12 Reads of Christmas: Book 5 – Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 5 – Lizzie’s Christmas Escape by Christie Barlow

 

Author: Christie Barlow 
Publisher:
Bookouture
Release Date: 21 October 2016
Genre: Festive romance

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The Blurb:

A gorgeous country house hotel, a liberal dusting of snow, a cosy weekend away…what more could Lizzie ask for at Christmas?

Every Christmas Lizzie promises herself that things will change and she will leap into the new year a new woman. And yet here she is again, at the beginning of December and nothing is different. Her girls have grown up and left home, her husband Henry is slumped in front of the TV and she is alone in the kitchen, seeking refuge in the cooking sherry and talking to her Gary Barlow calendar. She’s also been very diverted by handsome new neighbour Marcus and she knows she shouldn’t be …

So when best friend Ann suggests a weekend away in the country, Lizzie jumps at the chance. Will this Christmas escape give Lizzie some much needed perspective and allow her to mend her marriage? Or will Marcus prove to be too much of a distraction?

A funny feel good festive read about rediscovering the magic of Christmas – just the thing to curl up with on a cold winter’s night.

The Review:

From the beginning Lizzie’s Christmas Escape felt like something familiar. I grew up fully aware of the Shirley Valentine film. A woman of a certain age who feels stuck in a rut, spending her time in the kitchen talking to a poster on her kitchen wall. Replace the poster with a Gary Barlow calendar and Shirley with seamstress Lizzie and we have Christie Barlow’s latest novel.

Lizzie is stuck in a rut, bored of her lot in life. Her life up until recently was all about looking after her home, husband and children. Then her daughters Abbie and Freya leave home. Empty nest syndrome has moved in. Lizzie Stevens doesn’t feel like herself, her marriage which was once happy and loving, has settled into something much less content. Henry isn’t the same man he used to be. Lizzie misses the little things, the kiss he used to give her on the way to work, cuddling in bed at night. Everything seems stale.

Then new neighbour Marcus moves in. Lizzie has a new spring in her step, and extra beat in her heart. The idea that she is still wanted and needed makes her bloom.

With trusty best friend Ann by her side Lizzie works her way through her emotions and decides that it is time for change. As the Christmas festivities get underway Lizzie has a difficult decision to make. Should she follow her heart or her head?

I truly loved reading this book. I really identified with Lizzie. There is something about reaching a certain age that makes you re-evaluate your life. Making changes that will rock you out of the rut you are often stuck in becomes and almost annual ritual. I could fully understand how her head was turned and she was tempted to follow a different path, albeit in her case it was for a shorter time than others.

Maybe I need my own Gary Barlow in my cupboard under the stairs!

You can get Lizzie’s Christmas Escape at Amazon for £1.99 on Kindle.

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 4 – Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 4 – Christmas at the Little Village Bakery by Tilly Tennant

Author: Tilly Tennant 
Publisher:
Bookouture
Release Date: 16 September 2016
Genre: Festive romance

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The Blurb:

It’s time to get toasty by the fire with a glass of mulled wine and a slice of chocolate yule log sprinkled with a little romance. Welcome to Christmas at the Little Village Bakery.

Snow is falling in Honeybourne and Spencer is bringing home his American fiancée Tori for a traditional English Christmas with all the trimmings. But when his hippie mum and dad meet her high-maintenance parents, sparks of the wrong sort start to fly. Then Spencer bumps into his first love Jasmine and unexpected feelings come flooding back.

Millie is run off her feet with Christmas orders at the Little Village Bakery and new baby Oscar. Thank goodness her cousin Darcie is here to help her. Although she does seem to be rather flirty with Millie’s boyfriend Dylan.

Will Darcie ever find true love of her own? And is marrying Tori a terrible mistake for Spencer if his heart is with someone else?

The Review:

Back in August I reviewed Tilly Tennant’s  The Little Village Bakery and I’ve been sitting on this book until now so I could read it at a seasonably appropriate time.

Last time I met and fell in love with Millie and Dylan, and we left as Millie opened her new bakery in Honeybourne, looking like she had tamed the village bad boy – much to the local women’s disdain.

