Friday, 20 May 2022

Friends Top Trumps from Winning Moves | Review

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


Anyone who knows me, knows how much I love the TV show Friends. It's up there as one of my absolute favourites and I remember watching The Last One live on Channel 4 when it aired. I own a plethora of merchandise and games from the show. One thing I have never played though, of any sort, is Top Trumps.

I obviously knew about Top Trumps and the fact that you could get it for so many different topics but I never looked into how the game was played until now.

If, like me, you have never played, the premise is simple. Deal the deck out evenly between all players and each player holds their cards in a pile, face up. You then go around the players, each choosing a stat. The card with the highest stat wins that round and the player gets all the cards from that round. The winner is the last person with all the cards in their hands.

What I love about the Friends Top Trumps is that they include little facts and quotes from the show alongside stills. I think I read every single quote in the way that it is spoken in the show! A definite fun game for any Friends fan and the deck is super handy to carry about in its little case.

I honestly can't believe I've never played Top Trumps before and due to the fact that it is so easy to play, I will definitely get a few more games to play with the children!

The Friends Top Trumps is one of the Limited Edition adult versions of the UK's number 1 card game. Other versions include Spitting Image, Only Fools And Horses, James Bond and many more. You can view the range and purchase from Winning Moves.



Thursday, 19 May 2022

Deadly Cure by Mahi Cheshire | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Deadly Cure by Mahi Cheshire
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Vintage
Publication date: 14th April 2022

Blurb:
Dr Rea Dharmasena is devastated when she loses out on her dream research job to her med-school rival and best friend, Dr Julia Stone.

To add insult to injury, Julia used Rea's own cutting-edge research to get it.

But just as Rea finds it in her to forgive the betrayal, Julia, after a life-changing medical discovery, is found murdered.

Now Rea has the dream job she's always wanted.

But at what cost?

Review: 
This book took me by surprise. I hopped in to read it because I saw that Adventures With Words were doing a readalong over on Instagram and went in basically blind and I was pleasantly surprised!

Rea Dharmasena and Julia Stone have been best friends since they were young. Both are doctors and going for the same research job. The book draws you in with a traumatic accident in A&E that Rea attends and discovers that it's her best friend and roommate, Feng Tanaka. Rea had recently received a voicemail from him saying that he needed to talk to her about Julia. At this point I am hooked already.

Julia and Rea are both flawed characters in their own ways. Julia is desperate for this research job and will stop at nothing to get it. Rea thinks Julia has stolen her work in order to get it and the two have a falling out. Julia thrives in the job and is convinced she has found a cure for cancer. This is where it gets interesting.

Julia is murdered but who did it? Who has motive? What really happened? I cannot give too much away about the plot because there are just so many twists and turns. The writing is totally gripping.

Rea ends up taking over Julia's job as she is the best person to carry on her research but she discovers a lot more than she intends to. I really enjoyed this one!

Friday, 13 May 2022

The Secret Lives Of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw | 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.]

The Secret Lives Of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Publication date: 5th May 2022

Blurb: 
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies explores the raw and tender places where Black women and girls dare to follow their desires and pursue a momentary reprieve from being good. The nine stories in this collection feature four generations of characters grappling with who they want to be in the world, caught as they are between the church's double standards and their own needs and passions.

There is fourteen-year-old Jael, who has a crush on the preacher's wife. At forty-two, Lyra realizes that her discomfort with her own body stands between her and a new love. As Y2K looms, Caroletta's "same time next year" arrangement with her childhood best friend is tenuous. A serial mistress lays down the ground rules for her married lovers. In the dark shadows of a hospice parking lot, grieving strangers find comfort in each other.

With their secret longings, new love, and forbidden affairs, these church ladies are as seductive as they want to be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfaithful and unrepentant as they care to be, and as free as they deserve to be.

Review: 
The Secret Lives Of Church Ladies is a collection of nine stories.All of them feature Black women and their lives and relationships from romantic to familial. They each have their own challenges and desires.

