Father Christmas and Me (Christmas #3)

Father Christmas and Me (Christmas Series, #3)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Christmas

Synopsis:

It isn’t always easy, growing up as a human in Elfhelm, even if your adoptive parents are the newly married Father Christmas and Mary Christmas.

For one thing, Elf School can be annoying when you have to sing Christmas songs everyday – even in July – and when you fail all your toy-making tests. Also it can get very, very cold.

But when the jealous Easter Bunny and his rabbit army launch an attack to stop Christmas, it’s up to Amelia, her new family and the elves to keep Christmas alive. Before it’s too late…

Thoughts:

I am super pleased that I had the idea of binge-reading Matt Haig’s Christmas series. I have been absolutely loving it. Before reading this series, I knew Matt Haig was a wonderful writer but this has fully cemented that fact for me. Someone that can write so well for children AND adults is pretty impressive in my eyes. Gushing over with, let’s move on with the review.

Father Christmas and Me centres around Amelia, Father Christmas and Mary (yes Mary, Mary Christmas!) Amelia is living in Elfhelm with Father Christmas and Mary. She’s finding it hard to adapt to life in Elfhelm though. School is different, she looks incredibly different and the weather is always cold. She also becomes a target of a local newspaper and a horrible elf named Father Vogol. Father Vogol is determined to get Amelia out of Elfham. Added to that, the Easter Bunny is feeling pretty resentful… he’ll do anything to spoil Christmas and with Father Vogol on his side, he might just do it!

I absolutely loved this final instalment in the trilogy. Amelia is such a strong character. She’s had a hard life but is still incredibly resilient and is determined to fight evil and save Christmas again. There’s so much to be enjoyed in this action packed tale. It’s very clever and captivating.

I’m going to miss the wonderful characters in this trilogy who I have definitely loved all the way through. I think Amelia is a great character for young people to look up to. Father and Mary Christmas are so wonderfully loving. I absolutely adore The Truth Pixie. Father Vogol is so fun to dislike too. I highly recommend this series, if you’re looking for a fun, engaging, festive read then this trilogy could be for you.

Look out for my review of The Truth Pixie on Monday. I couldn’t resist getting it!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

An incredibly heart-warming trilogy!

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A Boy Called Christmas (Christmas #1)

A Boy Called Christmas

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?

Good.

Then let us begin . . .

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and an eleven-year-old boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.

Thoughts:

I promised myself that I’d binge read Matt Haig’s Christmas trilogy and that is exactly what I have done. Throughout this week, my reviews will be published on this wonderfully charming middle grade series.

A Boy Called Christmas is all about how Father Christmas became Father Christmas. It explores how a human ends up living with elves and how presents began to be delivered to every child across the world on Christmas Eve. It follows Nikolas as he travels through Finland to find his father who has gone on a quest to find a real Elf for the King. The story starts with Nikolas and his father who live in a small cottage. They don’t have much money and life can be a struggle at times. However, overall Nikolas is happy. When his father goes on the quest to find the Elf (and give them some much needed money) he is left alone with his terrible Aunt. Nikolas ends up leaving home to find his father. He isn’t aware that this trip is going to change his life forever.

Nikolas is such a fantastic character. I loved that his life wasn’t easy. Sometimes children’s books don’t focus or dwell on sad moments which is totally understandable. However, I think Nikolas and his struggles made him utterly relatable. He was a character that you instantly rooted for.

I knew that I’d love Matt Haig’s writing because I’ve read quite a few of his books. I didn’t expect it to be as charming as it was though. I loved how magical the story was. I don’t read a lot of Christmas books, but this one really did steal my heart. It had such a sweet message about being good to everyone and passing that goodness on. Certainly not a bad message for any time of year!

This book didn’t take me long to read at all. It’s so easy to read. The reader experiences many emotions as they discover how Nikolas became Father Christmas.

Look out for my review on Thursday of the second book in the series The Girl Who Saved Christmas. 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A very charming Christmas read! The series gets better as it goes on, so look out for my review later in the week!

Missing Pieces

Missing Pieces

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

What if the one thing that kept you together was breaking you apart?

All Linda wants to do is sleep. She won’t look at her husband. She can’t stand her daughter. And she doesn’t want to have this baby. Having this baby means moving on, and she just wants to go back to before. Before their family was torn apart, before the blame was placed.

Alienated by their own guilt and struggling to cope, the Sadler family unravels. They grow up, grow apart, never talking about their terrible secret.

That is until Linda’s daughter finds out she’s pregnant. Before she brings another Sadler into the world, Bea needs to know what happened twenty-five years ago. What did they keep from her? What happened that couldn’t be fixed?

Thoughts:

I had heard fabulous things Missing Pieces so I was super excited to read it in-between my commitments with my blogger sister, Bibliobeth this month. It’s a short book at under 300 pages, but each moment was jam packed, yet it never felt too much. I am so impressed that this book is Laura Pearson’s debut, I think she is a very promising writer!

Missing Pieces is a story about a family that used to be super happy, until the loss of their youngest child. It only took a short time for the tragedy to occur. An elderly neighbour needed help, so the two children were left alone for a short time. In that time, the youngest child died and Sadler’s families lives turned absolutely upside down.

