Wow. Talk about being sucked into a book from the very first page! Jenny Blackhurst certainly knows how to grab her reader and hang on to them until tWow. Talk about being sucked into a book from the very first page! Jenny Blackhurst certainly knows how to grab her reader and hang on to them until the very last page. I was hooked to this book, spurred on by the small chapters, sometimes only a couple of pages long but always leaving me needing to read 'just one more'.
How I Lost You tells the story of Emma/Susan,who after being convicted for the murder of her newborn son has just been released with a new identity. Still unable to remember that fateful day, she sets about starting over her life. But then strange things begin to happen and the doubts she's always had about the incident three years ago resurface.Susan is convinced she didn't kill her son. More so, she's sure he's still alive.
This is an edge of your seat, gripping read which will refuse to let you go. I was fascinated by Susan's story, horrified at the possibilities and suspicious of every character-never quite trusting anyone. Jenny Blackhurst twists her story in a number of unexpected ways, I never knew exactly how it was going to go and was extremely surprised by it's eventual direction. I had to know what had happened and read this book in two sittings.
How I Lost You takes on some dark and disturbing subjects. There's obsession, revenge, control and manipulation...creating a thrilling emotional mix. The book takes an even dark and sinister turn around two thirds through, and wasn't always comfortable to read, but it's a twist I hadn't been expecting and is something I haven't come across before. I did feel the character of Susan was at times a little too naive, considering the things she'd gone through, but that would be my only criticism. For the most part, this book is exactly what a reader of psychological thrillers wants; a twisty plot, fast paced and addictive writing and an explosive ending. Recommended! ...more
I had no idea what to expect from this book before I started it. The cover screams chick lit while the blurb hints at something more sinister. After fI had no idea what to expect from this book before I started it. The cover screams chick lit while the blurb hints at something more sinister. After finishing it, I'd say it definitely edges on the side of chick lit. But good chick lit, with a fresh and original slant, a mystery to solve and laugh out loud humour by the bucketful.
Grace is endearingly scatty, frustratingly so at times, but I warmed to her. I loved the chatty style Beth Thomas wrote this novel in and it's almost like a running commentary of Grace's thought process. The secondary characters are equally as fun to read and I enjoyed the few hours I spent in their company. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion!
The 'mystery' angle is interesting, especially given the popularity of psychological thrillers right now. If you're expecting this kind of book though, you may be disappointed. His Other Life refuses to take itself seriously. The search for Grace's missing husband verges on the ridiculous at times, and is definitely more parody than chilling' who dunnit'. That said, I was quite surprised at a more serious tone towards the end.
His Other Life isn't going to appeal to everyone. Personally, I liked it. It was fun, it made me smile and I enjoyed Beth Thomas's easy writing style. This book is perfect comfort reading, ideal for holidays and lazy weekends. If you love a romantic comedy with a bit of a different spin, then I think His Other Life would be a good bet. ...more
I came by I Let You Go via a LOT of extremely positive recommendations. With over 200 5* reviews on Amazon, this book looked like a winner*4.5 stars*
I came by I Let You Go via a LOT of extremely positive recommendations. With over 200 5* reviews on Amazon, this book looked like a winner. So I'm not going to lie that when I first started it I was a bit disappointed. After the first shocking scene, the first chapters didn't grab me at all. In fact, it took me a week to get to the 20% read mark on my kindle. There isn't anything particularly wrong with it, and granted I was working crazily stupid hours that week at work, I just didn't feel inclined to pick it up or felt particularly drawn or excited by the characters.
But then, around that 20% mark, things changed. The plot thickened, I became intrigued by main character Jenna and swept away by the atmospheric descriptions of the remote Welsh coastal village where Jenna has retreated in seclusion. I thought I understood her need for solace, her grief and pain. And then WHAM! Clare Mackintosh throws a twist I didn't see coming a mile off that literally made me gasp.
