Author Archives: Katie

The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa

Addition: Review e-book from Netgalley

Genre: Young adult, fantasy

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Ash, former prince of the Winter Court, gave up everything. His title, his home, even his vow of loyalty. All for a girl… and all for nothing.

Unless he can earn a soul.

To cold, emotionless faery prince Ash, love was a weakness for mortals and fools. His own love had died a horrible death, killing any gentler feelings the Winter prince might have had. Or so he thought.
Then Meghan Chase—a half human, half fey slip of a girl— smashed through his barricades, binding him to her irrevocably with his oath to be her knight. And when all of Faery nearly fell to the Iron fey, she severed their bond to save his life. Meghan is now the Iron Queen, ruler of a realm where no Winter or Summer fey can survive.
With the (unwelcome) company of his archrival, Summer Court prankster Puck, and the infuriating cait sith Grimalkin, Ash begins a journey he is bound to see through to its end— a quest to find a way to honor his solemn vow to stand by Meghan’s side.
To survive in the Iron realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. At least, no one has ever passed to tell the tale.
And then Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that turns reality upside down, challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Review:

This is number four in the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa – and although perhaps not as good as the others, still a great read. I have been waiting what seems like an age for this book, and squealed when I received an email telling me it was available from Netgalley. This time the book is written from Ash’s point of view, not Meghan’s and we follow his story – barely getting a glance at what was happening in the Iron Realm. At the end of book three Meghan banishes Ash for his own safety – as fey he can’t survive in the Iron Realm. Yet he made her a promise: to be her knight. He loves her and is determined to keep this promise and the only way to do that is to become human. There is only one way to do this – go to the End of the World and complete the tasks. With the aid of Puck, Grim, the Big Bad Wolf and a seer, Ash sets off; but will he succeed? And if he does, will Meghan still love him?

I really enjoyed this book – although I missed Meghan. She does feature in the story, but not heavily. We walk with Ash and only glimpse Meghan and her world occasionally. I found this book to be more graphic and gory than the others – there seems to be more bloodshed in this adventure. Yet the book was exciting and fast paced. There doesn’t seem to be a dull moment in this story – once one foe is defeated, another seems to come along quite quickly. There is a lot of energy in this book which kept me hooked.

All the way through this series I have been Team Ash – and that didn’t change in this book either. It was nice to get a better look at Ash, although at times that was a touch heartbreaking. One trial he has to go through is examining his conscience and relieving everything he had ever done – all the hurt he had caused people. There were a few incidents described and it was sad that Ash is not the perfect prince I imagined him to be. This was an honest portrayal though and we saw his struggle with the anger and hate that come from being part of the Unseelie Court.

I loved Puck as well. Although I was always rooting from Ash, I loved that Puck stuck around and was there to help Ash because he loved Meghan so much. He is funny and kept me entertained throughout the book. There were other characters I liked too – Grim is fabulous. He is sarcastic, clever and I love how when trouble arises he vanishes! The Big Bad Wolf was entertaining too – I enjoyed the attitude between him and Grim.

There is a big surprise halfway through the book that I wasn’t expecting. It added to the book and Ash’s torment and made for some great reading! I won’t add in a spoiler but suffice to say – it was good and added another dimension to the story.

There were a couple of things I didn’t like about the book – I missed Meghan – she is a key character and we didn’t see a lot of her – and Kagawa’s writing seemed different – simple and sometimes not completely engaging. However, the good completely overthrows the bad, and this is a great read and a great instalment to this series.

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Pride and Premiership by Michelle Gayle

Addition: Review book, paperback

Genre: Young adult, chick lit

Rating: 3/5

Synopsis:

This is the diary of Remy Louise Bennet, age 17-1/2. Remy Louise Bennet has one goal in life – to be a WAG. And as every true wannabe WAG knows, there are rules. One: pretend you don’t know he’s a footballer. Two: Don’t get drunk (or he won’t trust you while he’s off on pre-season tour). Three: Never dispute a thing his mum says (they worship their mums). When Remy starts dating Netherfield Park Rangers’ Robbie Wilkins (not Premiership, but good for starters), it seems like all her dreams have come true. Or have they? Remy soon realizes that being a WAG isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, that Robbie’s balls aren’t quite so golden…and that maybe there are smarter dreams to pursue. Michelle has already participated in workshops with The Reading Agency up and down the country, promoting literacy among teenage girls and encouraging them to aspire beyond the WAG myth. Michelle is an ex-EastEnders star, chart-topping pop diva and popular TV celebrity.

