By Your Side

By Your Side

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Thoughts:

Kasie West is one of those authors I go to, when I know I want to read something that’ll leave me happy and it won’t be too taxing to read. I hope that doesn’t sound like an insult, as it’s not intended that way! Kasie West’s books are just easy to devour and I have always enjoyed them. By Your Side wasn’t my favourite Kasie West book, but it was still a decent contemporary read.

By Your Side centres around Autumn. One day, Autumn finds herself trapped inside a library for a long weekend. Autumn isn’t alone. She’s trapped with Dax. Autumn doesn’t know a lot about Dax, but she’s heard rumours that he’s trouble. Autumn has no way of getting out, her bag is in the car with her friend, Dax’s phone is dead… so they just have to stay in the library and live off vending-machine food. Dax doesn’t want anything to do with her, but after a while they begin to warm to one another. After Autumn finds out information about her friend, she experiences a panic attack. Dax manages to get her help. The story follows Autumn after she gets out of the library. Will her connection with Dax last?

I have mixed feelings about anxiety in this book. First of all, I must say I love it when a character with anxiety is represented. I suffer from anxiety myself and appreciate its representation, especially in YA. I loved how supportive Autumn’s family were of her anxiety. I loved that her mum encouraged her to take mental health days and was constantly checking on Autumn’s feelings and emotions. Yes for supportive parents in YA!

On a more negative note, I felt like Autumn’s anxiety wasn’t portrayed in the best way that it could be. I totally understand that anxiety can take many shapes and forms, but I didn’t buy into Autumn’s anxiety. I also couldn’t believe that Autumn’s friends wouldn’t notice she had anxiety? Sure, she was medicated, but in my experience, even with medication it’s still there…just a dialled down version. My friends can still tell that I’m anxious in situations.

Another reason why I didn’t rate this any higher was because not all of the characters felt real enough to me. I felt like I didn’t know nearly enough about Dax to invest in their relationship.

I think this is a book where you have to suspend your disbelief (who gets locked in a library without phones in there…?) and just enjoy for what it is! A cute romance that doesn’t take long to read.

Would I recommend it?
Yes!

Whilst this isn’t my favourite Kasie West book, it doesn’t take long to read, just suspend your disbelief! 

He Said/She Said

He Said/She Said

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack. She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, it is not only the victim’s life that is changed forever. Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear, and while Laura knows she was right to speak out, the events that follow have taught her that you can never see the whole picture: something, and someone, is always in the dark.

Thoughts:

I have really enjoyed Erin Kelly’s books in the past, so when Beth badgered me to read this one, it didn’t take me long to decide to bump it up my TBR. I had seen so much buzz around it in the blogosphere that I was somewhat nervous to read it. That hype monster gets books all too often.

He Said/She Said is about a couple Laura and Kit. Kit is an eclipse chaser and travels around the world to be present at each eclipse event, if the weather permits it. Laura starts to become more interested in Kit’s hobby and begins to travel with him. It is at a special eclipse festival in 1999, that Laura and Kit witness a terrible event. Laura sees more than Kit, but Kit sees enough for it to haunt them years later in their lives. The story alternates between Laura and Kit, both in the present time and events in the past. In the present, the couple have changed their names and have no presence on social media. Laura is suffering from anxiety following the awful situation and the aftermath. Slowly, the truth about what happened in 1999 is revealed…

It’s so hard to review thrillers when you don’t want to give too much away for those that haven’t read it. I loved the fact that the truth was slowly drip fed to the reader. I was desperate to know what had happened to Kit and Laura to make them so fearful of being found. I thought Erin Kelly used the slow reveal sublimely. It certainly kept me turning the pages.

I, in no way, predicted the ending. It was one that actually made my eyes widen! If you’re looking for a decent thriller that’ll keep you guessing, then try He Said/She Said. 

Would I recommend it?:
Of course! 4.5 stars

A simply excellent thriller!

Her Husband’s Lover

Her Husband's Lover

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

She stole her husband. Now she wants to take her life.

