Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Review: The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan

The Perfect Girl by Gilly Macmillan
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Release date: 25 August 2016
Rating: ****
Back cover blurb: To everyone who knows her now, Zoe Maisey - child genius, musical sensation - is perfect. Yet several years ago Zoe caused the death of three teenagers. She served her time, and now she's free. Her story begins with her giving the performance of her life. By midnight, her mother is dead. The Perfect Girl is an intricate exploration into the mind of a teenager burdened by brilliance, and a past that she cannot leave behind.










Zoe Maisey is a victim of her own success. A child prodigy who won a musical scholarship to an exclusive private school, she has the perfect life. Except those whose parents are paying for their children to attend Zoe's school look down their nose at her, and bully her. She is in their eyes not good enough to be there.

Desperate to be liked, Zoe manages to befriend one of the most popular boys in the school - the only problem is, his sister is one of Zoe's main tormentors. Zoe thinks that she has eveything under control, until one night when a single mistake turns Zoe's life upside down.

We pick up the story several years later, Zoe is at a concert with her step Brother, Lucas, having been recently released from a young offenders institution. But as she begins to play, she realises that something is seriously wrong.

Will she ever be able to escape her past?

Zoe and her Mother flee the concert, leaving Lucas and Zoe's step father Chris behind. Zoe knows that there will be a confrontation later that she will barely be able to stand, so she busies herself with looking after her baby Step Sister Grace.

Lying in Grace's room, cuddling her sister and stroking Grace's baby smooth skin and watching her calm demeanor, convinces Zoe that everything will be okay.

Hours later her Mother is dead, and Zoe is thrown into turmoil all over again.

I can't say anymore without giving too much of this intense and brilliantly written page turner away. Gilly Macmillan is a seriously underrated talent as far as I am concerned and I cannot wait to read her next offering.

The Perfect Girl is available from 25 August 2016.
You can pre-order it from Amazon online.
 
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Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Review: The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1⁄4 years old by Hendrik Groen

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1⁄4 years old by Hendrik Groen
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Release date: 25 August 2016
Rating: *** and a half stars
Back cover blurb: 'Another year and I still don't like old people. Me? I am 83 years old.' Hendrik Groen may be old, but he is far from dead and isn't planning to be buried any time soon. Granted, his daily strolls are getting shorter because his legs are no longer willing and he had to visit his doctor more than he'd like. Technically speaking he is ... elderly. But surely there is more to life at his age than weak tea and potted geraniums? Hendrik sets out to write an exposé: a year in the life of his care home in Amsterdam, revealing all its ups and downs -not least his new endeavour the anarchic Old-But-Not Dead Club. And when Eefje moves in -the woman Hendrik has always longed for -he polishes his shoes (and his teeth), grooms what's left of his hair and attempts to make something of the life he has left, with hilarious, tender and devastating consequences. The indomitable Hendrik Groen -Holland's unlikeliest hero - has become a cultural phenomenon in his native Netherlands and now he and his famously anonymous creator are conquering the globe. A major Dutch bestseller, The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen will not only delight older readers with its wit and relevance, but will charm and inspire those who have years to go before their own expiry date.

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1⁄4 is the Adrian Mole of 2016, the one for the older generation. It is a brilliantly funny account of life in a nursing home and Hendrik's dislike of old people - even though as he admits he is one himself.

Hendrik Groen is 83 years old when he decides to start a diary, a day to day account of his life with his friends and acquaintances in a North Amsterdam nursing home. Hendrik by his own admission is a grumpy old man, his attempt to star and keep a diary is a distraction from the

His best friend, Evert is a bit of a naughty influence on Hendrik and encourages him into mischievous activities that will have you laughing out loud. They are both members of the Old-but-not-dead club, a group of seniors who regularly 'escape' the nursing home for meals out, trips to the cinema etc...

But what they both lack is a love interest... So... When Eefje appears she brings light and laughter into both Evert and Hendrik's lifes and they are soon both vying for her attention like hormonal naughty teenage boys.

I don't want to give too much away as I think that everyone needs a bit of Hendrik in their lives, and like Adrian Mole, I hope there are a few sequels in the pipeline because I can't wait to read what Hendrik and his friends might get up to next!

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen 83 1⁄4 is available from 25 August 2016.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online.

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Thank You to the publishers who via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Review: Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt

Devastation Road by Jason Hewitt
Publisher: Scribner UK
Release date: 14 July 2016
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: Spring, 1945: A man wakes in a field in a country he does not know. Injured and confused, he pulls himself to his feet and starts to walk, and so sets out on an extraordinary journey in search of his home, his past and himself. His name is Owen. A war he has only a vague memory of joining is in its dying days, and as he tries to get back to England he becomes caught up in the flood of refugees pouring through Europe. Among them is a teenage boy, Janek, and together they form an unlikely alliance as they cross battle-worn Germany. When they meet a troubled young woman, tempers flare and scars are revealed as Owen gathers up the shattered pieces of his life. No one is as he remembers, not even himself - how can he truly return home when he hardly recalls what home is?




