Book Review: The Christmas House by Victoria James

About the Book:

57202506._SY475_

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Victoria James is back with a heartwarming story about three generations of women trying to reconcile for the holidays.

It’s Christmas in the small town of Silver Springs which is bursting with holiday spirit. The downtown shops boast twinkling lights, and the town square features an enormous Christmas tree. Every Christmas Eve for the past fifty years, Ruby Harris, the owner of the historic B&B, The Christmas House, has opened her doors to strangers in need, showing them the compassion once denied to her.

When Ruby invites her family home for the holidays, including her two adult grandchildren, Charlotte and Olivia, she hopes they will be able to put the past behind them. However, her plans for reconciliation implode as the women unravel secrets from the past that force them to confront the impact they’ve had on their dysfunctional family. As Charlotte grows closer to Wyatt, the neighbor next door and a friend from the past, old memories resurface that the women would rather forget. they’re reminded of a man they want to forget.

As the clock inches closer to the New Year, can the magic of the season bring the family closer? Or will a surprise guest threaten their tentative truce and test newly formed bonds?

This light-hearted Christmas tale draws inspiration from Victoria James’s own historical fixer-upper, offering plenty of warmth and holiday cheer.

My Thoughts:

The Christmas House is a lovely story of a dysfunctional family, with a whole lot of secrets who come together for Christmas. This is a story of second chances, unraveling the truth and finding your peace with the past. 

The reader is introduced to Ruby, the current owner of The Christmas House and the matriarch of the family. We are told her story as flashbacks interspersed with Charlotte’s story. Charlotte and her younger sister Olivia have dealt with their father leaving (without any explanation), being left at their grandmother’s doorstep and hardly any contact with their mother. The characters are wonderful and each one has a story to tell that we discover as the story progresses.

Charlotte has grown up resenting her parents and confused about everything that has happened. In addition, she feels the loss of the one friend she has in Wyatt when he suddenly disappears from school. In the present, she turns up at her grandmother’s place only to discover that Wyatt lives here with his teenage daughter. As sparks fly, old emotions and memories surface and Charlotte has to confront her feelings. Additionally, she has to deal with the recent fallout with her younger sister and try to find middle ground to reconcile.

With everyone’s emotions running high, there are so many decisions to be taken and chances to be considered. It is not everyday that one gets to rekindle an old love which could just be the one. The story is a roller-coaster of emotions and it will make you laugh, cry and eventually be happy. New bonds are formed, old ones are renewed and a family comes together for Christmas in the hopes of reconciliation. This is definitely worth a read especially for those who believe in second chances and strong family bonds and it is happening at The Christmas House!

Book Review: The Girl from Venice by Siobhan Daiko

About the Book:

58013905._SY475_

Lidia De Angelis has kept a low profile since Mussolini’s racial laws wrenched her from her childhood sweetheart. But when the Germans occupy Venice in 1943, she must flee the city to save her life.

Lidia joins the partisans in the Venetian mountains, where she meets David, an English soldier fighting for the same cause. As she grows closer to him, harsh Nazi reprisals and Lidia’s own ardent anti-fascist activities threaten to tear them apart.

Decades later in London, while sorting through her grandmother’s belongings after her death, Charlotte discovers a Jewish prayer book, unopened letters written in Italian, and a fading photograph of a group of young people in front of the Doge’s Palace.

Intrigued by her grandmother’s refusal to talk about her life in Italy before and during the war, Charlotte travels to Venice in search of her roots. There, she learns not only the devastating truth about her grandmother’s past, but also some surprising truths about herself.

A heart-breaking page-turner, based on actual events in Italy during World War II.

My Thoughts:

This is a riveting read that takes the reader into Italy during World War II. This is the first book in the historical fiction genre that I have read that focuses on Italy and the events that unfolded here. The book talks about the war, the people, the impact it had on their lives and the secrets kept to move on in life.

We are introduced to Lidia and her granddaughter Charlotte, two strong and unique women, so different and yet similar in all the ways that matter. When Lidia passes away, Charlotte embarks on a trip to figure out who her grandmother was and what secrets she was hiding while living in London.

The story is told from each of their perspectives, giving us an insight into the present day world as Charlotte explores Italy and the events in Lidia’s life as she is careful not to be caught, but is helping out the partisans. Betrayed by some of the people she trusted and forced to endure a lot, Lidia shuts down after the war and moves away, adapting her new identity and never going back to her roots. Charlotte discovers a whole lot of things and along the way meets the people who saved her grandmother and made a difference to her life. She also ends up finding her place, love and a purpose so different than what she started out with.

