Top Ten Tuesday: Summer TBR

Okay yes, I know it’s not Tuesday so I am super late with this but between a not so well cat and a busy time at work I’m considering it a win I’ve posted it at all. Things have definitely been slipping blog wise over the last few months. Anyway, for those who don’t know, Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish meme that was started by The Broke and Bookish and moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018.  It was born of a love of lists (something I share) and each week participants come up with a list of ten(ish) things based on a theme.

The theme for this weeks Top Ten Tuesday is books on my Summer TBR so as I’ve been planning on doing a Summer TBR post for a while I thought this would be a good step back into blogging. It’s pretty safe to say my reading has been a little all over the place for the last few months. Focus on anything for any length of time has been nigh on impossible. Sci fi and fantasy books have been particularly hard so my reading list has been around 90% rom coms, 8% crime/thriller and 2% other. It seems doubtful that’s going to change any time soon so my TBR is a little heavier on these genres but I’ve snuck a few fantasy and sci fi that I was really looking forward to (pre covid). As always the links take you to the Goodreads page.


Owned Physical

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (The Hunger Games, #0)BurnThe Death of Mrs. Westaway

  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins – Curiosity got the better of me with this Hunger Games prequel. It’ll either be awful or brilliant but I do feel like I need to read it and find out. Plus I love a villain origin story.
  • Burn by Patrick Ness – A Patrick Ness book with dragons, this has been on my most anticipated list since I first heard about it. I’ve just been putting it off because of the whole lack of focus when reading thing.
  • The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware – I read my very first book by Ruth Ware, The Turn of the Key, a month or so ago and loved it so I feel I really should read more.

Audio

Obsidio (The Illuminae Files, #3)Britt-Marie Was HereNinth House (Alex Stern, #1)

  • Obsidio by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff – I’m most of the way through this one already so it’s a bit of a cheat but would be good to have one book on the list that I’ll definitely be finishing 🙂 Well… that’s if I do finish it. I don’t want it to be over.
  • Britt Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman – I love Backman’s writing and have been wanting to read this for a while so when it popped up on a 2 for 1 deal on audible I couldn’t resist.
  • Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo – This was another book that was 2 for 1 on audible. I do have a physical copy too but have never gotten around to it. Am hoping I find the audio a little easier to get into.

Library

The Cat and The CityThe Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying VampiresClap When You Land

  • The Cat and The City by Nick Bradley – I’m not sure if Japanese cat fiction is a real genre but if not it totally should be. This is a series of short stories set in Tokyo that are connected by a cat. I’ve already read the first story and loved the writing and the magical realism elements so can’t wait to read the rest.
  • The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix – Not gonna lie I’m not entirely sure what this is about as the title was the main draw.
  • Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo – Despite some reservations around whether I could actually read a book in verse form I ended up loving The Poet X so I’m going to give this one a try. Not sure how I’ll get on with two pov’s but fingers crossed it lives up to expectations.

Owned Ebooks

Very Nearly NormalLove the One You HateLittle Siberia

  • Very Nearly Normal by Hannah Sunderland – I read the first couple of chapters of this on ReadersFirst a few months ago and knew instantly it was a book I was going to want to read. There is just something about a socially awkward, overly hostile and grumpy protagonist that appeals to me.
  • Love the One You Hate by R.S. Grey – I generally love this authors books and I love the hate to love trope so this one is a no brainer. Plus romcom for the win.
  • Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen – Palm Beach Finland was one of my fave books last year so I’ve been looking forward to this one for a while. I’m hoping for quirky characters and some dark comedy.

ARCs

Take a Hint, Dani Brown (The Brown Sisters, #2)One to WatchAgain Again

  • Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert – I’ve pretty much been requesting and reading every romcom I can get my mitts on from Netgalley at the moment and this sounds like such a cute and fun story. Also good to have a bit more diversity in my reading.
  • One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London – I’m kind of missing my reality TV (it’s a guilty pleasure) so am hoping this will fill the Love Island shaped hole in my life. Also love that the main character is plus sized, yay for body positivity.
  • Again, Again by E. Lockhart – I’ve spied a few not so great reviews for this which are making me question whether I should be including on my TBR but I loved the other books I’ve read from this author so I shall give it a shot. It sounds quite unusual.

