BLOG TOUR: Look At Me Now by Simone Goodman

This is a funny, feel-good and totally unique book, with characters that are full of personality!

Gracie Porter’s life is in a tangle. Her television cookery show is flailing and her boyfriend’s affections are waning. It’s time for a change…
Best friend Faith rescues her place on the small screen when she unwittingly lands them both starring roles in a steamy spin-off that becomes an instant hit. The new show is more about relationships, sex and stonking big vegetables than cooking.
Throw in a fluctuating crush on her surprisingly irresistible agent, Harry Hipgrave, an unlikely friendship with a pair of D-list models and a gossip journalist intent on making her life miserable, Grace wonders if becoming famous is all it’s cracked up to be?

Gracie is a truly hilarious character, I love the way she’s described throughout. She’s vulnerable but strong and independent, very caring and full of hilarious and witty comments.

The plot itself is a lot of fun. It may not be the most detailed or intense plot, but it’s amusing, feel-good, romantic and different. Gracie’s traditional cookery show is failing, so the revamped show is sexy, bizarre and full of innuendos. It’s a great concept and I’ve not read anything that treads the line of sexual and funny so brilliantly.

All the characters in this are really strong though. Gracie’s romantic life is very up and down, but it’s always amusing or easy for the reader to feel connected to her. She’s a very personable character, and her drunken antics certainly felt very real and emotional. Her relationship with Jordan, while funny at times, again had parts that the reader could connect to. This is why I liked her so much as a character, because a lot of the things she did or things that happened to her had a spark of reality about them. Not everything was totally and outrageously funny, she seemed very real throughout and so it was easy for the reader to feel connected to her.

Faith was another greatly written character. She wasn’t just the ‘best friend’, she had her own depths and her own romantic issues going on. Her and Gracie were a brilliant pair and I really liked seeing the development of their friendship throughout. Poppy was unique, bold and a strong friend to Gracie through some difficult time.

The romance is the real heart of this book. It combines an unusual plot with the usual delightful elements of a traditional rom-com and it’s truly a great combination. I loved this book, I tore through it in the space of the day, enjoying the genuine laugh-out-loud moments, the hilarious characters and witty innuendos and the satisfying ending.

Look At Me Now
Simone Goodman
Boldwood Books, 5th Nov 2019

BLOG TOUR: In My Mother’s Name by Laura Elliot

I LOVED this!

A swallow flutters its wings into a dimly lit attic as Adele Foyle stumbles across the secret diary of the mother she has never met, and a shocking account of a crime committed over twenty-five years ago…
With her mother’s words etched in her mind and in the pages tucked into her jacket pocket, Adele delays joining her fiancé for a new life abroad and returns to Reedstown, the last place her mother, Marianne, was seen alive. She has one purpose: to find those who carried out the devastating attack on her mother.
Born into a Mother and Baby home run by Gloria Thornton, Adele needs to first unlock the disturbing chain of events that led to her own birth if she is to understand what happened to her mother.
But news of Adele’s arrival and the diary spread like wildfire amongst the small close-knit community. Old memories are stirring up fresh wounds.
No-one wants the truth to be told. The diary is just a story, they say. Yet as Adele begins to unravel the layers of deceit, the tissue paper lies begin to fragment and her own relationship starts to break down.
Her mother was telling the truth. Adele just has to prove it, even if it puts her own life in terrible danger.

I absolutely loved this book. It was fast paced, unusual, emotional and full of historical intrigue which I loved. This combination of genres was really unique and kept me hooked throughout. 

Adele was such a great character. She was determined, passionate, and full of love. I really liked her connection with her mother, despite never having met her. I thought that the brief flashbacks with Marianne, via her diary, really worked as they helped to connect both Adele and the reader with Marianne. 

The plot was easy to follow and yet full of action. There was both the present and the past to understand, but the writing is so clear that it kept me hooked the whole time. It started off with a brilliantly sudden and shocking beginning and to be honest, it ended the same way. 

I would definitely recommend this for someone who wants a book with great characters, a story full of intrigue and a blend of some of the best genres. 

In My Mother’s Name
Laura Elliot
Bookouture, 24th October 2019

Bookish Bites: The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan

You never know who’s watching…
Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.
But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…
How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for…?

Loved the chilling nature of the crime, it was so emotionally manipulative and extremely clever. I liked how both Corinne and Ashley had their own stories that were different but also parallel.

