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!

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All We Ever Wanted

All We Ever Wanted

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Random House UK

Synopsis:

Nina Browning is living the good life after marrying into Nashville’s elite. More recently, her husband made a fortune selling his tech business, and their adored son has been accepted to Princeton. Yet sometimes the middle-class small-town girl in Nina wonders if she’s strayed from the person she once was.

Tom Volpe is a single dad working multiple jobs while struggling to raise his headstrong daughter, Lyla. His road has been lonely, long, and hard, but he finally starts to relax after Lyla earns a scholarship to Windsor Academy, Nashville’s most prestigious private school.

Amid so much wealth and privilege, Lyla doesn’t always fit in—and her overprotective father doesn’t help—but in most ways, she’s a typical teenage girl, happy and thriving.

Then, one photograph, snapped in a drunken moment at a party, changes everything. As the image spreads like wildfire, the Windsor community is instantly polarized, buzzing with controversy and assigning blame.

At the heart of the lies and scandal, Tom, Nina, and Lyla are forced together—all questioning their closest relationships, asking themselves who they really are, and searching for the courage to live a life of true meaning.

Thoughts:

In my pre-blogging days, I read 2 of Emily Giffin’s books. When this popped up on NetGalley, I have to admit that I was very intrigued. It was lovely to read Emily’s writing again and I loved how this book didn’t solely focus on romance. Totally refreshing!

All We Ever Wanted centres around social media, the rich kids, racism and self-worth. All so very relevant to what’s going on in the world right now. Initially, I wasn’t sure whether Emily was taking on too much with these topics, but for me, it did work. In this story, an explicit photo was taken of a girl at a party, by a rich guy. It ends up circling around social media alongside a racist caption and all involved end up having to deal with the fall out. We end up wondering who is responsible for the photo being circulated and we wonder what really happened that night.

Nina, the mother of the boy that allegedly took the photo, finds herself questioning her son and his upbringing. Was giving him every single thing he ever wanted a bad choice? Nina also finds herself questioning her marriage. Her husband’s attitude has become increasingly frustrating to her. He thinks if he throws money at the situation it will disappear and their son will have no problem with his acceptance to Princeton.

Lyla’s dad is a single parent and incredibly overprotective. He is determined to not let this incident slide and get justice for Lyla’s own self-worth. I really liked Lyla. I think she was a typical in love, naive teenager who wanted to believe the best in people. I still think I’m like that now.

There are some fabulous characters within these pages and I certainly found this story so easy to read. I was desperate to find out what the repercussions were going to be. If you’re a fan of women’s fiction, then I think you’d find this book very enjoyable!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A decent read from Emily Giffin! 

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1)

The Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.

The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.

Thoughts:

I had heard really mixed things about The Kiss Quotient. I’d heard some rave reviews and some rather negative reviews as well. I was really intrigued to read this book to see where I would lie with it. Admittedly, the biggest draw to this book for me was the autistic main character. I have a wealth of experience with autistic children and have read books where children have autism, I haven’t read many with a female adult that has autism.

The best way to describe The Kiss Quotient (as many other bloggers have) is a gender flipped Pretty Women. Stella, our main character, hires a male escort to help her learn how to seduce men and be in a relationship. Stella has pressure from her parents to settle down, but she feels as if she’s bad at relationships and everything that comes with them. Stella doesn’t expect to connect with Michael, the escort, as much as she does. Michael has his own problems and is an escort for a reason. Both Stella and Michael learn a lot from one another, but their journey is certainly not an easy one.

I have to say, even though there was an escort involved in this book, I didn’t expect there to be quite so much focus on sex. If you don’t like reading steamy romance then this might not be the book for you. There’s certainly quite a lot of explicit moments. It’s not usually my sort of thing, but Stella was such a loveable character that I couldn’t stop turning the pages to find out what was going to happen to her. I felt like the writing was addictive and easy to read. I believe that Stella’s autism was well represented in this book. Not every autistic person is the same, but Stella’s experiences seemed very realistic.

Stella and Michael’s relationship is mainly physical but there are some more tender moments between them. I felt like Michael came across as little too perfect with his perfect body and it made me roll my eyes a little. I liked how everything between them centred around consent. That was so important. I liked the moments when Stella got to know Michael’s family. It wasn’t clear cut for her and she made mistakes. Utterly believable!

