Monday, 28 August 2017

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel


From Goodreads

Vowing to discover the fate of her missing cousin, a woman returns to her family’s Kansas estate where she spent one haunting summer as a teen, and where she discovered the dark heart of the Roanoke clan that left her no choice but to run.

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her maternal grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, at the Roanoke family estate in rural Osage Flats, Kansas, following the suicide of her mother. Lane knows little of her mother’s family, other than the fact that her mother ran away years before and cut off all contact with her parents. Allegra, abandoned by her own mother at birth and raised by her grandparents, introduces Lane to small-town life and the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But there is darkness at the heart of the Roanoke family, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull she has no choice but to run, as far and as fast as she can.

Eleven years later, Lane is scraping by in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls with the news that Allegra has gone missing. “Come home,” he beckons. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to Osage Flats, determined to find her cousin and assuage her own guilt at having left Allegra behind all those years ago. Her return might mean a second chance with Cooper, the boyfriend whom she loved and destroyed that fateful summer. But it also means facing the terrible secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between the summer of Lane’s first arrival and the summer of her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

My thoughts

My thanks to the Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. I gave this a 4 stars or 8/10.

Some things are taboo and off limits, they should stay that way too in my opinion. Sadly, some families don't always conform to the norm and deviate in their own way. Dark and disturbing are words that can be used to describe this story that tells us about the Roanoke family and the girls within it.

It's not an easy read and will affect some readers greatly. I found myself drawn in slowly, told in alternate chapters of the here and now, with the past we are drip fed the lives of Lane, Allegra and their grandparents. Lane is drawn back into the Roanoke fold when she finds out that Allegra has gone missing and she needs to find out where she is or what has happened to her.

This was a great debut novel by Amy Engel into the adult world of novel writing (previously a YA author), be prepared to feel a little uneasy at what you're reading when you grab yourself a copy of this. She neither sensationalises nor down plays the feelings surrounding this taboo. Looking forward to the next one with baited breath.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Pretty Filthy Lies (Pretty Broken #2) by Jeana E.Mann


From Goodreads

Sometimes the worst lies are the ones we tell ourselves...

Ten years ago, I did a terrible thing. I sold my self-respect, my marriage, and my chances for happiness. What was the going rate for these intangible things? For me, it was a check in the sum of one million dollars and a get-out-of-jail-free card for my delinquent brother. A decade later, I’m broken, unemployed, and still single. My baby brother is back in jail. The million dollars is gone.

My ex-husband wants to trust me again, but the thing is…how can he trust me when neither of us can forget all the pretty, filthy lies of our past? 

This is the conclusion of Pretty Broken Girl and the second book of five in the Pretty Broken Series. It contains hot sex, adult language, and adult situations.

My thoughts

I couldn't wait to get my hands on this one, the second in the Pretty Broken series. This story is the second part of Dakota and Samuel's stories and attempts to bring a conclusion to it.  I gave this a 4 stars or 8/10.

It was a joy to pick up and read, several books over the years have had that effect on me and this series is doing the same. I read this story in just over a day. I was that entranced by it, that I wanted to know how Dakota and Samuel's relationship was going to survive or come to an end.

As things that have happened in the past to both of them and all the lies that have been told come back to haunt them. Can they both learn to forgive one another and move on? With members of the family on both sides appearing to conspire against them, only they can decide what they have to do for the best for both of them.

Another great read and I already had the third in the series lined up to read after this one.

Pretty Broken Girl (Pretty Broken #1) by Jeana E.Mann


From Goodreads

Love isn't always pretty. Sometimes you have to break the thing you love in order to put the pieces back together again.

"Life is all about choices. Do I want pizza or a hamburger for dinner? Should I wear a red skirt or blue slacks to work? Do I take a million dollar check and divorce the love of my life to keep my baby brother out of jail? In case you're wondering, I took the check. Now my ex is back in my life. He's still angry and...he's my new boss."

Pretty Broken Girl is the passionate retelling of a marriage gone wrong.

