Monday 31 December 2012

Review:: Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Cohn and Levithan

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares 
Authors: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books
Pages: 260
Format: Kindle-ARC
Review by: Mary

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

I was totally ready for this book of dares. The idea totally excited me. Answering questions from a stranger? Sending them on dares to find more questions? Yes, please! I see romance in the New York City air! 

New York is another character in this story.We're taken on a scavenger hunt really and it feels nice when a setting comes alive. I've not been to NY in 20 yrs! Oh geesh, I'm showing my age. But, it made me want to go back. It felt good. 

Lily and Dash's parents have both left them for the holiday's. Ironic or destiny? Dash is looking in a book store one day and finds a notebook that Lily has left on the shelf for someone to find. Inside are questions and dares. Will he do them? It was so totally fun to follow their red notebook. I wanted them to find each other. They were perfect for each other!

I was not a fan of the ending. It was....anti-climactic. Completely. I was like what the what? That's it? What kind of teenager is he? I expected more. With that kind of buildup. Come on!! Disappointed. The ending could have been--should have been--epic.

The Newsstand:: The New Year

The New Year is upon us. I love a fresh start, I really do. My birthday is in one week and I'm ready to get this new year on a roll. I have a lot planned for 2013 and The Sweet Bookshelf. I can't wait to get started!

I read 100 books this year. Not as many as I'd wanted but I met my goal and I'm happy with that. I have a toddler and family comes first for me. I want to keep reading a hobby and never feel like it is work. Keeping my reading to 100 is how I can do that. This past year The Sweet Bookshelf has added 2 new regular reviewer's to the ranks--Christy and Catriona. They're bringing you reviews once per week and I know I've enjoyed having them. The Sweet Bookshelf has a  new romance feature titled Let's Talk Romance. Come by every Thursday and we'll have a chat! Discussion posts remain my favorite part of book blogging. Some have been duds like Reading Over the Holiday's--Relaxing or Overwhelming? While Romance Novels: Why the Stereotype? and Should Bloggers Get Paid for Their Reviews? have been a big success. It has been a fantastic year but 2013 proves to be even better! 

Bookish News

In Case You Missed It

Sunday 23 December 2012

Review:: Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan
Publisher: Sphere
Pages: 351
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn't be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don't seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe - with its increased demand for her delectable creations - begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

This December, Issy will have to rely on all her reserves of courage, good nature and cinnamon, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, one way or another...


I absolutely loved Jenny Colgan’s first cupcake novel ‘Meet Me at the Cupcake Café’ it was quite literally a delicious read! So when I found out that she had written a follow up novel to this, and that it was set at Christmas, I get seriously over-excited! Although you might think I am setting myself up for a serious case of anti-climax here, I was certainly not disappointed! I enjoyed this novel very much, as devoured every last crumb of it.

We return to the Cupcake Café to catch up with Issy, Pearl and Caroline, as well as Issy’s Boyfriend and his little brother, as well as meeting some lovely (and not so lovely) new characters. This time, the reader gets to not only experience the joy of the lovely, cosy-sounding café, but also the bright lights of Manhattan as Issy travels across the pond to visits her boyfriend whilst he is on business there. The wonderful settings are just part of the beauty of this novel. Colgan writes so that you feel the warmth as you step into the café; take in the aromas of freshly baked cupcakes and warm, milky lattes. She doesn’t scrimp on the description of Manhattan either, and you really feel like you have jetted off to The Big Apple with Issy!

The fact that this novel is set at Christmas might make the reader think that the storyline is going to be a tad predictable, there’s going to be something to threaten Christmas but that everything is going to be ok in the end, but Colgan keeps you guessing right up until the last minute. And when that last minute finally, came I didn’t want it to end. I found myself hoping that I would get to once again reunite with these diverse, loveable characters and find out what will happen next in their lives (and loves). The storyline is truly gripping and I found myself sharing the ups and downs with Issy, experiencing every emotion that she and her friends experienced over the course of the novel.

This is a truly scrummy Christmas read. If you haven’t read ‘Meet me at the Cupcake Café’ I would urge you to do so because you will love it, but you would still be able to enjoy this book on its own merit, meeting the characters for the first time in this novel will not be detrimental to the enjoyment of the story. Readers will also enjoy the recipes that Jenny has put in at the start of every chapter which add a whole-new interactive dimension to the story. This is a book which is a must for getting any fan of Chick-lit into the Christmas spirit!

Saturday 22 December 2012

Review:: Married by Christmas by Scarlet Bailey

Married by Christmas by Scarlet Bailey
Publisher: Ebury
Pages: 448
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

The countdown to her winter wedding has begun...

Anna Carter wants the perfect Christmas Eve wedding. It's been on her 'to-do' list since she was a little girl stuck living in a children's home and dreaming of a far happier family life than she'd ever experienced. Now she's found the perfect Georgian country manor as a venue, to which she will be taken in a reindeer-drawn sleigh. She's got a show-stopping designer ivory-beaded wedding dress.

And she's even found her groom. Three years ahead of schedule, funny, sexy, handsome journalist, Tom, had swept her off her feet.

