#BookReview of – Undying Book 1 – The Kinship of DJinns and Book 2 – My Uncle’s Son By  Ambreen Hameed and Uzma Hameed @AmbreenHameed1 #UmzaHameed

Undying Book 1 – The Kinship of DJinns and Book 2 – My Uncle’s Son
By Ambreen Hameed and Uzma Hameed

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A romance that puts traditions and modern ways of living at juxtopositions to create the tensions, wrapped around a volatile political landscape. The book shows inner lives of two sisters and there’s a touch of magic intertwined in there too. Pretty good for a debut and the books are better than I thought they were going to be.
Take a look at the blurbs in both books and then my review.
Thanks to Uzma Hameed for asking me to review their books via the Contact option on my blog.

Undying Duo pic

Blurb – Book 1

UNDYING Book 1: The Kinship of Djinns“Sibling rivalry, evolutionary science, theatre, film and even magic all have a part to play in Ambreen and Uzma Hameed’s exuberant tale of a romantic triangle… UNDYING is huge fun. Its sitcom style comedy and affectionate satire deepen into a mystery that explores what unites and divides us, in families and communities, and asks how art, science and religion try to make sense of a violent and unjust world.” Boyd Tonkin, Former Chair of Judges, Man Booker International Prize

It is 1998 and the leader of the free world is under fire after an affair with a young intern. Meanwhile, in a corner of South London, the Malik sisters have also committed a sin: they are in their thirties and still not married. Now the unexpected return of their childhood playmate spells the chance of a happy ending: but only for one of them. And this time, younger sister Zarina is determined she won’t be second in line to Sufya, the eldest – even if it means resorting to dubious occult practices. But as tensions rise across the Muslim world, sibling rivalry and Sufi spells are not the only forces with which the three lovers must contend.

Blurb – Book 2

UNDYING Book 2: My Uncle's SonChristmas 1998 approaches and the Malik sisters struggle to come to terms with Heathrow’s disappearance. A series of unanswered questions leads Sufya on a journey across the Holy Land. Back in South London, Zarina believes she is receiving messages from beyond the grave. As the leader of the free world sends bombs down on Baghdad, anger boils over in the Muslim community. The family falls under suspicion and both sisters must pick a side.

My Uncle’s Son is the thrilling conclusion to UNDYING.

Review

The books are best read when they are read sequentially. Both books are predominently about Sufya and Zarina and their lives in 1998. They are modern Muslims who are just trying to get on with their lives. The sisters have, according to their religion, committed a sin by still not being married and it is more than frowned upon as they are in their thirties. There is also the question of career/interest choice as Sufya is into scientific writing, which seems more palatable than Zarina and her interest in theatre. The book deals with the differences in attitudes between younger Muslim’s and those with more traditional views. This sort of tension creates interest and shows some of the almost juxtopositions that traditonal and modern generations sit at. There is also, however the ties that bind them together. It’s a pretty intense read, that can at times be gripping and is mostly a good read.

This is a love story that rails against traditional Muslim values. There is also some humour, but it isn’t without its darkness that looms as it doesn’t only show the moderate, but also some of the extremes too with the backdrop of some beautiful scenery.
There are also the political attitudes of the time to the affair of Clinton and Lewinsky, war, suicide bombers that are touched upon.

The title of the second book – My Uncle’s Son is the concluding part of this story. You can’t read one without the other if you want to know the ending. The title – My Uncle’s Son is the title of a film as many potential cast assemble, as this book is a bit more about the arts industry, which book 1 touches upon.

There’s a character – Heathrow, or H, who goes missing. This is a character that runs through both books. The book examines and questions how you’d feel if someone you knew wore explosives. 

Both books, intriguingly (and sometimes this works better than other times), looks at genetics in primates and humans. It offers up some thought-provoking points, especially at the parts where this doesn’t get readers too bogged down. It is an intriguing and certainly different way that the characters, mostly Sufya and Zarina, try to understand what is happening in the world as they try to make sense of it all and the enormity of the violence that is harbouring in some people.

The themes of the first book link up well in the second book, tying them both together, which I thought was good and keeps Zarina and Sufya headstrong about their views on marriage, including arranged marriage.

The book also questions whether love can conquer all, even when all around can be so brutal and relationships can be tough as can finding your own way of life, that may go against a traditional grain. It is this, going against the grain that perhaps shows change and how there are modern Muslims living life their own way and makes Zarina and Sufya’s characters most interesting and wills you on in the hope they succeed.

