Monday, 20 May 2019

Review | The Never Game by Jeffery Deaver

Published by HarperCollins on May 16, 2019

The Never Game is the first in a new series by Jeffery Deaver and so for anybody who doesn't like to begin in the middle of a series, or play catch up on a series with so many books to go back and read, this book is the perfect place to start and a fascinating introduction to the writing of Jeffery Deaver and the story of his new protagonist Colter Shaw. But be warned - whether you're new to Deaver's books or not, you'll be left wanting more.

When nineteen year old Sophie goes missing, her father is distraught. They'd had a fight that he regrets - all he wants is her home. He offers a hefty reward for anybody who can find her and this catches the attention of Colter Shaw, who specialises in finding missing people. Colter is intriguing from the start. The author expertly allows us to follow along with Shaw's thought processes and it is captivating watching him, steps ahead of the reader, working things out in his mind, finding clues, analysing them, following new leads to get the bottom of things before anybody else has even began.

The Never Game is a twisty and thrilling novel that had me engrossed from the very first chapter. The length of the chapters had me racing through the book and the twists and turns throughout ensured I couldn't turn the pages fast enough as I was dying to know what was going on. As the investigation picks up, there is an interesting video game theme to the whole case which wasn't like anything I'd read before and because of that, I found it hugely compelling. Every aspect to this book had me hooked and I was up in the middle of the night needing to finish this book as I couldn't get it out of my mind. The further into the book, the more complex it became and the more eager I became to reach the end of an exhilarating case, but as soon as I had finished I was desperate for book two in the series.

Shaw is a character I am looking forward to getting to know better in future books. The Never Game is a slow-burning but absorbing introduction to him and the bits we learn about him have me very interested to know more. There are aspects to his character and to his background and his family that have so many ways they can turn out that it is exciting to see where Deaver takes him next. Colter Shaw's series feels different in many ways to the author's Lincoln Rhyme and Kathryn Dance thrillers and has the author at his unpredictable best. I can't wait for more.

Friday, 17 May 2019

Review | Reader I Married Me by Sophie Tanner

Published by Trapeze on May 16, 2019

Reader I Married Me by Sophie Tanner is a warm and witty novel brimming with hope and positivity. I enjoyed reading this book a lot and picked it up any time I had a few minutes spare. The chapters were fast-paced and addictive and I smiled my way through this book.

When we meet Chloe Usher, she is feeling lucky in love, lucky to have found her soulmate, Ant. Though they're not at the kids stage, she's ready for what she feels is realistically the next step in their relationship - to get a house together. When you're with the right person, why not live together? Ant, however, has other ideas. He likes his space. And women who wear the kind of g-strings Chloe wouldn't be seen dead in.

Chloe's idea to marry herself was one of those drunken ones that got made public - there was no going back. But the madder the idea was, the more empowering a character Chloe became and this truly was a feel-good read that encourages self-care, putting yourself first and reaching out when you need help. What originally was an idea born in the bottom of a gin cocktail soon grew from strength to strength and Chloe's solo wedding had everyone intrigued.

This is a light-hearted read but one which is also thought-provoking as protagonist Chloe had some very valid beliefs about life and the importance of taking the time to learn who we are and grow to like who we are. It could have turned out like the often cringy or clich├ęd motivational quotes you see on Facebook or Instagram, but it didn't.  Chloe was a fab character - through her ups and downs she kept her spirit and her strength and she was an engaging character to follow and root for. She made me laugh a lot through the course of the book and I loved how whatever setback she faced, she'd always get back up and fight through it. Her voice was strong and compelling and made this book a joy to read.

One thing I particularly loved about this book was the brilliant cast of characters. Chloe truly was the hero of her own story but there was such a great group of supporting characters in this book with many who were still memorable when the book had finished and I'd began reading something else. Chloe's workmates, her best friend, the elderly woman she befriends - each one had their own little story which kept the book entertaining throughout.

Another thing I really liked about this book was just how fresh and relevant it felt. Chloe wanted to lose the stigma about being single. She wanted to lose the segregation between different generations. She couldn't stand homophobia. Chloe was judged all through this book by different people for her idea to marry herself, but she was such a determined, caring, likeable character that as the reader I couldn't help but join her on her journey and want that happy ending for her.

Reader I Married Me is a must-read book this summer. Take all your doubts about solo weddings into this book and let Chloe prove them wrong on every level. This book is about learning to love yourself, and Chloe Usher is 100% the best character to show you how.

