*Copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review*
WHAT? Surprised I’m still reading Christmas books? Well don’t be, because I really don’t care if it’s February, July or December. I can read Christmas books all year round. Especially if they are written by Sarah Morgan! Last year I read Sleigh Bells in the Snow and I absolutely fell in love with Sarah’s writing, so when I was asked to review this book, I really couldn’t be happier. There’s something so warm, so comforting in reading Christmas books, no wonder I’m so addicted to them.
Once Upon a Christmas is indeed a light and feel-good festive read with all essential elements a good Christmas book should have. The cover is stunning and the writing is wonderful. What I found most interesting is the fact it’s divided into two parts, telling two stories but they are well connected. The first story is about Bryony and Jack and the second one is centered around Bryony’s brother Oliver and her good friend Helen. So that’s a really strong connecting and both stories flow, perfectly intertwined around these 4 characters.
The two stories are a bit different, of course because these couples are different, so you might end up liking one better than the other. In my case, I wasn’t really fascinated with Jack as a character, I hated the fact he called Bryony ‘Blondie’ and really found it so irritating at times. But him and Bryony do share a long history, the fact they know each other for 20 years. Yet I didn’t like him calling her that way, it just seemed a bit disrespectful, but Jack is Jack…once you get to know him, you’ll realize he doesn’t have bad intentions, and is really fond of Bryony and her sweet daughter.
Helen and Oliver were a completely different story. While Bryony is trying really hard to find a man, Helen is doing everything but. She’s been very hurt in the past, so I could really understand her fears. But Helen and Oliver seemed more likable couple and I enjoyed their story more.
As usual when it comes to Sarah, the romance part was well and gradually built and the chemistry between her characters is electrifying. Bryony’s little girl was such a sweetie and her wish to have a dad for Christmas brought me nearly to tears.
Overall, this was a fun and enjoyable read. It reads really fast, it’s fun and has lots of romance. So, if you’re looking for an enjoyable read with lots of romance that will keep you warm on this cold winter days, this is the perfect book for you.
My rating: 3.5/5
In Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe, book one, we meet Issy, who starts her own bakery business from a scratch. Couple of years later, in book two, she is proud owner of a cozy and family friendly cafe that everyone adores. Issy and Austin are madly in love, taking care for Austin’s little brother who is a teenager now. But Austin gets his big chance to make a career in New York and provide a better future for his little brother. They lost their parents in a car accident and Austin gave up his dreams to take care of his younger brother. Austin likes New York, he can make a career here, his brother can attend a good school. But what about Issy? Cupcake Cafe is her baby, she made it from a scratch, she invested everything she had. Can she give up her dream job in order to be with the man she loves?
Cupcake Cafe Series are one of the best books I’ve ever read. I loved the recipes (I haven’t tried them yet) but I could almost feel the taste of all those delicious Christmas cakes and cupcakes. I layed my eyes on those mince pies. I’ve never baked mince pies, but the way they were described…it made my mouth water.
I loved all the characters, Issy, Pearl, Caroline, Austin, Darny. I wish Issy was my best friend, I absolutely adore her. She has such a warm personality, so fragile and yet so strong at the same time. Pearl is her employee, and this time she has a chance to prove herself as a manager. Caroline, well, she is a story for herself, that one friend of yours that has the role of your consciousness. You might not always like her advices, but she’ll be there for you always and no matter what. As for Austin… I love Austin, correction, I’m in love with Austin. And Darny, well, teenagers have their own issues.
Christmas At The Cupcake Cafe is a delicious story like a cake sprinkled with cinnamon and icing sugar. You’ll enjoy the story and the characters as much as the recipes. Jenny Colgan will take you on a journey from London to New York with gingerbread and cherry chocolate biscuits. Enjoy! And try out some of the recipes! I sure will!
My rating: 5/5
I CAN NOT BELIEVE I just recently discovered Sarah Morgan’s books. I mean, just look at the number of books she’s written so far, and look at their ratings!!