Coming Soon

The Midnight LibraryMexican GothicBookish and the Beast (Once Upon a Con, #3)

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – I really love Haig’s writing no matter the genre so as soon as I heard about this I had it pre ordered. It will, like a lot of Haig’s books, no doubt make me cry but that’s why I love them.
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Morena-Garcia – I hadn’t heard of this till someone on Twitter suggested it as a good choice for a slightly different book club read but having investigated it sounds right up my street.
  • Bookish and the Beast by Ashley Poston – I was a little grumpy about the first book in the Once Upon a Con series (it was too similar to one of my all time fave reads) but book 2 totally made up for any niggles so I have high hopes for book 3 particularly with the Beauty and the Beast theme.

So that’s my TBR for the summer months. Hopefully I’ll manage to find my focus and read most of them. Are any of these on your TBR or are there any books you think I’m missing?

Feel free to leave comments below and links to your top tens or Summer TBRs.

Happy Reading ❤

Review: The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

The Happy Ever After Playlist
The Happy Ever After Playlist
by Abby Jimenez turned out to be the feel good read I really needed. Laugh out loud funny, a little sad but completely adorable I sat down and read the whole thing in one go, smiling the whole time.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

Two years after losing her fiancé, Sloan Monroe still can’t seem to get her life back on track. But one trouble-making pup with a “take me home” look in his eyes is about to change everything. With her new pet by her side, Sloan finally starts to feel more like herself. Then, after weeks of unanswered texts, Tucker’s owner reaches out. He’s a musician on tour in Australia. And bottom line: He wants Tucker back.

Well, Sloan’s not about to give up her dog without a fight. But what if this Jason guy really loves Tucker? As their flirty texts turn into long calls, Sloan can’t deny a connection. Jason is hot and nice and funny. There’s no telling what could happen when they meet in person. The question is: With his music career on the rise, how long will Jason really stick around? And is it possible for Sloan to survive another heartbreak?


MY THOUGHTS

This was very possibly a case of right book at the right time but I don’t care. I loved it and read the whole thing in one Saturday morning with the biggest smile on my face.

I had no idea when I started it that it was a sequel to The Friend Zone but while the author does recommend you read them in order the fact that I hadn’t made absolutely no difference to my enjoyment of this story. Would I have gotten more depth from knowing more of the characters’ backstory? Maybe, but it works perfectly well as a standalone.

From the very start when main character Sloan rescues dog Tucker this story is just ridiculously adorable. I loved each and every character and I adored the relationships between them. Sloan and Jason are so cute together. I loved the banter between them, especially before they meet in person. There’s a lot of teasing and flirting and sooo much chemistry. They seem to have an instant connection but unlike a lot of insta loves this one feels believable and real.

I liked Sloan a lot as a character, she’s kind, funny and tough, but Jason is swoon-worthy book boyfriend material. You could maybe argue that he’s a little too perfect or too good to be true (he’s sensitive, patient, generous, charming, funny and gorgeous) but I was more than happy to just go with it.

There was a lot to like in the secondary characters as well. I really want Kristen and Josh as my best friends, they were absolutely hilarious and sound like they’d be a lot of fun but I loved how they were always there for Sloan. They tease her, embarrass and push her but it’s clear they would do anything to protect her and want her to be happy.  The highlight of the story for me though was dog Tucker. He was a real character, stealing more or less every scene he was in.

The writing is wonderful, witty, fun and packed full of emotion. It made me stupidly happy reading it and I found myself smiling a lot. There are a few sad moments, Sloan is grieving and the new relationship is not all smooth sailing, but while I did shed a couple of tears it is an upbeat and positive story.

I also loved the song titles at the start of each chapter and yes I did listen to the play list as I was reading. Music seems to have become a much bigger part of my life during lockdown, it’s picked me up, calmed me, kept me motivated and helped me let off steam so listening to the tracks while reading really added to the whole experience (and I’ve fallen in love with a few of the tracks).

As you have probably guessed I loved pretty much everything about this story and I highly recommend to anyone looking for a bit of light relief.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. This has in no way influenced my review.

