Tag Archives: Countdown to Christmas

Book review: Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

7 Nov

mistletoeOlivia has never experienced a snow-covered, ‘traditional’ Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she’s not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia’s friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

If Mistletoe on 34th Street doesn’t put you in the mood for Christmas, I don’t know what will. Set between wintry New York and snowy London, Lisa Dickensen’s latest Christmas novel is a tinsel bright story filled with so much Christmas spirit you’ll be tipsy after reading it! The combination of my favourite city with my favourite time of the year is enough to have me swooning already but throw in one smart and sassy heroine, a little romance interests and a some truly cringeworthy but hilarious moments and you have the perfect recipe for a Christmas read that will leave you smiling.

Olivia is an up and coming member of the team at Girls of the World. When her boss has an accident, Olivia gets the opportunity to lead the team at the annual winter conference in New York City. When I wasn’t envying Olivia’s very cool job, I was marvelling at Lisa’s comic timing and ability to create humour out of almost any situation. I’ve read all of Lisa’s books to date and I’m consistently impressed by the way that her characters are relatable, funny and likeable but also able to get a lot of very important messages across to readers. I think Mistletoe on 34thStreet is her best book yet and I love how Lisa has given her unique take on the Christmas novel with an uplifting and empowering dose of feminism!

Olivia’s family don’t really do the traditional Christmas; they usually head for the sun so she hasn’t grown up with the British family Christmas traditions that many of us know and love. I liked that Liv wasn’t a scrooge character but just wasn’t really that into Christmas – it made a nice change and I really enjoyed reading as New York and Chrostmas got under Olivia’s skin!

In three parts and following a diary-style format, the novel counts down to the big day from 5th December as we follow Olivia and the team before during  and after the big conference. Olivia’s colleagues are a lovely mixed bunch of characters and I liked that Lisa gave them each their own little quirks and that they all had their own little surprises to bring to the story.

This novel feels very current with lots of references to Christmassy songs and films and to tv and films set in New York. I enjoyed picking out the little mentions and now have a nice little list of ‘must watch’ films. I also have another little list of places I must visit if I ever get to go to New York at Christmas!

As events conspire to keep Olivia and her team in the city that never sleeps, Lisa Dickenson turns up the wow factor and creates a winter wonderland full of perfect New York moments that had me longing to visit again. Grab a box of quality street and a cup of eggnog, sit back and enjoy the magic!

5/5

Mistletoe on 34th Street is out now in paperback and ebook formats.

I’d like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Find out more about Lisa and her writing at: http://www.lisadickenson.com/

Cover reveal: Make A Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

27 Sep

Today I’m delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for Julia Williams next novel, Make A Christmas Wish. Julia’s novels are always a lovely treat and her Christmas novels are fabulous so I’m really looking forward to reading this one, Isn’t this cover just GORGEOUS?


076637-FCT (1)

 

Last Christmas, when Livvy was knocked down in the supermarket car park, she certainly wasn’t ready to actually be dead! For months now she’s floated on the edge of the afterlife, generally making a nuisance of herself.

And she’s not ready to go just yet! She’s furious about the new woman in her husband’s life and she’s worried about her beloved son who doesn’t seem to be adjusting to life without her at all.

This Christmas, Livvy is given one last magical chance to make everything right. Will she take it and give her family the perfect Christmas?

Make A Christmas Wish will be released by Avon in ebook formats on 1st October and in paperback on 5th November.

 

Reading around the Christmas Tree! Christmas novel inspired gifts!

18 Dec

I thought I’d do something a little different this year from the usual round up of Christmas novels or gifts for book lovers. So this year I’ve combined the two! I’ve chosen five of this year’s gorgeous Christmas books and picked gifts for book lovers to go with them – just a little fun but I’d be happy to have any of these under the tree on Christmas morning if Santa is listening ;-)

Christmas at Carrington’s by Alexander Brown

Georgie Hart loves Christmas time at Carrington’s Department store. Running the luxury handbag department, Georgie adores helping customers in the hunt for the perfect gift for the perfect someone. And this year is no exception – now she has the hunky Tom, Mr Carrington himself, to spend the special day with.

But when Tom springs a surprise, Georgie’s plans are thrown into chaos. Carrington’s is getting a fresh lease of life in a hot new reality TV show, featuring formidable retail guru, Kelly Cooper.

