Book Review: Under A Sicilian Sky by Lisa Hobman

About the Book:

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Global box office sensation, Ruby Locke, is a long way from her Yorkshire roots. Together with her fiancé, movie heartthrob Tyler Harrison, they are Hollywood’s new glitterati.

Overnight, however, Ruby’s life implodes when her social media accounts are hacked with a multitude of vile posts, turning her into an international pariah. Even Tyler breaks off their engagement.

Confused and heartbroken, Ruby escapes to the beautiful island of Sicily to avoid the media scrutiny and clear her name. With only a Yorkshire Terrier to comfort her, Ruby is befriended by a handsome neighbour and slowly begins to heal.

But who is this mysterious man and what are his intentions?

When her Sicilian hideaway is compromised, Ruby is once again forced to relocate, this time to the stunning Isle of Skye.

In the tranquil cove of Glentorrin, Ruby is left questioning not only who wants to destroy her career, and why but also if celebrity lifestyle is really for her…

My Thoughts:

Note: I requested for and received a copy of this book on NetGalley. The below review reflects my own thoughts.

This is the second book by Lisa Hobman that I have read and I must say that I am thoroughly enjoying her books. What stands out is the setting. I am falling in love with the Isle of Skye and would love to visit someday all thanks to her vivid descriptions.

This book follows Hollywood star Ruby Locke as she navigates the world of the famous. A well loved star, she falls from grace the moment her social media accounts are hacked and nasty posts are put up in her name. From here on it is a downward spiral and she needs to get away for some time. The thing about Lisa’s stories is that not all characters are bad. Some of them do bad things but can actually turn out to be quite okay. The same thing happens and Ruby finds friendship and support from unlikely sources thus enabling her to escape to Sicily to wait out the storm.

As she tries to work out how to clear her name, she also faces a moment of uncertainty about her choice of career. All things aside, we also meet some interesting men and women who bring more life to this story. As we follows Ruby, the reader is in for a delightful journey of ups and downs, secrets, truths, friendships and even love. For we cannot journey to the Isle of Skye without encountering some romance and falling in love with not just the place but the people too.

This book is a pleasant read that is perfect for the beach or a summer evening in! Either way, it is wonderful and can be finished in one sitting! Be prepared to come and fall in love all over again with this beautiful place!

Book Review: To Marry an Earl by Karen Thornell

About the Book:

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Katherine Cartwright knows through bitter experience that true love is fiction and trust should not be bestowed easily. Now, after two unsuccessful London Seasons, her atrocious father has decided to marry her off to the highest bidder to pay for his gambling debts, ridding himself of the daughter he never wanted. A profitable deal is struck, and Kate is packed off to the home of her betrothed, an earl she has never met. Or so she believes.

When James Fenwick, the new Earl of Bowcott, learns that the girl he’s loved since childhood is being sold off like chattel, he’s determined to step in and save her. He makes an offer her father cannot refuse and insists on a proper engagement. But when Kate meets James again, her old friend cannot bring himself to admit it is him whom she is to marry. Soon, an intricate charade and a past that cannot be escaped jeopardize James’s chance at rekindling their friendship, to say nothing of winning Kate’s heart. Can love truly conquer all, or was this a match doomed
from the start?

My Thoughts:

I requested for and received a copy of this book on NetGalley! A huge thanks to the publisher and author.

This is a delightful regency romance that follows Kate and James, childhood friends who drift apart. James has his reasons which are not known to Kate who holds on to the disappointment and heartbreak. Kate does not have an easy life and we see a woman who is trying to fight for herself and stand up for herself. When her father decides to marry her off to the highest bidder, she knows that she is doomed. Little does she know that she will once again come face to face with her childhood friend and have to revisit her feelings.

James has had a hard time and coming into an earldom was highly unexpected. When he heard about Kate’s father’s decision, all his old feelings resurfaced leading to his final decision and sudden betrothal. Therein begins a series of hidden truths, misunderstandings and some life threats, that though hilarious enough, make this a highly enjoyable read.

