Mr Sagittarius Blog Tour

I am very pleased to welcome a long standing friend and fantastic author to my blog today – Marjorie Mallon!

Marje has a brand new release out now: Mr Sagittarius; a collection of poetry and prose.

Let me hand over to Marje, to tell you a little about the book, and you are lucky enough to even get an excerpt at the end of this post, too!

Mr. Sagittarius is a collection of poetry, prose and photographic images inspired by the botanical gardens in Cambridge. It features a variety of my photos including: trees, a robin and a dragonfly! As well as this there are several stories, and even some Halloween poems!

I doubt I would have created Mr. Sagittarius if it wasn’t for these two amazing ladies: Colleen Chesebro (for her weekly poetry challenges and Charli Mills – Carrot Ranch (flash fiction challenges.) Both ladies have been a huge source of inspiration and encouragement.

Mr. Sagittarius is a magical celebration of the natural world, a story about the circle of life, with an emphasis on the changing seasons of the year and sibling relationships.

Huge thanks to my amazing cover designer and formatter: Rachael Ritchey who has done an amazing job creating the ebook, paperback cover and graphics.

And here is an excerpt, from on eof the character, Annette’s point of view.

MY HEART IS A CAVE
My heart is a cave.
Hidden dark and mysterious,
Stalactites and icy caverns,
Rock pools and hiding places.


No one visits anymore. I’m alone.
The ice is melting, and the stars seem so far away.
I long for light, life and laughter to discover me again.

I wait.


While I wait ice drips in darling drops,

Drip, dripping.
The moon is high,
An orb of brilliant light, it grins at me.


I remember my past, days ago,
Children, a husband, lovers – even.
So, I wait for someone to come,
For a torch to shine.


It comforts me that the moon is full.

Abundant.

Soon I will be reunited with you.
I imagine you smiling down on the cave.

Annette opens the attic door searching for a keepsake box. It is in the furthest corner behind many old ornaments, suitcases and forgotten things. Her hands tremble as she picks it up. She takes it down into the living room and opens the lid a smidgen but closes it abruptly. Her hands tremble with anticipation. She stops, realising that this is not the right place to open the box. Instead, she finds a carrier bag and pops the box into the bottom of the roomy bag. Her destination isn’t far away. She is glad it is a weekday morning; it will be quiet in the botanical garden’s glasshouses. The lady in the entry booth is busy with other visitors and barely looks up as she
enters; Annette is glad not to stop to talk. Driven by a need to open the letter she rushes ahead, only slowing her pace when she arrives at the glasshouse entrance.
Now, she takes her time pausing with intention, taking in the many flowers that Harold would have loved. In the furthest tropical glasshouse, she searches for a seat but there are none, only the warm radiators to lean against. Her eyes search to see if anyone is coming and when she is sure it is quiet, she reaches in her bag and pulls
out the box and then the letter. The correspondence is pale blue, folded by her guilt, its size diminished until it’s only a tiny rectangle of heartfelt wishes. Its once crisp, frayed edges make her gasp.

Buy it here!

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B084DQV3HW/

Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B084DQV3HW/

Author Bio

I write YA Fantasy/Paranormal novels, Horror/Ghost short stories and multi-genre flash fiction as well as micro poetry – haiku and Tanka. I share book reviews, poetry, flash fiction, photography and inspirational details of my writing journey at my lovely blog home: https://mjmallon.com/

I’m a member of two professional writing groups: The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators  and Cambridge Writers

As well as this I run a supportive group with fellow Administrator D G Kaye on Facebook: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club

I work as a Receptionist/Event organiser for an international sixth form and live in Cambridge, England.

January 2020 Books #AmReading

Well, looky here! It’s the end of January, meaning a whole month has passed by in this new decade. What have you been up to? You’ll know my news, having read my Chai And A Chat updates, won’t you? And on top of madcap life, I have been reading, as alway.

The aim, this year is to read at least 50 books, rather than nearly 150 like last year, because I need to try and put a little more time into writing!

But read, I did; eight books to the eleven I managed in January, last year; and here are the reviews!

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, #1)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that went down better than expected!
I was given a copy of this book by a friend, and I’ll have to be honest, it wasn’t the sort of read I would usually pick up, but, seeing as I had been lovingly gifted it, I thought ‘why not?’
And I am glad I did.
A book based heavily upon historical fact, peppered, liberally with fictional elements, charting the life of Abraham Lincoln, not only towards the presidency, but of his alternate life as a vampire hunter.
Honestly, it was written brilliantly; even the gore!
And I think that is high praise indeed, from a diehard RomCom fan!
Really want to watch the film now!

