Book Review: Dead to Them by Smita Bhattacharya

About the Books:

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Moira Madhwa is the typical young, beautiful and successful urban woman until the day she goes missing. Her friends start looking for her, but quickly realize nothing is as it seems. Moira had kept devastating secrets—secrets that could wreck their lives if revealed. As days roll by, one by one, skeletons tumble out of closets, and each of Moira’s friends’ looks guilty. But did one among them hate her enough to do the worst?

A nail-biting, psychological suspense thriller, Dead to Them weaves a web of deception, lies, and paranoia in the city of Mumbai, where every face hides a dark story and uncovering it can lead to disastrous consequences.

My Thoughts:

Dead to Them is indeed a well-written psychological thriller that follows the life of Moira and the impact she has on the lives of various people. When Moira is found to be missing, there follows a series of events leading to the revelation of secrets, interpretation of lies and people’s interactions with one another take a big turn.

As readers, we are introduced not only to Moira but to a whole group of people, some who are colleagues and some who claim to be friends with her. However as the story develops, one question that pops up frequently in the mind of each character is whether any of them actually knew the real Moira. She was charismatic but also liked to play games and this is something we see through her eyes as well as those of the others.

I think Smita has done a great job in writing this story bringing in plot twists at the right moments. The story is gripping and nerve wracking, making the reader eagerly read on to know what happens next. I honestly did not see some of the twists that came and I enjoyed how each of the characters had a connection with Moira that they thought was unique.

Smita has really worked well to bring this plot to life and this is perhaps one of her best books that I have read. Readers are in for a wonderful journey as secrets surface and no-one is as they seem in the end. I strongly recommend this psychological thriller to all fans of the genre.

Book Review: Love Letters by the Sea (The Siren’s Retreat Quartet #4) by Erica Ridley

About the Book:

What happens when the proprietress of Siren’s Retreat discovers the charming romantic she’s been corresponding with is same villain turning her beloved property into a gaming hell?

When not responding to advice column letters, entrepreneurial widow Mrs. Deborah Cartwright runs bright, beautiful Siren’s Retreat, legendary for helping her lovelorn guests find their perfect match. Deborah experienced love years before, and lightning does not strike twice. Although there might be a light flirtation with a certain anonymous letter-writer she’s definitely not falling for, there’s no time for romance. Not whilst a heartless blackguard is in town to wrest her beloved inn out from under her!

Clever, career-minded Mr. Patrick Gretham is the trusted man-of-business for a powerful lord, who is eager to turn this perfectly situated property wasted on lovebirds into a gambling hell the likes of which no one leaves with their fortunes intact. Over Deborah’s dead body! The beautiful proprietress hates everything Patrick stands for and will fight him every step of the way. Except when they find themselves on opposite sides of a plume. Or falling into each other’s embrace…

My Thoughts:

I have been a fan of Erica Ridley’s books for some time now and so it was inevitable that I would pick up this book to read next. I have been reading the books in this series out of order, but the best part is that they can also be read as a standalone with only a little backstory running through. This is explained in some way during the story making it easy for the reader to follow the many characters and situations.

The story follows widow Deborah Cartwright, the proprietress of the Siren’s Retreat, a place known to bring people together through love. Having lost her one true love many years ago, she takes pleasure in watching other people find love without any expectations for herself. She devotes her time to the running of Siren’s Retreat and corresponding with a secret someone through letters.

I really enjoyed this part of the story which built up the romance and kept it intriguing. Once Deborah meets Mr. Patrick Gretham, all things change and the inklings of love starts stirring. This entire story is well written and being a novella is a rather quick read! The story is uplifting and full of simple and fun moments and is definitely worth reading!

Book Review: An Affair by the Sea (The Siren’s Retreat Quartet #2) by Erica Ridley

About the Book:

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What happens when a wallflower’s extremely make-believe fake suitor appears in the flesh just in time to ruin all her spinsterly plans?

Orphaned pianist Allegra Brown is a poor relation with nothing much to recommend her, save a minuscule dowry and a very big imagination. She has spent the past several years as governess to her younger cousins, who are now ready for their come out—and want Allegra to marry, too. Specifically, they eagerly await the return of Allegra’s dashing, handsome, swashbuckling, conveniently absent and secretly fictional fiancé, the dread pirate Captain L’Amour.

