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The Vicious Circle By Katherine St John

The Vicious Circle‘The Vicious Circle’ is the latest book by Katherine St. John.

On a river deep in the Mexican jungle stands the colossal villa Xanadu, a wellness center that’s home to an ardent spiritual group devoted to self-help guru Paul Bentzen and his enigmatic wife Kali. But when, mysteriously, Paul suddenly dies, his entire estate—including Xanadu—is left to his estranged niece Sveta. Shocked and confused, Sveta travels to Mexico to pay her respects. At first, Xanadu seems like a secluded paradise with its tumbling gardens, beautiful people, transcendent vibe, and mesmerizing de-facto leader Kali. But soon the mystical façade wears thin, revealing a group of brainwashed members drunk on false promises of an impossible utopia and a disturbing, dangerous belief system—and leader—guiding them. As the sinister forces surrounding Sveta become apparent, she realizes, too late, she can’t escape. Frantic and terrified, she discovers her only hope for survival is to put her confidence in the very person she trusts the least.

nitially when I started this book, I found it a bit slow to get into but as I delved further into it, I became quite engrossed in it.

The story is seen through the narrative of Sveta, a model who is looking forward to get married to Chase but his family are interfering which is pushing the couple are apart. She’s never felt good enough for them and always felt she was looking in. So when she finds out that her favourite uncle has died and left her his whole estate which is worth millions. Chase’s family begin to change their opinion of Sveta. But first off Sveta must go to the Mexican jungle to her uncle’s estate for his funeral and get all his affairs in order with Lucas, her first love.

This story is a fascinating one, set in the claustrophobic but equally exhilarating Mexican jungle , the author writes vivid description of the centre, the bizarre characters who are seemingly friendly and welcoming but become stranger as the story flows along. I really liked Sveta, a successful and beautiful woman who just wants to be loved, with only her mother for family, she just wants to feel part of something.

Suspenseful and packed, ‘The Vicious Circle’ is an intense thriller about just how looks can be deceptive!

You can buy ‘The Vicious Circle’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Ghosted By Mo Fanning

Ghosted‘Ghosted’ is the latest book by Mo Fanning.

Professional Santa Silas French fills out the same application as always for his regular stint at a New York department store. Ellen Gitelman hangs her jacket behind the counter at the East Side Diner and smoothes out her waitress uniform, as she waits for the coffee pot to stop percolating. A double whammy of bad news leaves Silas jobless, with no money to pay for a planned trip to reconcile with his estranged gay son Joey in Florida. Cutbacks at the diner cost Ellen her job. A chance tip from his local bar gets Silas a job as Santa on a cruise ship that happens to be docking in Florida, where Joey lives with his husband and kids. Ellen heads to a cafe across the street and spots a bulletin board ad selling tickets for a cruise. Her riotous friend Julia volunteers as travel companion. The MS Viking just happens to be carrying 3000 gay men in the mood to party. What could go wrong? Silas soon finds himself involved with some unsavoury business and meets a potential new love in the form of Ellen. Over the course of the Christmas Holiday cruise, the pair slowly learn that what they thought they were seeking isn’t really what would make them truly happy, and that they are in control of their own choices.

Both Silas and Ellen are at a crossroads in their lives. Taking a gay cruise, they hope this will provide them with a second chance, Silas is hoping to reconnect with his gay son and family and hopes playing Santa Claus on a gay cruise will redeem whilst Ellen is hoping to fight the cancer that is ravaging her body.

The pair of them form an unlikely friendship as they bond over broken hearts, shattered lives and what if’s. They are lovely characters and it was touching and fun to join them in this cruise as they got into mishaps and learnt about each other and themselves. I liked Silas, he was a born actor pretending his life was much better than it really was and it did for heartbreaking reading at times as he tried to reach out to his son Joey, only to be pushed back. His heart never fully mended after his wife Nancy passed away and he finds solace in his sister-in-law’s arms. Going on the gay gives him the opportunity to take stock of his life and the prejudice and resentment that he harboured against his own son. Ellen is also a lovely character, hoping that the cruise will help her ignite her passion for life and not leave her bedridden and missing out.

Tenderly written and packed with wit and warmth. Set upon the open sea, ‘Ghosted’ is a story about self-discovery, forgiveness and grief that makes for heartfelt reading.

You can buy ‘Ghosted’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Cat Lady By Dawn O’Porter

Cat Lady‘Cat Lady’ is the latest book by Dawn O’Porter.

