Girl Unknown [review]

girl-unknown-by-karen-perry

Title: Girl Unknown
Author: Karen Perry
Publisher: Penguin, Michael Joseph

[Synopsis]

‘I think you might be my father . . .’

When first-year student Zoë Barry walks into Professor David Connolly’s office and tentatively says these words, he is left reeling. But it is the lives of his family – particularly his wife Caroline – which are turned upside down by the arrival of this stranger.

A daughter, a sister, a friend . . . an enemy?

Though no one knows quite who Zoë is, she is soon entangled in their lives. Yet her stories don’t ring true and Caroline is determined to learn if the girl is the unlucky innocent she claims to be or someone with a far darker agenda.

A deadly cuckoo in the nest . . .Because by letting Zoë in, David and Caroline aren’t just leaving themselves vulnerable. They’re risking the most precious thing in the world – the lives of their children…

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[My Review]

I started reading Girl Unknown without knowing that much about the novel, but from pretty much the beginning I was hooked!

Zoe, a student at the university that husband and father of two David lectures at, walks into his office and tells him that he is her father, from a relationship of his a long time ago. From this point on, both David and his wife Caroline’s lives completely change – and, at least for Caroline anyway, not for the better! Zoe is not all that she seems, and she behaves very differently depending on who she is around. Her behaviour towards Caroline means that Caroline is not at all fond of Zoe, and this in turn begins to wear away at Caroline and David’s relationship as David feels like she’s being unnecessarily unwelcoming and cold towards Zoe.

You really get a sense of Caroline’s desperation, because the story is told from both David and Caroline’s perspective. This way the reader can see how and why they feel the way they do, meaning you know a lot more than either of those two characters do, who can only really understand their own points of view! However, whilst I felt really sorry for Caroline, I still empathised with David a little – in his mind he was just trying to make up for lost time with his long-lost daughter, after all. There are, though, plenty of times when David behaves like a real idiot – he should really trust and support his wife. No doubt this in itself will divide people – who should come first: your wife or (someone claiming to be) your daughter?

There are times when the novel is a little far-fetched perhaps, but it makes for great entertaining, and I liked that David DID doubt Zoe a bit at some points, when he had cause to. He wasn’t made out to be completely blind to everything, which made him a far more convincing and realistic character.

The story slowly builds as Zoe’s infiltration of the family continues, and things become more and more desperate (and twisted!). I really enjoyed reading Girl Unknown from start to finish, and found myself completely wrapped up in it, finishing reading it really quickly. It’s well written and intriguing, and I am looking forward to reading more from this duo writing as Karen Perry (I have also read and hugely enjoyed Only We Know; read my review of it here).

Definitely recommended!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

Girl Unknown will be published in the UK on 1 December 2016.

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You and Me, Always [review]

You and Me, Always - Jill Mansell

Title: You and Me, Always
Author: Jill Mansell

[Synopsis]

On the morning of Lily’s twenty-fifth birthday, it’s time to open the very last letter written to her by her beloved mother, who died when she was eight.

Learning more about the first and only real love of her mum’s life is a revelation. On the same day, Lily also meets Eddie Tessler, a man fleeing fame who just might have the ability to change her world in unimaginable ways. But her childhood friend Dan has his own reasons for not wanting Lily to get too carried away by Eddie’s attentions.

Before long, secrets begin to emerge and Lily’s friends and family become involved. In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton Langley, nothing will ever be the same again…

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[My Review]

You and Me, Always is a heart-warming read with elements of humour, romance and fun. Despite this being her 27th novel, I actually haven’t read many of her novels before (I need to change this!) but am aware that she’s known for writing great fiction that you can really curl up with.

Though there’s a lot of characters in this novel, they were believable and interesting, making you feel like you’re really getting to know them as you continue reading. I (of course!) particularly liked Lily, Coral and Patsy, who seemed lovely, and most of the other characters really too (though there were a few I wasn’t so keen on!)

