Friday, 15 October 2021

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza | Blog Tour Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received an ebook copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza - 4/5
Blurb:
"Not every story is black and white.

Riley and Jen have been best friends since they were children, and they thought their bond was unbreakable. It never mattered to them that Riley is black and Jen is white. And then Jen's husband, a Philadelphia police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and everything changes in an instant.

This one act could destroy more than just Riley and Jen's friendship. As their community takes sides, so must Jen and Riley, and for the first time in their lives the lifelong friends find themselves on opposing sides.

But can anyone win a fight like this?"

Review: 
This is a thought provoking book that delves into some really deep issues. 

Jen and Riley have been best friends since they were babies and are now in their 30s. Riley is an upcoming journalist and is Black. Jen is white and is married to Philadelphia police officer Kevin. 

The book opens with a shocking prologue of a fourteen year old Black boy named Justin being shot by police officers. One of those police officers being Kevin. 

The chapters alternate between the points of view of Riley and Jen and explores the issue of race in depth, making them completely reanalyse their friendship following this incident. Riley covers the story of Justin's death, interviews his mother and covers the funeral, all of which makes Jen think that she is taking their side. Jen claims to be saddened by the situation but Riley knows what it is like to live as a Black person and has very little sympathy for Kevin. 

Jen's chapters are interesting, especially at the start when the shooting is just revealed. They humanise the police, she's afraid that every time Kevin leaves for work he won't come home. She is adamant that he is a good guy and this was a simple mistake.

It definitely feels very real life and it evokes a lot of emotion. This is a book that makes for a really great discussion and one that I would recommend a lot. 


Wednesday, 13 October 2021

In The Book Personalised Books | Review

[AD/Gifted - I received this item for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

I have always been massively into reading and it's one thing that I am glad that the kids have ended up loving too. The lovely team at In The Book very kindly sent E a little gift in the post recently.

In The Book specialise in personalised books for both adults and children. When it comes to the children's books there are lots to choose from. You can opt for educational books like encyclopaedias, character themed ones and loads more in between.

E received the My Personalised Unicorn Adventure Book. You can add your child's name as well as message for the title page and you have the option to upload a photograph too.

Upon opening, E was delighted to see her own name on the front cover of this very special book. The addition of unicorns was perfect for her too.

The story itself is super cute with your child's name being the unicorns name! The unicorn then travels to different places and we follow along the way. The pages are bright and colourful and really engaging. E has even sat by herself a few times reading it again because she loves it so much.


You can choose to add a protective gift box with 'Just for you' on the front. E always makes sure to put it back because she wants to keep it forever.

This book starts at £19.99 for a softback but you have the option to upgrade to hardback, classic hardcover or add a gift box.

These would make beautiful Christmas gifts for the little ones in your life and it is something they would treasure.



Saturday, 9 October 2021

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a eBook copy for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Last Girl Ghosted by Lisa Unger - 4/5
Blurb:
"When Wren Greenwood meets a good-looking stranger from a dating app, she expects a casual fling – but they connect immediately. Adam Harper is her perfect match.

She falls for him.

She confides in him.

And then he disappears… his profiles deleted, his phone disconnected, his Manhattan apartment emptied.

First, Wren blames herself. Then she hears about the other girls – girls who fell in love with Adam, and are now missing.

Wren needs answers, but as she follows the breadcrumb trail Adam left behind, it leads back to her own dark past. Suddenly, she’s no longer sure if she’s predator or prey.

She only knows one thing: whatever it takes, she’ll be the last girl he ever ghosts…"

Review: 
I was in such a reading slump for around a month and this book was just what I needed to pull me out of it. It was my first Lisa Unger book and now I am excited to read the rest.

The synopsis doesn't even scratch the surface with what this book is about and how deep it is.

Wren Greenwood is a blogger-cum-"agony aunt" style writer with her own podcast. She keeps herself anonymous. In fact, Wren Greenwood isn't her birth name. Upon encouragement from her best friend Jax, she signs up to a dating site called Torch, has a couple of dates that go nowhere until she meets Adam. She is completely smitten and they see each other every day. One night, she tells him something she has never told anyone before and then she never hears from him again. 

