The Break [review]

the break - marian keyes

Title: The Break
Author: Marian Keyes
Publisher: Michael Joseph UK


Amy’s husband Hugh isn’t really leaving her.

At least, that’s what he promises. He is just taking a break – from their marriage, their children and, most of all, from their life together. For six-months Hugh will lose himself in south-east Asia, and there is nothing Amy can say or do about it.

Yes, it’s a mid-life crisis, but let’s be clear: a break isn’t a break up – yet . . .

It’s been a long time since Amy held a briefcase in one hand and a baby in the other. She never believed she’d have to go it alone again. She just has to hold the family together until Hugh comes back.

But a lot can happen in six-months. When Hugh returns, if he returns, will he be the same man she married? And will Amy be the same woman?

Because falling in love is easy. The hard part – the painful, joyous, maddening, beautiful part – is staying in love.

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[My Review]

The Break is another absorbing, interesting and humorous read from an author I’ve loved reading for years: Marian Keyes. I was so ready for a new novel from this brilliant and funny Irish writer and I was definitely not disappointed!

You sort of know what to expect from Marian Keyes’s new novels but The Break surprised me in many ways. For one, it was more emotional and upsetting than many of her other novel (or so I felt anyway). Amy’s husband Richard has what seems to be a sort of mental breakdown after the death of his father and decides he wants a break from their marriage – and yes, a proper break, heading to travel around Asia and potentially involving romances with OTHER PEOPLE! No wonder Amy was devastated; as much as Richard can say it’s nothing to do with her personally, how on earth would you NOT take this at least a little personally?

Mental health is something that’s affected various people I know and care about in the past, so reading this felt very emotional. At times I felt genuinely sick reading about the betrayal that Amy feels, imagining if I was in the same situation.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s still plenty of the classic Keyes humour we’ve all grown to expect and love. Amy really made me laugh, though I definitely did not agree with some of her choices, and she’s definitely not perfect – as we learn in this novel. However she IS really likeable, witty, and fun, and there are some very humorous moments; in fact this novel has a lot of likeable characters, and even when you think you’ll hate a character or have them completely figured out, you realise you don’t because people are not that black and white.

The Break is a fairly long novel but I loved every minute, despite the emotional subject matter. It made me laugh, cry, and consider the fact that there really aren’t many (or perhaps any?) completely perfect marriages – they take work. I’d definitely recommend this novel to fans of Marian Keyes or anyone who enjoys ‘chick lit’/ women’s fiction with an extra level of depth.

[Rating: 5/5]

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





31 Days of Wonder [review]

31 Days of Wonder - Tom Winter

Title: 31 Days of Wonder
Author: Tom Winter
Publisher: Corsair – Little Brown Book Group UK


‘And in that instant, he knows in his heart that today is a momentous day; come what may, he and Alice will meet again, and life will never be the same.’

Alice is stuck in an internship she loathes and a body she is forever trying to change.

Ben, also in his early twenties, is still trying to find his place in the world.

By chance they meet one day in a London park.

Day 1
Ben spots Alice sitting on a bench and feels compelled to speak to her. To his surprise, their connection is instant. But before numbers are exchanged, Alice is whisked off by her demanding boss.

20 minutes later
Alone in her office toilets, Alice looks at herself in the mirror and desperately searches for the beauty Ben could see in her.

Meanwhile, having misunderstood a parting remark, Ben is already planning a trip to Glasgow where he believes Alice lives, not realising that they actually live barely ten miles apart.

Over the next 31 days, Alice and Ben will discover that even if they never manage to find each other again, they have sparked a change in each other that will last a lifetime. In 31 Days of Wonder, Tom Winter shows us the magic of chance encounters and how one brief moment on a Thursday afternoon can change the rest of your life.

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[My Review]

This is a sweet, quirky and, at times, sentimental story about chance and fate. It’s not your usual ‘love story’ but it does involve two characters who meet – albeit very briefly – one day and feel a strange sort of spark between them. It doesn’t end the way love stories usually end, though; in fact the beginning and middle don’t follow the usual love story format either!

The characters are really likeable and I cared about what would happen to both of them. They each have their own problems, and at first I was a little confused as I tried to work out more of Ben’s character but soon got into the swing of the story. Both characters felt like they were unique and a change from some of the ‘samey’ characters which can often pop up in books from this genre. Alice and Ben are both sweet characters, a stark contrast to some of their acquaintances and work colleagues. At times I felt the way these other characters (including family and ‘friends’ of Alice) spoke to her was a bit too cruel and rude at times, and made me wonder if anyone would really be that horrible… then I thought about how cruel people can be, sadly, and it only made me feel more for poor Alice.

