November 2021 Books #AmReading

How did it get to November, already? Now, I warn you, November is pretty much written off for me, in anything other than school, with Parents evenings, training, and the run-up to Christmas things happening in school… Will I ever finish that ARC list, and get some of my other books read?

peacefully reading

Sunny by Sukh Ojla
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I requested this arc with much anticipation, as I have seen the author in her stand up comedy shows a few times, and she has always hit the nail on the head about being a young, British Asian, single woman.
The premise of Sunny, is a thirty-year-old British born Indian woman, struggling to fit in with the stereotypes of the East/West background she has grown up in.
Add to that, the pressures to feel like she should look a certain way, act a certain way, live her life a certain way.
But it’s the double life she struggles with and those pressures above? Doubled.
Sunny wants to be like those friends of hers, settling down with their partners of choice, finding that intimacy that you only have with your soulmate.
She also wants to keep her parents happy, and not overstep any mark that might bring disrespect to her family, or her parents in particular.
Cue trying out all the dating apps, kissing many frogs, but not finding her Prince Charming, then clambering back into her ‘home clothes’ and wiping her make-up off before getting home, to where she is living, again, with her parents. And going out with her friends, with that ’emergency kit’ forever with her, to mask any activity her parents would disapprove of.
At home, life is so much simpler, until Mama comes in, with her wanting Sunny to find a suitable boy, and settle down,
What follows is a story filled with so much laughter, as you relate to some of the situations that Sunny gets herself into, including hesitantly allowing her mum to get involved in her online dating, even letting her look at ‘Tindles’!
But there is more at the heart of this.
Sukh Ojla deals with much more than the funny side of bagging a man so you can have that Big, Fat Indian wedding. There are unspoken expectations about how a girl should look, what she should say, how she should behave, and how these weigh heavily on someone mentally and emotionally. She touches on mental health, and the hidden depths of depression that can hit someone who is loaded with the pressure of expectation from all sides.
Being a resident of Gravesend for the last twenty years, I can vouch for the authenticity of how my marital hometown has been described, from the local Indian sweet shop to the town centre, the gurdwara to the promenade!
Sunny is a fantastic character, in herself, but the cast around her are equally amazing. I love her Mama, who is that quintessential Indian Mummy (Gravo style) complete with the samosa making skills, and Yoga class friends who are forever gossiping. Her Dad is equally wonderful. Quiet, unassuming, but a pillar of strength, regardless.
Sunny manages to find some real pieces of work, on her hunt for Mr Right, but she also learns a lot about other friends she has, and the new ones she makes.
(There were times I wanted to slap certain ‘friends’ of hers!)
Most of all, she finds herself, and I absolutely loved the ending!
I can’t wait for another from this author!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishing on 3rd March, 2022

Impossible

Impossible by Sarah Lotz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, that was a bit of a roller coaster of a read, wasn’t it?
Bee receives an email, unintended for her, and what is revealed through the course of her and the sender, Nick, is pretty impossible to believe.
I don’t want to add any spoilers, but this really is an ‘Impossible’ love story, and it sure takes you through the ringers!
I enjoyed reading it.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 17th March, 2022

To Love and Be Loved

To Love and Be Loved by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, Amanda Prowse, you’ve done it again!
I was hooked on the story of Merrin from the moment I started reading. She was born and has lived in the same Cornish Fishing village of Port Charles, her whole life, and intends to spend the rest of it, there, too.
On the cusp of beginning the next chapter of her life, Merrin is convinced her life is headed in exactly the right direction.
Until the one thing she never expected to happen, happens. Filled with humiliation, Merrin flees her beloved hometown to forget her sorrows, but with a huge sense of regret at leaving her family behind.
Nothing can convince her to come back, not even the death of her grandma… Nothing, until her sister gets married.
Where do I start? Merrin is a beautiful character, full of hope, romance and life. It broke my heart to read how she crumbled, along with all her dreams, on that fateful day.
And feeling that she was never going to find anything close to the love she had felt at the time, the story grows, showing how she hardens her heart to feelings too intense, pushing away so many people who love her, romantically, and otherwise.
However, life does move in mysterious ways, and despite losses, she finds her perfect ending.
I loved Merrin’s best friend, Bella, a lot. What I wouldn’t give to have a Bella by my side!
A consuming read which I finished in a day.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 11th January, 2022

