Friday, 26 December 2014

'Cora's Christmas Kiss' by Alison May

Cora's Christmas Kiss (Choc Lit) (Christmas Kisses, #2)
Book summary: Can you expect a perfect Christmas after the year from hell?

Cora and Liam have both experienced horrible years that have led them to the same unlikely place – spending December working in the Grotto at Golding’s department store.

Under the cover of a Father Christmas fat suit and an extremely unflattering reindeer costume, they find comfort in sharing their tales of woe during their bleak staffroom lunch breaks.

But is their new-found friendship just for Christmas? Or have they created something deeper, something that could carry them through to a hopeful new year?

Another heart-warming Christmas novella from Alison May! Keep your eyes peeled for characters you may recognise from Alison’s previous novella, Holly’s Christmas Kiss

'Cora's Christmas Kiss' is a second book in "Christmas Kisses" series by Alison May. I've read it as a stand alone and I didn't have any problems with that because the story is separate. It's a rather short read (179 pages) and it's good about it - it's straight to the point without unnecessary descriptions which makes it a relaxing, fast, festive read. 

Cora and Liam are working together as Father Christmas and his helper Reindeer at a department store. During their breaks they're telling each other a story about their past year which according to them was a total disaster. It's easy to follow both stories as they're marked by month and year so it doesnt get confusing for the reader. Although I knew main characters will get together in the end, their adventures throughout the year made me turn page after page wanting to know more about what happened to them later! 

This book is sometimes amusing, sometimes touching - overall it's a good festive read, heart-warming and perfect for Christmas - New Years season. If you're still looking for a last minute Christmas read I'd recommend this one - it's short but full of surprise and relax.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

'Snow Angels, Secrets & Christmas Cake' by Sue Watson

Goodreads * Amazon * Amazon UK
Summary: For Tamsin Angel, Christmas is always the biggest and best… chic parties and a little showbiz sparkle are a must. This year though, things aren’t going quite as planned… 

With bailiffs suddenly at the door and her husband nowhere to be found, it looks like Christmas just got downsized. Moving into her sister’s one-bedroom flat, she wonders whether things will ever be the same again. 

After losing her husband on Christmas Eve, Sam Angel has rebuilt her life around her son Jacob and her new business – The White Angel Bakery. She’s also found herself a very handsome, loving boyfriend, but is struggling to let go of the past. 

Thrown together with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, Sam and Tamsin might just learn a little more about each other – and themselves. But when disaster strikes at the bakery, will they be able to save the day in time for Christmas?

First of all: OH MY GOD! This was one of the best Christmas books I've read so far! It was not only festive, engaging and sweet - it had a lot more to offer than just relaxing time while reading it.

I adored the story of two completely different sisters who in their own ways rediscovered a true meaning of Christmas. The book is written in two narratives so we can see all events from both Tamsin's and Sam's points of view - the author succeeded in showing how diverse these women are. Both are very well built characters, charming and loveable, sometimes even amusing. 

But Sue Watson's book is not only about two sisters struggling to survive through this unusual Christmas time after one of them had lost everything she owned. It is also a story about dealing with an emotional and painful past, dark times of childhood. One may think Tamsin is a posh and shallow, unsatisfied housewife but her obsession with beautiful, sparkly and expensive things is just an escape from wounds that have never been healed but scratched even more. 'Snow Angels...' also portrays different kinds of love and fear that comes along with it. 

This book is a perfect seasonal women's fiction. There's an excellent balance between romance, touching moments and amusement. It's a read along which you can cry, smile, laugh and feel this special kind of Christmassy warmth in your heart. I personally fell in love with Sue Watson's writing style and can't wait to read more of her books!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

'Never marry a politician' by Sarah Waights

Never Marry a Politician
Goodreads * Amazon * Amazon UK
Choc Lit

Book summary: 'Never, under any circumstances, marry a politician …' 
In trying to be the model wife to Ralph, a fiercely ambitious politician, Emily has betrayed her heart and her principles. Once she was a promising journalist, but now reluctant domestic goddess is more her scene.

When unexpected events lead to Ralph becoming a candidate for Prime Minster, Emily finds maintaining the fa├žade of picture-perfect family life an increasing struggle –especially when her romantic past comes back to haunt her in the form of tough-talking journalist, Matt Morley.

