The Christmas Angel Project

The Christmas Angel Project

christmas angel

Author:  Melody Carlson
Publisher: Revell
Published: 30 August 2016

The Blurb:

Five women from different walks of life have become close friends through their book club–enjoying one another’s company even more than they enjoy the books. So when the leader of the book club unexpectedly passes away on the cusp of the Christmas season, the four remaining friends are stunned. They relied on Abby for inspiration and motivation. She was the glue that held them together, and they’re sure that without her the group can’t continue.

When the group gathers “one last time” to open a bag Abby’s husband gives them, they find Abby had made each of them an angel ornament for Christmas, crafted especially for each woman and accompanied by a sweet and personal note. Inspired by their beloved friend, together Cassidy, Louisa, Grace, and Belinda decide to commit themselves to becoming Christmas Angels to others in need. Each woman will use her life situation and talents to reach out and help others in her own unique way–little knowing that her own life and her relationships will be changed forever.

Fan favourite Melody Carlson is back with another touching Christmas story sure to grip readers’ hearts and perhaps inspire them to become Christmas Angels themselves.

The Review:

Melody Carlson comes into her own with her warm Christmas stories. However The Christmas Angel Project doesn’t start as an average light-hearted festive fable. This one has more of a message.

We meet Abby straight away. She’s a kind, caring and nurturing friend. And no sooner do we learn about her, Abby is ripped away – from both us as readers and her book club friends.  This tale from the outset was different to many of the seasonal stories I have read, it took a good while to get to the point of the story.

The meandering style of learning about each character is well meant, and does give you a connection to them so when the journeys to empowerment begin you feel you are part of it.

Each of the ladies from the book club are given their own time to shine, and each of them has something to learn about themselves thanks to a gift from the late Abby – an angel decoration with a bible verse attached. As the members begin to grow and pay it forward their lives begin to flourish.

 

This is lovely, not too preachy story perfect for this period before Christmas gets fully underway.

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12 Reads of Christmas: Book 9 – Comfort & Joy by Cathy Bramley

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 9 – Comfort & Joy by Cathy Bramley

Author: Cathy Bramley
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Release Date: 13 October 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance Short Story

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The Blurb: 

**Contains Christmas recipes!**

Curl up with this fabulously festive short story from bestseller Cathy Bramley, full of Christmas cheer and sparkle.

It’s been a busy year for Verity Bloom at the Plumberry School of Comfort Food, but Christmas Eve is finally here. With delicious treats all wrapped up and the ingredients packed away, Verity is looking forward to a relaxing few days with her new boyfriend.

Good food, family and friends – it’s a simple recipe for true comfort and joy, and all Verity’s friends in the village are full of excitement about the holidays too.

But the weather has other plans in store… Relentless rain leads to a power cut that spells disaster for many of Plumberry’s residents. It’s starting to look like this year’s celebrations could be a total washout.

With dreams of a perfect Christmas dashed, will the last of the festive cheer be swept away in the downpour? Or can the cookery school create a Christmas miracle for everyone Verity holds dear?

The Review:

Sometimes your not quite ready to say goodbye to a character. For me this was definitely the case with The Plumberry School of Comfort Food.

When we left them Verity and Tom had finally gotten over themselves and become a couple to be reckoned with. Tom left the cooking school to open his own restaurant Dinner at Tom’s. Verity’s business seems to be going from strength to strength as students are tucked in here, there and everywhere learning everything they need to know for their Christmas dinners.

Rushed off their feet and surrounded by Turkeys and Chocolate Truffles Tom and Verity are looking forward to having a quiet Christmas just the two of them, and their steak dinner!

We also get to be reacquainted with some of Plumberry’s local business owners. Jack the town’s butcher and his lovely other half wine merchant Annabel – who appears to have something up her sleeve for the festive season, as Jack prepares for his children’s arrival.

Then there is cheesemonger Harriet who is taking Kevin, who appears to be the world’s largest turkey further north to Newcastle. That is before the news breaks that York is under considerable amounts of water as the Ouse has broken its banks and that the motorways are closed so there can’t be any non-essential trips for the foreseeable future.