Disliked … nothing? I thought this was a gripping, unusual psychological thriller!

Favourite moment? Probably the scene in the graveyard! I wasn’t sure how exactly it was going to turn out, and there were some chilling details and a great twist that all came to light. The ending was also unexpected and left me wanting more!

Favourite character was Corinne, as I felt her psychological state was written so well, and I was more invested in her, but I actually really liked all of them. I also loved that there were chapters from different perspectives as it offered a wider range of emotions and plots.

Final comments: This was a chilling, unusual and fast-paced story, with chapters from an unknown person that provided a truly unnerving atmosphere throughout.

BLOG TOUR: Reckless Girl by Emma Tallon

I have loved this entire series so far, and this book was once again a brilliantly fast-paced, intricate and emotional plot!

She’s back and this time she has a score to settle.
Anna Davis and Freddie Tyler are finally getting their lives back on track when an unexpected face turns up on Freddie’s doorstep. Someone from the past. And she delivers a blow that will tear their lives apart.
Reeling from the news, Anna throws herself into her work. Her clubs are doing well and she’s opening a new business venture with best friend, Tanya. But she’s worried that her relationship with Freddie could be about to fall apart.
Freddie’s got big problems with the business. A new gang is in town, and they’re muscling in on Tyler turf and need to be dealt with. Plus, he’s still being closely watched by a Met detective determined to bring him down.
As Freddie plots to take out his rivals, tensions between him and Anna grow. Could this spell the end of their relationship? And will the rogue detective finally get the chance to arrest Freddie – burning the empire he’s built from scratch to the ground?

What an emotional rollercoaster this book was! Just before reading Reckless Girl I re-read the entire rest of the series, so I was totally in the zone to enjoy this even more than I would have done anyway.

I just love the characters in this series. Anna is a really strong, fierce and independent woman, and I’ve always liked the way her and Freddie’s relationship is written. They are not presented as a couple with all the power in one half, they are written as equals, with a great working relationship and real emotion between them romantically as well. Anna uses her emotions to motivate herself through difficult times, and it’s really powerful. I’ve always really liked Freddie as well, he’s a typical strong man, but very attuned to Anna’s emotions and needs. I love the way his morals are investigated at times, and there are clear do’s and don’t’s for him and his family.

The story in this book hits the reader deep. It plays on Anna’s deepest needs and wants, and it’s so emotional at times. It’s particularly interesting seeing how Freddie reacts to Anna. After the last book, where Anna was 100x more vulnerable and fragile, it’s great to see her coming back to her normal self, and how Freddie gives her the space she needs to do this. Their relationship isn’t perfect all the time, but that’s why I like them both so much, as it feels real.

The ending to this totally took me by surprise. It had sort of been building for a while, but I didn’t think Tallon would actually go there and do it! But this is why I like this series, is that it’s different and often unexpected. I would definitely recommend this book, and the whole series, as I love them.

Reckless Girl
Emma Tallon
Bookouture, 8th October 2019

Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna

This was an emotional, tense and brilliantly written character focused novel.

You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year, at the famously luxurious Serenity Spa & Resort on the Californian coast . . .
Ginger is an overworked, under-pampered mother of three who’s barely holding the family together when she learns a secret about her daughter that could ruin everything.
Lulu is a wealthy retiree with four ex-husbands, and a fifth on the way.
Emily harbours a dark secret, which she’s become expert at forgetting with the help of a bottle of wine.
Kate is a powerhouse lawyer with her life in order – except for one little problem that won’t go away.
Only twenty-four hours later a man is found murdered.
All Detective Ramone knows for certain is that these four women sit calmly across from him, offering four very different confessions, each insisting they acted alone.
Why would they confess to the same crime? Only they know the answer – and they’re not telling.

I loved how this was divided between the four women, offering different perspectives on the same events, and on each other. I particularly love character-focused novels, and this did exactly that.

Ginger was the typical over-worked mother, caring and protective but also exhausted and frazzled. She gave life to her parts of the story, and I really liked her chapters especially.

Lulu was actually quite hilarious, despite her story being quite heartbreaking to read. Her attitude in the face of change was brilliant. She was independent, strong, but yet still really vulnerable, and her character had such depth.

Emily was a really fascinating addition to the group. Her issues ran deep, and this was clear right from the beginning. She gave a real darkness to the group in my opinion, but it balanced really well with the other women in the group.

