Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Review - The Choice by Samantha King

The Choice by Samantha King
Release date: 20 April 2017
Rating: ****
Back cover blurb:
Madeleine lived for her children. She'd always believed she'd die for them, too. But on the morning of her twins' tenth birthday her love was put to the test when a killer knocked on their door and forced her to make a devastating choice: which child should live, and which should die - her son, or her daughter?
Now: Madeleine stands silent on the periphery of her now fractured family, trying desperately to unravel why her world was so suddenly blown apart. But while everyday life continues around her, memories of everything leading up to that tragic day return in agonising flashes.  And that's when she realises her family's life still hangs terrifyingly in the balance...

Maddy is the proud Mother of twins, a boy and a girl, Aidan and Annabelle. Ten Years Old and champions at swimming. Along with her husband Dom they are her life.
A life that changes forever on the morning of the Twins' Tenth Birthday with a masked strangers knock at the door. A stranger with a gun who forces her to chose a child for him to kill.
Maddy has images of her daughter falling, Maddy clutching at her, but she has no memory of saying Annabelle's name.
Her husband and Son clearly must hate Maddy and so she retreats inside of herself, desperate to seem hidden so she cannot see their accusing stares.
Maddy has glorious memories of Annabelle and at times could make herself believe that her daughter is still alive, even though she knows she is lost forever, along with her marriage and her son.
If Maddy is honest with herself, then her marriage to Dom has never been perfect, an incident on their Ninth wedding anniversary cementing the doubt in her mind. But Maddy loves her children, and would do anything to keep them safe.
Then her memories of that fateful day start returning and she begins to question all she thought she knew.
The Choice is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.
Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Review - New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier
Release date: 11 May 2017
Rating: *** and a half
Back cover blurb: 'O felt her presence behind him like a fire at his back.' Arriving at his fourth school in six years, diplomat’s son Osei Kokote knows he needs an ally if he is to survive his first day – so he’s lucky to hit it off with Dee, the most popular girl in school. But one student can’t stand to witness this budding relationship: Ian decides to destroy the friendship between the black boy and the golden girl. By the end of the day, the school and its key players – teachers and pupils alike – will never be the same again. The tragedy of Othello is transposed to a 1970s suburban Washington schoolyard, where kids fall in and out of love with each other before lunchtime, and practise a casual racism picked up from their parents and teachers. Watching over the shoulders of four 11-year-olds – Osei, Dee, Ian and his reluctant ‘girlfriend’ Mimi – Tracy Chevalier's powerful drama of friends torn apart by jealousy, bullying and betrayal will leave you reeling.
Othello is one of those Shakespeare works that I'm not overly familiar with, so I don't have a particular opinion on this novel as a reworking, I do however have an opinion on it as a novel...
Osei or 'O' is the new boy of the title. His care is entrusted to 'Dee', a sensible, smart and popular student. Osei is the first black child that the school has seen. Osei's colour doesn't bother Dee. She is perhaps more forward thinking than her friends, and maybe doesn't truly see his skin colour.
Dee however does see Osei in a positive light, and is almost instantly attracted to him.
Ian, is your standard playground bully. He is instantly way of Osei, and not just because of his colour. Some of the kids seem to genuinely warm to Osei and Ian worries that he is going to become more popular than he is, or at the very least take the playground attention away from him.
Ian's fears become reality as Osei proves himself to be a brilliant sportsman. Ian quickly becomes obsessed with bringing Osei down or ensuring that he leaves the school completely.
Meanwhile Dee is becoming obsessed with Osei for altogether different reasons. She is feeling a deep attraction towards him that she has never experienced before with a boy. She knows her Mother won't approve, but she doesn't care.
Osei is attracted to Dee too, but Ian tries to warn Osei off her. Not because he is interested in Dee, but why should the new boy be allowed to have the pick of any girl he wants? Especially when she is white?
Ian's obsession takes on a more sinister tone when he enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend to try and turn Dee against Osei. When it becomes clear that neither will turn against the other, Ian is forced to take matters in to his own hands - with devastating consequences.
New Boy is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.
Thank You to the publishers who invited me to view this novel via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Review - Based on a true story by Delphine De Vigan