I was sent this book by publisher’s Walker Books UK. It is written by Michelle Gayle – ex-Eastender and WAG. Walker Books say:

“The ex-WAG, actress and singer has now turned her hand to storytelling as part of her mission to empower young girls and remind them that there is more to life than bagging a boyfriend. Shocked to hear that 2/3 of teen girls’ career plans involved marrying a footballer, Michelle set out to write a book that provided a realistic view of being a WAG without judging or patronising the girls she was writing for. The result is an honest, stylish and sassy reminder that marrying a footballer doesn’t always mean a happily-ever-after ending and that it’s far smarter to pursue your own career than to rely on Prince Charming.”

This story follows Remy – a 17 year old who, with the help of her older sister Malibu wants to marry a footballer. Malibu has rules and guidelines for this and on the first night they go out Remy meets Robbie. He seems interested in her and she is happy to be pursued. We see her at work – a beauty salon – and at home. We watch how Malibu dates a footballer; and someone she has as a back up, Boring Roger. The story follows several months of Remy’s life, as things fall apart at home, get serious with Robbie and the decisions she makes in life.

This book is written in diary form. I didn’t find this a problem as most entries were fairly long. The language is simple and easy to follow. I didn’t feel challenged by this book but that was OK. It was a gentle and quick read.

I found this book quite addictive. Although the storyline is not amazing – to be honest it is simple and fairly predictable – I was hooked. I read this book in about half a day. I didn’t mind the characters, although both Remy and Malibu were fairly shallow. They made for good reading however. I was intrigued, I wanted to know what was going to happen to them. I was a little disappointed with how Malibu’s storyline ended – it was unfinished but she settled for the seemingly shallow life of a WAG. Remy did end up with a nice man, but he too was a footballer. It felt like the message Gayle was sending was that once you are in that life, you can’t escape.

I know Gayle was a WAG and that she wanted to write this book to let girls know how life really is for WAGs, but to be honest it felt quite stereotypical: spending lots of money and cheating, controlling, angry footballers. It didn’t feel like there was a lot of insight into this world – and for some, the idea of living in a huge house with endless money will appeal to them. I’m not sure that Gayle has achieved her aim of warning girls of what this life is like.

I have rated this book 3 out of 5 because to be honest, it isn’t that good but it I was hooked. I was intrigued and my attention was held throughout the book. I developed an empathy for Remy and what is going on with her family and the life she got sucked into. This was a quick read and I think will appeal to teenage girls.

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It Started With a Dare by Lindsay Faith Rech

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Review e-book from NetGalley

Genre: Young adult chick-lit

Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis:

Self-proclaimed nobody CG Silverman sees her move to an upscale new school as her chance to be somebody different. Her devil-may-care attitude attracts the in-clique, and before CG realizes it, a routine game of truth or dare launches her to iconic status.

While this rebel image helps secure CG’s newfound popularity, it also propels her through a maze of unprecedented chaos, with each new lie and every dare opening doors that, in most cases, were better off left shut.

CG is on a collision course with disaster. Will she be able to keep up the façade? Or will the whole world find out she’s a fraud?

I read this book a little while ago, and to be honest, not a lot of it has stuck with me. This is a book that I easily read in a day and have not thought about since.

CG moves schools and by accident – a comment muttered in response to a teacher lands her in the “in-crowd”. All of a sudden, she has a façade to keep up. This leads to lies and lies – and then more lies. She becomes out of control – lying about how she used to be an alcoholic – even though she is 15! – and how far she has gone in relationships. She starts an online relationship with an English teacher and things just spiral out of control. Of course, once the web of lies is spun so deep the only way out is the truth – and inevitably this is what happens. CG’s parents find out what she has been doing and saying and the world is put to rights again.