The novel has some rather predictable moment and a few elements which I saw coming from a mile off, but there were some surprises too. There were also some humorous parts that really made me smile and other parts that were quite sad, but the novel left me with a nice warm feeling, which I think is just what you want from a book like this!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

All I Ever Wanted [review]

All I Ever Wanted - Lucy Dillon

Title: All I Ever Wanted
Author: Lucy DillonLucy Dillon
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton


[Synopsis]

Nancy is four, nearly five. She talks all the time: in the car, on the way to nursery, to her extrovert older brother, to her collection of bears. But then, one February morning, everything changes. Nancy’s mum and dad split up. Her father Patrick moves away from their Bristol home to Newcastle. And Nancy stops talking.

Eva is forty-four, nearly forty-five. She didn’t expect to be the third wife of a much-loved household name, but eight years ago, she and semi-retired bad boy Michael Quinn fell in love. Eva knew marrying a much older man meant compromises, but it was the love of a lifetime for them both – until Mickey dies suddenly, leaving Eva alone with his gossipy diaries, their two pugs, and a distressing voice in the back of her mind, wondering if perhaps she’s sacrificed more than she meant to.

While Nancy’s parents negotiate their separation, the question of weekend contact is solved when Patrick volunteers his sister Eva’s house. It’s in Longhampton, an hour out of Bristol, with plenty of room for her to get to know a niece and nephew she’s barely met – even if Nancy continues to refuse to speak. Patrick is sure it’s just a phase but his soon-to-be-ex-wife is worried that something more traumatic lies at the heart of their daughter’s selective mutism.

Meanwhile, Eva begins to read through Mickey’s diaries, and with every page she’s forced to confront a view of her marriage that turns everything she believed about her late husband, her self – and her own heart – on its head. The fortnightly presence of two children in her peaceful, grown-up home – one constantly singing and performing, the other wordless and sad – initially drives Eva and the two pugs, Bumble and Bee, to exhaustion, but as spring turns into summer, a trust slowly begins to form between an anxious little girl with a heartbreaking secret, and a woman who has realised too late that what her soul yearns for is the love of a child.

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[My Review]

I haven’t read any other Lucy Dillon books before, but All I Ever Wanted really impressed me. It was everything I wanted it to be: sweet, emotional, funny, realistic and SO well written.

The characters all really struck a chord with me. I loved both Eva and Caitlin in their own ways; they’re very different but have a lot in common too, and I really liked how they felt like real people to me. The kids were lovely too – Joel seems so sweet and I really enjoyed reading about him!

It’s not what I’d call ‘action-packed’, with some points slower than others, but I really liked that about it. The story-line addresses ‘real-life’ problems and issues around relationships and family, and making everyday life work when life itself can be so hectic and stressful – or, for Eva, a bit less hectic but filled with grief at the loss of her husband. I really felt for her and I liked that the author didn’t make anyone out to be a ‘bad’ person, as such – but sometimes people just grate on each other for various reasons, and sometimes things are much better.

I’m really glad Lucy Dillon avoided making any of this novel too cheesy – there were definitely emotional and heart-warming parts to the story, and some bits were really sad, but it was all written with such skill – and the adorable pugs were an added bonus!

I am so impressed with All I Ever Wanted; it really shines and I will definitely be reading more of her novels.

[Rating: 5/5]

All I Ever Wanted is released in the UK on 1 December 2016.

Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton who provided a copy of this novel on which I decided to write an unbiased and honest review.

The House on Bellevue Gardens [review]

The House on Bellevue Gardens - Rachel Hore

Title: The House on Bellevue Gardens
Author: Rachel Hore
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

[Synopsis]

Rosa has arrived in London from Poland to look for her younger brother Mikhail. He is supposed to be staying with their English father, but when she visits the house she finds it’s locked up and there’s no sign of either of them. She urgently needs work and somewhere to live while she continues her search, but what can she do and where can she go?