This is a heart-breaking story that brings to us a reality we cannot imagine and talks about family in a way that makes us appreciate those around us. Lidia’s story enumerates that of so many others whose voices are not heard! A brilliant and well-written story, this is a must read!

Author Interview: In Coversation with Samiksha Bhattacharjee

Hello all my lovely readers!
I hope that you are all doing well.

I am back with an Author Interview post, this time with Samiksha Bhattacharjee, the youngest YA author in the UK. Her debut novel, Legal Crime, was released on February 18, 2021.

Read all about my thoughts in my review post.

It has been a real pleasure chatting with Samiksha. She gets candid in this interview and even hints at an upcoming novel *excited dance*! We talk about her journey towards writing, her inspirations and all about her characters. It is quite interesting to see how she and her book evolved through the journey.

Thank you Samiksha for reaching out and giving me this chance to talk about your book!

————————–xxx—————————-

  1. Hello Samiksha, hope you’re doing great! Thanks for agreeing to this interview. To start off, tell us something about yourself that is not in your bio! 

Hi Namrata, thank you for having me! Well… I love reading, I love enjoying life as a teen… oh, and I love eating food! I don’t think that’s in my bio. Such a shame that my love of food doesn’t reflect in my cooking… I’m pretty terrible 😂

I’m an extrovert, I love meeting new people and gushing over amazing books with fellow fangirls/boys/theys/people, and when I decide on a book ship, I stick with it. Forever.

2. So, as the youngest YA author in the UK, how do you feel about the title? 

I never expected to get the title when I first published the book, to be honest. I genuinely thought that there were many more teens out there who had published YA novels, but I was wrong. I’m really honoured to have the title, but I want to see other teenagers with published novels out there in the world too! The extremely low number of child authors, all around the world, really shocked me and I hope that after reading Legal Crime, teenagers feel more encouraged to start writing, and maybe even get published!

3. Let’s go back to the beginning. What prompted you to start writing? 

I’ve always loved writing, in fact – I wrote my first little book when I was five! When the idea of Legal Crime first came to me in the bathroom as a seven year old (I was trying to think of an idea for a short story), I never expected it to be any longer than ten pages, let alone be published! Legal Crime was originally meant to be just another one of my short stories that I would keep in my notebook compilation, but it ended up being far more than that. I wanted to write a story about a girl who runs away from home and, through her experiences, comes to appreciate her family. The story really stuck with me and I wanted to continue, even after I had passed my self-imposed usual ten page limit.

4. What challenges did you face while writing about a sixteen-year-old and her emotional journey? 

Well, the story was originally meant to follow a ten-year-old girl, but I changed it very soon after because I didn’t feel like it would be very realistic. Instead, I went with sixteen-year-old confused teenager Fiona Watson, a victim of peer pressure and high school dilemmas.

It was challenging, because I wanted to convey her emotions and feelings – happiness, anger, grief… as accurately as possible, and I really hope that I succeeded! Fiona is older than me, so I had to think a little outside the box, but overall, I thought: ‘if person 1 were in this situation, what would they do?’, or ‘I think that person 2 would take this route, but person 3 might do this… how about I combine them?’.

I really wanted to encapsulate raw teenage emotions in the book, and I think that being a child really helped with that. However, at certain points it was very difficult because I wasn’t sure what would happen next. I managed to face writer’s block and continue with the story though, and I’m really happy that I stuck with the story and created a new universe to add to the multiverse of books!

5. How much of yourself or your life did you draw inspiration from while writing this book? 

Legal Crime is a novel that focuses on emotions, as well as peer pressure and friendship problems. These things are issues that affect most high school students… if it hasn’t affected you, you’re really lucky. I have to say, a lot of the book was drawn from things that I have seen or heard happen to others, and even myself.

The pressure to fit in and be popular and whatnot is a problem that, for quite a lot of teens, orbit around them in their daily lives. It’s really sad to see people change themselves and who they are just so that they can fit in with the crowd… and those who don’t do that are seen as ‘weird’ or ‘loners’. I don’t think that uniqueness is very much appreciated in high school, everything is in uniform – and by that, I mean everyone’s behaviour. I say this as if it’s not a problem that affects me, when, in reality, it does. I’ve changed myself and how I act around people before, because I don’t feel like I can be my true self. By that point, I had forgotten who I really was… but I realised my mistakes. I’m still learning to embrace myself, and so is Fiona, and so throughout the course of the book, we were also taking a similar emotional journey together.

