Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bookouture Christmas Book Reviews - Christmas Under a Starlit Sky by Holly Martin, Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson & A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

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Review by Suze

Neve loves working with her family and the Stardust Lake Hotel is a beautiful place to live. She likes the challenge of being the manager and she has her best friend Adam by her side to help her. Neve is heartbroken though because she misses Oakley. He's a famous actor and Neve thinks there's no place in his life for her, that is why she let him go. There's something she didn't tell him, because knowing her secret might change his entire outlook on life. Oakley misses Neve and wants to be together again, but Neve has kept so many things from him. Is there a way back or does she think it's better to tell him to leave and this time forever?

Adam is working at the Stardust Lake Hotel for just a few months. Neve needs his help and he could use a change of scenery. There's a Christmas village on the island and that is the workplace of many talented artists. Ivy is one of them and finally Adam is ready to open his heart for someone after many years of being alone. It doesn't feel entirely right though, especially not when he will leave in a few months. There's something Ivy is struggling with and she isn't ready to share her feelings with someone new. Will she and Adam have a chance or do their circumstances make it impossible for them to move on?

Christmas Under a Starlit Sky is another great A Town Called Christmas story. There's a lot of grief and heartbreak as both Neve and Ivy are struggling with something and they aren't ready to share this with the man of their dreams. Holly Martin isn't afraid to put difficult issues in a Christmas story and even though it sometimes put a lump in my throat I empathized with the characters and desperately wanted them to be happy. When there's sadness there's usually also hope for the future and that was a big theme in this novel. I couldn't wait to find out what would happen to the two couples and kept my fingers crossed that they would find some much deserved happiness.

Holly Martin has chosen a wonderful setting for her Christmas stories. I loved the idea of a winter wonderland, a special island where everything evolves around Christmas. It's the perfect place for a romantic book. I also liked how friends and family are always there for each other in this story. Life sometimes is a struggle, but there's usually sunshine after the rain, which is a beautiful message and a fabulous theme to write about.

Advice

I would begin with Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky before reading Christmas Under a Starlit Sky. This book might be difficult to read for those who can't have children.

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Review by Suze
 
Amy's husband leaves her just a few weeks before Christmas. When Amy watches her former best friend Bella on television she's looking for some comfort from the past. Bella is a famous baker and a new recipe book will come out soon. Amy and Bella used to bake together with Amy's mother. Bella struggled with it sometimes, but now it's her profession. When Amy hears Bella's lines she's shocked. Amy always sends her old friend a Christmas card with one of her mother's recipes, but Bella never replies and now Bella is using her mother's recipes word for word pretending they are her own. Amy decides to confront her former friend. By doing so she unexpectedly wins Bella's Christmas competition and the prize is an appearance on Bella's show. Will Amy be able to make Bella see sense and what about the true spirit of Christmas and the value of friendship?
 
Bella's Christmas Bake Off is an interesting festive story about friendship. I was intrigued by the relationship between Bella and Amy. While in Bella's world everything is fake Amy is as real as can be. I loved this contrast and couldn't wait to find out if the two friends would be able to find their way back to each other. While their worlds are miles apart they share a special history. It was fun to read about their friendship in the past and present. Bella is spoiled and used to getting her way, but she does have a heart as well. She's living in a glamorous world and for Amy that is entirely new. Amy is kind and caring and she loves doing something extra for those who need it. It was fabulous to see the making of Bella's television show through her eyes.
 
As Christmas is all about friendship, love and family I liked it immediately that Sue Watson has chosen to write about two childhood friends. There's a small romantic aspect, but the relationship between Amy and Bella is what Bella's Christmas Bake Off is all about. Sue Watson knows what she's writing about and I thoroughly enjoyed her detailed descriptions and explanations of Bella's profession and the complex illusions that are now her life. The story has a wonderful festive ending and I like that Sue Watson always writes extraordinary books that are original and different with main characters who manage to surprise. I really loved Bella's Christmas Bake Off, it's a fascinating, dazzling and bright story.
 
Advice
 
If you like baking, television shows and intriguing friendships, Bella's Christmas Bake Off would be the exact right Christmas story for you. 

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Review by Suze

Ivy and her husband Stuart have left their hectic life in London behind and are now living in a Cornish village where Stuart is creating beautiful gourmet products using the produce from their vegetable garden. Ivy can work anywhere, she's a successful children's books illustrator and because she's back in Cornwall she feels like she can start living her dream. Ivy misses her mother though. She died too early and now that Ivy is finally pregnant she can use some motherly advice.

Ivy's father has given his daughter her mother's desk and Ivy finds a postcard. The postcard gives Ivy a new connection to her mother and maybe this time she has the chance to move on from everything that happened. Unfortunately Ivy's happiness is short-lived. Stuart has kept a big secret from her and more problems and tragedy are ahead of them. Will Ivy's ideal future be destroyed before it has actually begun or does she still have the chance to make her dreams come true?

A Cornish Christmas is a beautiful story. Ivy loved her mother very much and they had a strong bond, losing her was awful and getting some small comfort through what she finds in her mother's old desk is exactly what she needs. My heart ached for her sometimes because of all the sadness in her past, which is why I was glad that her relationship is so solid and sweet. Stuart is a kindhearted man and they're perfect for each other. I loved his unusual profession and his good-naturedness. Ivy and Stuart have a special connection, which is a great basis for a strong story.

Lily Graham's main characters are creative and I loved her imaginative and lively descriptions of their talents. It makes them come to life incredibly well. I'm a big fan of stories about magical moments and big and small miracles and Lily Graham knows exactly how to enchant her readers. She uses stunning sentences to put them under her spell. A Cornish Christmas is a lovely story filled with unexpected twists and turns and gorgeous descriptions of the Cornish coast.

