Monday, 13 August 2018

Book Reviews: Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough & Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney.




The new novel from the author of 2017’s bizarre (and brilliant!) Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough's Cross Her Heart details the secrets-and-lies filled existence of single mother Lisa, and her sixteen-year-old, increasingly independent daughter, Ava. 

It’s true that all sixteen-year-olds crave independence to some extent - it’s all part of the natural process of growing up – and most parents are happy to, if not cut completely, then at least loosen those tightly-knotted apron strings to some extent. Most parents. Not Lisa, though. Because Lisa is not most parents. Lisa has secrets - secrets she’s kept hidden for years, secrets that cause her to imagine the very worst of worst-case-scenarios whenever Ava is even five minutes late getting home after a night out with friends. For Ava, Lisa’s constant worry is too much, and so she starts keeping secrets from her mother. After all, what Lisa doesn’t know about Ava’s secret life can’t hurt her, right? 

 Lisa bears the brunt of the callous nature of youth as Ava becomes increasingly withdrawn, but at least Lisa has a friend to confide in, her only friend, in fact, a co-worker called Marilyn who, despite living a seemingly enviable life, is hiding some deep, dark secrets of her own. Of course, Marilyn is entitled to her secrets. We all have secrets. It’s just that some people, like Lisa, have secrets so big they are truly life-defining. 

 The truth about Lisa is that her whole life is a lie. Now, all the lies she’s told, all the secrets she’s kept hidden from everybody but herself, are about to come back to haunt her – and her daughter. 

 Slower in pace and less twist-filled than Behind Her Eyes, I have to say that while Cross Her Heart kept me entertained, I was a little disappointed in this one overall. Don’t get me wrong – Cross Her Heart is a good read, it’s just not a great read, and while I hate to keep comparing, I guess a great read is what I was anticipating since I loved Behind Her Eyes so much! Also, I had a major quibble with the big ‘reveal’ in this book finding it entirely implausible – and coming from someone who totally loved the truly 'out there' ending of Behind Her Eyes, that’s really saying something!



3.5 Stars -- Good read. I enjoyed it pretty much. Worth checking out. 
Published May 17th 2018 by HarperCollins. 
Received for review.



*****








Meet Amber Reynolds. High-flying career girl. Loving wife to a successful author. Pathological liar.

To the outsider looking in, it may seem as though Amber has it all, but the truth is, Amber hates her life. Sure, she has the career - Amber is a presenter on popular a popular morning radio show - but Amber has major issues at work and is in danger of losing her job. As for Paul, her husband, it looks as though he’s something of a one-hit-wonder who has been struggling to write that ‘difficult-second-novel' for so long that it has put a serious strain on their marriage. Then, there’s Claire, Amber’s perfect younger sister, who has it all, including an adoring husband and a perfect set of toddler twins. Yet another thing that Amber doesn’t have. But that’s not even Amber’s biggest problem right now. No, Amber’s biggest problem right now is that she’s in a coma and while she can hear what is going on in the world around her, Amber can’t move, can’t speak, can’t seem to wake up no matter how hard she tries. She also can’t remember how she ended up in a coma. But she knows it wasn’t an accident, like people are saying. And she’s pretty sure her husband had something to do with it. 

 Split between three different timelines (Now - Amber in a coma, Then - The week leading up to Amber’s accident and Before - Amber’s childhood) Sometimes I Lie is an impressive conundrum of a thriller that demands the reader’s full and undivided attention. Sometimes I Lie contains multiple twists, so many, in fact, that it all sometimes feels like a twist too far. Then again, is there such a thing as a thriller that’s just too twisty? Maybe not – but if such a book exists – then it’s this. Sometimes I Lie didn’t just keep me guessing right till the end – it kept niggling at me long after I’d turned that final page! 

 Read this one if you want a thriller that will leave you with all of the questions – but maybe not all of the answers! 

 Up next from Alice Feeney: I Know Who You Are releases May 2019.


3.5 Stars -- Good read. I enjoyed it pretty much. Worth checking out. 
Published March 13th 2018 by Flatiron Books. 
Purchased.


*****

Thursday, 2 August 2018

New Books on my Radar!

Just a selection of my most-anticipated upcoming releases including Daisy Jones & The Six - the latest from Taylor Jenkins Reid. I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo  and I am SO excited for this!

Added any must-reads to your bookish wish list lately?

Let me know in comments!


*****

Adult Fiction




Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid || Release date:  March 2019

Read my review of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


In 1979, Daisy Jones and The Six split up. Together, they had redefined the 70’s music scene, creating an iconic sound that rocked the world. Apart, they baffled a world that had hung on their every verse.

