Call Me Star Girl

Call Me Star Girl

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.

Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.

Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

Thoughts:

I have to admit that this is the first time that I’ve read Louise Beech’s work, even though I have heard a lot about her books. And boy, what a great first experience it was for me. I was absolutely gripped by this story and it barely took me long to read at all.

The story centres around Stella McKeever, a radio personality at a local radio station. Stella has a lot of secrets. For her final show, she wants to talk about secrets. Hers include… a boyfriend that likes to play games, a mother who abandoned her and has now returned… a mystery around a star-shaped stopper on a perfume bottle and her father who she recently found out his true identity. Will she spill any of her secrets? Stella is more intrigued by the mysterious man calling the radio station. There’s been a vicious murder of a pregnant woman called Victoria and this man knows who killed Victoria and he said he has the proof…

Wow, is all I can really say! What a plot. This book is so dark and devastating at the same time. I really didn’t expect one of the twists and it broke my heart. I can’t say anymore than that because I really don’t want to ruin the wonder that is this story!

If Louise Beech’s characters are always this well developed, I seriously need to check out more of her back catalogue. I loved getting to know these complex characters with all of their secrets. Louise’s writing is so easy to devour and get stuck into. This book was the perfect start to my holiday. It was intense, dark and a deeply disturbing thriller!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I was gripped by this story! It has some awesome twists and turns along the way. A wonderful thriller!

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Hyperbole and a Half

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

This is a book I wrote. Because I wrote it, I had to figure out what to put on the back cover to explain what it is. I tried to write a long, third-person summary that would imply how great the book is and also sound vaguely authoritative–like maybe someone who isn’t me wrote it–but I soon discovered that I’m not sneaky enough to pull it off convincingly. So I decided to just make a list of things that are in the book:

Pictures
Words
Stories about things that happened to me
Stories about things that happened to other people because of me
Eight billion dollars*
Stories about dogs
The secret to eternal happiness*

*These are lies. Perhaps I have underestimated my sneakiness!

Thoughts:

I had heard so many wonderful things about Hyperbole and a Half. It has been on my radar for so long. I felt like getting myself a copy recently. When it arrived, my first thought was ‘It’s so HEAVY!’  It’s such good quality, colourful and a real beauty of a book. In my opinion, it should be experienced in ‘real’ format to truly appreciate it. The memoir inside is witty and at points moving.

Hyperbole and a Half, comes from Allie Brosh’s blog. I have to admit, I didn’t know much about Allie’s blog. I didn’t think I’d ever seen anything about it. However, I knew when I came across ‘ALL THE THINGS!’ it was familar to me! I’d definitely seen that meme around the internet. Her illustrations are wonderful. There’s something about Hyperbole and a Half that completely captured my attention and kept it throughout. It barely took me long to read at all and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

It follows Allie as she recalls some moments of her life. These include her relationship with her two dogs- Simple Dog and Helper Dog. It also follows her experience of depression. There’s moments that seem completely ridiculous but that’s the charm of Hyperbole and a Half. Even though it touches on her struggle with depression it’s not deeply sad. That wouldn’t fit with the nature of the memoir.

I loved reading the funny anecdotes from Allie’s life. She has such a self deprecating nature and the stories she tells certainly do fit the ‘hyperbole’ title. I think there’s something to be enjoyed by everyone in this story. Allie really is a wonderful storyteller.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful book. So unique, funny and warm.

The Missing Wife

The Missing Wife

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Avon Books

Synopsis:

You think you know those closest to you. You are wrong…

A sleep-deprived new mother approaching her fortieth birthday, the very last thing Louisa wants to do is celebrate.

But when her friend Tiff organises a surprise party, inviting the entire list of Louisa’s Facebook friends, Louisa is faced with a room full of people she hasn’t spoken to in years – including someone she never expected to see again: her ex-boyfriend, Oliver Dunmore.
 
When Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing after the party, everyone remembers the night differently. Someone knows what happened to Melissa, and Louisa is determined to find them. But the truth could be closer, and the deception more devastating, than she’d ever imagined…

Thoughts:

I hadn’t read anything by Sam Carrington before so I was intrigued to see what this book would be like. If you’re not new to my blog, you’ll know that I read a lot of thrillers, especially psychological ones. Sometimes I find the to be a little samey and predictable. Whilst I did pick up on where the story was going, I did still thoroughly enjoy this reading experience!

