June 2020 Books #AmReading

We have officially reached the middle of this strange year, 2020!

What book reading pleasure have I managed this month?

The Sin Eater

The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fantastic book!
I always find Historical fiction to be fascinating, and this was no different.
Orphan Meg Owen is picked up by the guards for stealing a loaf of bread.
Expecting a punishment, but lenient at that, she is stunned to find that she is branded, on the tongue and made into a sin eater.
She is cast into a life of loneliness and silence, finding solace with the other sin eater in her town.
Unable to fathom why, Meg begins to learn more about her new life, taking on the sins of others on their deathbeds, then eating them, expecting to die a lonely woman. filled with the secrets of others.
But she doesn’t expect to stumble upon a secret of epic proportions, involving royalty and treason.
I don’t want to write too much about the story, which is twisted and brilliant in its entirety.
Megan Campisi has created a parallel world, so similar to certain parts of our history, with enough changes to make it fantastical.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan. Macmillan for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 23rd July 2020

In Case You Missed It

In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been a fan of Lindsey Kelk since the first I Heart book, and am always enticed by the thought of another Kelk-masterpiece out.
In Case You Missed It is another great easy, summer read, with a main character, Ros, experiencing the telltale ups and downs synonymous with a Lindsey Kelk book.
Trouble with work, trouble with relationships, trouble with adulting…
Lots of laugh out loud moments, a gaggle of loyal, almost all-knowing friends, a teenage gaming celeb (I Know!) and some cheeky romance, with a couple of dashing heroes to add to the mix.
What fun!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 23rd July 2020

The Wish List by Sophia Money-Coutts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another brilliant read from Sophia Money-Coutts!
Meet Florence Fairfax, a slightly OCD character, with some interesting anxiety-related behaviours, who works in a small book shop in London. Oh, and a non-existent love life.
Until a concerned stepmother suggests a therapist…
Amidst disbelief that anything will come of it, Flo visits said therapist and comes away with a list of her perfect man.
And apparently, the universe delivers! Or does it?
I loved the characters, and I honestly laughed out loud several times, causing my husband to look at me quizzically. How could I explain that “Cowabunga!” will never sound the same to me ever again? (Confused? Well, you need to read to find out the reason – and it’s well worth the read!)
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Released 6th August, 2020

Beach Read

Beach Read by Emily Henry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The title, Beach Read, intrigued me. The blurb even more so.
Two writers, each very different, and struggling with writer’s block in their own way, end up in the same place, neighbours. And an old ‘rivalry’ becomes tentative support for one another, but love?
January is all about the Happily Ever Afters, in life and her writing.
Gus doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and his literary preferences mirror his thinking.
Their personal challenges, along with the writing one they set for each other, allows their lives to entwine in a way they never thought possible.
It took me a little while to get into the book, but once I started, I couldn’t stop.
I enjoyed the characters and the story, along with the little twists and reveals that are dropped along the way, making you guess which way this story is going to end.
It’s not a typical RomCom, but I could definitely see myself reading it on the beach! (Apart from some of the more intimate scenes… Well written, not too tacky, but erotic enough to make you feel…)
Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 20th August, 2020

The Lost Love Song

The Lost Love Song by Minnie Darke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m not sure where to start.
But suffice to say this story blew me away. Read in a day.
Some say that with books that have too many characters, it is hard to feel connected or emotional about them, but this one did that and more.
The story surrounding Diana and Arie’s love story is an emotive beginning, and the twists and turns at the beginning left me in tears. Then the way Belinda, Evie, Bene, Felix, Beatrix, and others, were brought into this tale of love was so clever.
I just loved it!
I really don’t want to write too much about the story, for fear of giving something away. Suffice to say, I think you should definitely read it!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 6th August, 2020

The Move

The Move by Felicity Everett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was looking forward to some sort of domestic thriller, but it wasn’t quite there.
The story of Karen and Nick, moving to the country to escape from her demons, and his cheating, had so many chances for more twists to occur, and some did, but they were left with the ends still loose.
The characters were great, the descriptions fantastic, but the story was lacking.
Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 20th August, 2020

No Place too Far by Kay Bratt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I truly enjoyed the first book in the series, True To Me, so was eager to dive back into the Maui waters, and I was not disappointed,
No Place Too Far continues the stories of a group of characters we met before in True To Me, concentrating a little more on Maggie. Maggie came out to live in Maui after her friend Quinn settled there, once she found out that was where her birth family lived.
Maggie, herself, is trying to settle down after spending a year on the run from a stalker, with her young son.
I was so engrossed with the story, that had I not had work the next day, I’d have been reading far into the wee hours of the morning!
Quinn and Maggie’s stories run side by side, but entwining in places, and with blossoming friendships, tentative romances and shocking returns.
The descriptions of the lush scenes of Maui made me wish I was there.
And knowing there is a third book to come… well, I am super excited!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Released 1st September, 2020

How to Be an Antiracist

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A compelling read, with an amalgamation of personal experience and suggestions of how we, as a whole community, can really get behind becoming anti-racists. It gives a good background into the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and why current events may have escalated in the way they have.
Educate to change.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for a copy of this book.