31 Days of Wonder was quite refreshing in its style and plot, and it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting – I suppose I thought there’d be more elements of a traditional ‘romance’ in there – but I liked that it surprised me and definitely preferred the way it usurped the usual genre stereotypes to create a charming, sweet story. It’s not a long read, so you can race through it pretty quickly (as I did)! I definitely recommend giving it a go.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Little Brown Book Group UK and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.


The Roanoke Girls [review]

The Roanoke Girls - Amy Engel

Title: The Roanoke Girls
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Hodder


Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.

After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran fast and far away.

Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

[My Review]

The Roanoke Girls is a very dark and disturbing, but very well-crafted, novel which grabbed me from the first to last page.

There are uncomfortable moments which I can completely see being a problem for some readers, but I personally really – maybe ‘enjoyed’ isn’t the right word – but I felt it was handled well and I personally found it an interesting and engrossing read.

The characters swing between likable and horrible, but all are flawed in their own ways. I really felt bad for the Roanoke girls; each with their own problems and taken advantage of by someone they should trust, and someone who should care about them the most. There are contradicting emotions presented in this novel, with characters claiming to do just that – love and care for other people – but their actions speak louder than words and, in many cases, do not end well for those involved.

There is an element of mystery in this novel, which I liked, but it’s not the main crux of the storyline; it’s more about the relationship between Lane and Allegra and the rest of the family, and those around them.

I don’t want to say anything else as I don’t want to give too much away, but I feel that The Roanoke Girls is a multi layered and well-written novel. I’d definitely read more by Amy Engel in the future!

[Rating: 4/5]

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


Got You Back [audiobook review]

Got You Back - Jane Fallon

Title: Got You Back
Author: Jane Fallon
Format: Audiobook


Two women seek revenge on the man who has wronged them. Stephanie discovers a text message from a mystery woman on her husband James’ cell phone. The other woman, Katie, is just as surprised to learn of Stephanie’s existence. Now the two are teaming up to teach James a lesson.

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[My Review]

Got You Back is an easy read which didn’t overly excite me but was quite entertaining.

The synopsis sounded great – I think it’s always quite fun to read about some revenge served up cold to a cheating partner – and the novel satisfied that to some extent, but it wasn’t as exciting as I thought it would be. I wanted more of a ‘smack-you-in-the-face’ resolution or perhaps some kind of unexpected event or twist to make me go ‘wow!’, but it was just a little lacking. Maybe I just expected a different kind of novel. The characters were interesting enough but I just wasn’t hugely engrossed in the story – basically it was okay, but not great.

The narration, however, was quite engaging and I would still read other books by Jane Fallon in the future, as I’ve heard good things about her other novels!

[Rating: 2.5/5]


Hush Little Baby [review]

Hush Little Baby - Joanna Barnard

Title: Hush Little Baby
Author: Joanna Barnard
Publisher: Ebury


When baby Oliver breaks his arm, no-one can (or will) say how it happened.

His mother is exhausted.

His father is angry.

His older sister is resentful.

And they all have something to hide…

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[My Review]

I really enjoyed Hush Little Baby. I’m not a mother myself, and don’t in fact have many friends with kids (yet!) so I can’t read this novel when any sense of knowing exactly how it feels to have a child, let alone lose your child to the social services system because of something you didn’t do. It also may have been easier for me to read about a subject like a child being hurt without becoming as upset. Regardless, the writing by Joanna Barnard makes you feel like you’re going through it; like you’re struggling to prove your innocence against an injustice and people who seem to want to take your child away, and it’s an interesting read. 

Told from three different point of views, the novel focuses as much on Sally and a Richard’s relationship and Richard’s daughter Sally and her struggles, as the actual ‘incidence’ itself. Though I really wanted to know who hurt baby Oliver, that ends up being more of a side issue, with the plot instead focussing more on the way it affected each person and their family, and the sense of distrust that this kind of case can bring. Therefore the novel lacked a strong sense of ‘mystery’ or ‘thriller’ element, but I didn’t mind this – it didn’t feel like it was supposed to be that kind of book anyway. I became wrapped up in the story of Richard and Sally’s fight to try and get their son back… and those characters felt really well developed. I don’t want to give too much away but some of the character’s actions made me *hate* them and others I felt desperately sorry for. No one comes across as blameless though; each has their own faults and this felt far more realistic than when an author tries to clearly define ‘kind’ and ‘horrible’ characters.

