February 2023 Books #AmReading

Well, the romantic month has come to an end…

A couple of ARCS on my list… When are there ever not? There are more than a few left at the end of this month. And the are ones I didn’t have at the start… STOP SAYING YES, RITU!

It’s been a busy month in my personal life, too, so I haven’t read as many as I would usually do, but I have read some good ones!

Maybe Next Time by Cesca Major
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel that over the last 12 months or so, I have read a few books centring around the GroundhogDay phenomenon, where the MC is reliving the same day of their life over and over.
Maybe Next Time is of the same ilk, but I didn’t feel like was reading the same kind of story over and over.
Emma, the MC, is a busy woman. A literary agent rushed off her feet with two children at difficult times in their own lives, a sister-in-law who is struggling, so many other demands on her attention, and a wonderful husband, Dan, who she barely gets to spend time with.
A little tradition of theirs is to celebrate each year they have been together with a letter to each other, highlighting the highs of the year. She forgets her letter in all the chaos of her life and experiences the day from hell, from work to her family life, and a heartbreaking end to it.
Every time she wakes up for the next goodness knows how many days, weeks, or months, it is the same painful day over and over, and no matter what she does, the eventual outcome won’t change.
I loved how each repeated day is separated by one of Dan’s letters over the years, so we get a real feel for who he is, as well.
It lifts your soul in some ways to see how Emma goes from hating her life to embracing the chance she has to make things in her life and the lives of her loved ones better, but I warn you, the ending will make you cry!
A wonderfully emotional read that I would recommend you might need a box of tissues to accompany you as you read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins, UK, for an ARC.

Releasing 30th March, 2023

Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ali Hazelwood was a TikTok, Booktok success story with her STEM-based novel, The Love Hypothesis. You see her books all over the show. I have read one of her previous, so was intrigued to read another..
There is a niche Hazelwood likes/ Strong female characters in STEM. A bit messed up, with a love interest that starts as a bit of an enemy.
Well, in that respect, she did not disappoint.
Elsie is a Physicist with great ideas, but she isn’t getting her foot in the door to research her ideas.
She works two jobs, teaching by day and fake dating by night, to keep her head above water.
An opportunity of a lifetime arises, and when she goes for it, she is faced with a two-fold nemesis. Jack Smith, the brother of one of her fake dates and also someone who singlehandedly destroyed the career of her mentor, Dr L.
But, though there is negativity, there is something else.
Once that part gets going, the steam factor hits another high!
I read it, and enjoyed it, but it felt a little like a rehash of the previous books.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Book Co for an ARC

Releasing 13th June, 2023

Talking at Night by Claire Daverley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rosie and Will are two people with a fate entwined in a beautiful and tragic way.
Feelings they share should be celebrated. However, the shared tragedy in their life keeps them apart.
I don’t want to give much away about the reason these two find themselves unable to be together, even though everything points towards this being their fate. However, how they navigate early adulthood and those middle-aged years, connected, then not, and reconnected, shows how fate’s destination is not always by following a straight path.
What a stunning read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House, for an ARC.

Releasing 6th July, 2023

Something New at the Borrow a Bookshop: A warm-hearted, romantic and uplifting read by Kiley Dunbar
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m already a firm fan of the Borrow a Bookshop series and couldn’t wait to dive into the third instalment, wanting to find out what happened next.
Having said that, it is quite easy to read each book as a standalone. What happens in previous books is helpful to know but not essential. It just adds an extra layer of understanding and emotional connection to the returning characters that you meet in this book.
Joy and her five-year-old daughter, Radia, are the newest borrowers for the length of this book. Joy is known as a digital nomad, travelling around the globe from contract to contract with her daughter in tow. She is tasked with helping to set up a new technical system for the bookshop, as well as new digital locks, and designing a new website for the Borrow A Bookshop in the revamp that takes place after a devastating flood in the village of Clove Lore.
She’s also running away from something else, which prevents her from settling anywhere with her daughter. However, regrets are running through her mind constantly as she sees how much Radia needs stability and normality, too.
The residents of this friendly town are eager to help her settle in, and slowly her wall of emotional security is broken down, with Radia helping to ensure her mother opens up more to others,
And what would a romance book be without that spark of attraction?
Enter Monty, one of the fishing twins, who has had to give up his passion for being on the family boat with his brother to work in the local pub as a chef, dreaming up wonderful seafood recipes while having to serve up pies and sausage and mash to the pub food expectant holiday guests.
You can sense the chemistry between these two from the moment they meet, and I loved the slow-burn build-up of their connection.
I also loved the little side story romance involving the local ice cream seller, who loves keeping a book on the new borrowers and taking bets on who might pair up with someone local. This time, she has her own little love story, which was just precious!
A wonderful read which made me feel warm and gooey inside. Perfect for a pick-me-up, and I warn you, if you haven’t already, you’ll want to read the first two, too, to see what happened previously!
Now, I wait impatiently to find out if another book in the series will be coming our way!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hera Books for an ARC.

