Thursday, 22 December 2016

My Top 16 Books of 2016



2016 may not have been the best of years but there is no denying that some fantastic books came out of it! Before I go on my annual blogging break over Christmas and New Year I wanted to share with you sixteen of the best books I read in 2016. Yesterday I completed my Goodreads challenge of reading 125 books so I certainly have plenty to choose from! I haven't chosen any 2017 proofs as I will have a separate post coming in the New Year all about the wonderful books I've had the pleasure of reading early. Before we get started, I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for all of your incredible support this year and I hope that you have the most wonderful Christmas and a very happy New Year. Right, shall we begin!? I'll be working my way down from number sixteen to my number one book of the year.

16

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware 
This gripping thriller had to make my top sixteen! It was one of the rare books where I didn't see the twist coming and everyone I have recommended it to this year has loved it just as much as I did. If you love atmospheric crime fiction that keeps you guessing this is the book to pick up!

15 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik 
I know I'm very late to the party with this one but I am so glad that I finally picked it up this year! Uprooted is one of the most magical fantasy books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It's completely enchanting and I felt like a little girl again reading my favourite fairytale. 

14

Our Song by Dani Atkins 
I read this one way back in February and it has still stuck with me as one of the best books that I've read this year. This is a real weepy about two couples whose lives intertwine when tragedy strikes one winter's night and is perfect for fans of Me Before You. 

13

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo 
This is a book that I can see making so many people's best books lists for this year because it was just that good! Crooked Kingdom was a  brilliant ending to an explosive duology. Leigh is my Queen and I can't help but think that every other YA Fantasy book pales in comparison to this series.

12

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough 
This is another book that I read way back at the start of the year and was one of the first books that I read in January yet it still stands out to me as one of the best. 13 Minutes is a masterfully crafted YA Thriller that is perfect for fans of Mean Girls and anyone who likes dark and twisted reads.

11

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven 
This has been a bit of a marmite book this year but I absolutely adored it. It's a gorgeous story that made me cry for no particular reason other than Jennifer Niven's writing is so beautiful. It's such a heartfelt contemporary about finding the courage to be seen for who you really are. 

10

Who’s That Girl? by Mhairi McFarlane 
This book for me is the best women's fiction novel of 2016. It's funny, slick, intelligent and features a heroine who I want so badly to be my best friend. If you haven't read Mhairi McFarlane yet you are seriously missing out. I love how real her heroines feel and how I can always relate to their stories.

9

What's a Girl Gotta Do? by Holly Bourne 
Obviously a Holly Bourne book had to feature somewhere on this list! This is the last book (sort of) in the Spinster Club trilogy and I loved everything about it. It has friendship, feminism, cheesy snacks and everything else you'd expect from this fab series. I am so sad to say goodbye to these characters *sobs* Holly, please write more! 

8

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes 
I'm not a massive reader of non-fiction but this book literally changed my life after I read it back in March and helped me to achieve things I never thought I would this past year. Shonda Rhimes is a powerhouse of a woman and has some fantastic advice to give in this book about living creatively, being happy and finding the courage to say yes to life's opportunities.

7

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield 
This is hands down the biggest YA weepy of the year! Paper Butterflies is another book that I can see making a lot of people's top books lists because I don't know a single person who has read this book and not loved it. It's one of those books that leaves you physically feeling like your heart has been broken but is so very important to read. 

6

Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur 
 If you'd have told me that a collection of poetry would make it into my top books of 2016 back at the start of the year I would have laughed in your face. Prior to reading Milk and Honey I hadn't read poetry since I was at school but something drew me to this book and I'm so very glad that it did. This is another one of those life changing books that spoke to my soul. I feel like every woman who picks up Milk and Honey will find at least one poem that will speak to her.  

5

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall 
Under Rose-Tainted Skies is an incredibly special and important book to me and is the best book I've read all year about mental health. I related to Norah's struggles with agoraphobia and anxiety so much. This book is unflinching, honest and quietly hopeful and is an absolute must read for anyone living with mental illness. 

4

The Girls by Emma Cline 
I picked up The Girls on a bit of a whim and am so, so glad that I did! I read this book over one hot summers day and was completely astounded by it. The Girls is a painfully honest study on the way girls interact with one another and our desire to please both society and men before ourselves. If you enjoy books about complex women this book is not to be missed! 

