Book Review: The Engagement by Samantha Hayes

About the Book:

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You thought you had escaped him. Until he proposed to your daughter.

‘There’s someone I want you to meet,’ Belle says, as a man draws up to her side. He’s tall with dark hair and stubble on his square jaw. He’s dressed in expensive-looking clothes – tan trousers and a fitted navy shirt. He’s not exactly smiling, but the corner of his mouth curls upwards as he slides his hand around my eighteen-year-old daughter’s waist.

I grab my husband’s arm to steady myself as my heart kicks into a thunderous gallop.

I’m frozen.

It’s as though I’m under water. The room spins around me.

I stare into his eyes – jet black. Nothing and everything hidden behind them.

Fear prickles my skin as I remember what he did.

How I only just escaped.

All the lies I’ve had to tell since.

‘I want you to meet Jack,’ Belle says, bouncing up and down with excitement. ‘He’s my fiancé.’ She rests her head on his shoulder. ‘Isn’t it exciting? We’re engaged!’

I have to stop this.

If I don’t, I’ll lose everything…

My Thoughts:

Note: I received a copy of the book from NetGalley and Bookouture in exchange for an honest review.

The Engagement is a fast paced thriller that will have the reader on the edge of their seat. The story is told from 3 different points of view, one of Hannah in the present day, one of her daughter Belle and the last in Molly’s view in the past. As we read each chapter, the story unfolds from each character’s perspective giving us a sense of how the past shapes the current events.

Belle returns home from a language learning trip abroad with a shocking announcement. Not only did she not go ahead with the purpose of her trip, she spent time with a much older man to whom she is now engaged in the short span of two months of knowing each other. However, when Hannah meets this person, it is as though her past is coming back to haunt her. The story then follows her as she tries to make sense of the situation, protect her daughter and prevent some of her darkest secrets from coming to light.

The story is well-written with a lot of twists and some of them are so unexpected, you just do not see them coming. Each person has some kind of agenda and so many deeply buried secrets that it is a revelation to the reader. Some parts of the story are horrifying to read about but the author handles it all rather delicately. I truly enjoyed reading this book and was left shocked right until the very end. Even the last few pages had a twist that the reader just doesn’t see coming.

This book is a must read for all those who enjoy a good thriller.

Book Review: Not By Blood by Chris Narozny

About the Book:

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When Tina Evans gets a call from her brother in the middle of the night, she doesn’t think much of it; she’s been fielding distress calls from Bill for the last twenty years, ever since the day their father killed their mother.

At first, this call seems just like all the others: Bill’s holed up in a Brooklyn drug den and needs her to come rescue him. But when Tina gets there, her brother’s nowhere to be found. Instead, she discovers the body of a private detective hidden in the junk heap out back. He’s been shot to death, and his gun is missing from its holster.

Tina’s about to dial 911 when she receives a three-letter text message from a number she doesn’t recognize: “Shh…”

Tina doesn’t believe in coincidence—the death of this detective and her brother’s disappearance must be related. But how? Could it be her father pulling the strings from his prison cell? And is she willing to risk her own freedom—and her life—to uncover the truth?

My Thoughts:

I received an ARC via NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books. The following is my honest review of the book.

Release Date: 18 Jul 2023.

Not By Blood is a thriller that follows Tina as she searches for her brother after receiving a call in the middle of the night. In addition to this, her husband meets with an accident and is in the hospital in a coma. Finally, she is forced to question everything she knows when she discovers the body of a private detective with whom her husband and even her brother might have been in contact.

Tina investigates the mystery surrounding her brother and husband while relying on her foster brother to help her out. She is also being threatened and as she tries to figure out what is going on, she is in a race against detectives of the police department whom she doesn’t trust. The author brings out the brother-sister dynamics and the dynamics of dysfunctional families quite well. Having grown up in a foster family, we also get a glimpse into Tina’s state of mind and her affection for her brother Bill. Secrets are kept for a long time and when they are revealed, the characters are forced to face the consequences of what has happened in the past.

As the story progresses, we are given glimpses into the past as we follow Tina, her brother Bill and her foster brother Paul. We also meet Tina’s father who is in prison and a few other characters who help move the story along. The character interactions are interesting in the story though some seem completely unrelated to the main plot. The story is easy to read and a little predictable by the middle. It was not as fantastic or gripping as I had hoped it would be, but I did enjoy the mystery in the plot and the twists at the end.

Overall this is a good debut psychological thriller by the author and I did enjoy reading it. This is a one-time read and will be enjoyed by fans of the genre!

Book Review: Rise of the Wild Moon by Nina Walker and Kimberly Loth

Rise of the Wild Moon is Book 3 in the New World Shifters series by Nina Walker and Kimberly Loth. The book will be released on 18.01.2021.

I was provided with an eARC of the book in exchange for my honest review. Read on to know what I thought about this book.

(Hint: I loved this book and I love the series! The authors have done a magical job!)

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My Thoughts:
I must admit that with each book, the plot only gets better and better! This book picks up where Book 2 left off after the Lycans attack at the festival. Poppy escapes with help from Ryne who also sends Knox with her to take care of her. Having been bitten, Poppy is yet to discover how it will affect her.

In this book, we meet more of the shifters and get to know them better. We get to spend time among the Lycans as Poppy and Knox end up among a group of them. They have their own ways, but seem to be more concerned about the humans and about saving them (or so they say!). Can you truly ever trust anyone and assume that they do not have a secret agenda? This forms the crux of the plot as the story progresses.

