Thursday, 22 April 2021

Review | Mother by Laura Jarratt

Published by Trapeze on February 18, 2021


Everybody has those “what if” moments. When you’re just getting on with your day and then a ridiculous or unplausible question enters your mind and you think about what you would do even though you know you’re never going to have to make the choice because it won’t ever really happen to you.

Except for Lizzie, the unthinkable does happen. In Mother, on a torrid rainy drive back from a holiday with her two daughters, Portia and Becca, Lizzie crashes the car. As they plummet into a nearby lake, Lizzie must make a choice no mother should ever have to. She can only get one of her daughters out of the car – which one can she save – and which one will be left to die?

Just in case this wasn’t traumatic enough – for Lizzie and her husband Dan and their one remaining daughter to then have to work out how to survive and go on as a family of three, when they were once a family of four – the realisation soon hits that maybe the car crash wasn’t an accident after all. Maybe the crash was caused deliberately. Maybe somebody else chose for one of their daughters to die that night…

I cannot even begin to describe how much I loved this book. It was beautifully haunting with a concept so thought-provoking I genuinely could not get the story off my mind. The writing was raw and mesmerising, with lingering, slow-burning tension and pure emotion concealed in every sentence.

I was hooked from the opening few chapters where the lead up to the accident had me biting my nails in anticipation of the scene about to unfold. Already, just from the build up in the first chapter, I was fascinated by the family dynamics, by Lizzie’s relationship with her daughters and her marriage to Dan. Both lawyers in different fields, there was something so intriguing about Lizzie and Dan and I felt like they both had a story to tell.

Throughout Mother, I suspected everyone of wrongdoing - there was definitely a lot of trust issues on my behalf! Even though trust is a concern in this book, with the fears that the crash was more than an accident, there was so much more simmering away in Mother and I was utterly obsessed with it.

The author wrote such a beautiful and heart-breaking portrayal of grief and her observations were probably my favourite part of the novel. Between Lizzie, Dan and the daughter who survives, naturally each one grieves differently, and often separately, and this was truly heart-wrenching to read. Grief is at the core of this book and it is moving and powerful. Laura Jarratt shows how grief is so personal and individual – everybody experiences it differently and it doesn’t matter how strong that person may come across, there is no escaping it.

There is not much that can be said about the book without spoiling the story and its chilling and sickening twists. I will say that there is one part towards the end that had me reading with my heart in my mouth – it was so high in emotion and tension and really encapsulated everything I loved about this book. Mother is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

Review copy provided by the publisher - this was my honest review.

Monday, 19 April 2021

Review | A Bad Boy Stole My Bra by Lauren Price

Published by Ink Road on July 12, 2018


I got to this book a few years after it was published, originally I believe on Wattpad and then picked up by Ink Road. After a few darker reads, A Bad Boy Stole My Bra was just the tonic I needed – a pure, cute teenage read which was light-hearted but at the same time touched on some darker things which kept me hooked.

Riley and her mum are intrigued to discover they have new neighbours, but little did Riley know that just a little while later she would be introduced to the cute boy next door, Alec, during the night when as part of a dare, he is in her bedroom stealing her Mickey Mouse bra. This is where the fun and the pranks begin as Riley goes on a hunt to not only get her bra back but also to get her revenge on her annoying new neighbour. However, along the way she discovers that maybe there is more to Alec than meets the eye.

This was definitely a feel-good read from beginning to end. I loved the authenticity to the teenage characters. This book was written by a teenager and that helped bring the characters to life as they felt true and realistic. The representation of some of the high-school students here did have its stereotypes but at the same time all the characters seemed believable. Lauren Price balances the laid-back nature of some with the hormones and confusing feelings and dramas and stresses and anxieties and demons that get a grip of others’ self-esteem. I thought Riley and Alec were both well-rounded characters. Although we don’t get to know Alec quite as well, he is mysterious enough to be fascinated by but also real enough to care for and root for. I was all in to his and Riley’s slow-burning romance and fully invested in a hopefully happy ending to the story for them both.

Riley was an entertaining narrator to the book and as the reader it is easy to get lured into her messy thoughts and awkward moments. It’s clear early on that she has her secrets and she is not very forgiving to herself. She sees herself as a bit of a loner with only her best friend Violet on her side but further on you can tell that people do like her – maybe she just doesn’t like herself. I enjoyed getting to know her and also finding out what was making her pull back and hide things from the people she cared about.

Violet’s character was a joy and I would have liked to have seen more of her. There were many supporting characters here and I particularly liked some of Alec’s friends. This book could have been made longer and more well-rounded if we had got to know them more, but as side characters they did their job and kept every chapter fresh with plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout.

Overall, A Bad Boy Stole My Bra was an amusing and uplifting book with all the jokes and cheesy one-liners nicely contrasted with the angst and drama I love in a young adult novel. I would definitely recommend it for those looking for a sweet summer read.

Review copy provided by the publisher - this was my honest review. 

Monday, 12 April 2021

Review | The Embalmer by Alison Belsham

Published by Trapeze on March 18, 2021


The Embalmer is the third book in Alison Belsham’s Tattoo Thief series. I must admit I chose to read this book pretty much solely based on the cover so initially I wasn’t aware that this was part of a series, let alone the final book in a trilogy. However, from the first few chapters it is clear that these are returning characters with a lot of history and a quick check shows that the story here follows that of The Tattoo Thief and Her Last Breath.

Any struggles I had keeping up with the links between the characters to begin with were quickly forgotten by just how intrigued I was by the creepy opening chapter and the twisted acts of the serial killer. Yes it was a bit jarring at first knowing I was missing out on some details but this was at no fault of the writing or the story itself as both were extremely fascinating and had this book lingering on my mind whenever I wasn’t reading it, so much so I got the novel confused with a crime series I had been watching on TV around the same time as I was picturing this book playing out in my head so much I actually thought I had been watching it. The Embalmer could be read as a standalone but really I would recommend starting from the first book in the series to get the full experience. It was seriously gripping and had me eager to read more from this author.

In the Embalmer, the series returns to the character of detective Francis Sullivan who receives a call out to Brighton’s Natural History Museum where he is presented with a freshly mummified body. The findings were enough to send a shiver down my spine and whilst the first victim’s fate was gruesome enough, things only got more disturbing with more jars of body parts leading to a truly edge-of-your-seat race against time to stop yet another life being taken.

The Embalmer also continued the story of Marni Mullins, who is caught in the middle of a battle between her ex-husband Thierry and his brother Paul, resulting in one of them losing their life and Marni being charged with their murder. It was evident Marni had been a vital character in previous books so it took me a little bit of time to get up to speed with her backstory, but I found it didn’t take too long before the author had me sympathising with her and rooting for things to work out for her.

Both threads to the story here intertwine satisfyingly, as Marni’s fate became just as important as the battle to put an end to the serial killer was. Each part of the book had good pace to it, enough to drag the reader in whilst catching them off guard with another sinister twist.

Sullivan’s character was perfect for a top crime series. He is flawed but also respected. He invests often too heavily in his cases but is good at his job. The strong characterisation of the detective made this book all the more engrossing but truthfully I found everything about this book had me engrossed. The Embalmer was bursting with originality and had a lingering graphic, gory edge to it that was truly compelling. Fast-paced and atmospheric, this was one eerie book that I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

Review copy provided by the publisher - this was my honest review. 

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