October 2022 Books #AmReading

The autumnal month of October is upon us! How did that happen? Well, I’m still reading away, as my relaxing time, because I need that escape right now! Let’s see what I manage this month!

It was 16, in the end, and many of them were in my half term! We had a crazy term, but reading kept me going through some rough patches, and I hope you like the look of some of the books mentioned below!

Pop over on 10th November when Sandy is coming to visit as one of my Book and A Brew with Ritu guests! I’ll share the review, there.

Releasing 10th November, 2022

The Good News Gazette by Jessie Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Maybe I just really needed something ‘feel-good’, today, but I read this in one go, on a rainy Sunday and absolutely loved it!
Zoe is a single mum in her 30s, having left a fantastic journalist career in London to raise her son back home in the North of England. She’s pootling along working for the local paper, not really feeling the challenge, but employed, nonetheless, until she isn’t. Redundancy strikes, which starts the chain of work; a son to feed, house and clothe, a mortgage to pay, bills and debts raising their heads…
After a confab with her two best friends, she ends up drunkenly committing to an idea which ends up changing lives of many in the community.
I thought this was excellently written. It’s true that you seem to just hear and read constant streams of bad news, when on social media and when watching the news. Zoe’s idea of writing a local paper that just shines the light on the positive in the community was a wonderful idea. You could see the Negative Nellies reading their heads, but she didn’t give up, at all.
The back stories of the other characters really gave good shape to the overall story and as a reader, I felt invested in her venture being a success, too!
And, obviously, there is a bit of romance, and I wasn’t sure which way her head wold turn… (yup, possibly two suitors…) but the end was a perfect, happy end for her, personally, as well as for the story!
Many thanks to Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter, for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 25th November, 2022

The Things That We Lost by Jyoti Patel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Nik is reeling from the loss of his grandfather, as is his mother, but the hole he has left in Nik’s life is trying to be filled with memories and information that he doesn’t have.
Avani, his mum, is keeping something big from him, and he doesn’t know how to get to the bottom of it, to help him heal his own grief.
Dealing with huge issues such as racism, mixed-race relationships, and grieving, this story is told in a beautiful manner.
I’m not Gujrati but understood many of the phrases used in the book, and felt an extra link with my parents both being from Kenya and moving here, too.
Many thanks to Penguin Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 12th January, 2023

Look out for a Blog Tour post on this one in a few days!

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After reading the blurb, I was excited for a book that was going to make me laugh and maybe sympathise with the main character, Maggie, but I’m afraid I was left a bit flat.
Maybe I’m too old for it, but I found Maggie, a Canadian woman in her late twenties, who is going through a divorce, very self-centred.
It’s not a good situation for anyone to go through but come on, you have to realise the world doesn’t revolve around you, Maggie!
Plus, I found the way it was written quite tiring. There were no obvious chapter breaks and lots of rambling and random lists of internet search histories that I didn’t understand.
Some people may love this. I am just sorry I didn’t.
Many thanks to NetGalley and 4th Estate for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 19th January, 2023

Wishful Witness: The Wishing Tree Series Book 13 by Tonya Kappes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, I wasn’t expecting that! A murder? In Linden Falls?
Tonya Kappes has put her delightful spin on the tale of another small-town resident, Cheryl, who owns a yarn shop, Stitchen’ Post Yarn Shop.
She’s not one to gossip, but her knitting groups end up being the place to be to hear what is happening around the town.
When discord is high among many small business owners due to the opening of a new Artisan Market, there is all sorts being said. Cheryl tries to keep herself out of it all, but after hearing gunshots one day while at home, she becomes embroiled in a murder investigation that could implicate her. And all because of that Wishing Tree…
Yes, a different spin on the recent tales of the world of Linden Falls, but just as captivating. I read it in an hour!

The Christmas Postcards by Karen Swan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Karen Swan, you did it again!
I thoroughly enjoyed this story of love and loss and hope through adversity.
Natasha and Rob are back from a holiday that was kinda ‘make or break’ for them. their little girl Mabel somehow ends up leaving her precious stuffed cow toy, Moolah, behind in an Air BnB, and all hell ensues as she is unable to sleep settle or live without it.
An idea by one of Natasha’s friends to post a Lost Toy search on social media attracts the attention they need, and soon there is a reunion of sorts.
Only Moolah the cow has her own adventures to enjoy before she can return, as the person who found her is on his own life-changing trip.
The ensuing story filled with emails and pictures, or postcards as Natasha likes to call them, that wing their way to Natasha and Mabel, keeps you on your edge, especially as there is a past story thread running through the book which weaves its way into the present.
There are a couple of far-fetched conclusions to the story, however, they didn’t detract from the story,
I read it in a day.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 27th October, 2022

The Sh!te Before Christmas by Serena Terry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a craic, indeed!
I thoroughly enjoyed this festive giggle with Tara, dealing with the run-up to Christmas accompanied by a moody teen daughter, two gorgeous but hyperactive little boys, a husband who seems to be distancing himself, an absent mammy who suddenly makes a reappearance into her life, work sh!te going down, metamorphosing friends, and a school teacher who appears to judge all of her parenting decisions, all whilst being eight months pregnant!
I giggled throughout and loved it. An easy read with plenty to make you smile.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins, UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 10th November, 2022

The Love Match by Priyanka Taslim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well, firstly, I will blame Priyanka Taslim for putting a certain Bollywood song in my head, all about how to say I Love You in various Indian languages, including Bengali! (IYKYK) Honestly, I’ve been singing that classic since I finished the book!
Secondly, I LOVED the book.
Being a person of colour myself and a writer of desi fiction, I am thrilled to read books that show characters from more relatable backgrounds. Even though I am not from Bangladesh or Muslim, there are plenty of parallels that can be made between the characters in The Love Match and the lives of your average Asian person.
A girl with aspirations that she already knows won’t ever be reached.
The responsibility of doing right by her family.
The reflection of her behaviour upon everyone else in her family.
Wanting to make her own choices but not being able to.
Zahra Khan is a fantastic main character, with all the above in her mind as she goes about her daily life, achieving excellent grades and working full time after high school to help her widowed mother make ends meet, as well as helping to look after her younger siblings. She has dreams of going to college, just like her best friends; however, that is not a financial priority right now. Neither is her passion for writing, which her mother and most of the adults around her don’t know about or wouldn’t understand.
Then throw into the mix the Aunties, who watch and know everything, passing comments on their WhatsApp groups.
Obviously, the answer to the family’s prayers is for her to be paired off with a boy from an affluent family, so she can live in comfort, and that comfort and respect can be passed on to her own family.
But when you have another interest in mind, these arranged things can go a bit awry.
And all this at eighteen!
I loved it. The story was peppered with Bengali phrases, which meant I learned more as I read, and added words like saa, meaning chai or tea, and shona (darling?) to my very tiny repertoire of Bengali, which previously consisted of hume tumake balo baashi, (I love you) from the lyrics of the afore-mentioned song!
Okay, I am off to go and sing again, but definitely, it’s one to read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.
Releasing 10th January 2023

A Snowflake in December: A Heart-warming, Uplifting, Christmas Tale About Loving and Sharing by Kiltie Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Aw, I loved this Christmas tale, filled with the hope of happiness after years of sadness.
Polly is not interested in Christmas at all. Still, a chance meeting with fashion designer Monty, and his not identical brother, Maxwell, sets her on a 24-day journey to rediscover her love of the festive season. Or an Advent-ure, as it is called.
After discovering why Polly doesn’t do Christmas, Maxwell makes it his aim to reignite that enjoyment.
I loved how this started as a simple friendship that blossoms into something more, but there is still the ‘will they-won’t they?’ element as little blips keep appearing in the way.
And what a great set of festive Advent-ures that Maxwell set up for Polly! I want to have a month of the same!
A wonderfully feel-good festive read that leaves you feeling all warm inside, rather like the hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows that the characters seemed to indulge in, rather a lot!