Like I said at the beginning, this book hasn’t really stayed with me since reading. It is a simple story, that took me an afternoon to read. I didn’t really like the characters – I can’t stand lying and I never like the “popular” characters. They are so fake and cruel. Why did I keep reading? I guess because I wanted to see what would happen. It was not surprise that the truth came out and CG was humiliated – part of me thinks she deserved it – that is one lesson learnt. I didn’t like CG really. She started the story with an I-don’t-care attitude and transformed into something hideous.

Does this reflect school? Not the crowd I hung around in! I don’t know – I went to school in the UK and was not in the “cool crowd” so I don’t know if people acted like this. From what you see in American TV shows/films e.g. Glee and Mean Girls, one gets the impression that high school is all about being popular. If that is really the case than CG’s attempts to fit in are realistic. I couldn’t believe the lies she told – especially about being an alcoholic. How could anyone believe that?! From that aspect, this book isn’t particularly life-like.

I’ve given this book 3 out of 5 because it was a story that gripped me to the end – I just wanted to see how Rech would finish the story. Sadly, not the greatest book but if you want a light, teenage read this is for you.

 

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Hunger by Jackie Kessler

CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Review e-book from NetGalley

Genre: Young Adult

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

“Thou art the Black Rider. Go thee out unto the world.”

Lisabeth Lewis has a black steed, a set of scales, and a new job: she’s been appointed Famine. How will an anorexic seventeen-year-old girl from the suburbs fare as one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Traveling the world on her steed gives Lisa freedom from her troubles at home: her constant battle with hunger, and her struggle to hide it from the people who care about her. But being Famine forces her to go places where hunger is a painful part of everyday life, and to face the horrifying effects of her phenomenal power. Can Lisa find a way to harness that power — and the courage to battle her own inner demons?

This is the first book in the Horsemen of the Apocalypse series by Jackie Kessler. The first horseman she has chosen is Famine. Lisa is tasked with this job when after months of struggling with bulimia she overdoses on medication her Mum has. Whilst unconscious she is visited by Death, who offers her two choices: die, or live as Famine. In a confused state she chooses the latter. When she wakes up she sees the scales and her horse but thinks she is just having a breakdown. When she finally realises what is going on she is in for a shock. She travels to places were people are gorging on food, and places where children are starving. She has to learn to control her rage, find a way to help those with nothing and face up to, and fight War – a dominating and intimidating lady. Will she ever stop being Famine? What will happen to her and her health if she does?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I liked Lisa a lot. I felt so sorry that she was having eating-related issues. This is a big problem in Western society, and I think Kessler deals with the issue well – she addresses the way it can manifest, the thoughts the person has, what it can lead to and the effect it has on others. It was thoughtful and provoking. Of course, her solution to the problem, making Lisa famine, isn’t realistic but I thought it was great that Lisa overcomes her problems and is willing to accept help and counselling.

I thought the story was very good. It is full of different, eccentric characters – such as Death, who sat on his horse singing. He just made me laugh! There were some characters who we needed to get to know before we liked – such as Lisa’s Mum, some characters who were a bad influence, such as her bulimic friend and others who were just lovely, like her Dad. This range of characters added depth and interest to the book.

This is a fantasy young adult book, but one I enjoyed very much. It was well written and researched. It took me a couple of days to read through. I laughed, enjoyed the storyline, and could have cried in some places. Really worth reading.

 

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Jill Mansell – Take a Chance on Me

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Library hard back

Genre: Chick-lit

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

Cleo Quinn doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to men, but now Will’s come along she’s optimistic. Handsome, attentive and an absolute gentleman when it comes to her questionable cooking skills, he could be her Mr Right. Things are definitely looking up for Cleo… apart from one small problem with a rather large ego. Johnny LaVenture, sculptor extraordinaire and her childhood adversary, is back in Channing’s Hill and tormenting Cleo as if he’d never been away.

But life never goes to plan, does it? Johnny isn’t the only one stirring up trouble and, for Cleo’s family and friends, all kinds of sparks are starting to fly. If you think you can put the past behind you, think again…

I read this book back at the beginning of the year, and really enjoyed it. It is a book that had me glued to it all day. I couldn’t put it down and I finished it in a day. I have read a couple of other novels by Jill Mansell, and really enjoyed those too.