Only, now, two weeks before the wedding, Tom drops a bombshell that threatens to ruin everything.

But nothing is going to stop Anna's plans - not even the pesky inconvenience of discovering her perfect husband-to-be already has a wife...

“And besides, haven’t you learned by now you can’t always be prepared for what life throws at you?” This little moment of wisdom from one of the characters in ‘Married by Christmas’ sums up the essence of Scarlett Bailey’s latest offering, featuring neurotic but lovable Anna, her ‘decent guy’ fiancée tom, best friend Liv and wildcard musician Miles. Any novel which features the term ‘ample bosom’ within the first fifty pages is going to be a sure-fire hit with me! And I really enjoyed my journey through the pages of ‘Married by Christmas’ which was so beautifully signed by the lovely Scarlett Bailey. It’s a wonderful storyline for a festive novel, heart-warming and yet with enough twists and turns to keep you on your toes at every point. The ending isn’t at all predictable, and any reader will be able to loose themselves in the trials and tribulations that Anna encounters along her journey to the altar.

One of the main reasons I think that I enjoyed the book quite as much as I did, was because I completely saw myself in main character Anna. Although she is highly neurotic and incredibly high-maintenance (not unlike myself), she’s still a really likeable character, and all that she wants is the best out of life for her, and for those around her. Her friend Liv is equally selfless, and I found her really easy to like too. She has her own struggles that she has to deal with over the course of the novel, and I found myself empathising with her as well as with Anna. I wasn’t as keen on Anna’s fiancé Tom, controversial I know, especially as his character takes on the role of decent guy, dependable, worth fighting for, “Tom was a very decent man on a world where men like him were very hard to come by.” Despite the fact that, yes, nice guys are hard to come buy, I found myself rooting more for Miles. A musician Anna bumps into in her bid to save her dream wedding, and who turns out to be a pretty decent guy too, looking out for her and helping her to see that, yes, lists and plans are all well and good but life is also there to be lived, and enjoyed. I could quite fancy a Miles of my own!

As usual, this author fully develops her characters and so they are really easy to read, understand, and relate to, and this is one of the really great things about the novel, along with the wonderfully fulfilling storyline, but the setting, is as much of a star as these other two aspects! Whilst the story may begin in the UK, Anna’s journey takes her to New York. The streets of Manhattan are described beautifully and every diner, every bar, every store that Anna enters, the reader will feel like they are entering with her. A Christmas novel with a New York setting, what more could one ask for? Whether you are already a Scarlett Bailey/Rowan Coleman fan, I feel sure that you will enjoy this novel. You don’t have to have read anything else by this author, the novel stands up for itself as a one off festive read, perfect escapism from the run up to Christmas full of joy, magic and romance!

Novella Review:: Santa Maybe by Scarlet Bailey

Santa Maybe by Scarlet Bailey
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Pages: 104
Format: Kindle
Review by: Catriona

Amy Tucker is single. So single in fact she hasn’t had a man in her room for three years and her idea of a good time is buying new kitchenware at Ikea. So when she wakes up on Christmas Eve to find a strange man at the end of her bed, she is more than surprised.

Least of all, when the beautiful man claims to be Santa and has sexy stubble to rival George Clooney.

Santa whisks Amy on an exciting and unforgettable journey around the world through time and space. But can he really make Amy's Christmas dreams come true?

“I’ve never met a woman like you before…not one as funny, and clever, and silly and with such a ridiculous collection of shoes. I fell in love with you the first moment I saw you and I know now that I don’t want to go through the rest of time unless you are by my side. Amy tucker, will you marry me?” How could a story with such a fabulous marriage proposal be bad? Having just finished Scarlett Bailey’s ‘Married by Christmas’ I felt I needed another hit of this fabulously fun author and so I downloaded this novella, again Christmas-themed, and settled back for just a bit more of that magical, festive optimism which is seems is synonymous with this author.

Be warned, this novella is not for the cynical! It is full of fantasy and magic, and those readers with a less than active imagination might struggle to grasp the concept of a woman waking up to find Santa on the end of her bed and willingly going off into the night with him. I found what Scarlett did with the storyline refreshing. I think it is daring to write something so magical, and with such faith in a childhood fantasy for readers who would be more used to the usual romance and real-life formula normally offered by lovely authors like Bailey. I had to fully let my imagination and fantasy take over, something which can be a struggle, but I loved the idea of Santa taking Amy to see all of the places and people that she wanted to see, but also using the Dickensian trick of taking her back in time to revisit past situations and possibly mistakes.

There is humour in this mini-story as well, I absolutely loved the way Santa and Amy interacted, this line in particular, uttered by Santa, made me laugh out loud…“Blah, blah-PMT-chocaholic-biological-clock-make-mine-a-chardonay-blah.” Of course along with the humour and adventure, there is a touch of romance. Santa tells Amy right at the start of the story that she is going to find her one true love and receive the aforementioned marriage proposal, but it is not who Amy or the reader, might expect the proposal to be from. I think that this made for a really refreshing read. It was just a quick dip into the world of festive fun that Scarlett Bailey creates, and if anything, I would love to see what would have happened if this were to be expanded into a full blown novel in its own rights! It a perfect optimistic, whimsical tale to keep you occupied by the Christmas tree on a wintery afternoon…“This years Christmas wish project…I’m trying to teach her how to have a little fun, lighten up, let love in.”

