BLOG TOUR: The Night You Left by Emma Curtis

I loved how this switched from the past to the present, offering different perspectives on various events, building up to a fantastic ending.

It only takes a moment to unravel a perfect life…
When Grace’s fiancé vanishes without a trace the night after proposing, her life is turned upside down. But has Nick walked out on her, or is he in danger?
As Grace desperately searches for answers, it soon becomes clear that Nick wasn’t the uncomplicated man she thought she knew. And when she uncovers a hidden tragedy from his childhood, she realises an awful truth: that you can run from your past – but your secrets will always catch up with you . . .

What a book. I really loved this, I loved the switching perspectives and timelines, Grace was a fantastic main character, and the level of suspicion and intensity throughout was brilliant. The story starts pretty much instantly, with the disappearance of Grace’s husband Nick. The reason why I liked this so much is that it doesn’t give the reader much of a chance to gauge Nick as a character, so the reason why he goes missing is even more of a mystery.

It’s really fast-paced, Grace’s urgency and frustration is clear to see, and her pain practically radiates out of the pages. I also liked the chapters that went back in time, and showed Nick’s childhood. It helped build the tension up, especially as there were characters that weren’t present in the current timeline. It also meant that only half the book was written in the present, so the action had to move quickly, and it worked really well. The chapters that were written from the past were actually some of my favourite parts of the book; because the characters in these chapters were children, their emotions were so raw and heightened, that I really found myself sympathising and connecting with them.

Grace herself was a brilliant main character, she was very emotional, frustrated, upset but there was a real determination to find out what happened to Nick. Her relationship with her in-laws was so stifling, and the love and strength she showed to her daughter was so endearing. All the different parts of her character were shown, and the writing was so good. The other characters throughout the book were just as well written; Douglas was a serious, powerful man, and Anna’s vulnerability and wariness came through as well. It was hard to make out who to feel suspicious of, demonstrating yet again why the book was so good. I consistently felt uncertain, tense and desperate to find out what happened.

I thought the ending was brilliant. It’s definitely quite unexpected, and there’s a lot that happens so it really hooked me in, and I couldn’t put it down. It was fast-paced, with lots of action, and it brings in all the elements of both timelines really well.

This is such a great read, it’s thrilling, emotional, tense and has some truly brilliant characters. I’d definitely recommend this!

The Night You Left
Emma Curtis
Transworld Digital, 22nd July 2019

BLOG TOUR: Lucy’s Last Straw by Debbie Viggiano

This book was SO much fun to read, I tore through it in a day because it’s such an enjoyable, hilarious yet heartwarming book.

It was the toothpaste smeared around the sink that broke my marriage. As I rubbed it away AGAIN, I was reminded of everything else I’ve put up with these twenty-five years. My husband’s obsession with his pension, his ability to charm me into every single one of his ideas, never being taken on a romantic date, let alone ravished on the patio (like the woman who lives next door)… small things, but the realisation was huge.
Just when Lucy Jones thinks her marriage is about to screech to a halt over toothpaste, her husband, Leo, announces he wants to move to tumbledown (clapped-out) Rose Cottage, and Lucy knows she’ll be the one managing the renovations.
Then along comes gorgeous builder Will, ten years younger and the only person actually listening to Lucy. His twinkly eyes and blowtorch smile are causing Lucy to break out in a hot sweat – but is it love, lust or simply dodgy hormones that are causing her heart to flutter?
Lucy loves her husband, but everyone knows that little things build up. And then they explode. Can Lucy keep it together, or will there be one last straw she might not be able to get over?

I have one main thing to say about Lucy… What. A. Character! She’s brilliant, with extreme emotions, funny conversations with her dog, truly hilarious inner monologues and a radiating confidence in herself and her abilities. She’s so outgoing, and I really warmed to her – I think it would be hard not to! I don’t read too many books from this genres, but this has well and truly made me a convert, as I had so much fun reading this.

The plot itself is funny, off the rails, with lots of larger than life characters, and that’s the whole fun of it. It is over the top and the unexpected always seems to happen, but it’s just great to read. It centres around Lucy’s husband Leo persuading her to buy a run-down house to renovate, then jetting off to America for a new job, and a hunky builder hanging around Lucy’s house all the time while the hubby’s away… It’s outrageous, it’s laugh-out-loud funny, and totally fun to read. Lucy’s reactions to everything are always so over the top, but it makes the book unpredictable, and that’s the whole fun of it. Her theories and suspicions about her husband and his affair, while they have a hint of seriousness at times, are generally assumed from the most obscure clues so there is still a sense of lighthearted-ness about it. There are moments when her insecurities show through, and this is why she’s such a relatable character, but her inner confidence soon radiates through and she’s back to her usual loud and outrageous self!

