Book Review · Books

Silent Night by Danielle Steel [BOOK REVIEW]

Silent Night by Danielle Steel [BOOK REVIEW]

★★★

It has been a while since I last read a book by Danielle Steel. Silent Night was available as an audiobook from my library, so I gave it a try, and it didn’t disappoint.

Synopsis:

Paige Watts is the ultimate stage mother. The daughter of Hollywood royalty, Paige channels her acting dreams into making her own daughter, Emma, a star. By the age of nine, Emma is playing a central role in a hit TV show. Then everything is shattered by unforeseeable tragedy.

A car accident changes Emma’s world. Her mum is no longer there, and in her place is her aunt Whitney. Unlike Paige, Whitney was always the studious older sister, hating the cult of celebrity that enveloped their childhood. Instead, she is a psychiatrist who lives for her work and enjoys a no-strings-attached love affair with a wealthy venture capitalist. But at a moment’s notice, Whitney drops everything to help her niece.

Once famous, outgoing, and charismatic, Emma is now a shadow of her former self–without speech, without memory, lost and terrified. But with her aunt Whitney’s help, along with a team of caregivers and doctors, Emma begins to find her way, starting her young life all over again–and changing the lives of everyone around her.

My Thoughts:

The synopsis immediately caught my attention, because I love drama. And the scenario is so heartbreaking, that I knew this book would give me all the feels. And it did.

I loved Emma. She was such an amazing character, and a wonderful fighter as well. She goes through a very big trauma, and never stops trying. What I truly loved is the relationship that she develops with her auntie Paige, who gives up her old life to look after Emma. Because there is no one else she has in this world now…

The strength that Whitney carries within her is to be admired.

She is so selfless and caring, not afraid to give Emma all the love in the world, despite the challenges. And especially at the beginning, it’s so hard. It was really hard for me to see Whitney go through rejection, the anger from Emma, not knowing how to process everything that is happening. She had to stay strong, for her and her niece’s sake. To be strong for both of them.

Danielle Steel did a magnificent job trying to show us the reality about people suffering with mental issues and trauma. How hard and frustrating it can be for them, when they can’t express themselves and are not understood. And how hard it is for their loved ones, to come to terms with the “new normal” and adjust, and to provide all the love and support. Recovery is a very slow and painful process, and there are good and bad days. Sometimes you make one step forwards and three steps back, and other times, recovery is not an option at all. And in Silent Night, Danielle Steel perfectly captured these experiences and emotions.

The bond between the niece and auntie is unbreakable, even though it took a long time to build. I loved the slow progress we could see in their relationship, and how they were both slowly healing as time went on. It was also very lovely to see how they both would also speak about Paige and work on healing and forgiving her as well.

I enjoyed the romance that Whitney experiences, and I also loved the fact that she was able to say “no” to a person who couldn’t accept her niece as part of the “deal”. Even though, I also respect his side, and how open he was about expressing his opinion. He was a very selfish person, true, but at least he was honest with her. This actually allowed Whitney to realise he wasn’t the right match for her and she was able to open up her heart to someone more deserving of her.

A very interesting part of this book is Emma’s acting career.

She started off young and her mum organised everything and planned her life. After all, it was her childhood dream that she now re-lived with her daughter. But when the aunt takes care of Emma, she has a completely different mindset, but is also under a lot of pressure from the media and the TV show director. I have to admit, I loved how Whitney handled this part, and ultimately lets Emma make the decision on what she wants to do once she is older.

In conclusion, Silent Night is a very emotional, but beautiful book. I am so glad I read it, and I’m looking forward to reading more books from Danielle Steel in the future.

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Blog Tour · Book Review · Books

Return To Virgin River by Robyn Carr [BLOG TOUR]

Return To Virgin River by Robyn Carr [BLOG TOUR]

This January, I read Virgin River and watched Season 1 of the Netflix TV Show. And I fell in love. With the small town, with the characters, with Robyn Carr’s writing. When the team at Mills & Boon offered me a chance to Return to Virgin River, I couldn’t say no.

Return To Virgin River by Robyn Carr [BLOG TOUR]

★★★★

Synopsis:

Return To Virgin River is actually the 19th book in the series. But the amazing thing is that you can read each book as a standalone as well. Each book is set in Virgin River, but it focuses on different characters and their lives in the same town. It is just the chronological part that changes.

In this book, we follow Kaylee. Her mother passed away recently and she rents a house in Virgin River to try and get back to writing and to cope with her grief. But as she arrives, she finds out that the house had burnt. Devastated, she goes to Jack’s bar to figure out what’s next. Yes – the same Jack we meet in the first book. He still has his bar, and the same old charm.

As she meets more people and spends more time in Virgin River, Kaylee slowly starts to heal. And not only she heals, but she starts to find happiness, love and motivation again. Because there is no better place to mend a broken heart than Virgin River.

My Thoughts:

I loved Virgin River, but I loved Return to Virgin RIver even more. Coming back to this town and reading again about Mel, Jack, Preacher and the other characters felt good. It felt like seeing your long distance cousins for Christmas, and talking like no time has passed. And I felt this, after only reading the first book. I can only imagine how people that have read all the books might feel.

I think it was also the happy tone of the book that I loved as well. Despite the sadness, grief and stress Kaylee was going through, this book shouts with positivity. The long walks, the caring people, the caring for the animals and the kindness – it filled me with positive vibes. And reading it during the Covid pandemic felt like the perfect escape. There is something about a small, fictional village that offers second chances that feels like home.

I highly recommend it to everyone that may need to find a little bit of escape. Or to people that love heartwarming stories, and second chances in life and love.

