#Book Review #Not The Girl You Marry by Angie J. Christopher

How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days gets a millennial makeover

Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he’s not sure he wants her to dump him.

Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who’s focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she’s determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.

Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.

(From Goodreads)


My thoughts:

If you loved How to Lose a Guy in 10 days and decide to pick up this book, two things can happen: you either going to love this hard-edged gender-swapped retelling, or… you are going to quietly put itaside, get comfortable on the sofa and get ready to re-watch Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson spin their magic tale.

As I am a kind of girl who always chooses a book over a movie and did not swoon over the original rom-com, so I was actually quite open to whatever Andie J. Christopher was going to make out of the original story.

The first chapter left me a bit perplexed: the main character Hanna Mayfield seemed so angry and aggressive about the whole dating/non-dating issue and menfolk in general, while being understanding and supportive with her extra-feminine friend Sasha. Hanna definitely had the qualities I like: she was fiercely loyal and independent, and yet, so confused about what she wanted.

Hanna’s ex-boyfriend Noah, who I never forgave until the end of the book despite the author’s best attempts to give him some redeeming qualities, had an issue with Hanna being biracial (not black enough to make a part of a power couple), Hanna being too spontaneous and honest (not good enough to make a good wife for a lawyer or a politician). Noah told her she was not a kind a girl a guy would marry, and Hanna…believed him.

Two years later Hanna, who has been on an extended dating hiatus ( I think it’s a great idea for somebody who needs to clear their ideas), accidentally meets Jack Nolan in a bar. They click, and even share a spectacular kiss and a few cute puppy pictures the day after that, but it’s clear that, given the fact that neither of them wants to date at the moment, they are not going to give in to the chemistry and attraction they feel for each other. Until… Hanna’s boss challenges her to find and keep a boyfriend for two weeks to prove she can do ‘romantic’ if she wants to get out of planning sports events and start organising weddings. Plus, Jack’s boss gives him a new assignment: to write a how-to article on losing a girlfriend in two weeks.

Here is the thing. The original movie already had the whole gender stereotype inverted. It is usually us, girls/ women, who do our best to please our dates to keep the guy, hoping for a white wedding sometime in a not so distant future, and it is men who still have an upper hand in the dating game. That’s why the movie was so funny. Here…we revert back to the old traditional gender role behaviour, no matter how much we might hate it? Jack is supposed to be a good guy whose girlfriends keep dumping him, although he always puts their needs first. What he really needs to do is work out why they keep doing it. And he plans to do it by agreeing to do everything to lose (and hurt) Hanna, who he professes to like, to prove to himself that he can put his career first ?!? Complicated, to put it mildly.

The book is engaging, although I kept asking myself the big question any reader asks about the characters: can I relate to them? yes, I had Hanna’s experience of a toxic relationship that made me think hard about what I wanted from life and whether I wanted romance at all. Plenty of people also share Jack and Hanna’s story of having divorced parents, and growing up without one of the parents being present in their life. What I found the most interesting and authentic in the book was Hanna’s reflections on her identity and the role it played in her romantic history.

I am left with mixed feelings about this re-telling, but I’m sure there are other readers who are going to like it and be entertained by the trope of a fake relationship that grows into something more.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.


#Teen Tonic #Book Review of People of the Lake by Nick Scorza

Sixteen-year-old Clara Morris is facing an awkward summer with her father in the tiny upstate town of Redmarch Lake. Clara’s relationship with her parents—and with life in general—has been strained since she lost her twin sister, Zoe, when the girls were eight. As a child, her sister had been her whole world—they even shared a secret invented twin language. Clara has managed to rebuild herself as best she can, but she still feels a hole in her life from the absence of her twin, and she suspects she always will.

She soon finds that Redmarch Lake, where her father’s family has lived for generations, is a very unusual place. The townspeople live by odd rules and superstitions. The eerily calm lake the town is named for both fascinates and repels her. The town’s young people are just as odd and unfriendly as their parents. Clara manages to befriend the one boy willing to talk to an outsider, but he disappears during a party in the woods.

The next day, he is found dead in the lake under mysterious circumstances. The townspeople all treat this as a tragic accident. Clara isn’t buying it, but she doesn’t know what to do until she receives a mysterious note hinting at murder—a note written in the language she shared with her twin sister, Zoe.

(From Book Blurb)

My thoughts:

The People of the Lake is a fascinating mix of several genres. Recently I had a similar experience with the Whisper Man by Alex North where I started reading the book thinking it was a horror and later had to re-evaluate the story in the light of further revelations that put the novel into a different genre. Here I started thinking the book was a psychological thriller with some very spooky elements, but the second part and the ending were more in the fantasy realm.

Clara Morris, a sixteen year girl from Manhattan, decides to spend her summer holidays in a remote town of Redmarch Lake her father moved to after the divorce. The build up of tension in this book is spectacular. We know something is wrong with this town long before Clara sets her foot in it. I loved the descriptions of the unnervingly still lake and the surrounding woods. Add unfriendly town residents who very quickly show Clara that outsiders are not welcome in Redmarch Lake. Clara is a typical teenager. She loves her parents and would love to be able to communicate with them, but in the heat of the moment she just says things which are more snarky than she intends them to be. It doesn’t help that her father is a silent type who gives a lot of warnings about not going alone to the woods, but doesn’t find it easy to explain why. Similarly, he doesn’t want to talk about the divorce, or, even more importantly for Clara, he doesn’t even mention Zoe, Clara’s twin sister who drowned saving Clara’s life when they were eight years old. Clara befriends Neil, the only person in the town who is willing to talk to her in a welcoming way. Neil invites her to a party in the woods, but unfortunately, the following morning he is found dead under suspicious circumstances. When Clara finds a note written in the secret language she and Zoe invented, she knows she needs to investigate and break the wall of superstitious silence the town folk seem to have surrounded themselves with.

Clara is brave and tenacious. I liked the way she never gave up on reaching out to Ashley, Neilìs ex-girlfriend, who blamed Clara for upsetting the town’s delicate balance and causing Neil’s death. Clara’s grief over her lost twin sister, who used to be her whole world, is probably one of the most fascinating aspects of the novel. There is a love interest as well, as you would expect in a YA novel, but I didn’t find his character as well-developed as that of Zoe, Clara’s deceased sister, who appears to be loyal and mischievious at the same time.

The People of the Lake was a perfect October read for me, as the book relies a lot on the reader to fill the gaps and imagine spooky, scary things happening in this little isolated town and come up with one’s own theories of what is and has been happening there for centuries. The historical excerpts are short and relevant and represent ‘close escapes’ different outsiders had with the town and its dark secret.

There was one major twist that I didn’t see coming and this is where the book started picking pace, perhaps a bit too much. I did enjoy the build-up of characters, atmosphere and tension in the first half of the book, while the second part and the ending, although original, appeared a bit rushed. The fantasy world the author created could have been expanded and described in more detail.

Overall, it was an entertaining debut novel and I would definitely like to read more books by this author.

Thank you to Edelweiss and the publisher (Sky Pony) for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read The People of the Lake or is it on your tbr?
  • Are there any other books about twins written in a similar genre that you would recommend?
  • Do you enjoy a small town setting in thriller/ horror books?

#Book Review #Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal and “rising star in the romance genre” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a dazzling new novel about a spontaneous holiday vacation that turns into an unforgettable romance.

Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.

Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.

Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?

(From the Book Blurb)

My thoughts:

The fourth book in Jasmine Guillory’s series focuses on Maddie’s mum Vivian Forest and her own meet cute with a smart and handsome British man.

I like the way throughout the series the author created diverse characters that do not often get enough representation in romance books. This time she concentrates on slightly older protagonists – Vivian is 54 and has been divorced for more than three decades. She has also been working hard as a social worker in a busy hospital, raising her daughter as a single mother and taking care of her sister Jo who has had serious health probems. All this meant that she hasn’t had much time for herslef, let alone travelling or holidays.

When Maddie Forest  unexpectedly is asked to step in and substitute her mentor on a work trip to the UK, Maddie does not invite her boyfriend Theo, because she can spend New Year with him, but Christmas…Christmas is for family, Christmas is for spending time with her mum. Luckily, Vivian is all in. The job is high profile as it involves the royal family and the mopther and daughter get to spend a part of their holiday at a royal residence in the north of England.

We do not see much of Maddie in this book as she is way too busy with last minute clothes alterations and fittings, so Vivian has a lot of free time to explore the house and marvel at neverending cultural differences. Vivian’s meet cute, Malcolm Hudson, has an important job- he is a private secretary of Her Majesty. He has been divorced for six years, and his own private life very much centres around his sister and 19-year-old nephew Miles. Malcolm is immediately charmed by Vivian’s smile and positive attitude.

She had such a strong and playful sense of self…She was neither demanding nor bashful; just friendly and inquisitive and smiling.

Christmas holidays and New Year are a special liminal time when unusual things can happen and even the most careful and realistic people decide to give in to romance. Malcolm takes time to get to know Vivian and what is important to her, as much as it is possible in the short time they have together. I love the way Vivian vents her feelings on the subject of surprises and how they are often about what the other person wants, not the person they are surprising, and Malcolm takes it aboard to make sure she feels comfortable with the things he suggests.