It turns out that Adam has form and Private Investigator Bailey Kirk shows up at Wren's house, claiming that Adam had met his client's daughter Mia and she had now been missing for nine months. The two team up together to try and get to the bottom of it.

The book flits between past and present, the past delving into Wren's childhood and relationship with her father but also backgrounds to other women that Adam has had encounters with. I felt completely invested within the first 10 pages and I was desperate to know the outcome. It is written in a way that builds a lot of suspense early on and you feel like you just need to keep reading.

I am never a fan of COVID-19 being written into a book but it isn't the main focus of this one and it makes complete sense given Wren's father's theories when she was a child. It is a book that makes you think, especially about personal data and what can be found about you online. Nothing is ever really deleted and no matter how careful you are, things can still be found out. 
 



Wednesday, 6 October 2021

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

The Road Trip by Beth O'Leary - 4/5 

Blurb:
"Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend's wedding in rural Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.

But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie's ex, Dylan, who she's avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.

Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they've totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with four-hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can't avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship...

Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly, is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?"

Review:
I devoured The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary then really enjoyed follow up novel, The Switch. I was excited for the next book and decided to listen to The Road Trip as an audiobook this time round.

The Road Trip follows five characters on their way to mutual friend Cherry's wedding to fiancé Krishna. Dylan is travelling in one car with his best friend Marcus and Addie is in another car with sister Deb and Rodney, a man who was in the wedding group on Facebook and needed a lift.

The two cars get into an accident with Dylan and Marcus's car essentially written off, so they have to travel in the girls' car. This is awkward as Dylan and Addie haven't seen each other since they broke up two years ago.

The chapters are told from the points of view of both Addie and Dylan but we also move from 'Now' to 'Then". The 'Now' chapters felt a bit long-winded at the start, but I loved the 'Then' flashbacks, getting to experience their developing relationship and subsequent break up. 

There was a little comic relief by way of the Rodney situation but The Road Trip still focuses on harder hitting topics such as depression, sexual assault and consent. It is heartbreaking at times and made me feel a lot of different emotions.

Beth O'Leary's books are like a warm hug for me and although I enjoyed the audiobook, I feel like I need to read it too!




Friday, 24 September 2021

The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams | Book Review

[The post contains affiliate links.]

The Lucky Escape by Laura Jane Williams - 3/5

Blurb:
"One cancelled wedding

When the day finally comes for Annie to marry Alexander, the last thing she expects is to be left standing at the altar. She was so sure he was Mr Right. Now, she has no idea how she could have got it so wrong.

One unexpected encounter

After a chance meeting with Patrick, an old friend who reminds her of who she used to be, Annie takes a vow of her own: she’ll say yes to every opportunity that comes her way from now on.

One spare ticket for the honeymoon

Could a spontaneous trip with Patrick be the way to mend Annie’s heart? She’s about to find out as she embarks on her honeymoon – with a man who’s not her husband…"

Review:
I have read two of Laura Jane Williams' books before, Our Stop and The Love Square, and I really enjoyed them both. The Lucky Escape was great but, for me, not really on the same level.

Firstly, the story was a little bit predictable. Annie is due to get married to Alexander and he leaves her at the altar. His parents tell her to still take her honeymoon that they paid for and she debates it. 

After being on a bit of a downer, understandably after the break up of a serious relationship, she joins a bootcamp class to try and shake herself out of it. There she reconnects with Patrick, a friend who she knew from a drama group as a teenager. The two become friendly and she invites him along on the honeymoon to Australia.

The diversity feels a little bit too forced and I would have loved more fleshing out of the characters. I really liked the development of Annie's relationship with her mother and the exploration of how she felt following Alexander leaving her. 

Also, the main character's name is Annie Wiig and I couldn't help but constantly imagine Kristen Wiig's character of Annie in Bridesmaids!

Although predictable, it is a nice, easy to read romance!



Monday, 20 September 2021

Early Years Learning Resources from Teacher Play

 [AD/Gifted - I received this item for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]


Our little ones have had a tough time of it when it came to their education these past few years. E is in Primary 3 now and her last two school years were interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning that she didn't spend a lot of it actually in school. Most of it was home learning but hopefully we won't have any interruptions this year.


Emma Anderson, an assistant headteacher from Peterborough has set up a business called Teacher Play which sells products that aim to help children flourish in their early stages of life by assisting their language, reading, writing and numeracy skills.