3

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard 
Coming in at number three is Beautiful Broken Things which will come as a surprise to absolutely nobody because I have been raving about this book all year. This is my favourite debut of 2016 and Sara has quickly become one of my favourite authors. Beautiful Broken Things delivered everything that I've been wanting to read in a YA book for the last few years and is a gorgeous story about the power of female friendships. 


The Deviants by C.J. Skuse 
C.J. Skuse is, in my opinion, one of the very best writers for teens out there. The voices of her characters are so authentic and she's been one of my must-read authors for many years now, yet despite knowing all of this, nothing could have prepared me for The Deviants. This book really shows what C.J is capable of with its clever twists, skilled plotting and heart-breaking finale. It's such an accomplished story that I know will stay with me for a long time to come. 

1

The Graces by Laure Eve 
The Graces is the most unique book that I read in 2016 and I loved how different it was to anything else I have read this year. This book blew my mind with its heady writing, intoxicating characters and dark undertones of power and obsession. Thrilling and atmospheric The Graces is so deserving of being my best book of 2016. 


So there you have it, my top 16 books of 2016! 
I'll be back in January ready for a brand new year of reading. 
Here's to another fabulous year of books!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Review for Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

Mistletoe on 34th Street 
by Lisa Dickenson 
Publisher: Sphere
Release: November 3rd 2016
Genre: Christmas, Women’s Fiction
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis: 
"Olivia 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?"

Review 
Mistletoe on 34th Street is the perfect book to read over the festive season and has quickly become one of my new all-time favourite Christmas books! With snow, New York and a will-they-won’t-they romance it warmed my heart and made me feel all Christmassy.

The book follows Olivia who is in New York just before Christmas on a work trip but as heavy snow falls in the UK all flights back home are cancelled and she is left stranded in New York with her colleagues over Christmas. Olivia has never experienced a traditional Christmas before, with her family preferring to head off to sunnier climes as soon as the weather turns colder and so her work friend Jon sets out to show Olivia how wonderful Christmas can be in the most magical city in the world. As Olivia begins to fall in love with Christmas and her heart opens to new possibilities, she wonders if the man she’s meant to kiss underneath the mistletoe has been right in front of her all along.

Olivia was such a likeable heroine, I warmed to her immediately and became more and more invested in her story as the book went on she’s definitely the kind of person you’d want as a friend and I loved her work empowering young girls and women. Jon is everything I want in a romantic hero, he’s the loyal and kind friend who pines for the girl only to be overlooked, I was rooting for Olivia to notice him and realize how perfect they would be together. Their love story is incredibly sweet and I loved following their romantic adventure in The Big Apple seeing the sights and discovering the magic of Christmas.

Mistletoe on 34th Street delivered everything that I look for in a Christmas story and is a book that I have recommended to countless people since reading it. It is funny, festive and feel-good providing some much needed winter escapism! If you only have time for one Christmas book this year, make it this one.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Christmas With Chrissie Manby

Today I have Chrissie Manby on the blog talking about her new Christmas book A Fairy Tale For Christmas and how she celebrates Christmastime. So grab a hot chocolate, turn on your Christmas playlist and spend Christmas with Chrissie Manby...


1.) What can readers expect from A Fairy Tale for Christmas?
Christmas cheer and classic British comedy. A Fairy Tale for Christmas follows the members of an amateur dramatic society as they rehearse and perform in a production of the pantomime Cinderella. There’s plenty of mayhem behind the curtains and lots of romance too as Kirsty, who is playing Cinderella, finds herself torn between her own Prince Charming, director Jon, and single father Ben, who is roped in to play Buttons.

2.) How do you get into the festive spirit to write your Christmas stories? 
I burn orange and spice scented candles and eat mince pies, if I can get hold of them. Since the supermarkets seem to start stocking their Christmas food in September now, it isn’t hard!

3.) If you could play any part in the NEWTS pantomime what would it be?
I’d like to play the Fairy Godmother. You get a good outfit and you’ve got the audience on your side. I suppose I should say Cinderella but I’ve always thought of her as a bit of a drip. Fancy marrying a man who could only recognise you by the size of your feet!

