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!

Saturday, 5 May 2018

Blog Tour: Read an Extract and Win a Copy of Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin! (UK & ROI)

Aftercare Instructions by Bonnie Pipkin || Release date: May 5th 2018

“Troubled.” That’s seventeen-year-old Genesis according to her small New Jersey town. She finds refuge and stability in her relationship with her boyfriend, Peter—until he abandons her at a Planned Parenthood clinic during their appointment to terminate an unwanted pregnancy. The betrayal causes Gen to question everything.

As Gen pushes herself forward to find her new identity without Peter, she must also confront her most painful memories. Through the lens of an ongoing four act play within the novel, the fantasy of their undying love unravels line by line, scene by scene. Digging deeper into her past while exploring the underground theater world of New York City, she rediscovers a long-forgotten dream. But it’s when Gen lets go of her history, the one she thinks she knows, that she’s finally able to embrace the complicated, chaotic true story of her life, and take center stage.

This powerfully immersive and format-crushing debut follows Gen from dorm rooms to diners to house parties to auditions—and ultimately, right into readers’ hearts.



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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Book Review: 9 Days and 9 Nights by Katie Cotugno.

Product details:
Publisher: Balzer & Bray.
Hardcover, 272 pages.
Release date: May 1st 2018.
Rating:  4 out of 5.
Ages: 13+
Source: Received from publisher for review.

The irresistible sequel to the bestselling 99 Days.

Molly Barlow isn’t that girl anymore. A business major at her college in Boston, she’s reinvented herself after everything that went down a year ago . . . after all the people she hurt and the family she tore apart.

Slowly, life is getting back to normal. Molly has just said “I love you” to her new boyfriend, Ian, and they are off on a romantic European vacation together, starting with scenic London. But there on a Tube platform, the past catches up to her in the form of Gabe, her ex, traveling on his own parallel vacation with new girlfriend Sadie.

After comparing itineraries, Ian ends up extending an invite for Gabe and Sadie to join them on the next leg of their trip, to Ireland. Sadie, who’s dying to go there, jumps at the prospect. And Molly and Gabe can’t bring themselves to tell the truth about who they once were to each other to their new significant others.

Now Molly has to spend nine days and nine nights with the boy she once loved, the boy whose heart she shredded, without Ian knowing. Will she make it through as new, improved Molly, or will everything that happened between her and Gabe come rushing back?


When we last met Molly Barlow, she was right in the middle of her very own real-life soap opera, a dramatic tale of illicit romance, betrayal and revenge. It’s safe to say that back then, despite her penchant for nerdy Netflix documentaries, Molly was not the shy, retiring type: rather she was a girl who threw caution to the wind and loved to live in the moment, allowing her heart to indulge in its every forbidden desire. Molly was not a girl who ever learned from her mistakes. In fact, you could say that Molly excelled at making the same mistake over and over and over again. The name of that mistake: Gabe Donnelly. The drama: Molly used to date Gabe’s younger brother Patrick. The absolute betrayal of it all: Molly was still dating Patrick when she hooked up with Gabe. And that’s just for starters.


One year on, it seems that Molly has finally learned from all those mistakes she made back in Star Lake. Now a college student, Molly is a much quieter version of who she used to be; cautious where she used to be carefree, no longer taking risks, never ever making mistakes. There’s a reason for that, of course: the fallout of her relationship with Gabe, the aftermath of which brought its own unexpected happenings. But now Molly has a new boyfriend: a fresh start in the name of a boy called Ian who is easy-going and kind, a boy who, importantly, knows nothing at all about Molly and Gabe. Ian is one of life’s good guys, and so Molly is determined to be the best version of herself for him. This may not be the kind of passionate all-consuming romance that Molly shared with Gabe, but maybe that’s not what Molly needs right now. After all, look at how that turned out.  This is a different kind of love: a safe new love for Molly’s safe new life.

When we catch up with Molly, she’s happily coupled-up with Ian, even exchanging ‘I love you’s’ as they wander round the streets of London at the start of their European vacation. Rather, Molly and Ian march purposefully round the streets of London, as Molly is no longer a girl who wanders – she is a girl with an itinerary – and she sticks to it. However, one night, Molly decides to throw caution to the wind, ditching her dinner reservation to go hang out in a bar, where she meets….Gabe. And his new girlfriend, Sadie. Ian, oblivious to all the Star Lake drama, decides to invite Molly’s ex and his new girlfriend to join them on the next leg of their trip to Ireland. I told you Molly’s life was a soap opera! What follows is a whole lot of awkward. I mean, imagine. I could not think of anything worse! It’s also telling, though, that Molly can’t bring herself to tell Ian the truth about her and Gabe. Molly can’t be herself with Ian, because she feels ashamed of the girl she used to be.

I absolutely adored 99 Days by Katie Cotugno and despite all of Molly’s faults, I loved her as a character too, so it pained me to find Molly hurting in this book. Molly has been through a lot since we last spent time with her and she’s lost a little bit of the vibrant, fearless girl she used to be in the process. Now she has to spend 9 days and 9 nights with the boy she used to love. Gabe. Her favourite mistake. Is Molly about to make the same mistake all over again? Or is spending time with Gabe exactly what Molly needs to recapture the spirit of who she used to be?

Another winner from Katie Cotugno, 9 Days and 9 Nights is a heart-felt, engaging YA contemp of relationships, friendships, and the importance of being honest and true to yourself and to others. The European trip (London, middle-of-nowhere Co. Kerry, Ireland, and Paris) is also a whole lot of fun and makes this one to add to those summer reading lists!


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.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts with Thumbnails