Friday, 5 August 2016

Cover Alert: Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howland.

Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howland || Release date: July 2017

An 18-year-old student cannot get into college due to a misstep sophomore year and decides to move to Los Angeles and pursue an acting career.


Here's one to add to your summer reading lists. Summer 2017, that is.  I've been wishing for a new YA from Nantucket Blue author Leila Howland for a while now, and here it is! Hello, Sunshine releases July 2017, is set in the magical movie world of Los Angeles, and promises to be a whole lot of fun.  Also, if Nantucket Blue is any indicator, I'm pretty sure this one will contain a whole lot of romance to!

P.S: My review of Nantucket Blue.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Book Review: I See You by Clare Mackintosh.

Product details 
Publisher: Sphere.
Hardcover, 368 pages.
Release date: July 28th 2016.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it's there. There's no explanation, no website: just a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it's just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . .

Her debut novel was a hairpin ride of a thriller that blindsided with its twists and left readers begging for more.  Now, Clare Mackintosh is back: and if you’re a nervous reader who was worried that her second novel wouldn’t live up to the brilliance of  I Let You Go, then put those fears to rest right now. I See You grips from the get go – and it’ll send shivers down your spine right till the very end. 

The very best type of thriller is one that makes a monster out of the everyday; that takes the mundane and renders it horrific. I See You is a book that you’ll read on your daily commute. Or maybe not. Actually, I’d warn against it. But, we’ve all been there, right? The commute is a necessary evil of city life; something that gets you to pillar to post. Beyond that, I’d wager it’s not something anyone spends a whole lot of time thinking about.  We spend our mornings and our evenings in the company of strangers whose gazes we want to avoid, mumbling apologies as trains jerk forward and bodies crush together. These strangers we see day in, day out, knowing nothing about their lives, as they know nothing about ours. But what if that’s not true? What if that stranger on the train knows everything about you: from your exact route to work to your dress size? And what if they want to know more? What if they want to know everything? 

That’s the nightmare scenario facing Zoe Walker, a London commuter who, by chance, sees her picture in the classifieds section of a free newspaper. At first, it looks as though Zoe’s picture is being used as an advert for a dating site. But Zoe’s investigations into the site don’t lead anywhere, and her family are quick to allay her fears, assuring her that the woman in the picture is just someone who bears a slight resemblance to her – not actually her at all.  However, Zoe knows her own face when she sees it, and as she starts checking the classifieds day after day, more adverts are placed for the dating site, each showing a different woman. At first, Zoe is annoyed. Then, she’s frightened. Because this is no ordinary dating site. And soon the women in the photos start turning up dead. Could Zoe be next?

A fantastic idea with expert execution, I See You is another hit from Mackintosh. This is a truly absorbing read and one that will keep you on the edge-of-your-seat as you follow Zoe on her daily life around London, where her very worst nightmare could be just a tube stop away. Just as with I Let You Go, the story of I See You isn’t told at breakneck speed: we get to know a lot about Zoe and her family –she’s a divorcee with two adult children – as well as the cops investigating the case. And soon, everyone – from Zoe’s boss to her daughter’s new boyfriend to random people on the tube- will be on your list of suspects.  That’s part of the fun of this sinister, jigsaw-puzzle tale: with victims seemingly picked at random, the perpetrator could be just about anyone. And you could be next…*Shudders*

In short: A stunning crime thriller with a highly unique premise. I See You is one that you’ll want to read late into the night – but maybe not on your daily commute. 

Monday, 11 July 2016

New Books on my Radar!

Just a selection of my most-anticipated recent and upcoming releases!

 Added any must-have books to your wish list lately? Let me know in comments!

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett || Release date: April 2017

In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent half of her junior year falling for a sensitive film geek she only knows online as “Alex.” Two coasts separate them until she moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist trap, the oddball Cavern Palace Museum. Or that she’s being tormented daily by Porter Roth, a smart-alecky yet irritatingly hot museum security guard. But when Porter and Bailey are locked in the museum overnight, Bailey is forced to choose whether she should cling to a dreamy fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex. Approximately.


Her Every Fear by Peter Swanson || Release date: January 2017

Trading apartments with her Boston cousin seemed like a good idea to Kate. She might finally shake off the nightmares that have haunted her. On arrival, she discovers that the woman in the next apartment has been brutally murdered. Kate’s worst fears are about to be realized, as the police come to suspect her cousin as the killer. There are other bodies in his past that she has yet to learn of.

HER EVERY FEAR is a classic nail-biter about a troubled young woman in jeopardy. This novel echoes those of Patricia Highsmith at her best. 

Read my review of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson.