The Hidden Beach by Karen Swan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed Karen Swan’s The Hidden Beach.
Bell is a young British woman, who, through her own personal tragedy, ends up living in Sweden, and nanny to a family with three children she is immensely attached to.
Friends think the parents, Hanna and Max, may be taking advantage of her love for the children, as week after week, she cancels plans to help them out.
But then she gets sucked into a personal tragedy the family suffers, and there is no going back.
The thing is, there is a twist. How can she be an impartial help in their time of need, when she appears to have confusing feelings for the one person they are all scared of?
I loved Bell’s character. She is a damaged soul, who wants to get back to normality, but life is not prepared to let her.
Her relationship with the children she looks after, and especially Linus, the 10-year-old son, is heartwarming to read.
The story shifts in perspective, being told from Bell’s point of view, as well as Emil, and sometimes Hanna and Max. This wasn’t always clear, but with a little rereading, I would work out whose head I was in.
But a good read finished in a day.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for an arc, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 9th July, 2020

The Phantom's Curse

The Phantom’s Curse by Shelley Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I popped my YA cherry on the Guardian Series by Shelley Wilson, and enjoyed the Hood Academy too, so was quietly excited for this new book by her to come out.
I enjoyed the story of Marianne, a young, unsuspecting girl, who doesn’t realise the power she holds within.
A kingdom torn apart by the Phantom’s curse, then gently pieced together again, to be at the point of being ripped at the seams again. A strange world for this girl to be in, until she realises what her part in the role of ridding the world of the Phantom.
Marianne, along with her brother, Newt, and various friends, battle dark armies and crooked lords to save their kingdom.
There is magic, the fae, kingdoms, lords, ladies, and a little bit of love!
I enjoyed the book, and read it easily in a couple of hours. I would say it is targeted at the younger end of the YA market.

Flying Solo: The new laugh-out-loud romantic comedy coming this summer from Zoe May!

Flying Solo by Zoe May
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love. India, finding oneself, romance, strong woman… what’s not to like?
I really enjoyed the story of Rachel, a woman with a plan. Or a list, at least. She’s worked hard to achieve all her goals in life so far, with the exception of one; to get married to her perfect man. But that is all about to change,
just not in the way she expected.
Rachel winds up in an ashram in India, attempting to rescue her boyfriend and perfect life, but ends up on a journey of self-discovery, and realises that the best-laid plans aren’t always the ‘best’.
Rachel is a fabulous character. Don’t we all want to be like Rachel? Someone who knows exactly what she wants, and when.
Oh, I wanted to throttle her no-god boyfriend, Paul, but then we met Seb, and I loved him! What a hottie! And a spiritual one at that.
A really good read, and I loved the ending!
Many thanks to NetGalley for an ARC, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 6th July, 2020

The Last Charm

The Last Charm by Ella Allbright
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a charm of a book!
As a young girl, Leila’s mother left her and her father, with only a silver charm bracelet to remember her by. At the same time, Jake and his family move into the area Leila and her father are leaving, into their old home. A fleeting meeting between both young people leaves a lasting bond.
The bracelet gets lost, and the book is a retelling of how each charm that dangles from it was acquired, and a plea to whoever finds it, to return it.
I was taken on a total rollercoaster of emotions, reading the story of Leila, and her charm bracelet, and Jake, her silent support, who floated in and out of her life.
I loved both the main characters and the bittersweet twist at the end left me teary.
Yes, definitely read this book!aa
Many thanks to NetGalley and One More Chapter for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing on 21st August, 2020

The Shelf

The Shelf by Helly Acton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The blurb for The Shelf pulled me in immediately, hence the clicking on Request It as soon as I could, and I was quick to download and read it, once I was accepted.
Expecting to be jetting off on an exotic holiday with her hopefully soon-to-be fiance, ends up with our heroine, Amy, finding herself dumped, and on the set of a Big Brother-style reality show, The Shelf.
Cue four weeks of coping with humiliation, forming friendships, and coming to realisations about herself.
It took me a couple of chapters to get into the book, initially. Why was this woman putting up with that narcissistic idiot of a boyfriend, Jamie? And when she got dumped, live on telly, why did she stay?
But then, as the story unfolded, I found myself immersed in the whole situation.
I loved Amy, who, as a woman in her thirties, was feeling the pull for the traditional version of where she should be in life; marriage and 2.4 kids, but went on to find a version of herself that worked for her.
The supporting cast of women on the show with her were an eclectic mix of characters. I’d almost have enjoyed a bit more friction between them at times, but equally, I loved how they stood up for each other too.
Anyone else want to slap the show’s host, Andy? I really did!
Overall a good read, and quite addictive, once you get into it.
I’d like to see ow a bunch of men would handle the show!
Many thanks to Netgalley and Bonnier Books UK for an ARC, in exchange for an honest opinion.

