Thursday, 26 May 2016

My Last Love Story - Falguni Kothari

I recently read My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari, just before it was released. I didn't really know what to expect before I started the book. The author was new to me, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Simeen's husband Nirvaan is dying and they are trying, along with their best friend Zayaan to make the most of the time that Nirvaan has got left and really live life. Nirvaan is asking Simeen to have a baby, something she doesn't really want to do. She also has history, both with Zayaan and something traumatic that happened when she was 18 and changed her relationship with Nirvaan and Zayaan. 

Over the course of the book, Simeen is forced to face her past, her future and her relationships. I really enjoyed the way that the three main characters developed over the course of the book and as we learnt more about them. It could have descended into sentimental mush, but fortunately that didn't happen. The three main leads are all interesting and complex characters and it's easy to find yourself rooting for them as the story unfolds.

I really enjoyed this book; check it out.

About the Book:
Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s, Me Before You, My Last Love Story is a heartbreakingly romantic tale about the complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong.

I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.

Love is meant to heal wounds.
Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin.
Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul. 

I love my husband, and he loves me.
But Nirvaan is dying.
I love my husband. I want to make him happy.
But he is asking for the impossible. 

I don’t want a baby.
I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan.
I don’t want another chance at another love story. 

Book Links:

My Review:

Read an Excerpt:

Dear Readers, thank you for coming along on the My Last Love Story Blog Tour. Here’s an excerpt to enjoy.


