Shakespeare And Me – Guest post by @KileyDunbar and #BookReview of #newrelease, One Winter’s Night

Last year I was introduced to the debut novel of someone who I have come to view as one of those authors whose books I will put others aside, to read as soon as I can.

Kiley Dunbar’s first book, One Summer’s Night, is a wonderful story, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, and heavily influenced by that famous bard, William Shakespeare. As I read her fourth book, One Winter’s Night, (yes, she’s got that many under her belt since last year’s release!) I realised it was also Shakey-heavy, too, so I decided to be nosy and ask all about her fascination with Shakespeare, and how much he’s influenced her writing, and life, too!

Over to you, Kiley!

I fell in love with Shakespeare’s poetry when I was fourteen and I talked my mum into buying me A Midsummer Night’s Dream, based solely on my lovestruck reaction to its gorgeous cover. I still have that book! (pictured).

That was the summer my parents dug out a small pond in the back garden of their terrace in the coal board village where I grew up. I spent hours that summer sitting by the pond trying to get to grips with the strange language and magical characters. I only understood half of what I read and it took me the whole summer to finish the play.

I was always a dreamy kid but something about the summer moon reflecting in the water and this 400-year-dead beardy English bloke had me reeling. I was a goner.

Cut to Mrs Marr’s English class a few years later and I’m head over heels for Hamlet, outraged by Othello and totalled on Twelfth Night. Thank you Mrs Marr!

In May 1999 I was writing a long letter to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford upon Avon explaining my obsession and asking if they have any summer job vacancies – and they did!

Within weeks I was living in Stratford, working as a tour-guide and seeing every single play at the RST and the Swan. I was in heaven!

And I didn’t want to leave.

So I applied to study at the Shakespeare Institute and, to my amazement, got a place – after a nerve wracking interview. I made Shakespeare-obsessed friends for life there.

A few years, and a lot of studying, later I have been fortunate enough to be able to teach my own Shakespeare courses at a uni in the North of England. Seeing the moment where it finally all made sense for my students was utterly magical!

It felt as though all my teenage summer dreams had come true. Except for one. I wanted to write love stories and comedies of my own.

In March 2019 my debut novel, a rom com, called ‘One Summer’s Night’ came out with Hera Books, inspired by my love of Shaky and (v. v. loosely) based on my first summer in Stratford all these years ago where I met my husband and we got engaged after FOUR days! I know, I’m not exactly risk averse. Now I’m looking forward to sharing the sequel to that novel. It’s called One Winter’s Night and is out on 17th September 2020 and follows the same characters and some new ones through a very romantic, dramatic winter in Shakespeare’s hometown. One of the storylines is a gender-reversed version of Love’s Labour’s Lost, one of my favourite Shakespeare plays.

I hope you love it, Kiley, x

You can download your copy of One Summer’s Night here:

Apple https://apple.co/2sM8y2p
Kobo http://bit.ly/2HtpPYg
Kindle https://amzn.to/2MAxFOV
Google http://bit.ly/2FUCNvK

And One Winter’s Night can be bought here:

AMZ: https://amzn.to/3haiHwO

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2B94BMV

Apple: https://apple.co/3haaEA8

Here’s the blurb:

A gorgeously uplifting, romantic read that will warm your heart – take a trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where magic happens…

It’s autumn in beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon and Kelsey Anderson is enjoying her new life in her adopted town. Her Shakespearean tour guide days behind her, she’s now opened her own photography studio and loved up with boyfriend Jonathan – even if a long-distance relationship is sometimes lonely.

When best friend Mirren Imrie moves down from Scotland, Kelsey is delighted to have her friend at her side – and as the nights turn colder, Mirren throws herself into dating, until she finds herself growing closer to sexy journalist, Adrian Armadale. But when Mirren uncovers a long-buried scandal while working at the local newspaper, her big scoop might throw Kelsey’s – and Jonathan’s – life upside down. Will she choose her career over her friends’ happiness?

And when Jonathan returns from America and discovers the secrets Mirren has uncovered about his family, it throws his relationship with Kelsey onto shaky ground. Can they find their way back to love, before it becomes the winter of their discontent?

A romantic, funny and feelgood read that will make you smile from ear to ear. Fans of Milly Johnson, Heidi Swain and Holly Martin will fall in love with this cosy winter read!

Thank you, so much, Kiley, for sharing your love affair with Shakespeare with us all!

And four days! Wowzer! Well, they do say, when you know, you know. 😉

As I mentioned, I was honoured to be able to read an ARC of One Winter’s Night, and it was fabulous! Here’s my review.

One Winter’s Night by Kiley Dunbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I happened upon Kiley Dunbar and her debut last year, and after devouring the first one, I have awaited any other releases with great anticipation, and she’s never failed to satisfy.
Hearing that the characters from One Summer Night, Dunbar’s debut were getting another outing in One Winter’s Night, made my summer.
I love Shakespeare, Stratford-Upon-Avon is a place we visited plenty when I was growing up, And though I’ve never been, Scotland and its. beauty has always enticed me.
One day I will visit.
And romance? Well, I love a bit of romance, so, having all these components in a book should be a guaranteed good read, for me, at least.
And it surely was!
Catching up with Kelsey Anderson, as the Scottish lass comes to grips with settling far south of her home town, in Shakespeare’s land, attempting to set up a business fuelled by her passion for photography, with no good friends or family close by, and the love of her life off acting across the Atlantic was a joy.
And I loved the parallel story of Kelsey’s best friend Mirren, the newly single, Scottish journalist who’s finally had enough of the sexist world of broadsheet journalism, and finds herself swearing off men, jacking in her job, and jumping on a train to join her best friend, for a little while, as she straightens her life out.
There were a whole host of new characters introduced, including the old soak, propping up the local bar, who ended up being a rather famous actor in his prime, with a hidden secret, and Blythe.
Oh, I loved Blythe! Everyone needs a Blythe in their lives.
An eccentric elderly woman who was a force to be reckoned with in her prime, on stage, until life threw her some huge curveballs. Blythe may be a bit of a recluse, but she has amassed a veritable smorgasbord of memorabilia and hard-learned wisdom over the years, along with the talent of distilling her own extremely strong flavoured gins.
Kelsey’s unusual, initial meeting with Blythe cements a multi-generational friendship that adds another layer to an already wonderful story.
So there’s love, heartbreaks, more romance, Shakespeare, family angst, and GIN! What more could a reader want?
Absolutely a recommended read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hera Books for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Now, I 100% recommend you get reading all of Kiley’s books, they are wonderful little nuggets of escapism!

Happy Reading!

June 2020 Books #AmReading

We have officially reached the middle of this strange year, 2020!

What book reading pleasure have I managed this month?