Releasing on 9th July, 2020

Myths of the Mirror (Dragon Soul Quartet #1)

Myths of the Mirror by D. Wallace Peac
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not my usual genre, but D.Wallace Peach has a certain way with descriptions that took me on a whimsical, dragons filled journey!

The Memory of Us

The Memory of Us by Camille Di Maio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Memory Of Us is the first of Camille Di Maio’s books I’ve read, and I really enjoyed it.
I was touched by the wartime story of Julianne Westcott and her forbidden love for religious man, Kyle McCarthy.
Julianne has it all on the face of it. From a wealthy Liverpudlian family, she has all the luxuries a girl desires, including her beauty, and suitors to match, but her heart is insistent in its demand to love only one, deeply unsuitable man.
Kyle is the son of a gardener and is destined to become a Catholic priest.
Julianne’s Protestant background means even a hint of a union between them would cause great grief.
Still, you can’t help who you love…
I was wrapped up in the blossoming love story of the two and wanted to cry at the twists and tragedies that befall a near-perfect couple and their love story.
Oh, and the deep secret hidden away by her parents… Not giving anything away.
A wonderful, heartwrenching read.

Les is More

Les is More by Jess Carpenter
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the first book I have read from Jess Carpenter and I had a ball reading it.
The story is based around Les, a young woman who is starting college, and has a bit of history that she is trying to work through.
A dear father who passed away, a mother who has extremely high aspirations for her, and an ex-boyfriend who turns up, as a student at her college.
Les meets Candy, a Latino fellow student, who brings colour and a different culture into her love, along with a hot brother, Carter.
The book is written as if Les is treating us, the readers, as her studio audience, so there are comments directed at us, as well as telling us about what’s going on.
I enjoyed the bubbling romances, the love triangle that is set from the beginning, and how it ends up.
The author has also touched upon the huge issue of racism, targeting the Mexican community, and how Les combats her mother’s prejudiced feelings towards her new Latino friends.
And there are the expectations of her mother that. Les has to try her hardest to reach.
I loved Candy, the new best friend, filled with spunk and her own story brewing in the background, so was thrilled to read that there would be more about her in a future book!
I think this will be a book much enjoyed by young adults and college-goers, with romance, culture and a lot of fun.
Thank you Jess, for a copy of your book, in exchange for an honest review.

Releasing 13th July, 2020

A Recipe for Disaster: A deliciously feel-good romance

A Recipe for Disaster: A deliciously feel-good romance by Belinda Missen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the story of baker Lucy, and her journey to rekindling her relationship with estranged hubby, world famous chef, Oliver.
Lucy was left high and dry a few years earlier, when Oliver’s career took an international turn, and they sacrificed their marriage for their food passions.
When Oliver makes a surprise return to their home town, Lucy is stunned, not least because she is in a relationship with someone else.
A great rom-com filled with food, cakes and other relationship bakes!

And there you have it. Another month of great reads! Seventeen, this time!

Which one tickled your fancy?

December Books #AmReading

Oh wow, it is the last month of this year, and the last month of this decade! Where did the time go, seriously? Well, I know, that alongside the fun of end of term school activities, and getting my own book out there, I have been enjoying another bumper crop of reads!

Time Management for Writers

Time Management for Writers by Katie Forrest
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sprinkled with personal anecdotes, Forrest has really broken down the whys and wherefores of how we spend our time each day, and some extremely easy ways to identify our goals, our ‘Whys’, (as she calls them), and then implement strategies to maximise our efficiency.
I, for one, am definitely excited to start a routine where I am more conscious of when I am productive, and how I can create a world that works for me, in my personal life, professional life and with my passion for writing.
Part of my new routine, to be established, will be a set amount of time, 3-4 days a week, where I read a craft book, and actually digest what I am reading and take notes.
This will enable me to hopefully create better words from the off when I get back to my creative writing.