Kate was absolutely my favourite. She was pretty badass, easy to like and easy to empathise with. Her story and character arc was by far my favourite of all the four women, and I was so pleased with how her story ended.

The actual plot was pretty slow, but this is a character-focused novel, and it does that really well. The women all have different and unique personalities and it’s such a fascinating examination of womanhood, female relationships and life itself. The ending did take me by surprise, and it was very satisfying, with the right amount of tension and surprise.

Pretty Guilty Women
Gina LaManna
Sphere, 24th September

99 Days With You by Catherine Miller

This had me reaching for the tissues! An emotional, heart-wrenching, beautiful story, and one that will stay with me for a long time.

Sometimes the end is the start of forever…
Emma and Nathan couldn’t be more different. But when they meet in a hospital waiting room, to the sound of a ticking clock and surrounded by faded magazines, they are both terrified, nervous and alone. And they have one fatal thing in common…
Emma lives a quiet life. She looks after her disabled mother. She lives vicariously through the well-thumbed pages and cracked spines of her beloved books.
Nathan spends his days fifteen thousand feet above the ground, soaring through the air, stomach somersaulting, as a sky diving instructor. After a lifetime of having a recurring dream that he would die at twenty-seven, he treats every day like it’s his last.
As fate throws Emma and Nathan together, everything is about to change.
Emma has never been kissed, or tasted champagne, or travelled abroad. Nathan has never fallen in love, worn odd socks, or grown a sunflower from a seed.
Emma and Nathan vow never to waste an hour, knowing that goodbye could come all too soon. But as they lose their hearts to one another against all the odds, have they found each other too late?

This book had me hooked right from the beginning. Yes, it’s a book ‘about cancer’, but really it is so so much more than that. The characters are truly beautifully written, and so even before they were diagnosed with cancer, their sense of self and the way Miller presents their inner thoughts and dreams had me falling in love with them immediately.

What I loved so much about this book was that it focused on meaningful and beautiful messages, that resonated even more strongly with the cancer diagnoses they both received. This is a love story, but it’s also a story about life. It’s about how to make the most of the life we have, even in the darkest of times. It’s about how the smallest things can bring us joy, and that those moments are more precious than we realise.

I felt like Miller wrote about cancer, their diagnosis, and their experiences really well. It was sensitive and emotional, but she wasn’t afraid to discuss the harder and more realistic topics when needed. It was quite hard-hitting in places, and the end was incredibly emotional, but I felt it was done exactly right.

If you like character-centric books, then you will especially love this. The depth of emotion explored in both Emma and Nathan is incredible, and meant that I felt very connected to both of them.

This was such a beautiful book to read, and I would definitely recommend this to anyone.

99 Days With You
Catherine Miller
Bookouture, 19th June 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

This was a claustrophobic, fast-paced and clever book, with characters who were explored in lots of detail.

Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.
In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead.
When the four of them become trapped in an elevator escape room, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception, intimidation and sexual harassment thrive.
Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on theprecipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one more final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?

The concept of this was really fascinating. This is an escape room like no other, with obscure clues and a real sense of claustrophobia throughout. At first, it’s slightly confusing, with a prologue that seems to make no sense, and the introduction of a character who seems to be unconnected. It’s confusing but ultimately fascinating, and I was hooked immediately. The beginning works well because it seems to be disjointed – the scenes are cleverly shocking, and entices the reader to keep going to find out what exactly is going on.

It’s hard not to give too much away about this book… The scenes in the elevator offered insight into the four characters, and showed their twisted relationships with each other as well as their own personal battles. As time went on, it was clear they were losing hope, becoming frustrated and getting increasingly desperate. The emotions were right on the surface, and these scenes were written so well.

There are also chapters that don’t take place in the elevator, and these were actually some of my favourite scenes in the book. They were clever, seemingly not linked, and kept me really hooked until I knew how it all worked together. I don’t want to give too much away, but these chapters become more intense as times goes on and it’s so clever.

Although I partly predicted one aspect of the ending, I definitely didn’t get any of the details. The ending was less about the sudden shock factor, and more about a slow, tense and twisted ending that left the reader feeling both shocked and satisfied. I’ve not read an ending that had so much going on in a while, but it really worked with the tone of the novel, and I couldn’t have put the book down if I tried.

I read this in the space of a day, it was frightening, tense, clever and definitely twisted. Each of the characters brought a lot to the book, especially the women, and I loved the strong personalities. I’d definitely recommend this if you want something different to read!