Monday, 31 December 2018

My Favourite Books of 2018

It's the time of the year again. Here are my books of the year 2018. I won't list all my books of the months here, especially since I didn't post them for the last three anyway. So without further ado: 

- Five Years From Now by Paige Toon
- Our House by Louise Candlish
- A Royal Shade of Blue by Aven Ellis
- You, me, Everything by Catherine Isaac
- While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins
- Daisy's Vintage Cornish Camper Van by Ali McNamara
- Somewhere Beyond the Sea by Miranda Dickinson
- One in a Million by Lindsey Kelk
- One Thousand Stars and You by Isabelle Broom
- Absent in the Spring by Carrie Elks

Five Years From Now by Paige Toon

It’s a bittersweet story, which shows that love doesn’t always end with a happy end.  Beautiful, emotional and touching!!!
Paige Toon has an amazing writing style. It’s natural, elegant, fresh, unique, vivid and really authentic. 
This book has everything: romance, passion, grief, friendship, family relationships, love and so much more. I laughed, cried and just got so absorbed by this story - My Review

Our House by Louise Candlish

Wow, wow, wow!!!!
This book has blown me away! Louise Candlish has created a real masterpiece here!!
BRILLIANT, COMPLEX, CLEVER and just FABULOUS!!! I have found a new favourite author - My Review

A Royal Shade of Blue by Aven Ellis

A royal romance?! Hell yes!!!! Aven Ellis managed to create this wonderful now world, fab characters, brilliant storyline, humour and just PERFECT!!! It’s fresh, new, exciting, gripping, vivid and full of so many great details. Aven Ellis just has a gift for capturing feelings and emotions in such an authentic, passionate and real way - My Review

You, Me, Everything by Catherine Isaac

An amazing story, full of fascinating details!! BRILLIANT and BEAUTIFUL!!!
The book includes so much: difficult topics, family, memorable scenes, wonderful characters, love and so much more. The way the story is told, makes the reader hooked and it's a place you never want to leave again - My Review

While I Was Sleeping by Dani Atkins

This book absolutely touched my heart. I don’t think I ever cried so much, reading a book. It’s heart-breaking, poignant, moving and tear-jerking. The ending of the book made me speechless!!!
it was absolutely BRILLIANT!!! On so many levels… - My Review

Daisy's Vintage Cornish Camper Van by Ali McNamara

I went through all the emotions reading this book; I laughed, I cried, I felt happy, sad etc. Ali McNamara’s writing is full of passion and heart. I felt so close to the characters and I was really rooting for Ana. The book includes mystery, romance, friendship, love, beautiful settings and amazing moments - My Review

Somewhere Beyond the Sea by Miranda Dickinson

The setting is magnificent, Miranda Dickinson’s descriptions are on point, I felt like being there with the characters. The book is about love, hope, loss, grief, friendship and much more. Miranda Dickinson put a lot of passion and love into it and I really hope we will see these characters again - My Review

One in A Million by Lindsey Kelk

Lindsey Kelk's writing is absosultey hilarious, romantic, passionte and just fantastic. She really understands how to engage a reader. 11 out of 10 points for this book for sure!!!!!BRILLIANT!!! - My Review

One Thousand Stars and You by Isabelle Broom

This book is absolutely gorgeous and stunning!! It tells the journey of self discovery, travel, friendship, love and romance. It’s the perfect mixture and you can dive right into the story and I guarantee you never want to leave again. It’s very moving and yes I had to cry. The way Isabelle Broom plays around with words is fabulous, a very talented author indeed - My Review

Absent in the Spring by Carrie Elks

This book has it all: love, passion, drama, friendship, secrets, family insights and much more. A FANTASTIC book!!!! Carrie Elks did a fab job with all the different locations and settings, the way she described them was perfect - My Review

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Him With The Beard - by Pernille Meldgaard Pedersen

Original Cover
My own copy

The blurb: 

Do you remember that moment you stopped believing in Santa Claus?

When nine-year-old Mille suddenly no longer believes in Santa Claus, it turns the house upside down.
Her mother, Stella, is in a pickle as the hunt to find Santa Claus unearths some family secrets.
Christmas is at risk!
And there’s only one person who can save it.