(Look out for Amy and Santa making a cameo in Scarlett’s latest novel ‘Married by Christmas’)

Friday 21 December 2012

Review:: All I Want by Perry, Baldwin and Anderson

Title: All I Want
Authors: Jolene Perry, Kaylee Baldwin and Rachael Anderson
Pages: 225
Format: Kindle
Review by: Mary


Pretty Near Perfect by Jolene Perry
The last thing Norah needs is to be attracted to anyone – especially in her deceased fiancé's parents' home. Collin’s starting a new career, and has no business getting involved – especially while staying with his roommate’s family, who very kindly offered to take him in for the holidays. Unfortunately, you just don’t always pick the most convenient time and place to fall for someone.

Six Days of Christmas by Kaylee Baldwin
When Natalie goes home with her best friend for Christmas, she expects plenty of quiet time to work on a winning ad so she can turn her dream internship into her dream job. Instead, she gets time-consuming Christmas festivities, a house full of children, and Jimmy, her best friend’s brother - someone who makes her question everything she’s always thought she wanted.

Twist of Fate by Rachael Anderson
When a postcard meant for Kenzie winds up in Ty's mailbox, Ty's faced with a decision. Should he tell her that her fiancé is breaking up with her and let it ruin her favorite holiday, or should he do what he’s wanted to do since he met her - make a move and hope that he can win her over before she discovers there won’t be a wedding after all?


Pretty Near Perfect
Norah goes to visit her dead boyfriend's family for Christmas. Hoping to put it all behind her. Looked like she was walking into a trap to me! She even has to sleep in his old bedroom, where nothing has changed. I really felt that was unfeeling of his parents. She could have slept in his brother's bedroom. ANYWHERE ELSE. She makes it through the holiday with Collin, the brother's best friend. This story is sweet. Except when the family catches Norah and Collin kissing they act like she's just killed someone. I thought it was super rude of the family to treat her the way they did. I'm obviously having a hard time with the family here. Collin and Norah get to know each other and it is just a sweet story. It got me into the Christmas mood. The romance will sweep you off your feet.

Six Days of Christmas
This was my favorite story! There are so many fun parts!! Natalie and Jimmy have so much fun together that it made me wish I had a guy best friend or a fun friends brother. I loved all the teasing and fun stuff they did together. I'm also crazy over his family! Christmas around the world?! I SO want to do this! I was still thinking about Jimmy 3 days after I finished this novella. Really fun book and I know it will be your favorite too.

Twist of Fate
I loved all the detail in this book. Two people with the same name?! Well, first and last are switched. I loved how this story played out. If was kind of like You've Got Mail. As in, Tom Hanks makes Meg Ryan fall in love with him--not the internet him. Ty wants Kenzie to fall in love with him not as a rebound, but as a first choice. Which is why he doesn't tell her about the postcard her boyfriend sent calling off the wedding. There are lots of Christmas moments to get you in the mood! Loved it!

Review:: Bad Angels by Rebecca Chance

Bad Angels by Rebecca Chance
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Pages: 528
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

Wharf where celebrities who have had 'work' done can hole up until they have healed and which is about to see its most glamorous and scandalous Christmas yet.Staying there over the festive period is Melody Down, an actress whose career is in tatters after too much plastic surgery and who has fled LA to get her body and her boyfriend back. But is a 'well-meaning' friend about to sabotage all of Melody's Christmas wishes?

Meanwhile, Aniela Fatyga, the nurse in residence, finds herself falling for the unlikely Jon Jordan, an assassin for hire who is also convalescing there. Will her feelings be reciprocated or will their sizzling relationship remain purely physical? And who is he on the run from?

And then there's oligarch Grigor Khalofsky, the owner of Kensington football team, whose legendary Christmas party is about to get a whole lot more exciting when murder, blackmail and scandalous revelations decide to pay a visit along with Santa.

A festive tale with a difference…

I was lucky enough to be given Rebecca Chance’s new festive novel at the Simon and Schuster bloomer’s event that I attended back in October, so when December rolled around I thought I would give it a go! Having not read any of Chance’s other novels, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been told that they were definitely on the racy side, and I was not let down on that front, but what I wasn’t prepared for was the intricate storyline. The plot of this book could be compared to a Hollywood movie. The twists and turns that go on, and the seemingly unbelievable things that the characters get themselves into are just phenomenal. I have no idea where she got some of her ideas from, but it is definitely one of the most exciting and original storylines that I have encountered in a long time!

I do have to admit that I found the book a little slow to get started. It is a hefty 516 pages, and I didn’t find myself gripped until around about page 200, however, once I got to grips with all the different storylines that were going on and warmed to some of the characters, I really began to enjoy the plot, and HAD to keep turning pages in order to find out what was going to happen. The descriptions of the events and the settings are really in-depth, and that is something I really enjoy as a reader, and as for the sex scenes, they too were well described, and didn’t feel smutty or tasteless, but realistic and completely believable!