Looking Out For Love by Sophia Money-Coutts
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another good read by Sophie Money-Coutts!
Stella Shakespeare is in her 30s, but unlike everyone else around her, she hasn’t got her life all sorted. No job, no man, no money. At least she has a flat, paid for by her father, though he’s cut off her money until she sorts herself out. And she has her best friend Billie.
Through a series of strangely unlinked events that end up coming together, she finds herself a job, a man, another admirer, an unexpected new friend, and a lot of new drama on her plate.
It was an easy read that I finished on a rainy Sunday afternoon. A bit of a giggle and a few moments of ‘Come on Stella, can’t you see!?!’
But it’s not all giggles, as there is the more serious topics of a life-threatening illness and infidelity explored within the story.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 2nd February 2023

The Theory of (Not Quite) Everything by Kara Gnodde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A story of two siblings, a brother and sister, who look out for one another and have only got each other after the untimely demise of both their parents.
Art is a keen mathematician with ideas and fixations that mean his sister, Mimi, feels she could never leave him alone. And he is on the edge of solving a specific mathematical problem that mathematicians worldwide are trying to solve. His work is like an obsession.
But, she wants more in life, including romantic love, which Art cannot understand, seeing as in his eyes and mind, there is a reason for everything and a fact to back it up.
She meets Frank at a Mathematics awards ceremony, and he seems perfect. Too perfect, according to Art, whose mathematical equation Frank hasn’t fallen in line with.
Okay, so I will admit this was a slow starter. There was a lot to unravel before things picked up and made me want to read more, but the book’s last quarter really pulled me in.
The siblings have a tragic past, shrouded in cover-ups and tales that need to be uncovered for them to move on in life truly. But it takes time for the reader to really understand what is going on and why they need to be invested.
I’m glad I finished it, but it was hard to get into. If you do read it, persevere. It gets better and easier to understand as you go on, promise!
Many thanks to Netgalley and PanMacmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 16th March 2023

Arthur And Teddy Are Coming Out by Ryan Love
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just the title and cover made me excited to read this debut by Ryan Love, and I am so glad I did!
Arthur is nearing octagenarian status, and he has made a bold decision; to come out to his family. He, along with his fifty-year-old wife, has kept it a secret.
He always knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the reactions from his children were mixed.
His daughter is furious and embarrassed. His son, perplexed.
But what happens when his grandson is in the same situation?
This was a remarkable story, with a feel-good ending, but interlaced with the tensions associated with homophobia, small-town thinking and not conforming to what they all think are the norms.
I loved the parallel storytelling, with the points of view of both Arthur and Teddy switching.
There were plenty of lovely moments in the story, along with ones that were realistic to the situation and not nearly as lovely.
But, a great read, nonetheless.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 13th April, 2023

The little cupcake shop by the sea: Return to the seaside with this gorgeous, wonderfully uplifting holiday romance by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love a sequel when you can settle back into familiar scenes with characters you already know before being introduced to others, and it was a pleasure to revisit the Little Shop By The Sea crew.
Fern is the focus this time, trying to settle into life after finding out that her past was built on some untruths and that she had a whole family that she had been unaware of.
She ends up moving to live nearer to the sister she’s only known about for a short while, Genie, and setting up shop there, complementing Genie’s ice cream shop.
While there she finds out more about herself and meets a highly disgruntled but rather hot neighbour, Jesse, who ends up being deeper and far more important to her than she would have thought.
Oh, and it wouldn’t be right without more family secrets being revealed!
I enjoyed this continuation and recommend you read the first one to have the back story straight. However, it can be read as a standalone.
I only wish I had a cupcake shop nearby so that I could sample Fern’s creations!
A lovely story with a few ups and downs and a whole lot of family love!

Review to follow in a Book and a Brew post with our very own Marje, next month!

Releasing 25th November, 2022

A Midlife Baby by Cary J. Hansson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

After reading the first in this Trilogy, I was given a copy of A Midlife Baby as an ARC for an unbiased review.
I say this all the time, but it’s true. I love a series where you can slot straight back into the story, having known the characters previously.
We meet with the trio of friends; Caro, hoping have a baby at the end of the last book after going for treatment, secure in the knowledge that she was never going to have a child conventionally since she was too far along in her life to find that kind of relationship; Helen, who wants to have her life back, after slogging away for the past couple of decades as a wife and mother, to people who don’t seem grateful in the least; and Kay, a single parent to an adult child with his own needs, and a mother with dementia, and a father who doesn’t want to cause any issues.
Without giving away some of the surprises at the beginning and end of the book, I’ll say that it was good to see what was going on in their lives and how they were handling the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) changes that were occurring.
Caro needs to balance her life with the thought of possible motherhood as a middle-aged woman while holding down a powerful job, where news of pregnancy wouldn’t go down well.
Helen has to find a way to stand her ground with her husband and children if she is ever going to leave the marriage, which has left her feeling trapped and unappreciated for so many years.
Kay is dealing with anxiety, from the choices she is having to make for her parents and at the thought of her son gaining independence, as well as some awful goings on in her day job, as well as the awful effects of Perimenopause.
A sad story in some ways, but there are high points and so much that women of a certain age could relate to. I know I did!
Above all, a testament to true friendship. We can put our friends through the ringers, but only the real friends stay with you throughout.
And I can’t wait for book three!

Releasing 1st November, 2022

So, tell me what you have been reading, and what caught your eye from the above!

September 2022 Books #AmReading

It’s my birthday month, and I am back at school, so goodness knows if I will be able to stay awake long enough to read any books, lol! Took me a week to read the first book, so is that a sign of things to come? Only one book a week? Let’s see!

My Perfect Ex by Lizzie Chantree
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My Perfect Ex is a great read with a social message woven through the threads of the story.
Mental health is something that, more than ever, now, we all need to be aware of and talk about.
We have our main character, Poppy, a successful business owner, ensuring that homes and businesses can have surroundings that encourage positive mental health. Because she has been through the harshness of living with someone suffering from depression and mental health issues.
The problem is she has never been able to share the burden of becoming a young carer with anyone, even her best friends, for fear of stigma.
Of course, there is more to the story. Poppy is hiding her relationship from her friends, too, because she thinks no one will approve of the fact she is with yer teenage crush, who they all pegged as a bit of a Romeo. But do they really know Dylan as well as they think?
She works hard to overcompensate for where she feels she has been lacking, and it’s only when she finally has to admit certain truths that relationships begin to unravel, and it takes a lot of soul-searching to get them back on track.
The story is set in Cherry Blossom Lane and surrounding areas, and I did enjoy the ending, which has made me wonder who the next main character will be, since this is the first of a series of books!

Gone Wishing by Jessie Newton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This time Jessie Newton joins the foray and adds her story to the Linden Falls-based series.
Loretta works for Neva in the Wishing Tree Inn when she’s not travelling around like a gipsy, returning forgotten items from the inn to their rightful owners.
This trip back finds her with two new friends, Sally and Lois, who accompany her back to Linden Falls.
Both women need a fresh start in their own lives and have issues they need to overcome.
Loretta has little faith in the power of the Wishing Tree after it failed her many years ago. However, she takes a chance on another wish when she introduces her new friends to the magic.
All three women need their own second chances at love, life and belief. The Wishing Tree certainly waves something magical in the air.
Lovely addition to the series.

Martha’s Cottage : An emotional family drama. by Fiona Cooke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Martha’s Cottage is a story about trust. Or rather the effects of trust being broken. Sarah and Ben are struggling with the effects of infertility. Their marriage is teetering: balancing on each and every pregnancy that comes up negative, waiting for that positive that changes everything and balances everything out. Instead of waiting it out, Ben is pulled into an affair that ruins any chance they have of a happy marriage. And then she finds out something that could change even more in their lives. Sarah runs away to a small cottage owned by her best friend. A cottage that belonged to her grandmother, Martha. Here, she begins to re-evaluate her life. The story is based on the breaking of trust and whether you can ever rebuild it. The effects of infertility hit home, as we have been there, and not knowing if you will ever be able to fulfil that one dream you may have had forever is heartbreaking. But an intriguing story, nonetheless.

How to Kidnap the Rich by Rahul Raina
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I do like to read books written by Indian authors and picked this up at the bookstore with high hopes.
Ramesh Kumar is the son of a chai-walla, who a French nun gave him an opportunity to educate himself. His intelligence means that he rises above his father’s abusive ranks and makes money by using his intelligence to help the sons of rich families get the results they need to gain admission into foreign universities and such.
He hits paydirt when taking one of these falsified exams and ends up with a client becoming a ‘Topper’, as in getting the highest marks that year.
This propels the young man in question, Rudi, to stardom, and Ramesh uses this to blackmail himself into the regular payroll of Rudi by becoming his manager.
The story highlights the level of corruption in so many areas of Indian systems, from education to government, police to broadcasting.
It was a quirky story with the appeal of Slumdog Millionaire.
Not a bad read, but maybe not one I would want to read again.

