December Books #AmReading

Oh wow, it is the last month of this year, and the last month of this decade! Where did the time go, seriously? Well, I know, that alongside the fun of end of term school activities, and getting my own book out there, I have been enjoying another bumper crop of reads!

Time Management for Writers

Time Management for Writers by Katie Forrest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sprinkled with personal anecdotes, Forrest has really broken down the whys and wherefores of how we spend our time each day, and some extremely easy ways to identify our goals, our ‘Whys’, (as she calls them), and then implement strategies to maximise our efficiency.
I, for one, am definitely excited to start a routine where I am more conscious of when I am productive, and how I can create a world that works for me, in my personal life, professional life and with my passion for writing.
Part of my new routine, to be established, will be a set amount of time, 3-4 days a week, where I read a craft book, and actually digest what I am reading and take notes.
This will enable me to hopefully create better words from the off when I get back to my creative writing.

The Fallout

The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sarah and Liza are friends who met and bonded through a local NCT group, being a support network for each other through those first fraught months and years of parenthood.
They look out for one another and have been there for each other through thick and thin.
Then something happens, injuring one of their children, and a web of lies, guilt and secrecy is woven.
An interesting format, and I especially liked the WhatsApp chats that were interspersed between chapters, as an extremely relevant addition to the book, seeing as a huge percentage of the population uses it as a means of communication.
Some interesting twists were revealed as the conclusion was reached.
Well, it was definitely a compelling read, seeing as I finished it in a day!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Unexpected Lessons in Love

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Lucy Dillon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when you are on your way to your wedding, and moments from arriving, you realise that you can’t do it?
Then you send a message to your intended, only to find out that he has been involved in a horrific accident?
Guilt sears through you, as well as confusion,
What do you do now? Was it your fault?
Jeannie McCarthy was in this exact position.
Until Dan gained consciousness, she wouldn’t know whether he’d heard the message.
So she’d have to pretend to be the loving fiancee, waiting for any news on his recovery.
Meanwhile, Jeannie tries to fill the waiting with attempts to settle into a new town and finds herself immersed in the caring of several litters of puppies, making new friends, and reigniting her love of songwriting.
I was swept away by this tale of crossed connections. It is a love story, with breakups. A sad, yet happy tale.
Good? I’d like to think so! I finished it in a day!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 9th Jan 2020

She

She by HC Warner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben is reeling from a break-up, and suddenly the most attractive woman he’s seen is showing interest in him.
Forget interest, Bella wants him.
And from want, branches commitment in the form of a sudden pregnancy and quick wedding.
But things aren’t always as they seem.
As Ben withdraws from his friends and family, Bella’s claws dig deeper into him.
What’s the story?

I was totally immersed in the story, and the twists, followed by the point of view changes, made me despise Bella all the more.

A fantastic story that keeps you gripped until the very end! I’ve already recommended it to a few friends!

Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 23rd January 2020

The 24-Hour Café

The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the title suggests, this is a book set in a 24-hour cafe in London. Part American diner, part traditional caff, the place is the setting for many life stories.
The book is written over a 24 hour period, detailing the lives of two of the workers there, Hannah and Mona, flatmates and friends for the last few years.
Interspersed with micro-stories of some of the customers, we also learn stories of Hannah and Mona’s past and how they met,
Interestingly written, with a great underlying story about friendship, and living in modern-day London.
Many Thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 23rd January, 2020

Grown-Ups

Grown-Ups by Marian Keyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books about family are always a favourite of mine, and this new read from Marian Keyes was fully family fuelled!
A story about the fortunes of three men, the Casey brothers, Johnny, Ed and Liam, and their respective wives, Jessie, Cara and Nell.

A surprise knock to the head causes Cara to blurt out a whole host of truths at the dinner table one night, in front of the whole family. Truths that have huge consequences.

t starts in the present, then delves backwards, accessing the views of a whole host of characters involved in the story, leading back to the very first scene, allowing us an insight into what happened, to cause the conversation that starts the book.

