All About Us by Tom Ellen

Today I’m pleased to be starting a new month by sharing my review for this gorgeous new book by Tom Ellen, published recently in ebook format. It will be published in paperback on October 15th in the UK by HQ, who kindly sent me a digital proof copy via NetGalley in return for an honest review.


If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?

Ben usually loves the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?

He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

Two loves. Two lives. One destiny…

My thoughts:

I loved this romance/time travel story and I’m gutted that I had left it on my NetGalley shelf for so long (NetGalley had it down as an October 2020 publication date).

As the synopsis states, Ben is wondering what would have happened if he hadn’t got involved with his wife Daphne and had romantically pursued his University Halls neighbour, Alice. This book mixes up Sliding Doors, Doctor Who and A Christmas Carol to provide the reader with a great story, so many ‘what if’ moments and a dose of magic.

I started this book one evening and found myself unwilling to put it down, despite the long list of jobs on my to do list. This is one of a small handful of books I’ve read this year that has been written with a male main character and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I also enjoyed the fact that Ben talks about having a lots of ‘mardy’ books on his bookshelf (to try to appear cool). As a Sheffield born lass now living in Wiltshire, when you tell someone they need to stop being mardy, they don’t understand you.

A great story with believable characters, where Ben gets chance to visit certain key dates in his life and starts to realise what is important to him. I have seen lots of great reviews for this book, and I’m happy to add my own 5 star rating – definitely one of my favourite books of 2020. I look forward to reading more books by Tom Ellen in the future.

Tom Ellen:

Tom is an author and journalist from London, England. He is the co-writer of three critically acclaimed Young Adult novels: LOBSTERS (which was shortlisted for The Bookseller’s inaugural YA Book Prize), NEVER EVERS and FRESHERS. His solo adult debut novel is the romantic comedy ALL ABOUT US (HQ/HarperCollins, published October 2020). His books have been widely translated and are published in 20 countries. He is a regular contributor to Viz magazine, and has also written for Cosmopolitan, Empire, Evening Standard Magazine, The Daily Mash, Glamour, NME, ESPN, ShortList, Time Out London, Vice, Stylist and many more.

Love and Pollination by Mari Jane Law

Today I’m sharing my review for Love and Pollination by Mari Jane Law. Thank you to the author and Du Bois Publishing for a paperback copy of the book in return for an honest review.


Perdita Riley is facing the greatest dilemma of her life. 

Why had she taken Violet Freestone’s advice on how to make herself look more alluring? It led her into the arms of a womaniser. And now Perdita has to deal with a huge setback. Actually, Setback Number One isn’t huge yet, but it won’t be long before it is. To cheer herself up, Perdita goes shopping, where an extraordinary encounter deposits her, literally, into the lap of Saul Hadley. She would like to stay there, but Setback Number One is going to get in the way.

Will she find a way to deal with what has happened? Can she manage the complications of her growing attraction to Saul?

This hilarious situational romantic comedy will keep you gripped until the very end.

My thoughts:

Firstly, I loved the cover design – it is beautiful and fits the story title perfectly.

This is the story of Perdita, an orphan who grew up around Catholic nuns, who a degree in maths and is a financial advisor, but who has no experience of intimate relationships. After her losing her virginity and becoming pregnant in the same evening, quickly followed by leaving her job due to having high moral standards, Perdita is persuaded to help look after an elderly client, Violet, who was left out of pocket after following Perdita’s financial advice (after lying about her assets) .

However, Violet is not the ‘victim’ her nephew Saul believes her to be, and is quietly trying to pair Saul and Perdita together. However, the course of true love is never easy and there are lots of mishaps and misunderstandings along the way.

It is a light hearted book, with some laugh out loud moments. Personally, it was slightly too quirky for me, but I know that a lot of people will enjoy the quirkiness.

Author Bio:

Mari Jane Law lives in the UK. She loves books, TV series and films that make her laugh and, through her writing, discovered she could make other people laugh as well. She hopes those who buy or borrow her work have as much fun reading it as she had in writing it!

Love & Pollination is the first in a series of whacky romantic comedy novels she is working on. Her characters appeal so strongly to her that she is unable to let them go – hence the series. She enjoys their humorous behaviour, quirky personalities and sharp, witty dialogue.

She was very pleased to have been shortlisted for Choc Lit’s 2019 Search for a Star competition.

Member of The Romantic Novelists’ Association and Cambridge Writers.  


