Goodreads Monday [The Doll House]

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 recently received a copy of as I’m on the blog tour when it comes out in September…

The Doll House by Phoebe Morgan

Title: The Doll House
Author:  Phoebe Morgan
Publisher: HQ Digital

Publish date: 14 September 2017

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You never know who’s watching…

Corinne’s life might look perfect on the outside, but after three failed IVF attempts it’s her last chance to have a baby. And when she finds a tiny part of a doll house outside her flat, it feels as if it’s a sign.

But as more pieces begin to turn up, Corinne realises that they are far too familiar. Someone knows about the miniature rocking horse and the little doll with its red velvet dress. Someone has been inside her house…

How does the stranger know so much about her life? How long have they been watching? And what are they waiting for…?

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 Small Act of Kindness [audiobook review]

One Small Act of Kindness - Lucy Dillon

Title: One Small Act of Kindness
Author: Lucy Dillon
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton


What can you do to make the world a better place?

Libby helps a stranger, and transforms her life in the process.
Libby and her husband Jason have moved back to his hometown to turn the family B&B into a boutique hotel. They have left London behind and all the memories – good and bad – that went with it.

The injured woman Libby finds lying in the remote country road has lost her memory. She doesn’t know why she came to be there, and no one seems to be looking for her.

When Libby offers to take her in, this one small act of kindness sets in motion a chain of events that will change many people’s lives…

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[My Review]

One Small Act of Kindness strikes just the right balance: sweet without being too cloying, touching without being overly sentimental story, and featuring some really likeable characters who I’d happily read more about.

The narrative features some of the typical elements of this genre, yes, with romances and budding romances (I saw some parts coming a mile off, but again I feel that’s just something that comes with the territory and I didn’t mind this) but importantly it manages to avoid being overly cheesy or ridiculous. The plot is believable and has some more serious parts, but also plenty of light-heartedness mixed in there. It’s well written, sweet and with a plot that moves along at just the right pace whilst still providing plenty of character development.

Without giving too much away, main character Libby seemed really lovely and a bit of a saint with what she’s had to put up with, whilst Alice is suffering from memory loss and can’t remember the person she was before the accident, but is equally likable as she tries to piece together the parts of her life from ‘before’. Other characters enter the scene and either really charmed me (human or non-human – I loved Sir Bob) or made me want to throw things at them (but, either way, equally well written by Lucy Dillon), and made me want to continue reading on (or, in this case with the audiobook, listening on).

I enjoyed trying to piece together Alice’s memories as the novel went on, and felt the amnesia part of the story was convincing (well-researched, I assume) and intriguing. I finished One Small Act of Kindness feeling satisfied and uplifted

The audiobook was well read, with a great narrator (though the Welsh accent was quite amusing; I’m not sure why seeing as I’m awful at ‘doing’ accents myself) and it’s an ideal story to be enjoyed on audiobook. Some books, I feel, really work in audio format and some just don’t, and often in that case I abandon them early on – this was really enjoyable!

The only other book I’ve read by Lucy Dillon (so far) is All I Ever Wanted, and I was really taken by that too [read my review here], so I think I can safely say Lucy Dillon is a winning writer for me in the ‘chick-lit/ romance/ women’s fiction’ genres; I’ll certainly be reading more by her in the future.

[Rating: 4/5]

The Secrets She Keeps [review]

The Secrets She Keeps - Michael Robotham

Title: The Secrets She Keeps
Author: Michael Robotham
Publisher: Scribner


In the bestselling tradition of The Girl on the Train and In a Dark, Dark Wood, from the internationally bestselling author whom Stephen King called “an absolute master” of the psychological thriller, comes a riveting suspense novel about the unlikely friendship between two pregnant women that asks: how far would you go to create the perfect family?

Agatha is pregnant and works part-time stocking shelves at a grocery store in a ritzy London suburb, counting down the days until her baby is due. As the hours of her shifts creep by in increasing discomfort, the one thing she looks forward to at work is catching a glimpse of Meghan, the effortlessly chic customer whose elegant lifestyle dazzles her. Meghan has it all: two perfect children, a handsome husband, a happy marriage, a stylish group of friends, and she writes perfectly droll confessional posts on her popular parenting blog—posts that Agatha reads with devotion each night as she waits for her absent boyfriend, the father of her baby, to maybe return her calls.

When Agatha learns that Meghan is pregnant again, and that their due dates fall within the same month, she finally musters up the courage to speak to her, thrilled that they now have the ordeal of childbearing in common. Little does Meghan know that the mundane exchange she has with a grocery store employee during a hurried afternoon shopping trip is about to change the course of her not-so-perfect life forever…

With its brilliant rendering of a shocking kidnapping plot and the secrets some women hold close, Expecting delivers a dark and twisted page-turner that is absolutely impossible to put down.

