May 2020 Books #AmReading

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

Or maybe not.

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

Here’s what I managed.

Christmas Wedding (Cliffside Bay Series)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kissed: A Cliffside Bay Christmas Short

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

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

Chateau Wedding by Tess Thompson

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

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

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

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

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

My Untold Truth by Sharon Punni Khakh

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

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

Self Love

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

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

Life in progress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life and Other Happy Endings

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

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

One Summer in Santorini (Holiday Romance Book 1)

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

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

That Night in Paris (Holiday Romance Book 2)

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

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

A Sunset in Sydney (Holiday Romance Book 3)

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

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

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

The Day She Came Back

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

Releasing on 7th July, 2020

Busted in Bollywood

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

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

The Love Square

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

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

Releasing 29th June 2020

The Sugar Queen of Emerson Pass

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

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

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

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

Mr Portobello's Morning Paper

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

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

A Convenient Marriage by Jeevani Charika

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

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

The Opposite of Hew by Lisa W. Tetting

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

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

That was over twenty books this month!!!!

So, which book caught your eye?




November Books #BookReviews

The penultimate month of the year, it will no doubt be filled with the odd festive read, along side the arcs I have to complete!

Wish Me Home

Wish Me Home by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an emotional read!
I really enjoyed the story of Cara and her tumultuous journey, both physically, and emotionally, to find herself.
And when a four legged companion in on the scene, that can only make things better!

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine

Timothy Mean and the Time Machine by William A.E. Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a lovely, imaginative book, filled with rhyme and adventure!
Ford has crafted a beautiful rhythmic tale about Timothy and his time machine, and all the adventures he is able to go on, fuelled by the imagination of a child.
As a teacher, I find that we seem to shut down our children’s imagination, somewhat, catering to curriculum needs, but this book is a reminder to adults as well as kids, that we need to be able to play, pretend, and whisk ourselves off to other worlds sometimes.
A wonderful premise within the book, and lessons to be learned!

Christmas Party

Christmas Party by Karen Swan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s not often you get to read about a modern-day knight, and in The Christmas Party, this is exactly what we get. Well, actually it’s more the legacy of a knight.
Declan Lorne is the last surviving knight in Ireland, his family having carried the title over 700 years. And it looks like he’s going to be the last ever knight too, having a family consisting of his wife and three feisty daughters.
His sudden demise leaves a huge gap in the lives of all his family, and his will sets many cogs turning.
Will his wife, Serena, ever accept being relegated to the Dowager House?
Will Ottie, his oldest daughter, ever get over being the disappointment of a girl, rather than a boy, and not the heir she felt her father always wanted?
Will Pip, the middle child, manage to control her own inner angst, and follow her dreams?
And will Willow, the youngest daughter, ever find her true place in her family?
I really enjoyed all the twists and turns within this book, filled with tragedies, and misplaced trust, love and loss.
Oh, and I’d love to see a pink castle!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Forgotten Hours

The Forgotten Hours by Katrin Schumann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Katie’s life, on the surface, is pretty simple, and straightforward.
She rents a nice flat, has a good job, is in a relationship with a great guy…
Has divorced parents, and a father in prison charged with statutory rape – the rape of Katie’s best friend, when she was fifteen.
Memories of idyllic summers spent at the cabin by the lake are blemished by this one accusation that changes the lives of many people.
Katie has spent most of the last six years erasing the connection between her and her father’s name, to escape the awkward questions from others, but she still loves her dad. After all, it was a mistake, a wrong conviction… wasn’t it?
The impending release of her father brings ripples to the smooth waters of her life and the ripples reveal many secrets, things Katie was never aware of before.
I read this in one day, as I got so into the story.
A really tough topic to write about. The rape of a minor, and the way people cover things up.
Seeing it from the perspective of a different victim, the daughter of the accused, shows another dimension.
Very well written.

How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life

How to Be a Bawse: A Guide to Conquering Life by Lilly Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoy watching Lilly Singh and have felt a certain Punjabi pride at seeing one of ‘our’ girls do so well in her chosen career as a YouTuber, with her hashtag and now as one of the first late-night female TV show presenters in the USA.
I must admit I have had this book on my kindle for a while and it has taken a while to get to it, but I finally did this week, and I enjoyed the read. There were several chapters that were really poignant for me.
I shall try to introduce more Bawse-ness into my life!