The fairy-tale setting and royal guest appearances in the book might make you think that this romance is too far away from real life and difficult to relate to, but it isn’t the case. Vivian and Malcolm live thousands of kilometers away, but, ultimately, they will understand that the connection they have is special and worth the risk. You don’t have to be based in different countries to experience this feeling: No, we are too different…No, there is no way it will work… He/She is too set in his /her ways. His job/ college/family is too important for him…The logistics would be a nightmare… And another potentially beautiful relationship bites the dust before you’ve even given it a chance. Yes, our life experiences teach us that we have to be realistic and pragmatic, and avoid risks, and this is how we may end with a job that brings more money, but less joy and happiness, or refuse to apologise to a relative or a friend who might just have a different point of view. Vivian and Malcolm knew from the very beginning the risks, but, still, they decided to give it a try, and they certainly deserve their own happy ever after.
This was not a laugh out loud book for me, but Jasmine Guillory’s trademark sense of humour is still there, coupled with her impeccable writing style. If you loved her previous books, and the diversity of her characters and settings, you will definitely appreciate this slightly more mature romance. And if  you love tea, scones, cucumber sandwiches and all things British, you will have even more reasons to enjoy this last instalment of Jasmine Guillory’s hugely successful Wedding series.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.


#Book Review # The Library of the Unwritten by A.J.Hackwith

In the first book in a brilliant new fantasy series, books that aren’t finished by their authors reside in the Library of the Unwritten in Hell, and it is up to the Librarian to track down any restless characters who emerge from those unfinished stories.

Many years ago, Claire was named Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing—a neutral space in Hell where all the stories unfinished by their authors reside. Her job consists mainly of repairing and organizing books, but also of keeping an eye on restless stories that risk materializing as characters and escaping the library. When a Hero escapes from his book and goes in search of his author, Claire must track and capture him with the help of former muse and current assistant Brevity and nervous demon courier Leto.

But what should have been a simple retrieval goes horrifyingly wrong when the terrifyingly angelic Ramiel attacks them, convinced that they hold the Devil’s Bible. The text of the Devil’s Bible is a powerful weapon in the power struggle between Heaven and Hell, so it falls to the librarians to find a book with the power to reshape the boundaries between Heaven, Hell … and Earth.

(From the book blurb)

My thoughts:

When I read the blurb, I knew straightaway I needed to read the book. One of my favourite books -The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov- has a famous line: Manuscripts don’t burn. The premise of this first book in a new fantasy series echoed Bulgakov’s words- somewhere, in a place not governed by earthly laws of logic or order, there exists a library of stories that might or might not ever find their way into existence…

Claire Hadley is the Head Librarian of the Unwritten Wing (there is also another wing called Arcane with its own head supervisor). She has been doing her job for three decades ever since her predecessor disappeared mysteriously. On surface, Claire appears to be quite stern, even ruthless. In order to make a restless book character return to its unwritten story, she sometimes has to damage it with surgical precision and zero hesitation.

When Leto, a nervous teenage demon of enthropy, suffering from a strange case of amnesia, appears in the library with an order to track an escaped book character who has already made his way to the Earth, Claire knows she has no time to waste. Leto and Claire are given day passes, while Brevity (isn’t it a fantastic name for a story like this?), Claire’s apprentice and assistant, can leave and come back to the Library in a much more flexible manner. They succeed in tracking the fugitive, who they decide to call simply Hero, but on their way back things get complicated. A fallen angel Ramiel, who has been granted a chance to enter the Heaven Gates again if he tracks a dark and dangerous artefact in the shape of a book, confronts and accuses them of being in the possessession of the object he is searching for. Although Claire and Leto escape, on their return to the Library, Claire launches her own investigation and realises she must retrieve the book, otherwise the world of Mortals might be destroyed in the war between Heaven and Hell. To do that, she must enlist the help of the Head of the Arcane Wing, her former mentor.

Apart from a very original premise and gripping plot, the book has a great character cast. Claire Hadley, the Librarian, is very humane and willing (and able) to see the best in everybody she meets. In this world, souls judge themselves, so you will wonder why she ended up punishing herself by deciding she needed to pay for her debts by becoming a librarian in Hell ( as a tenant, not a servant- the Library is located in Hell, but is not a part of it). You’ve got to admire the wit of the author who gave her apprentice such a wonderful name – Brevity. Brevity is a former muse and is charming beyond any description. There’s a lot more to Hero than just a pretty face and bravado. Leto…you have to earn his trust- will Claire succeed in proving herself to this half-demon/half-sulky teenager with a well-developed sense of justice and an irritating habit of asking too many questions?

There are twists and turns, traps and betrayals to watch out for. I loved the characters’ brief soujourn in Valhalla and Claire’s brilliant duel with the local bard, but there are other realms that get explored in this imaginative book. This is an adventure story and a quest, so it will be appreciated by fans of fantasy and paranormal fiction. The twist at the end promises an interesting sequel, where I hope we’ll get to know what is hidden in Claire’s past as well as finding out more about the Library itself.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Ace (Penguin Publishing Group) for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Are you a fan of fantasy and paranormal?
  • Have you read The Library of the Unwritten or is it on your tbr? Did you like it? What did you think of the characters and the plot?


#Teen Tonic #Book review # How to be Remy Cameron by Julian Winters

A heartfelt, emotional book on authenticity, expectations, and courage to be yourself.

The protagonist, 17-year-old Remy Cameron, is in his junior year of high school. He would like to attend a prestigious college nearby, so that he can be closer to his family -his wonderful, supportive parents and his seven-year-old sister Willow. Remy might look different from his parents and Willow, but he is very much a part of his family. He is also lots of other things: honest and brave (he came out at 14 and is the President of Maplewood school Gay Straight Alliance Club), confident and popular. When his AP Lit teacher, who he really looks up to, sets an essay on the topic of Identity, Remy is torn. He would like to do his best to write a great essay, but he is afraid he might fail, because he doesn’t really know what he is.

We have no control over what labels others give us, but we can define who we are by the ones we choose to give ourselves.

This is not a plot-driven book, it is very introspective, despite its light and upbeat tone. The main topic is that of labels (you can call them statuses we assign ourselves or get assigned by other people). You can see yourself as a family member– Remy’s is the firstborn of his family and takes his responsibilities of a doting older brother very seriously. His Dad also chose a University closer to his home, so that he could help his younger brother Dawson go through a difficult period of his life. Remy adores Willow ( how can anybody not admire her courageous and flamboyant fashion choices?). He also thinks a lot about his parents’ marriage, and is probably subconsciously trying to work out a model for his future relationships. Remy’s parents’ love and support are unconditional. I really enjoyed the scene where he accidentally meets his ex and his mom senses his feelings and difuses the situation. The fact that he is adopted means he has a whole new set of questions to ask himself, but he is a part of a very happy, solid family.

Being a friend (best friend, good friend, loyal friend, absent friend)or a student of a particular school is also a label. Remy’s friends are a very diverse group. I must admit I thought that perhaps there were too many secondary characters, but then again, we meet so many people in our lives, some of which are going to stay on the periphery, helping us to define our core group of support.

Does being black define him? Remy doesn’t know anything about his biological parents- not that it has been a problem so far, although we see that he is very much aware of what it means to be one out of only five black students in his school. When Remy meets his biological half-sister, some of his questions get answered. She also tells him that, although he needs to know his history, the struggles and the victories, these things do not define who he is. They are just a part of him.

Although Remy’s sexuality is a big part of him, it isn’t all. When the school counsellor keeps suggesting universities with a strong LGBTQIA presence, Remy knows she isn’t even trying to see him as a whole, but only as somebody who can be pigeonholed and fast-tracked to success defined by other people.

Mrs Scott sees me as a gay, black teen she can guide to success… My world is filled with identities overshadowing who I am. Who I think I am.

When we meet Remy, he is already pretty much over the break up of his first serious relationship. As we all know, being in or out of a relationship can also be a powerful label/ status. Some students at his school will only see or recognise him as an ex-boyfriend of another popular student. I liked the slow-burn romance in this book, and the way the author discusses the importance of consent in a subtle way. It isn’t just in Ian’s asking ‘Can I hold your hand?’- yes, you should be aware that not everybody is comfortable with being touched, and not everybody is comfortable with sharing one’s personal space, to say nothing of taking the relationship to a new level. It is also in Remy’s sensitivity towards his friend who might or might not want to join the GSA club. He is very careful not to impose his help or support, or make assumptions about people needing them.

I found Remy’s reflections on his coming out very perceptive:

The thing is, you always have to come out. Every day. To new people, to people you have known forever, to people who keep trying to ignore it.

You reveal yourself, who you think you are, to people around you. Every day. To people who love and know and support you. To new people. With some of them, it is going to be easy, with others – awkward. Yet another group of people will not accept you or care or even acknowledge that you exist and are a unique human being. You will always remain invisible or pigeonholed to them.

We also change as we go through our lives and some of the facets of our identity, personality and experience become more prominent, while others fade away or become distant history. As we reveal ourselves to people around us, this is our choice to be what we think we are, not what somebody else expects us to be.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Duet Books for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read How To Be Remy Cameron or is it on your tbr?
  • Have you read other books by Julian Winters?
  • How free are we to choose our own labels?

