Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten New To Me Authors I Read in 2020

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

I Love this week's theme, I haven't done a TTT in a while so it's good to come back in with this one. I read lots of new to me authors in 2020 and so here are my faves!

Monday, 25 January 2021

Guest Review: The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock

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…

Review: This is book 1 in the Riverside Lane series by Alison Sherlock, an author who is new to me. I loved the book’s cover and liked the sound of the storyline, so I looked forward to reading this work from an unfamiliar author.

The story centres on Amber Green, a successful window dresser who has fallen victim of job cuts at the large New York store where she worked. At the request of her mother, she is making her way to visit her godmother in England before joining her parents in their new home in New Zealand. Her godmother has a general store in the tiny village of Cranbridge that she runs with her son Josh. However, on arrival, Amber finds that the store, and indeed the village itself, has become run down and is facing closure. With time on her hands, she decides to put her skills to good use, and sets out with Josh to attempt to turn round the store’s fortunes. As they gradually begin to see results in resurrecting both the store and the village, a storm sees much of the village flooded, and Amber and Josh find themselves at the centre of rescue operations. When it eventually seems like time for her to continue her trip, Amber begins to wonder if she can leave Josh and the village behind after all.

I thought this was a really lovely story, truly heartwarming. I was really taken with Amber from the start and was delighted to see her develop from a rather demoralised woman to a strong and confident character as the story progressed. I also liked Josh, but felt sorry for his situation and glad when he found someone as kind as Amber to help him. The village of Cranbridge was an idyllic setting, with the little river running through it, although, of course, this became a not-so-pleasant feature when the floods came. I also loved the sound of the revamped Cranbridge Stores; I just wish I could go and have a nosey around. I would certainly recommend this book; perfect to escape from the real world and its problems. I very much look forward to the next book in this series.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Friday, 22 January 2021

Review: Influence by Sara Shepard and Lilia Buckingham

After a video she makes goes viral, everyone knows Delilah Rollins. And now that she's in LA, Delilah's standing on the edge of something incredible. Everything is going to change. She has no idea how much.

Jasmine Walters-Diaz grew up in the spotlight. A child star turned media darling, the posts of her in her classic Lulu C. rainbow skirt practically break the Internet. But if the world knew who Jasmine really was, her perfect life? Canceled.

Fiona Jacobs is so funny--the kind of girl for whom a crowd parts--no wonder she's always smiling! But on the inside? The girl's a hot mess. And when someone comes out of the shadows with a secret from her past, it's one that won't just embarrass Fiona: it will ruin her.

Who wouldn't want to be Scarlet Leigh? Just look at her Instagram. Scarlet isn't just styled to perfection: she is perfection. Scarlet has a gorgeous, famous boyfriend named Jack and there's a whole fanbase about their ship. To everyone watching online, their lives seem perfect . . . but are they really? The sun is hot in California . . . and someone's going to get burned.

Review: Well this book was quite different from what I had expected in a number of ways. This was my first Sara Shepard novel and I think I would definitely like to pick up more from her in the future. 

I really loved the way this book was structured. Each character had their own voice and we got to hear from each of them. The characters felt fully formed and I could really imagine watching Scarlet's live videos or Delilah taking photos and getting products just for the 'gram. I also loved the setting because I feel like all of these improbable things could all go on in LA.

What I struggled with in this book was the thriller/mystery aspect of it. I read this in eBook form and I think the actual ins and outs of the storyline would have been harder to follow on audiobook which is how I normally do most of my reading so I am glad that I didn't choose to read this book on audio. I didn't feel particularly invested in the crime that took place or the other influencers efforts to get to the bottom of it. I also didn't really think it was that thrilling even knowing how everything ended up. 

Aside from the structure and the realistic nature of the characters though, I also really loved the exploration of maintaining a relationship whilst being at the forefront of public attention. I felt like this was dealt with really well in the novel. How can you go from being a child star to admitting you're in a same sex relationship, how can you form a new relationship when every follower is so invested in you current ship. I really liked this side of the storyline and that is what has stuck with me after finishing this book. 

So as a thriller this book fell short of the mark for me, but as a contemporary novel about the life of influencers I thought it did a good job. Go into this book knowing that it is not the world most mysterious of thrillers and you'll be fine!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Young Adult Book Review: The Island by C.L. Taylor | Is This THE YA Thriller of 2021?


Review: Rescue Me by Sarra Manning

 Margot doesn't have time for love.

Will is afraid to love.

And neither of them are expecting to fall in love with Blossom: a gentle Staffy with a tragic past, a belly made for rubbing and a head the size of a football.

After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will's obsession for micro-managing and clear-cut boundaries and Margot's need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands.

Can they put their differences aside to become successful "co-pawrents" and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?

Review: Although it is right there in the tagline, this book was waaaaay more about dogs than I expected it to be. This book really is exactly as it says, two lonely people and one good dog and all three of them were truly wonderful, fully formed characters to read about. 

Will and Margot are so much more similar than they realise and the most important things about them that is truly key to this story is how strong and stubborn both of them are, just like their wonderful dog blossom. I really identified with Margot, not just because she is 36 and worried about her biological clock just like me. There are definite care warnings when it comes to being childless and reading this book, I did find it tough at times. But I also really identified with the fact that she has been living alone so long she sometimes cannot see that it is OK to ask for help with things. 

Will is such a cinnamon roll and so if you like your male leads like that you're going to love this book! He is so prickly and yet underneath it all he is such a family guy and Blossom really does help to melt that hard exterior shell. Speaking of loving male leads like this, there are some steamy moments in this book and when I say steamy I mean hot. I loved the romantic scenes in this novel, they were so well written and very female-centric and definitely got me hot under the collar-I loved that side of this book. 

Now if you're not a dog person, like me, and you're worried that there are going to be too many details about treats and dog bowls and picking up poo then fear not. There are a lot of details like that in this book but that is not the be all and end all of the storyline and each poo bag comes with a meaning behind it that moves the plot on or leads to a description of another wonderful midi dress or pair of fancy shoes! I love that this book shows that one can be a dog a person or one can be a fashionista and it isn't the be all and end all of your life, it is just a part of you. 

This book is also a love letter to London living. I so miss being able to walk out of my house or off a bus or a tube and get somewhere, I loved being able to get my steps in without having to walk on a treadmill and so I really enjoyed taking walks with these characters and exploring a part of my heritage at the same time. The description of their respective abodes and the changing weather was just stunning and so it was easy to immerse yourself in their world and just enjoy a really lovely story about some complex characters. Highly recommend!

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US