The One That Got Away [review]

The One That Got Away - Melissa Pimentel

Title: The One That Got Away
Author: Melissa Pimentel
Publisher: Michael Joseph


[Synopsis]

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren’t.

Now, ten years later, Ruby is single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There’s barely time for a trip to England for her little sister’s wedding. And there’s certainly not time to think about what it will be like to see Ethan again, who just so happens to be the best man.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there is nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past…

[My Review]

The One That Got Away is a fun, reflective and sweet story about lost loves, missed chances and the chance to start all over again.

The characters are likeable, though at the beginning of the novel I found main character Ruby a little abrasive and overly short with Ethan, but she really grew on me as the novel continued. Her sister Piper is pretty spoilt and annoying at times, but Ruby and everyone else knows this – that’s just how she is – and her dad is crackers most of the time, but in a loveable, sweet way. No one is perfect – many have their little faults (though Ethan does seem rather perfect!) which is much more relatable and realistic, or so I felt. You can’t help but warm to the characters!

Ruby and Ethan seem so well matched (as they always do, in romantic novels, but still!) and it was really sad sometimes to read about their missed chance to stay together, and how things started to go wrong. I felt quite emotional in some parts! I also enjoyed the way the novel flicks between the two timeframes – then and now – and was intrigued to find out what exactly Ruby was feeling so guilty about.

There are lots of references to things that happened back in what was presumably the 00’s, and I enjoyed picking up on little comments and inclusions that took me back to that era when I was a teenager! The novel is also set in Edinburgh, whilst most of the characters are American, so it’s quite amusing to read about some of the differences between cultures and places.

The One That Got Away has many of the typical tropes of the romance genre, but it’s really well done and avoids veering into cheesiness too much. The writing flows well and it’s really easy to read, so I breezed through it in no time. Though some parts are quite predictable, but I think that’s expected of many books in this genre, and none of that takes away from what is a sweet, fun story that will leave you feeling happy and satisfied as you reach the last page!

[Rating: 3.5/5]

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

The One That Got Away is out now in the UK!

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo [review + giveaway]

the-girl-with-the-lower-back-tattoo-amy-schumer

Title: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
Author: Amy Schumer
Publisher: HarperCollins

So today I have a review of The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo and a giveaway – a hardback copy of the book!

[Synopsis]

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is – a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friends – an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably – but only because it’s over.

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[My Review]

Prepare yourselves for plenty of vagina talk, cause there’s lots in The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – and it ranges from the ridiculous to the real ‘Oh I’ve been there!’ moments, which is what makes this book so relatable!

I really enjoyed this autobiography of Amy Schumer’s life, from childhood to where she is today, and (almost) everything in between. There’s plenty of chuckles and Amy’s dry sense of humour shines through, which I find really amusing to read, but this is interspersed with sudden more serious chapters, which do make you stop and think. It’s an odd mixture, in a way, but not if you view it as a whole – ie. about the many things that have affected Amy, as a female, and so of course vaginas will feature, as well as some very awkward (and some downright awful) sexual encounters. There’ll also be lots on the way she’s treated as a female comedian – not just a comedian, mind, other people (particularly men it seems) feel the need to point out her sex before the ‘comedian’ part – and dealing with family, relationships and friend issues throughout her life.

One of my favourite parts of the novel were the various ‘journal entries’, with a commentary from Amy which made me laugh.

It’s a pretty easy, quick read and I raced through it in a few days. Some parts I found more interesting and/or funny to read about than others, but I did end this book feeling entertained and also quite empowered as a woman. So that can’t be a bad thing!

[Rating: 4/5]


[Giveaway]

To win a hardback copy of the book, just enter via the link below – good luck! Don’t forget to find me on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads too 🙂

Enter here!

WWW Wednesday [15 February 2017]

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?

A little while ago I finished reading The Breakdown B.A. Paris and The Recipe hacker Confidential – Diana Keulian so I’ve included them here.

I also finished:
No Excuses Detox – Megan Gilmore

What are you currently reading?

The Chalk Pit - Elly Griffiths

The Chalk PitElly Griffiths

This is an author I love and a great series (Ruth Galloway) which is set in Norfolk!

What will you read next?

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by  Amy Schumer for my book club

And I’m not sure after that… maybe The One That Got Away – Melissa Pimentel or The Witch Finder’s Sister – Beth Underdown (which I’ve wanted to read for ages!)


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!

Why not add me as a friend on Goodreads!

The Chalk Pit [review]

The Chalk Pit - Elly Griffiths

Title: The Chalk Pit
Author: Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus

[Synopsis]

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they are recent – the boiling not the medieval curiosity she thought – DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard of a vast network of old chalk-mining tunnels under King’s Lynn, home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.

