All The Good Things [blog tour + review]

Today I’m incredibly excited to be a part of the blog tour for All The Good Things! 

All The Good Things - Clare Fisher

Title: All The Good Things
Author: Clare Fisher
Publisher: Viking (Penguin UK)

[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?

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[My Review]

All The Good Things is heart-wrenching, touching and, at times, funny – all rolled into one beautifully written, thought-provoking book.

Main character (and narrator) Beth is both frustrating (at times I just wanted to shout at her to not do that, or do this!) but also a wonderful character. She is a fairly simple soul but battling thoughts and emotions which are so difficult to contend with, especially when your life is already hard enough, and seems to keep getting harder. She encounters prejudice and people making assumptions about her, and this in turn makes the reader think about how we can judge people and the struggles they go through.

I loved the premise of this book – Beth is told by her therapist that she should write down the things that are good about her life. In doing this we learn a lot more about her, and the narrative flicks between her childhood, and the time leading up to this ‘bad thing’ she’s done, and the present day where she is living her days in prison. By the end of the book I felt like Beth was a good friend that I know so well, which is even more impressive considering this is a fairly short novel. Beth tries to improve her life and in some ways succeeds, and in others just makes things more difficult for herself, but throughout the novel she is incredibly likeable.

The other characters in this novel are interesting but often not particularly good for Beth’s life. They add to the chaotic tone of the novel and I loved reading about all the people who had influenced her over the years in some way, and slowly discovering more about this ‘bad thing’ Beth has done. There are some really sad scenes which made me think and made me feel cry, and some other scenes that made me feel uplifted and positive. I think I went through every emotion whilst reading All The Good Things, and Clare Fisher is evidently a great storyteller.

I’m so impressed with All The Good Things and would urge anyone to read it: a beautiful, poignant and touching novel.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Viking, for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for allowing me to be part of this fantastic book tour!

Buy on Amazon here.

Check out the other stops on the tour too:

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

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine [review]

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gail Honeyman

Title: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Author: Gail Honeyman
Publisher:  HarperCollins UK

[Synopsis]

A stunning debut about a girl who has learned how to survive – but not how to live.

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is fine. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except sometimes, everything.

No-one’s ever told Eleanor life should be better than fine. But with a simple act of kindness she’s about to realise exactly how much better than fine life can be.

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[My Review]

Wow – this book deserves 10 stars because 5 doesn’t seem enough! I absolutely loved this novel, savouring every page from first to last.

Where to start with trying to convey how much I loved this novel? I suppose firstly we need to address main character Eleanor. She’s definitely an odd cookie – she certainly doesn’t have what society would see as normal social skills, but she doesn’t feel like she has anything wrong with her – and good on her really! From bringing a present to a birthday party which consists of a half bottle of spirits and a pack of cheese, to being what many would see as too honest to those around her, Eleanor is unique in every way. She comes across as stand-offish or rude countless times in this novel, but I loved her! The book is a real journey, taking the reader right into Eleanor’s life – into her head, more specifically – and seeing the world through her eyes. It’s an entertaining, touching and, at times, funny experience which I absolutely loved!

Another great element of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is the way Gail Honeyman not only creates other great characters (such as Raymond, or Bill) but doesn’t make everything in the novel really obvious. There’s so much subtly among the amusing observations from Eleanor.

Though in this novel there is so much humour – often unintended from Eleanor! – there are also some really emotional parts, and at times it made me tear up. I did feel desperately sorry for her at times, and it really made me consider that you don’t know what people are going through, or have been through, when you make snap decisions about someone. As Eleanor said to herself, “be kind”- she’s a wise one!

This debut by Gail Honeyman is absolutely fantastic and I’d highly recommend it to anyone. It’s an emotional, entertaining novel which is bound to draw you in completely, and leaves you not wanting it to end!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to HarperCollins 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_STUFF_GOODREADS LAURA / AND TWITTER @LAURANAZMDEH!

My Goodreads Challenge – update: 6 months in

Here’s a 6 month update on how I’m doing with my Goodreads Reading Challenge!

I have read 54 of 90 books in 2017, and apparently I’m 16 books ahead of schedule!

