The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves | Review

About the Book

‘The most riveting, rewarding, refreshing novel I’ve read in years’ – Barbara Delinsky, bestselling author

What if you had a second chance at first love?

Annika Rose likes being alone. She feels lost in social situations, saying the wrong thing or acting the wrong way. She just can’t read people. She prefers the quiet solitude of books or playing chess to being around others. Apart from Jonathan. She liked being around him, but she hasn’t seen him for ten years. Until now that is. And she’s not sure he’ll want to see her again after what happened all those years ago.

Annika Rose likes being alone. Except that, actually, she doesn’t like being alone at all.

The Girl He Used to Know is an uplifting novel full of surprising revelations that keep you turning the page. Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes, Gail Honeyman, Jill Santopolo and Sliding Doors.

‘Tracey Garvis Graves has crafted an incredible story with a unique premise and characters… this book is beautiful.’ – Colleen Hoover, #1 New York Times bestselling author of It Ends with Us

‘I adore Tracey Garvis Graves’ work.’ – Sarah Pekkanen, best-selling co-author of The Wife Between Us

My Thoughts

Tracey Garvis Graves has totally astounded me with this evocative and emotional story. I haven’t read any of the other books by this author and so I had no real expectations other than the reviews I had seen and the plot synopsis. I was not prepared for the emotional suffering this book inflicted on my heart!

“The Girl He Used To Know” was one of the best love stories I have read for some time that had me enthralled from the start.

One of the things that made this book special was Annika Rose. As the main character, she was so easy to relate and warm to. I could completely identify with her social awkwardness and her many other issues – from being unsure of what those around her were thinking, to the constant need to scrutinise other people and copy their behaviour in an effort to fit in and be accepted as normal.

For his part, I loved Jonathan’s level of patience and understanding. He put others’ expectations aside even though he didn’t know how he could help Annika.

Tracey Garvis Graves created a set of characters with such complexity and depth, helping to make this love story quite special. There are so many books in this genre that, inevitably, comparisons will be drawn, however, this was a totally and fabulously unique story for me.

The book is told from the point of view of both Annika and Jonathan, going back and forth between their time in college and the present. As Annika and Jonathan alternately tell their respective stories, the reader gets to know more about the two of them and the events that caused their separation. The reader then comes to understand Annika’s problems, how she has been able to overcome them and how they have both developed as individuals.

Even though there were instances when this was a difficult read for me, I loved where Tracey Garvis Graves took her story, right through to its conclusion.

I know I have found another author to add to my ever-growing list of favourites. I thoroughly recommend this book as it is definitely worth a read.

I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel, at my own request, from Orion Publishing via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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The Little Book Café by Georgia Hill | Review

About The Book

Amy’s Story

Escape to the seaside for a new three-part series for fans of The Canal Boat Cafe and Willow Cottage

Amy, the manager of The Little Book Café, is a hopeless romantic who had her heart broken, but quietly refuses to give up on love.

With her friends Tash and Emma, not to mention their shared love of books and delicious cake from the café next door, Amy might just find the courage to fall for a real life romance this time…

Amy’s Story is the final instalment of The Little Book Café series so wrap up warm this Autumn and treasure this wonderful book.

My Thoughts

Author, Georgia Hill, has written another wonderful, sweet romance about life in Berecombe. Although I have not read the first two books in this series, I have read another of her fantastic books: ‘Millie Vanilla’s Cupcake Café’ so I was expecting great things from this one. The first book was ‘The Little Book Café: Tash’s Story’, followed by ‘The Little Book Café: Emma’s Story’.

This was an easy, light read so I did not feel disadvantaged in any way not having read books one and two first, though it would have been preferable to me if I had read them in their intended sequence. 

Any book, either set in a bookshop or a café, will be of special interest to me, as was this one, with the added touch of a lovely book cover!

“The Little Book Café” is a feel-good story of romance, friendship and community spirit, but also angst and upset, set in Berecombe, a quaint seaside town in Devon, England. Most of the drama takes place in the bookshop/cafe where Amy, the protagonist, is the manager.