As the first show airs, Georgie is shown in a far from flattering light. Worse is to come when Kelly’s vile daughter appears to get her claws into Tom. Georgie fears this will be the worst Christmas ever, but Santa still has a little surprise for her stocking this year – she’ll just have to wait until Christmas to find out… 

Leading lady Georgie runs the luxury handbag department at Carringtons so the gift to go with this lovely book is this fabulous bag from The Literary Gift Company

Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews

Cassie Smith has been out of work for a while but she has an idea. Drawing on her love of Christmas, she begins charging for small things: wrapping presents; writing cards; tree-decorating. She’s soon in huge demand and Cassie’s business, Calling Mrs Christmas, is born.

Carter Randall wants to make Christmas special for his children, so he enlists Cassie’s help, and his lavish requests start taking up all her time. Thank goodness she can rely on her loving partner Jim to handle the rest of her clients.

When millionaire Carter asks Cassie to join his family on a trip to Lapland, she knows she shouldn’t go . . . Suddenly Cassie finds herself facing a heart-breaking choice that could change her entire life.

 I love this bookish Christmas decoration from the Bodleian Library – perfect for the Mr or Mrs Christmas in your life!

 

I Heart Christmas by Lindsey Kelk 

Angela’s planning her very own fairytale of New York…

• Enormous Christmas tree
• Eggnog
• Eccentric British traditions
• Gorgeous man

But Santa’s throwing her a few curveballs – new job (as if it’s not mental enough already), new baby-craze from her best friend Jenny, and Alex determined they should grow up and settle down. Once friends start turning up uninvited on her doorstep (and leading her astray), can Angela really have a merry little Christmas? So much for happy holidays – something’s got to give…

So the ideal gift with this book would be tickets to New York but being just a little bit more realistic I’d settle for these fab New York book ends by Susan Bradley!

Christmas at Rosie Hopkins’ Sweetshop by Jenny Colgan

Rosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton, buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes, large tempting piles of Turkish Delight, crinkling selection boxes and happy, sticky children. She’s going to be spending it with her boyfriend, Stephen, and her family, flying in from Australia. She can’t wait.

 But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community, all of Rosie’s plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what’s best for the sweetshop also what’s best for Rosie?

A big box of retro sweets would be fab with this delicious novel or how about this for the perfect combination of literature and chocolate from The Chocolate Library?!

 

Wish Upon A Star by Trisha Ashley

Single mum Cally’s life is all about her little girl Stella. She’s resigned to the fact that the only romance she’s going to get is from the rom-coms she watches and with her busy job and her daughter; she doesn’t have time to even think about love. But when Stella gets sick, and Cally is forced to move in with her mother in the remote village of Sticklepond, to save money for Stella’s operation, Cally realizes how tough it can be to go it alone. Still, the last thing Cally wants to do is fall in love. All she wants is a Christmas miracle to save Stella. Can laid-back, charming Jago unlock Cally’s frozen heart and show her that the best gifts aren’t always found under the tree?

You can never have too many books or bookmarks and this cute personalised star one by Acorn Attic from Not on the High Street, would be the perfect accompaniment to this lovely book!

 

 So that’s my Christmas wish list sorted! What books are you hoping to find under the tree this year?

 

Christmas Giveaway: Win a signed copy of Married by Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

18 Dec

Earlier today I reviewed Scarlett Bailey’s Christmas ebook Santa Maybe and I’m very excited to have a signed copy of her new full length Christmas novel, Married by Christmas to give away to one lucky reader!

All she wants is a perfect Christmas Eve wedding…

It’s been on Anna’s wish-list since she was a little girl, dreaming of a far happier family life than she’d ever experienced.

But now – only two weeks before her big day – her perfect husband-to-be drops a bombshell… 

Only nothing’s going to stop Anna’s plans – not even the pesky inconvenience of discovering her groom already has a wife!

To be in with a chance of winning just leave a ‘pick me’ comment in the box below and I’ll draw a winner using random.org after the closing date. This giveaway is open to UK residents only and will close at noon on Wednesday 19th December so be quick with those entries!! The winner will be announced on Wednesday 19th December and postal services permitting I’ll get the book to you before Christmas :-)

Good luck!

