Book Review

With This Kiss – Carrie Hope Fletcher

On this lovely Easter Sunday I am joining the blog tour for With This Kiss by Carrie Hope Fletcher. Many thanks to Carrie and HQ for inviting me to join the tour and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

When their lips touch, will she seal his fate?

From the outside, Lorelai is an ordinary young woman with a normal life. She loves reading, she works at the local cinema and she adores living with her best friend. But she carries a painful burden, something she’s kept hidden for years; whenever she kisses someone on the lips, she sees how they are going to die. But she’s never known if she’s seeing what was always meant to be, or if her kiss is the thing that decides their destiny. And so, she hasn’t kissed anyone since she was eighteen.

Then she meets Grayson. Sweet, clever, funny Grayson. And for the first time in years she yearns for a man’s kiss. But she can’t… or can she? And if she does, should she try to intervene and change what she sees?

Spellbinding, magical and utterly original, With This Kiss is one love story you will never forget.

PURCHASE LINK:

Amazon UK

REVIEW:

I have long been aware of the talents of Carrie Hope Fletcher, having watched her as Eponine in Les Miserables some years ago, but this is the first time I have read one of her books. As you will know, I am not a huge romance reader, but throw a bit of magical realism into the mix and I am sold!

Within just a few sentences of With This Kiss starting, I liked Lorelai and had the impression that we would be firm friends if she was real and we were to meet. I loved her friendship with Joanie, and would definitely want to be part of that little gang. And as for Grayson, well, he is just too adorable!

My heart broke for Lorelai as she struggled to understand her “superpower.” Her visions were described in such vivid detail that it wasn’t hard to imagine just how horrific it would actually be experience them.

I would perhaps like to have seen more of the book/movie club members and had the chance to get to know each of them a little more, but actually I was so engrossed in Lorelai’s troubles that I largely forgot about their existence.

With This Kiss is a beautiful story about love of all kinds and there is a wonderful warmth throughout it.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Twitter

Remember to pay a visit to all the wonderful blogs taking part in this tour!

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Top Ten Tuesday – 12th April 2022

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday question comes from  Deanna at A Novel Glimpse who has requested a list of the authors I haven’t read, but want to. I found this a lot harder than I thought because there are so many wonderful authors out there that I just haven’t got round to trying yet. I decided to split my list between some authors whose books I own, but still need to read, and some authors who come highly recommended, but whose books I am yet to purchase.

  1. Victoria/V.E. Schwab – I own The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and I have watched numerous online chats that Victoria has given and her books all sound right up my street, but for some reason I have never got round to reading any of them.
  2. Jay Kristoff – I have owned the Nevernight series for a while, but even though I haven’t read a single page, I was totally won over by Jay in an online interview he gave, and went dashing out to buy the hardback edition of Empire of the Vampire from my nearest bookshop. It is a beast of a book though, and so far I just haven’t managed to squeeze it in between review commitments. I love Jay though – if you don’t already follow him on social media, I highly recommend it.
  3. Katherine Arden – In Katherine’s case, I have purchased the entire Winternight trilogy before even reading the first book, purely off the back of an interview that I read with her about the first book. It just sounded so wonderful and exactly the kind of book I love. In my head, they are books to be read curled up under a blanket in the middle of winter, so I think I will be setting aside some time this winter to really immerse myself in them.
  4. Stuart James – now, this is a tricky one. I know Stuart through a Facebook book group and have even met him (lovely guy), and I really want to support his writing. I have heard amazing things about his books, but quite frankly, I am a big fat chicken and I worry that they will freak me out! Just as soon as I can work up the courage though, I will be reading them!
  5. Holly Bourne – I have picked up various book by Holly Bourne, but something has always stolen my attention away from them for a variety of reasons. I am determined that 2022 will finally be the year that I will check her out!
  6. Colleen Hoover – I have added Colleen Hoover simply because her books seem to be everywhere I turn right now. I know very little about her writing, but with so many people talking about them, I feel a little bit like I am missing out.
  7. Meredith Russo – Meredith is an author who was recommended to me by a friend, and whose work I am interested to discover more about.
  8. Shea Ernshaw
  9. Elizabeth Acevedo
  10. Lara Avery

These last three entries on my list were recommended by my oldest, dearest friend, the one person in this world who knows me better than I know myself. I can guarantee, without a shadow of a doubt, that if she thinks I should read a particular author, then I will absolutely love them. As such, all three of these authors have made it onto my “Must Read in 2022” list.

