The Rules of Seeing [review]

The Rules of Seeing

Title: The Rules of Seeing
Author: Joe Heap
Publisher: HarperCollins

[Synopsis]

The Rules of Seeing follows the lives of two women whose paths cross at a time when they need each other most.

Nova, an interpreter for the Metropolitan police, has been blind from birth. When she undergoes surgery to restore her sight her journey is just beginning – she now has to face a world in full colour for the first time.

Kate, a successful architect and wife to Tony, is in hospital after a blow to the head. There, she meets Nova and what starts as a beautiful friendship soon turns into something more.

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

I didn’t know what to expect with this read, but ended up absolutely loving it! The charaters are so likable; I compeltely fell in love with both main characters Nova and Kate, but particularly Nova – I mean, who wouldn’t?

The main themes in this novel felt so different and fresh, yet somehow the story felt so relatable despite not being exeperiences that I’ve necessarily had myself. I loved reading about Nova’s journey from being blind (from birth, so she’s never known anything else) to being able to see again. It was so interesting reading about how she dealt with learning to see again, with all these hurdles that I’d never thought about. I also thought Kate’s experience, with her husband (I don’t want to give too much detail away) was so gripping and emotional to read about. The characters all felt like real people, with some really surprising me with their actions, and I loved reading about them.

The main theme of this novel – learning to see, not just literally for Nova but also metaphorically for other people – is so wonderful to read about and, although the story certainly isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, I felt incredibly uplifted at the end. Brilliant reading!

[Rating: 5/5]

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!

 

Advertisements

Watching You [review]

Watching You

Title: Watching You
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Cornerstone

[Synopsis]

You’re back home after four years working abroad with a brand new husband in tow. You’re keen to find a place of your own. But for now, you’re living with your big brother, camped out in his spare bedroom. And then – quite unexpectedly – you meet the man next door.

He’s the head teacher of the local high school. He’s twice your age. And he’s devastatingly attractive. Soon you find you’re watching him. All the time. But what you don’t know is that someone is watching you. Or that what has started as an innocent crush is quickly turning into an obsession as dark as it is deadly.

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

Watching You managed to be, for me anyway, many things at once – it had an air of mystery to it, but it also felt like it was very much about the relationships of certain characters, and why they felt the way they did.

There are some surprising and/ or important (albeit uncomfortable at times) themes included in this novel – from paedophilia and affairs to mental health and parent-child relationships. I felt that the plot itself was a really good read, although I can see what other reviewers mean when they feel that there’s too many characters. At times I admit I did get a bit confused as to who was who and how they related to other people. However, each character has their own interesting backstory and I really enjoyed reading about them all. What I probably enjoyed most about this novel, though, and what set it apart from other similar reads, is that it really surprised me in terms of who I as the reader – and also the characters in the book – was completely wrong about. You get so used to feeling suspicious of everyone in mystery/ suspense novels, but in Watching You, some people were actually a surprise – in a good way!

I’m going to leave this review here as I don’t want to spoil the story, but I definitely felt that this had less of a mystery ‘whodunnit’ feel to it than some of Lisa Jewell’s other novels – and, surprisingly (as someone who loves that element of mystery), I didn’t mind at all! I enjoyed watching the development of the characters and the bit of mystery was an added bonus! It perhaps wasn’t as much of a gripping, stay-up-all-night-reading-just-one-more-chapter book as some of her other reads, but I’d definitely still recommend it.

[Rating: 4/5]

Many thanks to Cornerstone 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 Kiss Quotient [review]

The Kiss Quotient

Title: The Kiss Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Publisher: Corvus

[Synopsis]

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases–a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn’t help that Stella has Asperger’s and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice–with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can’t afford to turn down Stella’s offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan–from foreplay to more-than-missionary position…

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he’s making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic…

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

The Kiss Quotient is an easy read with some fun characters, and a fairly unique story. It’s had a LOT of coverage and praise so it’s obviously very well received, and though I did enjoy this read, I wasn’t blown away.

