April 2021 Books #AmReading

So, last month I went ARC mad and read quite a few from my list, hoping to lessen it… then over the month, I managed to amass the same amount again in new arcs! So, I will try and mix up arc and TBR list reading, this month. the first two weeks I am on holiday so I hope to get a bit read, then!

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The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday

The Borrow a Bookshop Holiday by Kiley Dunbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A holiday that involves books, a bookshop, baking, a dog and a hunk? What’s not to love?
Jude’s life revolves around her family, caring for her grandmother, and pottering around, helping her parents in the family bakery business, alongside completing her English degree part-time. Books are her faithful friends throughout her life.
When her forbidden romance, ends badly, along with finding out her parents are shutting up shop, and her gran wants to move to a retirement village, she’s at a loss as to what to do, until an email arrives, confirming a booking Jude and her then-boyfriend had made for a two week holiday, running a bookshop and a cafe in a small village in Devon.
She arrives, after being forced by her parents and best friend to take the break, hoping for a fortnight of solitude, books and baking, and is rudely awakened on her first night by an intruder.
I won’t go into more detail, other than to say that the intruder ends up being hot, and the bookstore comes with a mangy mutt, who both end up stealing the reader’s heart.
Jude is a character who has such low self-esteem and feels like she doesn’t have a real place in the world, and this story gives her a chance to grow into herself, and find the life she always wanted.
Elliott – that’s the intruder – well, he’s just a fab character, all big and brooding, but gentle and kind, too, and he’s an animal lover. Oh, and he has a bit of a past that he’s trying to get away from.
Aldous, the dog, oh, what a star! I loved his connection with the bookshop, and wished I could be the one to coax him out of his grief and stupor!
And all the characters in the fictitious village of Clove Lore, from Mrs C and her ‘book’ filled with bets on who will get together and stay in the village, to Minty, owner of the Estate, who has her suspicions about Elliot and why he’s here.
A wonderful, sweet, feel-good read. And if you, like me, are someone who doesn’t get along with maths, you’ll relish this story all the more!
When I heard about Kiley Dunbar’s latest book, I eagerly awaited the release date and was honoured to be approved to read an arc, as I have loved all of Kiley’s previous releases.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hera Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 5th May, 2021

When I Last Saw You

When I Last Saw You by Bette Lee Crosby
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a touching tale, based upon truths that are a part of author Bette Lee Crosby’s own history.
Margaret is grieving. Her husband of fifty years passes on, leaving her alone, aside from her housekeeper, cleaner and friend, Jean.
No family to speak of, no children, Margaret is at a loss.
She happens upon a stack of paperwork when clearing out her deceased husband’s desk that leads her on a voyage of discovery, where she ends up with a lot more family than she ever thought possible.
Based partially in the early 1900s and the 1960s, the story is told of Margaret’s journey to reunite herself with the family she thought she had lost, and the story of her mother, Eliza, a woman whose children meant more to her than the world, and how they go from being a family to being spread around the country, estranged from one another.
A heartwrenching read, I’d recommend to all.

Releasing 4th May, 2021

The Summer Seekers

The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I see Sarah Morgan, my first thought is Christmas stories, because she writes such amazingly memorable ones. I know there are others, but that is the genre that sticks in my mind.
Having said that, seeing The Summer Seekers blurb whet my appetite for another cracker of a story.
It seems to be a common theme in recent books I have read, for the story to be set around a road trip, this was the third in as many weeks that I read.
Kathleen is an eighty-year-old woman, living alone, fiercely independent, but afraid of what impending age will do to her life.
Liza, Kathleen’s daughter wants only the best for her mother. She spent her childhood watching her whirlwind of a mother, taking off to all sorts of glamorous locations as the host of a famous travel show, with little time for her, She has spent her adulthood determined to be more like the mother she wished she had, there, always, for her twin girls and husband, Sean, but that life begins to take its toll.
A chance encounter featuring an intruder, a skillet, the police and a head injury, fires up the urge for Kathleen to take one last trip of a lifetime. She’s always wanted to travel Route 66, but, rather like the crock of gold at the end of the rainbow, there is something important she knows she might find at the end of the trip, only she’s not so sure if she wants to find it.
However, driving over two thousand miles alone at eighty is probably not a good idea, and there is no way she wants to take this trip with her daughter.
Cue Martha, a mid-twenties woman with nothing to lose. An incomplete education, failed marriage and family disapproval behind her, the intrigue of an advert, requiring someone to drive, on an all-expenses-paid trip, spurs her on to take a step in a direction she has never considered before.
A wonderful premise for a story filled with so much, from realisation, to love, new beginnings to happy endings; it’s all there and written in a way that has you falling in love with all the characters, and the places they visit, too.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 27th May, 2021

Duvet Day

Duvet Day by Emily Kerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a fantastic feel-good read!
Alexa Humphries is a young lawyer who is feeling the grind. Daily, she is pouring her heart and soul into her job, which leaves little time for her life. (And I know this is a reality, as my own solicitor emailed me last night past 11 pm, and I wanted to tell her off for still working!)
That morning arrives when it all becomes too much, and after much deliberation, she takes her brother’s advice and calls in sick… Duvet Day!
It would, ordinarily, be a simple thing, call in, make excuses, then settle down for a day filled with series binges, comfort eating, and relaxing.
Simple, if you didn’t live in a houseshare with one of your lawyer colleagues, who needs to learn a little about sympathy, and another mystery housemate who has never introduced herself.
Hilarity ensues, as, cosied up in her Unicorn onesie and teddy bear fluffy slippers, Alexa finds herself locked out of the house, after making the (bad) decision to answer the door for a delivery, addressed to her unknown housemate.
Oh, what a giggle, from start to finish!
I really felt for Alexa, being in a job that can drain everything from you, myself. The thought of a duvet day would buoy me up, too, but equally, fill me with dread about what I’d backlog of work I’d encounter when I got back to work.
Poor Alexa has her heart in the right place, and all she wants is the best for the world, to make a difference.
I’m sure she wasn’t ever expecting to make that difference, dressed up as a unicorn, though!
I won’t spoil the story for you, but it’s a wonderful read, and yes, there is definitely a slow simmering romance, which takes the whole book to begin to boil, but, when you think about it, it’s all rather fast, since the book takes place over the course of one day!
Fantastic!
Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins and One More Chapter, for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion

