Review of ‘Time After Time’ by Louise Pentland

‘Time After Time’ by Louise Pentland is a heartwarming, funny and delightfully insightful story. 

Tabby’s life is suddenly upended when her dad makes a surprise announcement over Sunday lunch. She likes to stay well within her comfort zone, but the dominoes begin to fall and there’s nothing she can do to stop them. As she tries to cope with the changes, she wishes she could go back in time, where things were simpler. Meeting Bea begins a voyage of discovery. The only problem is, Bea is in the 1980s, and Tabby has been pushed into the past. So why does everything feel right in 1989? And will her travels in time be the answer to her present day problems?

I loved the time travel element of this novel. As someone who grew up in the 1980s, I revelled in the retro fashion details. I adored the mention of long lost shops. I couldn’t get enough of the tiny day to day differences. I felt I was with Tabby as she discovered the world of big hair, even bigger shoulder pads and mountains of Elnett hair spray. 

It was about Tabby discovering what she wanted from life. Wouldn’t we all love the chance to see ourselves from another perspective? 

It was a beautiful story of love, self-discovery and hope. I adored it.

I was given this ARC to review. 

Review of ‘Cold Blood’ by Genevieve McCluer

‘Cold Blood’ by Genevieve McCluer is a vampire story set in Toronto. I’ve read her previous books set in the city and have enjoyed them very much. This is the story of Kalila, a vampire seeking revenge for the murder of her wife and son, and her own turning. A newcomer to Toronto, she must first find out where he is hiding – and for that she needs the help of an information broker. Dorenia has a somewhat similar tale and seeks revenge on her nemesis too. By working together will they be able to find peace, and maybe something more?

I like Genevieve McClure’s writing style. It is fast and immediate and draws me in. I loved the nod to a previous novel ‘Olivia’, and to some recognisable areas of the city. She makes monsters sympathetic characters and gives them entirely plausible lives alongside the other residents of Toronto. I like this world she has invented.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Coven Be Charmed’ by Caitlin Ryan

‘Coven Be Charmed’ by Caitlin Ryan is a lovely, up-beat and thoroughly engaging witchy tale. Rose is a life coach with her feet firmly on the ground. When her girlfriend takes her to a charming B&B in the countryside, she finds herself re-evaluating all she believes about things supernatural. Witches can’t be real, can they? And she certainly can’t be one. But when she is surrounded by witches, warlocks and demons, what else can she conclude?

Rose is thrust into a mystery, with weird goings-on and some very strange people. I loved every minute of it. 

My favourite kind of story will always have a puzzling mystery and witches. Caitlin Ryan has woven both into this well-thought out novel. I look forward to many more in this series.

As this is a story featuring witches the author addresses the mention of the HP universe in her notes at the end.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Dying For You’ by Jenny Frame

‘Dying For You’ is the story of Victorija Dred, Principe of the the Dred Clan, and arch enemy of Byron, Principe of the Debrek Clan. Feared by all, Victorija has a reputation for ruthlessness. So when she unexpectedly becomes blood bonded to Daisy McDougall, why won’t she take her? Even when blood sickness weakens her, she refuses to force Daisy to submit. Daisy feels a pull towards Victorija. Has her family history a part to play? As the pair struggle, threats within the Dred Clan could change everything. Is Victorija strong enough to fight? 

I’ve read all of the books in this series and love it. I was delighted to find that Jenny Frame had decided to write Victorija’s story. At this difficult time we all need a bit of escapism – and this story did it for me. It had it all. Love, family and magic. It was fascinating to find out more about the Dred Clan, and the other paranormal elements working with them. Although this was Victorija and Daisy’s story, we still got to spend time with Byron, Amelia and the rest of the Debreks. And Jenny Frame has shown that there is so much more to this world. I can’t wait for the next one.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘This Charming Man’ by C.K. McDonnell

‘This Charming Man’ by C.K. McDonnell is the second in The Stranger Times series. I haven’t read the first one, but got most of the jist pretty quickly. That said reading the first one will give a greater understanding of what on earth is going on from the get-go. 

The Stranger Times is a publication reporting on the very odd things happening around Greater Manchester and beyond. This weird group of characters involved in the paper work together in the most bizarre circumstances. Yet they manage to keep a sense of humour – well most of them do. When it appears vampires are on the loose in the city, wreaking havoc and leaving bodies in their wake, an investigation is demanded. What will they uncover – and can they really trust what they find?

It was funny, irreverent and just plain bonkers. But lots and lots of fun. This urban, supernatural fantasy kept me laughing. The author sees the bizarre in every situation and keeps the reader engaged until the end.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Marion Lane And The Deadly Rose’ by T.A. Willberg

‘Marion Lane And The Deadly Rose’ is the second in this series by T.A. Willberg. The year is 1959, and as the Cold War heats up, Scotland Yard is baffled by the discovery of murder victims with roses branded on their bodies. They turn to Miss Brickett’s agency for help. Marion is once again tasked with helping solve to solve the mystery, and working on one of her own. One of the new first year recruits should not be trusted. But which of them is up to no good? 