The second book is a very good conclusion to this duo of books that has passion, anger, violence and love throughout.

#BookReview by Lou of Hot Desk by Zara Stoneley @ZaraStoneley @0neMoreChapter_ @HarperCollinsUK #Romcom #Fiction #OfficeReturn #OfficeRomance #Humour #Uplifting

Hot Desk
By Zara Stoneley

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hot Desk provides great escapism that is packed full of delightful entertainment  with really good humour and romance.

Thank you to One More Chapter (Harper Collins UK) for gifting me a copy of Hot Desk and giving me the opportunity to review.

Follow onto the blurb and my full review below.

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Blurb

Same desk, different days. A post-it note is just the beginning…

A must read for fans of Beth O’Leary, Mhairi McFarlane and Sophie Kinsella!

Alice loves her job and wants to keep it – whatever the price. But then she’s told the company is switching to flexible working and hot desking…Alice’s desk might look a mess, but she knows exactly where everything is. Or she did. Until she found out she’s going to share it with the most annoying guy in the office.
 
Jamie can work from anywhere. He’s quite happy to sweep his work life into a box at the end of the working day. But can sharing a desk with Alice be as much fun as teasing her in person?
 
With no option but to try it and see, will their relationship turn into open warfare or will it ever progress beyond a post-it note?

Review

Hot DeskHot Desk is set post Covid-19 and people are adjusting to being back in the office with new working practices. Something so many office workers would now be able to relate to. This reality is there, but it’s not all about Covid-19. This is about Alice and how she handles going back to the office of ‘We Got Designs’. It presents itself, even from the first page, to be a very funny book indeed. The comic-timing in the writing is divine. A little bit further in and there is the clear signs of romantic frission between her and fellow colleague – Jamie and it is so well written. It’s great that this is set out near the beginning and then to see how this progresses. It’s a bit like listening into office gossip when reading Hot Desk. It’s all rather a deliciously enticing book that is so entertaining that it compels you to read to see how it all plays out.

There are serious notes to the story too, one being the real fear of the office’s future. There is also the whole fear of hot desking looming and then becoming a reality, with all the terms and conditions attached and the emotion that goes with it. Readers will be able to relate to how things can be when a desk is no longer your own. Alice finds out she has to hot desk with Jamie, so confides in her friend Lou quite a bit.

There is a sweet growing romance that sprouts in the office and yet in a light way, also brings endangered animals and conservation into the conversation. It’s lovely to organically watch Alice and Jamie getting to know each other.

Ultimately this is a rom-com that is properly funny and properly romantic. The mix of these ingredients with the premise of returning to the office and having to share a desk works wonderfully well and makes me smile. Readers can watch this office to see if the spark of their romance grows further into a sizzle or not, even with all the new things to get to grip with, this element still lives on.
After a hard day’s work, whether you’re in an office or not, Hot Desk provides entertaining, sweet and touching escapism that hits the spot very well indeed.

Ahead of my #Freckles Review – a Reblog of my 2020 Write Up of Q and A with Cecelia Ahern @Cecelia_Ahern @BeccaKBryant @LizDawsonPR @fictionpubteam #Postscript #Freckles

Q&A with Cecelia Ahern
Ahead of the paperback publication of Postscript
the sequel to PS. I Love You!

I have been given a great honour of joining a small group of book bloggers to collaboratively interview PS. I Love You author Cecelia Ahern. She has now published the sequel – Postscript, in which the hardback is available now. The paperback is available 1st October 2020.

First – the blurb of Postscript and a short review, with a more full on review to follow at a later date. Do follow the blurb, the short review and then onto the Q&A where you can find out some really exciting information about Postscript, what she is writing next and much more…

The PS, I Love You Club.

These are the six words written on a card handed to Holly Kennedy. They’re words that are engraved on her heart – because PS, I Love You is how her husband, Gerry, signed his last letters to her, letters that mark a year she will never forget.

Now, the mysterious club wants something from her. And if Holly can find the courage meet them, she’ll learn what it really means to live life to the full.

Because every love story has one last thing to say…

Postscript pic

Short review

Postscript is just amazing as it tackles so many themes from health issues to grieving. It’s a beautifully written book that has so much emotion within it. The health issues have clearly been researched, but don’t dominate. There is plenty of positivity in this book. It is, even after all these years, is at least as good as PS I Love You, if not a bit better in how it is written. Nothing is lost and there’s everything to gain when reading this, including feeling that it is a really emotional journey, but one taken with passion and feels heartfelt. It’s a great book to get reacquainted with Holly and other characters and meet some new ones too.