Releasing 27th May, 2021

Just a Boy Friend

Just a Boy Friend by Lucy Keeling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do you ever have those moments when you read a book that has been sitting on your TBR for a while, and then you kick yourself for not having read it earlier?
Well, I had that revelation as I became more and more engrossed in this wonderful debut by Lucy Keeling.
I have been following her progress for a while, but, ashamedly I hadn’t managed to read one of her books.
Knowing that book 3 (yes, three, that means I still have another to catch up on!) comes out in less than a week, I felt I simply had to get caught up on the Friends series (not the TV one, obvs!) and so I did.
I must add, as an aside, that Lucy’s book came at a time I really needed something to keep my spirits high, put a smile on my face, and generally help me feel good.
And Just A Boyfriend did exactly that!
Sophie is a wannabe social media influencer. She’s got her five-year plan, and, as long as she sticks to what she has mapped out, she’ll be a wannabe no longer, but, the thing is, her plans don’t really involve life in it, as well.
Because, other than work, there is a whole host of other entities that can affect your future plans, including your friends, family, kittens, and men. Specifically, romance with said men.
Romance is a no-no, right now. She has no time for it. But why do feelings keep creeping up on her?
Especially for a certain male who happens to be the brother of one of her best friends?
Such a fun story, with plenty of laugh out loud moments, and cringe factors, where I buried my head in my hands, peeking out that the words that followed, in case that awful thing I thought might happen actually did…
Sophie is surrounded by a fantastic supporting cast, including Paige, her friend and employer, as well as a new foster mum for four gorgeous kittens, Mya, another friend, from uni, as well as her landlady, a woman with a few mysteries of her own, and Polly, Sophie’s childhood best friend, who also happens to be the one with the hot bro!
Marcus, (said hot bro), is a gardener and oh, he is such a cute character! With strong feelings already attached to his sister’s best mate, he takes on a job, landscaping her garden, not knowing whether he will be able to face Sophie every day.
Oh, I really did love it! Sweet, sexy and sassy, all rolled into one story, and I am so excited to dive into the next one, to find out what is in store for Polly!

Just Friends

Just Friends by Lucy Keeling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just Friends centres on a different one of the group of friends we met in Just A Boyfriend, Lucy Keeling’s debut novel.
This time we become more intimate with Polly, sister of Marcus, who was the hero du jour in book one.
Polly’s got some unprocessed feelings for a certain gardener, who also happens to be her brother’s best friend, but the player that he is, she can’t trust herself to get too close, so she settles for an office romance that seems to be safe. Oh, and she’s got another secret passion that no one knows about.
Bailey’s got issues. He’s harbouring a huge crush, bordering on unrequited love, for his best mate’s sister. But she hasn’t a clue, and she’s also in a new relationship. And, to add icing to his issue cake, his mum is ill. Really ill. And all she wants is to see him happy and settled.
What ensues is a brilliant story, filled with will they, won’t they moments, amidst the planning of a huge wedding, (not theirs!) and a ton of sexual chemistry!
I love Bailey, he’s giving out Jason Momoa vibes… Polly, I just wanted to scream at her to TELL HIM HOW SHE FEELS!
Eager to get into book two, I pretty much devoured this in a day!
Oh, Lucy, you have created such a great cast of characters, here. I loved each moment. And with that ending, now I HAVE to read the next one as soon as it is out!
Good thing I only have two days to wait!

Just Friends in Vegas

Just Friends in Vegas by Lucy Keeling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, such fun!
I read the previous two books, last week, in anticipation of this third coming out, and I was not disappointed in the least!
Mya has always been the mysterious one, out of these four friends, even though Paige appears to have some sort of psychic talent. We’ve been led through the first two books, with no inkling as to what her secret job is, but now, we finally find out.
I won’t spell it out, since you need to read the book to get your own confirmation, but I had an idea…
Finding herself at her next ‘job’, Mya is faced with a rival she’d rather not be dealing with,
Smithy.
A friend of her best friend, Sophie’s husband, hot as hell, and a past conquest Mya would rather forget, especially as she didn’t do ‘that’ twice, with anyone.
But it’s hard to get your heart and mind on one track, sometimes.
Smithy is the same, battling feelings he’d rather not experience towards this sexy woman, who holds some sort of power over him.
I’ve never been to Vegas, but I tell you what, I really want to go, now, to experience some of what these two got up to, even though I know artistic license has been applied!
It is great to see a POC main character, with her ethnicity not thrown in your face all the time. Mya may be of Indian heritage but she just proves that women are all the same, really, and can experience the same as any other woman out there. (Heck, her heritage may have just made her even hotter, but then as an Indian woman, myself, I might be biased!)
Another cracker of a book, read with ease and speed. So fast that I need the next one, so I know what Paige is up to, too! Come on Ms Keeling, we’re waiting!

Summer at the French Olive Grove

Summer at the French Olive Grove by Sophie Claire
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first Sophie Claire book, and I was not disappointed, at all.
Lily has been transported back to her grandmother’s home to recuperate, after a nasty accident during work.
Back to where she spent idyllic childhood times before her world crumbled around her.
But not a place she calls home, herself.
Though they say home is where the heart is, and her heart seems to be pining for someone, equally attached to that same place.
Olivier grew up with Lily. Craving a family of his own, and that anchor that makes you feel at home, he is constantly pulled back to where his parents live, despite being a successful baker in Paris, with a chain of bakeries.
This was a love story, but not as traditional as some. It involved a whole lot of accepting yourself, and self-love, as well as the romantic kind.
Lily is a character damaged, physically and emotionally by the events of her past.
Olivier’s own experiences growing up and coping with knowing no one was really ‘his’, shape him to be the man he is today, and the dreams he holds for the future.
And then we have Mamie. Lily’s grandmother. She is an anchor for both these lost souls and wants to use her power over them to protect them in a way only she knows how.
A beautiful story, a compelling read and definitely recommended.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 27th May, 2021

Both of You

Both of You by Adele Parks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I do enjoy a good Adele Parks book, so was thrilled to get my hands on a copy of Both Of Them, a psychological thriller that sounded intriguing.
Two women, two disappearances, two husbands confused.
Leigh Fletcher is a happy woman, step-mum to two lovely boys and wife to a gorgeous husband. Do they have ups and downs? Sure they do. But nothing major.
Kai Janssen is another blissfully happy woman. Married to a rich man who desires her completely, and surrounded by luxury, she wants for nothing.
Then one day, they both disappear.
The story follows the mysterious disappearance of both women, told from the viewpoints of various characters from the book, including both husbands, Leigh’s eldest stepson, the investigating DC, and her best friend Fiona. Information is drip-fed in a way that makes you want to keep turning the pages until you find out what has happened to them both.
I can’t really say much more, because I don’t want to give anything away, but once you get into it, this book is extremely hard to put down again.
Did I guess what the ending would be? Well, I’d be lying if I said yes, straight out. I had my suspicions, then they got sent awry as I was led down other paths…
Very good.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 27th May, 2021