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[My Review]

This is another great release from one of my favourite authors, as part of the Ruth Galloway series that I always really enjoy. As it’s set in Norfolk, I enjoy reading about the area, particularly when some of the story moves into Norwich so I recognise lots of landmarks (though some of course are made up).

The story was interesting, particularly with its focus on the homeless community in Norwich – it’s nice to see a book that is actually quite objective and reasoned about people on the streets, instead of failing to treat them as actual human beings. The idea of an ‘underground’ community was really fun to read about and an interesting idea. Elly Griffiths does a great job of treating the issue of homelessness seriously and, I felt, with respect but still adds a bit of light-hearted fun to the story. I also quite liked that everything wasn’t too ‘neatly tied up’ and left some things unsolved, leaving me looking forward to her next instalment!

The characters are as great as ever (one of the many reasons I enjoy this series so much); I’ll always love Ruth, despite her sometimes making what I feel are questionable decisions regarding her personal life – but hey, no one’s perfect which makes me like her even more really! I also really like Nelson, his wife Michelle, Cathbald, Judy – even Clough, despite his odd views sometimes! In fact almost all of the Police force and supporting characters are really interesting characters and fun to read about (though some characters definitely featured less in this novel than I’d have liked, leaving what felt like a bit of a hole without them).

I am generally a big fan of Police procedurals anyway, which certainly helps, but some procedurals can be a bit dry at times. However the Ruth Galloway series is far more than that – each book has adventure, suspense and mystery as well, and this is no different. They all set such a high standard and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page!

[Rating: 5/5]

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

The Chalk Pit will be released in the UK on the 23rd February 2017.

The Recipe Hacker Confidential [review]

The Recipe Hacker Confidential - Diane Keuilian

Title: The Recipe Hacker Confidential
Author: Diana Keuilian
Publisher: BenBella Books

[Synopsis]

Unlock the secret to cooking mouthwatering and nutritious mealswithout giving up your favorite dishes!

In today s era of rampant food allergies, gluten-free popularity, and the rise of paleo eating, putting together a meal that will satisfy everyone at your table can be more complicated than computer science! With Diana Keuilian s unique approach for hacking recipes, however, you ll learn how to easily recreate beloved, traditional comfort foods without all the grains, gluten, dairy, soy, or cane sugar.

In this long-awaited follow-up to “The Recipe Hacker,” “The Recipe Hacker Confidential” is bursting with more than 100 new recipes and stunning photos that will tantalize your taste buds while trimming your waist.

The book is divided into five sections: Breakfast, Appetizers, Sides & Snacks, Main Dishes, and Desserts; each offering lighter versions of your favorite recipes such as:
– Breakfast Pizza
– Walnut-Raisin Rolls
– Butternut Squash Spaghetti
– Teriyaki Chicken
– Braised Short Ribs
– Snickers Bars
– Chocolate-Glazed Donuts

Keuilian spills all of her secrets on how to hack these recipes and many more while preserving the flavor, presentation, and enjoyability of each sumptuous dish. She also shares stories and musings throughout the book that will inspire, encourage, motivate, and propel you toward weight loss, improved health, and culinary happiness.

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[My Review]

This is a great introduction for people wanting to eat healthily and cut certain foods out of their diets. I’d say if you know a bit about the subject already then the information sections might be a bit basic, but there are some nice recipes in here and it’s a great way to learn more about clean eating.

I have tried a few of the recipes so far and really enjoyed them. The breakfast recipes are mostly great, as I’m always struggling for healthy breakfast ideas (particularly those I can make in advance and pick up just before I head to the gym in the morning) and the desserts/ sweet courses shone out at me, which is unusual as I’m usually more of a savoury person!

Some of the main meal recipes are a little uninspiring – I didn’t see a huge number of exciting combinations, to be honest – but there’s plenty here to keep you going, and lots of ideas that are relatively easy to try so don’t require a horrendous amount of bizarre ingredients (though this probably depends on your level of cooking so far).

Worth a read!

[Rating: 3/5]

Many thanks to BenBella Books for providing a copy of this ebook in return for an honest and unbiased review.

No Excuses Detox [review]

No Excuses Detox - Megan Gilmore

Title: No Excuses Detox
Author: Megan Gilmore
Publisher: Ten Speed Press

[Synopsis]

From Everyday Detox author Megan Gilmore, powerhouse blogger behind Detoxinista.com, comes her second title featuring 100 quick-to-prepare, affordable, and delicious whole-food recipes that make it easy to follow a healthy lifestyle for you and your family every day.

