August 2021 Books #AmReading

August is a month where school takes a total back burner… well, usually, it does. I may have some documents to read and write, and a visit into the classroom, to get ready for September, but for the best part it will be cricket, house stuff, a little writing (I hope!) and reading! Bring it on! (I have sp many arcs publishing this month, I hope I get them all read!)

Advance Warning!: I managed to read loads! TWENTY BOOKS! And the reading also included some Christmas ARCs, so for me, it wsa Christmas in August, not July, as many like to post about!

peacefully reading


The Dating Game

The Dating Game by Sandy Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having lapped up Sandy Barker’s previous novels, I was extremely excited to get a chance to read The Dating Game, her highly anticipated next release.
And I was not disappointed!
Abby is a woman with dreams of becoming a serious journalist. But right now, she’s ended up on a gig where she writes as her alter-ego, Anastasia Blabbergasted, a hilarious gossip columnist whose recaps of reality shows grasp the attention of the masses.
Somehow, she ends up being railroaded into taking part in The Stag (think The Batchelor), purely for fly on the wall, research purposes, where she is asked to pretend to be one of the Does (the women hoping to be chosen by The Stag), so she can get close to the action, and write really juicy recaps of the newest series.
So that is Abigail the journalist Abby the Doe and Anastasia the columnist. Quite a lot of personas for one person to juggle!
What she didn’t expect was to feel the flutterings of romance building up from a totally different source, as well as finding out she really likes some of her fellow contestants!
Okay, so if you are looking for a straight-up romance, it ain’t gonna necessarily come from this book, but that doesn’t mean, by any way, shape, or means that there isn’t any sizzle. Add to that, the fact that he’s a hot Aussie hunk… who isn’t The Stag… There is hidden romance and plenty of laughs, so it firmly sits in the Rom-Com sector, for me.
I do love a bit of reality TV, and having watched series like The Batchelor, it was great to get a feel for what possibly happens behind the scenes! The dynamics between a group of women vying for the attention of one man, for very, very different reasons, was a great avenue to explore.
Add in all the different locations they visit on dates, in and around Sydney, and I felt like I was on holiday, myself! (Much needed in this climate, I’ll have you know!)
A fun, light-hearted read to give you a giggle!
Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins Uk and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 10th September, 2021

Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home

Brown Baby: A Memoir of Race, Family and Home by Nikesh Shukla
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I embarked upon making my own writing dreams a reality, I stumbled upon author Nikesh Shukla, a fellow Indian of Kenyan descent, who was of similar age, and though he was Gujerati, and Male, to my Punjabi and Female, there were enough similarities to make his career interesting to me.
Brown Baby is a memoir, as well as a guide to life for his own Brown Baby, Ganga, and her sister, but the memories he recounts, the feelings he encounters, growing up as a British-born Indian, a child of immigrant parents, displaced by society, not really getting why, but then, yeah, getting it, were all emotions I’ve felt, too.
The passages about his mother and those feelings of love, loss, and guilt were overwhelming.
Add in the fact that his own Brown Baby has a mother who isn’t brown, so there are so many other questions, and hurdles to overcome. Again, close to home, as my own brother married a Finnish girl, and their boys are ‘Finndian’, so yup, more intriguing questions as they grow up, inquisitive.
A heartfelt tribute to a strong mother, a memoir filled with lessons. All in all, a good read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having spent the whole of January gorging on the entire Bridgerton Series, I was drawn to try this older regency novel by Georgette Hayer, after it was advertised as something for Bridgerton fans.
We still have a rakish Duke, and a young lady who may, or may not, be suitable as a bride for him, alongside a strange situation that throws them together, despite neither of them really wanting to be with one another.
I’m afraid this was where the similarity ends, for me. Perhaps the writing was not a style that I enjoyed, as it was written quite a while back, compared to the slightly more contemporary way the Bridgerton series was penned. The story was intriguing, but I did find the language didn’t captivate me in the same way.
Still, if you are a Regency Romance fan, I am sure you would be more than happy to read this, and the many others Heyer has penned.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Did You Miss Me?