Waiting to Begin

Waiting to Begin by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Waiting To Begin is the story of a woman, Bessie, but told on two simultaneous days, her birthday, but thirty-seven years apart.
At sixteen, Bess thinks she has it all. Her results are out today, her future is all but planned out, she just needs those results to get where she wants. Bess’s family is your usual type, a caring, but an annoying set of parents and an older brother who is just – urgh! She’s got a tentative boyfriend and dreams of their life together
Thirty-seven years later, Bess is content. Well, on the surface, anyway. Nothing quite panned out how she hoped, but she’s not unhappy with her life. A doting husband, two great kids, one of them married, their own home. But, there are still gaping holes in her life. There are still secrets that are eating away at her, affecting everything she does, though no one else knows.
Not wanting to give the story away, I will comment on the essence.
Decisions we make, flippantly, can have huge effects on our life. The need to be keeping up with the rest of the world can eat away at you, making you do things you might not have, otherwise.
My heart filled with pity for teenage Bess. I wanted to scoop her up into a hug, and tell her everything will be okay. I will admit to wanting to physically harm a certain young man, too,
The same sorrow was felt for older Bess, who is sifting through her life decisions, not sure whether to rock the boat, but finding herself in a situation where she has no choice.
An emotional story that will definitely tug, hard, at your heartstrings.
When Waiting To Begin flashed up as another new book to come, by Amanda Prowse, I jumped at the chance to read, because she is my all-time favourite author.
Her stories never fail to touch the heart, and the way she tells them leaves you emotional for a long time to come,
Many thanks to NetGalley, Amazon Publishing and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 8th June, 2021

The Wedding War

The Wedding War by Liz Talley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when two best friends lose each other, because of a man, and then, many years later, get thrown together to plan a wedding… for their children?
This is exactly what happens to Tennyson and Melanie.
Both from two very different backgrounds, but at the same school, they form a firm friendship, promising to be there for each other, forever.
Then life happens, and love happens, and men, or rather, man, happens.
This story was written cleverly, interweaving the story from the past in with the present day, when two almost sworn enemies have to face each other with smiles, when their children fall in love.
Enjoyable read.

Adulting

Adulting by Liz Talley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another really great read from Liz Talley.
Chase London is a child star, thrown into fame’s spotlights from a young age, but, as is the story for many, the fame doesn’t translate as well as an adult.
Battling addiction, rehab, and a failing career, she ends up in the hands of therapist, Olivia Han, who’s been hired to straighten her out and get her ready for her next role.
They end up in a small wooden cabin, inherited by Olivia and her sister, Neve, as an opportunity for Chase to learn how to Adult – something she has never been taught to do. Simple tasks, such as grocery shopping, clearing leaves from a garden as well as the simple pleasures of eating a candy apple or going fishing.
On the surface, it seems like a straightforward story of spoilt rich kid needs bringing down a peg or two, but quite quickly, the story shows the depth of trauma that Chase has suffered over the years; something quite tangled for Olivia to unpick.
Beyond that, the treatment ends up being a time of reflection for Olivia, as well, facing some disturbing truths from her own life, building bridges and burning some, too.
Of course, there is the element of relationships, too.
Olivia is avoiding her supposed ‘soulmate’, and Chase has never really thought about the future, and who might be her ‘one’.
A touching book, with some moments to make you smile, but equally, some distressing moments, with talks of child abuse, but handled sensitively.

So, I ended up finishing twelve books, in April. Not too shabby, considering all I have going on with life!

Was there anything above that caught your eye? Tickled your fancy? Let me know in the comments!

I’d love to hear what you’ve been reading and enjoying, too!

March 2021 Books #AmReading

It’s a month of ARC catch up, so I haven’t given myself an author or series challenge this month, but that doesn’t mean I’ll change my mind part way through! It’s the month that the kids are coming back in to school, too, so there will be a lot going on, but you know me, I’ll keep reading!

And, FYI, over the month, I may have read plenty of arcs, but I somehow ended up with more on my list, because, Damn You, NetGalley, you keep tempting me!

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Finding Home

Finding Home by Kate Field
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When you’re trying to find your comfortable spot, in your car, to get a bit of sleep, the last thing you expect is, to have an older, well-to-do couple, quite obviously from much further afield, come knocking on your car window.
This is exactly what happens to down on her luck Mim.
Alone in this world, with not a job, nor a roof over her head, Mim decides to help this rather eccentric couple in their hour of need and ends up transferring her whole life from Lancashire to Devon.
Not only that, she ends up belonging.
A wonderful feel-good story with a few predictable storylines, but many love twists, and moments that make you trust humankind again.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 16th April, 2021

Last Night

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Mhairi McFarlane smash.
A story about friendship, trust and honesty.
Eve is one of the lucky ones. friendship wise. She has her quartet of friends, who have been together for nearly twenty years. Her best friend since forever, Susie, and Justin and Ed, who made up the foursome at Sixth Form.
There’s just one little fly in the ointment. She has a HUGE thing for Ed.
An unrequited love, of sorts, especially since he is in a long term relationship with someone Eve really doesn’t like.
Things happen on that one night, after the regular quiz night, they usually attend, including an impromptu engagement, which spins Eve out of control.
But, it’s the phone call the next morning that tears Eve’s life apart, and the consequences of a tragic accident that force her to look at her feelings, and relationships in a whole new light.
I absolutely loved it!
It just goes to show that you never really know someone, or that you can’t know everything. Equally, there are reasons you shouldn’t know everything.
This story explores relationships and friendships at a deep level.
I sympathised with Eve, a lot, throughout the book. She seemed to have far more than her fair share of heartache chucked her way, in life, but still, she had so much to give, and in losing someone she held so dear, she still manages to rescue and find someone else.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 1st April, 2021

