book round-ups, Christmas books

Christmas-themed reading 2018

I’ll admit I haven’t managed to read as many Christmas-set books this year as I usually do.  This is mostly because the period in November when I usually start doing my Christmas-reading coincided with my last few weeks in Washington and my mad dash to read all the books that I’d got hold of there that I hadn’t been able to get hold of in the UK.  But I’ve still got some Christmas recommendations for you.

Campion at Christmas by Margery Allingham

Cover of Campion at Christmas

I realised when I was writing item that I haven’t really talked my about Albert Campion love nearly enough here.  If you’re looking at Golden Age Detective series, Albert is probably number five after Miss Marple, PoirotLord Peter Wimsey and Roderick Alleyn.  I started reading them when I lived in Essex – because Margery Allingham was from the county and the library system there had a huge stock of her books.  This is four short stories with a Christmas theme – two of which feature Albert at various points in his life.  It’s not a massively long read – but it’s new this Christmas and only £1.99 on Amazon or free if you have Kindle Unlimited (my copy came from NetGalley).

Lark! The Herald Angels Sing by Donna Andrew

Cover of Lark! The Herald Angels Sing

I feel like I’ve writen a lot about the Meg Langslow series this year (there’s been a BotW post as well as mentions in other roundup posts) but Donna Andrew consistently writes excellent festive installments to this series.  At the start of this Christmas’s book, Meg discovers a mystery baby has been abandoned in the manger midway through a rehearsal for the town nativity play.  The note left with the baby implies that Meg’s brother Rob is the father and when she attempts to track down the baby’s mother, it soon becomes apparent that this may be part of a bigger mystery.  And as well as all this, it seems like there may be a war brewing between Meg’s beloved Caerphilly county and their arch-nemeses in neighbouring Clay County.  What is so clever about this, is that although this is the 24th book in the series, Andrew has managed to keep mixing up her settings and mysteries enough that it doesn’t seem like Meg is a murder magnet.   And this is no exception to that.  It’s not cheap though – it’s brand new – and just under a tenner on Kindle, which is a lot I’ll admit and even more on Kobo.  But the good news is that the most of previous years’ Christmas Langslows are cheaper – at £3.85 on Kindle at time of writing.

Christmas with the Sheriff by Victoria James

Cover of Christmas with the Sheriff

Moving away from crime to romance – this is a novella featuring a bereaved heroine who returns to her home town for Christmas several years after the death of her husband and son and finds the man who helped her through her loss is still there waiting for her.  Chase is the town Sheriff and he’s had a thing for Julia ever since he first met her, but his best friend got there first.  He’s hoping that she might now be ready for a second chance at love.  I was worried this was going to be a bit too miserable, but it wasn’t – and I liked Julia and Chase’s developing relationship.  And Chase’s little girl is cute.  Free on Kindle and Kobo at the moment for everyone

Chasing Christmas Eve by Jill Shalvis

Cover of Chasing Christmas Eve

And it wouldn’t be a Christmas book list without one by Jill Shalvis.  This is last year’s one from her – in her Heartbreaker Bay series.  It follows tech genius Spence and Colbie who is a best selling author under her writing pseudonym.  Spence doesn’t think that he can have a long term relationship with anything except his work – he’s failed at it before.  Colbie is running away from the pressure of fame, of her publishing career and of her emotionally dependent family.  In the run up to Christmas in San Francisco the two of them stumble towards a discovery.  It’s flirty, it’s fun and Colbie and Spence are perfect for each other.  And it’s 99p on Kindle and Kobo at the moment – which makes it a bargain

What else am I reading this Christmas?  I’ve got another Jill Shalvis on the pile – this year’s Heartbreaker Bay Christmas novel, Hot Winter Nights, as well as Sarah Morgan’s The Christmas Sisters and I’m fairly sure there’s going to be at least one Christmas book I’ve forgotten about sitting on the bookshelf or the kindle.

Let me know what you’re reading this December in the comments!

Happy Reading and Merry Christmas!

books, Chick lit, new releases, reviews

Review: The Woman Who Stole My Life

I have a strange relationship with Marian Keyes books.  As a person, I love her on Twitter and I could watch her all day on Strictly It Takes Two or Bake Off Extra Slice.  But when it comes to her books, and when I read them, I enjoy them but there are some times I pick one up and just don’t fancy it.  I don’t know if it’s because as well as the humour she deals with Serious Issues – and I’m not always in the market for Proper Problems with my chick lit.*  She is massively, massively popular though – and I know this is a book which is going to be on a lot of Christmas lists this year.

The Woman Who Stole My Life is about Stella Sweeney – who tries to do a good deed and ends up a car crash, the fall out from which will change her life.  The novel jumps backwards and forwards between the now – and various points in the past which explain how she got there.

Now once again, this summary seems short and cryptic, but I’m trying hard not to give too much away because I really enjoyed not knowing all the twists and turns. I will admit that I sometimes found it hard to keep track of when we where we were in the story on occasions – but that may have been down to the formatting in the proof e-copy that I was lucky enough to receive.

One thing that I really wanted to mention was how much I love the title.  Who is the Woman Who Stole My Life ?  I’ve tried writing a sentence to explain what I mean six times – and each time it’s given away too much of the plot.  But trust me when I say when you read it, you’ll understand what I mean.

I think that this may be my favourite of Marian Keyes’ novels.  I like Stella – her voice reminds me of the tone that you get from Marian’s Twitter feed (@MarianKeyes if you don’t already follow her).  I occasionally wanted to give Stella a bit of a talking to, but most of the time I was totally rooting for her as she bounced back from a life-changing experience and tried to figure out what she wanted in life with the assistance (or otherwise) of her family and friends.

And having enjoyed this so much – despite there being some serious issues in there – it’s inspired me to go back and read some of the Keyes backlist that I’ve missed out on.  In fact I think that there may be a Walsh Family book in my library book bag waiting to be read.  Serendipity indeed.

The Woman Who Stole My Life feels like a winter book, something you can curl up on the sofa with and eat Jaffa cakes like there’s no tomorrow – just like Stella does although I give you fair warning that if you do, you may end up in “lady chinos” – just like Stella!

My copy came from Netgalley in return for an honest review, but I’m expecting The Woman Who Stole My Life to be front and centre on the displays and promotions in all the major shops, but if you want to buy online here are some links – for kindle, at Foyles, it’s on my shelves at My Independent Bookshop – where it’ll give some money to one of my local indies or you can buy it through Hive and give money to one of your local indies.

*As the regular reader will be aware, my aversion to Bad Things leads me towards the romance novels and cozy crime and away from Literary Fiction and Prize Winning books.