The Fallout

The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sarah and Liza are friends who met and bonded through a local NCT group, being a support network for each other through those first fraught months and years of parenthood.
They look out for one another and have been there for each other through thick and thin.
Then something happens, injuring one of their children, and a web of lies, guilt and secrecy is woven.
An interesting format, and I especially liked the WhatsApp chats that were interspersed between chapters, as an extremely relevant addition to the book, seeing as a huge percentage of the population uses it as a means of communication.
Some interesting twists were revealed as the conclusion was reached.
Well, it was definitely a compelling read, seeing as I finished it in a day!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Unexpected Lessons in Love

Unexpected Lessons in Love by Lucy Dillon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What happens when you are on your way to your wedding, and moments from arriving, you realise that you can’t do it?
Then you send a message to your intended, only to find out that he has been involved in a horrific accident?
Guilt sears through you, as well as confusion,
What do you do now? Was it your fault?
Jeannie McCarthy was in this exact position.
Until Dan gained consciousness, she wouldn’t know whether he’d heard the message.
So she’d have to pretend to be the loving fiancee, waiting for any news on his recovery.
Meanwhile, Jeannie tries to fill the waiting with attempts to settle into a new town and finds herself immersed in the caring of several litters of puppies, making new friends, and reigniting her love of songwriting.
I was swept away by this tale of crossed connections. It is a love story, with breakups. A sad, yet happy tale.
Good? I’d like to think so! I finished it in a day!
Many thanks to NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 9th Jan 2020

She

She by HC Warner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ben is reeling from a break-up, and suddenly the most attractive woman he’s seen is showing interest in him.
Forget interest, Bella wants him.
And from want, branches commitment in the form of a sudden pregnancy and quick wedding.
But things aren’t always as they seem.
As Ben withdraws from his friends and family, Bella’s claws dig deeper into him.
What’s the story?

I was totally immersed in the story, and the twists, followed by the point of view changes, made me despise Bella all the more.

A fantastic story that keeps you gripped until the very end! I’ve already recommended it to a few friends!

Many thanks to NetGalley and HQ for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 23rd January 2020

The 24-Hour Café

The 24-Hour Café by Libby Page
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the title suggests, this is a book set in a 24-hour cafe in London. Part American diner, part traditional caff, the place is the setting for many life stories.
The book is written over a 24 hour period, detailing the lives of two of the workers there, Hannah and Mona, flatmates and friends for the last few years.
Interspersed with micro-stories of some of the customers, we also learn stories of Hannah and Mona’s past and how they met,
Interestingly written, with a great underlying story about friendship, and living in modern-day London.
Many Thanks to NetGalley and Orion Publishing for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 23rd January, 2020

Grown-Ups

Grown-Ups by Marian Keyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books about family are always a favourite of mine, and this new read from Marian Keyes was fully family fuelled!
A story about the fortunes of three men, the Casey brothers, Johnny, Ed and Liam, and their respective wives, Jessie, Cara and Nell.

A surprise knock to the head causes Cara to blurt out a whole host of truths at the dinner table one night, in front of the whole family. Truths that have huge consequences.

t starts in the present, then delves backwards, accessing the views of a whole host of characters involved in the story, leading back to the very first scene, allowing us an insight into what happened, to cause the conversation that starts the book.

There are many issues touched upon within the book, from fidelity to eating disorders, trust to control.

I enjoyed the way that each jump back, then forwards, strengthened my knowledge of each character. It isn’t always easy to follow books with multiple points of view, yet I was left with fully formed characters in my mind at the end of the book.

Another page-turner!

Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 6th February 2020

The Santa Trial: A Christmas Short

The Santa Trial: A Christmas Short by Tess Thompson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a wonderful Christmas short!
Seven-year-old Morgan sends Santa a video with her request for Christmas this year, and he delivers in a true Christmas miracle style!
Ryan is a successful businessman and single father. Rena is a lonely twenty-something woman, struggling to keep afloat.
What do they have in common, besides working in the same building?
A summons to jury service. And right before Christmas too.
What develops over the few days they are together, will make you wonder whether Santa really is around, after all!
I was touched by the story and the ending gave me that warm feeling that all festive stories should.
Definitely ready for my Christmas miracle now!

A Mother's Story (No Greater Love, #7)

A Mother’s Story by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, my goodness, Mrs Prowse, you did it again.
Made me cry.
A Mother’s Story is another one of those beautifully written stories, in Amanda Prowse’s unique voice, which deals with sensitive issues, that are not beautiful at all.
Jessica and Matthew get married and are at the peak of their newly-married bliss when they find out they are to become parents.
Having a child was always a part of their plan, but a (pleasant) surprise, so early.
However, a traumatic birth experience triggers the start of the baby blues which spiral deep into postnatal depression.
I was moved to tears as we were transported from the present day, hearing Jessica’s voice, as she makes a slow recovery, to the happenings of the past; the triggers that caused a truly horrendous incident to occur.
I applaud Amanda Prowse for tackling such a delicate topic, not in a flowery way, but in that human, realistic way. Books like this go some way to educating others about how much of a serious illness postnatal depression is.
Read it. Just read.

