Thursday, 21 April 2016

The First Last Kiss by Ali Harris

The First Last KissThe First Last Kiss by Ali Harris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 496

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Blurb from Goodreads

How do you hold on to a love that is slowly slipping away from you?

Can you let go of the past when you know what is in the future?

And how do you cope when you know that every kiss is a countdown to goodbye?

This is the story of a love affair, of Ryan and Molly and how they fell in love and were torn apart. The first time Molly kissed Ryan, she knew they'd be together forever. Six years and thousands of kisses later she's married to the man she loves. But today, when Ryan kisses her, Molly realises how many of them she wasted because the future holds something which neither of them could have ever predicted…



My Review

The book opens in 2012, present day in the story's timeline, with Molly who is preparing for a big move, packing up always stirs up memories and Molly is no different. She finds a dvd and knows she shouldn't watch but she can't help herself. The dvd takes form in chapters of the book with different timelines and memories in Molly's life. Mostly surrounding her relationship with Ryan and her friends and family dipping in and out. The book revolves around Molly and Ryan, since they were teens up until their late twenties.

I have to say I wasn't loving the first half of this book, there was quite a bit of almost teen angst and the whole oh I love him he is the best thing to I don't know if I want to be with him. Lots of self doubt on Molly's part and thoughts back to how her younger self would disapprove of her choices as an adult. The timeline jumping around, back and forth annoyed me quite a bit too, despite knowing it comes from the memories and videos from the DVD the present day Molly is watching as she packs up her home.

However, once I got over say the first half of the book, I really got into it. The earlier shows of the character's personality helps to build up a picture of who she is and why she behaves in the way she does. By giving a wider view of the relationship over time periods and time passage it helps the reader to see how far they come and how the relationship grows.

There is also, in between chapters, little passages about different kinds of kisses, I thought this was random but by the time you have read the whole book the relevance of it becomes clear. I think this is a book that would benefit from being read a few times as you take greater significance from it knowing the whole story. The chapters are fairly short which makes for good dipping in and out of if you are busy. I found myself getting a wee bit emotional which is really unusual for me, normally have a swinging brick, but I think it was because the book had started off annoying me and I didn't think I actually liked many of the characters. 4/5 for me, I would read this author again and it just goes to show, even if a book hasn't grabbed you immediately, it can still go on to be fabulous!

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Thursday, 14 April 2016

The Missing by C L Taylor

The MissingThe Missing by C.L. Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 400

Publisher - Avon

Blurb from Goodreads

You love your family. They make you feel safe. You trust them. Or do you…?

When fifteen-year-old Billy Wilkinson goes missing in the middle of the night, his mother, Claire Wilkinson, blames herself. She's not the only one. There isn't a single member of Billy's family that doesn't feel guilty. But the Wilkinson’s are so used to keeping secrets from one another that it isn't until six months later, after an appeal for information goes horribly wrong, that the truth begins to surface.

Claire is sure of two things – that Billy is still alive and that her friends and family had nothing to do with his disappearance.

A mother's instinct is never wrong. Or is it?


My Review

A family torn apart by the sudden disappearance of 15 year old Billy Wilkinson, son, friend, brother, loud, cheeky, just your normal 15 year old kid. There has been nothing for 6 months, now after a repeat appeal things go from bad to worse. The family is falling apart, Claire Wilkinson the mother is taking it hard, losing time and having blackouts and will stop at nothing to find out where her boy is. The family, as most do, have their own secrets and slowly things start to surface, the truth will always out but are the Wilkinson's ready for the truth and will any of it help to find Billy?

The book opens with an online interaction between Jackdaw44 and ICE9 on 5/2/15, we then visit 5/8/2015, 6 months after billy has disappeared and Claire is getting ready for the appeal. The chapters flip between online interactions with those two users whom you can only guess at their identities the more you see the chats. The rest of the story follows the family, Claire, her husband Mark, Jake who is Billy's brother and Jake's live-in girlfriend Kira, how they are coping or rather not. The stress proves too much for Claire who begins to lose time and have blackouts, coming to and not knowing where she is. Claire is our narrator and we experience a lot of the emotions and scenes through her eyes although she herself is not exactly reliable due to her bodies response to the stress she is under.

You are drawn immediately into a family in chaos, struggling to get through each day just trying to find their loved one. As the story progresses we learn more about the family members, their personalities and question almost every bit of information we are given. I really felt for Claire, the author does an amazing job of taking you through the emotional rollercoaster Claire is on, the desperate journey to find her son and learning some home truths along the way.