Countdown the days until Christmas with this tale about Santa Claus and Danish Christmas traditions.

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

The perfect story around Christmas time!

What happens when your child stops believing in Santa?! What do you do?!

I absolutely loved reading this story about a family and their Christmas traditions. It’s also great to read about another country for once. The author definitely captured the Christmas magic. An adorable read!


Pernille Meldgaard Pedersen on Twitter: @Pernille56

Friday, 21 December 2018

Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland - by Heidi Swain

Original Cover
My own copy

The blurb: 

After calling off her engagement, Hayley, the Wynthorpe Hall housekeeper, wants nothing more than to return to her no-strings fun-loving self, avoiding any chance of future heartbreak. Little does she know, Wynbridge’s latest arrival is about to throw her plan entirely off course . . .

Moving into Wynthorpe Hall to escape the town’s gossip, Hayley finds herself immersed in the eccentric Connelly family’s festive activities as they plan to host their first ever Winter Wonderland. But Hayley isn’t the only new resident at the hall. Gabe, a friend of the Connelly’s son Jamie, has also taken up residence, moving into Gatekeeper’s Cottage, and he quickly makes an impression on Wynbridge’s reformed good-girl.

As preparations commence for the biggest event of the season, the pair find themselves drawn ever closer to one another, but unbeknownst to Hayley, Gabe, too, has a reason for turning his back on love, one that seems intent on keeping them apart.

Under the starry winter skies, will Gabe convince Hayley to open her heart again once more? And in doing so, will he convince himself?

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

It was wonderful to be back at Wynthorpe Hall and back with all these lovely characters. I was excited to follow Hayley’s story now and equally excited to catch up with some familiar faces. 
I fell in love with the setting last time already, add a lot of Christmas spirit and you have your perfect festive book. 

We finally get to know Hayley and learned that she has been through a lot in her past. Moving into Wynthrope Hall she soon finds herself in the middle of all the festivities. They are planning Winter Wonderland and all the christmassy activities and details just warmed my heart.
Now, there hast o be a guy of course. Let me introduce you to Gabe, a friend oft he Connelly’s son Jamie. Well, he brings in some baggage too, but their chemistry is undeniable. 

I loved reading about these two, they shared a lot of sweet moments and Heidi Swain captured them beautifully. I went through all the emotions reading this book, tears of joy, tears of sadness, this gave me all the feels. It’s a heart-warming book, perfect to read in the Christmas time. 


Heidi Swain on Twitter: @Heidi_Swain

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

It Started With Christmas - by Jenny Hale

Original Cover
My own copy

The blurb: 

Holly McAdams loves spending the Christmas holidays at her family’s cozy cabin, with its little red door and twinkling lights, tucked in the snowy hills outside Nashville. But this year will be different. Someone unexpected is joining them… 

After Holly and her beloved Nana struggle through a snow storm to reach the cabin, they discover gorgeous and wealthy Joseph Barnes, who has been renting the cabin for the last few weeks, is now snowed in. And it looks like he’ll be staying for the holidays. 

Determined to make the best of the surprise situation, Holly tries to bring everyone together by baking delicious treats and decorating the cabin with plenty of festive sparkle. She finds herself growing close to handsome Joseph, who is unlike anyone she’s ever met before, even if Nana isn’t so keen on the dashing stranger with the mysterious past. 

But charming and irresistible musician Rhett Burton is also back in town. Thrown into close proximity with the person who used to be her best friend and the man who broke her heart, Holly realizes it’s time to face her feelings and figure out what she really wants from her life. But to complicate things, both Joseph and Rhett have secrets to reveal… 

Will Holly be able to find herself and the love she’s always dreamed of this Christmas? 

Discover the joy of Christmas in this gorgeous novel, celebrating the importance of friendship, the magic of love, and finding happiness by being true to yourself.

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*

We are always in for a treat when Jenny Hale publishes a Christmas book. I have been a fan of her writing for years and she actually surprised me a little bit with this one, in a positive way of course. 

