Friday 10 May 2024

The Trip by Phoebe Morgan


The perfect holiday. The perfect crime.

Four friends on the holiday of a lifetime. Until a vicious murder shatters their paradise.

Four friends who'd do anything for each other, until now.

Only one of them committed a crime.

But all four know how to keep a secret.

And they're all guilty of something…

The Trip is my first book by Phoebe Morgan and she wastes no time in drawing the reader right into this fast-paced mysterious thriller. The storyline is set in Thailand with two couples who are hoping to reclaim their youth tighter on an unforgettable trip away and it sure was an unforgettable trip even if not in the way they had hoped!

I flew through this novel in a matter of hours as I was hooked by this storyline had found myself on edge with our characters, there was definitely a feeling of sinister danger surrounding the group from early on and I knew something dark was going to rear its ugly head but I didn’t expect what was revealed when we meet the mysterious Caleb. I was racing through the pages eager to see what was going to happen to our characters next. It had an element of dark suspense but it wasn’t too challenging or twisty so it would be the perfect holiday read to keep you entertained and intrigued without needing to devote your full attention to it.

The only thing I would say is the whole book kept me on my toes and in the dark and yet the ending was really predictable which was a shame because had it carried on with the suspense then this would have been an easy 5 star read but as a result was more a 3.5/4 star.

Thursday 9 May 2024

The Happy Hour by Cressida McLaughlin


Jess is happy working in Greenwich market selling trinkets to well-heeled locals and excitable tourists.

Then one Sunday, Jess is thrown together with handsome, funny Ash, as they chase a pickpocket through the market, and before long they are making a habit of running into each other at the same time each week.

Jess starts to realize that their hour together is the brightest part of her life. But Ash isn’t telling her everything – can she discover the truth before it’s too late?

Cressida Mclaughlin is one of my all time favourite authors and I trust and love her writing so much so that I never read her synopsis of her books now before diving in. Her new release is titled The Happy Hour and it is a stand alone so it is a great book to start if you haven’t yet discovered her writing ( although I am going to badger you to get The Cornish Cream Tea Bus next as it is a must read and my favourite of her books!)

We meet Jess who is a creative and supportive woman but who has barriers as high as Big Ben, she is a loved and valued worker of the market community. When a shoplifting attempt brings Ash into her path things begin to blossom for the pair in a unique set up of only spending an hour together every Sunday. But as Jess begins to fall for Ash it is clear he his hiding something important from her.

There was a sense of intrigue created in the early part of this book which really kept me gripped as I had different scenarios running through my head as to why Ash had to dash off every Sunday at the same time.

Was he Married?

Meeting his child?

Having Counselling?

These were just a few of the ideas that were rattling around in my mind. I am not going to give this part of the book away as I think this intrigue was what appealed to me in this book alongside the community spirit that was found amongst the traders at the market.

Jess and Ash were both loveable characters who each have their issues and there relationship was far from plain sailing but at times they did bring out the best in each other and they did have some entertaining hourly dates too.

Weirdly as much as I enjoyed the romance between the pair I actually found myself more drawn to a supporting character Felicity and her situation and I continually looked forward to those chapters that found us back at her house!

The one thing that Cressida always does so well is to bring the atmosphere to life and she does that again in this book with the Hussle and bustle of the market and the various landmarks of London thrown in too.

I really enjoyed my time with these characters and it is certainly a book I will be recommending.

Available to buy here!

Tuesday 30 April 2024

The Holiday Escape by Heidi Swain


Her dream holiday is his everyday life. His dream holiday is her normal life. What happens when they collide?
Ally and her dad, Geoff, run the family business, a creative retreat, from their home Hollyhock Cottage in picturesque Kittiwake Cove. They give their guests their dream break, but Ally hankers after glamourous city living, fancy restaurants and art galleries.

Ally’s survival strategy is to escape out of season, take a break abroad and pretend to be the person she always imagined she would be. She meets Logan while she’s away and he turns out to be 
exactly the kind of distraction she’s looking for.

With her spirits restored, Ally returns home, picks up the reins again and sets her sights on another successful season, but when Logan unexpectedly arrives on the scene, she soon realises she’s in for a summer that’s going to be far from straightforward…

Heidi Swain is one of my auto buy authors and I have loved each and every one of her books that she has written. The Holiday Escape is her second standalone novel so this is a perfect book to introduce you to Heidi’s writing if you haven’t read a book by her before.

Ally is our female lead in The Holiday Escape and we meet her two personas! The Ally who jets away to Barcelona and pretends to be the person living the life she dreamed of and the Ally who lives and works with her dad at costal Hollyhock Cottage where they run creative retreats.

But call it fate if you will Allys two worlds are about to collide when the romance, she sparked on her recent get away surprises her by turning up at Hollyhock Cottage!

This set of characters got right under my skin and I devoured each and every chapter hungry for more. Ally is such a selfless character putting her mums wishes and dads needs before her own and I loved the path of self-discovery she made throughout this storyline with a little help from Logan along the way. The friendship between Ally and Flora was a joy to watch they felt more like sisters with an unbreakable bond but as for the dreaded Tara she had my warning siren going off from her first appearance!