The products are targeted towards children aged 1-7 and are great for helping with vocabulary, phonics and conversational skills. E is at the upper end of the age limit but I thought they would be a great help for her considering her past two school years were a little unusual to say the least.


We were very kindly sent the Common Exception Words: Set 2. E is very good at reading and can read phonetically well but these have been great for helping with her "tricky" words.


Inside the pack, you get 64 double-sided cards, each with a question or mini story which helps your child understand how we use that word. You can either choose to read this to your child or, like E, they can attempt to read it on their own. The child then uses a dry erase marker to trace over the word to help them learn it.


When we first opened out the pack, E said "Oh, this isn't a fun toy!" but once we began with the first couple of cards, she kept asking to do more! She gets set homework each day and we also add a couple of these cards in as extra. Sometimes we will even do a little test to see if she can create different sentences using the word on the card. The illustrations are beautiful too.


We also received a Phonics Mat, a Capital Letters Mat (I LOVE the addition of the countries and flags - an extra little learning tool), a list of all Common Exception words, an Alphabet Mat and a Numbers mat. All of these we have used during homework time so E can do the majority of it independently, without needing to ask me for help.


The Common Exception Words cards, I feel, have helped E lots of the past couple of weeks and I can see her becoming more confident with more difficult words. The full range at Teacher Play look fantastic and I wish they were around when my children were younger!


You can browse the range at Teacher Play or follow them on Instagram.



Friday, 10 September 2021

Next Of Kin by Kia Abdullah | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Next Of Kin by Kia Abdullah - 5/5
Blurb:
On an ordinary working day...

Leila Syed receives a call that cleaves her life in two. Her brother-in-law’s voice is filled with panic. His son’s nursery have called to ask where little Max is.

...your worst nightmare...

Leila was supposed to drop Max off that morning. But she forgot.

Racing to the carpark, she grasps the horror of what she has done....

...is about to come true...

What follows is an explosive high-profile trial that will tear the family apart. But as the case progresses, it becomes clear there’s more to this incident than meets the eye...

Review:
Oh my goodness, Kia Abdullah can write a courtroom drama like no other. I gave Take It Back and Truth Be Told 5/5 too and I fully expected Next Of Kin to follow in their footsteps.

The story follows Leila Syed and her sister Yasmin. Their parents died when they were younger, with eighteen-year-old Leila raising eleven-year-old Yasmin. She worked hard to provide for herself and her younger sister, eventually opening her own architecture firm.

Leila is married to Will, they have separated but are on relatively good terms and Yasmin is married to Andrew. We learn that Will and Leila have not been able to conceive and Yasmin has a three-year-old son called Max. Their eldest son Toby died previously due to epidermolysis bullose, a skin condition.

One morning, Andrew calls Leila to ask if she can drop Max to nursery. She accepts but takes an important call and rushes to work, leaving Max in the car on the hottest day of the year. I went into this book without reading the synopsis so I genuinely gasped when I realised what was about to happen.

The main bulk of the novel focuses on Leila's court case. Abdullah has written the witness statements so well that I was doubtful at parts and wanted to know the truth myself. The book explores the sisters' relationship, that sibling jealousy with both of them thinking the other has a perfect life. It is so interesting reading about how words can be turned against you or how a simple, insignificant moment in the past can contradict you. 

I felt so many emotions whilst reading and I changed my opinion on almost every character. Just when I got past one twist, there was another that I totally did not expect. 

That ending too... I need more. What happens next?!




Thursday, 19 August 2021

Did You Miss Me? by Sophia Money-Coutts | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Did You Miss Me? by Sophia Money-Coutts - 4/5

Blurb:
"Nell Mason is extremely happy with her life – or at least, that’s what she tells herself. She’s lucky to have a high-powered job as a lawyer, even if it does come with an eccentric set of billionaire divorce clients. And she’s absolutely fine living with her sweet, if slightly dull, boyfriend Gus in their London flat where they have very sensible sex once (OK, sometimes twice) a week. She’s definitely not stuck in a rut.

But when Nell bumps into childhood friend and first love Arthur Drummond who broke her heart fifteen years ago, she’s more than a little shaken. The seemingly perfect life she’s worked so hard for starts to feel, well, less perfect. Maybe Nell’s been kidding herself all these years. Can she ever get over her first love?"