The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating: The perfect sparkling romantic comedy to fall in love with this summer! by Nina Kaye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was looking for something on my TBR that would entertain me. A light-hearted read that I could escape into. And perusing through my list, I decided that The Gin Lover’s Guide to Dating would be the right choice, and I was right,
It was a perfect choice!
Liv is living life. She has proved herself, moving away from her tough upbringing and working to a significant position in the company she works for, with her swish flat and plenty of great colleagues and friends.
Until it all comes tumbling down. The promotion she hoped for is snatched away from her, as well as the job she has put her all into the past few years.
Hard times always weed out the hangers-on from the real friends, and Liv realises that Dylan, her childhood buddy and surrogate big brother, is all she really has on her side.
Money dwindling and an oversaturated job market means that she ends up taking a position as a bartender in a hotel bar at the recommendation of an old acquaintance of hers, and this brings the opportunity to start a blog which could become something much bigger…
I read this in a few hours and was loathe to put it down if I am honest!
Romance? Yes. Alcohol? Plenty! Finding yourself? Absolutely!
I loved the characters who supported Liv on her journey of discovery, from Dylan, her straight-talking friend, to Amir and Reyes, her new bar colleagues who turn into some of the best friends she has ever had. The hunk that is Josh certainly added a few sparks, and Aaron, her guardian angel, was that and more!
Fantastic read, and now I can’t wait to dive into another of Kaye’s books!

Take A Moment by Nina Kaye
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a great book!
Alex’s life is running smoothly, with a career that is going great and a wedding in a matter of weeks. Everything is wonderful until she gets the rug pulled from under her feet when she collapses at work.
A diagnosis of MS sets her in a tailspin.
Who wants to be diagnosed with one of those ‘invisible’ diseases?
Alex finds her life turned upside down as she recovers from her initial diagnosis. Everyone has her wrapped in cotton wool, and no one thinks she can live her old life easily or safely.
After finding no positive support from her mother and sister, and a break-up with her fiance she decides to up sticks and moves from Scotland to Birmingham, much to the distress of her family.
Can you live alone once diagnosed with one of these degenerative diseases?
This book was so bittersweet, in many ways, from the way the romance side played out to the way family, ones and work begin to treat a person with a diagnosis for something like ME.
I applaud Alex for continuing to live her life, even with her barriers. Sure, she was stubborn in places, but lessons were learned, and she had a good bunch of people around her, too.
Sacha, her best friend, was brilliant with her problems but developed through the story herself. And when I talk about love interests, there wasn’t just one!
Most of all, I loved Emmanuel, her new boss, at her new job. An understanding woman who took the equality and diversity rules of their company and ensured that Alex was given a fair and rightful chance to perform her role, and when push came to shove, she was there for Alex when it counted.
And to answer my above question, you most certainly can live alone and live a full life, as long as you have your support network!

How to Kill Men and Get Away With It by Katy Brent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, so I’ll start by saying it took me a little while to get into this book, but once I did, I was reading in a frenzy to find out what was going to happen!
Trigger warnings for abuse, rape and sexual harassment.
Kitty Collins is an influencer of very high regard.
She’s part of a circle of people who seem to have money, come what may, living a lifestyle of luxury, beautiful homes, endless social life and a steady stream of alcohol and drugs to fuel it.
As well as secrets.
Kitty has one or two of those buried deep inside, which only come out as the story unfolds.
But, she also adds a new one to her secret repertoire when she accidentally kills a man who wouldn’t take no for an answer.
This instigates a need to become a secret vigilante for the women of the world, trying to right the wrongs of society in her way. It might not be the right way, but it was one way.
There are shades of the #MeToo movement here, as well as the effects of mental health on a person’s way of thinking and behaving.
As I said at the beginning, it took me a little while to get into, but I’m glad I persevered!

On The First Day Of Christmas by Faith Hogan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A chance occurrence on Christmas eve leaves our heroine Liv in a precarious situation, where her life could take one of two paths…
Here’s where the story gets interesting.
Unfortunately, here was where the reading got confusing for me.
I loved the premise of the story. However, the two parallel stories, running side by side, were somewhat confusing as they weren’t labelled or separated by chapters.
We hear of the two different paths Liv’s life could take, after a chance with death on Christmas Eve, both with the same conclusion, however, I found myself having to backtrack to see which Liv I was reading about.
I still enjoyed the story; nevertheless, I could have done with a little more clear signposting.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

The review will be posted on or about October 27th, when wonderful author Anita Faulkner will be joining me for a Book and a Brew with Ritu chat!

Picking up the Pieces by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Amanda Prowse book to dive into? Don’t mind if I do! I am a huge fan of her magnificent writing, and I was not disappointed at all by the beautiful story that is Picking Up the Pieces.
Nora is a military wife, used to accompanying her well-decorated husband Gordy wherever he is stationed, but life is beginning to feel tiresome. She’s lost all sense of roots.
They are on the brink of collapse when a phone call shatters what was her life, as she rushes to be a support for her sister, Kiki, and little nephew, Ted.
I don’t want to reiterate the story to you. What kind of review would that be?
But what I will say is that Amanda Prowse has sensitively dealt with the fragility of mental health here as well as delving into how childhood experiences can shape your thinking and way of life more than you know.
Nora and Gordy are two people you could be friends with. Kiki and her masquerade as a happy single mum remind you that you should never judge a book by its cover.
And I must mention the little diversion to the story in several snippets from Spain that weaves another layer of magic into the inevitable ending.
Beautiful story. I read it in a day and admit to being sad when it ended, too!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 10th January 2023

Exes and O’s by Amy Lea
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a while since I have read anything with much of a steam factor, and sometimes, I need to remember what I am reading and where!
Okay, so that sounds like this is a bonk-fest of a book when it’s not! However, some scenes are in there to leave you hot under the collar!
So, back to the book itself, Tara Chen is a nurse and a book influencer with a penchant for romance, but she can’t find her prince.
After agreeing to move into her brother-in-law to be’s old apartment to allow him to move in with her sister, she embarks upon a search of her exes to find someone to have that second chance romance with…
Thing is, life isn’t a bunch of romance tropes, though if you look hard enough, you can probably find one to match what you are going through.
And sometimes, what you need might be under your nose the whole time.
Tara is a ditsy character who you can’t help but like, and her tendency to go all out is interpreted by many so wrongly when all she wants is happily ever after.
Her roommate (sorry, being British, I find this hard… I’d say flat-mate as they don’t share a room), Trevor, is a moody, surly firefighter with no romantic bone in his body. She knows his rakish type, with a different woman whenever he goes out. But he ends up giving the best advice, and they open up to each other in such a cute way!
Back to the steam… When the chemistry is there, OMG, you feel the heat turn up a notch!
Overall a fun book and I will definitely be putting Lea’s other book on my TBR as a result!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 21st January, 2023

A Whole Heap of Wishes by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another visit to Linden Falls, and this time, courtesy of my favourite author. Amanda Prowse.
This time we learn more about Vera, the owner of the local salon, curl Up & Dye.
Vera has been in Linden Falls for many years and is a settled part of the community, however, not many locals know much about her past.
Things begin to change as she receives a letter from her son, who she rarely sees, announcing his impending marriage and a visit to see her, bringing along his new fiancee and his father.
The Linden Tree made one of her wishes come true many years ago…
And after an eventful visit, another wish is hung upon that tree.
However, when wishes come true, they don’t always look like you imagined them.
We also get to revisit the first character Amanda introduced us to, Verity, from England, and it is great to see how well she has settled.
Lovely addition to the Linden Falls tales, and it was a delight to read Amanda writing from an American perspective instead of British!

Maame by Jessica George
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A phenomenal debut by Jessica George, detailing the life of Maddie, a British-born Ghanaian woman left to care for her father, who has Parkinson’s, while her mother is running a business in Ghana, and her older brother has more important things to do.
At the age of 25, Maddie is saddled with more responsibility than she should have, and her family nickname, Maame, becomes more of a stone around her neck than a bit of affection.
Maame means Mother, and she has become that far too early in her life.
Maddie also has to deal with microaggression at work, being the only black person in her company and finding that she is either overlooked or not understood.
This story shows the coming of Maddie, or at least the coming out of Maddie from Maame’s shadow.
She’s been so busy caring for her father and just allowing life to pass her by that when the opportunity arises for her to move out, thanks to her mother moving back home, she grabs the opportunity by the horns, complete with a list of things she needs to achieve to feel that she has finally graduated to a real adult.
Only life isn’t always that simple.
There is a clash of two cultures, the value of real friendship, being touted as the token POC in work, and within the dating community, too. And death and depression, too.
I know, first-hand, how mental health can be swept under the carpet in many cultural backgrounds, and this has been brilliantly explored by the author in this book, too. I truly enjoyed this.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 16th February, 2023

The Hub by Nicola May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ve enjoyed a few of Nicola May’s books and was intrigued to read this one.
I wasn’t disappointed!
August is an author with a bit of personal history that she is trying to put behind her. Moving back to where she grew up, from the busyness of London, she finds it hard to engage in her writing until she is introduced to The Hub and all its inhabitants or users.
And some of those slowly become good friends (and more).
There is plenty to laugh about in this book and some quite sad bits, but the story is well rounded, and the characters are so colourfully written that they lift off the page and dance around in front of you.
I want to see a turkey farm now, too, by the way!

