You Were Made for This [review]

You Were Made For This

Title: You Were Made for This
Author: Michelle Sacks
Publisher: HQ

[Synopsis]

A bold, sharp, gripping debut about a couple whose perfect life in the Swedish countryside is not what it seems…

In an idyllic house in a Swedish wood, Merry and her husband are building their new dream life with their young baby, far away from events that overshadowed their old life in New York. And they’re happy, aren’t they? Blissfully, blissfully happy.

When Merry’s childhood friend Frances comes to stay, Frances barely recognises her old friend Merry, pureeing baby food, baking, living the Swedish dream. But little by little, cracks begin to show in her carefully constructed fairy tale. And Frances starts to see things others might miss. Dark and treacherous things.

And then a terrible tragedy unfolds…

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

You Were Made For This has all the elements of a domestic thriller, which I often enjoy reading, and though it was slower-paced than I expected, I still found it an interesting read.

There are various disturbing, dark parts to this story and I found that for most of the novel I was in a state of rage with certain characters. I don’t want to give too much away but it very effectively highlights how ‘subtle’ pyschological abuse and control can be – it’s not always full on fights and slaps. Merry and Sam’s relationship is put under the microscope by Frances – supposedly Merry’s best friend – coming to stay, and you realise that here we have another very questionable character! No one in this novel is hugely likeable, but this adds to the allure of the story because you really feel like you’re delving into a world of dark thoughts and feelings – there are some twisted things going on, both in the characters’ minds and in reality.

The setting in Sweden was a bit of a welcome change from US and UK-based novels (not that there’s anything wrong with them, but it’s nice to read about somewhere completely different) and I really liked that there was an element of mystery, too – I won’t say what happens but I definitely swung between characters when trying to work out who was responsible. It made me doubt people and then restore my faith in them – and then doubt them again!

I really liked Michelle Sacks’s writing, though I felt some parts could have been shortened a little and the complete lack of speech marks sometimes made it harder to follow (though this also made the novel stand out more). However, I would still recommend this to anyone looking for a well-written domestic thriller.

[Rating: 3.5/5]

Many thanks to HQ 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!

Advertisements

The Life Lucy Knew [review]

The Life Lucy Knew

Title: The Life Lucy Knew
Author: Karma Brown
Publisher: HQ Digital

[Synopsis]

Lucy is about to discover everything she believes to be true about her life…isn’t.

After hitting her head, Lucy Sparks awakens in the hospital to a shocking revelation: the man she’s known and loved for years—the man she recently married—is not actually her husband. In fact, they broke up four years earlier and haven’t spoken since.
The happily-ever-after she remembers in vivid detail is what her doctors call a false memory: recollections Lucy’s mind made up to fill in the blanks from the coma.

Now she has no idea which memories she can trust and she must make a difficult choice about which life she wants to lead, and who she really is.

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

The Life Lucy Knew is an interesting read which centers around a topic I always find really interesting: amnesia. Main protagonist Lucy wakes up from an accident believing her life to be very different to how it was when she had the accident, and we follow her as she tries to make sense of it all and coax her memory back.

I liked that this novel was fairly believable, as I wasn’t sure when I started it if we’d suddnely find out someone had done something awful to ‘trick’ her etc (like some other novels I’ve read on this kind of subject) bu, actually, the characters were pretty convincing and three-dimensional, and Lucy herself was likable (though at times her actions could be really frustrating… I suppose she is suffering with a head injury though so I can kind of let her off most of it!)

The pace is fairly steady and at times perhaps could have moved along at a bit quicker pace, but I liked Lucy’s attempts to try and rediscover the relationship between her and her husband (though she doesn’t remember them getting married) Matt.  The narrative jumps between present day and the time ‘before’ – though we’re sometimes unsure if these are memories Lucy remembers now, which therefore may not be very reliable anyway, or ‘true’ memories.

I don’t feel that this novel is anything hugely exciting or particularly different but it is a fun, quick read which would be ideal for the summer, or for when you fancy something enjoyable but relaxing.

[Rating: 3.5/5]

Many thanks to HQ Digital 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!

 

The Man Who Didn’t Call [review]

The Man Who Didn't Call

Title: The Man Who Didn’t Call
Author: Rosie Walsh
Publisher: Pan Macmillan

[Synopsis]

Imagine you meet a man, spend six glorious days together, and fall in love. And it’s mutual: you’ve never been so certain of anything.

So when he leaves for a long-booked holiday and promises to call from the airport, you have no cause to doubt him.
But he doesn’t call.

Your friends tell you to forget him, but you know they’re wrong: something must have happened; there must be a reason for his silence.

What do you do when you finally discover you’re right? That there is a reason — and that reason is the one thing you didn’t share with each other?

The truth.