Advice

A Cornish Christmas is perfect for readers who like captivating stories about new beginnings and small-town life. It was originally released as The Postcard and A Cornish Christmas is an extended version of this novella. I loved The Postcard, so couldn't wait to read more of it and wasn't disappointed.  

Book of Choice Giveaway Hop


Enter this giveaway to win a book of choice worth $15. Good luck!
 
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.
 
 
 
 
 

Book Review - The Queen's Heart by Michel Prince

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Review by Suze
 
When she was seventeen years old Mary Beth's life changed drastically and if it wasn't for the unexpected kindness of her best friends, and their family, she'd never have been where she is now. Together they run a daycare facility that they are turning into a school and they're helping her to raise her son Luke. Luke's father is still in the picture, but he isn't a reliable presence in their lives.
 
Mary Beth's new neighbor Eli teaches her what being dependable and stable actually means. There are sparks, but he also shows Mary Bet another side of life that she has never had the chance to experience before. Eli is great with Luke and even better with his mother. He's a family man and has clear values. Mary Beth's past is trying to mess up her future though and the question is if Eli actually stands a chance. Mary Beth has a difficult decision to make, will she be able to accept everything Eli wants to give her?
 
The Queen's Heart is a beautiful story about the relationship between two wonderful adults. Marry Beth and Eli are amazing together and I loved their chemistry and easy friendship. Mary Beth has an adorable child, it's impossible not to like Luke. Eli is a gentleman, he's kind, he's been raised well and he takes care of the people he loves. Mary Beth has been through a lot. Her parents weren't there for her when she needed them the most and Mary Beth's ex-boyfriend has always treated her like she's his property. While Mary Beth is more than capable of raising her son, she's insecure when it comes to relationships. Because she's being forced to stand up for herself and Luke she's getting stronger and I applauded that change in her. Eli has a clever way of winning her over and I loved how nice he is to Mary Beth and Luke. That makes the story incredibly romantic.
 
Michel Prince has a great to the point writing style and she makes her characters come to life very well with her vivid descriptions and distinctive personality traits. I loved that Eli is fascinated with Mary Beth's fiery hair and that he uses Spanish to express his feelings. Discovering what his words truly mean made the ending of the story both surprising and charming. The Queen's Heart is an impressive story about self-esteem, the true value of friendship, family secrets, personal growth, fighting for your dreams and unconditional love. I loved the whole package and really enjoyed reading this special book.
 
Advice
 
The Queen's Heart is perfect for readers who like original romantic stories about true love with fascinating and endearing main characters.

Friday, December 30, 2016

3 Book Necklaces & Book of Choice Giveaway

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win three book necklaces and a book of your choice worth $10. Good luck!
 

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

Book Review - First Contact by Kat Green

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 Review by Anniek

Sloane is a paranormal real estate agent. She sells houses that are haunted. No one knows that she is not only searching for haunted houses to sell, but is also looking at them because she wants to find her fiancé Michael. He died in a tragic car accident. Ever since that fatal day Sloane has been waiting for him to make an appearance. Michael always said to try out everything for 365 days and a day. On the 366th day Sloane is investigating a possible haunted house. She feels that this is her last chance to reconnect with Michael.

How great would it be to work as a paranormal real estate agent? I liked reading about Sloane and her job a lot. I have seen lots of episodes of Ghost Hunters and I found myself getting excited when Sloane was setting up her equipment. She is so brave, cool and collected. My imagination would probably go mental with the first creak of the stairs or floorboards. I admired Sloane, but at the same time my heart ached for her because she's still grieving so immensely about the loss of the love of her life.

When I saw the cover of First Contact I knew I had to read this debut novel by Kat Green, which is the alias of authors Kat de Falla and Rachel Green. They have put a lot of personal experiences in their story and this shows in well written details. First Contact grabbed me from the beginning. I even stopped reading in the evening once because I had chills running down my spine. I love it when a story scares me. This was my first experience with Kat Green, but it certainly won't be my last. I'm ready to be spooked again.

Advice

First Contact is a great paranormal novel about a haunted house. If you like stories that scare you, I would highly recommend this book. Make sure to read it after dark.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Choc Lit Christmas Book Reviews - A Second Wish by Kathryn Freeman & The Boys of Christmas by Jane Lovering

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Review by Suze
 
Melissa's Christmases were never festive. Her parents didn't love her and her ex-husband Lawrence was cruel to her and their son William, so she never had the chance to discover the magic of a warm and inviting family holiday. Simon even told his young boy that Father Christmas doesn't exist. Melissa left her husband and tries to convince William of the opposite. William is seven years old and dispirited, but the verdict is still out. Writing a letter containing his Christmas wish might give him the proof he needs.
 
Melissa has taken William to tennis lessons given by Daniel, who used to be a professional tennis player. Daniel instantly likes Melissa, but she doesn't date and the last thing she wants is another relationship. After Lawrence a new domineering presence in her life is something Melissa dreads. William is shy and scared and that's all because of her ex-husband's bullying. Daniel doesn't give up easily though and is determined to give Melissa and her young boy the Christmas they deserve. Will she eventually give him the chance to show her that men can also be kind and caring?
 
A Second Christmas Wish is a heartwarming Christmas story. Melissa grew up without love and when she was a teenage model she thought the charming older Lawrence would give her the affection she so desperately wanted, but instead he was controlling and cold. Reading about his bullying brought tears to my eyes and I was glad Melissa and her son are finally experiencing some happier times. William is timid and doesn't say much at first, which is heartbreaking. He's smart and absolutely adorable and I kept wishing he would eventually feel more like himself again. Tennis is exactly what he needs and I loved his connection with Daniel. They instantly click and they both grow because of their bond. I loved that Kathryn Freeman has given them a special and equal friendship. It was beautiful to see how the grown man and the child connect. Daniel also has an amazing click with Melissa and I was anxious to find out if she would give love another chance or not.
 