Countdown to Christmas Novella Review: Santa Maybe by Scarlett Bailey

18 Dec

Amy Tucker is single. So single in fact she hasn’t had a man in her room for three years and her idea of a good time is buying new kitchenware at Ikea. So when she wakes up on Christmas Eve to find a strange man at the end of her bed, she is more than surprised.

Least of all, when the beautiful man claims to be Santa and has sexy stubble to rival George Clooney.

Santa whisks Amy on an exciting and unforgettable journey around the world through time and space. But can he really make Amy’s Christmas dreams come true?

This novella was originally released as a twenty-four part advent calendar with a chapter each day in December last year. I really enjoyed the story but confess that towards the end of December the chaos of a new baby and preparations for Christmas got in the way of me reading the final chapters of the story so I was pleased to see that Scarlett Bailey has released the whole story as an ebook novella this year.

This is a fun escapist Christmas read which follows Amy Tucker as she wakes to find a very sexy Santa in her room on Christmas Eve. Santa is charged with granting Amy’s Christmas wish and whisks her off on an adventure involving time travel and more than a little magic. I really enjoyed this story – it’s pure Christmas fun and something completely different to the other contemporary Christmas stories and novellas out there.

Taking in Bethlehem, New York and of course The North Pole and with a cast of characters that includes some familiar famous faces from history, a group of trainee angels and some very cool elves, Santa Maybe is an enjoyable quick read that will leave you with a smile on your face. I loved my namesake Amanda the celestial probation officer and thought the variety and pace of the plot was excellent.

And for those looking for a good dose of romance this is an excellent choice as Santa takes Amy to visit the scenes of relationships past, present and future to help Amy find the love of her life. Scarlett Bailey has a great sense of humour and I’m looking forward to reading her new full length Christmas novel Married by Christmas next.

4/5

Stop by again later today for the chance to win a signed copy of Married By Christmas.

Read my review of Scarlett’s debut novel The Night Before Christmas.

Christmas Short Story Spotlight: Staying Away at Christmas by Katie Fforde

16 Dec

Miranda and her daughters have rented a cosy cottage for Christmas. The only trouble is, Anthony and his children are booked into the same place. In a moment of Christmas spirit, Miranda suggests they all spend Yuletide together. Will the mistletoe help ease the tension and bring some cheer? Will romance blossom under the stars? Or will it be a Christmas they’d all rather forget? 

I’ve read quite a few short stories so far this winter and was very excited to see a Christmas short story from Katie Fforde released earlier this month. This is a lovely quick read just perfect for grabbing a few minutes time out amidst the chaos of the Christmas season.

This sweet read focusses on two families that end up booked into the same cottage for Christmas. It’s classic Katie Fforde with lovely characters and a hint of romance. The story takes place on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and the days after and features testy teenagers, family tensions, love and drama against a backdrop of traditional Christmas elements. Staying Away At Christmas left me with a warm festive glow and I really hope Katie decides to revisit these characters in a future full length novel as I ‘d love to know more about them and what happens next!

The download also includes the first chapter of Katie’s new novel A French Affair which is out in February – can’t wait!

You can find out more about Katie and her books at: http://www.katiefforde.com/

Event write up: Christmas Girls' Night In at Brixton Library

10 Dec

Last Wednesday I went to the brilliant Girls’ Night In event at Brixton Library where I got to meet fabulous authors, eat delicious cake and talk about books (yes, it was my idea of a perfect night in/out!)

The evening started with readings from the five authors present (from left to right in the pic below: Rebecca Chance, Kate Harrison, Helen Smith, Alex Marwood and Scarlett Bailey (AKA Rowan Coleman)) which had the audience in high spirits and laughing straight away as Rebecca entertained us with a fine variety of accents ;-)

Following a q&a session which saw the authors talking about their favourite Christmas memories and what they hope to find under the tree this year we were invited to sample the amazing cake (by http://www.fabulous-cakes.co.uk/) and mingle/get our books signed.

The team at Brixton library were fabulous hosts and everyone had such a lovely time – just another reminder why libraries are so important!

 

Countdown to Christmas novella review: The Twelve Days to Christmas by Michele Gorman

5 Dec

What if his proposal had an expiration date?