On Christmas morning the rain is still siling down and it doesn’t look like it will be stopping anytime soon. It’s not long before a heartbroken Harriet is knocking at Verity’s door. What is everyone going to do? Are all the homes and businesses safe?

Readers in the UK will see a link to last Christmas in the north of England. The devastating floods that happened in the city of York. Those floods were that vast that some businesses still aren’t open. One thing did happen, the community spirit that rose from the boggy streets and houses was spectacular. The people who left all their plans behind to help those that were afflicted during this time was moving.

Cathy has tapped into this. I could see direct parallels between  what the people at Archbishop Holgate School and the surrounding emergency shelters were doing, and how on Christmas morning surrounded by power outages on hearing about everyone else’s misfortune Verity opens up the cookery school and with the aid of her trusty generator powers up the ovens. Flanked by Tom, Harriet, Pixie and Mags the doors are open to house everyone in need of help and an oven so they could have a warm meal and keep safe together.

This is another Cathy Bramley tale that I will hold close to my heart, and not just because I grew up just a few miles away from York. Verity is the person I hope most people would aspire to be. Fun, loving and generous.

This story also comes with three recipes at the back, the Christmas Chutney recipe is already on my list of things to make this year!

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 8 – A Christmas Kiss by Vicky Pattison

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 8 – A Christmas Kiss by Vicky Pattison

Author: Vicky Pattison
Publisher: Sphere
Release Date:  22 October 2015 (digital) 20 October 2016 (paperback)
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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The Blurb: 

It’s the perfect season to fall in love.

Amber Raey is working all the hours God sends as assistant to one of the country’s top fashion designers, and her boss is a complete nightmare. But Amber has big plans for her future so, for the time being, she just has to grin and bear it. And then opportunity comes knocking and suddenly she’s on the fast track to the top.

Amber adores her new life, especially as she’s falling in love for the first time too. But soon the glossy exterior starts to slip and Amber begins to wonder if she’s made the right decision entering this world. Then a face from her past reappears and she finds herself in real trouble. With Christmas fast approaching, Amber is drifting further away from her loved ones. Can she get her life back on track before it’s too late for a merry Christmas?

Full of heart, warmth and humour, A Christmas Kiss is a romantic and festive read – it’s the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas!

The Review: 

I’ll put my hands up now, I picked this book up off the shelf in Tesco purely out of interest of how a reality star had turned their hand to writing. I wasn’t disappointed. She is very open about the process behind her novels and apart from having herself in a single scene it was a fantastically enjoyable romp.

When we first meet Amber Raey she is an assistant to fashion designer Diana Grant. Instead of fulfilling her potential at London Fashion Week, instead she is literally left holding a dog. As a model is about to take to the stage there is a wardrobe malfunction and Amber races to the collection’s rescue and saves the day with a little bit of canny ingenuity, offloading the pooch on to a stranger standing in the area. At this point had a sinking feeling that this was going to turn into another The Devil Wears Prada or The Stylist type of book.

Instead, this is where Amber’s story truly begins. That stranger turns out to be none other but internationally renowned designer Alessandro Rossi, head of the label House of Rossi who offers her the job of her dreams.

As Amber starts her new job on the design team, her hard work and talent shines through and she is offered the opportunity to create her own fashion line. But as her professional life takes off, her private life begins to crumble. Surrounded by her faithful friends in London, and loved to bits by her mum and sister in Newcastle.

Life in the fast lane begins to take its toll and a burgeoning romance with a world famous pop star just makes things worse. Amber is beginning to crash, and needs to find herself again before everything she ever put her heart and soul into is gone.

With the help of Faith Bleasdale and editor Rhiannon Smith, Vicky has created a wonderful world, that can be read anytime of year. She has truly won me over and had be absorbed between the covers.

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 7 – A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

12 Reads of Christmas: Book 7 – A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

Author: Lily Graham
Publisher: Bookouture
Release Date: 28 September 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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The Blurb: Nestled in the Cornish village of Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic …

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea – a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright.

But there is trouble ahead. It soon emerges that Stuart has been keeping secrets from Ivy, and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever.

