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I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day By Milly Johnson

I Wish It Could Be Christmas EverydayIf there’s one book that will get you into the spirit of Christmas this year, it’s Milly Johnson’s latest festive offering.

Six people all going to different places are forced to hole up in a small inn on the North Yorkshire Moors. Bridge is meeting her soon to be ex-husband Luke to sign a piece of paper that will officially begin the end of their marriage. She wanted to see him for five minutes tops, because she can’t stand the sight of him. Or is she just afraid to be in his presence for any longer than that because what she feels isn’t the hate she pretends to have for him? Luke is meeting his soon to be ex-wife Bridge for the shortest of meetings. He has moved on from his disastrous marriage to her and the last thing he needs is to be trapped with her for four full days when dangerous old feelings could resurface. Industry boss Jack is on his way to a meeting with a Japanese client who cancels at the last minute. It’s a dratted inconvenience having to spend Christmas with a bunch of strangers. But is it really – for someone who is lonely and craving company? Mary has been in love with her boss Jack for four years and this was her big chance to show him she was flesh and blood not the mere useful equivalent of an office stapler. Now she has four days to show him that he needs her in his personal life… but has that chance come too late? Charlie and Robin are going to Aviemore for a snow-filled, luxury Christmas with all the bells and whistles they can muster. Having to spend it with a group of strangers instead, cooking their own dinner would be a complete and disastrous let down to them… wouldn’t it? Six people – some at peace with themselves, some work in progresses, some lost… all take and give from each other in this festive fun-filled feast. A story packed with broccoli, snowmen, carols, paper chains, mince pies, plum tomatoes and cherries… kindness, wisdom and above all hope.

The story is seen through the perspective of 6 people who are all travelling on a snowy winter’s night. The weather is so torrential that they all pull over in a hotel called Figgy Hollow Inn, that is lying vacant but is completely prepared for Christmas. The 6 people are all at crossroads in their lives but during the 23- 27th December, they become firm friends and come to some realisations about themselves.

Outspoken Bridge is meeting her ex-husband Luke to finally sign their divorce papers, married couple Robin and Charlie were off to Scotland for their Christmas celebrations, whilst businessman Jack and his PA Mary were on their way to an important business trip.

As usual, Milly has produced another book that will literally have you feeling warm and glowing inside. With the magical setting of the Figgy Hollow Inn, it’s festive and welcoming setting as well as the wealth of indulgent food on offer that literally has the reader salivating with each page.

I loved the characters so much and had a connection with each one. Bridge and Luke are a complex couple, after years of arguing and moving on, they’ve finally decided to sign the papers but whilst in Figgy Hollow, they remember the good times when money was less but they still loved each other. These parts make for poignant and warm reading as the couple reflect on old times. Robin and Charlie bicker like a old couple, but there’s a deep love between them even though there’s quite an age age between them. Charlie was the gentleman of the story, exuding charm and wisdom to the party with his gentle nature. Whereas Mary has been in love with her boss for years, but Jack has never seen her in this light, but it seems the magic of Figgy Hollow is making him look at his PA in a new way. The magical setting of Figgy Hollow is making everyone reevaluate their lives as well as the importance of friendship at this time of year.

‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday’ is another charming story from Milly, delivered with her trademark tenderness, love and wit and is story of hope, magic and new friendships. This book is Christmas wrapped up with a festive bow.

You can buy ‘I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Someone I Used To Know By Paige Toon

Someone I Used To Know‘Someone I Used To Know’ is the latest book by Paige Toon.

At fifteen, George is the foster brother Leah never asked for. As the angry, troubled boy struggles to come to terms with his circumstances, Leah finds herself getting drawn closer to him. Theo’s wealthy family have mysteriously pulled him out of boarding school and he’s now enrolled at the local state school with Leah and George. When their worlds collide that summer, the three teenagers form a bond they believe will be unbreakable. But life doesn’t always go to plan. Shocking news brings Leah back to Yorkshire, baby daughter in tow. But Emilie’s father Theo isn’t with them, and George has unexpectedly returned. After half a lifetime, have they healed the scars of their pasts? Will coming back home set their hearts in a different direction?

