Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The Dinner Guest by B.P. Walter | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

The Dinner Guest by B.P. Walter - 4/5
Blurb:
"Four people walked into the dining room that night. One would never leave.
Matthew: the perfect husband.

Titus: the perfect son.

Charlie: the perfect illusion.

Rachel: the perfect stranger.

Charlie didn’t want her at the book club. Matthew wouldn’t listen.

And that’s how Charlie finds himself slumped beside his husband’s body, their son sitting silently at the dinner table, while Rachel calls 999, the bloody knife still gripped in her hand."

Review:
This book is completely gripping. It opens strongly with a prologue subtitled "The day of the murder" - who doesn't want to instantly read on after seeing that?

Charlie's husband Matthew has been stabbed and Rachel calls the police, confessing to stabbing him. Did she really kill him or did Charlie or their teenage son Titus have reason to want Matthew dead too?

The chapters that follow are told from the perspectives of Charlie and Rachel and move between different timelines; before the murder and after the murder.

We discover that the chance meeting that Rachel had with Charlie and Matthew wasn't chance at all. She had planned it but why? What is her connection to this family? 

There is so much going on in this book and you are desperate to keep reading to find out the whole truth. There is a running theme of elitism and the prejudices between upper class and working class. Charlie and Matthew's family and acquaintances are high flying politicians and they live in manors in London with housekeepers whereas Rachel is from a working class background in Yorkshire.

There are so many twists and turns but none too unbelievable. I loved the development of Titus especially the way he spoke to Charlie towards the end of the book. 

The ending made me want to scream. I usually point blank hate cliffhanger endings but it really worked with this book.




Monday, 12 April 2021

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane - 4/5
Blurb:
"Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have been friends since they were eighteen. Now in their 30s, the four are still as close as ever, Thursday pub quiz night is still sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed.

Maybe Eve should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed sometimes thinks about it too.

Then one night, in an instant, all their lives change forever. And, as Eve learns she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought, she also discovers she isn’t the only person keeping secrets…"

Review:
Eve, Susie, Justin and Ed have been best friends since their school years. Eve has been in love with Ed since the night before they left for university and she thought he felt the same way. When back at home for Christmas break, he introduces his new girlfriend Hester. Fast forward 16 years later and Ed and Hester get engaged at one of their regular pub quiz nights. Eve has always held a candle for him so she is devastated.

That same night, Susie is tragically killed and everything changes. We experience Eve's pain which is so beautifully written. Susie's estranged brother Finlay travels from New York, where he lives, for the funeral. Following a discussion with Finlay, Eve starts to think more deeply about her friendship with Ed and reassesses everything.

I love the depth of this book. It explores the sudden loss of a lifelong friend, a seemingly unrequited love and delves into the reason why Finlay was shut out by his family.

I did expect it to be a standard "boy will realise how much he loves girl and they will end up together" but that's not the case at all. I absolutely loved the development of Eve's character.




Friday, 9 April 2021

When They Find Her by Lia Middleton | Blog Tour Book Review #WhenTheyFindHer

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

When They Find Her by Lia Middleton - 5/5
Blurb:
"Naomi always wanted to be a mother.

But three years ago, her husband left, taking their child with him.

Now, her daughter has come to stay, and Naomi knows it's her one chance to re-build her family.

But the night ends in a terrible accident.

And Naomi has no memory of what happened.

Panicking, desperate, Naomi finds herself telling a lie:

'My daughter is missing.'

Now she can never take it back..."

Review:
Oh my goodness, this book!
Psychological thrillers are my absolute favourite and sometimes I feel like because I read so many, I'll be hard to please but this one is just fantastic.

Naomi has a four year old daughter called Freya with ex-husband Aiden. Freya lives with Aiden and new wife, Naomi's childhood best friend Helen.

The story moves between present day and events in the past. As it develops we understand the reason for Naomi and Aiden's split and we realise that Naomi has an issue with sleeping tablets. Freya is staying with Naomi overnight for the first time and when Naomi wakes in the morning, she finds Freya motionless at the bottom of the stairs. Naomi is pregnant with new partner Rupert's baby and in a moment of panic, she lies. She is terrified that she will be blamed and she will lose her new baby too. The sleeping tablets knock her out and she can't remember anything. Naomi calls the police and claims Freya is missing then hides Freya's body in an old World War 2 bunker that is on her property.

