May 2021 Books #AmReading

I can’t believe May has been and gone! And, the house move is responsible for this late May reading post!

I’m still on a bit of a writing hiatus, of sorts, but reading in fits and starts, when I can fit in time, where I am not falling asleep!

The Lucky Escape

The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Seeing a new Laura Jane Williams book, being touted out there, I was like “Yes, please!”, when I saw it was available to request as an arc! I have thoroughly enjoyed her first two books and knew this would be no different.
And, I was right. Obviously!
The Lucky Escape charts the emotional journey of Annie, a thirty-something woman who is jilted at the altar.
Life was all planned.
They’d been together since university, and lived together for all these years. Marriage was the next logical step, they thought.
Well, so Annie thought, but not Alexander.
She’s left, with no contact from him, no idea what is going on.
Then she meets an old friend, Patrick, an acquaintance from her secondary school years.
As they rekindle their friendship, Annie is offered the chance to go away, to take the honeymoon she was meant to have, as a gift from who should have been her in-laws.
What better than a drunken dare with a still unfamiliar ‘old’ friend?
They both find themselves on the trip of a lifetime, in Australia.
Oh, my! What a situation to be in!
I did feel for Annie, though. Initially, I couldn’t work out why she was so accepting of everything that was going on, but as the story went on, and more from her own childhood was revealed, it became much more apparent, why she was the way she was.
Patrick, what a sweetheart! I knew I wanted them to get together right from the off, but then, his own little secret made me doubt my instincts.
Annie has some strong-willed friends, behind her, who feature a bit, and a family I had mixed opinions about. But, I loved her sister, Freddie! Who knew a youngster could be so wise!
All in all, a great easy read, and definitely one to enjoy on the beach, if you get to one. But, then again, you could enjoy it anywhere!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing on 1st June, 2021

High Heels on the Beach

High Heels on the Beach by Bettina Hunt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Looking for an easy, feel-good read, with plenty of romantic twists, as well as lots of talk of food? Oh, and the idyllic setting of a seaside town, complete with beautiful beaches?
Well, then you need to get yourself a copy of High Heels!
Becca, our MC is on the cusp of real womanhood. You know, she’s got it all figured out. Turning thirty. Decent job, fab best friend, great boyfriend, who looks like he’s about to take their commitment to the next level.. that sort of thing.
Then, as her birthday hits, it all goes wrong.
Finding herself without a man, said best friend, a flat, or even a job, for at least three months, Becca has some thinking to do and needs to do it fast.
Unfortunately, the only place she can turn to, initially, is back home with her parents and sister, in their little family-run B & B in Sunny Bay. Back to a place filled with memories, some of which she’d rather forget, as well as a handful of males who have all featured in her life at some point.
This is a story of finding the real you, after being swallowed up in trying to fit into what everyone else thinks is a success.
Becca starts up pretty messed up, but various events along the way, pull her towards her rightful place in life.
I was spoilt for choice with romantic interests, pre-empting what might happen at the end – who would be Becca’s ‘one’? And I have to admit, there were some great choices to pick from!
And I loved Madame DoTell! You need a crackpot psychic in every story, I think!
Overall, a lovely read, leaving me with the yearning to go spend some time at The Yellow Beach House, just so I can take some Gram-worthy food pics!
This was my first book by Bettina Hunt, and I have convinced myself that I’ll need to invest in the previous three, now, too!