The Missing Wife centres around Louisa who is having massive problems sleeping after having a new baby. She’s starting to forget things and her mind is generally a bit of a mess. She’s definitely not in the right place for the surprise 40th birthday that her husband and her best friend have planned. She doesn’t really keep in touch with her old friends and finds herself being confronted with them at her party (including her ex boyfriend Oliver!) Their relationship ended badly several years ago and she hasn’t heard from him since. Yet things are set to get worse, Oliver’s wife Melissa goes missing. Louisa was incredibly drunk at her party and doesn’t remember anything about Melissa’s whereabouts. When Oliver arrives at her door asking for her help, she feels she has to help him… especially as he keeps alluding that she owes him a favour…

This book is interesting because of Louisa’s mental state. She’s remembering things slowly and her mind is incredibly muddled. You’re never sure, as a reader, whether Louisa is a character that’s stable enough to get on board and believe in. There are moments in the story where I doubted her. She’s certainly a fascinating character. Louisa and Oliver’s shared past is intriguing. I was eager to find out more about their history. There’s not many characters that you can trust in this story and I personally LOVE that.

I don’t want to say too much and ruin the story. Just know there’s plenty to get stuck into.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book kept me gripped throughout. I could have easily read it in one sitting!

I Looked Away

I Looked Away

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Penguin!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Every Monday, 49-year-old Ellie looks after her grandson Josh. She loves him more than anyone else in the world. The only thing that can mar her happiness is her husband’s affair. But he swears it’s over now, and Ellie has decided to be thankful for what she’s got.

Then one day, while she’s looking after Josh, her husband gets a call from that woman. And just for a moment, Ellie takes her eyes off her grandson. What happens next will change her life forever.

Because Ellie is hiding something in her past.

And what looks like an accident could start to look like murder…

Thoughts:

As you can see, I’ve read a few of Jane Corry’s books. I always enjoy reading her books. They always grip me and keep me wanting more and this book was no exception. It was so easy to get stuck into. It’s one of those books that you don’t want to say too much about before people read it otherwise it will ruin the surprise of the story.

I Looked Away follows Ellie from being a young girl until she’s a grandmother. It bounces about in time and whilst this can sometimes confuse me, Jane Corry tackled it with ease. As a reader, I felt very sorry for Ellie. She goes through so much throughout her life. She’s definitely not has the best of luck. After some events in her life, her grandson Josh is her sole focus. However, when Ellie looks away one afternoon, things spiral out of control and bring events from the past right back to the present day.

Jane Corry takes the reader on such a journey. It really is an emotional read that keeps you turning the pages. Jane Corry covers many issues within the story and does it so well without you feeling like she’s trying to push everything into the plot. The characters are fantastically developed and easy to invest in. The dual timeline is fascinating and I love how it weaves together.

If you like a thriller with some twists and turns along the way, then this book is for you!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Loved getting stuck into this gripping story!

My Not So Perfect Life

My Not So Perfect Life

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Standalone-

Wedding Night

Finding Audrey

Shopaholic Series

Shopaholic To The Stars

Synopsis:

Everywhere Katie Brenner looks, someone else is living the life she longs for, particularly her boss, Demeter Farlowe. Demeter is brilliant and creative, lives with her perfect family in a posh townhouse, and wears the coolest clothes. Katie’s life, meanwhile, is a daily struggle–from her dismal rental to her oddball flatmates to the tense office politics she’s trying to negotiate. No wonder Katie takes refuge in not-quite-true Instagram posts, especially as she’s desperate to make her dad proud.

Then, just as she’s finding her feet–not to mention a possible new romance–the worst happens. Demeter fires Katie. Shattered but determined to stay positive, Katie retreats to her family’s farm in Somerset to help them set up a vacation business. London has never seemed so far away–until Demeter unexpectedly turns up as a guest. Secrets are spilled and relationships rejiggered, and as the stakes for Katie’s future get higher, she must question her own assumptions about what makes for a truly meaningful life.

Thoughts:

Sophie Kinsella used to be one of my favourite authors that I loved to read as soon as she released a book. Then I started to read more widely and didn’t tend to read her books as soon as they were released (as you can see from this review!) I still enjoy Sophie’s writing, it’s so easy to read and it’s usually got characters that are incredibly relatable and easy to like.

If you’re into books like The Devil Wears Prada then I think you’d enjoy My Not So Perfect Life. It’s incredibly similar. Our main character Katie is working at an agency in London. It’s very trendy. From the outside, looking at Katie’s instagram feed, you’d think that she had the perfect life. In reality, she’s struggling with meeting the demands of London living and is constantly comparing her instagram posts to her friends. Her work isn’t as glamorous as it seems either. She’s always running errands for her boss Demeter. Demeter is the one with the perfect life… or so it seems. Katie ends up being fired and returns to the English countryside to help her family with a new glamping venture. Demeter ends up visiting the glamping site for a family holiday and Katie learns more about Demeter and realises she may have judged her too harshly.

