Wednesday, 11 April 2018

New Books on my Radar!

Just a selection of my most-anticipated upcoming releases including Lauren Oliver's latest (I'm thinking Heavenly Creatures meets The Slenderman - with a twist!) and a really-creepy-sounding read called The Retreat.

 Added any must-have books to your wish list lately? 

Let me know in comments!

While you're here, listen to this addictive slice of dream pop from Hatchie.

If you loved 'Call Me by Your Name,' this article will make you laugh.
 It's true, 'Chalamania' is a thing.

Onto the books!


Young Adult Fiction

Broken Things by Lauren Oliver || Release date: October 2018

Read my review of Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

It’s been five years since Summer Marks was brutally murdered in the woods. 

Everyone thinks Mia and Brynn killed their best friend. That driven by their obsession with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn the three girls had imagined themselves into the magical world where their fantasies became twisted, even deadly.

The only thing is: they didn’t do it. 

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as the lines begin to blur between past and present and fiction and reality, the girls must confront what really happened in the woods all those years ago—no matter how monstrous.


Floored by Sara Barnard et al. || Release date: July 2018

Read my review of Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard

The Breakfast Club meets One Day in Floored, a unique collaborative novel by seven bestselling and award-winning YA authors: Sara Barnard, Holly Bourne, Tanya Byrne, Non Pratt, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Eleanor Wood.

When they got in the lift, they were strangers (though didn't that guy used to be on TV?): Sasha, who is desperately trying to deliver a parcel; Hugo, who knows he's the best-looking guy in the lift and is eyeing up Velvet, who knows what that look means when you hear her name and it doesn't match the way she looks, or the way she talks; Dawson, who was on TV, but isn't as good-looking as he was a few years ago and is desperately hoping no one recognizes him; Kaitlyn, who's losing her sight but won't admit it, and who used to have a poster of Dawson on her bedroom wall, and Joe, who shouldn't be here at all, but who wants to be here the most.

And one more person, who will bring them together again on the same day every year.


Adult Fiction

Five Years From Now by Paige Toon || Release date: April 2018

'One day, maybe five years from now, you'll look back and understand why this happened.' 

Vian and Nell are thrown together at the age of five when Vian's mother and Nell's father fall in love. At first wary of each other, they soon become the best of friends. But five years later, they are torn apart and Vian moves to the other side of the world.

Fast-forward five more years to when Vian comes to visit, and Nell discovers that the boy she once knew is now 'Van' - a wild and carefree teenager. Chemistry crackles, but once again, they're separated.

For the next two decades, Nell and Van meet every five years, but life and circumstance always intervene. Will they ever find true happiness? And will it be together?


Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough || Release date: May 2018

Read by review of Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

The explosive follow-up from Sarah Pinborough, author of the NUMBER ONE Sunday Times bestseller Behind Her Eyes.


Is it Lisa?
Haunted by a tragic past, all Lisa wants is a quiet life with her daughter, Ava. And when she meets a new man, things seem to be falling into place. But Lisa is hiding a secret so momentous it could shatter her entire world…

Is it Ava?
When sixteen-year-old Ava saves a young boy’s life, she becomes a local hero. But never in a million years could she have anticipated the fallout of her actions…

Is it Marilyn?
Marilyn has the perfect life. Her husband, her job, her house—she seems to have it all. But she could never admit to her best friend Lisa the lies she tells herself to get through the day…

One moment will change these three women’s lives forever. And the secrets they’ve been keeping could destroy them all.


The Retreat by Mark Edwards || Release date: May 2018

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpie scomes his most terrifying novel yet.


Social Creature by Tara Isabella Burton || Release date: July 2018

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?


Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager || Release date: July 2018

Read my review of Final Girls by Riley Sager

She says she's innocent. But everyone lies...

It was Emma’s first summer away from home. She made friends. She played games. She learned how to lie.

But then three of her friends went into the woods and never returned…

Now, fifteen years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She likes to think she’s laying old ghosts to rest but really she’s returning to the scene of a crime…


Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman || Release date: July 2018

A shocking discovery on a honeymoon in paradise changes the lives of a picture-perfect couple in this taut psychological thriller debut--for readers of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Shari Lapena.

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you? 

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman's enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we're tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.


Monday, 9 April 2018

Book Reviews: The Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard & The Broken Girls by Simone St. James.

