Hello Lovelies! Please excuse our dust while we do a bit of construction on the blog. We will still be posting exciting reviews, brilliant guest posts, and exciting giveaways but we are in the process of transforming the blog and adding new content and features for you to enjoy.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Review: The Beach Reads Book Club

Title: The Beach Reads Book Club 

Author: Kathryn Freeman

Publisher: 30th June 2021 by HarperCollins UK, One More Chapter

Pages: 400 pages

How I Read It: ARC book


My Rating: 5 crowns


Welcome to the Beach Reads Book Club…where love is just a page away…

When Lottie Watt is unceremoniously booted out of her uptight book club for not following the rules, she decides to throw the rulebook out the window and start her own club – one where conversation, gin and cake take precedent over actually having read the book!

The Beach Reads Book Club soon finds a home for its meetings at Books by the Bay, a charming bookshop and café owned by gorgeous, brooding Matthew Steele, and as the book club picks heat up, so too does the attraction between Matt and Lottie.

If there’s anything Lottie has learned from the romances she’s been reading, it’s that the greatest loves are the ones hardest earned.

A love letter to chicklit, romance, romcoms, whatever you want to call them!

My Thoughts

‘Five people whose lives she hoped would all be improved, just a little, by the combination of a good book, a mug of tea and the company of like-minded readers.’

Let’s make a tally of all things fun and bookish:

  • book about books - tick

  • books and tea - tick 

  • takes place in a bookshop - tick

  • centres around a fun book club - tick 

  • book club has some fun reads I have read and can relate to - tick

  • there is a fun romance with a dashing hero and strong woman - tick

I could go on …. but I think my fellow book lovers appreciate where I am going with this … MUST. READ.

‘The Beach Reads Book Club’ contains everything one looks for in this genre - it’s easy to read yet has serious undertones, it’s light and funny but has a deeper level of significance, it’s romantic and just simply what I was after. I loved it!

‘What you mean to tell me you were alone in the dark with this town’s answer to Mr Darcy, and you didn’t take advantage of it?’

This is the kind of book club I would want to join with super fun members and just the right amount of romantic escapism that had me smiling and feeling all gooey inside (#newbookcrush). There is the promise of not only book talk but real life talk washed down with cake and tea or pizza and gin! Lottie and Matt are the perfect ‘opposites attract’ - so sweet and steamy - and challenge each other to step outside their comfort zone. The members of the Beach Reads Book Club are awesome! A group of women who are both fun and funny in their love of literature and life.

‘Seeing the look on their faces, the excitement, the delight when they’d only been talking about books… it had made her wonder if she’d been missing out. Then she’d read one of their recommendations. After that, she’d been hooked, going on to devour all the books she could get her hands on.’

This leads me to two key points. One, I stand and applaud the theme of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ - literally! Beach reads, chick lit … call it what you will, however, these books, seemingly light and frivolous, often contain so much more …

‘Real guys don’t walk around with roses between their teeth,’ her brother had mocked. ‘And life isn’t full of sappy endings.’ ‘If you think that’s what romance books are all about, you’ve clearly never read one,’ her mum had countered.‘They’re about hope, about joy. About handling adversity and coming through the other side stronger. Yes, they’re also about love, the most powerful emotion you’ll ever experience.’

Secondly, I also wish to highlight the books read at the club and how these titles often reflected and coincided with the events of the story itself. A clever way to highlight a theme but also to note once more, how these ‘beach reads’ often have more substance than at first glance. 

‘… books that take us on holiday.’ Gira, the quieter of the two women, looked at them both. ‘I don’t mean they have to be about beaches, but they take you out of your head. Transport you to another world for a while.’

This was such a fun rom-com with a cast of lovable characters and a gorgeous love story! For some heartwarming escapism you really cannot pass it up. 

‘To the Beach Reads Book Club and all who join it … it’s about bringing the joy of books to all readers, no matter what their tastes.’

Visit Helen @ Great Reads & Tea Leaves

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Review: Madam

Title: Madam
Author: Phoebe Wynne 

Publisher: 1th May 2021 by Hachette Australia

Pages: 435 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: mystery, gothic, thriller

My Rating: 4 crowns


For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.

Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be.

But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late.

My Thoughts

If the speculative fiction of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ intrigues you, then Phoebe Wynne’s debut novel is something you may be interested in. Set in a remote Scotlish peninsula on cliff tops high above the sea, the scene is well and truly set for a gothic style mystery.

‘This place is all about traditions, honour, rules .... which means what? Turning a blind eye when things go wrong?'

Caldonbrae Hall, a prestigious girls boarding school with a long history of tradition, has just hired a new teacher which had not happened for a decade. Whilst excited to be honoured with such a position as the new Head of Classics, it does not take long for Rose to realise all is not what it seems. Phoebe provides puzzle pieces, slowly revealing and inviting her readers to start putting them together to reveal the truth behind the closed doors of Caldonbrae Hall.

The setting is, of course, perfect for the unfolding thriller - the Scottish wilds - with tumultuous storms and even the historic Hall itself lending to the vibe with secret passageways and winding hallways. I found the inclusion of Greek mythology through Rose’s position as Classics teacher to be clever. It enriches the story with excerpts from the Classics - strong women such as Medusa and Boudicca - and how they cleverly can reflect and inspire the present day events.

‘Classics is more than language - more than history, literature and society. It's an entire culture and philosophy, a civilisation that we still continue to imitate today, without even realising it.' She faced him properly. 'It's the study of people. And sometimes, I understand the Greek and Roman civilisations more than I do our own.’

Although the story takes place in the 1990s, due to the remote location and way the school is run, it feels like it should be from a different era. Yet, I guess that is what the author was after - a place that possibly stopped in time? Although I wished for some characters to be developed further, it really is an impressive debut that will keep you guessing as to how events will ultimately unfold. Embrace both the gothic and thrilling premise of what could possibly be going on behind elitist closed doors. 

‘Sometimes as women, we have to rescue ourselves, instead of expecting someone else to.' Rose sat forward. She realised she felt bolder with the storm still in her skin. That's the best thing a woman can do - learn how to rescue herself, without the need of a man; without the need of anyone.’        


This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.