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BOOK REVIEW: Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny Moon's painfully honest narrator is Ginny, a girl with autism living in a world that just doesn't add up. Five years ago, the police forcibly removed her from the home of her abusive mother Gloria.
Now fourteen and in her 4th Forever Home, Ginny is hell bent on returning to her mother's apartment- despite knowing how dangerous that could be- to find something she insists she hid under her bed.
Ginny will steal, lie, plan her own kidnapping and tear apart every shred of the normal, stable life she currently has, just to find what she has left a the farthest edge of forever...

Publisher: HQ
Pages: 357

Benjamin Ludwig was inspired to write Ginny Moon due to his own experience of adopting a young girl with autism. I felt that his first hand experience shone through in the book and added an extra layer of authenticity.
Ginny is in her fourth Forever Home after having been forcibly removed from her birth mother, Gloria for her own safety. Although now experiencing a safe and stable environment, Ginny is determined to return to her mother's house as she has left something under the bed and she can't rest until she has been able to retrieve it.
The whole situation is terrify
ing for Ginny's foster parents who have done all they can to keep her safe and hidden from Gloria. This brings a great deal of tension to the book and almost a feeling of helplessness as you watch the situation unfold.
I think that Benjamin Ludwig offers a very realistic  and honest presentation of the care system and of the tensions and struggles involved. The author also explores autism with care and humility. It is a large part of the book but he does not present it as the sole focus of Ginny. She is more than being an autistic girl but the author instead shows how Ginny's autism affects how she deals with and processes the world around her. I think sometimes when an autism label is applied, the person it is being applied to can almost be forgotten and I think that Benjamin Ludwig challenges that practice in this book.
Ginny Moon is a heart-breaking read and it left me with so much to think about, what a fantastic debut.

Many thanks to HQ for sending me a copy of this book to review.  


BOOK REVIEW: Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon

Bryony Gordon has OCD. It's the snake in her brain that has told her ever since she was a teenager that her world is about to come crashing down. It's caused alopecia, bulimia and drug dependency. And Bryony is sick of it. Keeping silent about the illness has given it a cachet it simply does not deserve, so here she shares her story with warmth, humour and jaw-dropping honesty. 

Publisher: Headline
Pages: 308

Mad Girl by Bryony Gordon is one of the best books about mental illness that I have ever read. She writes with such honesty; she is not dressing the situation up but merely presenting it as it is, which in this genre is a refreshing change.
A very successful journalist, Bryony has suffered with depression and OCD since she was a teenager. She talks about the fact that there was not one single traumatic event that led to it but that it was as if she suddenly woke up one morning as a different person. She then goes on to chronicle how her mental illness has affected her daily life. Mad Girl is fascinating, as someone who has suffered with depression, I found it so reassuring and could identify with a number of her experiences. I love how she points out the way in which mental illness is stigmatised and often questioned; something that would never happen if it was an illness which presented in a purely physical way.
Bryony Gordon presents the devastating effect that depression can have but she also offers a chink of light at the end of the tunnel. She shows herself as a woman who has learnt to live with her illness and has sought the right help whilst also maintaining a very successful career and family life.
I urge you to read this book, it will make you look at the subject of mental illness in a different light.


BLOG TOUR: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

I'm on the blog tour today for Heather Gudenkauf's latest book, Not a Sound, here's the idea behind this fantastic book:

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters- her job, her husband David and her step-daughter Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.
As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

Publisher: HQ
Pages: 352

Heather Gudenkauf has kindly written a piece about Thrillers for my stop on the blog tour:

Growing up, my initial love for thrillers came from watching Friday and Saturday night television with my dad and five brothers and sisters. My mom would spread an old sheet across the television room floor and we'd gather around a big bowl of popcorn to watch shows and movies like Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Unsolved Mysteries, The Hand, and The Sentinel (I still have nightmares about this movie). At the beginning of the evening, much to the dismay of my siblings, I'd park myself directly in front of the television set and as the suspense and tension grew I'd slowly inch away from the screen until my back was pressed against the door. As much as I loved watching scary I'd inevitably pay for it with sleepless nights with visions of all sorts of evil lurking beneath my bed.
As a child after my frequent visits to the public library I'd come home with stacks of Encyclopedia Brown, Boxcar Children and Nancy Drew books. In my teen years I discovered VC Andrews' FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC and Richard Peck's absolutely terrifying ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE? When I became an adult my dad and I started passing suspenseful novels back and forth and to this day we still swap our current reads.
Over the years I found that while each thriller writer has their own style and unique way of bringing a story to life, every gripping thriller has a few things in common: an engaging premise and characters the reader cares about.
Like most writers, I’m a collector of possible topics for my novels. I scan newspaper headlines, listen to talk radio. Interestingly, as a writer of suspenseful, domestic dramas, I am constantly asked by well-meaning people about the awful childhood I must have experienced but I'm relieved to have had a blissfully uneventful childhood with two great parents. However, it is perfectly okay to infuse life experiences into the creation of your suspense novel. For example, in my new release, NOT A SOUND, the main character, Amelia Winn, is profoundly deaf and discovers a body while paddle boarding along the river. I also have a significant hearing loss and got the idea for the novel while paddle boarding with some friends. Thankfully we found no dead bodies but did see a man digging a hole along a particularly isolated section of river and the idea behind NOT A SOUND was born.
The characters in your thriller need to capture the hearts and minds of your readers. It's important to develop characters that your readers instantly care about. Once readers become invested in what happens to those who inhabit your books, they will stick around to the very end. Early readers of NOT A SOUND said they immediately fell in love with flawed, feisty Amelia and her service dog Stitch. I hope Amelia and Stitch capture your hearts too!

