Book Review · Books

Together By Christmas by Karen Swan

Together By Christmas by Karen Swan [BOOK REVIEW] Together By Christmas is the perfect book to set you into a Christmas mood.

★★★★

Ever since I participated on the Tandem Collective readalong for the Hidden Beach, I knew I would be reading more books by Karen Swan. This is my third book so far, and I am still eager to read more from her. Her writing is so captivating! So when the team at Tandem Collective , together with the team at Pan Macmillan asked me to participate to the readalong for Together By Christmas, I immediately said yes!

Synopsis:

Together By Christmas is set in Amsterdam. When Lee first came here, she had a newborn baby and a secret. Five years later, Jasper is a big boy, and Lee’s photography career is a big success. They are getting ready to celebrate Christmas with their close friends, but something unexpected happens.

Lee finds a book in her bicycle basket. And inside the book – a cry for help. Who left it there for her, and why? Lee feels the need to help and tracks down the author of the book, Sam. What she doesn’t expect though, is an instant connection with him, and a possible future. Something she has actively been running away from.

And when everything appears to be going in the right direction, Lee’s old secret comes back to haunt her. And right in time for Christmas. Suddenly, her whole life she built in Amsterdam is on the verge of collapsing. Will Christmas be able to make it all better?

My Thoughts:

Together By Christmas is not your typical Christmas story. The Hidden Beach and the Greek Escape are both set in summer, so this is the first Christmas book I read by Karen Swan. And it was exactly what I hoped it would be. The writing was beautiful, and the plot twists kept coming. It kept me on the edge until the very end.

Lee is a very complicated character and it took me a while to warm up to her. I could immediately feel the consequences of her trauma, and could understand her fear of getting attached to people. Her passion for photography is explained so well, and her love towards her son is so strong and beautiful to witness.

“As a pack race, humans have to see in order to believe and that includes photographers with both a power and a responsibility to use their craft wisely. Photographs have the power to change the world – they can spark a protest, a riot, a revolution. It is the truth in photography that keeps us all connected, keeps us accountable -“

I love that the book is set in Amsterdam, during winter. I have been to Amsterdam and the Netherlands many times, but never during winter, so this was a wonderful experience for me. The descriptions are so vivid and I felt I was there. It was wonderful to find out about Sinterklaas, as well as The Elfstedentocht – the famous ice-skating race. I also enjoyed the Stroopwafels and smiled every time they were mentioned in the book.

I loved Jasper so much! He was my favourite character in the book! For his age, he behaved so maturely and was able to emotionally understand and support his mum, which really helped her during her struggles. His excitement was so contagious! Whenever he would get excited over little things, it would make me melt.

“If we’re going to make meaningful change in our society, then we can’t keep on turning the other cheek.”

Even though I have mixed opinions about certain scenes and actions, I really enjoyed this book. And considering that this is a book about second chances, I will let this slip. It’s the perfect book to set you into a Christmas mood. Perhaps because it’s moderately Christmassy, so it won’t be too much too soon. It had beautiful Christmas scenes, a wonderful mother-son relationship, trauma, mystery and a very heartwarming romance as well. I definitely recommend it.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK | Amazon US

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Book Review · Books

The Greek Escape by Karen Swan [BOOK REVIEW]

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After reading (and loving) the Hidden Beach by Karen Swan, as part of the Tandem readalong, the whole group fell in love with Karen’s writing, so we decided to continue the streak with reading another book. We chose the Greek Escape, because it was suited perfectly for the summer month of August.

Synopsis:

Running from a heartbreak, Chloe leaves London for a fresh start in New York. She works for a luxury concierge company, where she looks after client’s arrangements and event management. But when her friend and colleague Poppy has a terrible accident, she needs to step up and fill her role. This role involves direct customer contact with the clients, which was different to what Chloe was used to. 

This is how she meets Joe Lincoln, who asks her to find a secluded holiday home in Greece. You would think all goes by the plan, but her ex, Tom, unexpectedly shows up in New York and she is faced with issues from the past that she wants to run away from. He is the man who has hurt her before, but says he’s changed.

She immediately jumps to the chance to help Joe inspect the holiday house – a trip to Greece will give her all the time and space she needs to sort her life out and decide what she wants to do next. 

Her mind still unsure about Tom, she also forms a connection with Joe. Even though very mysterious and somehow secluded, there is an undeniable chemistry between them that Chloe is unable to resist. Should she give a second chance to the man she loved for years and years, or is it time for something brand new? 

My Thoughts:

This book is perfect to help you forget the current pandemic and give you a nice summer vibe. Even though it’s not entirely set in Greece, but rather mostly set in New York. That being said, Chloe does also travel to the south of France and there are plenty of summer holiday vibes throughout the book as a whole. 

Karen Swan won me over with her writing again.

