Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe and Books 1 and 2 from the Gingerbread Cafe

Snow is falling thick and fast outside the Gingerbread Café and inside, its owner Lily is planning the wedding of the year. Her wedding! She never dreamt it would happen, but this Christmas, she’ll be marrying the man of her dreams - in a Christmas-card-perfect ceremony!

 The gingerbread is baking, the dress is fitted and the mistletoe’s in place – for once, everything’s going to plan. That is until her mother-in-law arrives... Suddenly, Lily’s famous cool is being tested like never before and her dream wedding is crumbling before her eyes.
In the blink of a fairylight, the Gingerbread Café has been thrown into chaos! Lily thought she had this wedding wrapped up, but with so much to do before she says ‘I do’, can Lily get to the church on time – and make this Christmas sparkle after all?

I hadn't read any of the Rebecca Raisin stories before Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Cafe, so I felt I needed to start at the beginning and I'm glad I did. Although Christmas Wedding is a standalone book, I would have wanted to read the two prior books once I had finished. So this review covers all three books in sequence.

Christmas at the Gingerbread Café (The Gingerbread Cafe - Book 1)

At 64 pages long this short story is a bit of a tease! Just as you feel you are getting to know the characters it all comes to an end. I was really getting into the whole ambience of the café and the new relationship– so I quickly went off to read the next book to find out what happened next!

Chocolate Dreams at the Gingerbread Cafe (The Gingerbread Cafe - Book 2) 

Another great book from Rebecca Raisin. What can I say, it was like sitting down with old friends and finding out what had been happening since you last caught up with them. My biggest criticism is that this is just too short a book! Although slightly longer than the first at 94 pages - not long enough.

Christmas Wedding at the Gingerbread Café (The Gingerbread Cafe - Book 3)

Finally we get to be able to spend more time in Ashford with book 3 – a full length title at 304 pages. By now if you’ve read the first two books you will be familiar with the characters, but as I said at the beginning, this is still a standalone book if not. There is time in this book for more depth to the characters and exploration of their background and family.
I found the plot intriguing and was rushing to read the next chapter to find out if the pre-wedding mishaps were going to spoil the dream. Ashford seems such a lovely place that I found it hard to believe anything bad happening there, but all came ok in the end and there was also a lovely surprise at the end of the book which I won’t spoil for you. If you like to curl up with a good book and get transported away then this is for you (I nearly missed by tram stop!). I would warn it will also make you want to bake and eat more!

I'd like to thank Bliss Book Promotions and NetGalley for allowing me access to these books to review.

Monday, 20 October 2014

It's not me, it's you - Mhairi McFarlane

I first came across Mhairi McFarlane when she wrote for my local paper the Nottingham Evening Post. I liked to read the articles she penned at weekends in the paper as I loved her writing and was soon following her on twitter. Then a couple of years ago I saw a tweet that she was now a published author with You Had Me at Hello. I downloaded it immediately and loved it.
Fast forward to present day and her latest book “It’s not me, It’s You” and she is definitely on a roll with this her third book.

Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong.
When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault.
When she realised life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault.
And when he wanted her back life nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame…
From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back.

Mhairi has succeeded in creating the most dimensional characters you could hope to meet in this book. She intertwines so much back story into it all, even down to describing the décor of a restaurant and the menu. She also tells us what drives these characters, what their hopes and fears are, that I really felt I got to know them all.
I think it is an underestimation to call this chick lit – yes it has a girl has boy, loses boy thread but there is so much depth to the novel. There is also a little bit of a thriller thread running through it that had me holding my breath at times.
I was rooting for Delia to make the right choice (in my mind!) – I won’t spoilt the ending by saying what that was, but we are kept guessing with a will she won’t she storyline that doesn’t feel false. I also must say that this plot line rang so true for me, even down to some of the phrases used – I’ve been through similar things and if this was written without experiencing it, all I can say is she has written it to a T.
Mhairi has a fantastic grasp of the English language; it’s great to see that a modern novel, that isn’t a serious work, can actually use some words that are more than two syllables long.  
I am still thinking about the characters now – always the sign of a good book.

PS it would make a fantastic film!

My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for providing me with an advance copy to review.

Friday, 10 October 2014

No Safe House - Linwood Barclay

Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal that nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. Terry's wife, Cynthia, is living separate from her husband and daughter after her own personal demons threatened to ruin her relationship with them permanently. Their daughter, Grace, is rebelling against her parents' seemingly needless overprotection. Terry is just trying to keep his family together. And the entire town is reeling from the senseless murder of two elderly locals.

But when Grace foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers must do more than stay together. They must stay alive. Because now they have all been unwillingly drawn into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown.

For there, they will be reconnected with the man who saved their lives seven years ago, but who still remains a ruthless, unrepentant criminal. They will encounter killers for hire working all sides. And they will learn that there are some things people value much more than money, and will do anything to get it.

Caught in a labyrinth between family loyalty and ultimate betrayal, Terry must find a way to extricate his family from a lethal situation he still doesn't fully comprehend. All he knows is that to live, he may have to do the unthinkable....

To say I am a huge Linwood Barclay fan is probably a bit of an understatement. I've introduced so many people to his books and recently tracked down his earlier works including "Bad Move" which I imported from the USA - just so I always have something to of his to read in those between book moments! 

No Safe House is a sequel to No Time for Goodbye - however the book stands alone, no need to have read the first book as it is referenced enough to be able to understand the back story.

Well - Linwood has done it again! How does he come up with these fabulous story lines? Apart from a few too realistic (for my taste) villain torture scenes, I really enjoyed reading the book. 

The whole book is really a sequence of events - like a pack of dominoes, that if the first one had not been knocked over, would any of the rest of it happened?

So many little loose ends, throw away lines you forget about, all throughout the book to keep you guessing. Those cliffhanger chapter endings making you want to gallop onto the next chapter. At the end of the book all the loose ends get tied up, all those throw away lines make sense- just pure genius.  Then when you thought it was all over - another surprise - which I won't spoil for you!

Please never stop writing books like this Linwood - can't wait for the next one.

My thanks to NetGalley and Orion publishing for sending me a copy of this book to review.