Monday, 28 March 2016

Review - These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton

Written by Juliet Ashton, everything about These Days of Ours is absolutely beautiful from the stunning cover to the gorgeous story told within its pages. It was a real pleasure to read this novel and I feel extremely lucky and privileged to have received a stunning proof copy of this book that was also signed. So, before I get too stuck into this review, many thanks to the publishers for the truly special gift! I loved These Days of Ours so very much and just know that it will be a book that I will cherish and keep on my bookshelf for years to come. 

Ever since Kate’s fifth birthday party when Charlie declared his love for her and Kate repaid the compliment by pushing his face into the iced cake on the dining room table, the pair have been inseperable. They believe that their future together is written in the stars, that they will never be apart and always together. Growing older and supporting eachother through some pretty major life events, it seems like a firm friendship is as far as the relationship between the pair is going. However, can you ever ignore and walk away from your first true love? What happens when, despite everything, that true love never dies? 

Each chapter is dedicated to one of those all important, major life events - big birthdays, marriages, christenings and funerals to name just a few. It’s these occasions, where we see Kate and Charlie being pulled together before being dragged apart once more to live their separate lives, which in reality are nothing like they dreamed and hoped they would be as children. I particularly liked the fact that the novel was based around specific life events as it gave a real structure to the novel. Furthermore, as each chapter began with a dated invitation to the specific life event that the chapter was about, it allowed me to place the characters in time and see how far they had come together on their journey. It helped me to feel connected to them and as if I was part of their story.

Love is not the only element that shines through in These Days of Ours as we also see the importance of family coming together and supporting eachother through the good, the bad and the ugly. In particular we see the bond that is shared between Kate and Becca who are not just cousins but best friends too. It was clear for anyone to see that Becca only wanted the very best for Kate and was there for her through all those major life events but there were a few times when I found myself questioning the advice she happily offered her cousin. Also worth a mention is the very special relationship that Kate has with her father, it was inspirational and at times left me in pieces but added a whole new dimension to the book. 

These Days of Ours was everything I hoped it would be and more, it was simply stunning. It sent me on a complete emotional rollercoaster where I laughed, cried, felt happy and sad but I wouldn’t change a thing about this delightful and perfect novel. It’s crystal clear that Juliet has an incredible talent for writing a tale that is packed full of heart and soul. Her writing throughout never faltered, it was consistently superb and has left me looking forward to reading much more written by her. If I ever need something to pick me up and leave me feeling hopeful about the world it’s to this book, which I awarded five glittering stars, that I shall return. 

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Review - Beneath the Surface by Heidi Perks

Beneath the Surface is the debut novel written by Heidi Perks and I have got to say right from the start of this review that it absolutely blew me away. With a unique storyline and Heidi’s truly magnificent writing style shining through during the entire novel, Beneath the Surface really does stand out from other books that belong to the psychological thriller genre. I thought that it was an incredible novel that surpassed all of my expectations and was, in short, a complete gem that will most definitely be making an appearance in my top 10 reads of 2016. 

When Beneath the Surface first opens we are introduced to Abigail who arrives home from school one day to find her house, a place that is usually so full of activity, eerily silent. Wandering through the house and finding that the bedroom that her two little twin sisters, Hannah and Lauren, share is completely empty, Abigail soon realises that her family have abandoned her. She has been left with nothing, except a million burning questions along with feelings of both guilt and apprehension, to fend for herself. 

From the very start of this novel I was completely and utterly hooked, I was well and truly glued to my kindle and found myself reading it whenever I had a few minutes to spare. I was entirely compelled to keep turning the pages, wanting desperately to find out what on earth would cause Abigail’s mother, Kathryn, to run away with two of her daughters and leave the other one behind. Had Abigail done something to deserve it? Why did Abigail’s grandmother, Eleanor, not bother to offer her help and support? Both of these questions along with so many others are answered as Heidi took me on an unforgettable journey where nothing was predictable and a lifetime of family secrets were revealed. 

What I particularly enjoyed about this novel was that it was told from the perspective of several different characters which meant that it was possible to see the story unfolding from the angles of many key players. Regarding the characters what was also incredibly clear to see was that Heidi had spent a lot of time thinking them through and had constructed them with so much care and attention that I felt something towards each and every single one of them. Much like the other characters, my dislike for Eleanor the grandmother grew every time I heard more about her. She was a world away from my own grandmother who I know would do anything she could to help and protect me that I couldn't help thinking that Kathryn really did need to learn to stand up to her. Meanwhile I felt nothing but sorry for Abigail and all that she had been through and thought that Hannah and Lauren, despite having very different personalities, were just as you’d expect twins of their age to be - supportive of each other and the decisions they made even if their opinions differed.

