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.

Synopsis:

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.

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.

Synopsis:

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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A Map of the Damage Sophia Tobin



I’m thrilled to share my review for one of my favourite time slip historical fiction books. Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK for a stunning paperback copy – my thoughts are my own and are not influenced by the gift. A Map of the Damage was published in paperback in April 2020.

Synopsis:

London, 1941. Livy makes her way through Blitz-torn London to the Mirrormakers’ Club, the only place that makes her feels safe, where she finds herself drawn into the mystery of a missing diamond, and torn between two men with competing claims on her.
 
London, 1841Charlotte is helped from the scene of an accident by a man who shows her a building he is working on, and whose kindness unlocks a hope she has long kept buried. But that man is not her husband.
 
Two women, a century apart, united by one place: the Mirrormakers’ Club. A building which holds echoes of past loves and hates, and hides the darkest of secrets in its foundations.

My thoughts:

This is the first book written by Sophia Tobin that I have read. I loved studying history in school and enjoy reading historical fiction. I believe that Sophia Tobin has captured the feel of the Blitz in this book – how lives were changed in a split second during the bombings and how people fought to save historical buildings, often putting their own lives at risk to do so. Livy has lost her memory after a near death experience and finds herself helping at the Mirrormakers’ Club where she once worked.

A century earlier, Charlotte, in Victorian England, is helped at the scene of an accident by the architect of the Mirrormakers’ Club. This chance encounter leads to a set of events which will change the course of history for both Charlotte and Livy.

This book had me hooked very quickly, I genuinely didn’t want to put it down. So many mysteries to be uncovered, so many secrets had been kept and there is one building full of clues to both stories. I loved the storytelling and historical details – this is so beautifully written that it was easy to feel that you were actually on the roof of the Club in the middle of an air raid or being waited on in the salon de printemps at Redlands.

If you enjoy historical fiction /romantic fiction/ mysteries, then please read a copy of A Map of the Damage. If you have read other books by Sophia Tobin, I would love to hear your thoughts – I’ve added them to my wish list.

Sophia Tobin:

Sophia Tobin was raised in Kent. She has studied History and History of Art, and worked for a Bond Street antique dealer for six years, specialising in silver and jewellery. She currently works in a library and archive. Inspired by her research into a real eighteenth-century silversmith, Tobin began to write The Silversmith’s Wife, which was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize.  It was published by Simon & Schuster in 2014. Her second novel, The Widow’s Confession, was published in 2015, and her third, The Vanishing, in 2017. 


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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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