Sunday, 12 November 2017

Killer Affair - Book Review

Killer affair


Whether we like it or not, reality TV is big business

Reality TV in my eyes is a load of trash. That doesn’t change the fact that if I happen to be unlucky and catch an episode of Big Brother by accident, the next two months of my life are over. I get sucked in. There’s no point in fighting it, it’s just a fact of life. And don’t even talk to me about I’m a Celebrity….

So, if like me, you can’t stop watching reality TV shows even though you probably hate every celebrity on them, Killer Affair is the book for you. 

The story follows sexy Lexy, a footballers wife and reality TV Queen. There is nothing this woman wouldn’t do to stay in the public eye. She is forever courting the press and pulling off publicity stunts.

Dowdy blogger Carline has been drafted in to ghost write Lexys autobiography. She is being paid peanuts shadow Lexy, get to know her and learn the tricks of the trade so that she can mimic her tone for the book. Caroline dreams of writing a book of her own one day. She longs to earn enough money be able to escape the dilapidated terraced house she shares with 4 other people. Could ghost writing for Lexy could be the big break she’s been waiting for?

Caroline soon learns that the most important person in Lexys life is Lexy. She has the perfect life, the perfect husband, the perfect house and Caroline thinks she needs to be brought down a peg or two.

It quickly becomes clear that Caroline’s plans go way beyond bringing Lexy down a peg or two. Caroline wants what Lexy has, the house and the fame and most of all Lexys husband Frank and she plans on using Lexys own tricks against her to get exactly that. Poor Frank is stuck in the middle and with both women being as cunning as they come, it’s not surprising that he hasn’t got a clue what’s really going on.

This book is full of revenge, bitchiness, fake friendships and steamy sex scenes. There may even be a few celebrities in this book that you recognise – names have been changed obviously!
I am fully aware that this book is a work of fiction but I have a sneaky suspicion that one or two reality tv stars could well read this and tell us that the truth isn’t that far off.

Rebecca Chance’s writing had the same effect on me as a reality TV show. It had me well and truly hooked. Almost every character was vile and the worse they became the more I wanted to see of them. My opinion of each character changed from chapter to chapter, just like it does from episode to episode on a reality TV show. And when the story ended I was relieved to return to my ordinary life, with my ordinary friends and ordinary job, only this time I didn’t have to look at their faces on the cover of gossip magazines for weeks on end!!

This book was a giveaway win from the Trip Fiction Facebook page.





Monday, 6 November 2017

JoJo Moyes - Paris for One


We all lead busy lives.


Holding down a job, juggling family life and attending social engagements (when we’d much rather be in our PJs scoffing chocolate) means that we have to make the most of every scrap of me time we can lay our hands on. 

One of my favourite things to do is lock the bathroom door, light a candle and sink into the bath with a good book. I’ll be lucky to get half an hour before someone starts knocking on the door demanding food or to let me know the dog has peed on the carpet so short stories are an absolute blessing. 

JoJo Moyes does short stories brilliantly. The stories in Paris for One are fairly light hearted, so nothing too taxing after a tough day and one story a night is easily achievable.  

The first story in this book, Paris For One, follows Rosie who has booked a trip to Paris with her boyfriend. Rosie has never been abroad and is well known and often teased for following a strict routine and sticking to what she knows, so a trip to Paris is a big deal for her. Standing at the train station, all set to go, Rosie receives word that her boyfriend is running late and will meet her there. She makes the brave decision to board the train and head to Paris alone. It soon becomes apparent that Rosie’s boyfriend has no intention of meeting her at all. Scared and alone in a strange country Rosie realises that she has two choices… Go home with her tail between her legs or put on a brave face and flipping well enjoy her holiday – boyfriend or no boyfriend. 

A few stories in we meet Sam who after a kitbag mix up at the gym finds herself arriving to work in someone’s else red Louboutins instead of her own sensible black pumps. The shoes raise a few eyebrows but Sam is determined to not let it spoil her day. Sam soon realises that the shoes change the way other people perceive her, which changes the way she perceives herself. She’s not just sensible Sam, she’s also strong and confident and more than capable of playing hard ball in the boardroom– it just took a day of walking in someone else’s shoes for her to realise it.

