Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Review - Bring Me Back by B A Paris

Having read every book that B A Paris has ever written, I can honestly say that she is an author who can do no wrong. Her books are consistently superb and seem to get better and better and Bring Me Back was absolutely no exception to this. A true psychological thriller in every sense, I was hooked on Bring Me Back from the very first page and raced my way through this book, devouring it in just two sittings. 

Twelve years ago Finn’s girlfriend, Layla, disappeared from a rest stop in France in the dead of night after Finn left the car in order to use the restroom. Arrested on suspicion of Layla’s murder, Finn was soon released due to insufficient evidence and cleared of any wrongdoing but Layla was never seen again. Now some twelve years later, Finn has moved on with his life, has a successful career and is even engaged to Layla’s sister, Ellen. However, when a Russian doll turns up on their doorstep, something which only Layla could ever know the significance of, their lives are turned into turmoil and are never the same again particularly when identical dolls quickly follow. Just who is behind these Russian dolls and why?

Although I didn’t particularly relate to any of the characters within Bring Me Back, all of the characters were exceptionally intriguing and all had something about them that I just wanted to get to the bottom of and discover. Out of all of them, Finn was a particularly strong and memorable character, who was clearly tormented and agonised by the past, sometimes struggled to comprehend what was happening in the present but was desperate to uncover the truth something which as a reader I understood. 

One thing that can most definitely be said is that B A Paris knows how to write an incredible psychological thriller, in which there is growing tension throughout and the ending is impossible to predict. Alternating between the past and the present, B A Paris really ensures that the readers get the full picture at all times and are never missing any information. With some very short chapters, B A Paris has created a very readable and unforgettable book, one that very quickly captured my attention and was truly impossible to put down. 

A thoroughly compulsive read, Bring Me Back is a book that not only had me on the edge of my seat but also demonstrates just what a talented author B A Paris is. With this being her third book to date, and the third book of hers that I loved, I will most definitely be back to read more by her in the future. 

Sunday, 24 June 2018

Review - The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner

The Story of Our Lives is a book written by Helen Warner and was the first of her books that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading before. From the outset I have to say that I found this novel to be very impressive and was one that I enjoyed from beginning to end. As an avid reader, I’ve come across a lot of books that deal with the subject of friendship and whilst The Story of Our Lives is one of them, it was certainly one of the best I’ve ever read. 

When the book begins it’s 1997 we meet Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa who all became best friends at university but have not seen eachother for many years. At the time we first meet them, they are reunited at a beautiful cottage in Southwold for what will be just the first of their annual trips away together. As each of the four girls look forward to these trips away, they think they know eachother very well but as they catch-up with eachother as each year passes and reflect on their past lives, a huge secret is soon revealed, one that has the potential to shatter their friendship. 

Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa are four ladies who between them have most definitely experienced many ups and downs and highs and lows in life, something which made it so very easy to relate to them and become immersed in their story. Each character was fabulously well developed with each having a strong and distinctive voice and with the book spanning many years, by the end of the book it felt like I was an additional friend of theirs having got to know them all so very well. 

One of the very best things about The Story of Our Lives is the way in which it is written, I simply adored it and thought that Helen Warner has done an absolutely incredible job with it. Containing so much detail that you are never left with questions, the book moves smoothly and beautifully on from one year to the next. I particularly loved the way in which the book used real live events to introduce us to the new year and, although they didn’t relate to the story, they really got me thinking and reflecting on my own life, about where I was and what I was doing at that time. Despite dealing with some difficult themes, there were many memorable moments throughout the book that really cheered me up and put a smile on my face. 

At its very heart, The Story of Our Lives was a fabulously enjoyable and engaging book about friendship that highlighted how even through the hardest of times true friendship will never die. It was a really wonderful introduction to Helen’s writing and has left me feeling incredibly excited to go on and discover more written by her in the future. 

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Review - The Summer of Second Chances by Maddie Please

The Summer of Second Chances is the debut novel by Maddie Please and it was one that I absolutely adored. With a gorgeous cover and a beautiful story, The Summer of Second Chances was an uplifting, feel-good read that was so very easy to become immersed in. At a time when I needed it most, this book was the perfect distraction from daily life and was one that really did leave me with a huge smile on my face. 

