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.

Book Review: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

About the Book:

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A wedding in Spain. The most infuriating man. Three days to convince your family you’re actually in love. . .

Catalina Martín desperately needs a date to her sister’s wedding. Especially when her little white lie about her American boyfriend has spiraled out of control. Now everyone she knows – including her ex-boyfriend and his fiancée – will be there.

She only has four weeks to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic for her and aid in her deception. NYC to Spain is no short flight and her family won’t be easy to fool. . . But even then, when Aaron Blackford – the 6’4″, blue-eyed pain in the arse – offers to step in, she’s not tempted even for a second. Never has there been a more aggravating, blood-boiling and insufferable man.

But Catalina is desperate and as the wedding gets closer the more desirable an option Aaron Blackford becomes. . .

The Spanish Love Deception is an enemies-to-lovers, fake-dating romance. Perfect for those looking for a steamy slow-burn with the promise of a sweet happy-ever-after.

“Everything you could want in a romance is right here.”
Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

My Thoughts:

The Spanish Love Deception is one of the most talked about books of 2021 and based on a multitude of reviews, I decided to pick up the book. I definitely was not disappointed. I quite enjoyed the slow-burn romance and how the plot developed right from the beginning.

The story follows Catalina, Lina as she prefers to be called, as she enters into a rather reluctant fake relationship with Aaron in the hopes of fooling her family. She has always disliked Aaron for some reason and as the story progresses, it becomes clear that her ideas might be misplaced. The characters are interesting and even funny at times. I enjoyed reading about them and how their various relationships develop. The story reads like the perfect rom-com and is entertaining all the way.

Aaron is the perfect guy (well that is how he is portrayed and just for the duration of the book it’s okay to believe that he exists!), attentive and attuned to Lina’s needs. I liked the author’s style of writing and the flow of the story until the end. I was indeed hooked and I think that was partly due to the fact that I was looking for a light and fun read and this turned out to be the perfect combination.

This book has the complete package: enemies to lovers, workplace romance, fake dating and all the fun that happens in between. The ending is just perfect and the book is definitely worth reading!

Book Review: A Letter From Pearl Harbor by Anna Stuart

About the Book:

58758179Ninety-eight-year-old Ginny McAllister’s last wish is for her granddaughter to complete a treasure hunt containing clues to her past. Clues that reveal her life as one of the first female pilots at Pearl Harbor, and a devastating World War Two secret.

1941, Pearl Harbor: On the morning of December 7th, Ginny is flying her little yellow plane above the sparkling seas when she spots an unknown aircraft closing in on her. She recognises the red symbol of the Japanese fighter planes almost too late. Somehow, she manages to land unscathed but the choices she is forced to make in the terrible hours that follow have tragic consequences…

2019, Pearl Harbor: Heartbroken Robyn Harris is reeling from the death of the strong, determined grandmother who raised her. Her only comfort is a letter written in Ginny’s distinctive hand which details a treasure hunt, just like the ones she used to set for her as a little girl. Except this time, the clues are scattered across the beautiful island of Hawaii. Despite her grief, Robyn finds herself intrigued as she follows the trail of letters, revealing the truth about Ginny’s service during the Second World War.

But Robyn’s whole world is turned upside down when she’s faced with a shocking secret which has the power to change the course of her own life…

Inspired by true events, this is a heartbreaking and unforgettable WW2 novel about love, loss and bravery. Perfect for fans of The Alice Network, The Nightingale and Kathryn Hughes.

My Thoughts:

A Letter From Pearl Harbor is a story of love, loss, learning and second chances no matter the situation. The story is narrated to us in two timelines, one in the current day from Robyn’s point of view and the other through letters and the narration in her grandmother’s point of view set in 1941. Robyn and her sister spend one last night with their grandmother who is on her deathbed. At this point, she tells them that she had a terrible secret and has set up a treasure hunt with clues scattered across Hawaii to tell them her story.

The sisters, Robyn and Ashleigh have their own share of demons to deal with. Ashleigh got into an accident which led to her being confined to a wheelchair and stuck without the use of her legs. Robyn moves to Hawaii (perhaps following in her grandmother’s footsteps) and works there, giving up a sports scholarship that she was not ready to devote time to. The sisters have unresolved feelings of resentment towards one another which are tackled through the story.