I like it when Christmas stories are festive and romantic and a Second Christmas Wish has all the right ingredients. It has gorgeous main characters, an endearing child, stunning clothes, cozy homes and decorations and plenty of sparks and charm. Kathryn Freeman's writing flows easily and she has a lovely tone of voice that gives her story a fantastic atmosphere. I really enjoyed reading this Christmas book, it's absolutely wonderful.
 
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Review by Suze
 
Mattie was in an awful relationship with Simon, a man who didn't treat her well and tried to crush her spirit. To the outside world he made their relationship look like it was perfect and Mattie had a hard time getting away from him. Her best friend Toby is there for Mattie and has offered her a place to stay and a shoulder to cry on. When she gets a strange, completely unexpected, but very welcome letter from a solicitor Toby doesn't hesitate, he clears his schedule, offers to drive and makes sure they leave as soon as possible. He tells Mattie he will support her in every way he can.
 
Mattie's great aunt Millie has one final request, her ashes should be scattered over the boys of Christmas. If Mattie succeeds she will inherit Millie's house. Toby accompanies Mattie to her great aunt's hometown. During a snowstorm they have the time to find out more about the boys of Christmas. Will Mattie be able to find them, so she can fulfill Millie's last wish and have her much needed chance to start over?
 
The Boys of Christmas is a great Christmas novella. Mattie is a sweetheart and she deserves much better than the cruel Simon. Fortunately her best friend Toby is a gentle man and he takes good care of her. I loved their easy companionship and liked the way they support one another. Mattie and Toby have no idea what they will find when they drive to Millie's house, but together every adventure is fun. I liked that idea a lot and think it's a fabulous basis for a Christmas story.
 
Jane Lovering writes about special people with beautiful personalities. This makes all of her stories equally magical. The Boys of Christmas is sweet and endearing and I really liked the setting. Millie's house is unique and reading about it instantly lifted my spirits. The ending of the story is incredibly romantic and I think The Boys of Christmas is an amazing warm and enchanting Christmas novella.

Advice

A Second Christmas Wish and The Boys of Christmas are both heartwarming Christmas stories that are perfect for readers who want their festive stories to be sweet, welcoming and romantic.

Happy Birthday to Me - Personal post by Anniek & Giveaway


Today is a day of celebration for me because it's my birthday. Becoming a year older at the end of the year is also a reason for me to look back on my blessings.

Suze and I have been best friends for a very long time. I was very excited to begin a new journey together when we started With Love For Books on the 1st of January this year. I love our daily chats about the blog and about the books we are reading. Suze had already way more experience with running a blog and she taught me so much. I feel honored and blessed that she was willing to taking this chance with me. I have met many wonderful people and have discovered plenty of new authors that I would have missed if it wouldn't have been for With Love For Books.

I also became a mom again. I already have a 3 year old son and this year my little family was completed with the birth of our daughter. Both of them are gorgeous, healthy and happy and that's all I could ever wish for.

My boyfriend surprised me with a proposal, so I'll be a bride next year. I never thought that would happen this year, but to my surprise it did. Suze has done me the honor of agreeing to be my maid of honor on my special day. We already have a lot of the day planned and I'm looking forward to be a bride. Our rings say: Semper Familia which means Family Forever and that's exactly what marriage feels like to me.

Having a job in the world of finance also means insecure times. Luckily my whole team and I survived the reorganization we had this year. I'm very happy with the work that I'm doing and I'm over the moon that we all got to keep our jobs.

I'm hoping that the coming year will be a blessed one for us all again. I would like to thank our followers and I hope to be 'seeing' you again in 2017.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love For Books can spend $15 in the bargain shop of the Bookdepository.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Spoon Bookmark & Book of Choice Giveaway

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a gorgeous silver plate spoon bookmark made by EATcreations together with a book of choice worth $10. Good luck!
 


The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

Book Review - I Will by Lisa Kleypas

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Review by Suze
 
Andrew, Lord Drake, is a rake and his best qualities are gambling and drinking. When his father cuts him out of his will Andrew is about to inherit a title with plenty of responsibility without having a fortune to back him up. This means he can't continue living his life the way he prefers it. Therefore he needs to make his father believe he has changed his ways and he wants to do that by pretending to court a respectable woman. His best friend Cade's sister Caroline is perfect for the task, but how can Andrew convince her she should help him?
 
I Will is an entertaining Christmas novella. Andrew might live a fast-paced life without responsibilities and even though he might seem selfish he actually has a good heart. His self-esteem is low and therefore he doesn't care what he does to his mind or body. He really does need someone to help him change and Caroline is perfect for him. She is sweet, kindhearted and responsible and she isn't afraid to speak her mind. She's waiting for the one, but as after many years she hasn't found him yet she's slowly turning into a spinster. I loved the chemistry between her and Andrew. They're constantly challenging one another and it was fun to see where that would lead.
 
Lisa Kleypas has a amazing lively way of writing that makes her stories come to life incredibly well. She mentions the exact right details to make it easy to visualize what she's writing about. I loved I Will because of the multilayered main characters, the gorgeous dresses and the fabulous sparks between the main characters. It's a lovely sparkling Christmas story with a wonderful romantic ending.
 
