Book Review

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl – Joya Goffney

Today I am joining the blog tour for Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl by Joya Goffney. Many thanks to Joya for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Monique lives a perfect life as a preacher’s daughter, and girlfriend of the town’s golden boy. But its not that simple. She’s torn between her parents, who want her to remain their pure, virginal daughter, and her boyfriend, Dom, who wants to explore the more intimate side of their relationship.

Tired of waiting, Dom breaks up with Monique, spurring her to discover she has a medical condition that make her far from perfect. With the help of Sasha, an overly zealous church girl, and Reggie, the town’s bad boy, she concocts a plan to win Dom back. But along the way, she must face some home truths: maybe she shouldn’t be fixing her body to please a boy, maybe Sasha is the friend she needed all along and maybe Reggie isn’t so bad after all…

PURCHASE LINKS:

Purchase Link

REVIEW:

Everyone says that you should never judge a book by its cover, but when this pink and yellow wonder leapt off the web page at me, I just knew I needed to be a part of the tour. I mean, look at it – it is just too eye-catching to resist. Even better, the story nestled within the pages more than lived up to expectations. I would even go as far as to say that Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl has been one of my favourite reads so far in 2022.

Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl is a fantastic tale of unconditional love, empowerment, and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. It is the book I wish I could have read when I was Monique’s age and discovering who I was. The characters are vibrant, if flawed, and we see more than one of them grow as a person over the course of the book – and I don’t just mean the teenagers. Of all the characters, I defy anyone to resist the utterly charming Reggie. For me, it was love at first sight, and that love only grew as the story progressed.

Aside from all this brilliance, Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl also serves to raise awareness of a medical condition that could certainly do with more light being shone on it. I love that this is being highlighted to teenage girls in a way that gets the information to them at the same time as making it incredibly relatable. The sparkling dynamic between Reggie and Sasha prevents the subject from becoming too heavy or clinical, and adds some much needed humour to the situation.

By pure coincidence, the day that Rachel sent out the invites for this blog tour, I had also purchased Joya’s other book, Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. After reading Confessions of an Alleged Good Girl I can’t wait to read it, and I just know I will love it!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Joya Goffney grew up in New Waverly, a small town in East Texas. In high school, she challenged herself with to-do lists full of risk-taking items like ‘hug a random boy’ and ‘eat a cricket,’ which inspired her debut novel, Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. With a passion for Black social psychology, she moved out of the countryside to attend the University of Texas in Austin, where she still resides.

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Don’t forgot to visit all the other blogs taking part in the tour.

Blog

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.

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:

Book Review

Sparks and Shadows – Ceara Nobles

BLURB:

Seattle is full of monsters, and I’m the only one who can see them.

I’ve spent the last 17 years (AKA my whole life) pretending I can’t see the monsters who disguise themselves as humans. I may not have a place to live and my best friend may be moments away from getting in too deep with the city’s most dangerous drug lord, but I’m rolling with the status quo.

That is, until I save my arch enemy’s stupid life and find myself in a warehouse full of monsters.

Next thing I know, I’m in Monster Land (AKA not Seattle) and up to my ears in monsters, magic, and inevitable mayhem. If I want to get home, I have to join a band of revolutionaries and stay alive long enough to get back through the portal before war breaks out.

This’ll be a cinch.

Sparks and Shadow is a modern, action-packed YA portal fantasy featuring Fae mythology, magic, and slow-burn romance. This is the first book in the Rising Elements series.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

When I first read the blurb for this book, I was instantly curious about the monsters hiding in plain sight in Seattle, only visible in their true form to one teenage girl. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but I wanted to know what they were doing there, and why they had left the strange “Monster Land” that Everly finds herself sucked into, but I definitely wasn’t expecting what I got.

Everly is a feisty, strong-willed heroine, but it was the inhabitants of “Monster Land” that really got under my skin. I loved gentle souled Mina, and I quickly fell for the mysterious Shadow. I am looking forward to finding out more about him in future books in this series.

The strange land that Ceara Nobles has crafted was vividly clear to me as I read, and I was as caught up in the wonder of it as Everly was herself.