I could find absolutely no fault with Beneath the Surface which has desperately left me wanting and hoping for more to be written by Heidi Perks. I awarded this incredible novel, which completely captivated me and was so expertly written, five shining stars on Goodreads but honestly do think it deserves so many more than that. If you’re into your psychological fiction and enjoy a book that will keep you guessing and is full of family drama from beginning to end then Beneath the Surface is most definitely for you. 

I would like to end this review by thanking Heidi for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Review - The Good Kind of Bad by Rita Brassington

The Good Kind of Bad by Rita Brassington had been demanding my attention for a few months before I finally got round to reading it. A book which could be described as psychological thriller with an element of crime mixed in, it drew me in from the start. I found myself frantically tapping away at my kindle to turn the pages as I was so desperate to find out what would happen next. Consuming well over 50% of the book in one sitting, it’s safe to say that I thought this was a very good book. 

Deciding that a steady and stable life in the UK with her fiance, Will, was not something she wanted our main character, whose first name we never learn, leaves him stranded at the alter and runs off to Chicago. Whilst there she meets Joe Petrozzi, a man who seems to be the polar opposite of Will, and marries him after a very short engagement - three weeks to be precise. Knowing very little about Joe before marrying him, like the fact he has a drinking problem and has had several run-ins with the police, it’s clearly a massive risk. I would personally describe it as pretty stupid, but uncertainty and excitement is exactly what this protagonist craves. However, was marrying Joe too big a risk and will she live to regret it? 

I have to say that Rita wastes absolutely no time in throwing the reader straight into the action of the book and from the very start I found that it was consistently fast-paced. Despite the fact that there was so much going on throughout, with twist after twist being thrown in my direction, I never once felt confused or lost track of what was happening. This clearly demonstrates Rita’s skill as an author, one who can successfully blend many different storylines and character’s lives together. 

The Good Kind of Bad is an incredibly emotive book that left me feeling the panic and tension that our main character felt as both her physical and mental strength were tested in a way I did not expect and on more than one occasion. To be truthful there were several times when I found myself visibly wincing at what was unfolding throughout the novel but I have to say that I think this was all well thought-through by Rita and done with exactly the right intention. 

Before getting started on The Good Kind of Bad which is Rita’s debut novel I had very little idea of what to expect as the blurb definitely gave nothing away but overall I was quite impressed. The premise was completely different from any other books I’ve read before so in that respect was completely unique and definitely stood out from the rest. If Rita ever writes a second novel I wouldn’t hesitate to pick it up! 

I would like to end this review by saying a massive thank you to Rita who very kindly sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Review - Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

I’m ashamed to say that Sleepless in Manhattan is the first book of Sarah Morgan’s that I’ve ever read and she’s written a lot! Going into this book I had no idea what to expect but I completely adored everything about this gorgeous novel. Recently I’ve not been able to get enough of psychological thrillers so this book was a real breath of fresh air, full of romance and fun, that was an absolute pleasure and privilege to read and has left me wanting much more written by Sarah. 

In this book, which as the title suggests is set in Manhattan, we are introduced to Paige who along with her two best friends, Frankie and Eva, have all been made redundant from Star Events. As a hard-working individual who wants nothing more than to be successful, Paige is left devastated and uncertain about her future. However, she’s soon filled with optimism and hope when her brother’s best friend, Jake, encourages Paige to set up her own events company with Frankie and Eva which is exactly what she does, falling more and more in love with Jake along the way which she knows she really shouldn't. 

First of all I loved the fact that this book was set in New York, a place I’ve never been to before but have always wanted to - even more so after reading this book! However, despite having never been there before I was able to picture the surroundings perfectly, from the streets with the looming skyscrapers where businesses thrive to the brownstone in which Paige lives with her brother, Matt, and her friends, Eva and Frankie. This is clearly due to the wonderful writing style of Sarah Morgan who included just the right amount of beautiful and intricate description. 

The characters in this book were also superbly crafted and I loved the friendship that existed between them all, how they all supported and stood by eachother and gave eachother confidence in their own abilities. That to me is what true friendship that will stand the test of time is all about. I think my favourite of these characters has got to be Paige, who has had a lot to deal with in her life but never wants to dwell on it and is instead admirably strong and determined to be successful. 

Now what I love is a book that has some sort of moral to it or conveys a message of some description and Sleepless in Manhattan did just that. As someone who spends a lot of time worrying about what may or may not be, what I took away from this book is something that I think will stay with me for a very long time and is something that fills me with great hope. What it conveyed to me was that although things may not be perfect now they do change and that it’s so important to stay true to yourself and what you believe in, never giving up on your hopes and dreams. 