Within the Summer of Second Chances we meet Lottie who has very recently experienced a very traumatic and difficult time which resulted in her losing everything - her home, her relationship and her money. Desperately in need of somewhere to live, her best friend Jess offers her a roof over her head in the form of a cottage in Devon which Lottie agrees to redecorate in exchange for free rent. Whilst Lottie cannot forget the past, after settling into the cottage she quickly gets to work on it with the frequent help of the handsome neighbour Bryn, but after everything she’s been through will she allow herself a second chance? Will she ever learn to live and love again? 

Maddie Please has created a marvellous character within Lottie whose journey was an absolute pleasure to follow from beginning to end. As someone whose world was falling apart when we were first introduced to her, Lottie was a character who I had a great deal of empathy for and was one who I loved from the start. As I couldn’t bear to be parted from Lottie’s story, I desperately hoped that things would turn out well for her, that she would get to where she wanted to be in life and have the happiness she so desperately deserved. All of the characters that surrounded Lottie were equally as marvellous, including Bryn whose relationship with Lottie was so lovely to see develop and grow. 

The Summer of Second Chances was a book that was so wonderfully written and whilst it was mainly light-hearted Maddie has also included a number of deeper and darker themes within it, handling them in a wonderful manner with much sensitivity and tact. One thing that I particularly loved about the way this book was written was the way in which it switched seamlessly between the past and the present, something which allowed the reader to see the bigger picture. I also adored the way in which this book reinforced an important life lesson about not letting the bad things in life hold us back or prevent us from moving forwards and achieving our dreams. 

All in all The Summer of Second Chances was a gorgeous little book that really did feel like a ray of sunshine on a rainy day. It was a fabulous debut novel and one that has left me feeling really excited to go on and discover more of what Maddie writes in the future. She’s definitely an author to look out for!

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Review - Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

The story of Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig is quite simply a wonderful story about an incredible young girl. Although it may have taken me a while to pick this book up, I am so very glad that I did as I feel certain that the tale of Ginny Moon really is one that I will remember for a very long time. From beginning to end, this was a story that was unique, poignant, beautifully written and so very easy to fall in love with. 

Within the book we meet fourteen-year-old Ginny Moon who is autistic and was removed from the care of her addict mother at a very young age. Having lived in multiple foster homes where things really haven’t worked out, Ginny is now living in her fourth forever home. Whilst things don’t always go to plan for young Ginny, she has been living with her current foster parents for some time and for the most part all are happy. However, as her foster mother prepares for the birth of her baby, things start to fall apart for young Ginny with talk of a new baby reminding her of her “baby doll” who was left in a suitcase at her birth mother’s when social services took her away. Ginny sets out on a dangerous mission to get her baby doll back…

This remarkable tale is one that is told entirely from the perspective of the young Ginny Moon, which allows the reader to really get to know her. Whilst she wasn’t entirely cute or sweet, she was a character who I loved for her bravery, determination and strength in what is, for her, a very confusing and difficult world. I became quickly engrossed and invested in Ginny’s story from a very early stage in the book and struggled to put it down as I was so desperate to see how things would turn out for Ginny. 

One thing that struck me whilst reading this novel was how incredibly realistic the story of Ginny Moon seemed to be and Benjamin Ludwig’s knowledge of autism through his own experiences of adopting an autistic child really did shine through. This book really opened my eyes to a condition that I previously knew very little about and I felt like I learned so very much from reading it, although I didn’t always appreciate the repetitive nature of it. Furthermore, the way in which Benjamin has written this book is absolutely stunning and the writing kept me hooked from beginning to end, with moments of suspense, moments that made me cry and moments that made me laugh. 

Ginny Moon is one of those books that I really do recommend particularly for those who enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I think the tale of Ginny Moon is an important  one, that needed to be told and will hopefully lead to an increased awareness about the condition of autism. For a debut novel it was overall incredibly impressive and I’d definitely be keen to read more by Benjamin in the future. 