6. Who or what led to the creation of Fiona Watson? 

A lot of things and people, really. I wanted to create a relatable teenage character and Fiona Watson is the result. Oh my gosh, it sounds like Fiona is the product of a chemistry equation… but really, she’s far more than that to me. I’ve stuck with Fiona and seen her ups and downs, watched her make stupid desicions…  and just live her life as a teenager, but I suppose that that’s what makes me want to be friends with her. I still want to ask her certain questions about why she did certain things, so I hope that I’ll be able to explore her further in a later book but… no promises.

7. Why did you choose to address serious issues like drug abuse, suicide and others in this book? 

These issues are key parts of many teenager’s lives. Unfortunately, especially in this day and age, many teens feel the need to turn to other forms of ‘comfort’ eg. alcohol and illegal drugs. Bereavement too is an extremely sad thing that might sadly happen in a teenager’s life. Also, and this is because of many reasons, suicidal thoughts are, unfortunately, very high among this age group – mental health problems are rising and the stress of our lives can lead to things like depression. Peer pressure and the need to ‘fit in’ really don’t help the problem.

I wanted to address and give a small glimpse at some of these problems so that I could resonate and send a message to my readers – other children and teenagers like myself. I wanted to speak to my readers and make them think, if they ever do turn to drugs or whatnot: ‘should I really be doing this? Is this going to actually help me?’.

8. Why did you choose to write the book as diary entries? Is there any significance here? 

Well, it started off by accident, really. I labelled each part with time and date stamps and realised that it was actually similar to diary entries. Fiona’s diary is quite a key part to Legal Crime, so that also ties into it. I haven’t really read any books in this style, so I also wanted to bring my own style and tastes into the writing of Legal Crime and make it different from other books out there… some with very similar writing styles.

9. How much research went into the planning and plotting for the book? 

The thing is, I never particularly liked planning. I’m more of a panster and write what comes to my mind, then edit afterwards. Although I did plan out the last few chapters of Legal Crime and am currently (quite) extensively planning my next book (which is a YA dystopian fantasy… more details soon!), Legal Crime was mainly not planned out and was written straight from my mind.

However, I did a lot of research about things like the psychology of teenagers and also spent a lot of time asking other children and teenagers how they felt about certain issues eg. underage drinking. Although not all of this research directly features in the book, it helped me to keep these things in mind whilst writing certain scenes and influenced quite a bit of my writing.

10. How much time did you spend, on average, in writing the book? 

I spent a lot of time with the Legal Crime characters, and I really hope that this isn’t goodbye! I started writing Legal Crime when I was seven and finished it when I was twelve – so it took me five years! Obviously, I wasn’t writing continuously for five years and I also took some breaks for exam preparation etc.

Legal Crime was accepted by the first publisher my book was submitted to, two days after my thirteenth birthday! I’m nearly fourteen now, but am still working with the characters of Legal Crime, even though my next book will not be following them.

11. How did you decide which characters to keep in the story and which to ignore? 

I didn’t really kick any characters out of the story, seven-year-old me thought that that might be a bit mean 😂

However, the characters did change around a bit – at the beginning I experimented with different names for the different characters. Also, a lot of the characters that exist in the final version didn’t actually exist when the idea first came into my head. I never thought that Legal Crime would be a published novel, so I played around with it and changed a lot of characters, but never ignored them.

12. Did you already have a character chart ready or did the number of characters evolve as the story progressed? 

No… I didn’t have a character chart, they kind of just spoke for themselves and I decided that ‘oh, there should be a character who comes in over here’. I’m not doing that for my next novel though, because sometimes things can get a little hectic… but it was fun to add characters in and see how they reacted to different things and to really make ‘friends’ with them, in a way.

13. If you had to choose one moment from the book which was most important, which would it be? 

That is a very tricky question… I need to think hard about that one.

Well, some of the moments I have in my mind are pretty spoiler-y so skip this part if you don’t want spoilers.

I think that the saddest part was definitely Evelyn passing away, and her life struggles might resonate with quite a few readers out there too. I’m not saying that everybody has to go through depression, being diagnosed with terminal cancer and also having really big family issues… but her story will still stay with me and if I ever write anything in the Legal Crime universe, it will probably be a prequel exploring her story further.

