#AllAboutUs

An unforgettable and heart-stoppingly romantic story of love, loss and second chances, perfect for fans of One Day and Me Before You.

***

If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?

Ben’s always loved the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?

He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

Two loves. Two lives. One destiny…

This is an enchanting and modern re-telling of a Christmas Carol which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is the perfect seasonal romance. The book isn’t about Christmas so could easily be read at any time of year but, the majority of the events happen around Christmas, so it gives you that warm happy feeling to read it at that time of year.

I was annoyed by the main character to begin with, he was whinny and selfish but upon finishing the book you know that’s how he needed to be written for this plot to work. I also enjoyed this was written from the male perspective as it is keeping with the classic and so many romances are from the woman’s viewpoint.

It is beautiful story that shows us that our memories are completely subjective to the emotions we are feeling at the time and reminds us that we need to apricate what we have instead of taking it for granted.

I will be buying this for my friends to read in December.

Thank you @HQstories for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

#ThisGreen&PleasantLand

Everyone has a place they call home. But who gets to decide where you belong?

For years Bilal Hasham and his wife Mariam have lived contented, quiet lives in the sleepy rural village of Babbel’s End. Now all that is about to change.

On her deathbed, Bilal’s mother reaches for his hand. Instead of whispering her final prayers, she gives him a task: build a mosque in his country village. Mariam is horrified by Bilal’s plan. His friends and neighbours are unnerved. As outrage sweeps Babbel’s End, battle lines are drawn. His mother’s dying wish reveals deeper divisions in their village than Bilal had ever imagined. Soon Bilal is forced to choose between community and identity, between faith and friendship, between honouring his beloved mother’s last wish and preserving what is held dear in the place that he calls home. 

This is the story of Bilal, who mothers dying wish was for him to build a mosque. A once central and included member of the community, Bilal becomes ostrisized and the target or hate crimes by people he thought were his friends. Spurred on by his wife he becomes more determined to for-fill his mothers dream despite the negativity from the community.

This is a great story of a community that on the surface appears inclusive but actually only wants to be inclusive if it works out in the direction they have planned. This is a very clever story and once I wish didn’t ring true but after all I have seen this year I fear is truer than ever and it makes me so angry.

I did feel the first half was a little slow as it set the scene but Malik really knows how to write to get you emotionally invested so be prepared!

My favourite character was definitely Rukhsana, she warmed my heart throughout and I just wanted to give her a great big cuddle! I loved that the most unlikely of characters brought them all together.

Thank you to Compulsive Reads Blog Tours and Zaffre Books for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Ayisha Malik is a writer and editor, living in South London. She holds a BA in English Literature and a First Class MA in Creative Writing. Her novels Sofia Khan is Not Obliged and The Other Half of Happiness, starring ‘the Muslim Bridget Jones’, were met with great critical acclaim, and Sofia Khan is Not Obliged was chosen as 2019’s Cityread book. Ayisha was a WHSmith Fresh Talent Pick, shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement Award and Marie Claire’s Future Shapers Awards. Ayisha is also the ghost writer for The Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain.

#OddBird

Simon Selwood is an academic expert on the monogamous sexual behaviour of birds, but hopeless at finding human love. Then he meets Kim, and at last something is more important to him than ornithology.

Kim doesn’t give a hoot about birds. And at first she isn’t very interested in Simon either. Relying on what he has gleaned from observing the opportunistic pied flycatcher and other species, plus the unorthodox advice of old friend Phil, Simon sets out on a mission to discover love for himself.

But will he make the right choice?

Odd Bird takes a light-hearted look at the battle of the sexes, drawing on the surprising parallels between the courtship behaviours of humans and birds.

This is the story of Simon who has only had one relationship in his life and when that comes to an end he starts to question his ability to find love. He then meets Kim and focus’s all his attention on her, confident that she is the one for him but what if his focus on Kim stops him seeing who would really be perfect for him?

Simon is a brilliant, likeable character and you just want to see a happy end for him. I liked the humour and loved his friendship with Phil and Penny but at times I do think that there was a little too much in-depth bird terminology/ descriptions.

This is definitely one for fans of the Rosie Project or any bird lover!

Thank you to @farragobooks and @leefarniefarns for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

#LoveSongsforSceptics

My brother’s getting married in a few weeks and asked for help picking a song for his first dance. I suggested Kiss’s ‘Love’s a Slap in the Face’.

It didn’t go down well.

When she was a teenager, Zoë Frixos fell in love with Simon Baxter, her best friend and the boy next door. But his family moved to America before she could tell him how she felt and, like a scratched record, she’s never quite moved on. Now, almost twenty years later, Simon is heading back to London, newly single and as charming as ever . . .
But as obstacles continue to get in her way – Simon’s perfect ex-girlfriend, her brother’s big(ish) fat(ish) Greek wedding, and an obnoxious publicist determined to run Zoë – Zoë begins to wonder whether, after all these years, she and Simon just aren’t meant to be.