Cecelia Ahern pic    Postscript pic  
Q&A

How did you spend Lockdown?

Building Hogwarts Lego. That took about 4 weeks and worked on it for about an hour every evening.
She danced and cooked and walked a lot and got excited when the Irish government also increased the distance of travel from 2km to 5km and could go to a coffee shop to buy a coffee.

Cecelia also has 3 children of the ages of a nearly 1 year old, an 8 and a 10 year old. She hopes never to do homeschooling again.

Do you think as a writer lockdown suited you well?

She reckoned it doesn’t suit everybody, perhaps not extroverts who get their energy from being around other people. She is comfortable about not socialising all the time. She did however miss her family.
She was on maternity leave until May. She then started to edit her new novel (more about that later).#

What sort of research she went into for health issues within the book, such as Cancer and MS?

She wanted to not get into Hollie’s appointments too much to get a balance. There were many drafts and some were more involved than others. There were 4 people who were ill. She wanted more of an introduction to each illness. MS she was fairly familiar with beacause she takes part in the MS Readathon in every year in Ireland.
She wanted to introduce a brain tumour so Hollie was watching a young man going through the same thing.
She thoughtfully pointed out that everyone doesn’t experience the same thing in every illness. She didn’t want to be vague or wishy-washy, but also not too caught up in it. She wanted to concentrate on some of the hope.
She also talked candidly about emphasemia, which is in the book too, as her grandmother had it and had smoked all her life. She talked how there was still humour, even though she was going round with an oxygen tank near the end of her life and wanted some of the humour to come through, which she does well.

From Writing PS I Love You and so many years later, Postcript. How was it for you to write the sequel?

She was never going to write Postcript as she was perfectly happy with how it ended and PS. I Love You was a huge success. PS. I Love You made her and she didn’t want a sequel to break her. She also likes writing different books year on year.
In 2012 she thought about the things that you do for people you’re going to leave behind, so got inspired to write a story from the opposite perspective of PS. I Love You and also then from the perspective of people about to say goodbye and the preparations. She really wanted to put Hollie in it and look at it from Gerry’s perspective. She then had to find the seeds she planted in PS I Love You, like sunflower seeds within that book.
She talked about how it was really challenging to write. In Postcript she has to look at the letters again and looking at the positives and not so and wanted to address how there was conflict between them.
She started to write before she told her publishers to see if she could and felt emotional enough about it, which she did.

Who did you write the book for?

She wrote it for her and those who really love PS I Love You and had it in mind that so many people loved that book. She also looked at the tone of the book and also show the writer she was then and the writer she is now, but without taking too many wild leaps, like in her short story collection, and went back to the humour and sweet tone of PS I Love You.

How did you feel when Postcript went out to readers?

She said that a lot of people have read it before-hand and tries not to get hung up on that, but hopes it is better than the first novel.

The members of the PS I Love You Club. How did you decide which problems to bring into the club and are there any you thought of and discounted?

I wanted to have different illnesses. She knew from the beginning she wanted a mother and the Will idea. Geneka is her favourite. She wanted a mother and a Will and having her want to learn to write letters for her child.

Film

Postcript will be made into a film. Hillary Swank emailed Cecelia wanting to read Postcript. She will be in the film because she said of all the films she has made, PS I Love You is mentioned the most and everyone involved in that film say the same thing. The same production team and writer will be involved again in the film. She has a lot to juggle from the book and the PS. I Love You film.

What author inpires you in your work most of all?

She reads fiction and loves crime fiction, especially Karen Slaughter and Lee Child and Jane Casey. She loves One World Publications because they publish and translate from all over the world. She also loves poetry, such as those from Sarah Cross. She also reads YA novels.
If she ever wrote a crime novel, she would write golden-age crime novel, not the forensic side.

Her next novel is called Freckles, due in autumn 2021. It’s works around the theme that comes from a phrase “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
It’s about a character who is very logical and straightforward parking-warden. She hears this expression and starts to look at the people around her and wonders if she wants to be the average of those five people and if she could curate her life in who she wants to be. So, she reaches out to certain people to see if she can be the average of those.
There is also a lot going on in her life that makes her want to do this.’

Postcript is published in paperback on 1st October 2020.