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[My Review]

Having not read any of Michael Robotham’s novels before, I wasn’t sure what to expect – but I absolutely LOVED The Secrets She Keeps! What a roller-coaster of a read with The characters are fantastic; I loved both Meghan and Agatha in their own ways, and felt real empathy for some of the characters despite them doing things I may not agree with – it’s a testament to Michael Robotham’s writing that he can make characters do strange things we may not understand, but we can see perhaps why they might be driven to do what they do.

The novel addresses that feeling of wanting something that someone else has, and how it begins to take over everything. The story slowly reveals more and more to the reader and, without giving too much away, I think that the writing is excellent, the plot is well crafted and there are some brilliant developments which kept me completely hooked. There didn’t feel like there was a need for any huge twists in the plot; the story was brilliant and absorbing enough without needing the ‘shock tactics’ at the end of the novel.

The Secrets She Keeps really grabs you by the throat and keeps you captive in Meghan and Agatha’s world until you can bear to stop reading – and for me it was a case of reading it in two (very long) sittings, which would have been one sitting if it weren’t for work getting in the way! I’d highly recommend this novel; it’s everything a psychological thriller/ suspense should be and more!

[Rating: 5/5]

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


Beneath a Burning Sky [review]

Beneath a Burning Sky - Jenny Ashcroft

Title: Beneath a Burning Sky
Author: Jenny Ashcroft
Publisher: Sphere


A beautiful and heart-wrenching story of love and betrayal, set against a backdrop of British-occupied Egypt. Perfect for fans of Victoria Hislop, Dinah Jefferies and Leah Fleming.

When twenty-two-year-old Olivia is coerced into marriage by the cruel Alistair Sheldon she leaves England for Egypt, his home and the land of her own childhood. Reluctant as she is to go with Alistair, it’s in her new home that she finds happiness in surprising places: she is reunited with her long-estranged sister, Clara, and falls – impossibly and illicitly – in love with her husband’s boarder, Captain Edward Bertram.

Then Clara is abducted from one of the busiest streets in the city. Olivia is told it’s thieves after ransom money, but she’s convinced there’s more to it. As she sets out to discover what’s happened to the sister she’s only just begun to know, she falls deeper into the shadowy underworld of Alexandria, putting her own life, and her chance at a future with Edward, the only man she’s ever loved, at risk. Because, determined as Olivia is to find Clara, there are others who will stop at nothing to conceal what’s become of her . . .

Beneath a Burning Sky is a novel of secrets, betrayal and, above all else, love. Set against the heat and intrigue of colonial Alexandria, this beautiful and heart-wrenching story will take your breath away.

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[My Review]

Beneath a Burning Sky is set in British occupied Egypt towards the end of the 19th century, and this country is a place I’d love to visit. I was excited to read about Alexandria during such an interesting time politically. One thing I discovered as I read on, however, is that the book is definitely more of a love story mixed with a touch of mystery and drama, rather than all about the country at that time. Obviously you get a sense of time and place from Jenny Ashcroft’s lovely writing, but it is far more about the characters’ relationships and feelings, which is to be expected really – it is billed as a “heart-wrenching story of love and betrayal”.

The characters are interesting in their own ways – some are distinctly unlikable, some seem like horrible human beings, and some you actually care about which made me want to read on. I felt that the storyline with Nailah was a little less engaging, and I grew impatient with wanting to get back to Olivia and Clara’s world, though I enjoyed seeing a different perspective to the story and one that didn’t centre around rich, indulgent British people. Some of the people in this world of ‘British rule’ were really annoying, and this effectively painted a picture of how many locals must have seen the British expats.

The descriptions are vivid and interesting with some lovely imagery, though I felt some parts could have been cut down a little, finding my interest starting to wane at some points. I suppose I just hoped for a bit more about the place itself, as well as the character information – sometimes the story didn’t grab me as much as I wanted it to. It’s still worth a read though, especially if you like your historical fiction with plenty of drama and an element of mystery.

[Rating: 3/5]

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

WWW Wednesday [26 July 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? 

Well due to being busy with a number of things I’ve been falling VERY behind on reviews the last few weeks. I’d like to say I’m caught up but I’m not… however I have finished off quite a few books this week:

Beneath a Burning Sky – Jenny Ashcroft [review to follow]

Close Enough To Touch – Colleen Oakley [my review]

One Small Act of Kindess [audiobook] – Lucy Dillon [review to follow]

Final Girls – Riley Sager [my review]

What are you currently reading? 

The Secrets She Keeps - Michael Robotham

The Secrets She Keeps – Michael Robotham

What will you read next?