When Alison Smith met Will Hurley during her first year as a student as Dublin’s prestigious St. John’s College, it was love at first sight. Too bad Alison’s perfect boyfriend turned out to be a serial killer…

Ten years on, Alison lives a quiet – and somewhat isolated – life in the Netherlands, where she works. She has a small circle of friends, none of whom know about her past as the girlfriend of the man the tabloids call the ‘Canal Killer.’ Since Will was convicted of the murder of five women, including Alison’s best friend, Liz, Alison has kept everyone in her life –including her family- at a safe distance. She doesn’t have a boyfriend; in fact she doesn’t date at all.  At twenty-nine, this isn’t the life Alison imagined she would be living, but after everything that happened, Alison’s low-key, drama-free life, suits her just fine.  At least that’s what she keeps telling herself.

One morning, while nursing the hangover from hell, Alison answers her door to find two Garda detectives on her doorstep. The news from Ireland isn’t good: It’s been ten years since Will’s killing spree, and it looks as though the anniversary has spurred a copycat killer into action. Furthermore, Will says he has information on this copycat killer, but he’ll only talk if Alison returns to Ireland to hear him out. Though she is hesitant to re-visit her past, Alison eventually agrees to speak to Will, but what she learns threatens to turn her whole world upside-down all over again…

More of a slow-burn than Catherine Ryan Howard’s super-twisty debut Distress Signals, The Liar’s Girl is as much a coming-of-age story of first love and toxic friendships as it is a murder mystery. While The Liar’s Girl is, for the most part, a compelling read, I found the resolution to the central mystery a little unsatisfying - and definitely lacking in those shocking twists I so love!

Other takeaways: Let me talk about Malone – one of the guards assigned to the ‘Canal Killer’ case. Right from the start, it’s clear that Malone is attracted to Alison, but his touchy-feely behaviour towards Alison – not to mention inviting her back to his apartment – struck me as a little odd – not to mention wholly inappropriate!

In short: A solid read. One for fans of slow-burn thrillers with a hint of romance.

3.5 Stars -- Good read. I enjoyed it pretty much. Worth checking out.
Published March 1st 2018 by Corvus.
Received for review.


Every small town has at least one creepy old building, a place that inspires ghost stories and inflicts nightmares upon all those who dare venture beyond its rusty gates. Idelwild Hall is one such place. This former boarding school for ‘problem girls,’ may lie abandoned and in ruins, but for one local woman, journalist Fiona Sheridan, Idlewild Hall is a living nightmare with ghosts that are all too real.

It’s been twenty years, but ever since her sister was murdered in the grounds of Idlewild Hall, Fiona Sheridan’s life has been stuck on pause.  Fiona knows this has to change, if not for her own sanity, then for the sake of her relationship with her boyfriend, Jamie, a local cop who Fiona keeps at a distance, even though the two have been dating for a year. Fiona knows she has to make peace with the fact that her sister is gone, but she can’t – not until she knows the whole truth of the night her sister died.  When she hears that Idlewild Hall is being restored, Fiona decides to use her journalistic credentials to dig deep into the past, so that she can finally bury it.
Cut to 1950 and Idlewild Hall where a group of school girls bond over their troubled pasts and their shared fear of Idlewild’s resident ghost, Mary Hand, who terrorises the girls night after night as she roams the dark halls of the school. Spoiler alert: Mary Hand is no friendly ghost! It’s all fun, games and ghosts stories, until one of the girls goes missing, never to be seen again. Until, that is, journalist Fiona Sheridan, witnesses a shocking discovery at Idlewild Hall, one that will uncover the past – and change Fiona’s present – forever.

An ambitious book that spans decades and genres, The Broken Girls by Simone St. James was a bit of a mixed-bag for me due, at least in part, to its dual-timeline structure. While dual-timelines can be great, I feel that each part of a story should hold my attention equally, and that just didn’t happen here. With each journey into the past, I felt myself disconnected from - and longing to get back to - the present. Meanwhile, the supernatural element of the book, while well done, felt out of place in relation to the rest of the storyline, and really didn’t work for me.

In short: A multi-layered supernatural thriller that strives to be different from the rest. The Broken Girls didn’t totally work for me, but it is genuinely creepy and atmospheric at times – one for readers who like a mystery that goes bump in the night!

3 Stars -- 3 out of 5 -   Not for me. Just OK. Maybe it's an acquired taste.
Published March 27th 2018 by Wildfire.
Received for review.


Monday, 29 January 2018

Book Review: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton.

