November 2020 Books #AmReading

November is usually a tough month, filled with Parents Evenings, assessments, observations… Who knows what this November holds, what with us in lockdown mark 2, with schools still open? I’m planning on working my way through my TBR pile… it’s teetering, and as many as I manage to read, I seem to top up, as well!

bookworm
The Lucky Dress

The Lucky Dress by Aimee Brown
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A cute story of mixed messages, then righting wrongs, all with a lovely dress thrown in (though I almost wish there was more about the dress, in the story!)
Emi is our hapless heroine, who lost the love of her life, and fiancé, Jack, on the eve of their wedding, to not one, but two women.
With her best friend Lisa, and Lisa’s husband, Josh, she ups sticks and leaves life as she knows it, recreating her life in a new town.
Only to find that being a cafe owner means that you might not just pile cakes on a plate, but also pile pounds onto your body.
Then her twin brother is getting married, a wedding she has to attend. Only, it’s to her ex-fiancé’s sister.
AWKWARD!
What follows is a tale which swings from a story based in the past, to the present timeline.
I really sympathised with Emi, but, I was rooting for Jack, too, to be honest!
Lots of fun characters and a quick, easy read, with a feel-good factor, though a tad overly dramatic, at times.

The Choice

The Choice by Claire Wade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now, I’m not a dystopian fiction fan, by any means, but when I read the blurb for The Choice, my interest was piqued.

I’ve tried my hand at The Handmaid’s Tale, and it wasn’t for me, but this: It involved cake, chocolate, and all things sugary, being taken away from a whole nation of people, by their elected Prime Minister, Mother Mason.
Mother.
The one you should always be able to trust.
Should you?
Olivia is a wife and mother of two. Previous to the new regime, she was a lauded baker. then all she held precious to her was under threat unless she gave up her passion.
Enter a life of calorie counting, mandatory weigh-ins, rationing and secular scheduled exercise.
With no sugar, fat, or anything luxurious, even for a treat.
Until she finds out about an undercover group and initiative, that has been running, to try and take down Mother Mason.
What Olivia wouldn’t give to just be able to bake, once in a while…
That’s a life I would hate, but let’s be honest, the way our health and
wellbeing is being affected, in the modern world, it isn’t even an idea too far fetched…

I found this to be a delightful mix of dystopian and chick lit. It was a great way to break into the world of dystopian fiction: there wasn’t that same dark, heavy feeling as I read, even though there were moments, that showed the serious negative impact that this lifestyle had upon the masses.
And the Shame Boxes. Think modern-day stocks for those who made the mistake of eating wrong, or for failing to hit their weekly exercise targets.
And there was cake.
Thank God for cake!

The Healer

The Healer by Christoph Fischer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read a couple of other books, by Christoph Fischer, which were in a different genre to The Healer, but I know I enjoyed them, so was sure the same would be the case for this.
And I wasn’t wrong.
The book takes along the journey of healing, concentrating on Erika, a hard-nosed businesswoman diagnosed with the late stages of pancreatic cancer.
She finds an infamous healer, by the name of Arpan, who was renowned twenty years before, for healing suffers, then it was like he disappeared from the face of the earth.
Arpan is recommended to Erika by her personal assistant, who helps her to find where he is hidden, and she goes on to convince him to treat her.
There are so many twists and turns within this, from the scepticism of those who don’t believe in any kind of healing that isn’t scientifically proven, to the actual storyline, and the connections that arise.
Oh, and the ending!
A good read.

Simran

Simran by J.K. Memmi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this book, as the title is the name of someone dear to me, and the blurb sounded extremely interesting.
The story is set with a dual timeline, where we see the main character, Simran as a young woman, going through the motions of arranged marriage, against her inner wishes, but to please her parents, and then a few years later, we have Simran, living in Holland, obviously tormented by happenings over the last few years.
The story was very interesting, and though some may seem extreme, the story echoes other real-life stories out there, with family honour, deceit, the power of money, and heartache.
As I said, a very interesting story, but the reason I couldn’t rate higher was that I feel that the writing could have been a bit better. I struggled with some areas, but the story, itself, kept me going.