The description of places, events and characters are so lively and colourful. I felt like I knew Chloe. When she is out for a drink, I felt like I am her friend. When she was in the office, I felt like a colleague. Something that also attracts me to Karen’s writing is her ability to fully materialise the antagonists as well. Even when they have ill intentions or do something bad, she is able to make the readers understand the reasoning behind it and accept it, no matter how wrong it may be. 

The premise and the plot were very interesting, and the mystery behind Poppy’s attack kept me glued to the book. I loved how there was suspense in each chapter and slowly revealing the clues. 

I felt for Chloe, when it came to her love life. She forgives Tom for years, and all he does is hurt her and then apologise for it! I think she deserves way better, and she should’ve ditched him the first time he screwed up. 

I really enjoyed the Greek Escape, and I loved the ending. It was satisfying, how everything ended and was glad Chloe could find true happiness and peace in the end. I definitely recommend this book, and will continue reading Karen Swan’s books with excitement. 

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK |Amazon US |


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Book Review · Books

The Hidden Beach by Karen Swan [BOOK REVIEW]

The Hidden Beach by Karen Swan Book Review readalong books blog blogging pan macmillan tandem tandemcollective romance thriller

I had the most amazing opportunity this month! Thanks to the team at Tandem Collective UK, I participated in a #Readalong on Instagram for The Hidden Beach by Karen Swan. The book is published by the amazing team at Pan Macmillan.

And I can immediately say – this experience was, so far, the highlight of my reading year! 

Together with a number of amazing bookstagrammers, we read this book in 5 days, chatting about the plot twists and the ending. By the end of the second day, we were all in love with Karen Swan’s writing and decided to do another readalong for August. I also had the chance to participate in a Live Q&A session with Karen Swan herself and win a prize for being a runner-up to the quiz. And on top of everything, I visited my mum on the weekend, and we talked about books we’re reading. And to my surprise, she owns FOUR books of Karen Swan already! So we decided to swap some books, and I came home with four more books I want to read!

We will be reading The Greek Escape by Karen Swan in August – so please shout if you have this book and want to join us! 

I shared my readalong journey on my Instagram, and the highlights are still up, in case you want to have a look at my journey! I always share posts and stories of the books I am currently reading – so don’t forget to follow for more updates. 

Synopsis:

In the oldest part of Stockholm, Bell Everhurst is working as a nanny for an affluent family. Hanna and Max Von Greyerz are parents to 7 year-old Linus, and 5-year old twins Ellinor and Tilde, and Bell has been with the family for over two years.

One early Spring morning, as she’s rushing out to take the children to school, she answers the phone – and everything changes. A woman from a clinic she’s never heard of asks her to pass on the message that Hanna’s husband is awake.Bell is confused. She clearly just saw Max walking out of the house a few minutes earlier, but the woman mentioned Hanna by name…

When she gets hold of her employer, the truth is revealed: Hanna’s first husband fell into a coma seven years earlier, following a terrible accident. He has been in a Persistent Minimally Conscious State since and there was very little hope of further improvement. But now he’s awake. And life is going to change for them all.

My Thoughts:

I absolutely adored this book! I loved it so much, that I am unsure how to contain all my impressions in a well-written review. 

Let’s start with the setting.

It is set in Stockholm, on the coast, during summer. The descriptions about the place and the season really fit the mood. There is also a midsummer festival in the book which made me feel as if I was transported there, dancing with people from the town and enjoying the sunshine. 

The characters have that aura about them, that makes you want to know them. Or they happen to remind you of someone you know, but you can’t just recall where you know them from. They are so familiar, but distant at the same time. Each of them carrying their weight on their shoulders and each of them having their separate story. 

We meet Bell – the nanny, who has her own reasons of why she decides to become a nanny and stay in Stockholm longer than she needed to. Her love for the children, especially for Linus is so adorable, and I can understand why she is so protective of him. 

I felt for Linus.

The trauma he is going through in this book is heartbreaking, he’s introduced to his real father, but he doesn’t remember him. The way some situations are handled also doesn’t do him any favours and just contributes to his confusion and anger, and I completely understand him. It is a very difficult situation to be in. 

The most intriguing character in this book is definitely the husband that was in coma. Losing seven years of your life is devastating. One day – you have everything, and then you wake up to find out that your wife is with another person, happy, and has more children of her own with another man. And all you want to do is bring them back. Just like it was. Like time never passed. But time did pass. And people continued living… 

Very emotional read.

I had all emotions flowing in me at certain moments. Sometimes I had conflicted opinions about some decisions the characters made. I had suspicions, hopes and anticipated a lot. And I loved it. It ended on a very (for me) satisfying ending, and I got the result I was hoping to get. 

I definitely recommend you pick up this book straight ahead – it’s simply amazing! The perfect summer read with thriller elements, plot twists like you’ve never seen before and a subtle touch of romance.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK |Amazon US |


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