4.) Can we expect any more stories from the Bensons in the future?
I hope so. Falling Leaves and Fireworks, which came out in October, is a novella featuring the Bensons at Halloween and Bonfire Night. Next year, I’m planning to at least put out a Christmas short featuring the gang. Maybe a novel, if I can write quickly enough!

5.) What’s your favourite thing about Christmas? 
My favourite thing about Christmas is spending time with my family. Dad died suddenly at the end of August, so this year it’s more important than ever for the rest of us to get together. I know we’re going to miss him terribly.

6.) Do you have any Christmas traditions? 
Every year I try to persuade my brother-in-law that we should set up a company called ‘Christmas Crappers’, selling crackers with rubbish presents inside them. Then we remind ourselves that crackers always have rubbish presents inside them. Does that count? I also always hate the John Lewis ad. The music. The mawkishness. Ugh!

7.) Favourite Christmas food and drink? 
Whatever my mum and my fabulous sister Kate are cooking! I love satsumas too.

8.) Favourite Christmas movie?
Got to be White Christmas for me. My favourite thing to watch at Christmas however has to be the Christmas episode of The Royle Family in which Denise and Dave defrost the turkey in the bath.

9.) Favourite Christmas song? 
For a weepy, I love The Coventry Carol. For a party, I love The Waitresses’ Christmas Wrapping

10.) What does Christmas mean to you? 
That’s a big question. A time to draw your loved ones close and wish for Peace On Earth even if it seems increasingly unachievable? How about that?


 A Fairy Tale For Christmas is available to buy in all good bookshops now. 
 Add A Fairy Tale For Christmas on Goodreads here 
 Follow Chrissie on Twitter @chrissiemanby

Monday, 5 December 2016

Talking As Fast As I Can Blog Tour: 5 Reasons to Love Lorelai Gilmore & Giveaway



Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Talking As Fast As I Can blog tour! I'm a huge fan of Gilmore Girls and Lauren Graham in general, so today I wanted to share with you the top five reasons I love Lorelai Gilmore and give you the chance to win Lauren Graham's new book Talking As Fast As I Can, an essential read for any Gilmore Girls fan!

1.) She understands the importance of junk food

2.) She's weird, awkward and relatable

3.) She always has the best advice

4.) Her witty comebacks are serious goals

5.) She's fiercely loyal to those she loves

Don't miss your chance to win Talking As Fast As I Can over on Twitter!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Christmas With Lisa Dickenson

Today I have Lisa Dickenson on the blog talking about her new Christmas book Mistletoe on 34th Street and how she celebrates Christmastime. So grab a hot chocolate, turn on your Christmas playlist and spend Christmas with Lisa Dickenson...


1.) What sparked the idea for Mistletoe on 34th Street?
I love New York at Christmas (I mean, who doesn’t?) and so when I decided to do another Christmas book it seemed like a natural fit. The actual storyline however was inspired by my own stay in New York in December of 2010, when my (then boyfriend) Phil and I were on the last stop of a year-long round the world trip. He proposed on our “last night”, but then the UK had a huge snow storm and we were stranded in NYC with Christmas Day, which we’d been so looking forward to getting home in time for, creeping closer and closer.

2.) How do you get into the festive spirit to write? 
I listen to soooooo many Christmas songs! Christmas music is the soundtrack to many of my summer months while I try and conjure up images of twinkling lights and crunchy snow. It helps that I do love a bit of Nat King Cole and Mariah, though.

3.) If you could spend Christmas in New York what would you get up to? 
I would walk around Central Park – a lot – because it’s peaceful and beautiful and great for people-watching. I’d go to Rockefeller Plaza and see all the angels because it’s my favourite part of New York during the holidays. And I’d eat absolutely everything because a) American food is yummy, and b) if you can’t stuff your gob at Christmas, when can you?

4.) What are some of your favourite books/movies set in New York?
I adore Home Alone 2 and Elf for the Christmas in NYC factor, but I also love How To Marry A Millionaire and Catch Me If You Can. Book-wise, I Heart New York by Ms Kelk or The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld.

5.) Which of your characters would you most like to kiss underneath the mistletoe? 
I couldn’t possibly; my leading men are all taken ;)

6.) Do you have any Christmas traditions? 
Oh lots, I love Christmas traditions! I love to watch all the Christmas movies, listen to all the music, eat all the chocolate oranges and see as much family as possible.

