BOOK REVIEW: The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

Tiny and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative... adulterous to the core.
They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea- the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.
But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.
My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him... it comes for us all sooner or later.
This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

Publisher: Headline Review
Pages: 512

I am so glad that I took this book on holiday as it is wonderful. At 512 pages, it is a book that you can completely immerse yourself in. The story of the Wildes is compelling, gripping and perfectly executed by Harriet Evans.
The book has a feel of a saga, it covers Tony Wilde's childhood, his children, Cordelia and Ben's childhood and continues right up to the present where Ben's twin daughters are growing up. Tony and Althea Wilde are both beautiful and intriguing characters, imagine the glamour of the older generation of actors (Maggie Smith, Laurence Olivier etc). They both have so much to give yet they are both quite selfish as they focus on their careers and the adoration they crave.
Cordelia and Ben in many ways have had an idyllic childhood, they have spent their summers at ;the Bosky', the beachfront home their father inherited from his great aunt, Dinah. Their father's adulterous ways have a devastating effect on both of them, his choices effectively tear the family apart. Cordelia and Ben keep secrets from each other in an effort to protect one another but the consequences for both are awful. Add to this mix, Mads, a young girl who also spends her summers at the Bosky. She is drawn to this enigmatic family, wanting more than anything to be part of it but she has no idea just how complicated and dangerous that will be.
Tony Wilde is an enigma to many, one of the finest actors of his generation, he has everything, the career, the beautiful wife, the doting children- yet he risks it all by sleeping around. Only Althea truly understands him; she knows what he experienced as a child of the war and why he behaves as he does. She just had no idea the effect this would have on her own children and now she only has limited time left to put things right.
I really did love this book, Harriet Evans effortlessly moves from one time period to another. I was so impressed by how she presented the devastating effects of the war.
The Widlflowers is beautifully written, I can highly recommend this and all of Harriet Evans' previous books.


BOOK BLOG: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

In the placid, progressive suburb of Shaker Heights everything is meticulously planned, from the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson.
Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother, arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all the four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardson's friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs Richardson on opposing sides. Mrs Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at an unexpected and devastating cost to her own family- and Mia's. 

Publisher: Abacus
Pages: 388

I ordered this book after hearing Reese Witherspoon talking about it. Only when it arrived did I realise who the author was, I very much enjoyed her first book, Everything I Never Told You.
Celeste Ng has crafted a fantastic story in Little Fires Everywhere. I cannot begin to explain how many layers there are and how beautifully the author weaves them together.
For me, this is very much a story about motherhood and what it truly means to be a mother, whether naturally or through other means. Ng looks at the different ways we parent and the impact our decisions have on our children.
Elena Richardson and Mia Warren could not be any more different yet they are both mothers. They offer each others children something they are missing in one way or another. Mrs Richardson's life if governed by rules and order so it is no surprise that her children are drawn to Mia's wilfulness and spontaneity. On the other hand, Pearl is enticed by Mrs Richardson's comfortable and orderly home, the safety net of the routine she provides her children with.
The questions that Celeste Ng raises in this book are fascinating and I was left with so much to think about at the end. One of my favourite aspects of the book were the descriptions of Mia's photography, they were so intricately explained that I could easily imagine the beautiful work she had created.
Little Fires Everywhere is one of my favourite books of 2018, I highly recommend that you read this beautiful and enlightening book.


BOOK REVIEW: Snap by Belinda Bauer

Snap decisions can be dangerous...
On a stifling Summer's day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack's in charge, she'd said. I won't be long.
But she doesn't come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed forever.
Three years later, Jack is still in charge- of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they're alone in the house, and- quite suddenly - of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother. 

