The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman [review]

The Last Act Of Hattie Hoffman - Mindy Mejia

Title: The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman
Author: Mindy Mejia
Publisher: Quercus


[Synopsis]

Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity, about the line between innocence and culpability, about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control

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[My Review]

I found this novel intriguing and a good read, with some interesting characters and a satisfying ending.

I really enjoy novels that are told from multiple perspectives, and The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is told from three – Hattie herself, local English teacher Peter, and police officer Del. Each have a different part to play in this story, which combines suspense, mystery, relationships and murder. It’s an interesting story, and one that I can’t really say much about without giving  too much away.

Hattie herself isn’t always the most likeable character; she has her faults, as do all the characters really, but you’re nevertheless rooting for Del to uncover what’s happened to her. The story hops back and forward in time – obviously Hattie’s narrative is before she’s killed (no surprise there!) whilst Peter and Del’s move between the past and present, revealing more about the situation surrounding Hattie’s disappearance.

Around the middle of the book I found the story slowed down a little and I wasn’t sure what to think, but it soon picked up and by the end (ah that ending!) I was hooked once again. Perhaps some of the middle could be cut down a little?

This feels like a slightly different style to many other psychological thrillers – you get a more rounded impression of the events surrounding the murder and an insight into what life, and growing up, must be like in that small American town. You learn more about Hattie’s relationships and friendships, and her state of mind. Everyone seems to have a different impression of Hattie, but is that because she changed with different people without realising, or is it all intentional? Is she as innocent as many thought?

The characters are interesting and well-crafted, and some are more likable than others, which gives it a more convincing feeling. The story is easy to read and I enjoyed finding out more. I would recommend this novel; it had the right levels of suspense, description and mystery to keep me intrigued.

[Rating: 4/5]

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

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman will be published on 9 March 2017.

To Read – March 2017

Here are some books I’m really excited to have on my TBR list for the next few months! I tried to get ahead on my Netgalley/ review books and I did but then I ruined it by requesting loads more / accepting lots more book review requests, but they all look amazing so it’s a good thing really!

Here’s what I’ll be reading this month!

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman – Mindy Mejia

[Synopsis]

Seventeen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she’s found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie’s dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del’s, Hattie’s high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity, about the line between innocence and culpability, about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control.

 

First Comes Love – Emily Giffin

[Synopsis]

What happens when love, marriage and children don’t come in the expected order?

Fifteen years after the tragic death of their older brother splintered Josie and Meredith’s already fragile relationship, the two sisters are following very different paths.

Hardworking, reserved Meredith thought she’d done it all the right way round – married the perfect man, had the perfect daughter – but now she’s wondering if she got the love part wrong.

Impulsive and spirited Josie has been single for years. She wants a child so much that she’s preparing to head straight for the baby carriage all on her own.

As the anniversary of their tragedy looms and secrets from the past surface, Josie and Meredith must come to terms with their own choices. Perhaps they’ll find that they need each other more than they know…

 

Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister

[Synopsis]

Just how much can you trust the person you love?

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister’s stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

[Synopsis]

Diana Jager is clever, strong and successful, a skilled surgeon and fierce campaigner via her blog about sexism. Yet it takes only hours for her life to crumble when her personal details are released on the internet as revenge for her writing.

Then she meets Peter. He’s kind, generous, and knows nothing about her past: the second chance she’s been waiting for.

Within six months, they are married. Within six more, Peter is dead in a road accident, a nightmare end to their fairytale romance.

But Peter’s sister Lucy doesn’t believe in fairytales, and tasks maverick reporter Jack Parlabane with discovering the dark truth behind the woman the media is calling Black Widow…

Let the Dead Speak – Jane Casey

[Synopsis]

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

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

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

Dead Embers – Matt Brolly

[Synopsis]

An explosive fire. A double murder. And that’s just the start…

When DCI Michael Lambert is called out to an apparent house fire, he knows it can’t be routine. Instead he finds the remains of a burnt house, a traumatised child and two corpses – one of whom is a senior police officer.

Lambert’s got other problems. Anti-corruption are onto his boss. His relationships is on the rocks. He can’t get over his ex-wife and he keeps blacking out.