Product details:
Publisher: Fig Tree.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Release date: February 1st 2018.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

A spot-on, wildly funny and sometimes heart-breaking book about growing up, growing older and navigating all kinds of love along the way
When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you've ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It's a book about bad dates, good friends and - above all else - about recognising that you and you alone are enough.
Glittering, with wit and insight, heart and humour, Dolly Alderton's powerful d├ębut weaves together personal stories, satirical observations, a series of lists, recipes, and other vignettes that will strike a chord of recognition with women of every age - while making you laugh until you fall over. Everything I know About Love is about the struggles of early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty.

 A statuesque blonde with a penchant for prosecco and an absolute adoration of Rod Stewart, journalist Dolly Alderton first came to my attention a couple of years back via a Sunday Times ‘Style’ column, in which she detailed the adventures of her colourful dating life. So wry and engaging is Dolly’s writing style that her column became a firm favourite of mine, so much so that in a newspaper of a whole lot of must-read articles, hers was the first I’d read every week. I just had to know if Dolly and her guy, the Comedian, would live happily ever after, you know. Side note: I had a similar obsession with Ali Harris’s dating column for Company magazine way back when she used to write about her love for Email Boy. Anybody remember that? Well, it just so happens that Ali and her Email Boy are now husband and wife. Dolly and her Comedian, on the other hand, did not live happily ever after.

Sadly, just like her relationship with the Comedian, Dolly’s dating column is no more, but she’s stayed on my radar via her newsletter ‘The Dolly Mail,’ and ‘The High Low,’ the weekly current affairs and pop-culture podcast she co-presents with fellow journalist Pandora Sykes. If you haven’t yet checked out The High Low, then I really recommend that you do. It’s a big favourite of mine (despite unfounded allegations against The Lighthouse Family –Joke!)  

 It’s not an understatement to say that I was mega-excited when I heard Dolly had signed a book deal, a book deal that has garnered, as per The Bookseller, ‘serious film and TV interest’. (Think ‘Girls’. But funnier. With characters you can actually relate to and root for). I’m also glad to report that Dolly’s memoir Everything I Know About Love is a total winner; an honest, heartfelt and very, very funny reflection on life, love, loss and everything else in between.  At its core, Everything I Know About Love is a love letter to friendship, a celebration of Dolly’s close knit circle of friends who have stuck together through everything: good times, bad times, and lots and lots of wild times.

Everything I Know About Love details Dolly’s adventures in life and love from her early days as a MSN Messenger-obsessed teen (Dolly once went on date with a boy she met on MSN Messenger only for that date to end following twelve minutes of mutual insults involving a DVD of Toy Story 2 and a kilt) to her early days in London where life was all about cheap booze, communal living and Rod Stewart-themed house parties. I mean, I wouldn’t describe this as a Rod Stewart-heavy memoir per se, but he’s definitely in there. As he should be.


Friday, 19 January 2018

Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.

Product details:
Publisher: William Morrow.
Hardcover, 448 pages.
Release date: January 2nd 2018.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

 A typical day in the life of Dr. Anna Fox is spent watching old movies while drinking merlot, learning French and playing chess, all in the company of her cat. Now, you might be thinking that this is, in fact, not a bad way to spend a day, and you’d be right. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch old movies while enjoying a glass of wine, right? But this is not a day in Anna’s life. This is her life. As for that wine, Anna doesn’t drink her merlot by the glass, she drinks it by the crate. Save for her cat and the tenant who lives downstairs, Anna, who suffers from agoraphobia, lives alone. Anna’s husband left ten months ago, taking her daughter with him. Now, Anna sits at her window and watches the world go by without her in it. She also likes to sit at her window and observe her neighbours; witnessing the mundanities of their daily lives along with their fights, their affairs and their marriage breakdowns. This all serves to keep Anna entertained, until one day she hears a scream. Following this scream, Anna sees something she was ever meant to see…

One of the buzzed-about titles of 2018 with a movie already in the works, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, wears its love of film noir on its sleeve, taking inspiration from Hitchcock’s Rear Window and  Fritz Lang’s 1944 noir The Woman in the Window, from which it takes its title.  While A.J. Finn’s debut is a gripping page-turner of love, lies, murder and possible descent into madness, the real beauty of The Woman in the Window lies in its elegant prose and effortless turn-of-phrase, which is a cut above many other books in this genre. Truth be told, while The Woman in the Window kept me turning the pages late into the night, I found this story mostly predictable, guessing many of its plot twists long before they were revealed on the page. That’s not to say The Woman in the Window is poorly plotted, quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just that I have read so many psychological thrillers over the past few years that is it really, really difficult to surprise me nowadays. I wish things were different. If I had read this book five years ago, I’m sure I would be telling a whole other story. 