#Book Review # What Rose forgot by Nevada Barr

In New York Times bestselling author Nevada Barr’s gripping standalone, a grandmother in her sixties emerges from a mental fog to find she’s trapped in her worst nightmare

Rose Dennis wakes up in a hospital gown, her brain in a fog, only to discover that she’s been committed to an Alzheimer’s Unit in a nursing home. With no memory of how she ended up in this position, Rose is sure that something is very wrong. When she overhears one of the administrators saying about her that she’s “not making it through the week,” Rose is convinced that if she’s to survive, she has to get out of the nursing home. She avoids taking her medication, putting on a show for the aides, then stages her escape.

The only problem is—how does she convince anyone that she’s not actually demented? Her relatives were the ones to commit her, all the legal papers were drawn up, the authorities are on the side of the nursing home, and even she isn’t sure she sounds completely sane. But any lingering doubt Rose herself might have had is erased when a would-be killer shows up in her house in the middle of the night. Now Rose knows that someone is determined to get rid of her.

With the help of her computer hacker/recluse sister Marion, thirteen-year old granddaughter Mel, and Mel’s friend Royal, Rose begins to gather her strength and fight back—to find out who is after her and take back control of her own life. But someone out there is still determined to kill Rose, and they’re holding all the cards.

(from the Book Blurb)

My thoughts:

What Rose Forgot is an extremely entertaining action-packed mystery. I fell in love with Rose’s dry self-deprecating sense of humour from the very first scene. Rose wakes up in a wood and has no idea how she ended up in the place. has there been an accident? Then why is she wearing a hospital gown, and most importantly, why is she struggling to clear her mind from its foggy state? Two teenage boys find and report Rose to a nursing home nearby and we quickly understand that not everything is as innocent as it seems to be. The orderlies drag the poor lady, the relatives (whose names escape Rose) seem to be really angry, to say nothing of the home managers. Rose cannot remember being committed to this secure unit and she doesn’t believe herself demented. Could she have been drugged? Rose pretends to take her medication and then hides her daily dose stash in a drawer of her cabinet. Slowly and painfully, the fog begins to clear away, while she is continuing to behave as if nothing has changed. When she hears two voices saying that she won’t last this week, Rose knows her life is in imminent danger and hatches an ingenious escape plan. Once out, Rose can count on very few people, partly because she still doesn’t know who exactly wishes her harm to the extent of hiring a hitman, and partly because the kind soul she is, she doesn’t want to risk the lives or freedom of people she loves.

The character of Rose is absolutely adorable. I might forget the exact details of this intricate plot, but I definitely won’t forget its feisty protagonist, an eccentric artist, a Buddhist and a doting grandmother. Rose and her sidekicks- her recluse sister/ hacker Marion, wonderfully practical and elusive, and Mel, Rose’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter, make an excellent team.

I believe the charm of this book lies in Rose’s attitude to the events . The comments and opinions she voices in her head are hilarious. She is both humble and resilient, and won’t go down without a good fight.

The pace is really fast and the author makes sure there is never a dull moment. The events are, of course, far-fetched, but the book is well-written and the protagonist is so endearing in all her kookiness, that you will readily suspend your belief and keep turning pages.

The big issues touched in the book- ageism and extended family relationships- are serious and need to be discussed more often. This light and funny read is quite insightful, without losing its entertainment value.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Minotaur/ St.Martin’s Press for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read What Rose forgot or is it on your tbr list? Have you read other books by Nevada Barr?

#Book Review # The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis

The human heart has hidden treasures,

In secret kept , in silence sealed; –

The thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures,

Whose charms were broken if revealed.

‘Evening Solace’ by Charlotte Brontë

Bella Ellis’s charming historical mystery is set in Haworth Parsonage and its neighbouring villages, Yorkshire, summer of 1845. All four surviving children of Reverend Patrick Brontë are back home. Charlotte‘s heart is full of unrequited love for Monsier Héger. She and Emily were employed in his boarding school in Brussels, although Emily returned to look after their dying aunt Branwell. Branwell left his empoyment in Thorp Green Hall under a cloud, following his passionate and forbidden affair with his employer’s wife. Unfortunately, this also meant that his younger sister Anne, a kind and meek soul, had to resign her position. Now that all four Brontë siblings are under their father’s roof, they spend their time walking in the beautiful Yorkshire moors, re-visiting their childhood creation of the fantasy land of Gondal, reading books and perusing newspapers to keep themselves abreast with society news or in case of Branwell- drinking and gambling in local pubs.

Meanwhile, not far from their parsonage, a young woman Elizabeth Chester, by all accounts a devoted mother and stepmother of two young children and a wife of a local land owner, disappears from her room in Chester Grange. There is so much blood left behind that there is little doubt she came to a grave harm. When the Brontë sisters hear of this strange occurence in their neighbourhood, they decide to try to solve the mystery by putting their education, curiosity, deductive powers, social skills and sense of justice in use and become ‘detectors’, no doubt following the example of the first officers in the newly established Police force in London.

This novel is a real treat for all admirers of Emily, Charlotte and Anne Brontë. It is written with so much admiration and appreciation for these wonderful authors. In a series like this, you are walking a fine line between providing too much background information and not enough. The book is obviously well-researched, and will be much enjoyed by people who already love the Brontë sisters and are familiar with their tragic life story. Bella Ellis brings alive three very different characters: sensible and serious Charlotte, curious and intrepid animal lover Emily, mild, meek and religious angelic looking Anne who despite being the youngest often acts as the most grown up and socially adjusted among the siblings. The secondary characters are also interesting and add to the colour of the story: Mattie French, the governess in Chester Grange, Mrs Crawley, the housekeeper, Tabby (Tabitha), Brontës’ faithful servant and source of fairy-tales and legends, Celia, who in our modern society would have been a surgeon, but is instead limited to being her husband’s keeper of virtue and occasional assistant.

With these three independent, creative sisters in charge of the investigation, the plight of women in that historic period becomes much more than a mere backdrop of the story:

Well, in this world where men might beat their wives, might force themselves upon them, and, yes, might even kill them and go unpunished, where society and the law see women as little more than property, it seems as though someone should be trying to do something about it…

You will, no doubt, see numerous allusions to Emily, Charlotte, and Anne’s works. After all, the novel is set before Jane Eyre, Wurthering Heights and The Tenant were written, and we get a glimpse into what might have inspired or influenced the sisters. It is also a story in its own, a story of a woman, trapped in a loveless marriage, who does not want to reconcile herself to being her husband’s property or her father’s means for elevating his social status. There are twists and turns, as in any good mystery, and whenever I thought I had it figured out, a new element was discovered by our amateur sleuths that completely changed my understanding of what happened to Elizabeth Chester.

As this is the first part of a new series, I will definitely be looking forward to the next instament. In fact, I already have my favourite ‘detector’ among the three, and I can’t wait to see what she is going to get up to in the second book.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.


# Book Review # Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

The Book Blurb:

From the bestselling, multiple prize-shortlisted novelist Catherine Ryan Howard comes an explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime…

Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

This is an explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

‘Catherine Ryan Howard is a gift to crime writing. Her characters are credible, her stories are original and her plotting is ingenious. Every book is a treat to look forward to.’ Liz Nugent

My thoughts:

Natalie O’Connor-Kerr, a lifestyle blogger and a rising Instagram star, a woman with a dream job, a dream house in an expensive area of Dublin, and a dream husband, takes a bus to the middle of nowhere, a half-deserted village of Shanamore on the coast of Ireland. She has a reservation for one of the strange-looking cottages, supervised by a young man Andrew, who immediately gives her if not creeps, at least a strange vibe. Once in her cottage, Natalie starts looking through the drawers until she finds a poetry book with a blue cover and an expensive bookplate. You see, inside the book there is a dedication ‘For my M’ in Natalie’s handwriting. This is the book she gave her husband on their honeymoon in Rome. Natalie has never been to Shanamore and her husband Mike denies ever setting his foot in the place. So how would you explain the book being there? And how would you explain an entry on Mike’s credit card bill that corresponds to a receipt Natalie somebody put in their mail box? The receipt that was printed out in Shanamore Cottages.

If you read the blurb, you know what follows. A woman is brutally attacked in one of the cottages and stabbed to death. This gruesome scene is captured on video by one of the cameras instaled all over the cottage. As the manager watches in horror at what is happening, the killer, wearing a balaclava and black clothes, calmly walks towards the bedstand and switches off the camera. Who could have known Andrew’s little dirty secret and what is going to happen next?

It is quite difficult to discuss the plot without giving major spoilers. The way the story is narrated is quite original. There are several points of view (at least five, by my count), but the characters are very distinct and get more and more fleshed out as the story progresses. The narrattive is not linear, so we also get flashbacks/rewinds that explain the events and show us why the character ended up leading their life the way they do or why they made this or that particular choice. We also get pause scenes and fast forwards that show the consequences of their actions. All this might sound confusing, but Catherine Ryan Howard’s writing skill makes the story hold together in an effortless way.

