Monday, 31 July 2017

Review - The Darkness Within by Lisa Stone

Prior to reading this book the only thing I knew was that it was written by Cathy Glass under the name of Lisa Stone. This book, The Darkness Within, is the author’s first psychological thriller and having enjoyed her previous books i just knew it was something I had to read. Exploring a premise that I found to be quite fascinating, this book had me well and truly hooked from the very first page and really got me thinking. I’m so glad I picked it up! 

The book begins by briefly introducing us to Rosie’s relationship with Shane, an abusive and horrible man. It then switches focus and we meet Reverend Wilson, his wife Elizabeth and their son Jacob. Despite his young age, Jacob is critically ill and in desperate need of a livesaving heart transplant so they are all overjoyed to hear that a donor has been found. However their happiness doesn’t last long as after the transplant Jacob’s behaviour and personality both take a nasty turn. He becomes unrecognisable, so different from the kind, caring boy he once was. What they don’t realise at first is that the heart came from Shane, who was killed in a horrific car accident whilst drunk. Why has Jacob’s personality changed? Did he inherit the personality as well as the heart of his donor? 

As the perpetrators of domestic violence, Shane and Jacob were two characters who I despised and I couldn’t wait for them to get their comeuppance. As such whilst I know that a parent’s job is to protect their children I really couldn’t understand the behaviour of Jacob’s parents. Despite all the evidence they had before them by acting in the way that they did, they effectively condoned Jacob’s behaviour when instead it should have been punished from the start. For all she was going through, Rosie was one of the only character who I really cared for and I hugely admired her for the bravery and strength that she showed. 

From having read a few of the author’s previous books as Cathy Glass, one thing I knew was that she was somewhat of an expert when it comes to dealing with difficult themes. The Darkness Within was no exception to this, it certainly didn’t make for easy reading and did contain many a scene that some readers may find distressing. Despite a few moments that I struggled with myself, I found that I was unable to put this book down - it was fast-paced and full of tension from the very fisrt page although I have to say I’m still very dubious about the idea that a donor’s personality can be passed on to the recipient through a transplant. 

With some very real but not necessarily likeable characters and a storyline that I became incredible wrapped up in, I really feel that Lisa has done an incredible job with The Darkness Within. A powerful and emotive read, for her first psychological thriller it was certainly impressive and I hope that there will be plenty more by her in the future. 

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Review - Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin

Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin was one of those books that turned out to be every bit as beautiful on the inside as the gorgeous cover was on the outside. What can only be described as a truly sensational debut novel, it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that was quite as powerful and emotional as this one. There’s no doubt in my mind that the story told within Before You Were Mine is one that will stay with me for a long time yet to come. 

At the young age of fourteen Eli gave birth to a beautiful baby girl who upon being born was quickly taken from Eli’s arms and put up for adoption with Eli getting little say in the matter. With a family that’s ashamed of her and a community that doesn’t try to hide its disappointment, Eli lives a lonely existence until she marries Tommy at the age of seventeen. As thirty years go by in which Eli tries desperately hard to rebuild her life and enjoy her marriage to Tommy, she is never quite able to forget about her daughter. So when, one day, she bumps into a woman who she’s certain is her daughter in a grocery store, Eli can’t wait to tell Tommy all about it but he’s not convinced. As things then start to spiral out of control, just what will the outcome be? 

Having got through so much on her own at such a young age, one thing that can most definitely be said about Eli is that she was an incredibly strong character who I had a great deal of respect for from the start. As the novel progressed and I became heavily involved with Eli’s story I found my heart breaking for her on more than one occasion and couldn’t quite believe the horrific way in which she was treated by her own family, including her parents. I desperately wanted Eli to find both the peace and happiness that she so desperately deserved and took comfort in the fact that she had someone as kind and supportive as Tommy by her side. Tommy and Eli were certainly two wonderfully created characters who both worked perfectly together and helped to make this novel as fabulous as it was.  

Whilst it took me a little while to get to grips with the way in which the characters spoke throughout Before You Were Mine, I have to say that I thought Before You Were Mine was superbly written. As a book that dealt with so many themes in an incredibly sensitive manner, Em Muslin really manages to draw the reader into the heart of the story and created something that was truly unforgettable.  

With a fabulous lead character who you can’t help but care about, Before You Were Mine was a novel that not only pulled at my heartstrings but was also captivating and breathtaking. Told from a new voice in women’s fiction, I found this to be a highly accomplished debut novel that has left me feeling very certain that this is just the start of a fabulous writing career for Em. I’ll certainly be looking forward to her next book! 