Review: Family for Beginners by Sarah Morgan

Family For BeginnersIf you’re looking for some gentle escapism this summer I don’t think you can go too far wrong with Sarah Morgan’s Family For Beginners. With a story about love, blended families and grief it’s a bit of an emotional read but has the usual warmth I’ve come to expect. It may not be my favourite book from the author but I do think a lot of people will love it.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

New York florist Flora Donovan is living the dream, but her bubbly optimism hides a secret. She’s lonely. Orphaned as a child, she’s never felt like she’s belonged anywhere…until she meets Jack Parker. He’s the first man to ever really see her, and it’s life changing.

Teenager Izzy Parker is holding it together by her fingertips. Since her mother passed away a year ago, looking after her dad and little sister is the only thing that makes Izzy feel safe. Discovering her father has a new girlfriend is her worst nightmare – she is not in the market for a replacement mom. Then, her father invites Flora on their summer vacation….

Flora’s heart aches for Izzy, but she badly wants her relationship with Jack to work. As the summer unfolds, Flora must push her own boundaries to discover parts of herself she never knew existed – and to find the family she’s always wanted.


MY THOUGHTS

I’m a big fan of Sarah Morgan’s writing and always enjoy her books but I’m afraid this one didn’t quite hit the mark for me. It has the same wonderful and warm writing I’ve come to expect from the author, well rounded characters and a real sense of place but I just didn’t get on with the story or main character Flora. It may simply be a case of the wrong book at the wrong time but I didn’t fly through this in the way I usually do with Morgan’s books.

Over her last few books, the author has been gradually moving away from the romance and into much more relationship and family type stories and Family for Beginners takes us further along that route. There’s very little in the way of romance in this story with the focus on florist Flora who so desperately wants to find a place where she belongs, a family who will accept her. After her mother died when she was young, Flora was raised by a cold and distant aunt who made it perfectly clear she wasn’t wanted and was an inconvenience. When she meets Jack Parker, recently widowed and father to two girls, she thinks she’s found somewhere she could belong.

Unfortunately Jack’s eldest daughter Izzy is not so keen on Flora coming into their lives and trying to fix everything. She’s barely keeping it together as it is so is determined to see the back of Flora. When Jack invites Flora to come with the family on a trip to the Lake District, Izzy is not happy and neither is Claire, the family friend they will be staying with. Secrets come to light and Flora discovers more about Jack (and herself) but will there be a happily ever after?

There is a lot to like in this story, I loved the lake district setting, I loved how well rounded and real the characters felt, the relationships between them and the way they developed over the course of the story. Morgan’s writing is as always wonderful and there’s a lot of emotion in those pages. I suspect if you love reading stories about families and family relationships you’ll really enjoy this book.

Unfortunately however I found myself becoming frustrated and annoyed with it and I’m afraid it was mostly down to Flora. She is exactly the kind of character I hate reading and I just found it so difficult to relate to her. I could understand the why behind how she is and I could empathize with her but I just found her endless positivity and optimism annoying. She’s a people pleaser who tries to fix everything which is pretty much the antithesis of me. She does develop over the story but I spent a lot of my time reading this book wanting to shake her and tell her to stop trying so damn hard all of the time.

It probably didn’t help that I couldn’t see the attraction in Jack as there wasn’t a lot of time spent in developing the relationship between them. Their first dates happen off the page and they’re never really alone together. As a result there’s no spark or chemistry between them making it hard to see why Flora was so desperate for the relationship to work. Flora seems to feel sorry for him and seems more attracted to the idea of rescuing him and finding a ready made family. As for Jack, he never feels fully present in the story and I had no real sense of who he is. He’s closed off, distant and completely oblivious to the feelings of those around him. Flora keeps saying how much he sees her but I didn’t feel like he showed it in the story. Maybe though it’s just because we never get his pov.

Izzy, whose pov we do get was actually the most likeable of the characters to me. She’s an absolute mess of emotions, anger, guilt, sadness, but she felt believable and relateable. She’s grieving her mother, dealing with a lot of changes in her life and hiding a huge secret. I really felt for her throughout the story, even when she was being kind of horrible.

I did think the author did a brilliant job throughout the story of portraying the different ways people deal with loss and how the loss of her mother still affects Flora many years later. This does make it a little bit darker than some of Morgan’s other books but there are moments of light in there too to balance it out nicely. I may have shed one or two tears but I did find myself smiling in places too and I very much enjoyed the conclusion.