The story is enjoyable and fun with strong characters some likeable and some who definitely get on your nerves. The author has done a great job in bringing out the contrast in characters. I love how Kate not only finds love, but also friendship and companionship among the group. She also redevelops a strong bond with her mother who finally gains the confidence to stand up to her father. This is a classic romance that is very well-written and will sweep the reader off their feet!

As Kate and James attempt to reignite a friendship (with some interesting suggestions from James’ best friends) while battling their true feelings against a picturesque backdrop, there’s nothing for the reader to do except join the adventure and fall in love!

Book Review: The New Enchantress (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions Book 3) by Sunayna Prasad

  Join us for this tour from June 1 to Jun 28, 2021!

 Book Details:

Book Title:  The New Enchantress (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions, Book 3) by Sunayna Prasad
Category:  Middle-Grade Fiction (Ages 8-12),  175 pages
Genre:  Fantasy
Publisher:  Amazon KDP
Release date:   March 2021
Content Rating:  PG: Some intense scenes and mild language.

Book Description:

The point of no return has come!

It’s the summer before high school and life is about to change for fourteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy. A sorcerer hexes her with everlasting powers, requiring her to become an enchantress. If she cannot learn to control her magic pronto, she will forget her loved ones and serve as the warlock’s eternal slave.

In order to control her powers, Alyssa must gain control of her emotions. With the struggles of adolescence and disasters everywhere, catastrophes are bound to happen! It’s only a matter of time before Alyssa’s world changes, for better or worse…

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Meet the Author: Sunayna Prasad enjoys writing fantasy books for children, as well as cooking, creating artwork, watching online videos, and blogging. She has also written The Frights of Fiji, and A Curse of Mayhem and is constantly creating and brainstorming new ideas.

Sunayna also loves cartoons, traveling, and thinking outside the box.

She lives in New York.

Connect with the Author:   website ~ twitter ~ goodreads

 

Enter the Giveaway:

THE NEW ENCHANTRESS (An Alyssa McCarthy Magical Missions) Book Tour Giveaway

My Thoughts (Book Review):

The New Enchantress is Book 3 in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series. This book follows Alyssa as she once again gains magic powers and has to become an enchantress. She has to learn to control her powers otherwise she will forget everyone she knows and loves and become a slave to the evil warlock. The story starts off with an upcoming middle grade graduation sleep over where we see Alyssa and her friends gather at her house to spend some time. However, Alyssa’s spirits are dampened due to the loss of her laptop and her newly gained magical powers. Being a moody young teen, she takes it out on her friends causing some backlash.

I found this to be quite childish in the way the friendships are handled. Some of the things the girls say or Alyssa says do not seem to fit with a young teen. It was difficult for me to relate to them as young teens with the way they talked and behaved. However, the writing in this book is much much better than the previous two books and the focus on the plot has been strengthened. I appreciate and acknowledge the maturity in the author’s writing when compared to the previous books, though I believe that there is room for further improvement.

The plot is much the same as the previous books with something going wrong and Alyssa setting out to fix it. One thing however is how she has to learn to control her emotions to be able to control her powers and thus foil the warlock’s plans. By the end, she learns the meaning of friendship, of thinking about things beyond herself and of giving back. I like how this was handled in the book.

Overall an entertaining magic filled read that will keep readers busy for an evening or two!

Guest Post by Sunayna Prasad:

How I Chose my Novels’ Time Settings

We may be living in 2021 (and a global pandemic), but the events of my stories take place over 10 years ago.

In “The Frights of Fiji” and “A Curse of Mayhem,” the year revealed is 2010. “The New Enchantress” is set in 2011. So, my MC, Alyssa would actually only be a few years younger than me if she were real. She would have just turned 24 this past April.

While that may sound disappointing to certain people, there is a reason why the stories take place a long time ago. Some editors pointed out that the stories were set when my readers were babies or really little and suggested that I updated the first book’s setting, which got revised as a new edition in 2018. However, I am glad that I rejected that advice. The editor also understood and agreed that authors should get to choose to set their stories whenever they want.