More Than Just Mum

More Than Just Mum by Rebecca Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What’s not to like?

Hannah Thompson is a woman – so am I
She is a wife – yup, same here
A mother – nods I’ve got 2 kids, a fur baby and two feathered ones, she has 3 children and a dog
A teacher – yes, yet another similarity!
An aspiring author – yet another similarity
Has a hubby who is quietly supportive of her dreams but doesn’t always get the support quite right – check!
Works part-time – no… alas I am a full-time teacher, wife, mother and wannabe writer!

Oh my God, if this woman had only 2 children, and worked a couple more days a week, this book might just have been my life!

Hannah is feeling the pressure.
She has one child about the fly the nest, off to university, one teen who is keeping her on her toes with the company she keeps and the questions she asks and a young not quite tween, who is inquisitive and has a pet hamster which causes his own grief.

Working three days a week (not by choice), Hannah knows that the money isn’t exactly flowing into their bank accounts, and they have a child to send off to uni imminently, and the thought of having to finance two more is, quite frankly terrifying… and her headteacher is not keen to give her a full-time contract.

Until she has the bright idea to write a book on her days off.

Will her head have a change of heart and increase her hours?
Will she finish this book or not?
Will she find a way to publish?

Well, you know I’m not going to tell you. What I will say is that it was a fantastically funny book. I was able to relate to so much of it, and Hannah’s life echoes that of many working mothers out there.

Definitely, one I recommend!

Many thanks to NetGalley and One More Chapter for an Arc in exchange for an honest review.

Published 7th December, 2019

Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The second Japanese book I have read this year and I have to say, I found this one much easier to read.
We follow the life of a 36-year-old woman, Keiko, who has her own social difficulties and finds her comfort in her part-time job as a worker in a convenience store.
It’s been eighteen years since she started at a job where most would have thought of it as a stopgap between studying and proper career.
However for Keiko, yer job in the store allows her to function in the world and be viewed as normal, rather than the oddity she has been regarded with all her life, but both her family and friends.
There is even the contemplation of marriage, which is an alien concept to this middle-aged virgin.
A short read about someone who, I think, is very much on the Spectrum, as they say, and her way of dealing with it, so she fits in with the rest of the world.

You, Me and the Movies

You, Me and the Movies by Fiona Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always been a fan of the movies, and the old classics are special to me, so to read a book that referenced so many fantastic films was great!
Arden is a woman who is in a dark place, after the end of an awful marriage. She has shut herself away from everyone who cared about her, partly because her ex-husband made her, and partly because she feels shame at being so weak.
A twist of fate finds her visiting a friend in the hospital, and finding someone else there she knew before.
Mac – a film lecturer from her university, and her big love.
He’s older and injured.
Unable to speak from injuries sustained in a car accident, they begin to share evenings together as she visits him, and revisits the past, recalling a list of movies they watched together, cataloguing their affair with each other.
Of course, she doesn’t have him to herself. She shares her Mac with James, his neighbour.
Together, they ensure his visitor chair is never empty, and build a special friendship, sharing secrets about each other, that they’ve never told another soul.
Mac used to talk about Arden finding her Bigger Love, but she never believed him…

I really enjoyed this book. It was a little predictable with the ending, but sometimes you just want simple stories that don’t have huge twists in them.
Saying that, it isn’t a simple romantic story in the least, dealing with issues such as loss and separation, and the relationships between parent and child.

