Book review: The Breakup Agency by Sheila McClure

This book was so adorable! I LOVE Gus! American Dan is an absolute gem, too, but Gus the dog really stole the show for me. In my head, American Dan looked like Chris Evans, so that’s saying something.

Ellie runs Softer Landings – a service for gently breaking up relationships so that the dumpee is not destroyed. This all started when she had to let down lovely American Dan, who was dating her friend Thea. Then Dan left, leaving Gus the dog with Ellie. And now he’s back … which means Ellie could lost both her dog and her heart…

I liked how Ellie was kind and capable, but vulnerable as well. come to think of it, I would say the same about American Dan. What a ray of sunshine he is!

I really loved this book. It was such a feel-good read, it left me with a big smile on my face.

I received an ARC from Netgalley. This is my honest review.

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Book review: Killers of a certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

This book was a hoot! I kept reading well past my bedtime to find out what happened.

Four elite assassins – all part of the all-female team Project Sphinx – are on a cruise to celebrate their retirement, when they realise they are now the target of the same company they used to work for. They can run and hide, for a while, but there’s only one way to really get the target off their backs. Kill or be killed.

I love how the four women are so different to each other. They are all super competent at what they do, despite their bodies being slower than they were when they were young. The men consistently underestimate them – which they often use to their advantage.

I really enjoyed this book. I got a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley (thank you!)

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Book review: Marple (collection of short stories)

I used to really enjoy Miss Marple stories, so when I saw this on Netgalley, I snapped it up. This book does exactly what it says on the cover – twelve new Miss Marple mysteries, written by established crime writers. They were all different, but captured the essential spirit of Miss Marple, whilst providing a short mystery, neatly wrapped up by the end of the story. Since the stories were short, you could read them one a day (which is what I did – it was a lovely way to wind down at the end of the day).
One of the things that intrigued me was that all the writers have widely differing voices when they write their own books, but when it comes to writing Marple, the differences even out a bit, probably because Agatha Christie’s voice is so very well known. (You can tell that each story is by a different person, but the style is in keeping with the originals, so you soon forget). While Miss Marple was largely the same in all the stories, Raymond West and his wife Joan were slightly different in each one. It’s like seeing the same characters played by different actors.

If you’re a fan of Agatha Christie’s books, you’ll enjoy this new update.
I got a free ARC from the publisher (thank you!) via Netgalley.

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Picture Perfect is available for pre-order

Did I mention that I have a new book coming out in October? The early reviews are coming in now. (Always a nerve-wracking time). Please pre-order it. Having pre-orders on the ebook means that the publisher can try and get the print book (out at the start of next year) into actual bricks and mortar shops.

‘I loved it! I read this book in a (very pleasant) day’

Sue Moorcroft, Sunday Times bestselling author

“Picture Perfect is the perfect fake dating novel! It packed emotion, tension and all the feels that a fake dating book should have!”

Netgalley review

Niro is a photographer who’s lost the joy of taking photos. Burned by a bad break-up, she’s in desperate need of inspiration.

Vimal is determined to win back his ex-girlfriend. When he hears she’s bringing her new boyfriend on a group holiday, he impulsively declares that he’s bringing a plus one too.

Their mutual friends have the perfect solution: Niro can pretend to be Vimal’s new girlfriend and join the holiday. Imagine the incredible photographs she could take in the Swiss alps…

She’s not thinking about love. He’s thinking about someone else. Can they fake a picture-perfect relationship – or will real feelings get in the way?

Book review: The Stand-In by Lily Chu

I picked this book up purely based on the cover. I’m so glad I did. I raced through it.
I loved how Gracie struggled with her to-do list (don’t we all) and how Sam annoyed her enough to burn through her normal people-pleaser tendencies.
The friendship between Gracie and FangLi was lovely. The whole story was a delightful read.

As an aside, I liked that there was a bit about what it was like being bi-racial and how Gracie felt bad about not embracing her Chinese heritage more. I even highlighted a few bits to share with my bi-racial daughter (we’re not Chinese, but it still applies).

I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely look out for more from this author.

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Book review: The Water Witch by Jessica Throne

I love how Jessica Thorne weaves the supernatural and folkloric elements into a contemporary love story. I also like how a lot of the folklore in this story is based on actual folk tales.
Ari Walker is roped in, by her brother, to carry on the search for the City of Ys. A search that probably led to her late fiance’s death.
Raphael Du Lac is haunted by his family curse – which means that all men in his family die at the age of 35. And Raphael has a month left.

This book starts quietly and builds to a crescendo. It’s full of spookiness and adventure. The characters are well rounded and the descriptions of the settings are so vivid, I could taste the salt.
I loved it.

I received an ARC from Netgalley. This is my honest review.


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Book review: Summer People by Julie Cohen

Book cover for Summer People. A woman on an inflatable, floating in the sea.

Summer people is about two marriages and, almost equally, about life on Unity Island. Julie Cohen captures the claustrophobic nature of living in an tiny, enclosed community as well as the sense of belonging that comes with it.
Vee and Mike are a golden couple. ‘Summer people’ who visit the island and bring with them valuable tourist income. Except Vee isn’t a summer person, not really. She grew up on the island, running wild with her best friend Sterling. But she left to make a new life for herself and Sterling has never forgiven her for what she did.
Sterling’s wife, Rachel, doesn’t feel like she fits in on the island. She loves Sterling, but feels like she’s not enough.

As always, Julie Cohen does a brilliant job of getting under the skin of these characters. Summer people is immersive and compelling. I started reading on the train and when I got to my destination, I felt like I was resurfacing from being deep under water. It’s been a long time since I was so immersed in a story. I enjoyed this story a lot. Ideal summer holiday reading.

I got a free copy from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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Book review: Small Miracles by Anne Booth

I picked up small miracles after seeing Julie Cohen post about it. When I was a student, I used to live in a hostel run by the Convent of the Sacred Heart, so I always have a small, soft spot for religious sisters. When I saw a book that was about three of them fighting to save their convent from being closed down, it seemed like a book that was meant for me to read.
St Philomena’s is a small convent in the small town of Fairbridge. In fact, the order is very small now because there’s only three of them left – Sister Margaret, Sister Bridget and Sister Cecelia – three very, very different people. Sister Margaret is struggling with the responsibility of being Mother Superior. She’s terribly sensible. She loves the convent and wants to keep it open, but there’s so little money and so many bills to pay! She’s also battling with grief, from having lost her best friend and mentor. Sister Bridget is ebullient and friendly. She likes to cook, but doesn’t have enough people to feed. SIster Cecelia is distant and academically minded. She is also obsessed with the history of the convent and making a saint in Fairbridge in order to save the order.
One of the sisters wins a small amount on the lottery and this sets off a selection of small miracles that happen one after the other. These may seem a little unlikely, but if you accept these as small miracles, it’s the loveliest, most heartwarming story. I really really enjoyed this glimpse into the village life and the lives of these people.
The story also touches on the lives of people in the village.You get to hear a little bit about their lives and their loves and their dramas. There was a little bit of head-hopping (something that bothers me, but might not necessarily bother you), but it wasn’t enough to stop me enjoying the book. The story is set in the 90s, which means there’s a lot of telephone calls made from phone boxes and there are no mobile phones – which was rather lovely!

This is a charming, heartwarming, life affirming book about friendship, love and community. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s finding the world a difficult place to deal with at the moment.
Thank you to the publishers for giving me a review copy via Netgalley.

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Buy link US (audio)