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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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!

Fat Girl On A Plane

Fat Girl on a Plane

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Fat.

High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert. 

Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat to fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track. 

Skinny. 

Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day. 

Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?

Thoughts:

I was really intrigued by this book based on the title alone. Fat Girl On A Plane? What? I was eager to find out what this book was going to be about! I’m so pleased I read it. It was really easy to read! Perfect if you’re looking for a YA contemporary book to add to your TBR for the summer.

The story is told by the same character but from different points of time. This is the time when she was fat and the time when she was skinny. It starts with our main character, Cookie, getting the opportunity to fly to NYC to interview the designer Gareth Miller. She is told by the airline that she has to buy another seat because they deem her unable to fit into a single seat. Urgh. After finding the money, Cookie arrives in NYC but her trip doesn’t go the way she planned. Cookie believes that if she loses weight then she’ll be better accepted in the fashion world. She believes that skinny=happy. She’ll have more success and land the man of her dreams. Everything seems to be going the way she had planned, but Cookie soon finds out that skinny doesn’t always = happy.

Cookie is a fantastic character and there are lots of laugh out loud moments in this book. The author explains that this isn’t a ‘get-thin-be-happier’ story and I’m glad of that. We should learn to be happy in our own skin and thin doesn’t always mean happier. I did like that this book challenged the way we see happiness. I don’t think many people are truly happy with everything on their body and think the grass is always greener on the other side.

I think this book is well worth reading if you’re looking for a light YA contemporary read.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A solid debut! I enjoyed this book!

Learning To Breathe

Learning to Breathe

How did I get it?:

It was a gift!

Synopsis:

Indira Ferguson has done her best to live by her Grammy’s rules—to study hard in school, be respectful, and to never let a boy take advantage of her. But it hasn’t always been easy, especially while living in her mother’s shadow.

When Indy is sent to live with distant relatives in Nassau, trouble follows her. Now she must hide an unwanted pregnancy from her aunt, who would rather throw Indy out onto the street than see the truth.

Completely broke with only a hand-me-down pregnancy book as a resource, Indy desperately looks for a safe space to call home. After stumbling upon a yoga retreat, she wonders if perhaps she’s found the place. But Indy is about to discover that home is much bigger than just four walls and a roof—it’s about the people she chooses to share it with. 

Thoughts:

I was immediately gripped by the synopsis of this book, so I put it on my Christmas wish list. I received a copy for Christmas and decided to get around to it ASAP. I’m pleased I did because although it didn’t blow me away, I thought it was a really interesting read. I will warn you though, it’s not an easy read. There’s sexual violence involved so proceed with caution.

Learning to Breathe follows Indy. She’s only just turned sixteen and finds herself pregnant after being assaulted. Indy now lives with her Aunt who couldn’t care less about her. She went from living with her dear Grammy who protected her, to someone who judged Indy on her mother’s reputation, which let’s just say, isn’t exactly glowing. Indy finds herself hiding the pregnancy, desperate to not be tarred with the same brush as her mother.

Indy is such a lovable character. I really wanted to reach into the story and protect her. I wanted to shake the adults in her life and get them to care more about the girl in front of them. I think the teachers at her school needed a good talking to as well. Completely useless!

This is Janice Lynn Mather’s debut novel and I think it shows a lot of promise. I did the feel like the pacing of the story was a little off. Sometimes it dragged and then the ending happened so quickly. The pacing of the story is what prevented me from giving this book 4 stars.

Would I recommend it?:

Yes!

A promising debut novel. The story isn’t easy to read but the main character is well developed and she makes you wish for a happy ending!

The Dangerous Art Of Blending In

The Dangerous Art of Blending In

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Evan Panos doesn’t know where he fits in. His strict Greek mother refuses to see him as anything but a disappointment. His quiet, workaholic father is a staunch believer in avoiding any kind of conflict. And his best friend Henry has somehow become distractingly attractive over the summer. 

Tired, isolated, scared-Evan’s only escape is drawing in an abandoned church that feels as lonely as he is. And, yes, he kissed one guy over the summer. But it’s his best friend Henry who’s now proving to be irresistible. It’s Henry who suddenly seems interested in being more than friends. And it’s Henry who makes him believe that he’s more than his mother’s harsh words and terrifying abuse. But as things with Henry heat up, and his mother’s abuse escalates, Evan has to decide how to find his voice in a world where he has survived so long by avoiding attention at all costs.

Thoughts:

I have been meaning to read this book for about a year now and I’m finally pleased to say that I finished it. I did have high hopes for this book and whilst it wasn’t quite a 5 star read for me, I still thought it was bloomin’ marvellous and a very accomplished debut. I will warn you that there’s some horrifying abuse in this story so beware if that content may upset you.