This then launches a search for Freya. Naomi knows she is dead but has to keep lying to the police. There were so many times that I just wanted to shout "What are you doing?!" to Naomi. 

You are just waiting for the police to find Freya and for the truth to come out. She is building lie upon lie and becoming more frantic. You feel the Naomi's emotions the whole way throughout and I could not have anticipated that ending.





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A massive thank you to Penguin Michael Joseph for having me on the blog tour. You can find the Twitter handles of the other bloggers that are taking part in the tour in the graphic below.



Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book in order to take part in the readalong with Tandem Collective. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey - 5/5
Blurb:
"When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi's disappearance cracks open the fa├žade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi's family, there are questions to be asked - of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father - both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark - the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones..."

Review:
Whistling Ridge, the town where no one would want to live.

This book is a masterpiece.

Emma leaves friend Abigail in the woods, near the Tall Bones, following a party. She goes missing and no one seems to know what happened to her.

Secrets start to come out in this small town. No one can be trusted. We read about Abigail's family life with father Samuel, mother Dolly and brothers Noah and Jude. It seems like a horrible life to be living. 

Whistling Ridge is wholly a Baptist community and it seems as though everyone justifies their actions by saying that God made them that way. They have no time for outsiders or people who aren't White Americans.

It isn't told in a linear format, flitting between Then and Now but everything lines up perfectly. With so many people hiding so many things, it is fascinating trying to work out what has really happened to Abi. Bailey writes brilliantly and every line captivates you. It is full of depth and totally enthralling.

The book touches on life in this Baptist community, sexual assault, domestic violence and homophobia.

This is probably one of the best debuts I've ever read.




Saturday, 3 April 2021

Trust Me by T. M. Logan | Blog Tour Review #TrustMe

[AD/Gifted - I received a digital copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Trust Me by T. M. Logan - 4/5
Blurb:
"TWO STRANGERS, A CHILD, AND A SPLIT SECOND CHOICE THAT WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING...

Ellen was just trying to help a stranger. That was how it started: giving a few minutes respite to a flustered young mother sitting opposite her on the train. A few minutes holding her baby while the mother makes an urgent call. The weight of the child in her arms making Ellen's heart ache for what she can never have.

Five minutes pass.
Ten.

The train pulls into a station and Ellen is stunned to see the mother hurrying away down the platform, without looking back. Leaving her baby behind. Ellen is about to raise the alarm when she discovers a note in the baby's bag, three desperate lines scrawled hastily on a piece of paper:

Please protect Mia
Don't trust the police
Don't trust anyone

Why would a mother abandon her child to a stranger? Ellen is about to discover that the baby in her arms might hold the key to an unspeakable crime. And doing the right thing might just cost her everything..."

Review:
I did not know what I was letting myself in for when I started this book. 

41-year-old Ellen is returning from an appointment at a fertility clinic. She and her now ex-husband Richard could never conceive and she always longed to be a mother. Her heart is broken when she finds out that Richard's new girlfriend is pregnant.

While on the train, she meets Kathryn and baby Mia. Kathryn seems to trust Ellen and asks if she can hold baby Mia while she takes an urgent call. Kathryn then rushes off the train, leaving Mia with Ellen. Inside the changing bag, Ellen finds a note which says to protect Mia, not to trust anyone and not to trust the police.

Totally unsure of what to do, Ellen finds herself right in the middle of a huge situation. We meet Dominic, Kathryn's sister's ex-husband, Leon, a man who runs a crime podcast and police officers Gilbourne and Holt. 

Information is given to us a small bursts and Ellen is trying her best to find out the truth and who has Mia's best interests at heart. We follow along with Ellen's discoveries, suspecting everyone but that ending even shocked me! 

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A massive thank you to Compulsive Readers for organising this blog tour and to Zaffre for eBook copy. The bloggers who are also taking part in this tour can be found in the graphic below.
Friday, 2 April 2021

The Lies She Told by Paula Johnston | Blog Tour Review #TheLiesSheTold

[AD/Gifted - I received a digital copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Lies She Told by Paula Johnston - 4/5
Blurb:
"Karly Winters has waited ten long years to have the man of her dreams, the handsome but duplicitous Jacob Cruthers. From her home in Glasgow she pines for the Londoner who casually keeps her dangling, never with a thought of giving her what she wants and never with any intention of leaving his wife.

