Monday 15 February 2021

Reading Round Up 2021 #7

 Hey there book readers. 

How are you getting on with your reading goals so far this year? 

The one thing I will say for lockdown is that it is doing wonders for my tbr lists both at home and online. Im a third of the way towards my own reading target, also helped by the fact that I don't sleep very well so more hours for reading.

Reading is a great way for me to calm down and de-stress, do you find that aids you in the same way? 

And I must apologise as my large amount of book reading means that this post is going to be a bit of a long one ...

The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne by Jonathon Stroud 4 out of 5 stars

Set in a fragmented future England, The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne introduces us to a world where gunfights and monsters collide, and where the formidable outlaw Scarlett McCain fights daily against the odds. When she discovers a wrecked coach on a lonely road, there is only one survivor – the seemingly hapless youth, Albert Browne. Against her instincts, Scarlett agrees to escort him to safety. This is a mistake. Soon, new and implacable enemies are on her heels. As a relentless pursuit continues across the broken landscape of England, Scarlett must fight to uncover the secrets of Albert’s past – and come to terms with the implications of her own.

In his first new project since Lockwood & Co., Jonathan once again fuses action, humour and mystery to create a uniquely exciting adventure with two fascinating heroes at its heart.


Having never read anything from Stroud before, I went into this book with no expectations whatsoever. I'm pleased to say that the story lived up to its blurb and the fantastic front cover that accompanied it.

The Outlaws Scarlett and Browne, which is the first book in a new series, is set in a dystopian version of Britain.

We are introduced to a young outlaw and bank robber, by the name of Scarlett McCain, and when she discovers what looks like an abandoned, wrecked bus, she happens to find inside it, the mysterious Albert Browne.

This duo - who I absolutely love together head off on an adventurous, hunted by enemies, they go on a somewhat perilous journey through a now broken down England, all the while in search of a glimpse of safety.

I really enjoyed this, I found the concept quite new and exciting. 

As I said I loved Scarlett and Albert together, brilliant characters, and I'm excited to see how they develop as the series progresses.

My only complaint was that the book was a tad long. I understand why as he was setting the tone for the books that are to come, it just meant for me that in places it wasn't as well paced as it could have been.

For the majority of the book it was fast and edgy with a good bit of conversation thrown in.

Fans of YA novels will definitely be intrigued by this tale, especially with the dystopian themes running throughout it.

Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch 5 out of 5 stars

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is go back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires her, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.


I read this whilst staring out at the snow falling outside of my window.

This story made me dream of summer, of holidays in the sun.

It was the perfect blend of friendship, love and drama.

Lina's life changes in an instant when her mum sadly passes away from pancreatic cancer and in those last moments she finds out that the father she's never met is living in Italy and her mum's last wishes were that she travel to where he resides, to go and experience a different part of the world.

A fairly simple tale but it's well told so remains engaging from start to finish.

Looking at differing family dynamics and the fact that sometimes families we need aren't necessarily the ones we are born to.

Love & Gelato is a quick read that will leave you with a real feeling of happiness when you reach the end.

No More Words by Kerry Lonsdale 5 out of 5 stars

Forced to choose between abortion or adoption, Olivia Carson’s younger sister, Lily, runs away from home. Sixteen and pregnant, she never returns. But she writes. Once a year, Lily mails a picture of her son, Josh, to Olivia until his thirteenth year. Then it’s Josh himself who arrives at Olivia’s house, alone, terrified, and in possession of a notarized declaration from Lily. It begins, “In the event I go missing…”

Josh has difficulty talking. He can’t read or write, but he’s a prolific artist, exhibiting skill beyond his age. His drawings are as detailed as they are horrific. Olivia soon realizes Josh’s artwork tells a story. There’s more to his arrival and to Lily’s untimely disappearance than it seems. Using the drawings as a road map, Olivia traces Josh’s path back to his mom. Each drawing sheds light on Lily’s past and reveals a darkness that forces Olivia to question everything she thought she knew about her family. 


All the stars to the first book in a new trilogy.

I have to admit when reading, I didn't know it was going to be part of a series but I'm so pleased that it is. No More Words is a tale of a broken, dysfunctional family that is (without them truly knowing) on the edge of complete and utter ruin.

Three siblings who were once close, torn apart by lies, secrets and jealousy.

An unplanned pregnancy, a stint in jail and cheating boyfriends, not to mention a murder. These are children that have been through (and continue to go through) a lot so it is no wonder that they have trust issues in amongst all of the other problems that they are dealing with.

Now I feel this is hard one to review as I don't want to give too much away.

It is told primarily from one point of view Olivia - who is the eldest - we get taken on a journey through past and present, starting with the summer of 95, to show what led up to such heartbreak for the Carson children.