Have you read any of the authors on my list? If you were to recommend one of their books as the best one to start discovering the writing through, which would it be? Which authors would make your Top Ten of authors you haven’t read yet, but want to?

As always, thanks to Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl for hosting!

Book Review

The Fatal Oath – Michael L Lewis

Today I am kicking off the blog tour for the latest instalment in the Oath series by Michael L Lewis, The Fatal Oath. Many thanks to Michael for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

1957. Blackleigh is an elite public school for boys in Yorkshire where prejudice and seething hatreds are never far below the surface. Violence erupts against any Junior who the Seniors deem unfit.

Jonathan Simon is 16, in his third year, and is self-conscious about being Jewish and having a birthmark on his cheek. He knows that: 1) The school code of conduct mandates no snitching, 2) The student Prefects, not the faculty, have absolute power to discipline and 3) Mr. Paul Wood, the temporary Headmaster, is weak and ineffectual.

Jonathan meets Bobby Stuart, an American transfer student, who is also worried about being accepted. Their friendship binds them together as they soon run afoul three ruthless and ambitious Seniors in the House; Gabriel, Murray and Hausman – also known by their fanatic followers as ‘The Black Armbands’.

As the pressure mounts, ambitions grow, friendships become closer and scheming increases. As for Jonathan, the year is only beginning…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Bookshop.org

Amazon UK

Waterstones

REVIEW:

Having read and enjoyed both The Oath and The Wicked Oath, I was keen to find out what Jonathan Simon’s third year at Blackleigh had in store for him. With the departure of many of his tormentors from previous years, surely this year would be a better one – or would it?

The arrival of new students at the school means new friendships for Jonathan, and with a potential new love interest, everything seems to be looking good for a positive year. However, ambitious students with their own agendas soon lead to a vicious power struggle. With the headmaster more than happy to leave discipline to the prefects and turning a blind eye to exactly what punishments are being dished out, Blackleigh quickly becomes a dangerous place to be for any student who doesn’t fit the ideal, with groups of vigilantes hunting down any “undesirable” student unlucky enough to be caught on their own.

Whilst the occurrences in the previous books were shocking enough, The Fatal Oath has an almost Lord of the Flies feel to it, with mob rule taking over, and an adult presence being almost entirely absent. As with the previous books, the actions of certain factions within the school make for uncomfortable but compelling reading.

New students, new prefects and a new headmaster combine with old grudges to make this year at Blackleigh the most dangerous yet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Michael L. Lewis was born and raised in England. After preparatory school in London, he was educated at Stowe School, Buckingham. This is the third novel in the Oath series, taking readers on a journey through the lives of three dynamic schoolboys between the ages of 13 and 15, and the extraordinary triumphs and tragedies that they experience. Michael now lives in Los Angeles, California, has a law degree, and writes full-time. He was on the Board of Trustees for several schools and has been a member of the same book club for twenty-five years.

Michael says, “The books in the ‘Oath’ series are all inspired by my incredible experiences at a Boarding School in the North of England and on School Boards in Los Angeles. Each book in the series stands alone with totally separate main themes united by the exploration of prejudice, the unequal playing field in education, and the abuse of human rights. They will appeal to adults as well as young adults and are entirely set in an elite public school in Yorkshire.”

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Don’t forget to visit all the blogs coming up on the tour for this book.

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Book Blogger Hop – 8th April 2022

This week’s Book Blogger Hop question comes from Julie at Stepping Stones Book Reviews

ARE YOU ABLE TO CHOOSE YOUR FAVOURITE BOOKS?