The Things That Matter

The Things That Matter by Andrea Michael
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Things That Matter is a beautifully crafted story about a couple, together since the teen years. The glue that has held them together, is a combination of love, need, and a shared history.
Taz and Dan are two people from entirely different backgrounds, yet fate set them on a life journey together.
She comes from the local estate, living with her alcoholic father, and abandoned by her own mother.
He hails from a wealthy family, with the world at his feet.
One event changes both their lives.
This book sends you through all sorts of emotions.
I really felt for Taz. She never shook the trauma of childhood poverty from her life, even though she has everything she needs, materially. Then to experience a loss, as harsh as that of losing a child? Well, my heart went out to her.
The sense of abandonment appears in several forms, from when Taz’s mother disappears, to when Dan’s parents disown him, and even when Taz feels the need to get away from the life she is living as a thirty-something woman.
Finding herself in the Scottish Highlands, to visit that mother who had left her, Taz discovers so much about herself, from a whole new family to her own inner strength.
The fact that she could even contemplate cutting strings from the one anchor she’d relied upon, for most of her life – Dan – shows her strength.
I have to say I loved Kit, Taz’s aunt. She is a character and a half, filled with crooked wisdom, that actually makes total sense.
I truly enjoyed this read.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins Uk and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published on 14th May, 2021

Yours Cheerfully

Yours Cheerfully by A.J. Pearce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Dear Mrs Bird, so was happy to discover that a book two was following, and even more delighted to be offered an advanced copy.
It was wonderful to be back in the world of Emmy, as she entered the world of journalism, in the WW2 era, as a fully-fledged reporter, with real responsibilities of her own.
Mixed in with her blossoming relationship with Charles, and her new friendship with Alice, being reunited with characters like her best friend, Bunty, the story was a true pleasure to read.
I loved how the plight of women, who wanted to be a part of the war effort, but who found themselves stuck, due to the ties of motherhood, was highlighted within this story, too.
And of course, the love story’s culmination was perfect, though not without its own fraught moments!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC, in exchange for an honest opinion.

Published on 24th June, 2021

The Patron (Emerson Pass Contemporaries #2)

The Patron by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, I do love a Tess Thompson series, and the Emerson Pass books are so wonderful, with the historical set of stories, alongside the modern.
I love the way history entwines itself through the contemporary books!
Crystal and Garth are recovering from the aftermath of a fire that took their homes from them. Both feeling keen senses of loss, from events previous to the fire, then having this loss on top, leave them both fragile and emotional, and they begin to rely upon one another, more than they had planned to.
The ‘will they, won’t they?’ nature of the story leaves you wanting more until you reach the climax, But there is so much more to this story. A tale of families, ripped apart by tragedies, or lost loves, all which surface during The Patron.
I am happy to say that there was more than one happy ending!
I can’t wait until the next one comes out!

Published on 18th May, 2021

Saving the Day (Quick Reads 2021)

Saving the Day by Katie Fforde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read Katie Fforde’s books for years and loved the idea of getting a small dose of her storytelling in this Quick Read.
A cute story, which may or may not be a little too good to be true, but I have to admit, I wanted more!
Allie, our heroine, is stuck in a dead-end job, with a wastrel for a boyfriend, and, just as she thinks this is all life has in store for her, fate has other ideas.
Finding a dream job, eyeing up a much more suitable candidate for a life partner, and meeting a wonderful older woman who ends up giving her the boost she needs, to improve her future, it all falls into place for Allie, but not without a little drama.
As I said, before, it is a cute story but I really wanted to dig deeper into the characters, and the story! Katie Fforde, you might just have to develop this one a bit more and make it full length!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

The Promise of Summer: Part One – With this Ring…

The Promise of Summer: Part One – With this Ring… by Bella Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read a couple of Bella Osbourne’s books in the past and found them pleasant to read. This one, or part one of The Promise of Summer, was no different.
Ruby’s life is passing by. She’s in her mid-thirties, with no real aim in life, no partner, and a job she enjoys, with no real future.
A huge decision, made after a comment made by her mother on her deathbed, causes her to take a trip that will change her life.
On the train to London, she meets not one but two men whose inputs into her day change the course of her destiny,
Then there’s Kim, owner of the florist Ruby works at. She’s got her own secrets,
I don’t know what more to say, without giving too much away, but in all honesty, I can’t tell you much more, anyway, because this was just a short part one of this story!
We were left with many open-ended threads that make this the tale it is. What will happen with Ruby and Curtis, What about Lewis? And that letter that Kim hasn’t opened yet?
It took me a little while to get into the beginning of the story but once in, I was gutted that it stopped where it did!
Roll on the 26th, when I hope we get to read the full story!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Published 26th May, 2021

