Book Review: One New York Christmas by Mandy Baggot #BookReview #OneNewYorkChristmas #Christmas #Chicklit

Title: One New York Christmas
Author: Mandy Baggot
Publisher: Ebury, Penguin Random House UK
Date: November 15th, 2018
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisherr for a review

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Will this Christmas romance be just for the holidays?

A fun, festive romantic comedy to curl up with this winter. If you love Josie Silver’s One Day in December, you’ll love Mandy Baggot’s heart-warming festive romance.

Lara Weeks is heading to New York with best friend Susie for the Christmas trip of a lifetime.

festive break in the snowy Big Apple visiting the tourist hotspots, not to mention the shopping, seems like the perfect way for Lara to get over her ex-boyfriend. Or maybe make him so jealous he begs for a second chance.

Enlisting the help of gorgeous actor, Seth Hunt, doesn’t quite go to plan, but there’s something about him that has Lara wishing for a different kind of happy ever after

Review:

One New York Christmas is the second christmassy book written by Mandy Baggot that I have read, and I can officially say that her festive novels are must have during winter.
I loved the previous one (One Christmas in Paris) and I adored this one too.

The story follows Lara who spends her holidays in New York, trying to heal her broken heart.
On the other side there is Seth, a good looking actor with a kind heart, who tries his best to succeed in the acting career, and make his parents proud of him.

At first, I thought this will be a romantic, funny story, and it was, but it was also so much more.
The story explores some complex topics like adoption and unknownness of one’s own origin.
Then, it also talks about being homeless and how there are more then few reasons how one can end up on the streets, even when he’s trying to do something with his life.

The story also talks about family, friendships and human relationships, and it well inquires those aspects.

But at the same time, while talking about such serious subjects, it manages to entertain readers, make them laugh, relax then and put them into Christmas Spirit.

I liked almost all the characters, Seth and Lara, their best friends and their family members. There are only few “unlikeable” characters, which were ment to be “bad guys” of the story, but I didn’t mind them.

However, I have to stress out that one character I admired the most was New York itself.
Yes, you’ve read it right! Mandy Baggot described that city and it’s atmosphere during December so well, that it got his own role in the story, and I as a reader couldn’t forget that we were in New York.
That, my friends, is what I call amazing writing ability!

I loved almost everything about this story, but there is one (probably not that important) thing that made me feel a bit uncomfortable, and I will tell you what it is, because I’m always honest in my reviews. However, I think most people wouldn’t even notice that thing.
I didn’t like how Lara called her brother Aldo, who is adopted, her “almost-brother”. It happened 12 times in the story, and it made me feel like she was trying to separate herself from him, like stressing out that he was not her brother by blood was so important, she had to call him almost-brother instead just calling him brother instead?
I don’t know, we have one adopted family member (my father’s cousin) and I can imagine if his sister was calling him almost-brother it would hurt his feelings. It would make him feel like he wasn’t genuine part of the family, and it would be wrong.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading One New York Christmas and I would recommend it to everyone who enjoys festive chick lits and Christmas stories.

I can’t wait to see what other books Mandy Bagott has written/will write because this author is definitely on my tbr!

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Book Review: One Day in December by Josie Silver #OneDayInDecember #BookReview #Christmas

Title: One Day in December
Author: Josie Silver
Publisher: Penguin
Date: October 18th, 2018
Pages: 417
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

Synopsis (from Goodreads): A love story about what happens after you meet, or rather, don’t meet the one.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

Review:

Warning: This book talks about love at first sight.

Pure and simple: I loved this book.

…and to be honest with you, it took me by surprise how much I loved it. It was a perfect book to read, with beautiful writing and fascinating story with feels that gave me shivers.

The story follows Laurie who, one day in December, sees a boy and falls in love. They didn’t talk, she knows nothing about him, but the chemistry and the connection they had by just looking at each other is too strong to forget.
She spends a year dreaming about that boy, trying to find him and believing they were made for each other.
One day, a year later, she happens to meet him, but as her best friend’s boyfriend.
Laurie keeps her secret with her because she doesn’t want to ruin her friendship with Sarah. However, erasing Jack from her heart is not an easy task.

Going into this book I thought it’ll be a quick, easy read. Boy, was I wrong!
I mean, reading this book was pure pleasure, but it was not a light read.
It talks about love, life and human relationships, and if you ask me, it stands somewhere on the edge between women’s fiction and general fiction.

We follow our characters during a decade and we see what they went through during that period of time.

This is pitched as a love story, and it is a love story, but it doesn’t talk only about romantic love.
It talks about different shapes of love: platonic love, love between lovers, friends, parents and children.

It also talks about grief, falling apart, life taking you different directions, marriage and human interactions.

The writing style is beautiful. Some scenes were so emotional and it takes talent to engage readers in a way Silver did.

