So, I realised rather belatedly that I hadn't done my 'best of' lists and surprisingly the Crime and Thriller genre was easy. This genre? Not so much! I realised that there were numerous books I had LOVED this last year and managed to get the first draft in at 16 books. Thankfully I realised that I had read 3 books by the wonderful Nigel May and all 3 were excellent so I managed to knock another 2 off, and then slowly by going over each one I managed to narrow it down! So here goes, in no particular order is my top ten books from last year, and all well worth a read!
Category: Alex Brown
Synopsis: April Wilson is wondering what to do next – her life has been turned upside down after the loss of her husband so she’s hoping to piece herself together again with a visit to her elderly great aunt, Edith. Arriving in the rural idyll of Tindledale, she’s dismayed to find Edith’s cottage and the orchard behind it in a sorry state of disrepair. Edith seems to have lost interest completely, instead she’s become desperate to find out what happened to her sister, Winnie, who disappeared during WWII.
April gets to work immediately, discovering that the orchard still delivers a bumper crop each year, and with the help of some of the villagers – including Matt, the enigmatic Farrier – begins to unravel the mystery of the missing Winnie. Slowly,
April can feel things coming to life again – but can Orchard Cottage work its magic on her too?
Kat's Rating: 5/5
Having compiled the top ten in the Crime, Mystery and Thriller genre, I have turned my attention to my top ten in the other genre. For me this was also an easy top ten as these books all stood out. 4 of these authors are with Bookouture which proves to me that they are streaking ahead in this field with selecting some awesome authors. I would highly recommend all ten of these books and can't wait to see more from them all this year. The list below is in no particular order!
One Wish In Manhattan by Mandy Baggott
Synopsis: he temperature is dropping, snow is on its way and Hayley Walker is heading for New York with one wish… to start over. With her daughter Angel, Hayley is ready for adventure. But there’s more to New York than twinkly lights and breathtaking skyscrapers. Angel has her own Christmas wish – to find her real dad. While Hayley tries to fulfil her daughter’s wish, she crosses paths with billionaire Oliver Drummond. Restless and bored with fast living, there’s something intriguing about him that has Hayley hooked. Can Hayley dare to think her own dreams might come true – could A New York Christmas turn into a New York Forever? Travel to the Big Apple this Christmas and join Hayley and Oliver as they realise life isn’t just about filling the minutes… it’s about making every moment count.
Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson
Synopsis: Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking – a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter ‘Silver Fox’ Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials. But this year things are going to be different. For Amy Lane, Bella’s best friend from school, life hasn’t held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy’s husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever. Amy has watched Bella’s rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella’s latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy’s mother’s recipes, the gloves are off. After winning a competition to appear on Bella’s TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember.
Snowflakes on Silver Cove by Holly Martin
Synopsis: Libby Joseph is famous for her romantic Christmas stories. Every December, readers devour her books of falling in love against the magical backdrop of the Christmas season. If only Libby believed in the magic herself. Struggling to finish her current novel, Libby turns to her best friend and neighbour George Donaldson to cheer her up. But George also needs a bit of support himself. Nervous about getting back into the dating saddle after splitting from his wife, he and Libby strike a deal. She will teach George how to win over the ladies, and Libby will in turn be inspired to inject her novel with a good dose of romance. As Libby and George explore the beautiful White Cliff Bay on a series of romantic Christmas-themed dates, Libby finds herself having more fun than she’s had in ages and…discovers feelings that she never knew she had for George. But is it too late? Will George win someone else’s heart or can Libby act like the heroine in one of her stories and reach for her own love under the mistletoe this Christmas?
The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown
Synopsis: Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale. There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen.
A Sister's Promise by Renita D'Silva
Synopsis: My sister – the glue that held our family together and the gatekeeper to the memories of our shared childhood. The girl I made a pact with – to protect each other for life. The woman who destroyed my family, my future. And the only one who can save my daughter. Set against the dramatic backdrop of India, A Sister’s Promise is a powerful, emotional tale of family secrets, love and the ties that bind sisters together.
The Secret By The Lake by Louise Douglas
Synopsis: A FAMILY TRAGEDY. Amy’s always felt like something’s been missing in her life. When a tragedy forces the family she works for as a nanny to retreat to a small lakeside cottage, she realises she cannot leave them now. A SISTER’S SECRET. But Amy finds something unsettling about the cottage by the lake. This is where the children’s mother spent her childhood – and the place where her sister disappeared mysteriously at just seventeen. A WEB OF LIES. Soon Amy becomes tangled in the missing sister’s story as dark truths begin rising to the surface. But can Amy unlock the secrets of the past before they repeat themselves?
Summer at The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan
Synopsis: Summer has arrived in the Cornish town of Mount Polbearne and Polly Waterford couldn't be happier. Because Polly is in love: she's in love with the beautiful seaside town she calls home, she's in love with running the bakery on Beach Street, and she's in love with her boyfriend, Huckle.
