WWW Wednesday [22 May 2018]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

The three W’s are:

    1. What have you finished reading?
    2. What are you currently reading?
    3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading? 

The Craftsman

The Craftsman – Sharon Bolton [review to follow]

>What are you currently reading? 

Cross Her Heart – Sarah Pinborough

The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder – Sarah J Harris [audiobook] – I keep forgetting to listen to this so it’s taking me ages to finish, but I am enjoying it!

What will you read next?

Either:
The Brighton Mermaid – Dorothy Koomson
or…
Days of Wonder – Keith Stuart [I’m on the blog tour in June!]


What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!


DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

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Our Kind of Cruelty [review]

Our Kind of Cruelty

Title: Our Kind of Cruelty
Author: Araminta Hall
Publisher: Cornerstone

[Synopsis]

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

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[My Review]

Our Kind of Cruelty is a gripping read, drawing me further and further into Mike’s (often completely crazy/ridiculous/warped) world. I found this quite a tricky review to write because I feel like it says so much whilst being quite hard to ‘pin down’…

I loved that this is a psychological thriller based around the male offender, whereas – as Araminta explains in her author’s note – this genre is often centered around the female victims. This novel recounts events entirely from the male stalker perspective – and its done so well! At some (limited) points you feel a little sorry for him, at other times you CANNOT BELIEVE he can think that way. And at other points you just feel outrage at the way the justice system works for men vs. women. Yes, this is going to be a novel that will make you a bit angry (unless you’re a much calmer person than me) – either way I don’t think it can fail to provoke some strong feelings, and I love novels that do this.

At some points I wondered if anyone would have this level of tunnel vision… but then I’d think about stories in the news and in day to day life and realise that some people really are like that… scary.

Our Kind of Cruelty manages to make such a statement about the way stalkers and ‘the stalked’ are treated, and delves into that horrible, seemingly increasing, male persona where they feel entitled to a woman and can’t understand the word no. It really makes you think, as well as being a really interesting and well-written novel – give this a go, it’s something a little different and it kept me turning those pages.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Cornerstone, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

 

 

 

Whistle in the Dark [review]

Whistle in the Dark - Emma Healey

Title: Whistle in the Dark
Author: Emma Healey
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

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[My Review]

Whistle in the Dark is such a powerful read. Not only boasting a compelling storyline with a definite air of mystery (something that always pulls me into a novel), it also has some really interesting characters of the type I really like reading about – not always hugely likable, but captivating all the same.

The story itself addresses some really serious issues, including missing children and mental health. I don’t want to give anything away you can’t glean from the synopsis, but this is very far away from a light-hearted read about a family; at times it’s shocking, surprising and heartbreaking, but it never feels like this for the sake of being shocking/surprising/heartbreaking. It all feels very genuine, and I can (unfortunately) imagine many families having to deal with elements of this novel applied to their families on a day to day basis.

I really warmed to main character Jen, perhaps because we see things from her perspective, but also because Emma Healey manages to convey her rapidly changing emotions so well.  I felt like I was right there with her as she worried, wondered and drove herself half-mad trying to guess what exactly had happened to her daughter Lana over those four days. What actually did happen actually becomes less key to the story than the relationship between Jen and Lana, and Lana’s father Hugh. The characterisation is brilliant, and though Lana really irritated me, I felt for her too – she’s not having the easiest time herself.

I know this is a fairly vague review but I don’t really want to give much away about this beautifully crafted story. It really struck a chord with me and left me thinking about it long after finishing which is, for me, the sign of a powerful, masterfully-written novel. Definitely recommended and an excellent new release after the brilliant Elizabeth is Missing [see my review here]… in fact, I think Whistle in the Dark is even better!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Penguin for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

 

WWW Wednesday [16 May 2018]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

The three W’s are:

    1. What have you finished reading?
    2. What are you currently reading?
    3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading? 