Releasing 23rd March, 2023

Summer Wedding by Sarah Morgan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Sarah Morgan’s books, and new ones come with certain expectations.
Summer Wedding was no different. However, it was.
I am used to diving into the new Sarah Morgan offering and being swept away by a romantic storyline. In fact, when I mentioned to a friend I was reading it, she said it would be a good lighthearted read for a couple of days before the half-term ends.
But, the thing is, it wasn’t as light-hearted a read as usual. But that, by no means, is a negative thing.
It felt like there was a different, more serious thread running through it.
Summer Wedding is a story that explores the relationship between a mother and her two daughters.
An unexpected invitation drops to Adeline and Cassie, two half-sisters, for their mother’s fourth wedding.
Reactions are mixed.
Adeline, as the older daughter, is more sceptical, having been burned as a child n the fallout of her romance author mother, Catherine Swift’s first divorce from her father.
Cassie is much more excited, looking forward to seeing her mother settle down to live a life mirroring her hugely successful romance novels, hopefully.
However, both women are in for shocks and discoveries of their own as they arrive in Corfu.
The siblings have a fragile relationship, and this wedding could catalyse some huge emotions between them both.
And. boy, do those reactions cause fireworks!
Honestly, it felt different but just as good a read as previous books.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC.

Releasing 25th May, 2023

Ready for It by Nicola Masters
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Two friends who have lived through everything together (but for one, it always seems that is the case unless something better comes along) are parting.
Fiona and Natalie have been best friends forever, but now, one of them is growing up, leaving the other behind,
Natalie struggles with the idea of her best friend finally moving out into a place with her long-time partner but tries her hardest to accept that life changes and moves on.
Fiona is excited about the next step in her life. but isn’t 100% sure of what she has done.
The story revolves around the two friends navigating the time after Fiona leaves their shared flat.
Things don’t go as planned, and we find one faring rather better than the other.
I enjoyed reading the book but would have loved to get to know the characters a bit deeper. A quick, easy read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing, Lake Union, for an ARC.

Blog Tour post coming in March on the 24th!!

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

January 2023 Books #AmReading

The first month of the new year – done!

I started with one ARC left from last year… heaven knows how many others will follow… but, that TBR… it’s still waiting!

Okay, so I read a few more ARCS, but I did read some current books, too! And I brought myself to a grand total of 12 books for the first month. Not bad!

The Situationship by Taylor-Dior Rumble
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Okay, so this is my first read of 2023, and I finished it in a day.
Tia is a young woman in her twenties in London, going through all sorts of angst about relationships, one specific one, and her place in a workspace that doesn’t seem to respect her ethnicity or many of those from minority backgrounds.
I have to say I am glad that, as a reader in my late forties, I have a teenage daughter, so some of the language and slang used were more familiar to me, and even some of the pop culture references didn’t fall on deaf ears…
Definitely, a book that Gen Z women would enjoy and appreciate, and if you are a little older, maybe a good one to read to understand a bit more about those younger than us since, even though we have been that age, life ‘then’ and life ‘now’ is very different.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone, Merky Books for an ARC.

Releasing 17th August, 2023


Scent of a Garden by Namrata Patel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Asha Patel is a young Indian American woman living in Paris, making her name as one of a handful of perfumiers. She’s on her way to the top, but Covid did on one her and robbed her of one of the most important senses in the world to her.
After a slight crash and burn, she is sent off for a break and returns home with her parents in Napa.
This story has many facets, including the strength of expectations on many children of Indian families. Asha and one of her childhood friends, Neel, are children of hotelier families. Businesses that have been built by grandfathers and passed down. The thing is, neither is interested in the hotel business.
Sometimes it does take a person a while to pinpoint their true passion, and this is what happens for both characters. They have to swim against the tide of disappointment as they attempt to venture out into the world for themselves instead of following a much easier, well-trodden path with more of a guarantee of financial success and stability. Which is what their forefathers always wanted to leave as a legacy,
Asha and Neel’s grandmothers live together after being widowed, and I loved their characters. a mix of pushy and supportive, they gave a much-needed sense of fun to the story.
I enjoyed it.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC.

Releasing 27th June, 2023

Best Men by Sidney Karger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to read more broadly, and MM romances ranked on the list of genres I wanted to delve into a bit further, so this coming up as a suggestion for me to read was a no-brainer.
It starts with Max the ‘gay’ best friend of Paige. They’ve been GBBFs forever, literally. Since they were around six-year-olds. Okay, so the G may not have been in the acronym at that age, but you know what I mean.
Paige is getting married and wants Max to help with all sorts of arrangements and to be her best man/man of honour, as you will.
She also wants to involve the best man from the other side, Chasten, who is her fiance, Austin’s brother, and who also happens to be gay… hmmm, possible attempts at matchmaking??
The story pootles along, with a will they-won’t they angle to the romance, as well as Max’s angst at not really doing anything of substance with his life, and not being the stereotypical gay man, so he feels his input into Paige’s wedding is minimal, because he’s not into fashion/going out/the usual gay musical tastes/all the on-trend things that are happening out there. He’s stuck in a job in HR where all he appears to be doing is being the messenger and letting people go as his company cuts jobs.
It’s a quick read, a little slow-moving at times, but easy.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC.

Releasing 25th May, 2023

The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Bennet Women is an easy-to-read, interesting take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, brought into the modern age, complete with true diversity.
We have a Black female MC, a transgender character, and all manner of other folks, all battling through life in their own way.
EJ, our MC, is pulled in two directions, with her goal-driven academic dreams vs A relationship that could lead to l.o.v.e…

Menopausing: The Positive Roadmap to Your Second Spring by Davina McCall
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh my goodness! Not quite sure what more to say than absolutely brilliant!
So many parts that I could relate to, and plenty more I now know I have to refer to in future moments of perimenopausal hell!
I have already said I would get this for another of my family members, and I would urge others who are nearing this time to find a copy to read. It is enlightening!