Lucy’s flirtation with Will seems harmless, but definitely gets steamier throughout, until it reaches possibly one of the most hilarious scenes of the whole novel… Lucy’s descriptions leave little to the imagination! There are lots of other great characters in this, from her sweet daughter Amy, to her bullish and prissy daughter Jessica, and my personal favourite, her best friend Patsy. All of them bring something to the novel, whether it be a serious tone, a friendly lecture, or a reminder that life is about having fun!

This is a laugh-a-minute, fast-paced, compulsive and generally heartwarming book, about friendships, love, betrayal and romance. The ending just sums up the book perfectly, with a final detail that definitely made me chuckle! It’s a perfect summer read.

Lucy’s Last Straw
Debbie Viggiano
Bookouture, 15th July 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Sunday Girl by Pip Drysdale

This was a fascinating psychological insight into the mind of the main character, with a fairly creepy story.

Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.
Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge.
Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: ‘Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again.’
So Taylor consults The Art of War and makes a plan. Then she takes the next irrevocable step – one that will change her life forever.
Things start to spiral out of her control…

There were some beautiful pieces of writing in this book, the quote starting the blurb being just one example of the imaginative descriptions throughout the novel. It’s dramatic, intense and bleak all at the same time.

Taylor was an interesting main character. She was pretty intense herself, and her thought process was hard to understand at times. This definitely upped the suspense throughout however, as she was so unpredictable. Her reaction to Angus ending their relationship was honestly so fascinating, and I felt like I was watching someone spiral out of control. What made it more disturbing however, was the fact that Taylor didn’t actually seem out of control – her methodical, careful process while she was plotting and carrying out her revenge was pretty creepy at times!

Where this novel really finds it own however, is during the second half of the novel as Angus becomes more of a key character. The tension, suspense and drama really builds here, and the psychological elements comes into play. It’s creepy, it’s unpredictable, and I definitely didn’t see the ending coming.

This is great fast-paced read, with unpredictable and tense elements, and a really fascinating main character. Would definitely recommend for anyone that wants to blend a psychological thriller with women’s fiction!

Thanks so much to Anne from Random Things In My Letterbox for organising the tour.

The Sunday Girl
Pip Drysdale
4th April 2019

BLOG TOUR: The Missing Years by Lexie Elliott

Okay wow, I read this in a day and honestly, I’m in love. This was such a gorgeously written, deliciously creepy, in-depth novel.

She thought she would never go back…
Ailsa Calder has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.
Leaving London behind to settle her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by the half-sister she’s never taken the time to get to know.
With the past threatening to swallow her whole, she can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her. And when Ailsa confronts the first nighttime intruder, she sees that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything…

I loved this. A beautiful, haunting and unpredictable novel, both the characters and story hooked me right from the beginning. Ailsa was the type of character I felt both connected and disconnected to – her fear, panic and self-doubt in the face of seemingly unreal events were so relatable, but her closed nature, abrupt phrasing and general disconnect from those around her also isolated her from the reader. This is exactly why she was such a brilliant main character, as she wasn’t perfect, but there was so much to her, she had so many layers. I also really liked seeing her character development, even over the seemingly small things, such as why she always corrected those around her as to her sister being her half-sister. It was little details like these that really cemented Ailsa as a wonderful central character.

Apart from Ailsa, all the characters in this were written simply beautifully. The extra details that Elliott puts in, the time she takes to describe a character, it’s all worth it. The minute descriptions of Ben’s facial movements and expressions were so easy to visualise, and the way she writes Ali speaking was just as clear to imagine. I loved Ailsa’s sister Carrie – she was a stubborn, strong and stunning counterpart to Ailsa herself, especially in moments where she understandably didn’t recognise Ailsa’s fears about the house, otherwise known as The Manse. Fiona is another wonderfully ethereal and yet grounded character, and so was her son Callum – the way that Elliott uses the concept of time with these two characters, and the certainty in which they seem to understand time, was honestly one of the most beautiful things I’ve read in a while. I loved the description of time as ‘folded’, it just completely makes sense within the novel, and these are the kind of details that complete the novel. All the other characters, Jamie, Bryn, Glen etc. are all brilliantly written, but where Elliott’s writing truly shines is in the relationships between all these characters. Ailsa and Fiona’s rocky friendship (if we can call it that) is one of the weirdest friendships, and yet by the end the way they communicate makes total sense. I was hooked by the adorable friendship between Ailsa and Callum, and Callum’s wisdom and factual way of discussing the strangest of topics was brilliant to read. I liked how Elliott uses hints of romance to enhance some of the friendships, and she also includes some lovely LGBT+ representation.