Each of the stories in this book feature the struggles of ordinary women, all of which are easy to identify with because the problems they face are real. They are problems that ordinary women face every day whether it’s an unhappy relationship, low self-esteem, stuck in a rut at home or feeling undervalued and unappreciated at work. That's what I like about JoJo Moyes's writing, she has the ability to make me root for the characters, even when they make mistakes or show poor judgement, because I see a part of myself in these women. I understand why they feel the way they do and I get why they do the things they do, because I once felt that way too. 

I love that the stories are uplifting and heartwarming. Despite finding themselves out of their comfort zone, the characters all find a way to make the best of things and for me, the most important lesson comes from Miranda in Thirteen Days with John C. The grass isnt always greener on the other side. If you concentrate on watering your own garden, you'll see its pretty damn good, just as it is. 







Sunday, 21 May 2017

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillps - Review

This copy of Fierce Kingdom is a Goodreads giveaway win. It is an uncorrected proof - due for release mid June. I love it when a book I've had the privilege of reading in advance hits the shelves on publication day. It makes me feel just a teensy weensy bit smug, like when there's some juicy gossip doing the rounds but I already knew about it weeks ago. 

For me, the cover is quite unsettling but in a good way. You can clearly see this is a mother and a child running away from something, but what? As a mother, I know I would do anything to protect my child so I was rooting for the woman in the picture before I'd even started reading. Run, take his hand and run.  


The Blurb: Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are. "The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us." When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs - even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct. It's a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing. But sometimes the rules are different.

I was hooked from the beginning. I loved the introduction to Joan and her son Lincoln. You immediately get a sense of the strong bond they have. Lincoln is quite a mature four year old. He has an amazing sense of humour, he asks lots of questions and can handle honest answers which has given him a good sense of the world he lives in. I found myself being transported back to when my son was four. He was so much like Lincoln but inside that clever little head there was still a four year old child, capable of tears and tantrums, just like Lincoln. I warmed instantly to these two. I already cared about Lincoln like he was my own.

The Zoo is about to close and as they start to make their way towards the exit they hear popping sounds. Joan dismisses them as fireworks, an odd time for fireworks but it is what it is.

As they approach the exit, Joan sees bodies lying on the ground. It dawns on her that she hardly saw a soul on her way back through the Zoo. She sees a man facing the other way, she sees the gun in his hand - it's not fireworks - it's her worst nightmare. She doesn't stop to think. She scoops Lincoln up into her arms and runs. 

This is where I had to put the book down for a moment and gather myself. My heart was pounding so bad. I felt like it was me in the story. I began to think about what I would do. Which direction would I run in? Would I stay calm or would I freak out and give us away?

Joan, being familiar with the Zoo does manage to find somewhere to hide, for now, but keeping Lincoln calm isn't going to be easy. He's hungry, he's cranky, he's scared and he wants answers.

Again, I was thinking what would I do? Would I risk telling him the truth, that yes, if the gunmen find us they might kill us, or would I lie and say it's all going to be ok? Four year olds can be unpredictable. The truth could quite easily send him into a complete meltdown, risking noise and discovery. The truth could just as easily paralyse him with fear, causing him to go into himself, too afraid to speak or move. As heart wrenching as it is, the second option would be my preference if it means he gets through this nightmare alive.

Each and every chapter is filled with suspense. Throughout the story we come across other innocents, also desperately seeking safety, the most harrowing of all, a mother with a screaming baby and nowhere to hide.

We see the gunmen, hunting. Humans - animals, it makes no difference to them. We see beautiful animals slain. We see two Colobus monkeys. One is dead, the other one beside it, looking frightened and confused. Is it mourning? Does it know what's happening? Such a sad, sad sight.

Throughout the book, Joan is forced to make decisions that could potentially save her and Lincolns life or get them killed. A couple of times I was horrified and almost gasped out loud at the decision she made. The trash can scene especially. Without giving anything away, I'm not sure I could have done what she did but I 100% understand why she did and if I were in the same situation, who knows.

There were many beautifully descriptive scenes, however some of them did go on for just that tiny bit too long, killing the suspense and the tenseness I'd been feeling just moments earlier. 

We briefly meet Robbie, one of the gunmen but we never really get to understand much about his motives. 

The ending was really frustrating. You are left to make up your own mind as to whether certain characters made it out alive or not. We don't get to see life after the event. How are the characters coping with the aftermath? We don't get to see if anyone went back to the trash can. Please Gin Phillips, did anyone go back to the trash can? 