As we return to Honeybourne Millie and Dylan are parents to little baby Oscar, a master of torture – well sleep deprivation! Jasmine and Rich are still working through the issues that arose in the last book, and to be honest they’re not looking as rock solid as they once did, it doesn’t help that Jasmine is now broody as hell, and Rich… let’s just say he isn’t!

This time the story focuses on Dylan’s best friend Spencer, who has spent the last year on an exchange programme teaching in America, where he meet Tori over what can only be described as the world worst coffee. On the rebound from the greatest, if unrequited, love of his life he ran to the States, not expecting to find Tori. She soothes his soul and his mind, and he hers. If only her parents could see that.

Instead they have their eye on a corporate suit for their precious daughter, and Spencer will never be good enough. They are very much the villains of this story, however what they actually have to say is few and far between but the air they give off is tenable. Tilly has crafted such an obnoxious cloud around them that it even seems to be catching to some of the other characters. A job really well done.

I mostly had trouble warming to Darcie, Millie’s younger cousin. She has her own demons. An unrequited love, she has no friends and no real outward desire to move on and do anything on her own. Something about her screamed give her a slap. However, by the end of Tilly’s tale I had come round. I just wish that she’d had a bit more of a story earlier on because her storyline seemed to start and end far too quickly. I can only hope that this is because Tilly is saving her arc for another book.

I really enjoyed this book, what it needs is a warm snuggly blanket and cake.. lots and lots of cake!

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 3 — Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 3 — Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber

Author: Debbie Macomber 
Publisher:
Cornerstone Digital
Release Date: 3 November 2016
Genre: Festive contemporary romance

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The Blurb:

A festive story from Debbie Macomber, international bestselling author of the Cedar Cove and Rose Harbor series.

Julia is infuriated by her grumpy neighbour, Cain, who can’t even be pleasant when they bump into each other.

So on the suggestion of her best friend, Cammie, Julia concocts a plan. She starts a blog in order to clinch her perfect job, and now she has a subject. Over the next twelve days, she is going to kill Cain with kindness – and Christmas cheer – and document it for all to read about.

But as the experiment goes on, Julia realises she underestimated the effect it would have on Cain, and on their relationship, and things take an unexpected turn…

The Review:

Debbie Macomber has been on my radar for a while, but up until now I’ve not had chance to read any of her books. Until now. Twelve Days of Christmas is the 3rd book in my 12 Reads of Christmas series.

Julia is looking for an idea. A big idea. She has been put on a shortlist of two people to win a job in social media. So she can escape her retail job Julia must create a blog with a viral following. This is where we enter a world very similar to How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. However, instead of trying to put someone off her – she attempts to ‘kill him with kindness’.

The him in this case is her neighbour Cain. A grumpy, short-tempered and stand-offish man. The pair almost immediately rub each other the wrong way. Bristling with tension from the outset it is clear that these two will either be a match made in heaven, or fighting like cat and dog for eternity.

I loved that the main character is a blogger, and that she is someone that pays back into her local community and is overall a genuinely nice person. And as a person who practices Random Acts of Kindness the premise of seeing how kindness can change those around it really pulled me in.

Debbie has crafted a love story that unfolds at break-neck speed. The characters, in just two weeks, cover the full gambit of emotions. I did find myself waiting for the other shoe to drop for Julia, Jeremy for a rival love interest could have worked a little harder, but there was definitely some frisson there between the three.

This is a lovely, speedy read. Perfect for a late-night cosy read.

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 2 — The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 2 — The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

Author: Tom Fletcher
Publisher: Puffin
Release Date: 6th October 2016
Genre: Festive Fantasy

The Blurb: 

The Christmasaurus is a story about a boy named William Trundle, and a dinosaur, the Christmasaurus. It’s about how they meet one Christmas Eve and have a magical adventure. It’s about friendship and families, sleigh bells and Santa, singing elves and flying reindeer, music and magic. It’s about discovering your heart’s true desire, and learning that the impossible might just be possible…

Book Links: Amazon UK | Google Play | Goodreads

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The Review:

As a child I was drawn to Christmas. Not the presents, but the feel. The smell. The food. The music. The films, and overall the stories. Not a lot has changed.