One thing I have to touch on is the disappearance of Ailsa’s father twenty-seven years previously. It offers a sort of indirect look into Ailsa’s reaction to it, all these years on, after returning to her childhood home. Between each chapter is a theory, presumably from Ailsa herself, as to what may have happened to her father, or where he may have gone. It’s genuinely quite heartbreaking at times, as there’s almost a childish sense of pain and confusion as to why he left throughout all these sections. The change in tone as the truth about her father eventually comes to light works really well alongside what’s happening in the story, and it just helped build up the suspense and fear even further.

The Manse deserves it’s own section in my review, because it’s such an interesting character. Despite being a house, it’s definitely got a creepy sense of personality about it (hence why I’ve called it a character…). The way Elliott links The Manse with the theme of time is a deeply unsettling yet interesting thread throughout, but her descriptions of this are really gorgeous. The reason why The Manse is so creepy, and effectively so, is because it’s not something that’s outright stated – instead Elliott weaves descriptions of the sounds and shapes within the house to build up an unsettling sense of the unknown. It definitely works, and I started to feel quite spooked by it all, but I loved it at the same time. This is where the real story lies – what exactly is going on in The Manse. Why don’t animals go near the house? Who is leaving the threatening and creepy signs that Ailsa should leave…? Despite all the other details and plot lines throughout, such as the character relationships and her father’s disappearance, the real gem in this novel lies in the puzzle of The Manse itself.

This book is pure brilliance. I would get shivers up my spine, but I couldn’t possibly stop myself from reading. It’s creepy and unsettling, but it’s also beautiful, ethereal and heart-wrenching. Somehow, Elliott weaves all these emotions together perfectly, in a story examining family, love, time and the home. It’s a must-read book for sure.

Thanks so much to Anne at Random Things Through My Letterbox for organising this tour! I loved being a part of it.

The Missing Years
Lexie Elliott
Corvus, 6th June 2019

Monthly Wrap Up – May Edition!

Hello! Well May was not my best month for getting reviews done – I decided to catch up on some reading purely for fun, as I like not always having to review everything I read. A lot of May has involved blog tours which are always great to be a part of, so check them all out below:

The Swap by Fiona Mitchell was my first review of May and it was a brilliant read. It was an extremely emotional and touching look into what family can mean, with two brilliantly written main female characters.

I next reviewed Closer Than You Think by Darren O’Sullivan which was a very intriguing mystery, a very unusual motive and some really fascinating insights into the mind of the criminal. It also offered a very in-depth look into the main character Claire, so it’s definitely something a bit different to read.

They Call Me The Cat Lady by Amy Miller was the most fun I had reviewing a novel this month. This was such a touching, personal and lovely read, with a beautiful exploration into the growth of the main character. The descriptions in this book are truly gorgeous, and it’s a really heart wrenching read.

I then read The Manhatten Project by Paul McNeive, and this is genuinely quite a terrifying read, if only because of the stark reality it forces the reader to face. This is a very detailed book, showing the psychological consequences of events from our history in a fascinating political thriller with a terrorist plot.

Heartlands by Kerry Watts had some great characters and an emotional crime, but was slightly confusing at times. I found the vast amount of characters didn’t allow enough time to be spent on developing all of them, but it was still a good read with a great lead detective.

I next took part in a blog tour by Bookouture for Fierce Girl by Emma Tallon which has absolutely hooked me into this series. The main couple is completely awesome, totally badass, and I loved it. This was fast-paced, intriguing and really well written.

Finally is my review for the blog tour by Tracy Fenton from Compulsive Readers for The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor which is a completely emotional, fascinating and relevant story, with plenty of plot twists and a really emotive thread throughout. This book is pure brilliance, and I’d definitely recommend reading it.

Book of the Month
Okay, this month I’ve been seriously torn. I loved both The Swap and They Call Me The Cat Lady, but my absolute favourite was The Dangerous Kind. The whole story, the brilliantly written characters, the plot twist and the emotionally satisfying ending – it’s all amazing. I’ll be recommending this to everyone!