Hands down, this is the best twist I've read in a long time. It was just so unexpected,it left me wondering if I'd missed any clues. Looking back on the other reviews, I can see I didn't. Mackintosh wove this story to snare the reader into comfort, only to shake them all up and completely spin them around. It's genius writing.
The rest of the book takes a different tone as a third character is introduced. One who will unsettle you and leave shivers creeping down your spine. I was gripped by this shocking and suspenseful book. At it's heart is a message about domestic violence, and I thought Clare Mackintosh got the mix of secrecy, fear and shame from Jenna just right. It certainly drives home that you can never be certain at what goes on behind closed doors, despite outward appearances.
The twists keep on coming right to the very end page. I marvel at how authors keep the threads of such complex plots, and in I Let You Go, it is done with seamless perfection. It's a shame that in the first few chapters I almost dismissed this book as not for me and I'm so glad I didn't. It's probably the best psychological thriller I've read this year, and believe me, it's been one hell of a year for them. If this genre is your thing, the I Let You Go is a MUST read, and I recommend it without hesitation....more
When I read the synopsis to Amy & Matthew, I had to read the book. Cerebal Palsy is a condition which affects 1 in 400 people born in the UK (ScopWhen I read the synopsis to Amy & Matthew, I had to read the book. Cerebal Palsy is a condition which affects 1 in 400 people born in the UK (Scope) yet as a general population we know very little about it and it's largely misunderstood. I was the same, until I began working with Young Adults with CP.
What I loved about Amy & Matthew is it's ability to shatter preconceptions. Cammie McGovern doesn't shy away from the issues that people may first imagine when they think of CP and gloss over them, but by giving Amy a voice she really allows us to see the person behind the disabilty. I also loved that she didn't make Amy a victim or someone to be pitied. She's bright, strong, ambitious and focused. She's also at times stubborn, selfish and thoughtless and makes some pretty poor choices. In other words, she's a real, multifascted person like anyone else. I LOVED her.
The aspect of the relationship I found most interesting between Amy and Matthew was the unexpected dynamics. Matthew suffers OCD, he struggles with rituals, a dibilitating fear of hurting others and a severe lack of self belief. Matthew offers Amy the oppotunity she most desperatly wants, to have friends. By becoming a 'peer aide', Amy can be herself at school rather than being isolated by being constantly accompanied by an 'Adult' assistant. But this relationship is equal, and Amy's compassion towards Matthew's difficulties is inspiring.
I took a lot away from this book, some of which I'll be more aware of in my work. I'd never considered how it must feel for a teenager to be constantly shadowed by an adult and how that in itself can be isolating from their peer group but once I'd read it, it made perfect sense. The frustration Amy feels when people say 'Hi' but then don't wait for her to reply via her pathway (a computer communication devise) also struck a chord. I see this happening a lot. But it also reminded me that disabilities aren't always visable. Strength and support can be found in unexpected places and inside, people are rarely who we presume them to be from outward appearences. Amy and Matthew celebrates differences and acceptance, and proves love and friendship have no barriers if we only give it a chance. We need more books like this....more
Depression and mental health in general is something we don't take seriously enough in our teenagers. It's easy to brush it off as teen moodiness andDepression and mental health in general is something we don't take seriously enough in our teenagers. It's easy to brush it off as teen moodiness and sulkiness. In 'My Heart and Other Black Holes' Jasmine Warga takes the topic of depression and suicidal thoughts and manages to convey the crippling sadness of main protagonist Aysel very well. As someone who did have a difficult adolescense, I related to those feelings of despair and the metaphor of 'a black slug' for Aysel's depression really struck a chord.
But this books also investigates a darker, more modern topic relevant to teenagers today. The internet, specifically Suicide websites. I'll be honest, as a parent this scared me. Aysel meets Roman on a site for people looking for suicide partners, and as they set 'the date' the slowly begin to get to know each other. I could feel the pressure Aysel started to feel under from Roman and it chilled me. I didn't like him all that much and didn't relate to him the way I did Aysel.