So why didn’t I rate this book any higher? Well, I wanted a bit more depth from the story. I felt like it had some glimpses of some deeper moments but there wasn’t enough substance for me. Perhaps I’m just super picky? I am definitely interested enough to read The Bride Test which I read is about different characters but still has the autistic voice that I loved from this book.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

Usually explicit content isn’t for me, but this story pulled me in! A very accomplished debut!

A Spark Of Light

A Spark of Light

How did I get it?:
It was a gift!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

The warm fall day starts like any other at the Center—a women’s reproductive health services clinic—its staff offering care to anyone who passes through its doors. Then, in late morning, a desperate and distraught gunman bursts in and opens fire, taking all inside hostage.

After rushing to the scene, Hugh McElroy, a police hostage negotiator, sets up a perimeter and begins making a plan to communicate with the gunman. As his phone vibrates with incoming text messages he glances at it and, to his horror, finds out that his fifteen-year-old daughter, Wren, is inside the clinic.

But Wren is not alone. She will share the next and tensest few hours of her young life with a cast of unforgettable characters: A nurse who calms her own panic in order save the life of a wounded woman. A doctor who does his work not in spite of his faith but because of it, and who will find that faith tested as never before. A pro-life protester disguised as a patient, who now stands in the cross hairs of the same rage she herself has felt. A young woman who has come to terminate her pregnancy. And the disturbed individual himself, vowing to be heard.

Thoughts:

I have read a lot of Jodi Picoult’s books (not all reviewed on this blog, most were pre-blog days) and I find her writing to be pretty hit and miss. This book for me, was somewhere in-between. Whilst I can appreciate the writing, the importance of this story being told and the research that clearly went into it, there was something missing for me.

A Spark Of Light centres around an abortion clinic. A gunman named George takes the doctors and patients hostage, refusing to let them out. George’s daughter has recently had an abortion. The story is told over a single day and it takes part in reverse order.

I feel like the way the story was told affected my enjoyment of the story. I felt like any mystery or intrigue was taken, because we knew what had happened right at the start. In some books this works.  I don’t always dislike a narrative told in reverse, but for some reason it didn’t work for me in A Spark Of Light. It seemed to be so focused on the issue that I felt I didn’t really get to know the characters as well as I wanted to. Don’t get me wrong, we do learn all of the reasons why the women are at the clinic and I did sympathise with them. However, I was after a deeper read and that isn’t what I got from this book.

I did appreciate how Jodi Picoult gave a balanced argument between both sides of the argument. We hear from those that are anti and pro choice. I think she was particularly sensitive with this. I also really enjoyed how there were many reasons for the women being at the clinic. Although I didn’t feel we knew the characters well, I liked how many diverse characters there were.

As you can see, I do have such mixed feelings about this book. It’s been a really tricky one to review. It just missed the mark for me personally.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

An important topic to read about, but in my opinion, it’s not Jodi Picoult’s best!

Daisy Jones & The Six *Buddy review with Bibliobeth*

Daisy Jones and The Six

How did I get it?:

I bought it!

Synopsis:

For a while, Daisy Jones & The Six were everywhere. Their albums were on every turntable, they sold out arenas from coast to coast, their sound defined an era. And then, on 12 July 1979, they split. Nobody ever knew why. Until now. They were lovers and friends and brothers and rivals. They couldn’t believe their luck, until it ran out. This is their story of the early days and the wild nights, but everyone remembers the truth differently. The only thing they all know for sure is that from the moment Daisy Jones walked barefoot onstage at the Whisky, their lives were irrevocably changed. Making music is never just about the music. And sometimes it can be hard to tell where the sound stops and the feelings begin.

Thoughts:

When I recently got a copy of Daisy Jones & The Six Beth suggested that we buddy read it. We usually don’t buddy read, but I thought I’d go for it this time, especially as it was during my 2 week break. I had time to commit to reading which is just fabulous. I enjoyed my buddy reading experience. Whilst I don’t think I could read our books like this all the time (hoorah for Talking About, Kid-Lit and Banned Books- our other features!) buddy reading will be happening again.

We wanted something different to differentiate this review from the others that we do. Beth came up with the idea to describe the book using the first letters of Daisy Jones… I thought that sounded fun and unique, so here it is!

Drug dabbling- (look at that alliteration!)- This book is based in an era where drugs and rock ‘n’ roll were definitely a think. Be prepared to read about a lot of drug use.

Absorbing- the way in which the story is told completely pulls you in. It’s very unique.

