The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin

I am a Hayes woman, and I am promising, with every ounce of love and strength in me, that I will overcome. 

Title - The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes
Author - Anna McPartlin
Publication Date - 1st January 2015
Publisher - Transworld
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)

The blurb

Here is a truth that can't be escaped: for Mia 'Rabbit' Hayes, life is coming to an end...

Rabbit Hayes loves her life, ordinary as it is, and the extraordinary people in it. She loves her spirited daughter Juliet; her colourful, unruly family; the only man in her big heart, Johnny Faye. 
But it turns out the world has other plans for Rabbit, and she's OK with that. Because she has plans for the world too, and only a handful of days left to make them happen. 

Here is a truth that won't be forgotten: this is a story about laughing through life's surprises and finding joy in every moment.

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, I'd like to say thank you to Transworld for providing me with a digital copy of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin in exchange for a fair and honest review. I'd also like to say thank you to Anna McPartlin for this piece of magnificence, because quite simply, it was breathtaking, and I'll probably never read another book like it again. 

In The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin, we're introduced to Mia 'Rabbit' Hayes. The first thing that struck me whilst reading was Anna's intricate structure. Not only are we in the present day with Rabbit as she moves into a hospice to live out her last days surrounded by her family, but each time Rabbit drifts in and out of sleep, Anna takes us back in time in the form of Rabbit's dreams, and we're introduced to the boys from Kitchen Sink, a band from the old days, that consisted of Rabbit's brother Davey, and the one true love of her life, Johnny Faye, along with a couple of other lads. Not only are we shown the present day and the past, but we're also invited to read Rabbit's blog. It was effortlessly easy to keep up with the swapping and changing of the tenses, and I loved it. We were given insight into absolutely everything that had gone before Rabbit moving to the hospice, and I felt like I was another member of the Hayes' family almost immediately. 

The narrative in The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes was incredible, too. Anna doesn't just provide us with one or two different narratives, we're taken from character to character; Molly (Rabbit's mum), Jack (Rabbit's Dad), Grace (Rabbit's sister), Davey (Rabbit's brother), Juliet (Rabbit's daughter), Marjorie (Rabbit's best-friend), and even Rabbit's nephews and brother-in-law. It had such a profound effect on me, and it will have the same effect on you, too. It allowed me to take into consideration how each and every member of the family were taking Rabbit's situation, how they grieved in their own unique ways, how they handled the other parts of their lives, too. Anna's characters were developed exceptionally well, and I was given a glimpse into each of their lives and their own memories with Rabbit, before things took a devastating turn. There were moments whilst reading where I really wanted to close the book and progress no further. Cancer is scary. It's absolutely terrifying, and Anna portrayed this so extremely well in her writing that I couldn't cope with the realness. When Rabbit's pain became too much and crashed through her medication, I hurt for her so much and cried for her, too. No human being should ever have to go through that, but sadly they do, each and every single day. Anna opened my eyes to the truth, to what it would be like to lie in that bed, drift in and out of reality, flit between sweet memories and the bitter present, and I prayed again and again that somehow things would take a miraculous turn and she'd be better. Going back to the past when Rabbit closed her eyes was something that I repeatedly looked forward to whilst reading, because I knew that when Rabbit was with the band, and Johnny Faye, she was truly happy. What astounded me most was that, even when I was reading from Rabbit's viewpoint, there were only a handful of moments where she was sad. Of course she cried, and was desperate to know that her daughter Juliet would be given the best life possible, but throughout the majority of the story, Rabbit's spirits were high, and it became apparent that she wasn't scared of dying, she was sad because she was leaving behind her family. Of course, this then made me think of my own family, and leaving them behind, and I turned into a blubbering, horrific mess, because it's unthinkable, but it happens, and I experienced one of those moments where I swore to myself, lying in the dark sometime after midnight, that I will never take anything for granted. We're all guilty of it. Of it going through patches of life where we don't really pay attention to those around us, we're too busy thinking about work and the day-to-day stresses, but in the end, it's your loved ones who matter. God, this book drew so many damn emotions out of me that I wanted my brothers and sisters and Mum around me right there and then, to squeeze and hold tight and never let go of them, because life can change in an instant. 

The plot of The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes was just incredible. Not only was it separated into chapters, but days, too, which reminded me of a countdown until Rabbit found peace. It was terrifyingly beautiful, and with each chapter I finished, I caught myself holding my breath for a moment or two before continuing. As I began to near the end, I knew that I had to finish Rabbit's story before I fell asleep. I had no choice. I was utterly compelled to do so. I fell to sleep on a damp pillow, because not only did Rabbit's story break my heart, but it put it back together too, because in the end, she was where she belonged, with her one true love. And it was absolutely, completely, without a doubt, the most stunning, moving ending that I have ever read before. 

Rabbit's story made me realise that we are not invincible. Things will never go the way we want them to, and even though Rabbit knew that her time on earth was coming to an end, she still laughed and joked and smiled, and I wanted to be her. To be so brave and at peace with her circumstances, and just wow. It left me breathless and messy and teary, and with a new found determination to not waste a single day of my life. I'm choking up just thinking about it. 