Shh… It's Our Secret

Shh… It’s Our Secret by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Shh… Can I tell you a secret?
I finished this in a day!
I have read several of Lizzie Chantree’s books already, she is an extremely versatile author, and this book is another little gem in her book jewels.
Violet loves to sing. She has since she was young, but the joy of singing ends when her parents pass away.
Since then, she’s hidden her talent, singing in secret, and succumbed to an awful relationship. The only silver lining in the cloud that is her life is the cafe she works at, and the family she has built from her regular customers.
Life takes a huge turn when music producer Kai walks into the cafe and hears her voice.
All in all, an enjoyable read, quick and easy, and the happy ending we all want!
Many thanks to NetGalley and BHC Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 6th May, 2021

Lost Property

Lost Property by Helen Paris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this book, but it wasn’t what it was.
Maybe I expected a more light-hearted story, but it ended up being more about grief, loss, and being lost.
Dot works in the lost property section of the TfL department and takes her role of taking in lost items, logging them, and reuniting them with their owners very seriously.
I initially found it quite hard to get into this book, enjoying the quirky characters who frequented the Lost Property department, and Dot’s colleagues, but the point of the story didn’t quite get me until quite far into the book.
Dot is lost, herself. A sad character. But it took me a long time to build that empathy for her.
And the tiny smidgen of romance at the end? Well, to be honest, I wish I’d been able to read a bit more of that, to be honest.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 13th May, 2021

The Road Trip

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read Beth O’Leary’s previous book, I was extremely excited to be granted a copy of The Road Trip to read, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Addie and her sister Deb are en route to their great friend Cherrys wedding. It’s all set to be a fantastic road trip. Well, them, and Rodney, a stray wedding guest they managed to pick up. Then an accident occurs leaving them in a situation where they are forced to make an eight-hour road trip with not only Rodney, but two other guests, one of which happens to be Addie’s ex-boyfriend.
What a bunch of characters, O’Leary has created!
I loved the dual timeline, explaining how they got into the situation they are in right now, parallel to the eight-hour journey that ends up being over twenty-four hours long.
Addie is a young, wronged woman, and almost all that has happened to her is not her fault.
Dylan is a man who has never had to make a choice, and, unfortunately for him, everyone around him has a stronger will than him, causing him to never really fight for what he should.
Deb is a fantastic sister, and protector, apart from when she disappears to satisfy certain thirsts.
I could strangle his best friend, Marcus. Honestly, that long, stuck in a car, a Mini, of all cars, with him would have driven me batty!
And Rodney, oh, poor, deluded Rodney!
And I can’t forget the saviour of the day, Kevin, the truck driver who seems to appear whenever there is a problem.
There are moments of hilarity, but a lot to think on, too. A thoroughly enjoyable book that I finished in a day!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Quercus Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 29th April, 2021

The Secret Bridesmaid

The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fabulous book!
Honestly, I was hooked from the start and had I not been in the midst of a week from hell at school resulting in me falling asleep way too fast, I would have finished this in one sitting!
Sophie has found herself the perfect job – a professional bridesmaid. Each wedding she cultivates a secret identity and pretends to be a close friend of the bride, who will have hired her to make their special day perfect, under the guise of a best friend bridesmaid.
It’s all going swimmingly, until she ends up with a job she never thought she would, ever, be considered for: Bridesmaid to Lady Cordelia Swann, a socialite Sophie followed and tried to emulate, as a teen.
But this is one tough cookie of a client, determined to relieve herself of this new ‘friend’.
Oh, and it doesn’t help that she has a HOT brother who doesn’t know her real identity, but is keen to get closer to his sister’s ‘friend’.
I can’t explain how much I enjoyed the whole book. Sophie is an interesting character, who puts the needs of others way ahead of her own. A great quality in a bridesmaid, but not so great for herself.
Cordelia is a character you probably want to slap initially, but she grows on you, then you find yourself with. soft spot for her.
And Tom, the HOT brother? Well, I think I’ll be surreptitiously checking out men’s forearms more often, now, thanks to Sophie’s obsession with his.
Highly recommended, and such fun!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 13th May, 2021

Another Life

Another Life by Jodie Chapman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another Life is a heartwrenching story about love. Not just romantic love, but the love we have for others too.
The book is written from the view of Nick Mendoza, eldest of two sons.
It chronicles his life and several poignant losses within.
We meet Anna, a girl he worked with at the cinema, as a teenager, and learn about their struggles as two people from very different backgrounds, who have strong feelings for one another but are unable to act upon them, due to Anna’s religions beliefs, and Nick’s life ones.
We jump from one timeline to several others, and back, throughout the book, which, initially, I found quite confusing, but by the end, I understood.
A really touching read, and a book that will stay with you a long while.
Many thanks to NetGalley, and Penguin Michale Joseph for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 1st April 2021

The Car Share

The Car Share by Zoe Brisby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a delightful read!
I am only sorry I couldn’t finish it sooner, but that was purely because my working life has been so hectic that I spent some nights eagerly awaiting the next chapter of Maxine and Alex, only to find myself asleep with my face buried in the kindle, not from boredom but from extreme exhaustion.
Anyway, enough about me, on to the book!
The Car Share is a funny, poignant tale about a young man who suffers from depression, and his journey to find a travel buddy, for a long road trip to Brussels. He accepts a request from a Max and only finds out, upon picking her up, that Max is a nonagenarian, actually called Maxine, hoping to go on her own last journey, before signing into a Euthanasia clinic, ending her life with dignity, before Alzheimer’s takes her life away.
Through the story that mainly unfolds over a couple of days, the unlikely couple ends up in several pickles, as well as getting themselves caught up in a kidnapping case, so find themselves as fugitives.
So much madcap fun, as well as some wonderfully touching moments within the story.
The only reason I can’t give it 5 stars is that there was a lot of POV hopping within chapters which confused me a little.
Many Thanks to NetGalley and Hoder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 25th March, 2021

A Bucket List To Die for

A Bucket List To Die for by Lorraine Fouchet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


A beautifully touching read about a man trying to get his family back together, following the devastating death of his wife.
Joe and Lou were a couple truly meant for each other. They lived on the island of Groix, happy together. Both their children had moved on, and as is the way, fractures in the family dynamics threatened to break them apart indelibly, after Lou’s untimely death.
Her forward-thinking, however, end up bringing her precious family back together in a way none of them ever thought possible.
Told through the viewpoint of several characters, the story moves along over a period of a couple of months, with some flashbacks here and there.
I loved the character of Apple, the feisty granddaughter, who, in many ways, ends up being the catalyst for many of the changes.
A lovely read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 29th March, 2021

Only nine books for me this month. That is really quiet, but it just shows how tired I have been after school, every day! Usually, I can devour 2-4 books a week, at least, but this time, I have just about finished one during the week days, and one over the weekends.