A Summer to Remember

A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely, feel-good (in the end) read!
Clancy needs to escape. Right now.
After finding her fiancé in a rather compromising situation, beamed across a conference call, then being made to look the bad guy by her partners at work, and forced to leave, Clancy takes refuge in Nelson’s Bar, a small village where her wayward cousin Alice has shares in a property and business, that just happens to need a caretaker.
Except there are a few little issues: the back story as to why Alice has this half ownership to the Roundhouse and its cottages, and the other partner, Aaron.
There are ups and downs, conflicts, broken hearts, mended hearts, family clashes, and a huge heap of romance too.
I really enjoyed reading this, and will be sure to look out for some more Sue Moorcroft books in the future!

Love Offline: Looking For Romance In Real Life

Love Offline: Looking For Romance In Real Life by Olivia Spring
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Emily is living her life through social media.
After a humiliating break-up, her confidence has been shattered, and there is no way she wants to step out of her protective bubble, preferring to stay in, scrolling through all the filtered and edited photos and posts out there.
In steps Chloe, her best friend, firmly living in the pre-social media area, determined to drag her friend out of her dating and social life rut.
What follows is a story of rediscovery of real life, love, disappointment, and not always believing what you see.
I had fun reading this story, showing that life really doesn’t revolve around a screen, and it also highlights how damaging Social Media can be.
As I read, I was pretty sure of what the twist and the ending would be, but it was still a pleasant enough read.

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India

Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla

Unable to rate this book fully, as I wasn’t able to finish it.
I was encouraged to get this book, as the idea of a story about the Untouchable caste in India appealed to me, but, unfortunately, it was the writing that made me find it hard to continue.
I wanted this to be a personal story. Instead, it felt like a historical blow by blow account of a particular family’s life, and unfortunately, it wasn’t written in an engaging enough manner to hold my interest. I was expecting to be plunged into the life of the girl, and how she dealt with the stigma of being born into the untouchable caste. It may happen further in the book, but even after skim reading all I found was political stuff, not the heart-rending story I was going for.
I feel disappointed as I really wanted to enjoy this book.

An American Marriage

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Such a buzz was there, about this book, that when it came out, I got it on my Kindle, then it sat there, as I had so many others to read.
I finally got to it, this week, and well, wow.
An American Marriage is not an easy read, by any stretch of the imagination.
Roy is a Black American man, who has risen above humble roots by sheer hard work, with the support of his family.
Celestial is a Black American woman from a family who are considered well settled, never having had to want for anything.
They get together, after a couple of meetings, years apart, and marry.
By some horrible twist of fate, and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, Roy finds himself in prison, for a crime he didn’t commit.
The story is told in snippets, from both Roy, and Celestial’s point of view, and a little later in the book, from the view of Andre, Roy’s college homey, and Celestial’s childhood friend, and the person who originally introduced them.
This is a book about relationships, injustices and the difficulties of rehabilitating into society after incarceration.
I can’t say I liked or disliked any of the characters. They were normal people, sucked into an abnormal situation.
The prose is beautiful, and I felt a pull of emotions, throughout, especially when reading the exchange of letters between Roy and Celestial, while he is locked up.
As I said before, not an easy read, but a very poignant one.

Well Met (Well Met, #1)

Well Met by Jen DeLuca
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fun read!
If you like a little Shakespeare, you’ll love the underlying Bard-connections to this romance that wouldn’t go amiss as one of old Will’s original plays!
Emily has come to stay with her sister to help her with recuperation after an accident. Perfect timing as she wrestles with her own grief at her five-year relationship breakdown.
She gets roped into joining a summer faire, to please her niece who wants to take part, but can’t without adult supervision.
There are plusses and minuses.
The plusses? A bunch of new friends, bring able to enjoy one of her loves; Shakespeare, and a kilted hunk
The minuses? Having to dress up as a wench, change her name to Emma, and that moody form filler Nazi.
A lot of fun, a little naughty, but plenty of romance!