This book for me was about family dynamics, how the absence of one family member can impact on those desperate to find their loved one. The strain on relationships it can have and like all families, even the smallest of secrets examined and questioned in case it was a precursor for Billy disappearing. It was a page turner for me, I was desperate to find out where Billy was, what happened, who the online chatters where and some closure on all of the issues that are dottered throughout the story. Taylor does a great job to engage and entice the reader from pretty much the first chapter, 4/5 for me this time. I have read all of this authors work and look forward to her next, thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Time To Say Goodbye by S D Robertson

Time to Say GoodbyeTime to Say Goodbye by S.D. Robertson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 352

Publisher - Avon HarperCollins

Blurb from Goodreads

Is there ever a right time to let go?

HOW DO YOU LEAVE THE PERSON YOU LOVE THE MOST?

Will Curtis’s six-year-old daughter, Ella, knows her father will never leave her. After all, he promised her so when her mother died. And he’s going to do everything he can to keep his word.

What Will doesn’t know is that the promise he made to his little girl might be harder to keep than he imagined. When he’s faced with an impossible decision, Will finds that the most obvious choice might not be the right one.

But the future is full of unexpected surprises. And father and daughter are about to embark on an unforgettable journey together . . .


My Review

Will Curtis is cut down in his prime when his bicycle is hit by a car. Will dies but finds his spirit looking down on the emergency services trying to revive him. His thoughts go to his daughter, Ella, and he goes to her school, only to watch the devastation of the news of his death broken to her. Wills spirit guide arrives to inform him about moving on but Will can't leave Ella, he promised when her mum died he would never leave her. But what can you do when you can't communicate, you are torn between moving on and staying by your family and you can't get straight answers? This is how it is for Will, after meeting another spirit he has a choice to make, stay forever on earth or move on to a higher place?

Oh this is a powerful wee book that will evoke a whirlwind of emotions from the reader. Loss, death, love, lies, secrets and families are some of the themes in this book, it also raises questions of what if and what happens after we die. I think if you have suffered a bereavement this book will strike many chords with you and pack quite a punch. If you haven't I think you will still enjoy it but maybe on a different level.

For a debut novel, this is a powerful wee book, well written and tackles some hard to read issues. A family affected by a tragedy, seeing it through their eyes but also the person who has died. You are rooting for Will and, for me, sitting pondering what if's with people I have lost. It is an emotional read, both for what it is and on a personal level. I would most definitely recommend this but for anyone with a recent bereavement maybe with a bit of caution. If you are looking for a moving tale and one that is likely to evoke tears, this is your winner, 4/5 for me. Thanks to Cheryl for bringing this wee gem to my attention, I will look out for this authors work again!

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Shtum by Jem Lester

ShtumShtum by Jem Lester
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 3 days

Pages - 368

Publisher - Orion

Blurb from Goodreads

Powerful, darkly funny and heart-breaking, Shtum is a story about fathers and sons, autism, and dysfunctional relationships.

Ben Jewell has hit breaking point. His ten-year-old son Jonah has severe autism and Ben and his wife, Emma, are struggling to cope.

When Ben and Emma fake a separation - a strategic decision to further Jonah's case in an upcoming tribunal - Ben and Jonah move in with Georg, Ben's elderly father. In a small house in North London, three generations of men - one who can't talk; two who won't - are thrown together.


My Review

Ben and Emma are at their wits end, their ten year old son Jonah has a severe form of autism and they are being penalized for being a united strong couple. So they fake a separation to help their quest to get Jonah into the school and care they desperately need for him. Ben reluctantly moves in with his father, Georg, in a small house with Jonah and try to cope with the complications of father son relationship.

This book isn't out until tomorrow however it is already receiving rave reviews and praise. Ben is not a likeable character, in fact I would have liked to have slapped him if truth be told. There is no doubt his daily struggles are many and the book opens your eyes to just how much a family goes through with a child with severe autism. However, Ben is so full of self pity and destructive behaviour it is irritating and you really feel for Jonah and those around them.

It took me over 200 pages to really get into the story and we get to see Ben go on a journey of self discovery and growth. I was not a huge fan of Emma either to be honest and struggled to understand her behaviour. However, the relationship with Jonah and his grandfather was the saving grace and really very touching. Georg is not the main character but he really does steal the story, well he did for me. Reading about his past and his stories to Jonah really pulled me in and left me wanting more, he is a grumpy old man you can't help but love and he is so tender with Jonah.

The is a very hard hitting story, Ben is very honest in some of his thoughts towards his son and some of that was hard to read. There is a lot of swearing, a little humour littered throughout the story and huge focus on relationships and family dynamics. I would certainly recommend this book but I do not think it is for everyone, I found some of it hard going. I would have gave it 3.5 but the ratings are full not half and for me it isn't 4 stars, so 3/5 for me. I think there is a lot that can be taken from this book and I think Lester has done very well with a hard subject. I think Ben's honesty will be loved by some readers and hated by others. Possibly another marmite book, I didn't love it but I did like it and would have loved to have read more on Georg and the background on Ben and Emma. My thanks to Tracy F and TBConFB for giving me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



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Monday, 4 April 2016

April's giveaway is Out Of The Darkness by Katy Hogan



You can read my review of it here.

