July 2020 Books #AmReading

Waving goodbye to July…

What book reading pleasure have I managed this month?

Departed: David and Sara (Cliffside Bay…

Departed: David and Sara by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have managed to work my way through pretty much the whole of the Cliffside Bay series this year, and I was eager to read this last instalment, but at the same time, not so, as it meant that a cast of characters that have become friends, would be wrapping up the story in this book.
I don’t know about anyone else, but with the current COVID-19 climate, I seem to have got a bit addicted to reading books that have endings that aren’t as perfect as I’d usually like, and when I started Tess’s book, I knew there would be ups and downs, then a wonderful, perfect Happily Ever After… and I wasn’t entirely sure I was ready for so much positivity.
But, reading the story of how Sara and David finally fall for each other, I proved myself wrong.
How a will, and a desire to do something good for the world, can make an ‘arrangement’ end up in True Love, was the perfect antidote for the depression that has hit my reading mind.
And I have to admit to a few happy tears at the end, as the story wraps up.
Thank you, Tess, for these wonderful characters, and I do so hope that something may just get resurrected in the future 😉

The Secret of You and Me

The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Form the beginning, I was captured into the story of two women, torn apart as young girls, upon discovery of their forbidden love, and how they cope with being thrown together again eighteen years later.
Nora finds herself back in her hometown after eighteen years of exile, sent away by her father, after she was found in a compromising situation with her best friend Sophie.
Sent off to join the military, Nora comes to terms with her feelings, and her attraction to both men and women, as Sophie is left back home, building her own perfect future.
The twists come hard and fast, as her father dies, and she returns for the funeral, to come face to face with her childhood love, Sophie, who is married to Charlie, who used to be Nora’s boyfriend.
Confused?
It will make sense once you read.
This is a beautifully told story of love reclaimed, and two women finally being able to be themselves, after decades of hiding their true selves. Set in a town filled with strict religious beliefs, and a whole new generation to think about, along with the older people, who see same-sex relationships as the ultimate sin, there are so many layers this story peels through.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Mills And Boon for an ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Releasing on 4th August 2020

Emily, Gone

Emily, Gone by Bette Lee Crosby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first of Bette Lee Crosby’s books that I have read, and I have heard so much about it I was looking forward to getting stuck in.
A rollercoaster of a read is what I would describe it.
Imagine being pregnant, nearing the end of your pregnancy, when you go into labour, only to have the tragedy of a stillbirth?
Now, imagine, you somehow find yourself in a strangers house, and a tiny infant lays there, looking just like your baby should have?
Then, imagine being the parent who wakes after a deep slumber, caused by three sleepless nights, to find your infant gone?
All these things happen in the book, as we explore the emotions that run through the minds of both women, who have motherhood robbed of them, in two deeply tragic ways.
We experience the fear of a woman on the run, and the faith of a woman ever hopeful… With twists and turns to accompany every step of the story.
A well-written story, with loss at the centre, but ringed with hope all the way through.

The Secret Letters

Read as an Arc. Full review in post in Augus

The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Rachel is a woman who has worked hard to get where she is now, in her own clinic as a psychiatrist. In a long-standing relationship with Will, her boyfriend, she thinks things are moving slowly, but in the right direction, but at the back of her mind, there are niggles.
Then she is attacked in her own home, by the same man who attempted to rape her as a teenager.
What follows is the story of how she overcomes her fears, sheds the dead weight in her life and finds some amazing new friends, rekindles relationships with family, and finds her forever love, too.
The Secret Letters is a bittersweet romance, covering some serious issues within, including attempted rape, estranged families and unfaithfulness.
Written in an uncomplex way, The Secret Letters is an easy read that can be devoured in a few hours, by young adults, as well as the more grown kind.
There are some fantastic characters in the book. I almost wish there was even more development of some of them, like Mr Lemon. I loved Mr Lemon. Everyone needs a Mr Lemon in their lives!
In fact, there were some places I almost wished that the scenes took a little longer, to explore some of the issues within, or expand upon details, so it didn’t feel rushed.
I was offered a chance to read this book by the author, for an honest review.

