The Honeymoon [review]

The Honeymoon - Tina Seskis

[Synopsis]

There’s trouble in paradise. . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

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[My Review]

The Honeymoon is a gripping mystery that had me intrigued from the synopsis alone – and happily the book itself did not disappoint!

Told from a few different perspectives (but mainly from Jemma’s in both first and third person), the book takes us through what happens on the idyllic island in the Maldives that Jemma and her husband are honeymooning on, and the way her husband’s disappearance pans out, and also the lead up to this happening, travelling back in time to when they first met and their subsequent relationship. We also see some of the story from Chrissy’s point of view, who is also on holiday there with her husband.

Jemma herself is very difficult to like. She’s spoilt, shallow and quite harsh in her treatment of boyfriends. She also seem incredibly flaky. I feel like as the reader you’re supposed to dislike her a little, as it only adds to your uncertainty over whether she is to blame for the nightmare unfolding in the book. All along we are wondering who has something to hide, and whether we’re getting the full story from Jemma and those around her?

The story is fast paced and utterly addictive. I loved Tina Seskis’s writing and loved the various twists and turns that The Honeymoon presented. One of them (which is fairly early in the book but still a good twist, I think ) seems to have been given away in some reviews thay I’ve seen (after I read the book, luckily not before!) so I’m keeping all of those out of this review so as not to ruin any of it. Part of the enjoyment of this book is in being surprised, I think!

I absolutely loved the ending and was left feeling suitably satisfied, something I can’t always say about novels in this genre!

Great writing and a fun, easy to read storyline that kept me guessing makes this a fantastic summer read – or ‘any-time-of-the-year’ read, really! It’s fun, twisty, and surprisingly dark at times – I loved it!

[Rating: 5/5]

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

The Honeymoon is out in the UK on 1 June.

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Persons Unknown [review]

Persons Unknown - Susie Steiner

Title: Persons Unknown
Author: Susie Steiner
Publisher: The Borough Press

[Synopsis]

The sequel to Susie Steiner’s bestselling MISSING, PRESUMED

Manon has settled back into life in Cambridgeshire with her adopted son Fly. She’s perfectly happy working on cold cases until a man is stabbed to death just yards from the police station, and both the victim and the prime suspect turn out to be much closer to home than she would like. How well does Manon know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

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[My Review]

When you enjoy the first in a series so much (Missing, Presumed) you can only hope that the second isn’t a disappointment. There’s no need to worry, though, because although it feels different in some ways to the first, this is a great follow up.

DS Manon is back, and plenty has happened since we’ve seen her last. She’s pregnant, perhaps a little emotional at times, but as determined and switched on as ever. The characters are all well crafted, intriguing and convincing, and Manon doesn’t fail to disappoint in her dogged determination to solve the case. It does present some doubts, though, in how well she knows the people around her – there are plenty of surprises!

The storyline jumps between different people , and these multiple perspectives offer interesting insights into the case. The ways in which characters are linked to each other are complex, tying in with the tangled web of lies and deceit surrounding the murder, and it really kept me guessing. Race and social standing is addressed a great deal in this novel, and I feel that Susie Steiner presents them with sensitivity.

I feel like Persons Unknown is a bit more of a slow burner than Missing Presumed, but this certainly isn’t a negative. There is now far, far more at stake for Manon and this adds an interesting spin; the writing is still excellent and kept me wanting to read on, leading me to devour this in a day. 

This is a really great follow up to Missing, Presumed and one I’d highly recommend. Bring on book 3!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

Persons Unknown is out in the UK in paperback and ebook format on 29 June.

Goodreads Monday: My Girl

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 a book I added almost exactly a year ago (I didn’t actually add any books to my ‘To Read’ shelves exactly a year ago, but this one was added just over a year ago!)

My Girl - Jack Jordan

Title: My Girl
Author: Jack Jordan

Publish date: 4 June 2016

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[Synopsis]

Paige Dawson: the mother of a murdered child and wife to a dead man.

She has nothing left to live for… until she finds her husband’s handgun hidden in their house.

Why did Ryan need a gun? What did he know about their daughter’s death?

Desperate for the truth, Paige begins to unearth her husband’s secrets.

But she has no idea who she is up against, or that her life isn’t hers to gamble – she belongs to me.

