Book Review: Ten Days with a Duke by Erica Ridley

About the Book:

From a New York Times bestselling author: a second chances, enemies-while-lovers reunion romance where nothing is as it first appears, and everyone’s motives are suspect…

Olive Harper’s family has been feuding with the Westons for decades. The Westons’ stud farm is the biggest, but the Harpers’ is the most famous… and she’s the sole heiress. Or was, until her father brokers a truce by offering the Weston heir the Harper farm. The only way to get it back is to marry the knave who kissed her and humiliated her, twice—or prove to her father that some rifts can never be healed.

Scholar and botanist Elijah Weston is dreadful at feuding. For one, he prefers horticulture to horses. For two, he’s been desperately in love with his mortal enemy ever since he kissed her—and, yes, publicly destroyed her—all those years ago. When he’s given ten days to win Olive’s heart, he arrives with marriage license in hand. But where lies and double-crosses abound, how can lifelong rivals learn to trust their hearts?

The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. Twelve delightful romances… and plenty of delicious dukes!

My Thoughts:

Ten Days with a Duke is a heart-warming romance with a strong, independent female character, Olivia and the hero, Elijah,  who prefers horticulture and has been in love with Olivia for years. Olivia is the heiress to the Harpers’ stud farm and quite capable with the horses. When she comes face to face with the person who stole her first kiss and humiliated her, she vows to get back at him even though she is now expected to marry him.

Elijah is a delight, strong, tall, handsome and brooding, he is caught up in his father’s plans and in trying to win Olivia’s heart. As the story progresses, our characters learn to let go of the past, find their own way and even to forgive finding love along the way.

This book is a pleasant and quick read set in the time of Christmas in a rather picturesque village! It is indeed the season of love!

Book Review: Hinterland by L.M. Brown

I was provided with a free copy of the book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

About the Book:

Hinterland

 

Nicholas Giovanni’s life revolves around his five-year old daughter Kate. When he isn’t driving his taxi, he is taking care of her and her mother Kathleen, whose last involuntary admission to hospital was before Kate was born. When his childhood best friend, Ina, returns next door, tensions rise in the house. Already unstable, Kathleen suspicions of Ina and Nicholas grow until a day of violence ensues and Kathleen disappears.

Kate’s life is shattered by her mother’s disappearance. No-one will tell her where Kathleen is. Although Ina helps to take care of Kate, Nicholas keeps her at arm’s length. He cannot bring himself to tell the truth about Kathleen’s last day, until Kate runs away, and he realizes his silence has torn everyone apart. To find Kate and to keep Ina in his life, there are truths he must face, if it’s not too late.

My Thoughts:

Hinterland is a story of one family’s experience with mental illness as well as the choices they make and the subsequent consequences. The main protagonist Nicholas is a devoted father to his daughter Kate and takes care of her mother Kathleen. Initially we are introduced to these three characters and their neighbor, an elder woman named Tilly. She has known Nicholas since his youth. Nicholas has a strained relationship with Kathleen and we can see how that indirectly affects Kate, a five year old child at the time the story begins. We also follow along as Nicholas maneuvers his job as a taxi driver and taking care of his daughter, shielding her from anything bad as only a loving parent can do.

As the story progress, we are introduced to Ina, Tilly’s daughter and someone Nicholas has always had feelings for. With her arrival, things are set in motion as tempers run high, jealousy creeps in, doubts arise. This leads to one incident that changes all their lives. The author’s style of writing is unique and something I have not come upon very often. She leaves a lot unsaid and gives space for the reader to read between the lines and come up with their own interpretation. It’s an interesting way of handling the plot.

The characters are intriguing and I enjoyed reading about them. However, Nicholas was quite confusing and at times I did not like him. In addition, we observe as Kate grows up from a shy five year old to a rebellious teenager who does not know the truth about her mother or why she just disappears one day never to be seen again. This forms the crux of the plot leading to strained relationships and the family’s struggle to deal with the absence of Kathleen but the constant reminder that she exists/existed. I enjoyed reading about Ina and the support she provides in a quiet manner.