I was very impressed by Heather Gudenkauf's previous book Missing Pieces so I jumped at the chance ti be part of this blog tour and review her latest book, Not a Sound
Amelia Winn is the protagonist  and I immediately liked her, she's quite feisty and determined but with a deeply caring side. Heather Gudenkauf takes the reader straight into the thick of it and we see Amelia involved in a hit and run accident which leaves her friend dead and Amelia profoundly deaf. Gudenkauf shows how she spirals after the accident, losing her job, her husband and her step-daughter Nora. She does eventually get a hold of herself and we see her two years later trying to get on with her life. She has a new job and her hearing dog, Stitch is helping her negotiate the world without her hearing. The book takes a dramatic turn when Nora discovers a body by the river; she becomes disturbed to learn that the woman murdered was also a nurse. She starts to spend a lot of time with Jake who she knows from childhood and he is now the police detective in the town where she is living. Amelia becomes convinced that she knows the identity of the killer and she becomes focused on bringing them to justice. But doing so could mean risking everything all over again.
Not a Sound is fast paced and well plotted, I loved that the author went straight into the thick of it. Once Amelia discovers the body there are so many twists and turns and Gudenkauf successfully keeps the reader guessing. 
As with Missing Pieces, the author has created very well rounded and believable characters. I found Amelia and her situation to be completely realistic. I really enjoyed the relationship between Amelia and her hearing dog Stitch. They are very much a team and the love and respect they develop for each other adds a different element to the book. 

I would highly recommend Not a Sound, there is a lot going on in the book to raise it above the standard, cliched thriller, don't miss it! 


BOOK REVIEW: The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver

Nestled on the Spanish coast, bustling cafe Estrella features in everyone of Ava Brown's happiest memories- her first chocolate churros, her first crush, endless summer sunshine. So the chance to spend one last summer in her grandmother's house, is one Ava can't refuse.
Once the heart of the sleepy seaside village, the cafe now feels more ramshackle than rustic. It's time to bring back some life into Cafe Estrella- and before she knows it, Ava has thrown herself into that task. A summer project her grandmother would be proud of!
But once summer is over, can Ava really say goodbye to Spanish seaside life? Or could this be the new beginning that Ava didn't realise she needed...

Publisher: HQ
Pages: 378

The Summer House by the Sea is the first book I have read by Jenny Oliver and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 
Ava Brown returns to the Spanish coast after the death of her grandmother. Planning to merely pack up her grandmother's house and come back, Ava is shocked to discover just how many memories it holds. Especially Cafe Estrella, run by family friend Flora. It has definitely seen better times and it soon turns into Ava's summer project, suddenly, going back home doesn't seem as inviting.
This is the first book I have read this year that has truly made me want to pack my bags and go on holiday. Jenny Oliver perfectly captures the holiday atmosphere in her story; the sunshine, the sea, the Mediterranean food and a more carefree attitude. 
I liked Ava's character, she is carrying a lot of baggage around from her childhood and we learn about the fraught relationship she had with her mother throughout the book. All of the characters in the book are trying to make better decisions for their futures rather than repeating mistakes from their pasts. This added a very interesting element to the story and it was satisfying to see all the characters come together to help each other out. 
This book would be a great holiday read, I very much relaxed whilst reading this and I wouldn't hesitate to read more by this author. 

Many thanks to HQ for sending me a copy of this book to review.  


BOOK REVIEW: Final Girls by Riley Sager

Each girl survived an unthinkable horror. Now someone wants then dead...
They were victims of separate massacres, grouped together by the press and dubbed The Final Girls. When the police found Quincy Carpenter, she was bloodied and broken at the side of the road, the only survivor of a group of young women taken and tortured in the woods by a brutal serial killer. As time goes by, the scars fade and the memories become muddled, but when something terrible happens to fellow Final Girl Lisa, Quincy much dredge up as much of her horrifying past as she can. With the help of the only Final Girl left, Sam, she must unravel a mystery that started in the woods ten years ago. 