“Love is a dish best served naked.”
As a child, those oft-quoted words of my father would have me rolling my eyes and pretending to gag at what I’d imagined was my parents’ precursor to a certain physical act. 
At thirty, I’d long ago realized that getting naked wasn’t a euphemism for sex. 
Neither was love.
It wasn’t my father wording the meme just now but my husband. Nirvaan considered himself a great wit, a New Age philosopher. On the best of days, he was, much like Daddy had been. On the worst days, he was my tormentor. 
“What do you think, Dr. Archer? Interesting enough tagline for a vlog? What about ‘Baby in a Petri Dish’?” Nirvaan persisted in eliciting a response from the doctor and/or me for his ad hoc comedy, which we’d been ignoring for several minutes now.
I wanted to glare at him, beg him to shut up, or demand that he wait in the doctor’s office like he should’ve done, like a normal husband would have. Khodai knows why he’d insisted on holding my hand through this preliminary checkup. Nothing of import would happen today—if it did at all. But I couldn’t perform any such communication, not with my eyes and mouth squeezed shut while I suffered through a series of uncomfortable twinges along my nether regions. 
I lay flat on my back on a spongy clinic bed sheeted with paper already wrinkled and half torn. Legs drawn up and spread apart, my heels dug punishingly into cold iron stirrups to allow my gynecologist’s clever fingers to reach inside my womb and check if everything was A-OK in there. We’d already funneled through the Pap test and stomach and chest checks. Like them, this test, too, was going swell in light of Dr. Archer’s approving happy hums. 
“Excellent, Mrs. Desai. All parts are where they should be,” he joked only as a doctor could.
I shuddered out the breath I’d been holding, as the feeling of being stretched left my body. Nirvaan squeezed my hand and planted a smacking kiss on my forehead. I opened my eyes and focused on his beaming upside-down ones. His eyelids barely grew lashes anymore—I’d counted twenty-seven in total just last week—the effect of years of chemotherapy. For a second, my gaze blurred, my heart wavered, and I almost cried. 
What are we doing, Nirvaan? What in Khodai’s name were we starting?
Nirvaan stroked my hair, his pitch-black pupils steady and knowing and oh-so stubborn. Then, his face rose to the stark white ceiling, and all I saw was the green-and-blue mesh of his gingham shirt—the overlapping threads, the crisscross weaves, a pattern without end. 
Life is what you make it, child. It was another one of my father’s truisms.
Swallowing the questions twirling on my tongue, I refocused my mind on why we were here. I’d promised Nirvaan we’d try for a baby if he agreed to another round of cancer-blasting treatments. I’d bartered for a few more months of my husband’s life. He’d bartered for immortality through our child.
Dr. Archer rolled away from between my legs to the computer station. He snapped off and disposed of the latex gloves. Then, he began typing notes in near-soundless staccato clicks. Though the examination was finished, I knew better than to sit up until he gave me leave. I’d been here before, done this before—two years ago when Nirvaan had been in remission and the idea of having a baby had wormed its way into his head. We’d tried the most basic procedures then, whatever our medical coverage had allowed. We hadn’t been desperate yet to use our own money, which we shouldn’t be touching even now. We needed every penny we had for emergencies and alternative treatments, but try budging my husband once he’d made up his mind.
“I’m a businessman, Simi. I only pour money into a sure thing,” he rebuked when I argued.
I brought my legs together, manufacturing what poise and modesty I could, and pulled the sea-green hospital gown bunched beneath my bottom across my half-naked body. I refused to look at my husband as I wriggled about, positive his expression would be pregnant with irony, if not fully smirking. And kudos to him for not jumping in to help me like I would have. 
The tables had turned on us today. For the past five years, it’d been Nirvaan thrashing about on hospital beds, trying in vain to find relief and comfort, modesty or release. Nirvaan had been poked, prodded, sliced, and bled as he battled aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I’d been the stoic spectator, the supportive wife, the incompetent nurse, the ineffectual lover. 
And now? What role would I play now?
As always, thinking about our life left me feeling even more naked than I was in the open-fronted robe. I turned my face to the wall, my eyes stinging, as fear and frustration bubbled to the surface. Flesh-toned posters of laughing babies, pregnant mothers, and love-struck fathers hung from the bluish walls. Side by side were the more educative ones of human anatomy, vivisected and whole. The test-tube-like exam room of Monterey Bay Fertility Clinic was decorated in true California beach colors—sea-foam walls, sandy floors, pearl-pink curtains, and furniture—bringing the outdoors in. If the decor was meant to be homey, it wasn’t having such an effect on me. This room, like this town and even this country, was not my natural habitat, and I felt out of my element in it. 
I’d lived in California for seven years now, ever since my marriage, and I still didn’t think of it as home, not like Nirvaan did. Home for me was India. And no matter the dark memories it held, home would always be Surat.
“All done.” Dr. Archer pushed the computer trolley away and stood up. “You can get dressed, Mrs. Desai. Take your time. Use whatever supplies you need. We’ll wait for you in my office,” he said, smiling. 
Finally, I can cover myself, I thought. Gooseflesh had erupted across my skin due to the near frigid clinic temperatures doctors tortured their patients with—like a patient didn’t have enough to suffer already. Medical facilities maintained cool indoor temperatures to deter inveterate germs from contaminating the premises and so its vast flotilla of equipment didn’t fry. I knew that. But knowing it still didn’t inspire any warm feelings in me for the “throng of professional sadists with a god complex.” I quoted my husband there. 
Nirvaan captured my attention with a pat on my head. “See you soon, baby,” he said, following the doctor out of the room. 
I scooted off the bed as soon as the door shut behind them. My hair tumbled down my face and shoulders at my jerky movements. I smoothed it back with shaking hands. Long, wavy, and a deep chestnut shade, my hair was my crowning glory, my one and only feature that was lush and arresting. Nirvaan loved my hair. I wasn’t to cut it or even braid it in his presence, and so it often got hopelessly knotted. 
I shrugged off the clinic gown, balled it up, and placed it on the bed. I wiped myself again and again with antiseptic wipes, baby wipes, and paper towels until the tissues came away stain-free. I didn’t feel light-headed. I didn’t allow myself to freak. I concentrated on the flow of my breaths and the pounding of my heart until they both slowed to normal. 
It was okay. I was not walking out with a gift-wrapped baby in tow. Not today. No reason to freak out.
I reached for my clothes and slipped on my underwear. They were beige with tiny white hearts on them—Victoria’s Secret lingerie Nirvaan had leered and whistled at this morning. 
Such a silly man. Typical Nirvaan, I corrected, twisting my lips. 
Even after dressing in red-wash jeans and a full-sleeved sweater, I shivered. My womb still felt invaded and odd. As I stepped into my red patent leather pumps, an unused Petri dish sitting on the workstation countertop caught my eye. 
The trigger for Nirvaan’s impromptu comedy, perhaps? 
Despite major misgivings about the Hitleresque direction my life had taken, humor got the better of me, and I grinned. 
Silly, silly Nirvaan. Baby in a Petri dish, indeed.