The Woman in the Window is not simply a case of solving a murder most wicked, it is also the story of Dr. Anna Fox, the woman who had it all and lost it all. So, what happened to Anna? At first it seems as though Anna has given up on life, spending her days in an alcohol and drug induced haze, where she puts down her wine glass only to feed her cat or speak to her husband and daughter on the phone. It soon transpires, though, that Anna does care. That, in her own way, she is trying to get back to living. She also cares enough to help other agoraphobia sufferers in a professional capacity via an online forum. And she cares enough to venture outside when she witnesses a horrific crime. Anna even cares enough that she’s willing to put her own safety on the line to help solve a murder. But how can Anna solve this crime when nobody, not even the police – especially not the police – believes a word that she says?

A winning debut, A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window is a noirish thriller that will appeal to fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Kind Worth Killing.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Book Reviews: My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland & Close to Home by Cara Hunter.

As a bit of a True-Crime-Podcast fanatic (currently listening to Beyond Reasonable Doubt? – check it out!) I knew that My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland, which follows a group of true crime fanatics as they attempt to hunt down a serial killer known as ‘The Lover,’ was sure to be right up my street.  Spoiler alert: I was right. This one is a total page-turner!

As someone with a whole lot of secrets and a very dark past, Clementine Starke doesn’t let people into her life all that easily. She also knows it’s probably not a good idea to join a group of online true crime fanatics in their quest to uncover the identity of ‘The Lover’ before the police do. Clementine is not comfortable with revealing her location (required for participation in the group). She’s not all that comfortable with IRL meet-ups either (ditto). But she needs in with the group. Why? Well, that’s got something to do with that dark past of hers…

DI Dominic Bell is in a race against time to catch the killer the tabloids have christened ‘The Lover.’  The pressure mounts as the body count increases – yet Bell is no closer to uncovering the identity of the killer. It could be that ‘The Lover’ is meticulous in leaving no trace evidence behind. It could also be that Bell is distracted. An internal investigation into a botched police operation has raised some doubts in Bell’s mind - doubts that lead him down a dangerous path of police corruption and dirty cops.

Will Bell catch the killer before he strikes again? What on earth was Clementine thinking when she offered up details of her location to a man who goes by the internet moniker ‘Death Stalker?’ Could he be the killer? Could Clementine be next?!

Read My Little Eye if you like: Serial and/or Line of Duty (As the Starke & Bell series progresses I have a feeling it could deal in police corruption that goes all the way to the very top!)

Four Stars -- Very good read. Liked it a lot. Recommended.
Published November 2nd 2017 by Trapeze


Tasked with investigating the disappearance of Daisy Mason, an eight-year-old who vanished without a trace from her parents’ summer barbeque, DI Adam Fawley knows that he faces a race against time if he is to find Daisy alive. He also knows that it’s very likely that Daisy was taken by someone known to her. How else could this girl, who reads as intelligent and wise beyond her years, have vanished without a trace, without a sound, from a garden party where she was surrounded by friends and family? Something’s not adding up. Then, there’s Daisy’s family: far from being eager to bring their daughter home, Daisy’s father is reluctant to make a televised appeal for her return while her mother, a cold-as-ice woman who is more interested in her appearance than her missing daughter, refuses to let the police conduct a search of their house. Strange behaviour indeed.

Compelling and multi-layered, Close to Home is one of those books I enjoyed pretty much all the way through, only to be left disappointed right at the end. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Actually, I find this happens quite a lot in crime fiction and psychological thrillers. I guess a satisfying ending is a very difficult thing to get right. Also, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. This will work for many, I’m sure. However, it didn’t work for me. I want my crime fiction to be twisty and unpredictable, of course, but I want it to be believable too. That’s not the case here.

A book about lost children, not just Daisy Mason, but all the children who are lost through neglect, illness and death, and the effect of these losses on those left behind, Close to Home is an ultimately worthwhile read with an ending that will surely divide readers.

3.5 Stars -- Good read. I enjoyed it pretty much. Worth checking out.
Published December 28th 2017 by Viking
Received for review


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