The Cliff House [review]

The Cliff House - Amanda Jennings

Title: The Cliff House
Author: Amanda Jennings
Publisher: HQ

[Synopsis]

Cornwall, summer of 1986.

The Davenports, with their fast cars and glamorous clothes, living the dream in a breathtaking house overlooking the sea.

If only… thinks sixteen-year-old Tamsyn, her binoculars trained on the perfect family in their perfect home.

If only her life was as perfect as theirs.

If only Edie Davenport would be her friend.

If only she lived at The Cliff House…

Amanda Jennings weaves a haunting tale of obsession, loss and longing, set against the brooding North Cornish coastline, destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.

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[My Review]

Told from varying perspectives, The Cliff House is an atmopsheric, magnificent and at times emotional story of a young girl who desperately wants to be accepted, and doesn’t realise that money really doesn’t equal happiness.

This is the first novel I’ve read by Amanda Jennings, and I have to say I’m so impressed at the way that she creates such a sense of time and place (mainly Cornwall in the 1960s), as well as evoking the drama and strife that the Davenports create all around them, in one way or another. The characters in this story are a real mixed bunch; the demanding, difficult and rather exhausting personality of mother Evelyn is contrasted with Tamsyn’s own poor mother, and Tamsyn and Edie are also polar opposites in many ways, too. I liked the complexities of the characters; they all had their own issues and less-than-desirable traits but they’re interesting to read about and, though at times I hated them for how they treated other people, I also felt sorry for them sometimes – even Evelyn, who seems to have such a glamorous life but is so obviously unhappy.

I loved the feeling of almost being there with them in Cornwall, and you can really tell how, at first, Tamysn becomes swept away by the glamour of the Davenports, particualrly because of the history with her dad. I don’t want to give too much away but this is certainly not a light-hearted, fluffy story – there’s a dark sense of foreboding over a lot of it, mixed with the heady, powerful feelings of desire, desperation and envy. A haunting summer read.

[Rating: 4/5]

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

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Love Will Tear Us Apart [review]

Love-Will-Tear-Us-Apart-Cover.jpg

Title: Love Will Tear Us Apart
Author: Holly Seddon
Publisher: Atlantic Books

[Synopsis]

Fearing eternal singledom, childhood friends Kate and Paul make the age-old vow that if they don’t find love by thirty, they will marry each other.

Years later, with the deadline of their 30th birthdays approaching, the unlikely couple decide to keep their teenage promise. After all, they are such good friends. Surely that’s enough to make a marriage?

Now, on the eve of their 10th wedding anniversary, they will discover that love between men and women is more complex, and more precarious, than they could ever have imagined. As Kate struggles with a secret that reaches far into their past, will the couple’s vow become the very thing that threatens their future?

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[My Review]

This is the first novel I’ve read by Holly Seddon, and I think this is why I expected something else when starting this novel – I thought it would be more mystery / pyschological thriller for the sole reason that someone else I know had really recommended Try Not To Breathe, which seems to have more of a suspense/ mystery element to it. However, I found that Love Will tear Us Apart is far more of a character-driven, thoughtful and moving story and I really loved it!

The characters, and the way you follow them from their younger days right through to adulthood, is what makes this novel so absorbing. I loved reading about Paul and Kate, plus their very different but interesting respective families. No character is perfect; they each have their faults but, unlike many novels which feature relationships in them, that doesn’t mean that, as the reader, you can instantly tell ‘well things won’t work out this or that way’ because they’re not this black-or-white ‘good or bad’ person. People are, of course, more complex in actualist, and never more so than how they’re portrayed here. Kate took a while for me to like her, and same with Paul, but I felt like I truly got to know them as the story spans many years. I sped through this novel and didn’t want it to end!

The narrative stretches over many years, and there are seperate timelines that show us Kate’s (and Paul’s) younger life, their time growing up and starting a career, and adulthood, plus a seperate ‘present’ storyline that follows them and their family in the present day. We learn all about their lives, both together and apart, and the many different forms that love can come in.