I look forward to hearing what you think of the books above, and what you’ve been reading, too!

January 2021 Books #AmReading #Bridgertonuary

Hey guys! Can you believe we are at the end of January, already? And I have had to embrace distance learning with my class, as well as battle a son who is meant to be doing his mock GCSEs, through the fiasco that has been mass testing of students in schools, all while many are off because of this virus – Yup, it’s still around…

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So, I have given myself a little challenge, this month, to read the Bridgerton series, after binge-watching the Netflix adaptation on Boxing Day in December… How did I get on? There are nine books in the series… let’s see!

Did it, and read extra, on top of that, too!

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Bridgerton: The Duke and I

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It is January, and in my reading world, I have declared it #Bridgertonuary, having binge-watched the Shonda Rhymes series, and now wanting to read the original.
Yes, yes, I am well aware that there are plenty of things being written/said about this book, the series, and ‘that’ scene.
So, I wanted to experience it all myself, rather than have a second-hand view via anyone else.
So, the first thing was that, because I had watched the series first, I already had the character’s images in my mind, so sometimes, that was a little issue, as the descriptions in the book, of the main characters, such as Daphne having darker hair, and the Duke having piercing, blue eyes, didn’t quite match up.
But, hey, I’m not expecting an adaptation to fully follow the book. They never do! I mean, they added a Queen in the series, that isn’t in the book, at all, and a few extra characters, which I am sure will feature in future books, to set the scene for following serials, I’m sure.
So, back to the book.
It’s a Regency Romance, and, overall, I did enjoy the story of the first of the eight Bridgerton siblings.
Daphne is the oldest daughter, and has three overprotective brothers, in lieu of her father who passed away. She’s been presented to society and is three seasons in, yet still unmarried.
Simon, the new Duke of Hastings, arrives back on the London scene, an old friend of Anthony, the eldest Bridgerton Brother. He’s keen to stay out of the public eye, having his own demons about the title he carries, but ends up embroiled in a charade of sorts, to assist Daphne in finding a husband.
Of course, it’s a romance, so they do end up together, which is great.
Now, ‘that’ scene…
I’m not sure it was entirely necessary, as it facilitates a form of rape, led by the female, but I understand its relevance to the plot.
A man refuses to have children, for his own reasons. A woman wants a child and even though she agreed to not having kids, in principle, feeling misled by her husband, she almost seeks revenge… but what is sad, is that there is love there, and this act mars that love.
But, other than that, I did enjoy the rest of the book. It’s an easy read. Not sure it’s one I’d read over and over, though.
Still, onto the next one!

The Viscount Who Loved Me (Bridgertons, #2)

The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so I think I may just have enjoyed this one more than the first, since I had no TV series to compare it to!
This time, we hone in on the life of Bridgerton sibling #1, aka the Viscount, Anthony Bridgerton.
He’s never been fussed about marriage, but this season, he decides, will be the one where he finds a suitable wife, and settle down.
Kate Sheffield is the elder sibling in her family, too. Stepping out into the London season a couple of years later than desired, she is in the shadow of her beautiful stepsister, Edwina. Her stepmother, Mary desires for both girls to find good matches, but the burden is on, to Edwina find the catch of the season.
He’s dashing.
And also a rake.
Who doesn’t have the approval of the sister, Kate, but seems to affect her in all manner of inappropriate ways.
What ensues is a great enemies to lovers story, where we see both parties fight their attraction to each other, until they are not able to any more.
Such fun!

An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons, #3)

An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An Offer From A Gentleman is the third in the Bridgerton series of books, concentrating on the love life of the second sibling, Benedict Bridgerton. It’s been a couple of years, and with his older brother married, attentions are turned to him, and Colin, brother number three. But he’s in no real hurry.
Sophie Beckett is the illegitimate child of an Earl, who has never openly acknowledged her but allowed her to live in his house as his ward. He passes away, leaving her in the care of her stepmother and two stepsisters, who have no interest in housing her, but suffer her presence, as they get a good allowance to keep her in the house.
In a Cinderella-esque twist to the story, Sophie is given the opportunity to attend one of the Season events, at Bridgerton House, during a Masquerade ball, with the housekeeper and staff being her collective Fairy Godmothers.
There she meets Benedict Bridgerton, and their two hour evening leaves them wanting more, but unable to have it.
The second part of the story follows their journey to meet once more. Will Benedict realise she is the woman in the silver gown who stole his heart, two years ago?
It’s Cinderella, of course, he will, but not before plenty of other twists present themselves in the tale.
An easy read, but definitely not my favourite of the Bridgerton books, so far.

Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons, #4)

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so I think this might be my new Bridgerton favourite, so far!
Colin, the third Bridgerton sibling is the centre of this particular novel, but, actually, he isn’t.
The central character, the one I was rooting for, especially since I had come to love her in the last three books, Penelope Featherington, and her story, stole the show!
Penelope has spent most of her life being shuffled around behind her two older sisters, slightly plump, with that unfashionable red hair, she spends her seasons being dressed in inappropriately coloured clothing, making her the laughing stock of the ‘Ton.
Now at the ripe old age of eight and twenty, she is considered one of the spinsters, as her older sisters have secured their husbands, and her younger, more conventionally attractive sister is now the one in the eyes of the suitors.
She’s quite happy to be in the background. A true wallflower. At least no one else will notice her unrequited love…
Colin, meanwhile, a childhood friend of Penelope, one of the Bridgerton crew, and all-round ‘nice’ guy, finds himself developing feelings for her.
Oh, it was great how they got their happily ever after, and there was another HUGE reveal within this book!
Such fun! I would have finished it sooner if it wasn’t for this dang Lockdown, and work commitments!
Can’t wait… bring it on Book 5!

To Sir Phillip, With Love (Bridgertons, #5)

To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just finished book 5 of the Bridgerton series and, what can I say?
It was wonderful!
We wander into the life and love of Eloise Bridgerton, fifth sibling, and second daughter in the clan.
Eloise has been a firm favourite of mine since watching the series and reading the first books.
She is, I guess, a regency rebel, turning down proposals, and, at eight and twenty years, actually looking forward to a life of spinsterhood, with her best friend Penelope Featheringon by her side.
Until Penelope decides to fall in love with Eloise’s brother, Colin, and he does the same.
Taking the matter of her life and future into her own hands, Eloise embarks upon a stealthy trip to visit a certain Sir Phillip Crane, a widower who she has been corresponding with for the last year.
I don’t want to go into the nitty-gritty, but I absolutely loved it!