But when a detective has been murdered the stakes are too high to get distracted. All is not as it seems. As the investigation continues Lambert realises he is getting drawn into something altogether bigger and more terrifying than he could ever have imagined…

Trust no one.

The Missing Ones – Patricia Gibney

[Synopsis]

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fire Damage – Kate Medina

[Synopsis]

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

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

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

 

What have you got planned to read this month? Are any of these books on your list?

 

Where I Lost Her [review]

Where I Lost Her - T Greenwood

Title: Where I Lost Her
Author: T. Greenwood
Publisher: Corvus


[Synopsis]

Eight years ago, Tess and Jake were considered a power couple of the New York publishing world—happy, in love, planning a family. Failed fertility treatments and a heartbreaking attempt at adoption have fractured their marriage and left Tess edgy and adrift. A visit to friends in rural Vermont throws Tess’s world into further chaos when she sees a young, half-dressed child in the middle of the road, who then runs into the woods like a frightened deer.

The entire town begins searching for the little girl. But there are no sightings, no other witnesses, no reports of missing children. As local police and Jake point out, Tess’s imagination has played her false before. And yet Tess is compelled to keep looking, not only to save the little girl she can’t forget but to salvage her broken heart as well.

Blending her trademark lyrical prose with a superbly crafted and suspenseful narrative, Where I Lost Her is a gripping, haunting novel from a remarkable storyteller.

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[My Review]

Where I Lost Her is packed full of suspense, with great characters and – to top it all off –written so well. It really draws you in, and avoids too many overused clichés which can pop up so much in this genre (though it is one of my favourite genres!)

Firstly, the storyline has just the right balance of mystery, with the big question mark over what happened to this little girl that Tess swears she saw. Then, there’s the creeping doubt as you read that perhaps she never saw anything at all – could her past be affecting her judgement? And there’s also the element of Tess and Jake’s relationship and what happened when they tried to adopt many years ago – can they survive another stressful situation as a couple?

Where I Lost Her is really well-written and manages to convey the sense of confusion and bewilderment that Tess is feeling, followed by the panic and worry for this mysterious little girl. I liked the conclusion and felt it wasn’t too ridiculous or over-dramatic, which was a big plus, and the characters were believable and interesting. One thing I will say, though, is that I was surprised that any police force would act the way they did in the novel – but then I am in England and I have heard police in America, and the way they conduct themselves, differs hugely between states. They were frustrating men and I disliked them all… apart from one…

I loved every page, racing through the book at a quick speed, and I would 100% read any other releases by T Greenwood – I am pleased to see she has many new releases. So, although this is a new author for me, I hope to familiarise myself with lots of her other novels soon. Definitely recommended.

[Rating: 5/5]

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

Where I Lost Her is out in paperback and ebook formats on 2nd March.

WWW Wednesday [1 March 2017]

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Sam at Taking On a World of Words.

Visit her blog to take a look, and get involved too if you can, even if you don’t have a blog yourself – as she says, you can leave your answers in the post comments. I’d love to see your answers too!

I’ve missed a few weeks, so I’ll have more than usual for this post!

The three W’s are:

  1. What have you finished reading?
  2. What are you currently reading?
  3. What will you read next?

What have you finished reading?

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo – Amy Schumer [review here]
The One That Got Away – Melissa Pimentel [review here]
Ragdoll – Daniel Cole [review here]
The Witchfinder’s Sister – Beth Underdown [review here]
The English Agent – Clare Harvey [blog tour: author guest post & review here]

What will you read next?

Everything But The Truth – Gillian McAllister
Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

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!

Add me as a friend on Goodreads!

Follow me on Instagram!

The English Agent: the real-life inspiration behind the story + my review

The English Agent

Title: The English Agent
Author: Clare Harvey
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK

I’m very excited to be part of the blog tour for Clare Harvey’s The English Agent, which is available to buy now!

Read on for a brilliant guest post by Clare, all about how a fascinating real-life story inspired the novel, and also my review!


[Synopsis]

How far will two women go to survive a war?