I feel mentally exhausted. Fierce Kindgom had my heart pounding and my palms sweating the whole way through and I actually had a nightmare about it. Why did I have a nightmare? Because the subject matter is real. This happens. It could happen to anyone, at any time, anywhere and for no reason at all. That's whats terrifying.

4 out for 5 for this one. 

J9



Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Big Little Lies By Liane Moriarty - Review


Big Little Lies is the first book I've read by Liane Moriarty and my god what a corker of a book to start with. I picked this up mainly because of the TV series. The girls at work often discuss TV programmes and joke that I can't be in their gang because I don't watch the things they watch. So I bought the book with the intention of muscling in on the chit chat. Turns out I was too late. The show ended before I finished the book and when I wanted to talk about what I'd read so far they were already onto the next big thing... sigh.

I'm not particularly overjoyed by the cover. I'm not a fan of film tie in covers, mainly because they often feature images of the characters. For me, part of the enjoyment of reading a book is having the writer describe the characters, allowing me to form an image in my mind of what they might look like. The cover of this book spoilt it a little for me as I knew the three people on the cover had to be the main three characters, Madeline, Celeste and Jane. Throughout the whole book I couldn't help but see them as Reece Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, and Shailene Woodley and that really grated on me

What's it about? Someone is dead. We don't know who and we don't know how - we just know that it happened on trivia night. The book starts off with old Mrs Ponder who lives opposite school. She hears the commotion outside on trivia night, sees fathers fighting, mothers screaming and wonders what on earth is going on? We then cut to six months before the fateful Trivia night and this is where we begin to see the story unfold.  

It is the first day of school and Jane, newcomer to the area and single mother to Ziggy finds herself caught up in a row about bullying when her son is accused of hurting another child in the classroom. Jane doesn't believe it. Ziggy wouldn't do that, would he

Madeline rushes to Jane and Ziggys defence knowing that by doing so she risks alienating herself from the pack. Madeline is the mother of two young children and a teenage daughter from a previous relationship. Madeline is already struggling with the feelings of hurt and betrayal after her daughter grows increasingly distant, choosing to spend more time with her perfect stepmother and her father who abandoned her as a baby. What difference will one one more drama make?

Then there's the beautiful Celeste, mother of twin boys. She lives in a perfect house, with a perfect view and a perfect husband and she never wants for anything. At least that's what she wants you to believe. Celeste is good at keeping secrets. Celeste is already firm friends with Madeline so she joins Madeline in her quest to take Jane and Ziggy under her wing.

To begin with it seems this book is about playground politics, bullying and social status - and that's just the parents. But this book is about so much more than petty preschool parents. This is a book about domestic violence, rape, motherhood- the good the bad and the ugly, the dangers of the Internet, friendship and the big little lies we tell ourselves when the truth seems too much to bear. 

At first I thought it was too much, overdramatic- too many people with too many problems. But then I took a look around. I have on many occasions put on a brave face, smiled brightly and insisted that everything was totally fine when in fact it was anything but. My friends, family, next door neighbour, they all go through their own personal shit but wave across the garden fence like everythings hunky dory. And how would I know any different? I wouldn't. Not unless I asked the right question at the right time and they trusted me enough to open up. I realised that it only feels over dramatic because I am getting to hear about everyones troubles. In real life those same troubles exist, only I don't always get to know about it.

The domestic violence storyline definitely gave me some food for thought. At what point do you say enough is enough? It's not always as clear cut as you might think.

That said, at no point does this book feel depressing. Far from it. Liane Moriarty manages to place humour where you thought there could be none. I found that I could relate to all three main characters in some way. Especially Madeline. God I love that woman. She reminded me so much of myself. I love how honest and real she is, even if she is a touch feisty at times. 

"Madeline" said Ed calmly.
Their arguments always went like this. The angrier Madeline got, the freakishly calmer Ed became, until he reached a point where he sounded like a hostage negotiator dealing with a lunatic and a ticking time bomb. It was infuriating.

I mean come on, who can not relate to this? It's the story of my life!