Advice
 
I Will is a lighthearted story that's perfect for when you have an hour to spare and want to read a complete story.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

In Your Arms by Shannyn Schroeder - Book Review, Guest Post & Giveaway

 
Book review
 
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Review by Suze
 
Sean likes having freedom. He doesn't care about having a steady job, he lives with his father and brothers so he doesn't have to pay rent and he doesn't want a relationship. When he meets Emma on the side of the road and helps her out he wants to spend more time with her, so he takes her to a bar to have a drink. Emma looks prim and proper, but that's just one side of her. She is a kindergarten teacher and is serious about her job. She's responsible and she's looking for a man to marry and start a family with. She does have a rebellious streak as well, only she tries to keep it in check. After two fun days Emma and Sean are supposed to say goodbye, but they decide there's no harm in meeting again.
 
While Sean and Emma aren't each other's ideal dates they keep hanging out. Sean is a mechanic and plays hockey. He has an active social life. Emma often goes out with her colleagues on Fridays and spends the rest of her free time working on lesson plans. While their worlds seem completely different Sean and Emma have more in common than they think. They could be great together, but the last thing Emma wants is becoming like her mother, still single while her children are grown up with an appalling taste in men. Sean's lifestyle makes him exactly like the guys Emma thinks she shouldn't date. Will they have a chance or are their differences too big to overcome?
 
When I saw the cover of In Your Arms I expected a sweet romantic story. Sean loves riding his bike, he works with cars when he feels like it, lives in a basement, likes drinking beer and isn't afraid to use his fists when defending Emma's honor. He's definitely a rebel and the same goes for Emma. While Sean is afraid of the word responsibility he is kind and can definitely be caring when he wants to. He and Emma both have their good and bad qualities, but sweet isn't what came to mind when reading this book at all. Emma is tough, she can take care of herself and she can stand her ground. Nothing about this book is cute or adorable. Sean might have one or two endearing moments, but that's as sweet as it gets.
 
Sean likes having a life without responsibilities and his behavior irritated me at first. I understood why Shannyn Schroeder made him the way he is though and it was great to see him grow up. I sometimes wanted to shake him as he risks the good things in his life because he wants to remain unattached and completely free of responsibilities. In Your Arms is a coming of age novel, but then with main characters who are in the second half of their twenties. There are plenty of them in real life too, so I like the idea of a story about this topic.
 
Shannyn Schroeder's writing is honest and sometimes crude. The beginning of the novel, particularly the soon and easy sex between Sean and Emma, astonished me, especially after seeing the cute cover. The idea behind the story is fun and in the last few chapters there's information about the first ones that I think gave them something extra, so that they made more sense, which is something I liked. The ending is nice and not overly romantic, but definitely fitting. What I liked best is that Shannyn Schroeder writes about her main characters in detail, which makes their personalities come to life really well. I loved being able to get to know them through and through. My favorite scenes were the ones set at Sean's hockey games. Shannyn Schroeder doesn't only describe an interesting game, she also uses it to add more meaning and emotion to her story. I love that her characters are completely themselves and know what they like and dislike and are very much aware of who they are and what they stand for. In Your Arms is a unique story with intriguing main characters.
 
Advice
 
In Your Arms isn't a cute story, it's more for readers who like reading about rebellious main characters who don't want to get attached and then fall hard for a girl, which catches them completely off guard.
 
 
About Shannyn Schroeder
 

Shannyn Schroeder is the author of the O’Leary series, contemporary romances centered around a large Irish-American family in Chicago and the Hot & Nerdy series about 3 nerdy friends finding love. Her new series (For Your Love) will release this summer with the first title Under Your Skin. When she’s not wrangling her three kids or writing, she watches a ton of TV and loves to bake cookies.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
 
 Guest post
 
Meet the Heroine – Emma Long
By: Shannyn Schroeder

I had a great time writing Emma Long. She came to me in pieces a while ago as a character. I thought about a Kindergarten teacher who normally has a potty-mouth, but limits how many times a day she can swear (five) and the rest of the time, she improvises (fudge monkey). At first I had no reason why she was like this or any of the rest of her backstory, but I wanted to know.

As I started thinking about Sean O’Malley, I knew she would be a good fit for him. The O’Malley boys use the word fuck in every other sentence, so pairing Sean with a woman who really tries not to swear would be fun.

But as I got to know Emma, there was so much more to her. She has an older brother, Nicky, who is completely unreliable. She was raised by a single mother, Brandi, who wasn’t the best provider. The only thing that Emma could count on as a kid was birthday cake on her birthday. As she says, it’s the one thing her mom got right. So now, birthday cake is comfort food for Emma.

Emma grew up as a wild child. School was hard, so she charmed her way through. Once she got out of high school, she worked random jobs, often at the same bars where her mother worked. The party lifestyle suited her.

Until they were evicted (again). Then Emma decided she wanted more out of life. In order to make that happen, she needed to change. She went back to school and became a teacher. She’s now the responsible member of the family and her brother and mother rely on her.

Emma wants everything she didn’t have growing up. She wants a husband, kids, and house with a backyard. She needs something she can count on and she’s working her ass off to make that happen. Unfortunately, she tends to be drawn to guys who don’t fit the bill.

When she meets Sean, she knows he’ll be great for a night, or maybe even a weekend, but she can’t count on him for the long haul. Or can she?

Giveaway

There are three wonderful prizes for three very lucky winners.