7.) Favourite Christmas food and drink? 
Chocolate oraaaaaanggggggge and mulled wine, pleasezz and thank youzz.

8.) Favourite Christmas movie?
Muppet’s Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life and Home Alone (soz for choosing three)

9.) Favourite Christmas song? 
I can’t decide on just one for this question either! I love Sleigh Ride, Last Christmas, Let It Snow, All I Want for Christmas Is You, The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, and (wildcard) Santa Tell Me by Ariana Grande.

10.) What does Christmas mean to you? 
It means being kind. No matter your religion, your political views, your beliefs, your loves, it’s just about coming together and being kind to each other. And eating chocolate for breakfast.


 Mistletoe on 34th Street is available to buy in all good bookshops now. 
 Add Mistletoe on 34th Street on Goodreads here 
 Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaWritesStuff

Friday, 25 November 2016

Christmas With Cathy Bramley

Hello everyone! Last Christmas I hosted a new festive feature "Christmas With..." and it was so popular that I decided to bring it back again in 2016. Once again it's time to get into the Christmas spirit by snuggling up with some Christmassy reads so I am inviting some lovely authors who have Christmas books out this year to come on the blog and have a little chat with us about all things festive!

Today I have Cathy Bramley on the blog talking about her new Christmas novella Comfort & Joy and how she celebrates Christmastime. So grab a hot chocolate, turn on your Christmas playlist and spend Christmas with Cathy Bramley...


1.) What made you decide to return to the Plumberry School of Comfort Food at Christmas? 
I love all the locations of all my books, but there is something about the village of Plumberry and the cookery school that has really stuck with me. The chance to go back and see how all the characters spent their Christmas was too good an opportunity to miss!

2.) How did you get into the festive spirit to write? 
Ha, good question! The weeks I chose to write this book were the hottest we'd seen in England for years! I made a Christmas playlist on Spotify and played it in my office, in the car and even when I was cooking to get in the mood!

3.) If you could spend Christmas with your characters what would you get up to? 
I'd get Tom cooking the dinner, Mags mixing up one of her cocktails and I'd sit down by the fire with Verity for a good old chat!

4.) Which festive food would you most like Verity to whip up for you?
Mince pies! I love mince pies but mine always burst and the mincemeat always bubbles over the lid. Perhaps I'm adding too much brandy to the mix...?

5.) What’s your favourite thing about Christmastime? 
Oh gosh, can I only choose one thing? Okay, well I'd have to say getting together with my family on Christmas Eve, when all the shopping and wrapping has been done and we know we've got a lovely day to look forward to together.

6.) Favourite Christmas movie?
The Holiday. I could honestly watch this on a loop. I love everything about it (except Jack Black - wrong choice)

7.) Favourite Christmas song? 
It used to be 'Last Christmas' by Wham! Now I like to cry buckets at 'Wherever you Are' by the Military Wives Choir

8.) What does Christmas mean to you? 
For me it's a family time, a chance to switch off from normal life and relax and have fun together. I can't wait...

 Comfort & Joy is available to buy as an e-book now.
 Add Comfort & Joy on Goodreads here
 Follow Cathy on Twitter @CathyBramley

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Bookish Christmas Gift Guide 2016

Buying books for book lovers is really hard because we already have ALL OF THE BOOKS! My family notoriously never know what books to buy me for Christmases and Birthdays unless I specifically ask for them because they never know what I already own, some even flat out refuse to buy me any books because I already have "too many" (as if there is such a thing!) So today I wanted to put together a list of alternative bookish gift ideas that aren't books for anyone wanting to buy something for the reader in their lives. There are always so many book blogger Secret Santa's going on at this time of year and the gifts in this guide would make perfect bookish presents with something to offer every reader.

Bookbandz

 
I absolutely love a good bookmark and these handmade Bookbandz have to be some of the prettiest bookmarks out there. The bandz are made to order with different charms and beads to suit any taste. There are some beautiful Christmas charms available at the moment including gingerbread men, Christmas trees, angels and more. The owner Karen can also make bookmarks in the style of your favourite book with a charm of the books cover taking pride of place in the center surrounded by matching beads. For a unique, handmade, bookish gift you really can't go wrong here. The bandz are priced at £5 each or 3 for £12 so they're perfect if you've got a few people to buy for. To see the full range visit Karen here.