Mansell writes really good chick-lit. Her books are fun and hard to put down. They always perk me up and I always enjoy them. In this novel, Cleo is the protagonist. She used to work hard at school but a bout of bullying put an end to that. As an adult she makes a living driving limos. She is happy and content with her job and her boyfriend Will. Then the man who made her life miserable at school comes back to town for his father’s funeral her world is shaken. Her sister’s world is also being shaken. She has just discovered that her husband has an eighteen year old daughter. Did he cheat? Why didn’t he tell her?

Mansell weaves a web that revolves around two sisters, Cleo and Abby. Cleo is settled, enjoying life, her man and her friends. Then Johnny returns. His attention is on her, and her head is being turned toward him. She tries to cling on to her current relationship – to discover Will is actually married with children. She feels awful and won’t forgive him. What she doesn’t expect is to become friends with his wife. And what about Abby? Whilst putting away her husband’s socks she discovers a photo of his daughter. How and when did this happen? She discovers that the mother is the surrogate they wanted to use when they discovered Abby wouldn’t be able to carry a baby to full term. The woman had claimed she didn’t get pregnant, but she had in fact lied and kept the baby – a little girl called Georgia. There are twists and turns throughout the book and it is so enjoyable.

Mansell writes a whole host of readable, realistic characters. I liked Cleo. She was caring and concerned about her family. She is sensitive and she is not easily wooed. I felt so much for Abby. She was a damaged woman, as she couldn’t have children. Then to discover her husband had a child, and then for Georgia to come and live with them was tough. She was sad and angry and lost. Her character was realistic and heart breaking. I liked Cleo’s best friend Ash. I found it fascinating how he was a radio DJ who really was very shy and not that good looking. However, he cared and was fun with Cleo. I liked Johnny as well. Once he realised how he had made Cleo feel he was apologetic and watching him chase Cleo was great!

There is a lot in this book – affairs, barrenness, family, surrogacy and love. There is so much to get your teeth in. I felt every story line was handled really well. I was sucked into this world and really enjoyed being there. The ending is fairly predictable, but who doesn’t like a happy ending?!

I can easily give this book 4/5 because it was so good. From start to finish, I was hooked. Really worth reading if you like chick-lit.

 

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A Place of Secrets by Rachel Hore

REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Addition: Library paperback

Genre: Historical mystery, female fiction

Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:

The night before it all begins, Jude has the dream again…

Can dreams be passed down through families? As a child Jude suffered a recurrent nightmare: running through a dark forest, crying for her mother. Now her six-year-old niece, Summer, is having the same dream, and Jude is frightened for her.

A successful auctioneer, Jude is struggling to come to terms with the death of her husband. When she’s asked to value a collection of scientific instruments and manuscripts belonging to Anthony Wickham, a lonely 18th-century astronomer, she leaps at the chance to escape London for the untamed beauty of Norfolk, where she grew up.

As Jude untangles Wickham’s tragic story, she discovers threatening links to the present. What have Summer’s nightmares to do with Starbrough folly, the eerie crumbling tower in the woods from which Wickham and his adopted daughter Esther once viewed the night sky? With the help of Euan, a local naturalist, Jude searches for answers in the wild, haunting splendour of the Norfolk forests. Dare she leave behind the sadness in her own life and learn to love again?

This is a historical mystery that haunts one family, that is laced with a love story. Jude works for a prestigious auctioneer company in London. Things are looking bad for the company since the recession hit – that is until she receives a call from the Starbrough residence in Norfolk. They have a library which has many first additions and some historic star gazing equipment. Jude doesn’t know what to expect when she arrives in Norfolk – her old home. What she finds is an old folly, a niece having the same nightmares she used to have a family mystery and a lovely man…

I really enjoyed this book. It was not a quick read, but it was well worth reading. This is a book that encompasses the past and the present, love, history, astrology, travellers and family. The main focus of the book is the mystery. Jude is at Starbrough to look through and catalogue Anthony Wickham’s library collection, however, very early on she comes across a diary, not kept by Anthony, but his adopted daughter Esther. There are no records of Esther in the family archives – who was she? Where did she come from and what happened to her? Are the suspicions right – is she a girl from a noble background? If so, how did she end up lost at the side of the road in Norfolk, aged three? There are so many questions for Jude to answer. She roams around the countryside, hunting for clues – is there another diary? I really enjoyed this story line. Hore includes sections from Esther’s diary in the story – taking us back to her life – adding another dimension to the story.