I spent one Saturday tucked up with the latest book by Paige and it was the perfect way to spend a few hours.

The story is seen through the narrative of Leah and is written in the past and present tense. The past is when she is 15 and 2 new boys are introduced into her life. Her parents are foster parents and bring George into their home and Leah and George becomes unlikely friends and she offers a bit of stability and comfort to his life. Theo, the posh rich kid joins their school and the duo become a trio and Leah becomes conflicted as to who owns her heart. Now many years later George is back in their lives after disappearing and Leah has a little girl with Theo and is trying to deal with a new life but the same emotions.

You know when you sit down with a Paige Toon book, there are always three essentials to get you through it. Tea, chocolate and tissues because always at some point there will be some reveal that will break your heart and only these three essentials will help and ‘Someone I Used To Know’ is no different.

I loved Leah, her easy adaptation to new children coming into their lives as well as being an older sibling. She’s’ a strong woman who’s been through a lot and I really enjoyed reading her journey. Her own struggle with grief but also having two best friends that were going through stuff and she was there for both of them. I must admit I really did like George, with his kind soul and spirit. Paige has a wonderful knack of writing the ideal man in her books, deliciously handsome, charismatic and 9 times out of 10, I also fall for them!

I also admired her parents for their kindness for giving so many children a better start in life, offering them security in their unstable world.

This book is a life affirming and uplifting story that really made for tender and poignant reading and I genuinely never wanted it to end. Oozing with heart, charm and nostalgia, ‘Someone I Used To Know’ is a beautifully written and heartbreaking story about love, loss and family and is a must for read for all Paige Toon fans.

You can buy ‘Someone I Used To Know’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Heights By Louise Candlish

The Heights‘The Heights’ is the latest book by Louise Candlish.

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him. Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years. You know this for a fact.

It’s fair to say that Louise Candlish is doing well, ‘The Other Passenger’ is number 2 in the Canadian book charts and the cast has been revealed for her award winning bestseller ‘Our House’ and what a cast it is!

She is back with ‘The Heights’ a dizzy and thrilling story about obsession and the strength of a mothers love.

Like Louise’s previous novels, the story begins at the key moment that something happens before working back to the moment that lead up to it.

The story is seen through the narrative of Ellen and her ex-husband Vic, who’s lives are turned upside down when their son befriends a boy called Kieran Watts, a bad influence who distracts Lucas from his family and studies. Both Ellen and Vic think Kieran has disappeared and are relieved for him to be finally gone only for him to reappear and Ellen begins to question her own sanity.

Right from the start, this book is a compelling read that had me gripped from start to finish. Ellen is a fascinating character, an equal measure of likeable and dislikable in her mothering traits that can be seen as possessive and not just looking out for her children. As the story processes, we begin to question her sanity and also her reliability after all she’s been through. Her dislike for Kieran leaps from the pages, as she tries to keep her son safe and under her wing.

The dual narrative in the story is a great addition as it gives the reader another insight into the situation and Vic adds a bit of stability to the story whenever things get too much for Ellen.

The story is cleverly crafted with fascinating and flawed characters that make for unsettling but compelling reading and in true Louise Candlish style, nothing is ever what it seems in her latest psychological thriller.

A story about fears, love and revenge, ‘The Heights’ is a wonderfully powerful story that made for dizzying reading with a gripping plot that will keep the reader right on the edge of their seat throughout.

The Distant Shores By Santa Montefiore

The Distant Shores‘The Distant Shores’ is the latest book by Santa Montefiore.