Dear Edward

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dear Edward is an intriguing read, focussing on Edward Adler, a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash.
We move between a dual timeline throughout the book; that of the day of the crash, where we view the day from the viewpoint of several of the passengers and crew on the flight, and the life of Edward, as he comes to terms with being the only one alive, losing his family, and trying to make sense of his survival.
It’s not a situation that would be familiar to many people, but I was eager to keep on reading, to find out what actually happened on that crash day, and whether Edward came out of his PTSD feeling whole, or still as empty as the shell who ended up living with his aunt and uncle after the crash, not sure whether he should even have been alive.
A thought-provoking read.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Books for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Traded: Brody and Kara (Cliffside Bay, #1)

Traded: Brody and Kara by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Why do I do this to myself?
Why, when I already love an author, do I go and start the first book in a series that will make me want to just forget life when I am back to work after a break?
I’ve read some of Tess Thompson’s other series and found myself drawn to the characters and story, eager to read on, and Traded, the first in the Cliffside Bay series, was no different.
Whipped from the life she knows and loves, Kara is sent to a sleepy town no one has heard of, for her safety, and there, she meets Brody, a famous footballer, and his family and friends.
The twists and turns the story takes, not only hooking you to the developing love between Kara and Brody, but sucking you into the lives of the other characters, makes this an addictive read, especially knowing there are plenty more stories to come!

Deleted: Jackson and Maggie (Cliffside Bay, #2)

Deleted: Jackson and Maggie by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, now I need to go and get book three ready!
I love series where you become totally engrossed with all the characters, and each story leads to another, exploring other characters, and this set of books is exactly that!
This time, we learn more about Jackson and Maggie, who comes back from the dead. (I can’t go into, it, but what a twisted tale!)
Awful history uncovered, mysteries solved, and even more connections are planted like seeds, leaving the reader guessing as to who will get the Cliffside Bay treatment in the next book!
Love it Love it Love it!

Jaded by Tess Thompson

Jaded: Zane and Honor by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am really enjoying getting myself totally immersed in Tess Thompson’s Cliffside Bay series.
The story of Zane and Honor is another touching one, where we learn more about the tragedies of Honor’s life in care, and how she becomes the way she is.
Zane’s background is no walk in the park either, with a mother who walked out on him as a baby, and as he settles into adulthood, a father who needs to go into care, and a family business to run.
Stubbornness keeps them apart, though a magnetic attraction keeps pulling them together.
Coupled with new additions to the family, Honor and Zane’s story is another page-turner!

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book I really enjoyed reading.
Lydia Bird has it all. A job she loves, a family she adores and a fiance she can’t wait to get married to.
Everything is going to plan when a tragic accident claims his life on her birthday.
Life doesn’t seem worth living. Everywhere she turns, reminders of Freddie greet her. Including Jonah. Jonah, who was her best friend, as a child, then became Freddie’s.
But what happens when the magic of a little pink pill offers a chance to live the life she had expected?
Fantastically written, and, well, I knew what the end would be, but I was willing it to happen!

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

The Cockatoo from Timbuktu by William A.E. Ford

The Cockatoo from Timbuktu by William A.E. Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A Beautiful Book!

What a beautifully illustrated story of going home!
I was captivated by the tale of Kian the Cockatoo who escaped from the zoo to find his way home to Timbucktoo.
He visits many lands on his quest, then finally remembers the advice his mother gave him about finding the way home.
Will it help him?
Well, you’ll have to read on to find out, and I can guarantee a colourful, fact filled journey along the way!

One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie

One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me a little while to get into this book, but once I was in, I WAS IN!
We are swept into a year in the life of the extended Palacious family in Trinidad. Venezuelan by birth, but living in Trini as illegal immigrants. The story is told from the view of Yola, one of the daughters of the family.
They all get caught up in a drama caused by illegal undertakings organised by Celia, Yola’s deceased aunt, and are introduced to Ugly, a not very nice character, with his fingers in all the wrong pies.
He expects the family to all club together by working for him, to run illegal safe houses for immigrants trying to start a new life in Trinidad.
Yola is already missing her aunt more than she could imagine, then has to deal with finding out about infidelities, untruths, and she meets Roman, one of Ugly’s henchmen, for whom she develops a real soft spot.
What helps her through a year of struggle, is a manuscript that was penned by her aunt, Yola’s only supporter of her writing.
It was funny, dramatic, and I found it addictive by the end!

Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins UK and The Borough Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 5th March 2020


So, what have you been reading, so far this year?

Who's That Indie Author? Ritu Bhathal

I’ve been featured! Thank you to Book Club Mom, Barbara Vitelli for approaching me!

https://bvitelli2002.wordpress.com/2020/01/21/whos-that-indie-author-ritu-bhathal/

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!

Bitmoji Image

November Books #BookReviews

The penultimate month of the year, it will no doubt be filled with the odd festive read, along side the arcs I have to complete!