This book is an attempt to piece together a clear portrait of the band’s rise to fame and their abrupt and infamous split. The following oral history is a compilation of interviews, emails, transcripts, and lyrics, all pertaining to the personal and professional lives of the members of the band The Six and singer Daisy Jones.

While I have aimed for a comprehensive and exhaustive approach, I must acknowledge that full and complete accounts from all parties involved has proved impossible. Some people were easier to track down than others, some were more willing to talk than others, and some, unfortunately, have passed on.

All of which is to say that while this is the first and only authorised account from all represented perspectives, it should be noted that, in matters both big and small, reasonable people disagree.

The truth often lies, unclaimed, in the middle.


*****



The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides || Release date: February 2019


Promising to be the debut novel of the season The Silent Patientis a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband—and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive…

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him....

*****



Three Little Lies by Laura Marshall || Release date: September 2018


When Sasha disappears, Ellen fears the worst. Then long-buried secrets resurface, Ellen realizes she may not know Sasha -- or what she's capable of -- at all.

2005: 17 year old Ellen falls under the spell of glamorous newcomer, Sasha. As Ellen is welcomed into Sasha's family, she doesn't see the darkness that lies beneath their musical, bohemian lifestyle. At a New Year's Eve party, events come to a dramatic head, resulting in a court case (in which Ellen is a key witness) that means family life at the Corner House will never be the same again.

2018: Now 30, Ellen and Sasha are still entwined in each other's lives and sharing a flat in London. When Sasha disappears, Ellen fears the worst. She has gone missing like this before and the police won't take it seriously, but long-buried events in their shared past mean that Ellen has good reason to be frightened - not only for Sasha, but also for herself. Finding out the truth about what really happened on New Year's Eve twelve years ago puts Ellen in terrible danger, and forces her to confront not only the past, but how well she really knows her best friend.

*****



Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson || Release date: March 2019

Read my review of The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson


Catching a killer is dangerous—especially if he lives next door 

From the hugely talented author of The Kind Worth Killing comes an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

Hen and her husband Lloyd have settled into a quiet life in a new house outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Hen (short for Henrietta) is an illustrator and works out of a studio nearby, and has found the right meds to control her bipolar disorder. Finally, she’s found some stability and peace.

But when they meet the neighbors next door, that calm begins to erode as she spots a familiar object displayed on the husband’s office shelf. The sports trophy looks exactly like one that went missing from the home of a young man who was killed two years ago. Hen knows because she’s long had a fascination with this unsolved murder—an obsession she doesn’t talk about anymore, but can’t fully shake either.

Could her neighbor, Matthew, be a killer? Or is this the beginning of another psychotic episode like the one she suffered back in college, when she became so consumed with proving a fellow student guilty that she ended up hurting a classmate?

The more Hen observes Matthew, the more she suspects he’s planning something truly terrifying. Yet no one will believe her. Then one night, when she comes face to face with Matthew in a dark parking lot, she realizes that he knows she’s been watching him, that she’s really on to him. And that this is the beginning of a horrifying nightmare she may not live to escape. . .


*****


The Au Pair by Emma Rous || Release date: January 2019


A grand estate, terrible secrets, and a young woman who bears witness to it all. If V. C. Andrews and Kate Morton had a literary love child, Emma Rous’ The Au Pair would be it.

Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.

Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.

Who is the child and what really happened that day?

One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

*****



You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke || Release date: September 2018

Read my review of Last Seen by Lucy Clarke


Spine-tingling, chilling, and utterly compulsive, YOU LET ME IN is the stunning new novel from Richard & Judy Book Club author, Lucy Clarke
Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house . . .
I’M IN YOUR HOUSE
There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.
I’M IN YOUR HEAD
Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.
AND NOW I KNOW YOUR SECRET
As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…


*****


Young Adult Fiction



Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus || Release date: Jan 2019


The New York Times bestselling author of One of Us Is Lying, Karen M. McManus, is back with an all-new, page-turning mystery perfect for fans of Riverdale!

Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery's never been there, but she's heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.

The town is picture-perfect, but it's hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone's declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.

Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she's in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous--and most people aren't good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it's safest to keep your secrets to yourself.


*****



When I Was Summer by J.B. Howard || Release date: April 2019


A relatable novel about unrequited love, rock ’n’ roll, and what you find when you go searching for yourself.

Sixteen-year-old Nora Wakelin has always felt like an outsider in her own family. Her parents and older sister love her, but they don’t understand anything about her: not her passion for music, not her all-encompassing crush on her bandmate Daniel (who is very much unavailable), not her recklessness and impulsiveness. Nora has always imagined that her biological mother might somehow provide the answer as to why she feels like such an outsider.

Through internet stalking and leaps of logic, Nora identifies three women living elsewhere in California who seem like they could be her mother. So she sets out to track them each down, one by one, under the pretense of a statewide tour with her rock band, Blue Miles. Three cities, three gigs, three possible birth mothers—it sounds so easy.

