Book Review: Breaking the Friendzone by May Lynn

About the Book:

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Revenge is sometimes best served . . . in bed

When Lacey Mason was six-years-old, her family moved to the Hamptons. A beautiful location for sure, but not much fun when you’re the only kid in the area. When Lacey stumbles upon her next door neighbor, Luke Drake, on the beach it is instant friendship. For the next four years they spent almost every waking hour together. But just as Summer inevitably turns to Fall, all good things must end. As Lacey’s family sells their house and leaves the Hamptons, Lacey and Luke vow to stay in touch. But a dramatic meeting when they are teens leaves their friendship in tatters and Lacey’s heart broken.

Fast forward seven years, and 22-year-old Lacey returns to the Hamptons. During a night out partying, who does she run into? Luke Drake. The only thing is Luke doesn’t recognize her. At first, Lacey thinks it’s hilarious–a case of karma finally catching up with the golden boy–but then she realizes that all the feelings she’s buried for so long aren’t going to stay buried . . . especially when she and Luke are thrown together by internships at Drake-Mason Pharma.

Luke Drake wants to be anywhere but the Hamptons, and he certainly doesn’t want to be interning at his dad’s company. Luke’s got a secret plan: make enough money to break away from his controlling father and strike out on his own. Then one night he sees a girl at a club and after an incredible night together, he discovers that the mystery girl is his childhood friend: Lacey Mason. He knows what he did to her when they were teenagers was wrong and is determined to spend the summer showing Lacey that he’s changed…and that they belong together.

However, family secrets, including the one that ended their friendship in the first place, may prove to be too much and Lacey may not be willing to let Luke break the friendzone.

My Thoughts:

Breaking the Friendzone is a quick and light, summer read. This is perfect for those who enjoy the friends to enemies and then lovers trope. The reader is introduced to Luke and Lacey in the beginning of the book and then the story follows their journey from this meeting. Both of them are strong willed and trying to reconcile their feelings of the past with that of the present day.

The author has done a great job of interspersing the past with the present, bringing to us the story of how Luke and Lacey knew each other, how their friendship grew and a glimpse into the secrets that pulled them apart. Lacey has a lot of leftover feelings to deal with including ones of hurt and betrayal. The characters are relatable and real for most of the time though at times they act like teenagers which makes it very childish. This is the only part that I felt could have been handled a little better.

However, I did enjoy reading this book and discovering the story of the characters in the book. This is a YA romance that will keep the reader turning the pages until the very end. As the story unfolds, secrets that were buried deeply start to come out impacting everyone in the story and we follow them as they find a way to move forward from this. The book is definitely worth a read for those who enjoy the genre or the trope mentioned.

Book Review: The Woman I Was Before by Kerry Fisher

About the Book:

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The perfect picture hides the darkest lies.

A new home can be a happy ending. Or a fresh start. Or a hiding place…

Kate Jones is running away. She has left her old life behind, changing both her own name and her daughter’s. No-one must ever connect Kate with the mistake that destroyed her life.

Starting afresh on Parkview Road – a brand new street full of newly built houses – Kate looks at the other women on the street with envy. They seem to have it all: Gisela with her busy life, full house and successful children, Sally with her exciting spontaneous marriage, her glamorous holidays, her high-flying career. The pictures that Kate’s new friends post online confirm their seemingly perfect existence, whilst Kate hides from the world at all costs.

Until one day, everything changes. Kate is called to the scene of a devastating accident, which is about to test everything the women thought they knew about each other, and themselves.

From the bestselling author of The Silent Wife, The Woman I Was Before is a book about the things we hide from those closest to us – and the terrible consequences that keeping those secrets can have. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain.

My Thoughts:

The story follows Kate as she relocates to a new place, running away from a past that she does not want to be known for. A small mistake changes the course of her life and that of her teenage daughter. Parkview Road, where they come to live, is not without it’s drama. The neighbors are interesting and seem to have it all together. On one side there is Gisela, living a busy and seemingly happy life with her husband and children. On the other is Sally, a successful career woman with a husband who is equally successful.

As the story progresses, we are provided glimpses into the lives of each of these three women and discover that they are not so put together as we were led to believe initially. The saying “the grass is greener on the other side” is apt in Kate’s case as she follows her friends lives on Facebook. Not everything is as it seems though and in reality there is so much that is going wrong in each of the characters lives. This is a good portrayal of reel life and real life where reel life in this case can be attributed to what is seen on social media.