Wish Me Home

Wish Me Home by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an emotional read!
I really enjoyed the story of Cara and her tumultuous journey, both physically, and emotionally, to find herself.
And when a four legged companion in on the scene, that can only make things better!

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely, imaginative book, filled with rhyme and adventure!
Ford has crafted a beautiful rhythmic tale about Timothy and his time machine, and all the adventures he is able to go on, fuelled by the imagination of a child.
As a teacher, I find that we seem to shut down our children’s imagination, somewhat, catering to curriculum needs, but this book is a reminder to adults as well as kids, that we need to be able to play, pretend, and whisk ourselves off to other worlds sometimes.
A wonderful premise within the book, and lessons to be learned!

Christmas Party

Christmas Party by Karen Swan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s not often you get to read about a modern-day knight, and in The Christmas Party, this is exactly what we get. Well, actually it’s more the legacy of a knight.
Declan Lorne is the last surviving knight in Ireland, his family having carried the title over 700 years. And it looks like he’s going to be the last ever knight too, having a family consisting of his wife and three feisty daughters.
His sudden demise leaves a huge gap in the lives of all his family, and his will sets many cogs turning.
Will his wife, Serena, ever accept being relegated to the Dowager House?
Will Ottie, his oldest daughter, ever get over being the disappointment of a girl, rather than a boy, and not the heir she felt her father always wanted?
Will Pip, the middle child, manage to control her own inner angst, and follow her dreams?
And will Willow, the youngest daughter, ever find her true place in her family?
I really enjoyed all the twists and turns within this book, filled with tragedies, and misplaced trust, love and loss.
Oh, and I’d love to see a pink castle!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Forgotten Hours

The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Katie’s life, on the surface, is pretty simple, and straightforward.
She rents a nice flat, has a good job, is in a relationship with a great guy…
Has divorced parents, and a father in prison charged with statutory rape – the rape of Katie’s best friend, when she was fifteen.
Memories of idyllic summers spent at the cabin by the lake are blemished by this one accusation that changes the lives of many people.
Katie has spent most of the last six years erasing the connection between her and her father’s name, to escape the awkward questions from others, but she still loves her dad. After all, it was a mistake, a wrong conviction… wasn’t it?
The impending release of her father brings ripples to the smooth waters of her life and the ripples reveal many secrets, things Katie was never aware of before.
I read this in one day, as I got so into the story.
A really tough topic to write about. The rape of a minor, and the way people cover things up.
Seeing it from the perspective of a different victim, the daughter of the accused, shows another dimension.
Very well written.

How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life

How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoy watching Lilly Singh and have felt a certain Punjabi pride at seeing one of ‘our’ girls do so well in her chosen career as a YouTuber, with her hashtag and now as one of the first late-night female TV show presenters in the USA.
I must admit I have had this book on my kindle for a while and it has taken a while to get to it, but I finally did this week, and I enjoyed the read. There were several chapters that were really poignant for me.
I shall try to introduce more Bawse-ness into my life!

More Than Just Mum

More Than Just Mum by Rebecca Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What’s not to like?

Hannah Thompson is a woman – so am I
She is a wife – yup, same here
A mother – nods I’ve got 2 kids, a fur baby and two feathered ones, she has 3 children and a dog
A teacher – yes, yet another similarity!
An aspiring author – yet another similarity
Has a hubby who is quietly supportive of her dreams but doesn’t always get the support quite right – check!
Works part-time – no… alas I am a full-time teacher, wife, mother and wannabe writer!

Oh my God, if this woman had only 2 children, and worked a couple more days a week, this book might just have been my life!

Hannah is feeling the pressure.
She has one child about the fly the nest, off to university, one teen who is keeping her on her toes with the company she keeps and the questions she asks and a young not quite tween, who is inquisitive and has a pet hamster which causes his own grief.

Working three days a week (not by choice), Hannah knows that the money isn’t exactly flowing into their bank accounts, and they have a child to send off to uni imminently, and the thought of having to finance two more is, quite frankly terrifying… and her headteacher is not keen to give her a full-time contract.

Until she has the bright idea to write a book on her days off.

Will her head have a change of heart and increase her hours?
Will she finish this book or not?
Will she find a way to publish?

Well, you know I’m not going to tell you. What I will say is that it was a fantastically funny book. I was able to relate to so much of it, and Hannah’s life echoes that of many working mothers out there.

Definitely, one I recommend!

Many thanks to NetGalley and One More Chapter for an Arc in exchange for an honest review.

Published 7th December, 2019

Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second Japanese book I have read this year and I have to say, I found this one much easier to read.
We follow the life of a 36-year-old woman, Keiko, who has her own social difficulties and finds her comfort in her part-time job as a worker in a convenience store.
It’s been eighteen years since she started at a job where most would have thought of it as a stopgap between studying and proper career.
However for Keiko, yer job in the store allows her to function in the world and be viewed as normal, rather than the oddity she has been regarded with all her life, but both her family and friends.
There is even the contemplation of marriage, which is an alien concept to this middle-aged virgin.
A short read about someone who, I think, is very much on the Spectrum, as they say, and her way of dealing with it, so she fits in with the rest of the world.