Released 9th August, 2020

Soldier's Girl : Love Story of a Para Commando

Soldier’s Girl : Love Story of a Para Commando by Swapnil Pandey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book but I’m sorry to say I found it so hard to finish.
Poor spelling, sentence structure, going of rails, tense mix ups… I’m not sure where to start.
Poor execution of what could have been an interesting love story.
😢

Soul Waves

Soul Waves by Sylvester L Anderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful set of poems and life lessons written by prolific poet, Sylvester Anderson.
This is a book you can pick up and open, to give yourselves a morsel of wisdom, or positivity, whenever you need it!

Dance in the Rain by [Shreya Dutta]

Dance in the Rain by Shreya Dutta
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An emotionally packed anthology of poems.

Down The Tubes

Down The Tubes by Kate Rigby
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve had this on my Kindle for a while, now, but only just got round to reading it.
Gut-wrenching is the word I’d use to describe it.
Drug addiction is an awful thing to experience – not the highs – that’s what gets you addicted – but the lows, the cold turkey, the trying to get back on the road to normality, to ‘clean’.
This story explores addiction in a raw, sometimes difficult to read, way. Realistic. Almost too realistic.
We follow the story of a mother and her son. They’re estranged, but their life routes are parallel in so many ways.
She finds the art of being a mother to a baby addictive, but can’t deal with a baby who doesn’t act like he’s supposed to.
He finds solace in his father’s adoration, which takes a sinister turn, that ends up with him running away.
Abuse, substance misuse, deaths, births favouritism… so much discussed.
It was a hard, but very good read.

One Step Behind

One Step Behind by Lauren North
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was approached to read this arc, I didn’t hesitate, Having been a reader of Lauren North’s previous book, The Perfect Son, despite it being a book not of my usual genre, and really enjoying it, I was more than happy to read this new one, not least because it comes out on my birthday!
Gripped.
That’s what I was, with this book.
Imagine being a busy, A & E doctor, as well as a wife, and mother to two young children, with the horror of a stalker to add to the mix?
That is the life of fear and exhaustion that the main character Jenna is facing.
Every time she goes anywhere, the feeling that she is being watched.
Each time she opens her emails to find threat filled messages.
Whenever she opens the front door. or goes to the garden, the thought that another ‘gift’ may be left.
At least she can keep her family safe in the house… until she finds out he’s been inside.
Then, as she begins to piece together evidence, and works out who this person might be, she ends up having to treat him after he is brought in with life-threatening injuries.
I really enjoyed the book, and every time I thought I’d pieced together the mystery, something else was thrown into the mix to twist the story further.
Recommended read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 3rd September, 2020

All About Us

All About Us by Tom Ellen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How many times have you sat back and wondered ‘what if’?
Ben is having a personal crisis. The world and its aunt seems to have their lives all mapped out, from his wife, Daphne, to his old uni mucker, Herv. Everyone has goals and seems intent on getting there. Ben, however, is wallowing in a pool of self-pity. His dream of being a writer, following in the footsteps of his estranged father, seems increasingly unlikely. In fact, he is just not cut out fo this life. He’s no good for is wife, his friend, himself. Better than he walks away now, right, and steps into a relationship that was the ‘could-have-been’ in his life…
All About Us charts a Christmas Carol style tale of visitations into key points in Ben’s past, Could things really have been better if he’d done something different at these times?
It was an enjoyable read, and I especially felt for Ben, with regards to his mother. All those unspoken words, conversations that you wish you’d had when they were alive…
Oh, and, sometimes that old adage, that the grass is greener? It ain’t always true!
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ Stories for an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 15th October, 2020