Stef is running away from her boyfriend Oliver and the claustrophobic life she’s been living in his opulent flat. Frightened, friendless and far from her family, she needs somewhere to hide.

Rick is living in a limbo, a shy young man hiding from the world to write and draw and dream. How will he find fulfilment?

All three find refuge at 11 Belvue Gardens, the shabbiest house of a smart white-painted Georgian terrace in North London. Here, its owner Leonie herself once found sanctuary following a short career as a model in the sixties and a destructive marriage. Now, out of gratitude, she opens her house to others in need.

However, as she helps Stef and Rosa and Rick to find their way, Leonie finds that once again the very foundations of her own life and happiness are under threat.

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[My Review]

I really enjoyed the other novels I’ve read by Rachel Hore, and eagerly anticipated reading this one. It moves a bit away from the style of many of the other novels that I’ve read – often moving between time frames with an element of mystery linking characters in the past and present together, etc. This novel still had two time frames – current day, where the majority was set, and small parts from the 1960’s, showing Leonie’s life as a model in London.

The story was nice enough to read, with characters developing as the storywent on, but it lacked any real tension or mystery/ unexpected links between the two time frames, and the characters – although nice enough – didn’t really grab me like her other novels have done. The story is quite slow paced which I suppose does allow the reader to get to know the characters more this way – it just didn’t draw me in the way I hope it would.

I would definitely say that if you haven’t read any other books by Rachel Hore, start with either The Silent Tide or A Gathering Storm, as they’re probably my favourites and I utterly love the style and changing time-frames within those novels. Sadly The House on Vellevue Gardens just didn’t live up to my expectations – I think the bar has just been set too high by some of her other novels, to be honest! It’s a pleasant enough read, though, and has a fairly satisfying ending, so it would be fine if you want something fairly easy to read and not too demanding.

[Rating: 3/5]

Have you read any other books by Rachel Hore? If so what did you think, and which is your favourite?

Small Great Things [review]

Small Great Things - Jodi Picoult

Title: Small Great Things
Author: Jodi Picoult
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton


[Synopsis]

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

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[My Review]

This is a book that definitely stayed with me long after I finished reading it. In Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult poses the questions of why people end up with the beliefs they do, and whether anyone is really born ‘bad’, or whether it’s decisions they make in life – coupled with unfortunate things that happen to them and their education, family values etc – which make people believe, think and act the way they do?

First off, this story definitely doesn’t just paint people as ‘bad’ or ‘good’ – it’s not that black and white, and really unearths reasons for people having the opinions they do. This is NO WAY excuses some of their behaviour – I found it incredibly hard to read about the opinions and values of Turk and his wife (and family and friends), who are White Supremacists and object to a black midwife – Ruth, the main character in this novel – looking after their child. I really hated those characters with a passion.

And here comes the ‘but’, which I can’t really believe I’m saying, BUT Picoult manages to make us feel some empathy with these parents, losing their baby so suddenly and so young. I didn’t feel a huge amount, granted, but some sadness for them was there, if you can filter their beliefs out in their mind, even for a limited time. I did feel for what they must be going through, and I can’t even begin to imagine how horrendous a situation that must be for them. So, even though I completely disagree with their opinions, you do feel very sorry for them when you consider that they’ve actually lost a child.

Whatever you feel about the characters, you don’t feel like you’re being preached at or to, and instead gain an understanding of what all their lives were, and are, like.

The story hops between narrators – Ruth, Ruth’s Lawyer Kennedy, and Turk. The different stories aren’t always in chronological order, as sometimes when switching between them the story goes back in time to before we last left them, so we see parts of the story from a different perspective, which is really interesting. It took me a little while to get properly into the storyline, but once I did I was really absorbed.