Becca's Books is giving The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin five gorgeous cupcakes. A life-changer, a thought-provoker, and a damn beautiful book that every book lover needs on their bookshelf. I honestly cannot recommend it enough. The last thing that I'll say is that you'll definitely need a box of tissues and someone you love close to you. If it hadn't have been after midnight, I would have called up my mum and told her that I love her. 

Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson

All things considered, it was depressing. She couldn't even run away properly. 

Title - Cold Feet at Christmas
Author - Debbie Johnson 
Publication Date - 6th November 2014
Publisher - Harper Impulse 
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)

The blurb

Running out on your wedding shouldn't be this much fun! 

A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey's life - but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancé halfway up the bridesmaid's skirt just hours before the ceremony! 

Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant - a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven!

And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he's more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas...

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, I'd like to say a big thank you to the publishers Harper Impulse for providing me with a digital copy of Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson, via NetGalley, in exchange for a fair and honest review. I'd also like to thank the author Debbie Johnson for this very naughty, very enjoyable story which I'm about to review!

I saw a couple of negative reviews for Cold Feet at Christmas, which I suppose put me off a little bit at first, after all, I do take my blogger friend's reviews into consideration, but I also like to begin every book that I read with a blank slate so that those reviews won't influence my own. I don't think it's fair for book-bloggers to follow other book-bloggers, each to their own and all that. I was a tad worried about admitting that I enjoyed this one, but after a while I thought to myself, "Do you know what? To hell with it! YES I enjoyed this book, YES I enjoyed the naughtiness of it, and YES I'm prepared to have baguettes thrown at my face because of this. Ah well, a famous person once said, "No two people ever read the same book" (I can't remember who this was, I'll find out later on), but how bloody right was this person? 

Seeing as the title was Christmas focused, I had geared myself to be thrown into the festive season with some force. I guess my first moany point would be that it wasn't that Christmassy. There was no Christmas dinner, no talk of presents and, despite there being mountains of snow outside and a minus-degree temperature, I still felt as though something was missing to really get me into that wonderful Christmas mood. But, and this is a big but, there is a reason for this. Once you begin to get to know the characters, you realise that Rob, the inhabitant of the cottage that Leah Harvey stumbles upon, has had a rough time of it, and is more of a Scrooge than a Christmas Elf, and so the whole feeling of it not being very festive was kinda' explained by that. To tell you the truth though, this lack of tinsel and baubles didn't really deter me from enjoying the story. When the book completes a full circle, Christmas comes round once again, and it's safe to say that the second Christmas involved is a lot more festive and full of Christmas cheer and excitement. 

My second little moany point (there are only two moany points in this review) is that I didn't really "get" the beginning of the book. When we first meet Leah Harvey, she's in her wedding dress and her husband-to-be's car has just broken down. She's stranded, and so spotting Rob Cavelli's cottage, it's lights shining across fields full of snow, that's her safest bet. She arrives on the doorstep, shivering and seconds away from hypothermia, and once taken in, the sparks immediately begin to fly. This is cool, I LOVE when sparks fly, but to me, it just seemed to happen far too quickly. I understand that the two were attracted to each other and that's fair enough, but for me, I love a tough build-up, I love watching characters fight against their urges until they can barely contain them, and I guess I felt as if there wasn't much build-up between these two. If Debbie had just kept it going between them for a while longer, I would have had no complaints, but for me, I suppose it didn't really work. Don't get e wrong! I loved the passion and the desire surging through the atmosphere, because that's exactly what it felt like, but maybe a chase could of added some more OOOMPH for when they both finally caved. 

Those two moany points above are the only problems that I had with Cold Feet at Christmas. Besides those, I really enjoyed this book. I loved the characters and the situation that Rob and Leah found themselves in. The idea of being holed up in a little old cottage whilst the snow is piling up outside speaks right to my old romantic heart, and it's even better when there's some real strong physical attractions going on. The circumstances of both Rob and Leah meant that there were believable reasons as to why the two of them couldn't just jump right into a full-on, serious relationship. I do feel that once Leah had agreed to head off to Chicago with Rob that the story truly picked up and held my attention captive. Temptation was there all the way through, and both Leah and Rob were fighting against their instincts almost constantly. There was no question about how powerful their attraction was, and I just couldn't wait to see where their rocky "friendship" ended up leading to. There were a ton of entertaining scenarios that cropped up within the plot, Rob ending up in a prison cell, Leah ending up working as a caterer for Dorothea Cavelli (Rob's mum). I don't think there was a single moment when I found myself bored and wishing for the next big thing to happen, because I was entertained constantly. As well as Leah and Rob, there were numerous characters to be introduced to, all of them leaving some sort of impression on me. With their rocky pasts and sticky situations (quite literally), Leah and Rob's story was one that I enjoyed endlessly. There were ups and downs, lefts and rights, and despite my two moany points above, I truly did enjoy Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson. It wasn't serious, it is fiction after all, and it held that brilliant essence of escapism that I can't help but to adore! 

Becca's Books is rating Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson with FOUR PRETTY CUPCAKES! A real feel-good book that had me smiling, purring and laughing in equal measure. Thank you Debbie Johnson, and thank you Harper Implulse.   