The Christmasaurus is Tom Fletcher’s (husband of Giovanna Fletcher, sister of Carrie Hope Fletcher, oh and that Tom from McFly) first full length novel. Not that you can tell. He has crafted a well-rounded, feel good tale for readers young and old.

Previously co-authoring the Dinosaur Who Pooped… picture book series with Dougie Poynter Tom has learnt how to tell a story on the page, as well as dabbling his toe into the festive book market.

There is a spin on the usual Christmas fayre too. The elves aren’t hard at work in the toy workshops. No in Tom’s magical frozen world the elves mine for the presents. And how do the presents make their way into the mine? They grow, from a magical seed which comes from the first ever Christmas tree after Santa reads the child’s Christmas letters to it.

This tale isn’t just about Santa and his rhyming elves (the names are just adorable I was a sucker for Snozzletrump and Snowcrumb), it is also about William Trundle. A sweet and kind boy. His father is Christmas’s biggest fan, he knows all there is to know about every part of the season of joy.

William isn’t the happiest of children, he finds himself at the mercy of new child on the block Brenda Payne – the school bully. With the sweetest of smiles and a flutter of her eyelashes she has the ability to unleash her own discontentment on anyone that crosses her.

Christmas is approaching and William is feeling lower than ever. He has been abandoned by his friends and as he sits and writes his letter for Santa. With a lump in his throat he wishes hard as he can for his most favourite thing in the whole wide world… a dinosaur.

This is where his adventure begins. Tom has created a classic, film-worthy adventure. There is the down-beaten hero, the mis-understood bully, the down trodden believer and a bad guy, so evil he could have come straight from a Roald Dahl book.

On top of all of this the illustrations by Shane Devries are just the cherry on top of the cream. I think it’s fair to say that more books should have illustrations.

Magic jumps off every page.

Settle down with a toasted crumpet, or half. Embrace your inner elf and enjoy.

Blog Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 1 — Brides and Bouquets by Rebecca Raisin

Blog Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 1 — Brides and Bouquets by Rebecca Raisin

brides-and-bouquets-tour-bannerAuthor: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina
Release Date: 24 November 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

Christmas has come to Cedarwood Lodge in the second part of the feel-good romance serial from best selling author, Rebecca Raisin!

Dreaming of a happily ever after at Cedarwood Lodge is Clio Winters’ current focus, especially with a winter wonderland wedding expo planned. But with brides coming from far and wide the heat is on for Clio to fulfil everyone’s dream of a Christmas wedding!

It seems like Clio’s new business might be off to a rocky start and surrounded by love struck brides she can’t help but hope for a little Christmas romance of her own…

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part Two.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

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The Review:

Last month I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the LLR Book Tour. If you get the chance go and check out Love Reading Romance for more heart-warming reads.

Today, on release day, I get to share with you my first read of Christmas and second in the Cedarwood Lodge series by Rebecca Raisin.

We pick up with Clio a few weeks after the epic anniversary party. Things are still not resolved between her and Kai, the Aussie builder. Amory’s boyfriend Cruz has hightailed it to Evergreen from New York.

Clio and co are focusing all their energy on preparing the lodge for their first Wedding Expo. This means that all of Cedarwood needs to be up to code. The venue needs to be sparkling, and as it’s Christmas Clio sets about creating a twinkling wonderland. But will it be enough? Can the doubts niggling in her mind, not helped by her mom’s indifference to her whole venture, be put to rest?

Again Rebecca pulls you into Clio’s whirlwind world. Within minutes my heart was in my mouth praying that everything was going to make it right. As the local authorities started to make them wonder if thing would work out.

A few obstacles are thrown her way, can she navigate them and come out the other side unscathed? And will she find out what the secret her mom is hiding?

Grab a festive mug filled with your seasonal drink of choice, a hot water bottle and a blanket. Snuggle down and enjoy the Christmas spirit.