Did You Miss Me? by Sophia Money-Coutts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Wish List was a book I loved, when I read it, so to be offered the chance to read a new book by Sofie Money-Coutts was not to be sniffed at.
I really loved this story centring around first loves and second chances.
Nell is a successful lawyer in a prestigious law firm in London, specialising in family law, so basically she spends her days dealing with divorces. Good thing that she wasn’t all that fussed about marriage, since the stories she has to deal with, would put off many a bridezilla.
Oh and her partner, Gus, was also of the opinion that marriage was unimportant: an unnecessary evil in their perfect relationship.
A local tragedy brings her back home for a short while, but in that twenty four hours she is back, she meets people who stir up a whole lot of long hidden emotions.
She’s faced with Art, the newly appointed Lord of the manor, since his father passed away, and also, her first love.
Of course, he’s married, and lives in another country, so why would he remember much about their teenage romance? Or was it just a little fling for him?
Fantastic story! I think I always know where it would end up, however, there were a few points where I thought the end might have been something different, so I was definitely turning the pages, in anticipation.
I kinda loved Art, the handsome new Lord, who really didn’t know what he’d done wrong.
Gus, well, I could take him or leave him, but I understood why Nell was with him, comfortable, content, but was she happy?
The addition of the secondary characters back home; Nell’s newly separated parents, her brother and her two besties from school, Colin and Luce, all made for some interesting side storylines, too.
And Nell, I was quite proud of her by the end, making a stand where it counted!
Many thanks to Netgalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.


Released on 19th August, 2021

Ouija

Ouija by Zoé-Lee O’Farrell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, so I’ll start off by saying that Horror is not my go-to genre, usually, but having read the opening chapters of this book, previously, my appetite was well and truly whetted, so when I was given the opportunity to read the whole book, I jumped at the chance, straight away!
Ouija is the debut novel by Zoé-Lee O’Farrell, and what a fantastic debut it is, too!
Six high school students take it upon themselves to have a go at something they really shouldn’t have touched, i.e. the Ouija board, inside an abandoned school, where tragedy struck a little while before.
What were they thinking? That’s what I was thinking, as I read, having been a little silly in my own youth, and tried this occult madness out at university. Put it this way, we had to break the session, and I was too scared to walk home in the dark, alone, for ages!
Still, Jon, Ben, Caley, Lara, and twins, Simon and Sophie all head into the school, some with doubt and trepidation, some with scepticism, some with a little indifference.
They all leave with something that binds them all together for life, and it ain’t something pleasant, I tell you!
O’Farrell has created just the right amount of tension and jumps, twists and turns to really keep you turning the pages, and the ending?
OMG! I will be needing a continuation, please!
If you like a bit of horror, that isn’t overly gory, but will play with your mind, you need to read this!

So, so, so proud of you, Zoe, for this fab book!

Released on 30th August, 2021

Eight Perfect Hours

Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautifully crafted story about fate, and what was always meant to be, but how, sometimes it’s just not the right time.
Nell, our heroine, is stuck in the snow, after a hurried reunion at her old college, where she was meant to be coming home with a special package. Instead, she is sat in the car, on the M4, stuck because of heavy snowfall, with a letter, memories, extreme emotions and a mobile with a flat battery.
Her hero arrives, not on a trusty steed, as such, but with a knock at the window, and the offer of a charger, as well as some company, the night ends up as the most perfect eight hours of her life.
Only, they never exchange contact details after.
The next few months sees so many coincidental events happening, that it is hard for Nell to discount the thoughts of her hippyish best friends, Theo and Charlie, who firmly believe in the whole ‘it was meant to be’ theory.
But, were they right?
A book I devoured within hours. Honestly, if I hadn’t started it so late last night, I would have finished it in a single sitting.
I truly felt for Nell, a woman with so much talent, but with responsibilities weighing her down, in the shape of her mother. A troublesome ex, and a wayward brother, make her feel like she isn’t worth much more than the lot life has thrown her.
Then there’s her knight in shining armour, Sam, who rescues her from the snow, and over the story, their own lives entwine in ways that seem unreal. A hunk with a heart, that’s Sam!
Of course, there is also Ed, the ex who pops back in, and even though she is thinking there could be something there, I found him rather smarmy. Keep well away, Nell!
Honestly, this was a wonderful read, covering so much within it, including loss, and bereavement, as well as postnatal depression, and that old chestnut, Fate.
A thoroughly good read that I would highly recommend!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Orion Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Released 19th August, 2021

Every Day in December

Every Day in December by Kitty Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kitty Wilson is a ‘new to me” author, so reading the blurb was what attracted me to the story. I mean, who doesn’t love a Christmas Romance story?
This was a beautifully crafted story about a woman and man, each with their own insecurities and losses, but with so much to give to the world, and possibly each other, if they could be brave enough to chance it.
Despite coming from a family of means, Belle Wilde is determined to make it, by herself in this world. She has her love of Shakespeare, and a lifelong project she needs help to launch, but there is no way she wants to take money from her parents, especially since her famous father doesn’t really rate her chances at anything in life.
Christmas is looming and faced with a jobless festive season, she goes about thinking of the cheap and cheerful gifts she could bring home when she unexpectedly bumps into Rory, an old acquaintance from student days.
Now, Belle, she loves Christmas. Rory? Not so much,
After the loss of his wife in December a few years previously, Christmas has lost its sparkle for him.
Somehow, after finding out about Belle’s secret project, he finds himself entwined in her life every day of that festive month, as she slowly teaches him how to love Christmas, and quite possibly other things, again.
Each chapter of the book is set on a different day in December and I loved it all!
Belle’s goddaughter, Marsha is a firecracker of a five-year-old, and I absolutely loved Angela, cancer-stricken mum of Rory, with spunk to match that of Belle’s!
Filled with a real slow burn of a romance, building a casual friendship up into something rarely found in relationships, this was a lovely read that I have to admit made me shed a tear of sentimental happiness at the end, too!
I’d love to read a bonus chapter, a year on. What is happening in the world of Belle and Rory? Is Marsha still crazy but oh-so-cute? Did Angela’s Secret Santa tradition keep on going? How is that Shakespeare project progressing? And, what is happening with Belle and Rory?
Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released 19th August, 2021

