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!

September 2022 Books #AmReading

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Releasing 10th January 2023

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

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

Releasing 21st January, 2023

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

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

Maame by Jessica George
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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

Releasing 16th February, 2023

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

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

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

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

Releasing 6th October, 2022

I managed 15, which isn’t too shabby!

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

Spidey’s Serene Sunday – Part 394 – Book Heaven

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“She reads books as one would breathe air, to fill up and live.”

Annie Dillard

Thank you, Spidey, for finding another quote that suits me just fine!.

Firstly, sorry for posting late!

But, this, as you will see from the gist of my post, is where the above quote is relevant.

As soon as I start school in September, things begin to happen.

Life goes from a comfortable speed to powering ahead with me a the wheel of a large truck, trying to keep all my cargo safe.

  • my team and their wellbeing
  • my new class, and settling them into their new life in school
  • new initiatives and expectations to be implemented in school
  • my family and their various needs, be it being taxi mum to their emotional health and wellbeing
  • keeping house, even after long days (that ironing pile seems to double when we are working!)
  • having time for Hubby Dearest, who is juggling his own cargo load
  • giving Sonu Singh plenty of love
  • new pressures of keeping to a better budget with all these rising costs…
  • my own health and sanity, not helped by the onset of Perimenopause

As you can imagine, all this leaves me pretty shattered at the end of a typical working day.

It means that I have no energy left for my other passion which is my writing. I have editing to do. I have a new book to start plotting… But I don’t have the headspace or the time to do either.

What I won’t forgo, though, is my time with a good book.

Reading is like food for my soul. A moment to dip into the lives of others and to forget what is going on around me at any given moment.

It’s true that I read much less in the week, as I find I am asleep by 9.30pm, but I will always read a few pages at least before my eyes close.

My Kindle is brimming with at least 150 unread books that I have downloaded over the years, and my little trolley of unread books holds around 50 more physical books I have either been sent to read or have picked up on my visits to bookshops. My Amazon Wishlist has plenty more that I want to read… one day…

I don’t think I will ever reach the end of my TBR pile, virtual or otherwise, and I am not sad about that at all. It means that I will always have a tap of beautiful stories to turn on and sink into when I have nothing left to give to the world…

So, tell me, how many books are on your TBR?

namaste

Wishing you a wonderfully peaceful Sunday, Peeps!

August 2022 Books #AmReading

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

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

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

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

Releasing 1st September, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

Publishing 17th January, 2023

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

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

Publishing 20th September, 2022

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

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

Releasing 13th October, 2022

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

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

Releasing 25th October, 2022

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

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

Releasing 29th September, 2022

Releasing 6th October, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

Releasing 8th September, 2022

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

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

Releasing 29th September, 2022

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

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

Releasing 21st October, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

Releasing 15th September, 2022

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

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