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!

 

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Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree #1)

The Enchanted Wood (The Faraway Tree, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Joe, Beth and Frannie find the Enchanted Wood on the doorstep of their new home, and when they discover the Faraway Tree they fall into all sorts of adventures!

Thoughts:

Well, well, well… I used to be quite the fan of Enid Blyton when I was younger. I loved her whimsical writing and I was looking forward to getting stuck into the adventures once more. It is still totally charming, but I’m a little sad that they’ve changed the name of the characters. I believe Frannie was once Fanny. I can see that children would laugh at that now but they probably would’ve done so when reading it when it was first published too. Beth reminded me that Dame Snap had been changed from Dame Slap. For goodness sake, censorship is a little ridiculous nowadays. I don’t see any harm in those names at all. I know when I read about a character named Dick in my class, the children giggle. I just have to explain that it’s short for Richard and they tend to get over it quickly. This is a story and children aren’t as delicate as we think.

Mini rant aside, I thought this book was just as whimsical and lovely as I remember. I remember absolutely loving Moon Face! 🙂 I loved their magical adventures and always wondered what land would come up next. As an adult, I think I look at it more critically which is a shame. However,  it’s strange to think how easy-going the children’s parents were. It was apparently fine to go off until midnight into a magical land! If you can put little things like that  aside, then I really think this story will bring you a lot of joy. It certainly perked me up!

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (June):
What Katy Did- Susan Coolidge

Dead Girls

Dead Girls

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

Previously reviewed by the same author:
Golden Boy

Synopsis:

When her best friend Billie is found murdered, eleven-year-old Thera – fearless and forthright – considers it her duty to find the killer.

Aided by a Ouija board, Billie’s ghost, and the spirits of four other dead girls, she’s determined to succeed. The trouble with Thera, though, is that she doesn’t always know when to stop – and sometimes there’s a fine line between doing the right thing and doing something very, very bad indeed.

Thoughts:

Golden Boy is a phenomenal albeit quite challenging read so when I heard about the premise of Dead Girls, I knew it would contain some heavy going content. Dead Girls definitely has some heavy content. As a warning for those that might be sensitive to some of the subject matter- there’s paedophilia, murder and sexual content within the story. It’s one that’s not particularly ‘easy’ to read, but it’s compelling.

Dead Girls centres around a young girl named Thera whose best friend Billie has been murdered. She is determined to find her friend’s killer, no matter what it takes. With the help of Billie’s ghost and four other dead girls, she goes on the search for Billie’s killer. However, Thera doesn’t always know how far is too far. Will she put herself in danger to find justice for her friend?

I loved it being set in 1999. I could totally relate to many of the things that Thera was talking about! It was so nostalgic, which I absolutely loved. Dead Girls is written from Thera’s point of view. Thera is 11 and I think Abigail Tarttelin got Thera’s voice spot on. It’s clear that Abigail is a fantastic writer because it’s no easy task to write from an 11 year old’s point of view and not make you want to tear your hair out with frustration! Reading Thera’s thoughts was tiring at times (but in a good way, it was totally realistic). I wanted to jump into the story and stop her from making silly mistakes. I wanted to protect her. I honestly cringed at some of the things she did, but I think it was believable.

The ending of this book is incredible. It’s one you don’t want to know much about because it would totally ruin the story. I certainly didn’t see it coming.

This book might not be an easy read, but I found it to be incredibly gripping, thought-provoking, emotional and intense. Just be aware of the tough subject matter before you go into reading it.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Although I didn’t enjoy this book as much as Golden Boy, it was still a highly addictive, well written read!

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!

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Demon Dentist

Demon Dentist

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Darkness had come to the town. Strange things were happening in the dead of night. Children would put a tooth under their pillow for the tooth fairy, but in the morning they would wake up to find… a dead slug; a live spider; hundreds of earwigs creeping and crawling beneath their pillow.

Evil was at work. But who or what was behind it…?

Thoughts:

I have been loving reading David Walliams for the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit challenge. He is a fantastic author. I know the children in my school adore reading his books. I truly do think he is the closest modern writer to Roald Dahl. He certainly writes in a similar vein. I was excited to read Demon Dentist. It is quite a big book at over 400 pages long, but it doesn’t take long to get through.