Understandably, the guilt and the grief affects everyone in different ways. Linda blames her daughter for not looking after her sister properly. Linda’s youngest daughter Phoebe, was clearly her favourite. She can’t look at her husband as he should have been home. With the discovery that Linda is pregnant, she really doesn’t want another child. She wants Phoebe back. Terrible events occur which I don’t want to spoil. It’s one you really don’t want to know about before reading the book, but trust me it is highly emotional.

The second part of the story is centred around when the new baby is grown up. She’s named Bea and is pregnant herself. Bea wants to know exactly what happened to the sister she never knew. What is being kept from her?

I really did think this was an incredible story. It was emotional, but wonderful at the same time. It centres around how it can take a long time for you to forgive yourself and for some they never can. It’s about love, forgiveness, family and learning to move on despite events in the past.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thought this was a fantastic debut novel. I look forward to what Laura Pearson writes next!

Anatomy Of A Scandal

Anatomy of a Scandal

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

You want to believe your husband. She wants to destroy him.

Anatomy of a Scandal centres on a high-profile marriage that begins to unravel when the husband is accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is sure her husband, James, is innocent and desperately hopes to protect her precious family from the lies which might ruin them. Kate is the barrister who will prosecute the case – she is equally certain that James is guilty and determined he will pay for his crimes.

A high-profile marriage thrust into the spotlight. A wife, determined to keep her family safe, must face a prosecutor who believes justice has been a long time coming. A scandal that will rock Westminster. And the women caught at the heart of it.

Thoughts:

I have heard so many wonderful things about Anatomy Of A Scandal from fellow bloggers and my sister, Beth overt at Bibliobeth. I’m glad that I found time to read it because I thoroughly enjoyed diving into the story. It’s a mixture of genres. It’s very much contemporary but it also has some mystery/crime vibes within it. I was gripped by the story early on and didn’t really take long to read it at all.

Anatomy Of A Scandal centres around Sophie and her husband James. James is a politician and is close to the Prime Minister. Sophie and James have a history, they met at Oxford University and then reconnected later in life. Their relationship hasn’t been plain sailing but Sophie believes it is strong enough to not be torn apart. However, James is accused of a crime and their marriage is completely rocked. Sophie stands by her husband but as more details come to light, Sophie begins to question what really is the truth. We also hear from Kate’s perspective. Kate is prosecuting Jame’s case and is determined that the truth comes out.

I don’t usually enjoy books that jump across timelines. This book does that, but it does it pretty much flawlessly. I didn’t feel confused at any moment. I was intrigued to see where the story was going to go. I have to say, James doesn’t come across as a very likeable character, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment. I wanted him to get his comeuppance. As a whole, character development is incredibly strong in this novel. I particularly liked Kate. I wanted her to be successful.

This book is so relevant for current times when how sexual abuse/rape claims are dealt with are very much prominent. I hate the phrase ‘asking for it’, it really makes my skin crawl. I really hope things start to change and justice is served for those that have suffered.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful book, sadly, so relevant for current times!

Talking About ‘The Innocent Wife’ with Bibliobeth!

The Innocent Wife

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Twenty years ago, Dennis Danson was arrested and imprisoned for the brutal murder of a young girl in Florida’s Red River County. Now he’s the subject of a true-crime documentary that’s whipping up a frenzy online to uncover the truth and free a man who has been wrongly convicted.

A thousand miles away in England, Samantha is obsessed with Dennis’s case. She exchanges letters with him, and is quickly won over by his apparent charm and kindness to her. Soon she has left her old life behind to marry him and campaign for his release.

But when the campaign is successful and Dennis is freed, Sam begins to discover new details that suggest he may not be quite so innocent after all.

But how do you confront your husband when you don’t want to know the truth?

CHRISSI: What were your expectations for this book? Did it live up to them?

BETH: I didn’t really have any expectations to be honest! I’ve read quite a lot of either psychological or domestic thrillers recently so I was hoping (as I always do with this genre) that it would be something a bit unique and would keep me engaged throughout. First of all, I did think this novel had a really interesting premise, especially in the beginning when Samantha is writing to Dennis in prison but unfortunately, I don’t really feel that it hooked me in the way I wanted to be hooked. It’s a quick, easy read but I didn’t really connect to any of the characters.

BETH: How do you think this novel compares to other books in the genre?

CHRISSI: Sadly, I don’t think this book stands out in its genre. It has brilliant moments, but I was left a little underwhelmed by the story. It didn’t grip me right from the start which I usually expect from books in this genre. For me, it was an okay read but I don’t think I would remember it months on when I read so widely in the genre.

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?

BETH: I’m afraid so. It was pretty obvious to me from the start what was going to happen in Samantha and Dennis’ relationship and how it would then develop as they got to know each other a bit better. Sadly, I did anticipate the slight twists and turns in the narrative so I was never surprised or shocked about the direction the story took.

BETH: Did you find Samantha relatable? What advice would you give her if you were her friend?