And don’t forget that there is a Netflix TV Show of this as well – with the new season coming out. Season 1 was incredible, and I cannot wait to see Season 2 as well – I am sure it will as good!

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Book Review · Books

The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls

The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls [BOOK REVIEW]

★★★

The Silent Stars Go By by Sally Nicholls is a beautifully written book. It takes you back to a 1919 Christmas setting and leaves your heart warm, days after you’ve finished it. Thank you to Kaleidoscopic Tours and Andersen Press, for sending me a copy of this book, alongside all the amazing goodies as well.

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Margot Allan was a respectable vicar’s daughter and madly in love with her fiance Harry. But when Harry was reported Missing in Action from the Western Front, and Margot realised she was expecting his child, there was only one solution she and her family could think of in order to keep that respectability. She gave up James, her baby son, to be adopted by her parents and brought up as her younger brother.

Now two years later the whole family is gathering at the Vicarage for Christmas. It’s heartbreaking for Margot being so close to James but unable to tell him who he really is. But on top of that, Harry is also back in the village. Released from captivity in Germany and recuperated from illness, he’s come home and wants answers. Why has Margot seemingly broken off their engagement and not replied to his letters? Margot knows she owes him an explanation. But can she really tell him the truth about James?

My Thoughts:

I loved The Silent Stars Go By as a whole. Margot is an amazing character, and I felt for her many times throughout the book. The love story between her and Harry was so beautiful and pure. A love like that is so hard to find in today’s world, and this is perfect for those romantics out there, that strive for loves like their grandparents had. I loved the letters and the communication between them. It’s so refreshing, compared to today’s relationship drama. It reminded me of my late grandparents, who would always have something to talk about, and do little things about each other. Not for the public, or for their social media, but just for their significant other.

Considering the secret Margot and her family had, I was expecting more emotions, drama and pushbacks. But I am glad things happened the way they did. And even though the ending was emotional and painful, it’s also heartwarming and full of hope.

“Father once said,” she said thoughtfully, “that it never does to compare your troubles to other people’s. That grief is grief, and you can’t know how heavy someone else’s is unless you carry it.”

A certain topic floated to the surface in this book. And even though not a main plot discussion, it’s a very important one to mention. There were times, before 1926, when adoption was illegal in Britain. Even though orphanages excited, the mother always remained the legal guardian of her child. Sadly, many of the mothers weren’t told this information, and they believed they lost all rights to ever see their child again. The book briefly touched on this topic, and I really wish that it focused a bit more. Nevertheless, it was mentioned, and it is worthy of noting.

The Silent Stars Go By is a book that I wholeheartedly recommend. It’s so beautiful and real, with a Christmas to top it all up.

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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.

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Book Review · Books

After (After #1) by Anna Todd [BOOK REVIEW]

After by Anna Todd [BOOK REVIEW]

After by Anna Todd is the perfect teenage romance book.

★★★★

I know I’m late to the After party. But hey, better late than never! I started After by Anna Todd in the evening, then stayed up all night because I had to finish it. And then, I begged my teen sister for the second book. She kindly agreed to give the book to me. I hope she doesn’t change her mind just to torture me. We’ll have to see how this unravels. 

Synopsis:

Tessa is just starting college, and she’s got everything planned. In one year, her boyfriend Noah will join her as well. But then she meets her wild roommate Steph as well as the incredibly rude guy with a British accent, Hardin. And everything changes!

My Thoughts:

Tessa is a good girl and she doesn’t do parties and short dresses. And she goes to a party with Steph and something changes. She can’t look away. Harding is doing something to her and she can barely resist. But she has a boyfriend. And also, everything she has a good moment with Hardin, two bad ones follow. Hardin is toxic, and Tessa hurts him in return as well. Also, their communication has to improve. Not the mention how the whole boyfriend situation was handled. 

Honestly, I thought my opinions would be conflicting. But they’re not. I really enjoyed the book and I’m looking forward to the second one. Also, I know Hardin is based on Harry Styles, but while I was reading the book, he didn’t once cross my mind. I also often have fantasies about celebrities, I just don’t happen to write them. Honestly, it’s not a big deal. 

My only worry was that teens might see Hardin’s toxic side and think that’s how a girl should be treated. But that would mean underestimating the girls out there. Even in the book, Tessa was aware Hardin’s behaviour was not okay, which is why she reacted the way she did. The facts she would return only meant that she had feelings for him. Their relationship has more issues than good parts, but in all honesty, when I think about my high school days, it was that way for me too. I didn’t handle things well. Sometimes I didn’t communicate well. I trusted people I shouldn’t have trusted. And that’s the beauty of this book. 

After by Anna Todd is the perfect teenage book.

It reminded me of my days of high school and uni. Attending parties I shouldn’t have and trusting people that didn’t deserve my trust. Handling relationships badly and having terrible ability to communicate. And this book brought all the excitement back and more. Fond and not so fond memories that reminded me that I have lived at the fullest. 

In the next book, I do hope that their relationship improves. I hope Hardin grows up and Tessa communicates to him, instead of hurting him back. Also, I hope Tessa fixes her relationship with her mother as well, even though her mother needs to work on her own biases as well. I also hope that the dramas continue as well – I really love them. 

After by Anna Todd was a very refreshing read for me, because I don’t usually read teen romance anymore. I really hope I read it sooner, and I think I should get back to this genre as well. It kept me intrigued and hooked all the way through, and I certainly recommend it. 

P.S. If you want a good boy Hardin, watch the movie instead of reading the book. But don’t expect too much. It could’ve used a more “”bad boy” looking actor as well. Sorry, Hero, it’s nothing personal. You’re just not the Hardin I imagined. 

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