Monday 31 August 2015

#PleaseRetweet - Emily Benet

#PleaseRetweet is a fun read, providing an insight into the world of social media where if you're not on Twitter or Facebook etc, you're not normal.

May Sparks has just landed a great job where she gets to hang out on Twitter and handle the profiles of  wannabe celebrities who can't be trusted to say the right thing. What May doesn't realise is that her boss, Craig, expects her to be available 24/7 and her clients will all need babysitting in some way.

May's life is then taken over by the constant demands of her boss, her clients and her friends and her life soon begins to spiral out of control and she can't seem to do right for doing wrong. Even when she's not tweeting she's composing tweets and her head is continually full of noise. But soon it's May herself who is trending #WhereIsMaySparks

Emily Benet has written an excellent book containing believable characters and situations which will have you laughing out loud in places. She's really managed to show the addiction some people have to social media, we've all seen them, constantly playing with their phone, refreshing pages, checking how many likes and retweets they're getting and seemingly paying little attention to the things happening around them in the real world.

If you're looking for a light-hearted, entertaining and current read then this could be the book for you. I loved it and I hope that you do too.

With kind thanks to NetGalley and publishers HarperImpulse for the review copy.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Waiting For The Bee Stings - Calvin Wade

I first became aware of Waiting For The Bee Stings by a tweet on Twitter. I loved the cover so I went off in search of more information. I'm so glad that I did as this book is an absolute gem.

Mia Maher is almost forty and when she returns home from a friends funeral to find her husband's naked mistress in her bathroom her life heads in a new direction.

The story that follows is a mix of past and present as we find out how Mia copes with her husband Gary's philandering alongside flashbacks to her past when she was in her twenties and part of a group of four close friends who go on holiday to Tenerife.

I loved every single thing about this book. The story really drew me in and made me laugh out loud in places especially the description of Mia's monumental sneeze at the funeral just as the coffin is being taken out of the church. Calvin Wade has a wonderful talent for getting under the skin of his characters and I was impressed with his portrayal of both Mia and her young daughter Esme.The story was a heartwarming tale of lives not taking their expected paths and is a wonderful read that I can't recommend highly enough and I'll definitely be reading this author's other books.

Sunday 23 August 2015

The Child - Sebastian Fitzek

My name is Simon. I'm 10 years old. I'm a serial killer.
Robert Stern, a successful defence lawyer, doesn't know what lies in store for him when he agrees to meet a new client in a derelict estate on the outskirts of Berlin. To his astonishment, the defendant is a ten-year-old boy - Simon - a fragile child with a chronic illness who insists that he was a murderer in a former life. Stern's surprise quickly turns to horror as he searches the cellar Simon has directed him to and discovers the skeletal remains of a man, the skull split with an axe - just as Simon told him he would.
But this is only the beginning, as Simon tells Stern where to find even more victims whose bodies have lain undisturbed for years. Suddenly, the present feels murderously dangerous as well...
The Child is a darkly twisting, page-turning thriller that will make your heart pound with adrenaline. 

When I read the above blurb I knew that this was a book that I wanted to read but the story I got wasn't what I was expecting. As I read on the story quickly changed from being about a serial killer to one about reincarnation, child trafficking and paedophilia.

I found this a difficult book to read at times. The plot was confusing, it was just too unbelievable and implausible and parts of the translation were a bit clunky. Towards the end it was almost as if the author wasn't sure how to end the book and there's a large section that just retells the story which I felt was unnecessary.

Overall if you can suspend your beliefs this isn't a bad read and it would keep you engrossed for a few hours.

With kind thanks to NetGalley for the review copy.

Sunday 16 August 2015

Killing Me Softly - Bianca Sloane

Killing Me Softly was previously published as Live And Let Die and was Bianca Sloane's debut novel. Regular readers of my blog will know that I reviewed Every Breath You Take a few months ago and I loved it so I was looking forward to reading another novel from the same author.

Tracey Ellis marries Phillip but when she disappears while out jogging one cold January evening and is found dead a few days later her sister Sondra can't get to grips with it.

A year later Phillip writes a letter to Tracey's mother telling her that he has remarried and when Sondra finds out her interest is piqued. She always had her doubts about her sister's marriage to Phillip, as she didn't think that he was her sisters usual type and he seemed to be a little odd. So when she unexpectedly runs into Tracey's ex and finds out that the marriage wasn't as happy as everyone thought Sondra decides to take matters into her own hands.

As usual I don't want to give much away so I'll just say that what follows is a dark and disturbing tale of lies, deceit, manipulation, domestic abuse, secrets, jealousy, fear and insecurities. I really wanted to read this book slowly and savour every page but it was impossible. The nearer you get to the end, the more the suspense and tension ramps up and I found myself reading faster and faster as I had to know what happens and just when you think the whole story has reached it's conclusion, you're hit with one last sting in the tale, which I certainly didn't see coming.

If you've never had the pleasure of reading a Bianca Sloane novel and you enjoy a gripping psychological thriller then firstly I'm jealous as I would love to read them again oblivious as to what was coming next and secondly this novel is free on Amazon at the time of writing this review. So what are you waiting for?