However, the developement of the relationship between the two was sweet and tender. There's a part of me that sighs at the 'love solves all problems' message that could so easily have dominated this story. Thankfully, Aysel's new found hope in life isn't confined to her growing fondness for Roman and I hope this isn't lost on a younger audience.
There is a lot of good in this book. It's written very, very well and I think anyone who has suffered depression, teens and adults alike, will relate to Aysel and her feelings. The first half of the book was excellent, but then I felt the second half was rushed and it lost me a little. The parent in me says I'd recommend this book to other parents of teenagers happily, as an excellent insight into depression in teenagers. As for it's target market, I think it would be ideal for mature young adults. I would look out for more from the author in the future, who really does have a beautiful way with words....more
The Girl In The Red Coat was a 'Waiting on Wednesday' pick a few weeks ago. It had grabbed my attention by some pretty positive and excited tweets I'dThe Girl In The Red Coat was a 'Waiting on Wednesday' pick a few weeks ago. It had grabbed my attention by some pretty positive and excited tweets I'd spotted on twitter. Yet I was still completely unprepared for this utterly compelling book!
The story starts off by introducing us to single mum Beth and her eight year old daughter, Carmel. Carmel is instantly interesting- being a little difficult in an otherworldly,distant way. As a single parent myself, I related with Beth, I think Kate Hamer really captured feelings I'd also experienced perfectly in the early parts of the book, before Carmel's disappearance. So right away I was invested in these two characters.
I thought I knew how this book was going to go. I was looking forward to some twists and turns, but was pretty confident I knew what the format would be. How wrong was I! Yes, The Girl In The Red Coat is the story of a missing girl, but put any preconceptions aside...this is completely different to anything else I've read recently. Spanning several years, we follow both Beth and Carmel's unexpected journeys. There's a more subtle, developing terror in this book, rather than one explosive incident and it kept me hooked.
I've found this review so difficult to write, and know I haven't done any justice to the book at all, but I really don't want to give anything away. The Girl In The Red Coat is written with such emotion at times, especially from Beth, that her grief, panic and desperation was tangible. In Carmel, I found myself rooting for this quietly stubborn and strong child veiled in an air of etherealness. I raced through the book, hours slipping by and unable to put it down. I was so desperate to know how it ended, I even stayed up from a twelve hour night shift to finish the last 50 pages, despite being exhausted. This is a book that will creep under your skin and consume your thoughts, even after the very last page is turned. All I can say is read it...you won't be disappointed....more
This book appealed to me from very first sight...without even knowing the synopsis, it just stood out. The cover screams haunting and creepy and it'sThis book appealed to me from very first sight...without even knowing the synopsis, it just stood out. The cover screams haunting and creepy and it's a perfect fit for the book. Once I had read the book description, I was caught hook, line and sinker...what an incredible premise! I was intrigued.
Identical twins is always a fascinating topic to the majority of us who can only imagine what it is to experience such a bond and likeness to another human. As a mother, I've wondered how parents of identical twins can tell them apart, especially as babies, and how often it may happen that identities get switched accidentally in the first weeks of life. The Ice Twins takes my wondering a step further, what if one twin were to die and you couldn't for sure say which one? It's a chilling thought, and deep down I felt it was also terrifyingly possible. Combine this with the ethereal vulnerability of the surviving twin, so hauntingly conveyed by the author, and The Ice Twins quickly became an intensely disturbing page turner.
S.K. Tremayne also does a good job of creating suspicion and doubt around the dysfunctional adults in this book. They're both painted in a bad light to be honest, intentionally to deepen the mystery and drama and leave the reader constantly second guessing just what was going on. The remote Scottish island setting gave another atmospheric layer, and with vivid descriptions along with photographs at the beginning of each chapter, I could almost feel the isolation of the eerie old lighthouse cottage. I was tense while reading, with my heart pounding and every creak of my house and rattle of the windows from the wind causing me to jump.
