Cover Image: Last Christmas

Last Christmas

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Member Reviews

I’m always on the lookout for Christmas thrillers - there’s so few of them compared to cozy mysteries & romances, so I’ll almost always read them when I see them. However, this was one I should have ignored.

None of the characters are likeable and I could not find any redeeming factors to make me care about them. I found them to be immature & vile and I thought the writing was very simplistic. There’s so much drama that by the time we reached the conclusion, I just didn’t care. Calling this a psychological thriller is perhaps the best writing in this work of fiction.

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Last Christmas is a Christmas thriller about a woman whose husband is killed on Christmas. Since it happens at her parents house, she knows that someone in her family is responsible. What unfolds is a lot of secrets and the truth about her husband.

This book was just ok for me. I wanted to love it since it’s a Christmas thriller and I have been looking for Christmas thrillers. However, there were some things that bothered me in this one. I’ll start with what i liked. I thought the writing was good and the story was fast paced. The twists were not super predictable so that was good. It also had a lot of Christmas vibes throughout that were fun to follow.

My major complaint with this story was the main character. The first few chapters, she is belittling her husband and talking horribly about him. They have a lot of problems and everyone is horrible to him. And then he dies and a lot of horrible things are revealed about the wife. So this whole time she was doing a lot of horrible things behind his back and he’s the bad guy? That just really sat with me wrong. This story was also a lot of family drama that I did not enjoy either.

Thanks so much to netgalley and the publisher for the arc of this book!

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“Grief is the cost of love”

It’s Christmas, a time for family. Except this family is toxic, deceitful and a bunch of barefaced liars!
“Last Christmas” is a multi point of view domestic thriller that follows Sacha and her sisters through dark times, deaths and grief.

This was ok. I wouldn’t have called it a psychological thriller though, it’s more a family drama storyline. A quick and easy read. None of the characters were particularly likeable though, and I found it quite predictable. The ending also wasn’t very believable, I think that could’ve been done better.

Trigger warnings - suicide, fertility issues.

Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for my advanced copy.

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You had me at ‘Last Christmas’! I really enjoyed this twisty thriller and it kept me turning pages well into the night. This is domestic drama at its finest filled with toxic relationships and devastating consequences. 5 stars!

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Last Christmas by Maria Frankland-

The synopsis for this novel had me believing that this would be a “page-turning, psychological thriller.” In fact, I was looking forward to having my mind blown. I was highly disappointed.

This book started painstakingly slow. I was bored out of my mind for the first half this book. The first 50% of this book is spent in Sacha’s parents house with everyone picking on Neil, who was absolutely miserable and never wanted to be there in the first place. Neil is suffering from clinical depression and his wife Sacha isn’t very sympathetic toward him or what he is going through. To add to his already crippling depression, he’s been told he’s basically infertile and is dealing with feeling like he’s failing his wife yet again, by not being able to conceive a child with her. It’s Christmas time and Sacha wants to spend the holidays at her parents home because her father is terminally with cancer. Neil tries to get out of going but ultimately gives in to Sacha’s badgering and goes. To deal with Sacha and her bat sh*t crazy family, Neal drinks and ends up making a fool of himself. Neal’s drunken first night in the parents home is really just the beginning of a debacle of a family holiday.

I found the plot twists and subsequent events of the novel to be predictable. It was easy to guess what was going to happen and who was responsible for what. The support characters were seriously flawed and there weren’t many that were easy to like. The best characters were poor Neil and Sacha’s parents. This wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read but it wasn’t nearly as exciting as I expected it to be. Whomever wrote to synopsis deserves an award though, they tricked me into thinking I was going toe reading one heck of a thriller.

I received an advance reader copy and am leaving my review voluntarily.

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"Last Christmas" by Maria Frankland is a compelling family drama with some issues, yet it offers several redeeming qualities that make it a worthwhile read. I'd give it four stars because of the book's ability to immerse readers in the complex lives of its characters, despite some shortcomings.

The story isn't a typical suspense thriller; instead, it focuses on family drama. It's set during the Christmas holiday, but it's not really a festive story. Christmas serves as a backdrop to bring the family together and adds depth to the narrative.

One significant problem is the discrepancy between the book's blurb and the actual story. The blurb suggests that Sacha suspects her family of wrongdoing, but the central theme is more about unraveling the mystery of Neal's death, whether it was an accident or suicide. Some elements mentioned in the blurb, like Christie's memory issues, do not align with the actual events in the book, which can lead to some confusion.

The cover, featuring blood splatter, may mislead readers into thinking it's a more violent story than it actually is. Neal's death is certainly tragic, but it's not as gruesome as the cover implies.

However, there are several positive aspects to the book that deserve recognition:

Engaging Family Dynamics: One of the book's strengths is its ability to draw readers into the intricate web of family relationships. This immersion into the family's dynamics allows readers to connect with the characters on an emotional level.