This Is What It Sounds Like: What the Music You Love Says About You by Susan Rogers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting book about the psyche behind your favourite music, and why that may be the case.
Definitely one for the hardcore music fans.
Listening to the music and songs referred to in the chapters was good to deepen the experience.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 6th October, 2022

I managed 15, which isn’t too shabby!

So, tell me what you have been reading, and what caught your eye from the above!

August 2022 Books #AmReading

Okay, so now it is August, the month I have pretty much all off, from school, so it is time to ease up on school pressures, get words down, and do family things. But you know I will be reading throughout!

Stay tuned for a review on the Blog Tour post on 9th September!

Christmas at the Borrow a Bookshop by Kiley Dunbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now, I shall not leave my review here for you to read, since Kiley is appearing on a very special post tomorrow morning to celebrate the release of her new book, so I hope you will pop over. It is such a wonderful read!

Releasing 1st September, 2022

Releasing 1st September, 2022 Review will be posted on 1st September on a Blog Tour post!

A Colourful Country Escape by Anita Faulkner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have just finished this fantastic debut by Anita Faulkner, and I am blown away!
What a brilliant read!
Lexie Summers’ life appears much like her thrift shop clothes. A bit borrowed, a bit colourful with quite a history, and no longer needed by previous owners.
When she finds herself ousted from her home and relationship with a rich boy who was playing at being your average rock band singer bloke, Lexie takes off in Penny, her aunt’s old camper van, and heads off to areas unknown in search of a new start, a new job and new friends.
What seems like the ideal job for her, as a social media manager for a small family-run paint company in the village of Tewkesbury, ends up being quite different from what she imagined. And it includes wealthy families and rich boys she’s sworn off for life, along with a matchmaking circus she has no intentions of getting involved in…
Oh, and some pretty feisty peacocks, too!
I loved Lexie and her colourfully tweaked CV that got her a position that her life experiences had already qualified her for. She’s a caring, compassionate soul who just can’t seem to put herself first, even when she knows that is what she should be doing.
Enter rich boys, Ben and Cory, brothers who are like chalk and cheese. Ben is the uptight, business-minded (bland, some might say) but kinda cute older brother in charge of recruiting for a role he really doesn’t understand. Cory is the free-spirited, hunky surfer-dude-styled younger one, without a care in the world, who wants to help his brother bring their family business into the 21st century.
Okay, so we’re reading contemporary romance, so you kinda know that things will work out in the end, but it’s always the journey that we’re here for, isn’t it, readers?
And the side characters.
Because without a colourful cast, things can get a bit monochrome.
Lexie’s sister, Sky, is a flakey hippie who lives on a commune in a quadruple with Billy-Bob…
Grace is a posh version of Lexie, and they become firm friends, despite the differences in their backgrounds.
Then you have Mrs Moon, the homely, widowed housekeeper at Nutgrass Hall, and Tom, the dear gardener, with his own yearnings.
And how could I forget Mrs Carrington-noble, Ben and Cory’s mother, who spends most of her time looking down her nose at common Lexie and is convinced she is only in the job for the family fortune?
Truly loved this book, and I cannot wait for her next release!

The Direction of the Wind: A Novel by Mansi Shah
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Mansi Shah created a fantastic story here of a search for individuality in a culture where it is expected of you to do what everyone else before you has done.
Sophie is a young woman from Ahmedabad, India. After losing her mother at a young age, she was brought up by a loving father and her aunts until tragedy struck again, and she lost her father, too.
The thing is, she finds out a family secret after hearing her aunts talk and through some intriguing letters that her father had always kept. Her mother didn’t die but left her and her dad to go to France.
The story plays out on a dual timeline, as we follow the young Nita to Paris, hoping to realise her dream of becoming an artist rather than staying at home being a wife and mother, and we follow a modern-day similar journey with Sophie. She goes to Paris to try and find the only family she has left.
The story moved along beautifully, and I felt for Nita, stuck in a life she didn’t want to be living, and how the twists and turns of fate treated her in Paris.
Equally, the shock and hurt of Sophie’s predicament kept me hooked.
I almost wish the ending weren’t as rushed, but there was sadness and some joy to finish the story.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Publishing 17th January, 2023

Before I Do by Sophie Cousens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You know when you start a book and are convinced you know what the outcome will be? That was me at the beginning of this story.
Audrey is the bride-to-be, and the story’s beginning sees her stumble out of the church in a rather unconventional manner.
As we visit different times in her past, fragments of her life join up to create the picture we think we will see at the end.
Six years before, she was a single woman with not a lot to write home about. In fact, she was still living at home, so there was no need to write.
A chance strip of photos left in the rack of an old photo booth triggers something in her that leads to meeting someone who could just be the one.
Fast forward to now, and that didn’t materialise how she dreamed, but Audrey has her true Prince Charming, Josh, waiting at the end of the aisle.
But, many signs, bad omens, if you believe that, like old Granny Parker, mean she ends up questioning whether this marriage is the right path for her. Especially when Photo Booth Guy turns up at the wedding as a plus one.
I don’t want to go into this anymore for fear of giving the story away, but suffice to say, many deep-rooted issues from Audrey’s past need revisiting to reset her life and thoughts for the future.
I enjoyed the story. Another great read by Sophie Cousens.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder, and Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Publishing 20th September, 2022

Make You Mine This Christmas by Lizzie Huxley-Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been a long while since I’ve read a sapphic romance, and this was a perfect way to get back into them!
Make You Mine This Christmas is a laugh-out-loud romance with all manner of kerfuffles, including rude jumpers and rescuing reindeer. Oh, and falling in love with your fake boyfriend’s sister in the middle of a charade set up to make life easier…!
Haff finds herself in Oxley with Christopher, a relative stranger, having only met by chance at a party she has crashed, pretending to be his girlfriend to stop his parents with their matchmaking efforts as he nurses a bruised heart and a bit of an identity crisis.
Thing is, she hadn’t expected to meet a woman who could turn her world upside down, only to lose her, then find her again, in the most complex of situations.
Haf is a fantastic heroine, and kudos to Huxley-Jones for all the representation in this book! So, Haf: well, she’s a plus-sized, bisexual woman about to spend her first Christmas alone, not through any choice of her own.
Then you have her flatmate and good friend Ambrose, who has carved a career out for themselves as an influencer, and they are the most straight-talking friend you could ever have.
Christopher, the fake boyfriend, is a sweet guy who is being pressured into following in his father’s footsteps rather than following his own dreams.
And how could I forget Kit, the aforementioned fake boyfriend’s sister? Kit is a tall, beautiful, strong woman with a fantastic career, a potty mouth, and a disability that makes everyone think she can’t be capable of all she can.
There are plenty of other characters that help make this story a joy to read, but if I detail them all, you would find everything out in the review, and that is not what I want to happen at all!
A really fun read, where I did laugh out loud. several times and I was so happy with the ending. We all need supportive friends, even though they can interfere a bit too much sometimes!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton, Hodder Studios for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 13th October, 2022

You Don’t Know What War Is by Yeva Skalietska
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Reading any situation from the eyes of a child can be eye-opening, and harrowing, and the view of war, is one of the toughest to read.
Yeva’s recount of those first few days of the Russia/Ukraine war was touching and heartbreaking. This is exactly like a modern-day Anne Frank story, filled with pictures and diary entries, as well as transcripts of WhatsApp group messages between Yeva and her classmates.
Something the youth of today should maybe read, too, so they realise what war in the now is really about.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 25th October, 2022