The Sin Eater

The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fantastic book!
I always find Historical fiction to be fascinating, and this was no different.
Orphan Meg Owen is picked up by the guards for stealing a loaf of bread.
Expecting a punishment, but lenient at that, she is stunned to find that she is branded, on the tongue and made into a sin eater.
She is cast into a life of loneliness and silence, finding solace with the other sin eater in her town.
Unable to fathom why, Meg begins to learn more about her new life, taking on the sins of others on their deathbeds, then eating them, expecting to die a lonely woman. filled with the secrets of others.
But she doesn’t expect to stumble upon a secret of epic proportions, involving royalty and treason.
I don’t want to write too much about the story, which is twisted and brilliant in its entirety.
Megan Campisi has created a parallel world, so similar to certain parts of our history, with enough changes to make it fantastical.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan. Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 23rd July 2020

In Case You Missed It

In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been a fan of Lindsey Kelk since the first I Heart book, and am always enticed by the thought of another Kelk-masterpiece out.
In Case You Missed It is another great easy, summer read, with a main character, Ros, experiencing the telltale ups and downs synonymous with a Lindsey Kelk book.
Trouble with work, trouble with relationships, trouble with adulting…
Lots of laugh out loud moments, a gaggle of loyal, almost all-knowing friends, a teenage gaming celeb (I Know!) and some cheeky romance, with a couple of dashing heroes to add to the mix.
What fun!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 23rd July 2020

The Wish List by Sophia Money-Coutts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another brilliant read from Sophia Money-Coutts!
Meet Florence Fairfax, a slightly OCD character, with some interesting anxiety-related behaviours, who works in a small book shop in London. Oh, and a non-existent love life.
Until a concerned stepmother suggests a therapist…
Amidst disbelief that anything will come of it, Flo visits said therapist and comes away with a list of her perfect man.
And apparently, the universe delivers! Or does it?
I loved the characters, and I honestly laughed out loud several times, causing my husband to look at me quizzically. How could I explain that “Cowabunga!” will never sound the same to me ever again? (Confused? Well, you need to read to find out the reason – and it’s well worth the read!)
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released 6th August, 2020

Beach Read

Beach Read by Emily Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The title, Beach Read, intrigued me. The blurb even more so.
Two writers, each very different, and struggling with writer’s block in their own way, end up in the same place, neighbours. And an old ‘rivalry’ becomes tentative support for one another, but love?
January is all about the Happily Ever Afters, in life and her writing.
Gus doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and his literary preferences mirror his thinking.
Their personal challenges, along with the writing one they set for each other, allows their lives to entwine in a way they never thought possible.
It took me a little while to get into the book, but once I started, I couldn’t stop.
I enjoyed the characters and the story, along with the little twists and reveals that are dropped along the way, making you guess which way this story is going to end.
It’s not a typical RomCom, but I could definitely see myself reading it on the beach! (Apart from some of the more intimate scenes… Well written, not too tacky, but erotic enough to make you feel…)
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 20th August, 2020

The Lost Love Song

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not sure where to start.
But suffice to say this story blew me away. Read in a day.
Some say that with books that have too many characters, it is hard to feel connected or emotional about them, but this one did that and more.
The story surrounding Diana and Arie’s love story is an emotive beginning, and the twists and turns at the beginning left me in tears. Then the way Belinda, Evie, Bene, Felix, Beatrix, and others, were brought into this tale of love was so clever.
I just loved it!
I really don’t want to write too much about the story, for fear of giving something away. Suffice to say, I think you should definitely read it!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 6th August, 2020

The Move

The Move by Felicity Everett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was looking forward to some sort of domestic thriller, but it wasn’t quite there.
The story of Karen and Nick, moving to the country to escape from her demons, and his cheating, had so many chances for more twists to occur, and some did, but they were left with the ends still loose.
The characters were great, the descriptions fantastic, but the story was lacking.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 20th August, 2020

No Place too Far by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I truly enjoyed the first book in the series, True To Me, so was eager to dive back into the Maui waters, and I was not disappointed,
No Place Too Far continues the stories of a group of characters we met before in True To Me, concentrating a little more on Maggie. Maggie came out to live in Maui after her friend Quinn settled there, once she found out that was where her birth family lived.
Maggie, herself, is trying to settle down after spending a year on the run from a stalker, with her young son.
I was so engrossed with the story, that had I not had work the next day, I’d have been reading far into the wee hours of the morning!
Quinn and Maggie’s stories run side by side, but entwining in places, and with blossoming friendships, tentative romances and shocking returns.
The descriptions of the lush scenes of Maui made me wish I was there.
And knowing there is a third book to come… well, I am super excited!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Released 1st September, 2020

How to Be an Antiracist

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A compelling read, with an amalgamation of personal experience and suggestions of how we, as a whole community, can really get behind becoming anti-racists. It gives a good background into the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and why current events may have escalated in the way they have.
Educate to change.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for a copy of this book.

The Hidden Beach by Karen Swan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Karen Swan’s The Hidden Beach.
Bell is a young British woman, who, through her own personal tragedy, ends up living in Sweden, and nanny to a family with three children she is immensely attached to.
Friends think the parents, Hanna and Max, may be taking advantage of her love for the children, as week after week, she cancels plans to help them out.
But then she gets sucked into a personal tragedy the family suffers, and there is no going back.
The thing is, there is a twist. How can she be an impartial help in their time of need, when she appears to have confusing feelings for the one person they are all scared of?
I loved Bell’s character. She is a damaged soul, who wants to get back to normality, but life is not prepared to let her.
Her relationship with the children she looks after, and especially Linus, the 10-year-old son, is heartwarming to read.
The story shifts in perspective, being told from Bell’s point of view, as well as Emil, and sometimes Hanna and Max. This wasn’t always clear, but with a little rereading, I would work out whose head I was in.
But a good read finished in a day.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 9th July, 2020

The Phantom's Curse

The Phantom’s Curse by Shelley Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I popped my YA cherry on the Guardian Series by Shelley Wilson, and enjoyed the Hood Academy too, so was quietly excited for this new book by her to come out.
I enjoyed the story of Marianne, a young, unsuspecting girl, who doesn’t realise the power she holds within.
A kingdom torn apart by the Phantom’s curse, then gently pieced together again, to be at the point of being ripped at the seams again. A strange world for this girl to be in, until she realises what her part in the role of ridding the world of the Phantom.
Marianne, along with her brother, Newt, and various friends, battle dark armies and crooked lords to save their kingdom.
There is magic, the fae, kingdoms, lords, ladies, and a little bit of love!
I enjoyed the book, and read it easily in a couple of hours. I would say it is targeted at the younger end of the YA market.

Flying Solo: The new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy coming this summer from Zoe May!

Flying Solo by Zoe May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love. India, finding oneself, romance, strong woman… what’s not to like?
I really enjoyed the story of Rachel, a woman with a plan. Or a list, at least. She’s worked hard to achieve all her goals in life so far, with the exception of one; to get married to her perfect man. But that is all about to change,
just not in the way she expected.
Rachel winds up in an ashram in India, attempting to rescue her boyfriend and perfect life, but ends up on a journey of self-discovery, and realises that the best-laid plans aren’t always the ‘best’.
Rachel is a fabulous character. Don’t we all want to be like Rachel? Someone who knows exactly what she wants, and when.
Oh, I wanted to throttle her no-god boyfriend, Paul, but then we met Seb, and I loved him! What a hottie! And a spiritual one at that.
A really good read, and I loved the ending!
Many thanks to NetGalley for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 6th July, 2020

The Last Charm

The Last Charm by Ella Allbright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a charm of a book!
As a young girl, Leila’s mother left her and her father, with only a silver charm bracelet to remember her by. At the same time, Jake and his family move into the area Leila and her father are leaving, into their old home. A fleeting meeting between both young people leaves a lasting bond.
The bracelet gets lost, and the book is a retelling of how each charm that dangles from it was acquired, and a plea to whoever finds it, to return it.
I was taken on a total rollercoaster of emotions, reading the story of Leila, and her charm bracelet, and Jake, her silent support, who floated in and out of her life.
I loved both the main characters and the bittersweet twist at the end left me teary.
Yes, definitely read this book!aa
Many thanks to NetGalley and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 21st August, 2020

