Poisoned by Jennifer Donnelly

Today I’m sharing my review for this new book being published by Hot Key Books today. I received my copy via Readers First after reading the opening chapters and requesting a copy.


From Jennifer Donnelly, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Stepsister, comes a fairytale retelling that’ll forever change the way you think about strength, power, and the real meaning of “happily ever after.”
Once upon a time, a girl named Sophie rode into the forest with the queen’s huntsman. Her lips were the color of ripe cherries, her skin as soft as new-fallen snow, her hair as dark as midnight. When they stopped to rest, the huntsman took out his knife . . . and took Sophie’s heart. 

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise. Sophie had heard the rumors, the whispers. They said she was too kind and foolish to rule — a waste of a princess. A disaster of a future queen. And Sophie believed them. She believed everything she’d heard about herself, the poisonous words people use to keep girls like Sophie from becoming too powerful, too strong . . .

With the help of seven mysterious strangers, Sophie manages to survive. But when she realizes that the jealous queen might not be to blame, Sophie must find the courage to face an even more terrifying enemy, proving that even the darkest magic can’t extinguish the fire burning inside every girl, and that kindness is the ultimate form of strength. 

My thoughts:

This is my first novel by Jennifer Donnelly and I have to say that I was very impressed. This is a modern version of Snow White and personally I believe that it is the best version I have read. I enjoyed watching Once Upon a Time on TV over the past decade and this would make a great film or TV show too.

Sophie has been bullied to believe that a Queen cannot be kind or to care about other people and finds herself facing death. However the kindness of strangers at her time of need, and the repayment for her own kindness from the past, mean that Sophie may be stronger than she thinks when facing her enemies.

A great retelling full of dark magic, a poisoned apple, a handsome prince, an archer and an evil stepmother with a reminder about how to seize your own happy ever after.

Christmas at Lock Keeper’s Cottage by Lucy Coleman

I’m pleased to be sharing my review for the latest book by Lucy Coleman. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that that I reviewed A Summer in Provence by Lucy in April and June 2020 (can be read at https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/06/27/summer-in-provence-by-lucy-coleman/). Thank you to Rachel of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to join the blog tour and to Boldwood Books for a digital proof copy of the book.


Imogen Tolliman never knew her mother. And when an accident robs Immi of her father too, she goes to live with her grandfather, Tollie, in his picturesque lock-keeper’s cottage by the Aysbury marina. 

Tollie is the star of the Santa Ahoy Special each Christmas – a festive boat ride along the canal that enthralls both children and adults alike. And as Immi grows up, she starts to appreciate the magical community she is lucky enough to live in. 

When Immi meets Gray Adams, she instantly realises he’s someone special. And as their relationship gets serious, they start to plan for the Christmas to beat all Christmases. 

But as the day approaches, and the romantic snow showers turn into blizzards, their dream of a Christmas to remember, looks set to be one they’ll never forget – for all the wrong reasons. Can they salvage the festivities, or will old secrets that are finally uncovered turn Immi’s life upside down forever?

Let Lucy Coleman transport you away to a dreamy Cotswolds Christmas full of snowflakes and secretslog fires, mistletoe, friends and much-loved traditions. Perfect for all fans of Trisha Ashley, Holly Martin and Sue Moorcroft.

My thoughts:

This is my first Christmas themed book to read and review in 2020. The setting sounded lovely – a rural area, with a marina and a community that takes care of friends and family.

My favourite parts of the book included the Santa Ahoy cruises – as my own children are teenagers now, I miss the magic of the young people when they believe in Santa, and Immi battling with a huge turkey, trying to fit it into her fridge, plus all the other Christmas food.

Immi and Gray are looking forward to spending Christmas together, after a year of changes. The story introduces us to their friends and families as the countdown to Christmas begins. Immi wants to create a perfect Christmas Day but events conspire to change everything. She also has secrets to discover which may alter everything.

This isn’t a ‘light and fluffy’ Christmas book, it is about a young woman trying to find happiness for herself whilst putting others first. A thoughtful and well written story, and a different feel to A Summer in Provence.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3fGdGvu

Author Bio:

Lucy Coleman is a #1 bestselling romance writer, whose recent novels include Snowflakes over Holly Cove. She also writes under the name Linn B. Halton. She won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award and lives in the Welsh Valleys.

Social Media Links – 






August 2020 round up

Read 20 books this month with 1 more on the go at the moment.

The photo is of my favourite four books, two were reviewed on my blog during August and two more will be on the blog later this week. All four were 5 star reads for different reasons.

Lots more books to read and review this month. Happy reading.

Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett @HarriSpringbett @impress_books @lovebooksgroup #CoverReveal

Today I’m helping share the gorgeous cover of Tree Magic by Harriet Springbett.


Thirteen-year-old Rainbow discovers she can communicate with trees.

But that’s just the beginning. Her magic hands can shape trees at her will, but her gift is dangerous and has fatal consequences. An accident that leaves Rainbow unconscious leads her mother to make a confession that will change Rainbow’s life forever. Are her abilities a gift or a curse? Can Rainbow really trust her mother? From England to France, through secrets, fears and parallel worlds, Rainbow’s journey to understand her powers takes her beyond everything she’s ever known.

