Review of ‘Say You’ll Love Me Again’ by Kiki Archer

This is the tenth and final book by Kiki Archer. And boy, will we all miss her- especially after reading this. It was quite a rollercoaster of a ride and the perfect story to sign off with. Piano teacher, Sophie is distraught after splitting from her soulmate, Jazz, a comedienne. Apparently straight up until setting eyes on Jazz, she fell hard. She tells the story of their relationship to her friend Laura who is training to become a life coach, the latest in a long list of jobs. Laura’s attempts to get the story out of Sophie were hilarious, but then Ms Archer surprised me by taking it off in a very different direction. The story is slowly revealed as layers are peeled back. One minute I was laughing out loud and scaring the neighbours, the next I was surprised at the depth of emotion. The funny moments were hilarious. Her description of a character having a ‘breast ledge’ took me back to high school and one of my teachers who had the aforementioned ‘breast ledge’. I was mesmerised by it, as was half of the school. The heat level was scorching between Sophie and Jazz. It was certainly not vanilla and will have you blushing. But Kiki Archer’s trademark humour had me in stitches even at these sexy moments. I loved it. And when I read the words ‘Say You’ll Love Me Again is Kiki’s 10th and final novel’, I shed a tear.

I was given this ARC for review.

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Review of ‘Uninvited’ by Jane C Esther

I am a big fan of sci-fi, so this novel was right up my street. A mixture of sci-fi, love, old memories and a bit of a mystery, ‘Uninvited’ is a great story. Aerin McLeary is in Finger Lakes with best friend Zoe, undergoing a post-divorce cleansing ritual. Whilst in the water she feels a strange vibration and ends up with some unexpected changes and abilities. And the only person she can turn to is her old love, Olivia, now a professor. 

I enjoyed how the author moved back and forth between Aerin and Olivia’s teenage romance and the situation they find themselves in now. It was enlightening and I could see why they needed to find a resolution. The attraction between them was powerful. The fact that it all ended so badly in the past made it so difficult to move on. But I wanted them to. The sci-fi element was fascinating and an unusual take on how alien contact may happen. I really enjoyed it and would actually like to see more of these characters and their story. I was therefore delighted to find out that this is the first in a series. I’m looking forward to the next one.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Pet Boutique’ by Suzie Carr

‘The Pet Boutique’ is a heart-warming, romantic and healing story that left me with a happy feeling. It is the first novel I’ve read by Suzie Carr and won’t be the last. The author really sees people and what makes them tick. She brings this understanding to her writing and I found myself loving the story more and more as it progressed.

Taylor is a successful author with a serious case of writer’s block. When her friend Maya suggests she help renovate a store with her, it seems this might be the distraction she needs. Maya’s niece Lexie, another helper in the quest to open a Pet Boutique, brings out something in Taylor she didn’t think possible again. Their story was slow and gentle and beautifully written. I loved the coterie of characters around the whole project – especially Lexie’s dog, Cashmere. She had a calming  and steadying role and seemed to be at the centre of everything good and positive in everyone’s lives. Both Taylor and Lexie had issues from the past they had to overcome. I enjoyed finding out how they dealt with their problems. I especially appreciated the positive representation of bisexuality. An excellent story and highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘Spinning Tales’ by Brey Willows

Maggie McShay leads a boring life, in a boring apartment, with a boring job – and with a cat who doesn’t seem to like her. What she wants is some magic in her life and when she answers an ad to look after a fairy tale cottage it appears that things may be looking up for her.  The story is of Maggie and her friends as well as a world of fairy stories. It is told in a way that you will not doubt this place really exists. As they work together to save the world from evil villains, Maggie finds out much more about herself and this new world than she could ever have imagined. 

From the minute she answers the advert you feel the excitement along with her. We learn as she does and it’s fascinating. I adored Maggie. She was curious, sweet and feisty. Kody was hot, hot, hot – and didn’t Maggie know it. The whole cast of characters in this book leapt off the page – they were vivid and exciting.

The story was wonderfully, magically imaginative. And you know, I didn’t doubt for a minute that the cottage existed exactly where she said it did! The self-discovery by Maggie was pivotal and her growing feelings for Kody were sensitively dealt with. I loved the story and the imagination behind it but most of all I was enthralled by the use of language. It was beautiful and poetic and lyrical. The skilful use of metaphor and simile took the writing to another level. The descriptions of people and places came alive for me. ’Spinning Tales’ is excellent and I highly recommend it.

I was given this Arc for review by Bold Strokes Books and Netgalley.

Review of ‘Alice’ by Sam Skyborne

‘Alice’ is one of those books that surprises, engages and takes the reader off in unexpected directions. It is the story of a young woman trapped in an awful marriage. When she decides she can take no more and leaves, her life becomes one of secrets, new friends and a fight to keep her new found freedom. Sam Skyborne made me feel an affinity with Alice. I felt as if I was along for the ride and worried about her as she became more involved in her new life in Cape Town. A PI, Toni Mendez, is sent to track her down and her part in the story opened up a whole lot of other issues. This book had so many layers and was intelligently plotted. I could never have guessed the twists and turns and I take my hat off to the author. Bravo!