In case you haven’t already guessed I absolutely loved this book and honestly cannot fault it - it deserves every success. Upon finishing Sleepless in Manhattan, I was so happy to learn that this is the first book in a trilogy and that I will soon be reunited again with the wonderful characters that I have grown to love throughout this first installment and of course Sarah Morgan’s fabulous writing!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Review - White Lies by Zoe Markham

I do love a good YA book particularly if it’s one that deals with real issues and really gets me thinking. That’s exactly what White Lies by Zoe Markham did and I have to say that I really did enjoy it. Having not read Zoe’s previous book, I had no idea what to expect in terms of her writing style but this didn’t matter as I quickly fell in love with it, meaning the book completely exceeded all of my expectations. 

With both of her parents in the army and therefore not settling down anywhere for very long, we first meet Abigail as she is being dropped off to begin life at yet another new school. This time though there’s a difference as, with her mum now going to join her dad abroad, Abigail will be a boarder. Although reluctant and upset at the thought of being separated from both her parents for an indefinite period of time, Abigail wants nothing more than to move forwards in her life and seems determined to make it work. But her mental strength doesn’t last long and soon after she arrives at the school things spiral drastically and dramatically out of control. 

This book is quite honestly great and says a lot for Zoe’s talent as an author with it successfully dealing with and combining a number of different topics and themes. One theme that particularly stood out to me throughout the novel was that of mental health. For many reasons this is a topic that I’m always interested to read about and fully support it being included in YA literature given that it is a real issue that affects real lives in unimaginable ways. Awareness of it should and must be raised. 

Zoe’s writing style is something which I found to be extremely powerful in so much as she really made me feel so many different emotions whilst reading this book. I also found that I was instantly able to connect and emphasise with Abigail and all that she was going through. The author has also been extremely clever whilst writing this book, drip-feeding us vital information in a way that builds the tension and leaves you feeling compelled to keep turning the pages. There was also several unexpected twists in this book which kept me on my toes, the biggest of which came right towards the end - I never saw it coming! 

This was such a brilliant book and I’m so lucky to have got the chance to read and review it as part of the blog tour. I honestly can’t wait to catch up with Zoe’s previous book but am also really looking forward to reading more that Zoe writes in the future. If you’re looking for a tension-filled, YA thriller that you will not be able to put down then White Lies by Zoe Markham is the book for you. Excellent! 

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Review - You Sent Me A Letter by Lucy Dawson

Lucy Dawson has quite honestly produced an absolutely incredible novel in You Sent Me A Letter. This book was advertised in such a way, and I'd heard so many great things about Lucy’s previous books, that I jumped at the chance to review it. It was fantastic and, despite its relatively short length, is in no way lacking and is jam-packed full of suspense from the start. 

We first meet Sophie in the early hours of the morning who, whilst her fiance Marc is away, is home alone and wakes with a start to find a man in the room. This person, who seems to know far too much about Sophie’s family, hands her a letter with strict instructions that she is not to open it until 8pm the next day in front of all her family and friends at her 40th birthday party. Entering straight into panic mode, obsessing over the letter and what it may contain, Sophie finds herself unable to relax and enjoy her special day and all the surprises her fiance has planned for her. What repurcussions will this letter have, not just for her but all those she cares about?

As the minutes tick by to 8pm, Lucy takes us on a fast-paced journey with Sophie as she struggles to ascertain who is out to get her and tries to predict the contents of the letter. In doing so, we learn much about Sophie’s life - things, which if I was her, I would not want to become public knowledge. Learning what we do about Sophie left me in a complete quandary and I spent a lot of the book not knowing whether to feel sorry for her and the situation she was in or not. However, by the end of the book I was really warming to her and could see how much she cared about and wanted to protect those around her. 

Lucy has created an extraordinary story in You Sent Me A Letter that is completely addictive and superbly written. I became hooked on this book extremely quickly which was undoubtedly due to its incredible opening which left me with so many questions that I was desperate to have answers to. It was also completely unpredictable which is exactly what I like in any good psychological thriller and every time I thought I’d cracked it something came along to make me completely change my mind. 

The book also manages to convey a very important message with that being that all actions, whether good or bad, have consequences that we must be prepared to face up to and live with. 

Well, what more can I say? After how much praise I’ve seen Lucy’s previous books get I clearly had very high expectations for You Sent Me A Letter and it certainly lived up to them. I can’t wait to catch up on the rest of Lucy’s books and hope to see more written by her in the future. 

I would like to end this review by saying a massive thank you to the publishers at Corvus for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. A 5 star thriller that I highly recommend!