Book Review: When We Were Sisters by Cynthia Ellingsen

About the Book:

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Two sisters who haven’t spoken for twenty years. One summer to bring a family back together.

Jayne Winters hasn’t seen her sister Charlotte since that last childhood holiday at their grandmother’s North Carolina beach house. Separated after that summer by their parents in a bitter divorce, Charlotte has never forgiven Jayne for not fighting to stay together.

So when Jayne discovers that they have both inherited the beach house, and that their grandmother’s last wish was for them to renovate it together, it feels like a miracle: one last chance to win her sister back.

At first Charlotte will barely speak to her. But slowly the memories of swimming races and storytelling in their attic bedroom looking over the sea start to break down the wall between them. With the help of photographs and letters left by their grandmother for them to find, the two women begin to restore not just the creaking mahogany staircase and the faded antique wallpaper, but their own relationship.

But then Jayne discovers that Charlotte has kept a heart-stopping secret from their past from her. Can she find it in her heart to forgive her sister and keep their grandmother’s dream of reuniting them alive—or are some wounds too big to heal?

An emotional and uplifting read about sisters, secrets and the family bonds that hold us together no matter how complicated they are, from the bestselling author of The Lighthouse Keeper. Fans of Mary Ellen Taylor, Elin Hilderbrand and Mary Alice Monroe will love this.

My Thoughts:

When We Were Sisters is a heart-warming story that follows sisters Jayne and Charlotte as they come together to honor their Grandmother’s last wishes. As per her will, the sisters have to stay together at their grandmother’s house and work on it’s renovations. Separated from each other as a result of their parents divorce, the sisters have a lot to work through, if they give each other a chance.

I loved how this book takes you on a roller coaster of emotions with a strong focus on the bond between the sisters. The love for a sibling is one of the most basic and the author captures the yearning to connect and be a family, very well. At first reluctant, the sisters are forced to confront their feelings and try to talk to one another. As the story progresses, the reader will find out more and more about their past, the circumstances behind their parents decisions and some hidden truths which have the strength to break a person.

In the midst of all this, we see stability in Charlotte’s life, not without it’s own problems but those which  can be worked out together. Jayne deals with the beginnings of a new romance as well as the chance to finally connect with her sister and her family. As their lives mix, Jayne tries to form bonds with her nephews and bring back some light into her sister’s eyes reminiscent of their childhood.

This is a story of love, loss, summer fun and a second chance at a relationship that could help to heal old wounds and even some new ones. Secrets are never good and they have the power to destroy everything. However, I think that the strength of the characters and perseverance bring this story together with a conclusion that is tearful and full of joy. I definitely recommend this book that is filled with all kinds of emotions and is beautifully written until the end!

Book Review: Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer

About the Book:

57764672._SY475_A spark of rebellion is all it takes to DEFY THE NIGHT.

In a kingdom where sickness stalks the streets and only the richest can afford a cure, King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick are forced to rule with an iron fist.

Tessa Cade is a masked outlaw marked for death, but she likes it that way. Together with the mysterious, handsome Weston, she robs from the rich to help the poor, distributing food and medicine to those who need it most.

As it becomes clear that the only way to save her people is to assassinate the King, Tessa must face a deadly mission that will take her to the dark heart of the kingdom … and force her to work with the very people she intended to destroy.

From New York Times bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer comes a brand-new blockbuster fantasy series about a corrupt kingdom, a star-crossed romance and a girl who will do anything for justice.

My Thoughts:

Defy the Night is the first book in a new series by Brigid Kemmerer, author of the Cursebreakers series. This book follows Tessa, a masked outlaw as she steals moonflower petals, converting them into medicine to distribute to those in need. Only the rich can afford to buy the cure and take it regularly. This gave me quite the Robin Hood vibe as Tessa embarks on her journey along with a friend, the mysterious Weston.

On the other side, we have King Harristan and his brother Prince Corrick. They are not very well-liked but do their best to serve the people. They are weary of everyone around them due to the circumstances behind their parents death. The author does a good job in touching upon the impact of this and how it shaped the characters and their personalities thereafter.