Wildflower Christmas (The Wildflower House #3)

Wildflower Christmas by Grace Greene
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Wildflower series and was excited to have a Christmas themed novella to help tie up the loose ends of the story.
Kara Hart had been through an awful lot, the past few months, and the loss of her beloved father was one of the biggest things.
Keeping busy, trying to realise his dreams, and getting caught up in finding long lost family, alongside renovations of her new home, finally takes its toll.
Kara is ready for a calm and quiet Christmas, with, maybe, the company of her tentative boyfriend, Will. Time to reflect on the changes in her life.
But nothing is ever as easy as that.
Long-lost family, health problems, wayward best friends, old lovers and a child in need of care over the festive period all come together to create a truly memorable Christmas, for Kara and her loved ones.
A lovely, conclusion to a great three-part series.

Perfect Daughter (No Greater Strength, #1)

Perfect Daughter by Amanda Prowse
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another heartwarming tale with elements of fire within.
It’s never easy, being a wife and mother, and caring for an elderly parent on top of that can be exhausting.
Jacks is stuck in a wheel of looking after her children, her husband, Pete, Ida, her mum, the house and family life in general.
This wasn’t the life she had dreamt of, for herself, all those years ago.
Instead, she lives her life vicariously, through her daughter, envisioning a bright future for her.
But, what Jacks sees as one bad choice by her daughter, all her dreams turn to dust.
The story moves back and forth, mirroring Jacks life as a teen with that of her as the mother of a teen, and slowly realisations become clear.
It’s not easy being a carer. The reader is really made to feel the sense of duty, and love, as well as the frustration that is involved in looking after your own parent.
It isn’t any easier being a parent. Guiding your children all their lives, until suddenly they are ready to take control of their own decisions. And the choices they make aren’t what you would want.
I loved reading this story and was sucked in from the beginning. I empathised with Jacks. Though her personal situation is not like my own, I could understand her frustrations, her yearning for something different.
A lovely read.

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, a novella

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar, a novella by Yecheilyah Ysrayl
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Even Salt Looks Like Sugar was a quick read, about a young black girl, Wanda, trapped in a living situation that she can’t get out of.
She is being ‘cared for’ by Miss Cassaundra, finds herself caring for a young girl Abby, and wants to get away, to make a better life for herself and Abby.
A story that gives you things to think about.
I enjoyed the premise of the story, but sometimes was a little thrown with whose point of view I was reading.

Saving Missy

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Millicent Carmichael, or Missy, is an elderly lady of 78. She’s existing in her large house in London, with her husband no longer keeping her company, and her children having flown the nest.
A chance encounter with two very different women brings changes to her life that she never thought would happen.
For a start, she ends up with a dog.
Set in 2017 and bouncing back to various times in Missy’s life, we learn a lot about Missy’s life, and how she came to be all alone, despite being a mother to two, a grandmother and a wife.
A heartwarming read, with a few surprises, revealed along the way.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collines UK for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Published 6th February 2020

The Magician's Sire ( A Paranormal Romance)

The Magician’s Sire by Linda G Hill
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oooh, I love a prequel, and was extremely excited to receive this novella by Linda G. Hill, to accompany her series!
The Dagmars have a curse upon them, and, having read the series already, I knew all about it.
But to read a little backstory, now that is always good!
Finding out a bit about Steven’s father Tarmien, and how he began to understand how the family curse, and his own powers, would affect his future, and that of his own children.
If you’ve read the two books in the series, you really should read this… and if you haven’t, this would make you want to read!

Double Cup Love

Double Cup Love by Eddie Huang
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I tried.
I tried really hard to enjoy this book, but I just didn’t find myself getting into it.
It was the same with his first book, Fresh Off The Boat.
Still, I liked the ideas behind why this book was written.
Just, didn’t really enjoy how it was written.
Eddie Huang’s journey back home to China, to find himself and his roots, littered with rap slang and profanities…
Some may enjoy it. Wasn’t my cup of tea.

Final Track

Final Track by Julie Hiner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow!
I gotta say, this isn’t my usual genre of book, usually favouring easy to read rom coms and cosy fiction, but boy did I get into this one, once I started!
Mahoney is a Chief Detective in a small force in Calgary and is soon embroiled in the investigations of a series of murders.
Each killing has a link to the rock scene of the time, in the ’80s and each case is more and more bizarre, twisted, and definitely connected.
Once it is established that a serial killer is out there, investigations ramp up.
And Detective Mahoney is not about to let this murderer get away.
I have to say, I loved it all, and I ended up staying up way past my bedtime to finish, wanting to know what the score was!
Written from the view of the Detective, but with insights into the mind of another key person from the story, it was unputdownable… well, I couldn’t put it down, anyway!
And I am rather excited about reading more from this talented author, who has an ’80s fixation and some truly disturbing story ideas!