Kate is a strong woman hiding from one incident that she feels she has to pay for. Even though she is found to have not been responsible in the end. Sally is dealing with a marriage that is great on the surface but at a stage where she and her husband seem to want different things in life. Gisela is dealing with everything that can go wrong with each member of her family. The author has wonderfully shown us the strength of these women and how one incident can either bring people together or tear them apart.

In the case of this story, the focus is finally on how the women come together to support each other as each one’s story comes to light. The bonds of friendship and togetherness that develop through the course of the story are delightful. I have always been a fan of Kerry Fisher’s books and it is no wonder that I picked up this book to read. As expected I thoroughly enjoyed the book and the way the characters evolved throughout the story. It did take me a little time to get captivated by the story, but once that happened I was hooked!

I strongly recommend this book and any book by Kerry Fisher. They are definitely worth reading and are more female centric with very strong women characters who are easy to relate to.

Book Review: Dead to Them by Smita Bhattacharya

About the Books:

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Moira Madhwa is the typical young, beautiful and successful urban woman until the day she goes missing. Her friends start looking for her, but quickly realize nothing is as it seems. Moira had kept devastating secrets—secrets that could wreck their lives if revealed. As days roll by, one by one, skeletons tumble out of closets, and each of Moira’s friends’ looks guilty. But did one among them hate her enough to do the worst?

A nail-biting, psychological suspense thriller, Dead to Them weaves a web of deception, lies, and paranoia in the city of Mumbai, where every face hides a dark story and uncovering it can lead to disastrous consequences.

My Thoughts:

Dead to Them is indeed a well-written psychological thriller that follows the life of Moira and the impact she has on the lives of various people. When Moira is found to be missing, there follows a series of events leading to the revelation of secrets, interpretation of lies and people’s interactions with one another take a big turn.

As readers, we are introduced not only to Moira but to a whole group of people, some who are colleagues and some who claim to be friends with her. However as the story develops, one question that pops up frequently in the mind of each character is whether any of them actually knew the real Moira. She was charismatic but also liked to play games and this is something we see through her eyes as well as those of the others.

I think Smita has done a great job in writing this story bringing in plot twists at the right moments. The story is gripping and nerve wracking, making the reader eagerly read on to know what happens next. I honestly did not see some of the twists that came and I enjoyed how each of the characters had a connection with Moira that they thought was unique.

Smita has really worked well to bring this plot to life and this is perhaps one of her best books that I have read. Readers are in for a wonderful journey as secrets surface and no-one is as they seem in the end. I strongly recommend this psychological thriller to all fans of the genre.

Book Review: Princess & Prejudice (Devgarh Royals Book 2) by Alicia Kay

About the Book:

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A not-so-fairy-tale romance!

They say opposites attract, but when Yuvarajkumari Jayshree Singh, Princess of Devgarh, and Dr Aryan Sharma meet, it’s more like opposites combust.

He thinks she is a bratty and entitled princess, while she thinks he is an uptight pain-in-the-ass, who needs to have the stick surgically removed from his rather delectable posterior.

When Aryan’s sister gets engaged to Jessie’s brother, they are forced to declare a reluctant ceasefire.

But the hostilities don’t cease. Instead, they erupt in an unexpected and unlikely gush of desire and longing.

With their families set to merge, Aryan and Jessie need to decide if his prejudice and her pride can be set aside long enough for the love they feel to blossom. Or will they spend eternity wondering if they’d missed their chance at happiness?

My Thoughts:

Princess and Prejudice by author Alicia Kay is the second book in the series. I haven’t read the first one but that did not affect the flow of this book. This can indeed be read as a standalone and enough of the back story for the characters is present for the reader to catch on to the plot.

The story focuses on Princess Jayshree better known as Jessie and Dr. Aryan. They have known each other for a long time and Jessie is best friends with Aryan’s sister. This is a typical love story where the characters try to run from each other, fight a lot and take time to accept that they have feelings for the other. Written in the style of the original pride and prejudice, the story reminds me of the romance between Elizabeth and Darcy.

Jessie is a strong character and though a princess, she is quite grounded. I liked how she handled things and even made an effort to be independent. She navigates a world of entitlement and power in a very simple manner. I think the author has handled her interactions with all the other characters in the story very well and brought out the essence of each character.

This is a quick read and I loved how the story developed. Even though it is a cliché, I enjoyed every moment including the rapport and banter between the characters. The story flows well and is quite well written. I enjoyed the story and am sure fans of romance will love this story as much as I did. This is indeed a fairytale romance that will appeal to all fans of the genre and of the Jane Austen classic Pride and Prejudice.