For her part, Karly has no intentions of being second best any longer and she hatches an artful plan of devious intent that she is certain will work in her favour. Now, embarking on her dangerous game of high stakes, she is all too aware that someone is likely to get hurt. But for the winner, the prize will be incalculable.

But Karly hasn’t reckoned for new and equally underhanded forces that are at work. Lurking in the shadows are others, with their own agendas to follow and equally ruthless in their objectives.

With various factions hurtling towards a confrontation that none of them saw coming, someone is going to pay the price of infatuation.

But who?

Review:
This is a fantastic debut psychological thriller.

Split into two parts, we learn about Karly, a personal shopper from Glasgow. I've recently finished Caroline Kepnes new novel in the 'You' series and Karly honestly gave me female Joe Goldberg vibes!

She's been having an text only relationship with Jacob, who is based in London, for ten(!!) years and she is determined to be with him. There is just the small issue of Jacob's wife Lauren to deal with but has Karly met her match with her?

There are so many twists and turns in this book that I didn't know what was coming next. I genuinely had a smile almost the whole way through because I just thought "this is so good". The characters are developed brilliantly and the way that it is written meant that I just flew through it.

There is a real cat and mouse type feel and I loved the scenarios being told from both of the womens points of view.

I could honestly see this being adapted for TV.


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A massive thank you to Love Books Tours for organising this blog tour and providing me with a copy of the book.

You can find the Instagram handles of all the other people who are taking part in this blog tour in the graphic below. Be sure to check out their reviews too! 
 


Thursday, 1 April 2021

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

You Love Me by Caroline Kepnes - 5/5
Blurb:
"Joe Goldberg is done with cities, done with the muck and the posers, done with Love. Now, he's saying hello to nature, to simple pleasures on a cosy island in the Pacific Northwest. For the first time in a long time, he can just breathe.

He gets a job at the local library – he does know a thing or two about books – and that's where he meets her: Mary Kay DiMarco. Librarian. Joe won't meddle, he will not obsess. He'll win her the old fashioned way . . . by providing a shoulder to cry on, a helping hand. Over time, they'll both heal their wounds and begin their happily ever after in this sleepy town.

The trouble is . . . Mary Kay already has a life. She's a mother. She's a friend. She's . . . busy.

True love can only triumph if both people are willing to make room for the real thing. Joe cleared his decks. He's ready. And hopefully, with his encouragement and undying support, Mary Kay will do the right thing and make room for him."

Review:
Wow. A fantastic new novel in the You series and I think it might just be my favourite one so far. If you haven't read 'You' and 'Hidden Bodies' read those ones first so you can follow on. You won't be disappointed!

After leaving L.A. (reasons all becoming clear as you read on) Joe is now living in Bainbridge Island in the Pacific Northwest. He is applying for a volunteer post in the library and we are right back again where he thinks he's found "The One" in librarian Mary Kay DiMarco.

He's determined to change his life in this small city, surrounded by good people. There hasn't even been a murder there in twenty years. Will it stay that way?

Joe has his sights set on Mary Kay and typical Joe reads into every text, every Instagram post, every 'like'. It won't be easy getting close to Mary Kay though. She is married to a washed-up rock star, she has a seventeen year old daughter and a "feminazi" best friend who doesn't like Joe very much. Joe will mould himself into her perfect man.

Given the genre of this book, I didn't think it would make me laugh so much. I love Joe. There, I said it. I probably shouldn't and I probably have some issues but being in his mind is bizarre and hilarious. He is delusional. I truly laughed at every mention of Dolly Carton and the smiley face emoticons peppered throughout the book.

In any other book I'd be thinking "this is too much" but it all makes sense in Joe Goldberg's world. I cannot wait for the next instalment.



Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Another Life by Jodie Chapman | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Another Life by Jodie Chapman - 5/5
Blurb:
"Nick and Anna work the same summer job at their local cinema. Anna is mysterious, beautiful, and from a very different world to Nick.

She's grown up preparing for the end of days, in a tightly-controlled existence where Christmas, getting drunk and sex before marriage are all off-limits.

