August 2020 Books #AmReading

Aaah, August… my month of rest(ish) as I am off school, and alongside my writing, I am hoping to make another dent in that TBR pile of mine, which shrinks every month, yet grows at the same time!

And I managed eighteen in total… not bad, among all the writing and house clear out.

Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie  Valerie

Holly Banks Full of Angst by Julie Valerie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Took me a little while to get into the flow of this book, but I felt I should read it, seeing as it had been on my Kindle for a while and because I had an arc of the sequel to read too.
The story of Holly, mum to one and housewife to Jack. They lived in aa pretty normal place, living a normal life until Jack’s job forced a move into the village of Primm.
As I was introduced to the place, the residents of the village, it had a true Stepford Wives vibe with the Queen Bee, Mary-Margaret St. John, courting over everything that happened, especially the famed PTA for the local school.
Holly finds it hard to settle in, and even harder to let her daughter Ella go, as she starts kindergarten.
Especially as she has been roped in to help with numerous events with the PTA by the rather domineering Mary-Margaret.
Some interesting twists, and a large topiary peacock (peahen) named Plume feature in this middle of the road tale of an angsty mum, settling into unfamiliar grounds, while solving little problems as she goes.

The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks (Village of Primm #2)

The Peculiar Fate of Holly Banks by Julie Valerie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Receiving this as an ARC pushed me to read the first in the Village of Primm series, which I already had on my Kindle.
Where I liked book one, this one, I liked even more, as we got to know more about the quirky characters now a full-time part of Holly Banks’ life since she moved to the Village of Primm with her family.
Holly’s wayward dog, Struggle is the star of this one, unearthing local treasures in her digging frenzies when she gets out of the back yard, and this causes consternation for some, and huge excitement for others.
There is still this Stepford Wives quality to the women who live there, but we get to delve deeper into their characters.
An enjoyable read.
Many thanks to NetGalley. and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 24th November, 2020

One Winter's Night (Kelsey Anderson, #2)

Review to come in an exclusive post with author Kiley Dunbar!

Releasing 16th September, 2020

Strictly Come Dating by Kathryn Freeman

Strictly Come Dating by Kathryn Freeman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’re a fan of the spangly ballroom dancing fiesta that is Strictly Come Dancing, (or if you’re not, but still love a bit of romance) then you are going to love this!
Thirty-seven-year-old Maggie, single mum, doctor, and Strictly superfan enjoys weekly gatherings with her best friends, twins, Sarah and Alice, andher nanny, Hannah, to watch all the latest episodes of Strictly Come Dancing. Even their kids have caught the bug.
As they settle down for a night of pizza and dance, a new face shows himself, in the name of Seb, the twin’s younger, wayward brother.
Hearts are set aflutter, but who is this twenty-seven-year-old Aussie surf hunk destined to fall for? Hannah, the pretty nanny, or Maggie, the middle-aged mum?
Sprinkled with humour, dance, and annoying ex-husbands, Strictly Come Dating is a fun, easy read.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Harper Collins, and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Secrets in the Snow by Emma Heatherington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Roisin has had a rough ride in life, bouncing from foster carer to foster carer, before entering o=innto an abusive marriage.
Through a welcome tragedy, she finds herself widowed and wants to make a fresh start for her and her son, Ben.
A pin in a map lands her in a tiny village called Ballybray in Ireland, and it couldn’t be more different from her upbringing in the city of Dublin.
Once there, she finds that she has an interfering neighbour, Mabel Murphy, an elderly widow, with a New York twang, who refuses to believe that this young woman would prefer to be alone.
What develops between them, is a friendship stronger than most, more akin to family.
Life is idyllic, almost, until Mabel gets ill and passes away.
But this meddling neighbour isn’t finished with her work to make sure Roisin lives her life to the fullest.
Somehow, from beyond the grave, she’s arranged for some messages, specifically for Roisin, and Aidan, Mabel’s nephew, who has been in the US for the last fourteen years, and only comes back to Ballybray to attend the funeral and sell off her property.
What follows, in the story, is the impact of the messages that Mabel sends, seasonally, for these two lost souls, over the course of a year, and how the words of a soul long gone, can still have a positive effect on the lives of those left behind.
I truly enjoyed this book. Wonderful characters. Everyone needs a Mabel Murphy in their lives.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 15th October, 2020

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine 2 by William A.E. Ford

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine 2 by William A.E. Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A wonderful addition to the Timothy Mean series of books.
Timothy goes on several adventures in his time machine, visiting Ancient Egypt and Rome, to name a few destinations. He finds himself in several pickles, just about escaping with his time machine.
Until faced with the aliens in space.
This is when the power of siblings comes into play.
Beautiful illustrations and a lovely rhyming story make for another book, I’d happily read to my class in school.

Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up

Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up by Alexandra Potter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fun recount of a year in the life of Nell, a forty-something woman who feels like nothing in her life is how she/d imagined it would be, as she reaches her forties.
No man, no job, no home, no children… friends soaring in their own lives. Even her younger brother is getting ahead of her.
Through the year, she begins documenting her thoughts in a little known podcast, meets an old mate who gives her a simple job, that leads to her meeting an octogenarian new BFF and finds a room to rent in a flat, with a rather pernickety landlord.
The year has its ups and downs, but the biggest thing is there is discovery and not just the discovery that her podcast ends up a hit!
A fun-filled, relatable read for all those who think their lives are going nowhere, and need a reminder that all will be well
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Releasing 31st December, 2020

Collaboration for Authors by Daniel Willcocks

Collaboration for Authors: A complete guide to collaborating, finding a partner, and accelerating your author career. by Daniel Willcocks
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Are you a writer, toying with the idea of collaborating with another author?
Do you even know what collaboration is?

I must admit, the first thing that came to mind for me was the co-authored books that I’ve seen, but in this book Dan Willcocks breaks collaboration down into fantastically entertaining bite-size chunks, from the start, explaining the different types of collaboration, to how to approach another writer about forming a partnership of sorts.

Then he goes further into the nitty-gritty of working with another creator.

There’s pretty much everything any self-respecting author needs, to educate themselves on the art of a successful collaboration.

I especially enjoyed the case studies interspersed within the book, giving us a smorgasbord of tidbits and nuggets of advice from established collaborators in various types of partnerships.

Well worth the investment, if you are thinking of collaboration with another author.

Adult Virgins Anonymous

Adult Virgins Anonymous by Amber Crewe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve got to be honest. The title totally drew me in.
A group for adult virgins? Bring it on!
A short segment at the beginning introduces two characters who don’t know each other, at uni, in 2011. Kate and Freddie, are both plucking up the courage to approach people they like.
Fast forward to now, and those same characters have never quite managed to pluck up that courage, and now find themselves, almost ten years later, in the same place, romantically, as they were then.
A chance sighting of a card in a pub, advertising a group for Adult Virgins, leads them both back to their old university, where the meetings are held, and the story unfolds.
Low confidence, OCD, overbearing families, friends who really aren’t, interspersed with new opportunities, new friends, and possible new love.
A cut story, which you know is going to have a HEA.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder and Staughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 21st January, 2021

The Flip Side

The Flip Side by James Bailey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Imagine the heartbreak. You’ve planned for what feels like forever, and finally got the girl of your dreams in the place of her dreams, with a ring waiting in your pocket, the privacy of an empty pod on the London Eye, and it’s New Year’s Eve to boot.
Then she says no.
This is precisely what happens to our hero, Josh.
He finds himself jobless, homeless and girlfriendless to boot.
After moving home to his parents, a 27-year-old failure, he decides the flip of a coin will be the best way to make all the choices about his life for a year. After all, making them on his own hasn’t worked out that well.
Will it help him find love? A job? A new home?
What follows is a gigglesome account of what happens when a small disc of metal dictates what you do next.
I enjoyed the story, though possibly a little unrealistic, but it made for an easy read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 26th November, 2020

Before I Saw You

Before I Saw You: The delightful and emotional love-story of 2021 by Emily Houghton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Reading the blurb for this book truly enticed me to read the story of two people who find themselves side by side in a hospital recovery ward, building a friendship, a relationship, almost, without ever seeing each other.
Alfie is the life of the ward, keeping the spirits of his two longterm roommates up, developing bonds with everyone he encounters, and is coming to terms with his own tragedy, and being a recent addition to the world of the amputee.
Then, one day the spare bed next to him is filled, but the curtains are drawn. The secret roommate intrigues them all.
Alice is a successful career woman, but her world comes tumbling down after a freak accident at her work leaves her injured beyond recognition. She finds herself in a dark place, shutting herself away from the world, refusing to see anyone she knows, and even baulking at the idea of the health professionals coming in to check on her.
What follows is a story filled with ups and downs, as Alfie tries his hardest to break down the barriers between this invisible woman and the rest of the world.
I loved Alfie’s relationship with his fellow patients. He is such a positive character, but with shadows that loom over him.
After reading what happened to Alice, it made me wonder how I would feel, in her situation. Would I end up wanting to become a recluse?
Many deep issues explored in a captivating read.
Many thanks to Netgalley, Random House Uk and Transworld Publishers for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

