Writing

Review: Lies by T.M. Logan

Review: Lies by T.M. Logan

When Joe’s son spots his mother’s car on the way home and they make the decision to follow her, what happens next tears their lives apart. One thing I would say though, is that for me the blurb gives a little too much away. For part of the novel I was beginning to think that Joe might actually be the killer. He could have forgotten what he’d done out of the trauma of the situation. If I’d remembered what the blurb said before I started reading, then I would have lost that dynamic.

Logan has an impressive ability to create believable characters. Lies made a great change from the recent trend of novels with unreliable often substance abusing female narrators. Having a male protagonist felt like a breath of fresh air. The relationship between Joe and his son William was lovely and added a touch of realism to a genre that features characters often lacking in meaningful connections.

Lies was a joy to read. Fast paced, with twists and turns I wouldn’t have expected at the start. The conclusion was very unexpected, but all the clues are laid down in time that you might be able to spot the track the story is heading down (if you’re more perceptive than I am!). I guessed only part of the solution to the ‘what happened to Ben’ mystery and I had the motives completely wrong.

The integration of social media into the story was a great touch, making the world of Lies feel like real life. After all, everyone knows people who’ve been caught out by social media.

For me the only real negative about the story was something relatively small. I’m from relatively close to where the character Ben is from and there were a few geographical details that struck me as a little off and pulled me out of the story slightly. For people not from the area though, those would have been completely unnoticeable. Overall, the settings felt very believable too.

I was really rooting for Joe throughout Lies and I’d really recommend giving it a read to find out whether he manages to clear his name!

Thank you to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read this book.

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Writing

Waiting on Wednesday: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

Waiting on Wednesday: Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean

I’ve just had the pleasure of reading this amazing book through NetGalley and want to give a shoutout to my readers about it.

Here’s a quick snippet of what it is about, taken from my review:

What would happen if a magical woman whose very freedom is banned tries to win the hand of the emperor’s son in a high-stakes contest? Mari is a yokai. She is an Animal Wife whose people seek wealthy husbands in order to take their wealth for themselves. Mari sets out to do her duty and try to win the hand of the emperor. 

My full review will be live on my blog closer to release day but in the meantime I just wanted to let you know it might be something you want to add to your TBR.

It’s a rollercoaster ride of emotions!

Empress of All Seasons will be published on 8th November 2018.

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Writing

Review: Your Closest Friend by Karen Perry

To start with, I don’t think I’ve ever read a thriller novel that starts in the way Your Closest Friend does before. It was a dark change from the usual cliched story starters. Finding themselves trapped together in a life and death situation, Cara and Amy have little choice but to trust each other. It’s only when this trust is taken outside of the confines of the store room that things start to go wrong…

Cara’s choice to have a complete stranger look after her young child would usually seem completely mad. But the set-up makes Amy seem like an ideal candidate. Apparently she has qualifications, apparently she has experience, apparently she is safe….

The dual narrative really adds something special. Seeing the unravelling of Cara’s life from Amy’s perspective too made everything seem much more sinister. Amy starts off as a really sympathetic character but of course things don’t always stay the same. I will say that Cara’s mistakes did make her seem a little unlikeable at times, as did aspects of Amy’s personality, but the writing style was very compelling.

I like that all characters in this novel are flawed, like real people. The mistakes they make largely seem real. Sure, at times you need to suspend your disbelief (and Cara’s husband Jeff doesn’t seem to have much of a personality at times), but that’s all part of the fun.

I flew through Your Closest Friend and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fast paced thriller to enjoy. Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin UK and Karen Perry for the opportunity to read.

Your Closest Friend is out now!

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Writing

Waiting on Wednesday: An Anonymous Girl

I recently had the pleasure of reading this novel through the NetGalley programme, and I just have to bring it to all of your attentions. It’s a wonderfully fast-paced thrill ride, featuring psychology, female bonding, and suspense.

You’ll fly through it in an afternoon! I’ve been purposefully vague as I don’t want to spoil it at all. It comes out in early January 2019 and it’s a must-read.

Start off 2019 with a bang: give An Anonymous Girl a go.

Emma 🙂

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Writing

Review: Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza

Review: Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win

In an age of political horrors, this book was one I needed. There’s no outright mention of the name of the current US president or his rival during the race, but the world is pretty recognisable.

Charlotte Walsh is standing, not for president, but for Senate. At the outset of the novel she seems to have a pretty perfect life. But as the race continues we see her life start to unravel. That perfect marriage? Maybe not. The picture perfect family? Look behind the curtain, in her hometown.

I loved the realistic way that Charlotte and Max interacted. People aren’t perfect and Jo Piazza really made that clear, while still making Charlotte one of the most likeable amongst the strong female protagonists I’ve seen lately.

My only real dislike about this novel is a pretty massive spoiler, so I’ll not spell it out. Let’s just say that I found out that the central conflict of the book isn’t what it appears, but is more about the relationship between families and colleagues amidst political drama.

Still, despite that surprise, I really enjoyed this book. I raced through it and it was both involving and light enough to be perfect – as it’s recent reviews by magazines such as Elle and People suggest – for a holiday read.

Thank you to Netgalley, Simon & Schuster and Jo Piazza for the opportunity to read this fun, fast-paced political novel!

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Writing

Review: The Space Between by Dete Meserve

Review: The Space Between by Dete Meserve

My favourite part about this novel was the depictions of space. Sarah’s love for space made the stars feel like a character in their own right. It was such a refreshing change to mystery/thriller novels with completely bland settings.