I indeed deserve to be hit with a stick for not reading at least one of Sarah’s books before, but boy oh boy am I glad I got the chance to start with this one. ‘Sleigh Bells in the Snow’ is a FANTASTIC read! It’s a perfect festive read full of Christmas magic and an absolutely charming romance book you MUST read.
Honestly people, I adored EVERYTHING about it. From the mesmerizing setting and the wonderful vivid descriptions of Snow Crystal, to totally lovable characters you won’t be able to forget.
Kayla Green is our heroine and she’s the associate vice president of Tourism and Hospitality and she’s the typical workaholic. She stays long hours, avoiding parties and despising everything about festivities. One day she’s assigned to go to Snow Crystal Resort to help out the O’Neils with their marketing strategy. Of course, she sees this as a wonderful opportunity to get away from her company and all the Christmas madness, and spend few quiet days with her mobile and laptop…of course, working. But things start changing as soon as she meets Jackson O’Neil, who’s not only a successful businessman but also drop dead gorgeous, athletic built and crazy about skiing (and everything wintery). All of a sudden she finds herself surrounded by the very things she wanted to escape from – Christmas cheer, family and feelings.
I really had no idea I will love Kayla so much. Honestly, she seemed like a bit of a scrooge at the beginning, though later on I could totally understand her reasons for such a behavior. She’s smart, beautiful, very down-to-earth person and I loved seeing her transform in front of my eyes. Once I found out the reasons for her resentment for everything Christmassy, I totally sympathized with her, and frankly I really wished I could give her a big big hug. But what I loved the most was the chemistry between Kayla and Jackson. It’s not the typical insta-love we get to see in so many other books. Yes, the attraction is there, yet the romance part is gradually built and the romance scenes are tastefully written. But you will be able to feel the chemistry which is simply pouring out of the pages. Unbelievable, I’ve read quite a few books and yet I am simply astonished with Sarah’s skills to create such an amazing romance read. Honestly, this is not only a perfect festive book, it’s a PERFECT BOOK. Period. The characters are fantastic and well developed, the writing is consistent, fantastic from the start to the very last page. I can guarantee you, you won’t be bored even for a second.
I totally, wholeheartedly, recommend this to EVERYONE! Seriously people, you’re missing out on a fantastic read! So, what are you waiting for? Head out to amazon or any other book store and get it fast! You won’t be sorry for sure! And there will be two more parts in this series and we’ll get to see some more from O’Neils, yay! Next book is coming out in Summer and I CAN NOT WAIT!
My rating: 5/5
Reviewing this book will not be easy. To be quite frank I really have no idea even where to start. I feel slightly disappointed because the start was very very promising.
Juliet Hill is a chef, a mighty good one actually. She’s been offered a fab last minute offer to work at Thornton Hall, but she thinks she needs to decline because she’s planning on spending Christmas with her wonderful boyfriend. The only thing is, her boyfriend is not wonderful, actually he’s a cheating son a bitch. Looks like she won’t be spending Christmas (or rest of the life) with him after all, so nothing is stopping her to accept the generous offer (big bonus included) from her agency and Jasper Roth and go to Thornton Hall to assist their permanent chef, Edward. But it’s not the first time she’s meeting that family and their staff, and she’s feeling lots of drama will happen. And she’s damn right.
Now I come to the part when I need to explain all the pro’s and con’s, and it’s not gonna be easy. Well, for a start, I really tried to understand the MC, but Juliet seems too indecisive for me. I loved her at the beginning, honestly she’s the classic chick lit character, with a fucked up life but willing to start again. I absolutely loved the first 15-20% of the book, and if I could rate solemnly on reading those pages, I’d say this book deserves 10 stars! I laughed, I found Juliet fun and funny, especially her reactions when she finds out her boyfriend is cheating. BUT then she goes to Thornton Hill and all of a sudden I felt like she stopped being so fun. Maybe the fact I was introduced to soooo many new characters at such a short time didn’t help either. I know the idea of the author was to show each of the staff working in Thornton Hall, but really guys, it all just seemed a bit too overwhelming for me. I admit, I had difficulties remembering their names, their characteristics, positions in the household etc. I’m pretty sure I would enjoy it more if I was given more time to get to know them, meaning if they were introduced in the book step by step, or if it weren’t so many of them. Or maybe the problem was the pacing. I do love fast paced books, but I think things were moving too fast for me to actually feel all these personalities (and there are so many of them).
