Tuesday 25 April 2023

The Secrets He Kept by Jackie Walsh

The Secrets He KeptThe Secrets He Kept by Jackie Walsh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 263

Publisher - Hera

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

You know everything about your husband. Don’t you?
He loves you. He loves your children. He’d never put his family in danger.

One of these is a lie.

It started like any other day at the hairdressers where Sally works as a stylist… until her first client innocently shows her a family photograph; a photograph that causes Sally to collapse in shock.

In one moment, Sally discovers that Tom has been hiding an explosive secret – one that could tear apart the life they’ve built together. Faced with an impossible dilemma - search for the truth, or keep her contented life? – Sally is about to discover that even those closest to us have secrets… and that sometimes the truth is the last thing we want to hear.

My Review

The book opens with quite a pull (the tagline too to be fair), Sally is working (hairdresser) when a young girl comes in and shows her a piccy of her o/h and his dad. The dad in the photo is her husband and the child isn't one of hers. When Sally confronts Tom he denies it and even laughs it off, a bit gaslighty towards Sally and really it all kicks off from there.

I thought the book had a strong opening and it certainly has some reveals as we go along so it does keep you interested. That being said, a lot of the characters behaviours/responses were really questionable. I absolutely do not like the husband nor his treatment/attitude towards Sally as the story goes on. Sally, oh my God I wanted to scream at her several times like really gurl come on, why would you say XYZ, why would you do XYZ. I mean to be fair people in real life do make some seriously questionable choices and actions but I was so frustrated and annoyed over and over. Some things would happen and I would be like REALLY?!?!?!

That being said, frustrations aside I did want to see where the author took me and I read it in a day. I liked it but didn't love it however from the reviews I seem to be in the minority as so many loved it, 3/5 for me. Absolutely check it out you may well love it, certainly has a whole load of drama in it.

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Thursday 20 April 2023

A Broken Family by Kitty Neale

A Broken Family: An emotional, gripping saga from the Sunday Times bestsellerA Broken Family: An emotional, gripping saga from the Sunday Times bestseller by Kitty Neale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 8 hours (one sitting)

Pages - 401

Publisher - Avon books

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads

A gritty tale of family and a love that holds no bounds, from the best-selling author of Nobody’s Girl and A Father’s Revenge

Celia Frost has always thought herself a cut above the other residents of Lark Rise in Battersea. When her beloved son, Thomas, starts seeing Amy Miller, a girl from the bottom of the Rise, Celia disapproves, thinking her common.

When Celia's husband leaves her and Thomas announces he is to marry Amy, she is more determined than ever to split them up.Celia needs an ally, so she writes to her elder son, Jeremy, asking him to come home.

Jeremy’s arrival unleashes a tide of jealously and hate. He wants everything that belongs to Thomas – especially Amy. As Jeremy’s dangerous obsession for his brother’s wife grows, Amy must fight for her marriage, and her baby.

The heartbreaking new novel from the bestselling author of A Father’s Revenge and Nobody’s Girl.

My Review

I have only read one Kitty Neale book before this one and I want to say it was a blog tour that brought her to my attention, I forgot how much I enjoyed it and will be adding more of hers to my wishlist. Set in Battersea, South London, 1956 we head to a small community with different social standings. For example Amy Millar comes from a working class family, scrimping by, her dad in a low paid job with his post war injury, her mum working double jobs but they are loved and happy. Amy's boyfriend Thomas Frost comes from a different type of family, his dad owns his own business, his mother Celia is a keeping up with the Joneses and feels Amy is far too common for her precious son, her marriage is not an overly happy one. We have wee characters in between, old Winnie next door, Amy's mum looks out for, even missing out on stuff to ensure Winnie does not. Mabel, Amy's mums friend and town busybody who reveals in dramas and gets herself in hot water sometimes. It is quite the small community but the dramas are huge and a plenty.

So guys these types of books often carry some trauma and sexual assault is featured, not in graphic detail but it is mentioned and more than once so heads up. Classism, relationships, friendships, alcohol abuse, poverty and manipulation so there is never really a dull moment.

Amy's family are lovely, despite not having a lot to go around they care for their wee neighbour and absolutely neighbourly whereas Celia Frost has plenty and is just a horrible individual. Overbearing mother, can't let go of the apron strings and I had a hard time feeling any kind of sympathy for her at all she is just a horror. I sank it in one sitting and whilst this was only my second book by this author it will not be my last 4/5 for me this time.