The only place Mr. John Sharp strikes fear is in the courtroom, where his neat, ordered mind is renowned for winning every case he presents. John loves predictability and longs to be a chef. Unfortunately, every time he puts on an apron, the entire kitchen catches fire. Much like passion burning between him and a certain wildly unpredictable spinster, who seems to have confused him for a dashing, exciting pirate. By fulfilling her fantasies, can his dreams come true…together?

My Thoughts:

I’ve read a few books by Erica Ridley before and so it was natural to request this upcoming book of hers from NetGalley. The story follows Allegra Brown and her younger cousins on an unexpected journey towards love and a fulfilling life. Having lived with her cousins and uncle since she was quite young, Allegra was used to being the one in the shadows, taking care of her cousins but not being noticed. This is until they almost run over Mr. John Sharp, handsome mad with a striking personality who seems to fit the mold of the made up Captain L’Amour.

It was indeed love at first sight for both our protagonists but I enjoyed how the story built up to it and how they find their space with each other. The characters are fun to read about and the setting is picturesque and beautiful to imagine. This is a quick read and is quite entertaining with romance, music, tasty food and a whole lot of fun. The bond that Allegra shares with her cousins is heart-warming and I did enjoy the way they worked to push Allegra and John together.

Overall this is a pleasant read that I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a good romantic read!

Book Review: Castle of Refuge by Melanie Dickerson

About the Book:

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To live an unforgettable life, she would defy all expectations—including her own.

Ever since she was a child, Audrey wanted her life to be extraordinary. But as the daughter of a viscount born in late fourteenth-century England, the only thing expected of her was to marry—until an act of malice by her sister, Maris, four years ago damaged her face and her prospects. Though Maris was sent away, twenty-year-old Audrey is still suffering the scars of her sister’s cruelty. When her father announces his plans to marry off his damaged daughter and bring Maris home, Audrey decides to flee in search of her true destiny.

However, life outside her home is dangerous, and she soon finds herself attacked, sick, and in desperate need of help. She is taken in at Dericott Castle to be nursed back to health. While there, she decides to keep her identity a secret and work as a servant in the castle. But she doesn’t count on falling in love with the young and handsome Lord Dericott, who lost his arm several months earlier and bears scars of his own.

Meanwhile, Edwin—Lord Dericott—is curious about the new, well-educated servant’s identity. All he knows is that he’s quickly becoming smitten with her. When the man Audrey’s father wanted her to marry comes looking for her, she and Edwin must make life-changing decisions about what to believe and whether or not love is truly worth trusting.

In this Ugly Duckling retelling, New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson brilliantly crafts a high stakes, encouraging tale about the power of love.

My Thoughts:

I randomly picked up this book from NetGalley and decided to give it a try based on the synopsis. I was not at all disappointed.

The story follows Audrey as she navigates her life and the expectations of her father. She is also dealing with a jealous older sister from whom all she ever wanted was acceptance. When she is finally faced with a situation she does not want to be in (marriage to an older man on account of the scars that mar her face and make her “undesirable” or “unworthy of good marriage prospects”), she runs away from her home and everyone she loves.

Audrey ends up at Dericott Castle where she tries to hide her identity for as long as possible, immersing herself in household tasks along with the other servants. As time passes, we see a romance in the very early stages between Audrey and Lord Dericott.

I enjoyed reading about Audrey’s ideas and drive towards education, her dream of providing education to all the girls in the village and giving them a chance to choose their paths. I also like how the author has brought out the contrast between the main characters which makes it all the more enjoyable as the romance grows.

Some parts of the story felt a little predictable to me, but this did not take away from the entire plot. I liked the book and the various characters we are introduced to. Each one had something to contribute with a lot of love, compassion and support to go around despite the negative emotions (mainly from the sister’s side).

Overall this is a fun and exciting adventure on the journey to love. I do recommend this book to those who enjoy a good regency romance or a historical romance with men of title and women of great strength of character.

Book Review: Rebellion (Warlord of Ayodhya, #1) by Shatrujeet Nath

About the Book:

Bharat. Son of Kaikeyi. Brother of Rama. Reluctant king of Kosala.

Bharat’s carefree life in Kekeya is turned upside down by the death of his father Raja Dashratha and the exile of his brother and crown prince Rama. Untrained in statecraft and unsure of himself, Bharat begins his rule over Kosala by tackling an audacious rakshasa attack on Ayodhya.

