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!

February 2021 Books #AmReading Laura Briggs Month @PaperDollWrites and then some!

It’s February, and the Love month is upon us, as well as a crazy birthday month for our family… Here’s to reading!

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This month, I am going to work through some of the list of Laura Briggs books I have accumulated… (and I am also reading a couple of arcs for writer friends, and the first draft of a novel by a colleague!) The Little Hotel In Cornwall is an eight book series, that I’d like to complete, by Laura, as I have heard some lovely things about it.. I have another series by her, but, will savour them another time, as my penchant for picking up NetGalley arcs means I need to read them, too!

A Little Hotel in Cornwall

A Little Hotel in Cornwall by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have had a good few Laura Briggs books on my Kindle for a while now, through the recommendation of several reader friends of mine, and thought why not read them this month?
So the first book in the series is this, A Little Hotel in Cornwall.
A cute start to the series, where our American heroine ends up in this lovely hotel in Cornwall, and, instead of being a guest, finds herself working there.
Why is she there? Not for a holiday, no, but on a search for a well-known author, who she wants to mentor her…
I won’t go into the ins and outs, because that would spoil the story, but it all happens in quite a comical way.
A fun read.

A Spirited Girl on Cornish Shores (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 2)

A Spirited Girl on Cornish Shores by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun chapter in the life of Maisie, living and working in a Cornish hotel, under an assumed name, totally by accident!
Will she pull off her act, in order to fulfil her dream of finding her elusive author target, to become her mentor?
Who knows, because she keeps getting pulled in all sorts of different directions!
This time, the aspiring author is helping an Earl to celebrate his 100th birthday, with the Penmarrow Hotel booked exclusively to house his family.
And it’s Halloween.
And the Earl has a few spooky activities planned, including seances.
Oh, and don’t forget that blossoming romance with Sidney…
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to have some thoughts of my own, about what might transpire by the end of this series… still, it’s the suspense that keeps me wanting to read more!

Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 3)

Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another fun step into the life of Maisie and her quest for writerly fame, while working in a Cornish hotel.
This time, she gets caught up in an ice sculpture contest with a guest who is a fellow American, and who also appears to have taken a liking to our writer…
Does this mean the end of the road for the budding romance between Maisie and Sidney, the local(ish) handyman?
Lots of little twists and turns, and another end on a cliffhanger.
Of course, I want to read on. I need to know if my hunch is right!

The Cornish Secret of Summer's Promise (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 4)

The Cornish Secret of Summer’s Promise by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The next in the series following our author to be, Maisie Clarke, who has managed to settle into a Cornish hotel, as a maid, after travelling there to pursue her literary dream.
This time, she gets embroiled in a jewellery heist!
And, I will tell you now, that my hunch from the last two books has been proved wrong, but another shocker, in its place!
Light-hearted, easy to read, and extremely addictive. Off to read book 5 now!

A Train from Penzance to Paris (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 5)

A Train from Penzance to Paris by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great chapter to our Author to be Maisie Clarke’s journey to writing fulfilment.
She’s only just realised she’s in love, when the chance to chase her literary dreams, with the help of her Author hero, has sprung.
A tough decision to follow her writing heart leads her to situations she would never have found herself in, ordinarily.
It was interesting to get out of her Cornish background for a while, and learn more about Maisie the writer, rather than Maisie the American wannabe writer, turned hotel maid.
We meet some more interesting characters and visit different locations, but I have to say, I kinda missed the hotel, the staff, the eccentric guests, and definitely Sidney!
As did our heroine.
Oh, and that twist I thought I had got right, then wrong… well, I might be on track, again!

A Cornish Daisy's Kiss (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 6)

A Cornish Daisy’s Kiss by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, this was a sequel that really got into the nitty-gritty of some of our favourite characters!
Maisie is back in Cornwall, at the hotel and in the village that has become something akin to home for her, on her quest for literary success.
Only now, she wants, more than ever, to develop her relationship with Sidney, who has his own secrets.
As always, the story is peppered with mysteries, that aren’t all fully solved, here, but enough to make you think. I’m still sure of my original hunch, re: that famous reclusive author, but still don’t know!
I really enjoyed this book, as it dove into the characters more, and we learned a lot about Sidney, Dean, and even Mr Trelawney, the hotel manager.
Can’t wait for the penultimate one. About to get right in there!

