Christmas Reads Roundup

xmas

OMG! It’s Christmas Eve already!

Is still have to go and brave the shops to finish off my last minute (as always) Christmas shopping but I wanted to wish all of my wonderful readers a very merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.

I’ve been getting into the Christmas spirit this year by taking part in the Aussie Readers Group December Challenge at Goodreads so I thought I should do a quick recap of all of the wonderful Christmas themed novels I’ve read before I have to brave the shops. I managed a total of eight which isn’t too bad.

I kicked the challenge off with I Will Marry George Clooney (by Christmas) by Tracey Bloom      marrygeorgeclooney

Description:

A brand new very funny Christmas novel, from the bestselling author of No-One Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday and Single Woman Seeks Revenge.

There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only answer is to marry George Clooney.

For Michelle, that time is now.

Slogging her guts out in a chicken factory whilst single-handedly bringing up a teenager who hates her is far from the life that 36-year-old Michelle had planned.

But marrying the most eligible man on the planet by Christmas could change all that, couldn’t it?

Sometimes your only option is to dream the impossible – because you never know where it might take you…

My Review

Then moved on to my favourite Christmas read this year, Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen. dyingforchristmas

Description:

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …

But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?

My Review

Next up I read Secret Santo by Carla Caruso.    secret santo

Description:

Holly Plume is a bookseller by day and a romance blogger by night, dishing out scathing reviews under her pseudonym, Sultry Scarlet. When she scores an invite to the publishing event of the year, Holly couldn’t be more excited. Finally a chance to meet her favourite author, the mysterious thriller writer known only as AJ Ruffo.

When Holly literally falls into the arms of the mysterious and charming Santo Randolfi, she’s sure it must be AJ. After all, Santo has tousled good looks, dark curls, luscious lips . . . He’s exactly what she’d imagined. But when Santo reveals he’s actually the author of a romance novel Holly recently slammed on her blog, keeping her online identity a secret becomes vital.

As Holly struggles to keep Santo from learning the truth, she realizes just how much she likes him. But when he discovers who she is, will their relationship be over before it’s even begun?

My Review

Then I read The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster                         The Perfect Christmas Cover

Description:

A holiday short story that proves that true love is forever, not just for Christmas…

Hollywood movie star Maggie and friend and manager Zoe need an escape from their complicated star-studded lives in LA. With its history and Christmas charm, London feels like the perfect getaway.

But can they truly leave their realities behind?

In their luxurious quarters, the girls meet Holly who is ideal at showing Maggie and Zoe the sumptuous sights and sounds of London in their most glittering light. But behind her bright façade, Holly is hiding a secret: suffering from unrequited love, she’s looking for a Christmas miracle. Desperate to see an unattainable love story for Holly come together, will our LA starlets succeed in providing a Hollywood ending before the dawn of Christmas Day?

Packed to the brim with festive cheer, this is the only story you’ll need this Christmas…

My Review

The next Christmas read on my list was Come Home For Christmas, Cowboy by Megan Crane.  Come Home for Christmas, Cowboy Cover

Description:

This Christmas season, Christina Grey Cooper has finally accepted that her marriage to her college sweetheart Dare is over.

So she packs up her things, leaves a note, and heads back home for Marietta, Montana in the hope that a Christmas with her family will help piece her head—if not her heart—back together.

Dare isn’t about to let the love of his life go, and who cares if that’s what he thought he wanted? He’ll do what it takes to win Christina back—even if that means suffering through Christmas with his in-laws, pretending to still be happily married for the sake of family harmony, and trying not to get caught up in all that holiday nonsense he’s never believed in…

But Christmas is magical, especially in Montana.

And if Dare has any hope of convincing Christina to give him one more chance, it’s going to be here…

My Review

And then Christmas at Thornton Hall Christmasatthorntonhallby Lynn Marie Hulsman

Description:

Need a fun, festive treat to warm you up on cold winter nights? Don’t miss this terrific debut from a witty new voice in romantic comedy!

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!

So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the Earl of Gloucester’s impossibly grand ancestral pile.

The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.

But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?

As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!

CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.

My Review

Bah, Humbug by Heather Horrocks was chosen by some lovely readers for me next.

Description:  bahhumbug

Lexi Anderson is an up-and-coming, Martha Stewart-type TV hostess whose two kids love the Jared Strong adventure novels, which happen to be written by their new neighbor, Kyle Miller.