Each story is told in a distinct way and I love the writing style. They all felt so real. We hear stories about infidelity, religion, sexism and everything in between. 

Society and the Church play a huge part in most of these women's lives and they are made to hide their inner feelings but display different ones on the outside. Some watch their mothers cheat, some sleep with married men, some are in same sex relationships with their mother not approving. It is a beautiful and emotive look at relationships and how we perceive ourselves inside but also how we want others to perceive us outside.

A wonderful collection. 

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A massive thank you to Pushkin Press for having me on the blog tour. You can find out information about the other bloggers taking part in this tour in the graphic below.


Tuesday, 3 May 2022

Six Days In Rome by Francesca Giacco | 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.]

Six Days In Rome by Francesca Giacco
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Headline 
Publication date: 3rd May 2022

Blurb: 
Emilia, an artist, arrives in Rome alone. What was supposed to be a romantic trip has, with the sudden end of her relationship, become a solitary one.

Six days lie ahead. She wanders the streets, surrendering herself to the music, food and beauty of the city.

But when she meets John, an American living out a seemingly idyllic existence in Rome, their instant connection challenges how she sees her past, her family and herself. As their intimacy deepens, can Emilia begin to imagine life anew?

Review: 
This book is stunning and I cannot believe that it is a debut novel for this author.

Emilia has broken up with her boyfriend of two years, Michael, and travels alone to Rome which was the trip that the two of them had planned for his birthday. The chapters are split into days, meaning that they are very long, I much prefer shorter chapters but I still found times that I could naturally stop at if I had something else to do.

Emilia is an artist and is very observant. Being alone in this country causes her to notice what is around her, and reflect on her own life. Her relationship with Michael, her family life with her parents and brother Jack, and evaluate that. I was very surprised by the reason that Emilia and Michael split up and felt heartbroken for her.

Whilst on this trip, Emilia meets John, an American expat. He challenges her to face her relationships and memories in a different way.

The chapters won't be for everyone, they weave very easily between past and present but I thought this was beautiful. Seeing Rome through our narrators eyes was wonderful and I honestly felt like booking a flight there whilst reading. 

An absolutely gorgeous read and proof that novels don't need a massive plot or twists and turns. This book is full of emotion which carries it.

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

Monday, 2 May 2022

See No Evil by David Fennell | Blog Tour Book Review

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

See No Evil by David Fennell
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publication date: 28th April 2022
Publisher: Zaffre


Blurb:
"Two men are found dead in London's Battersea Park. One of the bodies has been laid out like a crucifix - with his eyes removed and placed on his open palms.

Detective Inspector Grace Archer and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, lead the investigation. But when more bodies turn up in a similar fashion, they find themselves in a race against time to find the sadistic killer.

The hunt leads them to Ladywell Playtower in Southeast London, the home to a religious commune lead by the enigmatic Aaron Cronin. Archer and Quinn suspect Cronin's involvement but his alibis are watertight, and the truth seemingly buried. If Archer is to find the killer, she must first battle her way through religious fanatics, London gangsters - and her own demons..."

Review:
David Fennell is very quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. 

See No Evil is the second book in the DI Grace Archer series. I rated the first book, The Art Of Death five stars so I was excited to get back to the series. This book can be read as a standalone enough of a recap about the last book is covered by the first few chapters but The Art Of Death is so good that I still recommend reading it.

Two men are murdered by our unknown killer. This killer is carving their eyes out, placing them in the victims hands so they are looking back at themselves and carving a cross into them. DI Grace Archer and her partner DS Harry Quinn are tasked to find out who is causing the murders and why.

At the same time, the drug dealer who killed Grace's dad is being released from prison.

What I love about David Fennell's books is the writing style, just enough twists and turns and the story keeps you hooked. I love the chase of finding the killers but also the aspects of Grace's personal life too. Thriller readers will love Fennell's books and I honestly think they are close to flawless.