In No Excuses Detox, Megan Gilmore presents a collection of satisfying, family-friendly recipes developed with speed, convenience, and optimum digestion in mind. Because enjoying what you eat on a daily basis is crucial to maintaining health goals, these recipes for comfort food favorites–from Freezer Oat Waffles, Butternut Mac n’ Cheese, Quinoa Pizza, Loaded Nacho Dip, and Avocado Caesar Salad to Frosty Chocolate Shakes, No-Bake Brownie Bites, and Carrot Cake Cupcakes—taste just as good as their traditional counterparts, but are healthier versions packed with nutrients. Megan Gilmore sharply identifies many of the reasons people fail to stick to a healthy diet—too busy, budget conscious, cooking for picky eaters, concerns about taste or fullness, and more—addressing them head on and offering simply solutions. This beautifully packaged and artfully photographed book gives readers no excuse to not eat well year-round.

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[My Review]

No Excuses Detox is a great recipe book if you’re after comfort food without all the guilt!
The information about eating healthy, and leading a healthier life, looks great and very useful. However I’ve just focused on the selection of recipes to try out, all of which I know are nutritious, healthy (because that’s the point of the book, after all!) and which I can also use as a base to customise – ie. adding fish or other ingredients, if I want to. A lot of the recipes are healthier versions of favourites or take-away style meals that are traditionally very calorie-packed and not particularly nutritious, so this is a great alternative.

The recipes are easy to follow, and don’t require too many crazy ingredients. There are some that I’ll need to buy if I want to copy the recipe exactly, but most of them I can imagine subbing certain ingredients for others and getting a good result nevertheless.

As someone who has recently bought a pressure cooker but found I need some guidance on timings etc, and therefore on the look out for pressure-cooker-friendly recipes, this book is GREAT. It tells you if the recipe fits into certain categories eg. freezer friendly, 30 minutes, 15 minutes, etc etc OR if it’s a pressure cooker or slow cooker recipe.

For veggies this is great as it’s all plant-based, and many recipes can be adapted to be vegan or to other requirements. I also loved that the author included costs too, so you have some idea how miuch of a cost-effective recipe it really is. Basically, the author has done all the hard work for you and made a super easy to follow, informative cookbook.

I’ve only tried a few recipes so far but they’ve tasted nice (a few I felt needed a bit more seasoning, but that’s easy to adjust and depends on the person), and a few others I’ve used as a general idea which I’ve then changed slightly depending what I feel like. Photos look lovely but not too perfect, so that’s a win from me too!

This is, ultimately, a really great recipe book and I’d highly recommend it for anyone wanting to eat healthier but whilst still feeling a bit indulgent. There’s some recipes which I wouldn’t bother making or which don’t really appeal, but also a lot that I’ll be trying out in the near future!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Ten Speed Press and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel

The Breakdown [review]

The Breakdown - BA Paris

Title: The Breakdown
Author: B A Paris
Publisher: Harlequin

[Synopsis]

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

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[My Review]

The Breakdown had me gripped pretty much from page one. I read a large portion of it in bed at night, and I have to say that made for tense and eerie reading! I don’t usually get unsettled whilst reading or watching things (I am a big horror film fan) but, perhaps due in part to the darkness and being alone, this did leave me feeling a bit creeped out – it plays on your mind, but not in any way that hampered my enjoyment! I raced through it and felt it was a real page turner.

The characters are, at times, a bit frustrating – sometimes I felt like screaming at Cass to tell someone – but as you read on you understand, more and more, why she feels like this. They all feel like really well-crafted,convincing people that you can imagine having in your life…

As a reader you can also get a real sense of how it must feel to worry that you’re going mad or starting to show symptoms of dementia, and how that must affect how you confide in people.

This is a story where you’re never quite sure who’s being honest, who’s telling the truth or who’s a threat – and I love books like this. I’m a huge psychological thriller fan but some novels in this genre can get rather samey and completely ridiculous. This felt like a fresh take on the genre – it had some strange parts to it which seem a little unbelievable at first, but it all makes sense in the end!

The Breakdown felt like something a little different; something that stands out in the genre. It really gripped me, leaving me completely absorbed in the story and not wanting it to end! A definitely recommendation for any fans of the genre – or anyone fancying a fast paced, captivating read. I definitely want to read her other novel, Behind Closed Doors, now!

[My Rating: 5/5]

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

WWW Wednesday [8 February 2017]

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?

A little while ago I finished reading the following two books, but in the last week I posted reviews for both of them so I’ve included them in this section:

The Girl Before – JP Delaney

The Best of Adam Sharp – Graeme Simsion
And last week I actually finished reading:

We Were The Lucky Ones – Georgia Hunter

Ragdoll – Daniel Cole [review to follow soon]

What are you currently reading?

The English Agent

The English Agent – Claire Harvey
I’ve only just started this but I’m really enjoying it so far! I’m on the blog tour so look out for my review which will go up on 26 Feb!

What will you read next?

 

The Chalk Pit – Elly Griffiths

Aaand we’ve resurrected book club with friends! So I’ll also be reading The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by  Amy Schumer soon!


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!

Why not add me as a friend on Goodreads!