Postscript pic

#BookReview by Lou – The Bookshop of Second Chances By Jackie Fraser @muninnherself #TeamBATC @simonschusteruk #RomanticFiction

The Bookshop of Second Chances
By Jackie Fraser

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Charming, uplifting, but without life’s complications in a Scottish town – The Bookshop of Second Chances is one you won’t want to miss! Thanks to Team Books And The City – part of Simon and Schuster for inviting me to the blog tour to review and for gifting me a copy of the book in exchange of an honest review. Please find more about the book in the blurb and the rest of my review below, as well as some buy links. Please note, I am not affiliated to anything.

The Book of Second Chances 2           The Book of Second Chances

Blurb

The Book of Second Chances 3Set in a charming little Scottish town, The Bookshop of Second Chances is the most uplifting story you’ll read this year!

 

Shortlisted for the RNA Katie Fforde Debut Romantic Novel Award 2021.

Thea’s having a bad month. Not only has she been made redundant, she’s also discovered her husband of nearly twenty years is sleeping with one of her friends. And he’s not sorry – he’s leaving.

Bewildered and lost, Thea doesn’t know what to do. But, when she learns the great-uncle she barely knew has died and left her his huge collection of second-hand books and a house in the Scottish Lowlands, she seems to have been offered a second chance.

Running away to a little town where no one knows her seems like exactly what Thea needs. But when she meets the aristocratic Maltravers brothers – grumpy bookshop owner Edward and his estranged brother Charles, Lord Hollinshaw – her new life quickly becomes just as complicated as the life she was running from…

An enchanting story of Scottish lords, second-hand books, new beginnings and second chances perfect for fans of Cressida McLaughlin, Veronica Henry, Rachael Lucas and Jenny Colgan.

The Book of Second Chances starts on Valentine’s Day. The day for lovers and shed loads of romance, but it is the exact opposite for Thea. She’s not got a lover anymore and needs to work out what furnture she wants and to top it all off, she’s also just lost her job. Just the year before, her Great Uncle Andrew died in Scotland. She’s pretty restrained, perhaps too nice, after all that, but then she also has her interests to protect too. You get a feel for her character and how she deals with things.

When a surprise letter is found from a solicitor, Thea’s life dramatically changes. It ups a lot of gears and suddenly she finds herself travelling to Scotland to a huge estate she has inherited, including a lodge and an array of precious first edition books. Jackie has created a history of the lodge, as though this was a true story and has made it feel like it is real and been around for centuries. It feels authentic as a result of her research and/or knowledge. It sounds amazing and many people would jump at the chance of staying, but Thea’s recent past holds her back initially as she considers selling it.

Readers, along with Thea then start to meet the locals, like Jilly and Cerys and get an impression of the surrounding areas.

This is also great for librarians who will appreciate the mention of The Dewey System and shudder at even the mere thought of repairing a book with sellotape. The chat about social media also seems so familiar too. There are lovely snippits of book and music as well.

The bookshop is absolutely wonderful, but all isn’t well with Charles and Edward there with a longstanding feud, with a dark and brooding atmosphere, as Thea discovers and ends up being caught up in. Life then becomes rather complicated for Thea in ways she wasn’t expecting, since she is trying to work out how to leave the complex life behind. Thea, however shows she is pretty reslient most of the time, which works really well for her characterisation. She has her principals, but there’s always that bit of a tug between going home to Sussex or staying in Scotland and making an area there her home. There is also the unescapable fact that there is romance brewing and that bookshop really providing a second chance at life, but you’ll need to read to find out all the nuances and if Thea really thinks this is so and will work well for her or not. It’s not a straight-cut decision to make, which brings some realism in this otherwise relaxing read.

The Bookshop of Second Chances is overall a warm, cosy delightful read that is highly enjoyable.

Buy Links

Waterstones       Bookshop.org     Amazon

#BookReview by Lou of The Meeting Point By Olivia Lara @olilara_writes @Aria_Fiction #TheWriteReads #UltimateBlogTour #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction

The Meeting Point
By Olivia Lara

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Meeting Point, newly published, is a book within a book in some respects and is great for romantics and those who love cafes.

Blurb

The Meeting Point LBT P3What if the Lift driver who finds your cheating boyfriend’s phone holds the directions to true love?

‘Who are you and why do you have my boyfriend’s phone?’

‘He left it in my car. You must be the blonde in the red dress? I’m the Lift driver who dropped you two off earlier.’

And with these words, the life of the brunette and t-shirt wearing Maya Maas is turned upside down. Having planned to surprise her boyfriend, she finds herself single and stranded in an unknown city on her birthday.