The Liar Next Door

The Liar Next Door by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nicola Marsh has totally done it again, honestly! I’ve read a couple of her domestic thrillers now, and each time, she pulls me in with the storyline, all the twists and turns, and I am blown away by the ending!
The Liar Next Door was no different.
Three women living as neighbours in a lovely neighbourhood become tentative friends, knowing no one else there.
They each have their own secrets, and reasons for moving from previous locations, but some are more sinister than others.
But, which one is lying?
All three characters have issues of their own, from paternity secrets to infidelities, and the way their stories end up weaved together is nothing short of genius. You have a married mum of one, who is a famous influencer, a young, newly married, pregnant woman and a single mum, apparently fleeing from some danger.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read, and can’t wait for another!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released 23rd August, 2021

Hot Desk

Hot Desk by Zara Stoneley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you’re looking for an easy, uplifting read, with a bit of a slow burn romance, then this is quite possibly a book for you.
Hot Desk is about precisely that. A company changes up its working procedures post-Covid, with more work from home, and less time in the office,e meaning people now have to share desks.
Music to the ears of some, but not for Alice, our heroine, for whom the lockdowns and being stuck in her room in her house share haven’t been ideal, especially for work.
And then she finds out that her haven at work is now to be shared, and by none other than Jamie, her annoying colleague, who was also the one to give her a kiss to remember, many moons ago, yet doesn’t seem to remember said life-changing moment.
Kinda second chance romance, though the first time didn’t really go anywhere.
I’ll be honest, not my favourite ever read, but it was a pleasant one, and I enjoyed the story. It would make a good beach read.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins UK and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released 31st August, 2021

Freckles

Freckles by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Freckles. The cover and the blurb enticed me to read.
A woman, who is floundering in life uses a phrase uttered to her in a moment of annoyance, to shape the rest of her life.
You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
Who are those five people, and how have they shaped her?
Are they the same five people throughout her life, or do they change?
Allegra Bird is a complex character. She shows shades of autism throughout the book.
I have to admit that, initially, I found it quite hard to get into, as there were no speech marks throughout the book, and sometimes I was mixing speech for thought, etc, but it added to the confusion in the mind of our main character.
But, once I was in, I was IN, if you know what I mean.
I was making my own list of five for Allegra, throughout the book, and am so glad I got it right, in the end!
There were hints of a possible romance, but the essence of the story wasn’t muddied by that. Instead, we were given a hopeful ending.
I felt for the young girl, discarded by her mother, who wanted to know more. A woman who wanted to help others, but didn’t often get it quite right. Someone who was frequently misunderstood.
As I mentioned before, it took a little while to get into, but I did enjoy the journey through Allegra’s quest to pinpoint her five.

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

Releasing 2nd September, 2021

The Hidden Child

The Hidden Child by Louise Fein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first book by Louise Fein, and I have to say I was glad I gave it a try.
The Hidden Child is a story steeped in history, filled with beliefs that many of us would find hard to swallow nowadays, but which were held to by many a century ago.
The story centres around Husband and wife, Edward and Eleanor.
Both have a strong belief in Eugenics, and the plan to institutionalise those who suffer from certain afflictions and maybe even sterilise them, to prevent the risk of ‘inherited’ disorders, such as epilepsy, being passed down to the next generations.
Until something happens in their own personal life that tears both them apart, and their own beliefs.
I have to say I couldn’t read this in one sitting because the subject matter was so deep; eugenics, the search for the perfect Aryan race, institutionalisation, alternative treatments,
But behind those topics was a story about a real family, struggling with dealing with situations out of their hands,
Reading the Author’s note at the end was enlightening, as certain aspects of the story are based upon one of her own background truths, and it is also quite scary to read how much of what is included in The Hidden Child is based upon truths, politically, and medically.
I have to say there were moments, as a mother, I had tears in my eyes,. There were times I wanted to cheer, as Eleanor grew a backbone, and also moments of upset when I read about some of the Eugenic beliefs.
A really fascinating, and engaging book. It’s not an easy read beach book, but something to take time, and mull over.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 2nd September, 2021