Books I’ve Read So Far This Year: (click the cover to go to view the book on Goodreads)

Fierce Kingdom by Gin PhillipsAll the Good Things by Clare  FisherStandard Deviation by Katherine HeinyThe Honeymoon by Tina SeskisThe Second Sister - Claire KendallExquisite by Sarah StovellOne of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManusPersons Unknown by Susie SteinerSweetpea by C.J. SkuseDeadly Alibi by Leigh RussellBlood Sisters by Jane  CorryThe Last Piece of My Heart by Paige Toon

The Light We Lost by Jill SantopoloThe Sense of an Ending by Julian BarnesCrimson Lake by Candice FoxDead Letters by Caite Dolan-LeachThe Stars are Fire by Anita ShreveHe Said/She Said by Erin Kelly
Spoils by Brian Van ReetAbout Last Night - Catherine AlliottLie to Me by Jess RyderThe Loving Husband by Christobel KentLast Breath by Robert BryndzaThe Two O'Clock Boy by Mark  Hill
The Stolen Child by Sanjida KayMy Husband the Stranger by Rebecca DoneThe Escape by C.L. TaylorThe Trophy Taker by Sarah FlintFire Damage by Kate MedinaThis Love by Dani Atkins
The Idea of You by Amanda ProwseThe Missing Ones by Patricia GibneyCommonwealth by Ann PatchettLet the Dead Speak by Jane CaseyDead Embers by Matt BrollyEverything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister
Black Widow by Chris BrookmyreThe Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy MejiaWhere I Lost Her by T. GreenwoodThe Witchfinder's  Sister by Beth UnderdownThe One That Got Away by Melissa PimentelThe Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer
The Chalk Pit by Elly GriffithsThe English Agent by Clare HarveyRagdoll by Daniel ColeWe Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia HunterThe Breakdown by B.A. ParisThe Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás ObregónThe Girl Before by J.P. DelaneyBridget Jones’s Baby by Helen FieldingBurned and Broken by Mark HardieWatch Her Disappear by Eva DolanThe Book of Mirrors by E.O. Chirovici

Are you doing a Goodreads challenge this year? If so, how is yours going?

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

WWW Wednesday [7 June 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? 

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman – [review to follow]

Fierce Kingdom – Gin Phillips – [review to follow]

What are you currently reading? 

The Mayfly - James Hazel

The Mayfly – James Hazel

What will you read next?

Broken branches – Jonathan Lee

Miss Christie Regrets – Guy Fraser Sampson

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!

The Second Sister [review]

The Second Sister - Claire Kendall

Title: The Second Sister
Author: Claire Kendal
Format: Audiobook
Publisher:  HarperAudio

[Synopsis]

It is ten years since Ella’s sister Miranda disappeared without trace, leaving her young baby behind. Chilling new evidence links Miranda to the horrifying Jason Thorne, now in prison for murdering several women. Is it possible that Miranda knew him? At thirty, Miranda’s age when she vanished, Ella looks uncannily like the sister she idolized. What holds Ella together is her love for her sister’s child and her work as a self-defence expert helping victims. Haunted by the possibility that Thorne took Miranda, and driven by her nephew’s longing to know about his mother, Ella will do whatever it takes to uncover the truth – no matter how dangerous…

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[My Review]

I enjoyed The Second Sister and found it entertaining, but it did feel a little ridiculous at times. It got off to quite a slow start, because I suppose nothing really happens as such right at the beginning – it’s more that Ella decides to start looking for what happened to her missing (presumed dead) sister Miranda, partly due to her nephew Luke asking her to try and find out. So because of this she starts to investigate and discovers new evidence (that the police somehow never managed to figure out themselves).

I found Ella a little irritating at times, but she was daring and determined, so I did warm to her more as the book went on. Other characters, though, felt far too obviously dodgy to me and when we discovered who was hiding what, it didn’t feel like a big surprise to be honest. All the male characters seemed smitten with Ella, which got a little silly as the book went on!

The structure of the novel sees a constant flicking back and forth between the present day and the time before Miranda disappeared, and at times it got a little confusing because Ella is always addressing Miranda but sometimes talking to other people within the text, so sometimes it’s unclear who she’s talking to. I do generally enjoy books which switch between timeframes, though, so this negative feeling might be more because I was listening on audiobook.

I really like the ending, which rounds off the book quite nicely, and I have to bear in mind that I may have enjoyed this novel more if I’d have been reading it instead of listening to it, as I often find is the case, and this would therefore be more of a problem with me than with the book.

The Second Sister is quite far fetched, but then so are a lot of novels in this genre I suppose – though I really enjoyed The Book Of You. I just felt that this wasn’t as much of an engrossing (or as well-crafted) read. Still, it kept me reading on and I found myself entertained.

[Rating: 3/5]

Have you read The Second Sister (or The Book Of You)? If so what did you think?

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

Goodreads Monday: The Bedlam Stacks

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 historical novel on my to-read list. I don’t read a huge amount of historical fiction but when I do I tend to really enjoy them most of the time. This looks like an interesting read and I’ve heard good things about it!

