2018 Review and 2019 Goals

2018

2018 was a great year for me in terms of books, I read some great ones, I started this blog up, I joined a great blogging community, I took part in my first 24 hour readathon as well as a summer reading challenge and exceeded my reading challenge of 30 books.

Here is a list of the books that I read in 2018.

1.      Some Kind off Wonderful – Giovanna Fletcher

2.      Hygge and Kisses – Clara Christensen

3.      Wedding Night – Sophie Kinsella

4.      Happy – Fearne Cotton

5.      The Place We Met – Isabelle Broom

6.      Brain Freeze – Tom Fletcher

7.      Never Mind the Bullocks – Vanessa Able

8.      Every Note Played – Lisa Genova

9.      Her Mother’s Daughter – Alice Fitzgerald

10.  The Kicking the Bucket List – Cathy Hopkins

11.  The Love of a Lifetime – Melissa Hill

12.  The Art of Not Falling Apart – Christina Patterson

13.  Five Years From Now – Paige Toon

14.  Eve of Man – Giovanna and Tom Fletcher

15.  Love Will Tear Us Apart – Holly Seddon

16.  My Heart Goes Bang – Keris Stainton

17.  The Juniper Gin Joint – Lizzie Lovell

18.  The Secrets of Primrose Square – Claudia Carroll

19.  The Little Teashop of Lost and Found – Trisha Ashley

20.  Chasing the Sun – Katy Colins

21.  Wilde Like Me – Louisa Pentland

22.  Wilde About the Girl – Louise Pentland

23.  The Gatecrasher – Madeleine Wickham

24.  The Wedding Girl – Madeleine Wickham

25.  Dashing Through the Snow – Debbie Macomber

26.  Happier Thinking – Lana Grace Riva

27.  The House of Hopes and Dreams – Trisha Ashley

28.  The Lemon Tree Café – Cathy Bramley

29.  Happier at Home – Gretchen Rubin

30.  The Time of Our Lives – Jane Costello

31.  Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper – Debbie Johnson

32.  Meet Me at the Cupcake Café – Jenny Colgan

33.  Christmas at the Cupcake Café – Jenny Colgan

34.  When I Fall in Love – Miranda Dickinson

35.  Miracle on 5th Avenue – Sarah Morgan

36.  A Very Merry Christmas – Holly Martin

37.  Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirls at the Winter Wonderland

2019

 My 2019 reading goals are:

·         40 books

·         Complete Harry Potter readalong

·         Complete a 24 hour readathon

·         Try different genres

·         Take part in blog tours

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November Books

I have just sat down to write this month’s reviews feeling like I had a great reading month, it turns out I actually only completed one book. That being said I do, however, feel like I am coming out of my reading slump, which is only a good thing headed into Christmas and all the festive books available.

During November I also started another book, When I Fall in Love by Miranda Dickinson, which I am over halfway through. I am really enjoying this book and am looking forward to sharing the review with you next month.

The book I read in November was Christmas at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan. This followed on from the last book I had finished in October, Meet Me at the Cupcake Café and was just as enjoyable. Find a short review below.

My plan for December is to complete my current read and two other books. I hope to get the reviews of this up before we enter the New Year so that I can do a year review of books at the beginning of January as well as setting out my goals and challenges for 2019.

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Christmas at the Cupcake Café
Jenny Colgan

This book continues the story of Issy and Austin that we met in Meet Me at the Cupcake Café a year after we left them. The second instalment was just as good as the first with a load of Christmas spirit thrown in.

We see all the great characters return from the first book, Pearl, Louis, Caroline, Darny and Helena as well as the main characters Issy and Austin. Their lives have all moved on with a new set of challenges facing each of them.

I would imagine this book is more enjoyable if you have read the first of the Cupcake Café books, so would recommend doing that rather than reading this as a standalone. You get a much better sense of the characters from the first book and this one follows that story on.

Another book I have really enjoyed this year and has certainly helped me to start getting into the Christmas spirit.

October Books

During September I definitely lost my mojo and this impacted all aspects of my life including reading. October was a much better reading month, I certainly started to feel I was getting back on track, although not quite there yet. This month saw me complete four books, however, the reviews to these are not as in-depth as some have been previously. However, November may not be the month that things get completely on track here as I will be participating in National Novel Writing Month (I will be featuring a post about this soon).

The first book that I finished was Happier At Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchin Rubin. The review of this book I am going to post in a separate blog, as I feel there is much more I would like to talk about around this book.

The other books I completed over the month were; The Time of Our Lives by Jane Costello, Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson and Meet Me at the Cupcake Café by Jenny Colgan and a short review for each of them are included below.