A Year at the French Farmhouse: Escape to France for the perfect BRAND NEW uplifting, feel-good book for 2022 by Gillian Harvey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have been following Gillian Harvey for a while. However, this was my first read by her, making me want to put her other books at the top of my teetering TBR pile!
A fabulous story about a middle-aged woman, ready to spread her wings as her chick flies the nest and embark on that adventure she and her husband have been planning for many years.
Lily’s redundancy couldn’t have come at a better time. Her son, Ty, is off to university, meaning the pay-out money can help her and Ben realise a dream they have been nurturing for a long time. Moving to France to live a wonderful life out there.
Only, she finds out it might not have been Ben’s dream, only hers.
In a state of emotional drunkenness, Lily makes the sort of eBay purchase that makes her cringe in the morning.
A dilapidated farmhouse. In France.
How’s this one going to work out?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story as anything about women my age grips me straight away. Wouldn’t we all like to move away, somewhere new, and begin living our lives for ourselves, after decades of being wife/mum/slaves to our jobs?
Lily has to battle the fact that her husband wasn’t interested in fulfilling the dream they had always talked about and decides to just go for it, with or without him. A strong woman!
Moving to a different country will always have its ups and downs, and to do that alone and to find out exactly how dilapidated the property you bought on a drunken whim could be classed as a huge dip in your line of ups and downs.
Fortunately, Lily meets some fantastic people along the way, and she still has her best friend, Emily, as a support for her, by phone, message and impromptu visits.
There is even a little romance, but, how do you explain to your teenaged-son that you might be going on dates but that it doesn’t mean anything, even though you and your husband have split up?
A Year at The French Farmhouse was an easy read with a great ending, and it fostered the spirit of never being too =old to make our dreams come true!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 29th September, 2022

Releasing 6th October, 2022

Twenty-One Nights in Paris by Leonie Mack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fantastic story by Leoni Mack!
Heiress Ren is used to a luxury lifestyle and living in hotels like the Ritz.
Sacha is a man from the wrong side of the Parisien tracks.
One night, they meet in rather unfortunate circumstances, yet their meeting was fated.
Ren is trying to understand her life or the lack of control that she has over hers. Sacha is dealing with his ghosts.
Somehow, he gets roped into helping Ren get over a broken relationship, to the horror of her grandmother,
But, as we know will happen, acting soon turns into reality.
But, just how they end up at that stage is an endearing, deep story filled with poetry and exploration of feelings.
I really enjoyed reading this, as well as now wanting to go and revisit Paris!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Their Surprise Safari Reunion by Ella Hayes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An easy-to-read second chance romance where two meant to be together individuals were separated due to circumstances out of their control, only to meet again to rekindle their relationship.
Maddie and Kaden met as teenagers and were in a relationship when the actions of Maddie’s father meant she and her mother had to flee the country, leaving the two lovers estranged, with no contact between them.
Years later, her identity changed; Lina embarks upon a visit to a newly opened safari park and lodge in her position as a well-respected travel blogger.
Only to be met with a face from her past.
A lovely read, dotted with realistic descriptions of the wilds in Africa, as well as sympathetic views on the main characters’ vulnerabilities.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Romance for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Wishful Thinking by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed the first set of The Wishing Tree Books and am thrilled that the second wave of instalments is coming through now!
It was lovely to go back to Linden Falls, visit familiar faces like Neve, follow what happened with her new housemate, Janie and her daughters, and meet newcomer Coco, the News Anchor wannabee.
The Wishing Tree plays a huge part, as always, in this book, as the community fights to save its existence when an outsider buys a property which includes the tree in its land, and they want to tear it down!
Each book centres around one or two specific characters in the area, and in this, we find out how Janie is settling into Linden Falls after separating from her husband, Max. She has set up a new business which she is very proud of, and though it isn’t anywhere as lucrative as her previous career, it fills her with passion.
Coco is the newcomer this time. She’s moved to Linden Falls for a couple of months to reset herself, and lose weight, to get the job she always wanted, but ends up in the thick of the local Wishing Tree trauma, when she helps the local journalist, who is incapacitated, to raise awareness of the potential loss of a tree which is dear to so many.
We have family ups and downs, slow-burn romance, and cats and dogs. What more could you ask for?
Thanks to Kay Bratt for an ARC.

Releasing 8th September, 2022

Wishes of Home by Barbara Hinske
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this instalment of The Wishing Tree series, even though, as I am reading arcs, I have been reading out of order!
Pam has moved to Linden Falls after a divorce that we learned about in a previous book in the series.
She’s back in her home town, living in her grandmother’s home and renovating it, helping her mother with her Saturday market stall, and being a Personal Trainer at the local gym.
When we left her last, she was starting a relationship with fellow PT, Steve.
The Wishing Tree is the catalyst for more adventure in the book; as a wish Pam helps Neve, the keeper of the wishes, to rescue from the tree when it has been raining, strikes a chord.
This wish plays on Pam’s mind, as she thinks of what she could be doing with her free time now the renovations are done.
There is love, self doubt, investigations, suspicions, and a TV series in the middle, as well as cats and dogs! Love this series!

Releasing 29th September, 2022

Picture Perfect by Jeevani Charika
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Having read a couple of Jeevani Charkica’s books before, I was excited to start this one, and I’m so glad I read it!
Niro is a photographer who has lost her mojo. setbacks in the forms of broken relationships and constant derogatory comments have worn her down.
Vimal is a hard-working guy who tries his hardest to win back his girlfriend of four years after being told he is simply boring.
Through the meddling of the Sri-Lankan Aunties, they are introduced and somehow end up on holiday together with a mutually beneficial deal in place; she gets her photography mojo back and he wins back the girl.
Is anything ever so simple?
I absolutely loved this story with kudos to Charika for her POC heroine, who is not only overweight but dark-skinned too. The issues brought about by constant remarks about those two attributes weigh heavy on Niro’s heart and mind and have huge, detrimental effects on her confidence.
And the best thing is that this story embraced both facts and showed that it is possible, and fine, to look beyond these two factors, and love the person within.
And, sorry to say this but shame on the Aunties for making Niro feel so low with their constant comments about her appearance! Beauty is in everything, and the most beautiful shine from within, not outwardly.
Vimal is a person I feel I know. He is intelligent and capable but so unconfident because he thinks he will never ‘fit in’ with many of the people he works with. Yet he wants to change himself to win back the love of his life.
The side characters’ cast was also great, with Sam, Niro’s cousin and cheerleader, and the new friends she makes on this ‘working’ holiday. Felicity was one who helps to break other stereotypes. Not all young beautiful, and rich people are the shallow, selfish people some think they are. loved how she became another of Niro’s cheerleaders!
I honestly wanted to slap Lucien. What a pompous, institutionally racist piece of rubbish! But, again, there are people like that, unfortunately, and good on the author for calling him out!
I raced through this book and loved it, especially the ending. READ IT!
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ Digital for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 21st October, 2022

A Little in Love by Florence Keeling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay, so I nabbed this little beauty when it was on offer a couple of weeks back, and I didn’t regret my purchase at all!
Rose Pedal is quite happy at home, living with her parents in the local vicarage. Yup, dad is the local vicar. Things haven’t quite worked out on the job front until she has a brainwave and sets up a business for weddings, Pedals and Prosecco, and begins the rounds of the local wedding fayres, hoping to drum up some business to get her venture on the map.
Of course, things were never going to run smoothly for Rose, were they? Because, quite honestly, it seems that life has never been kind to her regarding her decisions about her future…
She has a near miss on the way to her first fayre and arrives in a dishevelled state to find the drenching culprit, a stall owner at the same fayre.
James Blume is there to showcase his family business, Blumes; flowers, obviously! But his arrogance and seeming lack of tact rub Rose the wrong way.
Rose and James begin to clock through a series of mishaps and coincidences. Still, the road to romance is never smooth, and various characters along the way crop up to create obstacles in their budding relationship.
Oh, I loved it! Knowing who I wanted to get together and seeing it progress, albeit with a few stops and starts, was fantastic.
The setting in Weddington (love the name!) and its surrounding villages in the English countryside was quaint, and you could feel the sense of community among the residents, the strong friendships within the cast of characters, and the camaraderie between the local wedding businesses, as they help to straddle all sorts of problems.
Two very different families with their own ups and downs and supportive, though meddlesome, best friends provided a lovely supporting cast to our ‘will they, won’t they?’ couple.
The romance was a wonderful slow burn, and the ending was perfect.
Florence Keeling, I shall be visiting your books again very soon!

Review to follow in October when I am on Diana’s Blog Tour! But, it is a very different book to the kind I have been reading, recently!

Overdue Wishes by Tammy L. Grace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another wish to Linden Falls and the Wishing Tree!
This time, Author Tammy. L. Grace is showing the way with a story about Norma Braxton, the school’s librarian with a secret.
A secret that’s about to come tumbling out with the surprise visit from a face from her past.
Norma is so scared that the impact of the knowledge about an event that occurred when she was much younger will tarnish her relationships and respect that she hides from someone who really doesn’t want her to disappear.
What a sweet conclusion to a story that could have had a much harsher ending, if her thoughts were true.
I enjoyed this next visit to Linden Falls, and fall a little more in love with the whole community whenever I read another book!