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

I didn’t expect this novel to be so emotional – I’d assumed it would be more of a light and fluffy read, perhaps partly due to the cover, but once I started reading I realised that this is a truly gripping, absorbing and really well crafted.

The characters are believable and convincing, with main protagonist Sarah coming across as a likable and someone who doesn’t fit into a typical ‘category’ of person. She isn’t someone who’d usually become so obsessed over a one-week ‘fling’, but as we hear it all from her point of view, we’re right there with her and we have the chance to understand why she feels the way she does about Eddie.

I read this book in almost one solid sitting, and really wanted to know why Eddie had suddenly disappeared from Sarah’s life. I swung from hating him to suddenly feeling confused, and though I guessed part of what had happened, this wasn’t at all the actual correct conslusion, which I felt really satisfied with.

There’s so much more to this story than just your average contemporary romance/ ‘chick-lit’-style read; it’s so much deeper than that. There are some truly emotional parts and some real surprises along the way.

Rosie Walsh has written a fantastic debut here, mixing elements of romance and relationships with modern-life dating and the many ways grief can take a hold of someones life. It’s punchy, emotional, and heartwrenching – an absorbing read!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Pan Macmillan 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!

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?

Add to Goodreads button

[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.

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

The Brighton Mermaid [review]

The Brighton Mermaid

Title: The Brighton Mermaid
Author: Dorothy Koomson
Publisher: Century

[Synopsis]

Brighton Beach, 1993: Teenagers Nell and Jude find the body of a young woman and when no one comes to claim her, she becomes known as the Brighton Mermaid. Nell is still struggling to move on when, three weeks later, Jude disappears.

Twenty-five years on, Nell quits her job to find out who the Brighton Mermaid really was – and what happened to her best friend that summer.

But as Nell edges closer to the truth, dangerous things start to happen. Someone seems to be watching her every move, and soon she starts to wonder who in her life she can actually trust…

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

I am a huge fan of Dorothy Koomson, having loved the other novels I’ve read by her (including The Ice Cream Girls [my review here] and The Friend [my review here]), so I was incredibly excited to get the chance to read her newest release, The Brighton Mermaid. The premise sounded really interesting and I knew I’d be treated to Koomson’s excellent writing.

I wasn’t disappointed – once again, readers can enjoy some brilliantly convincing characters (people you can actually imagine meeting in real life) and an intriguing, just-one-more-page plot, as well as the great location of Brighton.

I really enjoyed reading about Nell and the two key narratives: one focussing on her time as a child – before, during, and after the discover of the mysterous murdered woman and the disappearance of her her best friend, Jude) – and one set in the present day, as Nell deals with her past and tries to work out who could be watching, following and slowly torementing her…

The narrative is fast-paced and kept me wanting to read on, and I love the element of mystery interwoven with topics around family, friendship and secrets. There’s a mix of emotions, with some quite disturbing themes cropping up alongside slightly more light-hearted parts. I loved the sense of time and place that Koomson always creates so well – I may only have been a very small child at the time this was set but I could picture myself there, in the early 1990’s, right there with Jude and Nell as they made their horrifying discovery.

Another addictive release from this brilliant author – definitely recommended!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Century 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!

 

Days of Wonder [blog tour review]

9780751563313 (1)

Today I’m excited to share my review of the brilliant Days of Wonder, as part of the blog tour! Read on to find out more and see what I thought…

Title: Days of Wonder
Author: Keith Stuart
Publisher: Sphere

[Synopsis]

Tom, single father to Hannah, is the manager of a tiny local theatre. On the same day each year, he and its colourful cast of part-time actors have staged a fantastical production just for his little girl, a moment of magic to make her childhood unforgettable.

But there is another reason behind these annual shows: the very first production followed Hannah’s diagnosis with a heart condition that will end her life early. And now, with Hannah a funny, tough girl of fifteen, that time is coming.

Hannah’s heart is literally broken – and she can’t bear the idea of her dad’s breaking too. So she resolves to find a partner for Tom, someone else to love, to fill the space beside him.

While all the time Tom plans a final day of magic that might just save them both.

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

An emotional storyline, characters you really care about, an element of romance and some added drama to keep you turning the pages: Days of Wonder hooked me from the first page right through to the last.

I don’t want to give too much away about what happens, but I will say that this is an emotional read and you should prepare yourself with tissues if you’re anything like me (emotional and very quick to cry!).

As the synopsis reveals, single dad Tom’s daughter, Hannah, is suffering from a serious heart condition, and he’s struggling to cope with what they both know is coming – but he’s truly doing his best to try and keep an element of magic in her life. Day of Wonder is not just about this awful situation, though – there’s so much else going on. From the theatre in peril to Tom’s romantic life (or lack thereof), we’re there every step of the way with them, and I found by the end of the novel I really cared about what would happen – meaning every emotion felt even more intense! Their relationship is amazing, and Tom especially is such a great character, striking just the right balance between being lovably hopeless in some areas, and incredibly creative and capable in others.