The book is written with each character getting their own chapter, and that chapter describing events that went on from that characters point of view, which, I think, always makes for a slightly quicker read as each chapter is not overly long. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, although I did find that there was one character I didn’t like, so tended to skim their chapters occasionally to move on to one of the other residents of ‘Limehouse Wharf’. Overall I would say that this book has something for everyone, crime, sex, plastic surgery and of course, a touch of romance! I would definitely consider reading more of Rebecca Chance’s novels in the future.

Thursday 20 December 2012

Novella Review:: Snowed Over by Angie Stanton

Snowed Over by Angie Stanton
Publisher: Vanguard Management
Pages: 126
Format: Kindle
Review by: Mary

To college student, Katie Brandt, ‘Home for the Holidays’ sounds like hell. When her parents separated, their holiday traditions shattered like a dropped ornament. What could be worse than celebrating Christmas with her suddenly single mom and mom’s new boyfriend?

Alex Walker, an engaged 20-year-old, dreads going home for his own reasons. He has a daunting task ahead of him and wishes he could skip the holidays altogether. So when a friend of a friend needs a ride north, Alex finds that having beautiful Katie seated by his side proves to be just the distraction he needs.

A simple ride home for Christmas turns into a nightmare when light snow rages into a full-scale blizzard. Katie and Alex find themselves stranded, and a vacant cabin becomes a haven from the storm.
Under different circumstances, time alone with Alex would be the ultimate Christmas gift, but Katie knows Alex is engaged and she must hide her growing attraction.

However, Alex harbors a secret that just might change this holiday from the worst Christmas ever, to the best.

This cover just jumped out at me and I knew I needed to read it. I'm totally into novellas right now and I just wanted a taste of Christmas. Not 400 pages of it. Snowed Over was exactly what I wanted. Just imagine getting snowed in a cabin over Christmas with a good looking guy and no technology. I'd love that! It had all the elements of a great novella. If you read anything this Christmas, I'd say pick up Snowed Over. It was just the right amount of everything.

Review:: A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson

A Winter Flame by Milly Johnson
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Pages: 404
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

'Tis the season to be jolly… But can Eve find happiness through the frost…?

Eve has never liked Christmas, not since her beloved fiancé was killed in action in Afghanistan on Christmas Day. So when her adored elderly aunt dies, the last thing she is expecting is to be left a theme park in her will. A theme park with a Christmas theme…

And that's not the only catch. Her aunt's will stipulates that Eve must run the park with a mysterious partner, the exotically named Jacques Glace. Who is this Jacques, and why did Aunt Evelyn name him in her will?

But Eve isn't going to back down from a challenge. She's determined to make a success of Winterworld, no matter what. Can she overcome her dislike of Christmas, and can Jacques melt her frozen heart at last…?

A gorgeous, heart-warming winter’s read! I so enjoyed reading Milly Johnson’s latest novel, as a massive fan of her writing (and not JUST because it’s set in Yorkshire) I was eagerly awaiting this latest tale, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed with what she produced! One of the really lovely things about this novel was that, although it wasn’t a sequel, some of the characters from her previous novel ‘White Wedding’ made cameos and it was a lovely feeling to catch up with them so to speak!

The man character Eve is a little hard to warm to at first bit this is down to the way Johnson has written her. She is mourning the loss of her boyfriend who was shot on Christmas day, and is suddenly thrust into partnership with a man she has never met before to run a theme park entirely dedicated to Christmas, of course she is feeling down and sombre! When Eve finally begins to warm to the idea of this new theme park, watching her relationship with co-owner Jacques develop and change is lovely. Although the storyline between these two characters is somewhat predictable, it is predictable in a comforting way, you want so much for her to see him in the same way that he sees her, and readers will be pleased to find out that there is more than one twist in the storyline involving these two!

The winter theme of this book makes it a great read for this time of year and the author cleverly avoids the temptation to make it all about Christmas and so you don’t find yourself choking on tinsel at the turn of every page! The sub-plot involving Eve’s cousin Violet from Johnson’s previous novel is just as lovely as the main storyline, and I think that it is something that a lot of female readers out there will be able to relate to. Even if you were not already a Milly Johnson fan, you will be able to pick this book up and enjoy it in its own right. I highly recommend snuggling up with this novel on a dark chilly night and enjoying the characters, the events and the magic with an equally comforting mug of hot chocolate!

Wednesday 19 December 2012

Review:: My Kind of Christmas by Robyn Carr

Title: My Kind of Christmas
Author: Robyn Carr
Publisher: MIRA
Pages: 314
Format: Kindle
Review by: Mary
Disclosure: Provided by Publisher for review

The Riordan brothers may have a reputation for being rough-and tumble, but Patrick has always been the gentle, sweet-natured one. These days, his easygoing manner is being tested by his high-octane career as a navy pilot. But for the Riordan brothers, when the going gets tough…the tough find the love of a good woman.