To find the truth, she must also find herself.

Author Bio

Harriet Springbett’s childhood on a small farm in West Dorset gave her an early exposure to nature, which continues to inspire her writing.

She qualified as an engineer but, during a Raleigh International expedition in Chile, she realised she preferred words to numbers. She abandoned her profession, moved to France, studied French and then worked as a project manager, feature writer, translator and TEFL teacher. She now lives in Poitou-Charentes with her French partner and their teenage children.

Since her first literary success, aged 10, her short stories and poetry have been published in literary journals and placed in writing competitions, including a shortlisting in the 2017 Bath Short Story Award.

Harriet leads writing workshops, has judged the Segora international short story competition and blogs at https://harrietspringbett.wordpress.com

Buy Link 

Celebrating two years with Jake – our adopted dog

Today I’m taking a break from posting about books so I can catch up on writing reviews for all the amazing books I’ve read recently.

However, it came to my attention, that our gorgeous rescue dog Jake adopted us two years ago. He is now 8.5 years old, and loved visiting Dobbies at Cirencester this morning (he loves going out in the car and wasn’t impressed by lockdown either, as he is a dog who loves meeting humans).

We adopted Jake from SNDogs who are based in Swindon, after a recommendation from a work colleague. There are many other dog rescue charities across the UK (and the world) who are looking to rehome dogs, who can longer be looked after by their original owners.

Jake had obviously been much loved but the owners were now no longer able to offer the care he needed (he was very matted when he arrived and had to have a drastic haircut).

He has brightened up our lives and certainly helped us during lockdown, although I think he is keen for the youngest teenager to go back to school and give him peaceful daytimes. He is now my profile picture for my Bookstagram page KarenKisreading on Instagram too.

My daughter drew this for Mothers Day 2020.

Hector: At Ground Level by Gary Finnan #BookBlitz

This Little Book is about being present to the wonders that exist around us At Ground Level, discovering all that we fail to see when we spend so much of our lives chasing bigger, better, faster, more, endeavouring to fly higher.

Everything else seems much more desirable around us than ourselves, or our lives and loves, after a long day at the slug farm.

When do we decide how to proceed with the life we have built thus far: Joy, Passion,

Marriage, Divorce, Suicide, Enlightenment? Choices we have made. What if you built from a place of strength rather than always feeling diminished and unfulfilled? A life built upon the life you have, rather than the elusive life you imagine, yet fear. Build a great life in balance with your best self and your nurtured relationships. Transformation is seeing the hidden gems that truly exist in plain sight.

We have all heard someone say, The grass is greener on the other side. Is it?

Most of us were 4 or 5 years old when the belief structure we made with life set in: I

am stupid, I am weak, I don’t deserve, etc. We engaged believing that we should spend

our lives proving that we are who we believe everyone else thinks we are. Breaking the

cycle of doubt is essential. Loving self is the first love.

The grass is greenest where you are!

Author Bio

Born in Scotland and raised in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Gary Finnan splits his time between Sonoma Wine country in California and his farm in Aiken South Carolina, along with his wife Eva and two daughters. Gary is an award-winning inspirational author. 

Buy Link 


Expectation by Anna Hope

I’m happy to be sharing my review for Expectation by Anna Hope today on my blog. Thank you to Alison Barrow of Penguin Random House UK for a copy of the paperback book. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.


Hannah, Cate and Lissa are young, vibrant and inseparable. Living on the edge of a common in East London, their shared world is ablaze with art and activism, romance and revelry – and the promise of everything to come. They are electric. They are the best of friends.

Ten years on, they are not where they hoped to be. Amidst flailing careers and faltering marriages, each hungers for what the others have. And each wrestles with the same question: what does it take to lead a meaningful life?

EXPECTATION is a novel of the highs and lows of friendship – how it can dip, dive and rise again. It is also about finding your way: as a mother, a daughter, a wife, a rebel. Most of all, it explores that liminal space between expectation and reality, the place – full of dreams, desires and pain – in which we all live our lives. 

My thoughts:

As a woman, a mother, a daughter and a wife this book certainly did resonate with me. The dreams and aspirations we have as we finish our school exams, leave University, start our first jobs, fall in love, agree to marry someone, and/or conceive a child all change over time – sometimes we achieve our original dream but often we take subtle diversions, which may or may not lead back to the original dream.

In this day of social media, we often see the high points in other peoples lives – we don’t see that the singleton out partying is actually lonely, that the new mother is struggling with sleep deprivation and that the career woman would give it up at the drop of a hat to be a mother. As the saying goes “the grass isn’t always greener on the other side” but still so many of us dream of changing something without realising how lucky we are to have what we already have.

Anna Hope has captured the modern life of many women in the UK perfectly. Her writing brings the characters of Hannah, Cate and Lissa to life. All three have flaws and face challenges, especially as their friendship is challenged by some major challenges and betrayals.