Em & Me

Em & Me by Beth Morrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so, although it took me a little time to read, (life, not the book’s fault!) I truly loved this new release by Beth Morrey.
Delphine Jones is a relatively young woman, in her late twenties, already with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Having been a teen-mum, reeling from the loss of her beloved mother and caring for her grief-stricken father, as well as looking after her twelve-year-old daughter, life hasn’t dealt her the best cards, but she’s trying to make the most of it.
She keeps things afloat with a waitressing job, and a long term cleaning gig for an old friend of her mother.
Thing is, there was always meant to be more to the life of Delphine Jones, or Fifi as her dad calls her.
This isn’t a romance, though there is so much love within the pages of this book.
I was immersed in the story of Delphine, as she slowly begins to bring back the unravelled threads of her former self, and starts to reach for the dreams she had all but given up on, in order to keep existing.
Fifi was a bright student with so much to look forward to until she fell pregnant at sixteen. Then all the confidence seemed to have been knocked out of her.
I loved how the different people around her built her up, in their own ways, so each part of her life starts to make sense.
Her ‘teacher’, Ros, who encourages her to study again.
Letty, her elderly French companion, who teaches her to take every opportunity while she can.
Dylan, who shows her she is not dead inside.
Sanjay (and Dylan, again) who brings music back into her life.
Her father, who finds his strength again, through her, then becomes her support.
Selassie and Abrihet, who taker her into their little restaurant, and treat her like their own daughter, giving her encouragement, and nourishment she didn’t know she needed.
And Em. Beautiful Em Jo, her daughter, who is her whole reason for living and being.
A story filled with soul and hope.

3rd February, 2022

The Keeper of Stories

The Keeper of Stories by Sally Page
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a beautiful book!
I was hooked by the cover and the blurb definitely reeled me in – that’s what it’s supposed to do, and it did its job!
Janice is a cleaner, who, over the course of her ‘career’ has collected the stories of many of her clients. She is a firm believer that everyone has a story. Except her.
But, fate works in mysterious ways and meeting a couple of very different people, and a dog, through her job, and her daily travel, prove to her that everyone does indeed have a story, including her.
I was rooting form Janice from the off, especially after learning about her waste-of-space husband. Here’s a woman with a heart of gold, and so much to give to the people around her, yet he sees her as ‘just a cleaner’.
The added characters of Euan, and Mrs B (I LOVED her!) really gave the story a kick, and Decius the dog was an added bonus!

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

Releasing 3rd February, 2022

Rereleasing Soon! Special post coming on 6th December!

So, not a total washout. I can say that I did get my arcs down to 1, but the list is back up to 5! I just can’t help myself! So, any that caught your eye? What have you been reading?

October 2021 Books #AmReading

I can’t quite believe it’s the end of October, right now. We are in the midst of Autumn. The wintery nights are closing in on us. And it’s definitely colder. All the more reason to cuddle up with a book! Let’s see what I managed this month. I did aim to get through my NetGalley Arcs this month, so I was free to read the rest of the books I have sitting on my Kindle and bookshelves. There are four to read… As long as I don’t end up requesting any others that take my fancy! (Heads up… I did request a couple more!)

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Walking On Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a beautiful story of friendship and coping, from a new to me, author, Giovanna Fletcher.
Reading about how three close friends, Mike, Zaza and Vicky respond to the loss of the fourth that made their quartet complete, Pia, was very emotional. A wife to one, and best friend to the other two, losing Pia shows just how differently grief shows itself in each person and their own relationships.
They embark upon a trek, as a memory to her, and alongside collecting new memories and blisters, they slowly trek through their own feelings and become a stronger unit between themselves.
I really enjoyed reading this.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishing on 28th December, 2021