Releasing 4th February, 2021

The Two Lives of Louis & Louise

The Two Lives of Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An intriguing concept of a book, where we follow the life of the same person, but explore the differences within their lives, had they been born male or female.
Louis and Louise live the same life, but the way they are treated, and the opportunities they are afforded, show the difference gender can make in life.
There are some tough themes explored within this book, and it made for an interesting read.

Trust No Aunty

Trust No Aunty by Maria Qamar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely loved this! I spent most of the time I was reading, nodding and imagining the different aunties that I know, and also, as a mid 40’s woman, myself, trying to work out if I was one yet, or not!

Coconut Unlimited

Coconut Unlimited by Nikesh Shukla
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel was a real moment of reminiscence for me, taking me back to my youth, and remembering those young Indian lads who thought they were ‘bad’ because they liked rap and hip hop!
Nikesh Shukla’s debut novel was a funny insight into the mind of a 14-year-old Gujju boy, Amit, brought up in Harrow.
A boy sent to private school by parents who scrimped and saved to send him there, with great aspirations for their only boy, whose own hopes and dreams were so different.
Amit never really feels like he fits in, anywhere. He’s singled out by pupils and staff in school as one of a handful of Indians, and out of school, he’s constantly batting off comments from other family and friends, about him thinking he’s too good for them because of going to Private school.
He discovers Hip Hop, and decides that he’s going to embrace the Rap and Hip Hop culture with his two friends, and they form a Hip Hop band, Coconut Unlimited, with varying degrees of success…
A fun read.

The Right Swipe (Modern Love, #1)

The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first delve into the world of Alisha Rai’s words, and the fact that I have another of her books already lined up to read, next shows that I was not disappointed with what I read, here.

Rhiannon is a badass corporate woman with an uber-successful dating app company under her belt.
But, situations from the past have tainted her view of men, relationships and love.
Still, hookups are indulged in rarely, and her last one affected her in a way she never thought.
Imagine then coming face to face with that same hookup in a professional setting, and watching as your life, your beliefs, your thoughts end up being turned upside down.

I loved this story, which was both light-hearted, and deep, at the same time. Focussing on issues that are so current, including the difficulties of being a minority in a place where people don’t expect you to be, and the #MeToo movement, it affected me more emotionally than I would have expected.

Rhi’s hero, Samson Lima, retired sports star, is a pleasure to read about. What a gentle giant of a gentleman!

A good read.

Girl Gone Viral (Modern Love, #2)

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I quickly devoured this, the second book inn the Modern Love series by Alisha Rai , invested in the characters from the first book, The Right Swipe.
Imagine going about your life, and after a chance conversation in a coffee shop, finding yourself embroiled in the midst of a Tweet gone viral?
Some would love it, but not a person who has consciously tried to keep herself out of the limelight for the last few years.
The story of Katrina, a young, rich widow, and her own personal traumas, compared to those of Jas, Singh, her bodyguard, were pretty addictive to read. I finished it in one sitting!
Loved the cultural references, and I learned stuff about South Asians and how they settled in The States, as well!
Great read!

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters

The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters by Balli Kaur Jaswal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows, a couple of years back, I was keen to read another of her books. The fact that Shergill was in the title was a hook for me, as we know people with that surname. I know that means nothing, but it was just another familiarity that connected me.
Being a writer in a similar genre was another reason I wanted to read.
Three sisters, all very different, are forced back together to take part in a pilgrimage, back in the Motherland, India, planned by their mother on her deathbed.
Rajni, Jezmeen and Shirina all have their personal struggles, and none want to admit them to their own sisters.
This trip shows their internal struggles, as well as a building up of relationships, broken down by years of misunderstandings and secrecy.
I know that India Jaswal described. I felt the emotions of the sisters, being a British Indian, going back ‘home’ yet not quite fitting in.
All in all, a great read that I read in two sittings.