When Ivy stumbles across a letter from her mother hidden in an old writing desk, secrets from the past come hurtling into the present. But could her mother’s words help Ivy in her time of need? Ivy is about to discover that the future is full of unexpected surprises and Christmas at Sea Cottage promises to be one to remember.

The Review: 

Illustrator Ivy has hit the big time with her children’s book series The Fudge Files, enabling her and husband Simon to leave the fast-paced world of the city behind to return home to Cornwall.

Moving into their home by the sea, Stuart has left his life in marketing behind and found himself thriving as he toils in his little cottage business. Growing produce at his smallholding and jamming his results, sometimes with better results than others.

Lily Graham has penned a novel that whilst being uplifting and hopeful, is also heart-breaking and sad. The underlying sadness and loneliness that Ivy feels as she desperately misses her free-spirited mum, starkly juxtaposed with the  hard-faced ‘Terrorist’ that is Stuart’s mother.

Genevieve  is a micro-manager who can’t understand why they would leave behind lucrative city careers to downsize and live in the Cornish countryside. Steadfast in her belief that she has their best interests at heart when she decides to tell Ivy some ‘home truths’. Setting in motion a host of dominoes that just keep falling.

Luckily Ivy has been hearing a voice, and seeing the words of her mother giving her comfort in the night, but then the unthinkable happens…and her voice goes away.

This wasn’t the Christmas book that I expected to be reading for this blog. But it is one I am glad that I persevered with. Incredibly slow to build, I can see that time was spent laying all the parts out for an elaborate jigsaw where you can’t see the whole picture until the last piece slots in.

A Cornish Christmas isn’t your average Christmas novel nor is it a romance-by-numbers affair. This is something different and has its own festive magic.

 

 

Book Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 6 – Midnight and Mistletoe at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Book Tour: 12 Reads of Christmas Book 6 – Midnight and Mistletoe at Cedarwood Lodge by Rebecca Raisin

Author: Rebecca Raisin
Publisher: Carina
Release Date: 22 December 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance

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The Blurb:

Join Rebecca Raisin for the final festive part of the Cedarwood Lodge serial and see who might be kissing under the mistletoe…

Planning a New Years Eve Party might be the kind of event Clio Winters used to dream about organising, but when everything is feeling a bit up in the air, she has to hope that this New Years her wish really will come true.

Cedarwood Lodge is a delectable romance told in three parts – following Clio Winters journey back to her hometown of Evergreen. This is the final part in this feel-good romance serial.

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The Review:

I have to say I have loved being part of this series of book tours so a big thank you to Rebecca Raisin and Love Reading Romance for inviting me to be able to introduce these novellas to you all.

In book 3 we reunite with Clio and Amory at Cedarwood Lodge. Amory is head-over-heels with Cruz. All her misgivings all but forgotten she is planning her future in Evergreen with her beau, who is still enjoying his role as chef at the lodge.

After the success of the wedding fayre Aunt Bessie is the talk of social media, her bespoke doughnuts are a hit on Instagram and she has been invited to be on America Today.

Clio’s mother Annabelle is slowly coming around to her daughter owning the Lodge. Annabelle is working hard to put her issues behind her so she can be there for Clio.

Monty and Isla are still going strong. Isla is hard at work in the grounds getting ready for spring, uncovering a complicated maze with a sad history.

As for Clio, her matchmaking powers are at full kilter, just not in her own best interest. Kai, the Aussie builder, is still on the scene. Midnight yoga is very much on both their minds.

It has been lovely to be there as Clio bloomed from being the unsure party planner that arrived back home from New York under a cloud to the proud business owner she is in book 3. She has grown and developed. Clio is that person that everyone wishes they knew. Kind and generous to a fault, it’s just a shame that she never truly wants to put herself out there. Her life seems to be about everybody else.

Amory arrives as the flighty friend, in Brides and Bouquets she proves that she has a grounding effect on Clio. Lifting her up when she needs it most, and in Midnight and Mistletoe she is the voice of reason. In essence Amory is Clio’s Jiminy Cricket, and the voice of the reader. Coaxing Clio out of her comfort zone.

I have very much taken Clio and Amory into my heart and I don’t think I will ever be ready to say goodbye to them fully.

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

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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

lizzies-xmas-escape

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!