For the first time in his writing career, Kyle has writer’s block – until he sees the snowman on his lawn and realizes this is the perfect place for his villain to hide the weapon. He digs into the snowman to discover two things: the weapon fits int he body just under the head, and the snowman was supposed to be the back drop for Lexi’s next show.

From this improbable beginning comes friendship. Can there be more for a woman who is afraid to get close again and a man who has shadows from his childhood?

Families join together and hearts are healed as this couple goes walking in a winter wonderland.

My Review

And I finished off with A Kirribilli Christmas by Louise Reynolds Akirribillichristmas

Description:

Eight years ago Shelby left Sydney for LA, determined to set the world on fire. Now she’s nearly broke and her boyfriend has left her alone at Christmas. Lonely and miserable, Shelby finds herself drawn back to the childhood home she thought she’d left behind . . .

Frangipani House now belongs to Dan Sayers, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who found a new start in Kirribilli. When he spots Shelby dragging her suitcase up the front steps on Christmas Eve, he can’t believe his eyes. It’s been four years since he last saw her. Then, she’d been aloof, a stranger in designer sunglasses and killer heels, barely acknowledging their shared past.

As Christmas unfolds, Shelby and Dan grow closer than ever before and Shelby begins to see her ramshackle home in a new light. But before she and Dan can have any hope of a future together, they must first confront their past.

My Review

Have a great Christmas Day and I hope you all find lots of great books under your tree!

Advertisements

Book Review: A Kirribilli Christmas by Louise Reynolds

Title: A Kirribilli Christmas                                                                                          Akirribillichristmas

Author: Louise Reynolds

Published: 2 Dec 2014, Penguin Books Australia/Destiny Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Pages: 54

My Rating:  3/5

Description: From the publisher

Eight years ago Shelby left Sydney for LA, determined to set the world on fire. Now she’s nearly broke and her boyfriend has left her alone at Christmas. Lonely and miserable, Shelby finds herself drawn back to the childhood home she thought she’d left behind . . .

Frangipani House now belongs to Dan Sayers, the boy from the wrong side of the tracks who found a new start in Kirribilli. When he spots Shelby dragging her suitcase up the front steps on Christmas Eve, he can’t believe his eyes. It’s been four years since he last saw her. Then, she’d been aloof, a stranger in designer sunglasses and killer heels, barely acknowledging their shared past.

As Christmas unfolds, Shelby and Dan grow closer than ever before and Shelby begins to see her ramshackle home in a new light. But before she and Dan can have any hope of a future together, they must first confront their past.

My Thoughts:

A Kirribilli Christmas is my 8th and final novel that I have read as part of the Aussie Readers Christmas/New Year themed December challenge. I’ve really enjoyed reading Christmas themed books this month, it’s a great way to get into a Christmassy frame of mind.

Shelby left Kirribilli, a suburb of Sydney Australia, to become a famous actor. It’s not working out so well for her though. She’s only had a handful of of bit parts and a rich jerk of a boyfriend to show for all of her efforts. When he makes it clear that she isn’t invited to spend Christmas with his family she takes up his offer to fly home to Kirribilli for the holidays despite the fact that since her mother passed away and she has no family left.

Her family home which is called Frangipanni House (maybe a little bit too ‘Australiana’ cliche for my tastes) is now owned by Dan, one of the many foster children that Shelby’s mother took in over the years. There seemed to be all kinds of tension between Shelby, Dan and the rest of the foster children who still get together every year for Christmas. I really felt like the tension between Shelby and the others needed to be explained more clearly. They were far too hostile for the brief explanation that was given. I think perhaps the novella was just a tiny bit too short and could have done with being a tad longer to explore those relationships more thoroughly.

Another thing that I found a little bit difficult to swallow was the location for this family. Kirribilli property is expensive, and I mean really expensive, so I’m not sure how a single mother with a hoard of foster children could have afforded such a large house there on her own even 20 years ago. And there was no way that I could imagine that anyone would be able to make a decision on whether to sell a property or not in that area on a whim. This detail is entirely irrelevant to the enjoyment of the book, especially for readers overseas but it was something that stuck out like a sore thumb for me.

Overall, A Kirribilli Christmas is a nicely written contemporary Australian romance, set on the lovely shores of Kirribilli (Sydney). The characters and story line are quite interesting and it’s a little bit deeper than the usual Christmas themed novella.