BLOG TOUR: The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

Wow. What a fascinating, emotional and relevant story, with plenty of plot twists and absolutely brilliant characters! This is dark and thrilling read, which hooks the reader in early on, leading to an incredibly tense ending.

One in 100 of us is a ‘potentially dangerous person’ – someone likely to commit a violent crime. We all know them: these charmers, liars and manipulators. The ones who send prickles up the back of our neck.
These people hide in plain sight. They can be teachers, doctors, lawyers, holding positions of trust, of power. 
Jessamine Gooch makes a living tracking the 1 in 100. Each week she broadcasts a radio show that examines brutal offences, asking if more could have been done to identify and prevent their perpetrators.
But when she agrees to investigate a missing person case involving a young mother, she is drawn into aweb of danger that will ultimately lead to the upper echelons of power, and threaten the sfety of her own family.

*spoiler and content warning*

This is probably one of the best thrillers I’ve read so far this year, with great characters, a brilliant but emotional plot, and a constant sense of frustration for the reader that just makes you want to keep reading. This book starts fairly slowly, but this actually serves to build the suspense in a really clever way. The writing itself has just enough detail in to keep the reader hooked, and so the first few chapters set up the plot and characters really well.

There are quite a lot of characters in this, but they all really worked well. Jessamine was brilliant, she was such a strong and independent person, but her relationship with her daughter also showed her vulnerable side. Jessamine’s progress throughout the novel was really interesting to watch, as she seemed to become more trusting, yet also more stubborn. Her willingness to open up to a relationship to Dougie was counteracted by the fact that it was done on her own terms, as and when she wanted it.

Jessamine’s relationship with her daughter, as mentioned, was quite emotional to watch. Some vulnerabilities were revealed as Sarah became more interested in her birth parents, but these were written as simple little mentions, so they could have seemed small compared to everything else that was going on. I think this worked really well, as instead it showed that being Sarah’s mother was a constant source of emotion for Jessamine, and that above everything else, Jessamine was always thinking of Sarah. I loved their relationship, Sarah was a typical teenager, sometimes moody, sometimes needy, and it gave both characters a sense of ‘real-ness’ throughout. Sarah’s secret was a definite cause for concern for the reader, especially considering what else was going on in the novel, and it was frustrating for the reader to watch Jessamine be so clueless as to Sarah’s behaviour.

Jitesh was 100% my favourite character, if I’m allowed to have a favourite! Watching him cope with his stutter was interesting, but I appreciated the fact that it wasn’t the sole focus of his character. In fact, many of the scenes involving Jitesh had little dialogue in them, and they often focused on Jitesh by himself, his inner monologue and his thoughts and reactions. This meant that out of all the characters, I felt closest to him, as his scenes were the most personal. He was such a sweet and emotional character, and finding out about his past and his mental health was seriously upsetting, mostly because of the immense guilt that radiated from him. His need to help people made him a very likeable character, but he wasn’t portrayed as being ‘too good’ either, he had the perfect balance. I liked his friendship with Jessamine, I loved the way she just accepted him as she was and he did the same with her. It was a lovely friendship, proving that different ages and circumstances doesn’t have to be a barrier to friendship.

The flashback scenes with Rowena were seriously emotional, and they do definitely need a content warning. It’s very relevant content, and relates to a lot of current news stories, but it is quite emotional and hard to read in places. I don’t want to give too much away, but to see a thirteen-year-old child in the situations she was placed it, and to see how easily it happened, was genuinely upsetting. It’s a tough read, but I would say an important one, as it really highlights how power and celebrity can play a big part in these horrendous circumstances. There was one key character that popped up in these scenes, never known by his name, simply known as ‘the celebrity’. This was such a powerful move by O’Connor, as it highlighted really clearly the power and freedom that fame and celebrity can give a person. There’s one scene where some security guards ask for an autograph at an unbelievably shocking moment, and the privilege of the celebrity is so clear it practically jumps out the page.

The ending was so emotionally satisfying. I felt like the entire novel was building up this in such a significant way, due to the fact that the issues being raised were so relevant, but there was also something clearly going on with Sarah that was a constant concern throughout, and to build to an ending after all that seemed near impossible. O’Connor, however, rose to the challenge magnificently, and it was such a fantastic ending I felt like reading it all over again.