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Review - What Alice Knew by T A Cotterell

Every now and again you will come across an utterly phenomenal book that will prove to be so difficult to review. What Alice Knew by T. A. Cotterell is just one of those books that I’ve had the pleasure of reading recently and one thing I desperately hope is to do this incredible debut novel the justice it deserves whilst not giving too much away. Having seen so many people talking about this book on social media, prior to reading it I had very high hopes and this thoroughly addictive and engaging read certainly didn’t disappoint me in the slightest. 

With a happy marriage, wonderful children and a job she clearly enjoys, it’s fair to say that Alice is very satisfied with her life. That is until one night when everything changes and her husband Ed, a successful and well-respected obstetrician fails to return home on time. As she soon receives a suspicious phonecall and sees her husband become increasingly unreliable, Alice is determined that she must find out exactly what is going on. However, when the truth is finally revealed, Alice is faced with a brutal choice, that has the potential to completely tear her family apart. 

What Alice Knew is undoubtedly a psychological thriller and one which really stands out from the crowd, sending the reader on what can only be described as an incredible journey that’s full of ups and downs and twists and turns. As a book that deals quite heavily with moral dilemmas, I found that I became extremely connected with the characters I met throughout and found myself constantly questioning whether or not I agreed with the decisions they were making. Whilst I found myself siding with Alice in terms of what she did in her predicament, I never felt that Cotterell was influencing my decision and was instead giving me the choice about who and what to believe. 

What Alice Knew drew me in and had me gripped from the very first page, something which is largely due to the author’s wonderful way of telling a story. As well as being a highly intense and very fast-paced novel, T. A. Cotterell provides a fabulously detailed insight into every situation that presents itself throughout the book. Whilst it is only told from the point of view of Alice, Cotterell offers different perspectives to every situation, really demonstrating how different actions have different consequences and how difficult it can be to make a decision when faced with a challenging situation. 

What Alice Knew was a truly fantastic and impressive novel that is told by an exciting new voice in psychological thriller fiction. I predict great things for T. A. Cotterell’s future writing career and hope that there will soon be another of his books to discover. What Alice Knew is a book that has been and will be enjoyed by many readers so if you haven’t read it yet then my only question is what are you waiting for? 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Review and Giveaway - The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters by Jaimie Admans

As a book which wasted absolutely no time in throwing the reader straight into the drama, The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters was a truly beautiful and magical read. From the moment I picked it up I had a feeling that it would be the book for me and I was proved to be correct. Having never previously read anything by Jaimie Admans, I’m so glad I gave this book a chance - it exceeded my expectations and didn’t leave me disappointed. 

We first meet Wendy as she awkwardly sits in a sweltering office with a solicitor and a man she’s never met before to hear the news that she has been left a French chateau in the will of her old neighbour and friend, Eulalie. Whilst this should be exciting news, Wendy doesn’t feel entirely happy by it particularly as she learns that she will be expected to share it with Eulalie’s great nephew, Julian, despite the fact that he has never met his great aunt. Keen to see the chateau, Wendy quickly decides to head over to France and see it for herself but is devastated to see that Julian has also had the same idea. With emotions running high, just what will the outcome be when they are forced to endure eachother’s company and who is the chateau destined to belong to?

I have to be honest and say that at first I struggled to warm towards Wendy and found that she was quite immature and hurtful towards Julian with some of her comments when he’d done nothing to deserve them. However, my opinion of her soon changed as I learned more about her and the things she had experienced in her life. In fact, by the end of the novel, I really quite liked her and loved reading of the character’s antics and the dynamic that Jaimie had created between the two of them. 

As I read this book, I found that there was something enchanting and captivating about Jaimie’s style of writing - it really was impossible not to love and I adored everything about the reading experience. There was a real fairy-tale like quality to the book that I found was so easy to become immersed in. I loved the sense of mystery and magic that surrounded the chateau that really captured my imagination and left me desperately turning the pages. 

With characters that you will be sad to say goodbye to and so much beauty packed within its pages, I certainly fell head over heels in love with this book. With the summer months still to come, The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters would make for perfect holiday reading. For me, it was a fabulous introduction to Jaimie’s writing and I’m thoroughly looking forward to reading more of her books in the future. 


Enter the giveaway below, for your chance to win an amazing prize, a French themed goodie bag as pictured, which includes the following:

- 1x Paperchase Paris notebook and pen
- 1x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters notebook
-1x Little Eiffel Tower model
-1x Eiffel Tower bookmark
-1x The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters magnet
-1x Signed bookmark

Good luck!

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