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The Time of Our Lives
Jane Costello

This was a great summer read, however not the best book that I have read this year. Although there were moments of fun and the characters were great I also found that the book seemed too cliché that it made it quite repetitive and I am not sure I enjoyed that side of it. I am normally a fan of cliché, especially in a chick-lit but for me this time it didn’t work.

This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book at all. There were moments of hilarity and I really liked the main set of characters. As much as I enj4oyed reading it, it is not a book that I would be rushing back to, but I will be looking at reading more of Jane Costello’s novels.

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Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper
Debbie Johnson

I absolutely loved this book. Not only is the cover of this book adorable, so was the story inside, the perfect festive romance. Both of the leading characters, Maggie and Marco, were well-rounded characters and you were rooting for them from the beginning. Not only did I love the main characters in this story but also supporting the characters. This book was full of fun, festive cheer and romance. What more do you need on this cold, dark evenings?

After reading this I found that it follows on from Cold Feet at Christmas, I have not read this book and it didn’t stop me from following the story in this book. Now I know though I will be looking to read the first book and more of Debbie Johnson’s books.

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Meet Me at the Cupcake Café
Jenny Colgan

This was definitely my favourite book this month, I loved it. From the start it was full of warmth and I fell in love with Issy straight away. This book is full of great characters, Issy, Austin, Pearl, Louis and Helena, and they all play vital parts in the story of this book. The Cupcake Café, even through the pages of the book, was a warm and welcoming place and there were plenty of twists and turns in making sure it would remain that way. I smiled from the first page all the way through till the large. Recommended with a large cupcake for company.

Not only was this a great book, but it is also full of recipes, and I can’t wait to get baking. I have also started straight away the follow-on book Christmas at the Cupcake Café.

September Books

So I have been rubbish at this blogging thing since completing the Summer Reading Challenge. I have also not read anywhere near as much as normal. In September I only completed one book. Hopefully normal service will resume this month.

The book that I completed was The Lemon Tree Café by Cathy Bramley. This was another great read and near the top of my list of favourites that I have read so far this year. The full review will feature below. I also started another book during September, Happier At Home by Gretchen Rubin, the review for this book will feature in a separate post.

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The Lemon Tree Café
Cathy Bramley

The Lemon Tree Café was great and filled with so much warmth. This book makes you want to both go out and enjoy the sunshine and to cosy up with a blanket.

The inspiration for the café and the family links to Italy brings the sunshine and warmth to the book combined with the lovable characters especially that of the main character Rosie Featherstone and Nonna.

There are many twists and turns throughout the book, with an underlying love story as well as a strong sense of family.

This is the second Cathy Bramley book that I have read and I will definitely be reading more.

The House of Hopes and Dreams – Summer Reading Challenge Week 6

How is the 6 weeks over already?!

Over the 6 weeks I have read 9 books and completed my first 24 hour readathon. There are reviews for each of them in my previous posts as well as a post about my readathon experience.

I have finished the challenge reading a book by the same author as I did in week 1. This time it was The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley, which just like the first one I read was brilliant and I will be definitely be reading more of her work. A full review will be posted below.

Here is an overview of the books I read and the rating I gave them out of 5 stars.

• The Little Teashop of Lost and Found Trisha Ashley ꙳꙳꙳꙳꙳
• Chasing the Sun Katy Colins ꙳꙳꙳
• Wilde Like Me Louise Pentland ꙳꙳꙳꙳꙳
• Wilde About the Girl Louise Pentland ꙳꙳꙳꙳꙳
• The Wedding Girl Madeleine Wickham ꙳꙳
• The Gatecrasher Madeleine Wickham ꙳
• Dashing Through the Snow Debbie Macomber ꙳꙳꙳꙳
• Happier Thinking Lana Grace Riva ꙳꙳꙳꙳
• The House of Hopes and Dreams Trisha Ashley ꙳꙳꙳꙳꙳

I have really enjoyed taking part in this summer reading challenge and it has inspired me to not only start this blog but also to set myself some more reading challenges, the first will be another 24 hour readathon in October.

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The House of Hopes and Dreams
Trisha Ashley

In The House of Hopes and Dreams we meet Carey Revell who unexpectedly inherits Mossby, the Revell family home and Angel Arrowsmith a stained glass artist who has been living contentedly with her partner.

Both their lives are turned upside down and Carey comes to friend Angel’s rescue and they both move into the rundown Mossby where they set to restore the building but they continue to discover more secrets that the house holds.

This book is full of warmth, fantastic characters, twists and turns and a deep family secret to get to the bottom of.

As with other Trisha Ashley novels I have read, you get completely absorbed into the Angel and Carey’s stories as well as the legends that surrounds Mossby.