The story is written in first person, following two POVs: Laurie’s and Jack’s.

The Christmas setting is captured excellently and the novel really gives you that festive vibe, even if the story itself doesn’t take time only during Christmas.

The only thing I wish for is an epilogue. I loved how the story ended, but I think with two, three pages more that talk about some time later it would be even better.

I loved this book so much more then I thought I would. It is now one of my favorite Christmas stories, if not even my favorite, and I would recommend it to everyone who believes (or want to believe) in love at first sight, likes to read about friendships and life twists and turns.

It’s a brilliant piece of fiction.

Book Review: Give the Dark My Love by Beth Revis @PHRGlobal #partner #GiveTheDarkMyLove #BookReview

Title: Give the Dark My Love
Author: Beth Revis
Series: Give the Dark My Love (#1)
Publisher: Razorbill, Penguin
Date: September 25th, 2018
Pages: 368
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): When seventeen-year-old Nedra Brysstain leaves her home in the rural, northern territories of Lunar Island to attend the prestigious Yugen Academy, she has only one goal in mind: learn the trade of medicinal alchemy. A scholarship student matriculating with the children of Lunar Island’s wealthiest and most powerful families, Nedra doesn’t quite fit in with the other kids at Yugen, who all look down on her.

All, except for Greggori “Grey” Astor. Grey is immediately taken by the brilliant and stubborn Nedra, who he notices is especially invested in her studies. And that’s for a good reason: a deadly plague has been sweeping through the North, and it’s making its way toward the cities. With her family’s life–and the lives of all of Lunar Island’s citizens–on the line, Nedra is determined to find a cure for the plague.

Grey and Nedra continue to grow closer, but as the sickness spreads and the body count rises, Nedra becomes desperate to find a cure. Soon, she finds herself diving into alchemy’s most dangerous corners–and when she turns to the most forbidden practice of all, necromancy, even Grey might not be able to pull her from the darkness.

Review:

Trigger warning: this book contains graphic surgical operation scenes, talks about deathly disease and also has some scenes with animal cruelty.

 

Give the Dark My Love was one of my most anticipated books this year. 
In all honesty, the first thing that appealed to me was this gorgeous cover, then the synopsis.

This was my first time consciously reading an anti-hero story, and God I loved it so much!
I’ve heard before from many readers how anti-heroes stories are the best ones, but I guess it takes one to read until he’s proven right!

I’ll tell you this, and I mean it wholeheartedly: Give the Dark My Love is one of the best (if not even the best) books I read this year and it will surely be in my top 10 books I read in 2018.
I loved so many things about it, and I am on a mission to tell you everything, so you’d pick it up and hopefully love it as much as I did.

First of all, character development: I loved, loved, loved how the characters we met at the beginning of the story were totally different persons at the end.
There is nothing that I love more in my books then a good character development, and this novel has it at it’s best.

Second: It explores grief and human relationships on such a strong level that even though this world our characters live in is so different from ours, we still empathize with them, understand their feelings and grief with them.
This is fantasy, but still it feels real in a way.

Third: The world is unique, different, dark and gives you creeps. It is perfect for those who like dark fantasies, but it is also perfect as a pick for a spooky read, especially in this time of the year when everyone wants to have that Halloween feeling.

Fourth: Exploring alchemy and necromancy is very interesting in this book, that I even had a feeling I was learning something new.

Fifth: Political games also play part in the story, as one fantasy wouldn’t be complete without it.

Sixth: What kind of story set in high school would it be without little high school drama? Give the Dark My Love has little drama in it, but it is nothing too big and it has it’s reason, but it’s also entertaining at time.

And seventh and final: The writing style is sooooooo good, you will fly through this book and it will keep you interested from the start to the end.

Overall, I am so pleased I have read this book. I had so much fun reading it, but it also made me emotional and I can’t even tell you how many times I have said “OmG, this book is so good!” while reading it.
The start and the first half are pretty good, but the second half is what made this book exceptional!

I would recommend this book to lovers of dark fantasy, adult and young adult.
I would also recommend it to readers who would like to try to read fantasy and to those who like stories about anti-heroes.

I can’t wait for the second book to come out!

Book Review: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White @PHRGlobal #partner #BookReview

Title: The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
Author: Kiersten White
Publisher: Delacorte Press, Penguin
Date: September 25th, 2018
Pages: 304
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets . . . until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything–except a friend.

Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable–and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.

But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost . . . as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.

Review:

I think The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein was my most anticipated book of the year, when it comes to ya titles.
I do have to admit that I lack when it comes to that genre this year. I feel like so many books came out and after my blogging/reviewing slump that started last year and lasted until August this year, all I try to do is catch up, by trying to see/read what was popular and what still have to come out, I feel kinda lost. The struggle is real!