Together – Julie Cohen

or Here and Gone by Hayley Beck

I’ve also got a few books from Readers First that I really need to get on with; they are:

Shelter – Sarah Franklin

and Unforgivable – Mike Thomas

Hopefully I’ll get a bit more time to read!

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!


Final Girls [review]

The Final Girls - Riley Sager

Title: Final Girls
Author: Riley Sager
Publisher: Ebury



The media calls them the Final Girls – Quincy, Sam, Lisa – the infamous group that no one wants to be part of. The sole survivors of three separate killing sprees, they are linked by their shared trauma.


But when Lisa dies in mysterious circumstances and Sam shows up unannounced on her doorstep, Quincy must admit that she doesn’t really know anything about the other Final Girls. Can she trust them? Or…


All Quincy knows is one thing: she is next.

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[My Review]

I was so excited to read Final Girls, having seen lots of great reviews and having read the synopsis which sounded right up my street. I wasn’t disappointed!

The novel is really fast paced, following two narrative time frames. One takes place in the present day, as Quincy finds out one of the other three ‘Final Girls’, Lisa, has died and meets up with the other Final Girl, Sam, who she has never met before, and the other dates back to the time when the horrific ‘incident’ took place, told through short excerpts spread out throughout the book.

Final Girls is great because it really made me question who to trust and who to believe; I love books that do this! Some of it was quite formulaic, yes, but I felt it really kept me intrigued and wanting to read on. I didn’t find myself getting bored or uninterested with the plot, as I have with various other books recently, but instead really enjoyed both the present day and past storylines as they unfolded. It left me unsure of everything, and I thought I had it all figured out towards the end – but no, definitely not!

I don’t want to give anything else away but just say that this is a fast-paced, fun read with plenty of sinister-feeling moments (which I loved!), taking the reader on an emotional roller-coaster as they follow the ups and downs of Quincy’s life in the aftermath of Lisa’s death.

[Rating: 4/5]

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


Close Enough to Touch [review]

Close Enough To Touch - Colleen Oakley

Title: Close Enough to Touch
Author: Colleen Oakley
Publisher: Allen & Unwin UK


Love has no boundaries…

Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition: she’s allergic to human touch. After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years. But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world—and the people in it—that she’s been hiding from.

Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job. It’s there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son. Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad—and man—he wants so desperately to be. Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can’t understand why she keeps him at arm’s length. So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year.

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[My Review]

Close Enough To Touch is a wonderful, touching story that ticked all the right boxes for me.

Filled with wonderful characters  – I LOVE Jubilee, Eric, and Aja, who are amazing characters each in their own (very different) ways –  the novel uses these vibrant people to address some slightly heavier subjects, all with the perfect level of information and humour. The characters each have their own problems and struggles to deal with, but reading about the way they handle them is both amusing at times and also very touching. The budding relationships between them are convincing and fantastic to read about; I found myself relishing every page and appreciating how Colleen Oakley manages to make us really care about the people within the novel without having to include any overly cheesy or ‘forced’ emotions – the thoughts and feelings in this book feel very real and convincing and I for one found myself completely absorbed in their lives.

There are parts of this novel that made me laugh out loud – particularly Eric’s best attempts to try and be a ‘good parent’ to Aja – and some which are slightly less believable (it is fiction, after all!), but either way I felt myself completely falling in love with Colleen Oakley’s writing style, which I hope to see a lot more of in the future!

I finished Close Enough To Touch feeling both satisfied and emotional. A fantastic read, and one of my favourite books this year!

[Rating: 5/5]

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


The Marsh King’s Daughter [review]

The Marsh King's Daughter

Title: The Marsh King’s Daughter
Author: Karen Dionne
Publisher: Sphere


When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.

Packed with gripping suspense and powerful storytelling, The Marsh King’s Daughter is a one-more-page, read-in-one-sitting thriller that you’ll remember for ever.

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[My Review]

The Marsh King’s Daughter is a novel I’m finding it quite hard to write a review about. On the one hand, it’s a well-written read which combines elements of thriller-style novels with more focus on character building. On the other, I felt it was a little slow at times and I lost interest a bit half way through.

I liked the storyline –both present day, which follows Helena as she discovers her father has escaped from prison and is seemingly trying to track her down, and the narrative set in the past, which I actually preferred. It’s interesting to reads about Helena and her mother’s life in captivity, and the way Helena herself never realised throughout her childhood that her mother and father are not the ‘normal’ parent set up – until one day when everything changes. I thought this was an interesting and unique sort of storyline.