Hannah’s in a bit of a pickle. In twelve days she flies from Hong Kong to the US with Sam, where he’s finally going to meet her parents… and ask to marry her.

Since overcoming a rather rocky patch in their relationship (which was totally his fault), he really is a new man, and they’re completely in love. The problem is, she feels panicky every time she contemplates matrimony. Which is perfectly normal, isn’t it? Isn’t it?! She has no idea but she’s got to find out before he pops the question… because she’s not 100% sure she’s going to say yes. Which will make for a very uncomfortable family holiday. He’s got to ask her before they go. So Operation Proposal begins. 

As time ticks down to their flight, Hannah realizes that her own secrets are threatening their future. Before she can be happy with Sam, she’s got a lot to learn about herself in the twelve days to Christmas.

The Twelve Days to Christmas is actually Michele Gorman’s third book to feature Hannah and her friends and is a novella follow up to the full length novels  Single in the City and Misfortune Cookie. I haven’t read either of the earlier novels and didn’t find this a problem. The Twelve Days to Christmas is a great standalone novella and the key background is recapped by Hannah as she tells her story.

For a novella this felt like a substantial read (it’s 120 pages in paperback) and I enjoyed the exotic Hong Kong location which made it stand out as a little bit different. The story is told in twelve chapters each starting with a line from a new version of The Twelve Days of Christmas which gives and indication of the events in the chapter to come. I enjoyed this original twist on a Christmas classic and thought it made the book flow well. Gorman’s writing has plenty of humour and I enjoyed meeting Hannah and her friends.

There’s a great tension to the story as the story of Hannah’s relationship with Sam is revealed and she ponders their future and keeps us guessing as to what her reaction to his proposal will be. With a few nice twists, a good supporting cast of characters and some romantic surprises, I found this a quick and fun read. The Hong Kong setting and storyline focussing on Sam and Hannah’s relationship mean that this isn’t an overtly Christmassy book in the traditional sense but still a lovely festive romance read.

The ending was excellent and Gorman gets extra points from me for including a flash forward epilogue which satisfied my curiosity! Out now in paperback and as an ebook, this is well worth adding to your Christmas reading list.

4/5

You can find out more about Michele and her writing at: http://www.michelegorman.co.uk/

Michele and fellow authors Scarlett Bailey, Abby Clements, Victoria Connelly, Miranda Dickinson, Belinda Jones, Carole Matthews, Talli Roland, and Julia Williams are taking part in the Christmas Creche Visit now lots of bookish festive fun!

MIRA and Mills & Boon Christmas book bundle giveaway winner!

4 Dec

The winner is …

Lindsay Healy

Congratulations! I have sent you an email. Thanks to everyone who entered and look out for another Christmas giveaway next week!

Christmas reads part two: Christmas Novels 2012

3 Dec

Following on from my Christmas novellas and short stories post, here are the Christmas Novels on my ‘to read’ pile this month. I’ve already read a couple of Christmassy books so do check out my reviews of The Charm Bracelet and Meet me Under the Mistletoe as well :-)

Bad Angels by Rebecca Chance – out now!

Having recently loved Killer Heels I’m very excited about Rebecca’s Christmas offering this year!

Step into Limehouse Wharf, the new, uber-luxury apartment building in Canary Wharf where celebrities who have had ‘work’ done can hole up until they have healed and which is about to see its most glamorous and scandalous Christmas yet. Staying there over the festive period is Melody Down, an actress whose career is in tatters after too much plastic surgery and who has fled LA to get her body and her boyfriend back. But is a ‘well-meaning’ friend about to sabotage all of Melody’s Christmas wishes? Meanwhile, Aniela Fatyga, the nurse in residence, finds herself falling for the unlikely Jon Jordan, an assassin for hire who is also convalescing there. Will her feelings be reciprocated or will their sizzling relationship remain purely physical? And who is he on the run from? And then there’s oligarch Grigor Khalofsky, the owner of Kensington football team, whose legendary Christmas party is about to get a whole lot more exciting when murder, blackmail and scandalous revelations decide to pay a visit along with Santa.

Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones – out now! 

I love Belinda’s globetrotting novels and this sounds like a gorgeous winter escape!

Imagine waking up in a snow globe. . . 