The American Girl by Kate Horsley || Release date: August 2016

From a bright new talent comes a riveting psychological thriller about an American exchange student in France involved in a suspicious accident, and the journalist determined to break the story and uncover the dark secrets a small town is hiding,

On a quiet summer morning, seventeen-year-old American exchange student Quinn Perkins stumbles out of the woods near the small French town of St. Roch. Barefoot, bloodied, and unable to say what has happened to her, Quinn’s appearance creates quite a stir, especially since the Blavettes—the French family with whom she’s been staying—have mysteriously disappeared. Now the media, and everyone in the idyllic village, are wondering if the American girl had anything to do with her host family’s disappearance.

Though she is cynical about the media circus that suddenly forms around the girl, Boston journalist Molly Swift cannot deny she is also drawn to the mystery and travels to St. Roch. She is prepared to do anything to learn the truth, including lying so she can get close to Quinn. But when a shocking discovery turns the town against Quinn and she is arrested for the murders of the Blavette family, she finds an unlikely ally in Molly. 

As a trial by media ensues, Molly must unravel the disturbing secrets of the town’s past in an effort to clear Quinn’s name, but even she is forced to admit that the American Girl makes a very compelling murder suspect. Is Quinn truly innocent and as much a victim as the Blavettes—or is she a cunning, diabolical killer intent on getting away with murder…?

Told from the alternating perspectives of Molly, as she’s drawn inexorably closer to the truth, and Quinn’s blog entries tracing the events that led to her accident, The American Girl is a deliciously creepy, contemporary, twisting mystery leading to a shocking conclusion.


I'm Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid || Release date: June 2016

You will be scared. But you won’t know why…

I’m thinking of ending things. Once this thought arrives, it stays. It sticks. It lingers. It’s always there. Always.

Jake once said, “Sometimes a thought is closer to truth, to reality, than an action. You can say anything, you can do anything, but you can’t fake a thought.”

And here’s what I’m thinking: I don’t want to be here.

In this deeply suspenseful and irresistibly unnerving debut novel, a man and his girlfriend are on their way to a secluded farm. When the two take an unexpected detour, she is left stranded in a deserted high school, wondering if there is any escape at all. What follows is a twisted unraveling that will haunt you long after the last page is turned.

In this smart, suspenseful, and intense literary thriller, debut novelist Iain Reid explores the depths of the human psyche, questioning consciousness, free will, the value of relationships, fear, and the limitations of solitude. Reminiscent of Jose Saramago’s early work, Michel Faber’s cult classic Under the Skin, and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk about Kevin, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is an edgy, haunting debut. Tense, gripping, and atmospheric, this novel pulls you in from the very first page…and never lets you go.


Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas || Release date: August 2016

Twenty years ago
21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night.
She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier - 
and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca.

A body's been found.
And Francesca's drawn back to the seaside town she's tried to forget.
Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out.
Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn't returned.

Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past.
The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth.
But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now's the time to find out - isn't it?

Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear - your family, your sanity and even your life . . .


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Book Review: The Girls by Emma Cline.


Product details 
Publisher: Chatto & Windus.
Hardcover, 368 pages.
Release date: June 16th 2016.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult
Source: Received from publisher for review.

 California. The summer of 1969. In the dying days of a floundering counter-culture a young girl is unwittingly caught up in unthinkable violence, and a decision made at this moment, on the cusp of adulthood, will shape her life....

Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat.

Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.

And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways.

Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?

Possibly the most talked about book of 2016, Emma Cline’s impressive debut, The Girls, takes us back to the summer of ’69 and introduces us to Evie Boyd, a fourteen year old with not enough parental supervision and a whole lot of too much time on her hands, a disastrous combination in anyone’s book, but especially here. Witnessing a pack of semi-feral teenage girls scavenging for food in a dumpster, Evie’s interest is piqued. She wants to know more about these girls. A chance encounter in a local store with one of the girls, Suzanne,  sees Evie score herself an invite to ‘The Ranch’ where the girls live with their charismatic leader, an aspiring musician called Russell.  When Russell learns that Evie’s Grandmother was once a star of Hollywood, he seems interested in what she has to offer to the group. Soon, Evie is spending most of her time on the ranch, where nights are spent under the stars tripping on free love, all kinds of drugs and one-on-one time with Russell. This is the life that Evie wants. The girls, with their untamed hair and untethered spirits are everything that Evie wants to be.

But, there’s a catch.

If you didn’t already know, The Girls is based on the true events surrounding Charles Manson and his ‘Manson Family’ cult who signalled the death knell for free love and flower children when they committed a series of gruesome murders in Los Angeles in 1969. Cline’s story –though it is a work of fiction- closely mirrors the events of this time, so if you’re familiar with details of the Manson Family, there are no surprises here. To that end, I’m surprised that this book is surrounded by such hype. The story itself is nothing ground-breaking, already written in history as it is. 