A recommended read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Published 26th December

Gravity Is the Thing

Gravity Is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A strange read. It took me a long while to get into this story: a tale of Abigail and her quest for the truth.
A grown-up woman, divorced and mother to a 4-year-old, Abi is constantly on the lookout for answers in life to one big question. Where is her brother?
Robert, her brother, disappeared when she was 15, and there has never been any information about where he went, or what happened to him.
Ironically, that same year, Abi was sent a chapter of a self-help manual, the Guidebook. The chapters kept coming throughout her life, and she felt a link between her brother’s disappearance and the words in the guide.
A request to come to a retreat, where the Guidebook would be the centre of attention draws her into another chapter of her life, filled with different discoveries.
It was a strange story, based in the past as well as the present. I did find myself slightly confused. Are we meant to fly? Or was it all a euphemism for life?
But I did like Abi, and her little son Oscar.
Many thanks to Netgalley, Atlantic Books and Allan & Unwin for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 2nd January, 2020

Such a Fun Age

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A book I managed to finish within a day, which, recently has been a struggle for me!

I was intrigued by the blurb. Would this story about a young African American woman, who worked for a successful white family, be something like a lot of social themed novels recently, chanting #BlackLivesMatter?

Well, it did, a little, but that wasn’t the entirety of the novel.

Emira, the babysitter is a twenty-something woman, similar to many out there, unsure of the direction of her life, plodding along, trying to find where she really wants to be.

She just happens to be black.

And the regular babysitter for Alix and her family, looking after two-year-old Briar, and on occasion, her baby sister, Catherine.

Alix is a thirty-something woman, married with her two beautiful daughters and a successful husband, riding on her own social media successes, and in the process of writing a book.

What happens one night in the local grocery store, when her babysitter is falsely accused of taking a child, who is obviously not hers, sparks a chain of events that explore so much more than racial stereotypes. Sure, that is a big part of it, but it is approached from two very different angles, that of a black woman, and that of a white woman.
Neither is racist, but both have stereotypes foisted upon them by others.

Add to the mix, crossed wires, and past secrets, and you have one heck of a delicious novel!

Many thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published on 7th January 2020

Lady of the Ravens

Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always been a fan of historical fiction and jumped at the chance to read an advanced copy of The Lady of The Ravens by Joanna Hickson.

Set in the times where the Tudors took control of the monarchy, the author has cleverly interwoven fact with fiction to create a compelling story that weaves the legend of the Ravens at the Tower of London, with a fictional tale of Joan, a young lady who starts her life of royal duty by being a companion to Princess Elizabeth, and, as time goes by, works her way up to the rank of Lady in Waiting for the then Queen Elizabeth. Along the way, she is chosen to marry Sir Richard, and becomes mother to six stepchildren, despite never wanting to bear children herself.

Joan develops something of an obsession with the majestic black birds that frequent the green around the Tower, and despite the belief among the commoners that the monarchy and country is safe, as long as the ravens roost at the Tower, she is horrified at how the archers use them as target practise, and the treatment of them.

I loved how the story of the ravens and how they appeared to become more accepted, and the life of Joan blended in with the real facts of the monarchy and events that happened at this time.

The characters came to life, and I became a champion of Joan and her cause through the book!

Definitely a recommended read if you are a historical fiction lover!

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

Published 9th January 2020

Well, there you have it, my reading journey this month!

Which one has caught your eye?


June’s Books #Book Reviews

And it is nearing the end of June… that means half the year has already flown by. I have spent it within a whirlwind of books, and this month, I can add the following to my read collection!

The Newcomer

The Newcomer by Fern Britton

My rating: 5 of 5 star
Welcome to the small village of Pendruggan, where the newcomer is Angela, the new vicar, with her husband, Richard, and daughter, Faith.
It’s never easy to fit into an already established community, especially when you have some rather comfortable boots to fill. But That is exactly what Angela does: with her caring ways and modern ideas, she creates her own imprint among the villagers.
A story that was very easy to settle into, with romance, laughter, tragedy and celebration.
This was the first Fern Britton boon I have read and I will certainly be reading more.

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

A Walk in Wildflower Park (Wildflower Park Series)

A Walk in Wildflower Park by Bella Osborne
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another lovely read by author Bella Osborne.
We follow the stories of Anna, a newly single woman who feels like she can never find the right man, and is hiding a few of her own secrets, and Sophie, her married friend, who is pregnant and suffering her own worries.
After moving into a place of her own, Anna begins to settle into her life for one, peppered with adventures with Sophie and her family in the wildflower park that they live near.
The story is seasoned with not one, not two, but three prospective love interests for Anna, and a few twists and turns that were definitely unexpected!
And Sophie? I could relate to her, as a working, married mother, not sure whether this was the life she had agreed upon, instead, questioning her decisions to settle with the situation she has found herself in.
An easy read, with romance, a bit of mystery and some great laughs too.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Last Love Story

My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
My first Falguni Kothari book, and I finished it in a day – what do you think, I think?