There are humorous parts and really sad parts, but whatever was happening within its pages, I loved every second of it – it all felt real and convincing, and made me want to find out more about Hannah’s condition.

I read A Boy Made of Blocks, also by Keith Stuart, and hugely enjoyed it [see my review here] so was excited to give his newest novel a go. I certainly wasn’t disappointed, so I’d really recommend this to anyone looking for a heart-wrenching, wonderful read.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Sphere for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto the blog tour!

[About the Author]

keith_stuart_2015_copyright_ashley_bird_horizontal (2).jpgKeith Stuart is an author and journalist. His heartwarming debut novel, A Boy Made of
Blocks, was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and a major bestseller, and was inspired by Keith’s real-life relationship with his autistic son. Keith has written for publications
including Empire, Red and Esquire magazine, and is the former games editor of the
Guardian. He lives with his wife and two sons in Frome, Somerset.

[Follow The Tour]

Monday twit cardTuesday twit cardWednesday twit cardThursday twit cardFriday twit card

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

 

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling [blog tour review]

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling

Today I am really excited to be a part of the blog tour for Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling – read on to find out what I thought…

Title: Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling
Author: Emer McLysaghtSarah Breen
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

Everyone knows an Aisling:

Loves going Out Out, but secretly scared of liquid eyeliner.
Happy to drink the bar dry, but will bring her own coaster if necessary.
Would rather die than miss a cooked hotel breakfast, but can calculate the Points in a Snickers at fifty paces.

Aisling’s the girl with a heart of gold, but a boyfriend who still hasn’t made a peep about their Big Day even after seven years.

But then a disastrous romantic getaway shows Aisling that it’s time to stop waiting around and leave John behind for the bright lights of Dublin. After she’s wailed her way through Adele’s Greatest Hits, that is

Between glamorous new flatmates, a scandal at work and finding herself in a weird love square, Aisling is ready to take on the big city. So long as she has her umbrella with her.

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

Fun, entertaining and, at times, a bit emotional, Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling is a fast-paced, funny read which I really didn’t want to put down!

The word ‘Aisling’ seems to be a term originally coined in an Irish Facebook group set up by Emer and Sarah, which has amassed many members who discuss the things they’ve noticed and observed about a certain type of Irish girl, known as an ‘Aisling’. I didn’t know this before I read the novel, so it’s not essential information, but I found it interesting that Aisling is a (seemingly fond, not cruel) term for a certain type of girl – and what an amusing character this novel’s Aisling is!

Oh My God, What a Complete Aisling made me smile and laugh, and though she’s odd in many ways, I really warmed to Aisling – seeing the world through her eyes is so entertaining, and left my hugely amused. Her observations on other people and their habits are brilliant. Some parts are ridiculous but that’s all part of the fun, and there are some much more serious moments too – it’s not all light and fluffy.

I wish there were more pages to this novel so I could spend more time with her (Emer and Sarah, write a second book asap please!). Definitely recommended.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Penguin for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review, and for inviting me onto the blog tour.

Buy your copy here

[Follow the rest of the tour!]

Complete Aisling Blog Tour


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

Cross Her Heart [review]

Cross Her Heart - Sarah Pinborough

Title: Cross Her Heart
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Publisher: HarperCollins

[Synopsis]

Promises only last if you trust each other, but what if one of you is hiding something?

A secret no one could ever guess.

Someone is living a lie.

Is it Lisa?

Maybe it’s her daughter, Ava.

Or could it be her best friend, Marilyn?

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

Cross Her Heart has atmosphere and mystery within its pages and I found myself gripped by the plot. Sarah Pinborough does a great job of making you think one way about a character before suddenly surprising you, and though I don’t want to give too much away, I will say this is satisfyingly twisty…

The characters are a mixed bag of likable and annoying, but they all felt convincing and interesting to read about. For example, Ava – just through being a stroppy teenage girl – did get on my nerves at times, but you understand why she acts the way she does sometimes and you do feel like she could be one of many teenagers struggling with hormones etc! Meanwhile I really warmed to both Lisa and her best friend Marilyn but each had their own faults, too. You’re never quite sure who is telling the truth, and I always love a story that makes you doubt everyone, including the main narrator!

There are some really upsetting themes in this novel – again, I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just say that some parts make for hard reading but they do add to the tension. Secrets and lies feature heavily, as does family strife!