CHRISSI: I personally didn’t relate to her. I think she’ll be relatable to many in a way because so many people have dysfunctional relationships and that’s certainly what Samantha’s relationship is like with Dennis! If I was Samantha’s friend I think I’d encourage her to seriously think about the company she kept!

CHRISSI: Was the relationship between Samantha and Dennis plausible?

BETH: Not for me, I’m afraid to say. I can understand that Samantha had insecurities and vulnerabilities and she became quite carried away with the idea of a relationship with Dennis but I think the reality of what that relationship was going to be like hadn’t really dawned on her until she was trapped in that situation. However, I didn’t quite understand why when she had initial misgivings about the relationship she didn’t use that opportunity to remove herself and that was slightly frustrating. I guess it wouldn’t have made a good story if she had, right?! Personally, I’m not very good at suspending my disbelief and although the author has artistic license to do whatever she wants to do with her own narrative, I couldn’t find it believable enough to become invested in the relationship of her characters.

BETH: What did you think of the ending? Were you surprised/satisfied?

CHRISSI: I was a little disappointed by the ending. I don’t really want to spoil it, so I can’t say too much, but I wasn’t satisfied. I felt like it was incredibly rushed. I was left with some questions and found myself re-reading it to try and get my head around it. In my opinion, that’s not a sign of a great ending.

CHRISSI: At which point in the book were you the most engaged?

BETH: There were several points where I was quite intrigued. Firstly, the beginning where Samantha was first communicating with Dennis and the story had the potential to go in any direction. Secondly, where she first meets Dennis at the prison and I was curious to read about their initial reactions on meeting and communicating with each other and lastly, the ending which was quite fast-paced until the eventual climax.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: It would depend on the plot. I think the premise of this book was interesting, it just wasn’t an amazing read for me!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Yes!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Five Years From Now

Five Years From Now

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Nell and Van meet as children when their parents fall in love, but soon they are forced worlds apart.

Five years later, they find each other.  Their bond is rekindled and new feelings take hold, but once again they must separate.
 
For the next two decades, fate brings Nell and Van together every five years, as life and circumstance continue to divide them. Will they ever find true happiness? And will it be together?
 
‘One day, maybe five years from now, you’ll look back and understand why this happened…’

Thoughts:

As you might see from my previously reviewed by the same author section, I’m quite the fan of Paige Toon. I love her books because they’re not your typical chick-lit. There’s usually quite some depth involved within the story and that’s something that I really appreciate. Paige’s recent release did not let me down!

Five Years From Now centres around Nell and Vian. Their birthdays are two days apart. They first meet at 5 years old when family circumstances bring them together. After some resistance at first, they really start to get on with one another. Their friendship is so pure and beautiful to read about. Later on, at the age of 10 Nell and Vian get separated from one another. They end up living on opposite sides of the world, but still keeping contact with one another. Eventually they begin to develop feelings for one another, but their lives take different turns along the way. Through the story, we meet them every five years and see what has happened in their lives.

Something I really love about Paige Toon is that she doesn’t give her characters an easy ride. Both Nell and Vian have major things happening to them. It certainly isn’t an easy ride for them. I like the idea of the future helping you to reflect on the past. It is true, sometimes moments feel huge in the present moment but with some moments, your past can make sense years on.

The ending was not what I wanted, but I really do think it took some guts to write it the way that Paige did. I don’t want to spoil what happened, but if you have read this book, I’d be really intrigued to know if you liked the ending?

This book solidifies why I enjoy Paige Toon’s writing so much. It’s much more than your average chick-lit so please don’t be put off by the cover!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Another wonderful read from Paige Toon. I love her books!

Open Your Eyes

Open Your Eyes

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Haven’t we all wanted to pretend everything is fine?

Jane doesn’t like confrontation. Given the choice, she’d prefer to focus on what’s going well, the good things in life.

But when her husband, Leon, is brutally attacked in the driveway of their home, in front of their two young children, Jane has to face reality. As he lies in a coma, Jane must open her eyes to the problems in her life, and the secrets that have been kept from her, if she’s to find out who hurt her husband – and why.

Maybe it’s time to face up to it all. Who knows what you might find . . .

Thoughts:

As you can see by my previously reviewed section above, I’m quite a fan of Paula Daly’s books. I read her debut novel as an ARC and since then I’ve been a fan. I love Paula’s writing style and I always know I’m in for a decent read when I pick up one of Paula’s books. Fangirling aside, I genuinely did enjoy this book. It didn’t take me long to read at all and it was definitely worth the wait! (Lots of books got in the way of me reading what I wanted to read!)

Open Your Eyes is a real page turner. It starts with Jane and Leon having a bit of an argument after Leon doesn’t want to visit his parents for his birthday. Leon, a semi-famous author, is violently attacked with a nail gun. He suffers a brain injury. Jane, an aspiring writer, has to pick up the pieces and is left wondering who on earth would have something against her husband. It might seem like this plot has been done before, but it did take some twists and turns along the way.

I found myself questioning quite a few characters along the way. I did manage to work out who had done it by the end, but Paula Daly did throw some curveballs along the way which I absolutely love. She really does have such an engaging writing style. It always pulls me in and takes me on quite the ride. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Paula Daly does it again! A wonderful thriller.