My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I began this book with a whole load of expectations, and thankfully they were met.
The story follows two sisters, Ayoola, who ha a tendency to kill her boyfriends, and Korede, the older one who gets summoned to clean up the mess.
Set in Lagos, Nigeria, the story is a dark, comic novel, laying emphasis on these two sisters’ relationship, essentially.
A very quick, fun read.

Anothe eclectic selection of reads, there. I’ve finished all my arcs for now, and am attempting to read the books by the side of my bed, before I have to pack them, for this move, if we ever get to that stage!

Which one tickled your fancy? And tell me, what are you reading now?

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?

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?




April 2020 Books #AmReading

Month four of the year, and it’s a different life we are living at the moment. Have you managed to read more, or less? I have found that I am easily distracted from books at the moment, but that’s not so say I’m not going to try! I’ve been reading in bed, in the bath, on the sofa, in the garden, and even while walking! (yes honestly!) Last April, I think I managed around 15 books in a month. Did I hit anywhere near that number this month?

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Only You

Only You by Kate Eberlen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Two young souls meet in Rome and end up striking up a friendship which turns to an intense romance. With a dance background behind both of them, music and dance bring them together more.
Until their pasts catch up with them.
I must confess that it took me a while to get into this book. Written from two perspectives, we learned about Alf and Letty, how they were feeling in Rome, but it took a little while to get in the swing of things. The second section, which jumps back, explaining the whys of the story, gave me a good few Aha! moments. And the conclusion... well, it was what we all would want from a love story.
But, I have to say, I did enjoy it,  once I got into the story.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an arc in exchange for an honest review.
Booms And Busts by [Le Pard, Geoff]

Booms And Busts by Geoff Le Pard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, I was glad to get back to the adventures of Harry Spittle in his lawyer days!
What a fantastically farcical tale of the mishaps and misadventures that Harry finds himself in, narrowly escaping prison, mixing with the wrong sorts, and with reappearing ghouls from the past. I really enjoyed it, and Le Pard’s way with words, his dry sense of humour, makes the book for me!
Hooray for Harry, the hapless hero!

The School Mistress of Emerson Pass by Tess Thompson

The School Mistress of Emerson Pass by Tess Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely story filled with love, hope and true goodness.
Just the kind of book to read, to surround yourself with positivity.
Quinn Cooper travels to a tiny backwater, Emerson Pass, in the snowy winter, to take up a position as a school teacher, where she can earn money, and send some back to her poverty-stricken mother and sister, back home.
Lord Alexander Barnes has managed to fulfil his dreams. He moved from England to the USA, and has, slowly, built up a small town, Emerson Pass – a place he’s proud to call home. A place his children can grow up happily, despite their lack of a mother. All they need is a school, with a good teacher at it’s helm.
It’s safe to say that neither Quinn, nor Alexander were what the other imagined, but as they get to know one another, it’s clear they need one another.
Their story is entwined with tales of the residents of Emerson Pass, bigotry, racism, honour, respect, love.
A happily ever after that I know is going to spawn some great sequels!

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book, but the blurb held an interesting premise.
Unfortunately, I found it very hard to get into.
The way the book was written with no regard to traditional structure or punctuation was different, but also confusing.
Nevertheless, each short section detailing a different strong woman’s life was intriguing. I had to read to the end to find out how it all tied together.
But… I just wish there were fewer characters, so I could get to know some in more detail, rather than so many, women, who seemed to blend into each other after a while.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books for an ARC of this book, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Published 2nd May 2020

People Like Us by Louise Fein

People Like Us by Louise Fein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read The Book Thief before, and loving it, this book, People Like Us really appealed to me and I was not disappointed,
A love story, set in Germany, detailing the relationship between Hetty, daughter of a high ranking SS officer, and Walter, a young Jewish neighbour.
The story starts at a time when they were children, and Hetty owes her life to Walter when he rescued her from drowning. It is a time of innocence, when there is no real distinction between Aryan and other races, for the children at least.
As time goes by, and the Nazi regime begins to take hold of the lives and thoughts of the younger generations, friendship turns to forbidden love.
I was engrossed from very early on in the book, and my heart went out to the innocents in the war. All those whose lives were ripped apart because of the thinking of that one man, Hitler, and his henchmen.
Highly recommended,
Many thanks to NetGalley ad Head Of Zeus for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review,

Published 7th May 2020

Marred: Kyle and Violet (Cliffside Bay, #4)