International:

1) $10 Amazon or B&N gift card
2) Digital copy of Hot and Nerdy 2 anthology

Us only:

Signed copy of Under Your Skin
 


Monday, December 26, 2016

An Off-Piste Christmas & Goodness, Grace and Me by Julie Houston - Book Reviews, Interview & Giveaway


Review by Suze

 Harriet's Christmas will be loud and cold. She celebrates it with a large group of people in the Italian mountains. Everyone seems to love skiing, but for Harriet it's the first time. This means she has to stay with the kids. Even though she's part of their beginner's class she isn't particularly interested in learning how to ski. She'd rather sit somewhere enjoying a drink than being active. She might be the only adult in her extended family who feels this way, but she can still have a good time and her holiday is far from boring, au contraire.
 
An Off-Piste Christmas is a great story with a lot of interesting characters. I immediately loved Harriet's tone of voice, she's funny, honest and matter-of-fact, which made me smile multiple times. While her family is large, and friends are also present, the story never becomes confusing. Julie Houston's explanations are clear and easy to understand and after reading her story I had the idea I knew all of them through and through.
 
Julie Houston's descriptions are colorful and vivid. I could totally imagine what it's like to be on holiday in the snow while skiing isn't something you're good at. I loved Harriet's approach and she doesn't need to be sportive to have adventures. There's so much going on that she never has a dull moment and that is exactly what I liked about this story. It's lively and energetic. An Off-Piste Christmas is a unique Christmas novella with a wonderful heartwarming ending.
 
Advice
 
An Off-Piste Christmas isn't the first book about Harriet and her friends and family. It can be read as a standalone though. It was my first story by Julie Houston and it intrigued me straight away, so after finishing it I immediately started reading another one. You can read An Off-Piste Christmas first like I did, but you can also begin with one of the earlier stories. If you'd like to read in chronological order you should start with Goodness, Grace and Me.

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Review by Suze

 Nick lost his business due to the recession. He and his wife Harriet managed to keep their house, but they had to make sacrifices, which means they're now living there together with Nick's mother. Harriet and Nick have three children, so they have quite a busy household. By working fulltime they can only just keep their heads above water. When Nick meets the wealthy David he has the chance to start another business and the opportunity is too good to pass up. It means less financial stability and Harriet is the main breadwinner all of a sudden. Harriet is even more unhappy when she discovers that David is married to Amanda. Harriet and her best friend Grace went to school with her and know how ruthless the woman can be.

Harriet's future depends on David and Amanda and when both Grace and Harriet's brother have a confession to make that involves her it starts to look pretty grim. While Nick is in Italy with Amanda Harriet has plenty of time to worry. When she might lose everything she holds dear and does a discovery that makes things even worse Harriet is about to have a breakdown. Can she save her marriage, her lifelong friendship and her children or is everything already lost?

Goodness, Grace and Me is a story about a strong woman who has a lot of bad luck. Harriet is honest in a sometimes crude way, which made me like her from the start. She's funny, she's disorganized and she loves with all her heart, which also means she can easily get hurt. While juggling a fulltime job with motherhood, strange neighbors and remaining one step ahead of an evil seductress Harriet tries to stay sane. Her life is chaotic, but Julie Houston is great at keeping her story organized and understandable, which is a fascinating combination.

Harriet isn't perfect. She makes mistakes, there are fabulous uneasy situations and she's both naïve, childish, accomplished and incredibly mature at the same time. I loved her versatile and flexible personality. Julie Houston has managed to come up with a fantastic main character. I really enjoyed reading Goodness, Grace and Me and can't wait to read more about the dynamic Harriet and her busy life.

Advice

Goodness, Grace and Me is perfect for readers who love a story about motherhood, financial struggles, friendship and relationship struggles told with a large dosage of humor.

About Julie Houston


Julie Houston is Yorkshire born and bred. She lives in Huddersfield where her novels are set and her only claims to fame are that she taught at ‘Bridget Jones’ author Helen Fielding’s old school, her neighbour is ‘Chocolat’ author Joanne Harris and her friend is about to marry Tracy Emin’s cousin! Oh, and she was rescued by Frank Bough when, many years ago, she was ‘working as a waitress in a cocktail bar’ at the Kensington Hilton in London.

After University, where she studied Education and English Literature, she taught for many years as a junior school teacher. As a newly qualified teacher, broke and paying off her first mortgage, she would spend every long summer holiday working on different Kibbutzim in Israel. After teaching for a few years she decided to go to New Zealand to work and taught in Auckland for a year before coming back to this country.

She now teaches part time, and still loves the buzz of teaching junior-aged children. She has been a magistrate for the last thirteen years, and, when not distracted by ebay, geneology (so time consuming but so interesting - she recently discovered her husband is descended from the poet Shelley and the Duke of Milan!!) and crosswords, she spends much of her time writing.

Julie is married, has a nineteen-year-old son and sixteen-year-old daughter and a mad cockapoo called Lincoln. She runs and swims because she’s been told it’s good for her, but would really prefer a glass of wine, a sun lounger and a jolly good book.
 
Interview

1) Can you name 3 random facts about yourself?

I’m addicted to toast with Marmite and Peanut butter. I have it for breakfast every morning without fail!

I’m little – only 5foot

My daughter’s middle name is Ianthe – the same as the poet Shelley’s daughter. Percy Byshe Shelley is in our family tree.

2) Which 3 elements should a good Christmas novel always have?

I reckon a Christmas novel should get you in the mood for Christmas, should be about a Christmas holiday or Christmas day and should mention wonderful food that gets your taste buds going.

3) You write about a large, close group of friends and family. Are the members inspired by real people or have you made them all up?

I don’t think any of them are really about anyone I know apart from Harriet herself. I was made to go on a winter holiday with my family who loves skiing and, like Harriet, ended up giving up after three days and singing “I’m on the Top of The World…” as I exited the lift, searching for hot chocolate high up in the alps.