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘The Curse Of The Old Woods’ by Elizabeth Andre

The curse of the old woods is an intriguing story from the start. Maya and Julie are paranormal investigators with their own companies. They are thrown together when both are hired by an elderly lady, Mrs Fourier, to investigate the disappearance of her sister Katie many years before. The mystery of why Katie disappeared and why her sister needs the two women to help them connect again had me gripped. This ghost story has all the chills too and is well crafted. The strength of this story and the reason it works so well is the interaction between all of the characters in it. Maya and Julie don’t work alone but have friends and family helping them. I was so glad to find that this is the first in a new series as I can really see it working. A very enjoyable read.

Review of ‘Breaking Character’ by Lee Winter

‘Breaking Character’ is the story of Ice Queen, Elizabeth, star of top rated TV hospital drama ,Choosing Hope, and her new co-star Summer. Deep in the closet Elizabeth (Bess) is a respected British theatre actress and is widely seen as aloof and a bitch. Adorable former child-star Summer sees something different. As she struggles to be taken seriously as an adult in Hollywood, she brings something new to the show and to Bess’s life.

I really liked Bess. She had so many insecurities about her career and herself and it made her all the more loveable. Summer had a great heart and a lovely way of looking at life. I wanted them to be together so much. The twists and turns they had to overcome were so satisfying. I could have cheered at quite a few points in the story. The boo-hiss villain of the story was perfectly pitched and the coterie of friends and family  on both sides made this a very well rounded story. At times I felt the heartbreak and at others the passion and love was beautiful. An enchanting romantic story that had me swooning- especially the last paragraph. Perfect. 

I was given this ARC by Ylva Publishing to review. 

Review of ‘The Doll Maker’ by Claire Highton-Stevenson

‘The Doll Maker’ is a seriously impressive thriller. It is gripping, well-written and an excellent example of the genre. It deserves to get recognition and should definitely appeal to a wider audience. I can see it transferring perfectly to TV – and if Ms Highton-Stevenson continues the story into a series, it should get snapped up. 

DI Sophie Whitton is on the trail of a serial killer – one who leaves macabre-looking dolls by the bodies of the victims. Her home life is a mess as she finds her relationship with her lover Yvonne becoming more and more strained. The story is disturbing and deals with unpalatable subjects. The realism is stark and the writing captures every nuance. The author has quite a turn of phrase and her descriptions of characters are so well done that I had no problem visualising exactly what she was getting at. As the story progresses the suspense is ratcheted up perfectly. I was on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed ‘The Doll Maker’ and highly recommend it. I can’t wait for the next one!

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Hiding Hearts’ by R.E. Bradshaw

‘Hiding Hearts’ is a wonderful book, a story that captures the essence of the Civil War immediately. As a huge fan of historical novels  I was delighted to find this novel and this particular author. This is my first R.E. Bradshaw book and it certainly won’t be my last. I loved her writing style and her descriptive powers are excellent. I felt as if I was right there. 

Lottie Bratcher, a poor illegitimate farm girl, has taken on so much to try and get her family through what is to come as the Yankees arrive in the area. There is much danger, especially for a young woman, but she is determined. She is also infatuated with Patrice Cole, a rich neighbour,  but has no idea how to deal with it. The romantic element was very touchingly written. For a few hours I could immerse myself in a world long gone, a world of war and bloody battles, of women left behind to pick up the pieces. The characters were realistic and sympathetic and I could feel their pain, their fear. As well as dealing with the collapse of their society, Lottie and Patrice are finding that there are so many secrets they have to keep. R.E. Bradshaw weaves a fantastic story and I adored it. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Killer Instinct’ by Barbara Winkes

Barbara Winkes has surpassed herself. ‘Killer Instinct’ is an excellent story, full of suspense, mystery and characters that seem so real.  I couldn’t stop worrying about them. Joanna, an ex-cop, finds herself unable to keep out of an investigation into a serial killer. She should know better – it didn’t end well for her before. Her friends warn her off but the danger is at her door and she wants to make sure no more women have to die. A new woman in her life, Rue, makes her feel good again, but does she really want to expose anyone to the darker side of life, a life that she can’t seem to escape? 

I was gripped by the story and found myself shocked and surprised at some of the twists and turns. Ms Winkes certainly knows how to keep the reader on the edge of their seat. Joanna really got under my skin too. She was a complex character, with a background that made her strong, resourceful and someone to rely on. Seeing her realise that was empowering. This is a definite must-read for lovers of high quality suspense and thrillers. 

I was given this ARC to review.