Review of Last One At The Party.

This, for me, was an uncomfortable read. I get the fact that many people have said this is a witty book, it is in parts. But there is a lot of darkness in it, and some pretty graphic details. If we weren’t currently living through a pandemic I think I would have enjoyed reading this book.

The story is set in late 2023/early 2024. A new virus named 6DM (six days maximum) has wiped out the human race. It is the end of the world. Yet there is one woman still alive. Despite coming into contact with people who have 6DM, including her own husband, this woman survives.

The book is written in the style of a diary that is being kept by this woman – unnamed – and it discusses her life before 6DM hit, how the new and deadly virus ravaged her life and loved ones and how she survives. She comes across as quite self-centred and I think the point is to show the reader how she has had to adjust from selfish to self-reliant.

For me, there was too much graphic content in terms of animal suffering. The demise of the humans she knows and encounters is almost comical in some parts, but the description of animals suffering and dying as a result of the deadly virus really upset me.

The end was quite disappointing. We don’t get to find out what happens to her. We do find out that she wasn’t the only survivor – there are a couple of clues in the book that suggest this – but we don’t get to know what happens to her.

This is not the kind of book I would normally read, much less during a real-life pandemic! It is well written, and yes, there are some witty moments in the book. Like other people have already discussed elsewhere, the woman isn’t that likeable, but that’s probably the point. I would have liked to know why she seemed to be immune to this virus too.

Overall rating 7/10 3 stars ***

Review of Meet Me In London by Georgia Toffolo.

This book is published by Mills and Boon and is clearly in the Romantic Fiction genre.

The story centres around Victoria Scott and Oliver Russell. She’s a budding fashion designer, working in a pub to make ends meet, he’s the heir to a department store empire. Naturally there is a little tension when they first meet, but that doesn’t stop Oliver asking Victoria to be his pretend fiancé for the sake of his sanity, as well as to keep his mum from constantly trying to meddle in his non-existent love life.

She agrees as Oliver has offered to showcase her fashion designs at the opening of his new store. Victoria does have some qualms about the store opening and she uses her influence to have Oliver invite the traders from the local area set up stalls in his store on opening day.

To convince Oliver’s parents that this relationship is real Oliver insists that they have dinner with his parents. This has Victoria worried, they are only a fake couple, is it fair to dupe his parents in this way? After meeting them, and hitting it off with them right away, Victoria is more concerned than ever that what they are dong isn’t right.

The lines between fake relationship and real feelings begin to blur, for both of them. But just as everything appears to be going in the right direction for them both, Victoria’s past rears its head, and Oliver’s cousin finds out her secret, threatens to expose her unless she leave Oliver. Believing she’s doing the right thing, Victoria calls off the arrangement and heads home to Devon.

Both Oliver and Victoria are miserable by Victoria’s decision, but will either of them push their pride aside and reach out to the other before it’s too late?

I did enjoy this book, I wasn’t sure if I would as I had read some negative reviews by people so wasn’t sure what to expect. The storyline is in keeping with the Mills and Boon remit, so if you love this publishers titles you won’t be disappointed.

The story is set in the run up to Christmas so it’s obviously an excellent choice to read at this time. I do feel that you could read this book at any time of the year though; it is part of a series by the same author so reading this at any time of the year would not feel out of place.

A lovely read. Enjoyed it very much.

Review of This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens.

It was very surreal reading this book that is mostly set in 2020 and there is no mention of COVID, obviously!

I instantly loved Minnie Cooper – what a name! – she was just what you would want in a character for this genre. Quinn Hamilton started out as a decent sort of guy, but for me, he went down hill fairly quickly. His personal issues did explain a lot and I was torn over whether I thought they were the reason he was the way he was, or whether he used them as an excuse to hide behind when it came to intimacy.

The to-ing a d fro- ing from present day to the past was a little annoying, I totally got why the author had written chapters in the past tense and they did flesh out the background of both Minnie and Quinn, but I just wasn’t a fan of that style in this instance.

There are lots of comical moments in the book, and it isn’t dripping with saccharine sweetness, so it’s a perfect light-hearted read.
On the whole I think lovers of the romcom genre will love this book. Definitely recommended for lovers of that genre.

Saturday’s Read – Claimed By Rafa by Denna Holm.

I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I hadn’t read the first one so had no idea what I would be reading about in terms of the plot. The first few pages were still not enough to convince me this was a sub genre I was really interested in. I’ve never read this kind of book before – fantasy and sci fi, yes, but not this particular type. My first thoughts were that I would read the first chapter and see how I went.

The first chapter bypassed me long before I even realised, I think I was about six chapters in before I remembered what I was going to initially do. Once I realised that this particular book was not too dissimilar to any other sci fi or fantasy novel I had got about half way through.

I really did enjoy the story line and the twists and turns the author has weaved into it. Usually I will write about how believable the characters are, and so on, but that won’t do here. The characters are obviously not the usual female/male, but they do have a love story unfold. That blossoming romance that stutters and starts, just like any other romance novel, played out just how you would expect. The storyline isn’t drenched by it though, it is very much a secondary aspect to the storyline and I actually found that very refreshing.