I absolutely adored following Holly McAdams’ story. The relationship to her beloved Nana is very special, I really enjoyed the scenes they shared. 
Joseph Barnes is snowed in the cabin and starts spending a lot of time with Holly. He is gorgeous, wealthy and just perfect. He is getting married though and Holly finds herself planning his wedding. Joe and Holly grow closer quickly and they have a real connection and electric chemistry. The situation is not easy though. It gets more complicated when Holly’s best friend Rhett Burton is back in town. He clearly has feelings for her and she is just confused. 

The book had surprising elements. It’s a bit different from the usual storyline the author uses and it was not clear what was really going to happen in the end. Of course I kind of knew and wished, but the writing was mysterious and made me think twice about the ending. 

This book is the perfect festive read, just snuggle up on the sofa with a yummy hot chocolate or mulled wine, turn on the Christmas lights and there you go. It’s full of feelings and emotions, I had to cry, laugh and just fell in love with the story!

I also think that the title is absolutely perfect for this book. 



Jenny Hale on Twitter: @jhaleauthor

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Swing and a Miss - by Aven Ellis

My own copy
Original Cover

The blurb: 

For Katie McKenna, passing out and landing in the arms of Washington DC Soaring Eagles baseball player AJ Williamson is one of those moments she’d rather forget. Embarrassed beyond belief, she tries to pretend the incident never happened. She puts the escapade behind her, choosing to spend the summer preparing for law school—and admiring AJ safely from afar.

AJ, however, can’t forget the brunette with the green eyes who he caught that night on the concourse. She was funny. Quick. Not afraid to be herself. Intrigued, AJ wants to know more.

When Katie and AJ meet a second time, she finds herself no longer seeing him as AJ, the baseball player, but as Andrew Joseph, the man she is falling for. As her feelings grow, so do her doubts. AJ is known for his wanderlust, and his contract is up this year—will he even be in DC next season?

Katie has her own worries. Law school is going to consume her and is notoriously hard on relationships. The last thing she wants is for AJ to be a casualty of that. With the start of school looming closer, and her heart falling faster, Katie worries if she will be able to give AJ everything he deserves.

Can these two people find a way to realize they are worth the risk for the other to take? Or will their chance at love result in a swing and a miss?

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

What I love about Aven Ellis’ books is how she created this wonderful world around her characters and makes you as a reader part of it. You get sucked into the story immediately and never want to leave again. 

We are back in Washington for her baseball series, following the story of Katie. She has been a baseball fan forever and has a big crush on AJ Williamson. Her best friend happens to date one of his teammates (book one of the series) and so it happens that she passes out in front of him. Not embarrassing at all..

Well, a few weeks later they meet again and hit it off straight away. The attraction and connection between them is electric and Aven Ellis captured it beautifully. I loved following their relationship. 

Certain parts of the storyline were not authentic for me though and the conflict in the end seemed just placed, to have something. It didn’t seem real for me. 

Aven Ellis always puts a lot of details in her story and really thinks about the personality of her characters. The storyline is full of great moments. It’s a fab mixture of Katie and AJ being together, some girls time, baseball scenes, coffee shops scenes etc. 

I always feel very close to the characters in Aven Ellis’ stories, the emotions and feelings really come through. A very talented author indeed. 


Aven Ellis on Twitter: @AvenEllis
Goodreads - Amazon UK - Amazon US

Thursday, 22 November 2018

One Perfect Christmas and Other Stories - by Paige Toon

Original Cover
My own copy

The blurb: 

From the bestselling author of Five Years From Now, comes a heart-warming and heartbreaking collection of short stories, containing EXCLUSIVE material published in print for the very first time and BRAND NEW content. The perfect Christmas gift!

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

A must for every Paige Toon fan!!!

If you love her books, you need to read this books. I always had difficulties letting go of the characters Paige Toon created. I feel like a have a special connection to all of them and have always been curious and wanted to find out more about them. How did their lives develop etc?! 

This is a collection of short stories and sequels, where some of the characters meet each other as well. It’s fabulous that they all belong to the same world. You can always catch up with some other characters as well.