What I loved about this storyline is that in places it was predictable but equally there was surprises instore for me too so I was kept hooked the whole way through and could kick myself for not joining the dots together to work out what was going on behind the scenes.

The book covers the effects of losing a loved one on our path in life, moving on and letting go of the restraints we sometimes put on ourselves through feeling of loyalty, duty and love. But this book is on no way a sad novel it is full of hope, friendship, love and support.

Heidi Swain’s first book The Cherry Tree CafĂ© has always held the number one spot firmly for me and as much as I have loved her following books none of them have quite challenged this one for the top spot…..

That is until The Holiday Escape has come along and now it hasn’t knocked it off its perch but they are sitting firmly together in the number one spot together so Heidi Swain fans you are in for a treat with this one.

Available to buy here!

Sunday 28 April 2024

Goodbye Birdie Greenwing by Ericka Waller


Great friends are hard to find, difficult to leave and impossible to forget ...

Birdie Greenwing has been at a loose end ever since her beloved twin sister and husband passed away. Too proud and stubborn to admit she is lonely, Birdie’s world has shrunk. But then some new neighbours move in to the house next door.

Jane has come to Brighton for a fresh start, away from her ferociously protective mother Min. While Jane finds it hard to stand up for herself, her daughter Frankie has no problem telling people what she does and doesn’t want. Ada Kowalski has come to England to follow her dreams, but her new life is harder than she expected.

When a series of incidents brings their lives crashing together, the three find that there is always more to a person than meets the eye …

Goodbye Birdie Greenwing follows a cast of characters who are all neighbours with quirky personality traits who all have one thing in common and that is loneliness. As their lives begin to weave a web between them all a friendship is formed from helping those in need and begins to slowly flourish giving them all support and kindness they need so desperately.

Along with Birdie we also meet Jane and her daughter Frankie who actually manages to bring a little humour to the storyline with her matter of fact ways although at times the difficulties she faces as a child who is misunderstood pulled at my heart strings. Then we also have Ada who is a doctor who has given up her life back home in Poland to come to England to help those that will not affect her heart or so she believed but now has made her world so isolated and small when inside we can see she has such a big heart that is bursting to come out.

There are so many real life struggles touched upon in this book and a lot of them have caused so much isolation to our characters and shows the importance of talking about our worries, problems and situations rather than keeping secrets because they all eat away at you in the end and cause more harm than good.

Although from the title of this book we already are aware of the likely outcome of this book, I know some of you who read my book reviews do not like a tear jerker but I personally found this book touching and poignant rather than tear jerking with the ending kind of feeling bittersweet having got to know Birdie and those she misses so dearly.

I thoroughly enjoyed meeting this colourful quirky cast of characters and watching them turn their lives around showing how brighter and more enjoyable life is when you let a few people in.

Thursday 25 April 2024

An Ideal Husband by Erica James


After 30 years of marriage, and a wonderful family Christmas, Louisa is stunned when husband Kip asks for a divorce on Boxing Day. He’d never seemed unhappy – and they’ve raised three children together.

For months, Kip has been secretly seeing a younger woman – and if that wasn’t bad enough – it’s the woman who broke their youngest son’s heart.

Now Kip is moving out and embarking on a new life with Zoe, and Louisa is left to pick up the pieces. Their beloved family home, Charity Cottage, is up for sale, and tensions are running high.

Yet, despite the betrayal and anger, when Louisa lays eyes on what might be a unique and welcoming new home, she feels a first glimmer of hope that life might be taking a turn for the better.

And while Louisa is making exciting plans, Kip finds himself facing challenges of his own and begins to learn that living the dream may not be as simple as he thought…

I have loved many books by Erica James over the years so I had high hopes for her new release An Ideal Husband and with a cover that pops out from the shelves thanks to its bold coral colour I am sure there will be many hands reaching for this one at the airport on the way to their Summer Holibobs!

This book felt very different from the authors previous books but none the less it was still such a fabulous current read that felt so honest and believable as she tackles infidelity and marriage break down after an affair, exploring the effect it has not on just those directly involved in the relationship but the results it has on the rest of the family too.

The family all have a very close bond and have lived a very loving life together but all it took was one crack to then splinter the family and yet the power of love shows there is still a thread connecting them together but we continually find ourselves unsure of how stitching their family back together will look in the end thanks to the unpredictability of the storyline.

I loved all of our characters ( other than Giles ) which surprised me because some of the things the characters done particularly Zoe and Kip I thought would turn me against those characters but I genuinely felt for them all. I was so desperate to see Louisa with a happy ever after that is the romantic in me but I never quite knew if Kip and Louisa would find their way back together again and I am not going to spoil it for you but all I will say is the way the book ended did in the end feel the right outcome to the story.

This book felt more fresh and modern compared to the authors previous novels and has a more uplifting feel looking at new beginnings in later life when our lives take an unexpected turn. It shows that our paths can get so tied up in our partners that when we find ourself out of the relationship its learning to start again alone and find our own strength to then go ahead with what we want for ourselves.