There are many issues touched upon within the book, from fidelity to eating disorders, trust to control.

I enjoyed the way that each jump back, then forwards, strengthened my knowledge of each character. It isn’t always easy to follow books with multiple points of view, yet I was left with fully formed characters in my mind at the end of the book.

Another page-turner!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 6th February 2020

The Santa Trial: A Christmas Short

The Santa Trial: A Christmas Short by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a wonderful Christmas short!
Seven-year-old Morgan sends Santa a video with her request for Christmas this year, and he delivers in a true Christmas miracle style!
Ryan is a successful businessman and single father. Rena is a lonely twenty-something woman, struggling to keep afloat.
What do they have in common, besides working in the same building?
A summons to jury service. And right before Christmas too.
What develops over the few days they are together, will make you wonder whether Santa really is around, after all!
I was touched by the story and the ending gave me that warm feeling that all festive stories should.
Definitely ready for my Christmas miracle now!

A Mother's Story (No Greater Love, #7)

A Mother’s Story by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, my goodness, Mrs Prowse, you did it again.
Made me cry.
A Mother’s Story is another one of those beautifully written stories, in Amanda Prowse’s unique voice, which deals with sensitive issues, that are not beautiful at all.
Jessica and Matthew get married and are at the peak of their newly-married bliss when they find out they are to become parents.
Having a child was always a part of their plan, but a (pleasant) surprise, so early.
However, a traumatic birth experience triggers the start of the baby blues which spiral deep into postnatal depression.
I was moved to tears as we were transported from the present day, hearing Jessica’s voice, as she makes a slow recovery, to the happenings of the past; the triggers that caused a truly horrendous incident to occur.
I applaud Amanda Prowse for tackling such a delicate topic, not in a flowery way, but in that human, realistic way. Books like this go some way to educating others about how much of a serious illness postnatal depression is.
Read it. Just read.

Wildflower Christmas (The Wildflower House #3)

Wildflower Christmas by Grace Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Wildflower series and was excited to have a Christmas themed novella to help tie up the loose ends of the story.
Kara Hart had been through an awful lot, the past few months, and the loss of her beloved father was one of the biggest things.
Keeping busy, trying to realise his dreams, and getting caught up in finding long lost family, alongside renovations of her new home, finally takes its toll.
Kara is ready for a calm and quiet Christmas, with, maybe, the company of her tentative boyfriend, Will. Time to reflect on the changes in her life.
But nothing is ever as easy as that.
Long-lost family, health problems, wayward best friends, old lovers and a child in need of care over the festive period all come together to create a truly memorable Christmas, for Kara and her loved ones.
A lovely, conclusion to a great three-part series.

Perfect Daughter (No Greater Strength, #1)

Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another heartwarming tale with elements of fire within.
It’s never easy, being a wife and mother, and caring for an elderly parent on top of that can be exhausting.
Jacks is stuck in a wheel of looking after her children, her husband, Pete, Ida, her mum, the house and family life in general.
This wasn’t the life she had dreamt of, for herself, all those years ago.
Instead, she lives her life vicariously, through her daughter, envisioning a bright future for her.
But, what Jacks sees as one bad choice by her daughter, all her dreams turn to dust.
The story moves back and forth, mirroring Jacks life as a teen with that of her as the mother of a teen, and slowly realisations become clear.
It’s not easy being a carer. The reader is really made to feel the sense of duty, and love, as well as the frustration that is involved in looking after your own parent.
It isn’t any easier being a parent. Guiding your children all their lives, until suddenly they are ready to take control of their own decisions. And the choices they make aren’t what you would want.
I loved reading this story and was sucked in from the beginning. I empathised with Jacks. Though her personal situation is not like my own, I could understand her frustrations, her yearning for something different.
A lovely read.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, a novella

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, a novella by Yecheilyah Ysrayl
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar was a quick read, about a young black girl, Wanda, trapped in a living situation that she can’t get out of.
She is being ‘cared for’ by Miss Cassaundra, finds herself caring for a young girl Abby, and wants to get away, to make a better life for herself and Abby.
A story that gives you things to think about.
I enjoyed the premise of the story, but sometimes was a little thrown with whose point of view I was reading.