I have read the short stories before, but reading them again was awesome. I love diving into the world Paige Toon has created. The newest one is telling us more about Laura’s and Leo’s life. This one really touched my heart, because they live on Key West and a hurricane is approaching. Laura is with her family in the UK, but Leo is in the keys making sure their business is not getting damaged. 

This book is uplifting, poignant, touching and it will give you all the feels. It made me cry and I just didn’t want to stories to end again. 



Paige Toon on Twitter: @PaigeToonAuthor

Monday, 5 November 2018

Chapter Reveal - Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland

Chapter 1
As I descended the stairs to the Wynthorpe Hall kitchen, the vacuum cleaner bumping along behind me, I couldn’t help but think about how eerily quiet the place seemed. As a rule, lunchtime was a bit of a free-for-all as the family, which included us staff, made a beeline for a place around the table to feast on whatever delicious fare the hall cook, Dorothy, had spent the morning preparing. I reasoned that the unusual silence would likely have something to do with Anna, something she had arranged, and I decided to play along with whatever my well-meaning friend had dreamt up. Though I was, for once, itching to get back to town. 
I had barely opened the door an inch before a rousing chorus of ‘Here Comes the Bride’ erupted. The vacuum was whisked from my grasp and the sounds of popping corks and party poppers filled the air. 
‘You twits,’ I laughed, as Anna pulled me into a 
suffocating hug. ‘Tonight is just my engagement party, not my wedding day!’ 
‘We know that, Hayley,’ she said, squeezing me tighter, ‘this is just a little taster of what we’ll have lined up for you here at the hall when the big day finally dawns.’ 
Anna had certainly pulled out all the stops. I knew there would be no one better to take on the roles of wedding planner and chief bridesmaid. 
‘And when can we expect to see the handsome groom- to-be?’ asked Angus, handing me a champagne-filled crystal flute. ‘I take it the Scorching Scaffolder will be coming to pick you up?’
Angus Connelly, the eccentric gent who was married to Catherine, the hall owner, had certainly found a fitting nickname for my ancĂ©. 
Gavin Garford, aka The Scorching Sca older, had been practically everyone’s crush when I was at high school, and the subsequent years – combined with his job erecting and dismantling scaffolding – had played their part in turning a teenage tearaway into a fine specimen of manhood. 
Gavin and his workmates had been called to Wynthorpe Hall earlier in the year to construct a scaffold tower that we all hoped would keep Angus safe while he worked at a height. Gavin had wasted no time in asking me out, and the whirlwind romance that led up to his autumn proposal certainly lived up to the steamy fantasies I’d had about him as a teenager. 
‘I’m afraid not,’ I sighed, gently clinking my glass against 
Anna’s. ‘He’s working at the other side of Peterborough today and won’t be back until late this afternoon.’ 
‘Wouldn’t his boss let him take the day off?’ Jamie frowned. ‘There must be loads still to check over at the pub.’ Clearly Jamie – Angus and Catherine’s youngest son, and heir to the hall – wasn’t particularly impressed by my beau’s absence.
‘We’re both well aware of that,’ I responded with a cheeky 
grin, ‘but some of us don’t have a grand family hall to live in. We have to work all the hours god sends to save up ridiculous deposits just to buy poky ats in town.’ 
‘Still no news on the affordable housing front?’ asked Mick, the hall handyman, who also lived on-site. 
‘Not a word,’ I sighed. ‘At this rate we’ll be drawing our pensions before the council even approve the plans.’ 
‘You know you’re always welcome here,’ said Catherine, kindly. ‘We would be more than happy to accommodate you and Gavin if it meant you could secure your own home sooner.’ 
Catherine had been offering me a room ever since my final year at school when I’d found myself pregnant and was abandoned by my parents when they couldn’t stand the shame. At the time, my nan had been working as a cleaner at the hall, and her untimely death, along with my miscarriage, had ensured my education had never been properly finished. I had gone home soon after Nan’s funeral, but I gratefully took over her job. I loved working with the antiques, paintings and curios and had become something of a self-taught expert in historical conservation. 