Missing Her More

Missing Her More by Karen McQuestion
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Oh, what a genuinely heartwarming read! I loved it!
Having read Good Man Dalton, I was eager to read this companion book to it, revisiting characters we already knew, but from a different perspective.
The story is centred around Brenna, the youngest daughter of the Vanderhaven family.
A young girl, born into a family that wants for nothing; her whims catered for, as much as her overprotective parents will allow.
Still, she can’t have a dog or her own cell phone or time with her parents.
Then something awful happens.
Along with her sister, Cece moving out, she finds out that her parents are going to fire her Nanny.
Distraught, she decides upon a plan that ends up causing changes no one would have ever envisaged.
People often think that being from a wealthy family means that a person has everything — no reason to be unhappy or disgruntled in any way.
This story shows that real wealth is family and love, not money.
A wonderful read. So wonderful, I ended up reading it in one sitting!

Adèle

Adèle by Leïla Slimani
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sorry to say this wasn’t the most amazing read, for me.
I read Lullaby, by Slimani, previously, and found it a really hard book to get into, and very cold.
Adele was easier to start, but aside from describing the behaviours of a sex-addicted woman, I felt it was very two dimensional. I didn’t warm to her, or empathise with her at any point.
She’s a mother, but there was no real feeling for her son, and the ending was all too strange for me…
Lost in translation? Maybe.
Sorry. No.

The Siege and Other Award Winning Stories

The Siege and Other Award Winning Stories by Esther Newton
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a wonderful collection of short stories.
Little snippets of brilliance and you can tell why they were award-winning, or certainly worthy.
Using just a few words, Esther is able to reduce you a gibbering wreck, tugging at heartstrings, that even the coldest of hearts has.
I loved each and every story, but those that dealt with parenting and losing a child were really emotive.
If you are a short story fan, you MUST read this book. You won’t regret it. Whether it is devoured in one sitting or read leisurely, savouring each story individually, it will stay with you.

And with that last book, I finish my reading year…

Yup. I read a LOT of books this year!

I’m not going to be silly and try and smash that number, next year, but I will keep reading, and reviewing!

What about you? How many books did you read? Do you take part in the Goodreads challenge?

If you are on Goodreads, why not connect there too?

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15391974.Ritu_Bhathal

Have a fantastic time seeing the new year in, and here’s to plenty more books!

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Theo By Amanda Prowse – One Love, Two Stories #BookReview @MrsAmandaProwse

A couple of months ago I reviewed a book called Anna by best selling author, Amanda Prowse. You can read that here.

I was so honoured to have been approached by such an amazing author in the first place, and gobsmacked that my opinion had been sought about this first of a two-part series!

Now, I was totally fangirling!

Amanda is an inspirational author and it was such fun to pop into various shops, and see her books on the shelves! I found myself pointing them out to my daughter, saying “Look! That’s my author friend’s book!”

She was even on The Wright Stuff, and I was grinning away at the recorded episode I saw her on!

Back to the book!

Anna was the first book in a twosome with the tagline One Love, Two Stories.

The idea was that you read the same story, but from the perspective of both halves of the couple.

And I was so touched to receive the second book in the twosome last week, just in time for my weekend away! I have to say, I enjoyed it so much I finished it pretty quickly, grabbing every moment I could to sneak reading time! Then when I was pages away from finishing, I didn’t want it to end, so I put it down, late at night, in order to continue the pleasure through to the next day!

What is the book about?

The official blurb reads:

There are two sides to every love story. This is Theo’s.
Theo Montgomery grew up in a rich family where he had all the toys and trinkets money could buy. But his childhood was full of neglect and he was bullied at school. Now he is an adult, he longs to find a soulmate. Someone who understands him. Someone who will love him unconditionally.
Then, one day, Theo meets Anna Cole in a lift. Anna grew up in a care home, and has always wanted to create the noisy family life she never had. She brings love and laughter into Theo’s life. But she wants a baby, and Theo can’t imagine bringing a child into this cruel world…
Theo and Anna are two damaged souls, from two different worlds. Is their love for each other enough to let go of the pain of their pasts? Or will Anna and Theo break each others’ hearts?

My take?

Anna came from a tough background, having experienced the loss of both parents, and her brother, being in care, and then finding out her real father, who she had been looking for, had also died. She spent her life writing letters to her two future children, Fifi and Fox, and her dearest wish was to be able to have a family, and create the family life she had wished for.

She met the man she wanted to fulfil her dreams with, Theo.

A guy from a very affluent background, all posh boarding school, and holidays abroad. Working in his family business when he and Anna meet, they couldn’t be from more opposite backgrounds.

