16.8.18

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. 

10.8.18

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! 

6.8.18

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.  

31.7.18

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! 

25.7.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Woolgrower's Companion by Joy Rhodes


Australia, 1945. Until now, Kate Dowd has led a sheltered life on Amiens, her family’s sprawling sheep station in northern New South Wales. But with her father succumbing to wounds he’s borne since the Great War, the management of the farm is increasingly falling on Kate’s shoulders.
With only the sheep-rearing book, The Woolgrower’s Companion to guide her- Kate rises to the challenge. However, the arrival of two Italian POW labourers unsettles not only the other workers, but Kate too- especially when she finds herself drawn to the enigmatic Luca Canali.
Then she receives devastating news, the farm is near bankrupt and the bank is set to repossess. Given just eight weeks to pay the debt; Kate is now in a race to save everything she holds dear.

Publisher: Vintage
Pages: 416

The Woolgrower’s Companion is an excellent piece of historical fiction set in the Australian outback in 1945. Kate Dowd’s husband is off fighting in the war, they have just taken on two Italian POW’s and Kate is helping to run the family farm with her ageing father. As if things are not difficult enough, the bank then come knocking on the door and Kate has just weeks to save her family’s livelihood.
I do like historical fiction, but I have to admit that I mainly read those that are set in the UK rather than abroad. The Woolgrower’s Companion was fascinating though and I loved learning about Australia during this tumultuous time. Joy Rhodes looks closely at the plight of the indigenous aborigines which is a subject I know nothing about but I feel that she dealt with it honestly and it added a very interesting aspect to the book.
Kate Dowd is an interesting protagonist, she has been somewhat sheltered so far in life but when the farm is threatened she more than steps up to the plate. I enjoyed the romantic nature of the book but Kate’s transformation was the best part in my opinion. We see her having to muck in with the men and earn their respect and loyalty- no mean feat in the Australian outback. I think she is a shining example of what many women at the time experienced, suddenly being called upon to do far more than was ever expected or allowed of them before.
I can highly recommend The Woolgrower’s Companion, Joy Rhodes delivers a fantastic story with believable and intriguing characters. If you are a fan of historical fiction then do not miss out on this one.

24.7.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton


He hid the bodies where nobody could find them. But some secrets aren’t buried deep enough. Florence Loveday’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Glassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago. Like something from our worst nightmares the victims were buried… alive.
Larry confessed to the crimes; it was an open and shut case. But now he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves. Did she get it wrong all those years ago? Or is there something much darker at play?
Publisher: Trapeze
Pages: 416

I love Sharon Bolton’s books and this is the best yet! It is dark, eerie and completely addictive. Being buried alive is one of mine (and I’m sure many others) worst fears so I knew this wasn’t going to be an easy read. I had several sleepless nights whilst reading The Craftsman but they were worth it.
Florence Loveday is a young WPC working in Lancashire in 1969. Female police officers are still a novelty but Florence is determined to prove herself. Children have started going missing from the small mining town and Florence is integral to the investigation, her evidence and testimony leads to the police discovering that the victims were buried alive and by none other than the local undertaker, Larry Glassbrook who is also Florence’s landlord. He confesses to the crimes and the case is closed. We return to the town of Sabden in the present day, Florence is now a highly decorated police officer with a teenage son. She returns to the area and is un
settled to see past events repeating themselves. What if she got it wrong and the real killer is still out there?
The Craftsman is superbly tense, Sharon Bolton builds up layer after layer of suspense and mystery. I loved the Lancashire setting with the history of the Pendle Witches, it added a whole different aspect to the book which I found fascinating.
Florence Loveday is an excellent creation, she is determined but naïve at times. Bolton shows how Florence has to battle sexism within the police force and even when she does well it is often resented rather than celebrated.
The Craftsman is disturbing and captivating, a true thriller that I would highly recommend.

Many thanks to Trapeze for sending me a copy of the book to review, it is out now.



23.7.18

BOOK REVIEW: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan

Masha’s life has stopped. Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, her life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds solace in the silent company of the souls of her local Victorian cemetery and at the town’s lido, where she seeks refuge under water, safe from the noise and the pain.
But a chance encounter with two extraordinary women- the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl- turned magician’s wife- turned-seventy- something-roller-disco-fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice, opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again.  But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, the past comes roaring back…
Publisher: Two Roads
Pages: 352
Ruth Hogan’s debut novel, The Keeper of Lost Things was a huge hit last year and received plenty of attention when it was included in The Richard and Judy Book Club. I loved the book and told so many people about it. I was very excited to be contacted about the author’s latest book, The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes but also a little anxious in case it didn’t live up to expectations. I needn’t have worried as it is brilliant and once again showcases Ruth Hogan’s beautiful talent as a writer.
The book focuses on Masha who has suffered a tragedy over 12 years ago. She is still getting by day by day yet she is merely coping rather than actually living. She spends a lot of time in her local Victorian Cemetery and also at the local lido. Then she meets Kitty Muriel and Sally, both of these women are extraordinary in their own way. They make Masha take a step back and look at her life and maybe start hoping and living again.
Ruth Hogan is the Queen of eccentric characters; The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes has many memorable and quirky characters, you cannot fail to remember them long after the last page. I loved all of the details about the cemetery and the way they dealt with mourning. Hogan demonstrates how there is no right or wrong way, Masha is the only one who can control her grief, the only one who can start living again and embracing the future. She just needs that spark and Kitty and Sally may be the ones to provide it.
If you haven’t ready anything by Ruth Hogan yet then I urge you to get her books. Her writing is beautiful, raw and poignant and this one has a cover just as stunning as her debut!

Many thanks to Two Roads for allowing me to read and review this book via Netgalley.


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 th...