So when Nick comes into her life, Anna falls passionately in love. Their shared world burns with poetry and music, cigarettes and conversation - hints of the people they hope to become.

But Anna, on the cusp of adulthood, is afraid to give up everything she's ever believed in, and everyone she's ever loved. She walks away, and Nick doesn't stop her.

Years later, a tragedy draws Anna back into Nick's life.

But rekindling their relationship leaves Anna and Nick facing a terrible choice between a love that's endured decades, and the promises they've made to others along the way."

Review:
My heart hurts. I need to stop reading books that make me cry real tears.

Another Life follows the life of Nick and is told in six parts. Each chapter is from a different time in his life. It isn't linear but is easy to follow along with.

We read about Nick and his childhood with brother Sal and his mum and dad, a summer he spends with Anna in 2003 and his life throughout the years up to 2020.

My heart was already almost broken at the very beginning, before we'd even been introduced to any character properly, and that is how I knew that I was reading a special book. I honestly feel like my words won't do this novel justice.

When Nick meets Anna at work in the summer of 2003, it is obvious that they have something special. It is a proper teenage first love but it can never develop into anything more. Nick is Anna's secret. Anna is devoted to her religion and knows she must marry within her religion. I absolutely loved reading about this. I am not a religious person as all, and to be honest I'd probably be like Nick and questioning it, so it was a really great insight for me. Her religion is never mentioned by name but I did think Jehovah's Witness which is confirmed in the author's note.

After losing touch, their lives continue, each getting into new relationships and getting older but they bump into each other quite a lot during the years. She is the one that got away but it could never be.

I don't want to give too much away because everyone just needs to read it. The development of each character is fantastic and you know them and their personalities inside out. 

Reading about Nick and Sal's mother's death completely broke my heart and how that affected them both, especially Sal, was devastating.

It is raw, it is hopeful, it is outstanding. You won't be able to put this book down.



Tuesday, 30 March 2021

The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce | Blog Tour Review #TheLiesYouTold

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce - 5/5
Blurb:
"Sadie loves her daughter and will do anything to keep her safe.

She can't tell her why they had to leave home so quickly - or why Robin's father won't be coming with them to London.

She can't tell her why she hates being back in her dead mother's house, with its ivy-covered walls and its poisonous memories.

And she can't tell her the truth about the school Robin's set to start at - a school that doesn't welcome newcomers.

Sadie just wants to get their lives back on track.

But even lies with the best intentions can have deadly consequences..."

Review: 
This is a very strong follow up to Blood Orange.

Sadie and ten-year-old daughter Robin have moved from Brooklyn to London, to Sadie's childhood home, after her mother passes. It transpires that Sadie and her mother had a strained relationship, with Sadie's mother making her choose between her (and keeping her job as a criminal barrister) or having a family. Sadie chose having a family and the move to the USA came because of husband Andrew's job.

Sadie's mother has left her home to Sadie's daughter Robin, with the stipulation that she must move back to London, live in the house and attend Sadie's old school, the prestigious Ashams. Sadie hated it there so isn't happy with the thought but after husband Andrew has seemingly turned into a completely different person, demanding that she and Robin both leave, she feels like she has no choice.

There is so much going on in this book. It basically follows two stories, Robin starting at Ashams and Sadie's relationship with the "PTA school mum clique", where competitive parenting is rife, and Sadie dipping her toe back into work, helping on a case where a teacher in his mid-twenties has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a teenage student. 

It is written so brilliantly with lots of little things piecing together. There are also chapters referring to the details on an ominous Sunday which suddenly makes sense when you reach Part Two. It is like a light bulb has switched on. 

I really enjoyed this book, it kept me guessing throughout and the ending was just perfect and shocking. 


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A massive thank you to Rosie at Wildfire Books for having me on the blog tour. You can find out my fellow blog tour participants Twitter handles in the graphic below so keep an eye out for their reviews!

 



Saturday, 27 March 2021

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes | Book Review

[This post contains affiliate links.]

Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes - 4/5
Blurb:
"Joe came to Los Angeles to start over, to forget about what happened in New York. But in a darkened room in Soho House everything suddenly changed.

She is like no one he's ever met before. She doesn't know about his past and never can. The problem is, hidden bodies don't always stay that way."