After the horrors of the past, Louisa Williams is desperate to make a clean start. Her husband Sam is dead. Her children, too, are gone, victims of the car accident in which he died. 

Sam said that she would never get away from him. That he would hound her to death if she tried to leave. Louisa never thought that he would want to harm their children though. 

But then she never thought that he would betray her with a woman like Sophie. And now Sophie is determined to take all that Louisa has left. She wants to destroy her reputation and to take what she thinks is owed her – the life she would have had if Sam had lived.

Her husband’s lover wants to take her life. The only question is will Louisa let her?

Thoughts:

Pre-blogging days, Julia Crouch was one of my favourite psychological thriller authors. With Her Husband’s Lover, Julia cements herself as a favourite of mine in the genre. I was absolutely gripped by this story and couldn’t put it down. It’s so gritty! Just what I love in a psychological thriller.

Louisa Williams has had a pretty horrendous past and she’s desperate for a fresh start. Louisa’s husband is dead. He died in a car crash. Sam was chasing Louisa and their two children when the crash occurred. Louisa always thought that Sam would never hurt her, but he betrayed her with a woman named Sophie. Sophie is determined to take what Louisa has left. She wants the life she should have had if Sam had lived.

This really was an amazingly crafted psychological thriller. Julia Crouch has such a way of creating such terrible characters. I don’t mean badly written. I mean shockingly awful people that are easy to dislike. I love those sort of characters. I actually said out loud ‘Oooh, she’s a messed up woman!’ I had to remind myself that it wasn’t real! So sucked into the story.

The two female characters Louisa and Sophie are incredibly well written. I can’t say that I liked any of them, but I loved to read from their points of view. Their interactions with each other were intense and their relationship was completely toxic as you might expect. I don’t often like a dual point of view that goes from past to present but Julia Crouch creates such a great narrative in this story.

I couldn’t stop turning the pages. It’s a fairly long read but it doesn’t take long to get through it because there’s twists and turns all the time. I didn’t know who to trust. Some scenes made me incredibly uncomfortable. There’s plenty of shocking moments and nothing is first what it seems.

The reason why Julia stands out in this heavily populated genre for me is her writing style. Julia Crouch doesn’t shy away from gritty, raw and quite disturbing stories. This is certainly all of those things and much more besides.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

If you love unreliable characters then this is the thriller for you!

The Disappearing Girl

The Disappearing Girl

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Kayla Marlowe is slowly vanishing…

Last year, Kayla’s world imploded. Her beloved father died, leaving her alone with a narcissistic mother who is quick to criticize her daughter’s appearance. During her winter break from college, Kayla’s dangerous obsession with losing weight begins.

Kayla feels like her world changes for the better overnight. Being skinny seems to be the key to the happiness she has desperately been seeking. Her mother and friends shower her with compliments, telling her how fantastic she looks. Kayla is starving, but no one knows it.

Cameron Bennett explodes into Kayla’s life. He’s sexy and kind—he has every quality she has been looking for in a guy. As Cameron grows closer to Kayla and learns of how far she’s willing to go to stay thin, he becomes desperate to save her.

Kayla’s struggles with anorexia and bulimia reach a breaking point and she is forced to confront her body image issues in order to survive. She wonders if Cameron could be the one to help heal her from the pain of her past.

Thoughts:

I have had this book on my TBR for what seems like the longest time. I recently came across it and decided that it needed to be read this summer. The Disappearing Girl isn’t an easy read. It’s about anorexia and bulimia. Whilst it was a challenge to read because of its subject matter, it was an incredibly important and well written read.

The Disappearing Girl centres around Kayla. She is grieving after the death of her father who she found after he had a heart attack. Kayla and her sister, Lila were left with her mother. Her mother who was very obsessed with image. She constantly makes comments about the way Kayla and Lila look. Her comments made me cringe at times. She picked and picked away at her children giving them very low self-esteem. It wasn’t hard to hate their mother. She was so terrible to her children! Kayla starts to diet which brings with it a dangerous obsession with food. At the start of the weight loss, things are going well. She’s getting compliments and she’s landed herself a beautiful boyfriend. However, things soon get very serious and spiral out of control.