Reading this novel was a relaxing pleasure for me. This time I didn’t go blind into the book (I know, shocking!) and I liked it that way.
I have already watched/read other reviews so I kinda knew what to expect, but that didn’t ruin my reading experience. If anything, it made it even better.
Why?
Because I already expected a slow plot developing so it didn’t bother me.

The other reason why I wasn’t bored by the slow plot is that I knew this is a retelling of a classic, and most classics that I’ve read were pretty slow when it comes to plot developing and pace.

Character wise, this book was excellent.
Elizabeth was an amazing protagonist and I enjoyed reading her POV. I loved how everything she did was based on her purpose to survive in the best conditions possible.
I also liked side characters, but also Victor, who was likeable and mysterious.

The whole time I was reading I felt like the author was hiding something from readers, something important.
I didn’t understand why Elizabeth and Victor were connected on such a strong level, and I loved the feeling of the hidden mystery, of the atmosphere it created.

The writing style was great. This book reminded me how much I loved White’s writing in Paranormalcy.

Also, I chose the perfect time to read this book. Now when everything is in Halloween decorations and spooky books/movies are desirable, The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein came as the best option.

I would recommend this novel to lovers of retellings, spooky books and young adult genre.

Book Review: Somewhere Inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin

Title: Somewhere Inside of Happy
Author: Anna McPartlin
Publisher: Black Swan, Penguin Random House
Date: April 7th, 2016
Pages: 427
Format: Paperback
Source: Won in a giveaway

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Maisie Bean is a fighter. A survivor. Seventeen years ago, she went on a first date that went so badly it was enough to put the girl off chips. The marriage that followed was hell but it gave her two children: funny, caring Jeremy and bullish but brilliant Valerie.

Just as it seems everything might finally start going right, sixteen-year-old Jeremy goes missing. The police descend and a media storm swirls, over five days of searching that hurtle towards an inevitable, terrible conclusion.

Maisie is facing another fight, and this time it’s the fight of her life. But she’s a survivor. Whatever the odds, she’ll never give in.

Review:

I should have read synopsis before starting this book.
I always like to go blind into stories, read recommendations and judge books by their covers.
If you ask me how I decide what I’ll read next, I usually go with my instinct.
I always buy books based on the fact who wrote them and if someone from my goodreads friends or bloggers already reviewed it.
Rarely, if a book catches my eyes without me hearing about it before, I’ll read what it is about.

As you can guess by now, I didn’t know what Somewhere Inside of Happy is about.
I just hauled it and saw people really enjoyed it. One blogger who had the same taste as me said it was one of the best books she read in 2016, and that was enough for me.

I’m saying that I should have read the synopsis first not because I didn’t like it. No, that was not the case, because this book is beautiful in an exceptional way, but because I was in the mood for something light and fun, and this is anything but.

Somewhere inside of happy is one of the most important books I’ve read this year. It should have a huge impact on it’s readers and I hope it will reach everyone who’ll read it. 

It is not an easy book to read. However, I feel like everyone who’ll get a chance to read it, will be glad they did.

One thing I am not a fan of is how the message and everything that was important in this story is perceived as huge spoiler in company of smaller spoilers.

Therefore, I will warn you: After this sentence this review will be full of spoilers, so don’t read it if you don’t want to be spoiled!!

At the very beginning of the book, we already know that our main character Maisie had a son who died. We don’t know how or why, we just know it was violent (and if you ask me, his death was unfortunate, but I wouldn’t call it violent).

We follow the story of her family while her son was alive.

She lives with her mother who suffers from demantia (sometimes it was really hard to read about her situation), takes care of her, and she also had a son and a daughter.
Her husband who’s she separated with is nowhere near for some time now, and she can finally breath.

One day, her son doesn’t come back from the party, and we follow her and her family trying to find him.

The story takes place in Dublin.
I really enjoyed reading about that place, but all the time I had one big question mark over my head: Jeremy (her son) didn’t come to school on January 2nd. I was so confused, because I wondered do in Ireland schools really work in period between Christmas and January 6th.
I wouldn’t know because I don’t live there, but it is so close to New Year’s Eve…

This book contains some themes that readers should be warned about: violence and rape.

The story with it’s message reminded me of the movie Prays for Bobbie, only the movie is better.

Overall, I am glad I read this book and would really recommend it to everyone because I think it is really important to accept all the people, and I hope one day hate against everyone who’s different in anyway  will no longer exist.
That is the world I want to live in one day.

I would like to stress out that even though I am glad that I read this book and I think it is of huge importance, I didn’t click with the way it was presented.
I can’t figure out was it the writing style or just the story itself, or maybe even characters, but something was off, so therefore I can’t give it higher rating.

 

Book Review: An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena @PHRGlobal #partner

Title: An Unwanted Guest
Author: Shari Lapena
Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, Penguin
Date: August 7th, 2018
Pages: 290
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway . . . but when the storm hits, no one is getting away

It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing–maybe even romantic–weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge woodburning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery.