The Stall of Second Chances by Dana Bate ~ BLOG TOUR!

It's a scarier way to live, demanding trust in myself and others that I'm still trying to master, but I'd rather ask for a second chance than not take any chances at all. 

Title - The Stall of Second Chances
Author - Dana Bate 
Publication Date - 20th November 2014
Publisher - Little, Brown UK
Format - Paperback (Provided via publisher)

The blurb

Sydney Strauss is obsessed with food. 

Not just with eating it - though she loves that too - but with writing about it as an aspiring cookery reporter. But food journalism jobs are more coveted than cupcakes, and so Sydney is stuck working for one of TV's biggest egomaniacs - until she's left scrambling for shifts at the local farmers' market. 

Selling muffins at the Wild Yeast Bakery is hardly going to make her the next Nigella. But soon Sydney is writing the market's weekly newsletter, and her quirky stories gain attention from a prominent food columnist. After years of being left on the shelf, she's even dating again. And then Sydney gets a shot at the story, one that could either make her career or burn it to a cinder - along with her relationship and her reputation. 

Becca's thoughts

I'd like to begin my review by saying a massive thank you to the lovely Grace Vincent from Little, Brown UK, for inviting me onto Dana Bate's The Stall of Second Chances blog tour, and also for providing me with my very own kissable paperback copy of the book. I'd also like to thank the author Dana Bate for providing me with such a wonderful story to lose myself within. The Stall of Second Chances was absolutely fabulous, and I loved it from back to front. So, thank you ladies! 

In The Stall of Second Chances by Dana Bate, we meet Sydney Strauss. She's been working at The Morning Show, despite it not being anything like her dream of becoming a food journalist, and when Sydney is let go, she's desperate for a job, just to get the money to make ends meet and pay off the rent on her apartment. By chance, Sydney begins working at a Farmer's Market beside Rick, a very grumpy stall-holder, and before she knows it, she's truly getting into the swing of things. It might not be the most glamorous job, but at least she's now closer to her passion, food. Things begin to look up for Sydney when her food blog attracts the attention of Stu Abott who works at The Chronicle. He wants Sydney to write for them, and she's more than happy to do so, but with the promise of a juicier pay-out if she can deliver a juicier story, it's oh-so-tempting when she finds something out that could potentially land her a job at The Chronicle, which is exactly what she's been dreaming for. Except, using that juicy information could potentially destroy the one thing that's good in her life, but can she really turn away from such an opportunity? 

For me, reading this book was a pure pleasure. It had everything that an excellent read needs. A comical heroine Sydney, more than one gorgeous man, a ton of dramas and lots and lots of food. When I first began reading, I immediately took a liking to Sydney, she was so funny, sarcastic, and someone who I can imagine I'd get along with if she were to be real. There was many moments where I laughed until my eyes were streaming with happy tears, particularly whenever Rick was involved, the market-stall holder. Sydney's views on grumpy Rick really tickled me and I just loved her quirky thoughts that went through her mind whenever Rick attempted to flirt with a woman or hacked out a mouthful of spit to the floor. The first morning of working at the farmer's market, Sydney is standing in for her best-friend Heidi after a bout of food poisoning, and it was clear to me that Sydney was not use to the scene at all. Dana created such a vivid image of the farmer's market in my mind I was basically there already. The brioche, the pumpkin-seed muffins, there was just so much food surrounding them, and despite the job itself not being glamorous, I had a feeling that Sydney would soon begin to love it. Sydney's past wasn't revealed to me right away, which is something that I love a writer to do. As the story progressed, I learnt more about Sydney's history when it came to relationships, her younger sister Libby, and her parents and home life too. There was an incredible amount of depth to Sydney's character, and by the end of the book, I felt like I knew her inside and out. 

The plot within The Stall of Second Chances was fabulous! I loved watching Sydney's situations unfold. One minute she was on cloud nine, the next she was tumbling down to reality. There were so many ups and downs within the plot and so I was endlessly entertained and smiling away almost throughout the entirety of the book. The characters added so much to me being entertained. I took a particular liking to Jeremy - who I'm sure you'll love too - but even he had a dark side that Sydney didn't take a liking to once she figured it out. 

The Stall of Second Chances by Dana Bate was marvellous, and I'd happily read this one again! It had everything. The humour, the drama, the excellent characters. It was bloody delightful! Becca's Books is rating The Stall of Second Chances by Dana Bate with five adorable cupcakes! It's the perfect book for chick-lit lovers! 

Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson

"If you believe in angels then anything's possible."

Title - Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake
Author - Sue Watson
Publisher - Bookouture
Publication Date - 17th October 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 232

The blurb

For Tamsin Angel, Christmas is always the biggest and best... chic parties and a little showbiz sparkle are a must. This year though, things aren't going quite as planned...

With bailiffs suddenly at the door and her husband nowhere to be found, it looks like Christmas just got downsized. Moving into her sister's one-bedroom flat, she wonders whether things will ever be the same again. 

After losing her husband on Christmas Eve, Sam Angel has rebuilt her life around her son Jacob and her new business - The White Angel Bakery. She's also found herself a very handsome, loving boyfriend, but is struggling to let go of the past. 