I thought Heather Topham Wood really explored the eating disorder very well. I felt like I was inside Kayla’s mind. I could understand why she felt the way she did because of her mother’s comments. I could feel that she was frustrated with people interfering with her diet. Yet at the same time, I was torn because I couldn’t believe what she was doing to herself.

This isn’t a long book, but it packs one hell of a punch! It’s brutal in its honesty of what an eating disorder can do to a person. It’s not just the person suffering from the eating disorder that’s affected. It was clear that everyone surrounding Kayla was affected by her behaviour. Even her mother… eventually.

I think this is such an important book to read for teens, adults and parents alike. It makes you think about mental health and just how much comments can hurt others.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A quick, but brutally honest read about eating disorders!

Gone Without A Trace

Gone Without a Trace

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

No one ever disappears completely…

You leave for work one morning.

Another day in your normal life.

Until you come home to discover that your boyfriend has gone.
His belongings have disappeared.
He hasn’t been at work for weeks.
It’s as if he never existed.

But that’s not possible, is it?

And there is worse still to come.

Because just as you are searching for him
someone is also watching you.

Thoughts:

I remember Beth being really gripped by this book when she visited a few months back. She immediately told me that I needed to read it. So being the good bookworm sister that I am ( 😉 ) I bumped it up my to be read list. It didn’t take me long to devour at all.

Gone Without A Trace centres around Hannah. We first meet Hannah when she is on her way back from a successful business trip. Hannah is extremely happy because she thinks she’s going to be promoted very soon. As she arrives home, her life is turned upside down. Her long-term boyfriend Matt has moved everything of his out of the house. His number is no longer in her phone, photos have gone and emails have been removed. There is no trace of Matt around the house. Hannah is confused as everything seemed okay in their relationship. Hannah is determined to find Matt… Then text messages start coming in and strange things happen in her house. We’re left wondering whether Hannah is losing her mind or whether something darker is going on.

I was immediately gripped by this story. I wasn’t sure whether to trust Hannah at first. She’s not the most likeable character. Her behaviour becomes obsessive and she begins to suffer in her every day life which becomes very frustrating for the reader. There were points where I wanted her to pull herself together and there were moments that I felt sorry for her. A lot of the relationships in Hannah’s life were difficult. I was particularly intrigued by her love-hate relationship with her friend Katie. It came across as very toxic.

The story seems to plod along at the start with Hannah attempting to find Matt. It really started to pick up pace when the strange things started happening. There is a bit of a twist which I wasn’t expecting! I loved that I didn’t expect it. I know it has divided some readers, but I thought it was an interesting take on the story. I don’t want to spoil it for any readers, so I’ll stop talking about it now!

Overall, I thought this was a really interesting, well paced read. It’s not flawless, but it’s enjoyable and an incredibly easy to read book.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A decent psychological thriller. Worth picking up!

Indigo Donut

Indigo Donut

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Orangeboy

Synopsis:

A story of longing, belonging and trust. Two very different young people discover who loves them, and who they can love back.

Bailey is 17, mixed race, lives with his mum and dad in Hackney and spends all his time playing guitar or tending to his luscious ginger afro. Indigo is 17 and new to London, having grown up in the care system after being found by her mum’s dead body as a toddler. All Indigo wants is to know who she really is. When Bailey and Indigo meet at sixth form, sparks fly. But when Bailey becomes the target of a homeless man who seems to know more about Indigo than is normal, Bailey is forced to make a choice he should never have to make.

A story about falling in love and everyone’s need to belong.

Thoughts:

I absolutely loved Patrice Lawrence’s debut novel Orangeboy, so when I had the opportunity to read Indigo Donut I jumped at the chance. I also bought myself a copy, because I knew it was going to be an amazing read. It really was! I think Patrice Lawrence has just become one of my auto-buy authors. Her writing is exceptional. Indigo Donut is everything I look for in a story. Gripping, many layers, complex and most importantly for me, it has great heart.