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Review - Six Little Secrets by Katlyn Duncan

Six Little Secrets is a YA novella written by Katlyn Duncan and one which most certainly reminded me of the John Hughes film, The Breakfast Club. From the moment I first heard about this book I was instantly intrigued and knew it would be one I had to read. With twist after twist and shock after shock, Six Little Secrets was a book that definitely kept me on my toes and was one that I did quite enjoy reading. 

Within this book we meet six students - Zoe, Cece, Quentin, Jackie, Teddy and Holly - who all gather together one Saturday morning for a detention. All from different cliques, these are six students who would not normally socialise or talk to eachother. However, soon after their detention begins, something dark happens and it becomes apparent that each of them is holding a very dark secret and that nobody is there by accident. As each of them in turn receives instructions that they must follow or face the consequences for not doing so the question on everyone’s mind is who is doing this to them and why? 

Throughout the duration of the book we get to hear from each of the six characters who are gathered for their Saturday morning detention, but possibly due to the short length of the book I never really felt like I got to know them. I felt that this was quite a shame as I feel certain that there was more to each of the characters than their secret. At the start of the book each of the characters seemed so very different from eachother that it was impossible to imagine how their lives could ever be connected. Therefore it really was quite incredible and fascinating to find out exactly how they all join up and link together. 

One thing that I didn’t realise prior to picking up Six Little Secrets was that it was actually a novella. Given its short length, I read the book an incredibly short of space of time but couldn’t help feeling that the entire book seemed far too short and lacked any real depth or description to it. Despite this I really did enjoy the premise of the book and thoroughly appreciated Katlyn’s writing style and thought it was perfect for the genre of the book - gripping, fast-paced and quite unpredictable. 

Six Little Secrets was an enjoyable book but was one that would most certainly have worked better as a longer read, which would have allowed Katlyn more time to go into more detail and develop on both the themes and characters that she presented to us throughout the book. That said I feel it would be a perfect read for those who enjoyed watching The Breakfast Club and I would definitely be interested in reading more of what Katlyn writes in the future. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Review - Anna by Amanda Prowse

For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed books written by the incredibly talented author that is Amanda Prowse and was very excited to begin reading her latest story Anna. Being slightly different from her other novels, Anna is the first of the One Love, Two Stories series which will soon be followed up in April by Theo. Anna was a story that more than lived up to the very high expectations I had of it and I absolutely adored reading it from beginning to end. 

When we first meet Anna Cole she’s very young and living in a South London flat with her mum who she loves with all her heart and her big brother Joe who she adores despite his troubles. Meanwhile, all she knows about her father who she’s never met is that he drives a black cab and whilst her life isn’t perfect she’s happy enough. Fast forward to when Anna turns 18 and it’s safe to say that she’s suffered a lifetime of unhappiness, having lost her mother at a young age, her brother to drugs and having lived in care. Things don’t become any easier as she struggles to make a successful life for herself in London but several years later she meets Theo, who despite having a very different past to Anna seems to be absolutely perfect for her. This is Anna’s version of what is a truly unforgettable love story. 

As I have come to expect from a book written by Amanda Prowse, within Anna is a character who has experienced an incredible amount of adversity but is a strong, caring and inspirational young woman. Throughout the novel, Amanda successfully manages to capture every emotion that Anna is feeling and she was a character who I both admired and empathised with from a very eary stage. As I read Anna’s story and discovered her hopes and dreams, I couldn’t help but hope that they would become a reality and that everything she wished for would one day come true. 

Throughout the entirety of Anna, Amanda Prowse’s signature writing style that I have always adored really does shine through. With an incredible talent for creating powerful, emotional and engaging stories that will stay with you for a lifetime, Amanda always writes about real life issues with sensitivity and tact which was certainly the case within Anna. Amanda’s writing within Anna was also incredibly poignant and heartfelt, with plenty of important messages, moments that made me laugh and moments that made me cry. 

Sometimes you come across a book that needs to be rated more than the standard five stars available on the likes of Goodreads and Amazon - for me Anna is one of those books. This was an exceptional story that I truly loved and I cannot wait to read Theo’s side of the story when it’s published next month. Believe me when I say that you will not be disappointed by this book!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Review - The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe

The Silence Between Breaths by Cath Staincliffe is perhaps one of the hardest books that I’ve ever had to review, something which is largely due to its subject matter. With so much time having lapsed since I first downloaded this book, I went into it with very little idea what to expect but have to say that it truly did pull me in and have me hooked from the very first page. Whilst I can’t say that it was a particularly happy or uplifting read, one thing that can definitely be said is that it was extremely powerful and emotive. 