Except the woman who has caught Patrick’s attention is Jack Sheridan’s very attractive niece.
Angie LeCroix comes to Virgin River to spend Christmas relaxing, away from her well-intentioned but hovering mother. Yet instead of freedom, she gets Jack Sheridan. If her uncle had his way, she’d never go out again. And certainly not with rugged, handsome Patrick Riordan. But Angie has her own idea of the kind of Christmas she wants—and the kind of man!

Patrick and Angie thought they wanted to be left alone this Christmas—until they meet each other. Then they want to be left alone together. But the Sheridan and Riordan families have different plans for Patrick and Angie—and for Christmas, Virgin River–style!

Robyn Carr writes the most realistic romance novels. I love how she takes real issues and shows what life is really like. I'm convinced she does military families the best. I'm a huge fan of her Virgin River series and I love that this one is set at Christmas time. Virgin River brings something special for the holiday's!

Patrick is on extended leave from the Navy after his friend died while in action. He has been taking care of his friends wife and son and yet needs a break. Angie was in a life threatening car accident and needs a break before he goes back to medical school. They both end up in Virgin River.

I love how Virgin River books are never just about the love story. There is a lot going on. A lot of character development before they ever get together. This is the perfect Christmas story to fall in love with. Patrick and Angie know they can't be together after the holiday's so they take full advantage of there here and now. The ending was a bit cheesy, but aren't they all?! Loved it. Can't wait fr more Virgin River and Robyn Carr!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Christmas Novellas!

What is a novella anyway? It is a short novel or long short story--typically around 10,000-40,000 words. Novellas are rarely published in single format anymore. They are grouped together to make a larger book with several novellas inside. With the wonders of the eBook we now have the option to purchase single novellas at a low price point. Hallelujah!

The novella is under appreciated really. I absolutely love being able to grab a novella and read it in its entirety before bed. Bliss. Sometimes I just want a taste. I don't need 400 pages when 50 will do to get me into the spirit.  Christmas is the perfect time to enjoy a novella!

Take a look at some Christmas novellas I have enjoyed so far this season as well as some on my list. Go on, give it a try!


To college student, Katie Brandt, ‘Home for the Holidays’ sounds like hell. When her parents separated, their holiday traditions shattered like a dropped ornament. What could be worse than celebrating Christmas with her suddenly single mom and mom’s new boyfriend?

Alex Walker, an engaged 20-year-old, dreads going home for his own reasons. He has a daunting task ahead of him and wishes he could skip the holidays altogether. So when a friend of a friend needs a ride north, Alex finds that having beautiful Katie seated by his side proves to be just the distraction he needs.

A simple ride home for Christmas turns into a nightmare when light snow rages into a full-scale blizzard. Katie and Alex find themselves stranded, and a vacant cabin becomes a haven from the storm.
Under different circumstances, time alone with Alex would be the ultimate Christmas gift, but Katie knows Alex is engaged and she must hide her growing attraction. 
However, Alex harbors a secret that just might change this holiday from the worst Christmas ever, to the best.

Last night, Anna Gardner was the life of the office Christmas party—right up until she threw herself at gorgeous advertising executive playboy, Hugh Munro. Again. Last year, Hugh let her pretend their passionate kiss never happened, but this year he’s determined to make Anna admit she wants him as much as he wants her.

Except, Hugh doesn’t know the office party is the only night of the year his friend lets her hair down. That every hour she’s away from the office is spent caring for her sickly mother. That her mother’s condition, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, is hereditary.

When Hugh finds out what she’s been hiding, he’s forced to do some serious soul-searching. It’s not fair to Anna or her mother for him to get involved casually, but casual relationships are all he knows. Can he prove to himself—and to Anna—that she’s all he wants for Christmas?

As Little Missington's first Christmas baby in fifty years and the daughter of 'Christmas When You Like It' party-planners, Holly West has been surrounded by the holiday spirit since birth. Trouble is, she's not exactly filled with festive cheer. In fact, Holly can't wait to ditch the tinsel and Santa suits for champagne and celebs, and become a party-planner to the stars. 

When British film star Dean Layton hires her parents' company to throw his holiday bash in Manhattan, Holly jumps at the chance to help, confident she can handle a little Christmas in exchange for access to Dean's exclusive world. 

But New York and Dean's over-the-top demands are more than Holly bargained for. Can Holly deck the halls and make it a party to be proud of, or will this Christmas be one she'll never forget . . . even if she wants to?



Pretty Near Perfect
by Jolene Perry

The last thing Norah needs is to be attracted to anyone – especially in her deceased fiancé's parents' home. Collin’s starting a new career, and has no business getting involved – especially while staying with his roommate’s family, who very kindly offered to take him in for the holidays. Unfortunately, you just don’t always pick the most convenient time and place to fall for someone.

Six Days of Christmas
by Kaylee Baldwin

When Natalie goes home with her best friend for Christmas, she expects plenty of quiet time to work on a winning ad so she can turn her dream internship into her dream job. Instead, she gets time-consuming Christmas festivities, a house full of children, and Jimmy, her best friend’s brother - someone who makes her question everything she’s always thought she wanted.

Twist of Fate
by Rachael Anderson

When a postcard meant for Kenzie winds up in Ty's mailbox, Ty's faced with a decision. Should he tell her that her fiancé is breaking up with her and let it ruin her favorite holiday, or should he do what he’s wanted to do since he met her - make a move and hope that he can win her over before she discovers there won’t be a wedding after all.