One Night on the Island

One Night on the Island by Josie Silver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After thoroughly enjoying One Day in December, I was eager to get into this soon to be released book by Josie Silver, and I have to say, I devoured it within a few sittings.
Cleo is an online journalist, with a column all about dating in the modern world, and aspiring novelist, whose editor has the bright idea to send her to a remote island, to marry herself, in a symbolic ceremony, as she turns thirty – still single.
Not 100% convinced, she arrives there, literally in the middle of nowhere, to find her less than idyllic lodge to be double-booked.
Mack is that disgruntled American, who has come to the back of beyond to find out more about his heritage; to document stories his grandmother told him, and for some thinking time. And he is also of the opinion that he is the rightful new resident of Otter Lodge for the next few months.
What follows is a sometimes funny, but wholly poignant tale of how they end up forced to live with each other in a studio style flat, and the quirky routines that they develop, including the “three things’ they disclose to each other regularly, and the chalk line. I won’t explain more. You need to read!
A colourful cast of characters support Cleo and Mack, as they navigate life in this unknown place – a place that might not be a tourist haunt, but which is filled with locals who really care.
What is more to say? Well, I read it and wanted to go and find myself, too, like Cleo! Where’s that remote island?
(Oh, and if you are an emotional reader, you might want to arm yourself with a tissue box!)
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Publishing on 17th February, 2022

Not even a cover, yet, for this next one, but it’s called The Fake-up by Justin Myers.

The Fake Up by Justin Myers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve not read a Justin Myers book, yet, and the intrigue of an offer to read a book without even a cover, whet my appetite!
Flo and Dylan are in love. A simple, loving relationship, where they are scraping a living together, him as a wannabe actor, bartending at other times, and her, a singer in small pubs and clubs, recording songs for her YouTube channel or working in a shop to make ends meet.
Even though they are both at a similar stage in their respective dream careers, their backgrounds couldn’t be more different, with Dylan from the more working-class side, and Flo, or Floria, being from a more affluent background.
They’ve struggled to get their respective families and friends to accept their relationship for years, and the inevitable happens.
They split up.
Then the doors of fame seem to open up to them both simultaneously.
He lands a part in a popular soap. She finds that a song written during the aftermath of her break-up, uploaded in haste, ends up becoming a hit, made all the more popular by a famous YouTuber sharing it.
Amidst all the craziness, they both find themselves drawn together, under a veil of secrecy, having to keep a relationship that merely floundered, hidden.
What follows is the story of a year of fame, fake romances, fake hate, and a fake break-up… But how long can you fake it for?
A cast of colourful characters helped to keep the story flowing, from Max, Dylan’s gay best friend, to Jesse and Sonny, the famous brothers who helped catapult Flo, and her talent, into the stratosphere. You can’t forget Flo’s best friend, Estelle, and her insufferable partner Barnaby, looking down their noses at Dylan, constantly.
This is a quick, cute read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK, Sphere for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishing on 7th April, 2022

Stepping Up

Stepping Up by Sarah Turner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I felt like I needed this book, right now, to shine a light of positivity over some tough times.
Beth, our heroine, really ins one, though she doesn’t really know it; after all, she is known for being the quitter of the family and has been, pretty much her whole life.
Until a tragedy forces her to stop quitting. Emmy, Beth’s older sister, and her husband Doug are involved in a car accident that is fatal for one and leaves the other in a coma.
So we have Beth. A single woman who can’t commit to a job, or a relationship, suddenly thrust into the role of mother/aunt, looking after her teenage niece and toddler nephew. With a cranky old neighbour to contend with, a mother with extremely high expectations, yet with no hope that Beth will deliver, and a best friend who seems to be drifting away, at a time when she needs him more than ever.
I truly felt for Beth, who appears resigned to thinking she’ll never amount to anything. The change in her, over the course of the book, is heartwarming. I truly enjoyed her blossoming relationship with Ted, her little nephew. He’s a charming little character, coming to terms with a huge loss from his life, but not fully understanding it.
She has to contend with a teenage niece, Polly, who is hormonal, emotional and has so much she is holding in, away from everyone else. The way their connection develops and goes from breaking point to a true sense of connection is wonderful.
I loved Albert, the octogenarian neighbour, who appears to be some sort of gorgon, in Beth’s mind, yet is quite possibly the sweetest, lonely old man she has ever encountered. Again, her friendship with him is a joy to read about.
Then there is Jory. Beth’s best friend of over twenty years. A connection so strong, that ends up fraying, through a difficult time, as they both find it hard to talk about the crux of the matter.
The way the conclusion is reached is just perfect, and all I can say is that I loved it!
Many thanks to NetGalley, and Random House UK for an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Publishing on 17th March, 2021