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A massive thank you to Compulsive Readers for having me on this blog tour. You can find the information about the other bloggers taking part in this tour in the graphic below.
Friday, 22 April 2022

Sea Change by J. M. Simpson | 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. This post contains affiliate links.]

Sea Change by J. M. Simpson
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Independently published
Publication date: 1st March 2022

Blurb:
Sinister undercurrents at are work in the seaside town Castleby. A young boy goes missing and another dies in suspicious circumstances.

Jesse Stevens believes she is safe after escaping from a madwoman who tried to kill her. But soon her worst nightmare returns. Her ex-partner has escaped from prison and is hunting her. She believes he will find her and kill her this time.

Ex-special forces soldier Rob Fox (Foxy) moves to Castleby to live a quiet life, cope with his grief and forget his past. He becomes friends with Sophie Jones who has returned to Castleby to look after her father, while she desperately waits for news about her soldier husband, who is missing in action. Sophie is unexpectedly attacked, unearthing a twenty-year-old unsolved murder.

Two local thieves steal from the local mafioso and pay the ultimate price, leaving the police with a rising body count and a missing boy to find.

Review:
I was so excited to be back in Castleby for the next installment in the series. This book can be read as a standalone as a lot of the main information about book one is included as a backstory but I would definitely recommend reading Sea State first as it is great!

I loved going back to old characters that I loved, namely Jesse and Doug and seeing how their relationship developed from the first book. As well as being reintroduced to our characters from Sea State, we also have some newcomers.

Rob "Foxy" Fox is ex-special forces and buys a closed climbing place in Castleby. Sophie Jones' husband Sam has been missing in action for two years and she holds out hope that he is still alive, despite all odds. She moves back to Castleby to look after her father who is ill.

J.M. Simpson is a fantastic writer and what I love most about the Castleby series is the sense of camaraderie with the residents there and the stories of what the RNLI do. Just like in our first book, we have a unknown narrator too who is watching one of our characters - but why? We have that twisty storyline too with a sense of chase. Very gripping and I can't wait for book three! 

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A massive thank you to Literally PR for having me on the blog tour. You can find out more information about the other bloggers taking part in this tour in the graphic below.
Wednesday, 20 April 2022

Six Days by Dani Atkins | 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.]

Six Days by Dani Atkins
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Aria Fiction
Publication date: 14th April 2022

Blurb:
Gemma knows that she and Finn are destined to be together. They are soulmates. But then, on their wedding day, he never arrives at the church.

Gemma is convinced Finn wouldn't abandon her like this, even though he has disappeared once before. But back then he had a reason. She feels sure something terrible has happened, but no one else is convinced. Even the police aren't concerned, telling Gemma most people who disappear usually turn up in a week... assuming they want to be found, that is.

For the next six days Gemma frantically searches for Finn, even though every shocking revelation is telling her to give up on him. Before long, even she begins to doubt her own memories of their love.

How long can she hold on to her faith in Finn if everyone is telling her to let him go?

Review:
My heart!

Six Days follows the story of Gemma Fletcher and Finn Douglas. It is their wedding day and Finn doesn't show up at the church. All of the guests and even her dad and best friend Hannah think he has just done a runner. Gemma knows something bad must have happened to him because he would never leave her. The police aren't convinced either when Gemma presents it to them, Finn doesn't qualify as a missing person. All signs lead to the fact that he's just jilted her.

The narrative switches between Finn and Gemma's first encounters, which are definitely not your typical love story but it also shows Finn as a little unreliable. Part of me really loved Finn's character but at other times I thought, "Did he just leave her?!" It also follows the six days after Finn's no-show and what really happened.

I genuinely cannot fault this book at all. I read it cover to cover in about 20 hours and it made me feel giddy, it broke my heart, it made me excited, it made me want to cry. I just absolutely loved it.

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A massive thank you to Aria Fiction for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphics below.

Sunday, 17 April 2022

Scorpion by Christian Cantrell | 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.]

Scorpion by Christian Cantrell
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Penguin Michael Joseph
Publication date: 14th April 2022

Blurb:
All over the world, random people are being brutally assassinated.