The Man Ban

The Man Ban by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The moment I finished The Boy Toy, Nicola Marsh’s last Contemporary Romance, I was intrigued by the character Manish Gomes, the Anglo Indian Doctor who had an aversion to relationships. I was ‘stoked’ as the Aussies say, to hear that The Man Ban was going to follow, concentrating on the story of Manny, the unattainable Dr!
So, here we have Harper, a woman who is on a self-imposed man ban, following the awful breakup she had with her last long term relationship, triggered by an extremely superficial reason.
Then she goes and meets Manny, the cocksure, but hot doctor, at her friend’s wedding. And, despite everything, he’s the first man to make her doubt her ban decision.
Manny might seem like a shallow guy, but he’s got plenty of reasons for keeping people at arm’s length, yet the moment he meets Harper, things are different.
I loved the chemistry between both these strong characters, as they try their hardest to keep away from one another, but fate has other ideas.
There is sizzle and steaminess, as well as more serious issues covered, in a sympathetic manner, such as dealing with a diagnosis of Vitiligo, and cultural pressures to get married.
A real fun read!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Berkley Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 27th July, 2021

Any of them tickle your fancy? Let me know what you’re reading, too!

December 2020 Books #AmReading

Well, ’tis the month to be jolly. Usually there would be less time for reading, what with all the preparations, and socialising. This year, it will be a much quieter one, so I am sure there will be plenty of books read!

Oh, and with the fact that at least 10 days of this month involved me in self -isolation, along with a very quiet tier 4 Christmas for us, means that a few more books than I expected, got devoured… (19, I think!) and did I reach my Goodreads target? You’ll have to see the end to find out!

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The Last Goodbye: A Novel

The Last Goodbye: A Novel by Fiona Lucas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautifully heart-rending story!
Anna is struggling. It’s been a couple of years since she lost the love of her life, Spencer. She’s cocooned herself away from the most of reality, preferring to wallow in her memories.
A New Years Eve midnight phonecall to Spencer’s old number, just so she can hear his voice on the answering machine, turns into something different, when, instead of a message, someone answers.
On the other end of the line is Brody, who has also suffered a huge loss.
Together, two strangers come to terms with their grief and heal more than each other’s hurt.
I really loved this story, and finished it in one day, unable to put it down.
Both Anna and Brody are deep, wonderfully pained characters, and the portrayal of how grief can affect you is insightful.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 20th December, 2020

Fragile Monsters

Fragile Monsters by Catherine Menon
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I chose this book, after reading the blurb, and had high expectations for it.
A story set in Malaysia/Malaya ranging from 1920s to more modern times, tracing the entwined story of a grandmother, Mary, and her granddaughter, Durga.
Secrets unfolding amidst a sea of make-believe stories.
I found it hard to stay with the story, as sections jumped this way and that, back and forth from early years to now, from one viewpoint to the other, and I was still a little confused at the end.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin General UK – Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Releasing on 7th January, 2021

An Ordinary Life

Saving this review for nearer publication day on 9th February, 2021, but YES! It’s my favourite, Amanda Prowse, and for me, a definite 5 star!