Indigo Donut is about a girl named Indigo who is in foster care. She is fed up of everyone thinking they know everything about her, due to being in the press after being found by her mum’s dead body when she was a toddler. It was said that Indigo’s father killed the mother. Her father was imprisoned. Some of the girls at Indigo’s new school pick up on Indigo’s background and use it to torment her. (These girls actually enraged me whilst I was reading!) But then Bailey’s story line began to pick up! ❤ Bailey is known for his ginger Afro and his ‘cool’ dad who happens to be a social worker. Bailey can’t put up with the bullying and sticks up for Indigo. From that day on, Indigo and Bailey grow closer. Indigo’s early life is a mystery and Bailey is intrigued, especially after a run in with a homeless man that seems to be stalking them…

I thought Indigo Donut was an absolutely stunning piece of fiction. It really explored family and identity. I grew to love both Indigo and Bailey throughout and loved following their stories and their relationship. I adored Indigo’s foster mother. Patrice Lawrence really has a way of making you fall for her characters and root for them.

Patrice Lawrence’s writing is simply beautiful. There was a wonderful analogy about a donut.

‘She was like one of those donuts from the cheap shelves in supermarkets. Everything seemed all right until you bit into the middle and there was just nothing.’  – Indigo Donut

This quotation really spoke to me and completely sums up why I enjoy Patrice Lawrence’s writing. I could absolutely imagine how Indigo felt about herself.

‘Though when she was with Bailey last night, it was like there’d be something else inside her, something sweet and good. Not filling the space all the way up, but enough. You think there’s nothing there and then the first splodge of jam hits your tongue. You just want to smile.’- Indigo Donut

❤ I just adore Patrice’s writing. In just a few sentences, she totally captured Indigo’s feelings and my heart. I can’t help but rave about this book. It totally exceeded my expectations. More please!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

‘Donut’ miss this book!

Lola Offline

Lola Offline

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Love And Other Man-Made Disasters

Synopsis:

Delilah Hoover has gone dark.

She’s left school, changed her name and moved to Paris. It’s not what she planned but there’s no other choice, because she did something bad. Something nobody will forget. It made her trend on Twitter, and it’s the first thing that comes up when you google her.

Paris is a new start, with new friends – like socially inept geek Ben, keyboard warrior Vee, and the impossibly perfect Tariq, but could the City of Lights offer more? Awkward dates, accidental afternoon drunkness and a perfect kiss; Delilah’s life as a normal teenager is seemingly back on track, or is it?

Sometimes learning to be happy with yourself is the hardest lesson of all.

Thoughts:

Sometimes I love to read books that I know won’t take me long and they’ll be enjoyable. I thought this would be the case with Lola Offline and it really was. Lola Offline was a quick and easy to read book which will be perfect for fans of teenage fiction, especially those into social media.

It centres around Delilah. Delilah makes a stupid mistake online (like so many of her age and beyond!) she jokes about something and it is taken seriously. Delilah is labelled a racist and shunned by her peers. Delilah decides that she wants to start afresh somewhere. She moves to Paris. A fresh start. Delilah now goes by the name of Lola, leaving her past behind so that her new friends can’t google her and find out about her past that shames her. Lola meets some new friends and falls in love with Paris. However, Lola’s life isn’t back on track as it doesn’t take long for the truth to come out. Lola’s new peers react in different ways. Lola (Delilah) really has to learn about herself and how she can be move on from her past and be genuinely happy once more.

I thought this was a decent read which highlighted the issues around social media. It’s not just social media, sometimes words can be completely taken out of context even when they’re vocalised.I think this is such an important read for the modern day teenager who can quite often spend a lot of their time on social media. It’s about the perils of social media and how one comment can go viral easily and affect your life.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

It’s a story about how words can hurt more than just yourself.