Book Review: Love Letters by the Sea (The Siren’s Retreat Quartet #4) by Erica Ridley

About the Book:

What happens when the proprietress of Siren’s Retreat discovers the charming romantic she’s been corresponding with is same villain turning her beloved property into a gaming hell?

When not responding to advice column letters, entrepreneurial widow Mrs. Deborah Cartwright runs bright, beautiful Siren’s Retreat, legendary for helping her lovelorn guests find their perfect match. Deborah experienced love years before, and lightning does not strike twice. Although there might be a light flirtation with a certain anonymous letter-writer she’s definitely not falling for, there’s no time for romance. Not whilst a heartless blackguard is in town to wrest her beloved inn out from under her!

Clever, career-minded Mr. Patrick Gretham is the trusted man-of-business for a powerful lord, who is eager to turn this perfectly situated property wasted on lovebirds into a gambling hell the likes of which no one leaves with their fortunes intact. Over Deborah’s dead body! The beautiful proprietress hates everything Patrick stands for and will fight him every step of the way. Except when they find themselves on opposite sides of a plume. Or falling into each other’s embrace…

My Thoughts:

I have been a fan of Erica Ridley’s books for some time now and so it was inevitable that I would pick up this book to read next. I have been reading the books in this series out of order, but the best part is that they can also be read as a standalone with only a little backstory running through. This is explained in some way during the story making it easy for the reader to follow the many characters and situations.

The story follows widow Deborah Cartwright, the proprietress of the Siren’s Retreat, a place known to bring people together through love. Having lost her one true love many years ago, she takes pleasure in watching other people find love without any expectations for herself. She devotes her time to the running of Siren’s Retreat and corresponding with a secret someone through letters.

I really enjoyed this part of the story which built up the romance and kept it intriguing. Once Deborah meets Mr. Patrick Gretham, all things change and the inklings of love starts stirring. This entire story is well written and being a novella is a rather quick read! The story is uplifting and full of simple and fun moments and is definitely worth reading!

Book Review: An Affair by the Sea (The Siren’s Retreat Quartet #2) by Erica Ridley

About the Book:

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What happens when a wallflower’s extremely make-believe fake suitor appears in the flesh just in time to ruin all her spinsterly plans?

Orphaned pianist Allegra Brown is a poor relation with nothing much to recommend her, save a minuscule dowry and a very big imagination. She has spent the past several years as governess to her younger cousins, who are now ready for their come out—and want Allegra to marry, too. Specifically, they eagerly await the return of Allegra’s dashing, handsome, swashbuckling, conveniently absent and secretly fictional fiancé, the dread pirate Captain L’Amour.

The only place Mr. John Sharp strikes fear is in the courtroom, where his neat, ordered mind is renowned for winning every case he presents. John loves predictability and longs to be a chef. Unfortunately, every time he puts on an apron, the entire kitchen catches fire. Much like passion burning between him and a certain wildly unpredictable spinster, who seems to have confused him for a dashing, exciting pirate. By fulfilling her fantasies, can his dreams come true…together?

My Thoughts:

I’ve read a few books by Erica Ridley before and so it was natural to request this upcoming book of hers from NetGalley. The story follows Allegra Brown and her younger cousins on an unexpected journey towards love and a fulfilling life. Having lived with her cousins and uncle since she was quite young, Allegra was used to being the one in the shadows, taking care of her cousins but not being noticed. This is until they almost run over Mr. John Sharp, handsome mad with a striking personality who seems to fit the mold of the made up Captain L’Amour.

It was indeed love at first sight for both our protagonists but I enjoyed how the story built up to it and how they find their space with each other. The characters are fun to read about and the setting is picturesque and beautiful to imagine. This is a quick read and is quite entertaining with romance, music, tasty food and a whole lot of fun. The bond that Allegra shares with her cousins is heart-warming and I did enjoy the way they worked to push Allegra and John together.

Overall this is a pleasant read that I would definitely recommend to anyone looking for a good romantic read!

Book Review: Castle of Refuge by Melanie Dickerson

About the Book:

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To live an unforgettable life, she would defy all expectations—including her own.

Ever since she was a child, Audrey wanted her life to be extraordinary. But as the daughter of a viscount born in late fourteenth-century England, the only thing expected of her was to marry—until an act of malice by her sister, Maris, four years ago damaged her face and her prospects. Though Maris was sent away, twenty-year-old Audrey is still suffering the scars of her sister’s cruelty. When her father announces his plans to marry off his damaged daughter and bring Maris home, Audrey decides to flee in search of her true destiny.