The Promise by Lucy Diamond
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love a Lucy Diamond book, and The Promise was another fantastic read.
Patrick Shepherd is dead, and the fallout from his early demise, takes a while, but when it surfaces, there is an almighty blast.
Dan, his brother, suffering guilt at being the last person who saw him, and having argued, just before they separated company, goes out of his way to try and bring comfort to his brother’s wife and family.
Zoe, his wife, is existing, not living. Unable to function without the love of her life, she struggles to accept any help from her brother-in-law, initially, until they fall into an easy pattern.
It doesn’t take long for huge secrets to begin raising their heads, and with them arriving, will they rock the relatively steady boat, Dan and Zoe are trying to sail?
So many twists and turns, as the relatively simple life of family man, and builder, Patrick, sheds its shroud, and many home truths are revealed.
I truly loved reading this and finished it in a day.
I loved Dan’s relationship with his niece and nephews, and even how he developed an easy working relationship with the tenants of his brother’s rental properties.
He’s a real good guy, for whom everything seems to just go wrong, or be taken the wrong way.
Zoe’s grief is raw and it has been portrayed so well. It is so true how when someone leaves us, it is far easier to remember the good, allowing the bad to fade from memory…
I’m not one for spoilers, but initially, I feared romance would occur with the two main characters. There is romance but in a more unlikely place.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 18th February 2021

The Restaurant

The Restaurant by Pamela M. Kelley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to win a copy of Pamela Kelley’s book The Restaurant and was excited to read it because I have heard lovely things about the book.
Three sisters are thrown back together, after their Gram passes away, leaving certain conditions in her will, regarding her restaurant, Mimi’s Place.
Each sister has her own story, situations they are either running from, or figuring out, and through the year they are instructed to be together, things happen, stale relationships are finally put to bed, old flames rekindled, new partnerships forged.
An easy read. I almost wish there was more there, developing some of the relationships, giving us more about the sisters, and their personal situations.

A Wedding in the Country

A Wedding in the Country by Katie Fforde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read and enjoyed many Katie Fforde books over the years, and was thrilled to be given an opportunity to read an ARC of A Wedding in the Country.
Fforde’s books tend to be set in more contemporary times, so it was a pleasant change to read a novel written entirely in the 60s.
Lizzie, or Elizabeth, as her mother insists she be called, has come to London to take a course in cooking and certain skills that become a young lady, and gives her that extra ‘something’ when she is looking for an eligible groom.
Lizzie is not that interested in getting married, just yet, but the thought of coming to London, and widening her very narrow horizons, gives an air of extra excitement to the whole adventure.
Along the way, she makes new friends and ends up living in a house with her new friends, in the rather affluent Belgravia area.
It’s not only new friends that she makes, but she gathers a couple of admirers, too.
And she manages to find herself in quite a predicament…
I enjoyed reading the story, immensely and loved certain characters, like David, the not-quite closet homosexual housemate Lizzie has.
A lovely, easy read.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House and Cornerstone UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review,

Releasing on 18th February, 2021

Can I Give My Stepkids Back?

Can I Give My Stepkids Back? by Aurélie Tramier
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read some reviews of this book that describe it as hilarious.
I have to disagree.
In fact, when I started it, it took me a little while to get into it, but once I did, I was fully in.
Morgan has led a disturbing life and is haunted by ghosts of the past. It has affected her as a person, and how she handles herself and interacts with others immensely.
She’s happy in her little job as a nursery manager, living with her old dog, Snoopy. Then one day, a terrible tragedy means that she is left as the guardian of her nephew and niece.
Ths story is told through the point of view of both Morgan, and her nephew Elliott.
There is much to smile about at the end, but there is also so much pain and suffering, both from the children, and their aunt, and it is told in a very readable manner.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 25th February, 2021