Georgia Hill has drawn some very likeable characters in this novella. Amy is very endearing, trustworthy and dependable, although a little lacking in self-esteem and I adored the touches of humour that added some interest to the story.

Georgia Hill’s writing style is really engaging and it was a good read particularly for the interplay of the different characters – the close friends, the bossy mother, the famous author and the stream of local towns-folk. With plenty of ups and downs along the way, I loved it!

Although the conclusion of the story was no great surprise, it was still a very fulfilling ending to a wonderful book that regularly had me laughing-out-loud and was, all-in-all, a very worthwhile and well-balanced read. This book was a perfect accompaniment to a large slice of chocolate cake and a cup of tea!

Thanks to NetGalley, HarperImpulse and the author, Georgia Hill, for my free ARC of The Little Book Café in exchange for an honest review.

#NetGalley #TheLittleBookCafé

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

Amazon links to the first two books in the series

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The Summer Retreat by Sheila Roberts | Review

About The Book

Join USA TODAY best-selling author Sheila Roberts for a seaside escape to the beaches of Moonlight Harbor.

Celeste Jones has plans for a perfect summer with her boyfriend (and hopefully soon-to-be fiancé)—until he dumps her to be with the woman he’s had on the side for months. Heartbroken and furious, Celeste resolves to move on. When the going gets tough, the tough…okay, the not-so-tough go to the beach.

As soon as school lets out for the summer, she waves goodbye to her first-graders, packs up her bikini and heads for Moonlight Harbor, where she knows her big sister, Jenna, will receive her with open arms. Jenna could probably use some help at the Driftwood Inn, and Celeste is happy to do chores around the place in exchange for a relaxing summer escape. She just needs something—or someone—to distract her from her troubles.

Finding The One can be tricky, and Jenna is determined to make sure Celeste gets it right this time around. Not that Jenna’s an expert. She’s still trying to sort out her own love life. But if both sisters listen to their hearts, eventually they’re bound to discover that life—and love—is good at the beach.

My Thoughts

A Lovely Tale of Romance

Are you looking for a fantastic romance novel to take to the beach this Summer? Well, look no further because this is it! What a lovely and exciting book this was and a perfect and refreshing change from my usual, favourite genre.

“The Summer Retreat” is the third book in the ‘Moonlight Harbor’ series by best-seller author Sheila Roberts, the first book being ‘Welcome to Moonlight Harbor’, followed by ’Winter at the Beach’.

Although I’ve seen many of the author’s books around in my local library, the supermarket, and in bookshops, this is the first one I’ve read (I think) and I was not disappointed.

Celeste Jones is a primary school teacher and as the summer term has just come to an end, so has her relationship with her cheating boyfriend, Emerson. To drown her sorrows and re-evaluate her life, Celeste decides to visit her sister, Jenna who lives in a quaint town on the Washington coast where she runs the ‘Driftwood Inn’.

This was a well paced and very touching romance that had me hooked, even before I had swiped my e-reader to take me to the second page.

Sheila Roberts has drawn a pleasant, easy-going and genial character in Celeste. However, at thirty-six and a half, she thinks it’s about time she finds herself a husband who will not cheat on her and she has plans to settle down, have a family and live happily ever after.

“The Summer Retreat” was such a delightful, though predictable, tale  and once I had started reading, I found I was totally invested in the story. It held my interest right until the fulfilling conclusion.

I will be reading the first two books in the series and I eagerly wait to see what Sheila Roberts is going to be releasing next. This is a must-read for anyone who loves women’s fiction or romance novels, so you need to order your copy!

Thanks to NetGalley, Harlequin – MIRA and the author, Sheila Roberts for the free advanced copy. This is my honest and totally voluntary review.

