Saturday 29 October 2022

Next in Line: William Warwick, Book 5 by Jeffrey Archer (2022)

International bestseller Jeffrey Archer returns 


London, 1988. Royal fever sweeps the nation as Britain falls in love with the ‘people’s princess’.

Which means for Scotland Yard, the focus is on the elite Royalty Protection Command, and its commanding officer. Entrusted with protecting the most famous family on earth, they quite simply have to be the best. A weak link could spell disaster.

Detective Chief Inspector William Warwick and his Scotland Yard squad are sent in to investigate the team. Maverick ex-undercover operative Ross Hogan is charged with a very sensitive—and unique—responsibility. But it soon becomes clear the problems in Royalty Protection are just the beginning. A renegade organization has the security of the country—and the Crown—in its sights. The only question is which target is next in line...


Jumping into a series with the fifth book is completely out of the norm for me but the storyline here just really interested me. I've never read any fiction with the royal family of the 80s era as a plot concern and I was intrigued here. The royals don't feature very heavily as the author focuses on much more interesting characters but I was pleasantly surprised with the way Diana was portrayed.

I loved all the cloak-and-dagger investigations and the machinations of the villains, of which there are plenty.  

There are lots of great characters, William Warwick, of course being the favourite. 

I haven't read any of the previous titles in the series but I was able to follow this very easily and enjoy it as a standalone. Nevertheless, reading the first books is now on my to-do list before the next book is published.

Friday 21 October 2022

A Fact for Every Day of the Year by National Geographic Kids (2022)

      A Fact for Every Day of the Year

                        365 facts to make you say WOW!


The perfect gift to entertain kids all year round!

Be amazed and astounded with a new fact every single day of the year.

With 365 fascinating facts on everything from animals and nature to science, space, the world and more.

Did you know that red-eyed tree frogs have three eyelids?
That candy floss was actually invented by a dentist?
Or that on the 4th November 1922, Ancient Egypt’s most famous pharaoh was discovered?

You’ll find a perfect mix of random trivia and ‘on this day’ facts, plus tons of colourful photos to entertain all year round.

This book certainly had me saying wow! It is choc full of interesting facts presented in a very colourful and engaging way.

This book will interest and entertain any inquiring mind whether you are aged 7 or 99.

I liked that the facts are a mixture of science, history, geography, sports, and nature. I was expecting to be aware of most of the facts in this book already but that wasn't the case at all. There were so many new and fascinating items for me to read day. There's even an interesting fact about cats that I hadn't heard before. 

The facts are explained in child-friendly language that is easy to understand and remember for talking about later. 

Each book is accompanied by a fabulous photograph instead of a cartoon illustration and this will appeal more to the older child.

I got hours of reading from this book. It is perfect for dipping in and out of and finding something new everyday.

Tuesday 18 October 2022

Smart Girl Summer by Kristin Rockaway (2022)


From Kristin Rockaway comes a fun, insightful romance about what can happen when life gets off track but you’re willing to go along for the ride.

This summer’s not going as Abby Atkinson planned. A thieving PhD advisor, a screeching halt to her grad program, and zero job offers have left her high and dry. Nothing a little eat, pray, love across the Mediterranean can’t fix, right?

Or eat, pray, tutor, more like. Her dissertation might be dead, but she can still teach. She’ll just have to do it for six weeks on a superyacht with a billionaire and his daughter.

A playboy billionaire, according to the tabloids―but Abby’s not so sure. As big as his bank account is, his heart’s that much bigger, especially when it comes to his daughter. Their strained relationship could use some mending, though, and Abby can help. She was hired to teach junior high math, but she’ll make room in her lesson plans.

Falling for her boss wasn’t part of the plan either, but…

Maybe it’s time she let her heart, not her head, teach her something new.

If you need something light in between dark reads this Halloween season then Smart Girl Summer will fit the bill. Also, I'm not ready yet for winter so travelling with Abby to sunny Europe really lifted my mood. The travel and sightseeing in the story was well written and I felt like I was on holiday too.
Abby is a nice character but she has a lot to deal with at university when her mentor steals her research and takes credit for it. I was hoping that Abby wouldn't let him get away with it and I was a bit disheartened with her when she kept saying she wanted to quit and to let it go. I wanted her to back and raise hell about it.
Richard's daughter, Bijou was a really nice child. I was expecting a spoilt, bratty preteen but she proved to be a source of humour and I liked the way she bonded with Abby and tried to enjoy her time with her dad.
Richard was perfectly pleasant and kind but a bit dull as we don't see him doing very much.
 I found the budding romance to be lacklustre. Abby and Richard got on well as friends and touring around together but I didn't see any real build up of attraction or sexual tension between the two. More time spent on cute scenes of them together to develop their mutual crush would have enhanced my enjoyment of their romance.
In saying this, I found the book very entertaining, lighthearted and difficult to put down.