Having suffered a traumatic experience in the Blitz, Edie feels utterly disillusioned with life in wartime London. The chance to work with the Secret Operations Executive (SOE) helping the resistance in Paris offers a fresh start. Codenamed ‘Yvette’, she’s parachuted into France and met by the two other members of her SOE cell. Who can she trust?

Back in London, Vera desperately needs to be made a UK citizen to erase the secrets of her past. Working at the foreign office in charge of agents presents an opportunity for blackmail. But when she loses contact with one agent in the field, codenamed Yvette, her loyalties are torn.

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[Clare Harvey – The story-behind the story: what inspired The English Agent]

Author Clare HarveyThere were two things that led to the creation of The English Agent. The initial seed was planted more than six years ago, in the autumn of 2010, before I had even begun writing my debut, The Gunner Girl. Back then we were living in Kathmandu, Nepal (my husband was posted there with the British Army to support the Ghurkha recruitment). Sometimes, when I felt a little homesick, I’d have a look online for news local to Devon, which is where I grew up, and where my parents still live. There was one story that particularly captured my interest: a cat-loving old woman who’d died alone in a Torquay flat was discovered to have been one of the heroines of WW2. Perhaps it was because of her codename, ‘Rose’, the same as my youngest daughter, but more likely it was because of the details of her exploits (parachuted into France aged 22, captured whilst transmitting secret messages, escaping from prison camp), but Eileen Nearne’s story lodged itself at the back of my mind. There was something fascinating about this brave young woman who’d worked undercover behind enemy lines at the height of the Second World War.

In 2011 we were posted back to the UK, and I wrote The Gunner Girl – inspired by my mother-in-law’s time on the ack-ack guns in WW2 – when my husband was away on an operational tour of duty in Afghanistan with the army in 2012. By the time The Gunner Girl was accepted for publication in 2014, my husband was undertaking his final army posting, supporting the Special Forces (SAS & SBS). Now, just to make it clear, my husband wasn’t, and never has been, a member of the Special Forces himself. He was a major in the Royal Engineers at the time; however for his last two years of army service he acted as the Special Forces’ ‘tame’ engineer, advising them on building projects in the UK and overseas. What this meant in practice was that, because he’d signed the Official Secrets Act, we never knew where he was. For a whole two years he never wore his army uniform; he was always in civilian clothes. He’d come home on Fridays (sometimes suspiciously suntanned and with a sandy passport), we’d have a regular family weekend, and then on a Sunday night, he’d pack up his bags and prepare to set off again. If he were working in the UK, I’d have an idea where he’d be, and would know how to contact him. But quite often he’d say, “I’m overseas this week.” And I’d know I could not ask where in the world he was going to be, or who with, because if he told me, even by making an inadvertent slip of the tongue, he risked imprisonment. So all this was going on in the background, whilst I was thinking what book to write next.

I began to wonder: did the Special Forces exist in WW2? If so, what did they do? I’d been surprised when I discovered that there were women soldiers on active service in the Second World War, and this revelation was what had spurred me on to write The Gunner Girl. Could there have been women recruited into special forces-type roles, too? Then I remembered the news piece I’d seen about Eileen Nearne, and I knew there was a story just waiting to be written.

The forerunner to today’s Special Forces was the Secret Operations Executive (SOE). Originally an offshoot of the Foreign Office, it was set up by Winston Churchill with the stated aim to ‘set Europe ablaze’. SOE agents were not spies; they were saboteurs. The idea behind the organization was foment resistance to Nazi rule in Occupied Europe. Intelligence gathering was left to the spies of the Secret Intelligence Service (SIS). The SOE was all about arming, supporting and training freedom fighters, by any means necessary. Importantly (and excitingly for me as a writer), women were also recruited into the SOE – as many as forty may have worked undercover in Occupied France alone (there is still some argument about the actual numbers involved) – parachuted into enemy territory under cover of darkness.

Once I started researching I found many stories of incredible bravery amongst the female SOE agents, like Eileen Nearne. And I discovered that SOE’s French section’s agent handler was also a woman, Vera Atkins, and that there was a huge conflict of interest right at the heart of her situation. She was impossible to ignore. So I decided then to twist the real-life story of agent handler Vera with a fictitious agent, codenamed ‘Yvette’ (who some of you might remember as Edie from The Gunner Girl).