The Back Up Plan by Elsie McArthur

Thank you to Elsie McArthur for a copy of her debut novel – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This is a 4.5 star read for me.


That’s the question for thirty-something Marsaili McKenzie. Ten years after fleeing her tiny coastal village for dreams of fame and fortune in the big city, she finds herself on the brink of an existential crisis. Far from being the star actress she once imagined, she’s still working as a barmaid in a Glasgow theatre while all around her, her friends and family are getting engaged, pregnant or promoted. 

It’s all she can do to keep her head above water. But as a new year approaches, she resolves to give her acting dreams one last shot. That is, until a couple of unexpected distractions arrive on the scene. 

Will Hunter is undeniably handsome, as well as being aloof, socially awkward, posh and in the middle of a nasty divorce. And to make things even more complicated, he’s also her new boss. 

Local boy made good, soap star Euan Campbell, is the epitome of a charismatic leading man. His easy-going charm soon sweeps Marsaili off her feet, but is there more to him than meets the eye? 

To top it all off, Marsaili finds herself inexplicably drawn back to the simple, rural life she used to loathe. Can she finally figure out which dreams are worth pursuing, and would it really be so bad to resort to her back up career after all? 

Join Marsaili as she navigates the choppy seas of love, family, friendship and self-discovery. This heart-warming novel is full of romance, laughter and more than enough drama to keep you on the edge of your seat!

My thoughts:

Firstly, I need to mention the stunning cover which fits the story perfectly (although I may be biased because my daughter is a redhead too). As someone who lives in landlocked Wiltshire in the middle of the global pandemic, a glimpse of the sea was much appreciated.

Marsaili (rhymes with parsley) grew up in rural Scotland with a loving family but is living and working in Glasgow looking for a dream acting role. This book follows how her life starts to change after meeting her baby niece for the first time. There are some great comic moments, some romantic opportunities and plenty of drama, not just on the stage of the theatre.

I enjoyed the writing style of the story, full of detail to transport the reader to the theatre, a train, a wedding or a restaurant. The characters quickly became real and the story flowed over the pages. I was able to read the book over a quiet day at the weekend.

I love how Marsaili enjoys helping at her friend Isla’s Primary School – nice to see a positive story about helping/working in a school.

If you enjoy reading books about family, friendship and romance, and would like a virtual visit to Scotland, then please read a copy of the Back Up Plan. I’m looking forward to reading Elsie’s next book, which is released later this year.

Elsie McArthur:

Elsie McArthur is an independent author of women’s fiction. After studying law at university, and then re-training as a primary school teacher, she now lives in the Highlands of Scotland with her husband, two kids, a couple of badly behaved dogs and a cat with a superiority complex. As well as continuing to work part time as a teacher, she is now indulging in her first love of writing. Her first book, ‘The Back Up Plan’, was released in January 2020. Her second novel, ‘Love, on the Rocks’ – a tale of love, loss and starting over set on the remote Scottish island of Inniscreag – is due for release in Summer 2020.

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#BookReview Mum and Dad by Joanna Trollope

‘What a mess, she thought now . . . what a bloody, unholy mess the whole family has got itself into.’

It’s been twenty-five years since Gus and Monica left England to start a new life in Spain, building a vineyard and wine business from the ground up. However, when Gus suffers a stroke and their idyllic Mediterranean life is thrown into upheaval, it’s left to their three grown-up children in London to step in . . .

Sebastian is busy running his company with his wife, Anna, who’s never quite seen eye-to-eye with her mother-in-law. 

Katie, a successful solicitor in the City, is distracted by the problems with her long-term partner, Nic, and the secretive lives of their three daughters. 

And Jake, ever the easy-going optimist, is determined to convince his new wife, Bella, that moving to Spain with their eighteen-month-old would be a good idea.

As the children descend on the vineyard, it becomes clear that each has their own idea of how best to handle their mum and dad, as well as the family business. But as long-simmering resentments rise to the surface and tensions reach breaking point, can the family ties prove strong enough to keep them together?

My thoughts:

Thank you to Pan MacMillan for a digital review copy of this book – my thoughts are my own.

This is the first Joanna Trollope book I’ve read for quite a few years. The story revolves around a family – parents running a vineyard in Spain with 3 grown up children and seven grandchildren living back in the UK.

When Gus, the father and grandfather has a stroke out in Spain, the family dynamics start to change. The story looks at how the three siblings deal with the past (two had been sent to English boarding schools whilst the youngest grew up in Spain) and move forward with helping their parents. Monica, the mum and grandmother grew up in a very different era to her daughter and daughter-in-laws. The grandchildren vary in ages from party going teenagers to a toddling baby.