I Have Something to Tell You

I Have Something to Tell You by Susan Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You’ve got to love a Susan Lewis book, haven’t you? Well, I know I’m always going to enjoy her brilliant storytelling skills, having read many of her books over the years.
I Have Something To Tell You was nothing short of a masterpiece, quite possibly one of her best, to date.
Jay is a defence lawyer, caught up in the early confusion of a new murder trial. She finds herself sucked up into this particular case more than others, as she tries her hardest to help her client, who she has a gut feeling about. He can’t be guilty. Can he?
Meanwhile, in her personal life, she’s dealing with trust issues. Fractured trust is never quite as strong after it’s been shattered once, and she is finding that, even years after finding out her husband cheated on her.
With good reason, it seems.
There were so many twists and turns within each different part of the story. from Jay’s relationship with Tom, her husband, to how she handles the murder case client, Blake, and all the investigations.
I Have Something To Tell You is a brilliant title for the book, where those words, or something similar, are uttered several times, bringing new tweaks to an already engaging story.
Thoroughly enjoyed this!
Many thanks, to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 16th September, 2021

Seizing the Bygone Light by Cendrine Marrouat

Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography by Cendrine Marrouat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many thanks to the Authors for providing a copy for review purposes.

Seizing the Bygone Light: A Tribute to Early Photography captures the essence of emotions within the images enclosed by the authors, and the words of poetry that accompany them.
I loved some of the chosen images, which left me feeling wistful, in some ways, and ignited inspiration within me.
An interesting book for photography enthusiasts, with a love of poetry.

Rhythm Flourishing by Cendrine Marrouat


Rhythm Flourishing: A Collection of Kindku and Sixku by Cendrine Marrouat
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We all need a bit of positivity in our life, and this beautiful collection of poetry and photography has it in spades.
I am a lover of poetry, both syllabic, and not, and being introduced to the new-to-me forms, Kindku and Sixku, was great.
I enjoyed both the photography-based lines, as well as those inspired by the words of well-known figures, such as Maya Angelou.
Many thanks to the Authors for providing me with a copy, in exchange for an honest review.

Matchmaking at Port Willow (Port Willow Bay #2)

Matchmaking at Port Willow by Kiley Dunbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can I just say, I was so excited to be heading back to Port Willow, with Kiley Dunbar!
I’ve been a huge fan of Dunbar’s stories over the last couple of years and was thrilled that I was able to read the next book about The Princess and Pea Inn, and its lost soul inhabitants and guests.
It was a joy to be back with Atholl and Beatrice, Gene and Kitty, and to meet all the newer characters that made the story so great to read.
Beatrice and Atholl have settled into their life at the Inn, with plenty of exciting new projects to get their teeth into. They have a couple coming to stay, who are to celebrate their twenty-fifth Anniversary, during their month-long stay, and a young woman from New York, coming to find some new trends around the Highlands that she can tout to her company back home, as the next ‘big thing’.
Each of these characters has stories of their own that bring about the ‘Matchmaking’ part of the book’s title.
I don’t want to go into too much detail, and give things away, but, despite being a book two in a series, it is easily readable as a stand-alone.
There are trigger warnings with regards to miscarriage, but it has been health with sensitively, and as I mentioned before, I’ve read the first book, so was aware of this side of the story. Also, hats off to the author for bringing menopause into the equation.
Also, it is lovely to have a cast of characters who aren’t all young, beautiful people, looking for love and finding it, but those more advanced in their years, with a history behind them, and, yes, still finding it!
A heart-warming story with the capacity for more to happen… hint, hint!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hera Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 16th September, 2021

Safe at Home: What if you left your child alone, and something terrible happened?

Safe at Home: What if you left your child alone, and something terrible happened? by Lauren North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read two of Lauren North’s previous books and loved them, so was excited to get my teeth into her latest one, Safe At Home.
She is a fantastic author of Psychological Suspense, and her plots keep your mind ticking over, second-guessing every thought you have, throughout the books she writes.
Safe At Home is no different.
Anna is bringing up her three girls alone, while her husband, Rob, works overseas. After some incident prior to the start of the book, they are living in a different area and living a completely different life to what they were used to.
She’s become an extremely protective mother, not trusting anyone, despite the local community trying to welcome her into their folds.
A decision, not taken lightly, to leave one of her girls at home alone for what should have been a twenty-minute period, becomes the catalyst for an event that changes the lives of not only her family but many people around her.
I was on tenterhooks throughout the whole book, I have to admit. What a fantastically told story, with so many twists, and possibilities, to make you think you know what is going on, before you get thrown off the scent, again.
Loved it!
Many thanks to NetGalley, Random House UK, Transworld Publishers, Corgi for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 30th September, 2021