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When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness!
This was by far the raunchiest of the Regency series, the Bridgertons!
Francesca is #6 in the order of siblings to get the Julia Quinn treatment, and it had been a long time coming.
At some point, during the other books, Francesca married and was whisked off to Scotland to take her seat with her Earl.
Sadly, two years into their blissfully happy marriage, he passes away.
Four years after being widowed, she realises that she wants to marry again. She wants, desperately, to be a mother.
Michael, John’s cousin, has been one of her best friends, throughout her short marriage, but, in her widowhood, he disappears off to India.
He’s been described as the Merry Rake, and now, as the new Earl, when he arrives back in the country, there is no shortage of offers for marriage. But none come close to being the right woman. Because the right woman is the one woman he can’t have.
Another great addition to the Bridgerton series, and the raunch factor was definitely upped in this one!

It's In His Kiss With (Bridgertons, #7)

It’s in His Kiss by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book 7 of the Bridgerton series, DONE!
Another fun read, this time, the focus is on Hyacinth, the youngest of the Bridgerton siblings. Yes, Quinn has skipped one, again, but I think that’s her prerogative, as the author!
Hyacinth is a fantastic character, very down to earth, and full of spunk.
Gareth St Clair ends up as her love interest.
St Clair is estranged from his own Baron father, who is aware that he is not the boy’s real father.
What ensues is a cute love story and a fantastic treasure hunt.
There isn’t much about the rest of the Bridgertons in this one, but it was wonderful to get to know Lady Danbury in more detail since Gareth is her grandson.
Enjoyable read!

On the Way to the Wedding  (Bridgertons, #8)

On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally at the end of the eight-book series, charting the lives and loves of the Bridgerton siblings.
The last sibling to get the Quinn effect is Gregory. He’s not the youngest, but, I guess, that is how Julia Quinn rolls!
Gregory is the fourth male child of a viscount. He’s the youngest boy. He’s led a blessed life, comfortable at every stage, no responsibilities put upon him, and highly unlikely to ever have the title foisted upon him.
Still, he’s getting a little older, and that pull to marry, settle down, and find a purpose to his life, is beginning to burn.
He understands that when he sees the woman of his dreams, the one who will fam the flames of true love, he will just ‘know’.
And, arriving at his brother’s country seat, exactly that happens.
He sees the curve of a neck and is done.
Hermione Watson is all he wants, and more.
But is he all she wants?
He ends up with the support of Hermione’s best friend Lady Lucy Abernathy, and together, then try to bring the couple together.
Lucy is promised to another, already, despite not having had a season. She will be marrying for duty, but even so, there is that wonder about love and all these feelings people talk about. Even Hermione, who has given her heart already, to a most unsuitable man.
Which is why she needs to help her friend make the right choice.
Another less than straightforward story, which ultimately ends up with the perfect love match, but it’s never quite as you expect.
Not as much raunch as the previous books, but that isn’t a bad thing!

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After (Bridgertons, #1.5-8.5; 8.6)

The Bridgertons: Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely end to a riveting series!
I picked up this book of second epilogues, though many copies of the books I had already downloaded had them within.
When you become invested in a series, it’s easy to be left feeling a little empty. You want to know what happens after the ‘Happily Ever After’.
These second epilogues all follow the stories of each sibling. Some a few years later, some more, some less, but they tie up the stories even more firmly than the original epilogues.
And the addition of a short novella focussing on Violet, the matriarch of the family was a lovely surprise too!
My #Bridgertonuary is complete, though I have now realised that there are a few other books I could read, The Rokesby collection, which is a series of 4 books that are set pre this particular Bridgerton clan, and work as prequels.
They may just be another set I have to read!

Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give, #0)

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After reading an extended sampler of this book, I was dying to read the rest, and was glad there were mere days before the release date.
I enjoyed reading Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, a couple of years ago, and finding out this was a prequel, looking back at the father of Starr Carter, the main character, Maverick Carter, I just knew I wanted to read more.
Maverick is young. He’s seventeen, and stuck in a bind, part of the gang his father was king pin in, before being incarcerated, but his heart isn’t really fully in it.
Then he finds out he’s become a father, and the mother isn’t his girlfriend.
What followes is the wave of emotions changing within him, as he realises and attempts to handle the responsibility of fatherhood, and being a good son, as well as working through the conflicting feelings that come with being part of a gang, and wanting to avenge deeds done to those he loves.
What is more important – family or feuding?
Fantastic book.

Light Perpetual

Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read the blurb for this book, and was sucked in by the premise of the book. A group of five children, all obliterated in a bomb blast in WW2, where nothing survives the hit, neither building, nor body.
The twist comes when the author reimagines what would happen if these children had never been hit by that bomb.
As I said, a fantastic premise.
We revisit each of the five characters at regular intervals up to the year 2009.
This is where I got lost. I’m not sure. Maybe it was because we had five very different characters, and five extremely different ways of telling their story, but I got lost. It felt very disjointed, and I found it hard to follow the stories.
Not so much a novel as a set of interweaving short stories.
Sorry, not for me.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Faber and Faber for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 4th February, 2021

The Spinster (Emerson Pass Historicals #2)

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

Oh, I loved immersing myself in the historical world of Emerson Pass again and reconnecting with the Barnes family.
Josephine Barnes, the eldest of the Barnes children is a self-confessed spinster. After losing her beloved in the war, she fears she will never give her heart to another. Instead, she throws herself into being the best elder sister she can be to her siblings, and into keeping her library flourishing.
Phillip Baker is in love. He clutches a bundle of love letters, not even addressed to him, but belonging to one of his fellow soldiers. These letters, no longer belonging to anyone when their owner gave his life to the war, have been a lifeline to a man who grew up an orphan.
Phillip travels to Emerson Pass, not only to hand the letters back to their writer but with the hope that he may receive her heart in return.
I truly loved this story, where Josephine is portrayed as a very strong woman, but as you get to know her, you realise her fears. It made my heart warm and fuzzy to read as both lost characters find each other.
Packed within the story is the issues of PTSD, suffered by one of Josephine’s twin brothers who has witnessed more than his fair share of tragedy over his short life, even before going away to war. Something not easily overcome but handled with true sensitivity.
Thank you, Tess, for a lovely story!
I won this book in a competition.