I enjoyed reading about Tessa, though I felt that her story was just a little cliché. She is a force to reckon with and handles herself quite well throughout the book keeping a level head most of the time. Weston on the other hand is shrouded in mystery, but I guess I kind of saw where the story was going with this character before the big reveal.

The story is well-written and fast paced, thus keeping the reader hooked until the end. I enjoyed reading about the issues raised and how the various council members had differing opinions. This was handled well. The author also brought out the contrast in thinking among the people and showed us quite subtly how one strategically uttered comment can turn into something quite big. In addition to this, I quite enjoyed reading about Kandala. The author has done a great job with the world building and the map included at the beginning was quite helpful.

This is a story filled with adventure, romance and the quest for justice. Though the book had it’s ups and downs for me, I enjoyed it overall and am definitely looking forward to reading the next book in the series!

Book Review: A Lesson in Murder (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery Book 7) by Verity Bright

About the Book:

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When Lady Swift is invited to her old school, she walks through familiar classrooms, finds her favourite books in the library… and surely that’s not a body? Time for a lesson in murder!

Autumn, 1921. Lady Eleanor Swift is invited to her old school, St Mary’s, as a guest speaker. Her favourite teacher, Mrs Wadsworth, has asked that Eleanor talk about her intrepid travels around the globe – travelling the Silk Road by bicycle, crossing the Himalayas and even befriending the Maharaja of India. But in the circumstances, perhaps it would have been a good idea to talk about her career as a daring detective…

Because no sooner has Eleanor brushed up on her times tables then she is greeted by terrible news: Mrs Wadsworth has been murdered. Eleanor is utterly devastated but she owes it to her dearest teacher to find out who killed her and why. So, alongside Gladstone the bulldog, it’s best paw forward to track down a villain.

But when the art teacher is also found dead, Eleanor is sure someone is trying to do away with the people who taught her everything. As Eleanor delves into possible motives, she discovers a clue in the most unlikely place: her mother’s old school diary. Does the route to the murderer lie within a secret passageway her mother uncovered? Can Eleanor nail the culprit in time or is the killer coming for her next?

A totally gripping and glamorous 1920s cozy! Fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Rhys Bowen are in for a treat.

My Thoughts:

This is the second book by author Verity Bright that I am reading and once again I must admit that I loved it. I first met Lady Eleanor Swift in ‘Murder in the Snow’, Book 4 of the series. Surprisingly or maybe not, I was able to dive right in and connect with all the characters in the story. Having missed some of the books in between, the current one is no different. I was instantly transported back to the 1920s along with Eleanor, Clifford the Butler and Hugh the Police Inspector.

I quite liked how the author shows us a different aspect of Eleanor’s life in this book, bringing to us a glimpse of her past while also showing how she could be an inspiration to the younger generations. For the time period in which the story is set in, Eleanor’s ways were indeed quite progressive and it was heartening to read about her ability to share some of her experiences with the children at the school and with us too!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the strong bond between Eleanor and her butler, Clifford. This is unique and endearing. The hint of romance in the background with the Police Inspector made the story all the more interesting. Even though the death of an old teacher was quite saddening, I enjoyed reading about how Eleanor conducts her investigation and tries to bring the killer to justice. Sometimes the reader is torn between exasperation and laughter at the main characters and this just adds to the appeal of the plot. The other characters in the book including the children under Eleanor’s temporary care were engaging and made me feel a part of them as the story progressed.

This book is definitely a must read for fans of cozy mysteries or any mystery in general! I highly recommend the author’s books and this entire series (even though I have not read most of the books in the series! I hope to rectify this very soon)

A huge thank you to Bookouture and netgalley for the advance copy of the book. The review is my honest opinion.

Book Review: The Forest of Allund by Wilbur Arron

About the Book:

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Young Mage Alexio Sopholus has returned home after ten years away at the Mage Academy. Although short and slight of build due to childhood sickness, he has found academic acclaim through his studies. Upon arrival in his home of Korpolis, he reacquaints himself with his old human friends and his former home. His only desire is to take up the position of forest caretaker left to him by his deceased master. The Forest of Allund is a place filled with equal parts myth, mystery, and fear. There he meets a wandering Amazon, but most importantly, his large and intelligent animal friends reside there. They all help him guard the forest against outside intruders. Soon the nature of the forces that govern and protect this place is made evident to him as he finds new sources of knowledge and power.