From the boardroom to the bedroom, Dakota Atwell and Samuel Seaforth are locked in a battle of wits and desire. One of them will break. One of them will pay. Both of them want to win. Neither of them expects to fall in love…again.

This is Book 1 of a five book series. It contains adult language, adult situations, and hot steamy sex with a HFN ending. Although it can be read as a standalone, it will be much more enjoyable when read with the other books in the series.

My thoughts

I grabbed this book as a freebie via BookBub. I gave this a 4 stars or 8/10.

I was drawn into the world of Dakota Atwell and her ex husband Samuel Seaforth. Once married Dakota, was given the chance to take a cheque that offered her enough money to keep her brother out of jail. Sadly, the cheque came at a cost. Dakota, had very little choice and did what was expected of her.

Jump forward in time to Dakota and Samuel's paths crossing again. As old animosities come to the fore and neither of them want to back down and both want to win. Dakota and Samuel take us on a journey of rediscovery.

I really enjoyed this first story in the Pretty Broken series, it can be read as a standalone. However, Dakota and Samuel's journey continues in the second story in the series, Pretty Filthy Lies. I found it well written and very engaging. I will be reading more in this series as I want to know what the future has in store for them both.  With a great supporting cast of secondary characters who are bound to return in other books in this series, this series is shaping up nicely.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

The Illusionists by Rosie Thomas


From Goodreads

London, 1885.
As a turbulent and change-filled century draws to a close, there has never been a better time to alter your fortune. But for a beautiful young woman of limited means, Eliza’s choices appear to lie between the stifling domesticity of marriage or a downwards spiral to the streets – no matter how determined she is to forge her own path.

One night at a run-down theatre, she meets the charismatic Devil Wix – showman, master of illusion, fickle friend. Drawn into his circle, Eliza becomes the catalyst of change for his colleagues – a dwarf, an eccentric engineer, and an artist – as well as Devil himself. And as Eliza embarks on a dangerous adventure, she must decide which path to choose, and how far she should go when she holds all their lives in her hands.

My thoughts

I gave this 3.5 stars or 7/10.

Whilst I did enjoy this bittersweet story, I felt it wasn't one of the best that I've read by her. You really do need to check out this authors back catalogue as she has written some amazing stories that have stayed with me.

This is a gothic tale, that I found to be a slow burner about Eliza and how she becomes the linchpin to how this story evolves ~ she is drawn in by the enigmatic Illusionist Devil Wix and his performing friends. She appears to have them all eating out of the palm of her hand, but as her future becomes uncertain who will become her saviour. The story is mainly set around a theatre where they all perform their different acts. With lots of infighting between one another as to whose performances bring in the biggest audiences, Devil wields his cunning and soon manipulates things in his favour.

Sad to say I found this a little over long and lacking, I found myself with my mind wandering at times yet I still was invested in the story enough to find out how everything panned out.

Where the Bodies are Buried (Sharp Investigations #1) by Chris Brookmyre


From Goodreads

Detective Catherine McLeod was always taught that in Glasgow, they don't do whodunit. They do score-settling. They do vendettas. They do petty revenge. They do can't-miss-whodunit. It's a lesson that has served her well, but Glasgow is also a dangerous place to make assumptions. Either way she looks at it, she recognises that the discovery of a dead drug-dealer in a back alley is merely a portent of further deaths to come.

Elsewhere in the city, aspiring actress Jasmine Sharp is reluctantly - and incompetently - earning a crust working for her uncle Jim's private investigation business. When Jim goes missing, Jasmine has to take on the investigator mantle for real, and her only lead points to Glen Fallan, a gangland enforcer and professional assassin whose reputation is rendered only slightly less terrifying by having been dead for twenty years. Cautiously tracing an accomplished killer's footsteps, Jasmine stumbles into a web of corruption and decades-hidden secrets that could tear apart an entire police force - if she can stay alive long enough to tell the tale.