Lindsey Rowe grew up hearing her grandparents' love story and has been waiting for her perfect Mr. Right to walk through the door for as long as she can remember. 

When Marcus Klein comes into her family's florist shop two weeks before Christmas, it seems like love at first sight. Has God finally brought love to Lindsey this Christmas season? And why is Jason, her best friend from childhood, suddenly acting so weird?

Monday 17 December 2012

Discussion:: Reading Over the Holidays--Relaxing or Overwhelming?

My idea of relaxing is reading. Nothing better than sitting by the Christmas tree with a good book, a blanket and some hot cocoa. Especially at Christmas. My husband is off work and I can get a few minutes to myself while he watches the baby. I am really looking forward to these next two weeks!

But...I've not actually done my Christmas shopping yet. So my reading time is really going to be cut short. I'll be busy trying to get everything finished and prepared for Christmas. Reading might get in the way more than I'd like.

What about you? Is reading during the holiday's relaxing or do you just have too much to do to enjoy it? 

I'm thinking I'll need some novella's to help me finish my 2012 reading goals for the year. I don't have time for regular sized books right now!

Friday 14 December 2012

Review:: Unearthed by Lara Stauffer

Unearthed by: Lara Stauffer
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Pages: 288
Format: Kindle
Review by: Christy
Disclosure: Publisher sent for review

Matt’s spent years resenting his father and the church, but a once-in-a-lifetime archaeology trip forces Matt to face more than he bargained for as he and his father unearth a city that’s been lost for centuries. This thrilling adventure is bursting with laugh out loud humor, a touch of romance, and more than a little mystery. A fun read for the whole family!

Christy's Review:
This is an LDS novel and speaks often of the Book of Mormon, it's setting in South America, it's stories and such. I really liked this book. I wanted to like it even more than I did, but overall a really cute book. I believed Matt's journey from rebellious teen to penitent kid. I believed the "ugly duckling" story line. I loved the archaeology aspect. But there's a secondary story line that is introduced a bit late in the book. Had it been introduced earlier, I might have liked it a bit more, but where it was inserted felt more like an intrusion into the story line I had already grown interested in. Eventually I warmed up to it, but I wish there had been a bit more "oomph" to it. I kept expecting Matt and his friends to take a "Tennis Shoes Among the Nephites" type tangent into history and that just didn't happen. Overall, a solid, fun read that gives a bit of life to some of the Book of Mormon Stories.

Thursday 13 December 2012

Review:: The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes

The Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Pages: 508
Format: Paperback
Review by: Catriona

Helen Walsh doesn’t believe in fear – it’s just a thing invented by men to get all the money and good job – and yet she’s sinking. Her work as a Private Investigator has dried up, her flat has been repossessed and now some old demons have resurfaced.

Not least in the form of her charming but dodgy ex-boyfriend Jay Parker, who shows up with a missing persons case. Money is tight – so tight Helen’s had to move back in with her elderly parents – and Jay is awash with cash. The missing person is Wayne Diffney, the ‘Wacky One’ from boyband Laddz. He’s vanished from his house in Mercy Close and it’s vital that he’s found – Laddz have a sell-out comeback gig in five days’ time.

Things ended messily with Jay. And she’s never going back there. Besides she has a new boyfriend now, the very sexy detective Artie Devlin and it’s all going well, even though his ex-wife isn’t quite ‘ex’ enough and his teenage son hates her. But the reappearance of Jay is stirring up all kinds of stuff she thought she’d left behind.

Playing by her own rules, Helen is drawn into a dark and glamorous world, where her worst enemy is her own head and where increasingly the only person she feels connected to is Wayne, a man she’s never even met.

I hate to say it but I found this book tough going. I think that perhaps my expectations were raised because I love all of Marian Keyes’s other novels and so I was waiting with baited breath for this novel to come out, but when I began to read, I found myself distracted rather than consumed by what was on the pages. I finally discovered that I preferred the flash backs in the book rather than the storyline which was running along in the present day, and so this is how I managed to get all the way to the end, and those parts of the book I did actually find enjoyable.

The story involves the youngest member of the Walsh Family, Helen, and her work as a private investigator. We know that Helen has struggled with depression in the past, and so it centres on her overcoming this depression and her trying to find out what mystery did actually take place to the resident of Mercy Close! I really enjoyed getting into the head of Helen, and living the story through her own thoughts and feelings, although at times I found myself dragged under b y her black mood, but this simply shows what a brilliant writer Keyes is in that she was able to do that to me.

The mystery aspect of the book is also very well written and I am sure that this will appeal to those outside of Marian’s usual audience, therefore allowing more readers to access this book than just those who were fans of her previous writing. I’m not a massive fan of mystery or crime within novels and so I found myself getting a bit lost during the parts to do with the disappearance. It was a bit like everyone knew something that I didn’t and it made me feel alienated, whereas the parts where Helen was having flashbacks to the time during the height of her depression, I felt included, like I was inside her head, getting to know her through her thoughts and feelings.