Review:
Oh it was good to be back in the mind of Joe Goldberg. 

Hidden Bodies is a follow up to 'You' so if you haven't read that one yet, you really should as there are a lot of references to things that Joe had done in that book.

At the beginning of Hidden Bodies we meet Amy when she applies for a job at Mooney's, the bookstore where Joe works in New York. She and Joe get into a relationship and Joe thinks this is it. All Joe wants is for someone to love him and make him the centre of their world. He thinks Amy is that person. Unfortunately, Amy had an ulterior motive. She's stolen thousands of dollars' worth of rare books and has gone to LA to try and become an actress. In true Joe style, he finds out where she is and moves to LA himself to try and track her down. He wants her to die.

He throws himself into the lifestyle, making friends and acquaintances all the while still searching for Amy. He happens upon Love and quickly realises that she is the one he's been waiting for. The novel follows their relationship and Joe's relationship with her family, including twin brother Forty.

Joe's past crimes are catching up with him and life isn't all fine and dandy here either. Joe's body count is rising, of course.

It is quite a slow book at the beginning but you get that build up where you just don't know what is going to happen. I love the way that Kepnes writes. Joe is a person you love to hate and it feels like you completely embody him when reading. You are Joe and that archetype does not stray. 

The ending has made me very excited to see where the next book goes.



Friday, 26 March 2021

The Last Goodbye by Fiona Lucas | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The Last Goodbye by Fiona Lucas - 4/5
Blurb:
"Anna’s world was shattered three years ago when her husband Spencer was killed in a tragic accident. Her friends and family think it’s time she moved on, but how can she when she’s lost her soulmate?

On New Year’s Eve, Anna calls Spencer’s old phone just to hear his voicemail greeting. But to her surprise someone picks up. Brody answers and is the first person who truly understands what Anna is going through. As they begin to speak regularly, Anna finds herself opening up and slowly she discovers how to smile again, how to laugh, even how to hope.

But Brody hasn’t been entirely honest with Anna. Will his secret threaten everything, just as it seems she might find the courage to love again?"

Review:
This book is so beautiful.

Anna's husband Spencer died in an accident. He was hit by a drunk driver walking to the shop near their home. Three years on, Anna is still struggling to come to terms with his death. She meets up with his parents, brother and sister-in-law for fortnightly lunches and this probably doesn't help with the moving on thing either. She also senses that his mother is becoming distant with her. It shows an honest account of a relationship between the wife and parents of a deceased person.

Anna's best friend, Brazilian food stylist Gabi pushes Anna to try and meet someone new but she just isn't ready.

Distraught at the thought of entering a new year without him, Anna calls his mobile number just to hear his voice on the voicemail message but someone picks up. Brody. They end up talking on the phone for over a year, really helping each other. Brody is hiding something from Anna too.

You really feel the aching pain that Anna is feeling after losing her husband. Brody's struggles are written exceptionally well and your heart really goes out to him. The development of both characters throughout the book is wonderful.



Thursday, 25 March 2021

Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a proof copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro - 5/5
Blurb:
"It's a lonely life for Stan, at a new school that feels more ordeal than fresh start, and at home where he and his mother struggle to break the silence after his father's death. When he encounters fearless, clever Charlie on the local common, all of that begins to change. Charlie's curiosity is infectious, and it is Charlie who teaches Stan, for the first time, to stand on his own two feet. But will their unit of two be strong enough to endure in a world that offers these boys such different prospects?

The pair part ways, until their paths cross once again, as adults in London. Now Stan is revelling in all that the city has to offer, while Charlie seems to have hit a brick wall. He needs Stan's help, and above all his friendship, but is Stan really there for the man who once showed him the meaning of loyalty?"

Review: 
Oh this book is just wonderful.

It is a slow paced, character driven novel split into three parts.

In Part One we meet 13 year old Stan Gower from Newford, Surrey. He strikes up an unlikely friendship with 16 year old Charlie Wells. Stan is intrigued by this mysterious boy. 

Stan is reserved and conscientious and is being bullied at school as he is unlike the others. He doesn't "come from money" and is at the school on a scholarship. Confident Charlie helps him to realise that he is just as worthy as anybody else and helps him stand up for himself.

