#First Lines Friday # The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley

This wonderful meme 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 of the book are:

She had tried to return the book. As soon as she realized it had been left behind, she’d picked it up and rushed after its extraordinary owner. But he’d gone. He moved surprisingly swiftly for someone so old. Maybe he really didn’t want to be found.

It was a plain, pale-green exercise book, like the one Monica had carried around with her at school, filled with details of homework assignments. Her friends had covered their books with graffiti of hearts, flowers, and names of their latest crushes, but Monica was not a doodler. She had too much respect for good stationery.

On the firont cover were three words, beautifully etched in copperplate script: The Authenticity Project. In smaller writing, in the bottom corner, was the date: October 2018.Perhaps, thought Monica, there would be an address, or at least a name, on the inside so she could return it. Although it was physically unassuming, it had an air of significance about it.

She turned the front cover. There were only a few paragraphs on the first page.

How well do you know the people who live near you? How well do they know you? Do you even know the names of your neighbors? Would you realize if they were introuble, or hadn’t left their house for days?

Everyone lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead? The one thing that defines you, that makes everything else about you fall into place? Not on the Internet, but with those real people around you?

Perhaps nothing. or maybe telling that story would change your life, or the life of someone you’ve not yet met.

That’s what I want to find out…

And the book is ...The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley.

Book Synopsis:

Everybody lies about their lives. What would happen if you shared the truth instead?

This is the question that Julian Jessop, an eccentric, seventy-nine-year-old artist writes in a pale green exercise book labelled The Authenticity Project, before leaving it in Monica’s Café on the Fulham Road.

Monica gave up her career as a high-flying lawyer to run her own café, but it isn’t going as well as she hoped. On finding Julian’s notebook, she in turn writes her own truth about her desire for a baby before passing the Project on. But having read his story, Monica’s immediate plan is to find a way to bring Julian out of his loneliness.

Hazard is the next to pick up the book – he is an addict who is desperate to finally part from his vices but cannot quite face his own truth yet. Instead, he becomes determined to find Monica her dream partner, so she can have the baby she longs for.

The Authenticity Project weaves its way between six characters, who all share unexpected truths about themselves in its pages and are slowly brought together.

Their lives become intertwined as they discover both the power, and the danger, of honesty.

Are you intrigued by the first lines of this book? Would you like to know more about what happens to Monica after she picks the mysterious green exercise book?

Or have you already read The Authenticity Project? If yes, did you like it? Would you recommend it?

Let me know in your comments!

#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 #No judgments by Meg Cabot

The storm of the century is about to hit Little Bridge Island, Florida—and it’s sending waves crashing through Sabrina “Bree” Beckham’s love life… (from the book blurb)

No Judgments is the first title in a new series set on Little Bridge Island, just off the coast of Florida. The protagonist, twenty-five-year old Bree Beckham is a waitress in the Mermaid Cafe and a daughter of a radio super star Judge Justine. Only Bree doesn’t want anybody to know about her mother or the fact that she dropped out of a law school. She wants to paint landscapes (or rather cloudscapes), earn her living by working earnestly and serving breakfasts to locals and tourists, look after her cat Gary, and generally think things through. Bree broke up with her jet-setting boyfriend Caleb, after he didn’t believe her telling him about his best friend trying to rape Bree. For that matter, even her mother, Justine, tried to downplay what happened. No wonder Bree ( or Sabrina as she used to be called in her New York life) needs time in a safe place trying to figure out what she wants from life.

Unfortunately, this quiet time is about to be interrupted by a category 5 hurricane Marylin heading in their direction. Most people are evacuating, but Gary, Bree’s cat, whom she rescued from an animal shelter, has just had a dental surgery (living on the streets for years has not been kind to him) and is in no condition to travel, so Bree is staying put, despite whatever her boss’s nephew Drew Hartwell might be saying. Bree has been warned to stay away from Drew, the local heartthrob, whose truck used to be parked in front of a diffrent woman’s house every week, and sometimes every night.