Based on a true story by Delphine De Vigan
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Release date: 6 April 2017
Rating: ***
Back cover blurb: What would you do if your closest friend tried to steal your life? A chilling new novel from the prize-winning author of No & Me – a Richard & Judy Bookclub selection. Today I know that L. is the sole reason for my powerlessness. And that the two years that we were friends almost made me stop writing for ever. Overwhelmed by the huge success of her latest novel, exhausted and unable to begin writing her next book, Delphine meets L. L. is the kind of impeccable, sophisticated woman who fascinates Delphine; a woman with smooth hair and perfectly filed nails, and a gift for saying the right thing. Delphine finds herself irresistibly drawn to her, their friendship growing as their meetings, notes and texts increase. But as L. begins to dress like Delphine, and, in the face of Delphine’s crippling inability to write, L. even offers to answer her emails, and their relationship rapidly intensifies. L. becomes more and more involved in Delphine’s life until she patiently takes control and turns it upside down: slowly, surely, insidiously. Based on a True Story is a chilling novel of suspense that will leave you questioning the truth and its significance long after you have turned the final page.
Delphine De Vigan is an award winning French novelist, but her creative flow is seriously compromised when she meets L at a party.
L's true identity is never revealed, but what we do know about her is both terrifying and shocking in equal measure.
Despite her popularity Delphine is prone to boughts of social awkwardness, a childhood shyness she has never shaken off. That is except at parties where she somehow has the capability to literally dance like no one is watching.
It is via her dancing that L bursts into her life, admiring Delphine's moves and flattering her until L has seamlessly worked her way into Delphine's life.
L calls even though Delphine knows that she didn't hand out her number. But instead of being outraged Delphine is flattered. L has lots of contacts, she knows everyone. Why shouldn't she have Delphine's number if she wants it?
But this is just the beginning of what turns very quickly into a toxic friendship. L dominates Delphine's life to the extent of warning her friends away (without Delphine's knowledge) and trying to take over her literary work.

By the time Delphine realises that L is potentially dangerous it is too late, and they are holed up in the countryside together under the pretence of resting Delphine's sprained ankle.

Delphine realises that she must get away from L and get her life back, but who is going to believe her story when no one even know who L is?

Based on a true story I don't think is a novel that everyone will engage with. What happened to Delphine is truly horrifying, but that doesn't make it a novel that will appeal to all. So whilst I enjoyed it, I must say I didn't love it - but then maybe it just made me feel uncomfortable - and I'm pretty sure that is what the author set out to do, because none of us want to experience an L for ourselves. 
Based on a true story is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops
Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 15 May 2017

[Blog Tour] Review - All the Good Things by Clare Fisher

All the Good Things by Clare Fisher
Publisher: Viking
Release date: 1 June 2017
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn't deserve to ever 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?

All the Good Things is one of those books that really makes you stop and consider life.

Bethany Mitchell is only Twenty One but she has done a very bad thing. This bad thing has landed her in a Women's prison.

Bethany is a shadow of her former self - what she needs to do, is think of all the good things in her life. That is according to her counsellor Erika.

Bethany thinks Erika is mad.

But she does open up to Erika...

Slowly as Bethany starts to tell her story, we learn of her tragic upbringing, her desire to fit in, and her desire to be loved, wanted.

That desire to be loved is the one that ultimately leads her tragically to her fate.