The Rose Code

The Rose Code by Kate Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Thanks to this book, I am suffering from lack of sleep. Seriously, I tried to put it down and go to sleep but had to go back to reading and finishing this book, meaning a past 3 am bedtime for me.
The Rose Code is a story set in 1947, just before the Royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth to Prince Phillip, and jumps back to 1940, where the story starts.
Three women, tied together by a huge wartime secret, are brought back together to solve a huge mystery.
Osla, Mabs and Beth couldn’t; be from more different backgrounds.
Osla is one of those ‘scatty debs’ who people just assume has no brains.
Mabs has pulled herself up from a tough life, and is in search of a life that she feels she deserves,
Beth is a timid, mousy girl, who is in fear of her overbearing mother.
The summons to work at Bletchley Park as a part of the WW2 codebreakers brings much-needed purpose into their lives until things start to happen…
I love books with a hint of truth in them, and ones that take history, and twist it slightly (artistic license) to add flavour to the plot, and this was perfectly done in The Rose Code.
I don’t want to give the story away, but if you like a bit of wartime in your books, spiced up with twists, this is definitely for you!
Codebreaking excitement throughout the whole book!
There is suspense, romance, history, and a gripping plot that keeps you reading until the very end!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 18th March 2021

Silver Bells (River's Sigh B & B Book 5)

Silver Bells by Ev Bishop
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to win a copy of Ev Bishop’s Silver Bells, in a competition, and to be honest, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
It’s nearly Christmas, here, and we’re facing a bleak one, what with me being in isolation, as well as knowing we can’t see loved ones, so to have something positive to read, that is Christmas oriented? Bring it on!
Bryn is stuck in awful snow, on her way to her family. She’s dreading it, as much as looking forward to it, being surrounded by loved ones, and all the children… a reminder of something she can never have.
Sean is making his way through that same snow, thoughts all over the place, when he loses control of his car, and ends up crashing, not far from Bryn.
Together, after unusual introductions, they make their way to River’s Sigh B & B, and what follows is a beautiful love story, packed with emotion, that keeps you turning the pages.
Ev, I think you may have found a River’s Sigh B & B returner, here 😉

Asking for a Friend

Asking for a Friend by Andi Osho
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s a crazy time right now, and any excuse to fall into a world that takes you away from the horrors we are living through, right now, right?
I got approval for this book yesterday, and read and finished it today.
That is how invested I ended up, in the story!
Three friends, all with backstories of their won, that mould the women they’ve become.
One an aspiring actor, one an agent and one an author.
Love and relationships are both things that all three find hard to come by.
Then the chance to help each other out by playing a dating game, brings some relief, some giggles, but brings other issues to the surface.
I really enjoyed this, and one takeaway lesson… remember, if you’re talking to a writer, you never know how much of what you’re saying may just end up in a future book…!
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 21st January 2021

A Court of Contempt (Oakland, #1)

A Court of Contempt by Rebekah Lee Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was gifted A Court Of Contempt, a mere few days ago, as I was to be stuck indoors, dealing with a ten day long insolation period (that feels like it’s lasted ten weeks already), and today I opened it on my Kindle to read, and today, I finished it, too!
Set in Canada in the early 1900s, this historical fiction story highlights the true plight of women and their lack of rights, at that time, following the story of Cora, a woman who ends up the first female lawyer and barrister on Canada and Great Britain.
She’s been through a lot to even get to the place she stands at, at the beginning of the novel, almost ready to give in on her dream, when her services are demanded, by another woman, wanting a divorce from her mobster husband.
I won’t go into the story, too much, after all, that is your job, to read the book, yourself, but what I will say is that I was swallowed into the world of Cora, and her eventual determination to get where she wants to be, and, with a host of amazing characters to support her, along the way, as well as after, I’d say this was a brilliant read!
Off to read another…!

The Night They Came For Til (Oakland, #2)

The Night They Came For Til by Rebekah Lee Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh My Goodness!
If it hadn’t been the run up to Christmas, I would have finished this in a day, as I did the first book.
Rebekah Lee Jenkins has totally sucked me into her historical world, writing about women and, in particular, women who fought for the rights we all have now.
This book The Night They Came For Til, follows the story of a young woman trainee doctor, who has spent many of here few years, already, working as a midwife, alongside her aunt, Til, in London.
Circumstances beyond her control find her on a ship to Canada, to work as a private midwife for a family in Oakland, and, distressingly, she finds herself pregnant, too…
I was totally swallowed up by the whole story, how she ingratiates herself within a community, making such difference, with a huge secret behind her, and the chance of love, with Cole, the local policeman…
I’m not spoiling the story, but, if you are aa historical romance fan, this is one for you. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I’ve already downloaded book three!
I was gifted this book, and I am so glad I was given the opportunity to read it!