Saturday 15 October 2022

Murder at the Masked Ball: A 1920s Historical Cozy Mystery (The Kitty Worthington Mysteries Book 3) by Magda Alexander (2022)

Amateur sleuth Kitty Worthington once more investigates when a noble lord plummets to his death, and a dear friend is suspected of murder. Can she catch the killer before her friend swings from the wrong end of a rope?

London. 1923. When an invitation arrives to the Duchess of Brightwell’s Midsummer Masked Ball, Kitty Worthington does not even think of declining. Not with a mother on the hunt for a noble husband for her. But no sooner does she curtsy to her hostess at the ball than tragedy strikes. A very dead earl is found at the bottom of a staircase, and it’s clearly the work of foul play.

Having proven himself a dab hand at dealing with the nobility, Scotland Yard 
Detective Inspector Robert Crawford is soon asked to investigate. In no time at all he hones in on Lord Newcastle, a friend of Kitty who'd earlier pummeled the earl for sorely abusing his wife.

Afraid her friend may wrongfully pay with his life, Kitty once more organizes her ace team, including her maid, two noble lords, a beloved sister, a lady, and Sir Winston, her still flatulent Basset Hound. From the seediest parts of London to the fancy mansions of Mayfair, they fearlessly pursue the truth. For if they fail to find the killer, their dear friend may dance one last jig at the end of a rope.

Murder at the Masked Ball, the third book in The Kitty Worthington Mysteries, is another frolicking, historical cozy mystery filled with quirky suspects, a wicked villain, and an intrepid heroine sure to win your heart. For lovers of Agatha Christie and Downton Abbey alike. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this cosy mystery and I devoured it in one day. It's full of twists, wonderful characters and a mystery that kept me guessing until the last moment.

I loved the ensemble cast and the fact that Kitty and her group of friends worked as a team to solve the crime. It sped the plot along at a good rate as it wasn't held back by Kitty needing to do everything. 

I enjoyed Kitty and Inspector Crawford's relationship. It will be interesting to see how Kitty manages to get her way with investigating in the future if Inspector Crawford makes an issue of it.

Murder at the Masked Ball is a very quick-paced and riveting read with a clever heroine and a dose of humour.

Friday 14 October 2022

Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson (2022)


The #1 national bestselling, award-winning author of Life after Life transports us to the dazzling London of the Roaring Twenties in a whirlwind tale of corruption, seduction, and debts that have come due.

1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.

The notorious queen of this glittering world is Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven, whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie’s empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho’s gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost.

With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson gives us a window in a vanished world. Slyly funny, brilliantly observant, and ingeniously plotted, Shrines of Gaiety showcases the myriad talents that have made Atkinson one of the most lauded writers of our time.

Shrines of Gaiety is a slow-burn novel with a large cast of characters. It took me a little bit of time to get my bearings with it but once the main characters were established I found the book, for the main part, to be very readable and quite enjoyable. 
Kate Atkinson's writing is embellished with lively descriptions of London in the 1920s and I really felt like I was experiencing that time and the places described. 
With the narrative jumping between different character's points of view, I found that I liked some of them more than others. I was most interested in Freda, Gwendolen, Frobisher and Niven. Nellie as the owner of the night clubs should have been a very interesting character but I found that the most entertaining about her was the ghost of Maud who was haunting her conscience. 
For a slow-burn novel I found the ending disappointingly rushed and I didn't like the way things ended for some of the characters. I didn't feel it necessary to map out the rest of their lives for the reader and it left a sour note for knowing what was to come.
So, overall a mixed bag for me- I loved the setting, the descriptions, the dialogue and the humour but, was left disappointed with the ending.

Thursday 6 October 2022

Something in the Heir by Suzanne Enoch (2022)

In Something in the Heir, clever, competent heiress Emmeline Pershing will do anything to keep her beloved home; all it takes is an arranged marriage and a teeny white lie to fulfill her family’s silly inheritance rules! What could go wrong? She and her completely unsuspecting husband are about to find out, when they inherit big—and very messy!—trouble in this charming romantic comedy by New York Times bestseller, Suzanne Enoch.

