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Last Christmas

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Member Reviews

This was a very fast, Christmasy dramatic thriller with nice twists! I read this book in only a few hours and loved the different point of views of each main character in the story. I thought the characters were well developed and you either loved or hated them. Poor Neil was absolutely miserable and you felt sorry for him. His marriage deteriorating because of infertility and alcohol, forced to spend Christmas with his perfect in-laws who mostly despised him. Neil ends up dead on Christmas Day and everyone is suspect including Neil himself.

This story has lots of twists and turns, lots of secrets to uncover. Not everyone is who they seem to be.

I really enjoyed this read and will definitely recommend it. Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for this ARC in exchange for my review! Love this publisher, you really can’t go wrong with one of their books!

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Last Christmas by Maria Frankland
Bookouture
10 November 2023- Available Now!
4⭐️

If you're expecting a cozy holiday read about a terminally ill man spending his last Christmas with his family, then this book isn't for you. But, if you're expecting a roller coaster of family drama filled with lies, secrets, and betrayal, then you're in the right place.
This book was a quick read filled with twists and turns. Ones that I could predict, but more importantly, ones that I couldn't, and I enjoyed reading them. I liked that the book was divided up into three parts, each accompanied by their own POV, although I would have loved to see some of the other characters' POVs and read their thoughts about the events in the book.
Thank you, @netgalley , @bookouture , and @writermaria_f , for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for this ARC. This one was a miss for me. I was so bored at 10% in that I gave up. The story was annoying and didn't hook me.

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Three sisters and their husbands have gathered at their parents house to celebrate one last Christmas together as their father has a fatal illness. Sacha is married to Neil who is dealing with depression and the couple’s infertility problems. He didn’t want to go; he doesn’t feel accepted by her family and is, in fact, treated abominably by the brothers-in-law. Of course his own behavior and over drinking doesn’t help. When his body is found at the bottom of a cliff, the authorities wonder if it was an accident, suicide, or something nefarious. This is the beginning of the even more unraveling of family unity and secrets.

Don’t let the title of this novel mislead you….no cozy holiday read this! There are some tough topics here including terminal cancer, depression and alcoholism. The story doesn’t really revolve around Christmas except that the holiday gives the opportunity for the dysfunctional family to gather together.

Told from three POVs, the story is soapy, cliched, full of despicable people, and I couldn’t put it down. The author drew me in and wouldn’t let me go until I finished the book. I read this as an ARC and had one problem with a timeline…perhaps that will be cleared up in the printed edition.

By the way, this novel made me even more thankful than I already am for being an only child!

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Wife and husband, Sacha and Neil, head to Sacha's parents house for the holidays. Neil is reluctant to attend. He has been struggling with his mental health and drinking way too much. He has been out of work and is also suffering from infertility issues. At the family home, he is ostracized by his own wife and the rest of her family. Tensions rise between Neil and his brother-in-laws. There's a death and the family is let to deal with the aftermath.

My biggest issues with this book: it was NOT a psychological thriller. It has been incorrectly characterized. It is a domestic family drama. Had I know, I likely would not have picked up this one to read. The synopsis provided by the publisher/author leans into the psychological thriller typecast. Again, this is simply incorrect. It should be rewritten as it is very misleading.

Secondly, the characters are all terrible people, but this was done in such an overtop way, which really took away from the general plot line. Some big issues are also present in this book (such as depression, alcoholism, infertility), but none of them are really explored. The author had the opportunity to really flesh these issues out and explore the impacts on the family. This was not done.

Finally, the book was extremely boring at parts and really dragged on. I kept waiting for some big twists and turns, or at least something juicy, since it was characterized as a thriller (plus, the synopsis also had me thinking the same thing!) The ending was also super predictable.

Thank you Bookouture and NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest revie.w

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“The doorbell cuts through the sound of the howling wind outside. Snowflakes from the freezing December air whirl into the house as I open the front door to the police. The look on their faces says everything. My husband is dead. Did one of my family kill him?”

This was my first book by Maria Frankland. It started off a bit slow as all the background information was revealed and the characters were introduced, but then it really picked up! There were quite a few twists that I did NOT see coming (and that I never could have predicted in a million years). I enjoyed the crime drama as well as the marriage/family drama in Last Christmas.

This book is told in three parts, with each part being a different character’s point of view (part 1: Neil; part 2:Sacha; part 3: Christy). I thought this was a unique way to organize the story and I enjoyed being able to understand each character on an even deeper level during their portion. Frankland’s writing was clear and concise.

Thank you so much @Netgalley @bookouture and @writermaria_f for a copy of this ARC!

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Last Christmas is the first book I've read by this author.

Neil reluctantly spends Christmas with his in-laws. They don't make a secret of the fact they don't like him. They are rude to say the least. I wouldn't want to spend any day with these people, much less a holiday.

I found the first half to be repetitive and quite slow. However, the second half picked up and became much more interesting.