I was totally fascinated by the characters, both primary and secondary, the victim, the investigators and the villains, every single one of them has their unique voice and is well-developed. Some of them you will like or at least understand/relate to, while the others are really creepy, and no amount of background could make me understand their mentality and their propensities. I loved the way the author painted the life in this remote village with a few masterful strokes- a friendly waitress, with her collage of Instagram photos, a corner shop with old-fashioned plastic phones and eery silence as soon as a stranger comes in, the village pub where the owner stubbornly refuses make any changes and serves three dishes only – stew, soup and sandwishes – and only between noon and three o’clock with no exceptions, the tiny Garda station (Police) manned by one man only…

As the narrative is quite complicated, it helps that the setting is limited to Dublin and Shanamore. We get a glimpse into what Irish life is like after the downturn of the economy destroyed many illusions nurtured by the phenomenon of the Celtic Tiger. We see it in the description of Audrey, a graduate struggling to keep her badly-paid job in the Entertainment section of an online paper, a ‘click factory’, and Carla, Natalie’s best friend, who feels left behind and a bit bitter towards the people like Natalie, people who found their social media niche and are cashing on it. It does come at a price, of course. We all know that the price is privacy and personal safety, although Mike and Natalie seem to think that the way she posts is going to allow her to keep their family life separate.

Look, Nat values her privacy, okay? I know that seems like a weird thing for someone in her position to claim, but she does. Everything that goes up online is carefully chosen. Than pink suitcase? That’s not even hers. Not the one she uses, anyway. She points out the things to people that she wants them to see and she keeps everything else for herself. For us. We live a private life, ironically.

If you are like me, you might find yourself thinking about parallels with a few iconic films. Psycho and Memento are just two that spring to my mind. The reason for this is that the writing is smart and full of vivid images, and you have to put all the pieces of the puzzle together to work out the story of the woman on the tape. A clever whodunnit, told in an unusual but compelling way, Rewind will keep you glued to the pages until the end.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Blackstone Publishing for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read Rewind or is it on your tbr list? If yes, what did you think of it? Did you find any of the characters likeable/relatable?
  • How do you feel about non-linear narratives?

#Book review #The other end of the line by Andrea Camilleri

Sadly, Andrea Camilleri is not with us anymore. He passed away on July 19th, 2019, at the age of 93. ‘The end of the line’ is Number 24 in his most famous series of books that focus on Inspector Salvo Montalbano.

From the book blurb:

A wave of refugees has arrived on the Sicilian coast, and Inspector Montalbano and his team have been stationed at port, alongside countless volunteers, to receive and assist the newcomers. Meanwhile, Livia has promised their presence at a friend’s wedding, and the inspector, agreeing to get a new suit tailored, meets the charming master seamstress Elena Biasini. But while on duty at the dock one late night, tragedy strikes, and Elena is found gruesomely murdered. Between managing the growing crowds at the landing, Montalbano delves into the world of garments, in the company of an orphaned cat, where he works to weave together the loose threads of the unsolved crimes and close the case.

My thoughts:

It was great to get transported to the world of Salvo Montalbano, his life partner Livia, his colleagues from the Vigata police station: Fazio, Cattarella, Mimi Augello. It always amazes me that Montalbano in the books is older, more tired and perhaps a bit more philosophical than the equally wonderful character created on screen by Luca Zingaretti. Inspector Montalbano series is one of those rare cases where I am in love with both the books and the TV adaptation. What I have always loved about the protagonist is his humanity, immense compassion and hate of hypocrisy. The book opens with the description of waves and waves of migrant boats arriving in Italy.. A political stance? Camilleri never shied away from expressing his views and his sympathy to the plight of the disadvantaged.

I always look forward to meeting the permanent cast (especially Fazio), but every novel introduces new unforgettable characters. At the centre of this novel is the murder of Elena, a female tailor/seamstress, possessing both beauty and charming personality. The way she was killed with a pair of cloth cutting scissors suggests a crime of passion, and there are several suspects that might have had their reasons to commit this gruesome murder. As usual, Camilleri’s characters turn out to be flawed and complex, and we get to see Inspector Montalbano at work, unravelling the mystery against the backdrop of a refugee crisis.

Camilleri was rightfully considered one of the greatest modern writers in Italy. His vivid images, masterful use of the Sicilian colloquialisms (in my opinion, Stephen Sartarelli does an amazing job translating Camilleri’s unique language) and quirky sense of humour make sure Montalbano mysteries are a treat for the fans of the genre.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Penguin Books for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.


#Book review #Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Emily is used to putting other people’s needs before her own. She dropped out of college to put her boyfriend through his expensive law school. He was supposed to help her after the graduation, but as soon as he got his new and shiny degree, he decided to break up with her and cancelled their flat lease. As Emily was desperately trying to sort her life out, her older sister April had a car accident and, of course, Emily rushed to Willow Creek, Maryland, to help out for a few months, until April is able to drive and work again. Emily’s niece Caitlin would love to participate in the local Renaissance Faire, however, the adult who accompanies her is also required to volunteer and become a part of the cast …and this is how Emily takes on the role of a tavern wench for six weeks. She quickly discovers that despite being hard work, this is something that makes her feel competent and appreciated in this friendly little community. She also discovers that the sulky and uptight organiser Simon Graham changes and behaves in a very different way, once he dons a pirate costume. His character Captain Ian Blackthorne likes the tavern wench Emma (Emily’s character) to the point of agreeing to undergo a beautifully romantic ceremony of binding, a kind of temporary betrothal for a year and a day, after which the couple may decide to part and go their separate ways or…declare a different kind of imtentions.

The book was so much fun. Emily is friendly, hard-working and helpful. She might be at the crossroads with her own future, but rest assured she will work it out. A lovely character, very easy to relate to and root for. Simon..well…If his character of a pirate doesn’t do it for you, how about a quiet, responsible, and loyal teacher of English who is willing to woo his girl, and most importantly knows that she deserves to be the most important thing in his life, even if he has to let go of his past and make a lot of changes. The secondary characters are also kind and positive.

I loved the special atmosphere of a small town, where people not only would make casseroles for a neighbour in need, but would also go out of their way to change the schedule of their book club to give you an opportunity to join. If you want to…And if you don’t, they won’t hold it against you.

The book is charming in the best possible way, if you like this genre. The pace is just right- the romance is neither too hurried, nor too slow to develop. It takes time to become a part of a community, but the feeling of belonging is worth it, that’s why Emily’s story is so sweet.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

From the book blurb:

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

  • Do you like contemporary romance? Have you read Well Met or is it on your tbr list?
  • Do you like books set in a small community? What’s the most interesting one you’ve read recently?
  • Have you ever participated in a Renaissance Fair or taken part in an amateur production of a Shakespeare play? Did you enjoy the experience?

Book Review The Other’s Gold by Elizabeth Ames

Make new friends, but keep the old

One is silver and the other’s gold


From the book synopsis:

An insightful and sparkling novel that opens on a college campus and follows the friendship of four women across life-defining turning points

Assigned to the same suite during their freshman year at Quincy-Hawthorne College, Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret quickly become inseparable. The leafy green campus they move through together, the idyllic window seat they share in their suite, and the passion and ferocity that school and independence awakens in them ignites an all-encompassing love with one another. But they soon find their bonds–forged in joy, and fused by fear–must weather threats that originate from beyond the dark forests of their childhoods, and come at them from institutions, from one another, and ultimately, from within themselves.

The Other’s Gold follows the four friends as each makes a terrible mistake, moving from their wild college days to their more feral days as new parents. With one part devoted to each mistake–the Accident, the Accusation, the Kiss, and the Bite–this complex yet compulsively readable debut interrogates the way that growing up forces our friendships to evolve as the women discover what they and their loved ones are capable of, and capable of forgiving. A joyful, big-hearted book that perfectly evokes the bittersweet experience of falling in love with friendship, the experiences of Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret are at once achingly familiar and yet shine with a brilliance and depth all their own.

My thoughts:

You’re either going to love this book or hate it. If you fall in love with its compelling, engaging writing style and care for Alice, Margaret, Ji Sun and Lainey as they move from adolescence of their freshman year in college to adulthood, you will not want the book to end, or at very least hope for regular updates in future to know how they are doing. If you don’t connect with the book, the story is going to seem long and unnecessarily detailed. Life on paper…

The four girls were assigned the same suite with a window seat on their first day of college. They thought that they were placed together based on the fact that all of them were second daughters and only later noticed that their last names started with an R, an S and two Ts. As Elizabeth Ames spells her story you see the magic of becoming friends as powerful (if not more) as falling in love. There are people around them: boyfriends, acquaintances, professors, parents, siblings, some of them more important than others, some failing to make anything but a very fleeting impression. It is clear, though, that for Alice, Margaret ,Ji Sun and Lainey, their friendship is in part something that defines them. Perhaps, even more than their families, because it might have begun as a random decision of a housing officer, but it continued by choice, which is evident in how they continued to love and care for each other despite their worst deeds, their shameful mistakes.

We are told at the very beginning when the mistakes were made: Alice’s before the college, when she was twelve, Ji Sun’s in the sophomore year, Margaret’s after the graduation and Lainey’s already as a mother to her own child. Four mistakes, four parts of the book, one life that led to that moment and one life in which to make sense of what happened and live it down however much it changes you and people around you.

Don’t think you are not going to judge them- you will. Because, to be honest, they are really inexcusable, those deeds. But you will judge them not as a stranger, but as an invisible friend, trying to see all the reasons and circumstances that led to their lapse of judgement. Reasons they might not be aware of themselves.

No one knows everything about anyone. Not even themselves. Maybe least of all themselves.

Are the characters relatable? yes, they are. I could see bits of myself and my own friends in the girls. The characters are unique and wonderfully complex, and go through intense changes moving from one part of the book to another. You know, you feel it in your bones, they will continue evolving long after the book because this is life, and what we’ve just read is just a glimpse.

