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.

Now
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.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Celebrating FIFTY Years of Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls with an Exclusive Extract & Giveaway! (UK Only!)




Dolls: red or black; capsules or tablets; washed down with vodka or swallowed straight-for Anne, Neely, and Jennifer, it doesn't matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three women become best friends when they are young and struggling in New York City and then climb to the top of the entertainment industry-only to find that there is no place left to go but down-into the Valley of the Dolls.


Did you know that Jacqueline Susann's groundbreaking Valley of the Dolls turns FIFTY this year? If this book is new to you, then I urge you to read it. It's a cult classic for a reason, you know. Think of it as a sassy older sister to Sex and the City, or maybe even the glamorous granny to Lena Dunham's Girls. Back in the 1960's Valley of the Dolls raised a few eyebrows, that's for sure. Not only did this book feature sex, drugs and starlets in abundance, Valley of the Dolls also tacked serious issues of women's rights and gay rights, making the book still and always inspirational. 

To celebrate fifty years of Valley of the Dolls, Virago has issued a special anniversary edition (pictured above) with pretty pink-edged pages. Also, keep  your eyes peeled for a social media extravaganza on July 9th and 10th when Virago will be celebrating Valley of the Dolls 50th birthday in style. Follow #valleyofthedolls on Twitter and Instagram to find out more!

*****

Praise for Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the Dolls is truly a timeless classic . . .Today Neely O’Hara would become a YouTube sensation, Jennifer North would be an Instagram influencer, and Anne Welles would be a Snapchat queen. No matter how high-toned people want to be, there’s nothing more addictive than a juicy, scandal-filled, drama-laced soap opera!”—Mickey Boardman, Paper Mag  

“Susann predicted the celebrity culture we live in now. Actually, she invented it: fame is as fame does.”—Letty Pogrebin

“If Jacqueline Susann was not precisely the ‘voice of the 60s,’ then she was its aching female heart.”—Amy Fine Collins, Vanity Fair

                                      
“One of the sexiest novels ever written.”—Earl Wilson


“Decades ahead of its time . . . Mesmerizing . . . The equation of emotional dependencies with drug addiction in one comprehensive personality disorder is, if anything, more chic today than in Susann’s time.”—Mim Udovitch, Village Voice Literary Supplement

*****

Author Jacqueline Susann



*****


Read an extract of Valley of the Dolls


Jennifer stood on a chair and tried to shove the hatbox onto the top shelf of the closet, then ducked as two suitcases fell, just missing her head. She groaned. ‘This closet situation is really impossible.’

Anne helped stow the suitcases back on the shelf. ‘I’d offer you my closet, but it’s filled – with your hand-me-downs.’

‘How does a hotel expect anyone to live with just two small dinky closets? Why couldn’t Adele have found some big English lord and stayed in London? God, how I miss that apartment.’

‘These are pretty large closets, Jen. It’s just that no one is supposed to have all these clothes.’

‘And I hate them all.’

‘Jen! Don’t you dare buy another dress! I have the best wardrobe in town already because you get tired of something the second you’ve worn it. Lyon’s eyes pop the way I keep turning up in new creations.’

‘Well, if Tony gives me the new mink for Christmas, you’re taking
my old one.’

‘Old one! You just got it last year!’

‘I hate it – it reminds me of the Prince. Besides, it’s a wild mink. It would look great with your hair. I want a real dark one.’

‘I’ll buy it from you then.’

‘Don’t be silly!’

‘I have money, Jen. Henry invested the ring money plus my twelve thousand.’

 ‘How are you doing?’

‘Well, we only got twenty thousand for the ring. It’s worth more, but they said it wasn’t a seller’s market. And Henry invested it all in A.T.&T. It hasn’t gone up too much, but I get very nice dividends.’

‘Well, don’t touch your stock.’

‘You’re a fine one to talk. You’ve got pictures in Vogue and Harper’s this month and you haven’t saved a cent. Honest, Jen, you must earn a fortune since you signed with the Longworth Agency. But you spend it all on clothes. It would be different if you cared about them.’

‘Between clothes and sending my mother money, how can I save? The modeling brings in three or four hundred a week, but that’s not real money. No, my jackpot is Tony. I’m twenty-six, Anne – I haven’t that kind of time or future. Tony is impressed with my clothes, and the newspapers call me glamorous. I think about this as an investment. I’m putting all my money on the line and rolling the dice for Tony. If the number comes up marriage, I’ll be independent for life.’


*****

Thanks to Virago Press I have TWO special edition copies of Valley of the Dolls to give away.
+ This competition is open to entrants in the UK only. You must have a UK postal address to enter.
+Winners details will be supplied to Virago Press.
+Prize will be sent directly from Virago Press.
+I bear no responsibility for prizes lost or undelivered - alternative prizes will not be offered.
+ Two winners will each receive one copy of Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann.
+This is a sponsored giveaway: please refer to T&C's for further information.
+ Fill in the Rafflecopter Form to Enter!



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Friday, 1 July 2016

Win a DVD of The Choice based on the book by Nicholas Sparks! (UK Only!)




Out on Digital HD 27th June and on DVD 4th July Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks

Based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, the author who brought us the much-loved classic romance The Notebook, comes THE CHOICE - A story about an irresistible attraction that transforms the lives of an unlikely couple, out to own on DVD and Digital HD this summer.

 Travis Shaw (Benjamin Walker) is a young veterinarian committed only to meaningless flings that suit his carefree, solitary lifestyle. Convinced he doesn’t need a relationship, he prefers to flirt with exes and enjoy being a bit of a ladies man.

Meanwhile Gabby Holland (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful and ambitious medical student, is preparing to settle down with her committed long-term boyfriend (Tom Welling). When fate intervenes, and Gabby and Travis find themselves living next door to one another, nothing could have prepared them for the powerful chemistry that will turn their lives upside down. As they are forced to acknowledge their developing bond, the seemingly mismatched couple must face up to the choices that will change everything.






Here's a special Friday treat for all you romantics! The Choice, based on the book by Nicholas Sparks  is out to  download from 27th June and on DVD from 4th July, and is sure to warm even the hardest of hearts!

I have three copies of the film on DVD up for grabs today. Just fill in the Rafflecopter form to enter!


+ This competition is open to entrants in the UK only. You must have a UK postal address to enter.
+Winners details will be supplied to a third party.
+Prize will be sent directly from third party.
+I bear no responsibility for prizes lost or undelivered - alternative prizes will not be offered.
+ Three winners will each receive one copy of The Choice based on the book by Nicholas Sparks on DVD.
+This is a sponsored giveaway: please refer to T&C's for further information.
+ Fill in the Rafflecopter Form to Enter!


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