Although there were many sad and devastating parts of this book the storyline never felt heavy or gave a sense of doom and gloom it was full of hope, optimism and shows the strength, love and support of a loving family.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would actually say its probably my favourite novel by Erica James.

Available to buy HERE!

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Dragon Rider by Taran Matharu


Jai has spent his life forced to serve the cruel empire that killed his family and now rules his people.

To grow ever more powerful, the emperor’s young son is betrothed to Princess Erica of the Dansk Kingdom. An unconquerable realm, where ancient beasts roam. The princess brings with her a priceless gift: dragons. Only Dansk Royalty can bond with these magical beasts to draw on their power and strength. Until now.

When the betrothal goes wrong, a bloody coup leads to chaos at court. Finally, Jai has a chance to escape. He flees with a fierce Dansk warrior, Frida, but not before stealing a dragon egg.

To vanquish the empire, he must do the impossible: bond with a dragon. Only then he can seize his destiny, and seek his revenge …

Dragons are storming the bookshelves more so since the hype of Fourth Wing, but my first love of Dragon novels came from the Eragon series so I have a soft spot for fantasy novels that host a dragon or two so as soon as I saw the cover for Dragon Rider by Taran Matharu a fizzle of excitement began and I wasted no time in getting started.

But I am going to start with a word of warning if you are expecting a storyline heavy on Dragons that has the modern excitement that Forth Wing gave then thick again, the best way of explaining this book is more if Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones had a book baby then this is more on the right path!

The author definitely has a skill for character building as each of the characters were so well developed and easy to distinguish between which can often be an issue in Fantasy books with such a vast number of characters with obscure names but by the end of the book our main character Jai feels like a character, we have really formed a bond with. This definitely felt like a first book in a series, it felt like it was setting the tone and building our relationship with the characters for what I am hoping to be an action filled second book with a lot more of the connection between Jai and Winter because this was something seriously lacking in this book but I am hoping this is because Winter is so young and that as she matures there becomes a dialogue between them.

This book for me was a 3.5/4 star read but had the ability to have been a 5-star read but personally for me I found the book had a strong start with an introduction to key characters and an insight into the history behind how Jai finds himself an aid to the emperor as well as the various politics between the different regions. But the middle part of the book fell short for me and incredibly drawn out with the constant repetition and focus on the core and mana, I get that this is an important part of being a Soulbound and this certainly empathised this but it got too repetitive and actually made me want to skim read a little which is not something I do in books. It just felt like the storyline had lost its way and was stuck in a dark hole with nothing much happening for 100 or so pages. Luckily it picked back up for a promising ending so my intrigue was piqued again and now I would definitely pick up the next book.

Available to Buy HERE

Monday 1 April 2024

It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover


Lily and her ex-husband, Ryle, have just settled into a civil co-parenting rhythm when she suddenly bumps into her first love, Atlas, again. After nearly two years separated, she is elated that for once, time is on their side, and she immediately says yes when Atlas asks her on a date.

But her excitement is quickly hampered by the knowledge that, though they are no longer married, Ryle is still very much a part of her life—and Atlas Corrigan is the one man he will hate being in his ex-wife and daughter’s life.

After reading It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover which I thoroughly enjoyed I don’t know why I waited so long to pick up a copy of It Starts With Us but I settled down to read it last night and before I knew it I only had three chapters remaining which I finished before work this morning. Safe to say I was swept away by this book and wished I had picked it up sooner.

We are reunited with our main characters from the first book and this book carries on where the last left off with Lily now a mum but divorced from Ryle even though they are co-parenting. Atlas is ready to shower Lily with love but Lily has reservations because she doesn’t want to jeopardise things with Ryle and the set up they have but is it time for her to finally move on and feel happiness, security and contentment?

I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting from this book but it is quite different from the first. It is a more gentle book rather than the deep explosive storyline that we had in book one this one is more full of hope and healing and feels a lot lighter and happier with a rekindled romance.

We are introduced to a new character too called Josh and he brings something new to the storyline to keep things fresh and intriguing. He becomes a key character in this book alongside Lily and Atlas but Ryle feels like he begins to fade away in this novel.

In a way this book is predictable, you could see how the romance was going to end up but it didn’t effect my enjoyment of the book sometimes it is just nice to read a hopeful romantic read without all the dramatic twists and turns and especially after all we see Lily go through in the previous book, she has had more than her fair share of trauma so all I wanted as a reader was for her to get her happy ever after that she deserved.

Personally I wouldn't recommend reading this book without having read the first book because you build such a bond and learn so much about the history between Lucy and Atlas in the first book so if you read It Started with Us on its own it will probably feel a little bit of a fluffy and forgettable read.

I think it is safe to say that the author has finished this book off perfectly and that the characters have come to their natural end now so I can honestly say despite seeing many different opinions on this duology I actually really found myself invested in these two books and I would definitely recommend them to other readers.