About the Author:

Falguni Kothari is an internationally bestselling hybrid author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. When not writing or dancing, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with her readers. My Last Love Story is her fourth novel.


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Sunday, 15 May 2016

My Last Love Story Release Day Blitz

About the Book:
Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes’s, Me Before You, My Last Love Story is a heartbreakingly romantic tale about the complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong.

I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.

Love is meant to heal wounds.
Love was meant to make my world sparkle and spin.
Love has ripped my life apart and shattered my soul. 

I love my husband, and he loves me.
But Nirvaan is dying.
I love my husband. I want to make him happy.
But he is asking for the impossible. 

I don’t want a baby.
I don’t want to make nice with Zayaan.
I don’t want another chance at another love story. 

Book Links:

Conversation with Simeen Desai from My Last Love Story.

Introduce yourself to our readers.

Hello! I’m Simeen Desai née Batliwala but I’m mostly known as Simi. I’m from Surat, India, but I now live with my husband in California. We’ve recently moved to Carmel-by-the-Sea from LA to indulge my husband, Nirvaan. He’s terminal, you see, and its part of his bucket list.

That’s a…difficult situation to be in. Are you up to this game then?

Simi: Yes, of course.

So, it’ll go like this. I’ll ask five random questions and you answer them as truthfully as you can. Okay?

Simi: Okay.

First question: Who would you like to trade places with for one month?

Simi: Marie Antoinette. I’ve been reading a book about her and I want to know if she was as frivolous as historians make her out to be.

Have you ever had an experience that led you to believe in angels or ghosts?

Simi: Yes. I believe my parents are angels and they look after me from heaven. I believe Nirvaan when he tells me that I shouldn’t fear his dying as he’s going to come back and haunt me forever. I’m looking forward to it.

If you could have any view from your back porch, what would it be?

Simi: I have it already. I have Carmel Beach rolled out in front of me. My inner beach bunny is very happy that Nirvaan decided to move here.

Who’s the funniest person alive?

Simi: My brother’s best friend, Zeus. He’s a big grizzly bear of a bawaji and he absolutely cracks me up even while saying the most innocuous things.

Which of your features would you like to change?

Simi: My insult of a large nose. It’s too big for my face and bumpy.

That’s it, Simi. You did good! I’m sure our 

Advance Praise:

At once heartbreaking, delightful and completely unexpected. A must read! 
~ Sonali Dev, author of The Bollywood Affair

In My Last Love Story, Kothari examines love and loss, desire and desolation, with a deft, wry touch that kept me reading late into the night and moved me to tears. 
~ Julia Tagan, author of Stages of Desire

About the Author:

Falguni Kothari is an internationally bestselling hybrid author and an amateur Latin and Ballroom dance silver medalist with a background in Indian Classical dance. She writes in a variety of genres sewn together by the colorful threads of her South Asian heritage and expat experiences. When not writing or dancing, she fools around on all manner of social media, and loves to connect with her readers. My Last Love Story is her fourth novel.

1 Copy of My Last Love Story by Falguni Kothari
Paperback Copy if the Winner is US or Indian Resident / eBook for other International Winner.

Friday, 13 May 2016

The Promise in Your Eyes - Wendy Lindstrom

The promise in your eyes by Wendy Lindstrom
Having read all of the other books in Wendy Lindstrom's Grayson Brothers series, when The Promise in Your Eyes was released I was keen to read it. This novel was in some ways quite different to many other romance novels, with our main characters being quite a bit older than most leads in the genre. It was also the story of someone finding love a second time around, again something that was slightly unusual.

In some ways I struggled with this book. Nancy Grayson is no stranger to anyone who has read the Grayson Brothers books. As the matriarch of the family we have seen her in all of the other books and in the previous book to this one, we learn of her love story with her first husband Hal. I have to admit that I didn't enjoy this story as much as When I Fall in Love.

Although Hal has been dead for many years, Nancy struggles to let go of him and allow herself to feel something for someone else. She feels guilty and as though she is betraying his memory. I did find that although it was important to stress this point, there was perhaps a little bit too much repetition and Nancy internally discussing her feelings on a few occasions. It made the book drag a little in parts and almost felt as though it was being padded out a bit.