The Winter of Second Chances

The Winter of Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed Jenny Bayliss’s first book, s jumped at the chance to read The Winter Of Second Chances.
A middle-aged heroine – what’s not to like?
Annie Sharpe has it all. A successful restaurant, two lovely children in the forms of her grown-up twin sons and an adoring husband.
Scratch that.
A husband who is too busy adoring others, not her. And she catches him, in the act with his latest flavour of the month.
What’s a woman to do?
We follow Annie as she ups sticks, and removes herself from a toxic situation that has been simmering for a long while, and finds herself as the tenant and guardian for a small, glorified beach hut/kiosk/tea room called Saltwater Nook.
Here, Annie finds her feet, making what she expects to be temporary friends, and a little hobby to keep her busy as. she figures out her life.
But nothing is ever that simple.
I loved Annie. She was a straight-talking woman, who found her tongue, regarding her marriage a little later than in other aspects of her life. It tales quite a backbone to leave everything you have worked for, and start afresh.
The locals she encounters are just a joy, including her new book club friends, who become a little raucous, but with hilarious consequences. The owners of the two local pubs welcome her, and she even makes a tentative friend with the local homeless man, Albert.
And who can forget John? John, the nephew of her landlady, who seems hellbent on selling this little nook she is looking after. John, who has different layers. John, who becomes rather fanciable to a newly single woman,
Thoroughly enjoyed reading!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review,

Publishing on 11th November, 2021

Meet Me Under The Northern Lights by Emily Kerr
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It seems to me that books with Finnish connections are calling out to me, and all the more poignant, as that is where my sister in law is from, so I find myself imagining the places I am reading about…
Now, enough of my nostalgia!
Meet Me Under The Northern Lights is a fantastic book, that follows the downfall of Radio DJ Lucy Fairweather’s career when a clip of her questionable drunk dancing goes viral, but, more awful than the dancing, is the connotations that the awfully edited clip insinuates, as her character is put into question. Was she really flirting with that other presenter, who just happened to be the boyfriend of a celebrity?
Faced with the trolls that support #TeamSerenity, and back the hashtag #LooseLucy, and an endless stream of hate messages, culminating in a death threat delivered to her home, she ends up running off to the furthest ends of Finland, where her colleague’s brother-in-law lives.
Can I just say, I felt the cold as I read about her arrival at Wild Zone, the Arctic Circle Experience that her host Tommi, has just set up.
I’ve not been to Finland in the cold, but I have seen photos of my brother with his eyelashes frozen, just from a walk, so I know there was no exaggeration!
Lucy really does find herself, out in the cold sticks, not only figuring out a way to get out of the viral video hole, but digging deeper, and recognising why some of the issues that have plagued her, have come about.
And of course, there is romance. That gruff, blunt Finn, Tommi, does have a heart, but it takes him a while to demonstrate his feelings.
With a lovely supportive cast of characters, as well as the slime balls, Mike, and Jonny from the radio stations, the reader is taken on a fantastic Arctic journey. Oh, and how could I forget Gurta? Quite key to the story, and several misunderstandings, Gurta is a little star, in herself!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishing on 3rd December, 2021

Yinka, Where is Your Huzband?

Yinka, Where is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Started it. Steamed through it. Loved it!
Lizzie Damilola Blackburn has written a true book of the times for those women, still single, and needing to learn how to embrace themselves before trying to please others by conforming to the stereotypes set for them.
Well, at least the stereotypes set by the aunties in the London Nigerian community, anyway.
I warmed to Yinka, the 31-year-old woman who had pretty much everything a girl could want: her own home, a great job, good friends. Well, everything except a boyfriend or ‘huzband’, much to the chagrin of her mother and aunties.
It’s not dissimilar to the thinking of many of the older generations in our Indian communities; that if you aren’t married, or spoken for, at least, by a certain age, that you will be left on the shelf.
My heart broke for her, as he tried to conform in a way that was not natural to her, leaving herself open to being hurt.
With a younger sister already married and expecting a baby, a cousin who was already settled with her huzband and three kids, and another getting ready for her big day, Yinka has big expectation shoes to fill, and she needs to do it fast.
She meets a range of characters along the way, and it just goes to show that sometimes, you aren’t looking hard enough in the right places.
Yinka’s Ghanian best friend Nana is awesome! A strong woman who has her own thoughts firmly in place. Her other two good friends from work bring about the perspective of people from outside the Nigerian or African community.
All in all, I loved it. Love story? Nah, more of a ‘self’ love story!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin General UK – Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishing on 31st March, 2022