From the bestselling author of Anything for Her, Jack Jordan’s My Girl is the new chilling thriller that you won’t want to miss.

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

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

One Of Us Is Lying [review]

One of Us Is Lying - Karen M. McManus

Title: One of Us Is Lying
Author: Karen M. McManus
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s

[Synopsis]

One of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

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[My Review]

I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed this novel – as someone who doesn’t usually read YA novels I wasn’t sure what to expect but this one really sucked me in!

Now don’t get me wrong – I didn’t really identify with the main characters much because sometimes they were such ‘teenagers trying desperately to act like grown ups’ – like a lot of teenagers are I suppose! But they did irritate me at times. This didn’t spoil my enjoyment, though – it only added to the feeling that being at high school must be very like living in a jungle, with everyone trying to be top of the chain and outdoing each other. Must be exhausting!

There were all the ‘usual’ social groups you tend to see in American movies and books, with an element of Gossip Girl thrown in: pure, guilty-pleasure viewing! I haven’t watched Pretty Little Liars but a lot of people compare it to that too.

The story itself is told from various perspectives – Bronwyn, Cooper, Addy, and Nate – and I really liked that. It’s a simple and easy read, but there are still plenty of secrets and half truths floating around, as well as a good dose of suspense. The narrative has various layers and depths as the book continues and you slowly unfurl what’s happened, and I liked trying to work out who was lying and who wasn’t.

I won’t say anymore as I don’t want to ruin anything but I can say that, even if you don’t usually read YA novels, you might well enjoy One Of Us Is Lying – it’s a well-crafted, easy to read and fun novel that kept me guessing until the end!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

One Of Us Is Lying is out in the UK on 1 June.

 

The Sense of an Ending [review]

The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes

Title: The Sense of an Ending
Author: Julian Barnes
Publisher: Vintage

[Synopsis]

Tony Webster and his clique first met Adrian Finn at school. Sex-hungry and book-hungry, they would navigate the girl-less sixth form together, trading in affectations, in-jokes, rumour and wit. Maybe Adrian was a little more serious than the others, certainly more intelligent, but they all swore to stay friends for life.

Now Tony is retired. He’s had a career and a single marriage, a calm divorce. He’s certainly never tried to hurt anybody. Memory, though, is imperfect. It can always throw up surprises, as a lawyer’s letter is about to prove.

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[My Review]

The Sense of an Ending is a novella chosen by one of our book group members, and not necessarily something I would have picked up to read myself, so I’d glad it was chosen. It’s short – obviously, as it’s a novella – but I feel like Julian Barnes manages to pack a lot of meaning in without actually packing in that much ‘action’.

Firstly, a lot of the characters in The Sense of an Ending are quite unlikeable – the main narrator, Tony, is – quite frankly- a self-absorbed and pretty selfish man. He’s reflecting back on his life with a whimsical filter, thinking about his friendships with the group of boys he was friends with – particularly Adrian – and about his first serious girlfriend, Veronica. The time during their posh English prep school really highlights the self-important feeling among young men particularly during that era and in that section of society – or so it is in this novel. They are quite irritating.

I did enjoy the reflection Tony gives on his life, and his marriage, finding it quite interesting to read. I felt that there’s a section in the middle where I lost interest a bit, but the end brought it back to my attention, as something actually happens, instead of focussing mainly on Tony’s memories (though that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy reading about some of Tony’s memories). There’s some unexpected twists and an ending that left me thinking about it after I’d put the book down. I think the writing is incredibly skilful and the fact that it focuses on what is essentially an ‘ordinary’ life, but the story shows that even when you think life has calmed down and become a little dull, the unexpected can made you rethink not only your current situation but all that came before it, often making you question the legitimacy of your memories. How much can we trust the narrator of a story, just because they have been assigned the role of narrator?

This is an enjoyable, interesting story. I do feel most of the interest for me lay in the start and end, but it was overall well worth a read and I can definitely see why it was awarded a Booker Prize! I would be interested to see the film now to compare, and see how they’ve made a short book into a feature length film.

[Rating: 4/5]

Have you read the book, or seen the film? If so what did you think?

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

WWW Wednesday [22 May 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? 

Sweetpea – C.J. Skuse (audiobook) – review coming soon

One Of Us Is Lying – Karen McManus – review coming soon

Persons Unknown– Susie Steiner – review coming soon!