A Stargazy Night Sky (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 7)

A Stargazy Night Sky by Laura Briggs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, my goodness! The twists and turns! Laura Briggs, I am going loopy with all that keeps happening in Maisie’s life!
If she wasn’t planning on being a writer, her experiences over the last couple of years should have convinced her to become one, anyway!
From chasing a reclusive, successful writer, to taking on the identity of another person, to get a job, helping to solve mysteries and burglaries, break-ins, random trips to Paris and London with a person who turns out to be someone entirely different. I could go on, but then what’s the point of you reading the series?
It was so lovely to re-enter our favourite American author-to-be’s world, again, with her happily ensconced in a fledgeling relationship with Sidney.
Okay, so I have changed my tack on the mystery famous author’s identity, since the end of the last book, but WOW! to certain revelations in this book!
We can sense a thawing in the demeanour of Dean, the rather cranky university friend of Sidney, and the secrets of Norman, the gardener. Maisie is so close to finding out who her secretive author is, and has news of her own to share, by the end, but then the twist at the end!
Oh! What is going to happen in the last book?
Quick, I need to read it now!

The Cornish Key to Happiness (A Little Hotel in Cornwall Book 8)

The Cornish Key to Happiness by Laura Briggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And, just like that, the series ends!
What a fabulous ending to a wonderful series. Again, this one took part more out of Cornwall, than at the hotel in the series title, but all loose ends were tied up!
Sidney disappears at the end of the last book, and we pick up with our soon to be published authoress, distraught. Maisie has no idea where her man has gone, but his friend, Dean, is able to shed some light, leading Maisie on another unexpected journey to find out what is going on.
Another case of many layers being peeled, to reveal the reality of certain characters, Sidney, in particular.
Oh, and that main mystery, that has followed, all through the series? I was RIGHT!
Loved reading the whole series. I did it in thirteen days!
Sad to see the end, but in a good way, as I can see nothing but happiness, and I am glad there are a whole other bunch of books I can read by the very talented Laura Briggs!

The Littlest Library

The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s fair to say that the majority of us don’t want to rock the life ‘boat’ too much. As long as we have everything we need to continue, comfortably, it’s just easier to continue, isn’t it?
This is Jess. Living her life as she always has, with her librarian job, and her home with her beloved grandma.
She’s had enough boat rocking, early on in life, so the smooth-sailing suits her fine.
Until her grandma passes away, leaving her alone in the world. Then her job goes.
She realises that its time to take the wheel, herself, and steer her life in a new, unknown direction
She ends up selling their home, and moving to a small village, buying a quaint, but ramshackle cottage, and setting into the close-knit community.
Here, she meets several locals and finds that a solitary phonebox, officially on her land, ends up binding her to the community, more than she could ever think possible.
Creating the Littlest Library in that red phone box ends up being something she is most proud of, but it’s not until she’s on the brink of losing it, and her new, near-idyllic life, that she realises that its time to embrace the new direction her life ‘boat’ has veered towards.
What a truly lovely story.
Jess is a dear woman, who has had her fair share of grief, and I was cheering for her, the whole way through the story. Her collection of books, which was actually curated by her grandma, ends up in the hands of many, bringing the joy only books can, but it was the little veiled messages that I loved. Pencilled in notes, and highlighted passages, that her grandma had marked in some of the books, that were only brought to her attention by the readers, as they borrow books, reading into the messages as if they were left for them, but in reality, for Jess.
And, of course, there is the romantic tension. Jess never envisioned herself settling down, so meeting a man so soon after arriving in the village doesn’t even register on her radar… but, as will happen, she does meet someone, Someone with enough of their own baggage. Easier to steer clear… but that would be boring, wouldn’t it?
I loved the other characters, from Hannah, the long-distance best friend, to Diana and Mungo, the eccentric members of the parish council, and Becky, a surrogate best friend. Oh, and, obviously, Aidan. bat-counting, tree surgeon, single dad, Aidan. That man.
All I know is that I want to find a little red phone box and turn it into a library… I’m quite possibly moving to that small village, soon… what are the odds?
Thoroughly enjoyed it!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 18th March, 2021

The Lost Hours: The most emotional, gripping fiction novel of 2021 from the bestselling author

The Lost Hours: The most emotional, gripping fiction novel of 2021 from the bestselling author by Susan Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now, that was a psychological thriller and a half!
The disappearance and subsequent uncovering of the body of seventeen-year-old Karen Lomax, over twenty years ago has been forgotten by most. Unable to trace the murderer, or the events that led to her death, the case is closed.
Fast forward to the present day.
Annie and David Crayce seem to have it all. A wonderful marriage, three beautiful children, a hugely successful business, and a supportive family behind them.
Who knew that the chance arrest of their daughter, as someone just around when a crime was committed, could lead them to the turmoil of being in the middle of a reopened murder case?
Wow. Just Wow.
Susan Lewis, you have done it again, haven”t you? You reeled me in, and kept me hanging right til the very end! There were so many moments where I questioned my self as to who might have actually been responsible for the death of a poor teen, but the way the PTSD of war years was woven into it, as well as the thoughts and actions of the police involved, I was kept on tenterhooks.
And, yes, had it not been past 1 am last night I would have carried on reading to get to the end, but I had to put the book down.
Fantastic.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing April 1st, 2021

