Monday, 9 September 2019

The Swallows by Lisa Lutz

The SwallowsThe Swallows by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From the author of The Passenger -hailed by The New York Times Book Review as "a dead-serious thriller (with a funny bone)" - and the bestselling Spellman Files series comes a suspenseful novel about a new teacher at a not-so-elite boarding school who accidentally incites a gender war among the students and staff.
When Alexandra Witt arrives at Stonebridge Academy and insists on moving into a ramshackle cottage in the woods, curiosity among the student body and the staff skyrockets. Who is this young teacher who came here alone, dresses like the kids, and left her last school under a cloud of speculation?
With its picturesque campus and classic uniforms, Stonebridge might look the part, but as Alex soon learns, it's anything but old school. When she advises one of her new students to stand up for herself, the girl takes her advice a little too much to heart. Long-simmering tensions between the boys and girls boil over into a fight. And then total war.
By the time Gemma, Alex's favorite student, starts uncovering Stonebridge's darkest secrets with the help of some unlikely allies, Alex's bumpy start has become a nightmare. Cast into a role she never wanted, she watches the spark she ignited consume everything around her. And the only way out might carry an even higher cost.
Told by four narrators, none of whom inspires total confidence, The Swallows unfolds with brilliant timing, puzzle-like plotting, and riveting storytelling that will shock and delight readers everywhere.


The Swallows is told from multiple points of view which in itself can be confusing but add to that so many characters and it’s easy to see that this book takes an awful lot of concentration just to know who is “talking” and to stay focussed. So many characters made it difficult to know who was who and so many times I “lost the plot” because of it. It was a real headache to keep up with the storyline and the characters that I almost gave up. I did persevere but it was overly long and to be honest nothing much happened.



This novel was billed as a mystery/thriller but it was neither. I felt the genre was all wrong - it should have been a YA novel and I’m sure would appeal more to this demographic. There was no big reveal or twist that could in my opinion have saved it. It was also annoying that it seemed to have little sub plots that went nowhere and therefore rendered them pointless as having no relevance or tie up to the main story.



All in all it was an ok novel no fireworks, no real drama to get your teeth into and rather lack lustre characters. It could have been half its length, 501 pages requires a hefty investment of time so the author has to make it worth the effort, in my opinion it wasn’t , so sadly I have to give this a rather poor 3 stars.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Butterfly in Frost by Sylvia Day blog tour

Teagan Ransom has finally settled in a place she can call home, spending time with new friends sheadores, focusing on a fulfilling job, whilst reconciling the past and laying the groundwork for the future.

That is until Garrett Frost moves in next door. He’s obstinate and too bold, a raging and disruptive force of nature. Teagan recognizes the ghosts that haunt him, the torment driving him. Garrett would be risky in any form, but wounded, he’s far more dangerous. Tegan fears he could pull apart everything she has worked so hard to build, but Garret’s too determined…and too tempting.

Emotional and heartrending, Butterfly in Frost marks a brilliant return by global sensation Sylvia Day, the No.1 international multimillion bestselling author of the Crossfire saga.



Extract:

Despite the lengthy walk and a leisurely lunch, I’m still out of sorts as I stroll down the driveway to my house. I’ve been trying to compose myself all morning, and I’m irritated that I can’t. After all this time, I realize I haven’t come as far as I believed. As I skirt the detached garage and head up the walkway to my front door, I can’t help but glance over at the sleek black Range Rover parked at a haphazard angle in the neighboring driveway.

The hard lump of ice inside me still hurts. I’m angry. I’d had each day planned out going forward. A new city, new friends, new routines. Half a year’s worth of therapy and reconditioning, for what? My neighbors move, and I feel as if I’ve been deceived. As if the new life I’ve built came with a guarantee that nothing would change. With conscious determination, I exhale and try to push out my anxiety with it. I pull my keys from my pocket as I approach my front door and slide one into the dead bolt. When the lock opens, I use the same key in the original midcentury doorknob that sits in the dead center of the door. Once inside, I relock them both, toss my keys on the end table, and disarm the alarm before the grace period runs out and the earsplitting siren goes off. Going through each step in the same established order settles me some. But it’s being back in my home, alone, that provides the greatest relief. I gaze longingly at the couch, so exhausted I just want to curl into the cushions and sleep forever. I know what it means to feel this tired; I know what’s coming. That doesn’t mean I can stop it. Instead, I look ahead to the wall of windows overlooking the Sound. The left side of the butterfly roof wings up and over the double-sided fireplace and dining room, with clerestory windows following the graceful rise so nothing blocks the majestic view.

Just beyond the verdant hump of Maury and Vashon Islands, the sprawling Olympic Mountains lie west and run south. Some days, fog conceals the range so thoroughly, it disappears. But on cloudless days like today, I can see the snowcapped peaks stretching down the coast.

