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!

WWW Wednesday – 05/01/2022

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This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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Currently Reading

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Recently finished reading

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Read the review here.

Reading Next (hopefully! :))

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Do share your thoughts on the books, leave a link to your review if you have read them or just share your blog post links for the meme!

Book Review: The Wedding Setup by Sonali Dev

About the Book:

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From USA Today bestselling author Sonali Dev comes a heartfelt short story about one woman’s journey of self-discovery and what it means to be happy.

Ayesha Shetty lost her brother seven years ago, the same time she lost everything else important to her: her dreams, her fierce independence, and the man she loved. Not wanting to see her mother hurt anymore, she put her wild self away and became the dutiful daughter her mother needed and took on her brother’s role in the family business.

Now her best friend’s big, fat Indian wedding is a chance to get away from her endless duties at the restaurant and maybe even have some fun (if she remembers how). But a setup arranged by her mother, with a doctor no less, is the last thing she needs. The fact that he checks all her mother’s boxes just makes everything better…and worse.

Then Emmitt Hughes shows up. Her brother’s best friend. The love she once chose over family duties and her responsibilities. The one she asked to leave, and who did. The one who knows the real Ayesha. Torn between a love from the past that could cost her the only person she has left and her sense of obligation to her mother, will Ayesha find the strength to stop thinking about what everyone else wants and finally put herself first? Or is the old Ayesha truly gone for good?

My Thoughts:

The Wedding Setup is a short story that reads in the style of a Bollywood movie. It is a quick and interesting read considering the theme that is handled by the author. Ayesha suppresses her dreams and stays to help her mother at their family restaurant after her brother dies. She calms down and becomes the opposite of who she used to be. In an attempt to keep her mother happy, she starts to accept and agree with her without question.

The author handles the storyline very well and in this short story brings out a ton of emotions. The mother-daughter relationship, how it changed, Ayesha’s friendships, past love and the current arranged marriage setup. With the prospect of an arranged match and her ex turning up at her best friend’s wedding, Ayesha is torn between choosing what she wants and what would make her mother happy.

I enjoyed reading this book and I admire how the author has handled both the plot and her characters. Overall this is definitely a book that I would recommend for those who love second chance romances and an overload of different emotions!

Book Review: The Perfect Daughter by Alex Stone

About the Book:

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The perfect daughter…

Jess Harper has spent her whole life trying to make her mum, Abigail happy and proud. And everything Jess does, from the clothes she wears, the job she has, the men she dates, are all approved by Abigail first.

The perfect boyfriend…

So when Jess announces that she has a new man in her life – plumber Adam – Abigail is less than impressed. ‘A plumber? Really, Jessica….’ Adam encourages Jess to break free from her mum’s manipulation, can’t she see what’s happening?

The perfect mother….

But Abigail is only doing these things to keep Jess safe, to protect her from getting hurt again…isn’t she?

Or the perfect liar?

Jess, caught in the middle, doesn’t know who to believe or trust. And then Adam vanishes without trace.

Now Jess is the police’s prime suspect and they want to know if Jess really is as perfect as she seems….

My Thoughts:

The Perfect Daughter is a gripping thriller that follows the relationship between Jess and her mother. Jess tries to live up to her mother’s expectations and is always in touch with her or around her. When she starts a relationship with Adam, a plumber, she also has to deal with her mother’s disregard for him. As she tries to maintain and nurture the new relationship and keep her mother happy, she finds herself sandwiched in between, trying to reconcile who she is and who she wants to be.

I found Jess’s character to be quite interesting. The author has done a good job in trying to portray her thoughts and feelings. The first half of the story goes back and forth between the past and present day where Adam is missing and presumed dead. As the police investigate, we follow Jess as she deals with the on-going police investigation and tries to come to terms with everything. In parallel, we also get to know how she met Adam, the nature of their relationship and the role her mother has always played in her life under the pretext of protecting her.

I found the first half of the story to be a little repetitive in the thoughts and feelings that were portrayed. However, as you progress to the second part of the story, the plot intensifies and takes a huge turn. The author has done a wonderful job with the story here, bringing to us many twists and key characters who change the course of the story. Though the story focuses mainly on Jess, her mother and Adam, there are some characters who feature in the story to shape it’s course. I appreciate how the author brought them in and handled their roles in the story very well.