The relationship between them changes when it becomes common knowledge that Charlie is from the Traveller community (I am using this term as it is the one that is used in the book). His bullies use this as another target for Stan and his mother isn't happy with their friendship. They lose contact.

I really like the polarities between the two boys; Stan only has his mum after his father's death the year before and Charlie with his huge family. But they do have this "common ground" where they aren't accepted.

Part Two is set in 2012 and this time, the story is told from Charlie's point of view. He is now 25 years old and married to Kate. He seems like a shell of his former self, in an unhappy marriage, living in a rented flat in London and disliking his warehouse job. Your heart really does go out to him.

Charlie accidentally reconnects with Stan who is now a journalist. Stan realises that Charlie is the one who needs help now, just like Charlie helped him when he was a teen.

There is a political tone that runs throughout the book, touching on classism, fascism and nationalism and it is very well developed. I have never read a story like this one and I just loved every bit of it.

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Body Of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Body Of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter - 4/5
Blurb:
Like every woman, Celeste Morton holds a map of the future in her skin, every mole and freckle a clue to unlocking what will come to pass. With puberty comes the changeling period - when her final marks will appear and her future is decided.

The possibilities are tantalising enough for Celeste's excitement to outweigh her fear. Changelings are sought after commodities and abduction is rife as men seek to possess these futures for themselves.

Celeste's marks have always been closely entwined with her brother, Miles. Her skin holds a future only he, as a gifted interpreter, can read and he has always considered his sister his practice ground. But when Celeste's marks change she learns a devastating secret about her brother's future that she must keep to herself - and Miles is keeping a secret of his own. When the lies of brother and sister collide, Celeste determines to create a future that is truly her own.

Review:
Wow.

This dystopian fiction novel is set in a time where girls are born with markings on their bodies. How these markings look and where they are positioned tell them what the girls are destined for. Their futures are outlined.

The story follows 16-year-old Celeste and her 18-year-old brother Miles. Miles is obsessed with studying markings which isn't usually something a boy does. Readings and interpretation roles are usually held by women. He practices by reading his sister's markings and using the family's copy of the book Mapping the Future: An Interpretative Guide to Women and Girls.

This was a tough read given the recent news stories here regarding women's safety. In this novel, when girls are changing into women, they lose their childhood markings and develop their adult ones. They have a changeling period.

During this changeling period, it is advised that women do not go out after dark. Changelings are irresistible to men who just can't control themselves so they run the risk of being abducted. If abducted, when released after the end of the changeling period, it is the woman's fault. She is damaged. This information then goes on their official government markings transcript and universities will not accept their application.

Women's bodies are not their own. They must have their markings inspected twice yearly and women can be detained by police for an impromptu markings inspection. You also must stay with your assigned gender at birth and relationships are advised to be one man with one woman or they will receive no government support.

When studying markings, Miles makes a discovery that might be able to help girls and teams up with Celeste and interpreter Julia to help them take control of their bodies and lives.

This is a very well developed and intricately planned book. I was completely lost in this world and it is just fascinating to read about.



Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Playmobil Zoo Range | Toy Review

[AD/Gifted - We received these products for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]


We are massive fans of the Playmobil range of toys, as are many others considering that the company have been around since 1974!


My six-year-old daughter E was very excited to received a fabulous bundle of toys from the Playmobil Zoo range. Anyone who knows E, knows how much she adores animals. Her dream job is a vet but I'm thinking after this it may change to zookeeper!


We received the Orangutans with Tree, Pandas with Cub and Gorilla with Babies.


We got to setting all three boxes up and it was so easy to do, I'd say less than ten minutes! The instructions are super easy to follow along with. There are a few small pieces though so I would recommend these for children aged 4 and over.


The Orangutans with Tree is a very cute set with a lot of pieces included. Not only do you get the tree and four orangutans, the set also includes a a female zookeeper (which I loved!), bananas, apples, swinging ropes and accessories for the zookeeper.



It is built for creative play and E was delighted to be able to come up with her own scenarios; from having the orangutans interact with each other and climbing trees, to having the zookeeper come for feeding time.


The Orangutan with Tree set retails at £19.99.

The Pandas with Cub (£6.99) and Gorilla with Babies (£9.99) sets are a wonderful addition to the bigger sets and add an extra element of play. E especially loved having them all interact with each other and it was sweet to watch her use the adult animals to take care of the younger ones.