But the similarities in their situations are evident. While we learn of Anna’s background in the first book, the second gives you the lowdown on Theo and his childhood.

Theo is just as troubled, having been forced to follow in his father’s, and grandfather’s footsteps, to a school where he never fit in. He then finds himself in college, where he had a brief respite from thinking of his family honour and was able to be himself for the first time. Things take a downward twist and he is again on the road following his father, this time in the family business.

He’s dealt with the fact that his father is an adulterous flirt, who has actually fathered another child, that his mother would actually prefer to stay with her cheating husband, and that Theo himself is almost an inconvenience in their life, especially as he doesn’t appear to be cut from the same cloth as his father… a square peg being forced into a round hole, as he sees it.

School was bearable, purely because of the advice and companionship of an older gentleman, a groundsman named Mr Porter, who ends up being made to leave his job, leaving Theo floundering again

His only friend at university is Spud, a lad from Wigan, who, despite not being from Theo’s background, is a grounding influence on him, and an unwavering source of support through many revelations that Theo has to deal with.

Meeting Anna changes Theo’s life.

A woman who had been through so much, in her short life, but still understands him, and gets that, though he has led what many would consider a ‘privileged’ life, he’s just as damaged as her.

Their own personal ups and downs, seen through the eyes of Theo, help to complete the whole picture of these two stories that show one love.

And my review, available to see on Amazon here and Goodreads here:

I absolutely loved Anna, and was impatient to read Theo.
Was I disappointed?
Not at all!
It’s an interesting concept, to write the same story from both parties eyes.
I really felt for Anna, learning her story in the first book, and reading Theo’s story cemented my feelings that it is circumstance that creates the person you become.
Theo was never a bad guy. He may have made mistakes, but hey, don’t we all?
He tries to overcome so much to create a life, and a future for him and the woman he loves, despite all sorts coming back to bite him all the time.
Yes, I kinda knew what was going to happen next in the latter half of the story, but that didn’t detract from my enjoyment at all. In fact, it heightened it, as I learned the why’s behind some questions I had at the end of Anna.
Would I recommend it? Yes, 100%! Do yourself a favour, if you haven’t already… get both the books and look forward to a great ride!

And my rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I was provided with a copy of the book in exchange for honest comments regarding the story.

About Amanda:

Amanda has always obsessively crafted short stories and scribbled notes for potential books, but it wasn’t until she was forty that she began writing full time. The result was Poppy Day, the story of an army wife, whose incredible love for her husband gives her the courage to rescue him from hostages in Afghanistan. This was followed by the number 1 bestseller What Have I Done? Amanda now has ten novels and four novellas published.
All of Amanda’s books in the No Greater Love series share common themes in that they are contemporary love stories, the main characters are women, just like you and I, who find themselves in extraordinary situations for love.
Her new series is the No Greater Courage series, tales of women facing the trials that life throws at them and having to dig deep to find the will and strength to succeed. This series includes the A Mother’s Story and Perfect Daughter, which continue to receive brilliant reader and press reviews.
Amanda’s ambition has always been to create stories that keep people from turning the bedside lamp off at night, great characters that ensure you take every step with them and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…
Currently, Amanda lives in the West Country with her husband and their 18 & 19 year old boys Josh and Ben.

Follow Amanda on Twitter @MrsAmandaProwse, or join Amanda on Facebook.

Check out her website: http://amandaprowse.org/

 

#BookReview – Time To Lie by Phil Taylor

Hey Peeps!

It’s me, back with another review for a book by one of my blog buddies!

Phil Taylor

This time it’s Phil Taylor who gets the Ritu Review Treatment!

Time to Lie (Landon Bridges' Story Book 1) by [Taylor, Phil]

I treated myself to this book on my birthday last year… the 3rd September, and it has been patiently waiting for its place to come as I work my way through my To Be Read pile… Which happened to be the Easter weekend!

First, the blurb…

Remember that time you dated that complete nutcase and said to yourself, I wish Future Me would have come back and warned me about this. Remember when you and your drunk friends said, If it’s such a bad idea, someone would come back from the future and stop us, right before it blew up in your face and got you in trouble? It would be great to have someone from the future to guide your life, wouldn’t it?

Landon Bridges’ life hasn’t always been perfect, but now he’s in college and determined to make a fresh start and transform himself from high school geek to college chic…well less geeky guy. He’s finally attained his life-long goal of studying physics in college under a renowned professor. He’s met the girl of his dreams and made friends with some of the cool frat guys. Things are going great, until He shows up.

A mysterious stranger intervenes to help Landon out of a terrible, possibly life changing situation, but what does he want? Why does he keep showing up? Who is he? Landon’s esteemed professor suddenly seems like a flake. Landon’s briefly idyllic college world seems to be spinning out of control. Landon needs to control his world and in the process of regaining his sanity and his grip on reality, he discovers that he has talents and allies that he never imagined. But is what they’re telling him the truth?