But I will share two reasons why the events of my “Magical Missions” series take place in the early 2010s.

1: The first installment was originally written and published in the early 2010s.

I started working on book 1 after a bad turnout with a poorly written novel that I published just around high school graduation. I began work on it in 2011 and published it in 2013 as “From Frights to Flaws.”

I chose the 2010 setting because at that time, I wanted my MC to not only be close in age with me, but also have technology not be too advanced or primitive. In “The Frights of Fiji,” there is even the mentioning of an iPod and the iPad getting released soon.

I know technology and times change drastically and quickly. And if I were to write an unrelated book today, I would probably set it around or close to this time.

Which brings me to my next point:

2: You never know what will happen as you live.

There is a lot of controversy and discussions on the dilemmas of writing a story in today’s world, with a pandemic and restrictions on how to live because of it. Some say set your stories in 2019 or a little earlier, and others give all sorts of chaotic advice.

Some authors change their stories to make the characters live in the covid-19 pandemic, where they have to wear face masks, socially distance, refrain from activities like kissing and traveling. I personally would avoid doing this.

Some experts even suggest omitting the pandemic from your stories in order for readers to escape from the stress we’re living through. But they also worry about it misleading future generations about what the world really experienced during 2020 and 2021. So, certain writers might just leave out the dates or years their stories take place as the pandemic could be a thing od the past once the books are finished or when people get it them.

Therefore, I am glad that I stuck with my original time setting. Readers still enjoyed the stories, regardless of the years they take place.

Although I plan to make the final installment’s last setting no later than 2019, my little (not so) secret is that… there is no pandemic happening in my book’s universe.

While we went on a global lockdown in March 2020 and lived with many restrictions since then, my characters continued to live typical lives (going to concerts, bars, etc.). I feel like after going through the difficult time that I never expected, I was uncomfortable making my characters go through that, even if I won’t publish a book set later than 2019. Also, many people crave escapism from stressful times.

There is a work of fiction that has specific dates throughout different moments of the protagonist’s life, and events of the main story take place in 2020. But the characters don’t have to wear face masks, socially distance, quarantine, or have any other pandemic restrictions. They basically live a normal life, except for the domination of advanced technology. This is the film, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines.”

All in all, those are the reasons I chose my novels’ time setting.

Book Review: A Curse of Mayhem by Sunayna Prasad

About the Book:

History, like magic, has a habit of repeating itselfIt’s been six months since thirteen-year-old Alyssa McCarthy left magic behind for good. Or so she thought…

Then the enchanted objects that protected her disappear. Now a skeleton named Errol has cursed her with magical powers that keep getting her in trouble. Suddenly strange things are happening with disastrous effects, and if Alyssa can’t remove the magic, she will lose everything she holds dear.

In order to get rid of her unwanted wizardry, Alyssa will have to boost her bravery and confidence and determine who Errol really is. But every time Alyssa uses an enchantment, Errol is one step closer to getting his flesh back and becoming alive, and he will do anything to achieve his goals…even if it means destroying Alyssa’s happiness.

Originally published in 2016 as “Wizardry Goes Wild” and “The Unruly Curse” in 2019, “A Curse of Mayhem” is book two in the exciting and suspenseful “Magical Missions” series.

My Thoughts:

This is Book 2 in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series. The story follows Alyssa as she tries to lead a normal life putting magic aside. However, it is not as easy as that and soon Alyssa embarks on another missions to save herself. This time, the plot centers around her place with less focus on travel. As Alyssa tries to rid herself of her newly acquired magical powers thanks to a curse, the reader is in for an interesting adventure, making new friends along the way.

There are some new characters in the story and this makes Book 2 interesting. Alyssa is still a little hard to connect with, but this can still be ignored for the overall story. Though the writing is still pretty amateurish, the focus on the plot and storyline has improved greatly. As compared to Book 1, Book 2 is more engaging and has quite a few magical elements to it that will delight young readers. Overall, I think that this book is handled much better and young readers would enjoy it greatly!