Publisher: Ebury Press
Pages: 356

Stephen King has described Final Girls as 'The first great thriller of 2017...' and I have to agree. This is the first book for a while that has made me very jumpy, wanting all the lights on at night kind of jumpy!
Quincy Carpenter is the
main protagonist, she is the sole survivor of a massacre more than 10 years ago. She remembers barely anything but she knows she survived as all her friends were brutally murdered at a log cabin in the woods where they had gone to celebrate a birthday.
Quincy has tried to get on with her life but the cracks are there. It all comes crashing down when she learns of the death of Lisa, another Final Girl who survived. This news brings another Final Girl, Samantha Boyd to her front door and suddenly Quincy has no choice but to face up to her past and what happened in the woods 10 years ago.
Riley Sager presents a fantastic debut; it is dark, thrilling, creepy and you will not be able to put it down. I was impressed with the pace that Sager keeps up throughout. There were points where I felt as though I had worked it all out but then there would be a new twist, the author keeps you on your toes, constantly questions past and present events.
Final Girls plays on all our fears and vulnerability; it's the creepy log cabin in the woods, the killer with the clown mask and the sharp knife. In a good way, this book very much felt like a traditional thriller, it didn't rely on any gimmicks. Riley Sager is clearly a new author to keep an eye on, Final Girls is fantastic.

Many thanks to Ebury Press for sending me a copy of this book to review. 


BLOG TOUR: The Little Kiosk by the Sea by Jennifer Bohnet

I am so pleased to be part of the blog tour for The Little Kiosk by the Sea by Jennifer Bohnet, it is the perfect summer read and I think readers are going to love it! Here's the synopsis:

Time is running out...
Sabine knows that if she doesn't come up with a plan to save her little kiosk soon, it might be too late. If only her best friend Owen would stop distracting her with marriage proposals!
Harriet is returning to Dartmouth for the first time in thirty years, haunted by the scandal that drove her away and shocked by an inheritance that could change everything.
Rachel never expected to find love again after her world was shattered a year ago. But it seems as if the sleepy seaside town has different ideas...
One thing's for sure, it's a summer they will never forget!

Publisher: HQ
Pages: 283

Jennifer Bohnet has written four other books but this is the first I have read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I had to read the book in time to take part in the blog tour but I wish I had been able to save it for my holiday as it would be a great book to read in the sunshine.
I was quite shocked when I checked the number of pages, it's only 283 but the author packs so much in and it only took me a couple of days to read it.
The Little Kiosk by the Sea is set in beautiful Dartmouth and revolves around three central characters. Sabine is trying to save the little kiosk she runs, it has become a huge part of her life and also provides a welcome distraction from her friend Owen's marriage proposals. Harriet has not been back to her hometown for over thirty years, she is dreading coming back to the town that she ran away from but a family inheritance that could change her daughter's life cannot be ignored. Rachel is picking up the pieces after a devastating year, the town has always held a special place in her heart but she gets more than she bargained for in return.
The Little Kiosk by the Sea is a charming read. I enjoyed the way the main three characters have their own separate story lines but Jennifer brings them
all together neatly. There were a lot of different characters in the book but they all bring something to the story and you want them all to do well. Each main character has a secret to keep and it was interesting to gradually learn the truth about each of them and I think they all slowly realise that they shouldn't let events from their past dictate their future.
As I said before, The Little Kiosk by the Sea would be perfect to take on holiday or just to while away a few hours sitting in the garden and I highly recommend it. Please check out the other dates on the blog tour to find out more about this lovely book!


BLOG TOUR: All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

What if you did a very bad thing... but that wasn't the end of the story.
Twenty-one-year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve ever to feel good again.
But her counsellor, Erika, won't give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No.1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby's head.
But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.
What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone- even a 100% bad person- deserve a chance to be good?

Publisher: Penguin
Pages: 240

I can't quite believe that All the Good Things is Clare Fisher's debut novel. It is highly accomplished, relevant and thought-provoking.
The book is narrated by 21 year-old Bethany who is in prison; all we know is that she has done something completely awful, something so bad that she has decided she has no right to ever feel happy again. She is seeing a counsellor in prison called Erika and she has asked Bethany to write a list of all the good things in her life, however small they may be. This takes us into the story; each point on Bethany's list shows us something from her past and we slowly build up a picture of events leading to her present situation.
Bethany has been let down so many times, firstly by her own mother; her illness led Bethany to be placed into care which led to many foster placements, resulting in a deeply unsettled childhood. She has not had one positive, consistent figure in her life which has meant she has had no support when she has had to face the consequences of her mistakes time and time again.
All the Good Things is written so well but it is not pleasurable  read yet I would say it is an important one. Whilst Bethany is a fictional character, she is very close to the truth. There are so many people being let down by the system, some come out the other side but many suffer the same fate as Bethany. This book touches on mental illness, social care, the education system, depression and vulnerability. Clare Fisher is clearly not one one to shy away from difficult subjects and she handles them with care and humility.
All the Good Things will open your eyes and make you think. What a fantastic debut, I would highly recommend this one.

Many thanks to Penguin for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, please check out the other blog stops! The book is available to buy now, simply click here!


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