Taking Til (Oakland, #3)

Taking Til by Rebekah Lee Jenkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve just finished Taking Til, the third in the Oakland series by Rebekah Lee Jenkins, and boy am I glad I did.
Taking Til concentrates more on Til Stone, a woman doctor and gynaecologist who stands for trying to ease women’s suffering in childbirth, miscarriage, and other women health issues, as well as promoting contraception at a time when it was really not acceptable.
She has her reasons.
And, as her life unravels around her, losing the only man she trusts and loves, as well as finding out her der niece has been kidnapped, Til is sent on a journey across the Atlantic, to try and help solve a huge white slavery ring, assisting Canadian police officer, Asher Grayson.
Another hugely strong woman, whose story ties in with the two main heroines from the last two books, female lawyer, Cora, and doctor, Shannon.
I really enjoyed this book, as much as the first two. Fantastic historical fiction!

Twelve Days of Kisses: A contemporary R…

Twelve Days of Kisses: A contemporary Romance Collection from The New Romance Cafe by Sofia Aves
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A collection of short stories, all with a little Christmas sparkle, giving readers a taste of some new to them authors.
There’s something for everyone here, with various different contemporary romance tropes involved.
And another great thing? the proceeds go to Charity!

The Rise of Gadreel (Fantasy Angels Series Book 3)

The Rise of Gadreel by Vashti Quiroz-Vega
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read the first two of Vasti Quiroz-Vega’s series, the Fantasy Angels, and I was truly immersed within the stories, awaiting the next one.
As soon as this came out, I got it, and had to read, to find out the fate of the next fallen angel.
Gadreel has finally made her decision to see her twin daughters, who are merpeople, and with Dracul by her side, son of. Lilith and Satan, she makes her way to her family.
Things aren’t as simple as that, though.
While Lilith and Satan were banished to the depths of the underworld, trouble is brewing.
Gadreel, Dracul and three new members of their team end up on a mission to stop the darkness from spreading through the whole world, thanks to the escape of Satan.
I absolutely loved the whole story, and eagerly devoured each page.
Thank you, Vashti, for another fantastic read!

The Samurai’s Honor (The Heart of the S…

The Samurai’s Honor by Walt Mussell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was gifted a copy of The Samurai’s Honor, while on an enforced break (Covid Self Isolation).
History in different cultures always fascinates me, and this novella, which is a prequel to The Samurai’s Heart, really piqued my interest.
Sen is the younger daughter of a prominent swordsmith, and an inquisitive one at that.
She craves information about whatever happens in her father’s workshop, and ends up finding herself in a bit of a murderous pickle.
Herself and her elder sister.
A delightful step inside the world of the Samurai, and a great read to whet the appetite for the full-length novel that follows.
Sen intrigues me, and I think that I am highly likely to put The Samurai’s Heart on my TBR pile!

Starstruck: A Second Chance Novella

Starstruck: A Second Chance Novella by Falguni Kothari
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Tania is an agent to the stars in Bollywood. Right now, she’s orchestrating a fake engagement between one of her biggest clients, and one of the bad boys of Bollywood… a boy she’s been a bit bad with, in the past.
Things could get awkward!
A quick, cute read with all the drama and glamour of Bollywood, and a little backstory to melt your heart!

Sunshine and Second Chances: A heart-warming, feel-good summer read about friendship, love and second chances.

Sunshine and Second Chances: A heart-warming, feel-good summer read about friendship, love and second chances. by Kim Nash
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a wonderful book filled with hope, and positivity, and looking beyond your struggles, finding solutions, and living your best life, even if it may start at around fifty!

