This January, I read Virgin River and watched Season 1 of the Netflix TV Show. And I fell in love. With the small town, with the characters, with Robyn Carr’s writing. When the team at Mills & Boon offered me a chance to Return to Virgin River, I couldn’t say no.
Return To Virgin River is actually the 19th book in the series. But the amazing thing is that you can read each book as a standalone as well. Each book is set in Virgin River, but it focuses on different characters and their lives in the same town. It is just the chronological part that changes.
In this book, we follow Kaylee. Her mother passed away recently and she rents a house in Virgin River to try and get back to writing and to cope with her grief. But as she arrives, she finds out that the house had burnt. Devastated, she goes to Jack’s bar to figure out what’s next. Yes – the same Jack we meet in the first book. He still has his bar, and the same old charm.
As she meets more people and spends more time in Virgin River, Kaylee slowly starts to heal. And not only she heals, but she starts to find happiness, love and motivation again. Because there is no better place to mend a broken heart than Virgin River.
I loved Virgin River, but I loved Return to Virgin RIver even more. Coming back to this town and reading again about Mel, Jack, Preacher and the other characters felt good. It felt like seeing your long distance cousins for Christmas, and talking like no time has passed. And I felt this, after only reading the first book. I can only imagine how people that have read all the books might feel.
I think it was also the happy tone of the book that I loved as well. Despite the sadness, grief and stress Kaylee was going through, this book shouts with positivity. The long walks, the caring people, the caring for the animals and the kindness – it filled me with positive vibes. And reading it during the Covid pandemic felt like the perfect escape. There is something about a small, fictional village that offers second chances that feels like home.
I highly recommend it to everyone that may need to find a little bit of escape. Or to people that love heartwarming stories, and second chances in life and love.
And don’t forget that there is a Netflix TV Show of this as well – with the new season coming out. Season 1 was incredible, and I cannot wait to see Season 2 as well – I am sure it will as good!
When I started reading A Clock of Stars by Francesca Gibbons, I knew it would be a fantasy. But I didn’t know this story would leave me breathless and take me on such a magical adventure! This book is illustrated by Chris Riddell, and those illustrations are absolutely stunning!
Imogen loves adventures. But her little sister finds Marie always disturbs her and is such a burden. One day, Imogen sees a shadow moth in the garden and starts to follow it. Then her sister finds her, and closes the gate behind them.
Suddenly, they are trapped and it’s all Marie’s fault. But on the other side of the gate, there is a new world, different to theirs. A world where they meet Miro, a boy dressed in weird clothes, claiming he is the prince of this kingdom. A kingdom, where dangers lurk at night.
A Clock of Stars reminded me of how I felt when I was reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the very first time. The moment you enter into a fantasy world and meet new characters. When you start to care for these characters and root for them. Moments when you want to be there with them, joining them in this adventure and help them save a kingdom. And you are there – with them. I felt part of this crew, I was on this journey with them. Afraid for what’s about to happen next, and happy when things would go as planned.
And when danger threatens the kingdom and the crew are getting ready to save it, you start biting your nails. I watched their friendship grow and loved it. What I loved the most was watching Imogen get closer to her little sister Marie. That special sister bond was beautiful! Francesca Gibbons’s writing is so captivating, the world building phenomenal and the action suspenseful.
I wished I was a kid again. And I wished I had this book when growing up. Definitely a must read for every child out there. One of the best children fantasies about fictional kingdoms I have read in a while!
I was so happy when the author, Stephen Clark, approached me and offered to send me a copy of his book, Hands Up, for me to read and provide an honest review. I also felt great responsibility, because this books speaks about some very important, very relevant, and very, unfortunately, sad topics that are currently happening in the world.
Police officer Ryan Quinn, raised in a family of cops, shoots an unarmed black male. His career and his freedom are now in jeopardy, as he embarks on a journey for redemption.
Jade Wakefield is a student, whose brother just got shot by the police. And she is determined to find the cop who did this and get their revenge.