Though the story is slow in the first half, it picks up pace in the second half leading to an interesting open ended finish. This gives the reader space to imagine the kind of ending they want for the characters. The author has handled the concept of mental illness very well, bringing about an awareness among the readers of it’s effects on the person dealing with it as well as the effect on the people around. Even though I do have some mixed feelings about this book, I did enjoy reading it. It was a roller-coaster of emotions and finally, the truth always comes out! This book is well worth the read!

Book Blitz: In Debt To Her Millionaire Foe (Millionaire Foe Quartet # 2) by Aarti V Raman

She Hates Him But She’s In Debt To Her Millionaire Foe

Releasing on 25th October
About the Book:

When the songbird owes the business tycoon…

Former gangster, Devansh Thackeray has finally managed to carve the life he’s always aspired to.
Building a chain of seven-star hotels all over the world, a reputation for being an honest businessman…and all the women he could ask for.
Ansh’s life is perfect. Or so he thinks.
Because he is about to hit by a lightning bolt from the past that’ll make him question everything he’s worked so hard for.
And her name is Kahini Palekar.
Kahini’s life is a nightmare.
She works three jobs to pay off the loan sharks circling her.
But, Kahini doesn’t mind because she also gets to do the only thing she’s always wanted to do.
Sing.
Even if it is at a shady nightclub in the backstreets of Goa, the beach paradise of India.
Kahini’s day of reckoning arrives when Ansh arrives back in her life, right when she’s almost assaulted by the manager of the nightclub.
Ansh offers both salvation from her debt and a chance to sing at the most exclusive wedding of the decade.
But there’s just one catch.
Kahini hates Ansh’s living guts and blames him for the destruction of her life.
Even though he was the boy she once recklessly gave her heart to.
Can Ansh get to the bottom of the problems plaguing Kahini or will this songbird fly away again after repaying her debt to him?
Meet the Millionaire Foes – rising from ruin through ruthless ambition, these self-made tycoons have everything. Except, the heart of the one woman who means everything.

The Millionaire Foe Quartet series contains four steamy romances set around the world, each of which can be read as a standalone.

Read an Excerpt from In Debt To Her Millionaire Foe (Millionaire Foe Quartet # 2)

Ansh entered the bar when the lights had dimmed, already in a foul mood from the altercation he’d had outside Grungy’s.
The term “bar” was a loose translation for what the seedy confines really were. It was set in a shady part of Calangute Beach, where the locals lived. It was not the area the posh, firang tourists frequented. The air here smelled of brine and fish and cheap liquor.
The smell of the ocean was everywhere.
It was, after all, Goa the beach paradise of India.
And to everyone who came here, it promised nothing but a good time.
The patrons of Grungy’s, the small-time bar that operated till four in the morning during season, had that look about them. They were local men, embittered and looking for cheap thrills. And some willing victim to provide that for them.
Ansh knew the type. They resented the tourists for showing up and flinging their foreign currency around and expecting their silly demands of room temperature water and late-night cruises to be catered to.
And they really resented needing the silly tourists and their foreign currency too.
A classic catch-22.
But, tonight, these patrons, and that was a loose term too for what the customers of Grungy’s were, were not looking for foreign currency or cheap thrills.
They were all gathered on the rickety tables that the bar owner had graciously provided and murmuring amongst themselves while the poorly-named stage was being set up.
She was the main act tonight.
Ansh frowned and sank deeper into his chair while the bar-back set him up with a glass of the local feni – a local toddy made from fermented coconut water and rum. He frowned deeper when he saw the lipstick mark around the edge of the shot glass and gingerly cleaned the lip with his monogrammed handkerchief.
Places like these reminded Devansh Thackeray of his squalid past.
He couldn’t stand them anymore.
Then, the spotlight hit the stage. The band struck a chord and a woman in black walked up to the mike.
Ansh sat up straighter.
Was she going to start stripping or something? He hadn’t heard the best things about these places on the wharf and this one didn’t have a stellar reputation either.
And, what the hell was she doing here anyway?
He’d sent her plenty of funds seven years ago, deposited in the account her brother had set up for both of them when he had turned eighteen.
Kahini had enough money to keep her in style, because he’d instructed the company’s bankers to always replenish the funds in that account should the need ever arise. The need had never risen, to the best of his knowledge. Even though he knew the money would never bring back her dead brother.
So, was she doing this for kicks?
Some poor little rich kid slumming it thing that all the society madams were doing these days?
He honestly had no idea. And that ate at his insides, like the strength of the feni he’d gingerly taken a sip out of.
Ansh had come here to find out what the hell she’d been up to the last seven years. Since the last time he’d seen her and she’d flung bitter, accusing words at him.