The Other Man

The Other Man by Farhad J. Dadyburjor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 Stars
Reading the blurb for this book, I felt I really wanted to read it. an LGBTQ romance, based in recent years, in Mumbai. It’s not something that is written about often, so I was excited.
Ved Mehra is the son of an affluent businessman, from a wealthy family, and wants for nothing.
Except for love and acceptance.
Finding himself forced into an engagement with the delightful Disha, Ved thinks it must be for the best.
Only… he’s gay.
Then he meets Carlos.
The story is set around the time when Section 377, a law set in British colonial times, criminalising homosexual activity, amongst other things is due to be overturned.
While I really wanted to love the story, I found the characters to be underdeveloped, and there were areas that the story almost went too fast, or felt a little unbelievable.
I mean, considering Ved hadn’t come out to his parents, would he still have brought a man back to the house, so brazenly, indulged in such loud physical pleasure, and have none of the house staff batting an eyelid, nor his father asking questions?
But, there was a HEA, so, I was happy!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 12th October, 2021

Baby It's Cold Outside

Baby It’s Cold Outside by Emily Bell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You hear people talking, jokingly, about getting together in x amount of years, if you’re both still single, but in Baby, It’s Cold Outside, the pact to meet in ten years in Dublin is something our main character Norah Jones is seriously considering.
Having met Andrew in Italy, as a fresh-faced young woman, and been swept off her feet, fate brought them together but tore them apart too.
As the date of reckoning approaches, life throws Norah a curveball, leaving her at a loose end at Christmas, and she finds herself going to Dublin to see if this meeting will really happen, with her long time friend Joe with her.
I really loved Norah Jones, singer, turned music teacher. She’s been dealt a tough hand by life, in so many ways, losing people she loved, and I really wanted her to get her happily ever after,
She gets her Happily Ever After, but, maybe, not in the way she expected.
The cast of characters within the book was great, with Norah’s circle of friends, her mum, and several special other people she meets in Dublin.
And, talking of Dublin, reading this book makes me want to go and visit!
A lovely Christmas story to warm the cockles of your heart.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 14th October, 2021

All For You

All For You by Louise Jensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was thrilled to receive a copy of Louise Jensen’s new psychological thriller, having enjoyed some of her previous books, and All For You didn’t disappoint.
On the surface, the Walsh family seem like your average family, husband and wife with their two sons, but when you scratch the surface, all isn’t as simple as it should be.
For a start, there is a young boy suffering an illness that nothing but a transplant can help with, and another teenager suffering anxiety and stress from a tragic event that happened in his own life a few months before.
To top it off you have a husband and wife with their own secrets.
Then, the unthinkable happens. One of their boys goes missing.
The story is told from the viewpoints of both husband and wife, Aiden and Lucy, and the eldest son, Conner. We find out snippets of their pasts, as layers are slowly peeled off, as the story unfolds.
A wonderfully wicked web of interweaving storylines makes for a fantastic thriller, and it kept me on my toes the whole way through. At many points, I was convinced I knew what was happening, only for the next chapter to throw another curveball.
It really does make you think, ‘What would I do?’, had you been in a situation similar to any of the characters, for they all made bad decisions in the past, though for compelling reasons…
Fantastic read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 28th October, 2021

The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

You can’t go wrong with a Sarah Morgan Christmas book, can you?
Well, I’m pretty certain of that fact, and I loved this one as much as the others that I have read.
This story centres around three main characters, Robyn, her niece, Christy and Christy’s best friend Alix.
Robyn lives in Lapland with her husband Erik and has been estranged from her family for many years, yet, out of the blue, she receives an email from her niece, wanting to come over.
Christy is nervously excited at the thought of meeting her aunty, the Rebel Robyn, about whom she knows nothing, other than her mother refused to discuss her, at all.
She’s due to take her family; husband Seb and small, feisty daughter Holly to visit her rebel aunt, with her best friend and ally, Alix in tow, too, all the way to Lapland.
But, things happen. (Of course, they do!)
And she finds herself having to ask her best friend a huge favour, i.e. stepping in as ‘mum’ for a while, as she sorts out something personal, meaning Alix has to go to Lapland with Holly. With backup, of course. Zak. Who happens to be Seb’s best friend, and apparently a sworn enemy of Alix’s.
Yes, it is a romance, in many ways, and how can you not get romantic, thinking of the Northern Lights, and midnight sleigh rides, the snow, and saunas…
Though, more than that, I felt this book was about relationships and friendships, and misunderstandings. How something that seems so small can end up becoming bigger than you realise, and that thing you thought was huge, actually isn’t important at all.
A fabulous read that I devoured pretty much in one sitting on a Bank Holiday Monday!
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 28th October, 2021

So, I’ve given you quite a selection to think on from Romantic, to Christmas, Psychological thrillers to poetry, not forgetting a little LGBTQ fiction. What tickles your fancy? And share what you read this month, or recently, that you would recommend!