Although he only seeks peace and quiet, he is soon thrust into a war with a new barbarian tribe, the Zilar. They seek total domination of all the lands and are not above using slavery, genocide, and brutal repression to get their way. Alexio is forced to fight them directly using all the powers at his command. Initially successful in his efforts he finds his victories have only made him the object of intrigue by his leaders who fear his power and his popularity. His efforts at protecting the land are met with suspicion, fear, and betrayal by his own leaders.

Seeing the destruction, deceit, and betrayal around him, Alexio is forced to conclude that all his most cherished beliefs, principles, ethics, and morality are all but useless against the foes arrayed against him. To protect himself and his friends he must wage war. It will be a war without pity, mercy, and against the laws of Gods and Men. It may also make him an outcast in his own land.

My Thoughts:

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

This is the first book in the series and follows the journey of a young mage named Alexio Sopholus. Alexio has spent ten years at the Mage Academy and has now returned to his previous home. As the story unfolds, we meet various characters both from his past and those who belong to his life as a mage.

The story follows Alexio as he faces many different enemies and formulates different battle strategies. Sometimes he fights alone, sometimes he has help. I found the use of Greek words at times to be quite confusing as the meaning or references were provided only at the end. I enjoyed the way the author interspersed Greek Mythology and used it as a backbone for the plot. However, a caution to readers, be sure to have some background knowledge of Greek Mythology otherwise it can be difficult to understand the book.

The writing is average with a lot of unnecessary description that didn’t catch my attention as much as I had hoped. However, I did enjoy reading about Alexio’s plans and strategies. I also enjoyed meeting his “friends” in the forest though their names were a little hard to remember. The dialogue between him and his “friends” and the ways in which they helped him out were interesting and very well portrayed during the course of the book. I also liked the fact that Alexio lived by a very specific code and he tried to follow it as much as he could. This was a good addition to the character development of the MC.

On the whole, the book was a good one time read and there were quite a few sections that I enjoyed! I think this book and the author have much more potential. I will definitely look out for more books by the author.

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

Blog Tour – Book Review: A Midwinter Match by Jane Lovering

About the Book:

A MIDWINTER MATCH

Ruby Oldbridge needs to learn to take her own advice.

A brilliant counsellor at work in York, she is however floundering in her own life. Her romantic track record is woeful, her finances are in a pickle, and she’s back in a house-share after splitting up with her useless ex.

But one thing Ruby is brilliant at, is helping other people find a way through their problems, and she excels at the job she loves, doing just that.

Happy-go-lucky, Mr Positivity, Zac Drewe also loves his job – the trouble is, it’s the same as Ruby’s, and the management have decided to ‘rationalise’ their department. There’s only room for one of them.

As the snow and winter close in on York, Ruby and Zac have everything to lose, and Ruby starts to wonder if the happy face Zac shows the world, might be disguising a sadder secret.

Set against one another, they are unlikely friends. But perhaps, if they could take the time to understand each other, they might discover that rather than rivals, they could be the best thing that ever happened to one another…

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/34LSbpq

Author Bio:

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Jane Lovering is the bestselling and award-winning romantic comedy writer who won the RNA Novel of the Year Award in 2012 with Please Don’t Stop the Music. She lives in Yorkshire and has a cat and a bonkers terrier, as well as five children who have now left home. Her first title for Boldwood will be published in September 2020.

Social Media Links:
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Jane-Lovering-Author-106404969412833/
Twitter https://twitter.com/janelovering
Newsletter Sign Up Link https://bit.ly/JaneLoveringNewsletter
Bookbub profile https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jane-lovering

My Thoughts:

A Midwinter Match is a pleasure to read and enjoy on any evening. The book follows Ruby and Zac who unexpectedly end up vying for the same position. What starts off as dislike towards one another slowly moves into friendship the moment they start to find out more about the other. As the story progresses, we come across strong friendships, heartbreak and rivalry that exists among the characters.

Though the book felt quite long drawn, I did enjoy it and I felt bad for the situation our main characters were in. Imagine fighting to remain in a job that you’ve been in for a long time. Imagine having to always prove that you are better than the other and try to put the other down. The author has handled these issues quite delicately and thus draws us in to a race to the finish. Eventually, it just makes sense to maybe work together towards a common goal rather than against one another.