Atomic Love

Atomic Love by Jennie Fields
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Atomic Love is a literary thriller, based in the ’50s, about a young woman, Rosalind, a scientist, whose livelihood is left in tatters after the bomb in Hiroshima. Having been involved in the Manhatten project, and the development of the Atomic Bomb, she is scarred with the guilt of all those lost lives, and to top it off, she lost her love , who sold her under the river, and disappeared,
A few years later, she is working a simple job in a department store, when he comes back, to rekindle love, or to wreak havoc again?
Enter an FBI agent scarred from his own battles in the war, who needs her help.
What follows is a story filled with emotion and twists, as Rosalind’s life is turned upside down.
Will she turn to her ex-lover, and help him with his troubles, or will she succumb to the feelings that are developing for a certain FBI agent?
This isn’t my usual genre to read, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and found myself willing my eyes to stay awake to finish the book.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for an Arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 3rd September, 2020

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having thoroughly enjoyed books like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and seeing that parallels had been drawn, I was intrigued by the blurb, about an octogenarian, Eudora Honeysett, who is contemplating an end of life clinic in Switzerland, to be her final stop on this planet, having no one around to care.
What a fantastic book!
I loved Eudora, the staid eighty-five-year-old, who has her simple days planned out and fancies sorting her end out too, so she doesn’t become a burden upon anyone else, or have to suffer, like her own mother.
But, then along comes Rose, a ten-year-old whirlwind, who enters her life as a new neighbour, and who injects the affection into Eudora’s life. Something she’s been missing.
And I can’t forget Stanley, the fellow octogenarian widower, who craves company but has never quite got the response from Eudora, that he hoped for.
The story flits back to Eudora’s childhood formative years and key points in her past that have shaped her.
It was a heartwarming read, showing that it’s never too late to form meaningful relationships.
I really loved it.
Many thanks to NetGalley. Harper Collins and One More Chapter for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 17th September, 2020

Second Chance Lane by Nicola Marsh

Second Chance Lane by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Second Chance Lane is my second read by author Nicola Marsh and a very different read to the one I read before.
Tash is living her simple life as a single mother to young Teen Isla, in her small backwater village of a hometown. No one knows the details of the father of her child, Isla included, and she plans on keeping it that way.
Until he rocks up at the house next door. Kody Lansdowne is Australia’s Rock Golden Boy. From humble beginnings, he, and his rich band have conquered the world, these past thirteen years, but nothing can prepare him for the news that he is a father. To a teenager.
Jane is fed up of her reputation as the village homewrecker. After years of putting on aa facade, her resolve crumbles, as. she finds it harder to cope with the way she is viewed by the locals, and her mother doesn’t help matters either. Then up rocks Morgan. Nerd from school who she had no time, for, but he’s not so much of a nerd now.
Second Chance Lane is a wonderfully written story, a Rural Second Chance Romance (or two of them in one book!) I enjoyed reading the story and loved the twists and turns. taken to get two couples so obviously right for each other, to realise, and get it on!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia, HQ & MIRA for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.


Releasing 7th October, 2020

The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A captivating read!
Set in the French Alps, at a ski resort, The Chalet focuses on a tragedy that occurred in the past and moves fluidly back and forth between then, and the present, to bring the story to its conclusion.
An impromptu break for two brothers and their girlfriends in the late 90s begins well but ends in chaos as an awful tragedy occurs and the story that follows takes us through the minds of several people supposedly not connected, but in reality, they are, entwined with the death of a man, in the most complex ways.
The Chalet is an excellent psychological thriller and a fantastic debut for Catherine Cooper.