About the Author:

Hi, I’m Aarti V Raman aka Writer Gal. I have been a former journalist, editor, and even a sometime-teacher before I plunged into my dream job. That of being a full-time writer.
In fact, my three favorite words are ‘happily ever after.’
This comes in handy as I primarily write bestselling contemporary romantic women’s fiction, which is all about living happily, after going through some hard times.
My more notable works include the Geeks of Caltech and Royals of Stellangård series, Something Old, Something New, More Than You Want, and The Perfect Fake among others. My chicklit family drama, The Worst Daughter Ever, has been picked up for screen adaptation.
I always love to hang with you, my dear reader friend. I’ve created Writer Gal’s Reader Pals on Facebook for this reason and I hope to see you there.
If not, I’m there on all social media as @aartivraman but I’m most active on Instagram.
Aarti on the Web:
Newsletter * Facebook * Instagram * Twitter * Facebook Group

Book Review: The Pigeon Whisperer by Motaz H Matar

About the Book:

The Pigeon Whisperer

With war ravaging his home in Syria, Dabbour, an introverted, 25-year-old pigeon herder, flees to Berlin with Yasser, his childhood friend. Dabbour is trying to learn the ropes in this new country; while trying to learn German he’s fallen for his German teacher, Zara. One day in a Berlin train station, Dabbour sees a wayward, injured pigeon on the railway tracks; without thinking he jumps to save it, causing chaos and almost getting himself killed. For this, he is arrested by the police – and he realizes how much he misses home and his birds. Yasser asks Dabbour to use his talents as a pigeon whisperer to steal stray pigeons and train them to transport drugs. Dabbour agrees, then realizes it was a big mistake. Dabbour sinks further and further into the world of crime and drug-smuggling, jeopardizing his residency status in Germany. Dabbour is forced to choose between his loyalty to his new family – the drug ring – and doing the right thing. Will love be his ultimate salvation?

My Thoughts:

I was provided with a copy of the book by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The pigeon whisperer follows Dabbour’s journey as he flees to Berlin from war-ridden Syria. This book is moving in so many ways, it brings out many emotions and makes the reader pause and think. This is a story of wanting to belong, trying to hold on to an idea of self that a person has, trying to find one’s identity and place in a new country. The author brings about a contrast in view between Dabbour and his friend Yasser. As the story progresses, we see how Dabbour is drawn into a world of crime and drug-smuggling, using his talents as a pigeon whisperer, how he tries to fight against his role in this world and the role Yasser plays in convincing him.

In this story, we meet only a few characters. They are present to give us some perspective on the story and to bring out a diversity. We have Anna, a German police officer and Zara, the German teacher, who represent the people who are native to the country. Correspondingly, we meet Mr. Salim, a fellow Syrian who has been in Germany for over twenty years and who takes an interest in Dabbour and tries to look out for him.

The story is fast paced and well-crafted, raising points that we may have contemplated at different points in our lives: What does it take to belong? How far can one go for the things or people they love? What does it take to do the right thing? and many more. These questions are very pertinent and hit very close to home.

This book is well worth the read and I strongly recommend it to everyone.

