Happy New Year!

2017 is drawing to a close and I'd just like to wish a massive HAPPY NEW YEAR to all the readers, writers and fellow bloggers out there! It really has been a fantastic year filled with so many new books and authors, and 2018 is already looking set to be a good one!

Hope everyone has a wonderful night - see you next year!

DEBUT ALERT: Trying by Emily Phillips

Trying is the upcoming novel by Emily Phillips, features director at Grazia magazine. The debut novel focuses on a couple whose dreams of having a family are not going to plan.

Trying will be out in January.

Olivia and Felix are trying for a baby. They even moved to the suburbs in anticipation of their future family. But despite approaching her cycle and their sex life with military precision, there's still no sign of what felt like the sure next step, whilst friends' broods seem to be growing by the week. Meanwhile, vying for a promotion at work under the (very attentive) watch of a new boss sends Olivia down a dangerous road of risking it all. Does a happy ever after, she starts to question, even have to include a baby?

BOOK REVIEW: The Christmas Holiday by Maxine Morrey

With Christmas just around the corner, it's the perfect time for a festive read or two (check out the SH Christmas selections here and here!) I fell for the cover of Maxine Morrey's new novel The Christmas Holiday as soon as I saw it, so it was instantly on my to-read list.

Journalist Mia Walker is stuck covering the weddings section, but she dreams of becoming a travel writer, jetting off to sunny locations around the world. However, every writer at her publication dreams of landing the coveted travel spot! But when her boss asks her to cover an assignment - a round-the-world trip to cover his daughter's lavish wedding - Mia jumps at the opportunity.

But there's a downside. The photographer is sent to accompany her on the trip is none other than super-successful adventurer Hunter Scott, who's also incredibly attractive. Oh, and he's also Mia's ex.

Even though Mia called off the engagement years previously, seeing Hunter again is no doubt going to be awkward. Especially as they're going to be working closely together on the wedding story. Soon Mia's questioning her previous decisions. Writing a good article may result in her winning the job of her dreams, so she'll have to stay professional, despite the mixture of feelings for Hunter. Can she put her feelings aside as she travels from country to country with her ex-boyfriend?

The Christmas Holiday is a light, fun, romantic read. It's different from a lot of current Christmas releases as it's less of a cosy fireside read and focuses on a round-the-world adventure, which I enjoyed. But there's definitely some Christmas magic.

Granted, it was a bit predictable, and I did find Mia quite hard to like at first, mainly due to the constant arguing with Hunter at the beginning. It just felt quite forced, and a little confusing as it wasn't specified why Mia had broken up with Hunter until later on in the novel. That said, it's still a fab read for Christmas, wherever you might be spending it!

As well as The Christmas Holiday, Maxine is also the author of The Christmas Project, Winter's Fairytale and The Best Little Christmas Shop, so do check out her other novels if you're looking for a romantic festive fix!

Rating: 4/5

Thank you to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

PICKS: Five more festive reads!

The countdown for Christmas has already begun, and with only a week until the festivities, it's the perfect time to relax after the shopping and preparations with a good Christmassy read!

If you haven't seen part one of the Christmas Picks already, check it out for a selection of five novels to get you in the festive spirit. And here are five more, from authors including Carole Matthews and Holly Martin. Grab a mulled wine, get cosy, and curl up with one of these winter tales.

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Carole Matthews
Fay and Danny are madly in love and it's all Fay's ever dreamed of. But she left everything - including the delightful cake shop she used to run - to be with Danny on his cosy canal boat The Dreamcatcher. And as she soon finds out, making delicious cakes on the water isn't always smooth sailing!

Then Fay gets a call from her friends, a call that sends her back to her friends and the Cake Shop in the Garden. It will be hard being away from Danny but their relationship is strong enough to survive...isn't it?

Fay soon falls happily back in love with her passion for baking - especially now she's on dry land again! - and starts to wonder if she ever should have left. With Christmas around the corner, Fay is determined that her friends will have a very merry time, but does that mean even more time away from Danny?

Christmas at the Log-Fire Cabin by Catherine Ferguson
When Poppy’s boyfriend Harrison proposes the week before Christmas and gives her twelve days to decide, she doesn’t know what to do. With the festive season in full swing, it’s make or break time for the couple and the clock is ticking…

Meanwhile, Poppy’s best friend Erin is desperate for the pair of them to fulfil their dream of setting up a dinner party catering company – and when an opportunity arises at a luxury log fire cabin, the girls take their chance to impress. But they hadn’t bargained on the owner of the cabin being quite so attractive – or having quite such a sexy voice.