It is clear with each chapter that Kerry really knows what she's doing. The raw emotion and depth which each character experiences pulses through the pages.

There are multiple layers to this tale, mystery and romance combined, every person with their own arc, a story to tell, this gave the book a well rounded feeling. There are a few lose threads but that keeps us wanting the next book (ASAP please).

What No More Words showed me was that although we may. make mistakes, experience regrets and enormous feelings of guilt along our life's journey, what matters is that we continue to live and learn. Don't let the past define you instead let it give you the strength to keep moving forward.

Amongst the sadness and turmoil there are moments of joy and adoration. I cannot wait to see more from this family.

Chasing the Italian Dream by Jo Thomas 5 out of 5 stars

A summer escape she'll never forget . . .

Lucia has worked hard as a lawyer in Wales, aiming for a big promotion she hopes will shortly come her way. Finally taking a well-earned break at her grandparents' house in southern Italy, the sunshine, lemon trees and her nonna's mouth-watering cooking make her instantly feel at home.

But she's shocked to learn that her grandfather is retiring from the beloved family pizzeria and will need to sell. Lucia can't bear the thought of the place changing hands - especially when she discovers her not-quite-ex-husband Giacomo wants to take it over!

Then bad news from home forces Lucia to re-evaluate what she wants from life. Is this her chance to carry on the family tradition and finally follow her dreams?


 I just love Jo Thomas

All of her books (including this one) just have a way of making me feel good when I read them. That satisfied feeling instead of a huge book hangover.

Set in Italy - making me long for the summer - we follow Luce as she goes to visit her grandparents, a chance to relax after working so hard to gain a promotion at the law firm where she works in the UK.

But when plans go wrong she is forced to reassess and perhaps take a chance or two to make her dreams a reality.

With a great mix of love and friendship as well as a brilliantly entertaining supporting cast, I challenge you to not fall in love with Jo's latest novel. My favourite character had to be Nonna, clever, sneaky and a little bit feisty. the Italian in her really shone.

Chasing the Italian Dream is the perfect escape for these times where we can't step away from our own realities.

Mother by Laura Jarratt 4 out of 5 stars

Two Girls. One Chance.

When Lizzie's car crashes with her two daughters inside, she faces a terrible choice. And when she recovers from her injuries, she has to deal with the impact of that tragedy as well as the police investigation into it.

As Lizzie and her family struggle to come to terms with the events of that night, things take an even darker turn. Just what did happen on that remote country road? Who is responsible? And can the family get through this together...Or will the truth finally tear them apart?


I was immediately impressed with Laura's style of writing.

The tension gradually building. Pieces of information missing. We aren't initially aware of which daughter survived and beyond that, Lizzie's reasons for the choice that she made. It's all very heartbreaking, I just kept imagining how I'd feel if faced with the same situation.

How can you decide such a fate for somebody?

The fallout from that impossible choice seems inevitable.

Grief leads people to do and say things that they don't mean. Survivor's guilt for the chosen daughter. Overwhelming sorrow for the mother who had to choose, seeing her daughter, forever reminded of the decision she made. Then there's the husband who also feels deep sadness but is trying to be strong for his family

Beyond this horrific event, something more sinister lurks in the background.There are plenty of twists within this story as well as various elements, it isn't all about the crash, instead those smaller events that led up to that horrid choice.

This is an emotional read.

Chain of Gold by Cassandra Clare 5 out of 5 stars

Cordelia Carstairs is a Shadowhunter, a warrior trained since childhood to battle demons. When her father is accused of a terrible crime, she and her brother travel to London in hopes of preventing the family’s ruin. Cordelia’s mother wants to marry her off, but Cordelia is determined to be a hero rather than a bride. Soon Cordelia encounters childhood friends James and Lucie Herondale and is drawn into their world of glittering ballrooms, secret assignations, and supernatural salons, where vampires and warlocks mingle with mermaids and magicians. All the while, she must hide her secret love for James, who is sworn to marry someone else.

But Cordelia’s new life is blown apart when a shocking series of demon attacks devastate London. These monsters are nothing like those Shadowhunters have fought before—these demons walk in daylight, strike down the unwary with incurable poison, and seem impossible to kill. London is immediately quarantined. Trapped in the city, Cordelia and her friends discover that their own connection to a dark legacy has gifted them with incredible powers—and forced a brutal choice that will reveal the true cruel price of being a hero.


I adore all of the shadowhunter books and Chain of Gold is just as good as the rest.

Cassandra has very cleverly weaved a world that no matter how many spin offs she writes, they are all just as thrilling, and interconnected with such skill.

When there are mentions of cameos of previous characters (Magnus Bane) I find myself fangirling.

Cannot wait to read Chain of Iron now!

The latest book to find its way to my lap is Kololo Hill, what books have you had the pleasure of reading lately? 

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