I really enjoyed reading Cross Her Heart, and would definitely recommend Sarah Pinborough as an author – the other two books I’ve read by her, 13 Minutes and Behind Her Eyes, were brilliant reads (see my reviews for them here and here respectively)! It’s gripping, intriguing and the plot kept me turning page after page!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to HarperCollins 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!

 

Whistle in the Dark [review]

Whistle in the Dark - Emma Healey

Title: Whistle in the Dark
Author: Emma Healey
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

Jen and Hugh Maddox have just survived every parent’s worst nightmare.

Relieved, but still terrified, they sit by the hospital bedside of their fifteen-year-old daughter, Lana, who was found bloodied, bruised, and disoriented after going missing for four days during a mother-daughter vacation in the country. As Lana lies mute in the bed, unwilling or unable to articulate what happened to her during that period, the national media speculates wildly and Jen and Hugh try to answer many questions.

Where was Lana? How did she get hurt? Was the teenage boy who befriended her involved? How did she survive outside for all those days? Even when she returns to the family home and her school routine, Lana only provides the same frustrating answer over and over: “I can’t remember.”

For years, Jen had tried to soothe the depressive demons plaguing her younger child, and had always dreaded the worst. Now she has hope—the family has gone through hell and come out the other side. But Jen cannot let go of her need to find the truth. Without telling Hugh or their pregnant older daughter Meg, Jen sets off to retrace Lana’s steps, a journey that will lead her to a deeper understanding of her youngest daughter, her family, and herself.

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

Whistle in the Dark is such a powerful read. Not only boasting a compelling storyline with a definite air of mystery (something that always pulls me into a novel), it also has some really interesting characters of the type I really like reading about – not always hugely likable, but captivating all the same.

The story itself addresses some really serious issues, including missing children and mental health. I don’t want to give anything away you can’t glean from the synopsis, but this is very far away from a light-hearted read about a family; at times it’s shocking, surprising and heartbreaking, but it never feels like this for the sake of being shocking/surprising/heartbreaking. It all feels very genuine, and I can (unfortunately) imagine many families having to deal with elements of this novel applied to their families on a day to day basis.

I really warmed to main character Jen, perhaps because we see things from her perspective, but also because Emma Healey manages to convey her rapidly changing emotions so well.  I felt like I was right there with her as she worried, wondered and drove herself half-mad trying to guess what exactly had happened to her daughter Lana over those four days. What actually did happen actually becomes less key to the story than the relationship between Jen and Lana, and Lana’s father Hugh. The characterisation is brilliant, and though Lana really irritated me, I felt for her too – she’s not having the easiest time herself.

I know this is a fairly vague review but I don’t really want to give much away about this beautifully crafted story. It really struck a chord with me and left me thinking about it long after finishing which is, for me, the sign of a powerful, masterfully-written novel. Definitely recommended and an excellent new release after the brilliant Elizabeth is Missing [see my review here]… in fact, I think Whistle in the Dark is even better!

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to Penguin 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!

 

You Me Everything [review]

You, Me, Everything

Title: You Me Everything
Author: Catherine Isaac
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

[Synopsis]

You and me, we have history.
We have a child together.
We have kept secrets from each other for far too long.
This summer, in the beautiful hills of the Dordogne, it is time for everything to change.
You, Me, Everything is a heartfelt and unforgettable novel about the lengths we are prepared to go to for those we love.

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

Ohh, what a wonderfully written and emotional book – I didn’t want to stop reading, despite the tears (I do cry easily but even so, this was a heartwrencher!).

Catherine Isaac’s writing feels so like real life – in many ways but, at its heart, just in the way she portrays dialogue and actions – it all feels natural and so convincing. The situation – Jess trying to get her ex (and father of her child) to bond at last, whilst dealing with her own problems and those of her family too – I don’t want to give too much away so will leave it at that – is one that no doubt many people have experienced, and it’s all portrayed so realistically.

I also love the characters in this novel. Jess is lovely, strong and the kind of person who deals with things so well considering what she has to worry about – definitely an inspirational main character! In fact, the other characters are also so interesting to read about. I really like them all… even Adam, despite his MANY faults. You can see why Jess fell for him; I think everyone reading the novel might feel the same just a bit. However what I like most of all about this novel is that people and circumstances are never simple. There isn’t an easy switch to solve everyone’s problems, because that isn’t real life. People don’t always behave so well but that doesn’t preclude them as bad people, just as other people might end up having to deal with more than their fair share of trouble, but unfortunately life is like that sometimes – not always fair.

You Me Everything conveys all of this without being overly depressing – there’s certainly times when I felt upset and shed a tear (or two…or a hundred) but there were other times where I smiled. It addresses some really important issues and I loved Catherine Isaac’s writing.

You, Me, Everything is a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions at times, but it’s a brilliant read and I loved being along with them for the journey.

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster and Catherine Isaac for providing a copy of this book, 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!