I raced through the pages, desperate to find out what happened to Ben. The ending was a little bit of a surprise but it was nice to read something that didn’t end completely bleakly. I don’t think I guessed who the suspect was until near the end which was great.

Despite it’s great points, this book is one I’ve found really tricky to rate. I’m going to lean towards 3.5 stars. It was an enjoyable read but I’ve found, looking back only a few days after finishing it, that I’m struggling to remember the story. When I’ve found a book a little forgettable, I find it hard to rate it any higher than this.

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Reading Regularly

Review: Not Her Daughter by Rea Frey

Review: Not Her Daughter

If you saw a woman verbally and physically abusing her child while no-one stopped it, what would you do?

This terrible dilemma is the basic premise of Rea Frey’s showstopping Not Her Daughter. Most people would perhaps let someone official know, or just stand by and avert their eyes, but Sarah refuses to do that. Frey’s stunning characterisations mean that the businesswoman’s choice doesn’t appear crazy or criminal, just horrifically misguided. When Sarah ‘rescues’ five year old Emma, it seems like it could almost be the right choice.
Throughout this novel, as we flip back and forth between the lives of Emma Townsend’s mother and the lady who kidnapped her, the complexity of motherhood is laid bare. I loved the use of third person for Amy, her real mother, and first person for Sarah. It meant that we subconsciously root for the kidnapper, an interesting twist.
Amy also has a story of her own to tell though. She’s had a hard life, feels trapped in her marriage, and has made plenty of mistakes of her own. Amy oozes regret and guilt. Her desperate attempt to find excitement through discovering her past lives demonstrated so clearly just how broken she is.
The use of ‘before’ and ‘after’ gave us insight into the lives of these women before everything went wrong. Sarah was highly successful, Amy unfulfilled. Sarah had recently left a long term relationship with a man who she had believed to be The One while Amy has a husband she hates. The contrast between them makes the conflict even more striking.

Sarah would be the perfect mother for an excitable young girl. But she isn’t — Emma is not her daughter. 

There were some plot threads I would have liked a little more detail on, such as why Ethan never proposed to Sarah, or what happens to Amy’s husband after the novel ends. By cutting those threads loose, though, Frey has constructed a world which feels just as real as our own.
A brilliant read that I devoured in two sittings.
Thank you to NetGalley, St Martin’s Press and Rea Frey for the opportunity to read this wonderful novel!
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Writing

Review: The Survival Game by Nicky Singer

Review: The Survival Game

This book wasn’t just enjoyable, it felt educational.

Everyone has heard about the plight of refugees but for many of us living a relatively cosy life in the West, myself included, it’s very hard to imagine what those fleeing horrific situations at home might be facing.

Mhairi is Scottish but has spent the last few years of her young life in the Sudan, where her parents worked, until global warming forces her northwards. North means freedom and life. The reader is dropped into her situation, when she has almost reached the safety of Scotland.

We find out, as Mhairi remembers, about the horrors she has faced. What happened to her family and to her friend Mohammed.

Seeing Mhairi come to care about a young boy she found alongside the way was beautiful.

Her character’s journey was one that reminded me about the importance of being kind, of not judging others before walking a mile in their shoes, and ultimately is one that I would recommend book clubs and teachers to utilise.

Mhairi’s experience shows how difficult reaching safety can be and while her story is fictional it really does pull at the heart strings.

By the heart-stopping ending, I was completely enthralled by the world that Singer has created. There were a few sections towards the end of the book, once it seemed like the immediate danger to Mhairi might be over, that felt a little slow but overall The Survival Game barely slows down for a moment.

A gripping and emotional read.

Thank you to Netgalley, Hachette Children’s Group and Hodder Children’s Books for the opportunity to read.

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Writing

Review: She Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

Review: She Was the Quiet One

 

After the death of their mother, twins Bel and Rose are shipped off by their grandmother to an elite boarding school. Miles from anyone they know, faced with their grief, the two twins take different routes at coping with their new situation. Good girl Rose excels at the academic institution, while Bel finds friends amongst a bad crowd. Add in to the mix a schoolgirl competition relating to a male teacher, some badly executed pranks and things really are going south…

There was lots to love about this book. The contrast between the two sisters, while perhaps a little too big a difference, made for some great conflicts early on. I was totally on Rose’s side, by the way. I couldn’t find anything to redeem Bel’s perspective on the pranks. But her rebel persona was part of the point as it was what allowed some of the big drama to happen. I really felt for Sarah, Mr. Donovan’s husband, too. He was making ploys to become headteacher and all she really wanted was a happy life with her family. I could support that. At first she was a great dorm mother. She did have a tendency to deny the truth of a situation at times though!

The core mystery of this novel was which twin was murdered. There was a line in one of the police interviews (which I loved!) which gave a slight clue but really the murder victim could have been either of them. The mystery added a real buzz to the novel, keeping me reading on.

Sometimes the dialogue felt unrealistic. While reading on my Kindle i bookmarked quite a few different pages, almost all in the first half, where phrases were used that didn’t feel at all like how a teenager would speak. Some of the dialogue felt too formal and then other lines made sixteen year olds use what seemed like slightly dated phrases. I have to admit at one point that I had got the impression that the characters were seventeen or eighteen – then to be reminded that they had just turned sixteen was quite jarring. This issue dropped off almost completely later in the book. By the end I was racing through the pages without paying attention to the words themselves, just the story they contained, if that makes sense.

Campbell dealt with some very difficult issues sensitively and her portrayal of boarding school life felt quite realistic (apart from the scandal and murder, of course). A great fast-paced read!

Thank you to Netgalley and St Martin’s Press for the opportunity to read She Was the Quiet One.

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