Book Review: Return to Virgin River (Virgin River #19) by Robyn Carr

I received an ARC of the book through NetGalley. The book was released on 13th October 2020.

About the Book:

Robyn Carr returns to the beloved town of Virgin River with a brand new story about fresh starts, new friends and the magic of Christmas.Return to Virgin River (Virgin River, #19)
Struggling with grief after the death of her mother, successful author Kaylee Sloan needs a distraction, to come to terms with life and meet her looming deadline.

With Christmas approaching, Kaylee rents a cabin in Virgin River. She knows the isolation will help her writing and as she drives north through the mountains she immediately feels inspired. Until she arrives at a building that has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local bar is the heart of the town and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a stranger in need.

Welcomed by those in Virgin River, Kaylee starts to see her life in a new light. And as she becomes more involved in the town and the people in it, especially local artist and dog trainer Landry Moore, Kaylee realises she may have found her peace. As Christmas approaches, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to mend a broken heart than Virgin River.

My Thoughts:

Author Robyn Carr takes us back to Virgin River with Kaylee Sloan. For fans of the book/TV series, it is indeed a welcome trip down memory lane! We meet a hoard of characters, some familiar and some not so familiar, but it feels just about right!

The story follows Kaylee Sloan as she decides to move to Virgin River for a few months for a fresh start and some fresh perspective to help with her writing. Dealing with the loss of her mother, she is not just dealing with the loss of a parent, but also her best friend and confidante. This book takes us on a journey of acceptance and togetherness. The people of Virgin River come together to help Kaylee when bad luck strikes just as she reaches the cabin she was renting. It is wonderful to meet many of the characters again and see where they lives are now. A warm welcome, a few kind words and the right kind of support can do wonders to a person grieving and lonely.

What follows is the usual mix of discovery and romance as Kaylee strives to mend, finish her novel and just feel better. The story is well-written and a simple read. The book can be finished in one sitting depending on the reader’s time. A wonderful heart-felt story, this will tug at the reader’s heartstrings and take us on an emotional rollercoaster. Once again Robyn Carr brings us happiness and nostalgia all in one neat package!

Book Review: Two Murders Too Many by Bluette Matthey

About the Book:

Two Murders Too Many

Barn burning in a sleepy farming community is a serious enough matter, but a grisly murder or two in a small midwest town is a showstopper. Throw in a serial blackmailer who has his claws in some of the town’s leading citizens and you have one big recipe for disaster.

Charlie Simmons, newly sworn in as Shannon’s policeman, takes on the challenge of investigating this cauldron of crimes in stride, untangling one thread after another from the fabric of the town of Shannon to find the simple truth.

 

My Thoughts:

The story follows Charlie Simmons as he investigates the unexpected spree of crime and murder in a small midwest town. The story is very well written with a myriad of characters each with their own quirks. At first, it is a little difficult to understand where the book is going with every chapter focusing on a new character and how they fit into the fabric of the town. However, once the events start to unfold however, the reader is pulled into the investigation, contemplating who could be behind the murders and the cause of unrest.

I enjoyed reading about Charlie: how he handles the investigation, systematically working his way through the evidence and tackling the residents of the town. Some character introductions seemed quite drawn out to me, but on the whole, the plot flows well and the ambience of the town was very well described. A quiet and simple town where every person knows the other and everyone’s business is common knowledge, it is indeed shocking to have to deal with murders and mysteries.

The ending is definitely a little unexpected and it is quite interesting to watch as Charlie works through each clue one by one to reach a conclusion! The book is well worth the read!

Book Review: Project Hackathon (Coding Supergirls Book 1) by Arushi Aggarwal

I am grateful to Arushi Aggarwal for reaching out to me for a review of her new release. Read on to know my thoughts.

About the Book:

Curii is creative. Pia is passionate. Ina is imaginative. Together, they solve real world problems using their programming skills – developing powerful, disruptive, and cutting-edge ideas along the way. Follow these Supergirls who code on their first journey as they navigate the world of hackathons. Can they crack the code? Persistence brings knowledge.