The characters, as always with Jodi Picoult’s novels, are convincing and so well-rounded- even the characters I despised (Turk and Brit particularly – I hated to think there are people like that in the world, but unfortunately there undoubtedly are). I really liked Ruth, though felt frustrated with her sometimes as she could be SO stubborn,  and some of the things she did I really didn’t get or agree with, personally – a few points in the book felt a little out of character for the person we’d got to know in this novel, but who can say, hand on heart, that they know how they’d react in the same position? She isn’t perfect, but who really is? Her sister got on my nerves at times (well, a lot of the time) but she evidently meant well, and I really felt for Ruth’s son Edison, despite playing up at times – he seemed so lovely and I really warmed to him.

Racism is, undoubtedly, a key theme in this book, and not just centred around Turk and Brit, but with many characters, many of whom probably wouldn’t consider themselves as racist people. It also includes ideas about family and power in American society. I can’t say it’s a great book for escapism, if that’s what you’re after, because it is stark and uncomfortable at times, but it felt powerful to read and thought-provoking. I think Jodi Picoult has done a really good job in Small Great Things to not come across as too self-righteous or preachy – a mark of a great writer.

So there ends my rambling review for this book! It’s a tricky one: I can’t say I enjoyed reading every page because at times I found it shocking and difficult, but I felt that this is a book well worth reading, to make you think about those in different situations to you, and the story pulled me in more and more as I read on. This is likely to provoke strong feelings and conversations around the subjects included, which is exactly what Jodi Picoult has said she aimed for.

[Rating: 4/5]

Small Great Things is released in the UK on 22 November 2016.

Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for a copy of this novel, on which I chose to write an unbiased and honest review.

While You Were Sleeping [review]

While You Were Sleeping - Kathryn Croft

Title: While You Were Sleeping
Author: Kathryn Croft
Publisher: Bookouture

[Synopsis]

You wake up to find the man beside you is dead.
He is not your husband. This is not your bed.
What do you do?

Tara Logan lives a quiet life with her husband, Noah, and two children, teenager Rosie and eleven-year-old Spencer.

But her peace is shattered when she wakes in her neighbour Lee’s bed, with no memory of how she got there or what happened between them.
And worse – he has been stabbed to death.

Convinced she didn’t kill Lee, Tara stays silent, fearing the truth will rip her family apart.

But as her daughter spirals out of control, and her husband becomes increasingly distant, Tara soon realises that someone in her life knows what really happened to Lee. She must get to the truth before they do.

Tara made a mistake … but will one night cost her everything?

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[My Review]

While You Were Sleeping is the third book I’ve read by Kathryn Croft, and it’s just as much of a twisty page-turner as the other two. The story focuses on Tara, a mother of two who wakes up in bed next to her neighbour, Lee, and has no recollection of the night before. Things take a very big turn for the worse when she realises that Lee has been brutally murdered right next to her – but by who? Could Tara herself have done it? She’s sure she hasn’t – but what will the police think?

The characters in this novel are all really well crafted, though most of them are pretty unlikable… and you really don’t know if you can trust them! Tara herself seems a convincing character and is likeable enough (though was a bit silly in her decisions sometimes!) but I hated her daughter! You never know when she’s lying or when to feel sorry for her – and this is the same with Tara’s husband Noel, who seems nice enough but you can’t be sure he’s everything he makes out to be. In fact, most of Tara’s family have their own secrets and problems, all of which adds to the mystery and unsettling feeling of the story!

The plot moves along at a really good pace, and there’s enough dialogue between characters which stops the story being too much about the action. It really builds the relationships between characters, and we see the doubt and confusion start to creep in for Tara, so we really feel sorry for her – or should we? You don’t know exactly who to trust! Some parts of the story are a little unbelievable, and I questioned many of the character’s actions – various parts of the plot did feel a little far-fetched. Ultimately, though, this is an entertaining, gripping read and I so enjoyed racing through it!