What if, despite what all the songs and movies say, your first love isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be? What if, instead Zoë and Simon are forever destined to shuffle around their feelings for each other, never quite getting the steps right . . .

Love Songs for Sceptics is perfect for fans of Mhairi McFarlane, Lucy Vine and Lindsey Kelk.


Zoe is is the editor of a music magazine which is heading for failure unless she can pull off an interview with her musical icon, Marcie Tyler, who hasn’t spoken to the press in ten years. Add to that the reintroduction of Simon, her life long crush and an annoying publicist and you have a great, upbeat read revolving around the music world.⁠



This book had an unexpected enemies to lovers trope which I absolutely love and definitely made this book for me (that and that the fact that the chapters are all song titles!!) Definitely one for the feel-good fiction fans out there!⁠

Thank you to @randomttours and @simonschusteruk for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Christina Pishiris was born in London to Greek Cypriot parents, who used to bribe her to go to family weddings by promising that George Michael might be there. To deal with the inevitable disappointment, she began scribbling stories on napkins and has been writing ever since. She started her career as a journalist, specialising in the TV industry, before going freelance. Since meeting her film-maker husband she’s also
moved into production, working on music documentaries.

Her hobbies include compiling cheesy 80s playlists, coveting the neighbour’s cat and writing protest letters to Guerlain after they discontinued her favourite perfume.

#TheWitchHouse

Who can you trust, if you can’t trust yourself?

Alice Hunter, grieving and troubled after a breakdown, stumbles on the body of her friend and trustee, Harry Rook. The police determine he has been ritually murdered and suspicion falls on the vulnerable Alice, who inherited the place known locally as The Witch House from her grandmother, late High Priestess of the local coven.

When the investigations turn up more evidence, and it all seems to point to Alice, even she begins to doubt herself.

Can she find the courage to confront the secrets and lies at the heart of her family and community to uncover the truth, prove her sanity, and clear herself of murder?

This was a brilliant suspense thriller/murder mystery with a setting. It was full of characters who you didn’t fully trust, we quickly find out that the narrator has recently been released from a psychiatric hospital and from there you constantly question everyone that meet.

I really enjoyed the dry, sarcastic humour of Alices character and the way that she brought a little bit of lightness to a rather creepy mystery.

This is perfect for anyone who loves a bit of gothic fiction and I will be keeping an eye out for more of Ann’s work!

Thank you to @RedDogPress for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Ann Rawson has long been addicted to story. As a child she longed to learn to read because she knew there was magic in those pages, the inky squiggles that turned into words and became images in her head – the stories that could transport her away from the everyday. As she grew older, she divined there was truth in books too. They were a glimpse into other minds. Her reading became the foundation of a deep and abiding interest in what makes people tick – and so she soon became hooked on crime fiction.

Age ten, she wrote to Malcolm Saville, author of the Lone Pine Series, enclosing her first short story. He wrote back and encouraged her to continue writing – and she is heartbroken that the letter is long lost. His book, Lone Pine Five, sparked a lifelong interest in archaeology, as it mentions the Mildenhall Treasure which makes an appearance in The Witch House.

A lapsed witch with enduring pagan tendencies, she lives on the south coast. She still thinks of herself as a Northerner, although she’s been in exile for many years. Almost every day she walks on the Downs or the white cliffs with her husband, plotting her next novel while he designs computer systems.

Ann’s debut novel, A Savage Art was published by Fahrenheit Press in 2016. She has published some short fiction, and in 2019 her memoir piece If… was shortlisted for the Fish Short Memoir Prize.

She is currently completing a memoir and working on her third novel.

You can follow her on Twitter @AE_Rawson (where she doesn’t go far, to be honest), find her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/aerawson/, and her blog is at www.strawintogold.co.uk

#Spirited

A beautifully haunting and atmospheric historical novel about three brave women with unspeakable truths – perfect for fans of The Binding, Once Upon A River and The Familiars.

Three women carry unspeakable truths in their heart. At what cost will they find their freedom?

In Victorian England, Viola is an amateur photographer struggling with the grief of her father’s death and the sterile atmosphere of her marriage to her childhood friend, Jonah. When she discovers a talent for capturing ghostly images on camera, Viola comes to the attention of a spirit medium, and a powerful attraction between the two women is sparked… As each woman puts herself at risk, secrets are brought to light that will change their lives forever.

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters Cohen exploresthemes of sexuality, gender and prejudice, firmly establishing her as one of our best storytellers.