Love on the Menu by Mimi Deb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not strictly a Rom-com, Mimi Deb’s book is more contemporary fiction, looking at relationships between family, friends, and romantically.
Gia, the female MC, is on a work visa from India and is perilously close to losing the one job she has, which would keep her in the country due to some mishaps. One at the work Christmas party that she is convinced will be the final nail in her coffin. She has a close relationship with Ma, her mother, or MiMasa as she is entered in her phone, Probably more open than the average relationship between an Indian mother and daughter, but then, Ma isn’t your average mother figure, either.
Gia writes a list of things she needs to do in the new year to make things better.
Somehow the list ends up travelling to her local Indian takeaway, of which she is a regular customer, and the list sparks the start of a note correspondence with someone who works at Namaste London – Ben.
Ben is the male MC, and he is struggling to find a place in the world that will fulfil his family’s hopes, as well as his own.
They disapprove of his job at the takeaway, but given the struggles he has already faced in life, they don’t say too much…
I enjoyed how the book was written, with the correspondences between the characters, as an end note to a chapter, or the beginning and the details of their lives, how they meet, and their lives intertwine as time progresses.
It is good to read of a heroine not cut from the same stereotypical cloth as many, with Gia being a woman of colour and not a lythe, tall, ‘dusky’ beauty, but someone with the beauty that shines from within.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for an ARC

Releasing 13th April, 2023

Spare by Prince Harry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

How do you rate someone’s memories?
Spare isn’t a biography written by someone else, insinuating their own opinion upon the reader. It’s a memoir. Harry’s recollections (yes, written by a ghostwriter, but still, his own) of many critical moments in his life, from when he learned of his mother’s death to the present day when his Granny passed away.
Yes, we all think we know what has been happening in the Royal family. After all, anything they do is all over the news, and social media, before a second has passed.
But this candid book details Harry’s thoughts and the memories of his life.
So many out there have already slated the book as a load of untruths.
But it is stated several times in the book that he doesn’t have the best memory to remember conversations verbatim, and sometimes his recollections will be hazy.
Still, the most crucial part of these memories, I felt, was that we could read his emotions. No one else but him can ever convey those. (Not even the ridiculous personnel who write and release everything to the press!)
I read with a lot of emotion as he detailed his mental health. And this only highlights that mental health has no issue with who you are. If it wants to affect you, it will.
The first section and the last were the ones I felt most engaged with. The army part? Not so much, but it was by no means less necessary. There were light moments and several mentions of situations involving his private parts and various injuries, which made me giggle a little.
Who thought a Prince would write about his willy? And I don’t mean his brother, Willy!
His younger years, when he was innocent and vulnerable, just made me want to cry for that little boy who could barely hug his family. His romance and relationship with Meg was another section that made me feel deep sadness for them.
I felt for him throughout.
But can I say that just because I have read it, I can’t make judgements on others featured in the book.
I know these opinions are of one person, and as we all know, there are more than two sides to any story.
Person 1, Person 2, the media and the truth!
I have watched Prince Harry grow up. I watched his parents get married on TV. I stood with a line of schoolmates at the age of around 6, so we could wave to the newlywed couple as they did a drive-by through Solihull, where my school was. And the subsequent births of the princes, as well as the ups and downs of the relationship between Charles and Di. If I were to form an opinion, it would have been formed many moons ago.
What was also highlighted was the fact that the press is ruthless.
I am glad I read this. It is highly unlikely that we will ever read something so candid or intimate from any other Royals, but still… this opened our eyes to many facets of Royal life that none of us is aware of.

Lucy In the Sky by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved Hart’s Ridge, Kay Bratt’s first book in her new series. Quite a departure from her usual genre of writing.
Lucy in the Sky is the second instalment of the series, and, as the title suggests, the story focuses more on Lucy, the youngest of the sisters.
Taylor is still the second POV throughout the book, and a common thread to hold onto from book one, as the oldest sister in the family.
Lucy’s selfish character left a bitter taste in my mouth at the end of the first book, so it was good to read more about her and discover that she wasn’t as awful as I first thought.
All she wants, in the beginning, is to get to New York and see the Dakota building where John Lennon used to live. She gets that and a heap more, as she is initially mistaken as a new dog walker for one of the wealthy residents.
Suddenly she has a job, a roof over her head, and everything seems peachy… even the chance of a bit of romance, even though there is a ‘bump’ or two in the road where that is all concerned.
As for Taylor, she is getting back into her work as a Deputy in the Hart’s Ridge police force after an enforced period of absence, but something she finds out from her father’s post sends her on a journey of discovery that will change her life and that of her sisters.
Oh, and we can’t forget the dogs. First, we meet the two cute pups who Lucy starts walking, then there is Taylor’s dog, Diesel from the adoption centre, whom we met in book one, and he might be why she is on the road to romance herself…
I love that each story has an element that is based on a real-life crime or situation that has happened. It makes each story a whole lot more interesting!
I can’t wait for the third book to come out now!

Releasing February 13th 2023

Oh, Sister by Jodie Chapman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Goodness me! I know organised religion is a thing, but this was something else.
Chapman depicts a fictional cult where Christianity is at the root of the beliefs, but the followers/disciples are brainwashed into thinking that all that is preached by their ministers is the gospel truth.
Oh, Sister follows the story of three women. All three have been disfellowed from the cult because they are judged as having gone against the religion’s beliefs.
All it did was highlight the inequality between men and women in this particular one.
One woman is punished for being the one who suffers SA, yet, because she cannot provide two witnesses to the accusation, she is the one not believed.
One grieving a deep loss is punished for choosing to have a blood transfusion.
One is cast aside because her husband left her for a younger model, and she realises her life does not have to revolve around that man.
Not one of these women deserved to be treated the way they were. And yet, where is the sisterhood when the rest of the women in the cult sneer and ignore them?
It hit a nerve.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Random House and Michael Joseph for an ARC.