Spring 1945 and Owen wakes up in a field in the middle of nowhere, with no idea where is (he doesn't even know what country he is in), what year it is, and no recollection of how he came to rest there and he doesn't much care, he just wants to get home.

Injured, confused and looking for his Brother Max, Owen is at first grateful to stumble across Janek, a young Czechoslovakian also looking for his brother, but his gratitude soon turns to annoyance and all Owen wants is to be left alone.

And then they are joined by Irena, a mysterious young girl who also says she desperately needs their help. And perhaps she does, because she seems to young to look after the baby that she claims is hers, and wants to find it's Father so that he may look after it instead.

From very different backgrounds these three have little in common other than their desperation to get home and find the ones they love. But their journey is not simple. Much of Europe has been devastated by the War and there are bodies and refugees everywhere they turn.

As they make their journey, Owen's memory comes back to him in stages, from his early childhood, to just before the War broke out. Slowly we begin to understand how he woke up in that field, injured at the novel's beginning.

Devastation Road is a beautifully written novel about the complexities, unlikely friendships forger and the legacy and aftermath of a World War, even after it appears to all be over. I very much look forward to this authors next...

Devastation Road is available now from Amazon online and all good book shops.

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Thank You to the author who sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Review: The Hummingbird's Cage by Tamara Dietrich

The Hummingbird's Cage by Tamara Dietrich
Publisher: Orion
Release date: 25 August 2016
Rating: *** and a half
Back cover blurb: A dazzling debut novel about taking chances, finding hope, and learning to stand up for your dreams.. Everyone in Wheeler, New Mexico, thinks Joanna leads the perfect life:the quiet, contented housewife of a dashing deputy sheriff, raising a beautiful young daughter, Laurel. But Joanna’s reality is nothing like her façade. Behind closed doors, she lives in constant fear of her husband. She’s been trapped for so long, escape seems impossible until a stranger offers her the help she needs to flee.. On the run, Joanna and Laurel stumble upon the small town of Morro, a charming and magical village that seems to exist out of time and place. There a farmer and his wife offer her sanctuary, and soon, between the comfort of her new home and blossoming friendships, Joanna’s soul begins to heal, easing the wounds of a decade of abuse. But her past and her husband aren’t so easy to escape. Unwilling to live in fear any longer, Joanna must summon a strength she never knew she had to fight back and forge a new life for her daughter and herself..

So I loved the beginning and end of this novel, but am a little bit stuck on the fence about the middle part!

Joanna is the victim of the worst kind of domestic abuse imaginable. She is terrified for her and her daughter Laurel's life's, but as she is married to a deputy Police Sheriff she knows that it is almost impossible for her to leave her husband as no one will believe her story and they will all be on her husband's side.

That is until an unexpected face from her husband's past turns up without warning. The guardian angel that Joanna had given up hope of ever seeing. As she makes plans to leave the town of Wheeler with Laurel she knows that she must get this right if they are both to survive.

Then we get to the middle part of the novel where Joanna and Laurel appear in the small town of Morro with no recollection of how they got there, and only vague memories of the day they left Wheeler.

This part of the novel for me, lacked a certain something, but I can't put my finger on exactly what. Maybe it's just that the novel wasn't taking the path  I was expecting it to, and I found myself less than engaged by it, but by the time I reached the novel's climax I had been reeled back in and was hooked again.

This is a great debut and don't let my thoughts put you off discovering this for yourself. I am intrigued to read what this author has in store in the future.

The Hummingbird's Cage is available from 25 August 2016.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online.

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Thank you to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Review: My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry

My Husband's Wife by Jane Corry
Publisher: Penguin UK
Release date: 25 August 2016
Rating: *****
Back cover blurb: 'A dark and gripping thriller that vibrates with tension...a must-read for thriller lovers' Kate Furnivall 'A rollercoaster of suspense and intrigue...' Rosanna Ley It's the perfect love story. Lily meets Ed at a party, and on their second date, he proposes. She's a lawyer, he's an up-and-coming artist. They own a small but beautiful flat in London and mix with all the right people. But Lily has a secret. Something from her past, that is soon to collide with her present. And she thinks her new husband is hiding something too... The vows they made will soon be tested to the very limits. 'Till death us do part...' Perfect for readers of Liane Moriarty and Clare Mackintosh, lose yourself in the twist-filled story that everyone's talking about.





My Husband's Wife is a novel of two halves.

When Lily meets Ed Macdonald at a party, it seems her life is finally able to begin and she is able to leave her past behind. After a whirlwind romance the couple marry and Lily starts work on a new case as a lawyer and Ed continues to pursue his passion for art alongside his day job as ...

The speed of their romance soon becomes apparent as cracks begin to show in their new marriage. Lily's work on the important case makes Ed feel sidelined...

Then the little girl from the flat across the way appears in their lives in a whirlwind of activity and gives them a perfect distraction from each other.

As Lily's work becomes more involved and high profile she spends less time with her husband at home and more time in prison with the offender that she is trying to get released on appeal, and in the courtroom with her more experienced legal colleague who is assisting the case.

Soon their time spent with Carla on a Sunday is the only time Lily and Ed have together, but even then Lily is working, and Ed is sketching the little girl, hoping to submit his work to a local art competition.