Sparks and Shadow is a bit of a slow burn, with not a lot of action until right at the end of the book. There is, however, a lot of scene setting and relationship building for what is to come in the next book of the series, and from what I have seen so far, I am excited to discover what is going to happen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ceara Nobles is a Utah-based author of romantic suspense and fantasy novels. She graduated from the University of Utah in 2016 with a B.A. in Computer Animation, then realized she hated it. Now she spends her days juggling her side hustle as a line editor and her true love of authorship. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her chasing her toddler, road tripping with her hubby, or hiding in bed with a chai and a good book.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Book Review

Reading Challenge Update – February

I can’t believe that’s another month gone already! I just ticked a couple more books of my challenges this month – it was more a month of catching up on reviews and reading for relaxation than picking challenge books this month. The books I did read for the challenges this month though are all firm favourites of mine.

The Island – Victoria Hislop

This was my choice for the “read a book inspired by a place in a movie you’ve watched and enjoyed.” I am pushing things a bit here because I chose the setting of Crete taken from the “In-Betweeners” film, which I didn’t love, but the location was beautiful and I have been meaning to reread The Island for a while to refresh my memory before reading One August Night.

The Embroidered Book – Kate Heartfield

This little beauty is my selection for “a book with a magical element.” To be honest, I could have chosen any number of books off my shelf for this prompt as magical books are my “go to,” but I was lucky enough to be gifted a copy of this gorgeous book by the publisher as part of the blog tour, so I just had to include it. You can read my full review HERE.

Carry On – Rainbow Rowell

I choose this as my “book that makes me happy.” I read this during a power cut in aftermath of Storm Eunice when I really needed a comfort read. I first read this book years ago, and have been meaning to re-read it for ages to jog my memory before diving into the rest of the trilogy, and honestly, I had forgotten how much I loved it.

Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor E Frankl

This was my “book that is a memoir” selection, and is a book that was recommended to me years ago, but that for some reason I had never got round to reading. I am only halfway through, so I will share more in next month’s round-up, but for now I can just say that it is a very powerful book.

OTHER BOOKS READ THIS MONTH:

The Millionaire Murders by Rachel McLean

The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn (read review HERE)

The Stone Monkey by Jeffrey Deaver

Rock Paper Killers by Alexia Mason (review coming soon)

The Silent Girl by Tess Gerritsen

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee (review coming soon)

Last to Die by Tess Gerritsen

The Butterfly Garden – Dot Hutchinson

Sparks and Shadow – Ceara Nobles (review coming soon)

In case you would like a reminder, here are the challenges that I am following.

Book Review

Blue Lilies – Lucy Holden

Happy publication day Lucy Holden! Blue Lilies, book six in the fabulous Nightgarden Saga is released today. Many thanks also Lucy for entrusting me with an advanced copy of this book

BLURB:

Time. Truth. Tears.

Everything has led to this moment. Harper thought she was ready. But now everything is different. Everything she fought to protect is lost in time. Her greatest enemy is her only friend. And Harper is no longer the girl she once was.

REVIEW:

Blue Lilies is the penultimate book in the Nightgarden Saga, and as happy as I always am to have a new book in the series to read, each book also makes me a little sad as the end of the series draws ever nearer.

There is a lot of information to take in at the start of this book, before the story really gets going, but it was so interesting that it didn’t just feel like an information dump. In fact, I found it so fascinating that it left me wanting more. Aside from the characters, who I think you all already know I adore, one of my favourite things about this series is the way Lucy Holden has included so much from cultures that I knew next to nothing about, and how she has managed to intertwine different mythologies so beautifully.

Where Dusky Dahlia is my favourite book in terms of the depths of emotion, Blue Lilies is perhaps the most exciting. I was completely gripped as the story built and built to the dramatic events that were coming and I devoured this book in a matter of hours. I don’t think I have ever been more glad that I already had a book’s sequel ready to read as I was when I finished Blue Lilies! Watch this space for more on that book coming soon.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lucy Holden is a pseudonym for Paula Constant, Random House published author of Sahara and Slow Journey South and indie author of the Visigoths of Spain historical fiction series. The Nightgarden Saga is Paula’s first foray into YA/NA paranormal romance.