Well Played (Well Met, #2)

Well Played by Jen DeLuca
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read Well Met and was excited to see that a sequel, Well Played, was out too, so I downloaded asap and devoured it.
Now I’m gutted that I have to wait until the fall of 2021 to read Well Matched!
This time we are still within the Renaissance Faire setting, but the focus of Well Played is on the other wench, Stacy, or Bernadette.
A single woman in her late twenties, Stacey is still living with her parents, kind of. In a small apartment above their garage. Her own foray into independence, and getting out of her small home town was cut short when her mother fell ill, and she was needed.
Since then, she’s been in her old surroundings, unable to move, stuck in a dreary job as a dental receptionist. The only lights in her life, her cat Benedick, and the annual Renaissance Faire that she has been a part of since it started.
Her love life is nothing to write home about, apart from a couple of fumbles and snatched nights with a hunk from one of the travelling acts that come to the fair.
In fact, a drunken night, and reminiscing those fumbles causes her to send an ill-fated message, leading to months of texts and emails, building up to a fantastic reunion at the next faire…
Or will it be?
I loved diving straight back into Willow Creek, all the characters and the excitement of the local Faire, as well as wedding preparations for two of the residents.
Stacey struck me as a great character in the first book, so to read a continuation from her view, was a dream.
I won’t go too far with descriptions, but her messaging amore is built up to be a dream come true partner, and though there are twists, he is everything a woman could ask for!
Fantastic read, and a good build-up for the next one.
Fall 2021, hurry up!

Cheek to Cheek (Got That Swing, #1.5)

Cheek to Cheek by Renee Conoulty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first foray into Renee Conoulty’s writing, and this short story, Cheek to Cheek, has definitely whetted my appetite.
A lot happens in a very short space of time. I almost wish it was a longer story, but then again, I know another book precedes it, so I should really go and get that…!

Saddled - Once a Week at Woody's, Book 1

Saddled – Once a Week at Woody’s, Book 1 by Linda G. Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I’ve read something with a high steamy factor, and Linda G. Hill didn’t disappoint!
Sandra works for the local condom company and has a bit of a problem with the support staff, who aren’t impressed with her decision to implement a ‘no romance in the office’ rule.
Michael is a temp, working at the same office, trying hard to make a mark, by weekday, and stripping by weekend at Woody’s.
It’s inevitable.
He’s hot. She’s hot.
But they can’t do anything.
Because of that stupid rule!
Saddled is a fun, light-hearted read, with, as I mentioned at the beginning, plenty to get you hot under the collar!

And there you have it! My November list of books read. My TBR list has reduced(ish) but I’ll be back to reading arcs next!

Which one tickled your fancy?

A Winter Romance – Historical Romance Anthology #BlogTour

I always love to promote work that is for a good cause, and an anthology that is selling for charity is definitey a good cause.

One of the Facebook groups I am a member of, The New Romance Cafe, has another short story anthology, in time for Christmas, and all proceeds go to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. (Another, because I mentioned the first, Twelve Days of Kisses, a couple of weeks ago!)

A Winter Romance (Romance Café Collection Book 9) eBook: Jameson, Angelina,  Sanatra, Lauren, Everly, Riana, Baun, Marci, Bolton, Alexie, MacCabe,  Chele, Martinson, Liz: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

True love and timeless romance. Journey through history with these sassy and spicy short romances.

Breast cancer affects one in four women. Here’s your chance to read a swoon-worthy book and help others at the same time.

Curl up in your comfy chair in front of the fire and know that every book purchased, and every page read raises money for breast cancer research.

This historical romance collection has it all:

  • The Old West
  • Regency aristocrats
  • A female Samurai
  • Chanukah in Scotland
  • Breaking conventions
  • The American civil war
  • And sweet Victorian Romance

Get A Winter Romance today for stories with all the feels.

This anthology is brought to you by The Romance Café, a community of romance novel fans and writers, born out of the desire for a safe space to discuss our shared passion for romance, as well as empower and support authors of the genre. Join us every day for your dose of romance in the Café: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thenewromancecafe.

A Winter Romance, the latest HISTORICAL anthology of short stories for charity from the authors at The Romance Cafe is now available to order NOW!

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08LYCXDW9

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08LYCXDW9

***ALL proceeds go to fund research in the fight against breast cancer. ***

Please, head on over to download, read, enjoy, and know that while you are enjoying, you are giving to a good cause, at the same time!

Paranormal Warwickshire #BlogTour @scskillman

I am excited to welcome my blog pal, Sheila Skillman to my blog, today, to tell you a little bit about her new release, Paranormal Warwickshire. Having grown up in Warwickshire, I was intrigued, and more than happy to be a part of this particular blog tour.