Publisher: Bantam Press
Pages: 335

I can still remember reading Belinda Bauer's debut novel Blacklands and loving everything about it. I have read every book she has written since and I can confirm that she just gets better and better.
Snap is about Jack Bright whose mother was murdered when he was just a young boy. He is still only fourteen but he has taken on full responsibility of caring for his two sisters Joy and Merry. That is a huge load to carry plus he has never gotten over his mother's death or the fact that her killer has never been caught. Jack is getting by day by day, he has to steal from other people to provide for his family, it is during one of these burglaries that he discovers the knife that killed his mother. A knife that the police inadvertently let him see as a young boy. He knows that the knife's own
er murdered his mum, he just has to get the police involved without getting himself into trouble or risking his sisters being taken into care. He knows that it won't bring his mother back but he knows that it will bring him some peace that he has been missing since she was killed.
Snap is fantastic, one of the best thrillers I have read this year. Jack Bright is a character with so many levels, on the one hand he is incredibly damaged and vulnerable and on the other hand he is highly focused, determined and clever. He has sacrificed so much to look after his family after being failed by his father who walked out after his mother was killed. His life is so far from what he had imagined it would be but he does not give up, finding the knife just gives him more purpose, maybe he can finally succeed where the police failed.
Snap is beautifully paced and well written; Bauer weaves her story around wonderful characters, ramping up the tension and intrigue with each chapter. Do not miss out on Snap, it is fantastic!


BOOK REVIEW: Clean by Juno Dawson

'I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter... it's liquid gold.'
When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom.
She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility. From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.
As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all...
It's a dirty business getting clean.

Publisher: Quercus
Pages: 399

I had no idea that Clean by Juno Dawson is a YA book. I had seen several people raving about it so ordered a copy to take on holiday and I can report that it is fantastic.
It deals with addiction in its many forms- drugs, alcohol, sex, food, exercise and so on.
Lexi Volkov is our protagonist, she is only 17 and heiress to a Russian hotel dynasty. She has been living in a gilded cage until her older brother picks her up from rock bottom and deposits her in an exclusive rehab facility on a remote island. Lexi initially fights against everything mentally and physically but gradually she has to face up to the stark truth that she is a drug addict and if she doesn't beat it then it will eventually kill her.
We follow Lexi on her rehab path and learn about the others receiving treatment alongside her. Mainly young and privileged, they are proof that money doesn't buy happiness.
Lexi is drawn to Brady, an American patient, is there anything real there or are they both running from their problems?
Clean by Juno Dawson is a fantastic book. As a parent it is utterly terrifying to read but so important. We can't ignore the temptations that will increasingly become part of our children's lives as they get older. I would rather know what's out there than bury my head in the sand.
Lexi is a likeable character, she is incredibly vulnerable  and naive despite the privileged and adult environment she inhabits. I loved watching her go through the many stages of rehabilitation, it's not all plain sailing and I thought that Juno Dawson presented it clearly and honestly.
Clean is a book I can highly recommend, it is well written and informative. It opened up my eyes and gave me such a lot to consider. 


BLOG TOUR: Her Name Was Rose by Claire Allen

Her death has created a vacancy…
When Emily lets a stranger step out in front of her, she never imagines that split second will change her life. But after Emily watches a car plough into the young mother – killing her instantly- she finds herself unable to move on. And then she makes a decision she can never take back.
Because Rose had everything Emily ever dreamed of. A beautiful, loving family, a great job and a stunning home. And how Rose’s husband misses his wife, and their son needs a mother. Why couldn’t Emily fill that space? But as Emily is about to discover, no one’s life is perfect… and not everything is as it seems.
Publisher: Avon
Pages: 336
Her Name Was Rose is Claire Allen’s first thriller and it is excellent. Emily D’Arcy is our protagonist , she allows a young mother to step in front of her and is horrified to  watch her be run over and killed instantly. Emily feels like it should have been her, the car would have hit her if she hadn’t let the woman in front. Struggling to move on, Emily begins to look into the young woman’s life. She quickly discovers that Rose Maguire had the perfect life, the successful husband, beautiful son, stunning home etc. A life that Emily would have love; she begins to think that maybe she could take Rose’s place, comfort her husband and care for her son. But what if Rose’s life wasn’t as perfect as it seems- how does Emily get back out?
Claire Allen has written a dark and twisty psychological thriller. Everything is the book is unreliable; the narrators especially so you are constantly trying to work out what is going on. I really enjoyed the pace of this book, it was very difficult to put down.
I didn’t necessarily like Emily’s character as there was so much I was unsure of. There are points in the book where Emily feels like she has control of everything only to have it come crashing down around her.
I think Her Name Was Rose will be a big hit this year, it is highly addictive and gripping- an excellent book to take on holiday. 

Many thanks to Avon for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, the book is out now and don't forget to take a look at the other stops on the tour! 