Lucy Holden is Paula’s alter ego. She is a romantic tragic and has a deep fascination for all things supernatural. Starting with Anne Rice as a teenager, Paula has read her way through the vampire panoply. Her passion for the supernatural is so ingrained, she can recite whole scenes from The Vampire Diaries.

Her favourite thing in the world to do is sit on Cable Beach at midnight under a full moon with a glass of wine, something she gets to do almost every month not that she lives in the tropical North West town of Broome, Australia.

While off work with a broken leg, Paula wrote the entire Nightgarden Saga and now has plans for two related series set in the same world.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Book Review

Big Boned – Jo Watson

I have a great YA novel to share with you all today in the form of Big Boned by Jo Watson. Many thanks to Penguin Random House Children’s, UK for my copy of this book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

Can she be herself in a one-size-fits-all world?

Lori Palmer is the new girl at Bay Water High, where students prize glossy hair, beach bodies, and school spirit above all else. She misses her old school―where her talent as an artist carried more weight than she does―and longs for her old family life, before her parents got divorced and her mom reinvented herself.

So Lori decides that the only way to survive the rest of the year is to blend into the background, but her plans go awry when she discovers that the most popular (and hottest) guy at Bay Water High, Jake, is a volunteer at her brother’s school. When her brother befriends Jake’s sister, Lori is suddenly thrust into his unfamiliar and exhilarating world of water polo, parties, and stargazing.

But with her relationship with her mother deteriorating, old anxieties resurface and Lori finds a new artistic release that unknowingly ignites a powerful movement. When the authorities start asking questions, Lori realizes that finding her voice might have gotten her into a world of trouble…but sometimes standing up for what you believe in is as important as standing up for yourself.

REVIEW:

Despite being (a lot) older than the target audience, I found Big Boned to be an really empowering read. I was surprised of how much of what Lori learns and what is said by her therapist were things that I really need to hear myself.

Reading partly as an internal monologue, you get a real insight into Lori’s character. I found her to be incredibly relatable and I particularly liked that her journey to happiness wasn’t an easy one or an overnight success story. This made her experiences feel all the more real.

In a world where absolute perfection seems to be the order of the day, I think this is a really important book for all teenagers to read to help them learn to accept themselves and their individuality.

Book Review

Reading Challenge Update – January

At the start of the year, I set myself the goal of completing not one but two reading challenges in 2022. I will be cheating just a smidge and using one book for both challenges where there is crossover, but I am hoping that following the prompts will help me blitz through my ever increasing TBR pile! Here is a round up of how the first month has gone. Full details of both challenges can be found at the bottom of the post.

FIVE FEET APART – RACHEL LIPPINCOTT

This was a book that I could use for a prompt on each challenge, covering “a book already on my bookshelf” and “a book featuring a health condition.”

Five Feet Apart is a book that I had owned for quite a while without reading it. I think I was trying to prepare myself mentally for it being a very emotional read. Although it wasn’t quite the full on heartbreaker I was expecting, it was still a very powerful book and one that I learnt a lot from.

ALL FOR YOU – LOUISE JENSEN

I chose this book for  the “a book from an author I already know” prompt.

I am a huge Louise Jensen fan, and will read anything she writes without even looking at the blurb. I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book and take part in the blog tour organised by HQ. I have also had the privilege of meeting Louise and she is just the loveliest person. You can read my review HERE.

ONLY A MONSTER – VANESSA LEN

This was my choice for the prompt “a book published this year.” I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley. It is released on 17th February, but in the meantime, you can read my review HERE.

KEEPING THE DEAD – TESS GERRITSEN

I chose this book for my “book that’s a guilty pleasure,” although in all honesty, I don’t feel remotely guilty about loving the Rizzoli & Isles series. Police procedurals and crime thrillers are my easy reads when I need a breather from all the fantasy books I read, and I particularly love a series because I can dive in to characters that are already familiar.

I think was my favourite of the Rizzoli & Isles books so far, partly because it reminded me of the the museum where I did my work experience at school. We even had a mummy and a stuffed bear.