Review:
Sophia Money-Coutts is one of those authors that I know I'll read everything by. I loved What Happens Now? and The Wish List and I feel the exact same way about Did You Miss Me?

Thirty-four year old Nell has been with boyfriend Gus for eleven years. Both of them are lawyers, Nell working with high profile divorce cases. They live in London and their routine is sort of monotonous by this stage. They have sex on a Friday morning before work and do the same thing every weekend.

Nell's father has an accident and she is brought back to her hometown of Northcliffe as she needs to look after him for a while. She crosses paths with Art, the boy (now man) that she was enamoured with as a teenager. He is now married and living in New York with his wife and teenage son but is back home for a couple of weeks following his father's death.

I love Money-Coutts's style of writing. We hear about Nell and Art's life together 15+ years ago and what exactly happened between them. The family dynamic between Nell, her parents and brother Jack is great too. She realises while being back at home that she enjoys the slow pace of life there, which is the complete opposite of her life in London. Being back in touch with Art and living this different life for a while makes her reassess things.

This book had me laughing out loud and I really cared about the characters. 
 



Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Backstories by Simon van der Velde | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received an eBook copy for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Backstories by Simon van der Velde - 5/5
Blurb:
Backstories – ‘the stand-out most original book of the year’ - is a collection of stories each told from the point of view of one of my personal heroes, (or villains) back when they were just another Jew or black, or queer – back when they were nobody. Bullied, assaulted or psychologically abused, their road to redemption was never easy, and for some there would be no redemption, only a descent into evil.

These are the stories of people you know. The settings are mostly 60’s and 70’s UK and USA, the driving themes are inclusion and social justice - but the real key to these stories is that I withhold the protagonists’ identities. This means that your job is to find them - leading to that Eureka moment when you realise who's mind you've been inhabiting for the last twenty minutes.

I should also add that this is a book that operates on two levels. Yes, there’s the game of identifying the mystery activist or actor, singer or murderer, but there is then the more serious business of trying to understand them. This in turn leads to the challenge of overlaying what you now know about these famous people onto what you thought you knew – not to mention the inherent challenge to your moral compass.

These are people you know, but not as you know them. Peel back the mask and see.

This book is dedicated to the victims of violent crime, the struggle against discrimination in all its forms and making the world a better place for our children. That is why 30% of all profits will be shared between Stop Hate UK, The North East Autism Society and Friends of the Earth.

Review:
This is probably one of the most interesting books I've ever read. It is a collection of short stories, each a backstory on a celebrity or famous figure. Although there are facts included, there has been a bit of creative licence used.

They are told in a way that we need to work out who the story is about with clues peppered in, like a nickname or quote. It is very clever and gives us just enough information to work the person out. I was able to get them all but I went straight to Google to double check - I never thought I'd ever search "What height is Paul Simon in feet?" The stories were sometimes funny, sometimes serious and some made me a little shocked.

I don't want to give too much away because Backstories is such an entertaining read and everyone should give it a go! I loved the concept and the author wasn't afraid to shy away from harder topics.




Monday, 9 August 2021

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey | Audiobook Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey - 5/5

Blurb:
"I've been in this life for fifty years, been trying to work out its riddle for forty-two, and been keeping diaries of clues to that riddle for the last thirty-five. Notes about successes and failures, joys and sorrows, things that made me marvel, and things that made me laugh out loud. How to be fair. How to have less stress. How to have fun. How to hurt people less. How to get hurt less. How to be a good man. How to have meaning in life. How to be more me.

Recently, I worked up the courage to sit down with those diaries. I found stories I experienced, lessons I learned and forgot, poems, prayers, prescriptions, beliefs about what matters, some great photographs, and a whole bunch of bumper stickers. I found a reliable theme, an approach to living that gave me more satisfaction, at the time, and still: If you know how, and when, to deal with life's challenges - how to get relative with the inevitable - you can enjoy a state of success I call 'catching greenlights.'

So I took a one-way ticket to the desert and wrote this book: an album, a record, a story of my life so far. This is fifty years of my sights and seens, felts and figured-outs, cools and shamefuls. Graces, truths, and beauties of brutality. Getting away withs, getting caughts, and getting wets while trying to dance between the raindrops.