Now, this is where my review would have ended if I hadn’t turned the page and read Louise Reynolds’ author bio. I’m a born and bred Melburnian (a person who is from Melbourne) so I took particular exception to the following sentence:

“After one look at Melbourne beaches she got a library card and started to read.”

I usually steer well clear of the Sydney vs Melbourne debate but it is well documented here, here and here, as well as thousands more. But I will say that there are many reasons why Melbourne is regularly voted one of the most livable cities in the world and Sydney the most expensive. I believe that Sydneysiders are always going to prefer their home town and Melburnians are going to prefer theirs and will usually leave it at that but disparaging Melbourne’s beaches in an author bio is probably not a good way to go about things. I would have thought Melburnians would have made up a far chunk of Louise’s readers so it might be a better idea to speak about both towns in a positive light, especially since she lives here now.

Louise, you also don’t need to wear so much black, that’s just a tired old stereotype and you know that Melbourne’s fashion is better than Sydney’s. I think that most people would agree that there is so much more versatility during the colder weather that we get here during winter.

And if you have been looking for lovely beaches in Melbourne’s northern suburbs you have been looking in the wrong place! I’ve decided to help Louise out but showing her a few of my favourite Melbourne beaches.

Here we have Brighton Beach, just a 30 minute drive south of the CBD. These beach boxes there are worth quite a lot of money and the houses along the beach here would match or top the Kirribilli property market.

Brighton Beach image

Image uploaded to Flickr by Reinis Traidas and shared under the Creative Commons License. Visit here to view the original image.

Here is my favourite beach in Sorrento which is just down the road from my home town. This beach is virtually empty all of the time because the only way to get there is to drive down several roads with signage stating ‘no beach access’ and then walking the rest of the way over sand dunes. (There is no way that I will tell you how to get there, sorry!) Sorrento is a 1.5 hour drive south of Melbourne’s CBD.

sorrento beach

Image from my own personal collection

And here are the famed 12 Apostles which are along the Great Ocean Road, a top tourist destination. The 12 Apostles are about a 3 hour drive west of Melbourne’s CBD but it is well worth the trip and while you are there you might as well visit other beautiful and world renowned beaches such as Lorne, Torquay and Anglesea just to name a few.

12apostles

Image uploaded to Flickr by Stephenk1977 and shared under the Creative Commons License. Visit here to view the original image.

This could be asking for trouble, but feel free to share your thoughts on Melbourne Vs Sydney as long as you keep it reasonably nice!

 Purchase A Kirribilli Christmas from Amazon

View A Kirribilli Christmas on Goodreads

Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman Book Review

Title: Christmas at Thornton Hall  Christmasatthorntonhall

Author: Lynn Marie Hulsman

ISBN: 9780007568871

Published: Dec 2013, HarperCollins UK, Harper Impulse

Rating: 3/5

Pages: 386

Description:

Need a fun, festive treat to warm you up on cold winter nights? Don’t miss this terrific debut from a witty new voice in romantic comedy!

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!

So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the Earl of Gloucester’s impossibly grand ancestral pile.

The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.

But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?

As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!

CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.

My Thoughts:

I received my copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Christmas at Thornton Hall is the 6th Christmas themed book that I have read as part of the December Challenge that I’m participating in with the Aussie Readers Group at Goodreads. This one was a bit longer than a lot of the other Christmas themed novels around and it took me a little bit longer than I would have liked to get through. That’s my own fault though, not the book’s, since I must have gone crazy for a while earlier this year and elected to study two university subjects over the Christmas break so I have been pretty busy around here lately!

The longer than usual length allowed the author, Lynn Marie Hulsman, to pack in a lot of action and interesting characters. I quite often felt a bit stressed out for Juliet, the main character, because there was so much going on around her. She’s a top chef to the stars dealing with a break up with her boyfriend, Ben and sexual tension with Edward, her sexy fellow chef and Jasper Roth, her handsome and wealthy boss while cooking for a huge, snobby Christmas party on her own at Thornton Hall which is one of those super wealthy English properties that have been owned by titled families for generations.

There were quite a few times that I questioned whether Juliet really had true feelings for any of these men as she seemed to be able to jump from fantasizing about one to another in a matter of seconds. Her previous ex was also brought up often so that makes four love interests in one book which is perhaps a few too many for me.