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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Let Her Go by D. J. Adamson | Review

About The Book

Murder, Betrayal, Love Gone Wrong

Dr. Conrad’s family is attacked. His wife is murdered. He and his son are seriously injured. Teenage daughter, Peyton, is missing. Lillian Dove needs to find Peyton Conrad to set the minds of Frytown at ease.

Book 3 of the Lillian Dove Series offers readers another page-turning romp of suspense as Lillian is pulled into another one of the Frytown Police Department criminal cases.

Advance Praise

“Let Her Go by D.J. Adamson is a fantastic, gripping story of betrayal, love, and suspense, not to mention the murder.”

–Reader’s Favorite

My Thoughts

How many times have I asked this question of myself?

“If only I could go back and do life differently. Isn’t that what people say? Life would be so much better. Would it?”

Gosh, what a book this turned out to be! “Let Her Go” by D.J. Adamson is a book you ought to read. Highly amusing, risqué and calamitous is a description of it, just like Lillian’s life.

“ Let Her Go” is the third novel in D.J. Adamson’s ‘Lillian Dove’ series, the first book being ‘Admit to Mayhem’ followed by ‘Suppose.’ Although I haven’t yet read these two from the series, it wasn’t a problem for me as the author provided plenty of history. This was interwoven very neatly with the current story and indeed, for me, complemented it.

I didn’t have any particular expectations when starting this book, other than I had assumed it would be a typical thriller. This would have been great so I was very surprised to find that it began with Lillian’s disappearing Christmas tree! It was a delightful and highly amusing beginning to start this book and I couldn’t have imagined the impact this would continue to have throughout the story.

D.J. Adamson has drawn a truly fascinating character in creating Lillian Dove. I dare say that she probably won’t appeal to everyone, but she was definitely pretty remarkable for me. Lillian is a recovering alcoholic, among other things.

She has a dynamic, though flawed character whose personality and often ill-thought actions made her the scourge of law enforcement officials in her home-town of Frytown, Iowa. Though scorned by many, she had a kind heart and warm personality though a few would have preferred her to keep her opinions to herself and not ask so many searching questions.

As the narrator of the story, Lillian couldn’t be relied upon because she had a tendency towards self-doubt and frequently questioned her own opinions and actions. 

In “Let Her Go” there is a heavy focus on Lillian’s self-development rather than the mystery itself, as she copes with the trepidations of her sobriety, relationships, and her own financial situation. The fast pacing and many twists and turns all increase the anticipation for what is a very fulfilling final reveal.

Many of the character interactions were tremendously entertaining, especially those between Lillian and Detective Jacque Leveque or her mother, Dahlia. There were a lot of unresolved, emotional issues from their past between Lillian and Dahlia, problems that Lillian needed to address in case it became too late. Just to add a bit of icing on the cake, an only partially ended affair with the Chief of Police is thrown into the mix, adding another layer to the already complex, thrilling plot.

Brilliantly written, impressionistic, with a delicious and at times, vicious humour and populated with fabulous characters, this is a mystery like no other. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to read it and look forward to checking out the previous instalments. I thoroughly enjoyed the darker tone and grittier nature of the story that made this such a suspenseful read! 

Verdict: Read it and whatever you have to do to bag your copy, do it. 

Thanks to NetGalley, BooksGoSocial and the author, D.J. Adamson, for my free ARC of Let Her Go in exchange for an honest review.

[#NetGalley #LetHerGo]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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The Secret Life of Mac by Melinda Metz | Review

Book Synopsis

Inspired by the true story of a kleptomaniac cat who stole his way into America’s heart . . .

HE’S THE CAT THIEF OF LOVE

MacGyver the tabby is feeling very pleased with himself. His human, Jamie Snyder, has found the perfect packmate—and it’s all thanks to Mac. By stealing personal items from the home of Jamie’s handsome neighbor David, the matchmaking cat brought these two L.A. singles together. Now, while the newlyweds are off on their honeymoon, MacGyver is ready for a well-deserved cat nap. That is, until he meets his cat sitter Briony. Like most humans, she’s hopeless when it comes to romance. And Mac can’t resist a challenge . . .