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

Releasing 31st October, 2020

The Boy Toy by Nicola Marsh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thirty-seven-year-old Samira has moved back to Melbourne after years of living her own life in LA, following a painful divorce that left her reeling from the lack of support from her local Indian community.
It didn’t help that she herself was a product of a mixed marriage, with an Indian mother and an American father.
Fast forward over a decade, and she’s back, on the pretext of helping her cousin, Pia, out with her new business.
What she didn’t count on was meeting a young Aussie hunk on pretty much the first night she’s back in town.
It’s not often I come across a novel that leaves me nodding my head in agreement to much of it, but as a British born Indian, I related to a lot of scenarios covered in The Boy Toy.
I wasn’t only nodding my head, but laughing aloud, in parts, as I recalled going through similar events.
The Boy Toy covers some big issues, in an extremely light-hearted way, an easy read, with the chance of being educational to those Westerners who aren’t familiar with the Indian culture, bar eating curry at the local Indian restaurant!
Mixed race relationships and marriage, infertility, pregnancy out of wedlock, and dealing with a verbal disability, a stutter, all feature in this book. Oh, and rather a lot of naughty scenes!
And reading the taster of a Man Ban, and finding out that a certain, rather tasty Doctor from this book is featuring, I am sure I’ll be reading that too!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an Arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 17th November, 2020

Fifteen books… not bad for the last few weeks of term, and a productive reading month, at that!

Which one tickles your fancy?

Writers, Have You Heard About The Occupation Thesaurus? (And a GIVEAWAY!) @WriterThesaurus @AngelaAckerman @beccapuglisi

Hi everyone! Today I have something fun to share…a special chance to win some help with your writing bills.

Awesome, right?

Some of you may know Angela Ackerma and Becca Puglisi of Writers Helping Writers.

Well, today they are releasing a new book, and I’m part of their street team. I’m handing the blog over to them so they can tell you about their Writer’s Showcase event, new book, and a great freebie to check out. Read on!

Certain details can reveal a lot about a character, such as their goals, desires, and backstory wounds. But did you know there’s another detail that can tie your character’s arc to the plot, provide intense, multi-layered conflict, AND shorten the “get to know the character” curve for readers?

It’s true. Your character’s occupation is a GOLD MINE of storytelling potential.


Think about it: how much time do you spend on the job? Does it fulfill you or frustrate you? Can you separate work from home? Is it causing you challenges, creating obstacles…or bringing you joy and helping you live your truth?


Just like us, most characters will have a job, and the work they do will impact their life.

The ups and downs can serve us well in the story.

Maybe you haven’t thought much about jobs in the past and how they act as a window into your character’s personality, interests, and skills.

It’s okay, you aren’t alone.

The good news is that The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers is going to do all the heavy lifting for you. (Here’s one of the job profiles we cover in this book: FIREFIGHTER.)

GIVEAWAY ALERT: THE WRITER’S SHOWCASE

To celebrate the release of a new book, Writers Helping Writers has a giveaway happening July 20th & July 23rd.

You can win some great prizes, including gift certificates that can be spent on writing services within our Writer’s Showcase.

Stop by to enter!

Resource Alert: A List of Additional Jobs Profiles for Your Characters

Some of the amazing writers in our community have put together additional career profiles for you, based on jobs they have done in the past.

What a great way to get accurate information so you can better describe the roles and responsibilities that go with a specific job, right? To access this
list, GO HERE.

Happy writing to all!

And as A STREET MEMBER, I was given early access to this fantastic resource… I am making sure the order is in for the hard copy, to add to my Thesaurii collection!

The Occupation Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman

The Occupation Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Jobs, Vocations, and Careers by Angela Ackerman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having purchased all the other Thesaurus books in this fantastic set of resources, I jumped at the chance to be able to read an ARC of the Occupation Thesaurus.
If all we wrote about, was what we know, then our characters would be a bunch of people with not very diverse backgrounds and jobs, but lo and behold, we now have a resource that will help us to find the perfect job for our characters, and a list of responsibilities, situations, characteristics required, personality traits, etc. to help us delve into a career we may have no previous knowledge of.
Knowing an occupation, in detail, can really enhance your character, within a story. The place they work, and the job they do can affect them emotionally, and mentally, so having this new thesaurus to help piece together information to flesh out your character’s background is priceless, and can even give you catalysts for behaviours and incidents in your story.
I can’t wait for the hard copy to be available to order, because I’ll be putting my order in straight away on the 20th July! Updated – It’s arrived!!!