Margot Hart travels to Ireland to write a biography of the famous Deverill family. She knows she must speak to the current Lord Deverill – JP – if she is to uncover the secrets of the past. A notorious recluse, JP won’t be an easy man to crack. But Margot is determined – and she is not a woman who is easily put off. What she never expected was to form a close bond with JP and be drawn into his family disputes. Shouldering the blame for running up debts that forced him to sell the family castle, JP is isolated and vulnerable. With help from his handsome son Colm, it seems as though Margot might be the only one who can restore JP’s fortunes.

Although Santa has written quite a few books, this is actually the first book that I’ve read by the author and I was completely swept away by this historical, Irish drama.

The story is primarily seen through the narrative of Margot Hart who travels to rural Ireland to write a historical book based on the charismatic and fascinating Deverill’s, a family riddled by secrets and bad luck. The Deverill’s family castle is now a hotel and many people believe it to be haunted with the strange goings ons. It’s whilst researching the family history that secrets are unveiled and the estranged family are torn even further apart under the watchful eye of the ghost Kitty, a troubled character in the Deverill’s family history.

This book is actually part of a series but can easily be read as a standalone as Santa has given enough detail and background so that the reader doesn’t feel lost in the story. Her characters are fascinating mix of personalities from the determined Margot, who’s the talk of the Ballinkelly with her warmth and inquisitive nature and Lord JP Deverill who’s using Margot’s book as a distraction from his unhappy life and helping him put old ghosts to rest.

Throughout the story, there’s the underlying tension that Margot is going to reveal more secrets from the already troubled family and it’s evident that the family members are on tenterhooks.

Santa is beautifully descriptive in her writing, from the exquisite descriptions of the haunting castle to the reflective moments seen from the narrative of Kitty, who makes her presence known in some spine tingling ways disturbing the residents.

Although the book is quite long at 416 pages, I immediately sank into it and was able to read it in a few sittings. With a gloriously addictive plot line, a picturesque landscape and a determined protagonist, ‘The Distant Shores’ is the perfect summer read about family history, mending old wounds and reconnecting with some Irish charm weaves throughout.

You can buy ‘The Distant Shores’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Home By Penny Parkes

Home‘Home’ is the latest book by Penny Parkes.

Anna Wilson travels the world as a professional housesitter – stepping into other people’s lives – caring for their homes, pets and sometimes even neighbours. Living vicariously. But all Anna has ever really wanted is a home of her own – a proper one, filled with family and love and happy memories. If only she knew where to start. Growing up in foster care, she always envied her friends their secure and carefree lives, their certainty and confidence. And, while those same friends may have become her family of choice, Anna is still stuck in that nomadic cycle, looking for answers, trying to find the courage to put down roots and find a place to call home.

I haven’t read many books by Penny, so when I was offered the chance to read her latest book, I was delighted.

The story is seen through the eyes of house sitter and budding writer Anna Wilson. With no permanent roots or place to call home, she looks after other people’s houses when they travel. Having spent her life in and out of foster homes, she has never known a home but decides now is the time to finally face up to her family’s past and finally see if she can finally put pen to paper and write the story that she’s always dreamt of telling.

I loved this story, it was beautifully written, impactful and tender in parts that really made for lovely reading. I loved Anna, she’s kind, caring and has never known a proper home, so doesn’t know what it would feel like to have one. After a traumatic childhood, she’s always on the run, never settling down and she treats her adult life like her childhood living in one bag and always ready for the next upheaval.

Although her job is admirable and exciting visiting luxurious houses and friendly pets that provided company, there was an underlying sadness to the story with Anna not having a permanent address.

The story is written in past and present tense, Anna as an adult and as a child. The reflections back to her younger self made for sad reading, as she had finally found herself a home, only for it to taken away and how she drifts from pillar to post without proper connection to her blood family.

Penny writes sensitively about the concept home, how it’s not only about the four walls that you live in, but it’s also the feeling you get when you close the door. The sense of calm and protection and your own wee world away from the chaos of the world.

With an absolutely stunning cover and storyline that really struck a chord, ‘Home’ is a clever and warm story about visiting old ghosts and making new friends that is both uplifting and heartbreaking in equal measures.

You can buy ‘Home’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.