Let me hand you over!

First of all, thank you very much, Ritu, for allowing me this space on your blog to introduce my new book Paranormal Warwickshire to your readers.

Warwickshire is a county steeped in the supernatural, as befits the county of Shakespeare and the many ghosts and spirits that he conjured up in his works.

The towns and villages of Warwickshire, its castles, houses, churches, theatres, inns and many other places both grand and everyday have rich and complex stories to tell of paranormal presences.

In this book I investigate several stories at places such as Guy’s Cliffe, the Saxon Mill, Warwick Castle and St Mary’s Church, Warwick; Kenilworth Castle and Stoneleigh Abbey; Nash’s House and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, as well as in the towns of Rugby, Nuneaton and Leamington Spa.

I explore the spiritual resonance of each location, recounting the tales of paranormal activity associated with it and examining the reasons for this within the history of the place.

What made me want to write about the paranormal?

I’ve long loved ghost stories, and among my favourites are classic tales of the macabre by such masters as Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, and Henry James. There are many brilliant contemporary writers in the genre too, foremost amongst whom we may find  Susan Hill. I remember listening to her at a local literary festival, and speaking of The Woman in Black, she said, “I have never known a story grow legs and run away from me like that one did.”

From my early teens I would eagerly pick up books about curious paranormal cases, and I loved watching TV dramas like Tales of the Unexpected and an adaptation of The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde. More recently I’ve read books such as Shadows in the Nave by Paul Adams, Eddie Brazil and Peter Underwood, and The English Ghost by Peter Ackroyd (these authors are all experienced researchers in the field).

You’ve probably guessed that I’m one of those people who will alight upon a book saying Haunted this or Paranormal that in any tourist gift shop, wherever I may be in the country. And I couldn’t, of course, resist The World of the Unknown: All About Ghosts, first published by Usborne in 1977, and re-issued last year in response to popular demand. 

The key to our fascination with these stories, I believe, is the emotional and psychological effect they have on us. Most of us go about our everyday lives making assumptions about the world we live in, which generally obeys the laws of science. But I, in common with many others, am intrigued by that eerie encounter with the unexpected, when we stray into the borderlands of the unknown.

And I do, of course, love the current TV drama series Ghosts – a brilliant script which cleverly twists the classic paranormal tropes.

How did I start to write Paranormal Warwickshire?

I began by frequently visiting the locations I describe in the pages of my book.  I discovered new things about them each time I returned. Initially, I wrote blog posts about them, in my series Places of Inspiration.

Then a writer friend suggested I gather the posts together in a book. She said she’d certainly read it, and it would need lots of pictures too. I decided to call it Spirit of Warwickshire. When I read out a chapter to my local writing group, I received a positive response, and subsequently approached a few history publishers with the proposal. Amberley Publishing were interested and said they wanted it for their paranormal series. I was only too happy to fulfil that brief, as you can imagine. 

The next stage was to sign the contract with Amberley – a very exciting moment! I then went round all the locations with my photographer son, joining ghost tours, listening to people telling their stories, and of course building up a good selection of photos, many of which are in the book.

I do hope those who read Paranormal Warwickshire will enjoy reading the stories as much as I enjoyed researching them!

Thank you so much, Sheila, for introducing your book to my followers. I was honoured to be given a copy in advance, which I enjoyed reading immensely.

My Review:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


A fantastic book filled with tales of ghostly sightings across the county of Warwickshire.
SC Skillman has found some intriguing stories and researched their background and possible origins. The results are fascinating and eye-opening. 
I especially loved the accompanying photographs, old and new, showing the different castles and buildings where these events are said to have taken place.
Warwickshire was where I grew up, and we regularly visited places like Warwick Castle, Kenilworth Castle, Stratford-Upon-Avon and Leamington Spa, so this book held an extra special interest for me.
Thank you to the author for providing me with an arc, for an honest review.

Buy Links:

https://www.amberley-books.com/coming-soon/paranormal-warwickshire.html

http://www.warwickbooks.net/preorder

https://www.waterstones.com/book/paranormal-warwickshire/s-c-skillman/9781445698267

Social Media Links:

Website and blog: https://scskillman.com/ 

Amazon Author Profile:  http://bitly.ws/9SK9

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

LinkedIn

Sheila lives in Warwickshire, and writes psychological, paranormal and mystery fiction and non-fiction. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Association of Christian Writers.