The Betrayals: The stunning new fiction book from the author of the Sunday Times bestseller THE BINDING by Bridget Collins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Now, I have Bridget Collins’ debut The Binding, on my TBR shelf but have not read it yet. However, on the strong positive feedback of that, I downloaded this new release, The Betrayals, and opened it, high with anticipation.
Can I be totally frank, here?
I was confused. (Quite apt, because throughout the story, you find elements of confusion that cause chaos in the characters lives, too.)
Who was the Rat? Why was she important?
The Grand Jeu? What on earth was it? A game? A piece of music? a performance?
I had a mind to end the confusion, and just stop reading, after it took me a long while to reach around 12% of the book.
However, big HOWEVER, I am glad I carried on reading, as I finally became immersed in the story.
There is time-hopping, though it is never totally clear when this book is set.
But we go from the days of one of the main characters, Leo, was a student at Montverre, to the present (in the book) when he is an adult. The other character, Claire, or Magister Ludi, is another complex piece in the puzzle that is The Betrayals
There is romance, of a different kind, within the pages, too.
Would I read it again? I’m not sure, but it was an interesting premise, even though I still don’t know what the Grand Jeu is!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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So, not a total washout. I can say that I did get my arcs down to 1, but the list is back up to 3! I just can’t help myself! So, any that caught your eye? What have you been reading?

September 2021 Books #AmReading

Right, so it’s the month we head back to school. Highly unlikely that I’ll hit the giddy heights of twenty books, like last month, but, then again, I am hoping that when I have spare time that I might just write, too, this month!

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On a Night Like This

On a Night Like This by Lindsey Kelk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A new Lindsey Kelk book?
Er, yes please! I’ve been a fan since the early Shopaholic days, and Kelk truly doesn’t disappoint with her latest, On A Night Like This.
Fran Cooper is kinda stuck in a rut. On the outside, things look fine with her life. She’s engaged, they have a house, family and friends around her.
But, inside, she’s feeling a little unfulfilled.
Having put all her career aspirations to one side, to concentrate on her life with her fiancee, she loses sight of her own dreams.
Until an opportunity falls into her lap. Something she’d be a fool to turn down.
And, despite what her c0mmon sense tells her, she takes it.
Thrust into the whirlwind life of celebrity, Fran finds herself as the PA for an extremely famous person, for a short while, and the few days she is with this individual, changes her thinking. But it’s that one night that truly changes everything.
I loved it. Like, literally every little bit of the book! I have to admit, there were times I wanted to shake Fran, as she refused to admit her relationship was floundering.
But, oh, the chemistry Kelk builds, between Fran and Evan was amazing. It just goes to show that you don’t need all over the top explicit scenes to create steam… and I loved the end!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 11th November, 2021

The Fault Between Us by Bette Lee Crosby

Review to follow on 20th Oct during Blog Tour, but here’s the blurb!

April 18, 1906 – A devastating earthquake rocks San Francisco and Templeton Morehouse fears her husband is lost forever. A powerful and compelling story from USA Today bestselling author Bette Lee Crosby

Chances were a million to one that a girl born and raised in Philadelphia would encounter a stranger from California on the trolley and fall madly in love, but that’s what happened. Templeton was not only taken with John Morehouse, but also with his tales of life in San Francisco. As an aspiring fashion designer, the dazzle of a city called the Paris of the West, with its towering department stores and European couture was too much to resist.

Despite her family’s objections, she and John are married and, on their way back to California, before the month is out. To ease the heartbreak of such a move, Templeton promises her family that they will return for a visit every summer. She fully intends to keep that promise, but as her fashions gain popularity, the business grows increasingly more demanding. The trips back to Philadelphia become less frequent and she makes foolish choices she will come to regret.

Now, when she is on the verge of having everything she’s ever wanted, a devastating earthquake has torn across San Francisco and she awakes to discover the father of her baby is missing.

With the city in flames, Templeton’s daddy leaves Philadelphia and sets out in search of his son-in-law. He’s too old for such a trip and ill-equipped for the challenges he will encounter, but he’s the only hope of saving his daughter’s happiness.
Lines of communication are down and the city in shambles, so the only thing Templeton can do is pray she doesn’t lose both her daddy and her husband.

Releasing 11th November, 2021

The Impossible Truths of Love

Review to follow on 14th October for part of the Blog Tour

Here’s the blurb!

