Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Emma's Review: Mistletoe on 34th Street by Lisa Dickenson

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Olivia has never experienced a snow-covered, 'traditional' Christmas before. Having grown up in a family that chose winter sun over decking the halls, she's not sure what all the fuss is about. So when she and her colleagues are stranded in New York after a work trip, Olivia is perfectly happy spending the holiday season in the Big Apple.

Jon, Olivia's friend, on the other hand is desperate to get home in time for his big family get-together. Nevertheless, determined to make the best out of the situation, he sets out to show Olivia how enchanting Christmas in New York can be. And when handsome New Yorker Elijah is added to the mix, could the magic of the season finally be working its charm on Olivia? As 25 December draws closer, Olivia suddenly finds herself with a decision to make: who does she really want to kiss under the mistletoe this Christmas?

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Wow is all I can say... how on earth can it have taken me so long to read a book written by Lisa Dickenson? I have certainly been missing out on some brilliant writing that is full of humour and such warmth and has a fantastic storyline. Everyone I had seen mention Mistletoe on 34th Street seemed to absolutely love it and do nothing but rave about how good this book was. I'm always a bit sceptical when I see this on Twitter or book blogs wondering does it really live up to all the hype? Too many times this year I have read books that fall flat for me whereas I saw other people were falling over themselves to say good things about that particular book, but here with this festive tale from Lisa all the hype is justified and it deserves so much positive praise and to rocket up the Christmas best seller list. At last we have a book which markets itself as a Christmas read and finally lives up to that expectation. There were just that one too many books this year that didn't have enough Christmas or even Christmas at all in their stories having claimed to be festive reads and that left me bitterly disappointed. 

Here right from the very first chapter I sensed I was in for a real treat and this was going to be a book I would race through and enjoy thoroughly. On the other hand at some points I wanted to slow down my reading pace because I didn't want the magic of Olivia's story to end. If the blurb doesn't draw you into this book than the cover most definitely will, it's just gorgeous and so eye catching and makes you want to visit New York in the run up to Christmas. Mistletoe on 34th Street could have been full of clich├ęs and a run of the mill romance story instead Lisa Dickenson brought so much more in the best way that I couldn't leave my Kindle out of my hands until the very last page.

Each chapter has headings and dates as we edge ever closer to Christmas and I thought this was a nice touch as the urgency of the story and the dilemma the characters faced weighed ever more in their minds as the countdown to Christmas intensified and they found themselves in a sticky situation. We first meet Olivia and her friend and workmate Kim as they compete in the Fearless Freeze 10k challenge. To be honest this sounded like an absolute nightmare to participate in but it was essential to the storyline for without it Olivia may not have been given the chance to step up to the plate and make it known that she is well capable of taking charge when need be. Olivia works for a foundation Girls of the World, that wants to promote women's rights through education and empowerment. Sheena is her boss but unfortunately she is now out of action for a while and Olivia is given the opportunity to take charge of their annual trip to a conference in New York just before Christmas. Will this be the making of her or will all the trials and tribulations prove too much when push comes to shove? Or will the Big Apple at Christmas work its magic in the most unexpected of ways? 

Two things I loved from the start were that clearly the reader could see Olivia was a strong person and thankfully her profession was so relevant to the times she lived in today. She was straight talking and loved her job and it was so refreshing to have a character that wasn't struggling for a job or working somewhere they hated. This allowed different aspects of the story to come to the fore. I loved Olivia from beginning to end, she wasn't without her faults but my god was she funny. I haven't laughed so much at a book in a long time in fact Lisa Dickenson had so much laughter and sparkle dotted throughout this book that no reader could not fall in love with the characters and setting. She was so on point with all the dialogue and I found myself laughing and nodding along with what they were saying. It all just seemed so refreshing whereas in other books there could be endless scenes that weren't needed and didn't move the plot along at all. That wasn't the case here at all and everything moved along at a cracking pace.

Olivia was filled with ambition and wasn't the normal chick lit character who needed a push and quite frankly didn't know what she wanted in life. The chance to go to New York and lead the team at the conference was one she would relish. Then once it was over she could kick back and relax and do nothing for the two weeks over Christmas. Christmas was never a time she really loved as growing up her parents were always away so a small family gathering in January with her sisters and parents always sufficed and this year would be no different. But fate had a hand to play and Olivia along with her team find themselves stranded in New York due to a huge snowstorm over Europe. As the days tick by and their hopes of getting back to England in time for Christmas seem ever far away. Things start to change for Olivia in the best way possible and I just gobbled up the New York scenes and in a sneaky way I hoped they may not get back in time as I wanted the story to keep going so I lost was I in what was unfolding. 

Lisa Dickenson made me feel like I had been to New York with Olivia and co even though I have never been to America. It all felt so real and vibrant and just pure magical at Christmas time. I loved how we got to see little side storylines develop between all her colleagues whom I'm not going to mention at all. As for Olivia herself she takes everything in her stride and decides she just needs to go with the flow and maybe there are greater powers dictating what is happening. It was almost like a really modern version of  A Christmas Carol as various things come in to play so Olivia could see Christmas wasn't so bad after all and although we may feel like shutting ourselves away from the world it is a time to be together and enjoy the festivities. Of course we needed that little bit of romance to make this the truly brilliant Christmas book it was and as Olivia claims she has no need for a man I wondered would romance even play a part in the book but how could it not considering the city and situation there were in with snow falling and it being the most wonderful time of the year.  Elijah and Jon are the main players in this respect and I'll say no more only I loved how Lisa teased her readers and played everything out.

Does everything work out for Olivia on both a personal and professional level? Will the team get back home for Christmas or will they have killed each other stuck in New York? Well you'll need to buy this book to discover the answers but trust me you won't be one bit sorry you did make the purchase. Mistletoe on 34th Street had me from page one and as well as a solid decent main storyline it was just side splittingly funny and one of the best Christmas books I have read this year and really I can only count one other as being on the same wavelength as being my personal favourite and I've read alot of Christmas books this year. This was a marvellous, warm, moving festive read that any book lover would enjoy but particularly those readers who gobble up Christmas reads. Every turn of the page brought more surprises and twists and I really felt I was there alongside Olivia as she goes through so many changes but she is always so frank, honest and on point that I could see a bit of myself in her. 

I really do hope Lisa will write a Christmas book every year because if they are as good as this readers are in for a real treat. I'm delighted to have discovered that talent that is Lisa Dickenson and even give myself a slap on the wrist that I haven’t read her books before. But in another way I am lucky as I can now go back and get and read at my leisure The Twelve Dates of Christmas, Catch me if You Cannes and You Had Me at Merlot. Meanwhile don't hesitate to buy Mistletoe on 34th Street I couldn't recommend it enough.

Many thanks to Little Brown Uk via NetGalley for my copy of Mistletoe on 34th Street to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

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