RHYTHM OF MY SOUL – ELIN DYER

I chose little beauty as my “book that’s a YA novel.” To be honest, I read a lot of YA, so there will be a number of books over the course of the year that would fit this brief, but I am a fan of the author, so this was my first choice. You can read my review HERE.

SILENT SCREAM – ANGELA MARSONS

This was my choice for “a book that’s a murder mystery.” This is another challenge prompt that I knew I would have no problem fulfilling. I opted to read this book for the prompt because I had been hearing so many great things about Angela Marsons Kim Stone series, and had been slowly collecting the books, but hadn’t actually read any of them. The book totally lived up to the hype and I am so glad to have discovered a new series to immerse myself in.

FROM BAGHDAD WITH LOVE – JAY KOPELMAN

This was another double challenge winner for me, matching the briefs of “a book that is set in the continent of Asia” and “a book set in a foreign country.”

I loved reading about how one little puppy won the hearts of so many people, and the efforts they went to so that he could make his escape from Iraq, but I found the writing style hard to fully engage with. It was quite matter of fact, with little emotion, although I can see that this would most likely be the author’s way of processing his experiences in Iraq.

THE LEVIATHAN – ROSIE ANDREWS

The Leviathan was my choice for “a book that has a green cover,” and isn’t it a stunner!. This is another book that I receive an advanced copy of via NetGalley. It is released on 3rd Febraury, and you can read my review HERE.

I am really pleased with how the first month of my challenge has gone, with two books ticked off the Fiction Cafe Book Club challenge, and eight ticked off the second challenge.

OTHER BOOKS READ THIS MONTH:

I did manage to squeeze in some non-challenge books this month, a mix of books read for blog tours, as part of an author’s advanced reader team, and some read purely for relaxation.

The Unravelling – Polly Crosby (read my review HERE)

Dusky Dahlia – Lucy Holden (read my review HERE)

Blue Lilies – Lucy Holden (review coming soon)

The Coffin Dancer – Jeffrey Deaver

The Killing Place – Tess Gerritsen

Night Shade – Lucy Holden (review coming soon)

Livingston Girls – Briana Morgan

The Empty Chair – Jeffrey Deaver

These were great books, all of which I heartily recommend you checking out.

As promised, here are the full details of the challenges in case you fancy joining in. The first of these comes courtesy of the fantastic Fiction Cafe Book Club on Facebook and the second via a friend, so I am not too sure of its origins – if anyone knows, please shout so I can credit the author. I will be back with another update of my progress at the end of February.

Book Review

The Rhythm of My Soul – Elin Dyer

For today’s review, I am taking a look at the first book in the Roseheart Ballet Academy series by Elin Dyer.

BLURB:

Welcome to Roseheart Ballet Academy, where the best dancers have the biggest secrets…

Taryn Foster has her eyes set on becoming the first aro-ace ballerina in the academy’s company of professional dancers, and all she needs to do is graduate. But she’s haunted by the ghost of her dead sister—and now she’s living for the two of them.

Teddy Walker has a serious illness. But he’s determined to hide how ill he is and continue dancing—even if it kills him.

Jaidev Ngo was arrested the last time he danced. Now, he’s having a new start at Roseheart Academy, but someone here knows about his past—and that person wants revenge.

The Rhythm of My Soul is book one in Elin Dyer’s new YA ballet series, where even the darkest secrets will be discovered. Please note this book contains eating disorder representation which some readers may find triggering.

REVIEW:

As a big fan of Madeline Dyer’s Untamed series, I was keen to read this book by her alter ego Elin Dyer as she ventures into new genres and steps away from dystopian fiction. The Rhythm Of My Soul sees a move into YA/NA fiction with more than a hint of a thriller about it.

Elin Dyer presents a beautifully diverse cast of characters, and I loved the own voices representation across a number of different aspects in terms of sexuality and chronic illness.

I love watching ballet and whilst I am by no means an expert, it was clear that Dyer had done her research and I was swept away by the descriptions of the performances, whether on stage or in rehearsals. Both the academy and the company were brought to life beautifully, making me wish that I could be a part of their world.

The Rhythm Of My Soul is the start of what promises to be an engrossing new series and I look forward to book two.