Thrown together with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, Sam and Tamsin might just learn a little more about each other - and themselves. But when disaster strikes at the bakery, will they be able to save the day in time for Christmas? 

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, a massive thank you to the fabulous publishers Bookouture for providing me with a digital copy of this gorgeous title by Sue Watson, and an ever bigger thanks to the author herself for writing such a masterpiece. Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson was truly beautiful. A heart-warming story, showcasing what Christmas is all about. 

This is the first book by Sue Watson that I have had the pleasure of reading, despite there being releases prior to this one. I do have Love, Lies and Lemon Cake to read which I am now extremely looking forward to, and I can't wait to finally get round to it after having a taste of Sue's scrumptious writing style. 

In Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake, Sue is not only writing in one narrative but she's writing in two, these narratives belonging to the Angel sisters, Sam and Tamsin. What I adored most about the sisters was how different they were. Tamsin was a glamour kitten, splashing cash on posh lunch-dates with the ladies of Chantray Lane, strutting around in designer clothes and heels, and throwing some of the most lavish soirées known to man. Tamsin's goal in life was to be noticed, and to be known as the best. Each year, Christmas was planned months in advance, from the colour themes to the family photograph. Tamsin was so desperate to create the 'perfect' Christmas, but each time ended up in disaster of nerves, madness and utter chaos. In contrast to Tamsin's twinkling lifestyle, Sam was a lot more muted, preferring her comfy shoes, and getting her hands messy back at The Snow Angel bakery. It immediately became apparent to me that though these girls were sisters and had grown up in the same house together, they'd actually been given very different experiences, which explained a lot about why the girls were varied in their approaches to life and it's dramas. However, despite Sam and Tamsin's obvious differences, they adored each other, and that was plain to see. When the tough times rolled around, it was no longer about who threw the best dinner parties, but about knowing who actually cared and who didn't. Sue created such an incredible sisterly bond between Sam and Tamsin, one that was so well-written it reminded me of myself and own sisters. Yes, we fight, we argue, we've even come to blows a few times, but we're family, and sisters will always have each other's backs in the long run. I couldn't help but to feel cosy, warm, and completely cocooned within the gorgeously festive world that Sue had created, It was ridiculously easy for me to lose myself too, and I'd happily do so, again and again and again. 

It's not all perfection within Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake. Just when you think you've got to grips with the winter wonderland that is Tamsin's home as Sue opens the story, things are, put politely, turned upside down. I was utterly shocked when the bad news came, as was poor Tamsin, who usually had everything so organised and well put-together. The damage that was done didn't last forever though, and it was suddenly up to Sam to take Tamsin beneath her wing and nurse her sister's broken heart. I loved the downright shock that I felt when Sue sabotaged Tamsin's life. It was insane, but something, I thought, that Tamsin was desperately in need of. There was drama, secrets being unearthed and some serious sexy business going on. Sue did it all! The story was absorbing and I soon found myself feeling like a third sister in the Angel twosome. 

The Snow Angel Bakery is worth it's own paragraph in my review, because it added a beautiful, homely feel to the story itself. Not only does the title make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it's what Sam creates within the bakery that had me licking my lips and wanting to rush off to the nearest bakery to stuff my face with cakes and all sugary and festive! It was true delight to be invited inside of the bakery and watch the magic unfold, which it did, on many occasions (and I'm not strictly talking bakery here)! With the snow sprinkling down, and the lights on inside of the bakery, it felt sparkly and inviting, exactly the sort of place you'd want to visit. 

To me, Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson is one of those books that feel like treasures, a go-to book when you're feeling down and out. It made me happy and comfortable, watching the two sisters bicker but then declare their love for each other soon afterwards. It was festive, entertaining and basically just everything that I love to find in a well-written book. From the characters to the edible delights from The Snow Angel Bakery, I won't be forgetting this one in a hurry, and I seriously cannot wait to read more from Sue. It's as if I've found a writer than knows exactly what I, as a reader, want and need. 

Becca's Books is rating Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake by Sue Watson with FIVE ADORABLE CUPCAKES! I want to dive back into this story already! Thank you so much Sue. What an absolute delight!


But I Said Forever by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

Is it possible to be a married single parent? 

Title - But I Said Forever
Author - Jennifer Gilby Roberts
Publication Date - 15th November 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via author)

The blurb

Expect little, forgive much? 

After a whirlwind courtship, Brittany Beresford married her Prince Charming and looked forward to living happily ever after. Five years later, she's been reduced to a not-quite-desperate housewife, with a husband who spends more time flossing his teeth than holding meaningful conversations with her. 

She braves his disapproval and turns working mother and, other than feeling far more drawn to a handsome baker she works with than him, things seem to be looking up. But then Brittany discovers that her husband's "hobbies" include something even worse than golf - and he expects her to put up and shut up. 

Fairy tale illusions shattered, but still believing marriage is for life and wanting the best for her son, Brittany has a choice to make: should she follow her heart, or her conscience? 