From bestselling author Hannah Beckerman comes a moving story about memory, secrets, and what it really means to feel that you’re one of the family.

When Nell’s father makes a deathbed declaration that hints at a long-held secret, it reignites feelings of isolation that have plagued her for years. Her suspicions about the family’s past only deepen when her mother, Annie, who is losing her memories to dementia, starts making cryptic comments of her own.

Thirty-five years earlier, Annie’s life was upended by a series of traumas—one shock after another that she buried deep in her heart. The decisions she made at the time were motivated by love, but she knew even then that nobody could ever understand—let alone forgive—what she did.

As the two women’s stories unravel, a generation apart, Nell finally discovers the devastating truth about her mother’s past, and her own.

In this beautifully observed and emotionally powerful story of identity, memory and the nature of family, Hannah Beckerman asks: To what lengths would you go to protect the ones you love?

Releasing 5th October 2021

Midnight in the Snow

Midnight in the Snow by Karen Swan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve read a couple of Karen Swan books, and have thoroughly enjoyed them, so when I saw this, I was compelled to read, purely on previous experience.
Midnight In The Snow is filled with the adrenalin highs and lows that come with the sports it features, heavily, Surfing and snowboarding.
I’m not a sports junkie, but the story that carries the book was compelling.
Clover Phippils makes films.
She’s just finished one where accolades have been showered upon her, covering the story of a talented surfer, Cory, whose career was ruined by the actions of a competitor in one of the championships.
Having got herself extremely close to the family, she feels a need to try and find out why things happened as they did, ultimately leading to the loss of life.
Managing to get an all-access pass to the life of surfing champion, Kit Foley, the surfer responsible, she heads off to Austria, where he has now come, having changed his life path from surfing to snowboarding, hoping to find out why he did what he did to Cory.
It was a fantastic build-up of tension between Kit and Clover, seeing as he holds her responsible for ruining his professional life, whereas she lays the blame for the ultimate loss of Cory’s life at Kit’s feet.
Things are never that simple, though, and the way we learn snippets of the truth, throughout the book, alongside the chemistry that steps up a notch, between the interviewer and the interviewee, was fantastic,
Thoroughly enjoyed this book, and would highly recommend it!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Releasing on 14th October, 2021

Medusa

Medusa by Jessie Burton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have seen the hype about this book in Social Media for a while now and knowing the critical acclaim author Jessie Burton has already amassed with her previous books such as The Miniaturist, I was extremely excited to read Medusa.
I’ve always had a thing about Medusa. I’ll let you in on a secret – at college, due to my long curly locks, there was a lad who used to call me Medusa the Seducer! (I am not, in any way, shape or form, a seducer, but still… it was his thing!)
So, to find this book, written from the perspective of this character who has been much maligned within Greek mythology, was absolutely fantastic.
We are put in the shoes of Medusa, a young woman who has been transformed into this creature, feared by many, but how, and why was she made to look this way?
I finished this book with a newfound sympathy for her.
And the illustrations were just the icing on the cake, for me. I think I will need a physical copy of this one!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 28th October, 2021

The Replacement by Melanie Golding
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved Melanie Golding’s previous book, Little Darlings, so was equally excited to be given chance to read The Replacement, upon reading the blurb.
Oh, what a twisted, tangled web she has woven within this story!
A little child found alone.
A man found, left for dead, in a bathtub, miles away.
And two women, missing, who the police are desperate to speak to.
Seemingly distinct separate situations, however, inexplicably linked, as the police find out more and more. And what a joy to find a familiar character, within these pages, DI Joanne Harper, who ends up with stakes, far more personal, than in her last appearance, in Little Darlings.
Folklore and mythology, interspersed within a complicated criminal case… it sure kept my brain ticking over, the whole way through, and I more or less finished it within a day!
I was hooked!
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 11th November, 2021

Starry Skies in Ferry Lane Market: Book 2 in a brand new series by the author of bestselling phenomenon THE CORNER SHOP IN COCKLEBERRY BAY