However, life outside her home is dangerous, and she soon finds herself attacked, sick, and in desperate need of help. She is taken in at Dericott Castle to be nursed back to health. While there, she decides to keep her identity a secret and work as a servant in the castle. But she doesn’t count on falling in love with the young and handsome Lord Dericott, who lost his arm several months earlier and bears scars of his own.

Meanwhile, Edwin—Lord Dericott—is curious about the new, well-educated servant’s identity. All he knows is that he’s quickly becoming smitten with her. When the man Audrey’s father wanted her to marry comes looking for her, she and Edwin must make life-changing decisions about what to believe and whether or not love is truly worth trusting.

In this Ugly Duckling retelling, New York Times bestselling author Melanie Dickerson brilliantly crafts a high stakes, encouraging tale about the power of love.

My Thoughts:

I randomly picked up this book from NetGalley and decided to give it a try based on the synopsis. I was not at all disappointed.

The story follows Audrey as she navigates her life and the expectations of her father. She is also dealing with a jealous older sister from whom all she ever wanted was acceptance. When she is finally faced with a situation she does not want to be in (marriage to an older man on account of the scars that mar her face and make her “undesirable” or “unworthy of good marriage prospects”), she runs away from her home and everyone she loves.

Audrey ends up at Dericott Castle where she tries to hide her identity for as long as possible, immersing herself in household tasks along with the other servants. As time passes, we see a romance in the very early stages between Audrey and Lord Dericott.

I enjoyed reading about Audrey’s ideas and drive towards education, her dream of providing education to all the girls in the village and giving them a chance to choose their paths. I also like how the author has brought out the contrast between the main characters which makes it all the more enjoyable as the romance grows.

Some parts of the story felt a little predictable to me, but this did not take away from the entire plot. I liked the book and the various characters we are introduced to. Each one had something to contribute with a lot of love, compassion and support to go around despite the negative emotions (mainly from the sister’s side).

Overall this is a fun and exciting adventure on the journey to love. I do recommend this book to those who enjoy a good regency romance or a historical romance with men of title and women of great strength of character.

Book Review: Rebellion (Warlord of Ayodhya, #1) by Shatrujeet Nath

About the Book:

Bharat. Son of Kaikeyi. Brother of Rama. Reluctant king of Kosala.

Bharat’s carefree life in Kekeya is turned upside down by the death of his father Raja Dashratha and the exile of his brother and crown prince Rama. Untrained in statecraft and unsure of himself, Bharat begins his rule over Kosala by tackling an audacious rakshasa attack on Ayodhya.

There’s more trouble brewing. As the magic that sustains the kingdom starts weakening and a drought looms over Kosala, Ayodhya’s citizens begin to disappear mysteriously. Ambitious aristocrats manipulate the inexperienced king to their ends, while fickle allies seize the opportunity to assert their independence. And unknown to Bharat, the Lord of Lanka has put a cunning plan into action that will break the back of Ayodhya’s resistance.

Beset by challenges, will Bharat lose Ayodhya so early in his reign?

Crackling with characters overlooked and forgotten by the Ramayana, Warlord of Ayodhya is a thrilling spinoff by bestselling fantasy author Shatrujeet Nath.

My Thoughts:

This book was my most anticipated read at the beginning of the year and it is definitely a favourite! Having read Shatrujeet’s Vikramaditya Veeragatha series, it was a no-brainer to pick this up and I knew in advance that I would love it! There was no doubt about it and I was not disappointed.

Everyone knows the epic Ramayana, but how many of us actually stopped to think about the other people and the lives of the Ayodhyan’s during Rama’s 14 year exile? How many of us stopped to think about Bharat and his struggles to rule in the absence of his brother? Well, Shatrujeet Nath thought of this! He imagined how the life of Bharat could have been as he took over the rule of the kingdom and thus this series was born.

This is the first book in the series and sets the stage for what comes next as the title aptly suggests. As is usual with Shatrujeet’s style of writing, there are a variety of characters, each with an agenda of their own. What was interesting to read about was Bharat’s relationship with his mother and his feelings towards her. It is clear that a lot of planning and research went into crafting the plot. Additionally, with a threat to Ayodhya’s magic and the hint of the Lord of Lanka’s interest in Ayodhya, the reader’s interest is certainly piqued.