I loved Liane Moriartys use of unreliable narrators in the snippets of police interviews which kept me guessing who died and 'who dunnit' all the way through. It was amusing to see how eyewitness accounts of the same event varied massively depending on who was telling it. I changed my mind many times and still didn't guess right in the end. (About half way through the book I gave Mr B an overview of the story so far and he called it straight away- clever clogs!)

The chapters are dangerously short. It would be past midnight, I'd have work in the morning, one eye would already be shut, the other struggling to focus  but still, I'd have to read just one more wonderfully juicy (but short so I'll sleep after this one) chapter.. and one more, and just this last one ...Oh Calamity!

Liane Moriarty ties up all the loose ends neatly. I was satisfied with the outcome and was pleased to see that just like in the real world, when it really matters, people can put aside their differences and stand together.

I'm hooked... I'll defintitely be seeking out more books by this extremely talented author. If you haven't read this book and would like to you can find it over here
   

Sunday, 7 May 2017

From a Poison Pen Volume II by B.P Smythe Review

Don't judge a book by its cover

This signed copy of From a Poison Pen Volume II was a Goodreads giveaway win. 


I have to admit, this book sat on my shelf for a good couple of months before I actually picked it up to read. I just found the cover uninspiring and dull so when it was time to pick my next read I always chose other books over this one. I know you should never judge a book by its cover (some of the best books I've ever read have had terrible covers) but we all do it and rightly or wrongly I fully expected the contents of this book to be as uninteresting as the cover. 


Inside are eight short stories. I tend to do most of my reading in the evening before bed and found the length of the stories perfect one per night reads.
Contents page

Wanting to be loved

This felt less like a story and more like one of those teaser chapters you find in the back of a book. The story drops you right in the middle of a creepy Frankenstein type scene and leaves you wondering what on earth is going to happen next but gives no explanation as to how the characters got to where they are in the first place. Had this been a teaser chapter in the back of a book I might well have gone and bought it. As a short story it feels unfinished and confusing. 

Roxanne 

This was my least favourite of the eight. A story about a group of terrorists planning a horrendous attack on thousands of innocent people, Roxanne a murderous prostitute and how their paths cross with unfortunate consequences for all. While I found the attack scene terrifying, gruesome and unsettling but at the same time mesmerising and Roxannes final scene extremely satisfying, I still would have preferred one story for the terrorists and one for Roxanne.

Train Spotting

A story about a serial conman, his prey - lonely widowers looking for a second chance at love and the lengths he is prepared to go to to avoid getting caught.
To begin with I found myself rolling my eyes at the predictability of it all. I wanted to shake both Karen and Jean for falling for his charms and allowing themselves to be so easily duped. As it turned out it was me that needed a good shaking. I had been far too quick to judge. From that first a-ha moment when the title of the story started to make sense I was completely hooked. This is a story about the sweet taste of revenge. What goes around comes around. Mwah ha ha haa.


One fine day

This one describes some of the horrors that happened at one of the concentration camps during World War II and how one of the German doctors escaped capture before the camp was liberated. It then cuts to a home for the elderly, the home of two female camp survivors, still suffering from the mental and physical scars of their time during the war. When one of them screams out in terror having recognised 'The beast of Jaworzno' she starts a chain of events that rocks the home and risks exposing the true identity of someone who is determined to stay hidden. 
This was a murder mystery that took pleasure in throwing me off the scent each and every time I thought I had it sussed. The ending however had me well and truly stumped. The characters were confusing. I never quite knew who was who and found myself re reading certain parts multiple times thinking I'd missed a vital clue somewhere along the way. Confusion aside, this was still one of my favourite stories from the collection purely because I loved the mystery element of it. It kept me guessing right till the very end. I'm still puzzling it over in my head now!

Signed by the author
Sleepers

A top secret military programme, designed to brainwash unsuspecting recruits and turn them into sleepers is underway. When the programme is used for personal gain it quickly becomes apparent that no one is safe.
I found the parts describing how sleepers are made and what they are used for the most interesting and would have liked more on that. As for the storyline, I found it a bit too far fetched for my liking. I didn't feel invested in any of the characters so when bad things started to happen I didn't give a hoot. 