While You Were Sleeping really keeps you guessing until the end and I’d recommend it for anyone who enjoys an addictive psychological thriller!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for the copy of this novel. I chose to read this novel and write a completely unbiased review.

BLOG TOUR: My Sister’s Bones [review]

my-sisters-bones-by-nuala-ellwood

I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour for My Sister’s Bones, a novel I hugely enjoyed reading! Read on to see my review and check out the other stops on the blog tour below:

My Sister's Bones blog tour

[Synopsis]

Kate Rafter is a high-flying war reporter. She’s the strong one. The one who escaped their father. Her younger sister Sally didn’t. Instead, she drinks.

But when their mother dies, Kate is forced to return home. And on her first night she is woken by a terrifying scream.

At first Kate tells herself it’s just a nightmare. But then she hears it again. And this time she knows she’s not imagining it.

What secret is lurking in the old family home?
And is she strong enough to uncover it…and make it out alive?

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[My Review]

I can’t believe how much I enjoyed My Sister’s Bones! Brilliantly written, it manages to be tense and dramatic without seeming over the top – it strikes just the right balance!

The main character, Kate, was brilliantly crafted; she was a strong woman and I really cared about her, although – as the author no doubt intended – I did lose faith in her judgement and sanity at some points and started to question the truth in everything she was saying. I don’t have any experience of PTSD, luckily, but reading Kate’s experience of it rang true with me and I felt that it seemed to be portrayed pretty realistically.

Kate’s sister, Sally, seemed pretty horrible from the start, and so I found her hard to warm to initially, but as you read on you identify with her a bit more. I really enjoyed reading about Sally because she seemed well developed and interesting – not everyone in life can be lovely and do everything right, after all! Nuala Ellwood strikes just the right chord with My Sister’s Bones, developing the characters really well and making you care about them but also showing all their faults. This way you really feel like they could be real people – convincing and intriguing at the same time!

The story surprised me, with a different kind of ending to what I’d expected. There were a few bits that I felt I had to suspend my disbelief for, but that’s kind of a given for this genre and it added even more excitement to the story. I guessed one element of the ending but everything else was a surprise and I loved uncovering it all as the novel went on – so much fun to read!

I found I couldn’t put this down without having to read just another chapter. The two parts of the book work so well together and I will be advising everyone I know to read this, whether they’re a fan of the psychological thriller genre or not! I am now eagerly awaiting a second book from Ms Ellwood!

[Rating: 5/5]

* Many thanks to Viking Books for providing a copy of this book in return for an honest review *

Have you read My Sister’s Bones? What did you think?


 

 

Nomad [review]

Nomad -Alan Partridge

[Synopsis]

In Alan Partridge: Nomad, Alan dons his boots, windcheater and scarf and embarks on an odyssey through a place he once knew – it’s called Britain – intent on completing a journey of immense personal significance. Diarising his ramble in the form of a ‘journey journal’, Alan details the people and places he encounters, ruminates on matters large and small and, on a final leg fraught with danger, becomes – not a man (because he was one to start off with) – but a better, more inspiring example of a man. This deeply personal book is divided into chapters and has a colour photograph on the front cover. It is deeply personal. Through witty vignettes, heavy essays and nod-inducing pieces of wisdom, Alan shines a light on the nooks of the nation and the crannies of himself, making this a biography that biographs the biographer while also biographing bits of Britain.

[My Review]

Partridge fans will no doubt be excited to learn (if you haven’t already) of Alan’s newly released autobiography/ travelogue Nomada follow up to his 2011 hit I, Partridge, this book picks up where the other left off so we don’t have to miss out on any of Partridge’s escapades!

If you’re a real fan you may also have watched (several times, like I did) the great video of Alan announcing his new book with typical Partridge gusto, stating that “through witty vignettes, heavy essays and nod-inducing pieces of wisdom, I shine a light on the nooks of the nation and the crannies of myself. It’s a piece of work of which I’m immensely proud and if I had to sum it up in one word it would be: hope.” Self-confident as always, his synopsis goes on to state that “this deeply personal book is divided into chapters and has a colour photograph on the front cover. It is deeply personal.”