4) Your characters spend some interesting days in the snow. What's so magical about winter holidays?


Well, for me it’s not!! I hate Winter, hate the snow, hate the cold, hate heights and particularly hate skiing!! I do appreciate being with friends and family and eating wonderful food, but give me a holiday on a beach with a cocktail and a book anytime!!

5) What's your favourite Christmas food?

Probably Christmas pudding with rum sauce and a good, fruity dessert wine. Bliss!

6) What's your favourite Christmas tradition?


Making mince pies. I listen to carols, sing along, and always add Cointreau to my mincemeat. That first bite gets me in the mood for Christmas. I’ve just made a batch before sitting down to write this. See photo!!

7) What do you like about Christmas reading?

I guess the main thing is snuggling down with a good book and a piece of my Christmas cake (and Wensleydale cheese) as it becomes dark, and not feeling guilty about actually reading because it’s too cold and dark to be outside doing the garden…

8) What are your plans for the future?


I’m at the planning stage of book five. I’m doing lots of research as it’s set in London during World War 2 as well as Yorkshire in the 1950s and now.

Giveaway

One very lucky reader of With Love for Books will receive an $10 (or your country's equivalent) Amazon gift card.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Kindle Fire & Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle Fire together with a $15 (or your country's equivalent) Amazon gift card. Good luck!
 

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Quintessentially Yours by Linn B. Halton - Book Review & Giveaway

 Book review

Amazon USA Amazon UK

Review by Anniek
 
Katherine found her soul mate when she met James. He asked her to marry him, but they have postponed the wedding because of the birth of their daughter Leyla. Leyla is not an easy baby. She has colic problems and is a bad sleeper because of that. Katherine is exhausted and is trying to find ways to cope with their daughter's problems. She had an incredibly successful launch of her first book, but the sales of the second book weren't the best. Now that her third book has been rejected by her publisher Katherine feels like a failure. She can't get her daughter to stop crying, can't write a good story and doesn't bring an income into their household.

James has been doing everything in his power to help Katherine take care of Leyla. He has been working for the astrologer Mark Ainsley-Thomas. James is already very busy writing the daily forecasts and answering all the incoming emails. He's also struggling because of sexual harassment from his colleague, Phillipa. When Mark suggests an equal partnership James knows this is the chance of a lifetime. He does feel guilty though, because he knows that his job will take more of his time. Time that he now spends with Katherine and Leyla. Being a partner means that they will be financially secure, which may take some pressure off Katherine.

Katherine feels lost in her role as a mom. She has the idea that motherhood comes naturally to anybody except her. When I was reading about her struggles I had tears in my eyes. Being a mom myself I know all about a baby who doesn't sleep or is crying nonstop because of colic. Being so exhausted makes you question everything you do. Katherine is coping so well, but she doesn't notice it herself. She keeps looking at other people and at the stars for signs to guide her. Being a mother is not always easy and sometimes you have to try plenty of different things before you finally find something that works. I couldn't stop reading about Katherine's journey to get her feet back on the ground and really wanted her to find a new working routine for James, Leyla and her.

James is such a sweetheart. He has a demanding job, but he still helps Katherine out the best he can. Even though his father wasn't a good role model, he's a natural himself. James has a lot on his plate and he sometimes doubts if Katherine still loves him as much as she did in the beginning. I found his internal dialogue endearing. He also isn't afraid to show his vulnerability and he often asks his friend Ed for advice. James is a loving father, partner and friend and I could easily understand why Katherine fell in love with him.

Quintessentially Yours is another beautiful story by Linn B. Halton. I loved the fact that she has used a lot of personal knowledge and experience for this story. She puts much time and effort into her characters and they all feel like real people to me. I found myself searching Mark on Google just to find out that he doesn't actually exist. Under the Stars is a book about Katherine and James as well, it's the story of how found each other. This book together with Quintessentially Yours triggered my interest in astrology. I went to the websites that Linn B. Halton uses herself to find out more about my own sign. I love that she combines interesting topics with beautiful writing style and this book is very special. I highly recommend Quintessentially Yours or any other book written by this author.

Advice

Quintessentially Yours shows you how people cope with day-to-day life. It also gives you a lot of inside information about the world of astrology. This together with a beautiful love story makes Quintessentially Yours a heartwarming read. I would advise you to read Under the Stars first as this way you get James and Katherine's complete story.

Astrology
 
Astrology is the ancient science of interpreting what influence the movements of the planets, stars and other heavenly bodies may have on our lives.
 
Under the Stars and Quintessentially Yours inpired me to find out more about astrology. I went to the websites that Linn B. Halton uses herself to see what they said about my star sign. Being born in December makes me a Capricorn. On the first website I learned that Capricorns are passionate, adventurous and mischievous people who also happen to be highly intelligent. My key to success is to have more faith in the visions and ideas that constantly flood through a Capricorn's busy brain and to believe in myself.
 
On the second website I read my December horoscope. I love how detailed and extensive this horoscope is. You have the option to print your horoscope, which is perfect for me as I tend to take notes all the time. I have no doubt in my mind that I'll be following both websites from now on.
 
About Linn B. Halton

 
I write heart-warming stories about life, love and relationships. Above all it’s about the feelgood factor, as isn’t everyone simply chasing the dream of a happy life with the one they love? And dreams do, often, come true but in real life it’s seldom a case of everything instantly falling into place. So I write about the journey …

Which genres do I write in?

Well, when I write I don’t think about genre at all. Everything I write is about relationships, so love will always be a key component.

Labels can be misleading and certainly the stories I’ve written in which there is a touch of the paranormal are, for the most part, based upon my own experiences. So it’s more fact wrapped up in a fictional tale. I don’t write fantasy, although isn’t all fiction simply the fantasy of a writer’s mind?