But I can’t just choose one moment! I think that the part where everything changed for Fiona is when she stopped being friends with Luna, and so in the Legal Crime universe, that’s a very important part even though there’s no exact date and time to pinpoint it to.

To be honest, all the parts in Legal Crime are important to me and to the story!

Let’s come down to some simpler things about you now… 

14. What is your favourite genre? 

Anything YA is amazing, even though currently I’m loving dystopia and fantasy!

15. Which is your favourite book?

I can’t choose! I love so many different books… but The Cruel Prince by Holly Black is an absolutely brilliant start to an even more brilliant series!

16. Who is/are your favourite author(s)? 

All authors are an inspiration to me for doing what they do the best – creating fantastic worlds and bringing them to life with writing. I am honoured to have received messages and best wishes from so many of my favourite authors including Karen M. McManus (One of Us is Lying), Louis Sacher (Holes), Kendare Blake (Three Dark Crowns), Cathy Cassidy (The Chocolate Box Girls), Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), C.L Taylor (The Island), Renée Watson (Piecing Me Together), J.Elle (Wings of Ebony) and Kathryn Evans (Beauty Sleep). Thank you all!

17. Who would you say is your inspiration to start writing? 

My parents, for encouraging me to write short stories and for teaching me the basics in writing so that I could continue further in my journey. Thank you, love you both so much!

18. Which was the last book you read that you would recommend to fellow readers? 

Wow, that is hard! I am currently loving They Both Die At The End, We Were Liars and am reading Tower of Dawn which is part of the Throne of Glass series. I think that they’re amazing books and I would definitely recommend them!

19. How has the journey of writing this book shaped who you are today? 

Well, I guess that it’s changed quite a lot of things… if I wasn’t an author, or even just a writer… who would I be? Publishing Legal Crime has made me aware of a lot of things that I didn’t really know in the book world and also has made me develop as a writer. I’m happy that I took the leap and decided to get Legal Crime published. I really hope that I can also inspire other children and teens to get into creative writing, and even get published.

 20. Finally, what message do you want to share with us readers?

Love you all so much, it makes me so happy to know that somewhere out there people are reading and cherishing my book, and welcoming it into a new home. I hope that you enjoy reading Legal Crime and that the story stays with you. Keep on reading, and keep on writing!

Book Review: The Lily Garden by Barbara Josselsohn

About the Book:

tlg

She held the letter that she had found in the garden, and noticed the distinctive curls of her father’s handwriting etched on the worn paper. Her life had already been turned upside down by one family secret, would his last words force her to leave her childhood home forever?

When Caroline left Lake Summers thirty years ago, she thought she’d never go back to the place where she lost her parents. But when she finds out that the town’s lily garden lovingly built by her mother is going to be destroyed, she knows she must return from Chicago to save it.

Caroline and her daughter Lee are welcomed home by the warm smile of her mother’s best friend Maxine, and piles of pancakes at her cozy little restaurant in town. And Caroline soon learns that she isn’t the only person invested in saving her mother’s legacy, when she meets handsome historian Aaron. As she gets to know him, strolling along the sparkling lakeshore, she can’t imagine anywhere else she’d rather be.

But then Caroline learns a terrible secret about the day her mother died. And soon the real reason Aaron is in Lake Summers comes to light. Will the truth about the people she loves force her to give up a future with Aaron, and the beautiful town that has always been in her heart?

About the Author:

barbara

Barbara Josselsohn is an award-winning writer who loves crafting stories about strong protagonists facing a fork in the road. Her novels include The Bluebell Girls, The Lilac House, The Last Dreamer, and her newest release, The Lily Garden. She has published hundreds of articles about family, home and relationships in national and regional publications, and also teaches novel writing at the Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She lives just north of New York City and enjoys escaping to the beach or the mountains whenever she can. Other than writing, her biggest passion is her family: her husband, her three kids, and her indefatigable shih-poo! Visit her online at http://www.BarbaraSolomonJosselsohn.com, @Barbara_Josselsohn_Author (Instagram), @BarbaraJoss (twitter) or Facebook.com/BarbaraSolomonJosselsohnAuthor

Amazon link: https://bit.ly/39PgndH

My Thoughts:

This is a wonderful story of re-connecting with people, unravelling secrets and forging new bonds. Caroline comes back to Lake Summers with her daughter in the hope of saving the garden behind the library. This is the garden which her mother built up rather lovingly and took care of it until she passed away at a rather young age. Caroline was taken in by her mother’s best friend Maxine until her great aunt came and took her away.