I suppose there is a small element of mystery throughout the book, as we wonder from the beginning what announcement or discussion Kate wants to bring up on her and Paul’s 10 year wedding anniversary. I did find myself intrigued to know what this was, and in the first quarter of the book I kind of wanted the story to stay in the present narrative so I could find out what it could be. Soon, though, I was just as invested in the past storylines as the present.

The plot, despite having various happier moments, felt quite sad at times and poignant – I cried a good few times, and I know when that happens that a story has completely sucked me in. I would definitely recommend Love Will Tear Us Apart and will certainly be adding her other novels to my reading list!

[Rating: 5/5]

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

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In Bloom [review]

In Bloom - C J Skuse

Title: In Bloom
Author: CJ Skuse
Series: Sweetpea
Publisher: HarperCollins UK

[Synopsis]

If only they knew the real truth. It should be my face on those front pages. My headlines. I did those things, not him. I just want to stand on that doorstep and scream it: IT WAS ME. ME. ME. ME. ME!

Rhiannon Lewis has successfully fooled the world and framed her cheating fiancé Craig for the depraved and bloody killing spree she committed. She should be ecstatic that she’s free.

Except for one small problem. She’s pregnant with her ex-lover’s child. The ex-lover she only recently chopped up and buried in her in-laws’ garden. And as much as Rhiannon wants to continue making her way through her kill lists, a small voice inside is trying to make her stop.

But can a killer’s urges ever really be curbed?

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[My Review]

Can anything follow the sheer, utter brilliance of Sweetpea(If you missed it, read my review here). I am so pleased to say that the sequel, once again following serial killer Rhiannon, is in my opinion even better!

It’s another dark, crazy and laugh-out-loud-funny story which I didnt want to put down Rhiannon is as brilliant as ever, with razor sharp observations and utter disdain for certain aspects of human relationships and nature and just everyday life. Her ‘kill lists’ are always entertaining and the fact that she is now ‘with child’ takes nothing away from the level of dark humour; in fact I’m amazed to say that it’s even more crude, even more shocking and even more twisted than Sweetpea was. I love the different take on the serial killer genre, turning various conventions on its head with one bolshy character.

The plot is incredibly engaging and the pace is perfect; if you haven’t read Sweetpea then I say enjoy that first, then jump into In Bloom. I devoured it in (almost) one sitting. Highly recommended!

[Rating: 5/5]

Thank you to HarperCollins UK for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

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Goodreads Monday [The Dead Ex]

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!]

I really enjoyed Blood Sisters [my review] and My Husband’s Wife [my review] so am really excited to add The Dead Ex to my ‘to read’ list!

Title: The Dead Ex
Author: Jane Corry
Publish date: 2 August 2018

The Dead Ex

[Synopsis]

‘I wish he’d just DIE.’

Vicki’s husband David once promised to love her in sickness and in health. But after a brutal attack left her suffering with epilepsy, he ran away with his mistress.

So when Vicki gets a call one day to say that he’s missing, her first thought is ‘good riddance’. But then the police find evidence suggesting that David is dead. And they think Vicki had something to do with it.

What really happened on the night of David’s disappearance?
And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she’s not even sure of it herself?

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

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Your Closest Friend [review]

Your Closest Friend

Title: Your Closest Friend
Author: Karen Perry
Publisher: Michael Joseph UK

[Synopsis]

Imagine sharing your darkest secret with a stranger – a girl who isn’t what she seems, and who will do anything to keep you close…

On a hot humid night in London, Cara Jameson’s busy, fulfilling life is interrupted with the sound of gunfire. Panic and terror grip the street as the air is filled with screaming and Cara is pulled roughly to safety by a stranger.

Taking refuge in a storeroom, Cara huddles with her savior – Amy – and in the darkness she shares more in those hours than ever has with even her husband. When she emerges hours later, a bond forged in the trauma of that night has formed between them.