Demon Dentist, as you might get from the title is quite a scary book for younger children. It’s about a crazy dentist ripping young children’s teeth out! I would definitely not give this book to a child that had a dentist phobia! Ha! Instead of the tooth fairy leaving a shiny coin, terrible things are left under children’s pillows. Like stuff of nightmares. Dead slugs, a live spider? *vomit*. It’s not a pleasant read!

Tony Ross has done a fabulous job with the illustrations. They are quite dark and sinister, especially the dentist and her cat Fang! I really do think this book is not one for the younger, more sensitive child.  I can imagine it freaking me out when I was younger, but my class (7-9 year olds) have read and enjoyed this book. Perhaps they’re more hardy than I give them credit for. Or I was a wimp as a child? That’s more likely!

I’ve come to expect some sad elements in book by David Walliams. There is another sad side to this story, but I personally think it’s good that David does deal with sadness. It’s so important for children to learn that life isn’t always happy. So many children experience hardship and I think it’s vital for it to be represented in literature that they’ll read and can relate to.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE. Her review will be up over the weekend!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (May):
The Enchanted Wood- Enid Blyton

Talking About ‘Now You See Her’ with Bibliobeth!

Now You See Her

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

NOW YOU SEE HER
She’s playing at the school fete with your children. You pull out your phone, scroll through Facebook, and look up again.
NOW YOU DON’T

Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable, tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.

Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PUT THINGS RIGHT?

CHRISSI: Did you have any preconceptions before you went into reading this book?

BETH: No, not really. I had read some excellent reviews from my fellow book bloggers and because it was on the Richard and Judy book club list for Spring, I had high hopes that we were going to be getting a great psychological thriller. However, because I feel like I’ve read a lot of books in that genre recently, I was a little bit concerned that it was going to be a bit too similar. Keeping an open mind was the best idea though because I really ended up enjoying it!

BETH: Charlotte has a really tough time in this novel when a child she is looking after goes missing. Did you sympathise with her?

CHRISSI: Oh my goodness. It is my WORST fear. As you know, I teach and I’m responsible for 31 children every week day and it would seriously be my worst nightmare. I can’t imagine the guilt you would feel if a child in your care went missing, so yes. I TOTALLY sympathised with Charlotte. I know some people would think that Charlotte should have been paying much more attention to the child, but something can happen in an instant. You can’t possibly be watching every second.

CHRISSI: The thriller genre is very populated. Do you think this book stands out enough?

BETH: It most definitely is. As I mentioned in the previous answer, there is a risk that the market has become a bit over-saturated with books that explore all the same themes and as a result, that can make them less exciting to read – especially if you can predict what’s going to happen within the story. I haven’t read any books by this author before but I do think it stands out. It was a very quick, fast-paced story that was enjoyable with some interesting characterisation and even more intriguing, tense moments.

BETH: The story illustrates the importance of a good friendship support network. Do you think if Harriet had this things might have been different?

CHRISSI: I think things would have been very different if Harriet had a good friendship support network. I also wish she had a stronger friendship with Charlotte. I feel that if she was closer to Charlotte she could have explained more to her about her life. I wish her friendship circle had been larger so she would’ve had more people to turn to and talk to. I felt like Harriet isolated herself from others.

CHRISSI: Without spoilers, did you predict where this story was going to go?

BETH: I don’t think I did, which was a relief! I love to be surprised, particularly in this genre and do get a bit disappointed if I can predict what’s going to happen. This book did surprise me with the direction that it took and I particularly loved the darker aspects of the plot (which I couldn’t possibly discuss for fear of spoilers) but added something a little extra to the story in general.

BETH: This novel has also been marketed under the title Her One Mistake. What title do you prefer?

CHRISSI: Ooh, this is a tricky one because I get the reasons behind the two titles. Hmmm… I guess I do prefer Now You See Her because it makes me think ‘now you see her, now you don’t…’ and I think that’s quite a creepy feel which fits with the novel. I feel like there were more mistakes made in this novel than just one and not all by females…

CHRISSI: Discuss the pacing of this novel.

BETH: The pacing of this novel was excellent. It was fast-paced but not so fast-paced that you find yourself struggling to keep up with everything that’s going on. I also appreciated that it was slow enough where you got a real sense of the characters i.e. their personalities, their past experiences and their motives and in that way, it made me feel a deeper connection and care about them a bit more individually.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I definitely would. I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I read so many books like this that it takes quite a lot to impress me.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

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.