Fast forward fifteen years and Carla is returning to the UK having moved back to Italy with her Mother shortly after meeting the Macdonalds. Carla is determined to follow in Lily's footsteps and has enrolled at with the view to obtaining a conversion to her Italian law degree in London

But is soon becomes clear that it is not only Lily's career that Carla is after.

What follows is a chain of event that no one could have predicted, least of all, the parties involved...

I can't say much more without giving anything away, but this is a brilliant novel, a fantastic debut, and I can't wait to read more from this author.

My Husband's Wife is available from 25 August 2016.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online.
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Thank You to the publisher who approved my request via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Review: The Crooked Heart of Mercy by Billie Livingston

The Crooked Heart of Mercy by Billie Livingston
Publisher: William Morrow
Release date: 11 August 2016
Rating: *** and a half
Back cover blurb: Ben wakes up in a hospital with a hole in his head he can't explain. What he can remember he’d rather forget. Like how he’d spend nights as a limo driver for the wealthy and debauched….how he and his wife, Maggie, drifted apart in the wake of an unspeakable tragedy…how his little brother, Cola, got in over his head with loan sharks circling. Maggie is alone. Again. With bills to pay and Ben in a psych ward, she must return to work. But who would hire her in the state she’s in? And just as Maggie turns to her brother, Francis, the Internet explodes with video of his latest escapade. The headline? Drunk Priest Propositions Cops. Francis is an unlikely priest with a drinking problem and little interest in celibacy. A third DUI, a looming court date.…When Maggie takes him in, he knows he may be down to his last chance. And his best shot at healing might lie in helping Maggie and Ben reconnect—against all odds. Simmering with dark humor and piercing insights, The Crooked Heart of Mercy is a startling reminder that redemption can be found in the most unlikely of places.

The Crooked Heart of Mercy is a heart-warming novel about love, loss, grief and friendship that can be found in the most unlikely of places.

When Ben wakes up in a psychiatric ward he refuses to engage with his psychiatrist. In his own mind, he isn't Ben, at least not the Ben he used to be. The Ben that loved Maggie and their son. The Ben who chauffered druken celebrties and high flying execs around town to make ends meet.

But Maggie isn't Maggie anymore either. She is struggling to make ends meet, but reluctant to take up work, as she is grieving for both the loss of her son and her husband. Maggie is meeting with an elderly lady when she takes a call regarding her brother Francis.

Francis, is a priest, who needs Maggie's help. He has just been done by the cops for Driving Under the Influence, for a third time. The church want him to go to rehab, but as his court date looms nearer, Francis seems content to meddle in Maggie's life and dabble in a little 'romance' on the side.

As separate as they may now seem, these people love each other, and will ultimately lead each other back together.

The Crooked Heart of Mercy is beautifully written, with a wonderful ending and I look forward to reading more from this author.

The Crooked Heart of Mercy is available to buy now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

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Thank You to Marta Juncosa at Harper 360 who provided me with a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Review: Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas

Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas
Publisher: Michael Joseph UK
Release date: 11 August 2016
Rating: ****
Back cover blurb: FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE SISTERS - ONE OF THE BEST SELLING DÉBUTS OF 2015 - COMES A TENSE PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER RIPPED STRAIGHT FROM THE HEADLINES . . . Twenty years ago 21-year-old Sophie Collier vanishes one night. She leaves nothing behind but a trainer on the old pier - and a hole in the heart of her best friend Francesca. Now A body's been found. And Francesca's drawn back to the seaside town she's tried to forget. Perhaps the truth of what happened to Sophie will finally come out. Yet Francesca is beginning to wish she hadn't returned. Everywhere she turns are ghosts from her past. The same old faces and familiar haunts of her youth. But if someone knows what really happened to Sophie that night then now's the time to find out - isn't it? Except sometimes discovering the truth can cost you everything you hold dear - your family, your sanity and even your life. . . . 



Local Girl Missing is a gripping novel with an unsettling subject at it's heart.

Sophie Collier has been missing for more than a decade, presumed drowned after a drunken night out.

Francesca (Frankie) Howe is a successful hotel manager, living and working in London, worlds away from the quiet seaside town that she grew up in.

Once the pair were the best of friends despite their different backgrounds.

When Sophie's brother, Daniel calls Francesca with reports of a body part having been found by the local police, Francesca is at first reluctant to return to her home town. If Sophie's body has been found, then surely they can all just draw a line under everything and move on with their lives.

If only...

When Francesca returns to the seaside town it seems everyone from her past was expecting 'Frankie's' arrival. Everyone wants to know what happened that night, but not everyone is pleased to see Frankie return...

Told from both Sophie (past) and Frankie's (present) perspectives, Local Girl Missing is one of those novels where it is very difficult to know who to trust. I found both of it's narrators an unreliable source of information - although this does change dramatically in the later part of the novel just prior to its dramatic conclusion.

Local Girl Missing is a very enjoyable novel and I look forward to the authors next. 

 
Local Girl Missing is available from 11 August 2016.
You can pre-order it now via Amazon online.
 
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Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.