Compelling Character Development: Despite the characters' flaws, the author skillfully develops them throughout the story. Their complexity and the way they evolve over the course of the narrative make for an interesting and relatable reading experience.

Mystery Element: Although the story isn't a traditional thriller, the mystery surrounding Neal's death keeps readers engaged. The gradual revelation of secrets and the sense of intrigue add depth to the plot.

Realistic Family Conflicts: The portrayal of family conflicts and tensions feels authentic, making it easy for readers to relate to the characters' struggles and dilemmas. This realism adds depth to the family drama.

Entertaining Read: Despite its imperfections, "Last Christmas" remains an engaging and entertaining read. The blend of family drama and mystery keeps readers invested in the storyline, making it a page-turner.

In summary, "Last Christmas" is a book that, while not without its issues, manages to captivate readers through its engaging family dynamics, character development, and the allure of a family's secrets. It's an entertaining read for those who enjoy family dramas with a touch of mystery, despite its deviations from the thriller genre. Thanks to NetGalley and the author for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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As three sisters travel to their parents house to celebrate Christmas with their terminally ill father, what could go wrong?

The family dynamic between the sisters, parents and brother-in-laws is very interesting and I am sure that some readers can relate to some of their struggles when trying to celebrate the holiday and putting on a "happy" face. The "last" Christmas they will all celebrate together is one that no one will be able to forget.

The author's ability to tell the story for various points of view keeps the reader interested and wanting to find out more behind the events that occur on Christmas day. I did enjoy how the author chunked the points of view into different parts instead of meshing them together in each chapter. I believe it gave the reader a more accurate viewpoint of the day when it focuses on one character at a time.

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I’ve read a couple of novels from Maria Frankland in the past and enjoyed them both. So I was looking forward to this one, billed as a psychological Christmas thriller.
Unfortunately, it became apparent soon after starting that this is a domestic family drama rather than any sort of psychological thriller.
Stuart, the patriarch of the family, has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, so he and his wife Wendy invite their three daughters and respective husbands to spend what will be Stuart’s final Christmas in their flash new home. The novel opens from Neil’s perspective who is married to daughter Sacha. Neil is out of work and suffers from both depression and alcoholism and has infertility issues. He is treated abominably by Sacha and all the rest of the family. The next daughter Christy is married to Adam who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Finally, there is Rebecca married to Greg and expecting her third child. The pair of them are beyond horrible.
Then a death occurs. By this time, I completely didn’t care. The characters are all so over-the-top vile that they wouldn’t be out of place in a bad soap opera. Serious issues such as depression, alcoholism, and terminal cancer are all included just for effect and not given the serious treatment they merit.
I will stick with the author, but this particular novel is a no from me.
My thanks to Net Galley, Maria Frankland, and Bookouture for an ARC in exchange for an open and honest review.

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I probably would have liked this book if it wasn't advertised as a psychological thriller. Because it's not. It's a story about a dysfunctional family and overall was an enjoyable book but I couldn't get into it because I was expecting something different

Perfect for readers who like stories about dysfunctional families

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Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy of Last Christmas.

From the first page of the book it had me gripped. It had some twists and turns. But I didn’t find it that much of a psychological thriller. Either way I liked the book. Wasn’t great and it wasn’t bad it was just somewhere in the middle and that’s fine.
⭐️⭐️⭐️/5

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Thank you Bookouture and NetGalley for an early copy of Last Christmas. What a twist this book took, I Never would have predicted it!!!!! The wake lunch was a bit unreal until it all came together and it really did make sense. This was mind boggling, I couldn’t read it fast enough, every chapter something else was happening. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this novel. I can’t stop thinking of all the twists, I Love when an author writes a Great book, thank you Maria Frankland.

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Last Christmas was a very good book. It had a lot of family drama which is something I always enjoy. I love dual POV’s so this definitely worked for me. The characters were also well written and the storyline was interesting. The ending was definitely something I didn’t see coming. Well done by the author. I definitely recommend this book to others, just be aware of certain triggers.
Thank you to the publisher and to NetGalley for the ARC.

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Book Title: Last Christmas
Author: Maria Frankland
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Psychological Thriller- at Christmas
Pub Date: November 10, 2023
My Rating: 3 Stars!
Pages: 298

When I saw a post for this novel on one of my FB Book Groups and it mentioned it is a Christmas Psychological Thriller. Since I LOVE both I was sure this was going to be win/win for me!

Christy, Sacha and Rebecca and their husbands are spending Christmas with their parents as it’s to be their dads last Christmas as he is terminally ill

Sacha’s husband Neil has been struggling with depression and his marriage is hanging by a thread due to his infertility issue. He doesn’t want to spend time with Sacha’s family so is compensating with alcohol.