As Poppy navigates her way with the Lycans, she ends up with the resistance and meets many of the players involved. We also learn more about the Lycans as Poppy learns to handle the transitions every Moon cycle. Thus ensues a journey to rescue someone and exact revenge while also trying to save the humans from their fate among the werewolves. I enjoyed reading about the various characters and I like how the authors have worked to develop them. They are well rounded and believable. I also like how Poppy grows as a character reaching a point where she takes strong decisions and initiative while also assuming the role of a leader. She is caring and compassionate and this turns out to be the best part of who she is.

I devoured this book in one night, enjoying the story completely and now eagerly waiting for the next book in the series. This is indeed a wonderfully written book with a new spin on the supernatural with a dash of romance that will have the reader hoping for more!

Book Review: The Orphans of Mersea House by Marty Wingate

About the Book:


In the tradition of Kristin Harmel and Elise Hooper, USA Today bestseller Marty Wingate transports us to postwar England’s Suffolk coast in a rich historical drama about love lost—and promise found.

England, 1957. Olive Kersey’s only love never returned from World War II, and now, she’s alone and penniless. Then, the last person she ever expected to see again returns to Southwold. Olive’s childhood friend, Margery Paxton, arrives to claim her inheritance: Mersea House, a stately old home she plans to turn into the town’s only lodging. Olive’s life takes a sunny turn when Margery hires her to run the establishment. But Mersea House holds its own mysteries—and its own dangers.

First, rumors begin to fly when two enigmatic lodgers move in: Hugh Hodson, manager of the town cinema, and Mrs. Abigail Claypool, a recluse and war widow. And then, the completely unexpected: Margery is informed she has a new ward, eleven-year-old Juniper Wyckes, the orphaned daughter of Margery’s first love. Mrs. Lucie Pagett, Children’s Officer at the local authority, informs Margery that Juniper was severely stricken with polio as a child, and makes clear that she could be taken away if her welfare is in jeopardy.

Olive fears Juniper is being bullied at school because of her disability, even as the girl begins to thrive at home. But the past is never far behind for the inhabitants of Mersea House, and looming secrets may destroy these friendships they’ve created.

My Thoughts:

The Orphans of Mersea House follows the lives of Olive, Margery and Juniper, an eleven year old, as they all come together at the Mersea House. Olive and Margery grew up together for a time and lost touch when Margery went to London. Olive has dealt with her fair share of love, loss and choices made in life.

Set in the time post World War II, we come across people who have lost loved ones and who are trying to move on with their lives. The author gives us a glimpse into the lives of the people but with a slightly less focus on the historical aspect. The story is purely one of friendship, love and honoring promises. It’s of strong bonds and family that is made among friends who learn to accept one another for who they really are.

The book has a diverse set of characters, each as different from the other but bringing so much to the table. I adore Hugh and Mrs C. I also liked reading about Billy and the impact he has on Juniper’s life. More than anything, I love how the author has handled a character dealing with the after effects of polio with delicacy providing enough information to us as a reader. In addition, the author has shown us that having polio does not make one any different from the rest, the person/people can lead normal lives just like anyone else (while taking into account the constraints).

I enjoyed reading about Olive and Margery’s friendship and their antics when they were children. Perhaps the best part of the book is the bond that forms between Olive and Juniper (even though she is officially Margery’s ward). Juniper is a delightful child who ends up bringing out the best in everyone around her at Mersea House while carving a place for herself. As secrets have a way of coming out people have a choice with respect to how they react to them and this is also portrayed in this story.

This is a beautifully written story that reminds us what it means to have friends and family, the importance of friendship, acceptance and the joy of being in love. A truly remarkable and enjoyable read, I would recommend this book to everyone!

Book Review: Greece Actually by Sue Roberts

About the Book:

Small, shy, safe. That’s how Becky lives ever since her last romantic calamity landed her in hospital. Her comfort zone is as confining as her tiny bank balance, and fiercely guarded by her totally over-the-top mum. But the news that her ex is back sniffing round is the final straw. In a very un-Becky move, she packs her bags for the Greek island of Skiathos. Maybe the setting of her favourite ABBA movie will be just the break from reality Becky needs…

Stepping aboard the Mamma Mia! boat tour, Becky leaves her fear in the port as she sings… out loud… in public, and cries Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! to everything the Greek life has to offer. She befriends locals young, old, and absolutely perfect (hello, sizzling hot restaurant-owner Kyros!), dines on freshly baked bread drizzled in golden olive oil on a starlit date, and walks barefoot along silky sandy beaches.

When Kyros asks her to stay longer, Becky is stunned. Could she really create a new life for herself here, and trust her heart with this smooth-talking charmer? But just as she’s thinking about putting down roots, her troublesome ex makes a dramatic return, begging for her back. Will she go back to playing it safe, or will she take a chance on Greece and embrace her true dancing queen?

My Thoughts:

Greece Actually is a light hearted summer or beach read that follows Becky as she goes to Greece with her two best friends. Having just come out of an abusive relationship and living a relatively low-key life, she jumps at the chance to house-sit for her uncle while he goes sailing. The story takes us on a journey around the Greek island of Skiathos and the surrounding places. We discover places to visit and some of the local food while also meeting people who live there.

The book blurb teases a Mamma Mia themed story or a love for the movie or even a love for ABBA songs. However, I did not find this translated into the story as Becky embraces the holiday with her friends. There is not a lot of backstory provided into the characters and thus they felt quite one-dimensional. Though I enjoyed reading about the bond between the friends, I felt that not enough attention was given to them and their lives.

This is a romance set in Greece and even the romance part was a little bit of a let down. We also do not see much of ‘the ex’ until almost the very end and it is not as dramatic as it was portrayed. I was not as invested in the characters as I had hoped to be while reading the book blurb. The highlight of the book is the setting and the beauty of the Greek islands. Overall this book can be read once, but I am sure that it would still be enjoyed by many.