Each death is unique, but they all have one thing in common: four numbers branded or carved into the victims' flesh.

What does it mean?

For the brilliant and haunted CIA analyst Quinn Mitchell, it means leaving a safe and predictable desk job as she tries to track down a global serial killer.

What she doesn't know is that nothing about this mission - her handlers, the intelligence, even the laws of cause and effect - can be trusted.

And her target has saved his most shocking murder for last..

Review:
Scorpion is one of those books that you need to read with no distractions. It is a sci-fi thriller which is set in the near future with a lot of focus on technology and things like cryptocurrency. There is a lot of jargon which was clearly very well researched.

The story itself focuses mainly on three characters; Quinn, Ranveer and Henrietta. Bodies are piling up with the killer, or killers, branding each with a four digit code. There is seemingly no link to the victims and the CIA task Quinn Mitchell to try and work out the pattern and find out who is doing it.

It is a fantastic cat and mouse type chase with massive twists thrown in. I was on the edge of my seat for most of it and really enjoyed being in this world and following along for the ride. I really liked the depth that each character had which really made me understand them more before they came together for the main plot. It is clear that it was very well planned and well executed. 

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A massive thank you to Penguin Michael Joseph for having me on the tour. You can find more information about the other tour participants in the graphic below.

Friday, 15 April 2022

The Girls by Bella Osborne | 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 Girls by Bella Osborne
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Aria Fiction
Publication date: 14th April 2022

Blurb:
Four old friends. Thrown back together after forty years apart. What could possibly go wrong?
In the 1970s, The Girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara the famous diva actor, Val the uptight solicitor, Jackie the wild child and Pauline the quirky introvert. Now they're in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age.

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn.

As the women confront their demons they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control can they save their friendships and each other?

Review:
The Girls opens with the line "Pauline didn’t usually drink vodka at lunchtime. But then it wasn’t every day you committed suicide." Very strong and emotional to draw us in. We learn that Pauline is a 68 year old woman with no family or friends around. She receives a fancy letter from an old friend called Zara, an invitation to her birthday party.

Jackie, a carer and Val, a solicitor also receives the same letter from Zara who is now a famous actress. The four ladies previously lived together in the 70s but have since drifted apart. 

At the party, Zara is delighted that they are all together again and suggests that they all move in together again. The majority of the ladies laugh off the idea but personal circumstances mean that it ends up happening. Coincidence or the force of someone else?

All four ladies have very different lives and problems, my heart especially went out to Pauline. Reading about their lives being back together was interesting, in this different stage of their lives.

I don't want to give too much away regarding the plot or ending but I ended up loving this group of characters together and seeing their development.

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A massive thank you to Aria Fiction for having me on the blog tour. You can find information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphics below.

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Mad About You by Mhairi McFarlane
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 14th April 2022

Blurb:
Two strangers.
One big coincidence.
Driving each other crazy is just the beginning…

Harriet Hatley is running away from everything.

Getting married.
Her boyfriend’s family.
Her past.

A dream house-share seems like the perfect place to hide, but her unlikely housemate Cal is no stranger to running away himself. And he's also hiding secrets of his own . . .

Can these two take a crazy risk, face the past and finally find a reason to stay?

Review:
I know that every time I read a Mhairi McFarlane book I will love it.

Harriet is a 34 year old wedding photographer who in our prologue, is working at a wedding where the groom has run out on the bride at the altar.

Harriet, after working at weddings for her day job, is adamant that she does not want to get married. When boyfriend of two years Jon proposes to her in front of his entire posh family (who she already feels like an outsider to), she feels obliged to say yes before breaking up with him completely shortly afterwards.

Following her break up she must find somewhere new to live and ends up being a lodger for Cal, the groom that ran out on his bride a year before! Cal shares his story on why he didn't marry his fiancée that day and the two strike up a friendship. We learn that Harriet's past relationship before Jon was a coercive and manipulative one which in turn shaped her relationship with Jon. 