Caroline is nursing a slight hatred towards her great aunt for having kept her away from Lake Summers, but as time passes, she starts to find out the truth about what really happened and all the secrets her family has kept. Reconnecting with people from her childhood, especially ones who love her and took care of her gives us a feleing of finally coming home. As Caroline and her daughter explore this place and discover their passion, the reader is taken along on a sweet journey towards a wonderful end.

The characters are well thought out and pleasant. I loved reading about Maxine and her family, the love and connection people had with the Garden and the place, Lake Summers. It is a pleasant setting that made me feel happy to be a part of it through Caroline in the end. The cherry on the top is the chance to find love and move beyond all the secrets and what ifs towards new beginnings. The author addresses these quite well in this book.

This is a pleasant read that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a romance and family story.

Note: Thanks to Bookouture for having me on the blog tour!

Lily Garden Banner

Book Review: Jane Austen Investigates: The Abbey Mystery by Julia Golding

About the Book:

56933218._SY475_

Jane Austen turns detective in this spooky historical adventure by award-winning author Julia Golding!

It’s 1789 and a young Jane Austen turns detective as she seeks to solve the mysterious happenings at Southmoor Abbey. When a carriage accident forces a change of plans, 13-year-old Jane is sent to be a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week as the household prepares to celebrate the eldest son’s coming-of-age party. While there, Jane vows to solve the mystery of the ghostly monk in the Abbey grounds – for she does not believe in such stories!

But this is not the only strange occurrence for the adventurous young Jane to investigate. There are shivery night-time investigations, an Indian girl with secret talents, a library fire, two prize horses in danger, and friends to save from false accusations.

With notebook in hand and her faithful dog Grandison by her side, will Jane overcome the continuous obstacles and find out the truth?

My Thoughts:

Note: I received a copy of this book through NetGalley. The below review reflects my honest opinion!

This is a delightful book for young readers and fans of mystery and adventure! The reader meets a young and spunky Jane Austen who is thirteen years old. She is sent to Southmoor Abbey as a companion to Lady Cromwell for a week in place of her sister. Jane is drawn to the mystery surrounding the Abbey and the so called ghost who haunts the place. On a dare from one of her brother’s she decides to investigate and find out the truth since she does not believe that ghosts exist.

The story introduces us to a myriad of characters, including a father-daughter duo from India and Jane’s “lap” dog Grandison. There are many secrets and mysteries to be solved that eventually end up being connected. I enjoyed reading about Jane’s thoughts and experiences which the author described quite well. We are able to see some of the famous author in this young girl with her strong imagination and opinions. We also see how supportive her family is of her, encouraging her to write and share her thoughts and stories. Jane’s letters to her sister were a delight to read about and some of them had me in splits.

Though the focus moved away from the mystery of the ghost in between, the overall plot is well done and will ensure that the target audience of middle graders (as well as adults) will be hooked. The story and main character remind me of Nancy Drew and other such heroines who seek out and solve mysteries. The author has done a great job in bringing a young Jane Austen to life and I am indeed looking forward to join them on further adventures along with all the friends Jane (and enemies) Jane makes along the way! I do hope you all join the adventure too.

Cover Reveal: Princess and Country by Emmanuelle Snow

PIC2

Title: Princess and Country

Series: Pink and Country – book 2 (Interconnected standalones)

 

Author: Emmanuelle Snow

Publisher: Smart Lily Publishing inc.

Genre: Romance / New Adult

Trope: A friends-to-Lovers, small-town, country music romance

Cover Design: Olivia Pro Design

Photo: Deposit photos

Model: (unknown)

Release Date: July 13, 2021

PRE-ORDER PRICE $0.99

About the Book:

Dahlia Ellis is a country music superstar who finds herself loved by her best friend and bandmate and his brother. In her heart the choice is clear. Dahlia loved both men, but she’s only in love with one of them. Will she fight for what her heart wants knowing she’ll break someone else’s, or will she stay away?

For Dahlia, fame, money, and beauty don’t mean anything. And her story is one of love, strength, trust, and fate.

Blurb:

Her love and her best friend
A passion that can’t be shared
A friendship that needs no words
A record deal that takes her all over the world.
And one fateful night that stops her world.