Hopefully, it's medicine that tastes good, a couple of aspirin instead of the infirmary, a spaceship to Mars without needing your pilot's license, going to church without having to be born again, and laughing through the tears.

It's a love letter. To life.

It's also a guide to catching more greenlights-and to realising that the yellows and reds eventually turn green too.

Good luck."

Review:
There is no way I could give this less than 5/5. Firstly, I listened to it through Audible and I loved that is was narrated by McConaughey himself. I know that he doesn't describe it as an autobiography but it does feel that way a little. The idea behind the name is that green lights help us grow and progress. Can we turn red and amber lights into green ones?

I would never call myself a fangirl of McConaughey. He was never my favourite actor but I didn't dislike him either. I love him after listening to this book and grinned like an idiot the whole way through.

I was drawn in at the very beginning when he described his mother and father's relationship. The story follows McConaughey from a child right up to today. We hear his life experiences from his father attempting to sue a skincare company for giving Matthew acne to his life as an exchange student in Australia, being arrested and landing his most well-known movie roles.

Did I quote the Dazed and Confused "Alright, alright, alright!" line with him? Of course I did. It was so interesting getting a bit of insight into these characters he played and backstories of the movies.

Hearing about how he met his wife was wonderful and his reaction to becoming a father. I belly laughed at his mother's reaction to them having a baby out of wedlock.

I did not want to stop listening and I am sad I finished it! Thoroughly recommend!




Thursday, 5 August 2021

A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris | Blog Tour Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris - 4/5

Blurb:
"Now I'm in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It's an incendiary moment for St Oswald's school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She'll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all...

You can't keep a good woman down."

Review:
This is the first book by Joanne Harris that I have read and it surely won't be my last.

A Narrow Door is the third book in a trilogy. I was unaware of this but I will be reading the other two. It can work as a standalone as I didn't feel lost but I definitely want to read more about this world.

Rebecca Buckfast, née Price, has taken the role of Head at St Oswald's Academy. Previously a school solely for boys, not even with any female staff, they are merging with Mulberry House meaning that they will now have female students and staff.

Remains are found on the school grounds by The Brodie Boys, students at St Oswald's and they report it to teacher Roy Straitley. He informs Rebecca Buckfast and thus ensues our story.

Rebecca begins to tell essentially her background story to Straitley and therefore us, the reader too. We discover that Rebecca's older brother Conrad was a pupil of a nearby school, King Henry's, that was very similar to St Oswald's. 

He went missing at the age of fourteen, when Rebecca was five years old. Her parents kept the home a shrine to him and gave Rebecca less attention.

As Rebecca tells these stories of her childhood, the birth of her daughter at aged 16, finding husband Dominic when her daughter was six years old and then becoming a teacher at King Henry's, the very school her brother attended when he went missing, we discover that she may know something regarding his disappearance.

This book is wholly atmospheric and masterfully written. The stories from Rebecca's past are weaved brilliantly into her storytelling to Straitley. You shouldn't like Rebecca Buckfast but she is the perfect anti-heroine.

--

A massive thank you to Compulsive Readers for organising the blog tour and Orion for the copy of the book. You can find information on where to find blogger reviews from the other tour participants in the graphic below.


Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Underbelly by Anna Whitehouse | Blog Tour Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Underbelly by Anna Whitehouse -
Blurb:
"Lo and Dylan are living parallel lives, worlds apart.

Lo is the ultimate middle-class mother, all perfectly polished Instagram posts and armchair activism.

Dylan is just about surviving on a zero-hours telemarketing job from her flat, trying to keep food on the table.

But when they meet at the school gates, they are catapulted into each other's homes and lives - with devastating consequences..."

Review: 
I was in a bit of a reading slump before I started Underbelly and this is just what I needed to pull me out of it.

Underbelly is told from the points of view of two women; Lois and Dylan. Lois is a middle class mother to four-year-old Scout and is married to Johno. She boasts an Instagram following of tens of thousands of people and makes a living from ads on social media.

Dylan is a single mother to four-year-old son Noah and in stark contrast to Lois, doesn't share her life online in the same way. She has escaped a violent relationship and is keeping under the radar. She does however, write an anonymous blog about her past.