When Harriet finds out that the ex-partner who made her feel that way is getting married, she feels obliged to warn his fiancée. 

Yes, there is a bit of romance in there which I love but the main focus here is female solidarity, sticking up for each other and supporting each other.


Tuesday, 12 April 2022

The First Day Of Spring by Nancy Tucker | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

The First Day Of Spring by Nancy Tucker
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Penguin
Publication date: 18th May 2021

Blurb:
'So that was all it took,' I thought. 'That was all it took for me to feel like I had all the power in the world. One morning, one moment, one yellow-haired boy. It wasn't so much after all.'

Chrissie knows how to steal sweets from the shop without getting caught, the best hiding place for hide-and-seek, the perfect wall for handstands.

Now she has a new secret. It gives her a fizzing, sherbet feeling in her belly. She doesn't get to feel power like this at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.

Fifteen years later, Julia is trying to mother her five-year-old daughter, Molly. She is always worried - about affording food and school shoes, about what the other mothers think of her. Most of all she worries that the social services are about to take Molly away.

That's when the phone calls begin, which Julia is too afraid to answer, because it's clear the caller knows the truth about what happened all those years ago.

And it's time to face the truth: is forgiveness and redemption ever possible for someone who has killed?

Review: 
This book is just all kinds of heartbreaking. It opens with the line "I killed a little boy today," then when you discover that the narrator is an eight year old girl, you are drawn in.

The story follows the life of the aforementioned eight year old, Chrissie. She chokes a toddler to death and everyone is shocked at the thought of a child killer being amongst them.

We learn that Chrissie's home life isn't the best. It is clear that she is very neglected by her mother. She is left to fend for herself most of the time which has obviously affected her. She just wants to be loved.

These chapters of Chrissie's childhood are interspersed with chapters from Julia's point of view, Chrissie's new identity. She is a mother herself now but how can she be the perfect mother to her daughter given her childhood?

The First Day of Spring is shocking and I went from feeling angry and disgusted at Chrissie's to genuinely feeling sorry for her. It's an emotional one! 

Friday, 1 April 2022

Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn | Blog Tour 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.]

Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
Star rating - ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Penguin Viking
Publication date: 31st March 2022


Blurb:
Yinka wants to find love. Her mum wants to find it for her.

She also has too many aunties who frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, a preference for chicken and chips over traditional Nigerian food, and a bum she's sure is far too small as a result. Oh, and the fact that she's a thirty-one-year-old South-Londoner who doesn't believe in sex before marriage is a bit of an obstacle too...

When her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences 'Operation Find A Date for Rachel's Wedding'. Armed with a totally flawless, incredibly specific plan, will Yinka find herself a huzband?

What if the thing she really needs to find is herself?

Review:
Yinka is in her early thirties with no boyfriend. At her younger sisters baby shower, she is called out in front of all the guests, with her big Nigerian family praying that she will find a husband. This is a very funny book from the outset.

With her cousin Rachel's wedding day coming up in six months time, she makes a plan to have a date for the wedding. We discover that her ex-partner, and only boyfriend, left for New York which broke her heart. 

Yinka tries desperately to find a man that she connects with but she thinks that parts of herself aren't appealing and tries to change herself for men. What she really needs to do is be happy with who she is.

I loved Yinka and her family and friends and it was really interesting for me to read a book with this family dynamic. It all felt very real and some of the issues that Yinka felt about herself made me feel sad for her. I have heard about colourism and thoughts of skin lightening and it breaks my heart a little bit. All in all, a wonderful debut and I am excited for more by this author.

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A massive thank you to Penguin Viking for having me on the blog tour. You can find the information about the other bloggers taking part in the tour in the graphic below.