Whistle in the Dark: A Novel – Emma Healey [review to follow soon]
Our Kind of Cruelty – Araminta Hall [review to follow soon]

What are you currently reading? 

The Craftsman – Sharon Bolton
The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder – Sarah J Harris [audiobook]

What will you read next?

Cross Her Heart - Sarah Pinborough

Cross Her Heart – Sarah Pinborough


What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!


DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

You Me Everything [review]

You, Me, Everything

Title: You Me Everything
Author: Catherine Isaac
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

[Synopsis]

You and me, we have history.
We have a child together.
We have kept secrets from each other for far too long.
This summer, in the beautiful hills of the Dordogne, it is time for everything to change.
You, Me, Everything is a heartfelt and unforgettable novel about the lengths we are prepared to go to for those we love.

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[My Review]

Ohh, what a wonderfully written and emotional book – I didn’t want to stop reading, despite the tears (I do cry easily but even so, this was a heartwrencher!).

Catherine Isaac’s writing feels so like real life – in many ways but, at its heart, just in the way she portrays dialogue and actions – it all feels natural and so convincing. The situation – Jess trying to get her ex (and father of her child) to bond at last, whilst dealing with her own problems and those of her family too – I don’t want to give too much away so will leave it at that – is one that no doubt many people have experienced, and it’s all portrayed so realistically.

I also love the characters in this novel. Jess is lovely, strong and the kind of person who deals with things so well considering what she has to worry about – definitely an inspirational main character! In fact, the other characters are also so interesting to read about. I really like them all… even Adam, despite his MANY faults. You can see why Jess fell for him; I think everyone reading the novel might feel the same just a bit. However what I like most of all about this novel is that people and circumstances are never simple. There isn’t an easy switch to solve everyone’s problems, because that isn’t real life. People don’t always behave so well but that doesn’t preclude them as bad people, just as other people might end up having to deal with more than their fair share of trouble, but unfortunately life is like that sometimes – not always fair.

You Me Everything conveys all of this without being overly depressing – there’s certainly times when I felt upset and shed a tear (or two…or a hundred) but there were other times where I smiled. It addresses some really important issues and I loved Catherine Isaac’s writing.

You, Me, Everything is a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions at times, but it’s a brilliant read and I loved being along with them for the journey.

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster and Catherine Isaac for providing a copy of this book, on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Gone Viking [review]

Gone Viking - Helen Russell

Title: Gone Viking
Author: Helen Russell
Publisher: Ebury

[Synopsis]

Frazzled mum Alice Ray likes to think she’s on top everything – she has FOUR bags-for-life in the boot of her car for heaven’s sake. But after spectacularly embarrassing herself at work, she finally gives in to her sister’s pleas to take a much needed break.

But this is not the luxury spa holiday Alice hoped for – instead, she finds herself in Denmark, in the middle of nowhere, on a ‘How to be a Viking’ getaway.

Can the two sisters finally learn to get along or will learning to embrace their inner warrior just make them better at fighting?

Two sisters. One Scandi holiday they’ll never forget…

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[My Review]

Gone Viking is a humorous, fun story about discovering what’s really important, all told through the eyes of ‘frazzled’ mum Alice.

The characters are good fun (some more likable than others); I found main character Alice quite hard to warm to, especially at first – I suppose I don’t have a lot in common with her as a character. However, following her and the group’s adventures during their Viking ‘holiday’ is really amusing, and the story is uplifting and engaging. I really liked Inge, in particular – she is someone to aspire to in many ways!

Some parts of Gone Viking are ridiculous, but you kind of expect that, and there are some more emotional parts too, meaning this isn’t completely light and fluffy. You follow Alice as she really changes during her time away, and see her grow as she realises what’s really important, and learns to loosen up a bit!

An amusing, fun read in the ‘women’s fic’ category which doesn’t just focus on relationships!