Becca's thoughts

I'd like to begin my review by wishing the lovely author Jennifer Gilby Roberts a very happy publication day, and I'd also like to thank her too, for providing me with a digital copy of her book But I Said Forever. I was super excited to get started with this one, the intriguing blurb and gorgeous cover immediately caught my attention, and I'm very happy to say that I was not disappointed! I hope publication day is filled with lots of sparkles and bubbly, Jennifer, and congratulations!

As soon as I began reading But I Said Forever, I was instantly made aware of Brittany's husband Phillip, and his outdated, frustrating ideas of what a wife should be like and do. Phillip was, in a nutshell, a complete idiot, and I found myself wishing he'd get out of the story pretty soon after I'd started reading. His character wound me up, good and proper, and I was on Brittany's side right away. He was barely around for his family, working shift after shift at the hospital, and came and went as and when he saw fit. He was the type of man who showed hardly any interest in his home-life or even son for that matter, believing that anything along those lines fell to Brittany. Phillip wasn't the type of character that you'd swoon over, more the type of character that you'd enjoy punching repeatedly in the face. I truly had no idea how the hell Brittany had put up with him for as long as she had. There were moments when I wondered why Brittany hadn't yet divorced his sorry-ass, but it's revealed to the reader as the story progresses that the idea of a perfect marriage and sticking together through thick and thin was instilled into Brittany from a young age, and so divorcing her husband is, in Brittany's eyes, not an option. I could understand this slightly, but I did feel that Brittany had to be strong and do what was right for herself and her son. What's the point in struggling through an unhappy marriage?

Despite taking a fierce dislike to Brittany's workaholic husband, Brittany herself was a character that I loved. She was stay-at-home-mum, slowly realising that what she truly needed was a job, something to give her a purpose. Phillip's views on this angered me so, so much. He was incredibly old-fashioned, believe that it was the man's job to work and bring in the money, not the wife's, and again, I wanted to punch him. Brittany was determined to get out and find herself something to do, other than staring at the same four walls day after day, and so, when she came across the For Goodness Cake bakery, I was completely over the moon for her! She seemed to walk in at the exact right moment too, and I felt like fist-punching the air and cheering. In my opinion (which clashes greatly with slimy Phillip's), there is not a damn thing wrong with a working mother. A woman can't be expected to sit at home all day, to not be out and about, getting involved and actually living. When she's hired at the bakery, it's like a dream come true, and I could feel the sheer the relief emanating from Brittany's character. The For Goodness Cake bakery was fabulous, full of colourful characters, my main favourite being Zack, the incredibly grumpy baker who works there. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, I immediately clung to the idea of Brittany and Zack somehow stumbling towards each other in a romantic fashion. There was so much to see, so many people to meet, and oh, did I forget Phillip's dirty little secret? ;)

I thoroughly enjoyed But I Said Forever by Jennifer Gilby Roberts. It was a fun, entertaining read and I would love to read more from the author. My favourite part was the moment when Phillip's secret was revealed, and boy was I shocked! Such an amusing twist to add to the plot, and I completely didn't see it coming, which made it all the more enjoyable! Trust me readers, it's not what I was expecting!

Becca's Books is rating But I Said Forever by Jennifer Gilby Roberts with four adorable cupcakes! A gorgeous story, where a bakery saves a woman's sanity! Jennifer, thank you so much for allowing me to read and review your title, and I truly look forward to reading more from you!


Friday Favourite ~ 14th November 2014

Hello, gorgeous bookworms! See how rubbish I am? It's been TWO weeks since I last posted for my #FridayFavourite feature! I am utterly hopeless. Let's take a look at the books that I've read since then...


All of the above titles were absolutely fantastic, but I have to pick my #FridayFavourite! 

~ One Step Closer To You by Alice Peterson ~ 

This week, my #FridayFavourite has to be One Step Closer To You by Alice Peterson.

Before I read One Step Closer To You by Alice Peterson, I hadn't been truly gripped by a novel in a long time. This phenomenal story had it all, and I have no doubt in my mind that Polly's story will stay with me for a very long time indeed. Alice is out-of-this world, creating some of the most tense, *hold your breath* scenes that I have ever read, and it was insane, but in a good way. I seriously cannot wait to read more by the incredible author! 

You can find my review of One Step Closer To You by Alice Peterson here!

Alice Peterson can be found on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster

"How about we go to London and escape from all this madness?"

Title - The Perfect Christmas
Author - Kate Forster 
Publisher - Mira UK
Publication Date - 29th September 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 78

The blurb

A holiday short story that proves that true love is forever, not just for Christmas...

Hollywood movie star Maggie and friend and manager Zoe need an escape from their complicated star-studded lives in LA. With its history and Christmas charm, London feels like the perfect getaway. 

But can they truly leave their realities behind?

In their luxurious quarters, the girls meet Holly who is ideal at showing Maggie and Zoe the sumptuous sights and sounds of London in their most glittering light. But behind her bright facade, Holly is hiding a secret: suffering from unrequited love, she's looking for a Christmas miracle. Desperate to see an unattainable love story for Holly come together, will our LA starlets succeed in providing a Hollywood ending before the dawn of Christmas Day? 

Packed to the brim with festive cheer, this is the only story you'll need this Christmas...

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, thank you to the publishers Mira UK for providing me with a digital copy of The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster in exchange for a fair and honest review. 