Researching The English Agent was fascinating and humbling. I was blown away by the courage and stoicism of the young women who worked within this top-secret organization. I was so engrossed that at times it felt as if the book were writing itself. Who wouldn’t be inspired by the lives of these incredible women, pioneers of the Special Forces, amidst the chaos and carnage of World War Two?

The English Agent is out now in hardback, paperback and e-book.

You can catch up with me here:

Twitter: @ClareHarveyauth
Facebook: ClareHarvey13
Web: http://clareharvey.net


[My Review]

The English Agent is a well-written, enjoyable novel about a subject that doesn’t always get as much coverage as it should: the women’s effort during the war, particularly female agents that risked their lives to help the resistance against the Nazis in France.

The story unfolds from two perspectives: agent Edie (codename Yvette) who is fresh out of training on her first mission abroad, in Nazi-occupied France, and Vera, who trains and looks after the agents. This way you see snippets of info about the war from both France and London. You really get a feel for what life must be like for both women, and the danger that Edie in particular faces.

The story is fast paced and kept me enthralled. I love novels set in WW1 or WW2, so hoped I’d really enjoy this – and I definitely did!

The English Agent felt like a well-researched story, and two of the characters were apparently based on real people. There were parts that were probably over-dramatised for the purpose of the story, but none of it felt completely unbelievable, which was good. I liked that the characters weren’t completely ‘good’ or ‘bad’ depending on whether they were Allies or not (and perhaps this is partly because . Most of the characters had their own faults  or errors in judgement, despite being generally good people, whilst people you’d assume would be bad through and through weren’t necessarily presented in such an obvious way. There are some really inspirational women in this novel that I loved reading about, and found it fascinating to read about people involved in the war that we don’t often hear much about.

There is quite a lot of the story that jumps around, and sometimes I got a little confused as to whether we were in the present day or ‘remembering’ past events. Bits of the characters’ memories are sort of ‘teased’ out throughout the novel, which I really enjoyed reading and added extra tension to the story!

Clare Harvey’s other novel, The Gunner Girl, features Edie in it too, and I’d like to read more about her (though I suppose that would be a sort of prequel to The English Agent) – still, I’ll definitely still be adding it to my reading list!

The English Agent is definitely a truly entertaining, well-written and enjoyable read that I’d really recommend!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster UK for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an unbiased and honest review, and for the spot on the blog tour!

Here’s who else took part in the blog tour:

the-english-agent-blog-tour

The Witchfinder’s Sister [review]

The Witchfinder's Sister - Beth Underdown

[Synopsis]

The number of women my brother Matthew killed, so far as I can reckon it, is one hundred and six…

1645. When Alice Hopkins’ husband dies in a tragic accident, she returns to the small Essex town of Manningtree, where her brother Matthew still lives.

But home is no longer a place of safety. Matthew has changed, and there are rumours spreading through the town: whispers of witchcraft, and of a great book, in which he is gathering women’s names.

To what lengths will Matthew’s obsession drive him?
And what choice will Alice make, when she finds herself at the very heart of his plan?

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[Synopsis]

The Witchfinder’s Sister definitely has a unique premise – set in 17th century Essex and told from the perspective of Alice, whose brother seems to be rather too interested in the current whispers and rumours about witchcraft, the novel follows her as she slowly unravels her brother’s dark side and the past that may have led him to behave the way he does…

The writing does a great job of really bringing the 17th century – not an era I have read that much about, to be honest – to life, with insights into the economical and social setting of that time which led people to start blaming their own misfortunes on other people. I have to say I felt it was not unlike a certain President who has managed to persuade people in his country with a crap or unfortunate life that this must all be because of immigrants. Of course at the time that this novel is set, the misfortunes of East Anglia (in fact, probably most of the country) seem to be blamed on witches and witchcraft. Sometimes people can’t just accept that bad things happen, no matter how awful they are; they’d rather believe that it’s actually because of people who don’t attend church regularly, or who may have a disability that makes them seem ‘strange’ or different. Reading The Witchfinder’s Sister I certainly picked up on certain conditions that we know a lot more about today, that at the time must have seemed frightening, unknown and therefore undiagnosed, leading people to mark them out as potential witches. Today we’d be able to deal with it all a lot better with scientific and medical knowledge.