July 2021 Books #AmReading

Last month was a wash out, with reports and assessments. This month is the last one of term, so I’m not holding out much reading hope to be honest! Still, I can try! And I have SO MAY ARCS to read, via Netgalley, that my brain is swimming with deadline dates! (Someone, tell me to stop agreeing to read, or requesting them!)

bean bag chair chill
The Mother Fault

The Mother Fault by Kate Mildenhall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I was expecting when I requested this book, but when I began reading I realised it was very different to my usual reading genre.
Dystopian fiction is not really my thing, However, when you couple an unknown genre with a topic I love, which is motherhood, and family, and the lengths said mother would go to for hers, then you get a pretty good read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released 7th July, 2021

You and Me on Vacation

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book on so many levels.
Poppy and Alex are made for each other, but they really don’t get it. Well, not straight away.
Despite being best friends for so many years, and taking their special yearly vacations together, things simmer, but never bubble over.
Until one trip.
A trip that changes so much.
I have to say I felt for Poppy, so much through the whole book, holding onto her unrequited love, as well as trauma from the past.
I honestly wanted to shake Alex. I mean, come on, why didn’t you give any indications any earlier, as to how you felt?!
Still, I really enjoyed the read, and would recommend it for a great summer sizzler!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Released 8th July, 2021

The Lock In

The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The title, The Lock In, really pulled me to request this book, and though it wasn’t about a lock in , in its truest sense, the story was a cringy gigglefest from start to finish!
Imagine it, being hungover, in a house that has a huge leak, and locked in the attic with three other people.
Ellen, one of the fated housemates, is suffering from a rather wild night before, and after discovering a leak, tries her hardest to find the off switch (!!) in the attic. So something I would do, pre being a homeowner.
After no success, she has to wake her fellow housemates, to alert them to said leak, and request their assistance in turning off the water.
Jack, the most recent addition to the house, is clueless, but Alexa, Ellen’s friend from university, and final housemate is savvier, however, doesn’t have the brute strength to actually turn the stopcock (that was under the sink, in case you needed to know!) off. They all find themselves up in the attic, questioning Ellen’s presence there, when the fourth in the adventure arrives, Ben, who was actually Alexa’s date.
Now, his brute strength is another matter, and he ends up locking them in the attic, and breaking the door handle!
The hilarity that ensues from being stuck with almost no phone (I won’t go into that, too much!), no toilet, food or water, along with old stories being recalled, oh, and the memories of an old romance that turned sour popping its head up, it’s an entertaining book.
The visit back to 2009 with MSN Messenger, drunken nights and the first digital cameras took me back to my own youth!
I found all the characters likeable in their own way and ended up with a soft spot for Jack, who is socially clueless but ends up in the limelight in a way he never thought possible.

Many thanks to NetGalley, and Penguin Mochale Joseph UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Released on 22nd July, 2021

Welcome to Ferry Lane Market

Welcome to Ferry Lane Market by Nicola May
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Can I start by saying I want to go to Ferry Lane Market?
I want to meet this cast of characters; colourful, caring and complicated!
So, we have Kara, a woman stuck in an eight-year-old relationship, that is going nowhere, with barely the finance needed to stretch to living a little, outside of paying her mortgage.
She’s in a job she loves, but without the appreciation from her boss, even that shine has dulled.
Surrounded by people who care about her, she ends up on an adventure of a lifetime, after kicking Jago, her useless, cheating boyfriend, to the curb, to find her true path,
I really enjoyed immersing myself in the world of the Ferry Lane market, and it was fantastic to read about a woman, just past what people would say was the prime of her life, finally finding her feet, her passion, and some love, along the way!
And I’m looking forward to reading more about all the fantastic characters in the books to follow!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released on 22nd July, 2021

The Image of Her

The Image of Her by Sonia Velton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two woman, one man, livng far apart, yet irreversibly connected. Brilliant read! Seriously, I had one idea in my mind about what this book was going to be about, and though I clicked, part way through, the twists and turns to get to the conclusion were gripping! The stories of the two women, how we move from the present to the past, the takes interweaving, to create this blanket of connections… was fantastic! I can’t write much, as I would give the story away, but it’s good, trust me! Loved it! Many thanks to NetGalley and Quercus for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released on 22nd July, 2021

The Promise of Summer

The Promise of Summer by Bella Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed part one of this book, so was thrilled to be able to read the whole of the novel.
You know you’re in for a good read when within a few pages, you know exactly what you want to happen, and you speed through the chapters waiting for it, going on a fantastic journey to get to that expected destination.
It was like that for me, with The Promise Of Summer.
An easy, light-hearted read with three interesting characters; Ruby, with her obsession with having a baby, Kim and her secret, and Curtis…
I was fascinated by Curtis, the whole way through! The pointers from the very beginning of the story indicated a person on the autistic spectrum, and it was just a joy to see him with his own happily ever after, to be honest.
And don’t let me forget to mention Boomer, or Boomerang, the rescue dog, who ends up stealing plenty of hearts!