The truth is just the lie we’ve chosen to believe, and yours may be different than mine.

So, a book all about time travel – not usually my thing but I have to be honest with you, since I started blogging, I have discovered that there are a huge amount of genres out there that I haven’t explored, so I can’t say I don’t like, if I haven’t tried! I am already a YA Fiction convert, why not try a little science fiction, peppered with some comedic interludes and romance too?

What did I think?

Well, read the review for yourself!

 

I’ve just finished Phil Taylor’s Time To Lie, and I’m not gonna lie… I really enjoyed it!
Took me a little while to totally get into it, but that was just because I was trying to get my head around the whole Time Travel thing… But once things clicked in my head, I was there!
Landon Bridges is a nerdy kid who’s had a tough childhood after losing his dad… But he’s off to college to better his life… until his meeting with an esteemed, but kooky, physics professor, and the prospect of time travel. Seriously, if you knew how to go back in time, what would you change, and how would it change you?
There’s love, there’s drama, there’s humour. And there are sequels to come too, which I am eagerly waiting for!

Amazon review: here

GoodReads review: here

And my rating?  ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

C’mon Phil… when’s the next one out? (Not putting pressure on you or anything…!)

#PyarActually – a Theatre #Review #MondayBlogs

A few weeks ago, on a night out with my girl gang, the Tootie Frooties, we discovered that there was a new play about to be performed at our local theatre.

It was an Anglo Indian production, small, with two actors, one of whom who had written the play.

Pyar Actually.

This means Love, Actually.

Reading a basic synopsis of the story, I readily said Yes!

Polly has a reliable husband, two bright children, a well-paid job at the council and detached house with a double garage. She’s got it all. She may not be living the life she dreamed of back when she was a teenager, but who does?

Bali is a successful businessman. Loving his jet set lifestyle he swore he’d never return to the small town he grew up in. So why is he back? Is it too late for second chances? And is love, actually, all you need?

Then I slowly realised that this was actually written by someone I already followed on Instagram, Sukh Ojla or @forsukhssake. She is a brilliant stand-up comedienne too, and has featured in TV programmes and is even in the recent cinema release, Victoria and Albert!

And best of all, she is a local girl, with roots in the town I was married into!

I was excited.

We were watching the last show of the run here in the local theatre before they went off to various other towns and cities in the UK. Several other friends of mine had been to see it already and were raving about it.

 

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Obligatory shot with the Poster!

As it was a small production by Rifco, “an award-winning British Asian Theatre Company that develops and creates vibrant, accessible and high-quality theatre which reflects and celebrates the contemporary British Asian experience”, it was in the smaller theatre studio, and there was unreserved seating.

With this in mind, we arranged to meet early so we could get good seats.

I was there ten minutes earlier than planned because that’s just me. Slowly the group assembled…

 

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Part of the Tootie Frooties!

 

 

 

Before long most of us were there and the queues started to form to get in. We were in there, but without one key member… the one with the tickets!

With moments to spare she arrived, but the front was all filled up. Still, we grabbed cushioned seats at the side and had a great view!

 

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Present and correct!

The set was simple, and something that was easily manoeuvrable by the two actors, to create the atmosphere required.

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And what of the play?

I really enjoyed it! It was a humorous look at the life of a married British Asian woman, and what happens when she gets contacted by her ex-boyfriend.

We laughed at the typical Indian jokes, “Innit!” and cringed at the depictions of clandestine meetings with boyfriends past, not because they were badly portrayed, but more because we were able to relate to them!

The use of simple Punjabi phrases littered within the dialogue created an authenticity within the portrayal of the life of a woman who was essentially every one of us women in the audience, to an extent.

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The ex-boyfriend was excellently played by Simon Rivers, a successful businessman whose life is unravelling due to alcoholism, and the loss of his mother. Reaching out to someone who meant something in his past, initially to absolve himself of guilt, cascades into a waterfall of emotions.

Polly, the lead character, played by Sukh Ojla, was someone we all knew. A married 40-something woman with two kids and a nice house, who was content with life, but not really happy.  Deciding to meet this blast from the past could go one of two ways… which way did it go?

Sukh also doubled up as Auntiji, the typical Indian Auntie/friend of mother, who somehow knows everything that is going on, and even plays Call of Duty!

A little set of twists at the end, made for a thoroughly enjoyable story. I’m not about to give the story up to you guys! You need to go watch it yourself!

And at the end of the performance, we hung around for a group photo with the main girl. and I had my own fangirl moment of selfie-dom with her!

 

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Me and Sukh!

A fun afternoon for all of us who went!

 

 

 

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