The Shelf

The Shelf by Helly Acton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb for The Shelf pulled me in immediately, hence the clicking on Request It as soon as I could, and I was quick to download and read it, once I was accepted.
Expecting to be jetting off on an exotic holiday with her hopefully soon-to-be fiance, ends up with our heroine, Amy, finding herself dumped, and on the set of a Big Brother-style reality show, The Shelf.
Cue four weeks of coping with humiliation, forming friendships, and coming to realisations about herself.
It took me a couple of chapters to get into the book, initially. Why was this woman putting up with that narcissistic idiot of a boyfriend, Jamie? And when she got dumped, live on telly, why did she stay?
But then, as the story unfolded, I found myself immersed in the whole situation.
I loved Amy, who, as a woman in her thirties, was feeling the pull for the traditional version of where she should be in life; marriage and 2.4 kids, but went on to find a version of herself that worked for her.
The supporting cast of women on the show with her were an eclectic mix of characters. I’d almost have enjoyed a bit more friction between them at times, but equally, I loved how they stood up for each other too.
Anyone else want to slap the show’s host, Andy? I really did!
Overall a good read, and quite addictive, once you get into it.
I’d like to see ow a bunch of men would handle the show!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Bonnier Books UK for an ARC, in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing on 9th July, 2020

Myths of the Mirror (Dragon Soul Quartet #1)

Myths of the Mirror by D. Wallace Peac
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not my usual genre, but D.Wallace Peach has a certain way with descriptions that took me on a whimsical, dragons filled journey!

The Memory of Us

The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Memory Of Us is the first of Camille Di Maio’s books I’ve read, and I really enjoyed it.
I was touched by the wartime story of Julianne Westcott and her forbidden love for religious man, Kyle McCarthy.
Julianne has it all on the face of it. From a wealthy Liverpudlian family, she has all the luxuries a girl desires, including her beauty, and suitors to match, but her heart is insistent in its demand to love only one, deeply unsuitable man.
Kyle is the son of a gardener and is destined to become a Catholic priest.
Julianne’s Protestant background means even a hint of a union between them would cause great grief.
Still, you can’t help who you love…
I was wrapped up in the blossoming love story of the two and wanted to cry at the twists and tragedies that befall a near-perfect couple and their love story.
Oh, and the deep secret hidden away by her parents… Not giving anything away.
A wonderful, heartwrenching read.

Les is More

Les is More by Jess Carpenter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book I have read from Jess Carpenter and I had a ball reading it.
The story is based around Les, a young woman who is starting college, and has a bit of history that she is trying to work through.
A dear father who passed away, a mother who has extremely high aspirations for her, and an ex-boyfriend who turns up, as a student at her college.
Les meets Candy, a Latino fellow student, who brings colour and a different culture into her love, along with a hot brother, Carter.
The book is written as if Les is treating us, the readers, as her studio audience, so there are comments directed at us, as well as telling us about what’s going on.
I enjoyed the bubbling romances, the love triangle that is set from the beginning, and how it ends up.
The author has also touched upon the huge issue of racism, targeting the Mexican community, and how Les combats her mother’s prejudiced feelings towards her new Latino friends.
And there are the expectations of her mother that. Les has to try her hardest to reach.
I loved Candy, the new best friend, filled with spunk and her own story brewing in the background, so was thrilled to read that there would be more about her in a future book!
I think this will be a book much enjoyed by young adults and college-goers, with romance, culture and a lot of fun.
Thank you Jess, for a copy of your book, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 13th July, 2020

A Recipe for Disaster: A deliciously feel-good romance

A Recipe for Disaster: A deliciously feel-good romance by Belinda Missen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the story of baker Lucy, and her journey to rekindling her relationship with estranged hubby, world famous chef, Oliver.
Lucy was left high and dry a few years earlier, when Oliver’s career took an international turn, and they sacrificed their marriage for their food passions.
When Oliver makes a surprise return to their home town, Lucy is stunned, not least because she is in a relationship with someone else.
A great rom-com filled with food, cakes and other relationship bakes!

And there you have it. Another month of great reads! Seventeen, this time!

Which one tickled your fancy?

May 2020 Books #AmReading

The month of May! Aaaah, the spring evenings seguing into summer. Lazy weekends filled with barbeques and drinks in the garden, or catching up with friends…

Or maybe not.

Coronagate is still with us, at the moment, so the meeting friends bit, well, that’s not gonna happen in the same way as before. But I hope the weather was good for you, and the added time allowed you to read plenty too!

Here’s what I managed.

Christmas Wedding (Cliffside Bay Series)

Christmas Wedding by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am steadily working my way through Tess’s Cliffside Bay series and this was a little novella to slip into the stream of love stories.
We finally get to see the wedding of Raphael and Lisa, but not without a few dramas along the way.
I enjoy how these extra snippets of stories add another layer to the relationship that us readers are building with all the characters in the series, and the fact that it is set in Emerson Pass, after reading the first book in Tess’s newest series, well, that was another pleasant surprise!
Onwards to the next book.

Scarred: Trey and Autumn (Cliffside Bay, #8)

Scarred: Trey and Autumn by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 8 of the Cliffside Bay series, but the tenth I’ve read, counting the novellas.
I love that I kinda know what is going to be the conclusion, but knowing how Tess’s stories evolve, I am aware that it won’t be a straight path.
Scarred is the story of the pairing together of Autumn, the scarred sister of Wolf, Stone, and Trey, one of the Wolves pack. Again, plenty of loose threads from previous books are tied up, but there are a good few left dangling, so you know the next book has some work to do!

Jilted: Nico and Sophie (Cliffside Bay, #9)

Jilted: Nico and Sophie by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boy, am I enjoying steaming through this series! I almost don’t want to have to wait for June for the last book!
Jilted gives us the story of the fourth Wolf, Nico, and his blossoming love story with Dog Sane’s half-sister, Sophie.
Both souls with feelings of abandonment, but totally different life situations, they go from pushing each other away to drawing close like two opposite ends of a magnet.
I enjoyed this next instalment, and can’t wait for David and Sara’s story. Thank goodness I still have a couple of novellas to read!

Kissed: A Cliffside Bay Christmas Short

Kissed: A Cliffside Bay Christmas Short by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another short novella to tie up some loose ends in Tess Thompson’s Cliffside Bay series.
This time we jumped to the seniors who now live there, and follow the blossoming romance between Rapahel’s mother, Rosa (Mama) Soto and Lisa’s Uncle Dominic.
A lovely, magical, light read to make your heart feel good.

Chateau Wedding by Tess Thompson

Chateau Wedding by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally! I got to see (read) Pepper and Stone’s wedding!
Tess Thompson delivers a short side tale to her Cliffside Bay series, whisking the readers away to France to witness the dream marriage, that has its fair share of ups and downs, even in such a short book!
I could have carried on reading more!