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

Released on 22nd July, 2021

What's Left Unsaid

What’s Left Unsaid by Emily Bleeker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What’s Left Unsaid is a book that took me a little while to get into, but once I was in, I was hooked.
Hannah Williamson is a woman with her own past and troubles. Having been sent to live with her grandmother, Mamaw, in a little town in Minnesota, on the pretext of looking after her, she embarks upon a job at the local paper, keen to get back to her real career in journalism.
While there, she finds out about a story, something kept deeply hidden, which triggers her thirst for wanting to know more.
The more she knows, the more invested she becomes in the story, not knowing just how involved she is to become.
There are many issues raised in this book, not least the extreme prejudices that were held on to so tightly, in the South, but child abuse, depression, adoption, miscarriage…
And to think it is a story based upon the real story of the author’s great aunt.
A fascinating read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Released on 27th July, 2021

Love Life

Love Life by Nancy Peach
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So, what happens when you are a woman living the aftermath of a broken relationship, where you found your then partner, in bed, with another man? Coupled with doing your residency in a hospital, training to be a doctor? Alongside generally feeling like absolute rubbish, because, well, you are. Anyway, that’s how life has made you come to view yourself?
This kinda sums up our heroine, Tess.
Oh, but I forgot, she has these two voices in her head, or rather like the devil and angel one might have on your shoulders, she has the chat show host, akin to Jerry Springer, rubbing her face in all the downs she encounters, with the lovely Jane Austen on her other side, cheering her along, with her ladylike grace.
While on her training stint in the hospice of the local hospital, she encounters a patient with who she develops a strong bond. What she wasn’t counting on, was the son of said patient, who brings back certain memories… yet, he doesn’t appear to remember her, at all.
It took me a short while to really get into the swing of the book, but once I was there, I was THERE, if you know what I mean!
Honestly, there were times I wanted to punch the Chat Show Host in the face – What an obnoxious man! But the light-hearted banter that spilt from the mouths of the two voices, along with the story, as it unfolds, had me wanting to read more!
Many thanks to Netgalley and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released on 16th September, 2021

Patience

Patience by Victoria Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an amazing read!
No, seriously, I haven’t felt gushy about a book for a while, now, and this one, well, it gave me the feels.
Now, it’s not a rom-com, as I usually enjoy, but the story of Patience, a woman diagnosed with Rett Syndrome in childhood, captivate me.
I enjoyed how the book was written, with Patience’s point of view given through her thoughts, since, she is unable to talk, and the differing viewpoints of her family: both parents and her sister, Eliza.
Life can’t be easy as a carer, and member of family of an individual who is diagnosed with such a disorder. You often find the world sympathising with them, but this also turned the tables on that, by providing Patience with a voice.
Regardless of whether she was able to talk, move, feed. herself, etc., she still has opinions, and thoughts, reminding me that we never know what is going on in the mind of someone we may consider ‘disabled’.
Thoroughly enjoyed this.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Released on 5th August, 2021

Well, I am quite impressed with myself to be honest! After a thankless last couple of months, with the house move and the last term of the school year, reading has always been there, but not at the forefront of my life, so nine books, this month, I think, is a winner!

So, were there any there that sparked your interest? Let me know what you’ve been reading this month, too!

June 2021 Books #AmReading

I’m hazarding a guess that this will be another quiet reading month, as not only do we have the move to continue with, but it is also report writing month, which is always hectic! Anyway, let’s see what I managed!

5. I managed 5. And if I am totally honest, I am still reading one of them! It has been a really hard month, time is whizzing by…

peacefully reading
Songs in Ursa Major

Songs in Ursa Major by Emma Brodie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The premise for the book, Songs In Ursa Major, intrigued me and it made for an interesting read.
The story follows the meeting of Jane, lead singer in a local band, and Jesse, up and coming popular musician, who ends up needing medical care after an accident.
Jane and Jesse’s relationship is very complex, but you can feel.the strength of their bond, and I was taken on an emotional roller coaster as their relationships journey progressed.
Filled with music, and the relaxed atmosphere of the 60s, coupled with more serious issues, dealing with drug culture, and loss, as well as the male-dominant industry that the music business was, at that time it was a compelling read.
My only disappointment was that the ending felt very displaced and abrupt, jumping from then, to the present, with not a lot to explain what had happened in the half century between where we were, and where the story actually ends.
An interesting debut.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Released 24th June, 2021