As Luck Would Have It

As Luck Would Have It by Zoe May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, put it this way. I started this late last night. And I finished today.
Usually indicative of a good read, for me!
Natalie is thirty-two and living back at home with her mum, baby in arms. Not the situation she ever imagined herself in, but then again, you don’t really imagine your fiancé cheating on you, do you?
Will is also back in town, a failed marriage, and redundancy on his shoulders.
They both meet, or reconnect, at a local fundraiser, where they are involved in a raffle prize mix up and end up on a romantic getaway to Marrakech, together!
I’ve never been to Marrakech, but I really want to go, now, reading about the colourful markets, the scenery, the delicious food, and the mint tea – well that just sounds delicious.
But let me get back to the story.
It’s a second chance romance, in essence, with two people who have a shared past, meeting up in different circumstances, that turn out, this time to be better ones.
Natalie is, or was, a feisty, working woman, who now feels less confident about love and relationships after having her awful experience with her fiancé, Leroy. (Leroy. Hm, I’m sorry but even the description of him made me turn up my nose, and snarl a little. what a git!) As a mother, she has more at stake than your average single woman.
Will is a gem. I loved learning little snippets about him, and he seems like the most wonderful, kind-hearted character until you find out what he did to Natalie during those fragile teenage years.
Thrown together on a romantic break, in a beautiful setting – so much could happen, couldn’t it? There are countless gigglesome moments, where confusion reigns, and the lies they have to tell, to justify them being in this beautiful Honeymoon Suite make you cringe, and laugh at the same time.
Will they overcome the past, and embrace the accidental holiday they won?
Well, I’m not telling you, but I put the book down, smiling!

Darker (Fifty Shades as Told by Christian, #2)

Darker by E.L. James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What can I say?
It’s a retelling of the same story in Fifty Shades Darker, but this time, from Christian’s view.
I do like stories that have parallels like this, as, when you have already read one story, you often want to know more about or have a deeper knowledge of, the other characters.
This time we learn even more about Christian, which does bulk up the story, but it’s the same criticism of the other books in the series. Things start to feel a little repetitive, after a while.
The sex scenes are samey.
The dialogue feels samey.
Still, it was a pleasurable enough read.

Half a Heart

Half a Heart by Karen McQuestion

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


What a heartbreaking, but ultimately, heartwarming tale!
Logan is a nine-year-old on the run.
Mute, through shock from an incident a few years previous, he’s trying to get away from an abusive father.
Unaware that there are others out there, who love him, Logan finds himself in a small town, far away from his old life.
His escapade touches the lives of many more people than he could have imagined.
From an old lady and her dog to a middle-aged childless couple, his old therapist, and his Grandma Nan, all feel the fallout of this little boy running away in fear.
Karen McQuestion always writes amazing stories, and this was another beautifully crafted tale.
I’ll admit that I was second-guessing what would happen to Logan, all the way through, and the ending was not what I had envisaged, but wonderful, nonetheless.
A great read. Recommended.


January 2020 Books #AmReading

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Edward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jaded by Tess Thompson

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

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

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

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

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

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

The Cockatoo from Timbuktu by William A.E. Ford

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

A Beautiful Book!

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

One Year of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie

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

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

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

Published 5th March 2020


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

October’s Books #BookReview

Well well well well! October is done and that means it’s nearly the end of the year! I’m still suffering tiredness, but reading is always my go-to for relaxation, so I’ll always make sure I have something on the go! Possibly not as many books as usual on the list, but there are some good uns!

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever since I saw a trailer for the movie, I wanted to read this book. What with all the #BlackLivesMatter stuff going on and apparent race-fuelled hate crimes, I was interested to read this story, written by a young Black American woman, about a girl caught up in the tragedy of a senseless killing by a police officer.
Starr Carter is sixteen, and is already very aware of gang culture, and the dangers that living in the ghetto put you in.
Her family make the decision to send her to a school away from the horror of shootings and gangs, but it doesn’t mean she is protected.
In The Hate U Give, we see a girl who witnesses not one but two horrific shootings, in her life, where she loses her best friends. Both are truly senseless losses of life, with one being a drive-by shooting, where the victim was only ten, and in the wrong place at the wrong time. The second is marred by the fact that a cop opens fire on a young black youth because he ‘thinks’ he was a danger.
The story shows Starr’s journey to fight for justice for her friend, who may have made bad decisions in his life, but who was a true innocent, and a victim of Police brutality.
I’ve read many reviews of this book, and most applaud how this sensitive topic has been approached. There are a few that mention disappointment, because yes, racism is a thing, and something that causes hell, but racism isn’t exclusively white on black.
Racism is unfortunately global.
White on black. Black on white. White on brown. Brown on white. Black on black. Brown on brown… you know where I’m going.
This book is an account of the feelings of a young black woman who loses her best friend because of a senseless shooting by a white cop. Of course, it’s going to be filled with hate for the police, and the white officers. But isn’t that a form of racism in itself?
It took me a little while to get totally into the book, but I was engrossed after the first 50 pages or so. You get a view of the thoughts of someone who is right in the middle of the situation, and their thoughts on many issues, from #BlackLivesMatter, to gang culture and drugs too.
What you take from the book is up to you.
What I took was that it’s all about education, or lack of.
A white officer only knew the stereotypes and was fearful of a couple of black teens. Instead of reading the situation, he reacted with a gunshot because isn’t that what this black kid would do to him?
But then again, all white people aren’t the same. Starr has a white boyfriend in this story, and the reverse stereotypes that the black community have of white people are also shown, in how Starr’s family and friends react to Chris initially too.
A thought-provoking read, that’s for sure!

Dishonoured

Dishonoured by Sofia Hayat
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I picked up this book, thinking it would be a harrowing recount of a terrible life…
Sad to say, I, unfortunately, didn’t feel that at all.
Sofia Hayat is apparently a household name.
Not in my household.
And I live in Gravesend, the place she was born and brought up in. I started this book, and a sense of connection formed when I read that she was born in Gravesend.
I felt a little sorry for her as she recounted the events of her childhood, but I’m afraid she lost me as soon as she left her family.
A bit of a self-indulgent book, where it was all about hearing of her encounters with famous people, and others telling her how wonderful she was.
This could have been such a powerful book, if it had been written with more sympathy and details of the emotions she went through during her childhood. A couple of chapters at the end of the book to show her success would have sufficed.
Definitely not a recommended read by me, I’m afraid to say… And she made Gravesend out to be much worse than it actually is.. and no, it’s not named because people who died from the plague were buried here…

Another Love (No Greater Strength, #3)

Another Love by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness, Amanda Prowse!
Every time I think you can’t find another situation to write about, you go and surprise me and do it again!
I’ve slowly been working my way through Amanda’s back catalogue and Another Love was a seriously touching story.
Alcoholism is indeed an awful illness that affects each and every member of the family of that person suffering.
I wanted to cry with Romilly the repentant mother and wife. I wanted to slap Romilly the drunken idiot who couldn’t say no. But most of all, I wanted her to conquer her addiction.
Some people don’t realise just how much alcohol can play havoc with a family, and this book hit the nail on the head.
Thank you Amanda, for a really powerful story.