Book Review: The Secret Angels by Smita Bhattacharya

About the Book:

♥ A slow-burn atmospheric literary mystery. With armchair travel, intriguing characters, small-town noir, and a troubled heroine. For lovers of Tana French, Veronica Mars, and Sue Grafton. ♥

Darya was meant to be in Mumbai for two months. No more.
It was going to be an ordinary study break. Just that.
Except things didn’t go according to plan.

The year before, Darya accidentally solved the mystery of her uncle’s untimely death in Goa. A year later, she finds herself embroiled in another bizarre mystery: this time at Mumbai’s quirky Chapel Road.

Darya had thought Chapel Road in Bandra was a quaint little lane when she’d decided to rent there. But she soon realizes a tragic mystery is lurking behind its peculiar charm. Three women have disappeared in the past three years, purportedly murdered by a serial killer. No dead bodies have been found and he has never been caught. And now it’s that time of year again. Who will be next?

At first, Darya is only concerned about her creepy landlords, her reticent neighbours, and her temperamental roommate and best friend, Veda. But when one of the missing girls winds up dead in a hotel room, and her roommate, Veda, disappears, Darya is spurred to find out what’s really going on.

But what if it was her life, actually, that was most in danger?

**THE SECRET ANGELS is the second book in the Darya Nandkarni Misadventure series, after KISS OF SALT**

About the Author:

Smita Bhattacharya works as a management consultant and lives in Mumbai. Her short stories have appeared in numerous Indian and international publications. Her books rank among the top Asian Literature & Fiction on Amazon. Strong female protagonists and Agatha Christie-style whodunits are her forte. Smita thrives on crime and coffee. Though she prefers cafés, she occasionally also hangs on Twitter and Instagram @smitabe.

My Thoughts:

This is the second book in the Darya Nandkarni Misadventure series and the second book by Smita that I have read. To be honest, I have been reading the books in the reverse order (I read Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? first), but I have still enjoyed the books so far.

In short, I would describe this book as unputdownable and intriguing!

Now on to a slightly more detailed review… 🙂

The Secret Angels is a slow-burn atmospheric mystery that takes place in Mumbai. Darya and her friend are staying there for two months and get embroiled in the mystery surrounding the street they are staying at. Three girls from the area have mysteriously disappeared over the last few years and nobody know where they are or whether they are alive. However, when one of them turns up dead, warnings flags are raised in Darya’s mind. Something fishy is going on and she feels the urge to find out what it is before someone else gets hurt.

The characters are wonderfully detailed and well thought-out. Darya has so many layers to her personality that make her immediately likeable and interesting. Veda, her best friend, is a contrast in personality is a welcome addition in portraying the subtle differences in the characters. I also enjoyed reading about the landlords of the villa at which Darya was staying.

Smita has a way with words that draws you in and keeps you reading until the very end. This is a fascinating story filled with the right amount of mystique to keep the reader hooked. As the plot thickens and the story unravels, we discover so many unexpected twists! I whole heartedly recommend this series by Smita (even though I am yet to read the first book in the series, which is now on my TBR and in keeping with my reverse read system for these books 😛 ) for all the mystery lovers out there!

Book Review: The Frights of Fiji (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions #1) by Sunayna Prasad

About the Book:

A world of magic and adventure awaits for 12-year-old Alyssa McCarthy. A sorcerer kidnaps her to an enchanted island, filled with magical creatures and technology, but also danger. It is up to Alyssa to defeat the peril and overcome the warlock.

My Thoughts:

I read and am reviewing this book as a part of the blog tour by iRead Book Tours.

I truly love reading middle grade and YA fiction! I love the feeling of adventure and the various scrapes the characters get into. This is what drove me to sign up for the blog tour and start reading this new series by Sunayna Prasad.