But once they’re on the road, of course, it’s anything but easy. Nora wants to be with Daniel, she wants to find her birth mother, she wants to keep her parents happy, she wants the band to stay together, and she wants to know why she is the way she is. But she won’t be the first musician to find out that, while you can’t always get what you want, sometimes you get what you need.
 


*****

Monday, 30 July 2018

Book Review: Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton.


Product details:
Publisher: Bloomsbury.
Paperback 288 pages.
Release date: July 1st 2018.
Rating: 3½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

You can't fool them forever...

A Ripley story for the Instagram age set in contemporary New York; a world at once sophisticated and sordid, irresistible and irresponsible, unforgettable yet unattainable

Louise is struggling to survive in New York; juggling a series of poorly paid jobs, renting a shabby flat, being cat-called by her creepy neighbour, she dreams of being a writer. And then one day she meets Lavinia. Lavinia who has everything – looks, money, clothes, friends, an amazing apartment…

Lavinia invites Louise into her charmed circle, takes her to the best parties, bars, the opera, shares her clothes, her coke, her Uber account. Louise knows that this can't last for ever, but just how far is she prepared to go to have this life? Or rather, to have Lavinia's life?




It may be a long, hot summer, but there's certainly nothing light and frothy about Tara Isabella Burton's Social Creature, a darkly decadent debut which marries all the glamour of Gossip Girl with the absolute madness of Disco Bloodbath, in a tale of toxic friendship, total excess and death.

New York, New York: It's the city that never sleeps; the city of a thousand (broken) dreams. They say if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere, but if you haven't made it by the time you turn thirty, then you might as well move back home and settle down with that nice-but-boring guy you used to date (your mother loves him!) and did you know that he recently inherited the (rather prosperous!) family business (three stores and counting!) and is still a bachelor (after all these years!) to boot. Time to give up on yourself and your dreams and go pop out some sprogs – the more the merrier!

Meet Louise Wilson, 29, and running out of time.

An aspiring, though as-yet-unpublished writer, Louise works three jobs just to make rent on her crummy apartment in an even crummier part of town. The upside of this is that Louise is thin - because she can't afford to eat. You may not see that as the silver lining in this scenario, but that's because you've never lived in NYC.

Louise is one of life's 'have not's'. No matter how hard she tries, it seems that Louise is destined to live a down-at-heel existence of home hair dyes and Salvation Army clothes for the rest of her days. That is, until she lands a well-paid gig tutoring a teen called Cordelia, who lives in a lush apartment with her older sister, Lavinia. Ah, Lavinia. Now, that's where this story gets interesting. Full of whimsy and wonder, hard-partying Lavinia doesn't actually pay Louise for tutoring her sister, but she does adopt Louise as her shiny new play thing, a real-life Barbie Doll, if you will. Lavinia dresses Louise up in her fabulous clothes, perfecting her hair and make-up, before taking her out on the town to introduce her to a wonderful world of New York glitterati. Soon, Louise is partying it up with New York scenesters, with names such as Beowulf Marmont and Athena Maidenhead and it is all so FABULOUS. Until it's not. Because you know the Lavinia's of this world, right? That's right. They get bored - fast.  And they move on to the next shiny new thing.

But Louise likes her new life. And she's not about to give it up. Not for Lavinia. Not for anyone. New York, New York: The song talks about 'making it' but fails to mention what it takes – or how far some people will go – to maintain 'it' once you've reached the top.

A shades-of-Ripley tale for these fake-it-till-you make it (or get arrested trying!) Anna Delvey times, Social Creature, though it failed to impress me in parts, most notably in its conclusion, is nonetheless a worthy (and deliciously-written) cautionary tale for anyone who lives their life through the wide-eyed, rose-tinted gloss of an Instagram filter.


 Read it if you enjoyed: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll, Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little and Disco Bloodbath by James St. James.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Summer Update: Too hot to Blog, A Colour-Coordinated TBR, TV Recommendations & A Summer Playlist Too!

Image via We Heart It

Greetings from a long, hot summer! It's been a while, hasn't it? A while since I've blogged - a while since I've spent very much time online at all, really. And the reason for that? Sunshine. Lots and lots of sunshine. That - and the fact that my problematic laptop finally gave up the ghost (RIP).  While I haven't been blogging a whole lot at all, I have, in between watching many, many World Cup matches, been reading. I just haven't been reviewing. I'll be back soon, though, with a review of Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton along with a round-up of some the many thrillers I've read this summer. Time was my summer reading was filled with cutesy coming-of-age tales of first love and summer romances (swoon!). This summer, though, while it has been hot, hot, hot outside, my summer reading has been decidedly dark and dreary, ha! I do have a couple of feel-good YA reads on my summer TBR though, so maybe I need to lighten up, reading wise, and get started on something like Save the Date by Morgan Matson very soon! 