I have to say, I found the present-day storyline a little dull. I know there’s a ‘chase’ at the centre of this narrative, so that should be exciting, but it felt quite slow. in both narratives there’s a lot of description about the land, the farm, the hunting that Helena and her father do, etc. I can see these are well-written but they just didn’t interest me, and I found myself getting impatient as I wanted to know more about how Helena and her mother finally escaped from her father’s captivity.

Perhaps I was expecting more of a thriller, but this definitely included more description and character development, which I usually enjoy but I felt it was a little drawn out. I am definitely in the minority with this opinion, so I’d say it’s definitely still worth giving a go, and regardless of anything else the writing itself is nicely done and the premise is very interesting.

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


The Woman in the Wood [review]

The Woman in the Wood - Lesley Pearse

Title: The Woman in the Wood
Author: Lesley Pearse
Publisher: Michael Joseph – Penguin


Fifteen-year-old Maisy Mitcham and her twin brother Duncan lose their mother to an asylum one night in 1960.

The twins are sent to their grandmother’s country house, Nightingales. Cold and distant, she leaves them to their own devices, to explore and to grow. That is until the day Duncan doesn’t come home from the woods.

With their grandmother seeming to have little interest in her grandson’s disappearance, and the police soon giving up hope, it is left to Maisy to discover the truth. And she will start with Grace Deville. A woman who lives alone in the wood, about whom rumours abound…

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[My Review]

The Woman in the Wood is a well written family saga/ historical fiction. I purposefully didn’t read up much about this novel before starting it and I haven’t read anything else by Lesley Pearse before, so I was starting it without any context or previous judgement. Therefore in the first third of the book I thought it was a rather pleasant and fairly light read – something both my mum and grandma would quite enjoy (though my grandma does love her gritty but not too gritty crime novels, too!). The opening chapter is quite hard hitting, with the twins’ mother Lily getting taken away to an asylum, but the story seemed to carry on quite genially and the writing and dialogue seemed quite soft, even when depicting discussions about Lily.

Well, don’t get too comfy, because the story starts getting pretty dark!

I soon realised the ‘pleasant’ style of writing, with plenty of euphemisms to describe serious things, was more due to the time it’s set in – the 1960’s, in the years after WWII. The writing seems to reflect the way that people, especially perhaps the middle-upper classes, would have spoken during that time.

The story moves along at a fairly slow pace, but as it continues the reader is there’s plenty of disturbing occurrences in there – they’re just masked slightly by the writing style. This false sense of reassurance made me quite surprised when things started getting serious… there are some characters who aren’t what they seem, but not to the point where everyone seems like a completely pyscho/weirdo/traitor, like in some thrillers. It was realistic enough but with plenty of drama.

The book is as much about the family itself, and their relationships as the ‘incidents’ that occur, and I think Lesley Pearse has crafted a satisfying piece of historical fiction which makes me want to read her other novels too.

[Rating: 4/5]

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

Have you read any other novels by Lesley Pearse, or The Woman in the Wood – and if so, how do they compare?

How To Stop Time [review]

How To Stop Time - Matt Haig

Title: How To Stop Time
Author: Matt Haig
Publisher: Canongate Books


Tom Hazard has a dangerous secret.

He may look like an ordinary 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. From Elizabethan England to Jazz Age Paris, from New York to the South Seas, Tom has seen a lot, and now craves an ordinary life. Always changing his identity to stay alive, Tom has the perfect cover – working as a history teacher at a London comprehensive. Here he can teach the kids about wars and witch hunts as if he’d never witnessed them first-hand. He can try and tame the past that is fast catching up with him.

The only thing Tom mustn’t do is fall in love.

How to Stop Time is a wild and bittersweet story about losing and finding yourself, about the certainty of change and about the lifetimes it can take to really learn how to live.

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[My Review]

How To Stop Time is a wonderfully engaging, lovely story which combines everyday life with elements of science fiction and fantasy.

As someone who doesn’t read a lot of sci-fi, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I hugely enjoyed this novel. We find out about Tom’s life over the many hundreds of years that he’s been alive, and how his ‘condition’ has affected family life, relationships and his entire outlook on life. It’s touching and a lovely read, with some poignant moments and plenty of humorous touches.

I felt so sorry for Tom at times and it’s interesting to read about someone wishing they wouldn’t live forever in a world where we’re all trying to live as long as possible. Because Tom has to effectively start his life over, in a different place with different people, every 8 years, meaningful relationships are kind of pointless as he knows he’ll have to leave again in a set amount of time.

How To Stop Time  made me think about how I’d feel in the same situation as Tom. I won’t give too much away about it but I’ll just say that I’m not at all surprised that it’s already been snapped up for the film version – it’s a great novel which I’ll be very intrigued to see translated onto the big screen! Highly recommended.

[Rating: 4.5/5]

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