Another thing which honestly is a big no-no for me in every book, are the triangles, and here we have couple of them. It all seemed too much for me and I think just burdened the story. They were unnecessary and just made the MC seem like a very lost character.
BUT on a lighter note, it’s a debut and I’m sure Lynn Marie’s other books will be better. Her writing style is fresh and she did intrigue me enough with this book (twists I didn’t expect), which is good obviously. I did laugh on few places and there were some very fun and interesting situations the MC gets into. If you’re a sucker for fun, festive read you should definitely give it a try. As for Lynn Marie’s future books, I will definitely be on a watch our for them. I have a feeling she’s putting all her heart in writing, and that’s certainly a thing I really appreciate the most.
My rating: 3/5
Buy ‘Christmas at Thornton Hall’ on amazon.co.uk
Lexi Anderson runs a show for decorating homes and iis called “the younger version of Martha Stewart”. She knows everything about Christmas and decorating. It’s the job that she loves and knows best. The Anderson family just moves in the Christmas Street. After the divorce, Lexi and her kids finally settled in a new cozy house, with the entire series of Jared Strong crime books reading in bed. It became a family tradition, they all love Jared Strong Series.
Everything was just fine, until one crazy neighbour decapitated their snowman.
In the meantime, the author of Jared Strong Series, Kyle Miller, has a writer’s block. His dateline ends soon, and he has no idea how to finish his book. From the window of his home office, he sees the new neighbour’s snowman and an idea pops up in his mind. Can the weapon be hidden in a snowman? Well, he has to check out. So, he goes to the snowman and tries various methods to hide a weapon, including decapitating the poor snowman. But, the owner caught him in action. Lexi is not thrilled by the idea of someone destroying her kids’ decorations, including the snowman. And the neighbours ‘ fight begins.
Next day Lexi receives a package by mistake adressed to Kyle Miller. The adress is the house next door. Is that crazy neighbour who destroyed her snowman actually the writer that she and her kids adore?
I totally fell in love with these two characters. A crime writer who hates Christmas, and a show host that loves Christmas. What a couple! I enjoyed their comic conversations and I laughed so hard on so many occasions. But, the story is not just funny. The characters were are also very emotional. Lexi lost her parents in a car accident and rushed in a marriage to recreate a family. Kyle lost his mother on Christmas Eve, and ever since he doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Can it be that these two people can be a perfect match?
So, if you’re a sucker for a bit of a Christmas magic, then this is a book for you. Check out how under the Scrooge mask there is a warm heart that is just lonely, and how love can enter in your life when you least expect it.
I can’t believe that this book waited so long in my kindle. I had so much fun reading it. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more of Heather Horrock’s romantic comedy novellas.
My rating: 4/5
Hey dear readers, we continue our Christmas Countdown and today we have a very special guest, someone we adore both as a writer and as a person, Talli Roland. Talli is one of the nicest authors we had the pleasure to chat to on twitter and we were thrilled when she agreed to do a guest post for our Christmas Feature. She’s a well know chick lit author and has written many books among which the Serenity Holland series, Watching Willow Watts, The Pollyanna Plan and couple of novellas. She has also recently released the festive novella, Last Christmas, which we loved and definitely recommend wholeheartedly (read our review here). Enjoy her post guys, and many thanks to Talli for being our guest.
This year, all I want for Christmas is just that: Christmas.
Last year, I got the best gift ever. My son was born two weeks early, on Christmas Eve. How can any other present compete with that? As I cradled my baby in the hospital, the world shrunk down to the tiny bundle in my arms, banishing all other thoughts – even Christmas! – from my mind. Cloistered away in the sterile ward, the only sign of the holiday was the Christmas cracker on my lunch tray, nestled against a slice of very limp beef.