The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster is a short story, meaning that I read this within an hour. The thing about short stories is that I'm always left wanting more, wanting to know more about the characters, the situations, the lives... I don't think there has ever been a time where I've finished a short story and felt satisfied. 

In The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster, we meet Maggie and Zoe, both desperate to get away and leave LA behind for a few days. The fact that the girls decided on London had me excited, as London during Christmas is said to be a truly glorious sight. When the girls arrive and are met at their hotel by their very own personal concierge, I was made aware of Maggie's status. The hotel was luxurious, their room almost like that of a palace, and I was insanely jealous of the fact that they were able to order room service (something which I've always wanted to do)! Kate created a fabulous atmosphere during their time in London, it definitely felt Christmassy, with the lights and the shopping! The scene was really delivered to me, and I loved it. 

The plot moved along very quickly, but not so quickly that I didn't have chance to enjoy it, which I did. The idea of having Holly, the concierge, involved in the plot was great, and it added that gorgeous spark of romance to the story, which we all adore at Christmas! There was a little bit of meddling on Maggie and Zoe's part, and of course best-friend banter, which was entertaining to say the least. The whole tone of the short story was jovial, festive and endlessly enjoyable. 

 Becca's Books is rating The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster with four cupcakes! I did enjoy this book and the whole idea was great, however I still don't think I'm sold on the whole short story thing! It really doesn't work for me. I need more, more, more. I reckon if this had been made into a full-length novel, I would have bloody loved it! That's not to say that I didn't though, because I most definitely did. A cute, short, festive read that will have you pining for the lights and chaos of London in the throes of Christmas! Thank you Kate, and thank you Mira UK! 

The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown

Keep calm and carry yarn.

Title - The Great Christmas Knit Off
Author - Alexandra Brown
Publisher - Harper
Publication Date - 6th November 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley) 
Pages - 400

The blurb

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...

Becca's thoughts

Firstly, I'd like to say a huge and very grateful thank you to the publishers HarperCollins UK for providing me with a digital copy of The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, I was absolutely over the moon when I received the email informing me that this title was waiting for me on my shelf, and I've been patiently making my way towards it, wading through my to-read pile, growing more and more excited with each book that I've read. And now, finally, I can happily announce that I, Rebecca of Becca's Books, have read and adored The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown. Now, let me tell you why. 

This is going to sound crazy, but this is the very first book that I have had the pleasure of reading by the fabulous author that is Alexandra Brown. Insane, right? I know. *drops head in shame* The truth is that I actually have a few books in the Carrington's series hidden beneath my desk somewhere, and I have been dying to get around to them. Unfortunately, my ever-growing to-read list hasn't given me a break just yet, but as soon as I possibly can, I'm going to dig those beauties out and lose myself to some more of Alexandra's wonderful writing, because after having a taste of the author's style in The Great Christmas Knit Off, I have a feeling I could become seriously addicted, if I'm not already. 

The first thing that caught my attention when I began reading The Great Christmas Knit Off, right at the very beginning, was an included map of Tindledale. This is going to sound absolutely ridiculous, but dear readers, I think I may have been in love with this story before it had even begun, just by casting my eyes across the map and taking note of all the adorable place names within the gorgeous English village that is Tindledale. Things such as the duck pond, the Duck & Puddle Pub and the Spotted Pig Cafe & Tearoom had my romance-fuelled mind overflowing with images of a fictional place that I suddenly wanted to be a part of. To me, it was pretty much what dreams are made of, almost like a toy village with cutesy houses and establishments peppered around, with a fabulous mix of characters and excitement included. All in all, Tindledale is one of those fictional settings that you seem to conjure up in your mind whenever you imagine a getaway, surrounded by woodland and fields, it truly couldn't have been more perfect. 

If Alexandra's characters are anything to go by, then I already know what I've been missing out on within the author's previous novels. Her heroine Sybil (HOW CUTE IS THAT NAME?!) had been dealt such a rubbish hand of cards and she really did deserve a quick getaway. Not only did her relationship with ratty Luke turn out to be a complete disaster, but her job within the council took a decidedly worrying turn for the worst, too! Truly, all Sybil needed was an escape route, and her good friend Cher, who just happened to reside in the Duck and Puddle Pub in Tindledale, was more than happy to provide. Sybil was effortlessly likeable, lovable even, and I dearly wanted good things to happen for her. I couldn't contain my shock when the finer details of her non-wedding-day were revealed to me, and so I was able to understand how desperately Sybs was in need of a break, in need of some place to help her carry on and forget, and I do believe that Tindledale was her perfect destination, and probably mine too, if I had the option. Not only was Alexandra's heroine an absolute joy to behold in every way possible, there were a multitude of vibrant, exciting characters that welcomed Sybil (and me!) into Tindledale. Each fabulous character had their own unique story to tell, and parts of those stories were revealed to the reader as the plot progressed, keeping a few secrets away from until it was time for them to be told. Hettie, who owned Hettie's House of Haberdashery, was incredibly endearing and I wanted to bundle her up into my arms and never let her go. There was also Lawrence who ran the B&B, who was lavish and extravagant and fabulous in more ways than one. Honestly readers, there were just so many marvellous people to get to know within the little village of Tindledale, and by the end of the book, I felt like I had gained a brand new circle of friends. 

