This Love [review]

This Love - Dani Atkins

Title: This Love
Author: Dani Atkins
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

[Synopsis]

Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon – she’s a single, thirty-one year old translator who works from home in her one bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a very long time ago, when she was fifteen years old and tragedy struck her family. Her grief has left her scared of commitment and completely risk averse, so she plays it safe and keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.

One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a random passer-by, Ben, luckily happens to spot and rescue her. Suddenly her cocoon is shattered – what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event?

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This Love - Dani Atkins

[My Review]

I raced through This Love in a few days, even without that much time to read, because it’s gripping, uplifting (sometimes) and poignant (a lot of the time!), all rolled into one brilliant and moving read.

I don’t want to give much away about the storyline other than what you can see on the back cover, but one of the reasons I loved this book is that it’s full of love – there’s plenty of romantic, cute moments between characters  – but they’re portrayed well, without straying too often into the ‘cheesey’ category, which is a pitfall that I often find with other novels in this genre. This Love picks you up and envelopes you into this story, which, thanks to interesting, likeable characters, means you really care about what happens – particularly to protagonist Sophie and her knight in shining armour, Ben. (Ben… there are no words for Ben; he is bound to be the new favourite love interest for many people which would not surprise me).

The first half of the story starts with high drama but then calms down a bit and moves much more slowly, before the second half ramps up the tension (and emotion) again, leaving me a bit of a blubbling wreck at the end! That being said, it’s got light-hearted parts too, and is a story I really enjoyed reading, from first page to last. There are surprises  and some parts I didn’t see coming.

This Love will stay with you long after you finish reading it!

[Rating: 5/5]

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

Have you read This Love or any other novels by Dani Atkins? If so, what did you think?

Don’t forget… follow me on: instagram @snazzy_stuff_goodreads Laura / and twitter @lauranazmdeh!

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WWW Wednesday [29 March 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!

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted one of these (I never manage to post more than a few in a row, I’m rubbish!) but here’s this week’s WWW post which covers the last 3 weeks!

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 Missing Ones – Patricia Gibney

Fire Damage – Kate Medina

What are you currently reading?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32854781-the-trophy-taker

The Trophy TakerSarah Flint (second in the DC Charlotte Stafford series)

What will you read next?

The Escape – C.L. Taylor

My Husband The Stranger – Rebecca Done

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!

Fire Damage [review]

fire-damage-kate-medina

Title: Fire Damage
Author: Kate Medina
Publisher: 4th Estate

[Synopsis]

When psychologist Dr Jessie Flynn starts counselling Sami, the four-year-old son of an injured Major, she begins to suspect that his trauma runs deeper than his family have led her to believe. Why does he refer to himself as “the girl”? And who is the “Shadowman” who instils such terror in her patient?

Meanwhile, Flynn’s former patient, Captain Ben Callan, is investigating the controversial death of an officer in Afghanistan. Shot only days before he was due to arrive home, there is only one suspect – a fellow soldier who is refusing to talk.

Flynn and Callan’s cases converge when a dead body is found washed up on a Sussex beach, revealing a connection between Sami and the dead soldier. And it soon becomes clear that what seemed to have its origins in Afghanistan began with a secret much closer to home.

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[My Review]

Fire Damage is an interesting, gripping psychological thriller that addresses a slightly different theme and a fresh offering to that which we’re used to reading about in this genre.

Jessie Flynn is a psychologist, currently working with the US Army, so she helps counsel members of the forces after they return from action. She is given a case which concerns a young boy who seems to be a little disturbed, and in investigating this, plenty of other – and some rather dark – issues come to the surface, not just with their family but with the wider community.

I liked that this novel had the police procedural elements to it mixed in with the psychology and information about life living with (or without, in some sad cases) army personnel. There are some characters which you feel really sorry for, and it highlights the plight of many veterans who are physically or psychologically damaged, often with PTSD, from their service. I found the subject matter really interesting, though disturbing and emotional at times, and felt like it was a breath of fresh air amongst many ‘samey’ novels.

Jessie Flynn is a likeable character. She has her own problems, but her vulnerability makes her even more likeable and you’re willing her to be okay and not let her demons get the better of her – at least not completely, anyway. I enjoyed reading about both her work and her personal life – there’s a good balance between both. I particularly enjoyed reading about her working (and personal) relationship with Callan, especially now he’s no longer Jessie’s patient and is instead working alongside her.

I haven’t read any other novels by author Kate Medina, but would like to now! I think she handles some potentially upsetting and emotional subjects in a skilled and sensitive way, and thought this was a sparkling debut from what promises to be a great new crime/ thriller series. A recommended read!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to 4th Estate and Netgalley for a copy of this novel, on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Don’t forget… follow me on: instagram @snazzy_stuff_goodreads Laura / and twitter @lauranazmdeh!