I am sure that fans of Marian Keyes will enjoy the catch up with the Walsh family, and the Irish references that are included. As I have mentioned, I think that this dabble into mystery writing will bring her readers who have not previously accessed her novels. This book wasn’t for me, however, I prefer to be drawn into a story right from the start, not alienated and confused by some, skipping through these to get to others. A bit of a let-down.

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Audiobook Review:: Collateral by Ellen Hopkins

Collateral by Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Narrator: Rebekkah Ross
Length: 8:37:49
Format: Audiobook
Disclosure: Audiobook provided by Publisher for review

Written in Hopkins’s stunning poetic verse style, Collateral centers on Ashley, an MFA student at San Diego State University. She grew up reading books and never dreamed she would become a military wife. One night she meets a handsome soldier named Cole. He doesn’t match the stereotype of the aggressive military man. He’s passionate and romantic. He even writes poetry. Their relationship evolves into a sexually charged love affair that goes on for five years and survives four deployments. Cole wants Ashley to marry him, but when she meets another man, a professor with similar pursuits and values, she begins to see what life might be like outside the shadow of war.

This isn't something I normally read but I wanted to try something new and see what I thought. This is what I imagine life of a military spouse is actually like. It is heart breaking. I don't think I could do it. Not ever. Not even in the name of love.

The narrator felt real. I felt like Ashley was actually talking to me and telling me her story. And I hated it. I wanted so much for things to work out. I wanted so much for things to not be so hard. I wanted her to move on and make something of herself. I wanted Cole to stop being so selfish. I wanted to understand why anyone serves in the military. I felt grateful for their service to protect me. But, I don't think they understand what they are leaving at home. I also don't think we at home understand what our soldiers are going through in the field. It is just a catch 22. A big tangled web of a mess. I didn't know which person should have my allegiance.

I didn't see much character development. I saw Ashley just being selfish but maybe that is what happens when you have to share your solider with everyone. Mostly the government. I wanted to see Ashley and Cole actually "do" something with their life. I felt like they were always just waiting to be together. They measured their life in deployments. The book was far too political for me.

I'll say that this book is terribly cliche. In the sense of a soldier coming back with PTSD and turning abusive and violent. I wanted to see something different. The ending was abrupt and I honestly expected something much more. It was just...BAM...over. Too many unanswered questions.

This wasn't really my thing, but I did enjoy the whole audiobook. I listened intently and it brought a lot of feelings up for me.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

A Bookish Survey

the book I'm currently reading... Wild Orchids by Jude Deveraux on audiobook. It isn't really my normal kind of thing but I'm branching out to try new genre's. It isn't bad. I'm having trouble picking my next book to read. Maybe a novella?

the last book I finished... Snowed Over by Angie Stanton and now I want all her books! This little novella was so cute I just ate it up! I also read The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry last night {29 pgs}. What a sweet classic Christmas story.

the next book I want to read... Nothing it really pulling me in at the moment. Perhaps Honeymoon in Paris by Joho Moyes or Charade by Nyrae Dawn

the last book I bought... The Icing on the Cake and Previously Engaged by Elodia Strain. Loved them both! Super cute and romantic.

the last book I was a person or publisher? I haven't received a book from a person since last Christmas. But the last books I was given from a publisher are: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, The Lost Prince by Julie Kagawa and Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder.

Monday 10 December 2012

Bookish Event:: A Christmas Girl's Night In

Written by: Catriona

On Wednesday 5th December 2012 I traveled to Brixton library for ‘A Christmas Girls Night In’. The event featured five fabulous female authors reading from their novels, some of which were Christmas themed. The event also featured cake, wine and nibbles, only making it even more exciting than the prospect of meeting some amazing writers! Having never been to Brixton, or indeed the library before, I found it to be an impressive building, and was welcomed with open arms and a glass of wine and I knew I was going to be in for a wonderful evening. I took my seat with the other book-addicts and the authors arrived one by one, being given a suitable introduction by the organizer of the event. First to take to the stage was Rebecca Chance, followed by Kate Harrison, Helen Smith, Alex Marwood, and finally, on came Scarlett Bailey AKA Rowan Coleman. The five of them settled themselves on the stage and began to each take a turn to read an extract from their book.

First to read was Rebecca Chance who read an extract from her latest festive novel Bad Angels. I was part way through reading this book, having been given it at the Simon and Schuster event back in October, and so I was quite excited to hear the author herself reading from it. I think hearing her reading part of the book to me gave me a whole new outlook on what I was reading. She talked about why she had chosen to include the characters that she did, why she wanted to set the book here and how she had come up with the title of the book with her publishers. Rebecca chance completely brought the book to life, and I found myself reading the final half of the book with added vigour, having heard what she had to say about it and particularly after hearing her reading it aloud including the Russian accent of one of the characters. You can hear what I thought of the book in my festive review!