There was a plot twist which, although wasn’t the most shocking, still came as a complete surprise because I was so focused on the other parts of the story. It was really clever, and completely made sense as I read it. There was yet another part of the ending which took me by surprise, so it was really a satisfying ending in so many ways! Jitesh’s character development at the end was wonderful to see, his bravery and confidence was incredible, as was his loyalty and determination. The consequences of what was uncovered were interesting to see, and again showed the lack of accountability that was given to people and the lack of evidence available in these years-old crimes. It was upsetting, but then these details are exactly what made this book so realistic, so believable, and so emotional.

I would 100% recommend this to anyone, it’s a clever and emotional read, with characters that tug at your heartstrings, and a storyline that is both difficult but important to read. It’s a fantastic but dark thriller, with a rising tension throughout and constant sense of the unknown.

Thank you so much to Tracey Fenton from Compulsive Readers for organising this tour.

The Dangerous Kind
Deborah O’Connor
Zaffre, 16th May 2019

Monthly Wrap Up: April

Welcome to my first Monthly Wrap Up post!

This month I’ve read a lot of Lee Child, as the promise of his new paperback Past Tense arriving really got me in a nostalgic mood and made me want to re-read some of the early Jack Reacher novels. I’ve always really enjoyed re-reading novels, it’s never been a problem for me. I believe that I always notice something new when I re-read a book, and although it’s not as surprising or exciting the second time round, there’s instead a real fondness for the book and the knowledge that I know I’ll definitely like this book! When I’m really busy, I like to re-read, as it requires less focus and is more relaxing I think. So yes, I read some of Lee Child’s books for the second time and loved them.

I’ve done quite a few blog tours this month which have been fun! It’s nice being a part of a small group, even community, that are all reading, thinking and writing about the same book, even if we don’t necessarily interact directly with each other. I love reading the other reviews on the same blog tour, seeing opinions that differ or match mine, and reading their reasons for this. It’s always so interesting seeing how the same book provokes different reactions in people.

Some of my favourite books this month have been Past Tense, Dead Inside, The Girl in the Painting, My Best Friend’s Secret and If Only I Could Tell You. Looking back at these, I’m surprised that only half are crime/thrillers. This has always been my favourite genre, and I’m sure it always will be, but I’ve really loved getting out my comfort zone a bit more and appreciating other genres.

Check out all my posts from April, and find out which one I picked out as my Book of the Month!:

I kicked off April on the 6th with a Bookouture Blog Tour for My Best Friend’s Secret by Anna Mansell! I thought this was was a fascinating and in-depth look into the lives of 4 different women, showing how they interacted with each other, the complexity of their characters and their lives but it also had a great story linking them all together.

I then did my own review of Past Tense by Lee Child on the 13th, and I mean, I always love the Jack Reacher books, but this was a brilliant, fast-paced and yet slightly unusual story from Child. I really enjoyed this, and would probably read it again!

On the 14th I took part in the Bookouture Blog Tour for The Girl in the Painting by Renita D’Silva. and oh my gosh this was beautiful. It was truly emotive, and I loved the way it linked the past with the present and used the setting to compliment the feelings of the characters.

Next, on the 15th (wow I had a busy week…) I took part in the damppebbles Blog Tour for I Want You Gone by Miranda Rijks. I wouldn’t say this was my favourite book of the month – although the story was brilliantly creepy, and it moved pretty quickly, there were moments were it felt a bit far-fetched, but for a slightly different read I would recommend this!

I did yet another Blog Tour for Catch Your Death by Kierney Scott with Bookouture on the 20th! This book has convinced me I want to read the rest of the series – the main character was so stubborn and determined that she almost makes things more difficult for herself, but she’s also incredibly quick-thinking and intelligent, making this book a brilliant read!

I then reviewed Dead Inside by Noelle Holten on the 24th, which I honestly loved. With brilliantly written characters, a real sensitivity and emotion throughout the story, and a satisfying ending, this had it all. I’ll definitely be reading future books in this series.

On the 28th I reviewed If Only I Could Tell You by Hannah Beckerman, which was a really poignant and moving story. The writing is truly beautiful, seriously emotional, and I thought that Beckerman added in just the right amount of suspense and intrigue without taking away from the story.

Finally, I finished off the month with another damppebbles Blog Tour for Fatal Fortune by Miranda Rijks, which I thought was a nicely written, fast-paced mystery with really interesting characters.

BOOK OF THE MONTH

I’ve loved a lot of the books I’ve read this month, which has been great! Although I’m tempted to pick either Past Tense or If Only I Could Tell You as my favourite book of the month I’m actually going to go for The Girl in the Painting! I honestly can’t express how much I loved this, and out of all the books I’ve read this month, it’s the one I’m still thinking about, despite reading it nearer the start of April.