The only thing I didn’t like was that some parts of the novel felt a little slow and could have been a bit more gripping, in my opinion – but others would disagree, I’m sure. Most of the writing, however, is rich and atmospheric, and I really liked the ending. Though it’s not a quick read due to the language being a little more old fashion to fit the setting, it’s not a particularly hard read and I’m sure anyone with even a small interest in that era – or in history in general – will enjoy reading this novel.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Viking who provided a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is out in the UK on 2 March.

BLOG TOUR: Ragdoll [review]

Ragdoll - Daniel Cole

Title: Ragdoll
Author: Daniel Cole
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group

I’m SO excited to be part of the blog tour for Ragdoll, so read in for my review and check out the other amazing bloggers on the tour!

[Synopsis]

A body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, nicknamed by the press as the ‘ragdoll’.

Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter.

The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them.

With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer when the world is watching their every move?

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[My Review]

I wasn’t sure what to expect when starting this – I’ve seen so many amazing reviews that, before I began, I was wondering if it can live up to them all?…

It definitely does!

This is a fast-paced, punchy crime novel that hits just the right notes – humorous (at times making me really laugh out loud) without being too obvious; dark and with plenty of gory detail without being gratuitous; full of action without overdoing it; and – to top it off – really well-written!

The characters are likeable and make you want to read more about them. Wolfe has his own problems and flaws but seems very sharp even whilst his life seems to be falling apart, whilst Baxter is just great – a strong, willfull female sidekick that doubles as a lead character in her own right, really – I enjoyed reading about her just as much as Wolfe. I loved trainee Police Officer, Edmunds, as well, and felt so sorry for him at times. All the characters seemed pretty well-rounded and convincing in their own ways, although some were a lot less likeable than others!

The story manages to be fast paced without losing the reader in a flurry of Police language and action. The quick comebacks and humour from Wolfe only add to the snappiness of this novel, giving it a fresher, more sophisticated feel. It’s got surprises aplenty and it certainly consumed me from start to finish!

Eagerly anticipating Daniel Cole’s next in the series already!

[Rating: 5/5]

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


About the author…

At 33 years old, Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer and most recently for the RNLI, driven by an intrinsic need to save people or perhaps just a guilty conscience about the number of characters he kills off in his writing. He currently lives in sunny Bournemouth and can usually be found down the beach when he ought to be writing book two instead.

Ragdoll is out in the UK on 23 February.

Follow the rest of the blog tour:

The One That Got Away [review]

The One That Got Away - Melissa Pimentel

Title: The One That Got Away
Author: Melissa Pimentel
Publisher: Michael Joseph


[Synopsis]

Ruby and Ethan were perfect for each other. Until the day they suddenly weren’t.

Now, ten years later, Ruby is single, having spent the last decade focusing on her demanding career and hectic life in Manhattan. There’s barely time for a trip to England for her little sister’s wedding. And there’s certainly not time to think about what it will be like to see Ethan again, who just so happens to be the best man.

But as the family frantically prepare for the big day, Ruby can’t help but wonder if she made the right choice all those years ago. Because there is nothing like a wedding for stirring up the past…

[My Review]

The One That Got Away is a fun, reflective and sweet story about lost loves, missed chances and the chance to start all over again.

The characters are likeable, though at the beginning of the novel I found main character Ruby a little abrasive and overly short with Ethan, but she really grew on me as the novel continued. Her sister Piper is pretty spoilt and annoying at times, but Ruby and everyone else knows this – that’s just how she is – and her dad is crackers most of the time, but in a loveable, sweet way. No one is perfect – many have their little faults (though Ethan does seem rather perfect!) which is much more relatable and realistic, or so I felt. You can’t help but warm to the characters!

Ruby and Ethan seem so well matched (as they always do, in romantic novels, but still!) and it was really sad sometimes to read about their missed chance to stay together, and how things started to go wrong. I felt quite emotional in some parts! I also enjoyed the way the novel flicks between the two timeframes – then and now – and was intrigued to find out what exactly Ruby was feeling so guilty about.