There were a couple of little issues which slightly stopped this from being perfect however. Firstly, while it's obviously the author's intent is for us to mistrust the characters of Angus and Sarah, sometimes my dislike for them distracted me from what I was reading. Especially Angus, who quite honestly came across as an arse at times. Secondly, I'm happy to suspend belief when necessary, but occasionally too much suspending was required and I found it difficult to believe that either of these parents wouldn't be actively seeking professional help sooner, or indeed any of the minor characters involved.
Those two complaints aside, I really enjoyed this book. The unique premise, atmospheric setting and chilling character/s of Lydia/Kirstie made it compulsive reading. If you enjoy a psychological thriller to keep you awake at night...then this is for you....more
I didn't know much about this book going into it, the blurb-as intriguing as it is-actually gives away very little. And that's definitely a good thingI didn't know much about this book going into it, the blurb-as intriguing as it is-actually gives away very little. And that's definitely a good thing, knowing so little is the best way to get the most from this book and the authors intention of revealing the story slowly works very well. Of course this makes it difficult to review! I really wouldn't want to give too much away here.
Alice and the Fly is pretty dark. Main character Greg has his issues, but it's the characters around him, as everyday as they appear, that really gave me the chills. This story is one of innocence and dysfunction, repercussions and responsibility (or lack of it). We know there's a huge, traumatic climax, alluded to in police transcripts interspersed between chapters, but by the slow reveal of the story I found my sympathies lay where they probably wouldn't have had I already known what was going to happen.
The writing in Alice and the Fly really adds to the sense of looming tragedy, with an almost eerily naivety and honesty. I've seen it likened to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time by Mark Haddon, and I'd say that's pretty fair. James Rice really does capture his complex, confused and troubled young character very well, and I found him completely believable.
With snappy chapters, broken up by the transcripts, this was a book that I found myself glued to, the pages turning effortlessly. I'd recommend this both as older, mature YA and Adult reading. It really is a fantastic debut, and an author I'll definitely be looking out for in the future. ...more
As someone who reads a fair old amount of books, sometimes there becomes a bit of sameness between them, you know what to expect and indiv*4.5 stars*
As someone who reads a fair old amount of books, sometimes there becomes a bit of sameness between them, you know what to expect and individual stories end up blurring in your memory. Then along comes a book which completely throws you of guard and offers a completely original and fresh approach to blow you away. The A-Z of You and Me is one of those books, and I know it won't be one I'll be forgetting any time soon.
Looking at the blurb above, the concept of using body parts seems a bit odd. However,it works perfectly in this story and isn't anywhere near as weird or squeamish as it first sounds. Ivo is forty and in a hospice when his nurse suggests this game to him. It's through this game, and each letter/body part, that we get to know Ivo, what brought him to the point he is at today, and the heartbreaking love story at the centre of this book. For each letter,while relating to a specific part of the body, a memory or anecdote from his past is revealed. It's really very clever.
The heart of this book is the tragic love story between Ivo and Mia, but this isn't a slushy tale. It's pretty raw and flawed, uncomfortable at times as Ivo's life and regrets are revealed. Yet, given the situation Ivo is now in, it's not at all depressing or morbid. There is humour and kindness (particularly from nurse Sheila, who is an amazing character) which lifts the mood of the book completely.
I was completely sucked into this book and flew through the pages. I felt I really got to know Ivo very, very well. I wanted to know more as I was reading and became completely involved in his story. Yes it's sad, if like me you're prone to tears then I recommend tissues. But the whole book was so beautifully resolved, it was strangely uplifting too. I loved it. ...more
I usually love a book told from two view points. I find alternating narratives over chapters really pushes the book on. So I was expecting that to hapI usually love a book told from two view points. I find alternating narratives over chapters really pushes the book on. So I was expecting that to happen with this book, especially after being drawn into Mara's story so much at the beginning. Unfortunately though it didn't really work for me this time, and I felt Scott's story added nothing to the book whatsoever. In fact it could've been cut completely.