Releasing 13th April, 2023

Caroline, Adrift: by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Caroline is dreading the impending cruise. It was booked by her late husband, who fully expected to still be with her.
Instead, her daughters convince her to go, with them accompanying her. They have their reasons, which Caroline has some idea about, but despite not wanting to, she goes.
A beautiful story about a woman in her twilight years, navigating a road she always envisaged travelling with her partner by her side.
The cruise (I want to go on a cat cruise!) highlights many things to her, but the biggest one is that life does have to go on, and she realises this after meeting a new friend, Betty, who has been through the same situation herself.
I loved Caroline, and am so glad she was able to draw strength from an extremely tough time in her life, and that she was able to bond with her daughters in a way that would be more productive in the future.
And I think everyone needs a Betty in times of stress!

Releasing 22nd February, 2023

Releasing 10th February, 2023

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

December 2022 Books #AmReading

A December post means the end of the year! How did that happen? 😱

It’s a month filled with excitement and all things festive, as well as lots of chances to be gifted new books… and the holidays give a chance to read. How will I do this month??

Well, for a start, the plan to read my TBR went to pot, as I was inundated with amazing ARCS that I just had to read first!

So that makes 14 books read this month and just one ARC left on my NetGalley pile. Will 2023 be the year I crack that TBR Pile in half??

You’ll have to scroll to the end to see my Goodreads Book Challenge result for this year!

Big Chicas Don’t Cry by Annette Chavez Macias
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love a story revolving around family, and it was great to read about this Latino American group of cousins, their life and relationship with each other, as well as what is going on in their own lives.
I thought it would get a little confusing with the different POVs, but it was easy to keep a track of what was happening, and generally an enjoyable read.

Fairies, Myths, & Magic II: Book 2: A Winter Celebration by Colleen M. Chesebro
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Fairies, Myths & Magic book 2, as it brought a sprinkling of mysticism to the darkening nights.
Colleen Chesebro has woven her poetic verse and stories within recounts of various myths and legends, all things fae, and it won my heart!
The first story, about the changeling, was my favourite read. These things fascinate me, and if you are looking for something to add a little magic to your life, then you should really pick up a copy of this!

The Secret Keeper by Amanda James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I enjoyed Amanda James’ book the Forgotten Beach, and The Secret Keeper is written in the same beautiful way.
Rosa heads off to Tintagel to fulfil the last wish of her Grandmother as she lies waiting to take her last breaths. She arrives, emotional and sceptical,
But, something in the air gets to her, as she begins to sense and see things she wouldn’t usually believe. The addition of the mysterious, but handsome Talen, adds to the mystery.
What a beautiful love story, or rather two; one tragic and one a blossoming one, with plenty of ups and downs.
I really don’t want to give much away, but the story involves some folklore, spirits, and a whole lot of belief.
I loved it.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC

Releasing 13th January, 2023

Hart’s Ridge by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I sped through this book, the first in a new series (Yay!) by Kay Bratt.
Kay is such a talented author with fiction that spans different genres, and this one gives a cosy mystery crime thriller kind of vibe.
Taylor is a Deputy in a small town called Hart’s Ridge. Her past weighs heavy on her day-to-day duties as a member of the local police force, especially when small children are involved.
A small girl wandering into a local convenience store, alone, hungry and distressed, brings out the mama bear in Taylor as she tries to find answers as to where this little girl has come from.
Taylor’s innate sense of what appears right or wrong helps her to solve a huge mystery, all while dealing with her own pretty dysfunctional family; her alcoholic father and three younger siblings, one of whom keep going missing.
And her canine companion, Barnard, is an interesting soul with a back story of his own that Taylor fights hard to find out.
I was fully invested in the story and cannot wait to read the next one!

Releasing January 10th, 2023

A Ghost in Shining Armor by Therese Beharrie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What’s the plan when you find out you can see ghosts, but you don’t realise you might just be falling in love with one?
That’s Gemma’s conundrum. She’s known about her ability for a while and spent a few years helping hapless spirits find their way. Then she meets Levi. Except, things are a bit different with him because he’s been sent to help her, too…
Gemma is a happy soul, with her worries that she carries hidden away. Levi is a grump. He didn’t want to die when he did, and he had a chance to change his fate…
But things happen. You can never anticipate what your feelings will do.
An enjoyable paranormal romance read that is not filled with spooky stuff but rather more about emotions.
Many thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins UK, One More Chapter for an ARC.