 

What are you currently reading? 

Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

I am LOVING this so far – and I’m almost finished! My review should be up soon so keep an eye out for it 🙂 Thanks Karen from Orenda for the copy!

The Second Sister – Claire Kendal

Trying to continue with listening to audiobooks after really enjoying the Sweetpea audiobook, I thought I’d listen to this next. I’m enjoying it so far but it’s not wowing me… it might be because I’m not reading it from a book. We’ll see once I’ve finished anyway!

 

What will you read next?

 

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_STUFF_GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Sweetpea [review]

Sweetpea - C.J. Skuse

Title: Sweetpea
Author: C J Skuse
Publisher: HQ

[Synopsis]

“The last person who called me ‘Sweetpea’ ended up dead…

I haven’t killed anyone for three years and I thought that when it happened again I’d feel bad. Like an alcoholic taking a sip of whisky. But no. Nothing. I had a blissful night’s sleep. Didn’t wake up at all. And for once, no bad dream either. This morning I feel balanced. Almost sane, for once.”

Rhiannon is your average girl next door, settled with her boyfriend and little dog…but she’s got a killer secret.

Although her childhood was haunted by a famous crime, Rhinannon’s life is normal now that her celebrity has dwindled. By day her job as an editorial assistant is demeaning and unsatisfying. By evening she dutifully listens to her friend’s plans for marriage and babies whilst secretly making a list.

A kill list.

From the man on the Lidl checkout who always mishandles her apples, to the driver who cuts her off on her way to work, to the people who have got it coming, Rhiannon’s ready to get her revenge.

Because the girl everyone overlooks might be able to get away with murder…

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[My Review]

Sweetpea is an odd but brilliant mix of humour, darkness and general fun! I listened to it on audiobook, which I don’t usually do, but found I enjoyed every minute and it made me want to enjoy more books in this format. Anyway, back to the story itself…

Sweetpea is shocking, un-PC and could be a little bit offensive at times, but the narrator, Rhiannon, is so flippant and freshly honest (in her descriptions, anyway – not to people’s faces!), and really amuses me! She has a real ‘don’t care’ attitude, in part due to the fact that she’s obviously a psychopath but doesn’t realise it herself!

Her relationship with her cheating boyfriend Craig, her annoying friends, and her work colleagues are so entertaining to read about, and I know that I shouldn’t applaud anyone for being a serial killer… but I really like Rhiannon, I can’t help it! I love her lists of people she hates, I love her comments on annoying things other people do (some of which I have to say I’ve noticed myself), and I love her confidence. She’s harmed a lot of people over the years and she’s a massive bitch herself, but you kind of feel they deserved it… sort of (uh oh, what does that make me…?). Regardless of what she’s done, she made me laugh, and for that I have a real fondness for her.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of this book and would recommend it to anyone (who’s not easily offended, that is!). It’s fun, fresh, and a little bit cheeky…

[Rating: 4/5]

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

Goodreads Monday: The Mayfly

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 a book I’ve recently read an extract from, and which I hugely enjoyed:

The Mayfly - James Hazel

Title: The Mayfly
Author: James Hazel
Series: Charlie Priest

Publish date: 15 June 2017

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[Synopsis]

It’s happening again.

A mutilated body discovered in the woods.
A murderous plan conceived in the past.
A reckoning seventy years in the making . . .

Charlie Priest, ex-detective inspector turned London lawyer, is hired by influential entrepreneur Kenneth Ellinder to investigate the murder of his son. But Priest is no ordinary lawyer. Brilliant, yet flawed, this case will push him, and those closest to him, to the edge.

Priest traces the evidence back to the desperate last days of the Second World War. Buried in the ashes of the Holocaust is a secret so deadly its poison threatens to destroy the very heart of the establishment.

With more victims going missing, Priest realises that not everyone should be trusted. As he races to uncover the truth, can he prevent history from repeating itself?