BOOK REVIEW: The Party by Elizabeth Day

Martin Gilmour and Ben Fitzmaurice have been best friends for 25 years, since their days together at Burtonberry School.
They are an unlikely pair: the scholarship boy with the wrong accent and clothes, and the dazzlingly popular, wealthy young aristocrat. But Martin knows no one else can understand the bond they share- and no one else could have kept Ben's secret for over two decades.
At Ben's 40th birthday party, the cream of British establishment gathers in a haze of champagne, drugs and glamour. Amid the politicians, the celebrities, the old money and the newly rich, Martin once again feels that pang of not quite belonging. His wife Lucy has her reservations too. There is something unnerving in the air. But Ben wouldn't do anything to damage their friendship would he?

Publisher: 4th State
Pages: 292

The Party by Elizabeth Day is one of the best books that I have read in 2018. I kept on seeing it popping up on Instagram and people's blogs so I thought I'd best get a copy.
I agree with the comparisons with The Riot Club but it also reminded me a little of The Secret History by Donna Tartt which also happens to be one of my favourite books.
Martin Gilmour and Ben Fitzmaurice me at school and have been best friends ever since. Burtonberry is a famous boarding school, Martin attended on a scholarship whereas Ben comes from one of England's wealthiest families. Martin's whole life has revolved around his friendship with Ben, no one can understand it because only Ben and Martin know the secret they share. Ben throws a lavish part to celebrate his 40th; the British elite are in attendance and once again, Martin and his wife Lucy are left feeling that they don't quite belong. There is a heady atmosphere at the party, too much power, money and free-flowing champagne. Ben is acting strangely and being rather distant but Martin can't believe that he would suddenly jeopardise their lifelong friendship.
The Party is so well written. Elizabeth Day's storytelling is tantalising. She offers you a small morsel of information so that you are always left wanting more and more.
Martin Gilmour is a hugely complex character, there were times when I felt sorry for him, times when I detested him and many times where he just made me cringe and feel uncomfortable. Martin and Ben represent the huge divides that still exist within our class system and highlight the different rules and opportunities that exist for people of huge wealth. The Party is so relevant in a time where the divide created by money is becoming more and more apparent.
I enjoyed how Day went back and forth between Martin and Ben at the party and the two men during their time at school and university. Day shows how often, the decisions you make during those highly volatile times often shape and mould the people we become in the future. Martin's whole existence is based around Ben because he believes they have an unbreakable bond because of the secret he has kept. Ben on the other hand is so used to Martin doing whatever he asks of him, he has no doubt in his mind that this will continue no matter how that may effect his childhood friend.
The Party is a book I know I will read again many times and notice new things with each visit. Elizabeth Day has written three other books which I would like to try as she blew me away with her story-telling in The Party.  


BOOK REVIEW: Whistle In theDark by Emma Healey

How do you rescue someone who has already been found?
Jen's 15 year old daughter goes missing for four agonising days. When Lana is found unharmed, in the middle of the desolate countryside, everyone thinks the worst is over. But Lana refuses to tell anyone what happened, and the police draw a blank. The once-happy, loving family return to London, where things start to fall apart. Lana begins acting strangely: refusing to go to school and sleeping with the light on.
With her daughter increasingly becoming a stranger, Jen's sure the answer lies in those four missing days. But will Lana ever reveal what happened?

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 328

Emma Healey is the author of the hugely successful novel, Elizabeth is Missing. Whistle In the Dark once again showcases her huge talent. I was so impressed by her ability to show the vulnerability and fragile nature of complex family relationships.
Jen and Lana have gone on a painting holiday when Lana, aged 15, goes missing. She is found four days later, relatively unscathed but adamant that she can't remember what happened. The family return to London but life is not
the same. Jen is grateful to have her daughter back but she is desperate to know what happened and why her daughter is now so different.
Whistle in the Dark is beautifully written, rather than being split into chapters, each section has a heading and each one is a snippet so you find yourself wanting to keep turning the pages in order to gain more information.
There were times when I found Lana extremely frustrating but as the mother of a young daughter she also terrified me. I could put myself in Jen's shoes and recognise the terror I would feel if my daughter disappeared and the feelings of frustration over not knowing what happened. I think some of the feelings are borne out of love and care but also the certain amount of control you need over your children.
Emma Healey opens up family relationships and examines them closely within this book. At times, the thoughts and feelings revealed are brutal yet beautifully honest.
Whistle in the Dark is a beautiful book that I think will resonate with many readers.

Many thanks to Penguin for inviting me to review this book, it is out now! 

BOOK REVIEW: The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans

Tiny and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative... adulterous to the core. They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our li...