The Single Dad's Handbook

The Single Dad’s Handbook by Lynsey James
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Evan Harper lost his wife, leaving him a widower and a single father.
He’s wallowing in grief, still, two years on, with a little girl about to start school, and his. family and friends wanting him to take the next steps to move on.
Before she passed away, Claire carefully collated a notebook, filled with letters for her husband and daughter to read, at key moments in their lives.
This set of letters ends up being the catalyst for change, in Evan’s life, and he finds himself beginning to embrace life, and a few people, too…
A cute story, an easy read, Very similar to a lovely book I read a couple of years ago, about a husband who passes on and leaves a notebook for how to fall in love again, for his wife.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collines, One More Chapter for an ARC. in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 2nd April, 2021

The Magician's Soul (The Great Dagmaru, #3)

The Magician’s Soul by Linda G. Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was so excited to read the latest chapter of the Great Dagmaru series, and I wondered whether it would be the last…
But, after reading it (all in one day, I’ll have you know), I’m sure there must be more to come. Please, Linda, tell me it is so!
We’re back with Herman and Stephen, as they plan their wedding, and the bliss of being together, finally with the curse from The Dagmar family finally behind them.
Or so they think.
Every time I read the next one of these books, I think, “surely, everything will be smooth-sailing for them, now!” then something else gets thrown at them!
Well, the curse may have given up on them, but there is still a huge evil force trailing them.
This time we get to know Herman’s fathers alter ego much better, and another member of her family,
Rudy, who is key to a whole new set of twists and turns that Linda takes us on, in this book.
Another fab read!

The Summer Job

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Birdy Finch is kinda stuck in a bit of a rut. No family that she feels worthwhile being around, no decent. boyfriend, and not even a proper job to keep her going. All she has is her best friend Heather, and even she is leaving her, for a chance at happiness, for a while, at least.
With no place to live, and nothing else she can do, other than give in and go back to her parents, Birdy decides to pretend to be her friend for a summer, taking up a job she was offered, in the depths of Scotland. No one will know, right?
Except Heather is a sommelier and a very good one at that, and the place she was meant to be working is a hotel restaurant with aspirations of their first Michelin star…
Armed with the knowledge that there is red, white and rosé, oh, and bubbles, too, Birdy finds herself plunged deep into the world of wine and hospitality, far removed from her brief experience as a barmaid.
Oh, and what’s the chances that while she is pretending to be someone else, she meets someone who could be the love of her life, but he doesn’t even know who she really is?
The Summer Job is chock full of fantastic characters, and Birdy’s situation, though a tad unrealistic, is hilarious, at times, heart-rending at others.
The descriptions of the lochs and scenery around the hotel take you right there. I could almost smell the fish at the port!
You know she’s going to get found out. That’s a given, isn’t it? But the little twist at the end makes for a fresh reveal!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 2nd April, 2021

Into the Blue (By the Sea, #3)

Into the Blue by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Hats off to you, Kay!
Another heartwrenching story centring around a family based in Maui.
I have truly enjoyed all the stories in this trilogy, and this final episode was the icing on the cake, tying many little threads together to create the perfect finish.
This time we concentrate on Jules, a mother who has already suffered her own losses in her life.
And Jonah, her son. Always allowing himself to think he was to blame for his little sister, Nama, disappearing in the sea, as a child, then experiencing the horror that was active service in the army.
Finally, Helen, the matriarch of a fractured family, fractured, but still reset, and working well.
When Jules youngest daughter, Kira disappears, the family pulls together in a way you’d hope all families, did, but the shock of Jules suffering a stroke at the same time puts untold pressure on them all.
This story speaks of culture, tradition, faith, and most of all, family.
A beautiful read. Seriously. Go get it! As soon as it is out!