Country superstar Dahlia Ellis finds herself loved by both her best friend and his brother. Without leaving too many broken heart pieces behind, she must find a way to traverse through her own feelings and live her life with the one she was meant to be with, even if it means breaking a heart that loves her the most.
But life has its own game plan ready for her. Despite her best intentions, she will be sucked into a tornado of love and loss that will hurt her and the people she loves the most.

3 lifetimes…
One night will change the rest of her life
One loss will shatter everything she has ever known
And one encounter will give her the courage to dream again.

Fame, love, success aren’t enough to protect her heart from bleeding.
Will Dahlia be able to survive after everything she has ever known crashes and burns?

And just how many heartbreaks can she actually survive?

Princess and Country is the second book in this small-town, soulmate, country music romance series.

It’s full of raw emotions, sizzling moments, heat, banter, and chemistry. 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58442564-princess-and-country

 Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B097YRWCJM/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Princess-Country-Pink-Book-ebook/dp/B097YRWCJM

Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Princess-Country-Pink-Book-ebook/dp/B097YRWCJM/

Amazon: AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/Princess-Country-Pink-Book-ebook/dp/B097YRWCJM/

Amazon Universal: https://amzn.to/3xXrQkJ


B&N: NONE
Kobo: NONE
Apple Books: NONE
Google Play: NONE

 Universal Buy Link:

http://www.emmanuellesnow.com/princess-and-country

http://www.books2read.com/princess-and-country

https://amzn.to/3xXrQkJ

Paperback: Yes

Audio: no yet

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

Author Social Media:

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/esnowauthor

Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/snowvip

Newsletter: http://emmanuellesnow.com/subscribe/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/snowemmanuelle

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/snowemmanuelle

Bookbub: http://www.bookbub.com/authors/emmanuelle-snow

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/snowemmanuelle

Amazon Page: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B094GR5ST4

Website: http://www.emmanuellesnow.com

Book link on website: http://www.emmanuellesnow.com/princess-and-country

DRBT new logo

Book Review: Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri

About the Book:

41026360._SY475_

A nobleman’s daughter with magic in her blood. An empire built on the dreams of enslaved gods. Empire of Sand is Tasha Suri’s captivating, Mughal India-inspired debut fantasy.

The Amrithi are outcasts; nomads descended of desert spirits, they are coveted and persecuted throughout the Empire for the power in their blood. Mehr is the illegitimate daughter of an imperial governor and an exiled Amrithi mother she can barely remember, but whose face and magic she has inherited.

When Mehr’s power comes to the attention of the Emperor’s most feared mystics, she must use every ounce of will, subtlety, and power she possesses to resist their cruel agenda.

Should she fail, the gods themselves may awaken seeking vengeance…

Empire of Sand is a lush, dazzling fantasy novel perfect for readers of City of Brass and The Wrath & the Dawn.

My Thoughts:

This debut novel by Tasha Suri is well written and gripping. Set in a world inspired by Mughal India, Tasha creates a captivating world of politics, intrigue and of course magic. Her characters are refreshing as is the concept for the plot.

The book follows Mehr as she tries to survive in her father’s household under her very watchful stepmother. Born of mixed heritage, Mehr is forbidden from talking about or openly following the customs of her mother’s people. She practices and learns in secret and is always careful to not be seen doing anything she should not. However, one foolish action leads to a series of events that define Mehr and her life thereafter. When her power is finally noticed, the Emperor’s mystics come for her with an offer of marriage.

As the story progresses, we learn a lot more about the ways of the Amrithi people, their culture and magic. They are a dying race and few have the kind of power that Mehr possesses. The author weaves an intriguing tale around this concept, taking us deep into a world of deceit and a thirst for power. With few people on her side, Mehr has to save not only herself but the entire world and set things right by the Gods.

I loved reading about the journey through the desert and the experiences of our characters. The setting is exotic and pulls the reader into a different world entirely. Overall this is a good read in the fantasy fiction genre and I recommend this for all fans!

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

About the Book:

57347034._SY475_

It begins with absence and desire. It begins with blood and fear. It begins with a discovery of witches.

Fall under the spell of Diana and Matthew in the stunning first volume of the No.1 internationally bestselling ALL SOULS trilogy.

A world of witches, daemons and vampires.

A manuscript which holds the secrets of their past and the key to their future.