However, as a character study and coming-of-age tale, which is essentially what this is, The Girls is an engrossing read. Cline’s insight into the mind of a teenage girl, so uncomfortable in her own skin, so desperate for love and attention that she’ll do just about anything to get it, lends itself to an entrancing  reading experience. At the ranch, the girls are held in thrall to Russell; hanging on his every word, they are mesmerised by him. And though Evie spends one-on-one time with Russell too, he never truly captures her heart of her mind. It is the girls, and in particular, Suzanne, who are the cult leaders of Evie’s heart. And she will do anything for them.

Of course, if you know details of Charles Manson and the ‘Family’ then you know how this story ends.  Because of that I expected a truly harrowing story, one that I would find difficult, even impossible to read. I am familiar with details of the murders the Manson Family committed and I find them truly disturbing and always upsetting to read about.  This book, though, isn’t disturbing or upsetting, at least I didn’t find it so.   It’s not that Cline shies away from details of that terrible night, exactly, it’s just not, at its core, what this book is about.  That would be Evie: her formative years, the kind of person she is, who she becomes, and how the events of one summer shaped her whole life. 

Then, there’s the writing, which in my opinion, more than the story itself is the reason for the hype surrounding this book.  Cline’s writing is at times truly beautiful. At other times it’s all a bit pretentious and overblown.  Really, it is. Cline writes sentences to savour, lines you’ll read over and over again, because they are just so clever and because they are so beautifully written that they’ll make you smile.  She also writes sentences that’ll make you roll your eyes. I know people who have found this book too pretentious to bear.   I loved her writing, though. Loved it. And I can’t wait to see what Cline writes next. 

If you are interested in learning more about the events depicted in this book, I recommend the Manson episodes of the ‘You Must Remember This’ podcast. Really interesting stuff.

Monday, 4 July 2016

TV & Movies: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Disparue, Bloodline & More!

Here's a round up of some of my recently watched movies and TV shows including some American Crime, a French Disappearance and the new season of Bloodline.

Read on for more!

The trial isn't the whole story. This is.

Hands down the best thing I have watched on TV this year. The People v. OJ Simpson appealed to the true-crime junkie in me, and with great performances (particularly from Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran) I found it to be truly compelling viewing - even though I already knew the outcome and intricacies of this case.   If you have watched this and are looking for a follow-up, I recommend the Real Crime Profile podcast which explores the case in detail.


I've seen Disparue, which just aired on BBC 4 as The Disappearance, described as a French version of The Killing, but in actual fact, it's based on a Spanish TV series. That said, if you love shows such as The Killing and Broadchurch, then this one is for you. Disparue follows the investigation into the disappearance of seventeen year old Léa Morel - who went missing after a fight with her boyfriend. As secrets are uncovered -including quite a few Léa has been keeping from her parents - multiple suspects emerge.  An exciting thriller with lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing throughout.


Now for something a little lighter! God Help the Girl is a bittersweet coming-of-age tale set against the backdrop of the Glasgow music scene. The movie follows a troubled girl called Eve as she finds in way in the world through friendship and music. I stumbled across this one on Netflix, and became such a fan that I've watched it twice already. It's not perfect, but it's a great movie for anyone who loves music, coming of age tales and perfect summers. It's also got a great soundtrack, which I've been listening to non-stop!


People Die. Secrets Don't. 

The tagline for the first season of Bloodline read: 'We're not bad people, but we did a bad thing.'  Once upon a time, that may have been true. However, it becomes increasingly clear in Season 2 of Bloodline that the Rayburn's are, in fact, bad people, one and all. A lot of viewers found the first season of Bloodline slow to start, while I loved it throughout, but I have to say that this season was very slow off the mark for me. For sure, this season is engrossing, and the final episode left me wondering what happens next, but I didn't love this season quite as much as I loved Season 1. 


Now, I know JLaw has her detractors, but I'm a fan. I can't think of a movie of hers I've seen where I didn't enjoy her performance.  She puts on a good show in Joy, an movie that I found otherwise all a bit 'meh.' I mean, I don't really get how this story - a down-on-her-luck housewife creates miracle mop and makes millions - even warranted a whole movie. It's not that the story of Joy is not inspiring and all that - it's just that there's not a whole lot to it.  It's  not very interesting. And neither is this movie.  This one gets a pass from me. Room, starring Brie Larson is next up on my to watch list. I'm expecting better things from that one.


Have you seen any of these TV shows or Movies?

Let me know your thoughts!

What I'm watching in July:  The second seasons of UnReal and Mr. Robot and a new Netflix show called Stranger Things.
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