Juliet was a bit of annoying main character to be honest. 99% of her problems could have been solved just by talking about them to the relevant people but she seemed to avoid that like the plague. I could certainly relate to her tendency to drift off and daydream at the drop of a hat but I found myself getting frustrated at her indecisiveness and unwillingness to talk to anyone about anything.

The other characters were all well developed although I would have liked to have read more about Edward the fellow chef. He was missing for the majority of the story and from what I did read about him he seemed like a pretty interesting guy. He leaves Juliet in the lurch at the beginning of the book to cope with the Christmas festivities at Thornton Hall on her own with no explanation after a night of passion. I found it difficult to believe that Juliet simply didn’t bother to give him a call to find out why he left. If some guy pulled a stunt like that on me I’d be chasing him down if only to give him a piece of my mind!

Edward had his reasons for leaving but will he be able to explain everything in time to stop Juliet from traipsing off to America with her married boss? Jasper Roth is rich, handsome and American so he did what any American who wants to succeed in London does apparently and married Lady Penelope who is titled but crazy. He has been after Juliet for ages and hopes to leave his wife and take off home to America with Juliet. Jasper wasn’t the most likable of characters, he was far too interested in expensive things and rude to his staff for me.

There are a host of terrific supporting characters in Christmas at Thornton Hall. At times it was perhaps a few too many to keep up with. Some of my favourites included Terrence, the sassy gay butler, Rose and Seamus, the elderly and kind couple who have worked at Thornton Hall most of their lives and The Earl of Gloucester who is known by the downstairs staff as The Painter since he is a well known artist. The Earl has some interesting secrets of his own.

Christmas at Thornton Hall is a Christmas story with an interesting plot and characters. There is mystery, plenty of romance and few steamy love scenes. There are plenty of laughs and I found it to be a really enjoyable Christmas themed read with a noticable lack of cheesiness which I quite liked.

View on Goodreads

View on Amazon

I need your book recommendations. Help me decide which Christmas themed book to read next!

As you know I have been reading mostly Christmas themed books this month as part of the Aussie Readers December Challenge over at Goodreads this month.

So far I have read:

Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen. Read my review here.dyingforchristmas

Secret Santo by Carla Caruso. Read my review here.

secret santo

I Will Marry George Clooney (By Christmas) by Tracy Bloom. Read my review here.

marrygeorgeclooney

Come Home For Christmas, Cowboy by Megan Crane. Read my review here.

Come Home for Christmas, Cowboy Cover

The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster. Read my review here.

The Perfect Christmas CoverI am currently reading Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman. (Review coming shortly)

Christmasatthorntonhall

So I need your help to decide which Christmas themed book I should read next!

Should I read A Kirribilli Christmas by Louise Reynolds?

Akirribillichristmas

Or Yours For Christmas by Susan Mallery?

yoursforchristmasOr how about Bah, Humbug by Heather Horrocks?

bahhumbugPlease save me from my indecision! Have you read any of these books or have read any amazing Christmas themed books? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Book Review: Dying For Christmas by Tammy Cohen

Title: Dying For Christmas dyingforchristmas

Author: Tammy Cohen

ISBN: 9781784160173

Published: November, Transworld Publishers, Random House UK

My Rating: 4/5

Description:

I received my copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am missing. Held captive by a blue-eyed stranger. To mark the twelve days of Christmas, he gives me a gift every day, each more horrible than the last. The twelfth day is getting closer. After that, there’ll be no more Christmas cheer for me. No mince pies, no carols. No way out …

But I have a secret. No-one has guessed it. Will you?

My Thoughts:

Dying For Christmas is another Christmas themed book that I read as part of the Aussie Readers December Challenge but this is definitely not your typical Christmas themed book.

Jessica has been kidnapped and help captive by a handsome psychopath for the 12 days of Christmas. She is a fascinating character, a little bit ‘weird’ but completely relate able.

Domenic Lacey is one of the creepiest ‘bad guys’ that I have ever come across. He is handsome, charming and well off on the outside and a complete psychopath on the inside. Once he begins to reveal details about his childhood you almost start to feel a bit sorry for him.

The book is also narrated from the perspective of Kim, the policewoman who is investigating Jessica’s disappearance. Kim has problems of her own. She feels that she is being forced to choose between her career and her family but she thinks that she should be able to have both.