Releasing 15th September, 2022

I managed 17 books over the summer, along with finishing my first draft for my own book 2! Not bad going, eh! Let me know which books tickled your fancy!

March 2022 Books #AmReading

As March draws to a close, that means the first quarter of the year has flown by, and I will be starting my Easter break, soon, too! Yay! Honestly, I give up with not requesting arcs, because there are so many great books out there and I am resigned (but very happy) to have a long, long list of fantastic books in my TBR pile, sitting on my reading trolley, or on my Kindle!

My Covid-addled body had a bit more time than usual to read, this month, too. Usually March is filled with school-related stuff, so there are fewer books on my read list, but I think I haven’t done a bad job!

Anyway, what did I read this month?

Workout Wishes & Valentine Kisses: The Wishing Tree Series, Book 5 by Barbara Hinske
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The next book in the rolling series of the Wishing Tree was just as wonderful as the last.
Here, we meet Pam, properly. A divorcee who has returned to Linden Falls, with the magic of the Wishing Tree not shining as bright, in her eyes.
She is working in the local gym with her childhood friend, Steve.
Both have been burned in the romance stakes, and Steve has already pledged a No Date pledge. Pam is convinced to try a bit of online dating, against her will, but several local folks, even though there are some who are convinced the perfect pairing is already there, in front of her.
Pam is a feisty, independent woman, but it’s obvious she eventually wants that somebody, so it’s a lovely journey to see her finally find love.
And the way we see Steve battling with his feelings and his pledge is quite funny, but a little heart-tugging, too.
The way the stories all interweave makes my heart sing.
My only complaint is that I don’t want any of the stories to end!

A Parade of Wishes by Camille Di Maio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Liz Guidry’s visit to Linden Falls is short and sweet, yet her fleeting meeting with Neva Cabot, and the famous Wishing Tree is life-changing.
She is a successful artist in her own right, but there is a huge hole in her life, which she would love to fill with a family and child-sized piece.
A forgotten children’s wallet along with the wish of a young boy leads her to the town of Camden, en route to her final destination, where she meets Mark and Cameron.
Maybe it’s a twist of fate or a coincidence, but the appearance of Liz seems to be the missing piece of their own puzzle.
A beautifully easy to read addition to the Wishing Tree series, and it just goes to s show that the magic of that tree isn’t contained in Linden Falls, but is far more wide-reaching!
Bring on book 7!

Careful What You Wish by Ashley Farley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Book 7 in The Wishing Tree series.
I love how this series has given me a chance to read books from bew to me authors.
Ashley Farley us one such author.
Her addition to the series brings a more fantastical twist to the stories.
As always we are brought to the famous tree in Linden Falls.
Mary May is a cleaner in the house of a rich socialite. Part employee, part friend, she’s been working there for 10 years.
A misjudgement of time means that she is found asleep wearing her employers clothes and jewellery, causing her to lose her job.
Where does the tree come into it?
Well, after wondering why the tree diesbt just grow money to solve peoples problems, strange things begin to happen in her own back yard.
Strange things that mean she is able to renovate her aging house, and begin to do more good for her community.
In doing so, she makes new friends, and is seeing the glimmer of happiness return to. Her life, when her former employer presses false theft charges upon her.
I won’t go into it, but the fantastical element I mentioned earlier is at work, ensuring the right decisions are made and that Mary finds a tribe of her own.
I’m sad I have to wait for more Linden Falls stories now!!

Releasing April 6th, 2022

We Move by Gurnaik Johal
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A set of shorts, loosely connected by characters whose stories loop together.
Johal has written stories with the South East Asian population in mind, from the immigrants to the first/second generation, detailing their experiences.
An easy read, but since the characters and stories are all intertwined, I do wish that there was more detail to really enhance the shorts.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Serpent’s Tail / Viper / Profile Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 7th April, 2022

One Night With You by Laura Jane Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have loved reading Laura Jane Williams’s books since the first one and gobbled up her latest offering One Night With You, with as much anticipation and excitement as the rest.
Ruby and Nic are so similar but different.
Both are starting new chapters in their lives, and moving away, after events that changed the course of their lives.
There’s just one night, where they both collide, by pure coincidence, and the sparks that fly are undeniable to both themselves and Ruby’s housemates.
But the sparks are just not enough to keep one from changing their new plans.
Thing is, when you meet someone like that, they are pretty hard to forget.
Nic immerses his new life in London, making friends, and tentatively begins dating.
Ruby puts her whole self into her Masters up North, revelling in her Year of Me.
but neither of them can forget the other,
Add in the fantastic character, JP, the nonagenarian, with a love story that captures Ruby’s interest, and encourages her to think more deeply into what she really wants, and you have a pretty good read!
There are friendship politics here, as well as grief, passionate encounters and tearful partings. All in all, a whole lot of almosts.
Will almost ever be enough?
I enjoyed reading this because it wasn’t just some sort of simple romance, but a tale with a whole load of side stories to add spice to it,
Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 26th May, 2022

Duckling by Eve Ainsworth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a rollercoaster of emotions I have just felt, reading this book today!
Lucy is a quiet, unassuming woman in her 30s. She’s a loner, in her little council flat, with no one but Boris for company, a few weekly visits to her elderly dad, and her job at the book shop.
She’s always kept herself to herself, even resisting the efforts of her older neighbour, Joy, to bring some light into her life.
When Joy passes away, it’s not long before Lucy has new neighbours and the little girl, Rubi, seeks her out.
What happens through this book is absolutely not what I was expecting, at all, but the way Lucy finally finds herself, through the support of a stranger’s daughter, her boss, Jimmy, her father and good old Columbo, is nothing short of genius!
I was gripped all the way through and though I hated what was happening, all I was doing was praying for the right things to happen!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone, Penguin for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 26th May, 2022

The Last Summer by Karen Swan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very different book to the Karen Swan stories I have already read, but my was it a good un!
Effie Gillies is one of a group of thirty-six residents of St Kilda, a tiny island off the coast of the Highlands, It is the 1930s and many have begun to feel the strain of living the extreme rural life, and tempted by the lure of stories told of the Mainland by visiting tourists, they find themselves all moved off, to ‘civilisation.
Effie may be young, at eighteen, but she has been the backbone of her family, just her and her elderly father, ensuring that they never go without.
A chance meeting with an affluent Lord and his son, Sholto, as they visit the island, changes the course of her life indelibly.
New adventures mixed in with old skills, and a murder mystery thrown in, with romance, too, what more could you ask for?
Honestly, I really loved the whole book. The beginning started slowly, as the beauty of the island was described, and the way the islanders lived, showing Effie in her element, as the tomboy she was. It really picked up pace in the second half, as Effie attempted to get to grips with life as a mainlander, not being able to commune with nature the way she has, her whole life.
And the way it ended. Well, I now am going to wait impatiently until I can read more about the ex-residents of St Kilda!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 21st July, 2022

Ten Years by Pernille Hughes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A true Enemies to Lovers story, here with a bit of a twist.
Becca and Charlie know one another well. But that doesn’t mean they like each other.
They are only in contact because of the one person they have in common. Ally.
Becca’s best friend, and Charlie’s Fianceé.
Who tragically passes away, leaving them tied together via. bucket list of things she wants them to do, whilst scattering her ashes.
Over the course of ten years, we see the way their relationship changes, from that pure hate to questioning each other, revealing certain secrets, pushing each other away, while something stronger keeps pulling them together.
There are little twists along the way that give the story a little oomph, too,
This will be a good beach read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collines, One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review

Releasing 18th August, 2022

The Setup: An absolutely hilarious, feel-good rom-com from the author of The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was another fun read by Lizzy Dent.
Mara is forever basing her life decisions on her horoscopes. They feel like the only reliable thing in her life. And when a fortune-teller gives the details of her imminent future, she takes it all to heart.
But sometimes you have to learn to take life at face value.
Throughout the story, you could see how her personality develops and how she realised she was more worthy than she ever thought before.
She finds a niche for herself, and makes new, good friends, who help her to overcome a lifetime of self-doubt, and makes herself rather useful, too, with the local Lido, where she works.
The twist in who she would choose when it came to matters of the heart though… Joe, who she is apparently destined to be with, or Ash, who her heart is telling her to trust…
It was an enjoyable read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin General UK – Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life, Penguin Business, Viking for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 9th June, 2022

An Island Wedding by Jenny Colgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, there’s nothing more to say except I think I shall have to go back and read the first 4 in the series!
I have enjoyed a number of Jenny Colgan’s books but hadn’t ventured to the Isle of Mure before, and An Island Wedding was a wonderful way to be introduced.
Not having read the first few books didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all, but whet my appetite, as there were certain elements to the storyline which referred back to previous happenings which only raised my curiosity!
I love a huge cast of characters, and the different veins of the story all tied together in the end.
Flora and Joel and their ‘will it happen or won’t it’ wedding, Lorna and Saif’s heart-wrenching romance, Jan and Olivia’s relationship as sisters. So much happening, but written in a great way.
Yes. I’ll be sure to look up the rest of the series!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Group UK, Sphere for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Publishing on 23rd June, 2022

Why Mummy’s Sloshed: The latest laugh-out-loud book by the Sunday Times Number One Bestselling Author by Gill Sims
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having kids of such ages, Gill Sims books have always resonated and made me really laugh.
This was no different, and knowing that my own two are navigating that near A-Levels time, and the hormones of teenagers, I could totally relate.
Hilarious recount of how a woman deals with life as a single mother, to two teens with two dogs and her chickens. With vast quantities of alcohol, a good set of friends, and an ex, who is learning how to be a better parent, too.