Saving Missy

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Millicent Carmichael, or Missy, is an elderly lady of 78. She’s existing in her large house in London, with her husband no longer keeping her company, and her children having flown the nest.
A chance encounter with two very different women brings changes to her life that she never thought would happen.
For a start, she ends up with a dog.
Set in 2017 and bouncing back to various times in Missy’s life, we learn a lot about Missy’s life, and how she came to be all alone, despite being a mother to two, a grandmother and a wife.
A heartwarming read, with a few surprises, revealed along the way.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collines UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 6th February 2020

The Magician's Sire ( A Paranormal Romance)

The Magician’s Sire by Linda G Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oooh, I love a prequel, and was extremely excited to receive this novella by Linda G. Hill, to accompany her series!
The Dagmars have a curse upon them, and, having read the series already, I knew all about it.
But to read a little backstory, now that is always good!
Finding out a bit about Steven’s father Tarmien, and how he began to understand how the family curse, and his own powers, would affect his future, and that of his own children.
If you’ve read the two books in the series, you really should read this… and if you haven’t, this would make you want to read!

Double Cup Love

Double Cup Love by Eddie Huang
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I tried.
I tried really hard to enjoy this book, but I just didn’t find myself getting into it.
It was the same with his first book, Fresh Off The Boat.
Still, I liked the ideas behind why this book was written.
Just, didn’t really enjoy how it was written.
Eddie Huang’s journey back home to China, to find himself and his roots, littered with rap slang and profanities…
Some may enjoy it. Wasn’t my cup of tea.

Final Track

Final Track by Julie Hiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow!
I gotta say, this isn’t my usual genre of book, usually favouring easy to read rom coms and cosy fiction, but boy did I get into this one, once I started!
Mahoney is a Chief Detective in a small force in Calgary and is soon embroiled in the investigations of a series of murders.
Each killing has a link to the rock scene of the time, in the ’80s and each case is more and more bizarre, twisted, and definitely connected.
Once it is established that a serial killer is out there, investigations ramp up.
And Detective Mahoney is not about to let this murderer get away.
I have to say, I loved it all, and I ended up staying up way past my bedtime to finish, wanting to know what the score was!
Written from the view of the Detective, but with insights into the mind of another key person from the story, it was unputdownable… well, I couldn’t put it down, anyway!
And I am rather excited about reading more from this talented author, who has an ’80s fixation and some truly disturbing story ideas!

Missing Her More

Missing Her More by Karen McQuestion
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a genuinely heartwarming read! I loved it!
Having read Good Man Dalton, I was eager to read this companion book to it, revisiting characters we already knew, but from a different perspective.
The story is centred around Brenna, the youngest daughter of the Vanderhaven family.
A young girl, born into a family that wants for nothing; her whims catered for, as much as her overprotective parents will allow.
Still, she can’t have a dog or her own cell phone or time with her parents.
Then something awful happens.
Along with her sister, Cece moving out, she finds out that her parents are going to fire her Nanny.
Distraught, she decides upon a plan that ends up causing changes no one would have ever envisaged.
People often think that being from a wealthy family means that a person has everything — no reason to be unhappy or disgruntled in any way.
This story shows that real wealth is family and love, not money.
A wonderful read. So wonderful, I ended up reading it in one sitting!