I am perhaps being a little unfair, clearly the internal struggle that Nancy feels between her feelings for Hal and new love Dawson are important and central to the story line, but I felt that the chemistry and building feelings that really give live to a romance book were lost a little along the way.

Overall I enjoyed the book and I'll certainly be back for more Grayson Brother's in the future. If you've read others in the series then I'd definitely recommend you read this one too, but if you're new to the series then I'd suggest starting with one of the others first.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Tempted by a Rogue - Lauren Smith

I'm taking part in the Spread Some Indy Love Blog Hop, 2016 with B00k r3vi3ws, and I thought that this year I'd take a look at Tempted by a Rogue by Lauren Smith.

You may already know that I'm a bit of a fan of Lauren Smith's books, so when she released Tempted by a Rogue, a regency romance novella, I was very keen to read it. I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of novellas, I prefer a longer length novel so that I can really get my teeth into it, but that wasn't going to stop me reading this.

Tempted by a Rogue

Tempted by a Rogue by Lauren SmithGemma Haverford has been waiting for her sweetheart, James Randolph to return from his life at sea and marry her for many years. She has written to him since he left as a teenager and now, finally he is set to return and become her husband. There is a slight problem though, the man who she has been writing to isn't James at all, but his friend Jasper Holland.

On their return, James has found out that Jasper and Gemma have been writing to one another and arranges for Jasper to compromise Gemma before they are reunited properly. This way he can free himself from their supposed engagement and will be free to marry who he chooses.

I did find the beginning of the story a little bit overly complicated, if Jasper had simply come clean right at the beginning, then he, Gemma and James would have all got what they wanted without the confusing mess that was created, but then of course there would have been no story.

Of course, things do work out in the end, and I liked the flashes of humour that were woven into the story line. I think that it's a bit of a stretch that a lady like Gemma would really behave in the way that she does, even when faced with as fine a specimen of manhood as Jasper, but who cares really, stories like this are escapism and Tempted by a Rogue is a great way to escape and loose yourself. I really do love Lauren Smith's writing and am very much looking forward to reading some of the other books she has in the pipeline. My only real complaint with this one, was that it just wasn't long enough and ended far too soon.

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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Monk's Hood - Ellis Peters

Monk's Hood by Ellis Peters
I loved the first two Cadfael books in the series, so I couldn't wait to read the third and ordered if from the library. Monk's hood didn't disappoint and I found all of the elements that I'd loved in the first two books were here too.

I'm not sure exactly what it is about Brother Cadfael that makes him so appealing, but I love his character. In this book, we learn a little more about his past and his life before becoming a monk. A family has just moved to the Abbey after signing their property over to the monks. Shortly after their arrival the husband of the family is poisoned, using a muscle rub that Cadfael has made with the plant Monk's Hood. 

Cadfael tries to discover who has committed the murder and why, particularly as he is implicated not only by having made the poison that was used, but also because he was betrothed to the man's widow in his youth, before he took holy orders.

Cadfael travels into Wales, to the property that the family were signing over to the Monks, (although, as this had not been finalised before the murder, it no longer legally stands). He meets with the prime suspect and becomes convinced that he cannot be responsible for the murder, but then who is to blame.

Yet again I fell in love with the setting and the characters that appeared in the book. We meet Hugh Berindgar again and learn much more of Cadfael and his life before taking holy orders. I didn't fully guess the murderer until near the end of the book, but as is often the case with well written mysteries, the ability to solve or not solve, seems somewhat less important than the enjoyment of the story.

I'm a little disappointed to discover that the library does not have the fourth book in the series, so I shall have to try and track it down elsewhere. It might be a little while until I can dip into the world of Cadfael again.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Last Vacation by Sarah Elle Emm

I recently got the chance to read and review Last Vacation by Sarah Elle Emm, I hadn't read any of her books before, so was looking forward to giving this one a go.

About the Book:
Seven days have passed since Naples real estate agent Megan MacKenna has heard from her twin sister, Madeline, who was vacationing on the beautiful, Caribbean island of St. Croix. Though authorities are not convinced there is a case to solve, Megan knows with all of her heart something happened to Maddy. When Megan receives a direct warning to leave the island or end up like her sister, she turns to the only person who has taken her seriously since she arrived, Gabe, a breakfast cook at a local diner. 