The issues the book discusses are not the easiest. Don’t go into the book thinking it will be a light summer read: infertility, sexual harrassment and abuse, miscarriage, depression, adoption are all here, among the other curveballs life throws the four friends to deal with. But the way the author talks about them is both painfully honest and sensitive.

A wonderful debut novel, lyrical, beautifully-written and emotional.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Viking (Penguin Publishing Group) for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion. 

  • Have you read TheOther’s Gold or is it on your tbr?
  • What’s the best book about a lifelong friendship you have read recently?

#Book review #The Passengers by John Marrs

The premise of this clever and well-written sci-fi thriller, set in the UK in a very near future, is fascinating. The AI that controls eight driverless cars moving to their different destinations is hacked, the destinations are reprogrammed, as the passengers become a hostage to a mysterious and seemingly omniscient Hacker who informs them that in 2 1/2 hours they are going to die.

The story alternates between showing what happens to the people in the cars (who come from all walks of life: a pregnant young woman, an aging actress, and a mother of five trying to escape her abusive husband, an immigrant whose appeal for asylum has been refused, a married couple with two children, a decorated war veteran and a suicidal new man) and a car incident inquest jury. The people on the jury are told they can save one passenger only, while the rest are going to die. As the Car Hack is broadcast live all over the world, the public is also given one vote to decide which passenger they want to save. One by one, the passengers plead their cases, trying to make the best impression of themselves, only to have the Hacker reveal additional information about them that completely changes the picture. Is there anyone truly innocent among these people? Who will survive the imminent collision? and why is the Hacker doing it ?

The story is a real page-turner with numerous twists and turns. John Marrs masterfully shows how dangerous and misleading incomplete information is when a vital decision is to be taken. The main moral dilemma is whether one person’s life is more valuable than the other’s, although there are other equally serious issues discussed, including racism, gender discrimination, honesty, unscrupulous politicians, and mob mentality in the age of social media.
The book is well-researched, and the topic is timely, as the ethical issues raised by the author in such an entertaining way are serious and pertinent to the technological advances our society is making. The aspect that was the most thought-provoking for me wasn’t our over-reliance on technology that isn’t infallible, but the amount of data about us that is being collected, used and potentially abused. Another moment which horrified me was the ease with which the public opinion could be manipulated by presenting incomplete information.

The characters created by John Marrs are diverse, complex and multi-faceted. As the book progresses, your opinions will be revised, as things are rarely black and white, and the more you get to know the people in the book, the more difficult you will find to judge them.

Exciting, fast-paced, entertaining to the point of being addictive, The Passengers is a must read not only for sci-fi fans, but for anybody who enjoys a well-written, thought-provoking thriller.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read The Passengers?
  • If yes, what was the most thought-provoking aspect for you? which character did you find the most fascinating?
  • If no, does the book sound like something you would like to add to your tbr?
  • Have you read any other books by John Marrs?


# Book Review #The Woman in the Park by Teresa Sorkin and Tullan Holmqvist

Sarah Rock appears to lead a sad and lonely life, despite living in a beautiful and spacious apartment in Upper East Side Manhatten and being able to go to museums, art exhibitions and social events she used to love so much. Her children have been sent to attend a boarding school and she is missing the sense of purpose they gave her life. Her husband Eric has become more distant and seems to spend more and more time away on business with his assistant Juliette, whose photos Sarah found on his phone. Eric keeps saying Sarah’s jealousy is totally unfounded, but Juliet turns up everywhere they go . Worse than that, Sarah keeps noticing people giving her looks of pity and treating her as if she is particularly fragile.

One day, Sarah moves forward her appointment with her therapist Dr Helena Robin for an hour and spends this time in the park nearby, reading Therese Raquin by Emile Zola. Immersed in the world of passion, Sarah is surprised to be approached by a young and handsome stranger who strikes a conversation with her. Lawrence is an aspiring writer, although he is quite reluctant to tell Sarah anything else about himself. There is something familiar about him. Could it be that they have met before but Sarah cannot remember it? Four weeks later the police knock on Sarah’s door and inquire about a woman Sarah saw in the park the same day she met Lawrence. Can she help the police without giving herself away? who was the woman and why is Lawrence impossible to find?

The nature of the book is such that Sarah will keep you guessing what is real and what is not. There is no omniscient narrator to help you make sense of the events and the clues, you just have to experience it together with Sarah and try to understand who (and what memories)you can trust.

It is a short read, quite fast-paced and well-written. What I liked the most about it is the way the authors rendered Sarah’s feelings: pervasive sadness, hope, elation, elusive moments of peace and calm, interpersed with confusion and emotional pain.

I saw one major twist coming because the book reminded me of ‘The trick is to keep breathing’, which made an impression on me when I first read it years ago. If you have read this book by Janice Galloway, you might begin to see Sarah’s experience from a certain angle quite early in the story.

Having said it, Teresa Sorkin’s story is original, written in a different genre, and will appeal to readers who enjoy psychological thrillers with masterfully portrayed unreliable narrators.

Thank you to Edelweiss and Beaufort Books for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read The woman in the Park or is it on your tbr?
  • Do you enjoy reading mysteries with an unreliable narrator?


#First Line Fridays # The Last Ocean by Nicci Gerrard

This is the first time I am using this meme which is originally hosted by Hoarding Books. The idea is to share the first few lines of a book you are reading or have recently read and then present it.

The first lines:

The year before my father died, he came with us to Sweden for the summer. He had been living with his dementia for over ten years by then, and – mildly, sweetly, uncomplainingly – he was gradually disappearing, memories falling away, words going, recognition fading, in the great unravelling.

The book is The Last Ocean: a journey through memory and forgetting by Nicci Gerrard.

Synopsis from the publisher:

From the award-winning journalist and author, a lyrical, raw and humane investigation of dementia that explores both the journeys of the people who live with the condition and those of their loved ones

After a diagnosis of dementia, Nicci Gerrard’s father, John, continued to live life on his own terms, alongside the disease. But when an isolating hospital stay precipitated a dramatic turn for the worse, Gerrard, an award-winning journalist and author, recognized that it was not just the disease, but misguided protocol and harmful practices that cause such pain at the end of life. Gerrard was inspired to seek a better course for all who suffer because of the disease.

The Last Ocean is Gerrard’s investigation into what dementia does to both the person who lives with the condition and to their caregivers. Dementia is now one of the leading causes of death in the West, and this necessary book will offer both comfort and a map to those walking through it. While she begins with her father’s long slip into forgetting, Gerrard expands to examine dementia writ large. Gerrard gives raw but literary shape both to the unimaginable loss of one’s own faculties, as well as to the pain of their loved ones. Her lens is unflinching, but Gerrard honors her subjects and finds the beauty and the humanity in their seemingly diminished states.

In so doing, she examines the philosophy of what it means to have a self, as well as how we can offer dignity and peace to those who suffer with this terrible disease. Not only will it aid those walking with dementia patients, The Last Ocean will prompt all of us to think on the nature of a life well lived.

He was very happy on that holiday. he was a man who had a deep love for the natural world and felt at home in it; he knew the names of English birds and insects, wildflowers and trees.

When I was a child, I remember him taking me to listen to the dawn chorus in the woods near our house. Standing under the canopy of trees in the bright wash of sound, he would tell me which song was the mistle thrush and which the blackbird.

At least, I think I remember this, but perhaps I make it up as a story to tell myself when I am sad.

The Last Ocean is poignant and tender, and like many amazing non-fiction books may go unnoticed, although it is extremely pertinent in our aging world.

  • Have you read this book or is it on your tbr? Do you read a lot of non-fiction?
  • Are you familiar with Nicci Gerrard’s work?
  • What is the best book (fiction or non-fiction) dealing with the topic of aging you have read recently?

# Book review #Middle Grade/YA #Fledgling by Molly Harper # Sorcery and Society 2

The second book in The Sorcery and Society series makes us revisit the wonderful magic world of Sarah Smith (a.k.a Cassandra Reed) and her friends, brought to us by ever so entertaining Molly Harper.

If you haven’t read the first book of the series, it is probably better to go back and start from the beginning (Changeling). Having said this, I think the author does a great job of easing the reader into this fascinating world, reminiscent of the Regency Era (if you’re a fan of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, you’ll find yourself quite at home). We learn how the magic people, called the Guardians, took over the running of human society to prevent the non-magic Snipes from using the power of newly emerging technology to invent weapons capable of destroying life on Earth. Unfortunately, the Guardians or the Upper Class have all but enslaved the lower classes and turned them into their servants. Sarah, born into a Snipe family, is not only gifted with magic, but is also a Translator, a rare person who can understand the spells revealed by the Mother Book, full of encoded ancient spells. Sarah’s family decide to hide her unusual nature and give her magic suppressors which cause Sarah grow smaller and weaker than other children. Sarah accidentally outs herself in front of the Lady of the House- powerful Mrs Winter, who decides to help the little Changeling by passing her for a distant relative of hers and sending her to Miss Castwell’s, a magic school for young ladies from Guardian families. Sarah makes fantastic friends, bravely faces adversity and destroys a formidable enemy. She even manages to procure attentions of a smart and gorgeous boy, Gavin McCray.