The Day She Came Back by @MrsAmandaProwse #BookTour #BlogTour

I am absolutely thrilled today, to be a part of the blog tour for my absolute favourite author, Amanda Prowse, and her latest release, The Day She Came Back.

If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll know what a huge fan I am of her books, and I can, hand on heart, say that she not only writes the most amazing books, but is the most wonderful individual too. A couple of months ago, we were supposed to meet, for a radio interview, but then the COVID thing happened, but I hope to still get a chance to fan-girl face to face soon enough!

Enough of that, and back to the book in question.

From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: how do you forgive the family that lied to you, and love the mum you never had?

When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.

As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.

To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?

And here is my review:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ star!

A new Amanda Prowse book? Yes, please!
There are those authors who you know, that even without reading the blurb of a book, you are going to enjoy, to matter what, and for me, Amanda Prowse’s books are just that,
Due to the craziness of COVID-19, I hadn’t heard as much about this particular release, and when the opportunity came to read, I didn’t hesitate to volunteer to read. And I wasn’t disappointed – at all.
In fact, I stayed up until the wee hours to read it, and had to force myself to put it down, to finish in the morning, because I was that immersed in the story.
The Day She Came Back tells the story of three women, interconnected forever, but apart for reasons beyond their control.
Victoria is an eighteen-year-old girl, brought up by her wonderfully eclectic grandma, Prim. Her mother, Sarah, passed away when she was a baby. Suddenly, she is left all alone after the sudden death of her only living family member, Prim.
Victoria is a character filled with confusion, and her journey through her grief is heart-wrenching.
Prim was a feisty woman, but her real inner strength is revealed as the story progresses.
Sarah, a woman who never got to see her child grow up, has a story equally heartbreaking.
The other characters in this book, like Daksha, Victoria’s best friend, Gerald, Prim’s ‘gun-toting’ beau, and Flynn, that crush that materialises, but crushes in a different way, flavour the whole story in a unique manner.
Despite being set in Epsom, Surrey, Victoria’s flights to Oslo add another beautiful layer to the story, with Amanda’s descriptions giving you hints of her own love of Norway.
I shan’t discuss the plot here, because you really need to read it yourself, but Amanda has tackled, with great sensitivity, loss, grief, addiction and reconciliation.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Buy it here!

Amanda Prowse is one of the UK’s most prolific and loved storytellers with global sales of 8 million copies and legions of loyal readers.  Based in the West Country, Amanda is the author of 25 novels and 7 novellas with books sold in 22 countries and translated into 12 languages– no mean feat when you consider her first novel was only published in 2012!

A passionate reader since her first visit to the local library aged 6, Amanda would read everything and anything and – armed with her precious library ticket – would spend hours reading loved Enid Blyton, Anna Sewell, Judi Blume, Nina Bawden while scribbling short stories of her own. As time passed, she moved onto the more risqué delights of Lace, The Thorn Birds and A Woman of Substance; gritty, emotional stories that would inform her writing. 

A powerful storyteller and a master of the addictive plot, Amanda’s rich imagination and prolific writing talent has seen her write over 20 bestsellers with millions of copies sold across the world. She often writes for 15 hours a day and sees her plots like movies in her mind that she’s compelled to get down on paper. These heartfelt human stories have made her one of the most successful female writers of contemporary fiction today and she has become a regular interviewee on TV and radio as well as a successful journalistic writer. 

Amanda’s ambition has always been to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night; great characters that stay with you and stories that inhabit your mind so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades. She is also a passionate supporter of military charities and those that support women’s causes and holds regular ‘Evenings with Amanda’ events as fundraisers for her chosen charities.

Twitter – @MrsAmandaProwse

https://www.facebook.com/amandaprowsepage/

Read it…. you WON’T be disappointed!

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?




The Anatomy Of Prose by @sacha_black #BookReview

There are a plethora of writing craft books out there, and it is mind-boggling to work out which one is worth your hard earned money.