Quite an intense book that explores friendship, love, longing and loss.

Imagine facing the worst thing you can – the possible death of the one you love the most – your spouse.

Then throw in his request for you to have his baby, before he dies.

Add in the best friend, who actually makes up a trio of souls who have shared a journey for the best part of their life, together.

A sprinkle of hope from the husband, that his wife and best friend be each other’s comfort when he finally dies, spices up the agenda.

Especially as there is history… A lot of history between this unlikely three, in various ways – some funny, some tragic, some, rather naughty.

The story is set in the US but the three main characters are all from the Indian subcontinent, and all from different backgrounds too, one being Muslim, one Hindu and one Parsi.

The author gives a good picture of the difference in the three cultures, that many western minds may not be aware of.

An interesting read.

From a Distant Star

From a Distant Star by Karen McQuestion
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Do you believe in aliens?
What if something inexplicable happens in life, and quite possibly, the only explanation is extraterrestrial?
Emma is seventeen and in love with a cancer patient who is in a coma.
Something strange happens one night, and she gets her love back, but with a difference.
Follow the story of Emma, her boyfriend Lucas, and his inner spirit, Scout, as they endeavour to get Scout back where he came from.
Such an engaging story, in a genre I wouldn’t usually read.

And that little line at the end – ” Tell Emma I am sending her less than three.”

Too cute!

Our Stop

Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an absolutely fab book!

If you believe in destiny, then this book is filled with it.

And… who knew the London Underground could be so romantic!

Nadia is a feisty, successful 20-something Londoner, going about her life, ricochetting between bad relationships, wondering when her time will come. She loves sensitive men, who aren’t scared to show their emotions.
Daniel is a sensitive, successful 20-something Londoner, recovering from the shock of his father’s death, looking for someone to share life, and reality TV with. He loves feisty women, who are clumsy with their coffee.

But how will their paths ever cross?

Cue the Underground and Missing Connections.

Daniel sees Nadia and just knows there is something about her. But, how to approach?

Using a series of messages in the local commuters newspaper, these two slowly get sucked into a will they/won’t they situation.

We can see they are perfect for each other. Their friends can sense they are perfect for each other. Why can’t they just meet and see if they hit it off?

With a series of twists and turns, we see the story of Nadia and Daniel develop, and I can say, hand on heart, that I finished this book with a gooey smile on my face!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Boy Swallows Universe

Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I have heard many good things about this book so was very excited to read it.
I did find it a little disjointed and hard to get into at the end and found myself wondering what was going on, but the speed of the story and my wanting to read it as fast as I could, kicked in at around the halfway point, as I was eager to know what happened.
A story that was sad, funny, happy, full of fear and hope, all at once!
We follow two brothers through some very troubling times in their lives, and who have an ex-con as their mentor, even after he passed away, guiding them through some tough situations.
I cannot adequately describe this book, in a way that gives it the credit it deserves.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 5th July

Instructions For Falling In Love Again by Lucy Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