There are a host of supporting characters, some more involved than others, but they all bring another layer to the story.

Needless to say I loved it and will be reading more of Ashley’s novels.

Summer Reading Challenge Weeks 4 and 5

Weeks 4 and 5 of the summer reading challenge not only saw me read the books for each week but I also took part in my first 24 hour readathon. During week 4, before I took part in the readathon I read Wilde about the Girl by Louise Pentland, the second book in the ‘Wilde’ series. During week 5 I read two shorter books, the first was Dashing Through the Snow by Debbie Macomber and the second was a book I was sent by Lana Grace Riva about mental wellness Happier Thinking.

We are now on the final week of the summer challenge (where has the time gone!) and I am reading The House of Hopes and Dreams by Trisha Ashley having enjoyed one of her books in week 1 of the challenge.

Here are the reviews for the books that I have read in the two weeks.

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Wilde about the Girl
Louise Pentland

I enjoyed Wilde Like Me so much that I couldn’t wait to head straight back into Robin Wilde’s world with Wilde About The Girl and it didn’t disappoint, I would even say it was better than the first book.

In the second instalment we pick up where the first book left off with Robin seeming to have got her life together and things on an even keel. This book sees plenty of trials thrown Robin’s way with plenty of twists and turns along the way with plenty of fun and laughter thrown in to.

Like the first book this is full of strong female characters, Robin’s daughter, Lyla, Auntie Kath, Lacey, Natalie and the school mums and we are introduced to more great characters throughout this book.

I was absolutely hooked and didn’t want to put it down or for it to end! Louise has a great writing style which makes her books so easy to get absorbed into right from the beginning. You laugh, you cry and everything in between.

Louise has made Robin such a realistic character, that even though I am not a parent myself I can still completely relate to her, her struggle of dealing with and overcoming ‘The Emptiness’.

This book is just great and I really hope there will be a third instalment to Robin’s story.

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Dashing Through the Snow
Debbie Macomber

This was an easy-read short novel with a Christmas theme that had a fun lighthearted story to it.
The main characters Ashley and Dash are both fun and warm and their journey to Seattle from San Francisco is plagued with problems. However it is a fun journey for the reader to follow and has you laughing out loud in places.

There are some bits to the story that seem a bit far-fetched but it doesn’t spoil the read.

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Happier Thinking
Lana Grace Riva

This was a great little book with advice on helping to improve mental wellness. The book offers tips on trying to improve your outlook on life and ways to deal with difficult situations if you suffer with your mental health.

The tone of the book helps in the message it is trying to give, as it feels like you are being offered the advice from a friend rather than being instructed by the book.

This book doesn’t offer all the answers if you are someone who suffers with mental health but it does try to give advice on changing your way of thinking and is a good place to start in taking small steps in your own self-care.

I felt that this book was a bit repetitive in places and there wasn’t much diversity in the advice being given, however it is a handy little book to keep referring back to.

Book Reviews: Madeleine Wickham

I was given these to Madeleine Wickham books by a friend who had read them and knew I was a fan of Sophie Kinsella (they are the same person) so had been looking forward to reading them. However I was disappointed with both, I found them both difficult to get into and I both seemed slow and they didn’t hook me and make me want to keep reading. I enjoyed The Wedding Girl more than I did The Gatecrasher.

Below are the individual reviews for each book.

The Gatecrasher

I am a fan of Sophie Kinsella and I picked this book up as I was expecting to read something similar, however this was not the case.

I found this book difficult to follow, slow and it didn’t get me hooked. Like another Madeleine Wickham book I have read I found this difficult to get into and that there are a large number of characters whose viewpoints all tell the story, swapping between them all, making the story difficult to follow and very slow. I didn’t find any of the characters warm or relatable either which meant I didn’t feel like I had much engagement with the book.

I didn’t enjoy this book, the second of Wickham’s books that I have not enjoyed and therefore will not be in a rush to be reading anymore. There is such a contrast between Wickham and Kinsella’s writing styles (they are the same person) so if you are a fan of one you may not particularly enjoy the other.

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The Wedding Girl

I was quite disappointed with this book. It felt quite slow at the beginning making it difficult to get into, but the pace did pick up part way through making the second half of the book easier to read, although it still didn’t hook me in.

This book is about Milly, who is four days away from her wedding day to Simon, but nobody knows that she is already married and her past is about to catch up with her.

There were a lot of characters and the story was written switching perspectives between them all. This made it difficult to keep track of who you were following at the time and hindered the movement of the story.

Most people will know Madeleine Wickham as writing as Sophie Kinsella, however the writing style is different and the book has a different feel to a Kinsella book.

Although the story itself seemed good the style it was written in meant that I didn’t enjoy reading this book.