And indeed it is ‘deeply personal’ – we learn even more about this hilariously tactless (often completely tasteless, too) character. As I get ready to delve once again into Alan’s bizarre mind, he prepares to start his walk from Norwich (woo!) to Dungeness, in Kent – following (as he regularly tells us) in the footsteps of his father, who took this route many years ago. His relationship with his father is complicated to start with, and we learn all this and much more as the novel continues, all written in Partridge’s typically pedantic, stylistically-confused and try-hard writing style!

Alan also shines the light on certain situations we’ve all been party to over the years – giving his take on ‘what happened’, for example, during the siege which was featured in Alpha Papa. Needless to say, Alan’s take on this is significantly different at points to the film, and his relaying of the ‘facts’ is no doubt heavily altered to make Alan appear better, braver and more intelligent than he is – classic Partridge-style! It’s rather amusing to see these disparities between what actually happened and what Alan says has happened, though this does mean that sometimes it feels like there’s a bit less ‘fresh’ content than conveyed in I, Partridge.

Norfolk residents will enjoy reading Alan’s (often scathing) views on anywhere outside of Norwich, which is by far his favourite area of Norfolk, saying “if the people of Norwich were cheddar, they’d be Tesco Finest cheddar”. On his way out of the city he visits his childhood home on Cecil Road in Norwich – now turned into the regional headquarters of Carphone Warehouse – and continues on out of the city. He spends a night in Diss and, having forgotten his tent and having to borrow one, he ends up folded into a child’s Buzz Lightyear Tent (just him; there were no children there, mind!) and gives some (slightly back-handed, we must admit) compliments to some of the area’s gems – Holkham Hall and the Norwich Philharmonic get a mention!

There’s plenty of Partridge humour in Nomad and it’s bound to keep any fan smiling throughout – or, in fact, anyone living in the area with a sense of humour (we’re a good bunch here – us ‘Norfolkonians’ don’t mind some fun being poked at us by Alan)!

It’s hard to beat I, Partridge, but this is a hugely welcome follow up that throws us back into Alan’s entertaining world – one that I’m more than happy delving into again!

[Rating: 4/5]

Nomad is out now in hardback, ebook and audiobook formats.

Many thanks to Orion Book for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest and unbiased review. I have also published this review on the Norwich the City of Stories blog, which I write for.

Murder, Mystery & Dating Mayhem [review]

murder-mystery-and-dating-mayhem-by-d-e-haggerty

[Synopsis]

My name is Izzy. I drink too much, am clumsier than a newborn foal, and my brain-to-mouth filter often malfunctions. My daredevil husband killed himself in a parachuting accident five years ago and my best friend Jack has decided it’s time I jump back in the dating pool. He’s perfectly happy to throw me in if I don’t listen. Just when things in the dating world start to heat up, my grandma dies. Only her knitting group of Jessica Fletcher wannabes is sure it’s murder. I’m not convinced but I’m always up for a bit of excitement as long as it doesn’t lead to a night in jail. Well, more than one night anyway. Will I miss my chance at love because I’m chasing imaginary killers? Did someone really kill grandma or am I and my merry band of geriatric thieves imagining things?

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[My Review]

Murder, Mystery & Dating Mayhem is a fun easy read that certainly provides some escapism, despite the storyline revolving around an unsolved murder. It all feels pretty light-hearted though, so whatever mood you’re in, you needn’t worry about it being too heavy-going.