The Bedlam Stacks - Natasha Pulley

Title: The Bedlam Stacks
Author:  Natasha Pulley
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK

Publish date: 13 July 2017

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[Synopsis]

An astonishing historical novel set in the shadowy, magical forests of South America, which draws on the captivating world of the international bestseller The Watchmaker of Filigree Street

Deep in uncharted Peru, the holy town of Bedlam stands at the edge of a forest. The shrine statues move, and anyone who crosses the border dies. But somewhere inside are cinchona trees, whose bark yields quinine: the only known treatment for malaria.

On the other side of the Pacific, it is 1859 and India is ravaged by the disease. The hunt for a reliable source of quinine is critical and in its desperation, the India Office searches out its last qualified expeditionary. Struggling with a terrible injury from his last mission and the strange occurrences at his family’s ruined estate, Merrick Tremayne finds himself under orders to bring back cinchona cuttings at any cost and dispatched, against his own better judgement, to Bedlam.

There he meets Raphael, a priest around whom the villagers spin unsettlingly familiar stories of impossible disappearances and living stone. Gradually, he realises that Raphael is the key to a legacy left by two generations of Tremayne explorers before him, one which will prove more dangerous and valuable than the India Office could ever have imagined.

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!

Standard Deviation [review]

Standard Deviation

Title: Standard Deviation
Author: Katherine Heiny
Publisher: HarperCollins UK – 4th Estate

[Synopsis]

A rueful, funny examination of love, marriage, infidelity, and origami. Simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking, this sensational debut will appeal to fans of David Nicholls, Nick Hornby, Nora Ephron and Lorrie Moore

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?

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[My Review]

Standard Deviation is a funny, heart warming and, at times, poignant story of love, friendships and family life. It focuses on Graham, in his fifties with a younger second wife, Audra – the mother of his child, Matthew, who has Aspergers.

Audra is so hard to ‘sum up’ because she’s such an effervescent, fun person: quirky, likeable, and very chatty, but also at times incredibly frustrating! I absolutely loved reading about her but could completely see why living with her could drive Graham mad sometimes, as they’re so different in many ways and she doesn’t always make the best decisions… But then, neither does Graham, as this book proves.

The story is so lovely with some emotional parts too. It’s largely made up of elements of everyday life – perhaps not your everyday life, as the reader, but what is for some people every day life – and told in such a funny, entertaining way and mostly from Graham’s point of view. The very different characters and their very different lives combine to create a narrative that completely drew me in and left me wanting to read more. I felt like I’d really got to know the characters and, on the whole, really liked them. There was no need for high drama; the elements of everyday life (with some temptation and difficulties thrown in along the way) is enough for this novel. It’s just fantastic!

Standard Deviation made me smile countless times, and laugh out loud even more! The characters stayed in my mind even after finishing the book, and I would happily read much more about them. A truly great, refreshing read which I’d highly recommend!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to 4th Estate (HarperCollins UK) for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

Exquisite [review]

Exquisite - Sarah Stovell

Title: Exquisite
Author: Sarah Stovell
Publisher: Orenda Books

[Synopsis]

Bo Luxton has it all—a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name. Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend. When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops. Or does it? Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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[My Review]

Exquisite is one of those novels that take you completely by surprise. Although I’d seen lots of fantastic reviews, I still wasn’t prepared for just how absorbing it would be. This won’t be too long a review because I don’t want to give anything away!

The characters themselves are so interesting; some you really identify with and some who seem great and then slowly reveal their true selves as the novel goes on. There’s trickery, heartbreak and forbidden love by the bucket, and it’s all written in such a fantastic way, so that you can completely imagine being in some of the characters’ shoes.

The story is told from both Alice and Bo’s perspectives, and the way the story is structured – with the start told from both, the early mid-section mainly from Alice, the later mid-section from Bo and then the last section of the book from both of their point of views – means you feel what it must be like to be both  the characters, because the gaps in your knowledge due to those characters not knowing exactly what’s happening in the other person’s world leaves you confused and a little on edge. You never know what is ‘real’ in Bo and Alice’s relationship and what isn’t.

Exquisite is so skilfully written, I galloped through it and couldn’t put it down. I was completely, utterly absorbed and was dying to know what was really going on. I did guess a main part of the story quite early but it didn’t hamper my enjoyment at all. Relationships, passion, love, and writing are all prevalent themes. It’s interesting that the language is very descriptive at times and really evokes what the characters are experiencing – very powerfully – but also addresses such everyday tasks and incidences, like Alice’s layabout boyfriend, Bo’s mundane marriage, sorting out where to live, jobs… it’s all everyday life, but this juxtaposed with the fantastic language really drew me in. A great novel I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend.

[Rating: 5/5]

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

Exquisite is out in the UK in ebook format on 1 June and in hardback on 1 October.

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.

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.