Hush Little Baby made me think about how I’d feel in this situation, and is an enjoyable, easy read which left me wanting to read more by this author.

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


Dead Girls Can’t Lie [blog tour review]

Today I’ve got a review of Dead Girls Can’t Lie as part of the blog tour! The novel is out in paperback and ebook formats, so read on for my thoughts!

Title: Dead Girls Can’t Lie
Author: Carys Jones
Publisher: Head of Zeus


Best friends tell each other the truth – don’t they?

When North Stone’s best friend Kelly Orton is found hanging lifeless in a tree, North knows for certain it wasn’t suicide. Kelly had everything to live for – a loving boyfriend, a happy life, and most importantly of all, Kelly would never leave North all by herself.

The girls have been friends since childhood, devoted to each other, soul sisters, or at least that’s what North has always believed. But did Kelly feel the same way, or was she keeping secrets from her ‘best friend’ – deadly secrets…

When the police refuse to take North’s suspicions seriously, she sets out to investigate for herself. But her search soon takes her to a glamorous world with a seedy underbelly, and before long North is out of her depth and getting ever closer to danger. Determined to find the truth, she soon wishes that dead girls could lie, because the truth is too painful to believe…

[My Review]

Dead Girls Can’t Lie is an intriguing story about friendship and secrets.

The author develops the characters as the novel goes on and you feel like you really get to know North as her desperate search to find out what happened to Kelly continues – and both she and Kelly do not always come across too well, I have to say,as they both have their faults! The flashbacks reveal a lot of problems between the two characters (I liked the element of mystery that this brought to the story – what DID happen between them?) and it makes you question their supposedly ‘amazing’ friendship. What went wrong?

Though it took a little while for me to get into it it, there are some surprises along the way and I thought I had the ‘whodunnit’ element figured out but I was definitely wrong! I felt the story was different from other novels in this genre as it doesn’t, to me, really fit into the fast-paced ‘thriller’ category that it seems to be often put in – to me it felt like more of a considered and character-driven story which may not have been quite as dark in terms of plot as I expected it to be – I would have liked a bit more grit. However I really enjoyed Carys Jones’s writing; it’s an enjoyable and fun (as well as an easy) read which kept me turning the pages.

Thanks to Head of Zeus and Netgalley for the ARC on which I chose to write an honest review, and thanks for the chance to be a part of the blog tour!


Dead Girls Can’t Lie is out now!


Check out the other stops on the blog tour below!

Our Little Secret [review]

Our Little Secret

Title: Our Little Secret
Author: Darren O’Sullivan
Publisher: HarperCollins UK


A deserted train station: A man waits. A woman watches.

Chris is ready to join his wife. He’s planned this moment for nearly a year. The date. The time. The train. But he hadn’t factored in Sarah.

So when Sarah walks on to the platform and sees a man swaying at the edge she assumes he’s just had too much to drink. What she doesn’t expect is to stop a suicide. As Sarah becomes obsessed with discovering the secrets that Chris is clearly hiding, he becomes obsessed with stopping her, protecting her.

But there are some secrets that are meant to stay buried forever…

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[My Review]

Our Little Secret’s premise is what drew me to this book as it sounded rather intriguing, and the novel is definitely an interesting read.

I enjoyed that fact that it has the elements of a thriller mixed in with a more character-driven narrative. Part of the story is set in Peterborough, which I always find interesting to read novels about (I’m originally from Peterborough) and so I recognised a lot of the places featured.

The writing itself isn’t what I’d call amazing; it’s engaging enough and an easy read but the writing style didn’t strike me as anything special. That said, the story itself is an easy read and it touches upon some important issues in a sensitive and interesting way.

I have to say that I worked out part the twist from quite near the beginning of the story, which barely ever happens, but I still quite enjoyed it – it was a good twist – and I would read other novels by Darren O’Sullivan in the future.

[Rating: 3/5]

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


The Upstairs Room [review]


Title: The Upstairs Room
Author: Kate Murray-Browne
Publisher: Pan Macmillan


Eleanor, Richard and their two young daughters recently stretched themselves to the limit to buy their dream home, a four-bedroom Victorian townhouse in East London. But the cracks are already starting to show. Eleanor is unnerved by the eerie atmosphere in the house and becomes convinced it is making her ill. Whilst Richard remains preoccupied with Zoe, their mercurial twenty-seven-year-old lodger, Eleanor becomes determined to unravel the mystery of the house’s previous owners—including Emily, whose name is written hundreds of times on the walls of the upstairs room.