Overall I think a lot of people will love this story but there were a few too many things that I found annoying or frustrating for it to be a favourite.

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. This has in no way influenced my review

Audio Extract: The Lizard by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart Blog Tour #TheLizardBook @MuswellPress @DBrucelockhart

Today I’m thrilled to be the host for the the penultimate stop on the blog tour for Dugald Bruce-Lockhart’s debut novel The Lizard. I’m even more excited because in a first for my little blog I have an extract of the audiobook for you all to listen to.

But before we get to the audio I should probably tell you a little about the book and author.


ABOUT THE BOOK

The LizardSt Andrews University undergraduate, Alistair Haston, heartbroken by his breakup with his girlfriend Ellie, heads off to where she summers in the hope of ‘accidentally’ running into her.

On a ferry from Athens he meets Ricky, a magnetic Australian, who promises him a cushy job on the Greek island on Paros. Ricky introduces him to Heinrich, a charismatic German artist living in an exquisite mansion, who uses his talent and considerable wealth to lure susceptible tourists to his home.

Soon swept away in a cocktail of hedonistic pursuits, Haston sheds his conservative skin and is immersed in a sun-drenched world of sex, fine food and drugs.

When the body of a missing tourist is found, however, the finger of blame points at Haston and he is forced on a desperate life or death run.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dugald Bruce-Lockhart was born in Fiji and went to school at Sedbergh in Cumbria while his parents worked abroad. After St Andrews University he trained as an actor at RADA. He has worked extensively on stage and on TV and received many accolades including a Best Actor nomination from The Stage.

He recently directed a new production of The Last Temptation of Boris Johnson by Jonathan Maitland. He appeared as Michael Gove in the original production at the Park Theatre, London. He lives in South East London.


AUDIOBOOK EXTRACT


WANT TO HEAR THE REST?

The Lizard is released tomorrow (7th May) with the audiobook available for preorder from Audible and Google Play

Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

The SwitchWarm and funny, The Switch by Beth O’Leary is the kind of uplifting book I think we all need just now. The storyline may feel a little familiar but I loved the sense of community, family, friendship and love that runs throughout. I highly recommend to anyone looking for a feelgood read.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?


MY THOUGHTS

As a massive fan of O’Leary’s debut, The Flatshare, I was ridiculously excited to get my hands on an advance copy of her new book The Switch. Unfortunately however while I did very much enjoy it, I’m not sure it quite lived up to expectations (although to be fair these were probably unreasonably high).

The story is great, the characters are likeable and it’s warm and funny and incredibly sweet. It’s pretty much a big hug in book form. However while I more or less devoured the whole thing in an afternoon, I feel it’s missing that special something to lift it from a great read to a stand out one and I have a horrible feeling that in a few weeks I’ll have forgotten all about it.

It may be that I’ve been overdosing on romcoms and contemporaries lately (they’re pretty much the only genres I can focus on right now) but I felt The Switch was a little lacking in originality. The story seemed a bit too familiar and I’ve read more than one book where different generations of women discover they have something to learn from each other.

I did love the characters and the way they developed over the course of the story. Also really loved how many older characters had starring roles. Eileen in particular was a joy to read and I thought the author did a wonderful job of portraying an older person whose body may be slowing down but whose determination and passions are as strong as ever. I loved her adventurous spirit but I also loved how she created a community everywhere she went and how protective she is of those she cares about.

Leena took a little longer to grow on me. I could certainly relate to her but I think it’s safe to say she’s a bit of a mess at the start of the story and she’s keeping a lot bottled up inside which makes her come across as uptight. I found her inability to stop and relax frustrating, I mean, who complains about being given a couple of months paid leave (and I don’t mean because you’ve been furloughed and can’t go anywhere or see anyone). She does however develop quite nicely over the course of the story and I grew to really like her.

I also loved the relationships within the novel, the friendships old and new (some of which are unlikely) and also the romance. There are quite a few sparks flying and while it is a little predictable I was happy to go along for the ride.

I maybe would’ve preferred less secondary characters so they could be developed a bit further but each and every one does have a role in the story and they do all feel authentic if a bit eccentric at times.