At times the book made me feel uncomfortable, would friends really betray each other in this way. However, the writing made it all too believable. My daughter is almost 15 and developing into a young woman. I will be putting my copy of the book aside for her to read when she becomes a woman and heads out into the world, full of her own hopes and dreams.

Anna Hope:

ANNA HOPE studied at Oxford University and RADA. She is the internationally prizewinning and bestselling author of Wake and The Ballroom. Her contemporary fiction debut, Expectation, explores themes of love, lust, motherhood, and feminism, while asking the greater question of what defines a generation. She lives in Sussex with her husband and young daughter.

An Almost Perfect Holiday by Lucy Diamond

As we head into the summer of 2020, many of us have already waved goodbye to our plans for a summer holiday – I know that I won’t be relaxing by a pool in Spain or fossil hunting in Lyme Regis anytime soon. However we can still enjoy a virtual visit to Cornwall with this fabulous novel by Lucy Diamond, published in paperback in the UK today. I’m looking forward to picking up a paperback copy to add to my Lucy Diamond collection.


Summer is here, and down in Cornwall Lorna’s holiday cottages are fully booked. The sun loungers are lined up beside the swimming pool, the sky is blue and a new set of arrivals are on their way…

Em’s planned the perfect break with her teenagers plus her new boyfriend, George… but now his difficult six-year-old is coming too. Will their romance survive the realities of parenthood?

Maggie’s hoping a seaside holiday will bring her and her daughter closer together, but when her ex makes a surprise reappearance, it changes everything. Can she trust the man who broke her heart?

Olivia has escaped the domestic grind, only for the past to catch up with her. Maybe the time has come to confess all – if she can find the courage…

Meanwhile, the teenagers are running wild and love is in the air. With friendship, heartache and secrets in the mix, will this holiday turn out to be a scorcher – or simply too hot to handle?

My thoughts:

I have read the majority of the Lucy Diamond novels (I usually take the latest paperback on holiday) and this is one of my favourites. It is a well written book with characters brought to life in such a way that you feel as if you know them personally.

The four main female characters all have various forms of ‘baggage’ – loss of loved ones, ex husbands, new relationships, extreme tiredness etc. They spend a week in Cornwall at Lorna’s holiday cottages and their lives will never be the same again. I loved the way the individual stories evolved and became woven together.

Thanks to Pan Macmillan for a digital proof copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own.

Lucy Diamond (from Amazon.com)

Lucy Diamond grew up in Nottingham and went to university in Leeds where she studied English Literature. After graduating, she worked in publishing and at the BBC, and in her spare time she began writing children’s books under a number of different pen names. 

Two small children later, an evening class in creative writing motivated her to try a longer piece of fiction and explore some of her own feelings about motherhood. This eventually became a novel, Any Way You Want Me, and she was thrilled when Pan Macmillan made her an offer of publication.

Now the author of fourteen novels and a Sunday Times bestselling author, Lucy writes with warmth and honesty about the joy and surprises, as well as the complications, that love, family and friendships can bring.

Lucy now lives in Bath with her husband and three children and writes full-time.  

Her website is http://www.lucydiamond.co.uk

She is on Twitter @LDiamondAuthor, and has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/LucyDiamondAuthor.

You Me Everything by Catherine Isaac

Thrilled to share a mini review for a book read from my Kindle after too long in my TBR pile.


Jess and her ten-year-old son William set off to spend the summer at Château de Roussignol, deep in the rich, sunlit hills of the Dordogne. There, Jess’s ex-boyfriend and William’s father, Adam, runs a beautiful hotel in a restored castle. Jess is bowled over by what Adam has accomplished, but she’s in France for a much more urgent reason: to make Adam connect with his own son. Jess can’t allow Adam to let their son down because she is tormented by a secret of her own, one that nobody – especially William – must discover.

By turns life-affirming, heart-wrenching and joyful, You Me Everything is a novel about one woman’s fierce determination to grab hold of the family she has and never let go, and a romantic story as heady as a crisp Sancerre on a summer day.

My thoughts:

After reading my first Catherine Isaac book a couple of months ago (Messy Wonderful Us), I finally got around to reading this book which has been sat on my Kindle for quite a few months.

This book is a voyage of discovery for Jess who travels to France with her son William, to spend a summer holiday with her ex/his dad, Adam. The story covers topics such as friendships, illness, addiction, keeping secrets and lack of communication, but overall is an uplifting read about the importance of love.

The majority of the story is set in France, at Adam’s holiday resort. As this is the nearest I will have to travelling there this year during the worldwide lockdown, the descriptions of the places to visit and the food, were much appreciated. This was the perfect book to read in a sunny back garden on a bank holiday weekend.

I must admit that Messy Wonderful Us is still my favourite book by Catherine Isaac, but this is a very close second.

To see my review of Messy Wonderful Us visit https://mentoringmumof2bookreviews.home.blog/2020/03/29/bookreview-messy-wonderful-us-by-catherine-isaac/

View all my reviews