This story follows the lives of three individuals who are lonely and lost and takes us on a journey of finding love and acceptance.

Recently married, childhood sweethearts, Violet and Jonah have recently moved to the country to try and get over the loss of her father. Before they were married Jonah spent time in India and Violet feels he has come back changed and now feels lonelier than ever with her father gone and her husband acting like a stranger.

Then a well know spirit medium arrives in town and she sees that Jonah is hiding something from his new wife.

I was initially unsure about the spiritual element but I actually really enjoyed it and ended up flying through this book. The women in it were both strong and capable and so perfect for each other.

This is great piece of historical fiction that I really felt immersed in and I really liked the pieces of old text at the end of the chapters. If your a fan of historical fiction reads like the familiars then this is definitely one you are going to want to pick up!

Thank you to @orionbooks and @randomttours for my #gifted copy in exchange for review.

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine. Her house was just up the hill from the library and she spent many hours walking back and forth, her nose in a book. She studied English Literature at Brown University and Cambridge University and is a popular speaker and teacher of creative writing, including classes for the Guardian and Literature Wales. Her books have been translated into fifteen languages and have sold over a million copies; DEAR THING and TOGETHER were Richard and Judy Book Club picks. Her most recent novel is the critically acclaimed LOUIS & LOUISE. Julie lives in Berkshire with her husband, son and a terrier of dubious origin.

You can find Julie on Twitter: @julie_cohen or you can visit her website: http://www.julie-cohen.com.

#TheLostLightsofStKilda

1927: When Fred Lawson takes a summer job on St Kilda, little does he realise that he has joined the last community to ever live on the beautiful, isolated island.

Only three years later, St Kilda will be evacuated, the islanders near-dead from starvation. But for Fred, that summer – and the island woman, Chrissie, whom he falls in love with – becomes the very thing that sustains him in the years ahead.

1940: Fred has been captured behind enemy lines in France and finds himself in a prisoner-of-war camp. Beaten and exhausted, his thoughts return to the island of his youth and the woman he loved and lost. When Fred makes his daring escape, prompting a desperate journey across occupied territory, he is sustained by one thought only: finding his way back to her.

The Lost Lights of St Kilda is a sweeping love story that will cross oceans and decades. It is a moving and deeply vivid portrait of two lovers, a desolate island, and the extraordinary power of home in the face of darkness.

Published by Corvus on 5th March 2020, 278 pages

This is a the story of Chrissie, Fred and Archie. The story spans decades, a war and a lost way of life.

It follows Chrissie from her childhood on the island where life was still lived as it had been for hundreds of years until the end of the second world war. It is a story of love, betrayal and loyalties.

Although there is no suspense or twists in this story I found I couldnt put it down and I got completely lost in it. It is beautifully written and brings the Island of St Kilda alive, I could picture the landscapes and the wildlife exactly as it was written and felt emotionally involved in Chrissie’s life. The difference between modern life and life on the island was fascinating especially as it wasn’t that long ago.

The author created characters that seemed very real but also used actual people that played vital roles in the second world war that had me reading up about them as soon as I had finished the book.

I would definitely recommend this to historical fiction fans.

Thanks to @annecater at Random Things Tours and @CorvusBooks for my copy in exchange for review.

Elisabeth Gifford grew up in a vicarage in the industrial Midlands. She studied French literature and world religions at Leeds University. Her bestselling novel, Secrets of the Sea House, was shortlisted for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown for Best First Historical Novel in 2014. She is married with three children, and lives in Kingston upon Thames.

My Dark Vanessa – Kate Elizabeth Russell

January 23rd 2020

Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Review

The story moves back and forth between Vanessa’s past and present. A past where she enters a relationship with a teach 30+ years her senior and a present where people are trying to get her to talk about that relationship. In no way is this an easy read, in fact half the time I found my self squirming in my seat at some of the prose, but it was also fascinating and un-put-down-able.

For me it felt like the novel was possibly a Lolita from the girl’s point of view, maybe to the males she comes across as bold, confident and sexy but inside her is a minefield and her actions towards men have been bread from her early interactions. Had she not been involved with an older professor would she have behaved the way she did with other men? would her life have been the same or is there something dark inside her? This book makes you really question what’s going on and whether, at 15, she can really say that she did want it.

‘“I never would have done it if you weren’t so willing,” he’d said. It sounds like delusion. What girl would want what he did to me? But it’s the truth, whether anyone believes it or not.’

There is no doubting that she is a very astute and mature 15-year-old, but does that mean she fully understood what she was getting involved in? Does that make her less of a victim?

