Thursday 23 September 2021

Review | Forget My Name by J.S. Monroe

Published by Head of Zeus on October 1, 2018

Forget My Name was intriguing right from the opening chapter, in fact the first sentence, and straight away I was wrapped up in the mystery of a woman who couldn’t even remember her own name. Laura and Tony have recently bought a house together so the last thing they are expecting is a strange woman to turn up on their doorstep claiming they are in her home. Of course, they don’t believe her, especially given she has little memory of anything else, but she does remember the exact layout of their house… Would they live to regret letting her into their home?

Tony christens her Jemma with a J and Jemma’s character was truly fascinating. As she struggles to remember anything, she is a proper unreliable narrator and attempting to get to know her left me with more questions than answers. From reading the blurb of this book, I had an idea where I thought the story was going to go but J.S. Monroe surprised me with twists I wasn’t expecting and a plot that went to places I hadn’t imagined. This was a cleverly plotted and compelling book with a sinister edge to it that made each chapter more and more tense and suspenseful.

One thing I particular enjoyed about this book was the strong characterisation and how the author built up everything with vivid descriptions that made it so easy to picture the place and the event and as the reader I gained such clear images of everything that was happening which made it all the more chilling to read. I loved how the author brought everything to life and every chapter of this book played out like a movie in my head. Each character was interesting and full of personality so there was never a dull moment.

There was such a complex plot here that appeared so well researched, and it was extremely fascinating. Jemma was a true mystery in Forget My Name but there were plenty of sickening and thrilling aspects which gave the story an edge. I was captivated trying to work out the story of Jemma, and though further on I had my suspicions, I could never have guessed the depths to it and every single intricate detail had me mesmerised.

Although this book was captivating from the first page to the last, I do think that maybe the amount of twists and turns led to some coincidences which weren’t really necessary and made parts of the book more difficult to believe and buy into. If I thought too much about it, parts of it were probably too implausible for my liking, however for pure entertainment value, I let them slide as this was still a really engaging and engrossing story.

Forget My Name had me gripped and held my attention all the way through as I was dying to get to the bottom of the mystery. It was surprisingly haunting and truly entertaining. I will definitely be checking out other books by this author.

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

Monday 6 September 2021

Review | Is This It? by Hannah Tovey

Published by Piatkus on July 22, 2021

Is This It by Hannah Tovey is the story of thirty-something Ivy and her attempts at getting her act together. Between holding down a job, dating and attempting to make time for all the people in her life, Ivy struggles to keep everything together and she is so easy to root for that I was hooked on this book right from the first chapter and I never wanted to put it down.

Ivy is queen of self-destruction and I loved her character. She’s honest and genuine and so easy to relate to. Constantly on a battle to balance her life, with friends, family, a new job and a potential new relationship, she struggles to keep everything on track and she often finds life quite overwhelming and I’m sure many readers will be understanding of her issues as she felt very life-like. She’s such a kind-hearted character and I really sympathised for her throughout as despite the things she was achieving, she never felt good enough or like she belonged, and I just wanted to shake her and stop her comparing herself to the people around her even though that trait is very easy for me to identify with.

It was only after I finished reading Is This It and looked for more books by the author, that I realised this is actually the second book that revolves around Ivy as The Education of Ivy Edwards was published last year. Of course I instantly bought this for my Kindle as I would love to hear more about Ivy and see the growth she goes on from the first book to the next. Although Is This It can easily be read as a standalone, knowing that there is another book makes sense as parts of Ivy’s past including her relationship breakdown with Jamie and Ivy’s reaction to that were hinted at but never fully explained and clearly this is why. I’m really looking forward to going back and reading the first book and would definitely be up for reading a follow up to Is This It too.

Hannah Tovey’s second novel is highly entertaining, quick-witted and a joy to read. One of my favourite parts of the book was Ivy’s relationship with her sister Anna. Though Is This It is the story of Ivy, Anna’s story is also a resonating one and I cared for her character. They had a proper sisterly relationship and you could see how much they loved each other in amongst the banter and the bickering. Of the weird and wonderful assortment of supporting characters in the book, Anna was my favourite, closely followed by Mr Reid and Scott.

One character I struggled with was Mia and at times I did find I wanted to skim through her parts in the book. Despite being Ivy’s best friend, I found her generally to be quite selfish and often she puts Ivy down for literally no reason and spends most of her time calling Ivy boring when she has work to do or doesn’t want to drink all night. Maybe some people would take that in a friend but I can’t see why. I found Ivy to be far too forgiving of Mia.

Despite this, there were so many redeeming qualities to this book that my overwhelming feeling when I’d finished reading it was just how much I loved it. There were so many ups and downs in the story that it really kept me on my toes, in hope of that happy ending for Ivy. It was often laugh-out-loud funny and I smiled my way through it. Hannah Tovey’s writing is so real and authentic and in Ivy she has crafted a perfectly imperfect protagonist. I personally would love to read more about Ivy in future books. 