What intrigued me was Jess’s mother’s nature and her thought process. I found her actions and thoughts to be interesting and I think the author handled the mother-daughter dynamics very well. As you read, the questions of what it means to be perfect and what can a person believe are raised in the minds of the reader. When secrets are revealed and lies are caught, the plot takes a big turn. This is indeed a roller-coaster of a read taking us through some pretty twisted minds and toxic relationships, but coming together very neatly in the end with a well thought out conclusion.

This book is definitely worth the read for all fans of a good thriller or mystery with a psychological angle filled with a few unexpected twists!

Blog Tour – Book Review: We Belong Together by Beth Moran

Book Blurb:

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Eleanor Sharpley has been living a lie…
Needing to escape her London life quickly, Eleanor throws her things into the back of her car, and heads to her erstwhile best friend Charlie’s family farm.
But Charlie isn’t there. Instead she finds Charlie’s grieving brother Daniel, her eight-month old daughter Hope (a daughter Eleanor had known nothing about), and a crumbling and unloved Damson Farm.
Damson Farm lies at the edge of the village of Ferrington, with the river Maddon flowing at its heart. But Ferrington is a village divided by more than just a river – it is split in two by an age-old feud – between the Old Side and the New Side. Eleanor has run from her problems, straight into a family and a world that has problems of its own.
But Damson Farm has magic too, and as winter gives way to spring, the old farm starts to come to life under Eleanor’s love and care. The orchard starts to blossom with daffodils and bluebells, and the sound of bees busy in their hives fills the warming air. Can Eleanor bring Daniel and the feuding village of Ferrington back to life too, or will her secrets catch up with her first?

Purchase Linkhttps://amzn.to/3g55WF3

About the Author:

Beth Moran
Beth Moran is the author of three previous romance novels, including Making Marion. She regularly features on BBC Radio Nottingham and is a trustee of the national women’s network Free Range Chicks. She lives on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest. Beth’s first novel for Boldwood, Christmas Every Day, was published in September 2019.

Social Media Links:
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/bethmoranauthor
Twitter https://twitter.com/bethcmoran
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/bethmoranauthor/
Newsletter Sign Up Link http://bit.ly/BethMoranNewsletter
Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/beth-moran

My Thoughts:

We Belong Together is a heart-warming story that is well worth the read! The story follows Eleanor as she escapes to her best friend’s family farm to hide from her demons. At the farm, she encounters situations that she did not expect and in the midst of all the secrets, some mystery (this was unexpected) and the good she tries to do, she finds love!

I loved reading about Eleanor, her secretive past (that is hinted at a lot), he relationships and friendships with people. I also enjoyed reading about Daniel and all the people of the village. The characters are pleasure to read about and are very well thought out. The vivid descriptions by the author make it so easy to imagine the village, it’s surroundings and experience the place along with the chanracters.

This is a light read that can be read anytime but would be best for a lazy summer afternoon. I fell in love with the story and enjoyed it completely. This is the first book by the author that I have read and I am definitely looking forward to reading more!

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book!

We Belong Together Blog Tour

Book Review: A Baffling Murder at the Midsummer Ball by T.E. Kinsey

About the Book:

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A locked room. A mysterious death. Just another gig for the Dizzy Heights.

When London’s finest jazz musicians, the Dizzy Heights, are booked to play the glitzy Midsummer Ball at a country house in Oxfordshire, they expect a weekend filled with flappers and toffs having a roaring good time.

But the festivities at Bilverton House take a turn for the worse when the group are stranded by a summer storm. And when a member of the Bilverton family turns up dead in a locked room in an apparent suicide, Skins, Dunn and Ellie realise this is going to be a much tougher gig than they thought.

But here’s the lick. What if it was in fact cold-blooded murder? And what if the killer is still at large? It’s up to the Dizzy Heights to once again put down their instruments and get improvising if they want to solve this confounding mystery.

My Thoughts:

Note: A huge thank you to NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK for providing me with an ARC of the book.

