#WWWWednesday: 12 August

Hello, hello and welcome back to another episode of WWW Wednesday, a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World of Words, which means I’ll be answering these questions:

  1. What did you read last?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

Since last Wednesday I managed to finish 3.5 books (the .5 because I DNF’d one and so I won’t include that here). One of my goals for a while now is to allow myself to DNF and not feel guilty about it and although it’s really slow going, I think I’m doing a pretty good job this year since I’ve already allowed myself to DNF three books. Slow and steady, right?

With or Without You by Caroline Leavitt ★★★★½
I was pleasantly surprised by With or Without You especially because it’s the kind of book that I’d normally find myself disliking–not because it’s poorly written but because the characters are so flawed and I find it hard to connect to stories when I dislike characters. That (obviously) didn’t happen here though. This was a very bittersweet and deeply emotional book about love, loyalty, the choices we make in life and ultimately, about growth, change and finding yourself. Read my review!

A House is A Body by Shruti Swamy ★★★☆☆
I struggle with the way short stories are usually written but I continue to read them in the hopes I’ll find my “one” collection. While I enjoyed some of these stories, most of them mainly confused me and that impacted by overall view. Swamy’s writing is wonderful and she does an amazing job writing stories rooted in both fantasy and reality! I recommend it if you like diverse and fantastical short stories. Read my review!

The Black Kids by Christina Hammonds Reed ★★★★★
Although I initially struggled to connect with Ashley, I was able to empathise with her as I read on. She’s still a very unlikeable character but her growth in this book was so well done and I felt so proud of her in the end! This was a heavy book. It angered me, frustrated me, made me despair but I commend Hammonds Reed for ending this book in such a hopeful way. Although everything wasn’t okay, you felt like eventually, we’re going to get there. Read my review!

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Blog Tour Review: The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock. Thanks to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this blog tour and to Boldwood Books and the author for providing the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Release Date: 09 July 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Panda Rating:

A feel-good story of new beginnings set in a gorgeous country village, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Milly Johnson.

After losing her job in New York, Amber Green isn’t looking forward to visiting her godmother in the sleepy village of Cranbridge. With its empty lanes and rundown shops, it’s hardly a place to mend her lonely heart. But when Amber discovers that Cranbridge Stores, owned by her godmother Cathy and son Josh, is under threat of financial ruin, she realises that her skills as a window dresser might just be able to help save the struggling shop.


When disaster strikes, Amber and Josh must unite to save both the shop and the village from flooding.
Can Cranbridge Stores become the heart of the village once more?
And as the village begins to come back to life, perhaps Amber will discover a reason to stay…

Buy: Amazon

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Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay Blog Tour Review

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay by Katie Ginger. Thanks to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this blog tour and to HQ Digital and the author for providing the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay
Publisher: HQ Digital
Release Date: 24 June 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Panda Rating:

(3.75 rounded up)

Grab your strawberries and cream and get ready to return to the beautiful Swallowtail Bay! Summer is in full swing and the locals are getting excited for the launch of the Swallowtail Bay strawberry food festival. But will all run smoothly when festival organiser Hetty’s heart is torn between lord of the manor John Thornhill and successful bakery owner Ben?

Buy: Amazon (UK) | Amazon (US)

Continue reading “Summer Strawberries at Swallowtail Bay Blog Tour Review”

The Plus One Pact Blog Tour Review

I’m back with another blog tour and this time it’s for The Plus One Pact by Portia Macintosh. Thanks to Rachel @ Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this blog tour and to Boldwood Books and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Be sure to click on the banner below to check out the rest of the bloggers on tour!

Goodreads: The Plus One Pact
Publisher: Boldwood Books
Release Date: 21 May 2020
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Panda Rating:

What if your plus one could be the one…?
Cara has officially run out of men. Her most recent dates have gone from bad to worse, and when her dating app informs her there is no one left in her area to choose from, she is at a dead end. But with a summer of events ahead of her, she needs to find a solution, fast; someone to keep her company at the never-ending weddings, family gatherings and gender reveal parties that she can’t face going to alone.  So when she meets handsome, confident, Millsy on a night out she may be in luck. They could not be more different in personality, but he too has a summer of events ahead and is desperate to get his family off his back about finding a ‘nice girl’. What if they made a pact to help each other out and be a plus one for the summer? Just as friends of course…? 