So, this year, I plan to have the Christmas to end all Christmases! Not only will we be celebrating my son’s first birthday, but we’ll also be traveling home to Canada, to spend three weeks with my parents. Canada during Christmastime is magical. You’re never guaranteed a white Christmas, but it’s much more likely than in the UK. We often venture into the frosty air to cut down our own tree, and I love the scent of pine that wafts through the house. There’s something about wrapping up in a blanket knit by my grandmother as my mum bakes her legendary chocolate-chip cookies that feels so warm and cosy.
Forget the presents, forget the wine (can’t believe I just typed that!), and forget Santa. I’ve already received a Christmas gift no-one can top.
Now I just want to sit back and celebrate.
About Talli Roland
I write humorous, romantic fiction with just a touch of snark. I live in London, on a street with two Starbucks and (at last count) three other cafés that I can’t go to because I’m always broke, forcing me to stay home in my cozy little flat and make my own increasingly stonger brew.
I have a secret crush on Sir Alan of The Apprentice and if I was forced to wax anyone’s hairy chest it would have to be Simon Cowell. Clearly I watch too much reality television.
And let this be my confession: I thoroughly enjoy the Daily Mail.
My debut novel, The Hating Game, was an Amazon Top 100 bestseller and short-listed for Best Romantic Read at the UK’s Festival of Romance, and my second, Watching Willow Watts, was selected as a 2011 Amazon Customer Favourite. Build A Man is my latest release. I also write the 24 Hours travel guides under the name Marsha Moore.
Do you believe in magic?
Do you believe in Christmas spirits?
One simple question for you guys. When is the best time to believe in miracles? Of course, at Christmas. It’s the day we celebrate all good on this planet, we feel cheerful and hope next year will be better for us all. It’s probably the contagious joy everyone around us is spreading that makes us appreciate this day even more. I wish it was Christmas every day, don’t you?
If by any chance, you still aren’t feeling festive, though Christmas is just around the corner, I wholeheartedly recommend you this fantastic book. It’s warm, festive and simply magical. It will instantly get you all festive, from the very first page.
It’s a mesmerizing tale with lovable characters. You’ll cheer for them, live through them, and what’s most important,they will make you believe in Christmas wonders. Most of the time while reading, I even head teary eyes because some of the stories were so heart breaking. To be completely frank, I had no idea I will like this book so much. I thought I’m too old for tales like this. But honestly people, I’m so thankful I read it. It’s such a feel good read, one that will definitely cheer you up and warm your hearts.
I adore Susan’s writing style and how each of the character’s stories intertwined creating one beautiful, layered tale about love, friendship and family. At first sight, these characters have nothing in common, except the fact they are living in a same town in Scotland, each having no reason to believe they will have a merry Christmas this year. When I was first introduced to Jacob, Sophie, Rebecca, Stanley and Meredith, honestly I had no idea what are they all doing in this story. What is that one thing that will connect (and change) their lives? Each of them is having a hard year, going through a break up, or they are jobless and feel all alone in this world. But you know what they say my friends? Hope dies last! (no pun intended)
I was simply astonished with how well the characters were developed, how much of their personality I could actually feel through not that many pages (it’s rather a short read). Needless to say, I could connect to each of them and sympathize with them. The more I think of all of them, I come to the realization I will miss them so terribly now that I finished reading. I literally devoured every single page wondering what will happen next. What miracles and transformations await for them all, can Christmas be saved and will they have their HEAs?
Honestly, I want to see these characters again, maybe in a full length novel and hope Susan will reconsider this. Trust me, once you start reading this book, you will not want it to end. It’s a wonderful Christmas read perfect for curling up with a cup of hot choc. I strongly recommend it to everyone, even those that don’t believe in Christmas ghost, spirits and angels. Merry Christmas to all of you and wish you a fabulous New Year!