Aggarwal combines education and adventure in her innovative “Coding Supergirls” series. She hopes to inspire the students in STEM she’s supporting by showing the numerous coding related opportunities available. After many parents and students were confused about her own hackathon, Code 4 Cause, she also aims to clarify the event’s important purpose – empowering students in tech.

Find the book on Amazon here.

Connect with the author:

Unknown16.com/codingsupergirls

http://twitter.com/dounknown16

https://www.facebook.com/dounknown16

My Thoughts:

This is a very short and pleasant read detailing the experience of three girls as they attend their first hackathon. Right from trying to understand what it is, to how to prepare for it and finally attending it, we are given all the steps. Arushi undoubtedly draws from her personal experience as the story progresses. I particularly like how she modelled her characters and gave us their descriptions, drawing on different aspects of interests and curiosity.

The story aims to bring about an awareness of coding and the world of opportunities it opens up. Through the hackathon experience, we observe as creativity, art, design, coding skills and a whole other set of skills come together in and idea for an application.

The illustrations in the book compliment some parts of the story and are very well done. Arushi has done a great job in taking us through the steps involved in the hackathon through which our protagonists make news friends, gain confidence in themselves, venture into new areas and learn to think out of the box.

I strongly recommend this book for everyone but mainly middle school children! This book would serve as a source of inspiration!

 

 

Book Review: Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? by Smita Bhattacharya

A huge thank you to Smita Bhattacharya, author of the books in the Darya Nandkarni’s Misadventures Series, for reaching out to me and introducing me to her wonderfully eccentric character, Darya.

Read on to know my thoughts on her upcoming novel in the series, to be released in November 2020.

The review is my own honest opinion of the book.

About the Book:

Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? (Darya Nandkarni's Misadventures #3)

Sibiu, Romania. 1947.

A boy’s dead body is discovered in the chimney of an abandoned farmhouse.

Sixty years later, more bodies are discovered in the same place.

Who did it then? Who is doing it now?

Can it be the same killer, or is it another, inspired by the first?

A backpacker is missing. Impressed by Darya’s past exploits, the owner of the missing boy’s hostel tasks Darya to look for him.

After some digging, Darya leads the police to an old farmhouse. They find the backpacker’s two-week-old dead body wedged inside the chimney. Along with two others.

The locals think it is the devil’s work. Darya knows not to trust local superstitions, of which there are many. But the crime is so diabolical, so unique, it begs the question: who could be doing this?

Darya needs to find out urgently before she is forced to leave Sibiu. And as she races to solve the mystery, she has to make sure she doesn’t let new friendships or the town’s insidious secrets get in her way.

The book’s Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Threw-Draco-Chimney-Nandkarnis-Misadventures-ebook/dp/B08FR4JL3J

The book’s Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55024921-who-threw-draco-down-the-chimney

My Thoughts:

This is the third book in the series based on the eccentric character of Darya Nandkarni. Darya is a an accidental and amateur detective who seems to find her way towards mysteries or do they find her? That is a question for the reader to ponder!

Who Threw Draco Down the Chimney? is a very well-crafted mystery filled with the right amount of intrigue in a wonderful setting. Smita introduces the reader to the town of Sibiu in Romania. It is easy to imagine the town even without visiting it thanks to the detailed descriptions and precise explanations of the setting, the people, their mannerisms and lives! She paints a wonderful picture that draws the reader in and would even make the reader want to visit and explore this place!

What sets the book apart are the characters. Each one is shrouded in mystery, suspicious, hiding something and anyone could be guilty! I also enjoyed reading about how they band together and support one another. They are also welcoming and make outsiders feel very much as home. At every point, the reader is forced to pause and wonder at the involvement of each character in the death of the backpacker. It is not clear until the very end with an unexpected twist.

I particularly enjoyed how Smita weaves the past and present, narrating the story in two timelines: one in the weeks leading up to the particular incident that kickstarts Darya’s involvement in the investigation; the second in the present day when Darya is explaining the outcome of her investigation and discussing her findings. A lot of research seems to have gone into the plot line which is well represented through this book.