These two ladies are thrown together after their children start school together and their lives change completely.

I started my "blogging life" as a parent blogger but moved into book blogging when I decided I didn't want to share my children online as much anymore. I still follow a lot of parent bloggers and online influencers so I am well aware of what goes on when it comes to trolls and negative comments. 

Lois (and eventually Dylan) fall victim to these online keyboard warriors with devastating consequences, from both comments on their personal posts but also threads about them on a specific message board solely for gossiping about influencers (no prizes for guessing what that is based on!) 

Honestly, I could not put this book down and my emotions were all over the place! It does describe the reality of living your life online, how people think that they know every single thing about your life and think that because you put yourself out there, they can say what they like.

I must also add trigger warnings for domestic abuse, baby loss and self harm. 

A massive thank you to Orion for having me on the blog tour. You can find information on the other bloggers taking part in the infographic below.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

No Number Nine by F. J. Campbell | Blog Tour Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

No Number Nine by F.J. Campbell - 4/5

Blurb:
"What do you do when your amazing, beautiful, beloved sister dies? Hide in your room for two years. Sleep with a very, very wrong man. Leave home and start a new life, lying to everyone you meet including your kind employer, your curious friends and the man you love?

Pip Mitchell's an expert at making seriously bad decisions. But when her past, present and future collide at the Sydney Olympic Games, she's going to have to decide whose side she's on - or she'll lose everyone she loves.

No Number Nine is a coming-of-age story about an 18-year-old girl who has put her life on hold for two years after the death of her sister. Pip leaves her home in England and tries to move forward with her life, taking a job in Germany as an au pair to the von Feldsteins, a family which is full of surprises - and not good ones.

Set in Munich, the story follows Pip for a year as she crashes from one embarrassing, awkward mistake to the next. Finally, as she starts to emerge from her fog of grief, she travels with the von Feldsteins to Sydney where, amid the drama of the 2000 Olympic Games, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong. Can Pip protect herself and the people she loves? Does she have the courage to tell the truth, even if it destroys her?"

Review:
This is a beautiful coming of age tale following eighteen year old Philippa 'Pip' Mitchell.

Pip's older sister Holly was a hockey player, making the Great Britain Olympic team. She met Australian husband Troy through hockey and after Holly's untimely death, Pip reverts into herself, not leaving her room for two years.

Pip wants to go to the 2000 Sydney Olympics so in 1999, she takes an au pair job in Munich for a weathly family, the von Feldsteins, not realising that they are a hockey family too. The two older sons, Leo and Billy, both play for the German Olympic team.

She realises that they knew Holly and keeps the information about her sister to herself. She cements herself into the family, makes new friends and finds herself. She really sees what life is supposed to be like at her age.

This is a wonderfully easy read with a fantastic pace. I adored all of the characters, especially Pip and I loved her development as the story progressed. I had never read a book focused around the Olympics and I really enjoyed it. I was totally immersed in this world.




A massive thank you to Literally PR for having me on the blog tour. You can find the handles of the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.


Sunday, 18 July 2021

Lying With Lions by Annabel Fielding | Blog Tour Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received an e-book copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Lying With Lions by Annabel Fielding - 4/5
Blurb:
"Edwardian England. Agnes Ashford knows that her duty is threefold: she needs to work on cataloguing the archive of the titled Bryant family, she needs to keep the wounds of her past tightly under wraps, and she needs to be quietly grateful to her employers for taking her up in her hour of need. However, a dark secret she uncovers due to her work thrusts her into the Bryants’ brilliant orbit - and into the clutch of their ambitions.

They are prepared to take the new century head-on and fight for their preeminent position and political survival tooth and nail - and not just to the first blood. With a mix of loyalty, competence, and well-judged silence Agnes rises to the position of a right-hand woman to the family matriarch - the cunning and glamorous Lady Helen. But Lady Helen's plans to hold on to power through her son are as bold as they are cynical, and one day Agnes is going to face an impossible choice..."

Review:
Historical fiction would never be a genre that I'd actively seek out and I am unsure why but I was intrigued by the synopsis for this one. 

Agnes is employed by the Bryant family to curate archives about Lord Alistair and Lady Helen Bryant and their family. The two have three children, one of whom died when he was 10. Agnes is thrown into the secrets that this family hold and it is just captivating.