Goodreads Monday: Standard Deviation

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!

Today I’m going to pick the last book I received on Netgalley:

Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny

Standard Deviation

Title: Standard Deviation

Author: Katherine Heiny

Format: Ebook

Publisher: HarperCollins UK – 4th Estate

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[Synopsis]

Graham Cavanaugh’s second wife, Audra, is everything his first wife was not. She considers herself privileged to live in the age of the hair towel, talks non-stop through her epidural, labour and delivery, invites the doorman to move in and the eccentric members of their son’s Origami Club to Thanksgiving. She is charming and spontaneous and fun but life with her can be exhausting.

In the midst of the day-to-day difficulties and delights of marriage and raising a child with Asperger’s, his first wife, Elspeth, reenters Graham’s life. Former spouses are hard to categorize – are they friends, enemies, old flames, or just people who know you really, really well? Graham starts to wonder: How can anyone love two such different women? Did he make the right choice? Is there a right choice?

I have to admit that the quote from Kate Atkinson, who’s one of my favourite authors, on the Goodreads summary (view here) helped me press the ‘request’ button, even though I’m trying to cut down on Netgalley requests!

Have you heard anything about this novel, or have you got it on your TBR list? 

Don’t forget… follow me on: instagram @snazzy_stuff_goodreads Laura / and twitter @lauranazmdeh!

The Missing Ones [review]

the-missing-ones-patricia-gibney

[Synopsis]

The hole they dug was not deep. A white flour bag encased the little body. Three small faces watched from the window, eyes black with terror.

The child in the middle spoke without turning his head. ‘I wonder which one of us will be next?’

When a woman’s body is discovered in a cathedral and hours later a young man is found hanging from a tree outside his home, Detective Lottie Parker is called in to lead the investigation. Both bodies have the same distinctive tattoo clumsily inscribed on their legs. It’s clear the pair are connected, but how?

The trail leads Lottie to St Angela’s, a former children’s home, with a dark connection to her own family history. Suddenly the case just got personal.

As Lottie begins to link the current victims to unsolved murders decades old, two teenage boys go missing. She must close in on the killer before they strike again, but in doing so is she putting her own children in terrifying danger?

Lottie is about to come face to face with a twisted soul who has a very warped idea of justice.

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[My Review]

The Missing Ones is a fantastic start to what promises to be a brilliant new crime/ detective series (Detective Lottie Parker series).

I was intrigued from the very first page – it’s really well-written, with engaging characters who I really felt like I cared about by the end. Detective Lottie Parker is a bit of a wild card, often breaking the rules slightly to get the outcome she wants, and her partner Mark Boyd who I really warmed to as well! They’re both flawed in their own ways – neither of them are perfect – but  this only makes them more likable, in my opinion! Lottie is certainly not the perfect mother but her heart is in the right place and she has her own demons to struggle with. The personal lives of the officers added an extra element to the story, on top of the already gripping investigative storyline.

The theme of corruption in 1970’s Ireland, particularly in the Catholic Church, is a well-known one and I found it really interesting (if not quite uncomfortable) to read about. It felt well-researched and full of interesting details.

The pace moves along quickly, with no time for me to get bored or disinterested. There’s elements of humour, very dark parts and others which are entertaining. The case gets very personal for Lottie and some parts felt a little unbelievable, but I feel that readers always suspend their disbelief with novels like this, and I truly enjoyed every page- a fantastic new series which I’ll definitely be reading more of!

[Rating: 4.5/5]

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

Don’t forget… follow me on: instagram @snazzy_stuff_goodreads Laura / and twitter @lauranazmdeh!

The Idea Of You [review]

The Idea Of You - Amanda Prowse

[Synopsis]

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…

Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all?

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[My Review]

The Idea of You is an emotional, touching story of a woman’s struggle, not to conceive but to keep her unborn child from miscarrying. In doing this she simultaneously has to deal with tricky family situations which really test her and an awful incident in the past that keeps coming back to haunt her.

The characters in this novel are easy to identify with and likeable, making you actually care about what happens to them. The protagonist, Lucy, seems really great and I warmed to her instantly; she’s not always perfect in the way she handles things but she seems real, like someone you’d know and probably like. I really felt for her as things just seemed to get harder and harder, and sometimes the situations that were thrown at her with her ‘new’ step-daughter Camille were so difficult – I won’t give away any key plotlines but it just felt like things got more and more difficult for her with Camille’s behaviour and insensitive  – although well-meaning – comments from family and work colleagues.

Her partner, Jonah, is also really likable, even though I didn’t always agree with how he acted, and at times he really messed up. However,  when reading The Idea of You I felt it was really important to remember that no one knows how they’d feel in this situation until it actually happens to them (and hopefully it never will).