They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher

They Call Me Mom: Making a Difference as an Elementary School Teacher by Pete Springer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Retired elementary school teacher, Pete Springer, uses his experience and knowledge to create a wonderful book that is as much memoir as it is a handy tool to have as a teacher about to embark upon the best job in the world (I’m a teacher, maybe I’m biased), and just as useful for a parent to read, so they can understand a little more about the role the teacher plays in their children’s lives.
Peppered with anecdotes from his teaching career, as well as the story detailing how he ended up becoming a teacher, the book gives a personal account of the life of aa teacher, as well as many handy hints for setting up and running a successful classroom of your own.

My Untold Truth by Sharon Punni Khakh

My Untold Truth by Sharon Punni Khakh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine being that child who can see and hear awful things being done to your mother, then, when you try and raise an alarm, you get shot down?
This is the true story of Sharon, who, from a young age, witnessed her mother suffer from mental and physical abuse from her father, and eventually had to deal with fatal consequences.
The harsh truth is that there is still stigma attached to families who are vocal about abuse or wrongdoings in families in many Indian communities, even now. So much so, that it is easier to ignore the reality, or cover it up, rather than seek help and face the repercussions.
Well done to Sharon for bravely writing about this awful situation, with the hope it will give other young people the courage to come forward and speak out for members of their family in similar situations, who feel unable to themselves.
Domestic violence, physical, mental and emotional abuse is NEVER right.

Self Love

Self Love by T.L. Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A young woman; single, plump, and totally unconfident in her appearance.
That’s Molly.
But she’s a great florist, and a good friend, though she can be a bit self-absorbed sometimes.
But let’s be honest, who can honestly say, hand on heart that they never think about themselves, and only others?
And that’s why many readers will identify with Molly.
As I read her story, trying to find love, and acceptance for herself, as well as that elusive ideal weight, I found myself comparing certain parts of her life with mine.
I totally got her with the dieting, and ‘life-changing’ health plans. I’ve been up and down my whole life, and though many who know me, would say I’ve never been ‘big’, I know I have, compared to my previous, svelte self.
That hating what you see in the mirror? Yup. Been there, done that.
I read about her dating mishaps with intrigue, probably because I never went through all that online dating malarkey, myself.
She had her ups and downs, but Molly learns how to accept herself, and build changes into her life so she really does end up loving herself – and, no spoilers here, but she might just find someone else who loves her too!
There’s a lesson in the story for us all.
Self-care, and self-love is as important as getting acceptance from the outside.
I’m just glad Molly stopped apologising for herself by the end!

Life in progress

Pixy by Linda g. Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always enjoy the book sof Linda’s that I have read, and this short story, a free treat from Linda, was no different.

We are introduced to the world of Pixies, and meet Merryn, who has been transported to the human world as a joke, but there he meets Ivy, a widow, and they start a romance that develops in a flash, in human years, but takes much time, in pixy years! A cute love story with a twist!

The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1

The Congress of Rough Writers: Flash Fiction Anthology Vol. 1 by Charli Mills
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just love Flash Fiction and I feel blessed to have got to know the crew over at the Carrot Ranch, with Charli, the head buccaneer!
I’ve had this anthology to read for a long while, but time, and so many books… you know.
But finally, thanks to Lockdown, I got to savour the wonderful bite-sized morsels that 99-word fiction can provide.
I enjoy crafting the stories to go with Charli’s weekly prompts, and I am also eager to read how someone else interprets the same prompt.
The first half of this book is filled with these, kind of like appetisers.
Then the second half has slightly longer pieces, like your main course, but selected Ranchers, and finishes with a dessert of essays from memoirists.
A wonderful collection to savour over time, or devour in one sitting!

The Sight of You (The Sight of You, #1)

The Sight of You by Holly Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what an emotional ride!
Imagine having a gift that could give so much joy, but at the same time, suck the joy of living from you?
This was what life was like for Joel, and what stopped him from fully living his own life.
And Callie? A simple, loveable woman, who isn’t quite sure where here future lies, until she meets Joel.
Add in Murphy, Callie’s dog, and you have a beautiful bittersweet love story, with an ending you didn;t expect… or did you?
I absolutely loved this story of Joel and Callie, and their forever love, that just wasn’t meant to be.
Descriptive, emotive writing that kept me reading all day, so I could finish the book, all the while not wanting it to end.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Life and Other Happy Endings

Life and Other Happy Endings by Melanie Cantor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book to read when it was still registered as Death and other Happy Endings. The title piqued my interest, and the blurb confirmed I would be up for reading.
Upon reading the book, I think the new title Life and other Happy Endings, is much better suited!
I was fully prepared for a swing of emotions, knowing I was going to be reading about a woman counting down to the end of her life, writing letters to three people who were so important in her life, and I wasn’t wrong there.
But the swing of emotions included laughter and smiles, as well as the sadness and dread that I had expected.
I loved the twist to the story in the middle, and the extra U-Turn at the end. Nope. Don’t ask for details. You need to read to find out!
Great book!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

One Summer in Santorini (Holiday Romance Book 1)

One Summer in Santorini by Sandy Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderfully whimsical, romantic read, perfect for a sunny holiday read, or even a read when there is no holiday sun around, as the vivid descriptions of Greek islands will whisk you away anyway!
I loved meeting Sarah, the woman who has sworn off men, taking a trip away to get away from all that romantic nonsense, then ends up with not one, but two suitors, and all with the backdrop of this beautiful greek scenery!
I really enjoyed this debut from Sandy Barker, and am already excited to dive into book two!

That Night in Paris (Holiday Romance Book 2)

That Night in Paris by Sandy Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What? So, I finished book one yesterday, and today, I’m here reviewing book two.
Think that is a clue in itself as to how readable Sandy Barker’s books are becoming to me.
I thoroughly enjoyed Sarah’s story in book one, One Summer in Santorini, and it was great to pick up on the story, interlinked, but on its own journey, about Catherine, Sarah’s sister.
Not only do you get a whistlestop tour of some of Europe’s most famous cities, complete with descriptions that make you feel like you are standing in the middle of said cities, but there is the huge dollop of ‘will she/won’t she’ romance added to keep you turning pages.
Cat’s been hurt before. She’s sworn off relationships and men, until a mistaken (bit more than a ) fumble with her flatmate. Disasterous enough to make her book a hasty coach tour around Europe, to get away from the atmosphere she’s created, by trying to stay away from her newly love-lorn flatmate.
On the tour, she visits amazing places, cements life long friendships with her ‘bus buddies’, and ends up bumping into her teen pen pal, Jean Luc, in Paris. And he’s no longer that cute, gawky teen whose features haven’t quite grown into adulthood at the same time.
No.
Now he is all kinds of hot, good looking – like model good looking, tall, with a to die for physique… and he seems to actually ‘like’ like Cat.
I don’t want to tell you what happens, but wills he be able to stick to her ‘no relationships’ stance, or will a holiday fling be enough? And what about that flatmate?
Book three – I am diving in, right now!!

A Sunset in Sydney (Holiday Romance Book 3)

A Sunset in Sydney by Sandy Barker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having devoured the first two books in Sandy’ Barker’s series, I was eager to get to this concluding title to see what happened.
And I wasn’t disappointed.
Sarah went on a trip to the Greek islands, sworn off men, and ended up coming home with the possibility of two relationships at the end of the first book.
In this third episode detailing the lusts, losses and loves of Sarah, along with plenty of wine and alcohol, we hoped to come to some conclusion.
And it didn’t disappoint!
Sandy Barker has a great way of describing the places visited, so you feel as if you are there with the characters, so I feel like I can say I’ve visited Maui, Sydney and parts of New Zealand!
Aside from the travel, the ‘who will she choose?’ scenario kept me on my toes the whole book.
Would it be cute, young American dude, Josh, or older, more experienced, extremely attractive, and rather rich, James?
Of course, I’m not going to tell you… you’ll have to get the book to find out!