Releasing 27th January, 2023

The Davenports by Krystal Marquis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Now I love a bit of Bridgerton, and I am all about diversity in all walks of life, so to read this dream of a book set in the early 20th century, based on one of a handful of wealthy Black families in a changing America, was pretty mesmerising!
The Davenports are rich. Richer than many of their White counterparts and certainly the richest Black family in the area. Their three children are of marriageable age, and the story shows that it doesn’t matter the colour of your skin, your children can be just as much of a handful as the next person!
Olivia, the oldest, is ready to conform. She knows her future is finding the right man to take as a husband, and she is well on the way.
John is the sole male heir to the Davenport Carriage Company, a business built up from scratch by his father, a formerly enslaved man, who has worked hard to bring himself and his family to the heights they now rest. But he has dreams too, that go against the grain of his father’s thinking.
Helen is the youngest and the polar opposite of her sister, wanting to push boundaries further by working, helping her brother to set up a new business, and getting her hands dirty, literally, instead of wearing silken gloves, awaiting being presented as ready for marriage.
The problem is, having your future prescribed is often the reason you want something different, which is exactly what these young people face. Forbidden love, unheard-of dreams, and previously unreachable ambitions all pull together to make for an amazing story. I am so glad this is the first of a series because I have definitely been left wanting more!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for an ARC.

Releasing 2nd February, 2023

A Secret Garden Affair by Erica James
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read a few of Erica James’ books in the past, and the evocative stories have always enthralled me.
A Secret Garden Affair was no different.
Partially set in the early 1980s and with a timeline starting sixty years previous, the story follows several characters. Libby, a woman whose wedding plans are cancelled when she finds out her fiance is cheating on her, and her great aunt, Bess, who has worked for the third main character, Elfrida, for the best part of her life.
Running to Larkspur House, where Bess works, and a place filled with happy memories for Libby, she tries to make life easier for the two older women who mean so much to her but unearths truths and secrets she had no idea about.
A story of friendship, classism, forbidden love, disappointments and celebrations, losing and finding precious memories and forgiveness.
I really enjoyed it.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC.

Releasing 30th March, 2023

One Enchanted Evening: From the #1 bestselling author of uplifting feel-good fiction by Katie Fforde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I think I have read pretty much all of Katie Fforde’s books, and though this wasn’t my favourite, it was still an easy read.
Set in the 60s, Meg is called to her mother’s workplace to help out. It is a quaint hotel that is barely breathing, with the opening of a newer, more modern hotel nearby, complete with ensuite bathrooms and a highly-rated chef as the owner.
Meg hasn’t got much professional training, but what she does have is passion, ideas and empathy, which endear her to the staff and guests alike.
Shame it doesn’t seem to be the case for the owner’s son, who firmly believes that women shouldn’t be in charge of a professional kitchen at all.
Family politics, whimsical stories of the past, and a lot of passion for this project make the tale a lovely read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC.

Releasing 2nd March 2023

One French Summer by Gillian Harvey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my second Gillian Harvey read, and I wasn’t disappointed.
Katy is at that time of her life when her child has flown the nest (rather far, actually, to Australia, and decided to stay there a while longer), and her husband wants a break which appears to be more permanent than she originally thought.
She’s devastated. After trying her hardest to change things up, enrolling in a BootCamp with her friends, and generally making herself more like she thinks her husband wants, her whole future is up in the air.
Then her friends take her away on a trip to France. Katy begins to rediscover herself and finds she rather likes what she remembers.
Could romance be on the cards?
There is something in this story that could speak to every woman of a certain age. We are battling with perimenopause and that feeling of being there for the use of the rest of the family, not ourselves.
I just loved how even though there were down moments, Katy was able to find herself in a way that she could enjoy a future that would embrace her as a person, not just a plus one.
Lovely read!
Many Thanks to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for an ARC.

Releasing 14th February 2023

An Unwanted Inheritance by Imogen Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Three siblings mourning the loss of their much-loved father.
One finds a stash of cash hidden by the man they thought they knew, and it raises all sorts of dilemmas.
Should they be honest and pass it over to the police for investigation? Declare it as part of his estate, risking losing a huge chunk to inheritance tax, or divvy it up between the three?
Each of the three siblings is very different in their thoughts.
Caroline is married to Max, the eldest son. She found the money. Her instincts, and that of her husband, are to keep everything above board.
Ellie, the middle sibling starts off thinking the same, but her husband Jamie discloses information that makes them want the money more.
Nathan, the youngest, wants his share because he needs it, and now.
The story is filled with moral dilemmas and explores relationships between eh siblings, as well as the couples.
I enjoyed this read.
Thank you to Amazon Publishing for sending me a copy of An Unwanted Inheritance to read and review.
All opinions are my own.

You Get That From Me by Charlotte Butterfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a beautiful book.
Stella is the youngest of three women living together. Three women, all from one family, each a generation apart.
Stella’s mother, Bonnie, and her grandmother, Florence, along with Stella, reside in the house that has been their home for decades. It’s the only home Bonnie and Stella have ever really known and the start of a lifetime of secrets that Florence started through no fault of her own.
As Stella reaches a certain age, she chooses to use a sperm donor to give her the child she longs for. A lot of research goes into the final decision of the donor, but as the story unravels, it becomes obvious that what she thought would be the best choice and the reasons for thinking that may not always be the right one.
Nature vs nurture is a strong theme, as well as family relationships.
Florence is extremely strong and resilient, and her concern for the women in her family is palpable. We all need a gran like her! Really enjoyed this.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC.

Releasing 9th March 2023

In a Thousand Different Ways by Cecelia Ahern
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Alice has a life-changing moment when she is merely eight years old.
Her world becomes filled with colours that can be pleasant and some that are the exact opposite.
To be more precise, she sees colours associated with all the people, and even plants, around her. Like auras, but that’s not something she knows – yet.
This confusing discovery is a lot for a child to take in, and it impacts her behaviours, as well as her relationships.
She is already living with her two brothers and mother, who is deep in her own mental health issues, and as time goes by, she finds herself caring for her wheelchair-bound mother, living a life she is coping with but suffocating herself as well.
She does manage to live a life of her own, with the urging of her older brother, and moves away from the toxic environment that is her childhood home.
Over the years, and with the help of certain people, she begins to learn how to live with this ‘gift’, as it is described to her, but not without many battles.
An interesting fictional recount of how someone with synesthesia may see life and the world around them.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC.