Alongside this, Jude is still trying to recover from the death of her husband, her Gran has given her a necklace that belonged to her traveller friend, and wants Jude to find the friend to return the necklace and Jude is struggling with her sister Claire and the fact Claire’s daughter Summer is having the same nightmares that Jude used to have. What is the connection? Why is Summer having those dreams too? The most exciting part of the book was the climax at the end – Summer goes missing. Her dream leads her to the old folly – the building where Anthony Wickham used to star gaze. It is unsafe, possibly haunted and scares Summer. Yet she sleep walks there. It turns out, she is going to try and save Esther – who was locked up there after her father died – even though Esther lived in the 1800s. What is the connection between Esther and Summer?

All is revealed at the end – loose ends tied up and questions answered. Maybe the connections were too predictable and unrealistic, but I liked it! The ending is very neat – the family line that runs down to Summer and the Lord who happened to be working with the Jude’s auctioneer company. However, all answers were satisfying, and I enjoyed the way Hore wrapped the book up.

This is a complex book with many story lines, all linked fascinating. There is a love story – we get to see Jude’s broken heart healed by Euan – even though there was confusion about which sister he was falling for. Again, this romance is fairly predictable, but it was lovely anyway, and didn’t take over the story. It was a nice story that completed the book.

I thought all the characters were great to read about. I felt for Jude – finding it hard to relate to her sister, struggling with love and working hard to solve the Wickham mystery and get a great sale for her company. I really liked Chantel as well – the mother who lived at Starbrough Hall. She was caring, and loved the library – a great reason for me to like her!

This is a complex, exciting book. It has mystery, suspense and romance. This is the second book by Rachel Hore that I have read and I have really enjoyed both. She is fast becoming a favourite author and I highly recommend this book.

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Knitting Diaries by Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery and Christina Skye

REVIEWS CONTAIN SPOILERS!

Addition: Review e-book from netGalley

Genre: Female fiction, romance

Rating: 4 out of 5

This is a collection of short stories, written by prolific chick-lit authors Debbie Macomber, Susan Mallery and Christina Skye.

Debbie Macomber

Knitting is a way of life: The Twenty-First Wish by Debbie Macomber

Anne Marie Roche and her adopted daughter, ten-year-old Ellen, have each written a list of twenty wishes – on which they included learning to knit. But Ellen has quietly added a twenty-first wish: that her mom will fall in love with Tim, Ellen’s birth father, who’s recently entered their lives…

This short story follows on from the Blossom Street stories. Anne Marie had recently adopted Ellen, a girl who had been bought up by her Grandma until her death. Ellen’s Dad – Tim, who didn’t know until he was a father until Ellen was adopted has been spending a lot of time with both his daughter and Anne Marie. Both adults developed feelings for each other but Tim had a fiancée. When she found out about Ellen, she went back to drinking, and Tim – a recovering alcohol left her. However, Anne Marie felt messed around Tim and decided to have nothing more to do with him. However, Ellen has one wish she has told no one – that Anne Marie and Tim fall in love. Will her wish come true?

I love Debbie Macomber, and I enjoyed this story. Sadly, it was too short! Macomber writes a lovely story about friendship, family and love. My favourite character was Ellen. She was cute and so likeable. She is passionate and just a delight to read. I think Macomber writes really warm, friendly characters and it is so easy to fall in love with them.

The ending was not a surprise – but it was so nice! I was satisfied and happy by the conclusion. The only problem with this story was it was too short. I love the Blossom Street series – the characters, the knitting and the friendship. I really hope Macomber writes another in this series.

Susan Mallery

Knitting is a passion: Coming Unraveled by Susan Mallery

When Robyn Mulligan’s dreams of becoming a Broadway star give way to longing for her childhood home, she returns to Texas, running her grandmother’s knitting store. But the handsome, hot-tempered T.J. Passman isn’t making it easy on her. If he can learn to trust Robyn, and overcome his tragic past, they just might discover a passion like no other. Susan’s story in this anthology is linked to her book ALREADY HOME (April 2011).