Fielding has a wonderful way of writing and the prose is beautiful. The family drama, the inserting of actual events that happened in the past and an LGBTQIA+ romance thrown in - I am here for it. The hierarchical differences between and women were interesting and especially the quote "Don't you know that mud sticks to women much easier than it does to men?" Still a very real thing.

I really enjoyed Lying With Lions and it has definitely changed my opinion on historical fiction.







Monday, 12 July 2021

The Counterfeit Candidate by Brian Klein | Blog Tour Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

The Counterfeit Candidate by Brian Klein - 5/5
Blurb: 
"Berlin, 30th April, 1945

As the Russian Army closes in on the war-torn City, Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun take their own lives. Their bodies are burned and buried in the Reich Chancellery garden, above the Führer's bunker.

Buenos Aires, 9th January, 2012

Three audacious thieves carry out the biggest safe depository heist in Argentine history, escaping with more than one hundred million dollars' worth of valuables. Within hours, an encrypted phone call to America triggers a blood-soaked manhunt as the thieves are tracked down, systematically tortured, then murdered.

San Francisco, 18th January, 2012

Senator John Franklin, hailed as the 'Great Unifier', secures the Republican Presidential nomination and seems destined for the Oval Office. Despite the sixty-seven year interval and a span of thirteen thousand miles, these events are indelibly linked.

Chief Inspector Nicolas Vargas of the Buenos Aires Police Department and Lieutenant Troy Hembury of the LAPD are sucked into a dark political conspiracy concealing an incredible historical truth stretching from the infamous Berlin bunker to Buenos Aires and to Washington, which threatens the very heart and soul of American democracy."

Review:
What a book. I absolutely devoured this book and couldn't put it down even if I wanted to.

In the prologue we hear about Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun's deaths in April 1945. These deaths were faked and Hilter and Braun really fled from Berlin to South America, taking on new identities. They plan to build the Fourth Reich and own a huge pharmaceutical company, essentially taking over the USA.

Flash forward to Buenos Aires in January 2012, and three men break into a bank's safety deposit boxes stealing as much as they can.

Senator John Franklin is set to become the next President of the United States and his father's deposit box is one of the ones in which the contents were stolen. The documents hidden inside cannot be public knowledge. John's father, Richard Franklin hires men to seek out the perpetrators and even has an insider so they stay one step ahead of the police.

What is the connection to Franklin and Hitler/Braun? And why must these documents be kept a secret?

I was immersed in this story right from the beginning. The chapters are short and something big happens in almost every one so you feel that need to keep going and see what happens. There is a real chase and sense of urgency and you are just waiting for the truth to be outed.

It is so cleverly written and the stories between Franklin and Hitler are weaved very well together. It's an easy read and lots of little aspects are added in that probably could have been overlooked but they really add to the narrative.

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A massive thank you to Midas PR for having me on the blog tour for this book. You can find the Instagram handles for the other Bookstagrammers taking part in the graphic below.
Friday, 9 July 2021

What's Mine And Yours by Naima Coster | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

What's Mine And Yours by Naima Coster - 5/5
Blurb:
"When a county initiative in the Piedmont of North Carolina forces the students at a mostly black public school on the east side to move across town to a nearly all-white high school on the west, the community rises in outrage. For two students, quiet and aloof Gee and headstrong Noelle, these divisions will extend far beyond their schooling. As their paths collide and overlap over the course of thirty years, their two seemingly disconnected families begin to form deeply knotted, messy ties that shape the trajectory of their lives.

On one side of the school integration debate is Jade, Gee's steely, single, black mother, grieving for her murdered partner, and determined for her son to have the best chance at a better life. On the other, is Noelle's enterprising mother, Lacey May, who refuses to see her half-Latina daughters as anything but white. The choices these mothers make will resound for years to come. And twenty years later, when Lacey's daughters return home to visit her in hospital, they're forced to confront the ways their parents' decisions continue to affect the life they live and the people they love."

Review:
This book is a stunner.

What's Mine And Yours follows two families over fluctuating timelines in Piedmont, North Carolina. Black couple Ray and Jade have a son that they call Gee. Lacey May is white and has three daughters, Noelle, Margarita and Diana, with Robbie who is Latino and they are being raised in a white neighbourhood.