Undercover DEA agent, Gabriel Walker has been building his cover for months, waiting for the opportunity to work his way into the infamous Torrez crime ring. When Megan shows up asking questions and Gabe realizes her twin’s disappearance might be linked to the Torrez men, he has to convince her to go back to Florida before she becomes their next victim. 

The closer Megan gets to the truth, the more Gabe begins to suspect he is missing a huge piece of the puzzle. And someone is closing in on Megan…

Buy Links:

My Review

Although this book has a romance angle, it is without a doubt, first and foremost a thriller. From the very beginning, you find yourself quickly picked up and whisked into the action. When her sister doesn't get in touch, Megan steps away from her usually ordered and quiet life, to try and find her, putting herself in a huge amount of danger to do so.

The story was well written and the action moved along at a great pace, reflecting the urgency of the sisters situation, without ever feeling too rushed. I couldn't help but pick up my kindle and read a few more chapters to see what was going to happen as often as I could. 

Gabe was a lovely caring, yet strong hero, who does his best to keep Meg out of trouble, not that he has much success. She is headstrong and stubborn and isn't going to let anything get in the way of finding Maddy. I was a little worried that she wouldn't take the fact that he'd kept his undercover role a secret from her and that he was really with the DEA, having had trust issues in her past, but unlike some stories, he didn't keep things from her unless absolutely necessary, so there was non of that forced misunderstanding and concealment that can often happen in some romantic suspense novels. 

The developing feelings between Gabe and Meg was fun to watch, but it was far from over done, as I said previously, this was a thriller with a romance angle, rather than a romance with a thriller storyline, so that element of the storyline wasn't too intrusive on the action.

I really enjoyed this and would happily pick up another book by Sarah Elle Emm, Last Vacation is a thrilling read that leaves you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what's going to happen. A great read.

About the Author:

Sarah Elle Emm is the author of the HARMONY RUN SERIES, a young-adult fantasy and dystopian series, released in May 2012 by Winter Goose Publishing. (PRISMATIC, May 2012, OPALESCENT, February 2013, CHATOYANT, September 2014, NACREOUS, August 2015) Her debut fiction novel, MARRYING MISSY, was published by Bird Brain Publishing in October 2011. Sarah is a graduate of The University of Evansville, she has lived and worked in Mexico, Germany, England, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and has traveled extensively beyond. Sarah lives in Naples, Florida with her family. When she’s not walking the plank of her daughters’ imaginary pirate ship or snapping photos of Southwest Florida scenery, she is writing.

Stalk the Author:
Website I Facebook I Twitter I Goodreads I Amazon Author Page

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Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Seduction by Lauren Smith

You may remember that back in January I reviewed Forbidden by Lauren Smith, complaining that I had to wait for the second instalment...well look what's just come out. I'm usually a bit behind with my reviews, but as I finished this earlier, and it's only just come out, I thought I might review it straight away while it was still fresh.

As I mentioned, this is part two of a three part series, I would suggest that you read the first part first, there is some recapping, but I can't imagine that it would be enough if you hadn't read the first. They're also a really great price, so there's no reason why you wouldn't read Forbidden, before moving onto Seduction.

The story begins after Kat and Tristan have discovered that their parents, (his mother, her father) are not only seeing one another, but planning to get married. The idea of soon becoming step brother and sister, is enough to throw cold water on any new relationship, but Kat and Tristan have an electrically charged reaction that is too strong and simply cannot resist one another. Kat pushes Tristan away, trying to tell herself that it just can't be, but obviously struggles to believe that herself and as much as she tries to keep away from him, she just can't.

Much is made of the age difference and how young Kat is, personally, at 19, I don't think she's all that young. That could be because I met my husband at that age though (with a much bigger age gap than the 6 or 7 years between Kat and Tristan) but Kat's father is clearly very protective of her. Both Kat and Tristan know that they need to keep their relationship a secret to stop people from getting hurt.

I don't want to give too much of this book away, but I think it's quite safe to say that although they reach some decisions, with another instalment still to go, they still have a way to go before they get their happily ever after.

I loved this second instalment, again my only reservation would be that I have to wait until May, which seems a long way away before I get to read the final part; Climax.