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?

17 Years Ago – When the World Changed

Where were you 17 years ago?

Image result for 9/11 never forget

I may not be an American, but this day seventeen years ago, I remember all too well.

Seventeen years ago, I was ill.

I recall laying in my bed with the TV on. My Pops, who was still practising as a dentist, came running into my room and changed the channel to the news, where there were videos being played on replay, of a plane hitting one of New York#s Twin Towers.

I looked on in horror as we saw the second one being targeted by another aircraft.

It wasn’t long before the claims came from Al-Qaida and Bin Laden that they had been responsible for this loathsome act. The news was pouring in of the devastation, the death tolls were rising by the minute…

It was two months before our wedding. Hubby Dearest had just started a new job, in Central London, Canary Wharf.

The news then reported that Canary Wharf was on high alert as there had been reports that something was going to happen there.

I phoned him, wanting to know he was okay, that they were all okay.

It was a day that the world as we knew it changed.

A day that fear was born in the hearts and minds of many who had been previously unaware of conflicts and differences.

A day that made many begin to look at their fellow citizens with different eyes.

Suddenly, your friendly brown-skinned neighbour was looked at suspiciously, a woman with her head covered was feared, the calls to prayer that previously were celebrated, as a multicultural community, were quietened for fear of backlashes.

A whole new prejudice was born.

Since then there has been so much, with groups like Al-Qaida, and ISIS causing devastation in many countries, the UK, France, Belgium to name but a few.

Thankfully many people now see beyond religion as a motive. They don’t tar all Muslims with the same brush, understanding that those who follow Islam truly, are abhorrent of these few who are taking Allah’s name in vain.

But there are still plenty who are like a dog with a bone.

Any brown face is to be treated with caution; if they have turbans or headscarves, well then they must be part of these terrorist groups. There is no attempt to educate. Which is why so many innocents have been racially abused, attacked or killed, because someone thinks they are a terrorist.

I don’t need to step far away from my own background, where we have had Sikhs vilified because they wear turbans (because Bin Laden had something wrapped around his head, so that means all people with things on their head must be Muslim. Er no, As a Sikh our turban is a symbol of our religion, Sikhism…). And uneducated ex-army personnel targeting a Gurdwara, killing innocent worshippers because he didn’t know this was a Gurdwara, not a Mosque (not that that would have made the attack right).

It’s a shame that there is one such individual who got elected to President in the USA…

God help America.

And as for today, may we all remember those who lost their lives 17 years ago and remember those who have lost their lives in all the subsequent attacks over these seventeen years. Innocents, who had nothing to do with the selfish, ridiculous battles that have raged on. And those heroes who have stepped up in these horrible times, sacrificing their own lives in the process.

May they Rest In Peace.

And may our world regain some semblance of compassion, and sense, and stop these senseless attacks from happening.

An updated repost of an old article.

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