As we follow the girls on their hunt for clues, we get to know their grandmother better. Her story is set in the time of WWII when the was had still not come to America, but there was a hint. Then one day, Pearl Harbor is bombed by the Japanese and everything changes. In the midst of this bombing, a lot changes for Ginny and thus her priorities change. Determined and full of purpose, she goes to England in the hope that female pilots will be allowed to be a part of the war efforts.

This is a heartbreaking story that brings to us the realities of war, the frustrations, but more importantly how loss affects the people who still live. Additionally, as we discover Ginny’s secrets, we find out just how decisions can affect not just your life but that of the others around you and how the goodness of people can go beyond holding grudges and prove to be healing. Through her story, Robyn and her sister also learn to accept who they are, accept each other and form better bonds with each other and those around them.

Though the war is a part of the plot, the main focus is on the women who train to be pilots and participate in the war efforts. Their determinations, achievements and friendships form the backbone of this story. A truly well-written story, this book is worth reading especially for the messages it contains.

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!

Book Review: The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore

About the Book:

57034524The glamorous world of a silent film star’s wife abruptly crumbles when she’s forcibly quarantined at the Carville Lepers Home in this page-turning story of courage, resilience, and reinvention set in 1920s Louisiana and Los Angeles. Based on little-known history, this timely book will strike a chord with readers of Fiona Davis, Tracey Lange, and Marie Benedict.

Based on the true story of America’s only leper colony, The Second Life of Mirielle West brings vividly to life the Louisiana institution known as Carville, where thousands of people were stripped of their civil rights, branded as lepers, and forcibly quarantined throughout the entire 20th century.

For Mirielle West, a 1920’s socialite married to a silent film star, the isolation and powerlessness of the Louisiana Leper Home is an unimaginable fall from her intoxicatingly chic life of bootlegged champagne and the star-studded parties of Hollywood’s Golden Age. When a doctor notices a pale patch of skin on her hand, she’s immediately branded a leper and carted hundreds of miles from home to Carville, taking a new name to spare her family and famous husband the shame that accompanies the disease.

At first she hopes her exile will be brief, but those sent to Carville are more prisoners than patients and their disease has no cure. Instead she must find community and purpose within its walls, struggling to redefine her self-worth while fighting an unchosen fate.

As a registered nurse, Amanda Skenandore’s medical background adds layers of detail and authenticity to the experiences of patients and medical professionals at Carville – the isolation, stigma, experimental treatments, and disparate community. A tale of repulsion, resilience, and the Roaring ‘20s, The Second Life of Mirielle West is also the story of a health crisis in America’s past, made all the more poignant by the author’s experiences during another, all-too-recent crisis.

My Thoughts:

The Second Life of Mirielle West is a historical fiction set in the time of the 1920s. Mirielle West is a socialite who only knows the world of comfort, glamor and parties. When a chance diagnosis by her doctor forces her to go away, everything as she knows it changes. The author delicately weaves a story around the Louisiana Leper Home known as Carville which housed so many people who were forcibly quarantined there. 

Mirielle doesn’t know what to expect and is under the impression that she can go home as soon as the misunderstanding is cleared. With each test and a confirmed diagnosis, she has to reconcile herself to her new surroundings and find a place among the people there. This is truly a book of second chances and new beginnings as we follow Mirielle who grows from a spoiled high and mighty socialite to a caring woman who takes up new responsibilities and tries to bring joy to those around her. She is separated from her family, her children and is still dealing with the grief of losing one child. All this has also led to distance with her husband and adds to her emotional turmoil.

Being separated from one’s family is not easy and being isolated is even worse when your family does not want to see you. This was the fate of so many of the people who lived here due to the disease which had no cure. The author has painted a vivid picture bringing to us a well woven story based on so many true accounts. It is heart-breaking to read about the circumstances of the people but the best part is the bonds that are formed. The love, compassion and kinship that arises from shared circumstances leads to found family and a new kind of acceptance in life.

Mirielle and all the other characters in the book are brilliant and worth knowing. This is a story with characters that will stay with you even after finishing the book. The experiences and life of the people, the difficulties they faced and how they were treated is eye opening. Though difficult to read about at times and quite emotional, it is worth the read!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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