The issues in this novel are dealt with really sensitively, and without any undue ‘drama’ to make it more impactful – it didn’t need that as it was so moving anyway. It felt like any of this could happen to someone you know – and indeed it probably is, sadly – but the story line didn’t feel hammed up or over-exaggerated; it just portrayed the heightened, upsetting emotions which show in some limited way how going through this feels – and, as we see at the end of the book, Amanda herself has experienced miscarriages too, which therefore must be so difficult to write about.

There are plenty of different examples of mothers in this novel, which I felt was great as it demonstrates that motherhood comes in many forms – and not always as actually giving birth yourself. I felt for Lucy strongly and to say I ‘enjoyed’ reading it is probably the wrong word, but it made for an absorbing and heart-wrenching story.

Full of raw emotion and honesty, The Idea Of You is a touching novel that really highlights an issue that isn’t always discussed as openly and in as much detail.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Amanda Prowse 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_stuff_goodreads Laura / and twitter @lauranazmdeh!

WWW Wednesday [22 March 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!

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted one of these (I never manage to post more than a few in a row, I’m rubbish!) but here’s this week’s WWW post which covers the last 3 weeks!

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? [3 week’s worth!]

What are you currently reading?

the-missing-ones-patricia-gibney

The Missing Ones – Patricia Gibney

Really enjoying this so far – seems a great new series! Review to follow once I’ve finished 🙂

What will you read next?

This Love – Dani Atkins (though I’m currently waiting for my copy to arrive!)
OR
Fire Damage – Kate Medina
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!

Goodreads Monday: All The Good Things

Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme hosted by Lauren’s Page Turners . To take part, you simply choose a random book from your TBR and show it off. Don’t forget to check out her blog and link back to Lauren’s Page Turners, and add your own links!

Today I’m going to pick the last book I added to my TBR list:

All The Good Things - Clare Fisher
Title: All The Good Things
Author: Clare Fisher
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Viking UK

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[Synopsis]

Twenty-one year old Beth is in prison. The thing she did is so bad she doesn’t deserve to ever feel good again.

But her counsellor, Erika, won’t give up on her. She asks Beth to make a list of all the good things in her life. So Beth starts to write down her story, from sharing silences with Foster Dad No. 1, to flirting in the Odeon on Orange Wednesdays, to the very first time she sniffed her baby’s head.

But at the end of her story, Beth must confront the bad thing.

What is the truth hiding behind her crime? And does anyone-even a 100% bad person-deserve a chance to be good.

Has anyone read this already (and if so what did you think) or have you got it on your TBR list? 

#RapidFireBookTag

rapid-fire2-901x506-535x300Thank you to Nicola at ShortBookandScribes for nominating me for the Rapid Fire Book Tag. Take a look at her blog if you haven’t already – she posts great, concise reviews and I have lots of book-choices in common with her!

So here goes…

#RapidFireBookTag

eBooks or physical books?
I’m happy to read ebooks (and most of the review copies are ebooks anyway) but I don’t think you can beat the feel of an actual book in your hands. Saying that, it’s must easier to read when it’s dark on an ebook without disturbing anyone else in the room, and my kindle (well, kindle app on my ipad) is ideal for if I finish a book whilst I’m on a journey or out, as I can just select a different one without carrying lots of books around.

For cookery books, though, it has to be print – I have lots of recipe books on kindle but they’re not anywhere near as easy to use when actually cooking!

Paperback or hardback?
Paperback – I remove the dust jackets on hardbacks anyway as I don’t want to get them dirty/ruined! So paperback is smaller, lighter, easier.

Online or in-store shopping?
Online! I am an ebay addict, and most of what you can find in shops you can get cheaper online so it saves money. I do feel bad sometimes as I feel I should be supporting the high street more, but to be honest I spend a horrific amount of money both online and in-store!

Trilogies or series?
I am a sucker for a good series – I love that there’s bound to be loads more if you like it. Plus I’m a big crime fiction fan and a lot of crime books are part of big series.

Heroes or villains?
I do love a good hero! Though a villain can be more entertaining I suppose…

A book you want everyone to read?
It’s an oldie but The Secret History by Donna Tartt is a great read. (I read this before starting my blog and realised I never wrote a review for it, which I should do sometime soon!)

Recommend an underrated book?
Hmm this is tricky to think off the top of my head… I guess I feel that the Detective Erika Foster series (by Robert Bryndza) should be everywhere, and though it has had lots of praise and buzz around it, I really think it should be up there even more, and be as well known as some of the more well-known series!

The last book you finished?
The Widow by Chris Brookmyre

Weirdest thing you used as a bookmark?
Whatever’s closest… I do have a bookmark a friend gave me but if it’s not in reaching distance I’ll use anything – a receipt, a flyer, takeaway menu… once I even used my contraceptive pill as a bookmark!