Dying For Christmas was fascinating to read, full of plot twists and really interesting characters. I had to read this in one sitting since I needed to find out what happened in the end! I recommend Dying For Christmas for anyone who enjoys the thriller/mystery genres or anybody looking for a Christmas themed book with a difference.

Editing to add that the author Tammy Cohen is absolutely lovely. Add this one to your to read list!

Goodreads      Amazon

Book Review: I Will Marry George Clooney (By Christmas) by Tracy Bloom

Title: I Will Marry George Clooney (By Christmas) marrygeorgeclooney

Author: Tracy Bloom

ISBN: 9791784160173

Published: October 2014, Cornerstone Random House UK

My Rating: 3/5

Description:

I received this copy from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

A brand new very funny Christmas novel, from the bestselling author of No-One Ever Has Sex on a Tuesday and Single Woman Seeks Revenge.

There comes a time in every woman’s life when the only answer is to marry George Clooney.

For Michelle, that time is now.

Slogging her guts out in a chicken factory whilst single-handedly bringing up a teenager who hates her is far from the life that 36-year-old Michelle had planned.

But marrying the most eligible man on the planet by Christmas could change all that, couldn’t it?

Sometimes your only option is to dream the impossible – because you never know where it might take you…

My Thoughts:

I read this book as part of the Aussie Readers December Challenge at Goodreads which involves reading as many Christmas/New Year themed books during the month of December. I Will Marry George Clooney (By Christmas) certainly fits the requirements, although its not too Christmassy.

Michelle has set herself the task of marrying George Clooney (by Christmas) in an attempt to win over her troublesome teenage daughter and enlists the help of her friends Gina and Dazza to engineer a meeting with George. There were plenty of laughs throughout the book and the plot was a bit far fetched at times but it worked well as a whole. I liked the central message that it is necessary to dream big and work hard to achieve your goals.

I Will Marry George Clooney (By Christmas) also explored quite a few serious issues, such as the relationship between Michelle and her daughter Josie and the long term effects of losing a loved one. Michelle and her family are still struggling with the death of her sister Jane 16 years later.

This book was a fun, quick and enjoyable book which I was easily able to read in one sitting. I can’t reveal whether Michelle did manage to marry George Clooney in the end but he is unfortunately off the market ladies, so perhaps she did.

My Favourite Books

fbooks

I have recently signed up an account over at Goodreads which is an awesome social media network for all book lovers. Get yourself over there if you haven’t already! One of the first things I needed to do was let them know my favourite books so that they could automatically generate recommendations for me based on those. Well that’s a tough question for a Scatterbooker like me,  but I have managed to come up with a short but definitely not comprehensive list.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll,

The Power of One by Bryce Courtney,

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee,

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald,

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen,

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë ,

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger,

Bridget Jone’s Diary by Helen Fielding,

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory,

The Pact by Jodi Picoult,

The Kay Scarpetta Series by Patricia Cornwell,

1984 by George Orwell

It by Stephen King.

Over at Goodreads I have also joined the Aussie Readers group. It is full of very friendly Australian readers who have some brilliant book suggestions and they run seasonal reading challenges that everyone can join in with. I definitely recommend that any Australian readers head over and say hello to the lovely people over there.

I have decided to take part in the Aussie Readers December Challenge which is to read as many Christmas or New Year themed books as possible during December. So far I have decided to read:

The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster

Yours for Christmas by Susan Mallery

Come Home for Christmas, Cowboy by Megan Crane

Also on my current reading list are:

Gray Mountain by John Grisham

I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes

Explicit Detail by Scarlett Finn

I will also need to be offline for around two weeks starting from Tuesday 25th of November. I have created Scatterbooker as part of an assignment for one of my university subjects at Curtin University. So that means that while the assignment is being marked I won’t be able to make changes to https://scatterbooker.wordpress.com/ or any of my social media accounts. I’m going to miss all of you so much while I am offline, but I will use the time away to work on getting some of these book reviews ready to post as soon as my assignment is graded. While I am in exile you can still contact me at scatterbooker@gmail. I would love to hear about your favourite books or any Christmas/New Year themed books that you love.

 

Image adapted from an image that was uploaded by FutUndBeidl (2012) which was sourced via Flickr and I’m am sharing under the Creative Commons License. Visit here to view the original image.