The action within this novel is probably quite tame, but that suited me just fine. I think that is exactly what had me hooked, the lack of blood and gore and battles every other page.

Without reading the first book in this series I can’t say either way how it relates to the second, other than the fact that some of the characters are in both books. There were a couple of occasions where I was left wondering about something, but it certainly wasn’t anything major. This is definitely, in my opinion, a book you can read as a stand-alone.

Superbly written and very thoroughly researched, in the sense that it makes complete sense, the characters and plot flowed well. There are some darker moments when dealing with Aaliyah’s past, but they aren’t too graphic and they are essential to the storyline. They were written with care and compassion too, which is a credit to the author.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and definitely recommend it.

I read and reviewed this book for Reedsy Discovery.

https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/claimed-by-rafa-denna-holm

Review of Comfortably Uncomfortable: The Road To Happiness Isn’t Always Paved by Jacquelyn Phillips.

Raw, real and honest.

A book that guides you to face off with your fears and issues and gets into the dark places inside of you, shining a light for you on your journey of self-discovery.

Jacquelyn Phillips has ripped open her soul for all to see in this wonderfully written book. She delves into ALL OF HER ISSUES, showing us how they had crept upon her, how she had avoided owning them, and then how she faced them and finally started working through them.

Jacquelyn discusses the various treatments she has undergone over the years, detailing her opinion on whether they are effective or not. This, for me, was very refreshing. Many books of this genre will suggest a certain treatment, but rarely do you hear if the treatment is a waste of time. Obviously this is the author’s viewpoint and will not reflect everyone, but for me, I think her honesty is much needed in this field.

Throughout the book Jacquelyn references her relationship with her Mom. This pulled-back the curtain view into their personal lives is heartbreaking at times, but also offers hope to people who struggle with toxic family relationships.

The book is in three parts. The first part is all about Jacquelyn opening up Pandora’s Box getting all of her troubles and issues out into the open. This section may be uncomfortable reading, but it is absolutely necessary for us to understand how the next two parts work.

Part Two is all about the clean up phase. Here she shares the letters she wrote to her parents as part of her healing process. Those letters are raw and emotive, and they certainly don’t make for easy reading. But there is something beautiful in her words that leave you feeling the release and relief.

Part Three is all about turning pain into power. As someone who has a chronic illness, Jacquelyn has not only used her emotional pain to push her on, but her physical pain too. This is not the sort of book that preaches, it’s aimed at guiding the reader to find their self worth.

Given the difficult topics discussed in this book, I wasn’t sure if I would actually enjoy reading it. But I was surprised to find that this was a book I actually did enjoy reading.

I found this book inspirational and would recommend it.

https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/comfortably-uncomfortable-jacquelyn-phillips

Review of Better Than Capitalism by Samy Barnat.

This book is full of sobering facts about what we as humans are doing to our planet. The information contained in this book offers plenty of advice, compelling arguments, but also hope. Hope stemming from the actions we can take to heal our economic, ecological, political and health crises.

The author uses clear and concise language so that he book is easy to read – everyone should be able to access this information. There are plenty of hyperlinks to help you understand why this action must be taken. The topics being discussed are controversial, but we need to address these issues regardless of how uncomfortable we feel.

If you want to look into what we can do now to save ourselves and the earth, then this book is a must.

Review of A Forged Affair by MaryAnn Clark

forged-affair

 

I started reading this book aware that it is part of a series, but it is easy to read as a standalone book. To begin with I found the pace of the storyline quite slow, the author’s illuminative writing allowed me to picture the area of France that the book is set in, but at first I felt swamped by this.

Sticking with the story I found that after I had the first chapter under my belt the storyline opened up a lot more, the characters started to flow a lot more freely and I began to get a feel for them.

At first I wasn’t sure if I liked the protagonist, she came across as cocky. I soon learnt that this showing off that Niki was doing was a mask to hide her pain, and that warmed me to her.

Niki’s relationship with Didier was uncomplicated at first, her desire to help him out was really endearing. Her need to stand up to the bullies on his behalf really won me over. Her relationship with Luc was really complicated and this had me very frustrated right the way through the book. That said, the complications were as a result of her pain and therefore quite understandable.

During the first chapter, when I felt the story was slow, I was really certain I was not going to enjoy this book. After about the third or fourth chapter I found that the emotions of all concerned had got me gripped, I have to admit that this did surprise me.

The author has carefully woven a rather surprising story of love, friendships, heartache and an utterly independent woman who you will find endearing but frustratingly stubborn at the same time.

Her descriptive account of the area really helps to set the scene for this story. The characters are both likeable and believable, although some of the background characters lacked dimension at times. That said, this did not take anything away from the storyline, nor did it interfere with the flow of the story.

I found this book enjoyable and thought provoking. Niki’s character caused me to ponder what it would be like for a young female to be travelling around France and then to dive headfirst into a friendship with a man she has just met.

I enjoyed the author’s writing style, her knowledge about the area of France that the book is set in and the activities that the characters are involved in comes across very well. I would definitely recommend this book to family and friends.