Hello book bloglets,

Well I did it. I completed my challenge of reading and reviewing a Christmas story each week. I must say that this challenge did get me feeling festive. The books I read are:

The Snow Globe by Kristen Harmel

A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

I Will Marry George Clooney (…by Christmas) by Tracy Bloom

A Beginner’s Guide to Christmas by Jennifer Joyce

It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judy Astley

The Kiss Before Midnight by Sophie Pembroke

Christmas with Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

Zoey and the Nice Guy by Carter Ashby

Secret Santa by Scarlet Bailey

Skating at Somerset House by Nikki Moore

Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman

A New York Christmas by Melissa Hill

A Christmas Feast and Other Stories by Katie Fforde

I kind of overshot the mark but never mind. Hope you have all enjoyed my festive feature and I hope that some of these books turn up in your Christmas stockings.

Merry Christmas folks,

L x

Synopsis

A collection of Katie Fforde’s short stories that have previously been published in magazines or only been available in e-book format.

Review

For years my mother has been encouraging me to pick up a book by Katie Fforde. My mother, having read (almost) everything that Fforde has ever written is a big advocate of her work. However, my lingering stubborn inner teenager has always declined to pick up any of Fforde’s novels.

When the opportunity to read A Christmas Feast and Other Stories came up via NetGalley I surreptitiously requested it and decided to give it a read without my mother’s knowledge. Turns out, as is quite often the case, my mother was correct. Mother 1 – Inner Stubborn Teenager 0.

The collection of stories was actually rather good. Personally I preferred the longer short stories but that is because, as I have previously mentioned I find short stories too…well, short. What is wonderful about this collection is that it allows people – such as my mother – to read the stories such as The Undercover Cook, From Scotland with Love (my personal favourite from the collection) and Staying Away at Christmas which have only ever been available on e-readers.

This is a charming collection of short stories and as Katie Fforde says in her introduction it is a perfect read for the busy person over the Christmas holidays because A Christmas Feast and Other Stories doesn’t require the full time commitment of a novel.

A Christmas Feast and Other Stories by Katie Fforde is available now.

A Christmas Feast and Other Stories

Title: A New York Christmas

Author: Melissa Hill

Pages: 34 pages

Synopsis

Fleeing from a broken heart, Maddie leaves her hometown in Ireland and decides to spend Christmas with family in New York. Whilst trying to have a traditional New York Christmas she accidentally has herself a traditional holiday romance.

Review

This was a seriously short story. So much so that I worry that anything I write will be full of spoilers. I love Christmas and I love New York but I didn’t love A New York Christmas. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it; I just think I wanted more from it.

I think that Maddie is an interesting character with a story worthy of telling. I would love it if Melissa Hill wrote a flashback story or even one which included love interest Blake and her ex Don – a full feature length novel.

This is the only criticism I have for A New York Christmas is that it was just so short it was hard to actually fully immerse myself in it and enjoy it without feeling cheated when I came to the end.

Please write a novel featuring these characters again, I beg thee Melissa Hill.

A New York Christmas by Melissa Hill is available now.

You can follow Melissa Hill (@melissahillbks) on Twitter

 

Synopsis

Assuming that her boyfriend Ben was about to propose, Juliet was more than surprised when she found evidence of his philandering ways. Rather than sit and sulk she decided to take up a lucrative festive job offer to work one last time as a chef at country estate Thornton Hall before going home to America to retrain to become a psychologist.

However, Christmas madness is rife at Thornton Hall and Juliet must control herself around her randy boss Jasper and the head chef Edward; whom she has secretly harboured a crush on for a very long time.

Review

Ok, this is difficult for me. Christmas at Thornton Hall is a really well written book. The storylines are entertaining, intriguing even and the characters are well developed and very distinguishable. In fact, the whole story is well thought out and is a very accurate representation of what I personally believe life in a huge country manor is like. I just didn’t warm to this book like I do with other stories.

Take, for example, the protagonist Juliet. She was understandably upset by Ben’s cheating but she just couldn’t seem to make a decision over which man she wanted to be with. I found that frustrating. In each chapter she felt strongly for a different man in the cast. Her flightiness wasn’t appealing when as a reader I want to identify with the heroine.

Whilst I understand the need for all the plot twists – and which I admit they were executed well – it was hard at times to keep plot threads in order. I felt that this book was meant to be a romantic comedy not a mystery novel.

I think the real indicator for me as to whether or not I enjoyed a book or not is how quickly or (in this case) slowly I devour the story and it took me a very long time to Christmas at Thornton Hall. It just didn’t hook me the way I expected it too.

Overall, as I say Christmas at Thornton Hall is written well and on paper it has everything you need – intricate plot, handsome male heroes, happy endings – it just wasn’t for me.

Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman is available now.

Christmas at Thornton Hall

Synopsis

When Leah Harvey catches her fiancé Doug having sex with her bridesmaid the day before the wedding she flees in anger. Things continue to go pear shaped when the car she steals (from her now ex-fiancé) breaks down. In the middle of rural Scotland. During a freak blizzard. Whilst she is still wearing her wedding dress and heels. Deciding that there is no other option but to walk to the light flickering in the distance, Leah braves the storm and heads towards a lonely cottage in the middle of a field.

In said cottage is Rob, American but from Italian descent, he has come to Scotland for the chance to be alone. To wallow in self pity. To drink himself silly on whisky and hide away from all the Christmas cheer. That is until a half frozen bride turns up on his doorstep, passes out and ultimately turns his world upside down.

Review

Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson has to be classed as one of the better Christmas based novels that I have read as part of my #Festive Feature. This is not to say that the others were not good, some of them were brilliant but Cold Feet at Christmas just had so much warmth and heart to its story.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with Rob and Leah. However, as much as I loved them I wanted to bang their heads together for both being so similar, so stubborn and so damn argumentative. Yet this is what is great about this romance novel. The build up to their union was so delicious. We can see how much they are meant to be together; their sexual trysts provided the proof of that but like all good writers Debbie Johnson left us wanting more with each chapter until the tension reached its sparkling crescendo.

This book did truly leave me satisfied as a reader of the romance genre. I finished reading it feeling the frisson of magic, the warm and fuzzies through the love and with a smile on my face that comes with the comforting knowledge that the writer hasn’t left you with anything ambiguous to darken your day.

Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson is available now.

You can follow Debbie Johnson (@debbiemjohnson) on Twitter.

Cold Feet at Christmas