Many thanks to NetGalley. Harper Collings and One More Chapter for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.
Releasing on 3rd July, 2020

The Day She Came Back

Okay, so this is a definite ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️, but I’m saving the review for the Blog Tour of which I’ll be a part.

Releasing on 7th July, 2020

Busted in Bollywood

Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is my first Nicola Marsh book, and I had great fun delving into the very familiar world of India, Bollywood and cross-cultural East-West mixes.
I loved the doses of masala as we saw met Shari, the MC, thrown into a duplicitous situation, where she had to pretend to be her best friend Amrita, to break up an arranged marriage engagement.
What she didn’t count on, was hot Bollywood Dudes, stalkers, soothsayers, superstar opportunities and a new aunty who was eager to fatten her up and get her married off.
A fun read full of vibrancy.

The Love Square

The Love Square by Laura Jane Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Laura Jane Williams first foray into fiction, One Stop, and was excited to get the opportunity to read her second offering, The Love Square.
A story about Love, of all sorts.
Penny is a cancer survivor, burned by her last serious relationship. She is a business owner, with a thirst for success with her cafe, but a huge amount of family loyalty too. And most of all, she wants love.
And it comes, from many directions, from her friends, her uncles and sister, and from three very different men.
Caught in a love square, Penny has to make decisions that could hurt, but could equally give her the best future ever.
I loved Penny. She’s a strong woman, who doesn’t actually know her own strength. Sometimes the need for approval of others overtakes the fact that she needs to be happy in herself, and love herself first.
Her three choices:
Francesco, the Italian chef with a passion for food to rival hers, and the promise of falling in friendship.
Thomas, the happy go lucky playboy with a huge heart.
Priyush, the mature, wave and sophisticated older man who is ready to offer a life of elegance and romance.
I loved the story and the characters. An easy to read tale with a deeper meaning that the cover may let on.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Avon Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 29th June 2020

The Sugar Queen of Emerson Pass

The Sugar Queen of Emerson Pass by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally finished The Sugar Queen of Emerson Pass and I LOVED it!
Tess Thompson’s signature style of concentrating on a couple, within a group of close-knit friends, worked brilliantly, along with tying into the first book of the series The Schol Mistress Of Emerson Pass, even though it is set in a totally different timeline.
And I was overjoyed to get all the connections to the Cliffside Bay residents too!
A true story of second chance romance, with two childhood sweethearts torn apart in the midst of young love, and then thrown back together years later in very different circumstances, but in the same setting.
The story tore at my heart, with loss and confusion, misplaced loyalties and rediscovered romance. Oh and the build-up to the next romance. Loved it, truly!
Can’t wait for the next one, Tess. 💜

Love's Child: Power, deceit and betrayal, all in the name of love!

Love’s Child by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m not sure what I was expecting with this first Lizzie Chantree novel, but it wasn’t the interesting twists within this delicious novel.
David is the product of a loveless marriage, and left with his degenerate father, he learns, the hard way, how to get through life.
In adulthood, he’s found a way to channel all the negativity into a project to benefit the community, and turned his bad experiences into something positive.
Finally, life is going great, with his girlfriend Tilly, pregnant, and happy, then things start to go wrong.
Love’s Child takes you on a journey of mysterious twists, exploring certain family dynamics, and ultimately, LOVE.

Mr Portobello's Morning Paper

Mr Portobello’s Morning Paper by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s no secret.
Amanda Prowse is one of my favourite authors, and when she announced her novella, Mr Portobello’s Morning Paper, it sped its way onto my Kindle and raced to the top of my TBR pile. Her books always do. I’m not apologising!
Mr Portobello’s Morning Paper was a beautifully crafted novella and it hit many notes for me for several reasons.
Sophie is my age. Sophia is (was) a teacher. Like me. Disillusioned with the way teaching is going – been there, done that. Sophia loves books. Yup, me again.
That’s where the similarities end.
But the story. Oh, the story.
Sophia leaves her job to open a book emporium filled with the old books from her parents’ house. She develops. friendship with the eighty-year-old Mr Portobello, who was the previous tenant of her shop.
He pops in at 10 am every morning, on his way to get his morning paper, and slowly they build a relationship that leaves Sophia beginning to think long and hard about how she’s been living her life.
Mr Portobello’s Morning Paper is a bittersweet story which will tug at your heartstrings.

A Convenient Marriage by Jeevani Charika

A Convenient Marriage by Jeevani Charika
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Stigmas are something many of us have to live with, and there are different stigmas attached to different diasporas.
Chaya is a Sri Lankan girl trusted to leave her family and study in the far away, yet prestigious university of Oxford. Love is the last thing on her mind, or shouldn’t be.
Gimhana is another Sri Lankan displaced in the UK. He’s hoping to get his qualifications and become that successful lawyer, as well as be able to be the real himself – a self that loves men, not women.
In a clever way, Jeevani Charika weaves chapters laying foundations and dripping clues as to what the past knew that hindered the progression of both individuals.
Fast forward to a time where both are being hounded by their families to get married.
In a strange twist of fate, they meet, and end up in a marriage of convenience, for them both. No expectations from each other, a friendship, and no secrets… but are there?
I really enjoyed reading this story, especially as a fellow South Asian, and knowing so many of these expectations that are hung around our necks as youngsters, weights that can hinder rather than help our lives.
There is a shift now, in the way many of the issues raised are thought of now, but not big enough.
An enjoyable read, and a cultural education for many, I believe.

The Opposite of Hew by Lisa W. Tetting

The Opposite of Hew by Lisa W. Tetting
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Having read Tetting’s story about Zora, and loving it, I was happy to pick up her book, The Opposite of Huw.
A quick read with an interesting premise, but I do feel it was rushed.
The whole idea of the spreading of the main character’s aunt’s ashes in key places could have been stretched more, and though I liked the main character, Kay, and her feisty nature, the idea of her aunt just forcing marriage upon her, was unrealistic in the setting.

That was over twenty books this month!!!!

So, which book caught your eye?




December Books #AmReading

Oh wow, it is the last month of this year, and the last month of this decade! Where did the time go, seriously? Well, I know, that alongside the fun of end of term school activities, and getting my own book out there, I have been enjoying another bumper crop of reads!

Time Management for Writers

Time Management for Writers by Katie Forrest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sprinkled with personal anecdotes, Forrest has really broken down the whys and wherefores of how we spend our time each day, and some extremely easy ways to identify our goals, our ‘Whys’, (as she calls them), and then implement strategies to maximise our efficiency.
I, for one, am definitely excited to start a routine where I am more conscious of when I am productive, and how I can create a world that works for me, in my personal life, professional life and with my passion for writing.
Part of my new routine, to be established, will be a set amount of time, 3-4 days a week, where I read a craft book, and actually digest what I am reading and take notes.
This will enable me to hopefully create better words from the off when I get back to my creative writing.