SHE’S FOUND THE ESCAPE CLAWS

Briony feels terrible about leaving her fiancé at the altar. When her cousin Jamie offers her the chance to cat sit MacGyver, the runaway bride leaps at the chance to cuddle up with the only male creature she trusts herself around. But MacGyver has other plans. He lures Briony to a friendly neighborhood retirement community—run by a charming young hottie named Nate. Briony and Nate hit it off instantly. But Briony’s still not sure she’s ready for a relationship. And Nate’s got problems of his own—someone is sabotaging his community.

Crazy humans. Why can’t they follow their instincts and go after the love they deserve? MacGyver is on the case. And this time, he’s not pussyfooting around . . .

RAVES FOR TALK TO THE PAW

“Filled with romance and adorable kitty antics . . . a light and cozy read!”

—Modern Cat

“Surpassingly cute story of a matchmaking cat determined to pair off his human with a neighbor through the power of stinky laundry.”

—Kirkus Reviews

“Whimsical . . . fans of cozy romances will root for these . . . appealing characters.”

—Publishers Weekly

My Thoughts

THE SECRET LIFE OF MAC by Melinda Metz appears to be a sequel to the ‘Talk to the Paw’ which was published last year. This quaint little romance story is something slightly unique as it is told from the point of view of a tabby cat called McGyver (Mac), alongside two other characters, Nate and Briony. Mac is on a mission to make the people in his life happy, either romantically, generally or where there are friends involved.

This was an easy, light read so I did not feel disadvantaged in any way not having read ‘Talk to the Paw’ first, though it would have been preferable to me if I had read them in sequence.

This book is a romantic comedy where Mac acted as the matchmaker. As well as being wildly humorous and funny, it is also a tale about personal development and self-discovery. There’s even a mystery linked to the retirement home which added to the interest of this sweet tale.

Most of this story was told from the viewpoint of Briony and Nate.  Nate had some personal issues that he needed to deal with, helped along by Briony who had woes of her own. All of the characters had something to offer and the mystery was concluded very well.

All in all, THE SECRET LIFE OF MAC by Melinda Metz was a charming, sweet and worthwhile read.  

Thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books and the author, Melinda Metz, for my free ARC of The Secret Life of Mac. My honest review is entirely voluntary.

#NetGalley #TheSecretLifeOfMac

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Four Stars

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Keep Walking Rhona Beech by Kate Tough | Review

Book Synopsis

‘Incredibly insightful, funny and poignant’ Helen Sedgwick

I get up. I go to work. I spend the whole day waiting for the words on my screen to make sense. In the commuter broth of the carriage home, tears run in hot lines to my jaw and for a minute or so, I let them.

Nothing has turned out quite how Rhona Beech thought: she’s been swapping one so-so job for another on an annual basis . . . and now her nine-year relationship has ended abruptly. When her lukewarm efforts to adjust to the changes in her life are thrown entirely up in the air by some unwelcome news, Rhona has to think again.

Her sardonic, funny, poignant attempts to find an answer to the questions she’s facing are helped by a cast of friends, strangers and trained professionals. Funny and tender, Keep Walking, Rhona Beech is a beautifully written and brilliantly observant satire on relationships, friendship and life

Previously published as Head for the Edge, Keep Walking by Cargo Publishing.

My Thoughts

I am always slightly uneasy when I look at a book and I ask myself “What ‘type’ of a novel is this?” The answer here is “A gratifying, moving and very comical one,” in more or less equal measures.

Although I would say that “Keep Walking Rhona Beech” is extremely amusing and, at times, positively hilarious, this is qualified by a feeling of great sadness, too. It’s a journey of loss, companionship, love and needing to be happy with your life, with or without a Significant Other. I am sure that most of us could identify with the protagonist, Rhona on some level, at least. I certainly know that I could, so much so that I found myself wanting to help her to break out of her life of monotony and dreariness. “Keep Walking, Rhona Beech” gives out the message that there is a need to be happy with yourself otherwise there may never be a happy ending.