The book opens really strongly with a heartbreaking scene at the end of the first chapter and then the story weaves its way at a steady pace as we hear about the characters lives now as adults but flashing back to teenage years too.

The school that Lacey May's children go to is being merged with another school. A predominantly Black one. A lot of the parents are against it. They see the school as being high quality and the students mostly come out with top marks. They think the amalgamation will change everything. Noelle who has her own issues with Lacey May, befriends Gee, much to her mother's annoyance. Jade isn't happy with the situation for Gee either.

This book tackles the issue of race and how it can affect relationships and explores the intricacies of family in many different forms. It is complex and beautiful.

I went into this excited because I had heard that it had 'This Is Us' vibes and I completely felt it. Coster is a wonderful storyteller.




Tuesday, 6 July 2021

The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

The Idea Of You by Robinne Lee - 5/5
Blurb:
"To the media, Hayes Campbell is the enigmatic front-man of a record-breaking boyband.

To his fans, he's the man of their dreams.

To Solène Marchand, he's just the pretty face that's plastered over her teenage daughter's bedroom wall.

Until a chance meeting throws them together...

The attraction is instant. The chemistry is electric. The affair is Solène's secret.

But how long can it stay that way?"

Review:
Oh my goodness, this book.

I didn't know what I was letting myself in for before I started The Idea Of You.

Thirty-nine-year-old Solène part owns an art gallery in L.A. and has a thirteen year old daughter called Isabelle with ex-husband Daniel.

Daniel wins the bid on an auction for a meet and greet with Isabelle's favourite music artists; British band August Moon. Solène takes Isabelle and her friends along and instantly has a connection with Hayes Campbell, the bands twenty-year-old singer. At this point I thought that this wasn't my usual type of read but I was in for the long haul!

The two embark on a secret relationship and the story follows the two of them from that time where the relationship is in its infancy and no one knows, to where it becomes public knowledge and the "fandom" get wind of it.

From the very beginning, I was obsessed with this book. Lee writes in a way that just captivates you and makes you care very much about these characters. Those steamy scenes are something else!

It is sexy, raunchy, emotional, you can feel the anguish and Hayes Campbell is the epitome of book boyfriends. I'll be talking about this one for a while! My heart hurts.




Monday, 5 July 2021

The Island Home by Libby Page | Blog Tour Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Island Home by Libby Page - 5/5

Blurb:
"Lorna's world is small but safe.

She loves her daughter, and the two of them is all that matters. But after nearly twenty years, she and Ella are suddenly leaving London for the Isle of Kip, the tiny remote Scottish island where Lorna grew up.

Alice's world is tiny but full.

She loves the community on Kip, her yoga classes drawing women across the tiny island together. Now Lorna's arrival might help their family finally mend itself - even if forgiveness means returning to the past...

So with two decades, hundreds of miles and a lifetime's worth of secrets between Lorna and the island, can coming home mean starting again?"

Review:
This book is absolutely stunning.

The Island Home is told from the points of view of two women. Lorna who lives in London with her daughter Ella who is almost fourteen and Alice who lives on the Isle of Kip with her husband Jack and their fourteen year old daughter Molly.

Molly and Ella are cousins, finding one another on Facebook and Ella learns that her estranged grandparents have recently passed away. Lorna and Ella travel to the island for the funeral.

Lorna fled from the Isle of Kip twenty-two years ago, when she was eighteen, leaving fourteen year old brother Jack behind. 

This book is wonderfully emotive and the scene is set beautifully. Lorna had a tough childhood with her parents which is her reason for leaving but after she left, her parents were then able to tell the tight knit community their version of events, painting Lorna as the bad guy. Even Jack believed this. Can she rebuild a relationship with her brother over two decades later?

The Island Home is one of the most beautiful books I have read and it is heartbreaking in parts. Lorna and Ella live alone together in London with only a small amount of friends around them whereas on the Isle of Kip, everyone knows everyone and there is real sense of cameraderie.

This is my first Libby Page book but I am definitely going to seek out The Lido and The 24-Hour Café.



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A massive thank you to Orion Books for having me on the blog tour. You can find information on where to find other bloggers reviews in the graphics below.