Returning to work, Cara tries to put the experience behind her, but the incident has taken its toll and as cracks begin to show in her perfect life and marriage, Amy reappears, set on pursuing a friendship.

Cara wished she hadn’t shared everything she did in those hours of darkness. But as her life skids towards deepening violence, there is only one person she can turn to: Amy, her closest friend.

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[My Review]

I am a huge Karen Perry fan, and Your Closest Friend is another brilliant read for me that ticks all the boxes – interesting characters, secrets, and mystery mixed with a real sense of atmosphere.

I liked that the beginninf really left me wondering where the book was going to go – I had purposefully not read the synopsis again right before starting the book, so the sense of confusion and havoc surrounding the terrorist attack which takes place right at the start of the book really threw me! I wondered how this would all tie in – but everything soon kicks into action!

The story strikes just the right balance between believable relationships, such as Cara and Jeff’s, and the more ‘unusual’ bonds and ties that hold other characters together. Some characters I warmed to, others seem to be completely mad, but every page left me wanting to move onto the next. I liked that you know some aspects of what’s happening before Cara herself, as you read the novel from two perspectives: Cara’s and Amy’s – at times I wanted to shout out to Cara and warn her!

I never found myself getting bored; the pacing was just right and the way Karen Perry describes Cara’s thoughts and feelings felt very convincing. I love her writing and I am so pleased that Your Closest Friend is another hit for me!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Michael Joseph UK 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_BOOKS_ / GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

Friends and Liars [review]

Friends and Liars

Title: Friends and Liars
Author: Kaela Coble
Publisher: Corvus

[Synopsis]

It has been ten years since Ruby left her hometown behind. Since then she’s built a life away from her recovering alcoholic mother and her first love, Murphy. But when Danny, one of her estranged friends from childhood, commits suicide, guilt draws Ruby back into the tumultuous world she escaped all those years ago.

She’s dreading the funeral – and with good reason. Danny has left a series of envelopes addressed to his former friends. Inside each envelope is a secret about every person in the group. Ruby’s secret is so explosive, she will fight tooth-and-nail to keep it hidden from those she once loved so deeply, even if that means risking everything…

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[My Review]

The premise for this book sounded really interesting, so I jumped at the chance at getting a review copy from Readers First (thank you) and was not disappointed!

I really enjoyed this mysterious, fun read which is filled with deceit, secrets and surprises. There are various elements to the plot, as everyone has their own secrets they’re keeping from eachother – and which Danny may have been alluding to in his notes to each friend – and I enjoyed reading the characters try to work out what each might be.

The book is laid out quite interestingly, as we read from the perspective of quite a few of the group but not all, and it mainly sticks to Ruby’s narrative. Therefore, we get to know her the best and find out more about her teenage years, where the secrets really began. I like her as a character; in fact I warmed to most of her friends as the novel went on too, but some have their irritating habits and there are definitely some who are less likable than others! I am also pleased that no one was portrayed as perfect; they each have their faults and positive points without needing to be too clear cut.

Though the ‘main’ storyline – the group dealing with their friend Danny’s suicide – sounds a little macabre and upsetting, the story revolves a lot around the earlier years, as I mentioned, and the element of mystery keeps things intriguing and stops the story from being all about death (though obviously that is a theme too). The secrets each person had aren’t too ridiculous or over-dramatic… without giving too much away, Kaela Coble keeps things believable and it’s a fairly easy, enjoyabe read.

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

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WWW Wednesday [20 June 2018]

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? 

In Bloom – CJ Skuse 
Redemption
 by Candice Fox
Friends and Liars – Kaela Coble

>What are you currently reading? 

Your Closest Friend

Your Closest Friend – Karen Perry

What will you read next?

The Tall Man

The Tall Man – Phoebe Locke


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!


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The Man on the Roof by Michael Stephenson [spotlight]

manonroofgabriolaToday I’m pleased to feature an exciting new release from author Michael Stephenson: The Man on the Roof. Read on for more information and an extract from the book!