She began her publishing journey with a duology of novels Mystical Circles and A Passionate Spirit. This was followed by a non-fiction book Perilous Path: a writer’s journey. Sheila is currently working on the second novel in a new gothic fiction series. 

She posts twice weekly on her blog at http://www.scskillman.com and she also gives author talks to local groups.

Sheila was born and brought up in Orpington, Kent, and studied English Literature at Lancaster University. Her first permanent job was as a production secretary with the BBC. Later she lived for nearly five years in Australia before returning to the UK.

She has now settled in Warwick with her husband and son, and her daughter is studying at university in Australia.

Predator by @zoejcaldwell #newrelease #bookreview

A dark, erotic thriller.

That is what I was pitched with, when I was asked if I’d like to read an arc of Predator, debut thriller from author Zoe Caldwell.

Hmm, is that my kind of read?

Well, if you know me at all, you’ll be aware that I am more than happy to turn my attention to all genres, because, well, you never know what you might enjoy. And I know for a fact that I enjoy this writer’s writing, however her other books are under a different pen name, and extremely different in genre, being more light-hearted romcoms, than kinky thrillers!

First, the blurb:

You’ve done a bad thing. She has you in your sights. Now you’re going to pay.

Meet Camilla.

A successful and glamorous fashion magazine editor who has it all.

But Camilla has a secret. 

Underneath her poised exterior lurks a cold dark heart and an insatiable need to kill.

A murderer of bad men, Camilla sees herself as a #MeToo vigilante, making the world a better place with every abuser she kills.

When Camilla murders Julian Taylor, she’s sure she can escape, but a new detective is given the case and is closing in.

Can Camilla get away with murder or has her luck finally run out?

And here is my ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review.

Oh, my days!
When I was asked whether I may be interested in reading an ARC of Predator, I read the blurb, and thought “Why not? Sounds like an intriguing read.”
Well, intriguing is perhaps not quite the word to describe it.
Hugely dark and, (excuse my language, but) bloody fantastic!
Camilla, our protagonist, is a woman with a past that is ingrained so deep within, that it’s almost hollowed out any other emotion in her body.
Wronged as a child, growing up, and abused as a young woman, she casts herself in the role of vigilante for womankind, wreaking havoc, and her own version of revenge, upon unsuspecting predators
I found myself strangely aroused, a bit disturbed, and definitely sympathetic towards the woman with what appears to be no emotion, but whose heart is beginning to feel again.
Laced with sex, gore, and all manner of suspense, I was kept on my toes, reading the book almost in one sitting, and I truly didn’t predict the ending, either.
What a dark, kinky web the author has weaved…
You definitely kept this reader guessing!
Fab read. I can’t wait to get my hands on another book by Zoe Caldwell.

Some information about the author:

I live in Oxford now, but I spent most of my twenties living in London where I worked in copywriting and journalism, which included working as a reporter for a national newspaper. I spent several years working in fashion copywriting, writing extensively about designer clothes and handbags, and I think it was during these hours that the seed was sewn for the character of Camilla in my new book, Predator. Camilla is a poised and glamorous fashion magazine editor by day, and yet by night, she is a ruthless vigilante serial killer.

Zoe Caldwell1.jpg

I’ve had four romantic comedies published, and while I love rom coms, I’ve secretly always wanted to write something very dark. I’m a huge Bret Easton-Ellis fan and when I first read American Psycho, it blew my mind and I knew one day I wanted to write something similarly out-there – violent, sexual and graphic, but also insightful, with an element of social commentary. I hope this motivation comes through in Predator, which I’m very excited that Bloodhound is publishing. 

Aside from writing, I enjoy walking my dog, reading, and I’m currently learning Spanish.

October 2020 Books #AmReading

The nights are drawing in, we are drifting closer to winter. Will my reading pick up this month?