I feel that’s a little like asking me to choose my favourite child (if I had children)! To a certain extent, the books I would claim as my favourites fluctuate from day to day depending on my mood, but there are a handful that are permanent fixtures on the list. Even making a list of just my favourite authors is hard enough, never mind my favourites of each of their books! If my life depended on it, I could probably narrow it down to the following five, and I think from this list it is very obvious what my favourite genre is:

  1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  2. Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  3. The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale
  4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness
  5. The Six of Crows Duology by Leigh Bardugo

Does everyone else find it as hard as I do to choose a favourite? Which books would make your list?

Thanks as always to Billy at Coffee Addicted Writer for hosting the Book Blogger Hop!

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Top Ten Tuesday – 5th April 2022

Stage two of the plan to get me blogging more regularly again is to pick up with Top Ten Tuesday from Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. This week is a freebie week, so I am opting to pick up one of the prompts from March and share the top ten books from my Spring TBR pile.

The first four of these are upcoming releases, that I was lucky enough to receive ARCs for from NetGalley. They all sound fab and I can’t wait to get stuck in, especially to Danielle Jawando’s When Our World Collided because I adored her previous book. Keep an eye on things here because I will be sharing my reviews very soon.

  • Theatre of Marvels – Lianne Dillsworth
  • When Our Worlds Collided – Danielle Jawando
  • Hotel Magnifique – Emily J Taylor
  • The Thief – Megan Whalen Turner

The remaining six are all books that I have on my bookshelf – some of which have been there longer than they should have been!

  • Witches Steeped in Gold – Ciannon Smart
  • Ariadne – Jennifer Saint
  • Serpent & Dove – Shelby Mahurin
  • The Cat Who Saved Books – Sosuke Natsukawa
  • Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
  • The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E Harrow

What books are you most looking forward to reading this spring? Help me make my TBR even longer with your suggestions!

Book Review

Anton Eine

Way back in 2019, I reviewed sci-fi short story The Cleansing by Ukrainian author Anton Eine (read my review HERE). Following from this, Anton also kindly gifted me copies of his other short stories, My New Superjob and Post-Molecular Comfort Food, which to my shame, I had not reviewed prior to today. In fact, somehow, they had totally slipped off of my radar until I saw Anton’s name mentioned in a newsletter from crime thriller writer Rachel McLean. Rachel’s newsletter directed me to the thought-provoking interview Anton gave on the podcast of writer Mark Dawson (watch HERE). After watching the interview, I knew that the very least I could do was share my reviews and generally shout about Anton’s books from the social media rooftops, so here goes!

MY NEW SUPERJOB

Blurb:

Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? The city’s defender against crime, violence, and all sorts of sicko nastiness?

When one day she stumbled upon a strange help wanted ad claiming that the city was looking for a superhero, Samantha Washington, a former Ranger commander, was sure it was a joke. She sent in a resume anyway.

Will the ad turn out to be somebody’s dumb idea of a prank, a practical stunt, a cunning maniac’s clever trap, or… a real opportunity leading to a difficult and dangerous future occupation?

Now that she has allowed herself be drawn inextricably into a whole chain of strange events, Samantha will have to figure it all out on her own. And she’ll have to do it face to face with her own deepest fears.

Review:

As with The Cleansing, Anton Eine approaches the writing of this short story in a slightly different format to the norm. Written largely as an interview between Samantha and the mysterious representative of her potential employer, My New Superjob is full of strikingly vivid images and raw emotions – in just a few pages, it feels like you really get under the skin of Samantha, getting to know her deepest thoughts and fears. In fact, it was a lot deeper and more emotional than I expected from the blurb and title, with Samantha’s experiences feeling particularly poignant given the current situation in the author’s home country. Samantha could be speaking for any one of the men and women fighting there for their freedom, or indeed any soldier in any country. My New Superjob is cleverly written and deeply insightful. I will definitely be picking up the next book in this series when it is released.

POST-MOLECULAR COMFORT FOOD

Blurb:

Public health warning! This story is likely to cause profuse salivation!
Read only on a full stomach!