Matt is highly skilled at ‘digging the dirt’ and, sure enough, Ralph has a sordid secret that is soon uncovered. In the aftermath of the discovery, will Emily finally find the courage to be true to herself, or is she stuck in the world of PR tactics and photo opportunities for good?

Runner up in the 2014 Good Housekeeping Novel Writing Competition.

I was expecting something different from this book. I thought it will be light, easy to read chic-lit, full of steamy love making and shallow phrases that we can read in almost every love story. Instead I got a book that made me think, that led me to deep reflections about life, love, relationships and caring about ourselves. 

This is the first book of Sarah Waights I've ever read but it made me want to read more. She has unique and very good writing style that made the book pleasant to read and it didn't feel like reading yet-another-romance. "Never marry a Politician" is a story about relationship problems, feeling neglected by the significant other, feeling lost as a woman, longing for love and support, trying to make a family stable and secure. Finally it is a story about making tough life decisions. 

Problems that Emily has to overcome are not absurd and a lot of women can identify with this character. It is very important to me as a reader that characters are realistic. The biggest strenght of this novel is that it is something different from affair-oriented  chic lits, yet it is enjoyable and engaging read.

I'd recommend it to those who are looking for something refreshing and giving a lot to think about.


Friday, 21 November 2014

'Christmas at Thornton Hall' by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Goodreads * Amazon * Amazon UK
Harper Impulse
Book Summary: When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!
So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the Earl of Gloucester’s impossibly grand ancestral pile.
The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.
But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?
As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!
CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.

This was my first Christmas book this season and I was counting on relaxing, easy read - I've definitely got it. I liked the main character of Juliet - a promising chef with a messed up past, hurt by a guy, trying to sort out her life working at Thornton Hall but instead getting even more confused and lost in her feelings.

This book gets crowded with a lot of versatile characters so fast it can be a bit puzzling. At first I had problems with remembering names and who is related to whom and I had to go back to some parts, but on the other hand that fun party of employees and lords makes an unique and enjoyable atmosphere. Some of heros and heroines are very likeable and lovely (Seamus, Rose and Isaac totally melted my heart), some are amusing, some are annoying and highly frustrating (whenever Lady Penelope was mentioned I was rolling my eyes with disbelief). For me it's important to have likes and dislikes in the book, the worst is to feel ambivalence towards characters and here I definitely have a strong impression of all of them.

There is a lot of going on in Thornton - not only dramas and love scandals but also unexpected plot twists and mysteries to discover (some of which are easy to figure out but some left me speechless). That all being set in an old mansion surrounded by snow and filled with delicious food aromas makes it a perfect chic lit Christmas read. Having known that this is the author's debut I'll happily give her other titles a go. The story of Juliet was promising enough.

I'd recommend this book for everyone who seeks for a good Christmassy chic lit, full of love triangles, startling plot twists, old mysteries and a lovely crew of characters. Don't try to read it while being on a diet because description of amazing dishes and smells from the kitchen will definitely make you hungry.

*Provided to me by Harper Impulse via NetGalley*

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

'Thoughtless' by S.C. Stephens

BEFORE READING MY REVIEW: I've read Thoughtless in my native language - Polish. I am willing to think that our translation a bit flattened the original story and especially general atmosphere of the book.

Book Summary: "For almost two years now, Kiera's boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she's ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source—a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he's purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes...and none of them will ever be the same."

Thoughtless? Yes. Keira was thoughtless. And a bit annoying. Her indecision and choices she "tried to make" made her a character I didn't really like. I was eagerly waiting for her romance to be discovered by Denny. At some point, while I thought she's ready to take responsibility for her actions, the plot with "let's be friends" between Kellan and her totally destroyed me.

Despite the fact that the story is really long I feel like the author was rushing and just touching some things, showing problems with which characters dealt in a flat and superficial way. If the book was 200 pages shorter and had deeper insight into Keira's, Kellan's and Denny's emotions and situation, I would even consider giving it 5 stars.

However, Thoughtless is a light and engaging read, even if the constant drinking-morning-coffee scene was annoying. I will definitely read the second part of the series, hopefully something unexpected will happen there.