Within this particular novel, eight passengers board coach B of the 10.35 train from Manchester to London Euston and settle into their seats for what will be an almighty journey. All with different reasons for boarding the train, whether to attend a job interview, family wedding or little holiday, many begin their journey full of hope for the future with little to burden them. That is all except for Saheel, a man with terrible intentions who unbeknown to the other passengers has a bomb concealed in his rucksack which he intends to wreak havok with and destroy innocent lives, hopes and dreams in the process. 

The Silence Between Breaths is told from the perspective of the eight different people who are on board the train in addition to Saheel’s sister who is at home when the atrocity takes place. As such it did take me a little while to get into the swing of the novel and remember who everyone was. However, this didn’t last long and I have to say that I was thoroughly impressed by how fabulously developed each of the characters were. As we got to know more and more about the lives of each of those on board the train, I found it harder to read without wondering who would survive. 

Cath Staincliffe has created a novel that was extremely powerful, moving and thought-provoking that really highlights the importance of making the most of each and every moment you get to share with those you love. Despite being rather gripping to the point where I struggled to put it down, it certainly wasn’t a pleasant or easy read but was extremely topical in nature. With events such as what took place within this novel, being reported far too frequently, I couldn’t help but be filled with a sense of sadness that this book is not purely a figment of an author’s imagination. I think Cath is to be commended for how superbly she has pulled this novel off, with a vast amount of sensitivity and tact throughout. 

The sort of book that made me want to hug all those that are dear to me and tell them how much they are loved, The Silence Between Breaths was a book that has had an incredible impact on me and is a book that I will not be able to forget for a long time to come. This was the first of Cath Staincliffe’s novels that I have ever read before and I can guarantee that it will not be the last as I’m now looking forward to discovering more of what she has written. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Review - Watching Edie by Camilla Way

Watching Edie is the debut novel by Camilla Way and I have to say that it was an astoundingly good and thoroughly addictive read. This was one of those books that once started was truly impossible to put down and I found myself racing through it at an incredible speed, devouring the entire book in just one sitting. Relatively creepy in nature, this was a book that got right under my skin in a way that I was not expecting and in a way that no book has done in a very long time. 

Within the book, Camilla Way introduces us to Edie and Heather, two women who formed an unlikely friendship when they were at school. Having gone their separate ways many years ago, Edie is now thirty-three years old, heavily pregnant and living alone with a lot on her mind so is a tiny bit surprised to open her front door one day and find Heather on the doorstep. Not knowing what to say to Heather, someone who Edie hoped never to see again, memories of the past come flooding back. Just what happened all those years ago that kept these girls apart for so long and why has Heather come to find Edie now? 

Whilst I wouldn’t say that either of the characters that we met throughout Watching Edie were particularly likeable, one thing that can definitely be said is that they were thoroughly intriguing. With both Heather and Edie being fabulously crafted, I quickly became involved in their story and was so keen to discover just what happened between them all those years ago. From the very start with Edie’s shock and surprise at Heather arriving at her house being so incredibly palpable, I knew that something signifant had taken place between the two and as the book progressed it delved further into the minds of each of the characters, revealing exactly what made each of them tick. 

Watching Edie by Camilla Way was a book with an extremely compelling plot that contained so many twists and turns that I did not see coming and were truly impossible to predict. Camilla has written Watching Edie in a truly fabulous way, with each chapter being told from the perspective of both Edie and Heather, alternating between the past and present day. As the tension built at an incredible pace, you just knew that something big was going to happen and I found that I was both impressed and shocked by what was truly a spectacular ending that will stay with me for a long time to come. 

As a book that deserves an incredible amount of both attention and success, Watching Edie is a book that I absolutely adored from beginning to end. A true psychological thriller, written by someone who I feel is an exciting new voice in the genre, I’m thoroughly looking forward to discovering and reading more from Camilla in the future. If I could give this book more than five stars I would!