In the novel, the reader is taken on a journey to experience, along with Rhona, her everyday struggles with her current life, as in her purpose, friendships, love and even her very identity. Rhona and her pals are just like the rest of us – likeable, flawed and sometimes perplexing. The journey ranged from the mundane to the downright outrageous that had the effect, at times, that I was Rhona. There were instances where this was a very difficult read for me, however, it was always convincing, credible and extremely worthwhile. 

I enjoyed “Keep Walking, Rhona Beech” so much and I’m hoping to read more by Kate Tough soon…

[Thanks to #NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and the author, Kate Tough, for my free ARC of #KeepWalkingRhonaBeech in exchange for an honest review.]

Brianne’s Book Reviews Rating | Five Stars

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Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop

Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop by Rebecca Raisin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


“Rosie’s Travelling Tea Shop” by Rebecca Raisin is a lovely, light read. When you have just discovered that you have a husband who is a cheat, what a wonderful way to start life over by going travelling in a camper-van. I thought it was great that Rosie made herself some new friends along the way, as well as earning some money at music and food festivals.

I delighted in this quirky, fun story. There were many laugh-out-loud moments and it was wonderful getting to meet all of the characters, although I did not particularly have a favourite.

I especially loved the idea of owning a pink camper-van like Rosie’s, and a fuchsia pink one at that – so unique and off-the-wall. Also worth a mention are some of the references to delicious culinary delights such as the spotted dick, and the Turkish delight butter-cream cupcakes or some of the more suspect ones like the wheat-grass smoothie or the Dijon tofu.

This fantastic book has left me keen to go touring and travelling and I strongly recommend giving this wonderfully uplifting romantic story a whirl!

{Thank you to #NetGalley and HQ Digital for the free copy of #RosiesTravellingTeaShop and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}



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The Shadow Between Us

The Shadow Between Us by Carol Mason

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Carol Mason, the best-selling author of ’After You Left’ has written an incredibly moving and poignant novel in this slow-burn, very beautiful work of fiction.

Olivia moves to the pretty coastal town of Port Townsend, with her marriage on-the-rocks, and her life in pieces. She doesn’t know if things with her husband Mark are truly over, or quite why the phone call she longs for on her daughter’s birthday will never come.

After joining a letter-writing club held at her local cafe she meets Ned, an ex-soldier badly wounded in Afghanistan. This chance friendship revives unexpected emotions and memories she’d rather forget.

Can Olivia find the courage to confront what she’s hiding from and finally begin to heal the wounds that have torn her life apart?

Liv, as she is known to her husband, is an extremely intriguing character. Regularly displaying a cocktail of emotions, I could still really empathise with her. She could be caring and thoughtful one minute, but then be frank, blunt and very much to-the-point, the next moment. At times she was positively distant and unkind. She was not alone in her attitude and behaviour as some of the other characters in the story shared similar traits such as cafe owner Beth. For me, this added to and complemented this wonderful character-driven story.

THE SHADOW BETWEEN US was a very insightful and thought-provoking read about reflecting on the mistakes we sometimes make and finding hope in second chances. I very much liked the emphasis on letter-writing, reading and quotes from favourite books, running throughout the story.

The dialogue between Olivia and Ned was lovely and liked how they had an almost immediate connection. I was very keen to see how their relationship might develop. I found THE SHADOW BETWEEN US a very enjoyable read, helped by Carol Mason’s beautiful writing which has depth and substance. The ending was very fulfilling although with an unexpected twist. I will definitely be reading more of her books in the future.

[Thanks to #NetGalley, Lake Union Publishing and Carol Mason for my ARC of #TheShadowBetweenUs in exchange for an honest review.]