The second book takes us straight into one of the classes at Miss Castwell’s Institute for the Magical Instruction of Young Ladie, where Sarah/Cassandra shows a great presence of mind in fighting an evil kind of unicorn. I bet you didn’t know that there existed a malevolent carnivorous version of these magic animals- hollowhorns, which was, I’m afraid to say, summoned by the girls’ appaling lack of grace in ritual dancing and regrettable use of wrong tempo…

Molly Harper’s wit and amazing skill of creating a spellbinding story was what attracted me to the book in the first place and I was not disappointed. Great worldbuilding, sense of humour that permeates every scene and well-developed characters– everything I like in a fantasy book. I enjoyed reading about Ivy and Alicia, Sarah’s loyal friends and their witty banter as well as other more secondary characters: Owen Winter, Gavin, Wallace, the girls from Sarah’s remedial study group. And I did love the Art of Healing class, despite Nurse Waxwing’s unorthodox teaching manner.

It is difficult to be original in this genre. Yes, the book is going to remind you of Harry Potter, Charmed and even His Dark Materials. Yes, it is aimed at female audience. Still, the mix is delightful and I will be looking forward to reading the next part to find out if Sarah and her friends manage to overhaul the unjust system their society is based on and defeat their powerful and resourceful enemy.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.


#Book Review # Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

Some books leave you feeling better about the world and people in it. Either because their main message is that of love, hope, and forgiveness, or because they have amazing characters: strong, calm, caring. They put your feet a bit more firmly on the ground, because you recognize they are rooted in reality, and uplift you, help you raise your head and notice that, despite everpresent tragedy and suffering, our world is full of beautiful souls, ready to lend a helping hand.
This is one of these books…

26 year old Cassie Hanwell is a person you would like to have next to you in an emergency. She doesn’t get scared (and if she does, she continues doing her job), she never panics– in fact, the opposite happens, when everybody else is freaking out, she gets calmer and more alert. Above all, Cassie lives to help and save oher people. All of this makes her one hell of a firefighter. One of the best and she knows it.

That’s why I didn’t wind up an ER doc. You don’t want me just after the emergency. You want me during the emergency. I am at my very best when things are at their very worst.

When Cassie commits a potential career suicide by standing up for herself in front of a hundred person crowd during an award giving ceremony, she is given a choice: apologize to the despicable politician she had this very public ‘interpersonal conflict’ with and get a deserved promotion to a leutenant or have her contract with Austin Fire Department terminated. Only she can’t do either of these things. Her job is ‘her whole identity’. Cassie finds a third option – move to Rockport, near Boston to help her half-blind estranged mother with groceries and house chores, find a temporary position in a firehouse near her mother’s house and, slowly, work her way up again. Her captain puts in a good word for her leaving until the very end ‘the bad news’ of Cassie being a woman. The new boss is desperate for anybody to fill the position, although he has a deep mistrust female-firefighters and won’t make it easy for Cassie to start it all over at the new place. Cassie’s brave and wise captain, knowing that Cassie has always been welcome and eased in all her firefighting jobs so far and doesn’t know what discrimination and hostility is, gives a few pieces of advice:

No makeup, perfume or lady-scented deodorant, no jewelry. Cut your hair off-or keep it back. Make them less aware you’re a girl whenever possible. If you make eye contact, make it straight on, like a predator. Don’t ask questions. Go above and beyond at every chance. Don’t ever act afraid. Don’t ever hesitate. Don’t ever admit it when you don’t understand- figure it out like a man. If you go up against anybody, make sure to win. No fear! If your hands start shaking, sit on them. Never admit to being hurt. Pain is for the weak.

They will ignore you. They will exclude you. They will resent you. Working hard won’t matter. Just by your very presence there, you are attacking them, trying to steal something that’s rightfully theirs, trying to infiltrate and dismantle their brotherhood.

Do’nt have feelings. Don’t talk about them, don’t explore them, and for God’s sake, whatever you do, don’t cry…Do not sleep with firefighters. Because there’s no faster way for you to go down in flames than to screw one of the guys.

My best advice to you ? Find one person you can count on. Just one.

Cassie is going to follow every single point on this long list, but for one. Unexpectedly for her, she is going to find that after years and years of loneliness and thinking that love was for the weak, she did need human connection, however much gutwrenching courage it took.

She gradually re-establishes and re-defines her relationship with Diana, her mother, and finds out that not everything she believed about her mother abandoning Cassie and her Dad was true.

By the time we reached each other, the resentment I’d been feeling had mixed with so many other feelings and impulses- sorrow, regret, loneliness, protectiveness, admiration, affection- that it became something else completely.

Diana teaches her something extremely valuable, something that will help Cassie not only survive, but actually live- forgiveness. I have to give Cassie credit. It isn’t easy, and a lot of people would just close their mind to these words, and never face the hard task of trying to forgive your own gullible, naive 16 year old self. Cassie does try the three steps, described by her mother: acknowledge to yourself that someone hurt you and accept that. Accept that the person who hurt you is flawed, and try to understand them better. Look at what happened afterwards and find the positive things that came about, not just the hurt. Yes, you can laugh at Cassie’s reply that the upside of her abandonment (and the other tragedy that happened on the same day) was getting freakishly good at basketball.

But the truth is what happened that Cassie became herself: calm, professional, attuned to other people, good at seeing what is true and what is fake, being able to stand up for herself and others, good at learning from whatever life threw at her. Also, knowing when to risk everything because the person you are risking it for is worth it. Like the Rookie, Owen Callaghan, her amazingly good-looking, smiley, kind-hearted, forbidden crush, her road to learning what true courage is.

Telling you more would be giving the story away, and I don’t want to rob you of this heartwarming experience. You probably know by now that I’m in love with the author’s ability to create strong, complex, believable  characters. I’m also in love with her writing style and sense of humour. Anybody who can give their lead character a childhood ambition of becoming the Tooth Fairy deserves a special mention. That and making a seasoned firefighter join a Crotchet Club…

There’s also wonderful storytelling– there are twists and turns that will tug at your heartstrings, as well as other calmer scenes that show the stuff everyday life is made of. My favourite ones show the firefighters both at work and rest, including practical jokes well-meaning colleagues played on Cassie and the Rookie. I loved the way Cassie acknoweledged the differences between her progressive, well-equipped firehouse in Austin and the new situation, and quietly set out to find a way to improve it, including getting super-expensive cyanide antidote kits. If it was a fantasy book, I’d give it five stars for the worldbuilding. As it isn’t, I’ll just acknowledge how fascinating it was to get a glimpse into what living this kind of life would be.

I loved every minute of this book and was sorry to turn the last page. A wonderful, humorous story of love and forgiveness with a strong and endearing main lead, ‘Things you save in a fire’ is a book you won’t forget.

Thank you to Edelweiss and St.Martin’s for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

‘Things you save in a fire’ by Katherine Center is out on the 13th of August 2019.

  • Have you read Things that You Save in a Fire or is it on your tbr? If you have read it, what did you think of the ending? Did you like Diana?
  • Have you read any other books by Katherine Center? This is my first one, and I would appreciate your recommendations


# Sunday Morning for Kids #The way to Treasure Island by Lizzy Stewart

Is it possible to be best friends with a member of your family? Do you think it is easier to be friends with somebody who is similar to you in character or is your opposite?

# Sunday Morning for Kids is a variation on the meme started by Rae Longest at Powerful Women Readers.

I have recently discovered a wonderful blog Ragamuffin Books (All Things Children’s Literature) with book reviews and tips on how to write children’s fiction. I really encourage you to check out her posts on the importance of reading to children to help them develop their creativity, empathy and confidence at school.

The book I spent this Sunday morning reading to my little ones is The way to Treasure Island by Lizzy Stewart.

This is a sweet story of a girl and her Dad trying to find a treasure island and having a fun day together.

Matilda and her Dad are very different. In fact, in many ways they are the opposites -she is tidy, he is messy; she is fast, he is slow; she is quiet, he is loud. Naturally, they don’t always agree on how to do things. Despite this, they are best friends and have a lot of patience for each other. They complement one another: without Matilda’s ability to lead and pay attention to detail, her Dad would be lost, without Dad’s ability to notice exciting things, Matilda’s life would be so boring.

One day, they decide to spend a day at the beach. Matilda has a special map, but in order to follow it you can’t get distracted. They find a boat and set off on an exciting adventure. Although they do things their own way, in the end, they do discover the most wonderful treasure at all, that of each other’s company.

A delightful book with beautiful illustrations, this little book provides an example of a great father-daughter relationship.

Thank you to NetGalley and Frances Lincoln Children’s Books /Quarto Publishing Group for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Title: The way to Treasure Island
Author: Lizzy Stewart
Published by: Frances Lincoln Children’s books
Expected publication Date: 4th of June, 2019

  • Have you read The Way to Trasure Island? if yes, did you like it?
  • Is this the kind of book your little readers might be interested in?


‘Books live your life while you live theirs’ # ‘Reading quirks’ by the Wild Detectives

What is the strangest thing you’ve done for the love of reading?

I once read a book… half an hour at a time, 20-30 pages at most, for two weeks…in a bookshop! I’d come, read a bit, sigh at how expensive it was and leave… After two weeks somebody bought the book. Can you imagine my despair? I had almost finished it. Luckily, two things happened the following day: a new copy arrived and my pay check got through.

I just adored ‘ Reading Quirks’ by Javier García del Moral, Andrés de la Casa Huertas and Laura Pacheco and couldn’t help sharing this discovery with my bookloving tribe.