The Fallout

The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sarah and Liza are friends who met and bonded through a local NCT group, being a support network for each other through those first fraught months and years of parenthood.
They look out for one another and have been there for each other through thick and thin.
Then something happens, injuring one of their children, and a web of lies, guilt and secrecy is woven.
An interesting format, and I especially liked the WhatsApp chats that were interspersed between chapters, as an extremely relevant addition to the book, seeing as a huge percentage of the population uses it as a means of communication.
Some interesting twists were revealed as the conclusion was reached.
Well, it was definitely a compelling read, seeing as I finished it in a day!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Unexpected Lessons in Love

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Lucy Dillon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when you are on your way to your wedding, and moments from arriving, you realise that you can’t do it?
Then you send a message to your intended, only to find out that he has been involved in a horrific accident?
Guilt sears through you, as well as confusion,
What do you do now? Was it your fault?
Jeannie McCarthy was in this exact position.
Until Dan gained consciousness, she wouldn’t know whether he’d heard the message.
So she’d have to pretend to be the loving fiancee, waiting for any news on his recovery.
Meanwhile, Jeannie tries to fill the waiting with attempts to settle into a new town and finds herself immersed in the caring of several litters of puppies, making new friends, and reigniting her love of songwriting.
I was swept away by this tale of crossed connections. It is a love story, with breakups. A sad, yet happy tale.
Good? I’d like to think so! I finished it in a day!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 9th Jan 2020

She

She by HC Warner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben is reeling from a break-up, and suddenly the most attractive woman he’s seen is showing interest in him.
Forget interest, Bella wants him.
And from want, branches commitment in the form of a sudden pregnancy and quick wedding.
But things aren’t always as they seem.
As Ben withdraws from his friends and family, Bella’s claws dig deeper into him.
What’s the story?

I was totally immersed in the story, and the twists, followed by the point of view changes, made me despise Bella all the more.

A fantastic story that keeps you gripped until the very end! I’ve already recommended it to a few friends!

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

Published 23rd January 2020

The 24-Hour Café

The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the title suggests, this is a book set in a 24-hour cafe in London. Part American diner, part traditional caff, the place is the setting for many life stories.
The book is written over a 24 hour period, detailing the lives of two of the workers there, Hannah and Mona, flatmates and friends for the last few years.
Interspersed with micro-stories of some of the customers, we also learn stories of Hannah and Mona’s past and how they met,
Interestingly written, with a great underlying story about friendship, and living in modern-day London.
Many Thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 23rd January, 2020

Grown-Ups

Grown-Ups by Marian Keyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books about family are always a favourite of mine, and this new read from Marian Keyes was fully family fuelled!
A story about the fortunes of three men, the Casey brothers, Johnny, Ed and Liam, and their respective wives, Jessie, Cara and Nell.

A surprise knock to the head causes Cara to blurt out a whole host of truths at the dinner table one night, in front of the whole family. Truths that have huge consequences.

t starts in the present, then delves backwards, accessing the views of a whole host of characters involved in the story, leading back to the very first scene, allowing us an insight into what happened, to cause the conversation that starts the book.

There are many issues touched upon within the book, from fidelity to eating disorders, trust to control.

I enjoyed the way that each jump back, then forwards, strengthened my knowledge of each character. It isn’t always easy to follow books with multiple points of view, yet I was left with fully formed characters in my mind at the end of the book.

Another page-turner!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 6th February 2020

The Santa Trial: A Christmas Short

The Santa Trial: A Christmas Short by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a wonderful Christmas short!
Seven-year-old Morgan sends Santa a video with her request for Christmas this year, and he delivers in a true Christmas miracle style!
Ryan is a successful businessman and single father. Rena is a lonely twenty-something woman, struggling to keep afloat.
What do they have in common, besides working in the same building?
A summons to jury service. And right before Christmas too.
What develops over the few days they are together, will make you wonder whether Santa really is around, after all!
I was touched by the story and the ending gave me that warm feeling that all festive stories should.
Definitely ready for my Christmas miracle now!

A Mother's Story (No Greater Love, #7)

A Mother’s Story by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, my goodness, Mrs Prowse, you did it again.
Made me cry.
A Mother’s Story is another one of those beautifully written stories, in Amanda Prowse’s unique voice, which deals with sensitive issues, that are not beautiful at all.
Jessica and Matthew get married and are at the peak of their newly-married bliss when they find out they are to become parents.
Having a child was always a part of their plan, but a (pleasant) surprise, so early.
However, a traumatic birth experience triggers the start of the baby blues which spiral deep into postnatal depression.
I was moved to tears as we were transported from the present day, hearing Jessica’s voice, as she makes a slow recovery, to the happenings of the past; the triggers that caused a truly horrendous incident to occur.
I applaud Amanda Prowse for tackling such a delicate topic, not in a flowery way, but in that human, realistic way. Books like this go some way to educating others about how much of a serious illness postnatal depression is.
Read it. Just read.

Wildflower Christmas (The Wildflower House #3)

Wildflower Christmas by Grace Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Wildflower series and was excited to have a Christmas themed novella to help tie up the loose ends of the story.
Kara Hart had been through an awful lot, the past few months, and the loss of her beloved father was one of the biggest things.
Keeping busy, trying to realise his dreams, and getting caught up in finding long lost family, alongside renovations of her new home, finally takes its toll.
Kara is ready for a calm and quiet Christmas, with, maybe, the company of her tentative boyfriend, Will. Time to reflect on the changes in her life.
But nothing is ever as easy as that.
Long-lost family, health problems, wayward best friends, old lovers and a child in need of care over the festive period all come together to create a truly memorable Christmas, for Kara and her loved ones.
A lovely, conclusion to a great three-part series.

Perfect Daughter (No Greater Strength, #1)

Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another heartwarming tale with elements of fire within.
It’s never easy, being a wife and mother, and caring for an elderly parent on top of that can be exhausting.
Jacks is stuck in a wheel of looking after her children, her husband, Pete, Ida, her mum, the house and family life in general.
This wasn’t the life she had dreamt of, for herself, all those years ago.
Instead, she lives her life vicariously, through her daughter, envisioning a bright future for her.
But, what Jacks sees as one bad choice by her daughter, all her dreams turn to dust.
The story moves back and forth, mirroring Jacks life as a teen with that of her as the mother of a teen, and slowly realisations become clear.
It’s not easy being a carer. The reader is really made to feel the sense of duty, and love, as well as the frustration that is involved in looking after your own parent.
It isn’t any easier being a parent. Guiding your children all their lives, until suddenly they are ready to take control of their own decisions. And the choices they make aren’t what you would want.
I loved reading this story and was sucked in from the beginning. I empathised with Jacks. Though her personal situation is not like my own, I could understand her frustrations, her yearning for something different.
A lovely read.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, a novella

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, a novella by Yecheilyah Ysrayl
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar was a quick read, about a young black girl, Wanda, trapped in a living situation that she can’t get out of.
She is being ‘cared for’ by Miss Cassaundra, finds herself caring for a young girl Abby, and wants to get away, to make a better life for herself and Abby.
A story that gives you things to think about.
I enjoyed the premise of the story, but sometimes was a little thrown with whose point of view I was reading.