Diana and Matthew – the forbidden love at the heart of it.

When historian Diana Bishop opens an alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library, it’s an unwelcome intrusion of magic into her carefully ordered life. Though Diana is a witch of impeccable lineage, the violent death of her parents while she was still a child convinced her that human fear is more potent than any witchcraft. Now Diana has unwittingly exposed herself to a world she’s kept at bay for years; one of powerful witches, creative, destructive daemons and long-lived vampires.

Sensing the significance of Diana’s discovery, the creatures gather in Oxford, among them the enigmatic Matthew Clairmont, a vampire geneticist.

Diana is inexplicably drawn to Matthew and, in a shadowy world of half-truths and old enmities, ties herself to him without fully understanding the ancient line they are crossing. As they begin to unlock the secrets of the manuscript and their feelings for each other deepen, so the fragile balance of peace unravels…

My Thoughts:

I discovered the series on one of the online streaming channels and realized that it is actually based on a book series. I watched one episode and then decided to read the book first. I honestly prefer to read books more than watch the series/movies.

This book drew me in instantly. Diana is a strong independent woman who is trying to keep away from the one thing that defines who she is, magic. She is a witch, the last in the line of the strongest witches and she has her own internal demons to fight. A historian, Diana unknowingly opens an alchemical manuscript that alerts all creatures to her presence and draws them to her. Everyone wants the book. Everyone has an agenda.

Matthew, a vampire, is drawn to Diana for reasons he does not understand. It starts off with the manuscript like all other creatures, but then protective instincts kick in and suddenly he wants to keep the others away from her, keep her safe. As they start to work together, there is so much chemistry and passion that builds between them, both professionally and personally.

This is a tale of forbidden love, of loving outside your community, crossing boundaries and of enduring love. Wow. That is a lot of love talk! But this book is so well written with it’s technical descriptions that will not put the reader off. It does the opposite, it will draw you in until you are a part of the world of these characters.

At first the story takes time to build and then slowly builds pace which is then held steady. We follow Diana and Matthew as they navigate a world of creatures where there are rules and of course people who are out to get them. With the support of family and loved ones, they try to find out the truth of the manuscript and keep everyone safe. Diana starts to learn about her magic, her legacy and who she is. She starts to unravel the mystery behind her parents death and come into her own all with the strong support of one truly handsome vampire!

This is a wonderful story that is told in a manner that will leave the reader spellbound. The author casts a wonderful web of magic on reader that carries them along until the end. I loved reading this book and am looking forward to reading the next book in this series!

Book Review: Guilty by Sadie Ryan

About the Book:

Guilty (1)

𝐀 𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐌𝐞𝐞𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠?

𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐌𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐰𝐢𝐥𝐥 𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐢𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫.

Lindy once had the world at her feet. An adoring husband, two beautiful daughters and a successful career.

In a split second, a tragic accident causes Lindy’s world to come crashing down around her.

Mia, a personal fitness trainer and glamorous wife of a local tv personality seems to have everything.  

Slowly Lindy learns more about Mia’s ‘perfect’ life and becomes convinced that they are each other’s saviours.  

As obsessions grow and the lines that shape reality become blurred, Lindy’s and Mia’s lives are now forever dangerously intertwined as personalities merge.

About the Author:

Sadie Ryan Author Photo

Sadie Ryan is the author of three books. Her latest, Guilty came out in April 2021, a psychological thriller. She loves animals and lives in leafy Cheshire in the North West of England with her daughter and rescue dog. When not writing she spends her time reading, gardening, walking her dog or watching old black and white movies.

When asked where she gets her ideas from, she says, ‘From observation, inspiration and lots of wicked thoughts.’

Follow her at:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sadieryanauthor
Website : https://www.sadieryan.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/The__SadieRyan

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B092DV5QP4

Amazon USA https://www.amazon.com/Guilty-breathtaking-psychological-thriller-night-ebook/dp/B092DV5QP4

My Thoughts:

Wow! This is one interesting book and not at all what I expected the plot to be like!

Guilty is a psychological thriller that’s unlike any I’ve read before. The story is told from two different perspectives, giving the reader a glimpse into the minds and lives of each of the main characters. It took me a few chapters to grasp the concept, but once in, I was hooked until the very end. This is a rollercoaster of a journey with the craziest twists and the most unexpected turns.