I really liked Stella as a character, particularly the fact that, as she has autism, she portrays someone who isn’t often featured in books: a female with autism. Now I think about it, I’ve read a lot of books featuring boys or men with autism (and hugely enjoyed them, don’t get me wrong) but not so many of the other gender. In that aspect I found this book really refreshing, and Stella was such an interesting character to read about.

I also really warmed to Michael Phan, though he felt a little more of a cliche to me. Perhaps he was just a little too perfect to feel realistic? Despite this, I can see why so many people feel he is such a great love interest – and he filled this role really well.

I think the plot itself just fell a little flat for me. I loved the different concept – that Stella, having not had any good sexual experiences, turns to a male escort to try and ‘coach’ her. However the rest just fell a bit flat for me and some parts felt a bit cheesy – I don’t know how else to explain it really.

This is definitely a fun read, with some great characters, but it wasn’t quite as good as I expected.

[Rating: 3/5]

Many thanks to Corvus 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 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!

The Dead Ex [review]

The Dead Ex

Title: The Dead Ex
Author: Jane Corry
Publisher: Penguin

[Synopsis]

‘I wish he’d just DIE.’

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

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

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

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

I really enjoyed Blood Sisters and My Husband’s Wife, both also by Jane Corry, so I was excited to read her newest releases, The Dead Ex. I wasn’t disappointed – this is another gripping read which kept me guessing and had plenty of twists and turns along the way.

The story switches from person to person a lot and sometimes I was unsure who was talking, but I do love stories that move away from just one perspective and show you the thoughts and feelings of additional characters; though I felt that at times it could have been bit clearer as to who is speaking, overally I still felt that this novel employed this technique really well, and it allowed me to really feel like I was getting into the heads of some of the characters,

Vicki is definitely an interesting character, shall we say – I personally loved her but there are definitely elements to her character which don’t seem quite ‘normal’ (or what most people would deem as normal, anyway). In fact, there are a wide range of characters which were great fun to read about.

There are some shocking parts to this novel, and some parts which are quite hard to read (and made me feel pretty angry) which added to the heightened sense of tension throughout. I loved that Jane Corry really plays with your mind, making you feel sure of one thing before suddenly changing it all up. This novel was also less of a thriller than I expected, with far more character development meaning it was a bit more of a slower read than I anticipated, but I personally really enjoyed this. I don’t want to give too much away but I definitely enjoyed The Dead Ex and feel it makes a welcome, if different, addition to Jane Corry’s selection of addictive novels.

[Rating: 4/5]

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!

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!

 

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!

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!

Our Kind of Cruelty [review]

Our Kind of Cruelty

Title: Our Kind of Cruelty
Author: Araminta Hall
Publisher: Cornerstone

[Synopsis]

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

Add to Goodreads button

[My Review]

Our Kind of Cruelty is a gripping read, drawing me further and further into Mike’s (often completely crazy/ridiculous/warped) world. I found this quite a tricky review to write because I feel like it says so much whilst being quite hard to ‘pin down’…

I loved that this is a psychological thriller based around the male offender, whereas – as Araminta explains in her author’s note – this genre is often centered around the female victims. This novel recounts events entirely from the male stalker perspective – and its done so well! At some (limited) points you feel a little sorry for him, at other times you CANNOT BELIEVE he can think that way. And at other points you just feel outrage at the way the justice system works for men vs. women. Yes, this is going to be a novel that will make you a bit angry (unless you’re a much calmer person than me) – either way I don’t think it can fail to provoke some strong feelings, and I love novels that do this.

At some points I wondered if anyone would have this level of tunnel vision… but then I’d think about stories in the news and in day to day life and realise that some people really are like that… scary.

Our Kind of Cruelty manages to make such a statement about the way stalkers and ‘the stalked’ are treated, and delves into that horrible, seemingly increasing, male persona where they feel entitled to a woman and can’t understand the word no. It really makes you think, as well as being a really interesting and well-written novel – give this a go, it’s something a little different and it kept me turning those pages.

[Rating: 5/5]

Many thanks to the publisher, Cornerstone, 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!