To be honest, I didn’t enjoy this story too much. It follows Robyn, a girl who had always dreamt of becoming a Broadway star. She leaves Texas for New York, but her dreams don’t come to anything. She returns to Texas when her Gran needs to go in for an operation. When she walks into the knitting shop she is greeted by an angry stare from a guy she has never met – T.J. After a short, hostile chat with him, she discovers he thinks she is a fraud, lying to her Gran and living off her money. He is wrong, but will she change his mind?

The problem I had with this story was it seemed really sex-driven. Every time T.J. and Robyn look at each other, Mallery seems compelled to describe all emotions and longings. It just made me bored and uncomfortable.

This is another love story with knitting thrown in. Again, the ending was predictable – but who doesn’t like a happy ending?! I thought Robyn’s Gran and her friends were lovely characters. They were funny and so caring. They were really supportive of Robyn, even after her acting career didn’t work out.

This is a nice story, ruined by too much talk about sex, and the longing for it.

Christina Skye

Knitting is a comfort: Return to Summer Island by Christina Skye

After a devastating car accident, Caro McNeal is welcomed by a community of knitters on Oregon’s sleepy Summer Island. She also finds meaning and purpose in the letters she exchanges with a marine serving in Afghanistan. But when life takes another unexpected turn, will Caro pick up the threads of hope, opening her heart to wherever it takes her?

Meet Caro. She loves knitting. When she isn’t working, she knits. That is, until she is hit by a car and her right arm is mashed. She will face a long time in a cast, and then physiotherapy – with no guarantees that she will ever be able to knit again. She leaves Chicago to recover and goes back to the home she grew up in, with her Gran. A chance visit by Gage Greyson changes her mindset and her road to recovery. He is off to Afghanistan – leaving his pets in the care of the local vet. Caro and Gage stay in contact, will it lead to love?

This is a nice love story. It is love not just for another person, but for knitting and animals. It is a story of recovery, patience and art. I thought Caro was a lovely character. She was so gutted by her accident – and so frustrated that she couldn’t knit – or do much in fact. Her mindset is changed by one lovely picnic, and the need to look after Gage’s two animals.

To be honest, this is not a realistic story. It is about love at first sight and long-distance army relationship. Of course this book had a happy ending, I just didn’t think any of this would happen. Gage is involved in a military attack, yet someone Caro’s Gran knows was able to tell her confidential information and get her to the base where Gage was taken after the attack. It was lovely, just unrealistic.

This is a nice collection of stories, based around knitting. The stories and writings are different. It was a nice, quick read – very enjoyable.


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Goodnight, Beautiful by Dorothy Koomson

Addition: Paperback

Genre: Chick-lit, fiction

Rating: 4 out of 5

Synopsis:

Eight years ago, Nova Kumalisi agreed to have a baby for Mal and Stephanie Wacken. Halfway through the pregnancy, the couple changed their minds and walked away, leaving Nova pregnant, scared and alone.

Eight years ago, Stephanie was overjoyed at the thought of becoming a mother – until she found a text from Mal to Nova saying, “Goodnight, beautiful”. Terrified of losing her husband to his closest friend, Stephanie asked him to cut all ties to Nova and their unborn child.

Now, Nova is anxiously waiting for her son, Leo, to wake up from a coma, while childless Stephanie is desperately trying to save her failing marriage. Although they live separate lives, both women have secrets that will bind them together for ever…

Dorothy Koomson is one of my favourite authors, and this book did not let me down. Koomson never shies away from reali life, hard hitting issues, and in Goodnight, Beautiful she looks at pregnancy, jealousy and the fear of having a child in a coma.