It centres around 17 year old Evan who is trying to find out where he fits in life. His Greek mother believes he’s a disappointment and regularly beats him. She constantly puts him down and the abuse he goes through is absolutely horrific. Evan’s mum is incredibly religious and uses religion as an excuse to beat her son who she believes God thinks is wicked and sinful. The reason why she feels this way is that she believes that her son could be gay. Evan feels terrible about himself and tries to be the ‘normal’ Greek son, even if it means hiding his true self. Evan’s father pretends the abuse isn’t happening as do others in Evan’s life and it’s absolutely heart-breaking.

Evan is an amazing character. I grew to love him really quickly and I hated to read about the abuse he suffered. His self-worth was obviously so low and I wanted to reach into the book and tell him his worth. I liked how the book showed the effects of his mother’s abuse on Evan. He clearly wasn’t used to nice and when it happened to him, he rejected it. My heart broke once more.

Evan and Henry’s relationship is very cute. It develops from a friendship and that’s my favourite sort. I also appreciated that Henry wasn’t a character to make everything better. Evan had to help himself and I like that. No-one wants to be reliant on another for happiness.

I thought that this book was such a good debut and I look forward to reading more from Angelo Surmelis.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book is heavy-going and intense but so beautiful!

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

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

Synopsis:

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink ever weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled existence. Except, sometimes, everything…

Thoughts:

People were going on and on about this book and I’ll be honest- I was scared of the hype surrounding it. Call me a wimp if you will, but I’m so used to hype letting me down. Really, I should’ve known it would be a good read because my dear sister and fellow book blogger Beth was nagging me to read it. I’m so pleased that I made time for it, because I thought it was a truly brilliant read.

The title itself intrigued me. I assumed before reading it that she wasn’t completely fine at all. I was right. Eleanor is a simply fascinating character. Her life consists of working and barely socialising with anyone. She’s a socially awkward character and in many ways, I felt she came across as having autism. She’s very to the point and blunt. This doesn’t exactly win her any friends. She’s such an outcast that she’s often someone that her co-workers laugh at. Eleanor drinks vodka over the weekends and isolates herself from the world. When Eleanor becomes closer to Raymond who works at her company, Eleanor’s outlook starts to change. They both help an elder man when he becomes ill in public. From then, Eleanor realises that she isn’t as fine as she thought she was. You see, Eleanor has an awful history. She wants to become happier and doesn’t want to be lonely or isolated anymore. Can she do it?

I loved that this story was a mix of melancholy and hopeful. There were some really fantastic laugh out loud moments. Eleanor seemed like she belonged in a different time period. She wasn’t up together with the modern world and why would she be? She was always alone. Gail Honeyman perfectly paints a picture of Eleanor’s isolation. Eleanor is incredibly awkward and you can see how her behaviour isolates herself from the rest of society. Please don’t think that this is a doom and gloom story though. It isn’t. It certainly becomes more hopeful. I don’t think I’ve rooted for a character as much as I did with Eleanor. She is complex but utterly wonderful. I can imagine that some readers might find her rude but her past has shaped who she is today.

I think it was perfect how more and more of Eleanor’s history came out as the story progressed. I think this was a fantastic way to build anticipation and keep the reader invested in the story. I was eager to find out what had happened to her. It’s horrific but so well written. You grow to love Eleanor so much that is breaks your heart even more when the truth is revealed.

This was an excellent debut from Gail Honeyman. Highly recommended!

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

This book is well worth the read, in my opinion! Eleanor stole my heart!

The Silent Patient

The Silent Patient

How did I get it?:
NetGalley- thanks to Orion Publishing

Synopsis:

Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.

Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.

Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations—a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….

Thoughts:

Ahhh this book. I had seen it absolutely everywhere and I held off until February to read it, as I had an ARC. The struggle to wait for it. The struggle. I can confidently say that I’m so pleased I waited. It was an amazing read. I’m absolutely blown away that this is a debut novel. It was incredible. I really should stop gushing now and get into my review.

This has a really exciting premise. It’s about a woman named Alicia Berenson who is accused of murdering her husband. The trouble is, since the crime, Alicia hasn’t spoken. For six years she’s been living in a mental health unit called The Grove. The Grove is for very dangerous people with serious mental health issues. Readers then meet Theo Faber, who has had a tough childhood. He’s now a psychotherapist. He’s intrigued by Alicia and wants to be the one to ‘cure’ her and getting her to speak again. He wants to help solve the mystery as to why she murdered her husband.

This is one of those reviews where I’m going to be terribly vague because I don’t want to ruin the story. I will say that it’s an incredibly well written story. It’s so compulsive. I desperately wanted to find out what was going on. I absolutely loved the inclusion of Alicia’s diary. Argh. I want to say so much but I can’t because of spoilers. It is a bit of a slow burner, which I don’t usually enjoy, but this one had me from the very beginning.

I have to admit that I didn’t see the twist coming. I know many people will do, but for me I was quite shocked which is why I had to give it a 5 star rating. I think this will be an excellent book club read. It truly deserves all of the praise it’s getting.

Would I recommend it?:
Without a doubt!

A truly excellent 2019 debut. Alex Michaelides is truly one to watch!