A brand new romantic comedy from bestseller Portia MacIntosh, perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley, Sophie Ranald and Mhairi McFarlane.

Buy a copy: Amazon (US)

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Sundays in Bed With… #MyWeeklyWrapUp

We’re back with another Sundays in Bed With… meme! This meme dares to ask you what book has been in your bed this morning and is hosted by Midnight Book Girl. Come share what book you’ve been you’ve spent time curled up reading in bed with, or which book you wish you had time to read today!

This Sunday I spent a good chunk of the day reading The Wrongful Death which is Book III in The Great Devil War series. Although there are some bits that I’m not enjoying so much, mostly an awkward pre-pubescent romance that seems a little forced. I honestly wish the ‘relationship’ between two characters was platonic as I think it’d be more believable. Still, I’m really enjoying Andersen’s imagination of hell. The more I read the series the more I wonder what inspired and continues to inspire Andersen to bring this hellish world to life. It’s so interesting but also obviously very dark (even the humour).

An unfortunate chain of events makes Philip responsible for the untimely death of the school bully Sam—the Devil’s original choice for an heir. Philip must return to Hell to find Sam and bring him back to life, so that fate can be restored. But trouble is stirring in Lucifer’s kingdom and not even Philip can imagine the strange and dark journey that awaits him. A journey that will take him through ancient underworlds and all the way to Paradise.

The Wrong Death is volume 3 of The Great Devil War series.

What are you currently reading?

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First Lines Friday – 14 February

HAPPY FRIDAY AND LOVERS DAY, book friends! We’re back with another First Lines Friday, a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines? Here are the rules:

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

First lines:

“On Sunday I work in sans serif.
Boldface for all the headers, because that’s what the client wants, apexes and vertexes flattened way out into big floors and tables for every letter, each one stretching and counting and demanding to be seen.”

Do you recognize the book these first lines come from?

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Trophy Life by Lea Geller – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: Trophy Life
Publish date: 09 April 2019
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Panda Rating:

For the last ten years, Agnes Parsons’s biggest challenge has been juggling yoga classes and lunch dates. Her Santa Monica house staff takes care of everything, leaving Agnes to focus on her trophy-wife responsibilities: look perfect, adore her older husband, and wear terribly expensive (if uncomfortable) underwear.

When her husband disappears, leaving Agnes and their infant daughter with no money, no home, and no staff, she is forced to move across the country, where she lands a job teaching at an all-boys boarding school in the Bronx. So long, organic quinoa bowls and sunshine-filled California life. Hello, processed food, pest-infested house, and twelve-year-old-boy humor—all day, every day.

But it’s in this place of second chances (and giant bugs), where Agnes is unexpectedly forced to take care of herself and her daughter, where she finds out the kind of woman she can be. Ultimately, she has to decide if she prefers the woman and mother she has become…or the trophy life she left behind.

This was slow to start and was a little difficult to get into at first but once the story got rolling, I found the ‘light and fluffy’ contemporary I expected. I didn’t find it very surprising or different to anything that I’ve read in women’s fiction before though. For some reason (probably based on the cover) I might have thought the story and characters would be more comedic, but it was still an enjoyable and entertaining enough read.

Continue reading “Trophy Life by Lea Geller – #eARC #BookReview”

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland – #eARC #BookReview

Goodreads: The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
Publish date: 29 October 2019
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Chick Lit, Women’s Fiction
Panda Rating:

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.
She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But…

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point.
She knows she needs to find her father.
She’s missed so much that her friends have left her behind.
She’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.
She just needs to learn to listen to it…

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae was a heartwarming (no pun intended) story about health, family, friendship, love, grief and quite simply ‘adulting’. Ailsa was born with a heart condition which meant that for most of her life she was too ill to really live. She wasn’t completely unexperienced and sheltered although she missed out on a lot of the ‘normal things’ that kids, teenagers and young adults experienced because her heart and body simply couldn’t handle it. She started to blog about her ‘blue heart’ and what her life was like as she waited for a transplant, until she finally gets the new heart she has literally been waiting for her whole life. It’s not a fast paced read and while there’s a lot of changes that happen, it’s not a larger-than-life miracle story either. It’s set in Edinburgh and as you might know by now it’s one of my favourite places! The author really made the city come to life and I could practically feel myself navigating the streets alongside Ailsa and it was such a wonderful feeling!