We Were the Lucky Ones [review]

We Were The Lucky Ones - Georgia Hunter
Title: We Were The Lucky Ones
Author: Georgia Hunter
Publisher: Allison & Busby

[Synopsis]

From the jazz clubs of Paris and Kraków’s most brutal prison, to the ports of Northern Africa and the farthest reaches of the Siberian gulag, We Were the Lucky Ones expresses how in the darkest of times the human spirit can find a way to survive, and even triumph.

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[My Review]

This is a difficult but also an absorbing and very well written (and researched) novel.

Focusing on a Jewish Polish family, the at the outbreak of, and during, World War 2, it really drives home the horrendous plight of people who were persecuted during this time, losing their belongings, jobs, homes and families. The novel is split into various parts as the family itself begins to split up (I really like novels with different narrative strands), and there are some periods where we hear nothing from characters, so naturally the reader is inclined to wonder if they are OK or even still alive. This really adds to the sense of bewilderment and confusion, echoing what the family must be going through.

The characters cover many continents and countries, from Paris to Brazil, and I loved reading about their experiences in different places. There were times when I felt really frustrated because we would leave a character at a certain point – often a quite dramatic point – and then rejoin them later in the book, but a large period of time would have passed meaning the tension or drama would have subsided, and we’d infer what must have happened in between. I’d have liked to have read what exactly occurred, but I know the book covers a long period of time and therefore not every incidence can be described in full. However the level of detail included, during the times that were included, can be very touching. Some parts of the novel are incredibly shocking and really stayed with me after I finished reading the book, whilst and other parts remind us just what a normal family this actually is – just like any of us.

We know this persecution and genocide affected millions of Jews, but knowing that this is based on a true story – that the author researched her own family history to find this – just reinforces the shocking nature of the book. I won’t give away how the story ends but it’s certainly an amazing story of survival and keeping hope against all odds. Definitely recommended – what a powerful novel!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Allison & Busby for providing a copy of this novel, on which I chose to wrote an honest and unbiased review.

We Were The Lucky Ones will be published in the UK on 14 February 2017.

The Best of Adam Sharp [review]

The Best of Adam Sharp

Title: The Best of Adam Sharp
Author: Graeme Simsion
Publisher: Michael Joseph

[Synopsis]

On the cusp of turning fifty, Adam Sharp likes his life. He’s happy with his partner Claire, he excels in music trivia at quiz night at the local pub, he looks after his mother, and he does the occasional consulting job in IT.

But he can never quite shake off his nostalgia for what might have been: his blazing affair more than twenty years ago with an intelligent and strong-willed actress named Angelina Brown who taught him for the first time what it means to find—and then lose—love. How different might his life have been if he hadn’t let her walk away?

And then, out of nowhere, from the other side of the world, Angelina gets in touch. What does she want? Does Adam dare to live dangerously?

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[My Review]

I had high hopes for The Best of Adam Sharp, having read and hugely enjoyed The Rosie Project and The Rosie Effect. I’m pleased to say that this novel didn’t disappoint – but I will say it’s a different kind of book to the other two.

The story is an interesting, enjoyable read which explores relationships and the idea of ‘long lost loves’. The main character, Adam Sharp, is quite likeable – though he makes some questionable decisions at times (though at the risk of comparing the two again, I don’t think anyone can be as likeable as Don Tillman [from The Rose Project]!)

Adam’s relationship – or, in a way, ‘non-relationship’ – with Angela is tricky, complicated and, ultimately, lost. Though in the present day he’s married to Claire, a surprise email from Angela (who is also married, and with kids) shakes everything up…

The story is split into parts, really – there’s an explanation of how things got to how they are today, and how Adam’s life is, as it stands, and then there’s the ‘post-email’ section, after he receives the email from Angela. The tone of the book felt, to me, poignant and quite sad at times, particularly when Adam reflects on what he’s lost. His current day situation doesn’t seem too great, though he doesn’t seem to be thinking about changing anything until he gets the email from Angela. Sometimes I do feel like he’s a bit of an idiot, though, in the way he acts, particularly with his current girlfriend Claire.

I really liked the way relationships, and the way memories can affect how people think about others even years after they happen, are portrayed in this book. It’s sad and poignant at times, but it feels quite truthful. There are parts which feel very odd, because Angela’s relationship with her husband Charlie seems very strange and out of the ordinary, but you soon learn that this is intentional. It’s a really good read, and characters aren’t too perfect or one-dimensional; they make mistakes and have their faults. As I mentioned, at times I really disliked some of the characters because of the way they were behaving, and struggled to care a lot about them, but recognised that this is often the case with people – no one is perfect.

This is an engrossing, honest read that’s ideal for getting lost in – I definitely did!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

The Best of Adam Sharp is out in  hardback in the UK on 9 February.