This is a series of vignettes on strange things we do for the love of books. The characters are cute and come from all walks of life. You are bound to find the situations described in this collection all too familiar:

Have you ever…

  • waxed lyrical about the merits of a book to a total stranger who might or might not have been interested?
  • been desperate because you lost a book you were just about to finish?
  • found irresistible the smell of a new book?
  • packed way too many books in a suitcase (and left out most clothes)?
  • liked the book so much that you felt sad that you were about to finish it?
  • realized you love somebody because they get your reading habits?

For some of them I thought: No, surely not. Actually, let me think…Yes, I have done that.

I know some of my friends are going to find these pictures irreverent. I love you for the respect you pay to your books and the way you treat reading not as a pastime, but almost as a religion.

My favourite vignette?

Have a great Friday and happy reading!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Deep Vellum Publishing for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

Title: Reading quirks
Authors: Javier García del Moral, Andrés de la Casa Huertas, Laura Pacheco (illustrations)
Publisher: Deep Vellum Publishing
Expected date: October 8th 2019


# Teen Tonic Tuesday # Just for Clicks by Kara McDowell

Twin sisters Claire and Poppy are rising Internet stars thanks to their Mum blogging about their lives since they were born. Imagine all those cute but so embarrassing details open to strangers’ scrutiny just a click away.

One day their Mum sets up a Youtube channel for them and off they go making their own name and building up their own brand. While Poppy loves it and sees the fame as a way of gaining power, Claire, the geeky web designer part of the duo, hates the pervasive lack of privacy brought by their stardom.

When she meets a new boy during the school lunch hour, she can’t believe he doesn’t know who she is. For the first time in her life Claire has a clean slate and can finally satisfy her ‘craving for freedom and anonymity’.

I loved the way this book touches on many issues relevant to teenagers.

First, there is the issue of identity. People who read the blog think they know who Poppy and Claire are, but Claire is conscious of the fact that the image, the brand, is carefully constructed. So, she rightfully questions ‘If I am not that, then who am I?’

We are so much more than a mere sum of other people’s opinions and images of us.

Then, there is the issue of privacy and consent. Claire’s mother chose to tell her story in her blog because it was her life, but she also involved her children and imposed her choice on them.

Thirdly, the issue of family: how do I stand out? How do I fit in? Does my Mum prefer my sibling to me? and if yes, should I feel resentful? Am I being selfish if helping my sister achieve her dream makes me feel miserable? Is family more about shared genetics or years of shared life? Despite the dark secret and evident lack of communication, family relationships in this book do ring true.

There were quite a few twists in the story which made this book so gripping.
I loved the slow-burn romance: the getting-to-know-you-as-well-as-myself’ part opening oneself up to rejection and the sweetest delight of being really listened to and understood.

Although I did feel the ending was a bit rushed, and some of the secondary characters were flat and sketchy, this did not take away from my enjoyment of the book.
I found this book refreshing and original and would definitely recommend it.

Thank you to NetGalley and Amberjack publishing for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

How do you feel about parenting blogs and parents sharing their children’s lives on social media?

First Line Fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

The first lines of the book I am presenting today are:

If anyone told me I could bring down the president, and the Pure Movement, and that incompetent little shit Morgan LeBron in a week’s time, I wouldn’t believe them. But I wouldn’t argue. I wouldn’t say a thing.

I’ve become a woman of few words.

Tonight at supper, before I speak my final syllable of the day, Patrick reaches over and taps the silver-toned device around my left wrist. It’s a light touch, as if he were sharing the pain, or perhaps reminding me to stay quiet until the counter resets itself at midnight.This magic will happen while I sleep, and I’ll begin Tuesday with a virgin slate. My daughter, Sonia’s, counter will do the same.

My boys do not wear word counters.


And the book is…

Vox by Christina Dalcher

Goodreads synopsis:

Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed to speak more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial—this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end.

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.


There was a lot of hype and controversy around this book when it was first published a year ago, similar to what seems to surround The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

Is this book thought-provoking? Is it far-fetched? Is the book necessary? I feel I can only get answers to these questions by reading the novel and making my own opinion.

  • Have you read this book? If yes, would you recommend it?

#Book Review # The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

The first rule of book club:
You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting the Countess, the guys coach Gavin on saving his marriage. But it’ll take a lot more than flowery words and grand gestures for this hapless Romeo to find his inner hero and win back the trust of his wife.

( From the synopsis)

My thoughts:

Heart-warming… It’s great to know, or rather have a bookish confirmation of something I have always believed in, there are good men out there, who care about their families, wives and children, to the extent of doing whatever it takes to make their marriage work. Even if it is reading a Regency romance book.

I absolutely adored the characters in this sweet rom-com. Gavin is a professional baseball player who spends a lot of time travelling for work. Thea, his wife of three years, is understandably upset about the situation. She put her career on hold and has done her best to blend in and become a worthy member of WAGs – wives and girlfriends of the players of her husband’s baseball team. Thea feels she is losing herself and is forgetting the dynamic, non-conformist, independent, artistic, fun girl she used to be. Then, one night, after her husband’s greatest sports triumph, the big secret is out: Thea has been faking her orgasms, and Gavin refuses to speak to her for a month. Thea asks him to leave, which he does, adding fuel to her childhood fear of being abandoned by people she loves the most.

  Gavin is distraught and ready to do anything for Thea to give him a second chance. His teammates approach him with quite an unusual solution. Gavin is to become the newest member of a secret book club for alpha male athletes who try to understand the mysterious language of women by reading and discussing romance novels. The bros already have the right book in mind: Courting the Countess, a cute Regency number that perfectly matches Thea and Gavin’s situation.

The Book club scenes were absolutely hilarious, with their witty retorts and serious deliberations on the merits of pumpkin spice lattes and the dangerous message of The Little Mermaid where the main character ‘has to literally change from one species to another in order to be with a man’. All the laughs aside, these men meet together and try to help each other learn to save their marriages and relationships by listening and communicating with their loved ones. A few times in the book, Gavin is surprised to find out things about Thea, and she asks ‘How come you didn’t know that?” Because I’m not a mind reader’. He keeps saying ‘Talk to me. Tell me what you feel , tell me what is important for you, help me to understand what I can DO to show my love’.

Gavin is such a wonderful mixture of sweetness, determination, willingness to learn and strength. Thea got pregnant very soon into their relationship, and although their twin girls are absolutely adorable and mean the whole world to them, becoming parents is a huge step in any marriage, and a big change in a couple dynamics. It helps if you have already addressed (or at least are aware of ) your issues with your parents’ dysfunctional marriage. It also helps to trust your partner to put your family and your relationship first, above anything else.

The Bromance Book club may be a sweet and entertaining rom-com, but there is certain depth to it, as it is also a very relatable tale of second chances and family dynamics. The second book in the series is going to focus on Liv, Thea’s little sister, who was fiercely (and annoyingly at times) loyal to Thea, and surely deserves her own Good Man. Will the Bromance Book Club help Gavin’s mate Mack win Liv’s ever-cautious heart and lead them to their own HEA?

Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the review copy provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read The Bromance Book Club or is it on your tbr?
  • Do you think having children necessarily destroys the early days romance?

Tell me what non-fiction you read and I will tell you who you are #Non-fiction November Week 1

Nonfiction November is hosted this year by Julie (JulzReads), Sarah (Sarah’s Book Shelves), Katie (Doing Dewey), Rennie (What’s Nonfiction) — is a month-long celebration of everything nonfiction. Each week, they’ll be a different prompt and a different host looking at different ideas about reading and loving nonfiction.


Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year?  Do you have a particular topic you’ve been attracted to more this year?  What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet?  What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?


This is the first time I am participating in this one month long event, although I have always been interested in reading non-fiction. There is an old saying ‘Tell me what you do with your free time (however much or little you have of it) and I will tell you who you are’. To paraphrase it, look carefully at what non-fiction you choose to read, because it reflects your interests better than anything else.

Ths year I have read only 30 non-fiction books and they fall into several categories:

  • biographies and autobiographies – Maria Montessori, David Bowie, Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie, Conversations with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Leadership in War: Essential Lessons from those who made history
  • Books related to art and art appreciation- Art Masterclass with Claude Monet, Painting School, Process Art Handbook and other similar titles
  • Children’s non-fiction – Kitchen Science Lab for kids, My first fact file: oceans, My first fact file: Vikings, My first fact file: Ancient Rome and My first fact file: the weather, The Element in the Room, The Rocking Book of Rocks

and then there are some reads that I loved and would recommend the most, although they are difficult to categorize:

What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

What am I hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November? Apart from giving myself a free rein and permission to binge on wonderful non-fiction titles I have recently seen, I would like to reflect on what I read, how and why I choose it and what I do with what I learn afterwards. I would also love to connect with other readers of this genre and get their recommendations.

  • Is non-fiction among your favourite genres?
  • Are you participating in Nonfiction November this year?

First Line Fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

And the first lines are:

The night my sister was born, the stars died and were reborn in her eyes.


Inara- Ray of light. My sister who had the power of the Paladin in her veins – and her eyes. When it became obvious that my father wasn’t coming back, my mother grudgingly named my sister – a hopeful name for a child that seemed to only bring shadows to my mother’s face- and finally took her to her breast.