I thought the book was going to follow the passing of the storm, but it happens in the middle, and the rest is devoted to Bree saving pets left behind by evacuees who thought they could get back home the following day and did not count on the island being cut off in the aftermath of the hurricane. Bree and Drew share a passion for animal welfare, so this book is definitely going to be appreciated by animal lovers. It is difficult not to judge people who panic or trust another person to take care of their pet only to realise the animal is stranded with no food or water. Bree’s No Judgments appeal allows her to get addresses and reach the animals in need. Applying the same policy to people in her life is not easy, but is the first step to forgiveness and a promising new relationship. At the end of the book she seems to sort her issues with her mother/ mothers ( the mother who gave birth and raised her and the egg donor from whom Bree inherited her artistic side). She even confronts Kyle, her assaulter, although I did not like and do not condone the gun usage in the scene.

I loved the setting – Meg cabot’s descriptions of Little Bridge are delightful and will make you fall in love with this tiny island inhabited by warm-hearted and hospitable people. And Gary and Bobby Socks are a wonderful addition to the character cast.

Overall, an interesting book for fans of a small town setting and animal lovers. Will be looking forward to the next title in the series (right now I cannot guess who the next protagonist might be).

Thank you to Edelweiss and William Morrow paperbacks for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.

  • Have you read No judgments or is it on your tbr list?
  • Do you like Meg Cabot’s work? if yes, what is your favourite book/series?
  • Are you a fan of a small town setting?
  • What do you think of Bree’s No Judgments Appeal to pet owners who left their animals behind?

#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?

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday was originally hosted by A Daily Rhythm and was revived by Sam from Taking on a World of Words. It’s a weekly meme to talk about the books you have just finished reading, currently reading, or plan to read.

Just finished reading

Red at the bone by Jacqueline Woodson

A beautifully written, poignant story about how an unexpected teenage pregnancy is experienced by different people in a family, with everyone having their own history, dreams, ambitions, longings and desires.

From the book blurb: Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives—even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.

What Rose forgot by Nevada Barr

From the Book Blurb: 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.

Currently reading

Educated by Tara Westover

From the Book blurb: Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag”. In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes and the will to change it.

What do you think you will read next:

I have a few lighter reads coming up:

Not the Girl you Marry by Andie J. Christopher

From the blurb:

How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days gets a millennial makeover in this romantic comedy by USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher.

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.

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?

Have you read any of these books or are they on your tbr list? What did you think or what do you expect them to be?

Thank you for coming by and Happy reading!

#Book Review #Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson

An unexpected teenage pregnancy pulls together two families from different social classes, and exposes the private hopes, disappointments, and longings that can bind or divide us from each other.

Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child.

As the book opens in 2001, it is the evening of sixteen-year-old Melody’s coming of age ceremony in her grandparents’ Brooklyn brownstone. Watched lovingly by her relatives and friends, making her entrance to the music of Prince, she wears a special custom-made dress. But the event is not without poignancy. Sixteen years earlier, that very dress was measured and sewn for a different wearer: Melody’s mother, for her own ceremony—a celebration that ultimately never took place.

Unfurling the history of Melody’s parents and grandparents to show how they all arrived at this moment, Woodson considers not just their ambitions and successes but also the costs, the tolls they’ve paid for striving to overcome expectations and escape the pull of history. As it explores sexual desire and identity, ambition, gentrification, education, class and status, and the life-altering facts of parenthood, Red at the Bone most strikingly looks at the ways in which young people must so often make long-lasting decisions about their lives—even before they have begun to figure out who they are and what they want to be.

(From the Book Blurb)

*****

My thoughts:

Lyrical, poignant, and powerful, Red at the bone by Jacqueline Woodson will mesmerize you with its spellbinding tale of how people from different social class and backgrounds come together, love, create a new life, stay or go their different ways and continue living.


The book begins with a special kind of celebration- it is 2001 and it is Melody’s sixteenth birthday and her coming of age party. She is wearing a custom-made vintage dress, a corset and silk stockings. The dress was sewn and paid for by her grandparents for Iris, Melody’s mother, who never got her chance to wear it, because by the time she would have, she was already pregnant with Melody. As Melody is dancing in abandon with her friends, she is watched by her family.