‘Thank you, Catherine,’ I smiled at my kind-hearted employer, ‘I do know and, as always, I appreciate your gen- erous o er—’ 
‘But you’re not going to accept it,’ Jamie cut in. 
‘And be constantly on-hand to pick up your pants, Jamie Connelly?’ I batted back as Anna giggled and Dorothy tutted. ‘I don’t think so.’ 
Washing the family’s clothes had never been part of my job description, but teasing Jamie about his slack habits with the laundry bin was far easier than explaining why I needed to be at home; Mum and I may have had our di erences in the past, but I couldn’t leave her defenceless against Dad and his belligerent temper. I knew the time for me to move on would come at some point, but not just yet. 
‘And besides,’ I cunningly added, ‘we’ll be into November next week. You’ll no doubt be too busy planning for Christmas and packed to the rafters with more family and friends than you’ll know what to do with, won’t you?’ 
Moving the conversation on to Christmas was a mas- terstroke on my part. The mere mention of it had Angus bobbing up and down in his seat. I focused my attention on devouring Dorothy’s delicious sandwiches to soak up the zz, barely listening to the ideas Angus was rattling o , until the words ‘Winter Wonderland’ were spoken and I looked up to see Catherine’s face fall. 
‘Absolutely not,’ she said sternly.
‘No, Angus,’ she said again. ‘We’re going to be stretched to our limit as it is, what with the addition of the Christmas tree competition and the party on top of the usual sleigh rides.’ 
‘What Christmas tree competition?’ I asked, pushing my plate away. 
‘Have you not been listening at all?’ tutted Anna with a smile. ‘We’re hosting the tree-decorating competition this year because the church has so many December weddings booked that they haven’t got room for all the trees amongst the pews.’ 
‘It’s going to be spectacular,’ Angus joined in. Clearly, he could already picture it. ‘There were almost thirty trees last year, all decorated by a di erent community group. The one from the hardware store was a triumph, covered in mini tools and DIY materials. I thought it was the best by far.’ 
‘What with that and the party to raise funds for the char- ity,’ Catherine was quick to remind her husband, ‘I hardly think we’ll have the time or the manpower to establish this Winter Wonderland you’ve dreamt up.’ 
‘But as you just reminded us, Mum, we do already have the sleigh,’ said Jamie, catching his father’s eye, ‘and none of what Dad has in mind would encroach on the hall. Just a couple of extra tweaks outside and we could be in business.’ 
‘We could have a snow machine,’ said Angus, wistfully. 
‘Are you joining ranks with your father, Jamie?’ asked Anna. 
She sounded as surprised as the rest of us were no doubt feeling. 
‘Well,’ Jamie swallowed, ‘the charity is going to be closed 
throughout December so we could use the space in the courtyard, and we’ll have an extra pair of hands on-site to help out by then. A very practical pair of hands.’ 
Anna and Catherine raised their eyebrows in perfect syn- chronicity and I thought it was just as well that the charity, which supported bereaved children and young adults, was going to be closed if such extravagant festive plans were afoot. 
‘I’m not siding with him exactly,’ Jamie mumbled. ‘I just don’t think it would be all that tricky to set up, that’s all.’ 
That was as good as a green light to Angus, and I could already tell that a manic few weeks lay ahead. I might have drawn the focus away from my refusal of Catherine’s o er but, in the process, I’d opened up one heck of a can of tinsel- toting worms. 
‘So, who does this extra pair of hands belong to then?’ asked Molly, who had suddenly appeared in the doorway, her wild pre-Raphaelite hair framing her pretty face. 
Molly, with her white witch tendencies, had a spooky knack for popping up out of nowhere. She always looked to me as if she oated on a cushion of air, not setting her feet on solid ground like the rest of us mere mortals. 
‘Is it someone who is going to be passing through or some- one who is staying for good?’ 
‘Since when did anyone get away with passing through?’ laughed Mick, as he pointed rst at himself, then me, Dorothy and nally, Anna. 