It’s really great to see a bit older protagonist featured, and I really like Izzy, the main character, and also Jack. They both seem like great characters – though Jack is a bit forceful at times with Izzy, in my opinion, especially at the start pf the novel with the speed dating. I get that he had her best interests at heart but sometimes it feels a bit much to me – good job I’m not Izzy then, I guess – but most of the other characters do seem quite likeable. Saying that, I don’t hugely like her boyfriend, Noel – he seems to be trying far too hard to be an ‘alpha’ male and ‘protect’ Izzy whilst calling her ‘baby’ constantly which got on my nerves a bit… sorry, rant over!

Overall, though, the story is fun and easy to read. It flows along pretty well and there aren’t any points where I felt the narrative is moving too slowly. The writing is informal and light-hearted; even the more serious issues are dealt with a quite easy-going, carefree tone which made it pretty easy to read. Izzy’s tone of voice is very casual and centres mostly on an ‘interior monologue’ kind of style, conveying most of what she’s thinking at every given moment. At times this can be a little grating; she uses some annoying exclamations and phrases which felt a bit much for me at times, as well as a lot of American colloquialisms (which is fair enough as she is an American character, I know!). However she is an amusing character to find out more about and the mystery element of the story helped draw me, particularly in the second half of the book.

Murder, Mystery & Dating Mayhem is a quick, fun read with plenty of comical moments. It feels like a nice change from the many thrillers I’ve been getting through recently, and is a nice bit of escapism, too!

[Rating: 3.5/5]

* Many thanks to the author for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review *

The Girls Next Door [review]

The Girls next Door

Title: The Girls Next DoorThe Girls Next Door
Author: Mel Sherratt
Publisher: Bookouture

[Synopsis]

One warm spring evening, five teenagers meet in a local park. Only four will come out alive.

Six months after the stabbing of sixteen-year-old Deanna Barker, someone is coming after the teenagers of Stockleigh, as a spate of vicious assaults rocks this small community. Revenge for Deanna? Or something more?

Detective Eden Berrisford is locked into a race against time to catch the twisted individual behind the attacks – but when her own niece, Jess Mountford, goes missing, the case gets personal.

With the kidnapper threatening Jess’s life, can Eden bring back her niece to safety? Or will the people of Stockleigh be forced to mourn another daughter…?

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[My Review]

Mel Sherratt is one author that I hadn’t read any of – until I read The Girls Next Door. And now I’m thinking I need to read a LOT more of her novels! This may be the first in the new Detective Eden Berrisford series, but if her other books are anywhere near as good as this one (and from reviews they seem to be!) then I think they will be well worth reading too!

The Girls Next Door was a twisty, exciting tale of kidnap, revenge and murder, but (shockingly) involving teenagers – and their long-suffering parents too, of course! The story followed Detective Eden, whose niece Jess goes missing. Jess was best friends with Katie, who is on trial for murder although she maintains she was not directly involved in Deanna’s death – and if you think everything’s connected at the very start of the novel, it only becomes more so as you realise these troublesome teenagers ALL seem to be bloody up to something!

There were characters who I was really unsure if I felt sorry for or hated, as I found out more about them, especially some people that I started out feeling sorry for. This makes you think about the fact that even someone who seems innocent can have their faults or make mistakes.

There are a few characters who I really liked – Eden, for one, and her sister Laura (Jess’s mum) who was trying to do the right thing and must have really been going through hell with her daughter missing, but still manages to be understanding. Detective Eden seems like a great leading character who I’d definitely want to read more about – she’s strong, smart and brave and I think she’ll make a great lead Detective in this series!

This book is full of ‘reactions’ and ‘consequences’, and shows how one seemingly small thing – and not always the one you think will cause the most trouble – can trigger off a chain of events which spiral out of control. I love books like this. It also deals well, in my opinion, with grief and heartbreak, all whilst avoiding being too cheesy or soppy. The pace is also just right, moving along quickly but still giving enough background on characters to make sure you care about them (well, most of them!)

I’d really recommend this novel especially to fans of Police/ Detective novels and stories that makes you question whether someone is really to blame. An exciting start to a series I’ll definitely be reading more of!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Bookouture and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.