 Klevercase


If the reader in your life prefers e-readers to psychical books then a gorgeous new e-reader case may be the way to go and Klevercase offers some of the best in my opinion. Their cases are designed to look like books and are made using traditional bookbinding techniques. There is a design to suit any reader although my personal favourite has to be the Book of Spells design inspired by Harry Potter. The cases are made to fit all of the popular e-readers and a really nice touch is that they can be personalized with a message for an extra cost. To see the whole Klevercase range visit them here. Prices vary depending on the e-reader.

Stack of Books Earrings


Another gift that I am absolutely loving are these bookish earrings. I think that they are so cute and make a really lovely gift if you'd like to give the reader in your life something other than books this year. There is so much bookish jewellery out there so it's worth shopping around to find the right style for the person you are buying for but for me personally it doesn't come much cuter than this. The earrings retail at £16.00 and can be bought at The Literary Gift Company.

 Bookish Mug


Another brilliant gift from The Literary Gift Company are their bookish mugs. I've given these as a gift before and they always go down a storm. Again there are many different mugs to choose from in this style ranging from reading, writing, blogging, tweeting etc so you can choose the best fit for the gift recipient. This mug costs £9.95 and is the perfect choice for anyone who doesn't like to be disturbed when they're reading (aka all of us!)

Bookstore Scented Candle


We all have that friend who can not get enough of the smell of books and at last that smell has been captured in candle form so that your room can smell like your favourite bookstore. Frostbeard are an Etsy seller that ship worldwide and some of their candle fragrances include Winterfell, Sherlock's Study and Pemberley Garden's to name a few. This would make the perfect gift for anyone who loves to burn candles whilst reading. To check out the full range visit Frostbeard's Etsy store here.


 Reading Journal


Another option that would be particularly perfect for book bloggers is a reading journal. I've kept a reading journal ever since I started blogging and I would be lost without it. They're a great way of keeping a record of what you've read and are great for jotting down thoughts about a book before reviewing. I particularly like this one from The Literary Gift Company selling at £9.95 I think this would make a nice, thoughtful gift for anyone who likes to keep track of their reading.


 Evie Seo Designs


My biggest recommendation for bookish gifts is for Evie Seo's designs over on Society6. Evie's artwork is so beautiful with a focus on books. Her designs can be printed on to t-shirts, mugs, phone cases, tote bags and pillows to name a few. Her range is extensive covering many different fandoms so if you're struggling to find the perfect gift you are guaranteed to find something here. I recently received the tote bag pictured as a gift and it's such good quality with thick handles and plenty of room inside. I can't see anyone disliking something by Evie and there are so many options depending on your budget. To view the complete range visit Evie here.

 I hope this gift guide helps make your Christmas shopping a little easier 
and that you find the perfect gift for your favourite book lover!

Friday, 18 November 2016

A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas Blog Tour

Welcome to my stop on the A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas Blog Tour! Today I have a guest post from author Darcie Boleyn on Christmas memories. Enjoy!


Christmas Memories by Darcie Boleyn 
One of my earliest Christmas memories is of making sweet mincemeat with my grandmother. She lived in a small terraced house with a tiny kitchen, so we had to drag her foldable table into the centre of her living room in order to have enough space to work. 

My grandmother, or Granny as I called her, was a tiny lady. I’m only five foot but she was even smaller. She’d been a primary school teacher and a deputy head teacher, but she retired well before I arrived. Despite years of dealing with children under twelve, Granny had more patience than anyone I have ever known.

My Granny had an old-fashioned grinder that she attached to the side of the table and we passed a variety of ingredients through it. It wasn’t easy, as we had to turn the handle and it became tiring after a while, but we kept going until we had a large bowl full of sweet, fragrant minced fruit. She added a generous amount of brandy and spices and the mincemeat was almost ready.

The final product was then spooned into jars that we sealed with wax paper and string and secreted away at the bottom of her pantry (yes – she had a pantry!) for a few months to mature.

The whole process took the best part of a Saturday afternoon but it was really enjoyable. I loved spending time with my Granny and preparing for Christmas in advance; it built up the excitement that led to my magical childhood Christmases. These days, I try to capture similar experiences with my own children and I hope that one day I might be lucky enough to do the same with my grandchildren. Time is so precious and we all lose loved ones at some point, but memories and traditions help keep those we’ve lost alive.