While the Ramayan focuses on Rama and Sita’s journey, their exile, Sita’s kidnapping and finally their return to Ayodhya, this series seeks to bring out the other side of the story. A little known side with characters who were never in focus and who now have a chance to have their story told! Shatrujeet Nath is indeed a master storyteller and a genius to create and write this story. In my opinion, this book and all books by the author are a must read!

Book Review: The Perfect Home by Kevin Lynch

Book Blurb:

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It’s a beautiful place to live. Or die.

June is very happy in her home. It’s where she raised her two kids – now college age – and every room is filled with memories, some beautiful, some painful. She loves the garden she has worked so hard to create. She likes her neighbours in this pleasant, leafy suburb.

But lately, something has changed.

There’s the new guy across the street. He seems rough, possibly criminal. And he’s been taking a definite interest in June’s rebellious daughter, Cathy.

And there’s June’s son, Sam. He’s always been open and friendly but recently he’s been sullen and secretive.

Even more disturbing, June’s cheating ex-husband suddenly seems to be everywhere. It’s almost as if he’s stalking her.

Then, when someone she knows is murdered, June begins to understand that all these different things are connected. And as she investigates further, she realises that she herself is in terrible danger.

Because someone out there wants June gone. Permanently.

Author Bio:

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Kevin is a Guidance Counselor by day and a psychological thriller author during his off hours. He puts an original slant on some common experiences and creates engaging stories with a personal twist. Kevin lives in Dublin, Ireland with three great kids, a frenetic Westie, Alfie, and a wife who makes him laugh, which is really all he could ask for.
Kevin writes psychological thrillers. The Perfect Home will be his second novel published with Inkubator Books.

Buy Links:
Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Perfect-Home-gripping-psychological-heart-stopping-ebook/dp/B09QT37GYK
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Home-gripping-psychological-heart-stopping-ebook/dp/B09QT37GYK

My Thoughts:

It’s my stop on the Book Tour for The Perfect Home today! Thanks to Zooloo’s Book Tour for this opportunity.

The Perfect Home is a psychological thriller that follows June as she tries to unmask a killer and find out who is after her. June lives a perfectly good life. She has a good job, her two children who live with her in a wonderfully quiet neighborhood. All this changes with the arrival of a new neighbour, her ex-husband popping up more than expected and her children pulling away.

As time passes, we follow June as she goes about her normal routine while trying to figure out the new people on the block and their motives. The author does a good job in portraying her feelings and fear in many of the situations. I also liked how the plot line developed. It was easy to like some of the characters and dislike some of them. This is a kudos to the style of writing.

There were a few things that did not work for me. Firstly, I was not able to fully connect with June. I found her routine to be mundane and the narration was a little repetitive. Secondly, I was a little confused as to the location of the book which I figured out later. Finally, I found it hard to understand Cathy and her behaviour. It was not something that I could easily relate to.

However, putting this aside, I think the book was interesting and there was a plot twist that I did not see coming. Thus, I admit, despite the mixed feelings, I enjoyed the book and hope to read more by the author! I do recommend this for those who enjoy the genre!

The Perfect Home Book Tour Poster

Zooloos Book Tours

Book Review: The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

About the Book:

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Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

My Thoughts:

The Midnight Library is a story with an interesting concept addressing the question of “what is the best way to live?” The story is written in a simple manner and is easy to follow. In this, we follow Nora Seed as she falls into a depression so deep that she wants to end her life. She believes that the world and everyone who knows her is better off without her. Nora ends up in the Midnight Library, a kind of in between state and concept where she has the choice to experience different lives, answering the question of what if my life was like….?

This very question and Nora’s state of mind before entering the Midnight Library are interesting and very well handled by the author. The best part about this book is that I am sure many will find it to be quite relatable. Everyday we make choices, whether big or small, that lead us to the next stage or a new situation. Learning to live in the moment and accepting one’s decisions for what they are is quite important. The book talks about regret, choices, consequences of said choices, making or taking decisions and the different paths life can take based on all this.

It was quite interesting to read about the various paths in life that Nora could choose and how each life affected her. The book does not preach to us in any way, it merely brings out various scenarios that help the protagonist and thus the reader arrive at a set of conclusions and perhaps discover the will to live. This entire story was well-written and handled in a way that the reader enjoys the story and also learns something out of it.

In my opinion, life is too short to live with regrets! Live in the moment and accept the path one’s decisions take them on. This is a beautiful story that I recommend whole heartedly to everyone!

Note: I read this book as a part of the BTS Readathon hosted by some wonderful fellow book bloggers on Instagram.