Mal and Stephanie can’t have children, so Mal asks his best friend, Nova to be a surrogate mother. Nova and Mal have been friends for so long that Nova can’t say no. During the pregnancy Stephanie finds a text Mal had sent Nova, simply saying “Goodnight, beautiful”. Jealously soars through her and she makes Mal give up the child. She gives a string of excuses as to why they can’t take the baby…leaving Nova pregnant and without a best friend. Eight years on Nova has fallen in love with her boy, Leo and has married. Yet the unthinkable has happened – Leo was in an accident and been in a coma for weeks. Supported by her family, and Mal’s family – but not Mal, Nova has to struggle through this, while Stephanie and Mal are trying to resolve their marital issues, ones that spout out of Stephanie’s jealousy and Mal’s hurt and anger. Will Leo wake up? Will Mal ever see his son? Will Stephanie and Mal resolve their problems?

This book is so touching. I loved the characters and the storyline is gripping and realistic. Koomson is an amazing writer and her books always move me. This story isn’t just set in the present, we watch Leo grow up and the problems this pregnancy caused between Mal and Nova – and their friendship before Stephanie. We see a full picture of what happened and the story is told by different people.

In this book Koomson explores what jealously can do relationships, what effect surrogacy can have on the person carrying the baby and those around them, and how having a child in a coma can effect your whole world. This book seemed thoroughly researched and was very well written. I was gripped, I was almost in tears in many parts and as I reflect on the book I remember a beautiful book by a great author.

My favourite character was Leo. He was so cute! I was willing him to wake up all through the book. Nova was brave, strong, scared and a lovely character. Her relationship with Mal was gorgeous – friends forever. It was horrible reading the effect one jealous person could have on a friendship – although I found myself feeling sorry for Stephanie as she battled the jealousy. That said, she was manipulative and lied – so sad to see what insecurities can do to a person. I wanted Mal to man up and see Leo regardless of Stephanie. Nova was his friend and Leo his son – he needed to be bold. I think all the characters were well thought out and well written and made the story come alive.

I say this every time I write about Koomson: she writes female fiction – but it isn’t girly, easy-to-read chick-lit, it has meaning and substance. She writes about issues facing people these days and attacks them viciously. She writes really well and I am yet to read a book by her that I don’t like. I am so happy I read this book, and can easily give it 4 out of 5.

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This Girl is Different by J J Johnson

Synopsis:

This girl is different… That’s what Evie has always told herself—and it’s true. Home-schooled by her counter culture mom, she’s decided to see what high school is like for the first time—for her senior year. And what a year it is.

As it turns out, it’s not just Evie who’s Different. Lots of people are. Many of her assumptions about others are turned on their heads as she makes friends with kids her own age for the first time, discovers what’s good and what’s bad about high school, and learns lessons about power and its abuse—both by the administration and by Evie herself.

Review:

This is the first novel by JJ Johnson I have read, and I really enjoyed it. It is classed as young adult, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was pacey, exciting and gripping. I read this book as fast as I read Therapy, and although they are completely different, they both had my heart racing, had me wondering what was going to happen.

This is the story of Evie, a girl who is about to enter her final year at high school – although this will also be her first year at high school, as she was home-schooled, both by herself using the internet and her mother, a wonderful, slightly eccentric character who likes to move around. We first meet Evie out by the river, drawing a snake she caught after she has fallen and sprained her ankle. Cue Raja and Jacinda, cousins who are walking past and help Evie. Their friendship blossoms and becomes a key storyline throughout the book. Along with Evie, and the havoc she causes at school. She doesn’t know what to expect but the regimental and sometimes unfair school system causes her to act radically, and as a result, secrets come out and the school is turned to chaos. Her relationships are jeopardised, as is her opportunity to go to her chosen university. Will she be able to set things right, whilst changing what was wrong?

As I said, I really enjoyed this book. It was a fun novel about high-school. I can’t say how realistic it is, one girl coming in and shaking a whole school – certainly wouldn’t have happened at my secondary school, but it was a fascinating read. Evie stands up to teachers who bully students, teachers who have relationships with students outside of school – platonic or not, and she takes on the school about their mobile phone policy, the food and the fact the students are not allowed outside. Her, Rajas and Jacinda set up a blog, and chaos ensues. It might not be realistic, but it was a great read. I was hooked from the beginning, fascinated, and wondered if schools in America are really as bad as this novel makes them out to be?