Lindy, one of the main characters is troubled, sad, angry and filled with all kinds of negative emotions. Until we find out what truly happened, all we know is that she is bitter and her perfect life is not as it once was. Mia, a fitness trainer and wife of a famous TV host, seems to have it all; a perfect husband, life and everything. However, when one truly steps into the house, the reality is quite different.

The lives of these two women intersect, not exactly by coincidence and from here starts the crazy journey. Lindy inserts herself into Mia’s life, trying to befriend her it seems. It feels as though Lindy is everywhere and this even feels like she is stalking Mia. What is her interest in this couple? Why is she always seen around them? Why is she watching them?

So many questions arise and are answered as the story progresses. The characters are quite deep and as we get to know them, we start to understand why they are the way they are. In fact, as a reader and person, it is easy to sympathize with them even when they are in the wrong. Their state of mind is something that the author has done a wonderful job of capturing. When the perfection is shattered, what’s underneath brings out the monster in everyone. The author portrays this through this well crafted plot which is executed to perfection. I could not stop reading. I could not stop the horror I felt nor the sadness and all other emotions that go with this book. It is interesting to read about how the mind reacts to situations and then tries to understands them. This is a must must must read for all fans of psychological thrillers!

Tour Schedule:

Guilty Tour Poster (1)

 

Book Review: The Lost Girl of Berlin by Ella Carey

About the Book:

cover227023-medium

The truck stopped for a moment in the freezing, bombed-out street and Kate caught sight of a little girl in a ragged dress on the steps of a once-beautiful mansion. The child’s eyes were startling blue, a pair of endless pools, drawing Kate towards her…

1946, Berlin. War correspondent Kate Mancini is in Germany, reporting on the aftermath of the devastating war. For her readers back home in New York, she tells the stories of innocent families, trying to rebuild the wreckage of their lives now the soldiers have left at last. But in the Russian-held sector of Berlin on an icy winter’s day, Kate breaks all the rules, rescuing Mia Stein, a silent orphan who she fears will otherwise perish.

Together with her fellow journalist, handsome Rick Shearer, Kate manages to find a safe house for Mia before she returns to America and vows to keep in touch. Back home, the reality of post-war life for women is stark. Whilst Rick walks into his dream job, no newspaper will hire a woman. The editors laugh her out of their offices, telling her to get married and raise a family. Rick does all he can to support her, as she takes her first steps towards the new medium of television news, and their friendship deepens into something more.

Then tragedy strikes: Rick is falsely named as a communist sympathizer. He is arrested, blacklisted and faces prison.

Kate knows she must do all she can to free the man she loves. But that means returning to Germany, to seek out the little orphan girl who is her only chance at salvation. Kate and Rick saved Mia—will she help them both now? And even if Kate succeeds, freedom might never be hers when she returns home…

My Thoughts:

I requested for and received a copy of this book via NetGalley. A huge thank you to Bookouture and the author. The below review reflects my honest opinion.

The Lost Girl of Berlin is a very well-written novel that is gripping and heart-wrenching. Set in the time post WWII, we are introduced to Kate, a journalist whose interests lie in all things post war and politics. She is dedicated and a great journalist, in a man’s world, fighting to make a place for herself. The book leads us to post was Berlin where we are introduced to various other journalists from America as well as a little girl sitting on the steps of a home that is now destroyed.

As Kate sets out to save this girl and find her truth, we are also introduced to Rick, a fellow journalist who steps in to help her out. Little do they know that this small good deed will go a very long way. The author gives us a glimpse into how the war affected the countries, people and their way of life. We also get a glimpse into the mind of the average American and the impacts on their lives. With a focus on the two main characters and glimpses into their families, this story is one of resilience and strength in one o the most difficult times.

I have read a lot of stories set during the WWII, but this is the first one that focuses on the world post war. This was refreshing and enlightening. It is heart breaking to read about everything that happened, but the most is little Mia’s story. The author brings in an unexpected twist towards the end that I honestly did not see coming, but one which brings this entire story together in the end.

I think the author has done a great job in portraying the lives of women and the expectations from them in society. Kate was indeed the first woman to present her pieces on radio and later on television. It was difficult to land a steady contract and no-one wanted a woman involved in writing or talking about political things. Taking all this in stride, Kate works hard to fight for her chance, she makes tough choices and along the way finds love, family and peace of some kind.

This is a wonderful story, but one that is based on so many truths and it is definitely an emotional read! I strongly recommend this for all fans of historical fiction and history as such!