My Sister's Husband

My Sister’s Husband by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ooooh, what a wicked web of secrets and lies Nicola Marsh weaves in her latest suspense-filled book, My Sister’s Husband!
From the off, I was pulled in to the story of two pairs of sisters, with lives and experiences that mirror one another, in an uncanny way.
Brooke arrives home, to celebrate the wedding of her sister, Freya, to Ryker, after a lengthy absence, and finds herself reuniting with family, and finding out way more about her own history than she ever imagined,
Just how twisted can a person can be? I was on the edge of my seat, as I read this book, and though I spent most of the time trying to second guess the outcome, I was so off the mark when all was revealed.
Definitely a recommended read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released on 27th October

Christmas for Beginners

Christmas for Beginners by Carole Matthew
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Carole Matthews has done it again!
I was so happy to be able to visit the gang at Hope Farm again, having truly enjoyed Happiness For Beginners, and Christmas For Beginners did not disappoint.
Molly is settled into Hope Farm’s new home, complete with a state of the art mobile home for herself, her trusted friends Bev and Alan, a surrogate son, Lucas, living with her, and not forgetting the crazy animals who help to create the education she offers to the children who. come to visit the farm.
All that’s missing is a more regular appearance from Shelby, her partner, who also happens to be Lucas’s father, and a famous soap star.
From the off, I was feeling a sense of ‘things aren’t quite right’ between Molly and Shelby, and I rooted for her to make the right decisions, on several occasions. (Which she does, eventually.)
There is laughter in this. book, thanks to unruly animal, heartache, loss, but also, an overwhelming amount of love, both romantic, and otherwise, and above all, hope.
Such a lovely read.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released on 29th October, 2020

Forgive Me

Forgive Me by Susan Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, Susan Lewis, I do love your books!
A woman stifled by her overpowering husband finally finds a chance to escape a life of misery, with her daughter, and sets herself up with a new identity and life far away.
New names, new looks, new home, new friends.
But that fear never leaves…
I loved the way this book was written with the chapters of the story interspersed with letters from someone who obviously wronged one of the main characters.
I don’t want to say too much for fear of giving away too much of the plot, but I was totally drawn into the whole plot, and there were twists. Oh, were there twists!
I was left guessing for most of the book, on a lot of points, and all the guessing ensured I continued reading.
Definitely a recommended read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released on 12th November, 2020

Finding Henry Applebee

Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a delight of a story!
Finding Henry Applebee is a story about several characters, of which Henry is the main one,
An eighty-five-year-old man on a mission heads to Edinburgh to fulfil his heart’s desire, except it was never going to be that simple, was it?
A young woman is also heading to Edinburgh to act out the last of her mother’s wishes.
A twenty-something American Jazz musician is on his way to watch a much longed-for performance.
A chance meeting on a train. changes the lives of all three of these characters in a wonderful way.
I enjoyed reading this story, interspersed with flashbacks from the past featuring each of the main characters, adding layer upon layer to the plot.
I wanted to keep Henry Applebee, and look after him in my own home – what a sweetheart!
The story is filled with romance, of a deeper nature. What people do for love…

Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Impulse and Killer Reads for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Twelve Dates of Christmas

The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Kate isn’t really looking for love, but her best friend, Laura, seems to think she should be. So strongly, that she coerces Kate into signing up for a course of twelve dates, leading up to Christmas.
Forced into a situation she really didn’t want to be in, Kate embarks upon her dates and ends up with a mixture of disappointment, surprise, passion, fear… but does love make an appearance?
I enjoyed this easy read of a Christmas romance, where love showed up in an unlikely place.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan MacMillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 12th November, 2020

Blue String (Blue Mountain #4)

Blue String by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I adore reading about the character sets that Tess Thompson creates, and I was lucky enough to have won copies of the first three in the Blue Mountain Series, a couple of years ago.
When I heard that the fourth was coming out, I didn’t hesitate to pre-order.
This fourth book follows the Lannigan sister, Teagan, as she settles back into life in her childhood town. The death of her father and one of her brothers, has in some way or another, brought all the siblings back to the family land that holds such memories, and she has her own home build, to house her and Cris, her child.
Teagan is a prickly character. She’s not open to trusting people too easily, but when a certain person walks back into her life, after an intensive fling a while back, she is torn. Does she give her heart to the guy who may just swan off after he gets bored, or does she protect herself and her little boy, who is crying out for a father figure?
Wyatt Black is a country music star with a block. After suffering PTSD when a shooter killed tens of people at one of his concerts, he is stuck in an emotional rut. The only thing that he wants is to anchor himself near the one person he can’t get out of his mind.
Teagan Lannigan.
What follows is the tale of how they come together, once again, but not without plenty of bumps in the road, and even murder!
One thing I love about Tess Thompson’s books is how characters jump from one series to another, so there is already a familiarity to the story because you feel like you already know something,
Wyatt Black features in the Cliffside Bay series, briefly, too.