In the meantime, take a look at some of the books I plan to read in August:


Yup, my reading list is still pretty thriller-heavy, but I have included some YA in there. I feel as though I barely read YA nowadays - and I must be missing out on some great YA titles because of that. It's just that I'm all about the twisty thrillers these days. I have a never-ending list of thrillers I want to read. YA has kind of taken a back seat. I have a bunch of YA authors that are auto-buy authors for me, but I've been a little lazy in checking out new authors this year. I need to work on that!

I've also been watching some good stuff this summer. I enjoyed (is enjoyed the right word, though?!) the second season of Thirteen Reasons Why (I know some people didn't love it) and I'm excited to get started on the TV adaptation of Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects very soon.  In fact, maybe I'll get started on watching that tonight. I've also been re-watching American Horror Story in anticipation of its upcoming crossover season. I haven't watched AHS since Coven, though I maybe-plan on watching Hotel, but it just so happens that I very much enjoyed Murder House and Coven (Asylum was a BIT too disturbing for my tastes!) so I'm totally here for Apocalypse. Anyone else?

Oh, and if you haven't seen it (though, let's face it, you probably have!) here's the trailer for the much anticipated movie adaptation of Jenny Han's glorious To All The Boys I've Loved Before. Coming to Netflix in August.







Looking for some new music? Here's a sampler of songs I've been listening to this summer. Enjoy!





Check back soon for my latest book reviews and a round-up of some new books on my radar!

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Book Review: Clean by Juno Dawson.




Product details:
Publisher: Quercus
Paperback, 399 pages.
Release date: April 5th 2018.
Rating:  4 out of 5.
Ages: 14+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter ... it's liquid gold.
When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom.

She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all ... It's a dirty business getting clean ...



Meet Lexi Volkov.  A Russian hotel heiress, Lexi’s life is a non-stop whirlwind of fashion shows, after parties and fabulously fun times. Like all good socialites, Lexi can dance all night long in stilettos and she lives to party hard. After all, what else is a seventeen-year-old with limitless amounts of cash supposed to do – sit in her penthouse suite and knit the night away? I don’t think so. Only problem is that all that partying takes its toll on a girl and, somewhere along the line, Lexi realised she needed something more than vodka to dance till dawn. Enter heroin. That’s right, Lexi Volkov – London-via-Russia’s answer to Paris Hilton minus the candyfloss explosion and with better hair – has been slam dancing with Mr. Brownstone. It’s safe to say this girl is out of control.

Pitched as Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted,  Juno Dawson's Clean follows Lexi’s journey at the exclusive rehab facility that is tasked with, you guessed it, getting her clean. Though Clean is gritty and doesn’t hold back from the stark realities of drug withdrawal, there’s a glossy element to the book that provides a welcome relief from all the dark stuff (That would be the Gossip Girl part of this tale). I feel the gloss is worth mentioning simply because books that deal with tough subject matters such as drug addiction and withdrawal can be all round depressing and downright dreary sometimes (who would have thought?!) but Clean is never that. This is an engrossing, compelling and, dare I say it, uplifting read, despite all the dark stuff. There is a smidge of romance too, which helps, along with wonderful cast of secondary characters who I would love to know a whole lot more about. Kendall needs a whole book to herself, that’s for sure.

As for Lexi – I liked her a lot. And let me tell you, the fact that I liked Lexi right from the start surprised me. The thing is, Lexi is funny. Even when she’s in the darkest depths of withdrawal and is being an insufferable brat to boot, Lexi manages to crack a joke or two, often at her own expense. This helps lighten the mood, which is good, because things get pretty damn dark and scary from time to time. Lexi’s rehab may be located in an exclusive mansion on a remote island, but it’s still rehab, y’know? Another thing: while it’s true that Lexi is mega-rich – and in possession of the most enviable wardrobe – it’s not something you’ll hold against her. Lexi is the kind of rich that is so-filthy-rich she doesn’t feel the need to flaunt it. Or maybe that's because her money is Russian! Who knows?

While in rehab, it soon becomes clear that Lexi is not just another rich kid who almost accidentally overdosed while partying too hard with her bad news boyfriend, Kurt. No, Lexi has some deep rooted issues and a whole lot a tragedy in her past (That would be the Girl, Interrupted part of this tale) that she needs to overcome before she finally gets clean.

A compulsively readable, exquisitely researched tale of life, love and rehab, Clean kept me hooked  from start to finish as I rooted for Lexi – who has a heart of gold underneath all that snark –. to beat her demons. Another winner from Juno Dawson!



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