read.

My only slight gripe was the ending, which was a tad sudden for me and, I thought, let Sky’s character down just a little, but then, it just wasn’t my type of ending, I know plenty more people who were thrilled with it! This book is one of the Puffin Island Series (it’s book 3) but I read it as a standalone and had absolutely no problem with it being this. Thanks so much to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

To be honest, this is my Christmas book to beat, I adored it that much, and I will most definitely be looking out further books from Ms. Morgan’s extensive collection. A must read (Read it!).

Rating: 5/5

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses by Jenny Hale

Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses

What they say: An uplifting, beautiful story about never letting go of your dreams, the special magic of a family Christmas… and the rush of falling in love under the mistletoe.

Single mother Abbey Fuller loves her family more than anything, and doesn’t regret for a moment having had to put her dreams of being an interior designer on hold. But with her son, Max, growing up, when a friend recommends her for a small design job she jumps at the chance. How hard can it be?

Nick Sinclair needs his house decorated in time for his family’s festive visit – and money is no object. What he doesn’t need is to be distracted from his multi-million dollar business – even if it is Christmas.

When Abbey pulls up to the huge Sinclair mansion, she has a feeling she might be out of her depth. And when she meets the gorgeous, brooding Nicholas Sinclair, she knows that she’s in real trouble…

With the snow falling all around, can Abbey take the chance to make her dreams of being a designer come true? And can she help Nick to finally enjoy the magic of Christmas?

The Review: We meet Abbey Fuller as a hardworking mother of one who has a job caring for Caroline Sinclair, a charming elderly lady. Abbey is employed by Nicholas Sinclair, Caroline’s grandson, who is an extremely rich businessman, with an extravagant house that comes complete with a range of staff. Abbey leads a very different life, happy and in love with her son, Max, and with a close knit family of a very helpful Mum and a granddad that lives close by. Abbey’s problems are purely financial as she worries about how to cater for Max’s Christmas wishes and some medication that her granddad cannot afford to help with his Parkinsons. When, by chance, she’s offered an opportunity to decorate Nick Sinclair’s house she takes it, purely for the money, even though she only has experience of decorating one home.

The Christmas descriptions were absolutely beautiful, amplified by the fact that she was decorating a house at Christmas time with a lavish budget that afforded her the ability to make it truly magnificent. I could see it all and it was wonderful.

Abbey was a gorgeous character, outgoing, charming and very warm. The story-line with her granddad was very touching and I loved that Abbey was so selfless in wanting to give anything she could to help him. The pacing was great too and, although I had to leave the book for a day or two, I welcomed settling back down with it and enjoyed it thoroughly. I suppose my only problem was actually with Nick, who I couldn’t stop seeing as Christian Grey (disclaimer: I have neither read the book nor seen the movie!). Abbey was very naive and a bit too forward with him while he seemed to find her something of a novelty and so that took away some of the magic for me. That being said there were some lovely moments between them that contributed to a very light read that will be welcome for many as they sit in the armchair by the fire surrounded by Christmas finery. Many thanks to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5/5

The Middle of Somewhere by Sonja Yoerg

 The Middle of Somewhere

What they say: A troubled, young widow hikes from Yosemite Valley deep into the wilderness on the John Muir Trail to elude her shameful past in this emotionally gripping story from the author of House Broken.

With her thirtieth birthday looming, Liz Kroft is heading for the hills—literally. Her emotional baggage weighs her down more than her backpack, but a three-week trek promises the solitude she craves—at least until her boyfriend, Dante, decides to tag along. His broad moral streak makes the prospect of confessing her sins more difficult, but as much as she fears his judgment, she fears losing him more. Maybe.
They set off together alone under blue skies, but it’s not long before storms threaten and two strange brothers appear along the trail. Amid the jagged, towering peaks, Liz must decide whether to admit her mistakes and confront her fears, or face the trail, the brothers and her future alone.

The review: First off thanks to Netgalley for the advance copy in return for an honest review. Where to start? The beautiful cover is one place, and I did think it very beautiful, it jumped off the page for me. As an aside, for some reason the blurb doesn’t do it for me, but I suppose it is a difficult feat, because for me this book is so hard to categorize that I feel like the blurb is trying to catch a multitude of readers, where it needn’t, the book is THAT good.