The Frights of Fiji is Book 1 in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series. In this book, we are introduced to Alyssa, a 12-year old who lives with her uncle and cousin ever since her parents passed away. Right from the beginning we are introduced to the existence of magic as Alyssa meets Simon, a talking bust and then discovers a plot that involves kidnapping her. Initially it felt weird as Alyssa tries to convince her uncle of the existence of magic. As the story progresses, we are introduced to a world of magic and magical technology, chronicled along the lines of what we have and use in general. We are introduced to various characters and the evil warlock who is plotting to capture Alyssa.

The writing is amateurish and abrupt in sections, jumping from one thought to another. The characters are not well developed and I was not able to connect with any of them, though I did like Simon a little. I also found the level of explanation into the technology used to be unnecessary and somewhat repetitive. All this made for a difficult read.

However, there are elements to the plot that have potential and make for an interesting story. There is travel to a new place, magical locations and rules that are not known to normal people and so on. I like how Alyssa and her friends work together to foil the plan of the warlock and find a solution to their predicament. Overall, this would be a one time read at best, but I am definitely going to read on to see what happens!

Book Review: His Hidden Wife by Wendy Clarke

About the Book:

The first time you see them, out for an evening walk on the cliffs, you’ll think they’re the perfect family. You’ll see a wife who looks so happy, strolling peacefully beside her husband in his dark winter coat, holding her daughter’s hand. But you have no idea what’s really happening in their house…

If you come a little closer you might hear the way the man speaks to his wife.

You might notice that the woman doesn’t have any close friends. That sometimes her husband doesn’t want her to leave the house. You might wonder if that’s a scar her beautiful daughter is hiding on her neck.

When you read the local newspaper and hear the news that the wife has fallen from the cliffs, you’ll question whether it was really an accident at all.

And when the husband starts dating someone new – a woman with the same long dark hair and big blue eyes as his wife – will you say something this time?

Because someone has to protect the little girl and stop history from repeating itself. And it may already be too late.

A thrilling and twisty tale, His Hidden Wife will keep you up all night, desperate to race through to its final conclusion. Readers of Gone Girl, The Couple Next Door and Lisa Jewell will be hooked.

My Thoughts:

His Hidden Wife is the story of Stephen but is told from two different points of view; that of Maya, his 18 year old and Theresa, his colleague at work. The story centers around the mystery surrounding the death of Maya’s mother. Maya doesn’t remember much with respect to the incident and most people in the village do not talk about it anymore.

The story starts of rather slow, introducing us to the characters and trying to establish some context. I found it a little hard to remain engaged with the book and characters until the second half when the pace picked up. I enjoyed the mysterious nature of the plot and the father/daughter relationship. Stephen is indeed an enigma and I could not understand him until the end. Maya is a confused teenager who is trying to figure out the truth. When her father suddenly reveals that he has met someone new and brings Amy home, seeing her reminds Maya of her mother and brings buried memories to the surface.

Theresa’s story is a different one and honestly I could not understand her role in the book until midway when her friendship with Stephen is explained. We also get a glimpse into her life and family. I was not sure where all this fit into the story , but it helped to give some insight into her character. As Maya struggles to sort out her memories, we reach a point in the story where a lot is revealed and the twist in the end is one noone will see coming! Everyone has secrets and noone wants to reveal them! This was handled well and I like how the author brought out each persons role in the story.

This is the first time I cannot decide how I feel about the book. I cannot also connect the story with the title and synopsis of the book. It feels different and out of place to me. However, I would still recommend this book as it has a good plot, it is well-written and is great for those who enjoy a slow burn mystery. The plot is built up until it explodes in the end with unexpected twists and turns!

Book Review: A Dragonbird in the Fern by Laura Rueckert

About the Book:

When an assassin kills Princess Jiara’s older sister Scilla, her vengeful ghost is doomed to walk their city of glittering canals, tormenting loved ones until the murderer is brought to justice. While the entire kingdom mourns, Scilla’s betrothed arrives and requests that seventeen-year-old Jiara take her sister’s place as his bride to confirm the alliance between their countries.