Kelly Randolph abandoned his family ten years ago. But when his son’s death brings him home, he seeks forgiveness and wants to make amends. But the dark past he thought he left behind for good is still here to haunt him.
Hands Up is a very difficult read for me to write a review for. Throughout the book, we follow these three people’s perspectives. Ryan’s point of view is in first person, while Jade and Kelly’s perspectives are in third. This took me a while to get adjusted to, and it doesn’t affect the story much, apart from the fact that it caught my curiosity. I wonder what the author’s intention was behind this choice.
Hands Up is a fast-paced read. As soon as I dived into it, it pulled me into the story, and I finished it in no time. The chapters swapped between the characters quite seamlessly, which was quite enjoyable. And I have to admit, I did enjoy it, and I do recommend it for you to pick it up. It has some major issues that bothered me, which I will speak about further below, but ultimately, I think that the intention of this book was on point, and for that sole purpose it needs to go out in the world and raise awareness.
I felt like the book’s intentions and the idea behind the police brutality and Black Lives Matter movement were great. We need more books that will speak up on these subjects. This year has been extremely important for so many black people. And people are slowly starting to educate themselves, and becoming more aware of the racism and discrimination happening around us every single day. It is far from over, but people are starting to speak up, and things are slowly beginning to shift. However, I think that it was poorly executed. The book is written in such a way that it didn’t provoke feelings in me. Feelings I was hoping it would. It felt as if I was reading a news report, rather than a story that affects people’s lives, feelings and thoughts.
The other issue I had were the characters.
All the characters were stereotypical. And I hoped that at least, maybe they would change throughout the story, throughout their experiences. Work on their issues and prejudices, and overcome it, but they didn’t.
The cop is white and he is the killer. The dad is black and a gang member who left his family. The daughter is a girl with no future, relying on violence. And this made me angry, because I know many black fathers who are amazing and don’t abandon their families. And many bright young black women who are doing extremely well in life and in their studies. Many white people that are not killers, and many white people that are bullies.
Ever since I was little, I was taught to see people for good and bad. That no colour, no race, no religion and no nationality should define people’s characters. And I would have let this pass, if people changed throughout the book. But they didn’t. The white cop tried to find redemption, but ended up failing in the end. The black dad returned to his bad past again. The daughter relied on violence and revenge yet again. The only character that I had respect for was Regina, the victim’s mother. She felt the most realistic of them all, and I could connect with her as a character and feel her pain. I wish we had more scenes with her. I believe that her point of view would have been quite beneficial to the story.
Another issue I had was a certain romantic relationship that developed throughout the book.
SPOILER ALERT IN THE NEXT PARAGRAPH:
The victim’s sister fell in love with the cop. And this troubled me, for many reasons. She was actively seeking revenge for her brother’s death. Then she found out who he was. And two nights later, they were in love. I think that such relationship can’t develop so fast in normal circumstances. I won’t even get into how impossible it would be in these circumstances. It was too fast and too unrealistic for me.
That is why I am so troubled with my review of Hands Up. For me, it wasn’t the typical book I’d pick up and enjoy. It had many issues. But it was very important. The Black Lives Matter movement is so damn important. Which is why I urge you to pick this book up and give it a chance. The issues that it speaks of are around us, and awareness should be raised.
Being born and raised in Macedonia, I grew up with the Slavic fairy tales. I still remember my grandma telling me stories about Baba Yaga (Babaroga). When I found out about Uprooted by Naomi Novik, it intrigued me instantly.
Uprooted tells a story about Agnieszka. She lives in a quiet village that she loves. Surrounding the village is an enchanted forest, and the Wood has taken many people’s lives. The villagers go in and don’t come back. The village relies on the wizard, called Dragon, to protect them from the dark magic coming from the woods.
However, this help comes with a price. A young woman must serve him for ten years, leaving everything behind and never leaving the tower. Agnieszka fears that her best friend Kasia will be picked for the next choosing. Kasia is everything Agnieszka isn’t – graceful, beautiful and brave. And yet, when the Dragon comes, it isn’t Kasia that he takes.