Saving Missy

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Millicent Carmichael, or Missy, is an elderly lady of 78. She’s existing in her large house in London, with her husband no longer keeping her company, and her children having flown the nest.
A chance encounter with two very different women brings changes to her life that she never thought would happen.
For a start, she ends up with a dog.
Set in 2017 and bouncing back to various times in Missy’s life, we learn a lot about Missy’s life, and how she came to be all alone, despite being a mother to two, a grandmother and a wife.
A heartwarming read, with a few surprises, revealed along the way.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collines UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 6th February 2020

The Magician's Sire ( A Paranormal Romance)

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

Oooh, I love a prequel, and was extremely excited to receive this novella by Linda G. Hill, to accompany her series!
The Dagmars have a curse upon them, and, having read the series already, I knew all about it.
But to read a little backstory, now that is always good!
Finding out a bit about Steven’s father Tarmien, and how he began to understand how the family curse, and his own powers, would affect his future, and that of his own children.
If you’ve read the two books in the series, you really should read this… and if you haven’t, this would make you want to read!

Double Cup Love

Double Cup Love by Eddie Huang
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I tried.
I tried really hard to enjoy this book, but I just didn’t find myself getting into it.
It was the same with his first book, Fresh Off The Boat.
Still, I liked the ideas behind why this book was written.
Just, didn’t really enjoy how it was written.
Eddie Huang’s journey back home to China, to find himself and his roots, littered with rap slang and profanities…
Some may enjoy it. Wasn’t my cup of tea.

Final Track

Final Track by Julie Hiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow!
I gotta say, this isn’t my usual genre of book, usually favouring easy to read rom coms and cosy fiction, but boy did I get into this one, once I started!
Mahoney is a Chief Detective in a small force in Calgary and is soon embroiled in the investigations of a series of murders.
Each killing has a link to the rock scene of the time, in the ’80s and each case is more and more bizarre, twisted, and definitely connected.
Once it is established that a serial killer is out there, investigations ramp up.
And Detective Mahoney is not about to let this murderer get away.
I have to say, I loved it all, and I ended up staying up way past my bedtime to finish, wanting to know what the score was!
Written from the view of the Detective, but with insights into the mind of another key person from the story, it was unputdownable… well, I couldn’t put it down, anyway!
And I am rather excited about reading more from this talented author, who has an ’80s fixation and some truly disturbing story ideas!

Missing Her More

Missing Her More by Karen McQuestion
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a genuinely heartwarming read! I loved it!
Having read Good Man Dalton, I was eager to read this companion book to it, revisiting characters we already knew, but from a different perspective.
The story is centred around Brenna, the youngest daughter of the Vanderhaven family.
A young girl, born into a family that wants for nothing; her whims catered for, as much as her overprotective parents will allow.
Still, she can’t have a dog or her own cell phone or time with her parents.
Then something awful happens.
Along with her sister, Cece moving out, she finds out that her parents are going to fire her Nanny.
Distraught, she decides upon a plan that ends up causing changes no one would have ever envisaged.
People often think that being from a wealthy family means that a person has everything — no reason to be unhappy or disgruntled in any way.
This story shows that real wealth is family and love, not money.
A wonderful read. So wonderful, I ended up reading it in one sitting!

Adèle

Adèle by Leïla Slimani
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sorry to say this wasn’t the most amazing read, for me.
I read Lullaby, by Slimani, previously, and found it a really hard book to get into, and very cold.
Adele was easier to start, but aside from describing the behaviours of a sex-addicted woman, I felt it was very two dimensional. I didn’t warm to her, or empathise with her at any point.
She’s a mother, but there was no real feeling for her son, and the ending was all too strange for me…
Lost in translation? Maybe.
Sorry. No.

The Siege and Other Award Winning Stories

The Siege and Other Award Winning Stories by Esther Newton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful collection of short stories.
Little snippets of brilliance and you can tell why they were award-winning, or certainly worthy.
Using just a few words, Esther is able to reduce you a gibbering wreck, tugging at heartstrings, that even the coldest of hearts has.
I loved each and every story, but those that dealt with parenting and losing a child were really emotive.
If you are a short story fan, you MUST read this book. You won’t regret it. Whether it is devoured in one sitting or read leisurely, savouring each story individually, it will stay with you.

And with that last book, I finish my reading year…

Yup. I read a LOT of books this year!

I’m not going to be silly and try and smash that number, next year, but I will keep reading, and reviewing!

What about you? How many books did you read? Do you take part in the Goodreads challenge?

If you are on Goodreads, why not connect there too?

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15391974.Ritu_Bhathal

Have a fantastic time seeing the new year in, and here’s to plenty more books!

Bitmoji Image

July’s Books #BookReview

Another month, another selection of books to share with you! And I just got in by the skin of my teeth! I literally just finished the last book, and wanted to include it on my monthly round up!

The Million Pieces of Neena Gill

The Million Pieces of Neena Gill by Emma Smith-Barton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Million Pieces of Neena Gill is a story following the journey of a young girl who is suffering from the loss of her brother ten months previously.
The tragedy, where her brother went missing, affects the whole family in damaging ways, but the effect this incident had on Neena slowly unravels as the story is told.
A tale woven with the heartache of mental illness, as Neena suffers from psychosis, and all the trauma that comes with it.
It was interesting with the added cultural twist of Neea coming from a Pakistani Christian family too.
Initially, I found it a little hard to get into, but as the story wound on, I became more and more engrossed.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Swallowtail Summer

Swallowtail Summer by Erica James

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Erica James is one of those authors who never disappoints. I have read a few of her books in the past and they never fail to disappoint.
Swallowtail Summer is no different.
A twisting tale of friendship, and how closeness can become too close: how the links of a friendship chain can become knotted and difficult to smooth over again.
There were a lot of characters to get to grips with, but essentially each point of view was necessary to forward the story.
Three best friends; Alastair, Danny and Simon: having lived most of their lives with each other by their side, and the beautiful Norfolk Linston End property as the backdrop to many of their memories.
Three women; Orla, Frankie and Sorrel, brought together as the spouses of three very close friends.
Three children: Jenna, Rachel and Callum, firm friends because of their parents.
What happens when one of this trio of triumvirates dies suddenly?
Everyone’s lives are changed irrevocably.
Solid relationships begin to unravel.
Secrets start to creep out of the woodwork.
And a new character arrives on the horizon, hoping to fill the gap left by death… or maybe wanting to tear the whole gang apart…

I enjoyed this book. It kept me guessing. When I am whispering to myself about a character, willing he or she to do something or disappear, I am sure that is a sign of a good book!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing Group for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

The Aunt Who Wouldn't Die

The Aunt Who Wouldn’t Die by Shirshendu Mukhopadhyay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A very interesting premise to the book, and a short, quick read.

However, it was very rushed, and in my opinion, could have been made a little longer, to actually develop some of these strong women characters withing the three generations explored within it.

And I was left a little confused at the end.

Thanks to NetGalley and John Murray Press for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.

Mom's Perfect Boyfriend

Mom’s Perfect Boyfriend by Crystal Hemmingway
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A cute debut novel by Crystal Hemmingway.

What we have here is a collection of texts, messages, emails ad journal entries, following the story of Crystal and her relationships with her mum, boyfriend and sister. Added to the mix is the discovery of a possible perfect boyfriend for her mother – who happens to be an android.

This was a lighthearted read which I was able to get into straight away and finish relatively quickly.

Though the story may not be plausible (though, who knows in the future?) it was well written, engaged me and I enjoyed slipping into Boople world!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Galbadia Press for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Ask Again, Yes

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to be honest, Psychological thrillers aren’t usually my thing, and I did take a little time to get in to the story, but once I was in there, I was IN there!

A tale of two dysfunctional families with ties to each other that become tighter, as they try to loosen them.