Aunt Meg

Alistair is a mortician with a passion for Taxidermy who still lives at home with his suffocating step mother. When he finds Ralph, an aspiring author pouring over his favourite Taxidermy book in the library for research purposes they strike up a conversation. Both men quickly realise they have much in common and make a pact that will solve both of their problems, leaving them free to follow their dreams. 
This story was another of my favourites. The author has done a fantastic job with the characters. I felt that I really got to know Alistair. After hearing a bit of his back story, I was able to look past his oddities and found myself really rooting for him and joining him in his hatred for Clarissa and Aunt Meg. The twist at the end I did not see coming and it left me feeling quite sad. 

Twilight of the dogs 

Lynn and Margaret arrive at Hotel Bon Repos for a relaxing holiday. When Lynn narrowly escapes a mauling from a slavering wild dog by the tennis court she reports it immediately but quickly realises that no one believes her. Or do they? 
I wasn't sure what to make of this one. It took me a while to realise this is a ghost story and to make sense of what was happening. I didn't warm to any of the characters and there is an x rated scene that I didn't think had anything to do with the rest of the story. The scene in the lift made me chuckle though. A point for that. Arf Arf!

Rupert 

Gerald is the care home worker of your worst nightmares. If this story taught me anything it's that when the time comes I need to choose my care home very carefully.
Another well written character. I disliked Gerald right from the start. He is an evil man who needs to be locked up for life. The story then took me back to Geralds childhood at which point felt strangely protective of him. I began to understand how Gerald might have become the twisted man he is today and while I still think he needs locking up I also feel that had he received proper care and attention as a child, maybe it would have been a whole different story.



Overall I enjoyed B.P Smyths collection of short stories. Not every story was to my taste but the ones that were made reading this book worthwhile. I will definitely pick up Volume I at some point in the hope of finding a few more gems. 


I'm giving this book 3/5 stars. 

If you would like to read this book for yourself you will find it over here

J9

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Book Haul April 2017

These are the books that found themselves on my book shelf this April...


The New Rules of Work by Alexandra Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew. This was a Goodreads giveaway win. I've had a flick through and I will definitely be dipping in and out of this one in the hope of finding some tips on getting ahead and becoming more confident in the workplace.

From Darkest Skies by Sam Peters. Another Goodreads Giveaways win. This sounds so interesting and has a really interesting cover image. 

White Fur by Jardine Libaire (ARC). This is a debut novel with fantastic reviews ahead of its publication date. I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to this one. Another Goodreads giveaway - yes, I am totally obsessed with book giveaways.

Laura Lake and the hipster weddings by Wendy Holden. Yep... Goodreads Giveaway. I'm hoping for a few laughs from this one.

Oi Dog! by Kes & Claire Gray and Jim Field. I got this one in preparation for story time whilst having my little nephew over to stay. 'Oi Dog, get off the frog!' Love it! The pictures inside are gorgeous too.

Usbourne Peep inside the Zoo illustrated by Simona Dimitri. Another one for my nephew - full of lots of lovely surprises behind the flaps. 

Big little lies by Liane Moriarty. This was my Easter present. I'd much rather a good book than a chocolate egg. I've heard so much about the TV series and I absolutely can not watch a TV series or film if I know a book of it exists. I think I'll read this next and then watch it and compare the two.

The Horus Heresy Omnibus - Crusades End by Dan Abnett, Ben Counter and Graham McNeill. The first three books of many, this book was my partners birthday present. This is not a book I would ordinarily pick up, in fact I wouldn't normally consider reading this at all but my partner has asked me to be open minded and give it a chance. I'm told that it is quite deep and raises quite a few moral questions so for that reason I have included this book in my haul. I'll try, I can't say fairer than that. Who knows, maybe I'll surprise myself and love it...

The stranger in my home by Adele Parks. This was my mums Easter present from me but she doesn't keep books after reading them so it has made its way back to me.. there was no ulterior motive in the buying of this gift, honest! This is a book about a family who discover their teenage daughter is not biologically theirs after a mix up in the hospital after birth. This would be my worst nightmare so I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out in the book. 

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I actually came across a 2005 mini series based on this book which I really wanted to see but book first.. thems the rules. 

Watching Edie by Camilla Way. Another one my mum had finished with and passed on. I'm so happy she's a reader and doesnt keep all the books like I do! 

I'll let you know what I thought once I get round to reading them. If you've read any of these please let me know what you thought.

J9





Killer Affair - Book Review

Killer affair Whether we like it or not, reality TV is big business .  Reality TV in my eyes is a load of trash. That doesn’t ch...