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Chocolate a la Murder

Chocolate a la Murder by Kirsten Weiss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I jumped at the chance to read this delightful little mystery as I have come to adore cozy novels in recent months. This is the fourth book in the ‘A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum’ series by Kirsten Weiss, the first book being ‘The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum,’ followed by ‘Pressed to Death’ and ‘Deja Moo.’

The setting for the story is a town called San Benedetto in the California wine country. In “Chocolate a la Murder,” owner, Maddie Kosloski, of the Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum, is preparing for The Wine and Chocolate Days Festival in San Benedetto. Maddie has sweet dreams about her new Magic of Chocolate exhibit. Her latest attraction is a haunted Mexican whisk called a molinillo that rattles if someone lies.

When Maddie visits the town’s new boutique chocolate shop, she finds one of the owners dead and covered in melted cocoa. Maddie’s determined to catch the killer, and she soon uncovers deadly dealings in the world of artisan chocolate. But the deception surrounding those dealings are enough to make the molinillo rattle all night. Will Maddie have to temper her passion for sleuthing before a killer makes her their next target?

Although I haven’t any read of the first three books of the series, Kirsten Weiss, provides plenty of back-stories, so “Chocolate a la Murder” works well as a stand-alone novel. Written in the first person, the characters in this novel were a real laugh and I especially liked Maddie’s feistiness. I even found myself asking the same questions and thinking along the same lines as Maddie when trying to work out the identity of the perpetrator. I really enjoyed the easy-to-read writing style, the plot and the pace of the book. The paranormal element helped to add intrigue to the tale, whilst making it a little different to some of the other books in the genre.

All in all, “Chocolate a la Murder” is a light-hearted, lovely read, that combines mystery, thrills and murder and mayhem and I’m looking forward to reading the first three books of the series.

[Thanks to #NetGalley and Midnight Ink Publishing for the free ARC of #ChocolateAlaMurder in exchange for an honest review]



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New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle

New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle by Liz Eeles

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


This book was always going to be a winner for a dessert foodie like myself. With a gorgeous front cover (pun unintended) and a book synopsis that mentions lemon meringue pie, it was as though “New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle” was written especially for me, though the title is a bit of a mouthful! Are there any other reasons for wanting to read this novel? Well, of course! Despite the impression that it’s set in a Cafe, it’s actually mainly about a book-store which is just as good.

After yet another failed romance, twenty-six-year-old Callie Fulbright is giving up on love and instead, she’s putting all her efforts into running her very own, brand-new café: The Cosy Kettle in Honeyford, a beautiful and picturesque Cotswold’s village. Serving hot tea, cherry tarts and a welcoming smile to the friendly locals proves to be the perfect distraction, and Callie is very proud of her fledgeling business.

However, her confidence is soon put to the test when her lovely ex reappears in the quaint little village. She’ll never forget the heartache Noah caused her years ago, but when they bump into each other on the cobbled streets of Honeyford are her feelings for him rekindled?

As Callie and Noah share their laughter and memories, she starts to wonder if this could be her second chance at happiness. But when Callie discovers that someone is mysteriously trying to ruin the café’s reputation, she starts to suspect that Noah knows who’s involved.

Can Noah be trusted? Can she find the perpetrator of the lies and rumours, before it’s too late for the Cosy Kettle?

The opening chapters drew me into the story and captured my attention immediately. There was a lot going on and many of the characters were very funny and easy to relate to, particularly Callie. Some of the other characters in the book were extremely amusing and unusual, like Callie’s Grandfather, Stanley.

Liz Eeles’ writing style is very natural, with a good steady pace. Delightful and entertaining “New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle” is a quick, light read for all Romance or Women’s fiction fans. It’s a great book with which to curl up on the sofa on a cold and windy night, or any time, really, with a mug of hot chocolate and a slice of cake.

Although I haven’t read any of the other books by Liz Eeles yet, I intend to in the future and I wholeheartedly recommend this one.

{Thank you to #NetGalley, Bookouture and Liz Eeles for the free copy of #NewStartsAndCherryTartsAtTheCosyKettle and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.}



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