Releasing 19th March, 2021

The Wife Who Got a Life

The Wife Who Got a Life by Tracy Bloom
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my, reading this book made me think someone had been spying on certain aspects of my life, but then again that is the beauty of a book like this. So many women will read it, and something from it will resonate with them.
So, we have our heroine, Cathy Collins, late forties, about to hit menopause, but not too sure, teenage children hitting their own milestones, a husband who might just be having his middle-aged crisis, wanting to leave his great job, to chuck it all in, to teach.
This leaves Cathy wondering how they will manage, financially, since she only does a little extra work on the side, and anyway, who’s going to employ someone like her, a middle-aged woman, whose CV will consist of cooking awful dishes, cleaning her house constantly, and collating the receipts of a couple of local businesses. Oh, and cleaning her parents’ loo!
On top of that, her high flying older sister in the US sends here a motivational diary for Christmas, and despite all her misgivings, she decides to add a few goals to it.
Peppered with fantastically humorous episodes, as well as much more serious issues, The Wife Who Got A Life, is a brilliant read, and the cast of characters are a joy too. From Cathy’s family, to the book club ladies who are a support system in themselves, as well as the gang at The Mustard Factory, you are in for a great ride, as well as a great read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 15th April, 2021

Flying Duo by Zoe May

Flying Duo by Zoe May ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Check out my post tomorrow for the review, on release day!

S'more to Lose (The Campfire Series, #2)

S’more to Lose by Beth Merlin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been sitting on my kindle for a little while, now, so I thought it would be a good time to read it. I was unaware, when buying, that it was the second in a series. Now, usually, I want to read books in order, but I let that go.
Now, after reading the book, I think I will, at some point go back to book one, and then read the subsequent two, as I thoroughly enjoyed the story.
Gigi is one half of the G Malone design duo that is about to take the world by storm, having been asked to design the wedding dress for the future Queen of England.
Unbeknown to her, tangled within the ‘nearly’ Royal family that she is working with, is her ex-fiancé, who is in a relationship with the sister of the bride to be.
What a mess.
Her feelings for him, are still not fully resolved, as they never had proper closure, and, to top it off, shes got a Viscount falling for her, too!
So much angst and torment!
Will she get the dress, and the wedding wardrobe designed, with her partner, Jamie? Will she succumb to the charms of the man she was in love with for four years? Or, will she end up becoming a part of the British aristocracy, herself?
I had great fun, reading, and as I mentioned, I think I will have to invest in the rest of these!

The little ice cream shop by the sea

The Little Ice Cream Shop By The Sea by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Take a few scoops of family drama, drizzle it with some hot men, scatter some sprinkles of misunderstandings along with a wafer of romance, and you get Lizzie Chantree’s new novel, The Little Ice Cream Shop By The Sea.
Genie has devoted the whole of her life so far, to helping her parents and grandparents keep their family business afloat, a restaurant and ice cream bar on the seafront, in an Essex town.
She’s only twenty-two, but everything revolves around the restaurant, especially since her grandmother passed away. Genie works hard to try and retain the soul of a business fast going under.
Changes in circumstances mean her parents decide to sell the business, and move to Cornwall, and her Grandfather plans to travel the world. But Genie can’t let her heritage go to waste, like that.
Enter Ada, an older woman with her own griefs. She’s a widow, with many memories, and they are the reason she is there, having left the rest of her family in the US.
An unlikely friendship between the two is the catalyst for them going into partnership, and Genie’s hopes of keeping her family business, stay alive.
Of course, it would be far too simple if that was the end to the story.
Enter a hunky waiter, a handsome son of Ada’s friend, and a gorgeous, tanned Adonis of a grandson (of Ava’s) and you have your heartaches and romance too.
Oh, and not forgetting all the family secrets hidden deep below the surface, that work their way up and out into the real world again!
I really enjoyed reading this and devoured it in a day!
I sometimes forgot how old, or young, Genie actually was, what with all she has experienced in her life. The early twenties are the time to chase your own dreams, make your mistakes and find your true path, but it is as if Genie has been treading that path since she was a fourteen-year-old.
I felt quite sad for her that she hadn’t had much of a chance to live her own life, but understood her insistence in wanting to keep the legacy of her family alive.
An easy read, with some interesting twists, and a few sizzling scenes, too… just make sure they don’t melt your ice cream

And there you have it. My February reads! Were there any in there to tickle your tastebuds?

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.


November 2020 Books #AmReading

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

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The Lucky Dress

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

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

The Choice

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

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

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

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

The Healer

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

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

Simran

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

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

A Summer to Remember

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

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

Love Offline: Looking For Romance In Real Life

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

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

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

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

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

An American Marriage

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


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

Well Met (Well Met, #1)

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

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

Well Played (Well Met, #2)

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

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

Cheek to Cheek (Got That Swing, #1.5)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which one tickled your fancy?

Predator by @zoejcaldwell #newrelease #bookreview

A dark, erotic thriller.

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

Hmm, is that my kind of read?

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

First, the blurb:

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

Meet Camilla.

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

But Camilla has a secret. 

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

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

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

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

And here is my ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review.

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

Some information about the author:

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

Zoe Caldwell1.jpg

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

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

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