Releasing 13th April, 2023

Call Time by Stephen Jones
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This debut from Steve Jones was one I felt compelled to read after checking out the blurb.
I’ll be honest, it didn’t grab me from the off.
Not the kind of hook that ‘they’ all say is needed for a brilliant book. In fact, it took me a little while to get into the swing of the story, but when the phone appeared, I became more invested in it all.
Our main character, Bob (Rob/Robert), is an older, driven, successful and somewhat selfish man with a huge block of guilt on his shoulder from a tragedy in his past. It’s driven him to be a person that is not likeable.
When something rather mystical happens, and he is handed a phone that could change the past, he grabs the chance but doesn’t consider the butterfly effects of that one change in the past and what happens, because of it, in the future.
There is a lot to grip you once the story begins to flow. An interesting read.
Many thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Random House and Michael Joseph for an ARC.

Releasing 11th May, 2023

Lovestruck by Laura Jane Williams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Laura Jane, I do believe you have done it again!
I have enjoyed Williams’ books so far, and this was so good.
Becca is a hairstylist and salon owner in her mid-thirties, worried that her time will pass. A timely event at the salon includes a session with a woman who encourages manifestations.
Becca chooses to manifest the love of her life into her life as soon as possible.
Within hours she gets a text from her ex.
Is it a sign?
The story is told intriguingly, running along parallel timelines in two different scenarios.
One where she doesn’t bother to answer the text and the other where she does…
I can’t write too much about the story, but it is really well done!
I loved Becca’s best friend, Jia Li, and her salon partner, Carlos.
The tension, as it builds in both storylines, is palpable, and oh, I couldn’t wait to see how the end panned out in both versions. Great read!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC.

Releasing 8th June 2023

And, with that last book read until the end of the year, my total of books read stands at 186 this year! That is a total record for me!

So, tell me do you know how many books you read, and was there anything that caught your eye in the ones above?

November 2022 Books #AmReading

So, we have reached the end of November. That means one more month left of this year! 😱

I know it is going to be a busy month. November always is, with parents’ evenings at school and preparation for the festive season. But I wonder what I end up reading?

As I start the month, I have NO ARCS on my list (bar the first book I am reading this month, but I started that on the 30th of October, so it doesn’t count! 😜), but you know me. I find it hard to say no… Still, my existing TBR is full enough to keep me going for a while. Here goes!

Update to the above statement: it is the 4th of November, and I finished that ‘last arc’ and now have two more on there, at least!

Update #2 on 20th November… I give up… you can see I read at least 7-8 arcs… 🙄

Update #3 – 24th November… I have read all the arcs… will I accept any more before the end of the month??

I managed 15 books in the end, and exhausted the ARC list, too, so my TBR began to get some attention!

People Change by Sara Jafari
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve not read Sara Jafari before, but she has been on my radar for a while, so it was great to get a chance to read one of her books.
Shirin is a British-born Iranian woman living in London, supposedly living her dream. She is working in publishing, which she always wanted to do, with plenty of friends and a potentially busy social life.
A blast from her past is at one of the parties she attends.
Kian is a guy she last saw ten years ago when they were both teenagers and at school in Hull.
Is it good to meet someone from a time when your life was not so great?
There are many loaded issues within the story, as Shirin and Kian get to know each other once again and open up about things they never had the chance to as youngsters.
The side story about racism and prejudices in workplaces adds extra spice to the story.
An interesting read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 2nd February, 2023

Single in the Snow by Helen Whitaker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great Christmassy feel-good read, without the need to get over slushy! (Though, can you ever get over-slushy at Christmas?)
Jen is a girl about to hit thirty, ricocheting from relationship to relationship, trying to mould herself into the perfect fit because she doesn’t want to end up alone.
After the last break up, her best friend convinces her to take some time out, find herself, and be alone to experience life for at least six months.
A pre-booked trip to Canada ends up being less satisfying coupledom and more a time to reflect on her life and what she really wants.
She does find out, but not before there are a whole load of shenanigans and new folk to meet! A job at a high-end ski resort in Whistlers gives her plenty of food for thought.
And then there was Art. He is a troubled ex-Olympian with a heartwrenching backstory of his own and a journey of recovery he needs to tread.
The way their stories entwine makes it a moreish read.
Now I kinda want to go and see slopes with the fresh powdery snow, but I’d be sat in a little cafe, with a hot chocolate, watching the daredevils on skis and snowboards!
There were some great characters, including Rob and Snowy, her first friends as she arrives in Whistler, and ooh, there was one to hate… Eduardo!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 17th November, 2022

Happy Place by Emily Henry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Boy was I excited to be able to dive into another of Emily Henry’s books, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I sat here this rainy Sunday and finished the whole book!
The story is about a group of friends about to hit an end note on an important part of their friendship, namely a specific place they all go to every year, which won’t be available to them much longer.
But it centres around one couple, in particular, Harriet and Wyn. From the off, there was an unwritten rule that you didn’t date your friends, or things would go weird if it ever finished.
They were the first couple of the group to break that rule, and now, they are desperately trying to hide the fact that it didn’t work out, so everyone else can have a good time together.
The whole group of friends were an excellent bunch, and the way Henry has woven in the intricacies of long-standing friendships and a second-chance romance is just brilliant.
Oh, and I want to go to a Lobster Festival, too, now. (And I don’t even eat seafood!)
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin General UK – Fig Tree, Hamish Hamilton, Viking, Penguin Life and Penguin Business for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 27th April, 2023