Title: The Man on the Roof
Author: Michael Stephenson

[Synopsis]

Someone has been creeping in the dark while the others sleep, and they’ve done terrible, terrible things.

“There was a man on your roof,” claims curmudgeonly lane-hermit Herbert McKinney. Then, he initiates an unprovoked fight with a local punk. Drama escalates when that punk’s dead body is found hanging at mid-street one August morning—a boastful killer messaging their next prey. All fingers point to Herbert as the culprit. Soon, the five couples he calls neighbors come under suspicion, too. When detectives divine blackmail as the motive, eyes cross to find who hides the most shameful secret. Husband versus wife, friend versus friend, the shiny suburban veneer of innocence has been forever tarnished. As hidden deviousness boils from their pores, there lurks a thief, a pill addict and a sadist—secrets worth killing for.

Now, as the man on the roof helps guide justice and watches devious neighbors slip in and out of sleepy houses, confusion and questions persist. Who dies next? What have they learned? Who is becoming a monster? Who already is one? And just how many secrets can a small group of multi-ethnic Ohioans have? Only one cemented truth exists: the killer will kill again.

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[Extract: The Man on the Roof]

The shortest interview of them all, Jordan and Chante had no recorded run-in with Zach ever. Their house wasn’t egged, preliminary research showed they had no criminal history, no drug use, no errands he ran for them and no child he might have touched. Their spotless record was made even more bizarre by how they acted.

“Nice house,” Lambert said. Theirs was the third biggest on the entire street, eclipsed only by the Haggertys’ and the Walters’.

Before giving an answer, their heads swiveled like mechanized swing gates—slow and deliberate—toward each other. Who would answer? And why did Jordan seem not to fully open his eyes, his lids stuck forever in Droopy-the-dog mode.

Their heads clicking back to the detectives as they sat in the dining room, Jordan started to take the lead when Chante interrupted.

“Thank y—”

“Thank—oh! Sorry,” Chante said, feeling the cut of his eyes on her.

“Thank you,” Jordan finished.

“What do you do for work, Mr. Fletcher?” Lambert asked. All her focus on the couple, she gave no mind to Fitz’s gaze at Chante.

“Handyman.”

“You can afford this type of house on that money? Must do pretty well for yourself.”

“Very good handyman.”

“And what do you do for a living, Mrs. Fletcher?”

A smirking Jordan answered for her, “That’s easy: she lives off me.”

Chante cut her eyes at Jordan, then looked away to give no reaction.

“Anyway, did you know Zach Landon?” Cady asked.

“No,” Chante answered for the both of them.

“Did you ever interact with him?”

“No,” came from Jordan.

“How well do you know your neighbors’ children, how often do you interact with them?” Cady asked.

“Oh, I don’t touch their kids,” Jordan said before quickly correcting, “The subject, I mean. I don’t touch on the subject of their kids.”

“But you do touch them?” Cady asked.

Jordan chuckled alone. He caught a glimpse of Chante, then cleared his throat and returned to the seriousness of the subject and answered, “Of course not.”

“Where were you the night of the murder?”

“Home. Sleep,” Jordan said.

“And you, Mrs. Fle—”

“I said we were sleep,” Jordan said.

“Hm? So did you find anything out of the ordinary that night?”

“How could we, if we were sleep?” Jordan asked.

“Even better question, if both of you were too deep in sleep to know what was going on at night, how do either of you know if the other was actually asleep?”

Circle logic. A proverbial cat in a box. How did anyone ever know what went on as they slept? Jordan smirked. I wonder if I could take her if I needed to.

Lambert smirked back. Don’t even try it.

“Do you know of any reason why Zach Landon would want to blackmail you?”

“No, not that I can really think of. But we did make a… tape once,” Chante said.

Braidey finally spoke, the skin between his brows bunching as he got serious, “Tape? What kinda tape?”

“Of the personal, sorted variety,” Chante said. Jordan didn’t bother correcting her. She needn’t correcting.

A young, married couple taping themselves? Kinky but not revolutionary. Jordan wet his lips as he kept his eyes on Lambert.