Michael Turner, the most popular food blogger in the world, has been unable to get his life back on track ever since being overtaken in the ratings by new upstart food designer Amy Williams. And now he is faced with the daunting challenge of taking her on in the annual televised top chef competition and the ignominy of losing his long-held crown to her in front of an audience of millions.

A humorous science fiction tale of delightful dishes and culinary masterpieces that shatters our familiar notions about cooking and explores our relationship with food and each other. Are you still a bit hungry? Good, then dinner is served..!

Review:

Pay heed to the public health warning that comes with this book! I did not, instead reading it shortly after consuming my lunch of a well-known meal replacement milkshake. While that did not hit the spot, Post-Molecular Comfort Food certainly did. Although actually, perhaps my lunch choice was an apt one given the tale about to unfold. Who knew that food post-2038 was going to be so incredibly changed!

I really liked Michael and his indignance at being replaced at the top of the blogger charts by rustic, homespun recipes, but it was his young daughter Stacey who really captured my heart and made me chuckle. While My New Superjob was emotionally devastating, Post-Molecular Comfort Food was wonderfully heart-warming, and reading the two books back to back really served to show the range of Anton Eine’s talents.

I have just downloaded Anton’s short story collection, Human Kind, so keep your eye out for a review of that coming fairly shortly. In the meantime, you can find out more about Anton and his writing on his website and on Twitter.

Website

Twitter

Book Review

Reading Challenge Update – March

After getting all caught up in the culinary delights of yesterday’s review, I am a little late with my end of month round up for March! It was a much slower month for me this time, especially in terms of ticking books off my challenge lists, so I only managed a small number of ticks!

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl

This is a powerful, raw book about the ability of the human mind to cope with whatever horrors come its way. This does mean that it is a book that needs to be read slowly, and also that I will be carrying it over again into April’s books.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart

For some reason I do particularly like books about absurdly rich Americans, and so this was the basis of choosing this as my book with a friendship theme. The Sinclair family appears to have it all but scratch the surface and there are a whole lot of brave faces being put on, all in the name of keeping up appearances. Summers on the family island seem idyllic but a dark undercurrent runs throughout this book, leading to a climax that I would never in a million years have seen coming.

The Custard Tart Cafe By The Sea by Isabella May

This was a late edition to my reading challenge. In fact, I was already reading before I realised it was the perfect fit for my “book by an author who uses a pseudonym. You can read my full review of this foodie delight HERE.

I did also start a book for my “book with a map in the front” but having abandoned that particular book, I now need to choose another one!

OTHER BOOKS READ THIS MONTH:

The Paris Apartment – Lucy Foley (Review coming soon)

The Summer We Forgot – Caroline George (Review coming soon)

Die Again – Tess Gerritsen

Dead Run – P.J. Tracy

The Cactus Surgeon: Using Nature to Fix a Faulty Brain – Hannah Powell (Read my review HERE)

I Know a Secret – Tess Gerritsen

Bard of the Borrows Volume II – Emma Miles (Review coming soon)

Nothing Burns As Bright As You – Ashley Woodfolk (Review coming soon)

The Vacation – John Marrs

In case you would like a reminder, here are the two challenges that I am following this year:

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Book Blogger Hop – 1st April 2022

Spring is here, and so it feels like the perfect time to rejuvenate my blog and start adding a few posts that aren’t purely book reviews. My first step is to rejoin the Book Blogger Hop, a feature hosted by Coffee Addicted Writer which I used to really enjoy until I fell totally by the wayside!

This week’s question comes directly from Billy at Coffee Addicted Writer, and it’s actually quite a timely one for my current state of mind.

DO YOU EVER GET BURNT OUT FROM READING?