Friday, 29 March 2019

Review | Paper Dolls by Emma Pullar

Published by Bloodhound Books on March 21, 2019

I loved the look and sound of Paper Dolls instantly and knew it was a book I really wanted to read. The cover's brilliant and really drew me in, and Emma Pullar is a new-to-me author so I was looking forward to seeing if the book was as good as I thought it would be.

Paper Dolls is quite the character driven book. In alternating chapters, we meet three flatmates, Mike, Kerri and Bea, who are each frustrated in their lives and their careers. Mike is struggling to get and hold down a job he really wants. He is judged and turned down for roles he feels he is perfect for, and it is making him bitter and skint. Kerri is a journalist but she is yet to get her name to a hard-hitting story that could make her career. Until, one day she is led to something that could change everything. Bea is a writer of supernatural stories. She would love to be an author but never quite makes it, but when she gets a new agent, who is eager for a crime novel, things could be about to change...

The book begins with a dark and gruesome scene that sets the tone for the rest of the book, though the violent scenes from then on are few and far between. The way Paper Dolls is written - the way the chapters are set out - made for a compelling serial killer thriller as the chapters in between build up the suspense and the tension and the further into the book, the more it become an edge-of-the-seat, nail-biting read.

In all honesty to begin with, although straight away I was curious as to how things would develop with the serial killer, I struggled to invest much in the three flatmates stories. I wasn't drawn to them straight away, nor did I find any of them particularly fascinating characters, but the more I read of Paper Dolls, the more this began to change thanks to the author's wonderfully descriptive style of writing that I found thoroughly engaging from page one. Every scene in this book, every smell and sight and action, everything was written so vividly I could picture every moment unfolding in front of me. Every sentence lingered and had my imagination in overdrive because the scene was told in such an expressive way.

With every chapter the book got better and better. One more chapter was never enough as more things came to light and more clues were left as to what was to happen next. The pace and tension kept on rising and the more it did, the more hooked I became to the level that I set my alarm two hours early so I could finish the book undisturbed - weary-eyed but completely satisfied.

As far as the serial killer went, it was kind of unnerving being able to in a way get to see and sort-of-understand their motives. But as their list of victims increased, and the names became more familiar, I was always on the lookout for who could be next and wondering how long it would be before everything unravelled. The author keeps us on our toes with the serial killers' short, tension-filled chapters and whilst as I got further into the book I became more interested in Mike, Kerri and Bea, I was always eager to be back watching the serial killer in suspense, intrigued by what was going to happen next.

Paper Dolls is a sharp and incisive thriller, dark and intriguing. A true cancel-all-plans kind of read.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Review | The Newcomer by Fern Britton

Published by Harper Collins on March 7, 2019

The Newcomer is an enticing, evocatively written book which had me fascinated from beginning to end with interesting characters and an effortless flow to the writing that made it an ideal escapist read.

Early in the book we meet Simon and Penny and Angela and Robert. Simon is the parish vicar but he is leaving for a year and Angela is his replacement. Whilst the book then focuses on Angela and the job she is doing, it is also the people she meets that charm the reader as instead of simply following along with Angela's story, we get to know many other characters along the way in The Newcomer and they are a bundle of energy each with their own battles. The characterisation in this book is great.

Fern Britton transports the reader with ease to the beautiful Cornish village of Pendruggan with atmospheric descriptions of the setting and the full-of-life characters. It's an ideal read to take you away from real life and make you feel part of a different community for a while, invited in on the gossip shared between Mamie and Queenie, eyes opened for clues on the perpetrator of the cruel letters Angela receives, interest brewing at the attitude of Audrey and if she will soften towards the reverend or indeed anyone at all. The close-knit village feel in this book was full of warmth and positive energy and I really enjoyed getting to know all the characters.

Angela is a very driven and persevering character and as she faces many challenges during her time in Pendruggan, as the reader I was there rooting for her all the way. There are moments of sadness, humour, heart-warming friendships and a touch of the green eyed monster throughout the obstacles put in front of Angela and this made for an entertaining book as every chapter was fresh and engaging and every character (well, maybe except Audrey) was easy to care for and will a happy ending for.

Whilst I found myself really engaged in the characters created by the author, because of this I did wish we could have heard a bit more about how things were going for Simon and Penny as even in the short time we hear from them at the beginning of the book, I very quickly became invested in their story so I would have liked to have learnt a bit more and seen how things progressed for them. However, this didn't take away from what was a truly captivating book.

Though this was the first book by Fern Britton I have read, I do have a few more from the series already waiting for me on my bookshelves and my Kindle so I am looking forward to reading more from the author as The Newcomer was a lovely, absorbing read that beautifully encapsulated both the Cornwall setting and a close-knit village community. I will miss the characters.

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