Starry Skies in Ferry Lane Market: Book 2 in a brand new series by the author of bestselling phenomenon THE CORNER SHOP IN COCKLEBERRY BAY by Nicola May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read the first in the Ferry Lane Market series, I was pretty excited to be able to visit again, especially since the author, Nicola May has created a fantastic cast of memorable characters, and I wanted to find out more about what was going on,
This book is centred around Steren, or Star to her friends and family, a single mother, with several layers to her own story, as well as her background. Being the product of a single-parent family, herself, and one which wasn’t the best, she has been determined to be the opposite to her own daughter, Skye, though, she, like her own mother, has been hesitant to let Skye know the identity of her father.
Skye is now older, with a life of her own, and it’s time for Star to think about herself more. Two prospective partners on the horizon; one unavailable, one she’s not sure of, though he’s a loveable Irish hunk…
Across the market, other stories unravel, bringing the community together in ways they never imagined.
I loved how this story ended, and can’t wait for book three, now!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 11th November, 2021

The Imperfect Art of Caring

The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful gift author Jessica Ryn has, for creating those wonderful, hapless characters, who you can’t help but fall in love with. Dawn Brightside was a highlight of my year last year, and I was extremely excited to be able to read her newest offering, The Imperfect Art of Caring.
Within these pages, we are, again, introduced to a main character who has a lot going on, in her mind.
Violet Strong is a woman who has learned to keep everyone at a distance from her – for good reason, She is Bad News. Ever since she can remember, bad things happen, and they always come back to her.
Estranging herself from her family and friends, she ends up near Manchester, with a cleaning job, and a wonderful blog where she reviews books.
Things are fine until her sister drops a bombshell on her: She’s leaving the country, and Violet has to come back home, to help look after her mother, and facilitate a house sale, so her mother can be put into care.
My heart went out to Violet, especially as I got to know her, and realised exactly how wrong her own opinion of herself was. She only wants to help, and sheer coincidence meant that so many awful things happened in her life, that really had nothing to do with her, yet, she had carried the burden of guilt on her own shoulders.
The cast of characters introduced through the story are wonderful, including Tammy, one of the residents in the flats her mother’s house have been turned into, who has a learning disability, but no one to help her learn how to live independently, to Mrs R, the grumpy resident, who is, in fact, a rather lonely woman. To top it off, there is Adam, Violet’s childhood best friend, and first love, who makes up half of the occupants in the third flat, alongside his father, Bill.
The book looks at the often lonely job of carers. What is expected of them, what they have to deal with on a regular basis, as well as the lives of those being cared for.
I was truly touched when reading this beautiful book.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 25th November, 2021

The Arctic Curry Club

The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A lovely debut novel, bringing together the heat of spice with the chill of the Arctic!
Maya has accompanied her boyfriend, Ryan out to the Arctic, to help him follow his dream.
Though it’s not hers, by any stretch of the imagination.
Shrouded in anxiety at every step, the story uncovers different layers of Maya’s own story and the reasons for her deep-rooted anxieties, as the inky black nights of the Arctic begin to shed their darkness, revealing new layers of colour along the way.
Maya’s Anglo Indian background gives her a reason to stay in a place she would never have chosen to be, once her relationship crumbles, as she picks up the reins of her own love, cooking, and slowly begins to experiment with the flavours connected to her childhood.
Her mother’s handwritten recipes, in an old book, help Maya to create something the Arctic wasn’t expecting, and the memories that surface, with every new mouthful of food she creates, helps Maya to discover more and more about a past she had learned to block out.
I truly enjoyed this story, with a little hint of romance, but, ultimately, a book filled with self-discovery. It was a tad slow at the start, but as revelations kept popping up, the faster my pages turned.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 9th December, 2021

So, 9 books – not bad for the first term of the year, and with illness thrown into the mix! And an eclectic selection, at that!

Any caught your eye? What have you been reading?

June 2021 Books #AmReading

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

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

peacefully reading
Songs in Ursa Major

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

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

Released 24th June, 2021

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


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

Released 29th June, 2021

Geraldine Verne's Red Suitcase

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

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

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

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

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

Released 29th June, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Releasing 29th July, 2021

The Beach Read Book Club

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

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

Released 30th June 2021


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

May 2021 Books #AmReading

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

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

The Lucky Escape

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

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

Releasing on 1st June, 2021

High Heels on the Beach

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

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

The Things That Matter

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

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

Published on 14th May, 2021

Yours Cheerfully

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

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

Published on 24th June, 2021

The Patron (Emerson Pass Contemporaries #2)

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

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

Published on 18th May, 2021

Saving the Day (Quick Reads 2021)

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

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

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

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

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


Published 26th May, 2021

The Man Ban

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

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

Published 27th July, 2021

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

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