“Well, we’ll be in touch,” Lambert said.

[About the Author]

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Michael cultivated his love for storytelling on a steady diet of film and TV, embracing the art across all genres and mediums. He believes that to tell a story is the greatest gift that humanity has ever received and hopes to connect through words both written and filmed. A thoughtful suburbanite, he enjoys writing in every genre and platform. Covering a wide range of subjects, ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, and ideals, his writing runs the gamut from silly and lighthearted to thought-provoking and sensual to horrifying and captivating. Offering everything from sci-fi to romance, he wishes to supply the reader with an indelible experience.

Privately, he seeks to accomplish great things with his writing in both popular culture and more niche genres. He hopes to soon write for film again, as he had briefly before, and aspires to write the screenplay for the film adaptation of Captain Planet as he loves the environment.

Pre-order The Man on the Roof on Amazon, and follow Michael Stephenson on Twitter: @filmbooksbball


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Snap [review]

Snap

Title: Snap
Author: Belinda Bauer
Publisher: Transworld Publishers

[Synopsis]

On a stifling summer’s day, eleven-year-old Jack and his two sisters sit in their broken-down car, waiting for their mother to come back and rescue them. Jack’s in charge, she said. I won’t be long.

But she doesn’t come back. She never comes back. And life as the children know it is changed for ever.

Three years later, mum-to-be Catherine wakes to find a knife beside her bed, and a note that says: I could have killed you.

Meanwhile Jack is still in charge – of his sisters, of supporting them all, of making sure nobody knows they’re alone in the house, and – quite suddenly – of finding out the truth about what happened to his mother.

But the truth can be a dangerous thing…

[My Review]

Punchy, atmospheric and addictive, Snap made me turn page after page in a quest to know more. It starts with an opening scene to really make you sit up and take notice, and made me care more about the characters introduced to us here. I found the people in this story to be convincing and, most importantly, interesting to read about – it doesn’t focus on the police or investigators but instead the people affected by the crimes beung investigated, and also those committing the crimes. This was a nice break from the usual detective/ police structure, and the various narratives begin to weave themselves together as the story goes on, so yoy slowly realize that certain people are connected. I love stories that do this, and certainly held my attention even in parts that were a little slower.

There’s a mix of emotions within these pages, with some people feeling like they’re beyond redemption and others I felt pity for; I enjoyed reading from the perspective of both Catherine and Jack and particularly liked the ever-present mystery of what exactly happened to Jack’s mother, all those years ago? It’s definitely bleak at times and sometimes uncomfortable reading, but definitely punchy and a great read.

I’d definitely recommend this cleverly plotted thriller, with plenty of emotion and just the right level of mystery to ensure that you won’t want to put it down!


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

Goodreads Monday [The Mystery of the Three Quarters]

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!]

So this week’s pick is a book I’m hoping to get accepted to read on Netgalley, but if not I will definitely be buying it – so one way or the other, I’ll be reading this! I love anything by Sophie Hannah and her Poirot series has not disappointed so far!

Title: The Mystery of the Three Quarters
Author: Sophie Hannah
Publish date: 23 August 2018

The Mystery of the Three Quarters

[Synopsis]

Another fiendishly puzzling mystery for the great Hercule Poirot to solve…

Returning home after lunch one day, Hercule Poirot finds an angry woman waiting outside his front door. She demands to know why Poirot has sent her a letter accusing her of the murder of Barnabas Pandy, a man she has neither heard of nor ever met.

Poirot has also never heard of a Barnabas Pandy, and has accused nobody of murder. Shaken, he goes inside, only to find that he has a visitor waiting for him — a man who also claims also to have received a letter from Poirot that morning, accusing him of the murder of Barnabas Pandy.

Poirot wonders how many more letters of this sort have been sent in his name. Who sent them, and why? More importantly, who is Barnabas Pandy, is he dead, and, if so, was he murdered? And can Poirot find out the answers without putting more lives in danger?

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