…I wasn’t pretty, I’d have to wait a long time before anyone noticed me because boys had to mature before they cared about anything else. In the meantime, apparently my only option was to wait. Like girls sitting in the bleachers at basketball games watching boys play, or girls sitting on the couch watching boys play video games. Endless waiting. It’s funny to think how wrong Mom was about all that. Because there’s another option for those brave enough to take it—bypass boys altogether, go straight to men. Men will never make you wait, men who are starved and grateful for scraps of attention, who fall in love so hard they throw themselves at your feet.

I also feel that this novel comes at a pivotal time, when there are allegations flying, and asks some serious questions, is there any point in coming forward now? what will it achieve? is it beneficial to the individual to relive it all in such a public way? Not only does it ask these questions, it reminds us that every person is different and while some may need to expose it in order to get over it for others it may well just break them.

I can see this being absolutely huge, it will divide or unite people and will absolutely be all anyone is talking about. Thank you to Net Galley & 4th Estate for the ARC.

About the Author:

Kate Elizabeth Russell was born and raised in eastern Maine. She holds an MFA from Indiana University and a PhD from the University of Kansas. My Dark Vanessa is her first novel.

You can also find out more about Kate and how her own experiences with older men as a teenager inspired this book at the link below

AMPS NEWS

Are You Watching – Ralph Vincent

6th January 2020

A page-turning new YA thriller for the social media age, perfect for fans of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder and One Of Us Is Lying.T

Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.

Review:

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This was a brilliant young adult thriller which I devoured in a single sitting! I liked that the use of social media in the book was to try and do something proactive and not just another teenager addicted to likes and followers.

I really enjoyed Ralph’s comments on society, this quote,

“We put our lives out there in all sorts of ways – on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and Snapchat – but it’s always edited. We hand pick the best bits and hope the world gives a shit.”

it just completely summed up the use of social media for me. Rarely do we post pictures and updates about the all the bad things that happen in our day.

Also, the premise of day five was really clever (you will have to read to find out what I mean)

I did not guess who the Magpie Man, which for me was a bonus as I have guessed the ending to a few of the big thrillers, such as the silent patient, this year but you can tell its a YA thriller as although it kept me guessing it didn’t give me goose bumps or that chill that an adult thriller does – or maybe its just because i’m too old!

Get Are You Watching? in ebook now for only 99p https://amzn.to/34J8Qsi

Thank you to Anne Carter and Penguin for my copy in exchange for review

A Convenient Marriage – Jeevani Charika

It was the perfect marriage… until they fell in love.

Chaya is a young woman torn between her duty to family and her life in the UK. While her traditional Sri Lankan parents want her to settle down into marriage, what they don’t know is that Chaya has turned away the one true love of her life, Noah, terrified of their disapproval.

Gimhana is hiding his sexuality from his family. It’s easy enough to pretend he’s straight when he lives half a world away in the UK. But it’s getting harder and harder to turn down the potential brides his parents keep finding for him.

When Chaya and Gimhana meet, a marriage of convenience seems like the perfect solution to their problems. Together they have everything – friendship, stability and their parents’ approval. But when both Chaya and Gimhana find themselves falling in love outside of their marriage, they’re left with an impossible decision – risk everything they’ve built together, or finally follow their heart?

Will they choose love, or carry on living a lie?

Review

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the story of two Sir Lankan’s who chose to enter into a partnership for the sake of appearances but develop a true friendship.

I really enjoyed learning each characters back story and more about Sir Lankan laws and traditions, I had no idea that it was illegal to be a homosexual in Sir Lanka in this day and age I also felt that it tackled sensitive issues such as mental health and depression really well.

“Once, she had been a part of it, fitting easily into the flow, but ever since Noah, she had felt like she was something other. She could never fully relax, in case she said something that gave her away. Where once she had been open and free, now she had to make a conscious effort to blend in.”

I also loved that it was set just a little bit in the past so that it brought some nostalgia, like the mention of Gimhana having a lovefilm subscription!

Author Bio:

Jeevani* writes multicultural women’s fiction. She was born in the South of England, but spent much of her childhood in Sri Lanka, with short forays to Nigeria and Micronesia, before returning to settle in Yorkshire. She studied Biochemistry and Microbiology at Oxford and ended up working in university technology transfer. All of this, it turned out, was excellent preparation for becoming a novelist.

She also writes romantic comedies under the name Rhoda Baxter. Her books have been shortlisted for the RoNA awards, the Love Stories awards and the Joan Hessayon award. She is a member of the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors.

Jeevani loves all things science geeky. She also loves cake, crochet and playing with Lego. You can find out more about her (and get a free book by signing up to her newsletter) on her website.

(*Jeevani is pronounced ‘Jeev-uh-nee’. Or just call her Jeev)

Social Media links

Website: http://www.jeevanicharika.com

Twitter: @rhodabaxter

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