So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity–and all contact with the outside world–the guests settle in for the long haul.

Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead–it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic.

Within the snowed-in paradise, something–or someone–is picking off the guests one by one. And there’s nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm.

Review:

If you’re a fan of “Who done it” books, games or movies, you will probably love An Unwanted Guest.
I’d say it’s a typical “Who done it” story, but in reality, I wouldn’t know, because I rarely read that type of books.
Why? Honesty, the only reason that comes to my mind is that those books are just not popular enough, and therefore, it doesn’t even cross my mind to pick up one.

Thanks to Shari Lapena, I can proudly say I read one “Who done it” novel this year.
If you follow my reviews for a while now, maybe you know how much I enjoyed Lapena’s first novel The Couple Next Door. 
So… when I had a chance to read An Unwanted Guest, I grabbed it.

The story follows several characters (honestly, I can’t even tell you how many of them there were) who end up snowed in in a hotel for the weekend.
Early in the morning, they find a dead body of a woman who stayed in the hotel with them, and since no one can get out from the hotel, and no one can come in, it is obvious that one of them killed the victim.
Or was it someone else all along with them in a hotel, an unwanted guest?

First of all, this story reads fast as lightning. Trust me, I’m a slow reader, but I sped through the book. If an inspiration to write some reviews for my blog didn’t hit me, I’d probably finish it in one sitting.
However it took me 2 days to finish it (actually, 6 hours to be precise).

At first I was afraid I wouldn’t keep up with all the characters, since there was so many of them, but it was easy to tell them apart.
Not once did I mix them up.

The story itself is not as intense as I thought it would be, but it was interesting all the time.
I was really invested and wanted to know what will happen’ next chapter after chapter.
Short chapters also helped to hold my attention.

The end was not shocking, but it was unpredictable.
I didn’t guess the killer.
As for the very end, I can say I predicted it. However, I think most readers will be satisfied with it.

Book Review: The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas @PRHGlobal #partner

Title: The Cheerleaders
Author: Kara Thomas
Publisher: Penguin Random House Childern’s, Delacorte Press
Date: July 31st, 2018
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: from Publisher for a review

 

Synopsis (from Goodreads): There are no more cheerleaders in the town of Sunnybrook.

First there was the car accident—two girls gone after hitting a tree on a rainy night. Not long after, the murders happened. Those two girls were killed by the man next door. The police shot him, so no one will ever know why he did it. Monica’s sister was the last cheerleader to die. After her suicide, Sunnybrook High disbanded the cheer squad. No one wanted to be reminded of the girls they lost.

That was five years ago. Now the faculty and students at Sunnybrook High want to remember the lost cheerleaders. But for Monica, it’s not that easy. She just wants to forget. Only, Monica’s world is starting to unravel. There are the letters in her stepdad’s desk, an unearthed, years-old cell phone, a strange new friend at school. . . . Whatever happened five years ago isn’t over. Some people in town know more than they’re saying. And somehow Monica is at the center of it all.

There are no more cheerleaders in Sunnybrook, but that doesn’t mean anyone else is safe.

 

Review:

So… I went into The Cheerleaders with an expectation to get a story similar to I Know What You Did Last Summer or The Scream, but instead I got… something different.

I don’t know why I thought there will be a a killer chasing characters who’d fear for their lives, because that was not even promissed in the blurb. Anyway, because of my wrong expectations, the story for me was just… slow.

There was not much going on, but only discovering what had happened in the past.

However, don’t think this book is not good or interesting, because it is. It really is.

The story follows Monica who lives in a little town Sunnybrook. Five years ago, a huge tragedy hit the place. Five lives were lost. All five belonged to cheerleaders, one belonged to Monica’s sister Jen.
Monica is still hunted by questions and mystery around Jen’s death and she wants to find out what really happened.

This is my first time reading Kara Thomas‘ work and I really enjoyed her writing style. She was on my tbr for a while now, because I want to read her book The Darkest Corners since the day it came out, only I still didn’t have a chance.
Now when I read The Cheerleaders, I want to read it even more.

The story is written in two perspectives, one from Monica, written in first person, and second from Jen, written in third person.
I liked Monica’s chapters much more, but Jen’s were really important for the story.

This story touches some really important topics like statutory rape, suicide and abortion, but I wish more attention was paid to them. I feel like they were mentioned and that was that, the story moved on. I mean, their part of the story was huge, but they were almost… glossed over.

Since this is mystery, it’s purpose is to get readers involved, to get them try to figure out what happened before the end, and I feel like most readers will complete that mission successfully.
I had no problem figuring out the truth whatsoever.

Overall, The Cheerleaders is an entertaining ya novel that will capture readers until the very end.
I would recommend it to lovers of contemporary high school fiction.