Full of family drama, dysfunction and secrets. It just didn't suck me in as I had hoped.

Thanks to netgalley and Bookouture for the arc.

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In this tense and taut domestic thriller about the in-laws from hell, one will not survive the holiday!! Lots going on for the protagonists and adding alcohol and a dysfunctional family add to the mystery. Good read!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for this ARC!

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there are a few triggering topics in this book, i’d check them out before diving in!

this was a pretty quick read yet not at all what i was expecting. i adore christmas romance books so i was excited to get my hands on a christmas thriller… however it lacked that christmas element for me, the plot was interesting and the writing was good. wasn’t a fan of most of the characters to be honest…

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Neil and his wife Sacha travel to her parents house for the Christmas break despite Neil's reluctance as he struggles with depression and alcohol addition. Theres nothing be wants less than to be soending time with Sacha's family over Christmas. As tension escalates between him and several family members, a walk on the cliff edge ends in tragedy. But what reallt happened to Neil that night? As Sacha grapples with guilt, she seeks answers to the many questions she has but she might not like the answers.

This book absolutely had me gripped! With a mix of character viewpoints and a clever and believable portrayal of the tensions and layers within family relationships, the author cleverly creates and develops characters that are recognisable and familiar to the reader. I felt emotionally involved with the characters. An excellent book, perfect for thriller lovers at Christmas.

Thank you to Netgalley, Bookoutre and the author Maria Frankland for the opportunity to read and review this book as an ARC.

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On Christmas Eve, Neil and Sacha are heading to stay with her family for a few days. They argue about him drinking while taking antidepressants. Sacha is considering doing IVF in hopes of getting pregnant. While neither of them really wants to go, her mother is trying to make this a good Christmas because her father is terminally ill. While there, Neil drinks heavily and other family members chastise him for it making him very angry. This results in Neil going outside in very cold weather. His two brothers-in-law, Greg and Adam follow him, to try and get him to calm down and come inside. They return but without Neil. As time goes on and he doesn’t return, Sacha finally calls the police. After a big search, Neil if found dead at the bottom of a steep cliff. Sacha is beside herself. Could he have fallen or was it suicide?

The story delves into the relationships between the family members which is rather flawed. There is plenty of anger, angst, and sadness. Lots of twists here with a relatively satisfactory ending.

Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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We all know families can be difficult. A mix of people with a long history of grudges and annoyances, mixed with spouses that the rest of the family may not get along with. Add over-excited children, alcohol and Christmas stress and you end up with a very volatile mix. I am sure many of us will have experienced a Christmas family dust up. Maria Frankland has taken this phenomenon and pushed it to the next level to produce a gripping, festive murder mystery.

This is the kind of family you really don’t want to belong to. There are some really awful characters in this book – one of them I found particularly loathsome, partly because I think I recognise him – but the author makes a brilliant job of making sure they are realistic and not caricatures. It takes great skill to get a reader invested in a book where none of the characters are likeable or even sympathetic until they are dead but Maria Frankland manages to do it.

Despite the fact that this is really, murder aside, a fairly mundane family saga which you can imagine playing out in households across the country (not the murder bit, obviously!), the author manages to make the book dark and gripping and full of twists and turns that keep the reader engrossed until the very end. It was a read that flew by for me and I thoroughly enjoyed the experienced. Highly recommended if you like your festive reading on the more bloody side.

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Engaging, quick read that kept me guessing. I could have easily finished it in one day if I didn't have kids and a full time job, lol. I highly recommend and look forward to reading other books by this author!

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Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture and Maria Frankland for the ARC to read and review!

This is not your grandma's sweet holiday tale of gingerbread cookies and sugar plum dreams ... it's a whodunit murder mystery, full of dark twistiness and edge of your seat suspense featuring one HOT MESS of a family at Christmas! AND I AM HERE FOR IT!

I was completely drawn in from the very beginning and loved how the story developed through multiple POV’s … beginning with the victim! I went through the entire book guessing and second guessing, not knowing who to believe! The ending definitely brought it all home with a shock!

If you are looking for a holiday read that’s a little less sugary and sweet and a lot more killer on the loose … here ya go! This is a great Christmas thriller that will keep you captivated from the first to the very last page!

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I really enjoyed this book. Set around Christmas with lots of family drama , complicated relationships and murder mystery. Different POVs allowed us to learn more about each character to better understand their family dynamics. I was not a big fan of Sasha who seemed lost, weak and very unsupportive of her husband. My favorite was Christy who was sympathetic, independent and had a good head on her shoulders.
Maria did an amazing job by making us feel like we were part of this family drama and setting up the final twist. I was fully engaged in this story from the very beginning to the end.

Thank you NetGalley, Bookouture and the author for free ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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I'm ashamed to say this was my first book by Frankland and it's certainly not going to be my last, this was gooooood!