That’s how travel journalist Krista feels when she arrives in magical Quebec to report on Canada’s glittering Winter Carnival.

Over ten sub-zero days Krista’s formerly frozen heart begins to melt as she discovers an enchanting world of ice palaces, husky dog-sledding and maple-syrup treats galore. And then she meets Jacques, a man as handsome and rugged as he is mysterious. . . 

The two share a secret that could bond them forever, but can they find a way to break through the protective layers around their hearts to warm up this winter wonderland?

. . . let the snow-spangled adventure begin

With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews – out now!

I’m so pleased that Carole brings out a Christmas book every year now – always guaranteed to be a heart warming read :-)

Can the imperfect family really have the perfect Christmas?

Juliet Joyce adores Christmas. She loves the presents, the tree, the turkey, the tinsel, everything. Already the festive spirit is upon her, which is just as well as this Christmas things are starting to get out of hand.

Her son Tom is out of work and bringing home a slew of unsuitable partners; pregnant daughter Chloe and her little boy have moved back in; Juliet’s father, Frank, is getting over a heartbreak of his own and Rita, her eccentric mother, is behaving more erratically each day. And has the chaos got too much for Juliet’s husband Rick?

With the big day fast approaching, Juliet hopes that she can stop everything spiralling out of control, because the only thing she wants is her family all around her and her home to be filled WITH LOVE AT CHRISTMAS.

A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson – out now!

A book based around a winter theme park … I’m there!

‘Tis the season to be jolly…But can Eve find happiness through the frost…? Eve has never liked Christmas, not since her beloved fiance was killed in action in Afghanistan on Christmas Day. So when her adored elderly aunt dies, the last thing she is expecting is to be left a theme park in her will. A theme park with a Christmas theme…And that’s not the only catch. Her aunt’s will stipulates that Eve must run the park with a mysterious partner, the exotically named Jacques Glace. Who is this Jacques, and why did Aunt Evelyn name him in her will? But Eve isn’t going to back down from a challenge. She’s determined to make a success of Winterworld, no matter what. Can she overcome her dislike of Christmas, and can Jacques melt her frozen heart at last…?

A Merry Little Christmas by Julia Williams – out now!

Fab character names in this festive read and the cover is so pretty!

With four children, a Christmas cookbook to write, and her mum suffering from dementia, Cat Tinsall has plenty to juggle. When her eldest daughter, Mel, starts going off the rails, Cat has even more on her plate.

Pippa Holliday adores her family, although often finds her hands full. When Dan is involved in a terrible accident, Pippa’s world is suddenly turned upside down.

Balancing her job as a school teacher with twins and her step-son Steven isn’t easy for Marianne North. With her husband’s ex causing trouble, life is getting even trickier.

As Cat, Pippa and Marianne help each other through a difficult year, they’re all hoping for a much brighter Christmas.

Married by Christmas by Scarlett Bailey – out now

I loved Scarlett’s Christmassy debut The Night Before Christmas last year so am very much looking forward to reading more from her.

All she wants is a perfect Christmas Eve wedding…

It’s been on Anna’s wish-list since she was a little girl, dreaming of a far happier family life than she’d ever experienced.

But now – only two weeks before her big day – her perfect husband-to-be drops a bombshell…

Only nothing’s going to stop Anna’s plans – not even the pesky inconvenience of discovering her groom already has a wife!

Snowfall at Willow Lake by Susan Wiggs – out now!

I’m a big fan of The Lakeside Chronicles and am looking forward to reading the next wintery book in the series.

As the stars light the falling snowflakes, Sophie Bellamy arrives back in Willow Lake. Her job as a top international lawyer seems like a distant memory, but the horrors inflicted by a hostage attack still return in her dreams. With every bad thing must come good…and for Sophie it’s remembering what matters most. So she’s back – to her children who chose to live with their father and the small town she once called home, determined to repair the bonds with her family. Sophie has wrongs to right and she knows it isn’t going to be easy. But when she’s rescued from a snowdrift on her first night back in town by the pretty gorgeous Noah Shepherd, she realises that everything is not exactly as she remembered, everyone deserves a second chance at happiness and hearts often need a helping hand to heal.

What are your ‘hot picks’ for December and do you have a favourite Christmas novel that you’d recommend?