My rating: 4/5
Hey hey dear readers, today we have the pleasure of welcoming another great author to This Chick Reads, Lorraine Wilson. She’s the author of the Chalet Girl Series, and tomorrow is releasing the latest part ‘Revenge of a Chalet Girl’. Today she’s here to talk about Christmas (of course) and a bit about her main heroine in ‘Revenge of a Chalet Girl‘ Amy. BUT! That’s not all, lovely Lorraine has a very awesome surprise for all our readers, an international giveaway of a beautiful Revenge of a Chalet Girl bag (info about entering found at the end of the post). So, my lovelies, enjoy Lorraine’s post and best of luck to you all. Lorraine thank you so much for visiting our blog and for sponsoring this fantastic giveaway.
When Amy finds out that her ex is among the guests at the Chalet Repos where she works, she decides that it’s time for revenge. The very person responsible for her depression is here, and he is getting married. With someone else. So it’s time for payback.
Amy seems like a nice person, very emotional, very moral. When her fiance left, she tottaly cracked. After the breaking up and a death in the family, Amy feels depressed. She find herself in a state that cannot dissapear over a night, so years after she still struggles with the consequences. When she finally manages to pick up the broken pieces of herself, her ex appears again, this time with a new bride. Luckily Amy has two of her best friends to look after her and cheer her up. The revenge is actually their idea. The bastard has to pay.
But it seems that Jacob is not a bad guy at all. He made some bad decisions and the timing simply wasn’t right. Seeing Amy after many years, opens up old wounds, but his bride doesn’t deserve this. He made a promise to her, and he’ll keep it. But feeling Amy so close is still such a good feeling…
Overall I liked the book, it is very well written and I liked the writing style. However, I had few issues with the characters, especially Amy, the main character. At first I liked her, then I didn’t, than again she would win my heart. It all felt kind of confusing really. She seems like a nice person but not much of s strong character. It was really hard for me to connect with her and understand her and her actions. Still, it’s a light and short read I’m sure many will enjoy.
My rating: 3/5
“You are going to Paris.
I’m not going to Paris.
Yeah, you are. To bake with Henri Salernes.”
Rachel loves to cook. She doesn’t have many things in her life, but she has friends that love her very much. So, they sign her up for Paris’s next patisserie apprentice. She travels to Paris to prove herself that she is a star baker. And Henri Salernes is not nice guy at all. Among professional cooks, who step over other peple to achieve their goals, Rachel doesn’t have a chance. Or, maybe she does. Who knows? So, Rachel, ready, set, cook!
I immediately fell the connection with Rachel’s character. She is the girl next door that everyone loves. She loves children, so she works as a teacher. Rachel has always loved cooking because cooking is the only thing that connects her with her mother who died when Rachel was a child. Her mother owned a bakery, so Rachel spent her childhood helping her mom in the kitchen. Spending a week in the most romantic city in the world is a chance for a new beginning, making a dream come true, to open her mother’s bakery again, and maybe, just maybe, a chance for a kiss under the mistletoe. Among many professional cooks, Rachel feels helpless, but she is not a person who quits. Because there is always the memory of her mom’s words: “Just one more try hunny, just for me”. She would never step over other people to achieve her own ambitions. All she needs for winning the prize is to cook, and to believe in herself.
I must confess, I love Christmas and cooking. Christmas books with cooking patisseries make me hungry, really hungry. So here’s what I do: read a page, go to the kitchen :). I hope I won’t gain much weight till Christmas. I loved all those dishes mentioned in the book. I almost could smell the cinnamon cookies.
And Paris, awww, Paris. I loved Paris. I loved the way Rachel saw Paris. I could almost feel the city, like actually being there.
‘The Parisian Christmas Bake Off ‘ is a charming and warm read, one you will not be able to put down once you start reading. It’s a brilliant debut and I’m definitely gonna be on a watch out for Jenny’s next books.
My rating: 4.5/5
Find Jenny Oliver on twitter