A Light Last Seen: When Jaynie Was… by Grace Greene
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jaynie Highsmigh is a girl with a lot of confused emotions and ideas swimming around in her head. With no on in her own house to rely on for emotional support, she ends up creating a special bond with her older neighbour Ruth.
All she wants to do is get away from her current life, and when she gets the opportunity, Jaynie leaves behind her mother, brother, the memory of Ruth, and her grandson Wayne and also, her name.
Change is overrated, though. As she navigates a new life, Jaynie, or Ruth, as she calls herself, finds other obstacles to her idea of a simple, happy life.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, as I have done with other Grace Greene books.
Jaynie has a lot to contend with, and it’s only coming back to her childhood home that helps her finally come to terms with the past, and be able to lay her demons to rest.

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

I truly love this series by Jen Deluca, and though it has been sitting on my kindle for a little while, I knew I would savour another trip to the Ren Faire!
This time the story centres around April Parker a single mother, who is dreading the whole Empty Nest syndrome which she is about to experience when her daughter Caitlyn graduates from school and disappears to college.
There will be plenty of time for her to get her life back, but there is also plenty that is happening that she might not want to change.
April gets talked into pretending to be her child’s Gym teacher, Mitch’s girlfriend, for a family dinner. Not a bad shout considering he is one of the hottest guys around, but things get a little sticky, as feelings begin to erupt. But that can’t be happening because he is much younger than her.
Added into the mix, she is planning on selling up her house and leaving, plus, he’s one of the Renaissance Faire’s main players. And April has no interest whatsoever… or does she?
As much as I wanted to savour it, I finished it in a day. Loved being back there, and even more excited to find out there is another instalment coming this year!

Sweet Memories by Steena Holmes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A short, sweet read about an estranged couple, brought together again at a family function.
Why did he leave? What had she done? Was it the right choice?
I’d happily read the next to see what happened.

Trey Releasing April 28th, 2022. Sirens Releasing 28th May, 2022

Now, these two, I shall keep the reviews until a little closer to the release date, but I can say I was blown away by our Sacha’s end to her first fiction series!

I have been eagerly awaiting Trey, and to get a bonus Novella, Sirens, too, was just a really cherry on the top of a fantastic YA iced bun!

Sixteen books I managed in the end, and there were still few arcs in there! How do I manage to end up with so many, despite managing to whittle my NetGalley requests down? Still, I regret none!

So which one caught your eye? Any good reads you can recommend to me?

February 2022 Books #AmReading

February is the month of Love and I do love a good book!

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Grace by Victoria Scott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This second book from Victoria Scott is another amazing page-turner.
Told from the viewpoint of two women, both at different ends of the same struggle, with an additional view of the judge presiding over a very heart-wrenching child custody case.
Michelle is young and has suffered considerably in that short life, at the hands of an inadept social services team, who failed her, from the moment she was separated from her younger sister at the age of six. Fast forward to her late teens, and she has found herself pregnant, in a relationship with a man who has stood by her more than any of the so-called support workers she has had assigned to her. Even his questionable behaviour towards her doesn’t waiver her trust in him.
However, they’re broke, live in squalor, and she knows that is no place to bring up a baby, however much she is already attached to that little being.
Amelia is a woman, in a marriage tinged with sadness at the fact that they can’t have children, and the one time they thought their dream would come true ended up in the tragedy of stillbirth.
A solution to both of these women’s problems could be found, in the placement of little Grace, born to Michelle. She thinks her daughter would be better off in the care of someone who could give her everything.
And that someone could be Amelia, and her husband Piers, who are approached via the Foster to Adopt scheme.
The thing is, nothing is ever that simple.
It was, indeed a roller coaster of emotions as I read the story, following the feelings of a young woman who desperately wants to get her life, and daughter back, and a woman who knows her dream is on the cusp of becoming a reality, but everything balances on the decisions of a judge, after a drawn-out investigation.
All in all, the final conclusion was what I wanted to happen, but there was so much happening in the background, as you read, even if you are of a differing opinion, you would probably agree that it was for the best. People are not always what they seem, and this book demonstrated that, perfectly.
So emotional. But brilliant.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 7th July, 2022

The Wishing Tree (The Wishing Tree Series)

The Wishing Tree by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s always a true bonus when a series is introduced and it includes the writing of some of your favourite authors.
This introductory book to The Wishing Tree Series is exactly that, and I devoured it in one sitting at 5 am this morning, as I was unable to sleep.
A small, some may say, sleepy town, with some extremely interesting inhabitants, and one or two soon to be ones too, is home to a tree that those who live there say is magical.
A wishing tree.
Each of the authors has contributed to the building of the series with a taster, and introduction to the characters with stories of their own, soon to be blossoming into full-blown novels.
From the longstanding residents to those who might just be coming back home, to newcomers, there is something to interest everyone.
I am absolutely 100% excited about the following books! Each of the characters that have been focussed on has stories to tell. Stories that I want to read.

Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market

Rainbows End in Ferry Lane Market by Nicola May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’ll just start by putting this out there. I am gutted this is the last in the series!
I thoroughly enjoyed the first twp books in the Ferry Lane series and eagerly awaited this third book, where we were able to catch up with old friends, as well as make some wonderful new ones.
This book centres around Glanna, Isaac and Oliver.
Glanna is a local girl by birth, but she disappeared to London as soon as she was able, wanting to spread her wings. She spreads them a bit too far, and ends up in a downward spiral of drink and high living, which ends up with her in rehab. On the cups of turning forty, with a wonderful relationship over, she heads back home, to her parents, and back to one of her first loves. Art.
Isaac is a local artist. A very famous reclusive artist. And somehow, Glanna ends p making his acquaintance, during a particularly awful storm. Could he be the one to nurse her heart back to happiness? With so many deep, dark secrets in his background, will he be up for romance?
Or is it Oliver, Glanna’s one perfect relationship, that soured, as she realised they both wanted different things. Him: marriage and a family. Her: love and a happy life, just the two of them.
The wonderful cast of colourful characters that accompany Glanna on her own journey of self-discovery, are a delight in themselves, with her father, and his rather brash new girlfriend, and her posh mother, who is always chasing the younger man. Not forgetting Banksy, Glanna’s gorgeous whippet! And we get to hear all about how marriage and motherhood are treating all the favourites from the past two books.
This was a wonderful read that I devoured in a day!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 14th April, 2022

The Wedding Season

The Wedding Season by Katy Birchall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Imagine being on the cusp of getting married, literally, then finding yourself jilted, but not quite at the altar, but in a broom cupboard?
That is where Freya finds herself, the day before her dream wedding.
Their wedding was meant to be the beginning of that special Wedding Season, when all those close friends and family, seem to settle down at the same time.
Luckily for Freya, she has a strong band of friends around her, and they help her navigate what could be an extremely tough few months, assembling a plan to help Freya cope with the weddings, hens and stens that are all part of the season.
Each event is assigned a task to help her get over Matthew. Tasks she would never have thought about even attempting had she been in her comfortable twelve-year relationship. And possibly a way to find someone to help her get back on that dating horse…
A funny, but touching ode to friendship, and finding love in the most unexpected places!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 14th April, 2022

The Wrong Suitcase

The Wrong Suitcase by Laura Jane Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I saw this was out today, and I immediately clicked to buy, and read it in one sitting!
Two guests travelling abroad to attend the wedding of mutual friends. Two guests who have just come out of relationships.
Somehow, their suitcases, which are identical, are mixed up at the hotel, and what follows is a gigglesome journey to them finding their own cases, and each other.
I thoroughly enjoyed the short story, and only wish there was more to follow, to see what happens post wedding!