This is a romance that has its moments of fun, sadness and eventually love. That’s what makes this a great read!

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Book Review: Dead Beautiful by Yvonne Woon

About the Book:

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After Renee Winters discovers her parents lying dead in California’s Redwood Forest in what appears to be a strange double murder, her grandfather sends her off to Gottfried Academy in Maine, a remote and mysterious high school dedicated to philosophy, “crude sciences,” and Latin: the Language of the Dead. It’s here she meets Dante, a dark and elusive student to whom she feels inexplicably drawn.

As they get to know each other better, Dante can’t seem to control his attraction either, and their desires gradually deepen into a complex and dangerous romance. Dangerous because Dante is hiding a frightening secret. A secret so terrible, it has him fearing for Renee’s life.

Dante’s not the only one with secrets, though. Turns out Gottfried Academy has a few of its own… Like, how come students keep disappearing? Why are the prefect-like Monitors creeping around campus during the night? And what exactly are the Headmistress and Professors really up to? Renee is determined to find out why.

Dead Beautiful is both a compelling romance and thought-provoking listen, bringing shocking new meaning to life, death, love, and the nature of the soul.

My Thoughts:

I came across this book by chance and decided to give it a try! I was pleasantly surprised and quite happy that I liked it. At first I was not very clear on what was happening, but as the story progressed, it was easier to understand.

Dead Beautiful follows Renee Winters as she deals with the death of her parents, having to suddenly live with her grandfather, moving to a new school and trying to understand the weirdness of the place. Gottfried Academy has quite a few secrets to which only some are privy including Renee’s grandfather as she eventually finds out.

I found the concept and plot to be intriguing and a pleasant change from only reading vampire and/or werewolf based fantasy fiction novels. There’s romance, friendship that lasts and a whole lot of secrets and mysteries to uncover. The first is the truth behind Renee’s parents’ deaths. Another mystery is the death of a student at Gottfried previously that is eerily similar to how Renee’s parents died. Of course we also have to find out the truth behind Dante, gorgeous as he may be!

The characters are pretty standard and well crafted, but not everyone is as they seem. I think this is what made it more interesting. Each character is unique. I also enjoyed reading about Renee’s relationship with her grandfather and how it evolves.

I enjoyed the book and the twists at the end. I honestly did not see it coming and I am looking forward to reading the next books in the series.

Book Review: Cruel Stakes (Vampires and Vices #2) by Nina Walker

About the Book:

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Cross your heart and hope to live.

I should leave them alone and be done with vampires. I finally have my mother back, I’m dating the perfect guy, and I’ve parted ways with Adrian Teresi.

But I have an opportunity to help the hunters and hopefully learn something that could save more humans. Not to mention, I need answers about the venom burning through my veins.

So I go back to The Alabaster Heart to strike another deal with the vampire prince. The game of cat and mouse that follows is expected, and maybe even a little fun, but nothing prepares me for the day that our games end—and the consequences begin.

My Thoughts:

Cruel Stakes picks up where Blood Casino ends. Eva is at odds with what is happening and no longer wants to trust the vampires, especially Adrian Teresi. However, having been bitten, she is driven to find out more regarding her newly heightened senses. In the hope that this information will help with her position among the hunters, Eva once again strikes up a deal with none other than Adrian.

This story was a little less exciting than the first, but it drew me in none the less. There was more action and so much more romance in this book. The author focused a lot on the workings of the vampires giving us a glimpse into their minds. Eva is her usual rebellious self, torn between her long time crush on Felix and her growing attraction to Adrian.

This book shows us some rather negative sides of some of the characters and is filled with some unexpected twists. All this in the end ensures that the reader is in for a BIG shock thus justifying the title and everything that happens in Book 2. There are some unlikely friendships and bonds that form that the reader just wont see coming. This is what I liked most about the book, the elements of surprise which were very well executed!

I am truly excited for and looking forward to Book 3 which I am sure will take us on a big roller coaster ride if these two books are anything to go by!