Smita handles the story and characters very well, with detailed descriptions and a steady pace that takes the reader until the very end. The story can be read as a stand-alone one even though there are some minor references to cases that Darya solved previously and to her family.

This is a must read for everyone who enjoys mysteries set in unique places and with wonderful twists and turns!

Book Review: Midnight Sun (The Twilight Saga #5) by Stephenie Meyer

About the Book:

Midnight Sun (Twilight, #5)

It’s here! Number one bestselling author Stephenie Meyer makes a triumphant return to the world of Twilight with this highly-anticipated companion; the iconic love story of Bella and Edward told from the vampire’s point of view.

When Edward Cullen and Bella Swan met in Twilight, an iconic love story was born. But until now, fans have heard only Bella’s side of the story. At last, readers can experience Edward’s version in the long-awaited companion novel, Midnight Sun.

This unforgettable tale as told through Edward’s eyes takes on a new and decidedly dark twist. Meeting Bella is both the most unnerving and intriguing event he has experienced in all his years as a vampire. As we learn more fascinating details about Edward’s past and the complexity of his inner thoughts, we understand why this is the defining struggle of his life. How can he justify following his heart if it means leading Bella into danger?

In Midnight Sun, Stephenie Meyer transports us back to a world that has captivated millions of readers and brings us an epic novel about the profound pleasures and devastating consequences of immortal love.

My Thoughts:

The much awaited Midnight Sun is here! Being a fan of the Twilight book series, I was quite interested in reading this book. The chance to get a glimpse into Edward’s complex mind and learn about his background and life was too good to pass up.

The book was a pleasant surprise. It sticks to the same story line as Twilight, but we get a complete view of the events that happened prior to Bella arriving in Forks, as well as those that happened after. Edward’s story and his thoughts are intriguing, considering that he thinks of so many things at a time. However, at times, his thoughts get repetitive and this gets a little bit annoying. A lot of the story is written in the style of an internal monologue with dialogue’s thrown in where necessary.

Even though we know the story, the different view point adds a lot of value to the original one, giving us insights into what happened in the background and how the characters ended up where they are. We come to know how the Cullen family found each other and their ideas, emotions, thoughts from Edward’s point of view, as he effortlessly uses his gift. As always, Stephanie Meyer brings to us a well-written novel and takes us back to interact with our favorite characters.

Overall, this story is a good read for fans of the series. Those who have not read the series, you can read this as a standalone, but it would be better to read Twilight first.

Book Review: Lucy’s Last Chance by Elle Sweet

About the Book:

Lucy was a high-powered attorney who had a nervous breakdown after her husband left her. Broken, she came to the town of Moonshire Bay to start over as a yoga instructor; determined to find inner peace in all things this time around.

Brant is running for Mayor and running after Lucy, but she is scared of his drive and need for success.

Can Lucy realize she’s stronger than she thinks and take a chance on love?

My Thoughts:

Lucy’s Last Chance is a very sweet and simple story that follows Lucy, a yoga instructor at Moonshire Bay. Lucy has moved away from the big city and her career as a high-powered attorney. Additionally, she is in the midst of a divorce and hence the need to get away and start over. As she settles into her new life in this town, she is loved by everyone. Her classes are fun and well received.

As the story progresses, we are introduced to Brant. Brant is running for mayor and shows a great deal of interest in Lucy. As time passes, Lucy starts to consider the possibility of a relationship with Brant. The story then follows the two as they start to tread the waters of a budding relationship. The author keeps the story and the pace simple and straightforward. However, even though some parts of the story may become predictable, the reader is sure to enjoy this book!

I definitely enjoyed reading about Lucy and how she learns to trust again, how she learns to forgive and move on. Her strength and tenacity are inspiring.

A huge thank you to Damppebbles book blog for organizing this promotional tour and for giving me a chance to be a part of it.