Immortal- I feel like Daisy felt she was immortal. The music of the band will always keep them alive, but I always felt like she was dabbling with her mortality with every drug binge.

Savage- Without spoilers, I felt like some of the characters’ actions were savage although sometimes necessary… Ooh intriguing!

Young- I felt for Daisy all through the book. I think the lack of love she had from a young age contributed to her troubles.

Jealous- Initially, I thought there might be a lot of jealousy in the story. I think there’s elements of jealousy, but I was surprised at how accommodating some of the characters were… No spoilers 😉 Sorry!

Obvious- Beth and I were texting at various stop points and although we partly guessed what might happen, we didn’t fully get it right. I like that the story isn’t that obvious. I think because there was such a twist on Evelyn Hugo we expected the unexpected?

Notable- This book felt like it was real. It did feel like this band existed and were reading an expose.

Effortless- Taylor Jenkins Reid’s writing seems effortless, (even though I’m sure she puts lots of effort into writing beautifully!) it’s just so seamless and easy to devour.

Satisfying- I’ve ended both Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six feeling very satisfied. I’m now sure I want to read more from this author!

Please go and check Beth’s take on this book by visiting her blog, HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

Without a doubt!

Roar- 30 Women, 30 Stories

Roar

How did I get it?:
It was a gift from Beth!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Have you ever stood at a crossroads, undecided? Have you ever had a moment when you wanted to roar?

From much-loved, international bestseller Cecelia Ahern come stories for all of us: the women who befriend us, the women who encourage us, the women who make us brave. From The Woman Who Slowly Disappeared to The Woman Who Returned and Exchanged her Husband, discover thirty touching, often hilarious, stories and meet thirty very different women. Each discovers her strength; each realizes she holds the power to make a change.

Witty, tender, surprising, these keenly observed tales speak to us all, and capture the moment when we all want to roar.

Thoughts:

It’s really hard to review a book of short stories as it’s such a mixed bag. There are some fantastic stories within the pages and some that I could have done without, although that being said, that’s the case for most short story collections. Instead, I noted down some words as I was reading that I thought best described this book. Here they are:

I think this is a fantastic book to read if you’re looking for short stories that are a little different. They all start with The Woman Who… There was a great range of stories all carrying a message, some that made me stop and think and some that made me laugh out loud!

Would I recommend it?
Yes! 3.5 stars

A collection where I think there will be at least one story that everyone can connect with!

No Way Out (DI Adam Fawley #3)

No Way Out (DI Adam Fawley, #3)

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

It’s one of the most disturbing cases DI Fawley has ever worked. 

The Christmas holidays, and two children have just been pulled from the wreckage of their burning home in North Oxford. The toddler is dead, and his brother is soon fighting for his life.

Why were they left in the house alone? Where is their mother, and why is their father not answering his phone?

Then new evidence is discovered, and DI Fawley’s worst nightmare comes true.

Because this fire wasn’t an accident.

It was murder.

Thoughts:

Crime thrillers aren’t usually my sort of thing but Cara Hunter is an author that I make an exception for. I really like her writing style. I find it engaging and exciting to read. It’s often quite twisty too and I love a good twist. No Way Out is the third book in the DI Adam Fawley series. It is an excellent addition. Whilst I wasn’t sure I was going to like the book at first, I’m glad I stuck with it, because it’s certainly worth the read.

No Way Out starts with a house fire in Oxford. It has completely destroyed the family’s home. 2 children have been pulled from the house. The youngest has died but the eldest is in a critical condition in hospital. The strange thing is, the mother and father are missing. The detective team start to piece together what happened. They search for the mother and father- eager to find some resolution.

Although it took me a while to familiarise myself all of the names, the detective team are incredibly strong and bring a lot to the case. I think they were really well developed and I loved reading about these quite complex characters. The death of the youngest child was always distressing to read about. There were some very harrowing discoveries along the way which added to the overall tension of the story. I loved how alongside the investigation, we learnt more about the character’s lives. Fawley will always remain a favourite for me. I find him to be a very likeable, interesting character.

As I mentioned, I’m not always a fan of crime thrillers and it takes a decent one to interest me. Cara’s style engages me because she uses a range of narratives to tell the story. I like the social media element and love reading the interview transcriptions. It keeps it modern and very realistic to me. This series is certainly worth a read!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful addition to the series. These characters are just fabulous.