Didn’t take long to know that isn’t a ‘feel good’ Christmas get together secrets are revealed throughout the story- Infidelity, jealousy, revenge, and no surprise arguments!.

I am a big fan of psychological thrillers but this is definitely family –aka sibling drama!

More about the author Maria Frankland
Maria’s novels are fast-paced, down to earth and realistic. You never know what’s around the corner…
Find out more about Maria at https://www.mariafrankland.co.uk.

I always enjoy reading the Author’s Notes in this case
A Letter from Maria Frankland
She tells us that for most of us Christmas is a magical time but for some it can truly be a stressful nightmare- season of spending too much; getting together where a lot of alcohol is consumed that can bring old resentments to the surface.

She hopes that after spending time with this family we will feel thankful and blessed with our families
- at least we are not spending time with any of them!
(This of course made me laugh!)

Want to thank NetGalley and Bookouture for this early eGalley.
Publishing Release Date scheduled for November 10, 2023.

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4.5!

This book was full of twists, turns, loops and more.

I really did love the split POV's. I'm usually not a fan of huge chunks being in one POV, but this one was done wonderfully.

I do wish we got a bit more insight into the family background, but this was such a good book. The end thru me for a loop, I was not expecting it!

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Neil and Sacha's relationship has been going through some tough times.
Suffering from infertility, bouts of mental health, family drama,
and infertility, the tension was building like a pressure cooker.

Sacha's family has always made Neil feel like an outsider, so when they decide to spend Christmas with them , drinks flow tempers fly, and someone ends up dead.



As with all Maria Frankland novels, you never know where it's going to take you. I expected a Christmassy book but ended up with more of a domestic family drama. And I enjoyed it!

The disfunction in this family is completely off the charts. The characters are wonderfully crafted, although none of them are particularly likable. They all behave attrociosly, and Frankland weaves this gripping setting where the secrets are peeled back, and we find out who the true catalyst is .

She explores the topics of and many other sensitive subjects with precision and skill, which will keep you reading past your bedtime

If you enjoy appalling behavior, sibling rivalry, and family disfunction, this book is for you. It's a short, intriguing story with several twists that will keep you entertained until the end.

Thank you to bookatue, Netgally and Maria for the advanced copy.

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Wow! I didn’t see that ending coming. I suspected who the killer was for the husband but I didn’t see everything else coming! The sister, Rebecca, was most definitely not my favorite person. I really enjoyed this book. There was a lot that went on in this book. I will say if you have any triggers with suicide or the loss of a loved one, this book may trigger you.

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Aww the absolutely perfect holiday thriller! It's well written and has a good pace. I love books that male you rethink absolutely everything that you thought you knew. The characters are cleverly written and the author did an amazing job of showing that it all depends on perspective and about the hidden sides people can have. The plot has multiple povs and multiple plot threats and they all merge perfectly at the end with no plot holes or ridiculous stretches if the imagination. I can't say enough good things

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3.75 stars- thank you so much to NetGalley and Bookouture for having me read this early in exchange for an honest review.

Okay, so where do I start with this novel? I always love a good multiple POV; however I wish that more books would come with TWs. So let me give them to you: TW suicide, terminal illness. At some points it did get a little dark for me, and not at all in a gripping psychological thriller way. Sacha was a great FMC…until she wasn’t. I definitely looked at her as the victim in all of this, when in all actuality her sister Chrissy had done nothing to deserve all of the turmoil her family had put her through. Many storylines wrapped up into one, however they ended up connecting pretty seamlessly. We did start off with Neil’s POV and I definitely wish we spent a little more time with him before abruptly writing him off. Or at least getting a little more backstory, I don’t know. His time with us seemed a little rushed. Not all parts of the ending were predictable; that doesn’t mean I didn’t see some coming from a mile away because of the lack of characters we were introduced to. I would pick up another book from this author.

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I have received this ARC from NetGalley and the publisher. So thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this opportunity!

The way the characters were portrayed in this book was so well!
I love these classic ‘someone i love died and someone i love did it’ novels and this was no exception. I’ve read it in a day and it was really enjoyable.

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This is a new author for me and she immediately went to the top of my list. I love her writing style and the way she can keep the reader glued to their seat is just wonderful.

She managed to make me feel sorry for someone who was not really to be trusted and did not deserve to be pitied fully and she made some of the characters so real I honestly despised them thoroughly.

Sometimes people do some despicable things and think they got away with it, but the truth always comes floating on top.

Why do people often break the trust of loved ones? Well, it's because they only see what they can gain from it and they consider the rest collateral damage. 

I can understand you can despise someone with a vengeance, but some have a really have a rather cruel way to show it. 

A great story with revelations I could not have come up with, even if I tried. I am looking forward to her next book. 5 stars

Thank you

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