Overall a great read that’s perfect for a lazy day or when you’re in need of a bit of cheering up.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. This has in no way influenced my review.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Turn of the Key
The Turn of the Key
may be the first book I’ve read by Ruth Ware but it definitely won’t be the last. I loved Ware’s writing style and the dark and sinister atmosphere she created and somehow managed to maintain throughout. It’s a gripping read that kept me compulsively turning those pages until the very end.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.


MY THOUGHTS

The Turn of the Key is an addictive read based loosely on The Turn of the Screw, with the main character Rowan hired as live in nanny to four children. What initially seems like a dream job, however soon becomes a nightmare as she’s left alone to look after the children for weeks in a house with a bit of a dark history, spooky goings on and more than a few secrets. It’s not long before one of the children ends up dead and Rowan gets the blame despite her protestations of innocence.

It’s a genuinely creepy read at times and I loved the way the author built up the tension, revealing little hints and throwing in the odd twist along the way. I very much enjoyed the way the story was told in the form of letters from Rowan to a potential barrister. I’m not sure it felt wholly convincing as a letter but I did love the conversational style to it.

I thought the characters were for the most part well developed and intriguing and I loved how little by little more is revealed about Rowan’s past as the story unfolds. I’m not sure I would describe her as likeable or nice, she’s the typical unreliable narrator so you can’t really trust her, but I certainly felt some empathy for her by the end. The other characters are a little more mysterious and there were a couple in particular whose motivations I’m not sure I ever fully understood. It does however work within a story that keeps you guessing who dunnit so I can’t complain too much.

The real highlight for me however was the atmosphere which is dark and sinister throughout. I loved the Scottish Highland setting and the sense of remoteness and isolation it created. I also loved the use of technology, it’s a smart home with all of the latest gadgets, to give a classic story a much more contemporary feel.

If I had one complaint, it would probably be the ending. I’m not going to say much about it so no spoilers, but it felt a little rushed and unsatisfying to me. Possibly that may be what the author intended but given the build up I would have liked a little bit more.

Overall though I thought this was a great read and one I’d recommend to anyone looking for a slightly creepy who dunnit.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review: Strangers by C.L. Taylor

Strangers by C.L. Taylor
I think Strangers could possibly be my favourite book yet from C.L. Taylor. Despite featuring three seemingly unconnected storylines, the tension never lets up throughout and I found myself unable to put it down.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.

Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.

None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.

Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.


MY REVIEW

I think this could possibly be Taylor’s best book yet. I absolutely loved it from the very first page to the very last.

With three different, seemingly disconnected, stories this shouldn’t have worked for me but somehow it did. I usually have problems with multiple povs, there’s almost always one story that I prefer to the others but here I found myself fully engaged with all three.

Annie is a single parent and manager of a fashion store in the Mead shopping centre. At her adult daughter’s encouragement she’s trying to put herself out there and meet someone new but while she does find a guy she likes there’s someone out there who doesn’t want them to get together.

Gareth is a middle aged security guard at the shopping centre who cares for his elderly mother who has dementia. He discovers his mother is receiving postcards from his father who disappeared and was presumed dead 20 years ago. Could he still be alive or is someone trying to take advantage of his mum.

Ursula is a bit of a loner. She blames herself for her fiancé’s death. She works as a courier and lives with a friend until they discover she’s been stealing from them. When they throw her out she’s desperate enough to rent a room from a rather odd guy, who won’t tell her what’s in the basement and insists the radio be kept on at all times.

Add to this rumours in the background of a serial killer responsible for the disappearance of several men in the area and you’ve got a truly gripping read.

I was completely addicted to each of the three stories and I thought the author did a brilliant job of balancing them. Annie, Gareth and even Ursula were very sympathetic characters and they felt very real and relateable. With so much going on in the story you would have thought there wouldn’t be much room to develop the secondary characters or the relationships between them but this wasn’t the case at all as the author took the time to make each and every character well rounded and believable.

It was however the plot that was the star for me. The tension never lets up for an instant and there are some truly creepy moments that had me wanting to hide under the duvet. It also keeps you guessing throughout and I genuinely had no idea where it was going or how the stories would eventually come together. When they finally do merge it lives up to all expectations and the ending is spot on.