The Pandas with Cub set contains two adult pandas with one cub and the Gorilla with Babies set contains one adult gorilla and two babies.



The limbs are poseable so you are able to make them stand, sit, swing or hold things. All of the toys and pieces are such great quality and I can definitely see them being played with a loads and lasting a good lot of years.




Playmobil do a massive range of Zoo themed sets and E has already asked for a few of them for her birthday in September. I am excited to see how big we can build her zoo!


You can find out more about the range at the Playmobil website and you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.



Monday, 22 March 2021

Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington | Blog Tour Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

Rosie Shadow by Louise Worthington - 4/5
Blurb:
"Abandoned by her terrorised mother at the age of six, Rosie Shadow will do anything to win the affection of her father Archie, an undead cannibal in charge of Her Majesty's Prison Shrewsbury, now operating as a visitor attraction.

Clare is sent reeling into Archie’s arms with the grief of losing her boyfriend in a mysterious car accident when he collides with an ancient yew tree.

The secrets in the Medieval dungeon beneath the prison are under threat when Clare becomes suspicious of Archie’s true identity and his progeny."

Review:
Horror isn't a genre that I read a lot of, I am more a psychological thriller kind of person, but I really wanted to branch out this year and it sure has paid off. I couldn't put this book down and read it in less than 24 hours.

Elly Shadow is mother to six-year-old Rosie, a child who isn't quite normal. Lennie believes that he is Rosie's father and Elly keeps him away from Rosie until her sixth birthday. When Lennie visits her for this first time, he realises just how strange this little girl is. Rosie does not care for him either and is angry at him being there.

When leaving the house, Lennie, who is usually very safe, crashes into an old yew tree and dies on impact. Did Rosie cause this? We discover that a woman is thought to have died there recently but her body was never found. This old yew tree has great significance.

The story then follows both Rosie and Lennie's partner of three years, Clare, who is a university student and also works as a guide at an old prison that is now used for tours.

After Lennie's death, Clare's manager Archie takes a real interest in her. He isn't who he claims to be. What is his connection to Rosie? And will Clare find out the truth?

Honestly, this book has the most grotesque descriptions. It follows themes of the undead and cannibalism. You do need to suspend belief and it gives me American Horror Story vibes.

There is a lot of creepy, tense build up, especially regarding Rosie, and you are desperate to get to the crux of the story. I loved the scenes from the prison and I felt like I was transported there. 


Rosie Shadow is the first book in the Black Tongue series and I am definitely interested in seeing what comes next.


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A massive thank you to Literally PR for having me along on the blog tour. You can find out more information about the other bloggers that are taking part in the tour in the graphic below.




Saturday, 20 March 2021

The One Hundred Years Of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin | Book Review

[AD/Gifted - I received a copy of this book as well as an Artful box in order to take part in this readalong. All thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.]

The One Hundred Years Of Lenni and Margot - 5/5
Blurb:
Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it's not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor's orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

Review:
This is the most beautiful book I've ever read. I cried so much and genuinely felt emotionally exhausted after finishing it. 

Lenni Pettersson is a 17-year-old girl with a terminal illness. Whilst in hospital she meets 83-year-old Margot Macrae at an art class run by the hospital. Whilst there, they realise that their ages combined make 100. They decide that they will paint a picture for each year they have been alive; one hundred pictures.

When drawing these pictures, they tell the stories behind them to each other. This allows them to each be transported to that time in the other person's life. We learn about Lenni's childhood in Sweden before she moved, her family relationships and Margot's stories of the war, her parents and her relationships. Each of these are told wonderfully.

Lenni is the most fantastic character. She is sassy and I love her questioning of Jesus to Father Arthur, trying to make him uneasy. Their developing friendship is a beautiful tale to read.

I feel like everyone needs to read this book. It's a tale of unlikely friendship, kindness and just being there for each other. Even though I cried big whopping tears, I truly think this is one of my favourite books ever.

A massive thank you to Tandem Collective for having me on the readalong. There is a fantastic call to action which you can see in the graphic below.


Also thank you to Tandem for the gift of an Artful box. If you want to buy one yourself, use discount code ARTLENNI for £5 off!