Her mother Iris is wondering how things got so wrong between them. She is remembering how her own mother reacted to the news of the pregnancy, crying and cursing her daughter’s foolishness that destroyed the bright future her parents had been hoping for.
Aubrey, Melody’s father, was just a teenager himself. He remembers falling in love with Iris and discovering ‘what love felt like- a constant ache, an endless need‘.  He remembers his own mother who was so light-skinned, she could be mistaken for a white woman. People even asked her if Aubrey was her foster child. They were very poor, but it took years for Aubrey to realize that or feel any kind of shame related to their poverty. Above all, Aubrey remembers his mother’s words: ‘I believe in you, Aubrey. My love. My life. My light.


Melody’s grandparents have their own story. Her grandmother Sabe has been passing the story of the Tulsa riot/ massacre and the fire that burned her grandparents’ businesses and left a scar on her mother’s cheek. She grew up with a special kind of philosophy geared towards survival.


As we  follow the protagonists’ stories, we learn more and more about Melody’s family, the love they all give her, their sincerity, and their own search for identity. Starting from Aubrey’s mother explanation for their very different looks – ‘The black ancestors beat the crap out of the white ones and said Let this baby on through- through Aubrey’s terminally ill mother helping  pregnant Iris re-kindle her ambition and passion for learning in order to finish her high school and go on to get a college degree – to Sabe’s inner voice ‘Rise. Rise. Rise’, refusing to let neighbourhood gossips dictate how she and her family should live.


Jacqueline Woodson’s writing is exquisitely beautiful and I can see myself reding and re-reading this book again and again. Each character has a unique voice and a unique story to tell. Red at the Bone is a little gem of a book that you will keep thinking about long after you have turned the last page.


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

  • Have you read Red at the Bone or is it on your tbr?
  • Have you read other books by Jacqueline Woodson?

#Sunday Morning Reading for Kids # Munchy Munchy Cookbook for Kids by Pierre Lamielle

What makes good food taste good? A team of tastes and flavors of course!

Fun illustrations and quirky characters bring the kitchen to life. Join Pierre Lamielle on a kitchen adventure as he introduces you to the Munchy Munchy Gang, a team of characters here to educate kids on the art of cooking and the range of flavors they’ll encounter. Learn how to make over 28 different recipes, including ketchup, pancakes, and other kid favorites with simple instructions and illustrations for every step. Pierre’s characters make complex cooking theories, like balancing the five tastes, accessible to kids of all ages. The perfect manual for a budding chef!

(From the Book Blurb)

My little one has just first made his first omellette from scratch! and although it might be lacking in presentation, it actually tastes pretty good. As he is becoming increasingly more and more interested in food preparation, I decided it was time to let him browse a cookbook for kids and have a chat about what he can see in the pictures.

Pierre Lamielle’s book is a fun introduction to cooking techniques, flavours and basic recipes. I loved the way the book started with safety and dealt with it in a very clear and visual manner. It also has little warning symbols (hot, sharp, germs) throughout the book, so little chefs wouldn’t forget to pay attention to safety issues once they get super-excited about making their own ketchup, volcano eggs and bananamole. The suggested age range is 8 to 13 years old, although it will depend, of course, on the support you are providing your child with.

The difficulty level increases as the book progresses, but the recipes continue to be fun! The chicken herby stew looked simply gorgeous.


I wish I’d had a book like this when I was a child. I would have had such great time with it and possibly would have avoided quite a few cooking disasters my family still keep quietly chuckling about whenever the topic comes up at family reunions.


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

The expected publication date: the 16th of September 2019.

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

  • Do you like cooking? If yes, who taught you? was learning to cook fun?
  • Do you use cookbooks or do you prefer watching recipes on the Internet?

#Teen Tonic #Book Review #Lost and Found by Orson Scott Card

“Are you really a thief?”

That’s the question that has haunted fourteen-year-old Ezekiel Blast all his life. But he’s not a thief, he just has a talent for finding things. Not a superpower–a micropower. Because what good is finding lost bicycles and hair scrunchies, especially when you return them to their owners and everyone thinks you must have stolen them in the first place? If only there were some way to use Ezekiel’s micropower for good, to turn a curse into a blessing. His friend Beth thinks there must be, and so does a police detective investigating the disappearance of a little girl. When tragedy strikes, it’s up to Ezekiel to use his talent to find what matters most.