Adèle

Adèle by Leïla Slimani
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sorry to say this wasn’t the most amazing read, for me.
I read Lullaby, by Slimani, previously, and found it a really hard book to get into, and very cold.
Adele was easier to start, but aside from describing the behaviours of a sex-addicted woman, I felt it was very two dimensional. I didn’t warm to her, or empathise with her at any point.
She’s a mother, but there was no real feeling for her son, and the ending was all too strange for me…
Lost in translation? Maybe.
Sorry. No.

The Siege and Other Award Winning Stories

The Siege and Other Award Winning Stories by Esther Newton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful collection of short stories.
Little snippets of brilliance and you can tell why they were award-winning, or certainly worthy.
Using just a few words, Esther is able to reduce you a gibbering wreck, tugging at heartstrings, that even the coldest of hearts has.
I loved each and every story, but those that dealt with parenting and losing a child were really emotive.
If you are a short story fan, you MUST read this book. You won’t regret it. Whether it is devoured in one sitting or read leisurely, savouring each story individually, it will stay with you.

And with that last book, I finish my reading year…

Yup. I read a LOT of books this year!

I’m not going to be silly and try and smash that number, next year, but I will keep reading, and reviewing!

What about you? How many books did you read? Do you take part in the Goodreads challenge?

If you are on Goodreads, why not connect there too?

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15391974.Ritu_Bhathal

Have a fantastic time seeing the new year in, and here’s to plenty more books!

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37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. thereluctantpoet
    Jan 01, 2020 @ 22:56:00

    Great post! Awesome goal – Congratulations on your reading and Your Book, Yeah! Wishing you and yours a healthy, happy and joyous year in 2020 and always filled with love! Happy New Year’s Day, My Dear Ritu!!
    xoxo
    Chuck
    😁💖💖🌹🌹

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Erika Kind
    Jan 01, 2020 @ 12:21:08

    When I read Jan’s book reviews lately I really felt the excitement about reading coming up again. I am looking forward to the release of your book because I think it will be the first novelle I am reading again!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  3. pranabaxom
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 23:54:42

    Happy New Year to you and your family Ritu.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  4. johnrieber
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 22:03:03

    a great collection of books!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  5. The Avid Reader
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 19:46:52

    147 books is amazing, how do you read so much? Here’s to some great reads in 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  6. kindredspirit23
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 18:47:26

    My stroke, definitely, slowed me down, but never would I have gotten 147 books done in a year since college years! Congrats! And, I hope all goes with you this year as you continue being so productive in life. My loves are many, reading is but one. I will say that a lot of time is spent with Mom and I enjoy those times, and I play a lot of video games and enjoy that tremendously. I would not trade my life now for much of anything. I love it dearly!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  7. Linda G. Hill
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 15:32:47

    Congratulations on almost tripling your challenge! And thank you so much for reviewing The Magician’s Sire! So happy you enjoyed it. ❤
    You have read some amazing books this month, by the sounds of it. You’ve definitely put a couple on my TBR pile. 😀
    Happy New Year to you and your beautiful family! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  8. lifewithlisa9
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 15:02:39

    Awesome 🙌🏼

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  9. Matthew Williams
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 14:49:30

    Hi Ritu, hope you’re well, I’d be happy to send you a free review copy of my new book if you would be interested? Best wishes, Matthew

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  10. robbiesinspiration
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 14:40:01

    Congratulations, Ritu, a great selection of books.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  11. Darlene
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 14:18:11

    I don’t know how you managed to read so many books. I was proud to have read 31! I am such a slow reader and easily distracted. Happy New Year and happy reading in 2020.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

  12. astijake John
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 14:17:56

    Happy new year Rita, have an amazing 2020

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  13. John W. Howell
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 14:09:08

    Wow, you have really had a great reading year, Ritu. Best wishes for 2020.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  14. niasunset
    Dec 31, 2019 @ 14:04:11

    Do I read correct, 140 of 50 books you read???? WOW! You are amazing.

    Good Luck for new reading list dear Ritu, you are a good reader and writer. But I should say this too a good writer is who reads more…

    Thank you, Love, nia

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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