Thanks for this touching post Darcie.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Review for The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer

The Beautiful Dead by Belinda Bauer 
Publisher: Bantam Press
Release: November 17th 2016
Genre: Crime Fiction, Thriller
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis:
"There’s no safety in numbers...

Eve Singer needs death. With her career as a TV crime reporter flagging, she’ll do anything to satisfy her ghoulish audience.

The killer needs death too. He even advertises his macabre public performances, where he hopes to show the whole world the beauty of dying.

When he contacts Eve, she welcomes the chance to be first with the news from every gory scene. Until she realizes that the killer has two obsessions.

One is public murder.

And the other one is her..."

Review
The Beautiful Dead is an impressive crime novel with stunning prose, complex characters and a plot that crackles with tension. I’d heard great things about Belinda Bauer and I was not disappointed in my first read by her. I raced through this book with my heart in my throat and was blown away by its explosive conclusion.

The story follows Eve Singer a woman who has built a life for herself out of death. As a TV crime reporter it’s her job to give her audience the grisly details as a new serial killer emerges during Christmas time. This killer is an exhibitionist who takes pleasure in displaying his victims around London and Eve is unwittingly giving him the audience he craves as she reports each new murder. After all, every showman needs an audience, and so the killer approaches Eve with an irresistible offer: the inside scoop on each murder as it happens, an opportunity that will secure Eve’s uncertain career in a cut throat industry. However, working for the devil comes at a price and this deal might just cost Eve her life.

The Beautiful Dead is less of a whodunit choosing instead to focus on when and where the killer will strike next, as time counts down until the killers next “performance” you can’t turn the pages fast enough knowing that the next murder will be more sinister than the last. The book is told in alternate chapters between Eve, the killer and his next victim keeping the plot slick and fact paced. The chapters where we get into the killers head are particularly menacing as we slowly learn more about him and come to understand the way he thinks.

In many ways this book is more than just a crime novel and also explores themes such as dementia and sexism in the workplace. One of my favourite things about this book was Eve’s bond with her father, the author takes great care in exploring how his illness affects their relationship.

Overall The Beautiful Dead is an incredibly accomplished thriller that stands out as one of the best of 2016. Belinda Bauer has a new fan in me and I’m looking forward to catching up with her other books, if they’re as good as The Beautiful Dead then I’m in for a real treat!

Monday, 14 November 2016

Review for Comfort and Joy by Cathy Bramley

Comfort and Joy by Cathy Bramley 
Publisher: Transworld
Release: October 13th 2016 (ebook only)
Genre: Chick lit, Women's Fiction, Christmas
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis:
"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?"

Review 
I make it a rule to not read any Christmas stories before November but I could not resist diving into Cathy Bramley's festive little number in October!

Comfort and Joy is a Christmas short story featuring the cast from The Plumberry School of Comfort Food a book that I read and loved earlier this year. It was so lovely to catch up with all of my favourite characters and find out where life has taken them since we parted ways.

Our main character Verity Bloom is looking forward to taking a break from the Plumberry School of Comfort Food over the holidays and spending Christmas day snuggled inside with her new boyfriend Tom. But it seems like the weather has other ideas as heavy rain lashes down leading to flooding and power cuts, meaning that for the residents of Plumberry, Christmas is canceled. Can Verity and the Plumberry School of Comfort Food save the day and bring Christmas to an entire village?

I loved every moment reading this book, I wasn't expecting to feel Christmassy so early into the season but this book put me in the festive spirit! I loved the sense of community, kindness and sharing that is explored in this story, all essential ingredients in the true meaning of Christmas. 

Comfort and Joy does exactly what it says on the packaging, whether you're in the mood for Christmas yet or not Cathy Bramley's short story will make you feel cosy and happy bringing a smile to even the most hardened of Scrooges faces.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Review for As I Descended by Robin Talley

As I Descended by Robin Talley
Publisher: MIRA Ink
Release: 6th September 2016
Genre: YA, LGBT, Retelling
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review



Synopsis: 
Maria Lyon and Lily Boiten are their school’s ultimate power couple―but one thing stands between them and their perfect future: campus superstar Delilah Dufrey. Golden child Delilah is a legend at exclusive Acheron Academy, and the presumptive winner of the distinguished Cawdor Kingsley Prize. But Delilah doesn’t know that Lily and Maria are willing to do anything―absolutely anything―to unseat Delilah for the scholarship. After all, it would lock in Maria’s attendance at Stanford―and assure her and Lily four more years in a shared dorm room.