It made a change to read a Christmas book that wasn't all fluffy kittens and twinkly lights, and had a storyline that kept me on my toes throughout as I tried to put the pieces together and solve the heinous crime.

The plot is narrated from three different POV, allowing us to connect with each character and learn more about their backstory. It's moderately paced, compelling and full of familial drama.

And just like that when you think you've got it all sussed, Frankland throws another killer twist in at the end!

Brilliant book, great plot and one to recommend.

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Last Christmas by Maria Frankland.
It was supposed to be a family Christmas to remember. But I never thought it would end with one of us dead…
A slow starter but I soon got into it. I was surprised by the ending. I didn't really like any characters but I didn't like Neil. 4*.

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Last Christmas puts the “D” in Dysfunctional!

A super twisty quick read, it begins with the holidays and then winds its way thru the year to the next holiday season.

It does integrate some deep topics, such as depression and suicide, terminal disease and hospice, and infertility.

I thought my family was dysfunctional before this. Lol

One husband is dead, a father is ill, one sister is pregnant and a raging selfish b*tch. (Seriously I did NOT like Rebecca and wanted to punch her in the face!).
The telling of trauma, who did what, and with who, 3 sisters and their husbands find themself intertwined and trying to find answers.

I sort of figured out what was going on about 80% of the way thru, but I loved how everyone in the book figured it out.

Be kind to your loved ones friends.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for this ARC in return for my honest opinion.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Pub date: 10 Nov 2023

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Can y'all keep a secret?

I still write letters to Santa and I was wishing HARD for this book, so I sent the big guy an early request..

I know my secret is safe with you, because you know... Snitches get stitches.

Anyway...

This book right here is literary gold and I am going to make sure everyone knows it!

Last Christmas

For a kid who celebrates Christmas all year round, to see this book pop up was destiny and I was living for it. We have already established I am the creepy customer singing Jingle Bell Rock through Trader Joes BUT did you know I once aspired to be one of Santa's toy building elves?

Im rambling again,..

Any who, Maria Frankland, and I go way back to 2020 with Left Hanging (If you haven't read this there is still time and it's one of my favorites!!) This is when Frankland courted me and I fell under her spell. It was the start of a beautiful "book-ship" and I was never going to end this. I have read everything to date including Under Currents, In His Shadow and A Life for a Life BUTTTTT and there is a big BUT, I will be blown away if anything can top the way I feel about Last Christmas.

This book had everything I never knew I needed jam packed within the pages. Please Please Please, give me more!!! The character development was executed with perfection. The twist? Well, it just about knocked me on my tush.

Anyone who rates this book under 5 stars is lying and a criminal

Teaser:

It was supposed to be a family Christmas to remember. But I never thought it would end with one of us dead…

As I walk into the pine-scented air of my seaside childhood home, gripping my husband Neil’s hand tight, I have a brief moment of hope. Maybe this Christmas will be different – for once my family might get on fuelled by mulled wine and festive cheer.

But the sound of happy carols are replaced by my older sister Christy’s over-loud laugh and slurred words. Rebecca, my younger sister, stalks out of the room as soon as I enter, as though I’m the Grinch here to steal Christmas. And their husbands, brash and arrogant, slap Neil’s back in a way that promises torment rather than welcome. My dream shatters. I know it’ll be the same as always.

The day continues as badly as I feared, forced cheerfulness turning to rolled eyes, and when a wine-fuelled argument swirls out of hand Neil can’t take it anymore. I don’t blame him when he storms out of the house. But he never returns…

When my gentle husband is found dead at the beach we loved, my whole world collapses. But it’s even worse than a nightmare – because Neil has been murdered. By someone in my family.

I knew we had our differences, but I never thought it would end like this. And as my heart hammers in my chest I know I’m running out of time. Because whoever killed Neil must know what I’m really hiding. And if I don’t figure out who in my fractured family really did it, I know I will be next…

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Last Christmas (ARC)
Maria Frankland
3.75⭐️

Pub date: 11/10/2023

⚠️ depression, suic*de

Neil and Sacha are forced to spend one last Christmas with Sacha's family. However Neil is not coping well. He's never felt welcome and tensions within the family quickly rise. Depression, alcohol and a snide comments from everyone push him to the edge. Disaster happens. Sacha now has to face the truth. Neil is gone. Is it his choice, or is her family guilty?

This book is decent but slow paced. It has 3 POVs that are separated by sections. I like that the first POV is Neil's and it gives a good insight of how much he was struggling. It touches heavily on the topics of depression and how it affects the family. The other 2 POVs were okay. I didn't find them bothersome but they didn't add to the experience either, especially the 3rd narrator. This book is more so family/domestic drama or suspense for me rather than a psychological thriller. It's very messed up and it was written/expeessed well. The families are very dysfunctional. This book definitely got emotions- annoyance, hatred, betrayal and regret- across. Justice for the victims was there but I found myself needing more.

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