My thoughts

I gave this a 4 stars or 8/10. Chris Brookmyre has written many books, but I have to admit that this is the first one that I've read by him and where better to start than at the beginning of a series.

Jasmine Sharp, wants to be an actress. However, short of acting work she finds herself working for her Uncle Jim, who runs a private investigation business. Detective McLeod is investigating the death of a drug dealer are the two at all linked?

As Jasmine finds her Uncle missing she sets off on a journey to discover what has happened to him. As the future soon begins to collide with the past and secrets that had been buried are unearthed, Jasmine learns things about her past that she didn't know.

The book features both the police investigation and Jasmine's own investigation and at times feels a little disjointed. However, it did keep me reading and I found it a relatively easy read even with all the local dialect thrown in.

I read this as part of my local Library reading group reads and I will be reading more in this series.

Friday, 11 August 2017

The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse


From Goodreads

What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

My thoughts

My thanks to the Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. I gave this a 4 star or 8/10.

This story relates the life of Nina and her two sons following the death of her husband, their father who was killed in a car accident. As Nina's life unfurls in front of her eyes, she begins to realise that she had been living her life as a lie. Nina needs to become the strong one in the family know, the person to hold the family, what's left of it as a unit.

I do not want to say too much about the book as I don't want to spoil it for others. As I was reading the book I was ambivalent about it, it was similar in lots of ways to others that I've read in the past not in content as such, but it wasn't completely gripping me. However, as I neared the end events began to happen that piqued my interest and I found that I didn't want to put it down as it had drawn me in.

I would recommend reading this story with tissues to hand as you might need them. I found myself sat on a local supermarket car park crying as I read to the end of the story. I then felt the need later that night to tweet @MrsAmandaProwse to let her know that I hated her for making me cry!!

Overall this was a bittersweet tale, that will make you wonder what you'd do if you found yourself in Nina's shoes. Don't get me wrong at times I felt like slapping her for the way she'd acted while her husband was still alive. If you like thought provoking contemporary reads then this is the book for you.

Feel free to tweet Amanda Prowse if you hate her too for making you cry. :-)

Thursday, 10 August 2017

31 Days of Wonder by Tom Winter


From Goodreads

'And in that instant, he knows in his heart that today is a momentous day; come what may, he and Alice will meet again, and life will never be the same.'  

Alice is stuck in an internship she loathes and a body she is forever trying to change.

Ben, also in his early twenties, is still trying to find his place in the world.

By chance they meet one day in a London park.

Day 1
Ben spots Alice sitting on a bench and feels compelled to speak to her. To his surprise, their connection is instant. But before numbers are exchanged, Alice is whisked off by her demanding boss.

20 minutes later
Alone in her office toilets, Alice looks at herself in the mirror and desperately searches for the beauty Ben could see in her.

Meanwhile, having misunderstood a parting remark, Ben is already planning a trip to Glasgow where he believes Alice lives, not realising that they actually live barely ten miles apart.

Over the next 31 days, Alice and Ben will discover that even if they never manage to find each other again, they have sparked a change in each other that will last a lifetime. In 31 Days of Wonder, Tom Winter shows us the magic of chance encounters and how one brief moment on a Thursday afternoon can change the rest of your life.

My thoughts

My thanks to Corsair Books via NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. I gave this a 3.5 stars or 7/10 depending on which rating you prefer.

This is the tale of Ben and Alice who meet on a bench in a park one day. Told in 31 chapters which mimic a 31 day period that could be a calendar month or just 31 consecutive days. This story is quite a quirky read that would make a fab reading group read.

Both Ben and Alice have issues. Ben has health issues that aren't that apparent at first, but is one of the reasons that it took me awhile to settle into the story as I found it quite hard to tell what was going on with him. I read a review that basically told me what his problem was, this did help me understand him a little more. However, it did spoil it for me a little bit too. Alice has body issues that she has to come to terms with, none of us will admit that our body is perfect and I am sure that all of us will be able to relate to Alice.

As Ben and Alice both go on their separate journeys, we learn so much about both of them and they both learn so much about themselves.