Marrying the young king intended for her sister and traveling to his distant home is distressing enough, but with dyslexia and years of scholarly struggles, Jiara abandoned any hope of learning other languages long ago. She’s terrified of life in a foreign land where she’ll be unable to communicate.

Then Jiara discovers evidence that her sister’s assassin comes from the king’s own country. If she marries the king, Jiara can hunt the murderer and release her family from Scilla’s ghost, whose thirst for blood mounts every day. To save her family, Jiara must find her sister’s killer . . . before he murders her too.

My Thoughts:

The story follows Princess Jiara as she deals with the death of her sister, a marriage proposal from the man her sister was previously engaged to and the responsibility to step up for the sake of her family and her people. In addition to this, Jiara has to find a way to uncover the truth behind her sister’s death and bring the murderer to justice.

Initially, I liked the concept of the book and the idea of a vengeful ghost who can actually cause harm was intriguing. As the story progresses, I like how Jiara grows as a person and her distress while trying to read and learn a new language is brought out rather delicately. However, some parts of the story were rather abrupt and the character development was not strong enough. King Raffar is interesting, but the reader doesn’t come to know him as a person. We do not also get a chance to understand how he governs or what he thinks. With a strong focus on Jiara, her struggles and triumphs, it is difficult for the reader to connect with other characters.

In terms of the plot, the author has done a good job and the surroundings are well described. The kingdoms, their locations and the people are touched upon albeit only a little, but enough to give us a sense of the places. Overall this is a light YA fantasy read that has great potential and wraps up quite well in the end. The book can be read quickly and is rather enjoyable for those who enjoy the genre!

Wrap-Up: Books Read in April 2021

Hey guys! 

Here’s my wrap-up post for the Month of April!

I read 5 books in the month. This is low compared to my usual number, but I have been quite busy and was not able to spend a lot of time reading! But I am happy that my reading streak has not stopped.

I thoroughly enjoyed the below books and as you can see, I read a little more romance in the month when compared to other genres! I guess I just needed some light reading 🙂

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Once again, don’t hesitate to share your thoughts or book recommendations! You can also just stop by to chat, I’m almost always around! 🙂

Cover Reveal: Pink and Country by Emmanuelle Snow

BLURB

A cabin in the mountains.

A chance for a fresh start.

A dropped towel that seals their fate.

Lost and confused, April Simmons has no clue how to turn her life around. When her best friend sends her to a cabin in the mountains for a month, alone, to work on herself, April has no idea that her handsome, yet broody and enigmatic neighbor is country music superstar Carter Hills.

Carter has everything other people would kill for: money, success, and fame. And yet, being at the top has never felt so lonely.

The moment April and Carter meet, sparks fly, but neither is ready to give in to temptation.

Been there. Done that.

But soon, Carter decides April, the colorful and sassy woman living next door, is worth breaking every rule he set for himself years ago, and nothing she’ll do or say will keep him away. The more April resists, the more Carter pulls her in.

Can April trust Carter with her heart, knowing he has the power to shatter it into a million pieces?

Loving Carter Hills is like riding a roller coaster. It’s breathtaking. It’s fast. It’s scary. And it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Smart, Sexy, and Sassy Love Stories

Emmanuelle Snow is a contemporary author of mature YA and New Adult love stories, who likes to give life to strong characters who’ll fight with all they have to reach their life goals and find their own happiness.

Emmanuelle is in love with love. Especially those complicated, deep, and passionate feelings that make a relationship extraordinary and complex, all at the same time.

In her spare time, when she’s not writing or reading, Emmanuelle likes to go on road trips—with her four kids and her own soulmate—watch movies, paint, or do some DIY, always with a cup of green tea in her hand and listening to country music.

She splits her time between beautiful Canada and the small US towns she adores.  

Find all of Emmanuelle’s books here:  http://www.emmanuellesnow.com/books

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