Monday, 28 March 2022

Shoot The Moonlight Out by William Boyle | Blog Tour Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received an eBook copy for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Shoot The Moonlight Out by William Boyle
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: No Exit Press
Publication date: 1st March 2022 

Blurb:
Southern Brooklyn, July 1996. Fire hydrants are open and spraying water on the sizzling blacktop. Punk kids have to make their own fun. Bobby Santovasco and his pal Zeke like to throw rocks at cars getting off the Belt Parkway. They think it's dumb and harmless until it's too late to think otherwise. Then there's Jack Cornacchia, a widower who lives with his high school age daughter Amelia and reads meters for Con Ed but also has a secret life as a vigilante, righting neighborhood wrongs through acts of violence. A simple mission to strong-arm a Bay Ridge con man, Max Berry, leads him to cross paths with a tragedy that hits close to home.

Fast forward five years: June 2001. The summer before New York City and the world changed for good. Charlie French is a low-level gangster-wannabe trying to make a name for himself. When he stumbles onto a bowling alley locker stuffed with a bag full of cash, he brings it to his only pal, Max Berry, for safekeeping while he cleans up the mess surrounding it. Bobby Santovasco - with no real future mapped out and the big sin of his past shining brightly in his rearview mirror - has taken a job working as an errand boy for Max Berry. On a recruiting run for Max's Ponzi scheme, Bobby meets Francesca Clarke, born in the neighborhood but an outsider nonetheless. They hit it off. Bobby gets the idea to knock off Max's safe so he and Francesca can escape Brooklyn forever. Little does he know what Charlie French has stashed there.

Meanwhile, Bobby's former stepsister, Lily Murphy, is back home in the neighborhood after college, teaching a writing class in the basement of St. Mary's church. She's also being stalked by her college boyfriend. One of her students is Jack Cornacchia. When she opens up to him about her stalker, Jack decides to take matters into his own hands.

Review:
This is a really wonderful novel. I went into this book excited because I love any type of crime novel but this gave me so much more.

The story is told from many perspectives which in the beginning I felt was a bit much, more than what I'm used to, but it wasn't confusing at all by the end. 

The story starts in Brooklyn in 1996, with fourteen year old Bobby Santovasco and his thirteen year old friend Zeke keeping themselves entertained by throwing rocks at cars, until something awful happens.

We then hear about Jack whose wife Janey has passed away and his daughter Amelia's subsequent car accident.

The timeline then switches to 2001 where we go back to some of these characters but we meet some new ones too. But all of their stories are interconnected.

William Boyle writes beautifully and this isn't like any crime novel I've read before. The emotions in every chapter, on every page are felt as you read and the New York backdrop is just perfect in my eyes.

I feel like it is really tough to go into the actual stories that these people are going through without spoiling it but if you like crime dramas that are emotional with flawed characters, this one is for you.


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A massive thank you to No Exit Press for having me on the blog tour. You can find the Twitter handles of the other bloggers who are taking part in the tour in the graphic below.
Wednesday, 16 March 2022

The Shadow In The Glass by J.J.A. Harwood | 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 Shadow In The Glass by J.J.A. Harwood
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Publication date: 18th March 2021


Blurb: 
Once upon a time Ella had wished for more than her life as a lowly maid.

Now forced to work hard under the unforgiving, lecherous gaze of the man she once called stepfather, Ella’s only refuge is in the books she reads by candlelight, secreted away in the library she isn’t permitted to enter.

One night, among her beloved books of far-off lands, Ella’s wishes are answered. At the stroke of midnight, a fairy godmother makes her an offer that will change her life: seven wishes, hers to make as she pleases. But each wish comes at a price and Ella must decide whether it’s one she’s willing to pay…

Review:
The Shadow In The Glass is a loose retelling of Cinderella. I had never read a retelling novel before so I was excited to see how it would pan out.

Eleanor Hartley's mother was a housemaid for The Pembrokes. After her mother and father died, the Pembrokes became her legal guardians and Mrs Pembroke promised that Eleanor would become a lady. Those plans changed however when Mrs Pembroke passed away and Mr Pembroke didn't heed his wife's wishes.

Mr Pembroke is a lecherous man, having his way with the maids and dismissing them when they fall pregnant. Eleanor is determined that it won't happen anymore. When she discovers a book in one of her secret trips to the library of the house, a strange woman comes to her offering her seven wishes in exchange for her soul.