There’s more trouble brewing. As the magic that sustains the kingdom starts weakening and a drought looms over Kosala, Ayodhya’s citizens begin to disappear mysteriously. Ambitious aristocrats manipulate the inexperienced king to their ends, while fickle allies seize the opportunity to assert their independence. And unknown to Bharat, the Lord of Lanka has put a cunning plan into action that will break the back of Ayodhya’s resistance.

Beset by challenges, will Bharat lose Ayodhya so early in his reign?

Crackling with characters overlooked and forgotten by the Ramayana, Warlord of Ayodhya is a thrilling spinoff by bestselling fantasy author Shatrujeet Nath.

My Thoughts:

This book was my most anticipated read at the beginning of the year and it is definitely a favourite! Having read Shatrujeet’s Vikramaditya Veeragatha series, it was a no-brainer to pick this up and I knew in advance that I would love it! There was no doubt about it and I was not disappointed.

Everyone knows the epic Ramayana, but how many of us actually stopped to think about the other people and the lives of the Ayodhyan’s during Rama’s 14 year exile? How many of us stopped to think about Bharat and his struggles to rule in the absence of his brother? Well, Shatrujeet Nath thought of this! He imagined how the life of Bharat could have been as he took over the rule of the kingdom and thus this series was born.

This is the first book in the series and sets the stage for what comes next as the title aptly suggests. As is usual with Shatrujeet’s style of writing, there are a variety of characters, each with an agenda of their own. What was interesting to read about was Bharat’s relationship with his mother and his feelings towards her. It is clear that a lot of planning and research went into crafting the plot. Additionally, with a threat to Ayodhya’s magic and the hint of the Lord of Lanka’s interest in Ayodhya, the reader’s interest is certainly piqued.

While the Ramayan focuses on Rama and Sita’s journey, their exile, Sita’s kidnapping and finally their return to Ayodhya, this series seeks to bring out the other side of the story. A little known side with characters who were never in focus and who now have a chance to have their story told! Shatrujeet Nath is indeed a master storyteller and a genius to create and write this story. In my opinion, this book and all books by the author are a must read!

Book Review: The Perfect Home by Kevin Lynch

Book Blurb:

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It’s a beautiful place to live. Or die.

June is very happy in her home. It’s where she raised her two kids – now college age – and every room is filled with memories, some beautiful, some painful. She loves the garden she has worked so hard to create. She likes her neighbours in this pleasant, leafy suburb.

But lately, something has changed.

There’s the new guy across the street. He seems rough, possibly criminal. And he’s been taking a definite interest in June’s rebellious daughter, Cathy.

And there’s June’s son, Sam. He’s always been open and friendly but recently he’s been sullen and secretive.

Even more disturbing, June’s cheating ex-husband suddenly seems to be everywhere. It’s almost as if he’s stalking her.

Then, when someone she knows is murdered, June begins to understand that all these different things are connected. And as she investigates further, she realises that she herself is in terrible danger.

Because someone out there wants June gone. Permanently.

Author Bio:

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Kevin is a Guidance Counselor by day and a psychological thriller author during his off hours. He puts an original slant on some common experiences and creates engaging stories with a personal twist. Kevin lives in Dublin, Ireland with three great kids, a frenetic Westie, Alfie, and a wife who makes him laugh, which is really all he could ask for.
Kevin writes psychological thrillers. The Perfect Home will be his second novel published with Inkubator Books.

Buy Links:
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Home-gripping-psychological-heart-stopping-ebook/dp/B09QT37GYK
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Home-gripping-psychological-heart-stopping-ebook/dp/B09QT37GYK

My Thoughts:

It’s my stop on the Book Tour for The Perfect Home today! Thanks to Zooloo’s Book Tour for this opportunity.

The Perfect Home is a psychological thriller that follows June as she tries to unmask a killer and find out who is after her. June lives a perfectly good life. She has a good job, her two children who live with her in a wonderfully quiet neighborhood. All this changes with the arrival of a new neighbour, her ex-husband popping up more than expected and her children pulling away.

As time passes, we follow June as she goes about her normal routine while trying to figure out the new people on the block and their motives. The author does a good job in portraying her feelings and fear in many of the situations. I also liked how the plot line developed. It was easy to like some of the characters and dislike some of them. This is a kudos to the style of writing.

There were a few things that did not work for me. Firstly, I was not able to fully connect with June. I found her routine to be mundane and the narration was a little repetitive. Secondly, I was a little confused as to the location of the book which I figured out later. Finally, I found it hard to understand Cathy and her behaviour. It was not something that I could easily relate to.