Overall, this was a brilliant read and one I’d recommend to anyone who loves a good thriller.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me with an advance copy via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

WWW Wednesday: 11th March 2020

The WWW Wednesday meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently ReadingDoctor Dearest

After the trauma of the book I finished on Monday evening (see below) I needed something a lot lighter and fluffier so am currently reading Doctor Dearest by R.S. Grey. I do enjoy Grey’s books and I love a medical romance so this is working out well as a reading palate cleanser.

On audio I’m still listening to East of Croydon by Sue Perkins although have to confess I haven’t made a huge amount of progress. Still enjoying it, it’s funny and entertaining and Perkins makes for a great narrator so hopefully I’ll do better over the next week.


Recently Finished

The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister, #2)Yes No Maybe SoI Am Dust

Despite being back at work and having quite a bit on outside of work I somehow managed to finish three books last week all of which I very much enjoyed for very different reasons.

  • The Heiress Effect by Courtney Milan – I couldn’t resist reading on in this series after finishing prequel The Governess Affair last week and it was great to catch up with a lot of the characters. I did find it a little on the long side but still a good historical romance and I loved that the characters were a little different from the norm
  • Yes, No, Maybe So by Becky Albertalli and Aisha Saeed – I’ve had this on my NetGalley shelf for a while and despite looking forward to it have been putting it off due to my avoidance of all things YA. Turned out I shouldn’t have put it off as I liked it a lot. It was a little more political than I expected (and the authors don’t hold back in their views of the American government) but I loved that and really liked the characters. The romance is pretty cute too ❤
  • I Am Dust by Louise Beech – Wow, where do I start with this book? I loved Beech’s previous book Call Me Star Girl but this may have it beat. It’s original, it’s emotional and the writing is just mesmerizing. I loved everything about it, even the fact it left me in bits.

Reading Next

I haven’t been doing very well at predicting what kind of book I’ll pick up next but it should probably be something a little darker. I recently got my hands on advance copies of M.R. Carey’s new book, The Book of Koli and have Helen Callaghan’s Night Falls, Still Missing so might go for one of them. I’m a big fan of both authors.

Night Falls, Still MissingThe Book of Koli (Rampart Trilogy, #1)

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading 🙂

WWW Wednesday: 4th March 2020

The WWW Wednesday meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

I Am Dust

I started reading  I Am Dust by Louise Beech on Sunday and am making pretty good progress with it. This is only my second book by the author but I’m already a big fan. Every book is completely different but the writing remains ridiculously good. I Am Dust is a thriller/ghost story so very dark and a little bit spooky. I am absolutely loving it.

On audio I’m still listening to East of Croydon by Sue Perkins. As one of the least adventurous people in the world I am finding Perkins ventures into Cambodia and Vietnam fascinating and slightly terrifying.


Recently Finished

Deep Blue Trouble (Lori Anderson, #2)Just As You AreRomancing Mr Bridgerton (Bridgertons, #4)The Governess Affair (Brothers Sinister, #0.5)

I’d been reading lots of serious and dark books over the last few weeks so was in need of something lighter and as you can probably tell by the covers above the four books finished over the last week have been much more colourful

  • Deep Blue Trouble by Steph Broadribb – the second book in the Lori Anderson series about a bounty hunter was a fast paced, action packed read and I really, really enjoyed it. I was slightly missing JT in this one but there were some great new characters and a lot of twists and turns to keep me hooked
  • Just As You Are by Kate Mathieson – this Bridget Jones inspired contemporary is about a 30 something woman returning home after travelling for years. She has a plan to settle down but when do things ever go to plan. It’s a fun read and there were a few bits which had me laughing out loud. You can read my full review here.
  • Romancing Mr Bridgerton by Julia Quinn – I love a historical romance so I very much enjoyed this book by Julia Quinn. It may be rather predictable but it was a light and fluffy read that was perfect for a lazy morning avoiding the storms.
  • The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan – More historical romance, this time from new to me author Milan. I’ve been curious about her books and this novella was free on Amazon so I thought why not. It may be short but it’s convinced me I need to read more by this author.