The psychic experiences I’ve had since a very young child are a real part of my life and while I’m privileged to see/feel it, I know many others choose to tune out. That doesn’t stop anyone wondering ‘what if?’ though and because the incidents are real I know many people read those little bits within the wider story and can connect.

I also like to write from several of the main characters’ points of view. I’m fascinated by the way in which two people hear the same thing and have two very different interpretations. It’s what causes arguments and disagreements in our daily lives and add into the mix the fact that people often won’t share their emotions … and that’s why I’ll never run out of stories to tell.

For those who like labels: romance, psychic romance, chick lit, women’s contemporary fiction – but the aim is still the same, an interesting and ultimately feelgood read.

When I’m not writing my husband and I are serial house movers and love getting hands-on with the renovation work. My background in interior design is a passion that will never leave me! We love going for walks in the Forest of Dean, which is now our home after spending most of our married life in Bristol. It’s a very spiritual place and for me it felt like coming home. I love taking photographs and seem to capture quite a few orbs as I snap away, something I find comforting. I feel blessed to be able to spend my working life writing and it’s only the wonderful readers and reviewers who have made that happen ~ for which I am eternally grateful!

Find out more at

 
Giveaway
 
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Two very lucky readers of With Love For Books will win a signed paperback. One winner will receive a signed copy of Falling and one winner will receive a signed copy of A Cottage in the Country by Linn B. Halton.
  
 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Book Review - Spring Fever by Emma Davies

Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads
 
Review by Suze
 
Merry and Tom have started a new adventure. They are now the proud owners of Five Penny House and have left the hectic life they used to lead behind them. They want to spend time with Robyn, their baby, and they're going to open a shop. The house needs some love and attention, but it's amazing and there are plenty of hidden treasures for Merry and Tom to discover. That their home might be cursed won't be a problem for them at all, or will it?
 
Freya and Tom are working hard to restore Appleyard to its former glory. Their love makes them want to work for it, but there are always setbacks and there's one thing they can't control, the weather. Will they be able to achieve their goals? And what will happen to Freya and her best friend Merry when back luck is about to strike, will they survive their difficult starts of the year?
 
I'm a big fan of the Tales From Appleyard series. Emma Davies writes about wonderful caring people who are working hard to make something of their lives. Both Five Penny House and Appleyard are interesting welcoming settings and I fell in love with them straight away. Because of Emma Davies's colorful descriptions it was easy for me to picture Merry's stunning discoveries and Freya's love for her orchard. She makes their daily life fascinating and lively. There's always something going on in the worlds of the two best friends. I love everything about the cozy atmosphere and the determination and spirit of the characters.
 
Love and friendship are important in Emma Davies's stories and that makes them heartwarming and welcoming to read. I admired how Freya and Sam are there for Merry and Tom when they need them the most. It brought tears to my eyes to see how much they care about one another. It's what I enjoy about this series the most, the strong connections between the main characters. Emma Davies writes about them in a moving and compelling way. I love her stories, they're charming, captivating and entertaining. 
 
Advice
 
I'd recommend you to read the stories of the Tales From Appleyard series in their correct order. Merry Mistletoe is an amazing strong beginning and it will be a great choice to put on your Christmas reading list.

Bookmarks & Book of Choice Giveaway

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a beautiful keychain set made by BeadSparkleZ and a book of choice worth $10. Good luck!
 

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.
 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Book Review - Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market by Heidi Swain

Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads
 
Review by Suze
 
Ruby has dropped out of university to travel the world. She's determined to follow her dreams and that is why she starts working at the Wynbridge local market before Christmas selling cakes and handmade items. By doing this she can pay for her plane ticket in the new year. Ruby's dad is against this plan, so going home won't only mean having a good time. He wants her to work for the council with him, but Ruby isn't interested in this at all. Even though the weather is cold and working at a stall means spending many hours outside in the cold Ruby is having the time of her life.
 
Ruby has to work close to her ex boyfriend Steve, which is difficult in the beginning. The market is his life and it is suffering. Ruby tries to help the stall holders find a way to attract more people. She's very good at coming up with practical and feasible ideas and that is just what the people of Wynbridge need to make their village center alive and active again. Ruby often runs into Steve and they find a way to become friends again. Will Ruby be able to forgive the man who once shattered her heart? And will her Christmas be fun and jolly or will there be more heartbreak in her future?
 
Ruby is a resourceful and smart young woman. She knows what she wants and she isn't afraid to stand up for herself. She needs this because living with her parents isn't easy, her father disapproves of almost anything she does. Ruby is special and I kept hoping he would notice that. It was amazing to see her grow and to watch her help the people she's known her whole life. She easily makes friends, she's kind to everyone and she's creative. She's such a sweet person and her actions constantly made me smile, which is exactly what I'm looking for when I'm reading a Christmas story.
 
Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market is a wonderful festive book. Heidi Swain has perfectly captured the holiday spirit. I loved the closeness of the community, it's heartwarming to read about what people can achieve if they try to reach a goal together. While the stall holders are doing their best to save their livelihood something mysterious is happening at the village and I couldn't wait to find out what it was. I loved being made so curious. The winter weather, the cozy atmosphere of the market and the fabulous main characters made this book a joy to read. Heidi Swain has a pleasant and sympathetic writing style and her stories are incredibly charming. She perfectly captures the essence of people's personalities and her descriptions are accurate and entertaining. I highly recommend this fantastic book.
 
Advice
 
If you like a heartwarming Christmas story Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market will be the perfect book for you.
 