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[My Review]

The Upstairs Room is a beautifully crafted, eerie novel which wriggles its way into your mind, slowly developing into much more than your average thriller/mystery – more character driven and focusing on their relationships.

One successful element to the story is the characters, and how well developed they are. Though many aspects of their personalities got on my nerves, I did feel for them – especially Eleanor – as things started getting weird! The story feels like it’s more about the characters themselves, and the house which is almost a character in itself, than the occurrences – they act as a catalyst for developments and incidences between characters and the story focuses more on Eleanor, Richard and Zoe and the way they interact with each other and deal with the increasing feelings of unease – or disbelief – among themselves.

The story is actually fairly slow paced but has plenty of really strange, unsettling moments that created a truly spooky atmosphere. Some parts definitely reminded me of films I’d seen, but executed really well without feeling cheesy or over-dramatic. The feeling of unease slowly creeps through the book and you’re never sure if you believe that there is anything supernatural about the house or not.

The Upstairs Room is a slow burner but one which really drew me in and focuses on character development as much as any thrills or creepiness… aA really great read!

[Rating: 4/5]

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


Where She Went [review]

Where She Went - B.E. Jones

Title: Where She Went
Author: B.E. Jones
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group UK


TV journalist Melanie Black wakes up one morning next to a man she doesn’t recognise. It’s not the first time – but he ignores her even though she’s in his bed. Yet when his wife walks in with a cup of tea he greets her with a smile and to her horror, Melanie comes to realise that no one can see or her hear her – because she is dead.

But has she woken up next to her murderer? And where is her body? Why is she an invisible and uninvited guest in a house she can’t leave; is she tied to this man forever? Is Melanie being punished in some way, or being given a chance to make amends?

As she begins to piece together the last days of her life and circumstances leading up to her own death it becomes clear she has to make a choice: bring her killer to justice, or wreak her own punishment out to the man who murdered her.

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[My Review]

Where She Went is an intriguing novel which centres much more on character development and relationships rather than focussing on a ‘mystery’ as such. It’s not exactly what I expected but I hugely enjoyed reading it, from first page to last. Told from the point of view of Melanie, we (and Melanie herself) soon realise that she’s actually dead, and viewing the life of her murder Peter and his family, as they seem to carry on with their lives. What follows is a really interesting and rather unique story which lets us peek into Peter’s through Melanie’s eyes.

We learn more about what happened in the run up to her death, and see as she tries to lead the police to him in their investigation. I’m not usually a huge fan of novels with a supernatural element, but this is written really well, with Melanie as a ghost allowing us all access into their home life – Peter is such a horrible, despicable character and I hated him so much! We also see news reports through Melanie’s perspective, and her comments on what’s happened can be quite amusing. In a way I wish we didn’t know that Peter was her murderer right from the start, as I’m always a fan of the ‘whodunnit’ elements in crime novels, but the fact that we did know meant this novel was more of a different read for me.

Melanie herself seems a bit unlikable a times, to be honest, but she certainly didn’t deserve to die the way she did – and the story of how that happens actually unfolds in a way I wasn’t expecting, leading to some surprises (despite us knowing who killed her) and therefore keeping me hooked. I found myself wanting to keep picking up this novel whenever I had time to read, and it offers a fresh take on the usual crime novel format!

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Little Brown Book Group UK and Netgalley for providing a copy of this novel on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.


Perfect Prey [audiobook review]

Perfect Prey - Helen Fields

Title: Perfect Prey
Author: Helen Fields
Publisher: Avon

[My Review]

As I haven’t read the first in the series, I was approaching this (which I listened to on audiobook) from the point of view of someone new to the series.

The D.I. Callanach series seems like a solid, interesting and – at times – very dark crime/ thriller series. It’s grim in places, which I have to say I really enjoyed; on the whole I do like my crime novels gritty and hard-hitting – and this certainly fits the bill!

The main character, Luc Callahan, is a rather attractive (as we are told at various points in the novel) French Detective who is certainly switched on, and the case he’s faced with is both gruesome and puzzling. More bodies appear and other people are under threat, and I really liked some of the red herrings. His relationship with colleagues and those around him is interesting to read about and enhanced him as a three dimensional character who I wanted to read more about.

The narrator did a great job on reading this novel; Luc’s French accent got a bit annoying after a while, to be honest, but the story was presented in an interesting way which kept me listening, as I can often struggle to stay focussed on audiobooks.

I would definitely read others in the series, and having seen excellent reviews of the first in the series, Perfect Remains, I feel like I should go back and give that a go too!