Reading Next

As I’ve been overloading on fluffy romances it’s probably about time for a change in genre. I’m on a mission this month to reduce my NetGalley shelf so I think I’m going to go for one of the fantasy or thriller reads from it.

Our Little CrueltiesA Good FatherThe Court of Miracles (Court of Miracles, #1)The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, #2)

Have you read any of the books on my list this week? Any others you’d recommend? As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Reading ❤

Review: Mirage by Somaiya Daud

Mirage (Mirage, #1)
Mirage
by Somaiya Daud is probably not the most original story but there’s definitely something magical and unique about Daud’s writing and the world she creates. I found it an engaging read and am already looking forward to the sequel.


WHAT’S IT ABOUT

In a star system dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects: she is kidnapped by the regime and taken in secret to the royal palace, where she discovers that she is nearly identical to the cruel half-Vathek Princess Maram. The princess is so hated by her conquered people that she requires a body double, someone to appear in public as Maram, ready to die in her place.

As Amani is forced into her new role, she can’t help but enjoy the palace’s beauty—and her time with the princess’ fiancé, Idris. But the glitter of the royal court belies a world of violence and fear. If Amani ever wishes to see her family again, she must play the princess to perfection…because one wrong move could lead to her death.


MY THOUGHTS

I have to confess I’ve been a little bit down on YA fantasy and sci fi lately so despite receiving an advance copy of this from NetGalley I kept putting off reading it. I thought it’d be the same story I’d read a million times before however, while there are a lot of similarities to other stories, there is definitely something special about this and it was not at all what I was expecting.

I should probably have read the synopsis properly before picking this book up as I had no idea it was sci fi. From the cover I thought maybe some kind of Moroccan inspired fantasy, I did not anticipate intergalactic travel and droids but actually despite these elements this book reads much more like fantasy. It may just be the magic of Daud’s writing (there’s no magic in the story), the beautiful and vivid descriptions, the romance and the intrigue but this never felt like sci fi and I was perfectly happy with that.

The story is a familiar one, main character Amani is taken away from her home and family by the Vathek (an alien race who have invaded and colonized her home world) and held captive within the palace. She bears an uncanny resemblance to the cruel and unpopular Princess Maram so is tasked with acting as her double. Terrified and with no other option Amani has to learn how to be Princess Maram so convincingly that not even the Princess’s family, friends or fiance can tell the difference.

This isn’t a fast paced or action packed story but a slower paced character driven story and I liked that a lot. We follow Amani as she’s taken from everything she knows and loves and forced into a strange and violent world where one mistake could mean her death. It’s an engaging read and Amani is very easy to like. She admits herself that she’s a bit of a dreamer and it is her faith and belief in her people’s religion and mythology that gives her the hope that she can get through anything. She’s not physically strong, she has no special powers or abilities but she still shows bravery and a determination to overcome all of the challenges thrown her way. I’m sure this will make her incredibly relateable to a lot of people.

I also loved how her character develops over the course of the story. Forced to pretend to be someone completely different she starts to question herself, she feels like she’s losing herself in the character she’s pretending to be and has to fight to hang on to what makes her unique, finding a strength she didn’t know she had.

There is as is compulsory in all YA novels a romance, this time a forbidden one between Amani and Princess Miram’s fiance Idris, and I very much enjoyed how it slowly developed. It’s not insta love but instead a connection forged through similar histories and an understanding or each other. Idris was not my favourite character, he comes across a little weak and naive but I did like how they were together.

The star of the story was however Maram. I love a good villain and Maram fits the bill perfectly. She starts out seemingly nasty, vindictive and cruel but she’s much more complex than first appearances would suggest. As we find out more of her background and she softens a little I found myself feeling some sympathy for her. She’s very isolated and alone, desperate to prove herself a worthy heir to her cruel father’s empire by the only means she knows how. She’s unpredictable and it’s impossible to tell how she’ll react in any situation.

I also absolutely adored the world the author created, the descriptions make everything feel vivid and rich and I loved how the mythology was woven into the story. There are some heavy themes running throughout, oppression, colonialism, the stripping away of heritage and tradition and I thought the author handled them well.

As the first book in a series I thought it was pretty much perfect and I look forward to book two.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. This has not influenced my review

My rating: 4 of 5 stars