Only One Woman by [Christina Jones, Jane  Risdon]

Only One Woman by Jane Risdon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had this pon my kindle for a long while now and finally got a chance to read it.
Imagine being a 16-year-old, living your normal, boring life, then finding it turned upside down by a prospective Rock God moving in next door? And falling head over heels with him?
What about being at Death’s door, then being given a second chance at life, and grabbing all opportunities life throws at you, even if it casts you in the light of ‘the Other Woman’?
This book follows the diary entries of two very different girls, Renza, and Stella, and how, in the height of the Swinging Sixties, they fall for the same guy.
And even though he’s stringing along two women, you can’t help but feel for Scott, too…
I enjoyed this story, Kinky Boots, and all!
I always wonder how two authors write a book together, and this novel shows how a good collaboration works!

Sorry I Missed You

Sorry I Missed You by Suzy Krause
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I started reading this book, but, I have to say that once it got going, I was pretty much hooked.
One man finds himself the owner of a large house, but with conditions attached.
Strange conditions.
Three very different women end up renting apartments in that same quirky, old house.
Three women who have experienced very different losses.
Inexplainable happenings, and a letter partially destroyed, bring them all together, and mysteries get solved in an extremely twisted manner.
It was strange, but I really enjoyed reading it!

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace by Kim Nash
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What’s not to love about this book!
Grace is a single mother, trying her hardest to give the best of everything to her son Archie, with the help of their dog, Becks.
Working in a small estate agent, she bumbles along with her life, still silently grieving the loss of her mother, and harbouring guilt at her failed marriage.
Thankfully, Grace has people in her life who care, like a best friend who wants to get her back on her own two feet, not just as Archie’s mum, but as a woman, too, with makeovers and online dating set up.
And a rather dishy gardener happens to show up on her doorstep one day, and who just keeps on appearing…
Add in an ex-husband who wants the best of both worlds, and you have a recipe for an interesting tale.
But how can I forget one of my favourite parts of the book, the silent letters of support from Grace’s mum from beyond the grave?
I have to admit that my eyes teared up when reading them. It made me feel warm inside, to imagine that those we love and lose, are actually still there, watching what we are doing, cheering us on, sending us signals…
Archie’s a dream of a boy, at that awkward age when it’s far too hard to show your feelings when you are still a little boy, but a the cusp of growing up, needing your mummy but wanting to appear too old for ‘all that’.
I felt for Grace. I wanted to go and slap her ex in the face, myself.
I giggled and cringed through the stories of online dating, and warmed so much to Vinnie, the gardener, that I rooted for romance from the off.
Kim Nash has created a whole cast of characters that are likeable (or not, if you could the ex) and ones you want to get to know yourself.
A feel-good book, with plenty of ups and downs, moments of joy and laughter, and times where you feel truly choked up with emotion. Well, I did.
Fabulous read!

Predator

Predator by Zoe Caldwell

It’s a five star, but you’ll have to wait until the 2nd November for my review, as I’ll be posting about it separately, but if you are up for a dark, kinky thriller, then this one is for you!

Networking for writers.

Networking for writers. by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In this day and age, networking is key for both traditionally published, as well as self-published authors.
But where to start?
The amount of different social media platforms out there can boggle the best of minds, so it is always to great to have a thorough guide, and who better than a successful author and entrepreneur, to step up and share her tips and ideas?
Lizzie Chantree has put together a wonderful resource, that is a quick read, but filled with so many gems to help you get started, and continue growing your social media presence, and work with other writers, your readers and businesses to benefit not only yourself but the wider community, too.
Definitely worth the read.
Now, I’m off to schedule some posts… everywhere!

No Sex Please, I'm Menopausal!