Bethany is a prickly character, but her ordeal only made me warm to her more. Her actions in the end when given a choice over doing the right thing or taking the easy way out shows that she isn't all bad, even if she did do a very bad thing...
All the Good Things is available from 1 June 2017.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online or all good book shops.
Don't forget to follow the rest of the blog tour;

Thank You to the publishers who sent me an advanced proof copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Friend by Dorothy Koomsom

The Friend by Dorothy Koomson
Publisher: Century
Release date: 1 June 2017
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: What secrets would you kill to keep? After her husband’s big promotion, Cece Solarin arrives in Brighton with their three children, ready to start afresh. But their new neighbourhood has a deadly secret. Three weeks earlier, Yvonne, a very popular parent, was almost murdered in the grounds of the local school – the same school where Cece has unwittingly enrolled her children.  Already anxious about making friends when the parents seem so cliquey, Cece is now also worried about her children’s safety. By chance she meets Maxie, Anaya and Hazel, three very different school mothers who make her feel welcome and reassure her about her new life. That is until Cece discovers the police believe one of her new friends tried to kill Yvonne. Reluctant to spy on her friends but determined to discover the truth, Cece must uncover the potential murderer before they strike again . . .

So I have a deep affection for Dorothy Koomson's novels, and they seem to get better with every one she publishes.
CeCe Solarin is a newcomer to Brighton. Her husband has a fancy new job and her twins have just been enrolled in to the posh local prep school despite CeCe's principles and protestations. Little does she know that she has every right to be concerned about her choice of School.
Three weeks before the Solarin's arrival in Brighton local parent Yvonne was found brutally attacked and left for dead within the school grounds. Now in a coma, her three best friends are all studiously avoiding Yvonne's husband as they know he will ask them questions about the night she was attacked.
The truth is although all three of them are adamant they didn't attack her, they all know something about that night, and they all have something to hide.
CeCe who knows nothing of what has happened previously is slowly integrated into the friends group. They make her feel welcome, and reassure her about her move. When CeCe discovers that the local Police believe one of her new friends could have something to do with Yvonne's attempted murder she is horrified.
But she doesn't believe that any of them are capable of such a crime, and so she begins her own investigation. It turns out that we all have that one friend like Yvonne, someone we think we know until it is too late to detach ourselves from them.
Did Yvonne tip one of her friends over the edge, or did someone else have grudge to settle?
The Friend is another gripping novel from Dorothy Koomson, and I just loved the ending. Beautifully done!

The Friend is available from 1 June 2017.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.
Thank you to the publishers and lovereading.co.uk who sent me an advanced proof copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Review - See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

See What I have Done by Sarah Schmidt
Publisher: Tinder Press
Release date: 2 May
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb:
Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her Mother Forty whacks.
When she saw what she had done she gave her Father forty-one.

Purposefully I hadn’t read anything about the Borden murder case prior to reading See What I have Done, and I’m not even sure that I will now. Although I will admit that I do have a bit of a morbid curiosity about the finer detail.

This is a perfect debut novel. It can be tricky to base historical fiction on events that have actually happened, but Schmidt does so with ease.

I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to loathe Lizzie Borden. But in actual fact it was her sister Emma that I didn’t like, for reasons that I can’t quite put my finger on if I’m honest.

See What I have Done is the tale of Andrew and Abby Borden are found murdered on 4 August 1892 by their youngest daughter Lizzie (who is actually Abby’s step daughter). Their other daughter Emma is quickly summoned home by Lizzie. 

Father hurt. Mrs Borden missing. A terrible accident. Come home.

There are two significant things about this, the first is ‘Father hurt’ when it is tragically so much more serious than that. The second, ‘Mrs Borden’, at some point for reasons that are never exactly clear Lizzie stops referring to her Step Mother as Abby and starts calling her Mrs. Borden.
Lizzie had embraced her Step Mother's arrival at first, years younger than her sister Emma, she was more accepting of a new Mother figure into the family after her own Mother's tragic death, but as the years go by the whole family dynamic changes, and we meet the Borden's of the murder house...
I can't say too much more, as you need to discover See What I Have Done for yourself, its; an intriguing novel, and an impressive debut. A must read.
See What I Have Done is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.
Thank You to the publishers who sent me an advanced proof copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.