 There are days when you really need a good Rom Com to fall into. A book that will make you forget the world around you as you immerse yourself in its fictitious one.
Well, that was me as I fell into Author Lucy Mitchell’s debut novel, Instructions For Falling In Love Again.
I found myself living alongside Pippa Browning, a recently widowed mother of three, who is just starting to get her life into some semblance of normality, after losing her beloved husband to cancer three years previously.
Being a single mother is never easy, and dealing with a teen bunny boiler in practice, and two children who know how to wreak havoc at just the right (or wrong) time, who are all dealing with the grief of losing their father, has her at her nerves end.
Pippa is lucky to have her two best friends, Mel and Emma, by her side, and the support of her sister Helen.
And she also has a book.
A notebook filled with wisdom that was left for her, written by her late husband, giving her clear instructions for how to get on with her life without him, by falling in love again.
With the wrong guy. Mikey Stenton – International playboy and all-round tart!
I was hooked.
I loved the characters of Pippa and her family, including her interfering mother, who wants the best for her daughter, but by her own standards, not her daughter.
I loved feisty Daisy, the teenage crazy girl who knows how to back her crushes into corners.
I loved Libby, the middle child with a talent for football, and a penchant for small furry animals.
I loved Billy, the youngest member of the Browning family, who was a typical little boy, always getting into arguments with his sister, and never brushing his hair.
Pippa’s friends are wonderfully supportive, quirky characters, who only want the best for their dear friend.
And I adored Mikey Stenton, the true tart with a heart – who goes from bed-hopping to school dropping… I shan’t say too much more, because I don’t want to give too much away.
Oh, and Pippa wasn’t the only one left with a notebook…
But seriously, there were some fantastic twists and turns, and I found myself in fits of giggles, in tears and in that “Aaaaawwwww!” moment too.
Do I recommend this book? Absolutely! What a great debut novel.
Lucy, I am waiting for more from you now!
Many thanks to Lucy for an advanced copy, in exchange for an honest review.
The First Time Lauren Pailing Died

The First Time Lauren Pailing Died by Alyson Rudd

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The blurb of this book sounded intriguing.
A girl who keeps on dying, yet finds herself alive in different versions of her life.
It took me a while to get into the story, but I was intrigued to find out what was happening, and why.
Not my favourite read, but not the worst.
Many thanks to NetGalley, and HQ Publishing for an ARC of this book.

So, that’s it. my list of books this month!

What have you been reading?

January’s Books #BookReview

January has flown by, don’t you think?

And in that time I have managed to devour eleven (yes, that’s ELEVEN!) books.

Bitmoji Image

I can thank my mile-long TBR list, as well as some fantastic new manuscripts that NetGalley approved for me to be an ARC reader!

Now I’m just going to pop a little photo here to show you what I have been reading…

See.

Told you I’d been busy! There was, of course, a reason for my ability to read so much, during term time. I credit that to a horrible sickness bug that rendered me prone to my bed, when not hugging the lavatory… but you don’t want to know about that!

So, the books.

I am giving you my reviews and a link to my GoodReads review, and if not available yet, a publication date.

Queenie Malone's Paradise Hotel

Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel by Ruth Hogan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first book by Ruth Hogan, and I really enjoyed it.
A tale of a mother and a daughter, told by one person, but two perspectives.
Tilly the young girl, and Tilda the adult.
Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel is a story about ghosts. Past and present, and the ability to see them. Their ability to help a confused young woman to see her past more clearly, and her present and future with no regrets.
A touching read that made me think a little of Sixth Sense!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Two Roads books for allowing me to have an arc in exchange for my honest opinion.

Published 07/02/19

Stories from the Heart: Seven Short Stories

Stories from the Heart: Seven Short Stories by Amanda Prowse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A beautiful set of short stories from a favourite author of mine!
Great to dip into when you can’t commit to a longer book, but want something that will give you that tingle.


Wildflower Heart (The Wildflower House #1)

Wildflower Heart by Grace Greene

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wildflower Heart is the first of Grace Greene’s books that I have read, and I was far from disappointed.

A story of a damaged woman, scarred, physically and emotionally, from situations in her life, including the disappearance and subsequent death of her mother, and then the loss of her husband, in a gruesome accident which injured her as well.
After a long time she finds herself healing in some way, due to Wildflower House, the project her father buys as his forever home, in his retirement.
I don’t want to go into too much detail, but suffice to say, I felt sadness, joy, anger, frustration and hope whilst reading.
I am now keenly awaiting the sequel, wanting to know what happens next in Kara’s Wildflower journey!

Many thanks to NetGalley, and Grace Greene for the Arc, in exchange for an honest review.