So when the mystery driver rescues Maya with the suggestion that she cheers herself up at a nearby beach town, she jumps at the chance to get things back on track. She wasn’t expecting a personalised itinerary or the easy companionship that comes from opening up to a stranger via text, let alone the possibility it might grow into something more…

Review

The book has such an intriguing beginning. It instantly pulls you into the imagination of Maya Mass and instantly you’ve jumped into the imagination of Maya Mass, who is creating a story. The Meeting Point begins as a story within a story. It instantly draws you in because it is written, especially at the beginning, like you’re watching something unfold on a screen or like a trailer for a movie on the first page. Then you get to know who Maya Mass actually is. There is the impression she relies on her imagination to get through life and because there is an element of lonliness and some hard times, so she creates characters and their lives inside her head and scribbles them down as readers are again pulled into her imaginative worlds, as well as her own life. Soon Maya’s life turns into something as strange and interesting as her imagination. It all starts with the opening of a text from someone not know and all becomes like amazing serendipity as it really opens up her life and brings some real colour as she begins to also live again outside her imagination too, not that she loses that of course. Just all seems to fit more together in a healthier way. Not, of course that it is as simple as that. 

The book whisks readers to a whole year later and Maya isn’t at all happy and makes you wonder how come and it shows that even in a romance, such as this, the whimsical warmth of the possibility of romance, a job, isn’t all perfect. There are also the stresses of relationships and how the emotions can feel so complicated with romance and what to feel about the former boyfriend and a new guy on the scene – Ethan Delphy, who Maya isn’t entirely happy with and writes to this American author and you can feel the frustrating when the reply is not directly from him. She is then compelled to track him down, encouraged by publishing friend – Ailsa.

It’s easy to lose yourself in the book and wonder if things will come good for Maya or not and it’s hard not to hope that they do, but there are some love/hate relationships going on, that it’s easy to just hope get sorted out one way or another and that she gets what she wants, but she has to make some decisions on that first. It’s interesting to see where The Meeting Point is and what then unfolds from that.

This is a delightful book for the romantics and for people who also like to hear about snippets of conversations about other books and going to lovely cafes. It’s a lovely relaxing and entertaining read for the most part. 

The Meeting Point WR poster

By Lou – Happy Publication Day fo The Meeting Place @olilara_writes @Aria_Fiction #BlogBlitz #Fiction #WomensFiction #RomanticFiction #ContemporaryFiction @Lovebookstours @LoveBooksGroup

The Meeting Place
By Olivia Lara
Blog Blitz

Firstly let’s wish author Olivia Lara a warm Congratulations for her book The Meeting Place. Today, in celebration, you’re treated to the blurb and a little bit about her.
Thanks to Love Books Group for inviting me to the Blog Blitz Tour and for Aria for gifting the blog and other info.

The Meeting Point LBT P6

Blurb 

The Meeting Point LBT P8What if the Lift driver who finds your cheating boyfriend’s phone holds the directions to true love?

‘Who are you and why do you have my boyfriend’s phone?’

‘He left it in my car. You must be the blonde in the red dress? I’m the Lift driver who dropped you two off earlier.’

And with these words, the life of the brunette and t-shirt wearing Maya Maas is turned upside down. Having planned to surprise her boyfriend, she finds herself single and stranded in an unknown city on her birthday.

So when the mystery driver rescues Maya with the suggestion that she cheers herself up at a nearby beach town, she jumps at the chance to get things back on track. She wasn’t expecting a personalised itinerary or the easy companionship that comes from opening up to a stranger via text, let alone the possibility it might grow into something more…

Come on this 5* journey to love, laughter and back again, perfect for fans of Mhairi Mcfarlane, Josie Silver and Sally Thorne.

The Meeting Point LBT P3

About the Author

olivia lara-author photo (1) (1)Olivia Lara’s love for words started as a child when she spent her summer vacations watching her grandfather, who worked for the biggest publishing house in Romania, edit hundreds of books. She is a former journalist for a newspaper and a television network in Bucharest, now a Marketing VP in San Francisco – in between she lived in France where her love for Paris and the Alsace region was born. Her first book, Someday in Paris, became a B&N, Apple, Kobo and Amazon Top 100 Bestseller and was shortlisted for the Romantic Novel Awards. She lives in the Bay Area, California.

Buy Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Meeting-Point-romcom-wont-summer-ebook/dp/B08YP3H4MZ/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=olivia+lara&qid=1625822706&s=digital-text&sr=1-3