Today, I am so excited to share with you a book that is out today, and TOTALLY worth it!

Many of you know Sacha Black. She’s been on the blogging circuit for a long while, and was the head honcho for the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards too. She’s the proud author of two YA fiction books and has two fantastic non-fiction books out already, about developing your Villains and Heroes.

This time, Sacha has excelled herself with a book about creating perfect prose, in her own inimitable style.

Do your sentences fail to sound the way you want? Are they lackluster, with flat characters and settings? Is your prose full of bad habits and crutches?
In The Anatomy of Prose, you’ll discover: 
  • A step-by-step guide to creating descriptions that sing
  • The key to crafting character emotions that will hook a reader
  • How to harness all five senses to make your stories come alive, deepening your reader’s experience
  • Tips and tricks for balancing details at the sentence level 
  • Methods for strengthening each sentence through strategic word choice, rhythm and flow
  • Dozens of literary devices, and how to utilize them to give your prose power
  • Tactics for differentiating characters in dialogue as well as making it punchy and unforgettable 
  • A comprehensive prose-specific self-editing check list
  • How to embody your character’s personality at the sentence level
  • The most common pitfalls and mistakes to avoid 

The Anatomy of Prose is a comprehensive writing guide that will help you create sensational sentences. Whether you’re just starting out or are a seasoned writer, this book will power up your prose, eliminate line-level distractions and help you find the perfect balance of show and tell. By the end of this book, you’ll know how to strengthen your sentences to give your story, prose and characters the extra sparkle they need to capture a reader’s heart.
If you like dark humor, learning through examples and want to create perfect prose, then you’ll love Sacha Black’s guide to crafting sensational sentences. Read The Anatomy of Prose today and start creating kick-ass stories.

I was lucky enough to read and review an arc of this book, and I have to tell you, it is a little gem, I kid you not!

My Review

Why is it that whenever I read one of Sacha Black’s craft books, the urge to open up my manuscript, and purge it of stupid errors, is so strong?

Seriously, so many ‘Uh-oh’ moments and dawnings of ‘A-ha!’ realisations!

As I read some parts, they had me moving my head up and down like a nodding dog in the windscreen of an ever-stalling car! “Yes!” my writer’s brain was screaming. “I do that! But, I’d better just reread and double-check to make sure…”

Having read Black’s 13 Steps to Evil: How to Craft Superbad Villains, and 10 Steps to Hero: How to Craft Kickass Protagonists, as well as having devoured her two fiction novels, it was a no-brainer that I was going to read this one.

Don’t they all look amazing?

The name; The Anatomy of Prose: 12 steps to Sensational Sentences; just sounded like it was going to give me a huge helping of useful advice, liberally seasoned with Black’s wit (and colourful language!)

I write, yes, but I also doubt myself and my own skill. Black’s clear-cut words have really helped to hone my own writing.

From thinking about dialogue and descriptions to characterisation, and that biggie… show vs. tell (which I was especially interested in) there are a plethora of topics covered.

What I love about Black’s advice, is that she’s not saying her way is the right way, but one way to approach crafting words. After all, there is no ‘right’ way to write, is there?

But her (sometimes not-so) gentle nudges to make you reread your own work, and think whether you could, in fact, just word that section a little differently, push you onto a much stronger path of prose.

The Anatomy of Prose is like having your own little developmental editor by your side. It’s not going to tell you what to change, but its pearls of wisdom will make you start to reconsider how you string together your sentences, chapters, and novels, starting with those very gems that a book needs… words.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It will definitely be one of my more thumbed craft guides as I continue on my journey as a writer.

Thank you, Sacha!

And here is a little word from Sacha, herself.

If I were you, a writer with a passion to create perfect prose, I’d be clicking this link here, like, RIGHT AWAY!

Universal link: https://books2read.com/anatomyofprose

I can’t wait for my hard copy to arrive so I can sticky tab it up.

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