Johnson seems to be addressing the lack of democracy in schools. Should students be allowed to have a say about every matter concerning school? Should they even have to go? It was interesting, and some things I agreed with – like the fact they should be allowed outside and the canteen should serve healthy food, but other stuff I found myself disagreeing with. I found myself entering into the debate, even as I read, which is a sign of a good book to me.

I liked all the characters. Evie was different, not afraid to stand out. Maybe without Rajas and Jacinda she wouldn’t have made any friends, but I liked her individuality. Rajas and Jacinda were very well written. I liked how they interacted with each other – and their mood swings seemed very realistic. Martha – Evie’s mum was a strange character. I didn’t like that Evie didn’t call her “Mum” but I loved that Martha was there for Evie all the way through. The headmaster is the other character who stuck out for me. He reminded me of Headmaster Chartleston from Gilmore Girls! He seemed to give Evie a lot of freedom and often support – which I found hard to believe given the state the school was slipping into.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was fun and exhilarating. The ending wasn’t a total surprise, but then this isn’t a thriller, it is a young-adult novel full of school, friendship and love. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it, even if, like me, you aren’t a young adult any more!

4/5

Reviewed for netGalley

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Therapy by Sebastian Fitzek

Addition: Borrowed, paperback

Genre: Thriller

Rating: 5/5

Synopsis:

No witnesses, no evidence, no body: Star psychologist Viktor Larenz’s twelve-year-old daughter, Josy, who had suffered from an inexplicable illness, has vanished under mysterious circumstances during a visit to her doctor, and the investigation into her disappearance has brought no results. Four years later, Viktor remains a man shattered by this tragedy. He has retreated to a remote vacation cottage on a North Sea island, where a beautiful stranger named Anna Glass pays him a visit. She claims to be a novelist who suffers from an unusual form of schizophrenia: all the characters she creates for her books become real. While writing her most recent novel, Anna has been tortured by visions of a little girl with an unknown illness who has vanished without a trace, and she asks Dr. Larenz to treat her. Viktor reluctantly begins therapy sessions with the stranger, but very soon these sessions take a dramatic turn as the past is dragged back into the light. What really happened to Josy? Do Anna’s delusions describe Josy’s last days? And is Larenz a danger to himself and others?

Therapy is an absolutely gripping psychological thriller, an intelligent, fast and furious read that will stay with you for a long time after you have followed Viktor into the depths of his own psyche, and have figured out who Anna Glass really is.

I received this book as part of a bookring, and I loved it! This is not the sort of book I generally read and was therefore apprehensive about whether or not I would like this book. As it happened, I thought it was incredible.

Dr Viktor Larenz is a renowned psychologist, but when we meet him he is strapped down in a mental hospital because of the mysterious events that happened to his daughter and the effect they had on him. Josy, his daughter had been suffering from a disease the doctors couldn’t diagnose when she goes missing. One minute she is in the waiting room, the next she has vanished. The search for her has revealed nothing, and distraught Viktor goes to stay a cottage on a remote island. It is there he meets Anna Glass. She is a patient wanting his help, because what she writes about in her novels then comes true. And she has created a story about a girl who goes missing. Is this girl Josy? Can Anna help Viktor find Josy?

The plot and pace of this book were exceptional. I had no idea what the twist was going to be. Every time I thought I had it sussed, something happened which meant my theory fell through. Fitzek keeps you guessing right up to the end, and the suspense and drama make for a great read. Strange things happen, and the atmosphere is built dramatically and well while Viktor is on the island – especially as Anna keeps appearing from nowhere, then disappearing, then being armed and so on.I found the descriptions of the island easy to grasp, and as I sit here writing this review I can still picture the cottage and the events that went with it.

I was convinced by the characters and draw into the story. I felt so sorry for Viktor and everything that ails him in this story. It seemed like at every turn he was defeated but he seemed to keep going. I found Anna fascinating. She was odd, her stories raised questions and led me down the wrong road and kept me gripped the whole way through.

I can’t think of a bad thing to say about this book. I didn’t guess the twist, but it was very good and satisfying. I lent this to my Mum and she read it in a day and loved it too. Although this is completely different to my usual genre choices, I really enjoyed this book and was glad I picked it up. It is fast paced, it is exciting and it is a great story. I will be looking out for more books by Fitzek – I really hope more get translated. This is a must-read book.

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