I loved this book. The more I think about it now, the higher in my esteem it climbs, and I only wish I had the paperback, because I think a paperback version would suit this. First the main characters, Liz and Dante. Both strong characters that fulfilled their duties brilliantly, she as the strong independent trekker who is on a mission to trek this grueling journey, he as the understanding boyfriend, who is there solely as her partner. From the start the banter between the two of them was perfect. Her sporadic irritation was seamlessly integrated with guilt that she had caused him to do something he had no interest in. This simmered nicely as she tried to guide him, smacking against his shock at the grueling nature of their journey, and the absence of beer or tv at their stopping points. Their dialogue was vibrant , smart and funny and I felt both of their pain. The story took us daily through the trail and I was there, the starkness of some of the scenery, coupled with the beauty of more of it, making it come alive. Added to all of this was the author’s obvious knowledge of climbing, as the minute details added to the experience and taught me so much about the area they were traversing, the equipment required, and endless facts on the what to do/ what not to do in excursions of this nature.

The story was punctuated by Liz’s back story, that of her and her dead husband, Gabriel. This was dealt with in flashbacks aided by the build-up of stress brought on by a monumental secret she was keeping from Dante. The introduction of other characters was well done, as we climbed, hiked and stumbled along with the pair. We encountered some helpful climbers, an actor there solely for research and the very odd Root brothers, a pair that added to tension I started to feel as it hit home that where they were there was nowhere to run. I had only two problems with the book. One was that at times Liz could seem a little over dramatic, not in her problems, which were substantial, more her way of expressing them. The other were said Root brothers, who I found to be slightly cartoon-like at times, this took away slightly from the tone of the book, though not much.

To finish I will add simply that the bookclub questions at the end of the book were a lovely addition and served only to validate my opinion on the book. Brilliant.

Rating: 5/5

The Eight Mistakes of Amy Maxwell by Heather Balog

Theeightmistakesofamymaxwell

What they say: Amy Maxwell’s got four kids, a useless husband and crusted applesauce on her yoga pants that haven’t seen the inside of a gym in over a decade. She’s convinced her teenage daughter is up to no good, her ten year old can’t stop chattering in her ear and her oldest son has befriended a teenaged boy twice his age who is a tad bit strange. And don’t even get her started on having a toddler when you’re in your late thirties. She just can’t keep up. Forget tired; she’s exhausted and feeling unfulfilled, dissatisfied and like a disappointment to everyone; her kids, her parents and most of all, herself.

To relieve her stress, Amy finds herself fantasizing about everything from the pool boy next door to finding out that her daughter was switched at birth. She can’t help her thoughts, but she figures, if they’re in her head, they can’t hurt anyone else, right? When Jason, a very sexy forty something year old single father moves in across the street, Amy finds her fantasy world has gone into overdrive. When Amy and her 13 year old daughter, Allie, stumble upon the body of their neighbor, shot to death in her living room, Amy finds herself thrown together with Jason in the most unpredictable way. Amy finds herself bumbling around Jason, trying desperately to stop her fantasies and her underlying attraction towards him as this who done it mystery slowly unfolds. And Amy soon realizes, nobody is who she thinks they are…even Amy herself.

The Review: First off, thanks so much to the author for a copy of the book in return for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book, however I’ll start with the reason I found it tough, and wouldn’t recommend for anyone who hasn’t kids (for those who do, there will actually be a lot you can relate to). I was at a talk recently where the author said that there was a common idea that all books should be set on an atypical day, that is a day that repels the norm. I’d actually never heard that, though of course it’s common sense, if we want anything interesting to happen at all! This sprang to mind when I started this book, I thought it showed a bit too much of the everyday struggles. Let me explain. We meet Amy, who’s starting to feel like she’s on a merry-go-round of Groundhog day syndrome, consisting of the everyday trials of being a parent to four children. Things are also lukewarm with her husband in terms of how they interact. I didn’t warm to Amy until near the end, I just found her so negative, I know we all have days where we find things so hard and irritating, but she was so non stop, there was no light and shade with her, she rolled her eyes and cursed at everything, and I couldn’t believe that anyone would wish their husband dead (I have four boys and an, em, interesting husband and I don’t think I’ve ever even come close!;))

The second half of the book, though, changed everything. On one occasion where Amy was having one of her daydreams, things shifted in real life and she found her and her daughter embroiled in one hell of an adventure. Cue woodlands, a chase, guns, the works!! It came out of nowhere and hit me over the eyes and I loved it!
I enjoyed this book, and with tweaking, it could be 5 star gold! The ending was so different to anything I’ve read, it was really kooky and the pages flew by to reveal some of the most heartwarming moments I’d ever come across that made me happy I’d started to read.

Rating: 3.75/5