I soak it in, letting the familiarity calm me. I stand in the center of my living room long enough to watch another massive cargo ship lumber by on the way to Tacoma. Sunlight glitters off the gently moving water, and crab-trap buoys bob to the rhythm. It’s quiet here, so very different from the frenetic pace and noise of New York. I could hardly hear myself think there, with life beating at me from all sides, a very busy medical practice, and an ever-present camera crew. Here, I can be alone with my thoughts, with no one to judge me or pity me or expect me to “get over it.”

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg

The Postcard (The Note, #2)The Postcard by Zoe Folbigg
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A year after the kiss that brought them together in a snowy train-station doorway, Maya and James are embarking on another journey – this time around the world.
The trip starts promisingly, with an opulent and romantic Indian wedding. But as their travels continue, Maya fears that 'love at first sight' might not survive trains, planes and tuk tuks, especially when she realises that what she really wants is a baby, and James doesn't feel the same. 
Can Maya and James navigate their different hopes and dreams to stay together? Or is love at first sight just a myth after all...


Romantic chic lit based on a true story and the second book in this series. I’d not read the first book but it didn’t affect the enjoyment of this second one.

Having taken the plunge and left their jobs for a year, this couple embark on an adventure around the world in the hopes that it will bring them closer together. With Maya’s hopes of romantic sunsets, tropical islands and maybe a proposal thrown in for good measure both her and James find the reality of backpacking can be stressful and tests their relationship to the limit.

Lovely atmospheric descriptions of countries add to the enjoyment as this novel ticks along. Not a pacy read and a bit slow to start with but it’s not a thriller so that’s fine. Nicely written with good central characters and plausible secondary ones. Not quite up there with the Sophie Kinsella’s and for me more humour would have given this the lift I felt it needed, however it was a decent holiday read and worth the time invested. A good 3 stars.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

What happens now? - Sophia Money - Coutts

What Happens Now?What Happens Now? by Sophia Money-Coutts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After eight years together, Lil Bailey thought she’d already found ‘the one’ – that is, until he dumped her for a blonde twenty-something colleague. So she does what any self-respecting singleton would do: swipes right, puts on her best bra and finds herself on a first date with a handsome mountaineer called Max. What’s the worst that can happen?

Well it’s pretty bad actually. First Max ghosts her and then, after weeing on a stick (but mostly her hands), a few weeks later Lil discovers she’s pregnant. She’s single, thirty-one and living in a thimble-sized flat in London, it’s hardly the happily-ever-after she was looking for.
Lil’s ready to do the baby-thing on her own – it can’t be that hard, right? But she should probably tell Max, if she can track him down. Surely he’s not that Max, the highly eligible, headline-grabbing son of Lord and Lady Rushbrooke, currently trekking up a mountain in South Asia? Oh, maybe he wasn’t ignoring Lil after all…  

This is a real fun, entertaining read, one which was a bit of fresh air for me as I haven't read a book like this for a while. At the moment I have limited time to sit down and read a book for hours, so I need a book that will hold my attention and make me want to go back to read more of it. This book certainly did that.

Lil is going through a tough time, she has just come out of a relationship with a guy, who she thought was the one, they have been together for 8 years and she was ready for her relationship to go to the next level. However she has not got her happy ever after and is forced into the dating scene. Using an app she agrees to meet up with Max, things are good on the date and that night they get even better. In the morning when Lil wakes she finds Max has gone and although she thinks its a bit rubbish him running out on her like that begins to move on, that is until she finds herself pregnant.

I really enjoyed this book, it whizzed by and I really wanted to know what was going to happen to Lil and Max. I recommend this to anyone who wants a fun, light hearted read. Personally I can't wait to read more by Sophia.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.


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Monday, 19 August 2019

The Retreat - Sherri Smith blog tour



The Retreat: A Novel of SuspenseThe Retreat: A Novel of Suspense by Sherri Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Katie Manning was a beloved child star until her mid-teens when her manager attacked and permanently scarred her face, effectively ending her career and sending her on a path of all-too-familiar post-Hollywood self-destruction.

Now twenty-seven, Katie wants a better answer to those clickbait "Where Are They Now?" articles that float around online. An answer she hopes to find when her brother's too-good-to-be-true fiancée invites her to a wellness retreat upstate. Together with Katie's two best friends - one struggling with crippling debt and family obligations, one running away from a failed job and relationship - Katie will try to find the inner peace promised at the tranquil retreat. But finding oneself just might drudge up more memories than Katie is prepared to deal with.

Each woman has come to the retreat for different reasons. Each has her secrets to hide. And at the end of this weekend, only one will be left standing.


Another book centered around a wellness retreat which seem to be a popular choice for writers at the moment. A psychological thriller that brings together 4 women Katie, Carmen, Ellie and Ariel who attend a weekend getaway each hoping to gain something uplifting from the experience.

Naturally things don’t go particularly well and at the end of the novel only one of the group come out alive. Well paced with characters although not entirely likeable do make this work.