Used books, yes or no?
Used books are never a no, and you can get some great books for really cheap second hand and in charity shops. But for me you can’t beat a shiny new book – the smell alone is amazing!

Top three favourite genres?
This is hard… I suppose:
Crime/ Detective
Psychological Thriller
Novels with ‘timeslip’ elements (a bit specific, I know!) or just with dual narratives/ storylines

Borrow or Buy?
I get most of the books I read for review, but I buy lots of kindle books (to try and save space on my already groaning bookshelves) and my mum lends me lots of books too! So a bit of both…

Characters or plot?
Characters keep me interested in a series but if the plot’s crap I won’t want to finish the book. So plot ultimately, but it needs skill in both areas of course!

Short or long book?
Long if it’s good, as I won’t want it to end. But anything over 500 pages feels a bit much to be honest. Too many books, too little time! I don’t really read short stories, if that’s what this means, but maybe I should make more of an effort to…

Long or short chapters?
Short as I can’t stop in the middle of a chapter!

Book to movie or book to TV adaptation?
TV adaptation usually means more can be  fitted in, but I am a huge cinema fan so I love seeing books adapted into films.

Name the first three books you think of?
The Cuckoo’s Calling – Robert Galbraith
Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister (current read)
The Adventure series of books by Enid Blyton (no idea where that popped up from but I used to love them as a kid – all of Enid Blyton’s books in fact)

Books that make you laugh or cry?
I cry fairly easily; I think the last cry was at We Were The Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter. A memorable ‘crier’ novel was Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, one of my favourite books.

Our world or fictional worlds?
Definitely our world – I do enjoy fantasy/ sci-fi, etc, but can’t beat our own world. I can relate a lot more with it and find I get more involved in the storyline.

Do you ever judge a book by its cover?
I am ashamed to say I do – a lovely cover grabs my attention, but the story has to sound good too!

Series or standalone?
Either, as long as it’s good! But if I had to choose then probably a series – if I really like the characters, I know there’s more books about them coming to enjoy!

 

TAG TIME

I am now tagging these three people to do the tag – apologies if you’ve already been tagged!
Postcard Reviews
Rather Too Fond Of Books
Chat About Books

But anyone who fancies doing it, do go ahead and let me know – I’d love to see your answers!

Let The Dead Speak [review]

let-the-dead-speak-jane-casey

Title: Let The Dead Speak
Author: Jane Casey
Publisher: HarperCollins UK


[Synopsis]

When eighteen-year-old Chloe Emery returns to her West London home she finds her mother missing, the house covered in blood. Everything points to murder, except for one thing: there’s no sign of the body.

London detective Maeve Kerrigan and the homicide team turn their attention to the neighbours. The ultra-religious Norrises are acting suspiciously; their teenage daughter and Chloe Emery definitely have something to hide. Then there’s William Turner, once accused of stabbing a schoolmate and the neighborhood’s favorite criminal. Is he merely a scapegoat, or is there more behind the charismatic facade?

As a body fails to materialize, Maeve must piece together a patchwork of testimonies and accusations. Who is lying, and who is not? And soon Maeve starts to realize that not only will the answer lead to Kate Emery, but more lives may hang in the balance.

With Let the Dead Speak, Jane Casey returns with another taut, richly drawn novel that will grip readers from the opening pages to the stunning conclusion.

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[My Review]

As someone who hasn’t read any of the other books in the Maeve Kerrigan series, I was approaching Let The Dead Speak with completely fresh eyes, hoping to judge it as a standalone book in its own right. I have to say, I LOVED this book and am so glad I gave it a go – I only wish I hadn’t waited this long to read it!

As this was my first encounter with Maeve Kerrigan I wasn’t sure if I’d warm to her, but she is truly a great character; sharp, witty, prone to rash decisions (but most fictional Detectives seem to be!) but with a heart of gold. However she’s not perfect, which I like – she seems to really dislike new recruit Georgina and doesn’t seem to try and hide it. I liked her no-nonsense attitude and loved her relationship with Derwent – they are great to read about as a pair and I found some of their interactions really comical. Derwent himself seems like a likeable, if grumpy and irritating, character and his dry humour made me laugh at various points. Great characters are what I feel elevates a crime novel from good to great – and Jane Casey has certainly managed that with Let The Dead Speak!

The storyline itself is so well written – tightly plotted and believable but whilst still retaining plenty of drama and tension. It really keeps you guessing – packed full of characters who you constantly wander about (not about the police themselves, just the civilians!)… and with very good reason! There’s plenty going on in the neighbourhood where Kate Emery has gone missing and where the investigation is taking place, and everyone seems to have something to hide. It throws up plenty of questions and kept me completely enthralled, racing through the novel in no time at all. What a brilliant read – bring on the rest of the series!

[Rating: 5/5]

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