Master storyteller Orson Scott Card delivers a touching and funny, compelling and smart novel about growing up, harnessing your potential, and finding your place in the world, no matter how old you are.

(From the Book Blurb)

My thoughts:

Ezekiel Bliss (or Ezekiel Blast as he keeps calling himself -names are important to him) is an outsider. In fact, other teenagers give him a wide birth and even cross to the other side whenever he approaches. The reason for all this is that Ezekiel has a reputation of being a thief and who would like to be friends with somebody you cannot trust?

One day a girl from his school, short enough to seem to be a six or seven year old, although she is actually 13, starts walking next to him. She also tries to engage him in a conversation and break through Ezekiel’s ‘shunning bubble’. Beth is the first and the only person who actually wants to know his real story. It turns out Ezekiel has never stolen a single thing in his life. It’s just that he has a special talent. Lost objects seem to call to him and ask to be returned to their rightful owners. When it started happening, Ezekiel was just six and when he returned his first lost and found object (a new and shiny bike), he was promptly accused of having stolen it in the first place and then beaten up. Years and years of police interviews and pages and pages in his police file made Ezekiel learn a few survival techniques. First of all, never return the object directly. Secondly, do not trust the authorities, including teachers, school counsellors and police officers.

When a new counsellor suggests that Ezekiel should join a scientific study, his father first checks this is not a new attempt to make his son have therapy ‘to cure him of something’. The Group of Rare and Useless Talents (GRUT) meets once a week and does resemble group terapy sessions, although the main objective is to let the teenagers understand better the limits of their micropowers (as opposed to ‘superpowers’). Some of them are uttely bizarre, such as knowing if somebody’s navel is of an in or out kind or being able to make people yawn in an uncontrolled manner. Beth encourages Ezekiel to do a few experiments of his own to see how far his unusual talent extends. Unfortunately, Ezekiel and Beth fall out and she walks away without the protection of Ezekiel’s company. Because this is exactly what she needed him for when they first met – to give her a protection from school bullies ready to pounce on a little person, because she is utterly defenceless. This was at first, only then, they also became friends, unlikely, improbable, mismatched friends, who would do anything for each other. When Ezekiel is asked by a police officer to help him find a kidnapped eight year old girl, he cannot even share the story with Beth, who appears to have gone somewhere on with her mother and isn’t home. But has she really gone on holiday?


The story makes a compulsive reading. There are twists and turns, and dark discoveries that made me revise my initial idea of the target audience. It did raise a question of what kind of topics we should include or exclude from YA books. The content warnings for this book include: an unexpected death of a parent, child kidnapping and child pornography. There are no graphic descriptions and the issues are dealt with maximum sensitivity. Should we let our children that, although mercifully rare, these things exist? We do not learn much about the main villains in the book (apart from a few details about one of the kidnappers), so the picture is quite black and white here.


Ezekiel and Beth make fantastic protagonists. Despite the dark things that happened to them, they are still typical teenagers: smart and sarcastic, looking for love and friendship, exploring what their limits are and what they can do to make a difference in other people’s lives. The relationship between Ezekiel and his father was so loving and tender, that it brought tears to my eyes. The police officer who trusted Ezekiel to help him with the investigation is a secondary character, but he also helps to explore some very important questions, such as: what does it mean to be friends with somebody, especially if there is an age difference. The GRUT guys deserve a special mention. I would have loved to get to know them better, but I do understand that to keep the story focused and streamlined, the author needed to make some sacrifices.


A compelling read, written in a very simple and engaging way, the book touches upon some very dark topics, so I probably wouldn’t recommend it to middle graders, but rather to slightly older teenagers. The protagonist Ezekiel is 14 years old, so perhaps this is the target age, although the story flows so easily, that you might first think it was written for younger audience.


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

  • Have you read Lost and Found or is it on your tbr? Is it important to provide content warnings for books like this?
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