No Sex Please, I’m Menopausal! by Stevie Turner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hitting that era of life where menopause may become more of a reality than one of those things that might happen in the distant future, I began to read this book with a little more curiosity than usual.
Lyn is in the throes of the beginning of menopause. She’s all hot flushes and had a No Entry sign firmly placed ‘down there’, much to the frustration of her husband, Neil.
Things come to a head when she discovers he’s found ways to lubricate himself, without her assistance.
Armed with the keys to what was their holiday home, Lyn ups sticks and moves to Cornwall, to start up her new life.
She signs up to a matchmaking site, with ‘companionship only – NO SEX’ firmly ticked on her profile and proceeds to meet some characters, some of which become longstanding friends, and some, she’d rather not see again.
An easy to read book, and I really liked some of the characters, especially gentleman Peter and transexual, Jamie!
But, though the ending was very ‘happily ever after’, part of me wanted her to make a different choice.
Still, an enjoyable read.

The Scavenger's Daughters (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #1)

The Scavenger’s Daughters by Kay Bratt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read some of Kay Bratt’s more recent reads before, and had the Scavenger’s Daughters on my kindle for a while now, so decided to read.
A different type of story, with some heart-wrenching scenes within the tale.
I have no real knowledge of the situation in China, especially during the times of the revolution and after, so this was eye-opening.
I truly hope there were men and women like Benfu and Calla, willing to give love and homes to the thousands of abandoned girls.
A touching story.
I look forward to reading the next one.

Tangled Vines (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #2)

Tangled Vines by Kay Bratt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After learning of all the good, Benfu and his wife Calli have done for abandoned daughters of the country, we get to follow the story further this time from Calli’s viewpoint, and the eldest of the adopted girls living with them now, as well as a new character, Li Jin, who is another woman, passed from pillar to post within the system, before suffering beyond what any girl should have to suffer.
All before a secret is unearthed.
Another tumultuous ride in the life of girls in post-revolution China.

Bitter Winds (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters, #3)

Bitter Winds by Kay Bratt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third book in the Scavenger’s Daughters series focussed on the twin girls Benfu and Calla look after, Ivy, and her blind sister, Lily, along with a little more about Sami, the girl who Li Jin, the blood daughter of Benfu and Calla, brought with her to live.
They now have a bigger home, but still, it is filled with folk who they want to help and is run by love and the goodness that runs through the veins of its inhabitants.
Until that is, misunderstandings occur, and one of the twins ends up incarcerated, and Sami stirs up her own trouble.
I’m sure that much of what is written has an element of truth in it. Quite possibly, not all this would happen to just one family, in reality, but it makes for interesting reading, and, as I have mentioned in reviews for the previous books, I feel more educated with each book I read.

Red Skies (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #4)

Red Skies by Kay Bratt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Red Skies, the fourth in the Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters, was another heart-rending read.
This time, we concentrated on Mari, one of Benfu and Calla’s eldest ‘daughters’, who lives away from her family, with her husband, near Beijing.
Having been rescued from the streets as a child doesn’t mean that she’s spared any difficulties as she enters adulthood, and these are what Kay Bratt has explored in this book.
Mari is a ‘good wife’. She’s nursing her husband back to health after a serious fall, and juggling trying to work, to cover costs of living, with caring for a man, who is a mere shell of himself, and slowly turning to his medication for support, rather than his wife.
An Ni is a young girl, forced into the begging cycle by a gang who found her as a babe. Her path crosses with Mari’s one day, and little do they know how intertwined their lives will become.
Max is an American in Beijing on work duty, with a very personal mission he’s trying to complete as well.
There are so many layers to this story, from the begging gangs to adoption, to loss, in many forms. But there is always hope.

The Palest Ink (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #0)

The Palest Ink by Kay Bratt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This prequel to the Tales of the Scavenger’s Daughters series was truly heart-rending.
In The Palest Ink, we learned much more of Benfu, the Scavenger’s, history, and how he came to be where he ended up, in Wuxi, with his beloved Calli. It also follows the story of his best friend, Pony-Boy, and the ending truly had me in tears…
The horrors that were experienced by some in China during those times, were unknown to me, so it was eye-opening.
Thank you, Kay Bratt, for educating me in an era I had no knowledge of.

Phew! Seventeen books. That’s not a bad run, is it? There are a mix of new releases, as well as older ones, there, that I wanted to read, from my never-decreasing TBR pile. Which ones tickle your fancy?


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