I enjoyed being back with Marion and her fellow Inquirers, working within the tunnels and underground passageways beneath London. This is a well-imagined series, full of intrigue and mystery. There is danger and darkness, but also camaraderie and hope. Marion had more confidence and a sense of purpose. She could see that her talents were appreciated and this made her push on in pursuit of justice. 

I enjoyed the group dynamic, as her friends and colleagues played a part in the case. The interactions between them were important and bode well for the future of the series. An enjoyable story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Enchanted Autumn’ by Ursula Klein

‘Enchanted Autumn’ is an engaging romance, full of magic, interesting characters and the perfect setting. Hazel is a Salem witch – and a real one at that. With a black cat, her very own broom stick and a penchant for potion-making, she is proud of who she is. That is until English academic, Dr Elizabeth Cowrie, arrives in town. The history researcher has an interest in the Salem witch trials, but does not believe in magic. In fact she scoffs at the very idea that it may exist. Hazel’s attraction to her is going to be a problem, as she must decide if she’s willing to give up her true self in pursuit of love. 

I loved that the story was set in Salem. The author managed to weave some historical details from the witch trials into this modern romance. But it was ultimately about the triumph of magic, of love. Hazel was an astute businesswoman, but still managed to stay true to her roots. Her witchcraft was important to her and to the whole community, even if some of them were not aware of her true nature. Elizabeth may have been a sceptic, but she was kind, passionate and intelligent. I adored the ‘Britishisms’ scattered throughout the story. They were spot-on. I also enjoyed the writing style, which pulled me into their world, a world I’d like to revisit. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Velocity’ by Gun Brooke

I love it when I find a new series to obsess about. ‘Velocity’ is the second book in Gun Brooke’s Dennamore Scrolls series, but it can be read as a standalone too. I haven’t read the first book, ‘Yearning’,  but I definitely need to now. ‘Velocity’ is the story of a town and its discovery of an alien background they didn’t know existed. Holly Crowe is astounded to find alien artefacts whilst out taking photographs one day and is determined to find out more. Claire Gordon, a local mechanic with a love of science fiction finally finds some meaning and purpose when she too is let in on the secret. As they join others everything begins to make sense. But will it lead them into danger and peril? 

This was an intriguing story, with superb world-building and imagination. I love sci-fi and this hit all the right buttons for me. There was love, romance and family too. The group were trying to solve a puzzle and I was completely engrossed in their journey towards discovery. The blend of different characters worked extremely well. We had some sapphic characters and their relationships, but we also had tight family bonds and friendship. I want to find out what happens next to them and can’t wait for the next instalment. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Letter To Three Witches’ by Elizabeth Bass

‘A Letter To Three Witches’ by Elizabeth Bass is a delightful story that is sure to be the first in a much anticipated series. Gwen’s family have been forbidden to practice witchcraft by the Grand Council of Witches. Nearly one hundred years ago her great-great grandfather cast a spell that caused havoc and since then his descendants have been watched closely. Any whiff of magic and they are in big trouble. Although Gwen and her cousins, Trudy and Milo, have avoided being caught for minor transgressions, things change when Gwen’s adopted sister puts a spanner in the works. She sends a letter to each stating that she will steal one of their partners by the end of the week. Who will it be?  And how will they stop her? The stress results in the magic they have been denying surfacing, with disastrous consequences. Long buried secrets threaten to change everything they thought was true.

This was a lighthearted, funny and totally enchanting read. It was the perfect escapism, and one I really appreciated in these difficult times. It was a wonderfully conceived story, with some laugh out loud moments and some poignant ones too. I loved the characters and the world Elizabeth Bass has imagines. I want more of these characters and I can’t wait to read the next one.

I was given this ARC for review.

My Best Books of 2021!

This year has been another difficult one, but authors have stepped up and given us some amazing stories. I struggled to whittle my favourite books of the year down to a reasonable number. There was no way I could stop at a Top Ten, but I managed a Top Fifteen. These are the books that made my year, and I highly recommend each and every one. Here they are, listed in no particular order:

  1. The Tell Tale by Clare Ashton

2. A Corruption of Blood by Ambrose Parry

3. The Island Between Us by Wendy Hudson 

4. The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan 

5. Ignis by KJ

6. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman

7. Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead by Emily R Austin

8. The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

9. The End Of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

10. Her Last Request by Mari Hannah

11. The Dead Of Winter by Nicola Upson

12. Song Of Serenity by Brey Willows

13.The Appeal by Janice Hallett

14. Katharine Parr, The Sixth Wife by Alison Weir

15. Shiver by Allie Reynolds