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 From Venice With Love by Rosanna Ley.

I received this book from the publisher for review to coincide with publication day. Then I got sick and everything got put on the back burner. Anyway, review is here now.

The title is a bit misleading, you do expect the story to be set in Venice, but only about a third of the story is set there. That said, this does not detract from the storyline.

Joanna is on the brink of divorce and returns home to her sister, Harriet, and their Mum. They live on a farm in Dorset and despite its rundown appearance, Harriet is determined to handle everything on her own. She is suspicious when Joanna turns up, but also relieved.

Their Mum has lost her way since their Dad died, she is a shadow of her former self and is hard work for Harriet alone. She has a tendency to ring tradesmen up and have them come up to the farm with a view to doing work that badly needs doing. Between the two sisters they just about manage to stop their Mum from ringing around the area, trying to get work done on the rundown farmhouse and surrounding area.

One evening Joanna discovers some old letters in the attic. The letters are from a young woman who may or may not be related to Joanna and her family. Joanna becomes entangled with the Emmy story and this leads her to Venice, Lisbon, and then onto Prague.

She also gains an admirer when her visits to the three cities from Emmy’s letters are a chance for her to create three travel guides. Nicholas becomes intrigued by the walks that Joanna has created, and by Joanna herself. The pair start emailing one another, discussing the walks, as well as flights of fancy.

Harriet, meanwhile, has been exploring the world of online dating. Joanna’s return gives her the chance to go out and meet some of the men she has been chatting to on a dating site. She’s also discovered a prowler, this leads to an alarming discovery. She enlists the help of their faithful neighbour, Owen, who is in love with her -unbeknownst to her of course!

This book would make a good holiday read – even staycations need a good book for us to get into. It has just the right blend of humour, intrigue, and realism to keep you entertained, whether you’re staycationing, or need a good book to read, this book has it all.

Definitely recommend.

Review of Before We Get Carried Away by M. Jane Early.

Before We Get Carried Away

As soon as I started reading this book I knew it was going to be something special. I began reading it on the morning of one day and finished it the following morning. I think I would have had it read sooner, but real life kept me away from it.

The main characters, Jordan and Daniel, are great. Often with this calibre of character – a superstar – there can be an element of conceitedness in that particular character, but Daniel was down to earth and this makes him oh so endearing! Jordan is a lovely character too. Although she is very stubborn, she has good reason to be so and this helps to endear her to the reader.

The author put so much detail into all of the characters, this really came through in the narrative. The same can be said about the area in which the story is based. The author has researched everything superbly and this really adds to the calibre of the characters and their surroundings.

The story is very in-depth, both of the main characters are explored in great detail and this adds so much to the storyline. The way they act, how they react, all of this makes sense because the author has put so much detail into this story.

The author has done a brilliant job at capturing the attention of the reader with her very real and loveable main characters, plus a sprinkling of secondary characters who are a delight also. Naturally there are one or two unsavoury characters that cause mischief and mayhem, but they are very much background characters – that said, they also have as much depth and dimension as the main characters.

The storyline fits in really well with the modern-day, again, so much attention to detail really brings this story alive. The sights, the sounds, the pace of life in this particular city. How life works in Los Angeles, all the details have been interwoven with the story giving the reader a clear view of the lives of Jordan and Daniel.

In a nutshell, this is a perfect feel-good read, highly recommended for anyone who loves this genre. It is very well written and highly researched, the attention to detail is second to none.

This book is rated as a five-star read and an absolute MUST for all romance novel readers.

SUPERB!

Reedsy link – https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/before-we-get-carried-away-m-jane-early

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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 Our Time by Savanna Malveaux.

I reviewed this book for the author via Reedsy, link can be found here: https://reedsy.com/discovery/book/our-time-savanna-malveaux

Our Time is set in Atlanta and tells many different stories. Leah, a successful family lawyer, has decided she wants to leave Law behind and start her own business – as a Madam, running a high end Escort Agency. Her business venture is far from the norm and she decides she will test it out whilst on a mini break with her girlfriends. Leah’s friends love her idea and cannot wait until they reach their destination.

Cue the first of many erotic scenarios.

This genre is not exactly new to me, but it is one I don’t read that often. I am always sceptical about books that come under the erotic fiction genre, not because of the amount of sex that you read about, but because the action can often overtake the plot.

Our Time is a little heavy on the sex scenes, but I do feel they are necessary. They tell of each of Leah’s clients, their needs – and often these needs are highly complex – the exact nature of what they want. These parts read really well, in the format of emails they outlined everything that each client wanted, and then Leah’s response. I found that while the action in the sex department was quite intense, it did not swallow the plot up.

I feel that each character was believable – many of them had been too afraid to reach out and grab their fantasies before Leah had opened her business up, this came across really well and certainly did not read like an ex rated movie script. I could see why they wanted to engage Leah’s services and some of them were quite bashful about what it is that wanted.

My favourite client of Leah’s was a lawyer named Lisa. She needed a stand in boyfriend for a trip back home to her folks. I loved how the energy flowed between Lisa and Tony, and her whole family were very relatable.

I wanted to like Leah a whole lot more than I did. She clearly had issues and how she dealt with them were very in keeping with what had happened to her. For me, she lacked depth.

On the whole this book will appeal to lovers of Erotica and BDSM genres. It does have a lot of sex scenes in, but it is an erotic novel so it is to be expected. This book will definitely appeal to the readers of the Erotic fiction genre.

I will give it three stars as it was a fun book to read. ***

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.

Review of Adults by Emma Jane Unsworth.