Continue reading “The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland – #eARC #BookReview”

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman – #BookReview

Goodreads: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Panda Rating:

Meet Nina Hill: A young woman supremely confident in her own…shell.

The only child of a single mother, Nina has her life just as she wants it: a job in a bookstore, a kick-butt trivia team, a world-class planner and a cat named Phil. If she sometimes suspects there might be more to life than reading, she just shrugs and picks up a new book.

When the father Nina never knew existed suddenly dies, leaving behind innumerable sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, Nina is horrified. They all live close by! They’re all–or mostly all–excited to meet her! She’ll have to Speak. To. Strangers. It’s a disaster! And as if that wasn’t enough, Tom, her trivia nemesis, has turned out to be cute, funny, and deeply interested in getting to know her. Doesn’t he realize what a terrible idea that is?

Nina considers her options.
1. Completely change her name and appearance. (Too drastic, plus she likes her hair.)
2. Flee to a deserted island. (Hard pass, see: coffee).
3. Hide in a corner of her apartment and rock back and forth. (Already doing it.)

It’s time for Nina to come out of her comfortable shell, but she isn’t convinced real life could ever live up to fiction. It’s going to take a brand new family, a persistent suitor, and the combined effects of ice cream and trivia to make her turn her own fresh page. 

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill was just as quirky and relatable as I expected and I enjoyed every minute I spent with Nina Hill and the odd mix of characters we encounter in this book. This was one of the more hyped books in the last few months on bookstagram, which intimidated me for a while (hype and I have a love/hate relationship), but I’m glad that I took the plunge and finally read it!

“It also meant she thought of books as medication and sanctuary and the source of all good things. Nothing yet had proven her wrong.”

I’m not sure what expectations I had going in, but the writing style was very different to what I expected, though not necessarily in a bad way. It definitely enhanced the quirkiness of the story and fit it quite well, but I’m not sure if I’d prefer or enjoy this style in a different book. As this was a character driven story, there wasn’t much in the way of a plot. We follow Nina as she navigates having her perfectly structured world turned completely upside down with the introduction of family members that suddenly appear in her life, difficulties at work that could lead to the loss of her safe space, and Tom: #1 trivia nemesis turned potential love interest. The writing was simple, engaging and infused with great humor, which had me speeding through the pages and made it an even greater pleasure to read.

There was so much friendly banter between all of the characters and it made me feel warm and fuzzy inside, as as much as I was constantly smiling and laughing at their interactions. I really enjoyed meeting Nina’s many siblings and nieces/nephews. Peter was sassy, smart and I loved how he so readily embraced and accepted Nina. I also ended up really liking her brother Archie, but especially sweet little bookish Millie! Although I was initially unsure of how I felt about Nina’s character, she quickly grew on me, as did most of the others, and by the end I don’t think there was one I disliked (surprisingly). As a fellow bookworm and appreciator of all things bookish, but also as someone who really appreciates structure, it felt at times that Nina Hill’s story was picked right from my own life; obviously I related to her a lot. What I enjoyed most about Nina was that although she preferred being alone with her books, she still kept up a very busy and active social life — trivia nights, book clubs, yoga etc., and even though she was an introvert she never actually shied away from doing things that I personally would’ve panicked to get out of (i.e. go to a wedding alone). I really admired those traits in her and it was a refreshing perspective to see in a fellow bookworm!

“Being with you is as good as being alone.”