Zen Queen by Kirsty McManus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My first Kirsty McManus book and I read it quickly.
A fun story about a woman who is sent to Japan on a work assignment that goes horribly wrong. However, there are glimmers of hope.
There is plenty of culture to read about, both modern and traditional. Japan is a pretty crazy place from what I read. And the characters our heroine meets there, from her colleagues to friends, to the wonderful Japanese man who literally adopts her, are all great.
I wish the romance could have stretched out more at the end. It felt a tad rushed when a little more build-up would have been great.

The Vibrant Years by Sonali Dev
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I chose this as my Amazon Prime First Reads book for the month, as I have read a good few of Sonali Dev’s books, and I’ll be honest, I do love her Bollywood style of writing!
The Vibrant Years is not a romance but more of a Women’s Fiction, a contemporary story based around the lives of three generations of women from one family; Bindu, the confident, sexy 60-something grandma, or Binji as her granddaughter calls her; Aly, the 40-something ex-daughter-in-law of Bindu who has a strong bond with her ex-mother-in-law, and Cullie, the extremely intelligent 20-something granddaughter.
There is a secret Bindu is hiding. Something she has hidden since her late teens. This secret is threaded throughout the book, with short quotes from an old journal.
Dev has covered a lot in this book, looking at the conventional ways of thinking and expectations put upon both men and women, the stigmas attached to certain jobs, and the way thinking has begun to change over the decades that span the three main characters’ lives.
They all end up going on dates as research for a new app Cullie is trying to design and end up finding more than love as they stumble from disaster date to disaster date.
It took me a little while to get into the story, but once I did, I was eager to know how the secret would unfold to the cast of characters, as we, the readers, are made aware of the ‘shame’ Bindu feels for her past, earlier on in the book.
There is a feel-good factor to the book once things unravel and settle back into a more favourable pattern, and overall, a good read.

Fatty Fatty Boom Boom: A Memoir of Food, Fat, and Family by Rabia Chaudry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It is a really interesting read that combines the effects of culture and attitudes regarding eating and size.
We all know that in order to feel happy, we should be able to accept ourselves as we are and be healthy, no matter what our size.
This memoir by Rabia Chaudry shows how she found herself in a vicious cycle of eating, growing, distress, criticism, self-loathing, then eating again, and so forth,
The attitudes of certain cultural societies state you should be fair and lovely like the cream says, and tall and slim to get a good match in marriage.
We are not all built like that.
Rabia was fed, and fed, as that’s what her parents felt they should do, and when they realised they didn’t know how to reverse the effects of overeating, they continued to indulge because that was all they knew,
Food and our Asian culture are knitted together so strongly that it can be hard to separate the two.
It was fascinating and quite emotional to read Rabia’s journey, and how she fought her demons, but equally, how she failed several battles before winning the war.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for an ARC.

The Christmas Wish by Lindsey Kelk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love me a Lindsey Kelk book, and this was no different!
The Christmas Wish is a surreal love story where our heroine, Gwen, finds herself reliving Christmas Day like a Groundhog Day moment. She doesn’t know why, but each day relives it to see what she can change to get back to normality.
Through her repeated days, she comes to understand more about her family and their wants and desires, as well as many meetings with a person who might or might not be that special someone, but more importantly, she learns important lessons that will affect her own life and future.
I loved this story and sped through it in a few hours.
Gwen’s relationship with her cousin Manny was fantastic, and I loved Granny!
Even Pari, Dev’s dog, had a short but incredibly sweet role in the story.
A great festive read.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins, UK, for an ARC.

Pretty Evil by Zoe Rosi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, my days!
When asked whether I may be interested in reading an ARC of Pretty Evil, I read the blurb and thought, “Why not? Sounds like an intriguing read.”
Well, intriguing is perhaps not quite the word to describe it.
Hugely dark and (excuse my language, but) bloody fantastic!
Camilla, our protagonist, is a woman with a past that is ingrained so deep within that it’s almost hollowed out any other emotion in her body.
Wronged as a child, growing up, and abused as a young woman, she casts herself in the role of vigilante for womankind, wreaking havoc, and her version of revenge, upon unsuspecting predators
I found myself strangely aroused, a bit disturbed, and definitely sympathetic towards the woman with what appeared to be no emotion but whose heart is beginning to feel again.
Laced with sex, gore, and all manner of suspense, I was kept on my toes, reading the book almost in one sitting, and I truly didn’t predict the ending, either.
What a dark, kinky web the author has weaved…
You definitely kept this reader guessing!
Fab read. I can’t wait to get my hands on another book by Zoe Rosi.
(I first read this book under its previously released title, Predator, by Zoe Caldwell. It has been published by Amazon Publishing, and the tweaks and editorial changes have made it an even sharper story.)

Releasing 19th January, 2023

The Family Reunion by Karen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is my first Karen King book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
A fantastic story filled with the twists and turns you’d expect in any family, however, the twists and turns are HUGE!
Mary is a widowed mother of two, and she decides to try and find a daughter she had, that no one else in her life knows about.
Couple that with two weary children, with secrets of their own, then the addition of this new member of the family, and there are plenty of fireworks!
I won’t say too much, because if I do, then what is the point in you reading, but OMG, the epilogue!
I was gripped by the story and couldn’t put it down!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for an arc.