Book Review: The Frights of Fiji (Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions #1) by Sunayna Prasad

About the Book:

A world of magic and adventure awaits for 12-year-old Alyssa McCarthy. A sorcerer kidnaps her to an enchanted island, filled with magical creatures and technology, but also danger. It is up to Alyssa to defeat the peril and overcome the warlock.

My Thoughts:

I read and am reviewing this book as a part of the blog tour by iRead Book Tours.

I truly love reading middle grade and YA fiction! I love the feeling of adventure and the various scrapes the characters get into. This is what drove me to sign up for the blog tour and start reading this new series by Sunayna Prasad.

The Frights of Fiji is Book 1 in the Alyssa McCarthy’s Magical Missions series. In this book, we are introduced to Alyssa, a 12-year old who lives with her uncle and cousin ever since her parents passed away. Right from the beginning we are introduced to the existence of magic as Alyssa meets Simon, a talking bust and then discovers a plot that involves kidnapping her. Initially it felt weird as Alyssa tries to convince her uncle of the existence of magic. As the story progresses, we are introduced to a world of magic and magical technology, chronicled along the lines of what we have and use in general. We are introduced to various characters and the evil warlock who is plotting to capture Alyssa.

The writing is amateurish and abrupt in sections, jumping from one thought to another. The characters are not well developed and I was not able to connect with any of them, though I did like Simon a little. I also found the level of explanation into the technology used to be unnecessary and somewhat repetitive. All this made for a difficult read.

However, there are elements to the plot that have potential and make for an interesting story. There is travel to a new place, magical locations and rules that are not known to normal people and so on. I like how Alyssa and her friends work together to foil the plan of the warlock and find a solution to their predicament. Overall, this would be a one time read at best, but I am definitely going to read on to see what happens!

Book Review: His Hidden Wife by Wendy Clarke

About the Book:

The first time you see them, out for an evening walk on the cliffs, you’ll think they’re the perfect family. You’ll see a wife who looks so happy, strolling peacefully beside her husband in his dark winter coat, holding her daughter’s hand. But you have no idea what’s really happening in their house…

If you come a little closer you might hear the way the man speaks to his wife.

You might notice that the woman doesn’t have any close friends. That sometimes her husband doesn’t want her to leave the house. You might wonder if that’s a scar her beautiful daughter is hiding on her neck.

When you read the local newspaper and hear the news that the wife has fallen from the cliffs, you’ll question whether it was really an accident at all.

And when the husband starts dating someone new – a woman with the same long dark hair and big blue eyes as his wife – will you say something this time?

Because someone has to protect the little girl and stop history from repeating itself. And it may already be too late.

A thrilling and twisty tale, His Hidden Wife will keep you up all night, desperate to race through to its final conclusion. Readers of Gone Girl, The Couple Next Door and Lisa Jewell will be hooked.

My Thoughts:

His Hidden Wife is the story of Stephen but is told from two different points of view; that of Maya, his 18 year old and Theresa, his colleague at work. The story centers around the mystery surrounding the death of Maya’s mother. Maya doesn’t remember much with respect to the incident and most people in the village do not talk about it anymore.

The story starts of rather slow, introducing us to the characters and trying to establish some context. I found it a little hard to remain engaged with the book and characters until the second half when the pace picked up. I enjoyed the mysterious nature of the plot and the father/daughter relationship. Stephen is indeed an enigma and I could not understand him until the end. Maya is a confused teenager who is trying to figure out the truth. When her father suddenly reveals that he has met someone new and brings Amy home, seeing her reminds Maya of her mother and brings buried memories to the surface.

Theresa’s story is a different one and honestly I could not understand her role in the book until midway when her friendship with Stephen is explained. We also get a glimpse into her life and family. I was not sure where all this fit into the story , but it helped to give some insight into her character. As Maya struggles to sort out her memories, we reach a point in the story where a lot is revealed and the twist in the end is one noone will see coming! Everyone has secrets and noone wants to reveal them! This was handled well and I like how the author brought out each persons role in the story.

This is the first time I cannot decide how I feel about the book. I cannot also connect the story with the title and synopsis of the book. It feels different and out of place to me. However, I would still recommend this book as it has a good plot, it is well-written and is great for those who enjoy a slow burn mystery. The plot is built up until it explodes in the end with unexpected twists and turns!