Not as good at Nine Perfect strangers by Liane Morriarty but worth 4 stars

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.



Excerpt: 



Excerpt 4. Carmen

She’d started donating her eggs in her second term at NYU when she realized that her financial-aid package, even with a scholarship, fell short of covering all of her tuition.

She had tried working as a bartender, but the late nights caused her grades to slip, and her partial scholarship was threatened. She was in danger of not being able to finish out the year. She would have had to drop out, left with nothing but crippling debt to show for it (which eventually happened anyway).

Enter Darla Gibbins from ReproGen. She’d solicited Carmen in the student commons, stepping out in front of her as if she were selling hand lotion in a mall. Darla looked like either a madam or a television evangelist. Chubby and virtually chinless, her fake thick lashes wagged from her eyelids like butterflies stuck in glittery grease. “What’s a little discomfort for a couple of weeks if it puts up to $10,000 in your pocket? Easy money.”

Ten thousand turned out to be seven thousand. But the egg donation was easy, and she could study in the waiting room. She was hooked.

Now Carmen was on her fourth donation because clearly she came from especially fecund stock, and the money was just cover- ing the little extras like clothes and replacing the busted picture window because they couldn’t go another winter with cardboard as their only protection. Her thirteen-year-old brother, the shithead, had gone on a Banksy-inspired vandalism spree and now Carmen was stuck paying off his fines to keep him out of juvie. Then to top it off, the hot water tank just went.

She told herself it was her last donation, but even she didn’t be- lieve it. She felt hooked. It wasn’t the easiest way to make money, but out of all the ways to make money, it wasn’t the worst either.

Carmen felt she was nine years old and back in the free swim- ming class offered to low-income families. The instructor had called the kids who’d passed to stand on the side and left the failures in the pool, half treading water, half drowning, looking up at them, chlorinated water burning up their noses and eyes. Carmen did everything right to escape that pool, but there she was anyway. Pov- erty was like a serial killer at the end of a horror movie; just when she thought she’d gotten away, it popped up stronger, yielding an electric bill like a machete.



She still skimmed the release of liability waiver and signed it anyway. She planned on backing out at the last minute to avoid Katie’s inevitable wheedling that would last the entire weekend. Carmen’s contract specifically stated she not partake in any drugs or alcohol, yet she couldn’t deny her interest was piqued. She’d love to drink some magical tea, morph into her spirit animal or whatever, and gallop around in some rainbow-drenched, unicorn-laden alter- nate universe for an hour or eight. Her life was hard. It’d be nice to sink into oblivion for a while. It was what she’d always liked about Katie; she brought out Carmen’s risk-taking side. She slayed her type A. Got her to loosen up, drink too much, have fun, take off her glasses, let her hair fall loose like the schoolmarm in some old- school rock video who suddenly gave in to all her seething impulses. Katie was her bad influence. Someone she could blame for doing what she really wanted to do.

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Wednesday, 14 August 2019

The Night You Left by Emma Curtis

The Night You LeftThe Night You Left by Emma Curtis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars



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 . . .


When Grace’s finance Nick disappears the night after proposing her life begins to unravel. Refusing to believe he’s simply left her she is convinced something bad has happened to him. What follows is a race to find the truth and a discovery of secrets and lies that threaten to destroy her and her daughters life. So far so good. Then it fizzled out.

It was a slow burner in the respect that it took so long for something significant to happen. The pace did build up but there just wasn’t enough twists to keep the momentum going. I felt the characters were not as developed as they could have been and some scenarios not realistic enough. Where was the adrenaline rush to find Nick or to create tension when Grace was in danger of getting too close to the truth? There wasn’t enough excitement or energy for me and the ending was predictable.

Such a shame Emma Curtis didn’t wring out every ounce of drama in this tale- it could have been so much better.

An average read for me with an average 3 stars, enjoyable but not memorable 😟

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 12 August 2019

How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: A guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife's mouth by Clemmie Hooper

How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: A guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife's mouthHow to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: A guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife's mouth by Clemmie Hooper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Everything you wanted to know but were too embarrassed to ask – a guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife’s mouth.

Winner of the Gold and Consumer Choice award at the Mumii Best Baby and Toddler Gear Awards 2017

Mum to four little girls and midwife to many, Clemmie Hooper wants to share her knowledge, wisdom and stories about pregnancy, birth and mothering young children that aren’t so widely talked about – straight from the midwife’s mouth. From how to prevent tearing during birth to what you really need in your labour bag, Clemmie reveals everything pregnant women and new mums need to know with a good dose of humour and wit.



I got bought this as a present when I was 16 weeks pregnant. I had never thought about buying this to be honest but I found it very informative.

I really liked how the book was laid out in the number of weeks and explained parts of pregnancy. It also had other elements to the book such as real life stories from mum's and handy tips throughout.

Overall this really helped me prepare for the birth and made me feel more comfortable with it.

If you are a first time mum I recommend you buy this book.