Together, Maria and Lily harness the dark power long rumored to be present on the former plantation that houses their school. But when feuds turn to fatalities, and madness begins to blur the distinction between what’s real and what’s imagined, the girls must attempt to put a stop to the chilling series of events they’ve accidentally set in motion.

Review
Macbeth is my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays so when I saw that Robin Talley had written a LGBT YA retelling I knew that I just had to give it a read during the build up to Halloween and this book lived up to my every expectation!

As I Descended follows the students of Acheron Academy an exclusive boarding school that nurtures competitiveness and values success in its pupils. As candidates for the coveted Kingsley prize are soon to be selected, the fierce competition between the students heats up. For secret couple Maria and Lily, winning the prize would mean securing their future together earning Maria a place with Lily at Stanford University. With the schools it girl Delilah set to win the prize, the girls realise that for Maria to take first place they need to get Delilah out of the picture, but what starts out as a vindictive plan quickly spirals into a deadly accident. With their futures at stake, Maria and Lily must decide just how far they’re willing to go to protect their relationship and themselves.

As with all of Robin Talley’s books, As I Descended is brimming with diverse characters which is something I always appreciate. The characters in this book are so well written and complex, they’re neither good nor bad which I really loved. It was fun to get into the heads of so many different types of people and to learn about the motives behind their actions.

The story opens on an Ouija board scene and builds in creepiness throughout the book. As I Descended is the perfect blend of thriller and horror story, mixing together human misdeeds with the supernatural for a double dose of terror. This book transcends so many genres offering a little bit of everything to satisfy the tastes of any reader.

With its boarding school setting, ruthlessly ambitious characters, and spooky storyline, As I Descended ticked so many of the right boxes for me. If you love scary reads about jealousy and revenge you’ll love As I Descended.

Monday, 24 October 2016

Five YA Books To Read This Halloween!

Halloween is drawing ever closer and if you're anything like me you're diving head first into some spooky reads at the moment to get into the spirit of the season! Today I wanted to bring you my top five YA book recommendations that I think would be perfect to read this Halloween for anyone looking for something scary or supernatural to get their teeth stuck into.

 The Graces by Laure Eve


It's no secret that The Graces is one of my favourite books of 2016 and if you haven't had the pleasure of reading this wonderful book yet then Halloween is the perfect time to do so! The book follows three siblings who are rumored to be witches and new girl River who develops an obsession with finding out the truth about them. This book is dark and gothic, twisty and turny and is an absolute must read for Halloween!

The Deviants by C.J. Skuse


C.J. Skuse is the best author to become obsessed with over Halloween. All of her books are wickedly dark and an absolute delight to read, but my favourite of her novels is her latest book The Deviants. This book is so shocking that I never want to say too much about it for fear of spoiling someone, so I'll just say that if you like thrillers that throw surprises at you that you never see coming check out this book!

Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics


This is a book that I read last Halloween and it still sticks with me now as one of my favourite YA Horror stories. What I love about Daughters Unto Devils is that it doesn’t read like a YA novel the creepy, gory parts don’t feel watered down so as to not scare a younger audience making it a genuinely scary read for anyone of any age. It's a short book at just over 200 pages and is perfect for devouring on Halloween night!

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough


I read a LOT of thrillers both in the YA and Adult genres and 13 Minutes is one of the best thrillers that I've read this year. It's so well crafted and kept me up until the early hours of the morning turning the pages. If you like Scream Queens or Pretty Little Liars you will love the bitchiness and backstabbing that goes on in 13 Minutes.

As I Descended by Robin Talley


I just finished reading As I Descended the other day and it is one of my favourite books that I've read for Halloween this year! This is a YA retelling of Macbeth and has all of the ghostly and bloody goings on that you'd expect. Any scary story that opens on a Ouija board scene is set to be a good one in my opinion and this book builds on the creepiness throughout. If you like mystery, murder and a dash of the supernatural you won't want to miss this book!

 I hope that if you're looking for a good Halloween read 
that you decide to check out these brilliant books!
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