This could be what Eleanor has been waiting for, an out. But it comes at a cost. 

I absolutely loved the backdrop of Victorian era London in this novel. It is written so beautifully that you can picture every scene vividly. I felt like I couldn't put it down and was desperate to see how Eleanor's decisions and life would go.

I will definitely read more retellings after The Shadow In The Glass!


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

Friday, 11 March 2022

The Problem With My Normal Penis by Obioma Ugoala | Book Review

[ad/gifted - I received a proof copy of this book to take part in a readalong with Tandem Collective. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

The Problem With My Normal Penis by Obioma Ugoala
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 31st March 2022

Blurb:
You’re a black man. 
 
Aggressive. Athletic. 
Feared. Fetishised. 
Policed. Politicised.
 
It’s limiting. It’s tiring. And it’s not true. 

Review:
I jotted down so many notes that stood out to me when reading this but I am finding it hard to convey how important this is. This is a book that everyone should read.

The stereotype from the title of the book is just the tip of the iceberg and Obioma Ugoala delves deep into racism, sexism and masculinity.

Ugoala has written this very well with facts and statistics interspersed with his life as a man with Jamaican heritage on his father's side and Irish heritage on his mother's side, things that he came up against as a schoolkid, teenager, actor. The shackles comment on Obi's choral trip genuinely made me gasp.

When George Floyd was killed protests happened, companies posted a black square with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter but then what? I agree that it did feel like a token act. We see racism still happening in so many aspects of life today. People just speaking without realising that what they are saying is offensive. What needs to happen for us to change, as a society?

Two quotes that really stuck out to me were:

"Black people should feel grateful that their cup of wine is only a tenth mixed with cyanide, because previously it was half and half"

"Racism is not your fault but it's going to be your challenge"

Read this book.




Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Before The Dawn by Emma Pass | 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. This post contains affiliate links.]

Before The Dawn by Emma Pass
Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Publisher: Aria
Publication date: 3rd March 2022

Blurb:
When everything you hold dear is torn apart by war, can love put you back together again?

It's 1943, and the Second World War is raging. Ruby Mottram works for her local newspaper, the Bartonford Herald, typing up adverts and obituaries, whilst dreaming of a more exciting life. Between her shifts as an ARP warden and caring for her ailing father, the chance for escape doesn't come often to Devon.

Meanwhile, in America's deep south, Sam Archer is hatching a plan to raise enough money to get his mother and sister away from his abusive stepfather. Using falsified documents to hide his age, he enlists with the U.S. Army.

Two chance encounters bring Ruby and Sam together from opposite sides of the Atlantic, giving them the chance of love, hope and freedom from their troubled lives. But fate, in the shape of D-Day and Omaha Beach, has other ideas.

When their very lives are at risk, will their promise to wait for one another be what keeps them alive?

Review: 
Historical fiction or historical romance wouldn't be a genre I'd typically choose to read. I assumed that I wouldn't enjoy them, especially ones set in wartime, with nothing to back that up whatsoever but Before The Dawn has completely changed my mind.

This book is split into three parts and it set between 1939 to 1945. Ruby Mottram lives in Devon and is about to start her new job at the Bartonford Herald when war is declared. Fast-forward four years and 18 year old Ruby is still at the Herald and the main news is that American soldiers are coming over to train.

Ruby lives with her protective father who is adamant that she is not to get involved with the Americans and they are bad news. 

17 year old Sam Archer from Coltonsburg, Virginia, sick of watching his mother being abused by his stepfather Kirk, decides to lie about his age and enlist in the U.S. Army as a way to send money back secretly to his mother so she can survive with Sam's sister Meggie.

Whilst at training in Devon, Ruby and Sam meet and begin a secret relationship. This is such a beautiful and innocent love story that is really heartwrenching. The backdrop of World War II is interesting and you can feel the pain between the Sam and Ruby when they are apart, and only have letters to rely on for contact.

I will definitely read more set in this era!

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