Community spirit and friendship were some major themes within this book, so if you're someone who enjoys upbeat and entertaining stories, then this one is for you. It's the feeling of never being alone, of always having somebody to talk to you. Each and every resident of Tindledale had their own tale to tell, and I adored getting to know them all. I was drawn into this world quicker than you can snap your fingers. Alexandra created such a gorgeous place to want to be, full of love and warmth and companionship, and secrets, too! 

Becca's Books is rating The Great Christmas Knit Off by Alexandra Brown with five gorgeous cupcakes! This book was wonderful in every sense of the word. Tindledale is the perfect place to escape to when you're feeling down and out. With so many people to meet, and so much to do, you won't ever want to return to reality! 


One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson

'In this life we need three things,' I reflect, 'something to do, someone to love and something to look forward to.'

Title - One Step Closer To You
Author - Alice Peterson 
Publisher - Quercus
Publication Date - 25th September 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 384

The blurb

After Polly ends her relationship with the father of her young son, Louis, she is determined to move on. All she wants is to focus on her job, her friends and to be a good mum. No more looking over her shoulder. No more complications... 
Then Polly meets Ben. 

Ben is guardian of his niece, Emily. They become close, with Polly teaching Ben how to plait Emily's hair, and Ben playing football with Louis. Their friendship is unexpected. Polly's never been happier. 
But when Louis's dad reappears in their life, all Polly's mistakes come back to haunt her and her resolve weakens when he swears he has changed. 

Will she give herself a second chance to love? 

Becca's thoughts

Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. 

Firstly, a massive thank you to the publishers Quercus for providing me with a digital copy of Alice Peterson's One Step Closer To You via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, and an even bigger thank you to the fabulous Alice Peterson. I haven't been this gripped by a novel in a while, and it was incredible, to say the least.

One Step Closer To You is the first book that I have read by Alice, but after finishing, it's safe to say that it will not be the last. In fact, last night, I took part in a spot of late-night internet shopping, and decided to buy By My Side which looks and sounds fabulous, too. I am more than ready to delve back into a world created by Alice Peterson. 

In One Step Closer To You, we meet Polly, damaged, troubled and unprepared to let anyone try to win her heart over, after having to go through hell and back to bring herself to the surface of reality. Alice begins Polly's story by opening with a counselling session that Polly has attended. This, to me, was an absolutely brilliant way of popping Polly into a glass display case and allowing the reader to get a really good look at her as a character. After all, where else is a person more open and truthful? I could tell right away that there was something downtrodden and pessimistic about Polly, as if her past really had worn her down and ground her out to nothing. It's during this first session that we learn of Polly's son Louis, and of how Polly has managed to get to this point in her life. It truly is like a trip down memory lane, one that scratched at my heart and had me holding my breath, such an incredible journey that I won't forget for a very long time. 

The major selling point for me within this novel was Alice Peterson's chosen structure. I've said this time and time again before, but I absolutely LOVE being taken backwards and forwards in time. It just adds so much depth and believability to the characters involved, and makes you feel as if you have known the characters all your life. You know their past, where they came from, and what's happened to them during their lives. It's just brilliant, and I cannot put into words how well Alice created this within One Step Closer To You. We're taken right back to Polly's beginning, starting at just the mere age of nine years old, and then little by little, we carry on alongside Polly, joining her in the rocky and disastrous journey into adulthood. This swapping and changing of the here and now carries right the way on as the story progresses, and I have to say, I enjoyed it endlessly. 

Polly's character was one that I truly felt like good things needed to happen to. When we're taken back in time, we're invited to watch and read about her past, and never before I have wanted to save a character from their life so desperately. It was either that, or I was sat hoping and praying that things would get better for her. Alice wrote about some serious, true-to-life issues including domestic violence and alcohol addiction, and they scared me. They really scared me. Despite Polly's story being fictional, it opened my eyes to the truth that what Polly went through is happening all of the time, and if that's not a scary thought, then I don't know what is. Alice's atmospheres and writing style effortlessly had me gripped and unable to tear my eyes away. There were moments when I felt I was right there with Polly and her vile partner, who I could have gladly smacked around the head repeatedly! I felt cornered on Polly's behalf, frightened and unable to run with no-one to turn to. Alice got the tone down perfectly, and I was able to completely lose myself to Polly's horrific situation. God, it was insane, and completely and utterly overwhelming. I felt like once I had finished, I was able to take a deep, steadying breath and feel safe in the knowledge that all was well with Polly and Louis. 

Of course, in order for any character to finally have their happy ending, they usually have to go through hell, which Polly did. There were numerous times where I sat and thought to myself, "It surely can't get any worse than this for poor Polly, right?" and then Alice would prove me wrong. It was a never-ending spiral of nasty, spiteful abuse and harsh silences, and I was close to tears at one point. I wanted to dip my hand through my Kindle screen, take hold of Polly and Louis, and perhaps place them into a nicer, more positive story, where they'd be safe and happy. It's a crazy notion, I know, but when you feel so deeply involved with the characters that you're reading about, it's difficult to not care for them and want to make their circumstances a million times better. It was hard-hitting, powerful, and incredibly frightening. 