We had all arrived at the hall on the understanding that we wouldn’t stay long, but that wasn’t how things worked here. Once Catherine, Angus, the dogs and the hall had found their way into our hearts, we were hooked – for good. ‘That’s true,’ Molly laughed, claiming the seat next to me and giving me an incense-scented hug. ‘I just wanted to pop in to wish you good luck for tonight, Hayley, in case I don’t 
get a chance later.’
‘Thanks, Molly,’ I smiled, squeezing her back.
I appreciated the fact that she had left the cosy con nes of 
her cottage in the woods, but I really didn’t need luck. It had been Molly herself who had read my tarot cards in the spring and had told me love would feature dramatically in my life before the end of the year. I admit I had been dismissive at the time, but then Gavin had turned up in his too-tight vest and set my heart pounding. Sure, he had a reputation, but who didn’t? As far as I could tell, he was the person Molly had predicted, and his timing couldn’t have been more perfect. 
‘So, who’s coming to stay?’ Molly asked again. 
‘A pal of mine,’ explained Jamie. ‘Someone I’ve known for ages and worked with out in Africa. He’s visited here before, too, but that was years ago. He’s agreed to take on the outdoor activities we o er at the centre, as well as adding a few more of his own design.’ 
‘I thought you were in charge of all that, Mick?’ 
‘I have been,’ he said, ‘but I’m not getting any younger and this chap has other skills Jamie can put to good use.’ 
‘You aren’t being put out to grass are you?’ I teased. 
‘No,’ he said, ‘of course not. I just want to get back into the garden. The students from the horticultural college coming out every week have made a massive di erence, and Catherine and I think now’s the time to think about a proper renovation.’ He sounded needled that I had suggested he was on the wind-down to retirement, so I winked to show I was only teasing.
‘You don’t change, do you, missy?’ He tutted, shaking his 
head. ‘I hope with a wedding to plan you’ll soon be more interested in your own goings-on than everyone else’s.’ 
I laughed at that. 
‘I wouldn’t hold your breath,’ I told him. ‘And on the topic of other people’s business, does this pal of yours bring some tragic baggage with him, Jamie?’ It was an unwritten rule – more of an assumption now – that everyone who turned up at the hall had some heartbreak they needed to heal from. We all had a sob story to tell. 
‘More to the point: when is he coming and where is he going to be staying? I’ll need to get cracking if I have rooms to prepare.’ 
‘He’ll be with us by the end of next month,’ Jamie explained, ‘and he’s moving into the gatekeeper’s cottage, so if you could give it an airing, that would be great.’ 
I noticed he hadn’t responded about his friend’s baggage, but I didn’t quiz him further. I was sure it would all come out at some point. It always did, whether we wanted it to or not. 
‘I’ll set a re going rst thing tomorrow,’ I told him, ‘and I’ll open the windows to get the air moving, that way the weather won’t have a chance to take hold and make it feel damp.’ 
‘And in the meantime, Hayley,’ said Anna, pushing back her chair, ‘we need to get you to town so you can prepare for your engagement party tonight. Are you ready?’ 
‘As I’ll ever be,’ I smiled, taking a deep breath as I prepared to meet my fate. 

The blurb
After calling off her engagement, Hayley, the Wynthorpe Hall housekeeper, wants nothing more than to return to her no-strings fun-loving self, avoiding any chance of future heartbreak. Little does she know, Wynbridge’s latest arrival is about to throw her plan entirely off course . . .
Moving into Wynthorpe Hall to escape the town’s gossip, Hayley finds herself immersed in the eccentric Connelly family’s festive activities as they plan to host their first ever Winter Wonderland. But Hayley isn’t the only new resident at the hall. Gabe, a friend of the Connelly’s son Jamie, has also taken up residence, moving into Gatekeeper’s Cottage, and he quickly makes an impression on Wynbridge’s reformed good-girl…

About the author

Heidi Swain is the Sunday Times bestselling author of five novels: The Cherry Tree CafeSummer at Skylark FarmMince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas MarketComing Home to Cuckoo Cottage and most recently, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair. She lives in Norfolk with her husband and two teenage children.

Heidi Swain on Twitter: @Heidi_Swain
Goodreads - Amazon UK - Amazon US