It’s safer for Mia to play the part that people expect. She’s a good wife to her husband Tristan, a doting stepmother, she slips on her suit for work each morning like a new skin. But beneath the surface, there’s another woman just clawing to get out. When a shocking event shatters the conventional life she’s been so careful to build, Mia is faced with a choice. Does she live for a society that’s all too quick to judge, or does she live for herself? And if that’s as an independent woman with a cat, then the world better get ready.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book by Dawn. Infact, the last book I read by her was her Young Adult debut ‘Paper Aeroplanes’ which I loved and got to chat to her about it at a book event in Dublin some years ago.

I settled into ‘Cat Lady’ over the last couple of evenings and I absolutely adored it. Mia – the leading character is an absolute burst of fresh air, she’s witty, eccentric, troubled and incredibly kind. Her childhood was a difficult one with no regular love so she finds unconditional love in her 16 year old cat called Pigeon. She comes across as cold but she just wants to be in control of her life and when things start to unravel, so does Mia. She finds solace in an unlikely group for grieving pet owners, even though her own cat is very much alive and kicking.

This is an original tale that really pulls the reader in, with a plethora of characters that you will instantly dislike such as Belinda, the ex-wife of Mia’s husband who’s always around to Isabella, Mia boss who’s self-absorbed with her own success.

I loved Mia. I loved how her personality changed throughout the story and she finally began to accept the person she was. Not a career woman in a power suit but a carer in cat themed kaftans, kinda like Carole Baskin from ‘Tiger King’ but wittier and warmer.

Packed with dark humour, relatable situations and characters, heartwarming and beautifully written, ‘Cat Lady’ is an observational look into rediscovery, new beginnings and the genuine friendship and connections that pets can bring to a person’s life. A must read for all animal lovers!

You can buy ‘Cat Lady’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Good Taste By Caroline Scott

Good Taste‘Good Taste’ is the latest book by Caroline Scott.

England, 1932, and the country is in the grip of the Great Depression. To lift the spirits of the nation, Stella Douglas is tasked with writing a history of food in England. It’s to be quintessentially English and will remind English housewives of the old ways, and English men of the glory of their country. The only problem is –much of English food is really from, well, elsewhere. So, Stella sets about unearthing recipes from all corners of the country, in the hope of finding a hidden culinary gem. But what she discovers is rissoles, gravy, stewed prunes and lots of oatcakes. Longing for something more thrilling, she heads off to speak to the nation’s housewives. But when her car breaks down and the dashing and charismatic Freddie springs to her rescue, she is led in a very different direction.

Stella is a writer but unfortunately, her style of content isn’t in big demand so when her publisher offers her the opportunity to write about the great British food. She seizes the chance with a generous advance and hopes this will provide a better life for herself and her father, who’s heartbroken after her mother passed away.

I really enjoyed this story, set in the 1930’s, it gives an insight into being a woman during this time and the lack of respect they receive to be taken seriously. I loved Stella, fiercely strong and independent, she’s takes on her opportunity with gusto and it’s lovely to join her as she delves into some of Britain’s beloved recipes. She works hard to be respected as not only a woman but also as a writer. This book is not only heartwarming but it’s also mouthwateringly delicious in parts with tasty recipes and dishes.

‘Good Taste’ is a wonderful story to get lost in. It’s thoroughly researched and authentic in the setting, food and society and it’s a heartwarming story of self discovery through food and life experiences.

You can buy ‘Good Taste’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Life Slightly By Nigel Jay Cooper

Life Slightly‘Life Slightly’ is the latest book by Nigel Jay Cooper.

When Gavin meets Jackie on a bench in the local park, he thinks she’s a stranger. She knows better. She’s connected to him in ways he can’t yet imagine. She swore she wouldn’t do this again but it’s real this time. So real, she might do something reckless and tell him everything. He’ll understand. It wasn’t her fault, not really. Perhaps he’ll forgive her, even if she can never forgive herself.

‘Life Slightly’ was a story that completely took me by surprise. Seen from the narrative of Gavin and Jackie, the pair of them are at a crossroads in life.

Gavin thinks that Jackie is just a kind stranger who’s leant him a shoulder to cry on but Jackie has a keen eye and intuition when things are bad.

The story is a moving one, about hiding your true identity and giving up on genuine happiness. It’s a reflective observation into life and relationships.

Nigel writes beautifully, his characters pull you in with their personalities, they are vulnerable, flawed and all seeking second chances in life. They are relatable and along with the dialogue and atmospheric suspense, the story sweeps you away.

I found myself racing through this emotional rollercoaster of a story as I was so curious as to what Jackie’s connection to Gavin was and the gradual build up of suspense really made the book impossible to put down.

A stunning and poignant story about love, hope and forgiveness, ‘Life Slightly’ is a must read for all those who enjoy coming of age novels.

You can buy ‘Life Slightly’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.