As a mum of two teenagers, with elderly parents living 160 miles away, I found the story interesting and enjoyable. There is a large amount of characters but no different to an episode of Cold Feet. The story evolves well, secrets are kept and discovered, old grievances are aired and new relationships are formed.

This book captures modern family life pre global pandemic and was an enjoyable read. Looking at other reviews, it does appear to have divided opinions but personally I enjoyed travelling backwards and forwards to Spain with the family.

#BookReview Out of the Blue (Meet Me at Pebble Beach #1) by Bella Osborne

Publisher comments:

This is the first part in a brand new four-part serial from Bella Osborne.

Regan is holding a winning lottery ticket.

Goodbye to the boyfriend who never had her back, and so long to the job she can’t stand!

Except it’s all a bit too good to be true…

When Regan gets pranked, she finds herself jobless, homeless and boyfriendless in one fell swoop.

Luckily her friendly seaside community provides a beacon of hope, proving to Regan that sometimes you really can rely on the kindness of others – and one local in particular, a handsome fireman called Charlie, helps Regan realise that this could be her chance for a fresh start. Armed with a list of ways to change her life, Regan decides it’s time to step out of her comfort zone. Because – as Charlie knows all too well – life is for living . . 

Publication date 2nd April 2020

My thoughts:

Thank you Avon Books, Bella Osborne and NetGalley for my digital review copy – my thoughts are my own.

This is the first book I’ve read by Bella Osborne and I was thrilled to be gifted a digital review copy after seeing great reviews.

I really enjoyed this first part to the Meet Me at Pebble Beach series – lots of humour but also some tough social issues such as homelessness. The character of Regan developed nicely and I’m looking forward to reading part 2 to find out what happens next.

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An Almost Perfect Holiday by Lucy Diamond (Publication 6/2/2020)

An Almost Perfect Holiday by Lucy Diamond

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The blurb:

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:

Another well written book by Lucy Diamond who brings her characters 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.

Thank you NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for a digital review copy in return for my honest thoughts.

The author, Lucy Diamond:

First of all, a confession. My name isn’t really Lucy Diamond at all, it’s Sue Mongredien. I’ve used a pen name because ‘Diamond’ is a lot easier to spell and pronounce than ‘Mongredien’ and also because I’ve written lots of children’s books too and wanted to keep the genres separate. (There is actually another Lucy Diamond on Amazon who writes religious children’s books. That isn’t me, though.)

I was born in 1970 and grew up in Nottingham. I read English at Leeds University then moved to London and worked for various publishers before I packed it all in to go travelling around the world for a year and a half. When I came back to the UK, I worked in publishing again, then moved to the BBC. I now live in Bath with my husband and three young children and divide my time between writing and looking after them.

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The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finally read after seeing many positive reviews on Readers First, Twitter and the Motherload Facebook page.

I’m happy to be able to say that I also enjoyed the book – great characters and story – didn’t want the story to end.

Enjoyed the way the story moved between following the two main characters Leon and Tiffy – it was a little slow to start with as we got to know the characters and their back stories but quickly became a don’t want to put down page turner.

Loved the idea of them leaving helpful notes and home cooked meals for each other – sounded much better than some of my experiences of sharing a house as a student. Certain events were definitely laugh out loud moments, especially the shower in the morning.

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THE Accidental LIFE SWAP by Jennifer Joyce (Publication 1/9/19)

The Accidental Life Swap

The Accidental Life Swap by Jennifer Joyce

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes one moment can change your life forever…
Rebecca Riley has always been a bit of a pushover. When her glamorous boss, Vanessa, asks her to jump, she doesn’t just ask how high… she asks if her boss would like her to grab a coffee on the way back down!

So whilst overseeing the renovation of Vanessa’s beautiful countryside home, the last thing Rebecca ever expected was to be mistaken for her boss – or that she would even consider going along with it! Far away from the bustling city and her boss’s demanding ways, could she pretend to be Vanessa and swap lives, just for a little while? 

My thoughts:-

A fun and quirky story where timid Rebecca gets mistaken for her forceful boss Vanessa and finds herself unable to correct the mistake – which leads to many comical events and situations.

I enjoyed the development of the characters (human and animal) and the story – a relaxing read for the summer holiday.

Thank you to NetGalley and HQ Digital for a digital ARC in return for an honest review.

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