Thanks to the publisher for the copy I won on Twitter - this was my honest review.   

Friday 3 September 2021

Review | The Chateau by Catherine Cooper

Published by HarperCollins on September 2, 2021

When I got back into reading at the end of last year, there was one book in particular my social media feed was raving about – Catherine Cooper’s debut novel, The Chalet. Because of that I was very excited to hear about her next book and receive a copy to review for the blog tour. I had high expectations going into The Chateau and it did not let me down. This was a cleverly written and tension-filled thriller that had me absolutely hooked.

Aura and Nick have moved away from England to make a fresh start with their two young sons. They don’t talk about what happened back in England. Instead, they begin the new chapter of their lives with plans to renovate the huge, if slightly crumbly, chateau they have bought in France. Sure, it’s a lot of work but they have invited a film crew to come and stop with them to turn this new phase of their lives and their restoration of the chateau into a TV show. It is to be the perfect new start for them – but can renovating their new home really help paper over the cracks in their marriage?

The Chateau was unsettling right from the opening chapter and my sense of unease only grew the more I read. The storytelling was vivid and at times quite disturbing as a lot of the characters were quite outlandish and it was definitely entertaining reading about their antics. The way the author brings each scene to life had me enthralled as I could picture everything happening like I was actually there watching it unfold. The book is full of flawed characters of which most of them I didn’t like or trust and this made me even more invested in the story trying to work out who was behind some of the creepy stuff that was happening at the chateau. All the way through I had my suspicions but never knew the full story and I loved every single twist.

The book is so tightly plotted and perfectly paced with drama and tension filled chapters. I liked the variety of chapter lengths which kept the storytelling fresh and fast and was probably the reason why I raced through the book because it was so gripping. The book is split into parts and focused on different times and events so we could get the whole picture of the things in the past that Nick and Aura don’t want to dwell on. I much preferred this being told in parts than having each chapter alternate in timeframe as it meant I could fully sink my teeth into each part of the book and often I was so gripped by what I was reading that I was caught off-guard by a twist and so never truly knew what was coming next.

The Chateau is one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. It’s dark and twisted with a killer ending and a story I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.

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

Wednesday 1 September 2021

Review | The Mix-Up by Holly McCulloch

Published by Transworld on June 24, 2021

I loved the sound of The Mix Up from the first moment I heard about it and couldn’t resist buying a copy. It definitely did not disappoint! More than just an eye-catching cover and an enticing blurb, this heartfelt romantic comedy was touching and empowering and entertaining from start to finish.

Paige is a wedding cake baker, and despite not being much of a romantic, she enjoys her job – at least when she gets to bake creative cakes and not a particular kind of design that is wanted by her jerk of an ex-boyfriend Chris and his wife-to-be. As her finances aren’t great, Paige agrees to bake a cake for the happy couple – at a high fee, of course. But being back in contact with her ex makes Paige stressed and confused, and in need of a distraction from this, she attends the party of her friend in search of a one-night-stand. When her friend tells her to head for the guy in the black top, she does exactly that, only there’s two guys in black tops… so has she picked the right one?

I enjoyed the fun concept to the story and can I just say that yes she absolutely picked her hook-up right because Noah was just a dream! I loved his character from the moment we met him and really I wanted to hear nothing more of Paige’s ex because that would waste valuable Noah time and it would have been a travesty. Paige does not want a relationship, just something casual, and short-term, yet Noah is more romantic and would like something more settled. Paige knows she needs to set him straight but despite her original plan, she does enjoy spending time with him. The Mix-Up sees her battling with her own insecurities as she tries to work out what she really wants.

I found Paige a likeable protagonist, if not one I wanted to shake a fair few times. She goes back and forth a lot and never seems to be able to stick to a decision but then it would be unfair to judge as that is pretty relatable. She is confident on the outside but more insecure than she would like to let on and I felt for her. One thing I really did enjoy was her friendship with Sara as they both could level with each other and support each other through everything, despite their different stages in life.

The overall plot in Holly McCulloch’s second novel (the first has since made its way onto my wishlist) is warm and witty yet affirming at the same time. Despite some harder subjects, such as Paige’s strained relationship with her mother, this book had me smiling the whole way through and I was incapable of putting it down yet at the same time reluctant to see it come to an end.

Towards the end of the book, I kept thinking we were running out of pages to resolve everything and in fact some things, which seemed quite major parts of the book at times, were left unresolved. When I thought about it, I wasn’t sure if I minded that they weren’t all settled. I don’t know if it’s because really I just wanted to read more of Noah or because maybe it was fun to get away from the typical feeling that books need to tie up all loose ends come the end, but I think I preferred it this way. The uncertainty just seemed to fit with Paige – she was one of those characters that deserved a happy ending yet I kind of feel like there would always be another drama on the horizon for her and you know I would be there to read it if there was!

Both moving and funny, The Mix-Up was a joy to read with a romance I just couldn’t get enough of.

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