The relationships between all of Alice's characters were stunningly created, strong and believable, and effortlessly intrinsic. There was so much emotional depth behind the words and the different scenarios that Polly found herself in. I felt like a bystander watching it all happen, and it was, to tell you the truth, quite frustrating at times, because I couldn't do a damn thing. The only way I can describe Alice's talent when it came to the atmospheres and tones, was that I felt like I was drowning beneath it all. It was depressive and sickly, not something that I'd usually choose to read, but I found that once I'd started, I just couldn't put it down. Polly's story was absolutely phenomenal. 

Becca's Books is rating One Step Closer to You by Alice Peterson with FIVE GORGEOUS CUPCAKES, but please know that if I could, I'd rate this book infinitely higher. Alice Peterson has a true story-telling talent, and I cannot wait to read more from her in the future. In fact, I highly anticipate all of her future releases. Thanks so much Alice, it was bloody brilliant, one of the best that I have read this year, without a doubt. 

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes

"I'm the one who's meant to be famous. Not you - me! You're the woman who stole my life!"

Title - The Woman Who Stole My Life
Author - Marian Keyes
Publisher - Penguin UK
Publication Date - 6th November 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 500

The blurb

"Okay, I'll write my introduction. 'Name: Stella Sweeney. Height: average. Recent life events: dramatic.'

Stella Sweeney is an ordinary woman living an ordinary life with her husband Ryan and their two teenage kids in Dublin. She works with - or really for - her terrifyingly ambitious sister Karen in their beauty salon. Nothing to get excited about here. Nothing to make her particularly unhappy. Or happy... No-one would be interested in stealing her life. 

But then things started to happen...

One day, Stella, attempting a good deed, causes a little car accident and faces down a bad tempered, handsome stranger. She hardly gives it much of a thought. But Karma is hovering, and is about to take over, swoop in and change Stella's life for ever. For better or worse. 

Suddenly Stella has a life. A thrilling glamorous one. A life that other people might start to covet...

Becca's thoughts

I'd like to first say a huge thank you to the publishers Penguin UK for providing me with a digital copy of The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes in exchange for a fair and honest review, and I'd also like to thank the author Marian Keyes. What a fantastic read!

The first thing that I feel I need to comment on is the structure of The Woman Who Stole My Life. Now, I absolutely adore being taken backwards and forwards in time by the author. Being able to get a glimpse into the past, and then being able to sneak a peek at the present is endlessly satisfying, but I felt, whilst reading The Woman Who Stole My Life, that I became a little lost at some point within the plot. There were times when I grew a tad confused about whether I was back in the past or actually in the present day, and this sadly had an impact on my overall enjoyment of the book. Not a major impact, mind you, but when I catch myself trying to figure where I'm at in the plot, it takes my mind from off the story itself, and I just end up getting into a big old mess. I did find that once I had managed to get my bearings and figure out who was who and what had happened when, the story began to come together, but unfortunately, near the beginning, I was finding it difficult to really settle down with it. 

Needless to say, once I was all sorted with the characters and the swapping time-frames, Stella Sweeney's story was incredibly enjoyable, and I ended up completely forgetting about my muddled-up-ness at the beginning of the book and being able to pinpoint exactly where I was at different times. Names began to stick with characters, places and times stayed separated, and the story began to make sense in my mind. I was able to picture everything clearly, and it was wonderful. 

Stella's story was fantastic. We're first introduced to Stella when she's sat at her desk and is trying to pull herself together to put fingers to keyboard and create something amazing. After that, I suppose the rest of the book is a sort of journey through Stella's past, and how she came to be sitting at that desk, trying her hardest to conjure up book-worthy words. The Woman Who Stole My Life is Stella's life, including everything from her husband, her kids, and her time spent in hospital, which to me, was when everything seemed to change. There were so many eventful moments to take note of and they added so much depth and believability to Stella's character and her life, fictional or not. Her son Jeffrey, who was a complete odd-ball, entertained me endlessly, but Stella's husband Ryan was bad enough for me to want to ram my fist at my Kindle screen. He was a horrific character, who deserved to be dumped and left on his own. He didn't give a damn about Stella, only really ever worrying about himself, and he just full-on ground my gears. Mannix, Stella's doctor whilst she's in hospital, was brilliant, and I loved his uniqueness. There was a fab mix of characters, all different and quirky, really making the story a great read. 

To be honest, this wasn't a FANTASTIC read, but it definitely held me captive enough to continue onwards to the end. I haven't read anything by Marian Keyes before, and so I really don't have any other works of hers to compare it to, but for me, it worked, and I felt completely immersed within Stella Sweeney's story, despite it being maybe a little drawn out? Even though it was much longer in length that my usual read, I managed to finish it quite quickly, and was left feeling satisfied with how it ended. Becca's Books is rating The Woman Who Stole My Life with four yummy pink cupcakes! I' would adore to read more from the author (if only I had the time!) and I'm really looking forward to going back to her previous work when I have the chance!