There are lots of references to things that happened back in what was presumably the 00’s, and I enjoyed picking up on little comments and inclusions that took me back to that era when I was a teenager! The novel is also set in Edinburgh, whilst most of the characters are American, so it’s quite amusing to read about some of the differences between cultures and places.

The One That Got Away has many of the typical tropes of the romance genre, but it’s really well done and avoids veering into cheesiness too much. The writing flows well and it’s really easy to read, so I breezed through it in no time. Though some parts are quite predictable, but I think that’s expected of many books in this genre, and none of that takes away from what is a sweet, fun story that will leave you feeling happy and satisfied as you reach the last page!

[Rating: 3.5/5]

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

The One That Got Away is out now in the UK!

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo [review + giveaway]

the-girl-with-the-lower-back-tattoo-amy-schumer

Title: The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo
Author: Amy Schumer
Publisher: HarperCollins

So today I have a review of The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo and a giveaway – a hardback copy of the book!

[Synopsis]

The Emmy Award-winning comedian, actress, writer, and star of Inside Amy Schumer and the acclaimed film Trainwreck has taken the entertainment world by storm with her winning blend of smart, satirical humor. Now, Amy Schumer has written a refreshingly candid and uproariously funny collection of (extremely) personal and observational essays.

In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy mines her past for stories about her teenage years, her family, relationships, and sex and shares the experiences that have shaped who she is – a woman with the courage to bare her soul to stand up for what she believes in, all while making us laugh.

Ranging from the raucous to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing, this highly entertaining and universally appealing collection is the literary equivalent of a night out with your best friends – an unforgettable and fun adventure that you wish could last forever. Whether she’s experiencing lust-at-first-sight while in the airport security line, sharing her own views on love and marriage, admitting to being an introvert, or discovering her cross-fit instructor’s secret bad habit, Amy Schumer proves to be a bighearted, brave, and thoughtful storyteller that will leave you nodding your head in recognition, laughing out loud, and sobbing uncontrollably – but only because it’s over.

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[My Review]

Prepare yourselves for plenty of vagina talk, cause there’s lots in The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo – and it ranges from the ridiculous to the real ‘Oh I’ve been there!’ moments, which is what makes this book so relatable!

I really enjoyed this autobiography of Amy Schumer’s life, from childhood to where she is today, and (almost) everything in between. There’s plenty of chuckles and Amy’s dry sense of humour shines through, which I find really amusing to read, but this is interspersed with sudden more serious chapters, which do make you stop and think. It’s an odd mixture, in a way, but not if you view it as a whole – ie. about the many things that have affected Amy, as a female, and so of course vaginas will feature, as well as some very awkward (and some downright awful) sexual encounters. There’ll also be lots on the way she’s treated as a female comedian – not just a comedian, mind, other people (particularly men it seems) feel the need to point out her sex before the ‘comedian’ part – and dealing with family, relationships and friend issues throughout her life.

One of my favourite parts of the novel were the various ‘journal entries’, with a commentary from Amy which made me laugh.

It’s a pretty easy, quick read and I raced through it in a few days. Some parts I found more interesting and/or funny to read about than others, but I did end this book feeling entertained and also quite empowered as a woman. So that can’t be a bad thing!

[Rating: 4/5]


[Giveaway]

To win a hardback copy of the book, just enter via the link below – good luck! Don’t forget to find me on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads too 🙂

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WWW Wednesday [15 February 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?

A little while ago I finished reading The Breakdown B.A. Paris and The Recipe hacker Confidential – Diana Keulian so I’ve included them here.

I also finished:
No Excuses Detox – Megan Gilmore

What are you currently reading?

The Chalk Pit - Elly Griffiths

The Chalk PitElly Griffiths

This is an author I love and a great series (Ruth Galloway) which is set in Norfolk!

What will you read next?

The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo by  Amy Schumer for my book club

And I’m not sure after that… maybe The One That Got Away – Melissa Pimentel or The Witch Finder’s Sister – Beth Underdown (which I’ve wanted to read for ages!)


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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