Saturday 15 August 2015

What Lies Within - James Morris

What Lies Within is a YA thriller that certainly pulls you in from the prologue. A young man is driving around the streets of Chicago looking for trouble, driving into rubbish bins, smashing into car wing mirrors and generally being a nuisance. When he pulls into a petrol station to fill up he gets the feeling that he's being stared at and when he turns he sees a motorcyclist looking like a "well armoured samurai". Now that he's made to feel less confident he decides against making any smart comments and just to fill up and get out as quickly as possible,so imagine his surprise when the next thing he knows is that he's being sprayed with a torrent of gasoline quickly followed by the click click of a lighter which is then casually tossed towards him. Remember this is just the prologue.

We then meet Shelley Marano who is just a normal teenager who helps out at her father's car bodyshop, that is until the day she receives a text message telling her that she's going to die and her whole world begins to unravel. What follows is a fast paced story full of twists and turns and self discovery.

I haven't read anything by James Morris before so I was a little apprehensive when I agreed to read this novel (I always am with author's I don't know) but I can honestly say it was a pleasure to read. After the explosive (literally) prologue which fits nicely into the story later on, I was taken on Shelley's journey as if I was right there. Although I didn't always agree with her reactions to certain situations (but then I'm not a teenager and I'm sure we're all guilty of making bad choices in our youth) the story was still very believable and she didn't annoy me like other YA characters have done in the past. I loved Winston's character, he was a real sweetheart who was well and truly stuck in the friend zone but to me he couldn't have been anywhere else. Shelley's dad was another great character, and one that I felt real empathy for. He's doing his best to bring up his daughter single-handedly but are some of his decisions the right ones? The only real criticism, and it's a tiny one, is that I would have liked to have seen a little more interaction between Shelley and her father.
All in all this is a great read and one that I think shouldn't limit itself to the young teen readers as I enjoyed every page and really hope that one day there will be a sequel.

With kind thanks to author James Morris for the review copy.

Sunday 9 August 2015

Days of Throbbing Gristle - Kevin Cole

I really didn't know what to expect when I received an email from author Kevin Cole with the heading "Book Review Request - Days of Throbbing Gristle" but I was very intriuged after I'd read the blurb and due to my love of big books (this one has over 800 pages!) I decided to give it a go.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you'll know that I don't usually post the synopsis but I'm making an exception for this book as it will give you a much better overview than I could.

Does Heaven know you're miserable now?

It’s 1987. Sam Henry Hay, a 17-year-old exchange student from Sheffield, hops into Texas, USA, with one burning ambition: Manipulate his gullible host parents into funding his university, and leave his dead-end life in Yorkshire behind.

But is Sam manipulating America or America manipulating Sam? The clever lad schmoozes his way into many a bed and purse, yet can’t get rid of anyone. He executes careful plans, only to watch them disastrously fall apart. Worst of all, this once proud nihilist watches in horror as he reveals a conscience, in a world growing ever darker around him.

Days of Throbbing Gristle is not your typical teenage tale. It’s a razor-slashing journey through a time and place that really was as bad as you’ve heard. For some, high school is the best time in their lives. For others, it’s a miracle they make it to the other side.

I must admit that it took me a little while to get into this but once I was I found myself quickly clicking through page after page on my kindle.

All of the character's are very realistic and well written. There's Sam, who is sarcastic, manipulative, dark and cynical; Donna Turner, the host mum, who is, to put it bluntly, an unscrupulous bitch; Heather, the petulant teenage daughter and Jill, the unpushy Jehovah's Witness. Despite the huge diversity of these character's they all come together extremely well.

This is far from your typical coming of age/ YA novel. I loved the fact that there was nothing predictable about it compared to other novels from this genre and it covers a vast array of topics including religion, drugs and homosexuality but they were all there for a reason and not included for effect as I've seen previously. 

Overall I enjoyed reading this but I did feel that it was overly long in parts and some of the 'side stories' although great to read, could have been left out without detracting from the main plot. That aside, Kevin Cole has written a well constructed, humorous, historical, epic and even poignant novel which is well worth reading if you have the time and inclination to fully devote yourself to it.

With kind thanks to author Kevin Cole for my review copy.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Devastation Road - Jason Hewitt

Devastation Road is the story of Owen, who wakes up in a field, wearing ill-fitting clothes, not knowing who or where he is. His initial thoughts are that he is somewhere in Hampshire and soon his father or brother will stumble across him lying there but it soon becomes clear that Owen is a long way from home.

As Owen begins to walk he stumbles across the wreckage of a train full of debris and bodies which only seems to fuel his hopelessness but luckily he meets a Czechoslovakian boy called Janek who gives him some food and they set out together. They soon stumble upon a young girl named Irena who is trying to give away her baby and she joins them. As they travel along they encounter refugees, soldiers and all the horrors of the war but they desperately try to stay together until they reach Liepzig where they've heard American soldiers are based.

This is a beautifully written book and the detailed descriptions are so vivid you can almost picture yourself there and whilst the atrocities of war are visible they are not revelled in. Owen's back story is dexterously revealed through snatches of memories he has throughout his journey and coupled with Janek's untranslated narrative it enabled me to feel more empathy for him as you could understand why he was so bewildered.

With kind thanks to the author Jason Hewitt for the review copy.