Can I liken this a little to Romeo and Juliet?

Possibly.

Two children who have grown up together.
Two teenagers who feel the beginnings of affection for each others.
Two families with issues.
One gun.
One shot.
Many lives changed as a result.

What does this book cover? Alcoholism. Depression. Mental health. Attempted murder. Forbidden love. Fractures relationships between parents and their child.

It was pretty intense.

Two rookie cops end up partnered together, and though it’s not so much a friendship, their connection runs deeper, as they become neighbours. This story follows the twists and turns of their families relationships with one another, especially after a huge tragedy.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Penguin and Michael Joseph for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Out 8th August

Ruth Robinson's Year of Miracles

Ruth Robinson’s Year of Miracles by Frances Garrood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a delightful read!
Meet Ruth.
An unemployed, newly homeless musician with an additional bit of baggage, apart from her violin and luggage… an unplanned pregnancy!
Ruth is torn between roughing it and traipsing, cap in hand to her religious parents, who cannot accept her unmarried pregnant state, on top of the fact that she followed her heart to make music her career.
She is shipped off to her eccentric twin uncles who live on a farm and proceeds to settle into a quiet life… until the Virgin Mary is discovered on the side of a hen house!
The fun that followed this discovery, alongside trying to track down the father of her baby, making friends with the pole dancing daughter of the harridan housekeeper, learning to love the animals, and discovering new family, kept me reading from cover to cover.
Do I recommend?
Well, yes. Yes, I do!
A great book for any time of the year, not just a summer page-turner!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Sapere Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Out August 9th

Meditation For Children: A Book of Mindfulness

Meditation For Children: A Book of Mindfulness by Shelley Wilson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed reading this book, and was quickly able to see where this kind of meditation could become a part of my routine as a teacher, and how it may have benefitted my own children had they been younger.
The meditation stories are magical, and can transport a child to another world, not only exercising their mind in a meditative way, but engaging their imaginations so they can become creative storytellers in their own rights!
I would definitely recommend this book, and the ideas behind it to teachers as well as parents, for a guide to start your children on the path to mindfulness and to give you a chance to create your own meditation stories!
Many thanks to NetGalley, BHC Press and author Shelley Wilson for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Out August 22nd

What Happens Now?

What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderfully funny, page-turner of a book!

Meet Lil, a teacher in a private school, just out of a long term relationship, and trying to get back into the swing of dating, especially since her ex is already firmly entrenched in a new coupling.
She braves the world of modern dating, by using an app, Kindling, which introduces her to her first new date.
What she doesn’t count on is an unreliable pill, and after a wonderful evening and night spent together, he disappears, and she finds herself pregnant.

What follows is a funny tale of deciding whether this one night stand deserves to know she is expecting and the reactions of all those who are involved in her life.

How to tell the prim headteacher at her employment that she is expecting a baby out of wedlock?
How to explain her predicament to her mother, who had been a single mother herself, and had tried her hardest to make sure her daughter never ended up in the same boat?
How to contact the person who helped her get into this mess, especially since he was up a mountain in Pakistan?

I loved the characters, from her feisty best friend, Jess to Max, the mountain climbing father-to-be, along with all the others too.

Definitely worth a read, you won’t be disappointed!

Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Out August 22nd

Home Truths

Home Truths by Susan Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have read a lot of Susan Lewis’s earlier books and was so pleased to be given a chance to read Home Truths as I have always loved her gritty yet realistic storytelling.
And I was definitely not disappointed.
We follow the story of Angie Watts, a woman who is thrust into the life of a widowed mother of two after the tragic murder of her beloved husband.
The loss of her husband is heightened by the subsequent disappearance of her eldest son who has been swallowed up by gang culture and drugs.
Spiralling into debt, Angie is faced with hard decisions, whether to feed her family or to pay those who are biting at her ankles for their money.
Losing her home, the home her husband had lovingly created for their family, is the last straw.
Until a saviour, or several saviours, enter her life, and help her rebuild her home and life.
It sounds like a total fairytale, but it really isn’t.
This story deals with gang culture, drug addiction, homelessness, mental health issues, grooming of young girls for sex work and loss.
I was gripped.
And I can admit to sitting on my sofa reading, and having to message a book group I am a member of, to say how that moment when you feel your lips turn up slightly, at the prospect of all the downs turning to ups, in a book your reading is my #perfectreadingmoment.
And there were tears in my eyes at moments, of both sadness, but of happiness too.
A must read! Many thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Out August 22nd

Blue Midnight (Blue Mountain #1)

Blue Midnight Book #1 (Blue Mountain Series) by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to win the full set of Tess Thompson’s Blue Mountain series from the My Book Tribe group and it has taken me a while to get started on reading them.

That said, I started this book in the afternoon, and it is not even the kid’s bedtime yet and I just finished Blue Midnight, the first book.

Tess Thompson has created characters that grab ahold of your thoughts and heart, leaving you wanting only the best for them.

Blythe met Finn at a festival 13 years previously and spent a blissful 3 days with him. Yet she was promised to another, and due to get married the next month.
Fast forward to now, when her husband, Martin. is now her ex and due to get remarried, and Blythe has to leave the family home for a smaller, more affordable place for her and her two daughters.
While packing, she finds a small piece of paper with Finn’s number, given to her with the reassurance that she could call him at any time.

Will she call it?
Does fate have a strange way of bringing things about full circle?

You’ll have to read it to find out!

As for me, I am looking forward to diving straight into book #2, Blue Moon!

Blue Moon (Blue Mountain #2)

Blue Moon by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Giving huge thanks to Tess Thompson, the author, for gifting me the Blue Mountain series in a competition!
I was eager to read Book 2 after finishing the first, and I wasn’t disappointed.
After learning about Blythe in the first of the series, we follow Bliss Hayward, her sister.
A hard-working career woman with no time in her life for anything other than her work, and her sister and nieces.
That’s what happens when your mother is a drug-taking hippie who has no real interest in you, and your father leaves, marries another unsuitable woman, and then goes and dies in a car accident, leaving your older sister to try and make up for all the gaps in your life.
Bliss loses her job, and ends up at her sister’s place for Thanksgiving, and ends up with a lot to be thankful for, but not before her own fair share of heartache, mystery and romance.
There is definitely something about the Hayward sisters and the Lanigan brothers!
I can’t wait to dive into book #3!

Blue Ink (Blue Mountain #3)

Blue Ink by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another chance to thank the author Tess Thompson for choosing me to win a complete set of the Blue Mountain series of books. I have devoured them all in the last few days!
Blue Ink continues the story of the Lanigan boys, and this time, it centres on Ardan, the quieter of the brothers, and now the carer of his nearly blind mother.
Enter Charlotte, former PA to Bliss, who also happens to be Arden’s brother Ciaran’s wife. An aspiring writer, struggling to get her feet off the ground after the release of her first book, she is the first person Bliss thinks of when a companion is required for Mrs Lanigan.
Love, at first sight, is what happens, but the road to true love is never easy, and this third part in the series shows exactly that.
Throw an old connection into the mix, with a baby to boot, and things get a little more interesting.
But that’s not the only spice to stir things up. There’s a family mystery that needs solving too.
I really enjoyed the whole book and was totally enamoured of the relationship between Charlotte and her elderly charge, Mrs Lanigan.
Another great read.
Yes, I do recommend!

Let me know what you’ve been reading!

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