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

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

The No Meat Athlete Cookbook [review]

The No Meat Athlete Cookbook

Title: The No Meat Athlete Cookbook
Author: Matt Frazier and Stepfanie Romine
Publisher: The Experiment

[Synopsis]

From the founder of No Meat Athlete: plant-based recipes packed with nutrition to help athletes perform better and recover faster

A fast-growing global movement, No Meat Athlete (NMA) is inspiring everyone from weekend joggers to world-class competitors to be healthier and fitter and perform better on whole plant foods. Written by NMA founder Matt Frazier and longtime health coach, yoga teacher, and nutrition writer Stepfanie Romine, The No Meat Athlete Cookbook features 150 whole food, vegan recipes that are affordable and quick to get on the table, even on busy nights. Here are:
Breakfasts to power you up (Almond Butter–Banana Pancakes), mains that aid recovery (Beet Bourguignon), and natural sports drinks, portables, energy bites, and bars (V9, Umeboshi Electrolyte Drink, Calorie Bomb Cookies) to take you further and help you get the most from every workout
Minimal gluten, soy, and sweeteners, plus oil-free options throughout (ideal for followers of the Forks Over Knives diet)
Meal-planning guidelines, nutritional info, adaptable “blueprint” recipes—and more!

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[My Review]

This is a really useful, informative and inspiring cookbook. It’s packed full of interesting information on nutrition and what kind of foods you should be fuelling your body with as an athlete – or just anyone who exercises, really! This isn’t just for the elite (of which group I DEFINITELY do not belong!)

The recipes are easy to follow whilst still being inspiring and they all look delicious. Even if you’re a hardcore carnivore you’ll enjoy these recipes and won’t miss the meat, I promise you!

Another important aspect of this book is that the recipes don’t usually ridiculously expensive or unusual ingredients – you’re bound to have a lot of them in your cupboard or, if not, they’re easy to find in the supermarket. The recipes are generally healthy and will leave you feeling satisfied without the guilt that often comes with junk food!

For anyone wanting to go veggie, or just incorporate more veggie recipes into their diet, this is ideal. It’s got lovely photos (always important in these kind of books, I think – I like to see what I’m cooking is *supposed* to look like!) and I loved the oil-free cooking section, which I’d never really thought about before. There’s also a good range of savoury and sweet recipes depending what you fancy. Highly recommended!

[Rating: 4/5]

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

Deadly Alibi [review]

Deadly Alibi - Leigh Russell

Title: Deadly Alibi
Author: Leigh Russell
Publisher: No Exit Press

[Synopsis]

Two murder victims and a suspect whose alibi appears open to doubt…. Geraldine Steel is plunged into a double murder investigation which threatens not only her career, but her life. And then her previously unknown twin Helena turns up, with problems which are about to make Geraldine’s life turn toxic in more ways than one!

For fans of Rachel Abbott, Angela Marsons, Peter James and Robert Bryndza, Deadly Alibi is a gripping murder investigation that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.

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[My Review]

Deadly Alibi, though the sixth novel in the DI Geraldine Steel series, is the first I’ve read by Leigh Russell. I found that this didn’t hamper my enjoyment, though, and by the end I realised I’d found a brilliant, new (to me) crime series which – even better! – I now have five other novels to catch up on!

The characters are great – Geraldine herself is a strong, confident and very intelligent woman who seems to be a great Detective. Like many in this genre, she has her quirks and can be pretty impulsive at times, landing her in hot water at some points, whilst many others on her team are likeable and capable too. I really liked Sam, who seems loyal and a great partner, and Ian – I want to read previous novels to figure out exactly what has happened between them!

In terms of narrative, the investigation is interesting and moves along at a good pace – I never got bored or impatient. I quite liked that there was a sort of side story to the main investigation, with Geraldine’s twin sister Helena being introduced into the story (not a likeable person at all but a great catalyst for some trouble and strife for Geraldine, and definitely an interesting character to read about!). The story definitely kept me hooked and I could have devoured this book in one sitting if it wasn’t for work!

I really enjoyed Deadly Alibi and will certainly be reading others in the series. I didn’t find that it mattered that I hadn’t started from book 1 but those in the know seem to state in their reviews that it’s best to start at the beginning, which makes sense, so I think I will do that and work my way through – because, as a newbie to this series, there could be lots of extra hints and info that I won’t have even realised I missed in this novel!

Deadly Alibi is a great read, keeping me gripped from page one right until its satisfying conclusion!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to No Exit Press who provided a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Deadly Alibi is out now in ebook format and out in paperback on 25 May.

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