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Snowbound

Snowbound

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Author: Monique McDonell
Publisher: Redfish Publishing
Release Date: November 22, 2016
Genre: Chick lit

Goodreads   Amazon US   Amazon UK   Amazon AUS

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Summary

When Zara’s boyfriend can’t come home to Sydney from New York for Christmas she decides to surprise (go to) him instead. Sure, the ticket costs a bomb and her overbearing family thinks it is a bad idea but that’s what you do for love right? Or so she tells the tall and hunky ex-basketball star, Kyle who is squeezed into the plane seat beside her.

But when a blizzard hits and she finds herself snowed-in/stranded in Denver a few things become clear – her boyfriend isn’t that heartbroken about her absence, the airport doesn’t seem like a very festive place to spend the holiday/be snowed-in and there aren’t enough pumpkin spiced lattes to fix the situation.

So when Kyle offers to take her to stay at his buddy’s empty house she decides to take a chance and make the best of her first white Christmas. What she hadn’t banked on was Kyle’s ex and a reality television crew crashing the Christmas party.

If you like fun and flirty heroes, ugly sweaters, snow covered mountains and sugar cookies, you’ll enjoy reading Snowbound these holidays.

 

About Monique McDonell

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I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women’s fiction, including chick lit and romance. When I began to write again, I noticed a trend – writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.

I am the author of five standalone novels, including Mr. Right and Other Mongrels and Hearts Afire and the Upper Crust Series. Many of my novels focus on Australian characters meeting and visiting US characters.

I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for ten years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia. In 2015, I had a piece on writing chick lit featured in the successful Australian non-fiction book Copyfight.

To learn more about my books, my writing, my caffeine obsession and my upcoming books please visit http://www.moniquemcdonell.com.au.

Social Networking Links

Website   Goodreads   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon Author

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Celebrations & Confetti at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Celebrations & Confetti at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

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Author: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina
Release Date: October 24, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

The Blurb:

Part one in a feel-good romantic serial from bestselling author Rebecca Raisin!

Clio Winters is finally fulfilling her childhood dream of renovating the gorgeous old Cedarwood Lodge in Evergreen. Turning it into the perfect destination for big celebrations, weddings and parties has brought her back home, but Cedarwood Lodge is in need of a lot of tender loving care.

Perhaps all the work will be the perfect distraction from the real reason she had to leave her glamorous New York life behind.

Will coming home be the best decision of her life… or her biggest regret?

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is Part One.

Book Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Google Play | Goodreads

The Review:

In October I took part in a book tour for Celebrations and Confetti. The first in Rebecca Raisin’s latest novella trilogy, and this month I will be sharing part two with you too.

Clio grew up in Evergreen, a small town in New Hampshire. Cedarwood Lodge had been her playground. Closed for as long has she could remember, the grounds were overgrown but were perfect for her to run free. At 10 years of age Clio was she was certain that if the chance ever came up she would buy the lodge.

Fastforward twenty years, and Clio is stood in front of Cedarwood Lodge. After a successful wedding planner career in New York she has made her dream come true… and bought the lodge. Granted her return to Evergreen is under a bit of a cloud, however she is determined to make it work. School friend Micah is on board to help with the immediate renovations.

Can Clio regain her magic touch and breath new life into the Lodge in time to host a wedding anniversary party? Or will events from New York spill over and threaten her new life? Only time will tell.

Rebecca has created a coming-of-age tale mixed with a redemption story. I just wanted to reach into the page and give Clio a big hug, and a bit of a slap.

Like Jane Austen’s Emma Clio has a touch of the matchmaker about her, unlike Emma she isn’t as spoilt. If anything she is misunderstood and is rocked by the lack of support her mother seems to be giving her. Instead of being overjoyed that her daughter has come back home, her Mom is if anything standoffish and put out that her daughter decided to buy the Lodge. Not that Clio knows why.

I’m not ashamed to say how much I love novellas. They fit into working life really well. The stories are short and succinct but have lots to give in a lunch break, or while you are commuting. I’m already excited to read Clio’s next chapter.