This book is a great summer beach read. You don’t need to think too much about it. The plot mills along (although I think it could’ve benefited from being shorter!) and there are some great characters explore. It is a predictable read but that didn’t bother me. I don’t go into reading a book like this expecting intrigue and mystery.  It does what it sets out to do and that’s okay with me.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A good, light beach read, especially if you’re into this genre!

 

Forget Me Not

Forget Me Not

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Avon

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Apple Of My Eye

Synopsis:

It’s six in the morning during the hottest summer on record when Elizabeth O’Loughlin, out walking her dog, comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific knife attack, clinging onto life at the side of the road.

Clare dies minutes later, but not before whispering her haunting last words to Elizabeth.

When it becomes clear that Clare’s killer has more than one murder on his mind, Elizabeth has to take drastic action or face losing everything.

But what if she can’t stop a killer determined never to be forgotten? 

Thoughts:

I absolutely adored Apple Of My Eye, so I was intrigued to read Forget Me Not by Claire Allan. I thought this was another incredible read. Claire Allan is certainly becoming one of my favourite authors in the thriller genre. I highly recommend checking out her books if you haven’t done so already.

Forget Me Not opens with Elizabeth O’Loughlin walking her dog. She comes across Clare, a victim of a horrific attack. Clare’s dying, but manages to whisper some words to Elizabeth. Elizabeth soon realises that there could be more victims and she needs to do something about it.

I liked how the story was told from two different points of view. I think this works particularly well in a thriller. It gives you a break from one perspective but at the same time, if done well, it cleverly intertwines the story and this is what happened with Forget Me Not. Claire Allan is a master at building tension. Right from the start, I couldn’t stop turn the pages. It’s so fast paced that it’s hard to put it down.

This is definitely one of those books where you don’t want to know too much about it. It would completely ruin the story. It’s a book full of twists and turns. Some I did see coming, but some I admit, did surprise me. I really do need to check out Claire’s debut!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Another excellent read from Claire Allan!

Little Darlings

Little Darlings

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to HQ

Synopsis:

Everyone says Lauren Tranter is exhausted, that she needs rest. And they’re right; with newborn twins, Morgan and Riley, she’s never been more tired in her life. But she knows what she saw: that night, in her hospital room, a woman tried to take her babies and replace them with her own…creatures. Yet when the police arrived, they saw no one. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things.

A month passes. And one bright summer morning, the babies disappear from Lauren’s side in a park. But when they’re found, something is different about them. The infants look like Morgan and Riley―to everyone else. But to Lauren, something is off. As everyone around her celebrates their return, Lauren begins to scream, These are not my babies.

Determined to bring her true infant sons home, Lauren will risk the unthinkable. But if she’s wrong about what she saw…she’ll be making the biggest mistake of her life.

Compulsive, creepy, and inspired by some our darkest fairy tales, Little Darlings will have you checking―and rechecking―your own little ones. Just to be sure. Just to be safe.

Thoughts:

I have to admit that I hadn’t heard much about Little Darlings. I do think it’s one that’s going to be everywhere soon though and deservedly so! Even though it took me longer to read than I wanted it to (super busy teacher here!) if I had the time, I could’ve devoured it easily in one sitting. It’s gripping, creepy and so, so easy to read.

It centres around Lauren Tranter who has recently had twins. She’s understandably exhausted but she’s not going mad. Everyone around her thinks that she is, because they believe she imagined a woman trying to exchange her twins for…creatures. Lauren is certain that the woman was there and won’t let it go. After a month or so, Lauren’s babies (Morgan and Riley) disappear from Lauren’s side as she falls asleep. After a while, the babies are returned to Lauren, but although they may look like Morgan and Riley… Lauren is insistent that they certainly aren’t. She is determined to get her real children back, no matter what it takes.

This book is so incredibly well written. It’s astounding to me that this is a debut. It’s so creepy. I was seriously freaked out every single time changelings were mentioned. Honestly, there are some moments in the story that sent a shiver down my spine. I would’ve loved to have filmed my reaction to reading this book as I’m pretty sure I made some very expressive faces. I imagine I looked like this at many points:

The characters in this story are phenomenal. Lauren was a wonderful unreliable narrator. Did she really see what she did? Was she mentally ill? Her husband seemed super shady. I just didn’t trust anyone. It was really interesting to read the police procedural element to this story. Harper was a fantastic addition to the story and I felt like she really pushed the story on.

Being a fan of the fairy tale, I adored the dark nature of this story. Changelings are terrifying. I was so impressed with this debut.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A cracking debut novel! I’m so impressed and look forward to more from Melanie Golding!