As the twelve days tick on, will Poppy realise that Harrison is the one for her? Or will it be love in the lodge when the new year comes?

Christmas at Mistletoe Cove by Holly Martin
Christmas has arrived at Hope Island, promising snowflakes, surprises and plenty of seasonal joy. So snuggle up and fall in love at Mistletoe Cove...

Growing up on Hope Island, Eden Lancaster always believed that if you wished hard enough for something, dreams really could come true. But Eden’s greatest wish is also her biggest secret: she has been completely in love with her childhood friend, the charming and attractive Dougie Harrison, for as long as she can remember. And he has no idea.

When Dougie leaves his successful life in New York to return home to Hope Island for good, Eden can’t escape her feelings. Her heart is full of hope that her romantic dreams are finally, at long last, going to come true…

This Christmas could change everything. But can a lifelong friendship really turn into the perfect romance? And will Eden get the happily ever after she’s always wished for?

Covent Garden in the Snow by Jules Wake
Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!

But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it's not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…

Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it's a match made in hell.

And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancĂ© isn’t at all what he seems, it's Marcus who's there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on … He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.

We'll Always Have Christmas by Jenny Hale
Christmas has always been a special time for Noelle Parker. Winter evenings spent with family and friends, drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies at her family’s cozy bakery have shaped her love for all things festive. But this year everything is changing…

The beloved bakery is facing closure and Noelle needs a miracle to save Christmas.

Determined to raise funds for the family business, Noelle sets about revamping the bakery while juggling a surprise new job, caring for the elderly and cantankerous William Harrington in his luxurious, sprawling mansion.

As Noelle melts the frostiness of the house with cake baking, snowball fights and glittering decorations, she helps William to reconnect with a romance that has spanned decades and unexpectedly finds herself falling for his grandson - the gorgeous but mysterious Alexander Harrington…

In the countdown to Christmas, can Noelle save the bakery, reunite a family and create some magical memories of her own along the way?

BOOK REVIEW: Did I Mention I Won the Lottery? by Julie Butterfield

I came across Did I Mention I Won the Lottery? by Julie Butterfield on Amazon. The title intrigued me; lottery stories often do. It's a question we've all asked ourselves at some point, isn't it? If you won the lottery, what would you do? What would you spend it on? Where would you go?

And just who would you tell?

For Rebecca Miles, her normal life is about to be changed forever when she scoops 15.7 million pounds on the lottery. 15.7 million pounds! It's a dream come true - all that money, and it's all hers. It's enough to change her life, and that of her husband Daniel. That is, once she tells him...

Despite living comfortably in terms of wealth, Rebecca's life hasn't exactly been dreamy. Even though she enjoys working part-time at the deli with her two great friends, each night she returns home to grumpy rants from Daniel; a condescending, over-confident salesman who acts as though the world owes him a favour. After years of clearing up after him, Rebecca has seemingly settled into a routine of servitude, a far cry from one half of the happy couple they were years before, when their children were younger.

Just days after scooping her big win, Rebecca has already treated herself to a gorgeous new house in her home city, luxury hotel stays, a new car and a brand new wardrobe. The problem? She still hasn't told Daniel. Continuously telling herself she'll do it soon, she finds herself putting it off day after day. Soon she's leading a secret double life - as Daniel's downtrodden wife half the week, and escaping to her other existence as a designer-clad millionaire in her mansion as soon as her husband leaves for his golf trips.

And as time passes, Rebecca finds it harder and harder to break the news to Daniel. Especially when a possible new venture comes her way, one that could help both Rebecca and her mother. But it's only a matter of time before the secret's out...

I really enjoyed this book, and I liked Rebecca. At first, she seemed very weak, giving in to Daniel's every whim, having given up on arguing years before. But she also reveals herself as strong, sensible and extremely kind-hearted, and this journey was one of the elements I loved best about this novel. I would love to go into more detail here, and admittedly I did write a more lengthy review until I realised I'd be giving a lot of the ending away. So I'm going to stop right here.

One thing I love about lottery stories is that there are so many possibilities. The story can go in many, many directions. Money can change a person, sometimes for better, sometimes for worse, and I always love finding out how the author has explored these ideas. Julie Butterfield has done this wonderfully, and I'm looking forward to reading her second book.

Rating: 5/5