Under A Million Stars by Rita Branches

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A while ago I came across this cover and immediately fell in love. But the book was not available yet, and instead, I downloaded the debut novel by Rita Branches. I read the book. I loved the book. I even wrote a blog post about the book. So when I was offered an advanced copy of Under a Million Stars, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Under a Million Stars is a sad story. The overarching theme of the book lends to a beautiful, but solemn read, filled with heartbreak and sadness. After performing at a piano concert, Charlotte Peterson is greeted with the news of a tragic accident that took away her family. Charlie is sent to live with family friends the Parkers. There is only one problem with this. Jacob Parker is the love of her life and her best friend, only he hasn’t spoken to her in two years. What follows is their story of re-connection and along the way, secrets are revealed the will change their lives.

Although I didn’t fall in love with this book quite as much as Painting Sky, it was a beautifully written story of loss and love, and the flashbacks to their childhoods give deeper insight into their relationship and the choices they made.

And the story is filled with some beautiful words.

I focused on my racing heart, threatening to explode in tiny sharp pieces inside of me. Maybe they would puncture some important organ. Bleeding to death right there on the floor would have hurt less than losing my heart. – Rita Branches, Under a Million Stars.

 My life didn’t just start to change three months ago. My heart might have shattered completely three months ago, but it had been breaking ever since Jacob pushed me away. The day he broke our friendship without further explanation had opened an endless crack. – Rita Branches, Under a Million Stars.


I think maybe the setting I was in didn’t match the tone of the book. I was in Fiji. The sun was shining. The pool was calling. I think that this book would be best enjoyed in winter, snuggled in a nest of pillows on the bed, hot cup of coffee . . . no, hot chocolate, in hand, raining splattering on the window. Yes. That would be ideal. Maybe then, I would have been more likely to forgive Jacob’s coldness and Charlie’s refusal to eat.

Under a Million Stars has a release date of August 8th, 2016. If you head over to Amazon and pre-order now, you will get it at the introductory price of 99c. Even though I’ve already read it, I’ve still booked my copy. We indie authors need to support each other and Rita is an author I’d definitely recommend supporting!

Purchase Under a Million Stars

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My holiday in books

Smugglers Cove, Fiji

Sometimes I find it hard to find the time to read. When I’m not at work, keeping house, or being a taxi driver for my kids, my spare time is spent writing. How else am I going to get it done, right? So sometimes, sitting down to read a book seems like an impossibility. Holidays are different. Holidays are when all that other stuff gets pushed to the side and there is an opportunity to do whatever the hell you like. Well, that’s the theory, anyway.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have noticed that I got to spend last week in Fiji. Also commonly referred to as paradise. Just look at the picture above. That was taken while I was out for dinner at a little place called Smugglers Cove and eating char-grilled baby octopus.

So in between that harsh life of swimming, snorkeling, racing down zip lines and eating delicious food, the thing I looked forward to the most was having the chance to read with zero guilt over having other things to do. I even switched my brain off the plot of my next novel, though I did make a few notes. My ‘to read’ pile is huge. There are so many books I want to read, so many authors I want to support, that it makes it difficult to know where to start. But holidays aren’t holidays without reading. So, here is my holiday in books.

Endangered by Eliot Schrefer



A book I had started but hadn’t quite finished by the time I left, Endangered is the story of Sophie and a young bonobo called Otto. It is a story of political turmoil and sadness and the horrors faced in the Congo. But it is also the story of hope and triumph and friendship and adventure.



Under A Million Stars by Rita Branches

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I’ve read Rita’s first book, Painting Sky (see my reading recommendation here) and was thrilled to receive an advanced readers’ copy of her next book, Under A Million Stars. I won’t say too much about it here as it will get a post all of its own closer to the release date, but you can tell from the cover alone that it is a story of sadness and love.


Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn

This book is dark and strange and creepy and does not have a happy ending, so naturally, I loved it. I can’t remember how I came across this book. Whether I was attracted to the cover, whether I read a review on Goodreads, but whatever reason it was, I’m pleased I bought it. It tells the tale of Jamie and his sister Cate, who has just been released from juvenile detention. The story that follows delves into their past and sets the scene for their futures. It is a twisted story that leaves you unsure of your feelings towards the characters. There are no dancing unicorns or sparkling rainbows in this story. Loved it.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I’m pretty sure Maggie Stiefvater could write the telephone book, and somehow, I would find it enthralling. I dog-eared pages in this book. If you don’t know me well, this may mean nothing to you. But I have never dog-eared a page before in my life. I like to keep my books pristine. This book, however, needs to be loved. It needs to be read with a highlighter in hand. It needs notes scrawled in the margins. Its pages need to be dog-eared. They DESERVE to be dog-eared. And the kiss. Finally the kiss. No, I am not talking about Gansey and Blue. I’ve never come across a kiss more perfectly explained. Maggie arranges words in the most perfectly wonderful way.
So that was my reading list. I hoped to read more, but alas, the sun and the ocean beckoned and that’s all I got to read. My ‘to read’ pile is ever so slightly smaller and my relaxation tanks a little more full. The kids only have a few more days of school holidays and then more normal routine and novel plotting will continue.

Hope this post finds you well. Thanks for popping by!

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*All book cover images sourced via Goodreads.

Oh, if you love to travel, follow my friends ‘The Galavanters’ over on Youtube, Instagram, or via their blog. A family currently on a six week journey around Thailand and Vietnam they are responsible for some wicked imagery. Just check out the clip below.