And yet there's something unsettling about the gentle summer breeze that's floating through town. Selina, recently widowed, hopes that moving to Mount Polbearne will ease her grief, but Polly has a secret that could destroy her friend's fragile recovery. Responsibilities that Huckle thought he'd left behind are back and Polly finds it hard to cope with his increasingly long periods of absence. Polly sifts flour, kneads dough and bakes bread, but nothing can calm the storm she knows is coming: is Polly about to lose everything she loves?
Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
Synopsis: Hallie has a secret. She's in love. He's perfect for her in every way, but he's seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren't going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn't have long to live. Time is running out. Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won't be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends - let alone anything more. Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she's afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.
It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane
Synopsis: Delia Moss isn’t quite sure where she went wrong. When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else – she thought it was her fault. When she realised life would never be the same again – she thought it was her fault. And when he wanted her back like nothing had changed – Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame. From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went – and if she can ever get her back.
The Little Flower Shop by The Sea by Ali McNamara
Synopsis: The blossom is out in the little Cornish harbour town of St Felix. But Poppy Carmichael's spirits aren't lifted by the pretty West Country spring. Inheriting her grandmother's flower shop has forced her to return to Cornwall, a place that holds too many memories.Poppy is determined to do her best for the sake of her adored grandmother, but she struggles with the responsibility of the more-shabby-than-chic shop. And with the added complication of Jake, the gruff but gorgeous local flower grower, Poppy is very tempted to run away. The pretty little town has a few surprises in store for Poppy. With new friends to help her and romance blooming, it's time for Poppy to open her heart to St Felix and to the special magic of a little flower shop by the sea!
The Village Show competition is coming around again and after last year’s spectacular failure, the villagers are determined to win. Meg, teacher at the local school, is keen to help and to impose some much-needed order.
After a terse encounter with a newcomer to the village, Meg discovers that it is celebrity chef and culinary bad boy, Dan Wright. Meg thinks he is arrogant and rude but rumour has it that Dan is opening a new restaurant in the village which could really put Tindledale on the map.
As things come together, villagers old and new all start to come out of the woodwork, including new arrival Jessie who seems to have it all. But first impressions can be deceptive and Meg discovers that when it comes to Tindledale – and Dan – nothing is ever quite as it seems . . .
Kat’s Rating: 5/5
Synopsis: Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale. There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…
Availability: Paperback, Kindle, Kobo and Nook
Synopsis: Georgie Hart loves Christmas time at Carrington’s Department store. Running the luxury handbag department, Georgie adores helping customers in the hunt for the perfect gift for the perfect someone. And this year is no exception – now she has the hunky Tom, Mr Carrington himself, to spend the special day with.
But when Tom springs a surprise, Georgie’s plans are thrown into chaos. Carrington’s is getting a fresh lease of life in a hot new reality TV show, featuring formidable retail guru, Kelly Cooper.
As the first show airs, Georgie is shown in a far from flattering light. Worse is to come when Kelly’s vile daughter appears to get her claws into Tom. Georgie fears this will be the worst Christmas ever, but Santa still has a little surprise for her stocking this year – she’ll just have to wait until Christmas to find out…
My Rating: 4/5
Synopsis: Georgie Hart loves her job--running the luxury handbag concession at Carrington's Department store in the pretty seaside town of Mulberry Bay, and treating herself (once too often!) to a red velvet cupcake with buttercream icing in Carrington's café.
But Georgie is thrown into disarray when Carrington's is plunged into a recession-busting makeover, cueing the arrival of femme fatale Maxine, who wields the axe in her immaculately-manicured hands.
It spells a recipe for disaster for Georgie and soon she is fighting not only for her job, but also for the attentions of her gorgeous boss, James. And when hot newcomer Tom arrives, who may or may not be the best thing since sliced bread, Georgie must decide where her loyalties really lie...
My Review: Having never read Alexandra Brown and seeing the good reviews for this book I was looking forward to getting stuck in. The lovely thing about this book was it was only a mere few pages before I got to know Georgie Hart and very quickly, adore her! Georgie hasn’t had an easy upbringing and from the very early stages there are hints about her past without the reader actually finding out what it is that had happened until further in.
Carrington’s Department store was described brilliantly and pretty soon I could just imagine myself shopping in a place like that. Along with Georgie are her co-workers one of who, (Sam) is her best friend. There are also additional characters that all add to the story as Carrington’s is graced with a new boss Maxine. I immediately loathed her and as all the staff are told what they need to do to save their jobs, you can just feel that her presence is the thing to make people crack.
I particularly liked Georgie’s friend Sam who owns the face on the 5th floor at Carrington’s, as well as Eddie who is the MD’s assistant. The storyline itself was interesting because not only do we get to see a number of threads, we get to see what the scheming Maxine is up to. I think the second half of the book flew by a lot quicker than the first half, and by the end I was disappointed that it was nearly finished. On the plus side, it means I can move onto book 2 which is entitled Christmas at Carrington’s and was released in December 2013.