I was the only one who looked into Inara’s face and smiled. Mother said it was because I had been too young to understand and that I grew up accustomed to her. But Mother was the one who didn’t understand, who paled when Inara looked at her, whose gaze dropped when her daughter’s burning eyes met hers. I knew Inara was different, I knew her eyes marked her.

But she was my sister, and I loved her.

And there was nothing I wouldn’t do to protect her. No matter what.

And the book is:

From the synopsis:

Zuhra and Inara have grown up in the Citadel of the Paladins, an abandoned fortress where legendary, magical warriors once lived before disappearing from the world―including their Paladin father the night Inara was born.

On that same night, a massive, magical hedge grew and imprisoned them within the citadel. Inara inherited their father’s Paladin power; her eyes glow blue and she is able to make plants grow at unbelievable rates, but she has been trapped in her own mind because of a “roar” that drowns everything else out―leaving Zuhra virtually alone with their emotionally broken human mother.

For fifteen years they have lived, trapped in the citadel, with little contact from the outside world…until the day a stranger passes through the hedge, and everything changes.

  • Have you read Sisters of Shadow and Light or would you be interested in reading it?
  • If yes, did you like it? Which part of this magical world was the most fascinating for you? Which character?

A blogging/life update! UPDATED Asking for your prayers and support for Stephanie



Hi all!

Some of you might have noticed that I haven’t been posting as often and haven’t been around at all this week, so I just wanted to give an update explaining why.

Many of you know that I was diagnosed with lupus almost two years ago, which can flare up at any time causing severe, widespread symptoms all over. Over the past month, I have been experiencing a severe lupus flare-up caused by stress as my family has been dealing with some serious issues. The flare has caused daily widespread pain that has left me either in bed or on the couch unable to do much of anything but try to just function through the pain.

But worst of all has been the over two weeks of unrelenting headaches that I thought were my migraines; however, after seeing my neurologist last week and his ordering an MRI then a…

View original post 657 more words

First Line Fridays

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

Here are the first lines from Chapter One of the book I would lke to present:

The new year was barely fifteen hours old in *********** *****, *******, when my pa adjusted the courting candle, setting it to burn for an alarming length of time.

Satisfied, Pa carried it out of our one-room log house and onto the hand hewn porch. He was hopeful. Hoping 1936 was the year his only daughter, nineteen-year-old Cussy Mary Carter, would get herself hitched and quit her job with the Pack Horse Library Project. Hoping for her latest suitor’s proposal.

and the book is…

The book woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people–a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman’s chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

  • Have you read this book?
  • If yes, did you recognize the first lines? What did you think of Cussy and Pack Horse librarians?
  • If no, would you like to read it? Do you like books about libraries and librarians? Is historical fiction among your favourite genres?

Can’t Wait Wednesday #Knock On Wood by Leslie Tall Manning

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you’re continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

The book I am waiting for is ‘Knock On Wood’ by Leslie Tall Manning. The expected publication date is November 15, 2019.

Book summary:


Fourteen-year-old Billy Baker is the first into the pond that early summer day. Ten minutes later, his lifeless body is pulled from the chilly water, his lips like two slivers of blue ice. Billy Baker dies…but only for a little while. Thirty-nine days later, he emerges from a coma.

But he is not alone.


Billy (AKA William) is turning thirty. He forgets some letters in the alphabet. He can’t set a table properly. He still believes it’s the disco era. And he can’t remember that day at the pond.

But the young boy William used to be has never left his side.

A brain-damaged hero. An unrequited love. A lottery windfall. A jealous brother. A memory hidden just below the surface…

Sharp contrasts of sunshiny music and life’s dark periphery are delicately mingled in this extraordinary tale, putting a new twist on the age-old question: Is it possible to find the way home again when one’s memory is nothing more than a blank slate?

For fans of Forrest Gump and The Five People You Meet in Heaven.

Why I am waiting for this book:

I fell in love with Leslie Tall Manning’s writing after reading her YA novel ‘I am Elephant, I am butterfly’. She has a wonderful writing style, elegant, sincere and heartfelt. The topics Leslie explores in her books are not the easiest to talk about, but she deals with them with outstanding sensitivity and thoughtfulness.

We all admired ‘Forrest Gump’ for its unrelentless optimism and humanity, so I’m intrigued about Billy Baker and his story. So, let’s ‘Knock On Wood’ and hope it is going to be as good as Leslie Tall Manning’s previous work.

Other books by Leslie Tall Manning:

I am Elephant, I am Butterfly
Maggie’s dream
Upside Down in a Laura Ingalls Town

You can also find more information about Leslie Tall Manning here:



Thank you for stopping by and reading the post. I can’t wait to read what upcoming releases you are excited about this week!

#Book Review # Shall We Dance? by Shelley Sheppard Gray

Book synopsis:

At twenty-seven, Shannon Murphy has just discovered that she has two sisters she never knew. Now, through Shannon’s loving persistence, the three of them are moving in together above her dance studio in Bridgeport. Shannon is excited to make a home with her sisters and to grow her budding business. Then she meets her newest client–he has all the right muscles, a perfect smile, and a lot of attitude. Will Shannon be able to keep things professional with this charming stranger?

Dylan Lange has a lot on his mind. He’s just been assigned a new partner at his job with the Bridgeport Police, and while he’s busy striving to protect and serve his town, he’s also trying to keep his baby sister out of harm’s way while she heals from her own trauma. And on top of everything else, he’s gone and lost a bet with his buddies, forcing him to take dance lessons. But when he walks into the dance studio to meet his instructor, a young and beautiful brunette with a sweet southern drawl is the last person he expected to find.

Get ready to fall in love again as Shelley Shepard Gray takes us back to Bridgeport, Ohio, where nobody gets left behind and a powerful community helps ordinary men and women to find extraordinary strength inside themselves.

My thoughts:

This is my first book by Shelley Sheppard Gray, but I do love reading series set in small towns and it appears that Bridgeport, Ohio, has already got a fair number of fans. No wonder! Its inhabitants appear to be friendly, sympathetic, honest and hard-working. They also have a fantastic bookstore whose owner can make a mean cup of tea? Tempted to visit it? I know I am.

You dance love, and you dance joy, and you dance dreams.

Gene Kelly

The premise of the book is unusual and moving. Shannon Murphy, an accomplished ballroom dancer from Spartan, West Virginia, and an only child of loving parents who made a lot of sacrifices to help her make her dancing dream come true, discovers that not only was she adopted at an early age, but she also has two sisters. Shannon has a wonderful idea of bringing them all together for a year to live in Bridgeport and share a home together. Traci, a police officer, gets a transfer, while gorgeous Kimber, despite being a New York City girl and a successful model, doesn’t mind moving to a small town in Ohio, if it means the three sisters can get to know each other better. I really enjoy reading books centred around loving families and these girls’ mutual support and understanding was really touching. Not that they didn’t have quite a lot to discover about each other – their common stubbornness to begin with as well as a shocking lack of cooking skills!

Shannon opens her own professional dance studio, which she is determined to make a success with her hard work and passion. When a local police officer becomes her newest client, she wants to convey her serious attitude to dancing lessons straightaway. Dylan Lange is a bit skeptical. You can’t blame him. Dancing lessons are his punishment for having lost a bet, although he is willing to do his best to learn, not only because he finds his instructor exceptionally attractive, but also because he believes in doing things wholeheartedly.

When a body moves, it’s the most revealing thing. Dance for me for a minute, and I’ll tell you who you are.

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Dylan is a complicated character. On one hand, he is a good man who knows what is right and wrong, and knows that in Shannon he has met somebody special. On the other hand, Dylan tends to be overprotective of his sister Jennifer, who is a survivor of a horrific attack and assault. Even two years after the event, she is still unable to leave the house alone, let alone talk to strangers. Jennifer knows her life will never be the same, but she is working hard to regain her strength and independence.  It is never easy for family members to help and support victims of crimes like this, and it has been quite hard for Dylan to find the right balance.

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain

Vivian Green

It is always difficult to create tension and conflict in a book where almost every character is a good decent person. Dylan makes a hasty judgement and speaks in a very harsh way to both Shannon and Jennifer. While Jennifer’s reaction and decision how to proceed seem absolutely right and natural to me, Shannon’s appear a bit rushed. I would have prefered to see more interaction between Shannon and Dylan to uderstand the development of their feelings and their relationship.

Dare, dream, dance, smile, and sing loudly! And have faith that love is an unstoppable force.

Suzanne Brockmann

The main characters are well-developed and it is clear that the other sisters are also going to get their stories told in the future. Although I felt really partial to Jennifer, I would love to know more about Traci and Kimber, their past before coming to Bridgeport and their new life. We know that Traci was never adopted and went through the foster care system. She is a tough police officer who is adjusting to working in a small town, which is quite different to what she did in her previous job. Kimber remained a bit of a mystery to me, although I liked her sense of humour and easygoing personality.

One of the features that I liked the most about this feel-good book was a wonderful selection of quotes on dancing and how it relates to real life.  I find it hard to pick one favourite, as all of them are entertaining and thought-provoking.

A sweet and heartwarming story of three sisters who are making their life in a new community, Shall We Dance? is an easy and entertaining read which feels a bit like a Hallmark movie. Grab your hot chocolate, get cozy and enjoy!

Thank you to Edelweiss and Blackstone Publishing for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read Shall We Dance? or is it on your tbr list?
  • Do you enjoy reading books set in small towns?

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