As always, entries are via the Rafflecopter, see below. Good luck if you are entering!

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Viral by Helen Fitzgerald

ViralViral by Helen Fitzgerald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Publisher - Faber & Faber

Pages - 272

Blurb from Goodreads

So far, twenty-three thousand and ninety six people have seen me online. They include my mother, my father, my little sister, my grandmother, my other grandmother, my grandfather, my boss, my sixth year Biology teacher and my boyfriend James.


When Leah Oliphant-Brotheridge and her adopted sister Su go on holiday together to Magaluf to celebrate their A-levels, only Leah returns home. Her successful, swotty sister remains abroad, humiliated and afraid: there is an online video of her, drunkenly performing a sex act in a nightclub. And everyone has seen it.

Ruth Oliphant-Brotheridge, mother of the girls, successful court judge, is furious. How could this have happened? How can she bring justice to these men who took advantage of her dutiful, virginal daughter? What role has Leah played in all this? And can Ruth find Su and bring her back home when Su doesn't want to be found?


My Review

The opening line of this book packs a punch and leaves the reader in no doubt about what the book is about. Su just wants her sister Leah to like her like she did when they were kids, so going away to Magaluf with her friends seems the way to go. But when Su is filmed perfoming a sex act and the video goes viral, all of their lives change. Su is MIA, their parents are besides themselves and just want her home safe and the perpetrators punished, Leah is keeping quiet and everyone but everyone knows what has happened.

Aw poor Su, swotty, geeky and a top student, her whole life is laid out for her until that fateful holiday with her sister, then with the press of a button it is all gone. Ruth, their mother, is a judge and she is out for blood, someone will pay and she will get Su back.

This story sees the devastating effects one drunken decision can have on a family, how quickly life can unravel and how helpless anyone can be when something like this happens. The ferociousness of one mothers love and strength to right a wrong and how powerless people really are when someone is let loose online. It is about self growth and identity, love, relationships, loss & just how vulnerable anyone can be to the internet! A bit graphic in some of the scene descriptions that some readers may find uncomfortable, remember this is about a sex act going viral. Thanks so much to Netgalley for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review, 4/5 for me.

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Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Find Her by Lisa Gardner

Find HerFind Her by Lisa Gardner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 384

Blurb from Goodreads

AN ESCAPED KIDNAPPING VICTIM BECOMES AN AVENGER OF INNOCENTS. CAN SHE ESCAPE WHEN SHE'S TARGETED AGAIN? The eighth novel in Sunday Times bestseller Lisa Gardner's Detective D. D. Warren series. Harlan Coben says FIND HER is 'taut psychological suspense' which 'should not be missed'.

I ESCAPED

My name is Flora Dane and I was kidnapped from a beach on spring break. I spent 472 days with my captor before I was found.

I SURVIVED

I spent the last five years trying to reacquaint myself with the rhythms of my life. But everything is different. I've had to learn how to protect myself in this dangerous new world.

I'M RECKLESS

There are other predators out there and I'll do anything to stop them. Am I a victim or a vigilante? Detective D. D. Warren doesn't know. Sometimes neither do I.

When another girl disappears, I know I have to FIND HER, whatever it takes, even if it means putting myself in danger...

Escaped kidnap victim Flora Dane has once again disappeared. Has the self-proclaimed vigilante become a victim? Or is something far more sinister at play? D.D. will have to race against the clock if she is going to Find Her.


My Review

Flora Dane is our main character, kidnapped for 472 days but she survived. Now a vigilante she seeks out predators, needs to find girls who may have went through a similar ordeal. Flora is on a mission, the police don't know what to make of her. Sergeant Detective D. D. Warren is on the case, FBI victim specialist Samuel Keynes has turned up and D. D. is not impressed, with Flora or him. Trouble Flora certainly is but has she finally bitten off more than she can chew this time in her pursuit of predators?

Oh this story really grabs you from the opening chapter, in italics we are transported back to when Flora was kidnapped and the start of her 472 day ordeal. We then flip to present day and Flora is on a mission, target acquired, she knows them when she sees them and presents them with prey they can't resist. The chapters then flip to the investigating officer, Flora present day and back to Flora's time in captivity, always in italics so you know the timeline has shifted.

The time line shifts and characters switching in each chapter actually works really well and has been written so it flows perfectly. Sometimes with timeline jumps and switching between character scenes you can get confused, not so with this book.

The writing is so vivid at parts, you can feel the claustrophobic pull, your heart kicks up a few beats as you live through the experience with Flora in her captivity scenes. A girl who was normal and happy, turned into what she is now to survive getting through each day. You find yourself rooting for her and really vested in the story and outcome. As I said you are pulled in from the first chapter, the book keeps you on your toes and surprises you along the way, well it did me. 4/5 for me this time, I think I will go back and buy the first seven books in this series as I enjoyed this one so much. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

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