Pug Actually by Matt Dunn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


When I saw the cover, with that cute pug face, how could I refuse a chance to read? And, the title, Pug, Actually, made me giggle out loud, so, of course, it was a given that I would read this one!
We have Julia, stuck in a somewhat restrictive relationship with a married man called Luke, and a pug, called Doug (Yes, really!) who knows this man is not for his mistress, at all.
The book is all told through the large, sometimes bulging eyes of Doug, the pug, as he tries very hard, with the help of a few other humans, to manipulate situations, to make Julia realise exactly how bad this man is for her.
Knowing this Luke already has something called a ‘wife, at home, Doug knows that Julia could do much better, as he steers her towards Tom, a V-E-T-, (not ideal, because, well, his job, but so much better than Luke with the dodgy smell that he leaves in his wake!)
A delightful romance with a canine twist!
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ Digital for an Arc in exchange for an honest review.

Released 29th June, 2021

Geraldine Verne's Red Suitcase

Review to follow in a Blog tour post! But, here’s the blurb to whet your appetite!

His dying wish was to set her free. So why does she feel so trapped?

Jack had two dying wishes: that his wife scatter his ashes somewhere ‘exotic’, and that she not give up on life once he was gone. He intended to spur her on to new adventures, but despite clinging to her red suitcase, Geraldine Verne hasn’t left the house for three months.

It takes an accident for Geri to accept help from her friends, but when Meals on Wheels arrive she is mortified. Yet heartbroken volunteer Lottie brings with her more than cottage pie and custard. Like Geri, she too is struggling to cut loose.

As a gloriously unlikely friendship blossoms, Geraldine begins to feel a long-lost spark of life and a newfound confidence. Perhaps what both women needed most, after all, was each other.

Released 29th June, 2021

8 steps to Side Characters: How to Craft Supporting Roles with Intention, Purpose, and Power

Another one I read, for review purposes, and I shall not share the review until the release date, which is at the end of July, but, if you know Sacha, you know this will be a goodie!

Do your characters fail to bring your story to life? Are they flat, boring or have no depth? Is your story lacking a little cohesion or sparkle?
In 8 Steps to Side Characters, you’ll discover:

+ A step-by-step guide for creating side characters that bring your story alive
+ The main types of side characters and what you should do with them
+ The key to crafting character depth that hooks readers
+ How to harness your character’s voice to deepen your reader’s experience
+ Tips and tricks for using details to enhance characterization
+ Methods for killing characters that will help deepen plot, theme and story
+ Dozens of ideas for creating conflict with your side characters
+ Tactics for differentiating characters and making them feel real to your reader
+ Character archetypes and functions
+ The most common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid

8 Steps to Side Characters is a comprehensive writing guide that will help you create the side characters your story needs. This book is packed with tips and tricks for polishing characters for writers at any level.

If you want to power up your characters, eliminate dull and lifeless archetypes, and perfect your characterization, this is the book for you. By the end of this book, you’ll know how to strengthen your characters to give your story, prose and plot the extra something special it needs to capture a readers and fans for life.

If you like dark humor, learning through examples and want to create better side characters, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting supporting roles with intention, purpose, and power. Read 8 Steps to Side Characters today and start creating kick-ass stories. 

Releasing 29th July, 2021

The Beach Read Book Club

The Beach Read Book Club by Kathryn Freeman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now, just the name of this book drew me to request it, and I was not disappointed at all with the story. I have been struggling to read, recently, and this book pulled me out of the rut I had found myself in!
So we have Lottie, the blonde sparky, never an intellectual person, and definitely not known for her love of words.
She’s been attending a book club, but really isn’t feeling it, what with all the literary greats they are meant to be reading, when all she really wants is a bit of romance, happy endings, and a little steaminess thrown in.
An idea sparks (see what I did there?!) with the help of some other members of said book club to start their own, a more inclusive one, with less formal rules, and here’s how she finds herself the head of the Beach Reads Book Club, with a slowly growing number of members, who do like a book with a bit of a romp in them, but more than anything, they cherish the time they spend together, and the friendships that evolve.
Oh, and I can’t forget the romance within this book, either, can I? Matthew, the rather serious new book shop owner is eye candy for more than one of the members, but, slowly, as he sheds layers of clothing and his own mystique, he ends up being a perfect candidate for our Lottie.
Though, nothing is ever that simple. There is family drama, exes, and a gorgeous, protective dog, involved.
Oh, and who could forget the oldest member of the club, Audrey, who has a potty mouth disguising a heart of gold.
Such a lovely book, I highly recommend it!
Many thanks to NetGalley and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released 30th June 2021


So, were you any better than me with your reading?

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?

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