Image result for adults by emma jane unsworth

Firstly, I want to say that the main character in this book is a selfish and irritating person. I did find her funny at times, but I wouldn’t ever be friends with such a person and I guess that didn’t help my feelings about her.

Jenny is social media obsessed. I guess a lot of people can relate to her character, feeling the need to update one of their many social media accounts constantly. This does strike a chord.

There are plenty of incidents in the book that made me pity Jenny. Her ex boyfriend treat her appallingly and throughout the book he continued to toy with her emotions. For that I felt that the character was going to be striking a chord with a lot of readers.

The one character I loved was Jenny’s mum. Her mediumistic abilities and love for all things esoterical brought a much needed lightness to a book that aimed to be humorous but just felt quite grim from start to finish.

I think the aim of the story is to be satirical, and maybe plenty of people got this vibe. I just did not get this.

Review of The Hopes And Triumphs Of The Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain.

I didn’t realise that this book was part of a series, but that said, it is a very good stand-alone book. I didn’t feel the two previous books had to be read in order for the storyline to make sense.

This particular book centres on the youngest of the Amir sisters, Mae. Mae is coming home for the holidays, excited to see her family as she has been at University. Her brother-in-law is supposed to be picking her up, only he isn’t there when Mae exits the train.

Feeling a little deflated that her family seem to have forgotten about her, Mae does what she always does and cracks a joke about what has just happened.

The family seem to have evolved in her absence and Mae feels extremely left out. Trying to get the attention of her family whilst at home isn’t working, so Mae decides to go back to Uni early. She feels really hurt by her family’s lack of interest in her life at Uni and a few tears start to escape when she’s on the train heading back.

After her crying bout on the train she decides to put her make-up on. Her attention is drawn to a man sitting opposite her and at first she thinks he is flirting with her, but it soon becomes apparent he is acting in a creepy manner.

A few days later she discovers that the man from the train had secretly filmed her putting her make-up on and had posted the video onto social media, commenting about how women think they are entitled to do these things and so on. Mae is horrified to find that the video has gone viral and that there are so many negative comments about her.

Feeling alone and hurt she decides to go to a bar to have some fun. After having too many drinks she is dancing on the dance floor when a young man starts grinding his body against hers. Unbeknownst to Mae he has also spiked her drink.

They go outside and luckily for Mae a couple of young women save her from the potential attacker. But Mae remembers nothing of this as she has started to black out due to the drugs.

One of the young women, Ji Su takes her back to her dorm and stays with her to make sure she is OK. The next day a friendship between the two develops and they soon become inseparable. Mae hasn’t really been putting the work in for her course but with the help of her new found friend she begins to study.

By the end of the year Mae’s lack of effort for her studies is showing and it emerges that she has failed her first year. To make things worse she has also had a falling out with Ji Su. She was supposed to be moving in with Ji Su for the summer but has to go home as the two friends are not speaking.

Once home she is too ashamed to tell her family the truth about her failure. Her parents had paid for her first year at Uni and she worries what they will say when they learn of her failure. She is determined to pay them back and decides to get a job. She finds work at a local amusement park, her role is the back end of horse! In this role she meets Abdul-Raheem and they hit it off immediately. A romance blossoms but she isn’t certain where it can lead.

Abdul-Raheem is a black muslim and Mae is worried about her family’s reaction. They are Bengali and are very set in their ways. Mae keeps her relationship a secret from her family as she doesn’t want a scene. Nor does she want Abdul-Raheem to be insulted or hurt by the way her family will react to him.

But one evening when she is babysitting for her sisters she finds she needs Abdul-Raheem’s help. He comes over and helps her with Zoya, her niece, who has been a little unwell. But unbeknownst to them Mae’s step-nephew, who has a crush on Mae, has witnessed Abdul-Raheem in the house with Mae and he blows her secret by informing the family that Mae has a man round at her sisters house.

The whole family turn up and what happens next is an ugly scene where her parents are racially abusive to Abdul-Raheem. Once he has left there is a huge argument which ends with Mae leaving and going in search of her boyfriend. He lets her spend the night, but he refuses to engage in anything physical as he is a devout Muslim and to have a sexual relationship with her would go against his religious beliefs.

The argument almost tears the family apart, their opinions of every aspect of Mae’s life are quite extreme, but none more so than how they reacted to her involvement with Abdul-Raheem.

As soon as I started reading this book I was hooked. Mae is lost. She is struggling with her feelings. Her identity. Her sexuality. Her role in life. She struggles with her feelings over what it would mean to date a black boy, and she knows that her family would never accept Abdul-Raheem.

This book is very thought provoking, especially when dealing with the issues of race, religion, class and culture. Delving into Mae’s life gives an insight into the role a young, nineteen year old Asian girl plays in the dynamics of her family. A family that is very close knit and who stay true to their traditions and way of life.

Mae doesn’t feel like she fits in anymore within the family dynamics, we see this as she explores her sexuality, her freedom, and her role in life. The troubles that ensue give the reader a glimpse into the very real struggles young Asian women are facing.

Towards the end of the book Mae finds her way and makes up with her family. Her parents eventually understand what she is trying to tell them and she goes back to University to study a new course. She finds herself and is optimistic for her future.

This book is so wonderfully written, the story flows well, the characters are likeable and their issues drive the story forward. The cultural differences are quite subtle until the major argument, but even then I found I could see all perspectives.

This is a MUST read, even as a stand alone book, but I have to say I am eager to read the other books that make up the series.

Brilliant storyline that highlights the struggles young Asian women face, and the family bonds that a close knit family share. A heartwarming story that had me gripped throughout.

Highly recommended.