You, Me and the Movies

You, Me and the Movies by Fiona Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always been a fan of the movies, and the old classics are special to me, so to read a book that referenced so many fantastic films was great!
Arden is a woman who is in a dark place, after the end of an awful marriage. She has shut herself away from everyone who cared about her, partly because her ex-husband made her, and partly because she feels shame at being so weak.
A twist of fate finds her visiting a friend in the hospital, and finding someone else there she knew before.
Mac – a film lecturer from her university, and her big love.
He’s older and injured.
Unable to speak from injuries sustained in a car accident, they begin to share evenings together as she visits him, and revisits the past, recalling a list of movies they watched together, cataloguing their affair with each other.
Of course, she doesn’t have him to herself. She shares her Mac with James, his neighbour.
Together, they ensure his visitor chair is never empty, and build a special friendship, sharing secrets about each other, that they’ve never told another soul.
Mac used to talk about Arden finding her Bigger Love, but she never believed him…

I really enjoyed this book. It was a little predictable with the ending, but sometimes you just want simple stories that don’t have huge twists in them.
Saying that, it isn’t a simple romantic story in the least, dealing with issues such as loss and separation, and the relationships between parent and child.

A recommended read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Published 26th December

Gravity Is the Thing

Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A strange read. It took me a long while to get into this story: a tale of Abigail and her quest for the truth.
A grown-up woman, divorced and mother to a 4-year-old, Abi is constantly on the lookout for answers in life to one big question. Where is her brother?
Robert, her brother, disappeared when she was 15, and there has never been any information about where he went, or what happened to him.
Ironically, that same year, Abi was sent a chapter of a self-help manual, the Guidebook. The chapters kept coming throughout her life, and she felt a link between her brother’s disappearance and the words in the guide.
A request to come to a retreat, where the Guidebook would be the centre of attention draws her into another chapter of her life, filled with different discoveries.
It was a strange story, based in the past as well as the present. I did find myself slightly confused. Are we meant to fly? Or was it all a euphemism for life?
But I did like Abi, and her little son Oscar.
Many thanks to Netgalley, Atlantic Books and Allan & Unwin for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 2nd January, 2020

Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book I managed to finish within a day, which, recently has been a struggle for me!

I was intrigued by the blurb. Would this story about a young African American woman, who worked for a successful white family, be something like a lot of social themed novels recently, chanting #BlackLivesMatter?

Well, it did, a little, but that wasn’t the entirety of the novel.

Emira, the babysitter is a twenty-something woman, similar to many out there, unsure of the direction of her life, plodding along, trying to find where she really wants to be.

She just happens to be black.

And the regular babysitter for Alix and her family, looking after two-year-old Briar, and on occasion, her baby sister, Catherine.

Alix is a thirty-something woman, married with her two beautiful daughters and a successful husband, riding on her own social media successes, and in the process of writing a book.

What happens one night in the local grocery store, when her babysitter is falsely accused of taking a child, who is obviously not hers, sparks a chain of events that explore so much more than racial stereotypes. Sure, that is a big part of it, but it is approached from two very different angles, that of a black woman, and that of a white woman.
Neither is racist, but both have stereotypes foisted upon them by others.

Add to the mix, crossed wires, and past secrets, and you have one heck of a delicious novel!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published on 7th January 2020

Lady of the Ravens

Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction and jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy of The Lady of The Ravens by Joanna Hickson.

Set in the times where the Tudors took control of the monarchy, the author has cleverly interwoven fact with fiction to create a compelling story that weaves the legend of the Ravens at the Tower of London, with a fictional tale of Joan, a young lady who starts her life of royal duty by being a companion to Princess Elizabeth, and, as time goes by, works her way up to the rank of Lady in Waiting for the then Queen Elizabeth. Along the way, she is chosen to marry Sir Richard, and becomes mother to six stepchildren, despite never wanting to bear children herself.

Joan develops something of an obsession with the majestic black birds that frequent the green around the Tower, and despite the belief among the commoners that the monarchy and country is safe, as long as the ravens roost at the Tower, she is horrified at how the archers use them as target practise, and the treatment of them.

I loved how the story of the ravens and how they appeared to become more accepted, and the life of Joan blended in with the real facts of the monarchy and events that happened at this time.

The characters came to life, and I became a champion of Joan and her cause through the book!

Definitely a recommended read if you are a historical fiction lover!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 9th January 2020

Well, there you have it, my reading journey this month!

Which one has caught your eye?


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