Olivia, Debs, Samantha and Fiona are firm friends and have been, for decades. Life may have moved them away from each other physically, but theirs is a friendship where you can pick up where you left off, be it a day ago, or even if you left it months.

The last time they went away was for their collective 21st birthdays. This time, they are celebrating their fiftieth birthdays together on a break in beautiful Portugal.

Each woman has her own internal struggle, which they haven’t been entirely honest about with their friends.

Olivia, happily married to a successful man, with two boys, a dog, a dream house, and everything she could wish for. Or does she?
Debs has found comfort in food since her marriage broke up. The constant nagging doubt of not being good enough drives her to fill her voids with food, resulting in a body she is unhappy with, especially considering her ex found his new future in the shape of a gym bunny.
Samantha is still grieving. She lost her husband, and while trying to bring her son up, with only happy memories, she covers many of her own feelings had issues. Her son is now grown, and has his own life, but she can’t seem to find her own.
Fiona has given up all her hopes and dreams to care for her mother who is sinking, slowly into the depths of Alzheimer’s. She can’t leave mum for a second but desperately needs a break.

Just the introduction of these four women brought feelings of resonance in me. I could relate to certain situations they were in.

They travel, tentatively, to Portugal, to a villa that is well beyond their average means but funded mainly, by Olivia’s husband.

Each woman falls back into their friendship, and over the week they are there, they discover new things about each other, small shadows that each has been trying to conceal.

It was heartwarming to see how all four women grew, during that week, with the support of their old friends, and a few new ones too.

Mikey was a sweetheart, too, the holiday host with a secret of his own, which the ladies help him to overcome.

And there is romance, too, but I’m not spoiling any of the fun! Set in the beautiful Algarve, it’ll help to warm the cockles of your heart, and give you a taste of sunshine, especially at a time where we are unable to get out ourselves!

I loved immersing myself in their world, and it made me think of those special friends I have, the ones who I’d drop anything for… and thinking ahead five years, about a possible trip together…

Thank you, Kim Nash, for a wonderful story. I, for one, would love to know what happens next for them all. I’m definitely up for joining their 70th cruise!

First Comes Like (Modern Love, #3)

First Comes Like by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a delight First Comes Like was, to read!
Having enjoyed the first two of the Modern Love series, by Alisha Rai, The Right Swipe and Girl Gone Viral, I was chomping at the bit for this next instalment in the series.
This time we focussed on Jia, a Social Media influencer and successful vlogger, and her love life choices.
It was a breath of fresh air to have a heroine with a headscarf, but that not to be the main point. Heaven knows women of all backgrounds have love lives and similar feelings, but they are not often all portrayed in mainstream writing.
Jia is a girl on a mission; She’s already gone against her family’s wishes by moving out, after quitting her medical degree, to be an influencer.
But deep down, Jia still has her family ideals and morals ingrained within; mindless flirting and sex before marriage are a no-no.
This is why she is heartbroken when an online connection that felt real ends up being far from it.
Even worse, it was with Dev Dixit, from a hugely popular Bollywood family.
Enter the brooding hero, who, it turns out, didn’t even know he was meant to be that particular romantic hero.
Recently moved to the USA, to try and cross over to the Western screens, with a newly acquired young niece under his care, Dev is struggling to keep afloat, and the appearance of this beautiful headscarf-wearing woman throws him.
Tackling a few issues within the story, including cultural clashes, classism, as well catfishing, First Comes Like is a fantastic read, and a feel-good one, to match!
Many thanks to Netgalley, Avon and Harper Voyager for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 16th February 2021

And so to my Goodreads Challenge.

I planned on, hoped for 50 books to be read, not knowing what this year was going to be like… And I tell you, I had no clue it would end up with this figure!

Thata is 344% of my target!

So, now I revealed my statistics, I’m curious… what about you? How many did you read in this unforgetable year of 2020?

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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