Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown by Katey Lovell

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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

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!

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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

 

Review and Competition!! The Big Event by Anne John-Ligali

You’ll remember when I was doing the cover reveal for this I oohed and aahed, not just for the cover, but for the gorgeous sparkly little book trailer that came with it. (watch it here) and so was very excited to review. And here it is-The Big Event!! Happy publication day!!! (Note there’s a great competition below to win  Win Sparkly Afternoon Tea for Two at Vertigo 42 in central London and one e-copy of The Big Event!!)

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Purchase from Amazon UK

What they say:

You are cordially invited to the party of the season where you’ll meet Constance and friends in action.  

Constance Jeffries is excited when she gets the chance to meet up with virtual friends at a get-together in a London hotel. She’s been tweeting and messaging her lovely friends for years and feels they must be just as excited to finally meet her in person too. Or so she hopes.  

The Big Event is first part in a short story series about the importance of ‘real’ friendships and how it’s the little things that matter the most. 

 
A Gorgeous Venue, A Room Full of Friends, What Could Possibly Go Wrong? 

The Review: I always love a nice sparkly read in the run up to Christmas (yup, we’re there people!) and I was already in when I knew that there was to be a glitzy event that took our lead, Constance, out of her ordinary life and off to meet people she had only met virtually. This is the story of meeting the people you think you know, only you don’t, you know their online persona. And the people she meets are all about the online- seemingly more interested on tweeting and instagramming and publicising as opposed to actually being around people. I felt for Constance (although I wasn’t always sure about her) who was taking this as chance to finally sit down with her friends, armed with lovely gifts for each. This is one for the bookish people out there, as we find out that Constance has many books out, and hear about her interactions with other authors and readers. My only issue was that this was a short story, there were so many characters that I would have liked to get to know them, even though they weren’t too likable, being superficial and self-obsessed, it was a bit too much of meet and then move on for me, especially as I enjoyed the characters. The length issue was also evident in the ending, which I felt could have been done more through conversation than the way it was. Saying this, this would be a nice read for a long train journey or a cosy evening in where you want to escape to somewhere a bit more glitzy and I enjoyed the author’s writing. Thanks so much to Rachel’s Random Resources (website here ) for the book in return for an honest review.

Rating: 3.5/5

About The Author

thumbnail_Meet Anne

Anne John-Ligali is a writer and the founder of Books and Authors UK, a popular website featuring author interviews and book reviews.  She loves all things books: reading, writing, going to book events, and meeting other book lovers. She has written a series of short stories and is currently writing her first novel.

When Anne is not writing, she is likely to be at soft play with her kids, taking long evening walks in Hyde Park, making green smoothies, window shopping, or having a pampering session at her local beauty salon (whenever she gets the chance). She can also be found watching box sets (albeit with a bit of shame at still having to catch up on Scandal, Grey’s, and Downton).

Originally from Peterborough, Anne now lives in London. After moving to London, she studied graphic design at the University of Arts and has held a number IT administration jobs in the city. Anne continues writing and aspires to write more women’s fiction books, a non-fiction book and several children’s books.

Social Media Links – 

AUTHOR BLOG: http://annejohnligali.com/

AUTHOR TWITTER  @AnneJohnLigali

AUTHOR Facebook

INSTAGRAM

BLOGSITE:  www.booksandauthors.co.uk

BLOG TWITTER:  @BooksNAuthorsUK

BLOG Facebook

And now for an excellent Giveaway !!!

Win SparklyAfternoon Tea for Two at Vertigo 42 in central London and one e-copy of The Big Event.

thumbnail_Giveaway Prize - Verigo-Tea

To enter and for full terms and conditions, click here

 

 

 

 

 

From Manhattan with love 3: Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

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Length: 352 pages

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

What they say:

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. Even if she is spending it alone housesitting a spectacular Fifth Avenue apartment. What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous–and mysterious–owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?
The review: At the end of the last book I read by Sarah Morgan I have to admit I was a little bit worried. I was afraid I was getting too old, or perhaps too cynical or something for Sarah Morgan’s gorgeous books, and by that reasoning all of chick lit (I know, drama queen!). This made me hold off on reading this for some time, which was a pity! I am thrilled to say this book brought me back to the magic and sparkle that have always surrounded me as I swallowed her work, book by book (maybe I was coming down with something last time?!)

Anyhoo the book begins with a lovely foreword by Ms. Morgan, that readied me for the off and made me smile and get comfy. Miracle on 5th Avenue follows the same format as before (if it ain’t broke, etc, etc!), with ingenious quotes from each of the characters starting us out. I remembered the characters straight away and listened as Paige and Eva discussed a Christmas proposal as part of their business Urban Genie. Their business and everything surrounding the business was so interesting and I loved their dedication and excitement (it was more professional than I remembered last time too). What was even better, though, was the comedy and the great atmosphere that came when the friends were together, with Eva, Paige and Frankie constantly making me smile.

Eva was working on decorating a writer’s (yes!) apartment for Christmas while he was away. The only thing is, he’s not away, he’s hiding out from his family, who are worried about him, as he struggles with writer’s block for a book that he hasn’t begun which is due imminently. I loved everything about Lucas’ story. I loved that he was a horror writer, which gave an unexpected layer of darkness that fit well into a warm, sparkling book such as this. I could picture him straight away, and warmed quickly to his indifferent, sometimes seemingly cold (I knew that wasn’t really him!) interior, that spilled out when he just wanted to get writing (we’ve all been there!) Their meeting was perfection although I did wonder how it was going to spin out into the length of a book. Enter a storm and a number of issues that meant that everything had to happen as I hoped it would (most entrancing romance and hottest chemistry I’ve read in some time) !

So to recap: Excellent characters, realistic scenarios that forced events to unfold (yes they could happen!), Lucas’ dark writing and romantic past, Ms. Morgan’s trademark descriptions that invoked both magic and wonder, comedy that was bang on the mark, gorgeous romance and sizzling, phenomenal chemistry made for one unputdownable, satisfying book.

Thanks (a million!) to Netgalley for this book in return for an honest review. By the way I read this in one night and it was in February, sitting by the fire as it was frosty outside. Apologies for not posting before now-it may be a Christmas read but Christmas doesn’t take over the full book, most is within Lucas’ apartment. Saying that I’d definitely read as a Christmas one as I can, just because, you know, it’s Sarah Morgan! Also can totally be read as a standalone. And sorry for the gushing but this book was like coming home for me.
Rating:5/5

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