However, putting this aside, I think the book was interesting and there was a plot twist that I did not see coming. Thus, I admit, despite the mixed feelings, I enjoyed the book and hope to read more by the author! I do recommend this for those who enjoy the genre!

The Perfect Home Book Tour Poster

Zooloos Book Tours

Book Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

About the Book:

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Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

My Thoughts:

The Midnight Library is a story with an interesting concept addressing the question of “what is the best way to live?” The story is written in a simple manner and is easy to follow. In this, we follow Nora Seed as she falls into a depression so deep that she wants to end her life. She believes that the world and everyone who knows her is better off without her. Nora ends up in the Midnight Library, a kind of in between state and concept where she has the choice to experience different lives, answering the question of what if my life was like….?

This very question and Nora’s state of mind before entering the Midnight Library are interesting and very well handled by the author. The best part about this book is that I am sure many will find it to be quite relatable. Everyday we make choices, whether big or small, that lead us to the next stage or a new situation. Learning to live in the moment and accepting one’s decisions for what they are is quite important. The book talks about regret, choices, consequences of said choices, making or taking decisions and the different paths life can take based on all this.

It was quite interesting to read about the various paths in life that Nora could choose and how each life affected her. The book does not preach to us in any way, it merely brings out various scenarios that help the protagonist and thus the reader arrive at a set of conclusions and perhaps discover the will to live. This entire story was well-written and handled in a way that the reader enjoys the story and also learns something out of it.

In my opinion, life is too short to live with regrets! Live in the moment and accept the path one’s decisions take them on. This is a beautiful story that I recommend whole heartedly to everyone!

Note: I read this book as a part of the BTS Readathon hosted by some wonderful fellow book bloggers on Instagram.

Book Review: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

About the Book:

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A wedding in Spain. The most infuriating man. Three days to convince your family you’re actually in love. . .

Catalina Martín desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially when her little white lie about her American boyfriend has spiraled out of control. Now everyone she knows – including her ex-boyfriend and his fiancée – will be there.

She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic for her and aid in her deception. NYC to Spain is no short flight and her family won’t be easy to fool. . . But even then, when Aaron Blackford – the 6’4″, blue-eyed pain in the arse – offers to step in, she’s not tempted even for a second. Never has there been a more aggravating, blood-boiling and insufferable man.

But Catalina is desperate and as the wedding gets closer the more desirable an option Aaron Blackford becomes. . .

The Spanish Love Deception is an enemies-to-lovers, fake-dating romance. Perfect for those looking for a steamy slow-burn with the promise of a sweet happy-ever-after.

“Everything you could want in a romance is right here.”
Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

My Thoughts:

The Spanish Love Deception is one of the most talked about books of 2021 and based on a multitude of reviews, I decided to pick up the book. I definitely was not disappointed. I quite enjoyed the slow-burn romance and how the plot developed right from the beginning.

The story follows Catalina, Lina as she prefers to be called, as she enters into a rather reluctant fake relationship with Aaron in the hopes of fooling her family. She has always disliked Aaron for some reason and as the story progresses, it becomes clear that her ideas might be misplaced. The characters are interesting and even funny at times. I enjoyed reading about them and how their various relationships develop. The story reads like the perfect rom-com and is entertaining all the way.

Aaron is the perfect guy (well that is how he is portrayed and just for the duration of the book it’s okay to believe that he exists!), attentive and attuned to Lina’s needs. I liked the author’s style of writing and the flow of the story until the end. I was indeed hooked and I think that was partly due to the fact that I was looking for a light and fun read and this turned out to be the perfect combination.

This book has the complete package: enemies to lovers, workplace romance, fake dating and all the fun that happens in between. The ending is just perfect and the book is definitely worth reading!

Book Review: A Letter From Pearl Harbor by Anna Stuart

About the Book:

58758179Ninety-eight-year-old Ginny McAllister’s last wish is for her granddaughter to complete a treasure hunt containing clues to her past. Clues that reveal her life as one of the first female pilots at Pearl Harbor, and a devastating World War Two secret.