If I was rating this book on Mara's sections alone it would be verging on 5 stars. I loved how the author took a difficult and upsetting subject and portrayed Mara as strong and very, very real. She doesn't sugar coat and play on emotions...it's told how it is, often brutally so. Huntington's is a relentlessly cruel disease and for me Mara's reactions to her illness; her fear, resentment and anger, were convincing and heart breaking.
Scott's story in itself isn't all that terrible, and I could also sympathise with his situation. The problem that I had was that the link between these two characters is tenuous at best. The idea is that they are both facing a five day countdown and connect over an internet forum. The truth is, this seems to have been forgotten about in the book and communication between the two involves a couple of PM's, which are pretty vague and don't add anything to the story at all. This could've worked. Instead we're left with two underdeveloped stories, Scott's in particular as the book is heavily weighted in Mara's favour.
I think the author made a mistake sharing Mara's story with Scott's. I'd have much rather have seen it split with Harry, a taxi driver Mara makes a connection with. Now he was interesting. The trouble was taken to even give him a back story, and I see this as a wasted opportunity.
I feel I'm being particularly negative, yet I do think for the most part (as I'd say Mara's story does cover at least two thirds) this was a really good, well written and touching book. I just wish the author had fully committed to Mara and left Scott for her next book. It really let the book down in my opinion. Regardless, I would look out for other work by this author in the future...more
The whole New Adult craze pretty much past me by, happening when I was forced to take a break from reading and blogging for a while. To be honest, I wThe whole New Adult craze pretty much past me by, happening when I was forced to take a break from reading and blogging for a while. To be honest, I wasn't all that desperate to get on the bandwagon. I'm not sure why, but it didn't appeal to me all that much. but then I got a chance to read Deeper as part of a UK blog tour and decided to give it a go. Damn, am I glad I did. I really, really loved this book.
I grew up pre-internet and was well into my twenties before it became a common thing. Sometimes this saddens me, often I'm grateful for it. Deeper only reaffirms my latter feelings. Caroline is eighteen years old, has been in a relationship with Nate for three years and when he snaps some impromptu pictures during sex, she isn't altogether comfortable about it but she trusts him. But when she breaks up with him and the pictures surface online, the possible repercussions are staggering. We've all done things we'd rather not have out there in the world. Caroline hasn't even done anything wrong, or what millions of others have done. But once those pictures are out there in the public, she knows she'll be judged upon them in all aspects of her life and future career.
Deeper made me so angry at times, by how vile and disgusting people can be. In particular to women, because of course Nate isn't treated the same even though he's in the picture too. It also drives home how much the world has changed, how something like this can have a ripple effect through your life, even though you've done nothing wrong. Scary.
However, I love how Robin York doesn't create a victim of Caroline. She grows throughout the book and I was cheering her every single step of the way. Yes some of it is down to her new, blossoming relationship with West (which I'll get to in a second!) but it isn't because of him. At the end, it's Caroline who has empowered Caroline. Bravo!
Now to West. Phew...hot, hot, hot! Another complex character, with so many layers...part bad boy, part lost soul. I loved him. The chemistry between Caroline and West is electric, steamy and intense...and I loved it. He's a heady mix of strong, sexy and vulnerable. I'm not going to lie...I fell for him in a big way.
Deeper surprised me by just how much I loved it, I wasn't expecting to become so hooked I couldn't stop reading. Rarely do I bother reading those extracts from the next book you find at the end...but I wasn't ready to give up Caroline and West, so I did. And now I can't wait for Harder, released in July. I can't compare Deeper to other books in the New Adult genre, but I know I'd recommend it....more