Releasing 23rd January, 2023

Not That Kind of Ever After by Luci Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are days when you want an easy-to-read book with some laughs and a few quirks.
Well, this was just the kind of book I needed today.
A fun from com about a young woman who is tied deeply to her best friend, and the time has come for them to go their separate ways as the friend is moving in with a partner.
Bella has relied on Ellie since childhood as her one. Not in any romantic sense, but just that person who is her life support, who keeps her going, and Ellie has always been there for her, along with her twin brother Marty. She still is, but her attention is now divided between Bella and her boyfriend, Mark.
Bella wants to find ‘The One, too, but no amount of fairytale chasing seems to give her any results. There are no Prince Charmings out there in London.
But a chance comment about letting herself loose and enjoying the moment has her mimicking fairytales as she heads on dates that end up having no chance of a happily ever after, but they give her satisfaction in other ways.
The ending made me smile.
As I mentioned before, it was an easy read, a fun read and something you don’t have to think about too hard!
Many thanks to the publisher for an ARC.

Releasing 14th March, 2023

Falling Hard for the Royal Guard by Megan Clawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I do love books where I can picture the setting because it is local to me, and this was a perfect example.
Maggie, our heroine, lives in the Tower of London. Lives there. Yup, I didn’t even know people lived there!
She lives in special housing for the Beefeaters, one of whom is her father.
She works at the ticket booth, a job she never thought she would be still at, all these years later, and she finds herself the butt of her colleagues’ jokes as the clumsy, lumbering red-haired girl who can’t even get a date.
But fate changes for her when she bumps into someone she thought was a lamp post, and he ends up being someone she spends plenty of time with as friends.
Maggie tells Freddie historical stories of the Tower of London, complete with ghost tales, and he introduces her to parts of the Tower that were out of reach, seeing as he is a part of the Royal Guard.
As she slowly lowers her barriers with him, she can feel there are parts of his life he is hiding, which she finds out most shockingly.
A great cast of characters, including the different Beefeaters, the rest of Freddie’s troop, and the ravenmaster, with her cryptic yet apt words of wisdom.
I read it in a day. really enjoyed it!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Avon Books for an ARC.

Releasing 27th April, 2023

The Word Is Love by Florence Keeling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, I loved this book! The word definitely is LOVE!
I was excited to travel back to Weddington to read more about Lucy and her horses and, of course, about how love falls into her life.
There were a great number of twists to the plot, but all helped it make it a book I didn’t want to put down!
Lucy and Max have pretty much grown up together, working in Lucy’s family business after her father passed away.
He’s that older brother figure…
And you have Lucy’s mum who wants her girl to settle down with the right kind of monied chap who will ensure her girl won’t ever want for anything.
Put it this way, you sure have to kiss or date a few frogs before finding your Prince Charming, and Lucy managed to find a real toad!
It was a great read, and I’d love to know if there is more coming from the Weddington Crew!

Roommaid by Sariah Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when you’re the daughter of a rich family, but you refuse to do what your parents want, so you get disowned, and your trust fund comes to a halt?
Why, you find an apartment share to live in, with a roommate hotter than the sun, and promise to o all the housework, despite never having done a domestic chore in your life!
That’s what happens to Madison, our newly poor teacher heroine.
For all the comforts of Tyler’s apartment, she can’t feel comfortable around him because he is so attractive, and one of the rules of living together is no crushes or emotional feelings towards one another… because he doesn’t have time for that.
But he does have a gorgeous dog called Pigeon, who Madison falls for, too.
Seriously, families can be manipulative, and it seems the arranged marriage culture between the high and mighty to strengthen business bonds is not just for us Indians! Who knew it was still occurring in the West?
An easy read with a few twists to keep you on your toes, but ultimately a feel-good read.

The Paid Bridesmaid by Sariah Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another easy romance read by Sariah Wilson.
I am sure I have read something similar before, with the paid bridesmaid idea, but the storyline was different.
Rachel operates a business providing Bridesmaids to brides who are lacking in the friend department or who have too many people to choose from, so hiring someone seems the easiest option.
She’s on an extremely special job, in Hawaii, at the moment. A week-long sponsored extravaganza for a famous influencer and her beau.
Thing is, her NDAs mean that she can’t be honest about anything, from why she’s doing what she does, to acknowledging her feelings.
Because there’s a rather cute guest there, who she’s close to risking everything for, only he thinks she’s someone different.
The story was cute, and it was a quick read. Predictable, but the happy ending you want, albeit with a few drunken relatives, crazy exes and other twists thrown in!

A Magical Christmas on the Isle of Skye by Jodie Homer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to win a copy of A Magical Christmas on the Isle of Skye, and I read it with joy.
Emilia and Harry are best friends with a bit of a booty-call relationship, but nothing more.
Then Emilia, one drunken News Years’ Eve, calls a TV psychic, who sets off a train of events that makes them question whether there should be more to their connection.
A Christmassy Groundhog Day-style story as the two main characters realise things aren’t right but don’t know how to put it right.
Help from Psychic Alice and the magic of the Fairies on the Isle finally gets them to the conclusion they weren’t sure what the right one was at the start.
A fun, quick and easy read with likeable characters. I’d love to visit a magic Isle one day… looking forward to more from Homer and the cast of this book.

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

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!

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