The romance aspect of Nina’s story also had me in giggling fits! The interactions between Nina and Tom were sweet but incredibly awkward at times. I loved that we got to see both of their thoughts during these interactions because it made it all the more hilarious and it endeared me even more to their characters. Their relationship is really a case of where opposites attract, and I thought Tom was such a sweetheart of a character. I do wish we got more personality from him, but he seemed like a really sweet guy that I wanted to give endless hugs to? I found it really adorable how he was so smitten by Nina!

“Being surrounded by books was the closest she’d ever gotten to feeling like the member of a gang. The books had her back, and the nonfiction, at least, was ready to fight if necessary.”

I was thoroughly entertained throughout Nina’s story. I honestly didn’t look too much into the believability and ease in which things happened because of course, life never falls so seamlessly into place as it does for Nina. BUT I still loved it because who doesn’t love a story about a character who’s so much like yourself? Especially when they get happy endings! Overall, this was the perfect fluffy read that I know many book lovers will get a kick out of reading.

Have you read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson – #BookReview

Goodreads: Matchmaking for Beginners
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Reviewed: January 2019
Panda Rating:

Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would.
When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.
And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.

“You need a mantra to help you. You can borrow mine, if you want: ‘Whatever happens, love that.”

What a seriously charming book! The characters are lovingly quirky and the situations they find themselves in are emotional and heartfelt, but not without comedy injected here and there to lighten the mood up a little bit. It’s also endlessly quotable!

Marnie McGraw doesn’t want for much except a normal life with the white picket fence, doting husband and adorable children, and she knows that being engaged to Noah (a.k.a. the man of her dreams) brings her one step closer to achieving all that. But life doesn’t always go as planned and she experiences that first hand when her world falls apart after Noah leaves her on their honeymoon, she loses her teaching job in California and has to move back home to her parent’s house in Florida. As she deals with the aftermath of her disastrously short-lived marriage, Marnie is beyond shocked to receive a letter informing her that not only has Noah’s ‘crazy aunt’ Blix passed away, but she has left her a home in Brooklyn.

Eccentric, life-of-the-party, and carefree Blix is the black sheep of her family. When she meets Marnie at a family gathering, she feels an instant kinship and spiritual connection to her and believes that Marnie is meant to take up her mantle of matchmaker once she’s gone. She tells Marnie that no matter how things work out between her and Noah, she has a big, big life ahead of her.Although she’s still reeling from recent events, and is convinced all of it is a mistake, Marnie goes to Brooklyn to fulfill the wishes of a person she remembers fondly and who gave her comfort when she needed it, despite only having met Blix all of two times.

“You need to forget what society has told you about life and expectations, and don’t let anybody make you pretend. You are enough, just the way you are—do you hear me? You have many gifts. Many, many gifts.”

What follows is an emotional, heartfelt, and comedic rollercoaster of a journey, as Marnie tries to leave the past behind and deal with an unexpected present that doesn’t quite fit with the picture she’s always had of her future. It is in Brooklyn, where she meets all the characters from Blix’s life and explores the magic of her matchmaking gift–not without plenty of mishaps along the way, that Marnie discovers the power of love and healing, and she finally finds where she truly belongs.

“It’s in the broken places where the light gets in.”

As corny as all of this sounds, I finished this book feeling so happy and comforted, and sometimes, that’s all you really need from a book, isn’t it? I’m glad that I followed along with the Audiobook because although it took me nearly three times as long to finish it, it gave me the chance to really immerse myself in the story and build a strong attachment to the characters. Although I found Marnie’s character desperate and pretty annoying at the start, her character growth throughout the story was very satisfying, and I’m happy with how she learned to embrace herself in the end. I think Amy McFadden does a wonderful job narrating Marnie, and I don’t think I could have picked a better voice than Joyce Bean for Blix. There’s something so grandmotherly and comforting about Bean’s voice and although it was only for the first few chapters, every time Blix would ‘reappear’ in subsequent chapters, I would still hear the part as if she spoke it. 😂

If you’re looking for a fun, sassy romcom, I’d definitely recommend this!

Have you read Matchmaking for Beginners? Do you like romance?
Let me know in the comments and let’s chat!