The Amazing Road Trip Home - England to India with Strangers

The Amazing Road Trip Home – England to India with Strangers by Apinder Sahni
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is always good to read a story that resonates with you, and even better when you can put a face to a name.
Apinder Sahni has written a beautiful biographical tribute to two well-respected Sikh men, the Chhatwal brothers, Inder and Gurcharan, and their journey, not only in a car from England to India, but also their personal journey from India to now.
Filled with anecdotes, as well as factual information, Sahni creates that personal touch with the chapters that delve into the brothers’ background and past, as well as that fateful journey with Roy, Sarita and their son, in that Austin.
An educational, emotional read.

The Book Share

The Book Share by Phaedra Patrick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Do you know what?
I really loved this book!
Like really enjoyed it!
Liv is a middle-aged cleaner, pootling along with life. Her children are leaving the nest, her husband is deep in his own work worries, and Liv is just about coping. with her books by her side to keep her going
Until one of her cleaning clients changes her life, completely.
Essie Starling is a reclusive best-selling author, and somehow, she opens up to her cleaner, in the strangest of ways, leaving Liv with a mission and a half to complete, upon her death,
Sure, maybe it is a bit far-fetched, to imagine the situation she is propelled into, but what a situation to find yourself, eh?
Liv ends up on a journey of self-discovery that she never thought she needed to go on, and, in the process, awakes a passion for words that she had left dormant for far too long.
So many twists within the story kept me going and I finished it far too quickly for my liking.
As I said before, loved it!
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 31st March, 2022

The Girls

The Girls by Bella Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You’d be forgiven for thinking this might just be a frivolous rom-com about a bunch of girlfriends, off on a sun-soaked holiday, looking at the cover, but that’s where this old adage, “Never judge a book by its cover”, is most suitable.
The Girls is about a group of friends, and there is an element of being abroad, but, that’s where the frivolity ends.
These are four women, some may describe as, past their prime.
Pauline, Val, Jackie and Zara.
All in their later years, these four friends used to house share in the seventies, and now, somehow, fate, or rather, Zara, has brought them back together.
Pauline is in her own personal hell, alone after a long abusive marriage, with demons that won’t back down, and she’s on the brink of taking her life.
Val, alone, but strong. with a secret hidden so deep, that none of her girls knows about it.
Jackie, the most frivolous of the bunch, is still searching for her One, and even though she knows her options are lessening, due to her age, can’t help herself.
So, when they are all invited to a party to celebrate their old, now famous, friend, Sara’s 80th birthday, they meet with some trepidation, having not seen each other for many years.
Here’s where things get more serious.
Zara wants them all to recreate their 70s living arrangement, but in her villa in France, knowing that all her friends have nothing holding them to England, and with a somewhat selfish motive of her own,
However, her sudden demise plunges them into even more problems.
Lots of different issues are raised in this extremely good book.
Sure, maybe it is a little far fetched to think that someone would go to so much trouble to have their friends around them, but the ensuing story had me gripped.
And, the best thing?
They all learn something important about themselves through the journey.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Head of Zeus for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 14th April, 2022

Mad About You

Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another Mhairi McFarlane book that I added to the top of my TBR ARC list as soon as it hit!
Harriet is a wedding photographer, who doesn’t really believe in marriage, for herself.
She has issues from the past that stop her from truly committing, even to her lovely boyfriend, Jon. A surprise proposal from him, in front of his family, pushes her over the edge and she pushes him away.
Without giving too much away, all I can say is that this book has dealt with some pretty harrowing issues, including emotional harassment, narcissism, and the role that Social Media can play in totally ruining someone’s life.
Harriet is lucky to have a good friend around her, Lorna, who, might I add is a character I would love to have in my corner! She ends up as a lodger in a house, where it turns out the landlord is a shady character she’d not think she would ever come face to face with, but sometimes shady isn’t actually bad, it’s more that you haven’t got to know someone properly.
I read this in literally a day, so yes, a good book, a great read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins, UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing 14th April, 2022

I Wish… by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was absolutely intrigued by the opening set of short stories to introduce this series, The Wishing Tree, and dived straight into the first of the full-length stories, I Wish… by Amanda Prowse.
Linden Falls has a magical quality, and a rather special tree, too.
Verity and her daughter Sophie are unaware of this power, when Verity, on a spur of a moment decision, sticks a pin into a globe and finds herself travelling to this small Americal town, with her girl.
She needs a break, and to find herself, after being cruelly thrown aside by her famous chef husband, Sonny, for a younger model.
They plan a three-month circuit breaker trip to an unknown place and find themselves meeting new people, and forging new friendships, along with feeling a sort of magic that the Wishing Tree and Linden Falls bestows upon its inhabitants and visitors.
I felt for Verity.
One devotes themselves to the one they love, and the last thing you expect is to be thrown over for another. Through this story, you see her become more confident, and self-aware, and the relationship between mother and daughter is a beautiful thing to behold.
Sophie is a caring seventeen-year-old, who, instead of showing herself being torn between her two parents, chooses to help her mother, as well as keep her relationship with her father intact too.
And I loved how Verity was given that second chance she so wanted, even though it came in a guise different to what she expected.
Quite honestly, I wanted it to carry on, and on, so secretly I am glad that we will be revisiting Verity and her story in further books, later on!

Releasing March 3rd, 2022

Wish You Were Here by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful testament to friendship!
Neva Cabot is the keeper of the Inn in Linden Falls, and has, by default become Keeper of the Wishes hung on the Wishing Tree in the centre of the town. A calm and centred person, she quietly goes about her business, yet has a sixth sense about what someone may need, at any time.
Henry Harmon is struggling with his wife, Greta’s decline due to Alzheimer’s. But he knows she’s a proud woman, and he keeps the struggle of trying to care for her, to himself
Neva, Henry and Greta have an age-old bond that was severed, yet, somehow they overcome a huge hurdle in order for Neva to reach out to her long-estranged friends to help them.
She takes in Janie and her two daughters, a family that moved into a ramshackle property in the town not long ago, on the pretext of needing a housekeeper. But, there is something else, Janie is hiding.
Having constant company, and two wonderful girls to keep her on her feet, fills Neva with so much joy, it is a wonder to behold. Caley and Breeze are unique young ladies in their own right.
But, ultimately, like I mentioned at the beginning, this is a story of age-old friendship, and how it can be fractured, but equally, it shines a light on how that same friendship can be mended, and take on a different shape.
And I have to say that there are the two starring roles of Myster and his feline ladyfriend, to add to the fun!
Another wonderful addition to the series. I can’t wait to read the next one!

Little Boxes: Debut literary fiction from the Young People’s Laureate for London

Little Boxes: Debut literary fiction from the Young People’s Laureate for London by Cecilia Knapp
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A heartwrenching debut novel about friendship.
Four friends with lives tied together in invisible knots, living in a block of flats on a run down old council estate, in the seaside town of Brighton.
Two in a damaging relationship, one with unrequited love and another with a secret he’s unable to talk to anyone about.
The death of one man brings about a tsunami of feelings and change, mainly for the better.
Leah is a girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders, helping her mum cope with life, since her dad left them, and coping with the aftermath effects that had on her older brother. Her relationship with Jay is coloured by her own experience of men and how they treat women,
Jay is a damaged soul in his own right, but unable to do anything to help himself.
Nathan is the product of a successful partnership, but what he wants in life seems just out of reach.
Matthew has his own secrets. Living with his grandfather, he has never been able to be open and honest about who he really is.
When Ron, his grandfather dies, unexpectedly, feelings rise up and take over, and many other untold stories come to light,
A touching, sometimes uncomfortable, read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 9th March, 2022

Wish Again by Tammy L. Grace
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am loving these interconnected books in The Wishing Tree series by a whole host of fabulous authors!
Wish again is Tammy L. Grace’s input into the exploration of the residents of Linden Falls, and this time we are learning about Paige, who returned to her childhood home, after the awful death of her husband, to the comfort of her mother and the bookshop she runs.
More unfortunate events tear Paige up, but every cloud has a silver lining, as they say, and Linden Falls also has a Wishing Tree.
Even though Paige isn’t a believer, a wish happens upon her and she ends up making it come true for someone else, and with that as a catalyst, she ends up finding many new things to do with her time, as well as rediscovering old passions and a new found love for her illustrator job.
A wonderful addition to the series, and Gladys, her dog is just fabulous!

Releasing 16th March, 2022

So, I managed thirteen (Fourteen, if you include one I beta read!) this month! Which one sounds good to you? Tell me about a good book you have read.

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