So Lucky

So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, what can I say?

Absolutely fantastic book!
I urge all women to read this and know that none of us is perfect. No one has a perfect life. No matter what is portrayed on the outside, there is always some inner struggle beneath.
We follow three women, each with their own secret, struggling to make life work, and trying to make sure no one on the outside is aware of their issues.
From body image to mental health to marital issues, so much is covered in this brilliantly written story.
Honestly, I have already recommended it to a couple of friends with whom the whole concept will resonate.

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

Olive Kitteridge (Olive Kitteridge, #1)

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Okay, so I read this book as I had the sequel, Olive, Again, to read as an ARC.
I’m not sure I quite understood everything that went on.
A lot of head-hopping within the stories, all a bit more depressing than the last.
Sorry… I just didn’t get it…
Having said that, I don’t have much luck with Pulitzer prize winners. I struggled with American Pastoral too!

Olive, Again (Olive Kitteridge, #2)

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I made sure I read the first book about Olive, before reading this, and I found it interesting, but disjointed.
This brought me to Olive, Again with a little trepidation.
It was another mish-mash of different character stories, with Olive as a connection, and also a real eye-opener into Olive’s journey through her twilight years.
I’d say this was a lighter book, than the first, which I found quite dark in places. I felt that Olive had softened with age, and it was interesting to read her thoughts as she grew older,
It definitely gave me an insight into how someone who is at the tail end of life might be feeling.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books UK for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

True to Me

True to Me by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have followed Kay Bratt for a while now, and have read one or two of her books, which I enjoyed immensely. AI jumped at a chance to read True to Me, as it sounded like another fantastic story.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
Quinn Macguire is a woman suffering loss. The loss of her mother, and the loss of the idea of a father who she never knew. The loss of herself.
On her deathbed, Quinn’s mother tells her a secret that has been eating away at her.
This leads to Quinn going on a journey of self-discovery with the aid of DNA testing, and boy, what a journey!
The majority of this book is set in Maui, and I want to go now, so vivid were the descriptions of the settings.
Quinn definitely finds the answers she was after, but not before undertaking a tumultuous, emotional journey towards them.
I loved the characters she met on the way, some who will stay with me for a long while, and I do hope to read more about Quinn and her new life after finding herself!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 10th December

A Wedding in December

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sarah Morgan always has the ability to move me in a way not many other authors do.

In a Wedding In December, we meet Rosie White, who has been swept away in a whirlwind romance with Dan, culminating in an extremely fast proposal of marriage, followed by a date set mere weeks in advance. but who wouldn’t love it? A magical December wedding in Aspen, with the snow falling and all your family around?

Well, for a start, quite possibly her parents. Struggling with a secret of separation which they have hidden from their daughters for the last few months, Maggie and Nick wonder how are they going to get through a whole wedding, playing the charade of the happily married mother and father of the bride?

And what about the sister? Katie is a doctor in the A & E department of a busy London hospital. Being ten years older than her romantic sister, Rosie, she has worries and doubts of her own about whether this wedding should even take place, based upon her sister’s past and her own present.

So, will this wedding happen? Well, I shan’t spoil it for you, suffice to say the journey towards the end of this story is far from smooth, but I felt a true sense of satisfaction by the time I reached the end page!

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

The Lost Ones

The Lost Ones by Anita Frank
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG! WOW!

I don’t think I can do this book justice, honestly!
Mysteries, thrillers, not usually my thing. I do love stories set in the past though.
And from the first few pages, I was totally hooked!

It is 1917 and England is in the midst of the war, Stella Marcham is grieving for the loss of her fiance, Gerald. Her family is concerned about her mental stability and rather than send her to some asylum that many grieving women were incarcerated in, she is shipped off to visit her sister, Madeleine, who is expecting her first baby, and living at her husband’s large mansion in the countryside,
From the moment Stella arrives, with her maid, Annie, at Greyswick, there is a strange feeling about the house.
Inexplainable happenings spark a chain of investigations and events that uncover some deep, dark secrets that were once buried within the house, and the memories of its inhabitants.

A truly gripping read. I cannot recommend it enough!

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

Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry

Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry by Caroline Roberts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You’ve got to love a good Christmas based festive story, and I enjoyed the light read that Christmas at Rachel’s Pudding Pantry provided.
I haven’t read the first book, but this wasn’t an issue, as the story works as a stand-alone as well.
Rachel and her mother Jill are rallying around, keeping the family farm going, as well as setting up a new business, the Pudding Pantry, in an old barn, trying to plug the hole of the loss of Rachel’s father a couple of years before.
The lead up to Christmas is quite quiet, and Rachel isn’t sure they will even survive as a business.
But with the gentle encouragement of beau, Tom, a neighbouring farmer, the creative charm of Eve, Rachel’s best friend, and the effervescence of her five-year-old daughter Maisie, Rachel comes up with an idea that may just swing the farm’s fortunes.
But it’s not all smooth sailing. Wayward sheep, unwanted exes, inclement weather and illness all find their way to hamper Rachel’s plans.
Will she be able to keep her farm, and romance afloat?
You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Impulse for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Fire Sparkling

A Fire Sparkling by Julianne MacLean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a beautiful book!
I have always loved stories that have connections with the war, and family sagas that reveal secrets, long-buried, so as not to hurt or harm anyone.
In this beautifully crafted story, Gillian comes away from her fiance’s house, after learning of his deceit, to her father and grandmother.
Eager to forget her troubles, she is quickly sucked into learning a whole new past that her grandmother experienced, but had hidden from the world, and all but a handful of people.
I can’t tell you more, because I would hate to spoil the story, but a definite recommended read!
There is romance, tragedy, and it will ignite a yearning for the ‘right; ending to be the one you read!

So, Peeps, tell me which one appeals to you!


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