Review by Tanya

Ruby gives up her Masters Course and goes back home to Wynbridge to help run a Christmas market stall for Jemma and Lizzie from the Cherry Tree Cafe. She will only be there for the Christmas holidays before she embarks on a dream of travelling. The market stall holders are hoping that some new stalls at the Market will increase the number of visitors who are spending money there. Hopefully this will then have a knock on effect for the future of the market, which is under threat. However, Ruby’s dad is not happy about her giving up her Masters Course and working in the market. He wants her to look at finding a temporary job working for the council together with him. Another difficult situation that Ruby meets is the fact that the love of her life and her ex Steve also works at the market, he runs a fruit and vegetable store with his parents and she is aware that she still has feelings for him.

This is the third book by Heidi set in and around the town of Wynbridge, but although some characters from the previous books appear it is completely a standalone. It is however lovely to catch up with some of the wonderful people a few years later and to see where life has led them. I love Wynbridge and the mostly friendly atmosphere that is there, with women who each have a refreshing approach to life.

Ruby is a confident young woman who knows what she wants and that is to do the job she's supposed to do, save money and travel. When Wynbridge and the people in it wave their snowy wand she begins to recognise the importance of the market and discovers she wants what is best for the town. She tries to avoid heartbreak again and memories of how she felt when Steve changed their plans after the sudden death of his older brother. She tries hard to be a friend, but nothing more and seems to be able to follow this through after a big fall out. She is there to support her friends and gives a breath of fresh air to the market.

There are a few stories running through the book, which kept me interested and the Christmas aspect is lovely at this time of year especially. I love the idea of warming up with hot chocolates in the Cherry Cafe and could smell the cakes from the descriptions. Although it’s cold in the market there is a feeling of warmth that catches the reader in the story. Heidi Swain has written another special book set in Wynbridge.
 
Advice

Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market is a heartwarming Christmas story that is great with a minced pie and maybe a piece of mistletoe won’t go amiss.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Books Over Boys Tote Bag & Mug Giveaway

 
Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a Books Over Boys tote bag and mug made by BigMouthUK. Good luck!
 

 
The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. Please add withloveforbooks@gmail.com to your list of approved email addresses. All of our giveaways are international.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Book Reviews - Freckles by Amy Lane & Take Me Home by Lorelie Brown

Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads
 
Review by Suze 
 
Carter has a structured life. He has a nice house and works hard at a law firm to pay for it. Unfortunately he has a boss he doesn't like at all, but he keeps working for him anyway because he does like the regularity of his life. It is boring, but it is what he knows and he's comfortable. When he's at the grocery store he has a little dog in his arms all of a sudden and somehow he's become the new owner. He doesn't know anything about dogs and didn't particularly want one either, but when he sees how cute the dog is he decides to give having one a try.
 
Sandy's work as a vet tech is never boring and it helps him to pay for college. A terribly stressed man needs his help with a small dog. Carter has no idea what to do with it at all, let alone a puppy. While Sandy is trying to help him with his first steps as a pet owner he notices that Carter is a gentle man with a good character and he also finds him incredibly attractive. Carter needs his help taking care of Freckles and maybe Sandy will be lucky, he hopes there's some attention left for him as well. Is Carter really boring or does he have more fire in him than he thought?
 
Freckles is a wonderfully sweet book. I loved the idea that Carter becomes a dog owner because someone shoves it in his hands. He names the dog Freckles, which is a fitting name for an adorable puppy. I immediately loved both the dog and Carter. He's such a kindhearted man. The same goes for Sandy. Pets are his life, he's helpful and nice to people and he knows what he wants. It's clear from the start that Carter and Sandy are perfect together and their relationship is both passionate and endearing at the same time, which makes it very complete.
 
Amy Lane's sentences have an easy flow. Freckles is such a charming story. It has a lot of character, which is something I always love in a book. Amy Lane lets the relationship between Sandy and Carter develop in a natural way and I think that's really great. She surprised me with her chosen direction in a good way. I fell in love with Freckles, it's a delightful entertaining story.
 
Advice
 
If you like to smile and be charmed you should definitely read this book. The main characters and the dog are all endearing and easy to fall in love with.
 
Amazon USA Amazon UK Goodreads
 
Review by Suze
 
Keighley doesn't look forward to Thanksgiving with her aunt who is openly hostile to her because she's gay. To annoy her aunt she's looking for a date she can bring to the family meal. When Keighley sees Brooke's ad on Craiglist she's enthusiastic immediately. Brooke's a tattoo artist  with pink hair who offers to shock someone's family in exchange for a free meal and she's exactly what Keighley is looking for. However, what should have been a casual date might turn into more. Is Brooke ready for that kind of commitment?
 
Keighley and Brooke are very different. Brooke is outspoken with hidden depths and Keighley has a steady job as an accountant, loves animals and isn't as fiery. She knows what she wants though and is prepared to work hard to get it. While there's an instant connection it's obvious Brooke isn't ready for any kind of long-term commitment. Keighley might be a bit less reluctant, but she also didn't expect to have so many feelings when she asked Brooke to be her date. They're good together and I loved that while Take Me Home is a novella there's still enough time to get to know both of them really well.
 
Lorelie Brown's idea of shocking a condescending aunt at a festive dinner is fabulous. Brooke is the right person for the job on the outside. She has many different layers though and slowly they are being revealed. Lorelie Brown makes her interesting and it was fun to see what she was like through Keighley's eyes. I liked the immediate connection and the chemistry between the main characters and the honest and open way the story has been written. Take Me Home is an incredibly romantic quick read.
 
 Advice
 
Take Me Home is an original story about a creative way to meet someone. If you like a good festive romantic story with two very different main characters you will love this novella.