The beginning of Uprooted is fantastic. I was immediately sucked into the story and I was loving the pace. Naomi Novik’s storytelling ability is honestly breathtaking, and it is consistent throughout the book. However, as soon as the Dragon makes his pick of the young girl and they head to the tower, the pace slows down. And for me, the rest of the journey kept going downhill.
“But there’s no kindness in offering false hope.”
I loved Agnieszka, and her side of the story. It felt familiar in the way that I’ve heard similar stories before in my childhood. And that familiarity kept warming my heart until the very end.
And I felt the same for the Dragon.
I loved the name, especially because the usual Slavic fairy tales have a dragon in the tower that is guarding the princess. I see what you did there, Naomi. The story about a wizard who doesn’t age and looks after the village is incredible. And that he takes a woman every ten years adds to the suspense, and of how the villagers have mixed feelings about him. Feelings of gratitude, fear and anger, all combined.
“The Dragon wasn’t like any man of our village. He should have been old and stooped and grey; he had been living in his tower a hundred years, but he was tall, straight, beardless, his skin taut.”
The idea started well, but it was executed poorly. I have mixed feelings about the Woods. I liked the suspense and danger, but I think many scenes were way too long and unnecessary. That made the Woods a little bit boring for me. I really loved the parts about the magic, as well as the mentions of Baba Yaga. As for the romance, I am not too sure about that either. I just wasn’t as bothered or invested as I would usually be in another book.
Uprooted isn’t a favorite book of mine, but I did enjoy parts of it. It is very magical and the writing is beautiful. The pace was somewhat slow for me, but I know many people enjoy that. I recommend it to anyone that likes fairy tales and fantasy. I will definitely be reading more from Naomi Novik in the future.
I am so happy to be part of this blog tour for the very much anticipated book release of The Searcher by Tana French. Huge thank you to the Penguin and Viking team, for this amazing opportunity!
Cal Hooper is a retired detective, and he moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. He’s fixing up this old house, and is getting used to this new mountain life, trying to forget about his previous profession of chasing criminals.
That is, until one day, a kid comes to his door and asks for help. His brother is missing, and he knows something must’ve happened to him. But no one else in the village seems to care. Unable to leave this a mystery, Cal starts to ask questions.
But the whole village seems like they don’t want new people messing up with whatever secrets they may have.
The Searcher was a true slow burner. At times, it was even too slow for me, and I was struggling. However, I have never before read a book so well built, and despite the slow pace, I kept returning to it.
This is my first book from Tana French, and I will definitely be reading more from her. I think the next one will be The Wych Elm, as I already have that one in my library. Tana French did such a good job at describing this rural village in Ireland, and its people. From the cold mountains, to the lovely cottage in need of renovating, to the pub and the people living in the village, it felt as if I was there. Even though I’ve never been to Ireland before.
Cal Hooper was an intriguing character, and I loved his story. The reason he moved to the mountains, and the ongoing experiences helped me understand the issues he was facing, and I loved how he started to personally grow throughout the book, with Trey’s help. And as for Trey, I loved his personality too. The quiet, but also savage and arrogant character, that wasn’t afraid to be nosy. But also the innocent child that desperately wanted help and support, when they didn’t receive it before.
The book was very dark and eerie throughout all times.
And the people are savage and brutal, and you can feel this even when the conversations are about happy things. There was a certain eerie cloud surrounding this book, and I really loved that. I don’t think another book has made me feel this way before.
As for the mystery, I feel that part was a bit weak. I loved the search itself, and the moments when Cal would try and dig deeper into what actually happened. But as any informal investigation, he couldn’t get too far. And the villagers didn’t try and help him too much. It was an interesting dynamic I really enjoyed. But the ending and the revelation weren’t too satisfying for me.
The Searcher by Tana French is truly one of a kind. With its description, the rural scenery and brutality of the people, it’s one of those books that will give you slow chills down your spine.