Emmeline and William Pershing have enjoyed a perfectly convenient marriage for eight years. Their relationship is a seamless pairing of their talents and goals and they’re quite happy in their well-ordered, separate lives—or so Emmie thinks. If Will secretly longs for a bit more from the woman he adores, he’s managed to be content with her supreme skills as a hostess and planner, which has helped him advance his career.

But when Emmie’s grandfather, the reclusive Duke of Welshire, summons his entire family for his birthday celebration and demands they bring their angelic little children, William is stunned to discover that his very proper wife invented not one, but two heirs to fulfill the agreement for living at Winnover Hall. Emmie and Will are convinced they can solve any problem together…even producing an instant family! Surely they can borrow two orphaned cherubs to call their own for the occasion! Enter George, age 8, and Rose, 5—the two most unruly orphans in Britain.

As insanity unfolds, their careful, professional marriage of convenience takes some surprising turns as well. Perhaps it takes a bit of madness to create a perfect happily ever after.

This is a romantic story that happens backwards- the pair become engaged in the opening pages and spend the rest of the novel gently falling in love. However, the romance is done very subtly and it isn't the main focus of the book.

A few more sweet scenes between Emmaline and William to show a spark in their relationship would have brought my rating up to a five. 

The heart of the novel is the relationship Emmaline and William develop with the two orphans they borrow from the orphanage. 
Rose and George are hilarious and totally adorable. I loved how they expressed themselves whether it was polite or not. It was heartwarming to watch them interact with William and Emmaline as well as the staff and slowly bring laughter and friendship back into the household. It was difficult not to like the children and hope that Emmaline and William would resolve their issues and find a way to adopt them and save their home.
There were a few twists involving the children's older brother that added extra drama. 
The inevitable HEA for the newfound family was heartwarming and uplifting.
 A really charming and delightful story that I found difficult to put down.


Sunday 2 October 2022

The Unbalanced Equation (Hot Mess Trilogy Book 1) by H.L MacFarlane (2022)



What do a bad landlord, a family wedding and a rogue Bunsen burner all have in common?

After suffering four years of scrutiny from her PhD assessor, Elizabeth Maclean believes she’s finally free of Dr Thomas Henderson’s tyranny when she begins her postdoc. But when a fire goes off in Tom’s lab (stupid undergrads) he ends up working in the same lab as Liz.

On the same bench, no less.

For three whole months.

To make matters worse – and much to their mutual surprise – Tom’s mum and Liz’s dad announce their impending marriage after a whirlwind romance. So when Liz’s landlord tells her to move out, pronto, it tips her over the edge. Desperate for a place to stay and in need of a saviour, the last person Liz expects to offer her a temporary home is Tom himself.

Now stuck working together, living together and planning their parents’ Christmas wedding together, will Liz discover that Tom’s attitude over the last four years was all a ruse to hide his true feelings? Or are the two doomed to fail in their co-existence experiment?

A smart, sexy enemies-to-lovers story perfect for fans of The Hating Game, Book Lovers and The Love Hypothesis, The Unbalanced Equation is H. L. Macfarlane’s first foray into contemporary rom-com territory. She swears there are no faeries this time.

The Unbalanced Equation is the first book in the Hot Mess Trilogy – a series of standalone but connected rom-coms set in Glasgow.

I loved this book.

Tom and Liz's initial meeting and mutual attraction before everything went to hell was a cute and entertaining start that had me hooked and it set the scene for why Tom was a bit over the top as her PhD assessor. 

A lot was made of how horrible Tom was to Liz during her PhD but we aren't given any specifics so it was difficult to get overly annoyed about it on her behalf. However, it went on for four years, making me wonder how she was still attracted to the man after that.

Their interactions from when they reconnect in the bar where she works to the inevitable HEA are filled with funny quips and one-liners. There were laugh-out-loud moments all the way through this book but also a few charming scenes. 

Tom lacks good judgement when it comes to manipulating Liz's life so they have to spend more time living together but the story is so cute and funny it's easy to gloss over that. When the time came, the pair made an adorable couple. The side characters who were keenly watching their progress from enemies to lovers were also a likeable, funny and relatable bunch.

Another thing I really loved about Tom and Liz was that they didn't want to get married or have children and they didn't change their minds or have a surprise pregnancy at the last moment. This was refreshing to read and I hope to see more couples like this in mainstream romance. The unbalanced equation is a light-hearted, very funny and low-angst romantic comedy that will lift your spirits.