Kate Harrison was next to read. I have read all of Kate Harrison’s 'grown up' books, but she chose to read an extract from one of her young adult books, ‘Soul Beach’. She talked about how these books deviate from her normal genre of ‘women’s fiction’ because she included a kind of Facebook for dead people, and writes sometimes from the perspective of a serial killer, which she admitted she found quite exhilarating. I found it really interesting to hear that she had felt the need to deviate to a different kind of fiction, and that she felt it had as much to do with her age as it did to do with the fact that she had written so many books in the other genre and felt she had to write from a different point of view, with a different kind of love story and some meatier other stories. I would be interested in giving her ‘Soul Beach’ series a go after hearing her read from it.

Helen Smith and Alex Marwood were authors I hadn’t heard of before I arrived at the event but I thoroughly enjoyed hearing extracts from their writing. Helen Smith is an author who is local to Brixton and her writing reflect the local area and local culture. She said that people familiar with the area will recognise a lot of the landmarks and locations from in and around Brixton. Her extract from her latest novel ‘The miracle Inspector’ and indeed extracts from her other novel had the audience gripped, and got quite a few laughs, so she is another author who I may explore in the future as I found her to be highly entertaining. Alex Marwood, like Kate Harrison, has also grown tired of writing in the ‘Women’s fiction Genre’ and so has turned to writing crime fiction. Earlier in the evening Rebecca Chance had read an extract from her book featuring prostitutes and Alex also chose to read a scene from her book ‘The Wicked Girls’  involving a prostitute, except this scene was a lot less care-free than the scene in ‘Bad Angels’ and featured a murder taking place. You could have heard a pin drop as she was reading, the tension built to a wonderful crescendo and we all applauded when she finished the extract-another book to look out for if you are looking for something to grab your attention in the new year!

Finally Scarlett Bailey introduced her new book ‘Married by Christmas’ which I have just begun to read and will be reviewing shortly, but chose to read an extract from her earlier novel ‘The Night before Christmas’ featuring a group of friends in a cottage in the Lake District struggling to fit a too-large turkey into a too-small oven. Again there was much laughter, and I was mentally making a note to get hold of this book, and add it to my collection of Christmas reads for the rest of December! Rowan AKA Scarlett Bailey also talked about the recent Romantic Fiction award she received for her latest book ‘Dearest Rose’. She said that as she had got older, her writing style had changed slightly and that was why she had tackled the risky subject of domestic abuse in this novel. She talked about asking Facebook friends to share their experiences of domestic abuse with her, and then afterwards getting messages from them, having read the book, about how well she tackled the issue, and how she had done justice to their stories. I found this to be really touching. She said that she had decided to write books like ‘Married by Christmas’ as Scarlett because of the increasingly serious nature of her more recent novels as scarlet, she felt she needed to differentiate the more ‘fun’ Scarlett novels from the now mire ‘mature’ novels which she wrote as herself.

The authors were asked questions afterwards including their favourite Christmas moment, Rowan Coleman said that her favourite moment wasn’t actually at Christmas but was on New Year’s eve four years ago when her husband proposed to her in a hotel room as fireworks went off outside. There was a collective ‘aww’ from the audience at this point. The authors were also asked about their writing process which is always an interesting subject for any would-be writers in the audience. They all agreed that they gave their characters a lot of thought, some created biographies or back stories for them, and Alex said that for every 100, 000 word novel she creates, there will be at least 50, 000 words of back story to go with that where she has developed the characters and where they have come from. They also talked about the benefits of reading their novels aloud as part of the editing process, Rowan noticing her overuse of the exclamation marks in her novel, and Rebecca adding an extra simile to her extract as she typed it out to read at the event. They referred to the fact that Dickens used to read the dialogue in his writing into a mirror before her actually committed it to paper, and perhaps this is something that they ought to try in the future.

All in all, it was a really great event. I loved hearing the authors read their own work, it was a pleasure to get to meet them all, the cake was fabulous, and most of all I have come away having discovered two new authors, and a long list of book I absolutely have to read!

Saturday 8 December 2012

Audiobook:: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew by CS Lewis

Title: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew
Author: CS Lewis
Narrator: Kenneth Branagh

Digory let out a scream. "What's happened to Polly?"
"Congratulate me, my dear boy," said Uncle Andrew, rubbing his hands. "My experiment has succeeded. The little girl's gone – vanished – right out of this world."
When Digory and Polly discover Uncle Andrew's secret workshop, they are tricked into touching the magic rings which transport them to the Other Place. But even Uncle Andrew doesn't realise the wonders that await them – for here is the gateway to the Land of Narnia and the beginning of many wonderful adventures there…

Confession time...I've never actually read The Chronicles of Narnia. I've seen the filmsbut I've not read the books. For shame, I know. It was time for me to actually read the stories. I decided I'd do it via audiobook. What a fantastic idea! The audiobook's are actually quite short {this one was about 4 hrs} and narrator Kenneth Branagh is a great. He kept me interested and really added another depth to the story. 

If you've ever wondered what a magical wardrobe was ever doing in that big house in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe you'll find out here! I'm really in awe at the creativity of this adventure story. Digory and Polly kept coming and going from so many different worlds and I couldn't wait to finally meet Aslan. I'm so excited for this series! 

I'm listening to them in chronological order, not publication order. I like things on a timeline and so that's why I started with The Magician's Nephew. 
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