[Rating: 3/5]

Many thanks to Ebury for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

WWW Wednesday [9 May 2018]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

The three W’s are:

    1. What have you finished reading?
    2. What are you currently reading?
    3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading? 

You, Me, Everything – Catherine Isaac [review to follow]
Nineteen Minutes – Jodi Picoult [audiobook] [review to follow]
Gone Viking – Helen Russell [review to follow]

What are you currently reading? 

The Charmed Life of Alex Moore – Molly Flatt
The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder – Sarah J Harris [audiobook]

What will you read next?

Whistle in the Dark - Emma Healey

Whistle in the Dark: A Novel – Emma Healey (so excited to start this!)


What have you been reading recently? Any exciting books you’re looking forward to reading next?

If you do your own version of this tag please let me know in the comments below, I’d love to read your answers too!


DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

The Fear by @callytaylor [blog tour #review]

The Fear

Today it’s my stop on the blog tour for this brilliant new release from C.L. Taylor! Read on to see what I thought – and read a sneaky extract too!

Title: The Fear
Author: C.L. Taylor
Publisher: Avon Books

[Synopsis]

Lou Smith is used to being headline news as, aged seventeen, she ran away with her 37-year-old teacher, Mike, during a short-lived affair.

Now 32, Lou’s life is in tatters – and she resolves to return home to confront Mike for the damage he has caused. But she soon finds that Mike is unchanged, and is now grooming a young 15-year-old girl called Chloe.

Determined to make sure that history doesn’t repeat itself, Lou decides to take matters into her own hands. But Mike is a predator of the worst kind, and as she tries to bring him to justice, it’s clear that Lou could once again become his prey…

[Extract]

She yanks at the ceramic pot holding an ornamental cherry tree but it’s too heavy to lift with one hand. She bends her knees and pushes at the lid of the pot whilst simultaneously reaching down to steady the bottom with her other hand, but the weight of the tree is too great and the pot slips from her grasp. The tree bashes into the hedge, bounces off it and then crashes to the ground, taking out several pots before it lies still. Wendy clamps her hands to her ears, then ducks down low, as a shadow appears in one of the upstairs rooms in the house next door.

Her heart thunders in her chest. What should she do? Run back to the car? Hide under the hedge? She places a hand on the cold ground, preparing to run, and then she sees it – a silver Yale key lying beside one of the smashed pots. She inches forward, snatches it up, then, keeping low, heads for the hedge. She presses her back up against it, hands quivering against the smooth leaves and sharp twigs and waits.

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[My Review]

I was completely gripped by this story of revenge and fear! It provokes a mix of emotions, from anger to fear to disgust (when you read more about Mike, you’ll probably feel all these too), all taking place against a worryingly ‘normal’ backdrop  – and I was completely sucked in!

The characters in this novel really drew me in – I cared about main character Lou and the elements taken from her diary make you see what it’s like to be an unhappy child with a seemingly less-than-loving family, and how worryingly easy it is for older men to prey on these kinds of teenagers. It really makes you think about this, and though it’s not a pleasant topic, it is very interesting to read about. When Lou realises Mike, having been released from prison years ago, is grooming another young girl, she vows to stop him – and ends up taking things a lot further than planned! I also really liked Wendy, despite her many faults, and felt that her inclusion in the story was brilliant as it takes the reader away from just focusing on the victim and offender – there are so many other people affected by this kind of crime too, and Wendy made for a very interesting character to read about!

I loved that C.L. Taylor writes in a way that makes you completely get how things can so easily spiral out of control – both for Lou as she confronts Mike and for poor confused Chloe, and in fact everyone around them (including family and friends) as they fail to recognise the importance of what is going on right under their noses. The story is written in such a way that you think you know exactly where it’s going… but you really don’t!

I raced through The Fear and would definitely recommend it as a gripping read which is as much about the characters’ struggles as it is about action itself – a truly thrilling read with an added layer of substance!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Avon Books for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto the blog tour!