This is  the first book that I have read by author T.E. Kinsey. Of course this is the second book in the Dizzy Heights Mystery series, but it can be read as a stand alone book. This story follows the Dizzy Heights band as they arrive at Bilverton House to play at the Midsummer Ball. What is expected to just be a band performance for an evening turns into a situation of house arrest due to the rains. With the Bilverton family members and the Dizzy Heights band stuck together, the plot becomes more interesting when there is a death – in a locked room that is almost ruled a suicide.

As the story progresses, we are introduced to the various members of the band as well as the Bilverton family. It is indeed quite a mix of interesting characters, each with their own quirks, personalities and habits. It also looks like everyone in the Bilverton family is up to something and is keeping secrets. When Ellie hears a gunshot and finds the dead body, she along with Skins and Dunn agree that the circumstances are suspicious and suspect murder.

This turns into an interesting investigative few days for them while the band also plays music and mingles with the family to pass the time. I love how the plot unravels and Ellie’s perceptive nature. She is one of my favourite characters in this story. The author has done a great job in building up the atmosphere and describing each situation and person to the readers! It feels as though we are involved in the investigations and discussions along with the band. I would also like to point out that there are some great references to music from the time period of the setting ( a lot of which I don’t even know), but I felt like I could relate anyway due to how it was described.

This is one murder mystery I would recommend to all fans of the genre and I cannot wait to join the Dizzy Heights band on their next performance and adventure!

WWW WEDNESDAY – 21/07/2021

This is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words.

All you need to do is answer the following three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Also, do follow the host and other bloggers who participate!

It is wonderful to know what everyone is reading and recommendations are always welcome!

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What are you currently reading?

A variety of genres actually!

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

I am hoping to get started with my brand new copy of The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. The book has an amazing cover and spray painted edges! Considering that this is one of the most talked about books, I am excited to join the fan club!

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Do stop by to share your thoughts or posts!

Book Review: An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse

About the Book:

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From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a tale of love, loss—and one last extraordinary dance.

Christmas Eve, 2019. Ninety-four-year-old Molly lies in her hospital bed. A stroke and a fall may have broken her body—but her mind is alive with memories.

London, 1940s. Molly is a bright young woman, determined to help the war effort and keep her head up despite it all. Life becomes brighter when she meets and falls in love with a man who makes her forget everything with one dance. But then war forces her to make an unforgettable sacrifice, and when she’s brought to her knees by a daring undercover mission with the French Resistance, only her sister knows the secret weighing heavily on Molly’s heart.

Now, lying in her hospital bed, Molly can’t escape the memories of what she lost all those years ago. But she is not as alone as she thinks.

Will she be able to find peace—and finally understand that what seemed to be an ordinary life was anything but?

My Thoughts:

Amanda Prowse brings to us yet another powerful story of first love, loss, war and the endurance of a woman through all of this. This is a story that brings out all the emotions and one of the few books that made me shed a few tears.

Molly’s story starts off in the 1940s in London and goes on until 2019, as she lies in the hospital thinking back to her life. We follow her as she experiences her first love, the loss of her love, her efforts to contribute to the war effort, her experiences with different people and in the midst of the war. In all this, she gives birth to a wonderful baby boy, born out of wedlock and shunned by her mother. With no other choice, Molly requests her sister and brother-in-law to care for her baby while she earns enough money to support herself.

As time passes, Molly becomes a wonderful aunt to her son, who never learns of the truth, but loves her as much as any child could love a mother. Carrying the weight of her decisions, the separation from her son and the horrors of the war, Molly, a very very strong woman faces a life filled with so many secrets. She perseveres on, working for a living whether it is playing her part in the war efforts or supporting herself after the war ends.

The bond Molly shares with her sister is a strong one and something that is great to read about. The strength, support and even jealousy all come together showing us a glimpse into each of their thoughts and in the end how they are there for each other. This is a wonderful example of what family is all about and the bonds that siblings share. The author brings to us the irony of the whole situation under the guise of the character having lived “an ordinary life”!

Amanda Prowse’s writing is powerful and will draw the reader in from page one. There is no stopping until the reader gets to the bottom of it all, finds out all the secrets and how the story ends. This book will stay with me for a long time and I highly recommend it to all fiction lovers out there. The book cannot be put into any one genre, it encompasses so many and in the end is just worth it!

Book Review: The Christmas House by Victoria James

About the Book:

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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: 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!