In at the Deep End

In at the Deep End by Kate Davies

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I requested this book, but I have to say I was intrigued… I did have to read it in small spurts rather than in one or two sittings, as some areas were rather graphic!
I certainly have more of an idea about particular erotic activities now!
And I definitely had to be careful that my child wasn’t trying to read over my shoulder!
A sometimes funny, sometimes uncomfortable read, but a page-turner, nonetheless!

Published 21/02/19

Once Upon a River

Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An interesting concept but a bit slow for me. Thanks to Netgalley for an arc in return for an honest review.

The Ballad of Sean and Wilko

The Ballad of Sean and Wilko by Paul Charles

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A detective, murder mystery kind of vibe. Not really my sort of usual read. Engaging enough, but not the best, for me.

Beautiful Broken Things

Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Engaging. A story of friendship, abuse and support.

Fierce Fragile Hearts

Fierce Fragile Hearts by Sara Barnard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Okay, so yesterday I spent the day reading Pretty Broken Things in anticipation of reading Fierce Fragile Hearts, and I am glad I did.

What a touching, often heart-wrenching story, told, this time, from the viewpoint of Suzanne, a victim of childhood abuse.

We experience the maturing of a friendship between three girls growing into women, and share with Suzanne the slow acceptance of what happened, and how she learns to deal with the cards life dealt her, all the time, an inner strength growing within her.

I really enjoyed reading this book and devoured it in a few hours.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan and NetGalley for providing me with an Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

What Happens in France: A laugh out loud romantic comedy that will touch your heart

What Happens in France: A laugh out loud romantic comedy that will touch your heart by Carol Wyer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I literally read this in the space of two sittings in one day!

An easy to read story about Bryony Masters, who is trying desperately to find her older sister who ran away when she was a little girl.

I loved how it was kept lighthearted, with the manner in which she decides to find her sister, and the antics of her and the great characters who support her.

Of course, there is a love interest to keep the romantics among us happy too.

And Biggie Small, the pug – what an adorable character! I wanted to be able to pet him myself and take selfies too!

With thanks to Netgalley and Canelo for this ARC in exchange for an open and honest review

Not Our Daughter!: The true story of a daughter-in-law

Not Our Daughter!: The true story of a daughter-in-law by Kalbir Bains

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I wish I could give this more but I’m sorry. I can’t.
A sad story, but I felt annoyed so much. This happening in the 2000s… It feeds on all the stereotypes of an arranged marriage.
I wanted Harleen to get a backbone.
And the editing… Not good.

Enchantée

Enchantée by Gita Trelease

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
What a beautiful book!
I was most definitely Enchantée!
I do love a bit of historical fiction. Add a dash of magic, a sprinkling of romance and a splash of conflict, and you have a most wonderful, and (sorry to use the word again) enchanting story.
I have heard an awful lot about this book and seen it in the ‘to be read’ piles of a few others I follow and was so grateful to have been given the opportunity to read something so magical in advance.
The story of Camille and her sister, left bereft by the death of their parents, with a brother sinking deep into debt, and the claws, of a mysterious debtor, kept me gripped.
Weaving in the revolution, the beauty of Paris, the mystique of Versailles and the pure magic of those who had the knowledge, the story captivated me.
I was, of course, bowled over by the dashing Lazare – a hero who had morals as well as looks.
There are a host of secondary characters who intrigue a reader too,
Recommend it? Yes, definitely!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 21/02/19

And there you have it.

Lots of Ritu Reads, sometimes recommends, sometimes not!


761?! Really???!!!

761!

That’s the number of blogs I am following!

No wonder I can never get through my reader!

I wonder how many great posts I miss everyday?

If I missed yours, I apologise profusely! I try to chug through them at least twice a day, but with kids and a job, it ain’t always easy!

It’s the holidays now, and in an ideal world, that would mean many more hours a day to read… but in actual fact it feels like I have less! Keeping the kids entertained, and showing Hubby Dearest I am not constantly on my blog, is a hard job in itself!!!!

I follow some by email, but I cant physically do that with all of them, or I would never get through my emails!  I know some aren’t bloggers who post regularly, some hardly ever post, but a good number of you post every day, or every other day, some multiple times a day, like me, and OMG! Its a job and a half!

How do you all manage?

My interactive peeps!

Peeps are reading in…

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