1941, Pearl Harbor: On the morning of December 7th, Ginny is flying her little yellow plane above the sparkling seas when she spots an unknown aircraft closing in on her. She recognises the red symbol of the Japanese fighter planes almost too late. Somehow, she manages to land unscathed but the choices she is forced to make in the terrible hours that follow have tragic consequences…

2019, Pearl Harbor: Heartbroken Robyn Harris is reeling from the death of the strong, determined grandmother who raised her. Her only comfort is a letter written in Ginny’s distinctive hand which details a treasure hunt, just like the ones she used to set for her as a little girl. Except this time, the clues are scattered across the beautiful island of Hawaii. Despite her grief, Robyn finds herself intrigued as she follows the trail of letters, revealing the truth about Ginny’s service during the Second World War.

But Robyn’s whole world is turned upside down when she’s faced with a shocking secret which has the power to change the course of her own life…

Inspired by true events, this is a heartbreaking and unforgettable WW2 novel about love, loss and bravery. Perfect for fans of The Alice Network, The Nightingale and Kathryn Hughes.

My Thoughts:

A Letter From Pearl Harbor is a story of love, loss, learning and second chances no matter the situation. The story is narrated to us in two timelines, one in the current day from Robyn’s point of view and the other through letters and the narration in her grandmother’s point of view set in 1941. Robyn and her sister spend one last night with their grandmother who is on her deathbed. At this point, she tells them that she had a terrible secret and has set up a treasure hunt with clues scattered across Hawaii to tell them her story.

The sisters, Robyn and Ashleigh have their own share of demons to deal with. Ashleigh got into an accident which led to her being confined to a wheelchair and stuck without the use of her legs. Robyn moves to Hawaii (perhaps following in her grandmother’s footsteps) and works there, giving up a sports scholarship that she was not ready to devote time to. The sisters have unresolved feelings of resentment towards one another which are tackled through the story.

As we follow the girls on their hunt for clues, we get to know their grandmother better. Her story is set in the time of WWII when the was had still not come to America, but there was a hint. Then one day, Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese and everything changes. In the midst of this bombing, a lot changes for Ginny and thus her priorities change. Determined and full of purpose, she goes to England in the hope that female pilots will be allowed to be a part of the war efforts.

This is a heartbreaking story that brings to us the realities of war, the frustrations, but more importantly how loss affects the people who still live. Additionally, as we discover Ginny’s secrets, we find out just how decisions can affect not just your life but that of the others around you and how the goodness of people can go beyond holding grudges and prove to be healing. Through her story, Robyn and her sister also learn to accept who they are, accept each other and form better bonds with each other and those around them.

Though the war is a part of the plot, the main focus is on the women who train to be pilots and participate in the war efforts. Their determinations, achievements and friendships form the backbone of this story. A truly well-written story, this book is worth reading especially for the messages it contains.

Book Review: Before We Grow Old by Clare Swatman

About the Book:

Some people are just made for each other…When seven-year-old Fran first met Will they knew instantly that they were made for each other. For eleven years they were inseparable, but then, at the age of eighteen, Will just upped and disappeared.

Twenty-five years later Will is back.
Is fate trying to give them a second chance?

Still nursing the heart break from all those years ago, Fran is reluctant to give Will the time of day. The price Will must pay is to tell the truth – the truth about why he left, the truth about why he’s back…

And Fran has her own secrets to hide. The time has come to decide what Fran and Will really want from life – before it’s too late.

My Thoughts:

Before We Grow Old is an inspiring story of two people who find each other twenty five years later and realize that they still feel the same way about each other that they did growing up. Fran and Will were very close from the age of seven, first as friends which then grew into something more. When Will went away leaving just a letter behind, Fran was distraught and in a situation that she never expected to be in. Will on the other hand was dealing with the loss of his mother and a grieving father.

The story follows the two of them as they discover their friendship and love twenty five years later. There is a lot that was left unsaid, secrets that were hidden and feelings to rediscover and understand. This is indeed a story of second chances, learning to forgive, understanding a person’s decision and moving on in ways that make everyone all the more happier. This is also a story of seizing the moment, learning to live life to the fullest and dealing with loss.

I truly enjoyed reading about Fran and Will, their families, and friends. The story is beautifully written and fun in places where everyone comes together to try and complete a bucket list that Fran and Will prepared when they were seventeen. The author handles the concept of death rather delicately and I quite liked the way she handled the whole plot. Though sad in the end, there is something so fulfilling and positive in the way Will handles life and Fran steps up to deal with everything. In the end, the bonds of family tie everyone together and we can each learn something from this story.

I truly enjoyed reading this book and I laughed and cried along with the characters. This is definitely worth reading and I definitely recommend this book to all!