Marred: Kyle and Violet by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s been a couple of months since I started the Cliffside Bay series, and what with ARCS and a certain pandemic, it has taken me a while to get back to the books, but I was determined!
This wonderful series of books takes a look at the lives of a group of friends whose lives become entwined in different ways. Each book takes a look at a specific couple, winding threads from previous stories, and planting the seeds for the next ones.
In Marred, we learn more about Kyle and Violet.
Kyle, or Kale, as Violet’s son calls him, is a successful property developer with a ton of money, a portfolio bulging with properties and a reputation as a ladies man.
Violet is a single mother with a conscience. She takes an instant dislike to this man who wants to commercialise her beloved home town, Cliffside Bay, with a holiday resort, but finds herself in a situation where, not only is she working for him, but living with him too.
A wonderful read, where you know the happily ever after will come, but not without its fair share of ups and downs.
Thank you, Tess! On to Tainted!

Tainted: Lance and Mary (Cliffside Bay,…

Tainted: Lance and Mary by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 5 of the Cliffside Bay series and I am not tired of it at all.
In fact, since I came into it so late, I am lucky that there still a good few for me to read!
This story focuses on the last of the Dogs, Lance, and his relationship with Mary, who tumbled into the lives of the Cliffside Bay gang when her father, Dax, married Lance’s housekeeper, Flora.
We get to learn, as we do in each story, more about these key characters, as well as taking deeper looks into the lives of the established pairs. And then there is always the introductions of fresh blood, that give you good indications of the stories that may be to come.
I loved that Tess Thompson dealt with the issues around losing a baby, mid-pregnancy. Miscarriage, in all its different forms, is an awful thing to go through. I know. Been there done that. But it is handled with kid gloves, and you end the story with a huge helping of hope.
Tess’s books are always filled with positivity, no matter what bumpy ride the characters may take you on, to get to the end of their journey.
I can’t wait to get to the next one, now!

A Springtime Affair

A Springtime Affair by Katie Fforde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Katie Fford’s books have kept me company through much of my adult life, from the end of university, marriage, kids, and now, as we live in this surreal world of COVID-19.
I was smitten with the story of Helena and her ‘not romantic at all’ relationship with her evil, about to evict her, landlord, Jago, as well as the tale of Gilly, Helena’s mother, who has side away from love after her divorce.
Needless to say, there’s definitely a happy ending, with a few wrong ‘uns thrown in, along the way.
I love how Fford writes in a way that makes the reader lose themselves in the story, forgetting reality while being immersed in her lovely stories.
Definitely a great feel-good romance!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for an arc in exchange for an honest review.

Missed: Rafael and Lisa (Cliffside Bay, #6)

Missed: Rafael and Lisa by Tess Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This time we are venturing into the world of the Wolves, and their romantic pursuits.
The Wolves are a secondary pack of men who have, for various reasons, ended up in Cliffside Bay and have been mentioned in the previous 5 books, so it is easy to see how their stories slot into the adventures of the Dogs.
This time we are given more of an understanding about Rafael and his dark past, and Lisa, with her disturbed background, and hopes and dreams.
I knew they were going to get together. I knew all was going to be fine at the end, but Thompson took her scenic route, as always, to get us to the end.
Another wonderful addition to the Cliffside Bay series!

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

I do love these little novellas that Tess Thompson has written, to add a little splash of extra spice into her Cliffside Bay Series!
Here we get to become involved in the expansion of the Dogs and their families, with not one, but two births, and all during the season of Christmas!
A lovely, easy read that you can devour in one sitting.

Healed: Stone and Pepper (Cliffside Bay, #7)

Healed: Stone and Pepper by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book seven of the Cliffside Bay series, and Tess Thompson takes us on another romantic journey, uniting a pair who are destined to be together, even though they don’t quite know it yet!
We follow one of the Wolves, Stone, and his developing feelings for Pepper.
Another tale of heartbreaks, and emotional upheavals that result in that Happy Ever After!

11. So I managed eleven. That’s not so bad, is it, and I managed to read lot’s of Tess Thompson’s series which was on my Kindle FOREVER!

I have omitted an arc I read as well, and I have been dipping into craft books and online courses, as well as writing, and popping in to school to do the Covid-19 version of my day job, so I don’t think eleven books is to be sniffed at!

So, how has your reading month been? Seen anything you like the look of?

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