The quick answer to this is yes, I do. I don’t know if it’s because I read a lot of books from the same genre and every now and then my brain just decides it needs a break, but every few weeks or so, I will go through a period where I barely read a page for about a week. Whatever book I pick up, I can’t absorb a word. It can be an absolute favourite and I still won’t be able to bring myself to care about what happens. Even a genre switch won’t work. When this happens, the only answer is a week long boxset binge! My most recent binges have been all seven series of Scandal (although that did take longer than a week!) and The Girl Before. I am also working my way through just about every film on Disney+ – if you haven’t seen Encanto yet, I highly recommend it.

I also find that the amount I read often correlates with the state of my mental health. When I was younger, reading was definitely an escape from whatever was going on in my life at the time, but as I get older, I find it incredibly hard to switch my brain off from real life worries to concentrate on a book – that’s when the old favourites come out and I find myself turning to the likes of Rainbow Rowell, Deborah Harkness, and Isabella May for comfort.

I definitely get burn out from reading books specifically for review, and that is partly why I have cut back a bit just recently on the blog tours I am taking part in and on the books I request from NetGalley. I really need to rediscover my love of reading just for fun (that and I have a huge backlog of reviews to share for NetGalley).

I would love to know what everyone else does when reading burnout hits, and any tricks people have for making it go away!

Book Review

The Custard Tart Cafe By The Sea – Isabella May

I am delighted to once again be kicking off the blog tour for a delicious Foodie Romance from Isabella May, as The Custard Tart Cafe By The Sea goes on tour today with Rachel’s Random Resources. Many thanks to Isabella for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Willow has opened a custard tart cafe at the end of a popular English seaside pier. Her unique and magical spin on the Portuguese pastel de nata has customers queuing outside the door to taste them.

Tiago’s grandparents are purveyors of The Real Deal: authentic custard tarts made in the Algarve region of Portugal, where his family have been lovingly baking them for centuries. When he moves to England for a new job and chances upon Willow’s wondrous wares, he is out for war. At least that’s his intention. But when serendipity brings Willow and Tiago back together at the departures desk in Bristol airport – destination Faro – outrage isn’t the only spark that flies…

Weston-super-Mare and Portugal are about to collide!

PURCHASE LINK:

Order here!

REVIEW:

It’s no secret that Isabella May is one of my favourite authors, and she triumphs once more in the latest instalment of her Foodie Romance books. The conversational style of writing means that you are drawn straight in to Willow’s quirky personality making her as hard to resist as the custard confections she sells. Just the thought of the delicious pastéis de nata took me back to a fantastic girls weekend in Lisbon – the discovery of these little pastries being one of the highlights. Settling down to read this book on the first day of a diet was a seriously bad idea – I should know better by now with Isabella’s books!

Willow is supported by a cast of colourful characters, with Frank and Reggie being particular favourites of mine. I can just picture Frank sat at his regular table with a pile of custard tarts, and I loved his decision to pay it forward in tarts to the most deserving customers. As for Tiago, well, he is just as delicious as Willow’s custardy creations!

As well as tempting the taste-buds, Isabella May also likes to ignite the travel bug, this time whisking us away to sunny Portugal. Whilst my travels in this country have so far been limited to beautiful Lisbon, I found it so easy to picture the remote quinta Willow and her friends holidayed in, and the gorgeous sounding town of Tavira.

Although Isabella May’s Foodie Romances are not a series as such, regular readers of her books will notice that some characters have a tendency of popping up in other people’s stories. I love this little touch, and so was very happy to see a certain Bath-based gelateria getting a mention!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalusia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the mountains and the sea. She grew up in Somerset on Glastonbury’s ley lines and loves to feature her quirky English hometown in her stories.

After a degree in Modern Languages and European Studies at UWE, Bristol (and a year working abroad in Bordeaux and Stuttgart), Isabella bagged an extremely jammy and fascinating job in children’s publishing… selling foreign rights for novelty, board, pop-up and non-fiction books all over the world; in every language from Icelandic to Korean, Bahasa Indonesian to Papiamento!

All of which has fuelled her curiosity and love of international food and travel – both feature extensively in her romcoms.

Isabella is also a Pranic Healer and a stillbirth mum.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Make sure you visit the other blogs joining the tour for more about this gorgeous book!