Follow the rest of the tour…

The Fear - Blog Tour Banner - Part 3

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Now You See [review]

Now You See

Title: Now You See
Author: Max Manning
Series: Detective Dan Fenton
Publisher: Wildfire

[Synopsis]

I, Killer has posted two photos of his first victim online – Before Death and After Death. They’ve gone viral before DCI Fenton’s team even discovers the body.

Soon, another victim’s photo is similarly posted…and so begins the killer’s following.

DCI Fenton is determined to discover the identity of I, Killer. Then the murderer makes the hunt personal, and Fenton’s search becomes a matter of life or death for him and his daughter.

But as I, Killer‘s body-count rises, his number of online followers is growing – and he loves to give his fans what they want…

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[My Review]

This is a really solid, entertaining new crime series which grabbed me from the first page until last. The characters are well-crafted and likable – though Fenton wasn’t hugely memorable, he’s a solid detective who you have faith in, and I really liked (perhaps preferred?) Blake.

I particularly like the fact that it wasn’t all centered around the police, and seeing Blake’s side gave it a different slant. I also really enjoyed seeing into the mind of the serial killer – it’s been done before but I feel that it’s done really well by Max Manning here.

The plot is fun to read and the social media element is a little different too. The short chapters are great at making you think ‘just one chapter’, until suddenly it’s the middle of the night and you’ve got work in the morning!

Overall I found Now You See an engaging and fun read, and am looking forward to future installments in this series!


Many thanks to Wildfire for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Paper Ghosts [review]

Paper Ghosts

Title: Paper Ghosts
Author: Julia Hearberlin
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

My Sister disappeared.

I know who took her.

Now I’ve taken him.

———-

Carl Louis Feldman is an old man who once took photographs.

That was before he was tried for murder and acquitted.

Before dementia and his admission to a Texas care facility.

Now his daughter has come to see him, to take him on a trip.

Only she’s not his daughter, and, if she has her way, he’s not coming back . . .

Because Carl’s past has finally caught up with him. The woman driving the car is convinced he’s guilty, and that he’s killed other young women. Including her sister Rachel.

Now they’re driving across Texas, following his photographs, his clues, his crimes. To see if he remembers any of it. To discover what happened to Rachel.

Has Carl truly forgotten what he did or is he just pretending? Perhaps he’s guilty of nothing and she’s the liar. Either way, in driving him into the Texan badlands she’s taking a terrible risk.

For if Carl really is a serial killer, she’s alone in the most dangerous place of all…

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[My Review]

Having hugely enjoyed Black Eyed Susans, I was really excited to read Paper Ghosts, and though it took a little longer to get into, I found this to be an interesting and, at times, quite creepy novel.

Main character Grace has her own aims when she offers to take her ‘father’ on a road trip – her sister Rachel disappeared years ago and the Police’s main suspect was (is?) her supposed grandfather, Carl. She wants to finally find out what’s happening, and will seemingly stop at nothing to do so…

The story starts off with a lot of impact, but it is quite a slow burner. A lot of the plot centers around the dialogue and ‘games’ the two play with eachother, meaning if you’re looknig for a ‘thrilling’ read, this probably isn’t for you. However, the tension builds as the novel continues and I found myself really wondering who knows what, and how much is actually a lie? I liked this element of doubt that Julia throws in.

The use of photographs added to the impact and ultimately the story becomes less about who the killer is, and more about how Grace will ‘deal’ with Carl. Julia Heaberlin’s writing is really skillful and makes you want to know more by teasing out little details via Grace, which did leave me feeling a little confused at times (but wanting to know more) with an added sense of ‘chill’ surrounding the whole, horrible case – at times you can almost feel Grace’s desperation bouncing off the page. Paper Ghosts is a very well-written, slow-building story which I enjoyed.


Many thanks to Penguin and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

DON’T FORGET… FOLLOW ME ON: INSTAGRAM @SNAZZY_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!