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Sunday 16 April 2023

What Seems To Be The Problem by Dr Laura Marshall-Andrews

What Seems To Be The Problem?What Seems To Be The Problem? by Laura Marshall-Andrews
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 272

Publisher - HQ Stories

Source - Bought (Waterstones)

Blurb from Goodreads

In this powerful and deeply personal memoir, award-winning GP Dr Laura Marshall-Andrews introduces us to the patients who have shaped her radical approach to medicine.

Over the course of a decade spent on the frontline of the NHS, Dr Laura witnessed lives being adversely affected by one-size-fits-all treatments. Determined to create change, she began to envisage a new way to care that prioritised the lived experience of her patients.

Created with the help of doctors, artists and complementary health practitioners, Dr Laura’s pioneering holistic approach was revelatory. From those whose lives were changed by ‘ineffective’ drugs, to those for whom alternative therapies, kindness and trust proved transformative, her patients began to flourish.

What Seems To Be The Problem? is a heartfelt story of hope, and an urgent call for change in our NHS at a time when it is most in need.

My Review

I do like these true stories and reading about other peoples work stories, NHS ones I have been reading/buying as a go. This one is a wee bit different, Doctor Laura Marshall-Andrews gives us an insight into her journey as a doctor.

As I said I have read lots of NHS stories from different professionals and enjoy reading the patients and doctors experiences. This one is different as we get to see the normal doctor approach but Marshall-Andrews takes a more holistic approach and once she gets her own gp surgery we see what it is like to work with other professionals in a holistic manner and how it can affect and impact the patients.

I fist punched the air when she fought for a patient to stay on X drug because it had a huge positive impact on her life yet the higher ups wanted her switched to a drug that was not effective because of the cost. They argued about no evidence yet here is this human being gone from a miserable existence to being happier, healthier and managing to contribute to society. The doc also examines this, the cost of her health issues if she went on the ineffective drug, hospital admission costs, appointments, benefits etc huge costs which would be more than the medication. However the people who overview medication prescribing, costs to the surgery/budget wanted this lady on the cheaper, not effective or working for her because studies show, 1 person experience doesn't not provide conclusive evidence. I am so so glad she put the foot down but it shouldn't have to be like this. When it comes to patient care cost should not be a factor, I shudder at the healthcare systems in other countries but some of this stuff in this book also highlights it isn't just other countries.

It is a shorter book than some of those available and I feel this one offered a bit more of a different perspective on treatments, their practice being evaluated (I hadn't read any accounts of that from the stories I have read so far) and as always the patients - it is always interesting to hear patient stories, they are are so very different! 4/5 for me this time, I would read more by this doc.

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Friday 14 April 2023

The Fake-Up by Justin Myers

The Fake-UpThe Fake-Up by Justin Myers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 384

Publisher - Little Brown, UK

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads


Dylan and Flo are on the rocks. Of course they are in love. Obviously they want it to work. But sometimes it feels like the world is against them. Their flat is falling apart, their friends never stop meddling and the obstacles keeping them from their dreams are insurmountable. Maybe they just . . . aren't meant to be?

The break-up completely shatters them both. While Flo cries in her Mum's kitchen, penning ballads about heartache, Dylan is forced to sleep on his best friend's sofa and channel his pain into acting.

And, unexpectedly, their stars begin to rise.

Soon Dylan and Flo are on the cusp of everything they've ever wanted. There's only one problem: they can't be without one another, but their hard-won futures depend on their estrangement. Can they keep their relationship a secret from the world? Or has fate conspired to keep them apart for good?

My Review

Dylan and Flo are in love, their relationship is great apart from their backgrounds, their upbringings, their issues in their flat and being from different classes the issues that brings. Dylan has some hangups, he wants to put in as much as Flo but Flo comes from money and Dylan has his pride. Flo's friends and family think she can do better, their flat needs some serious TLC, Dylan just needs his one big break as an actor and Flo, voice of an angel just needs her opening, her chance and she will show the world how talented she is. As the strain becomes too much they decide to break up however it is never that easy and they both still love each other but now the world and their friends are watching.

Uck you know what it is like, take the money out of it and we all have had that one boyfriend or girlfriend that our friends/fam don't like, think we can do better than. That is the thing with Flo and Dylan, Flo is a singer, Dylan is an actor and both are looking for their big break which ironically things start looking up when they split and the drama comes with all that jazz.

It is a perfect poolside read or just wanting a wee escapism reading drama of others lives, breaking into the big time, relationship dramas and what happens when you get a bit of fame. Some not very nice characters, some nice, some shady behaviours, it was fine, light, barbed humour at parts, 3/5 for me.

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Tuesday 11 April 2023

Just Got Real by Jane Fallon

Just Got RealJust Got Real by Jane Fallon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - < 1 day

Pages - 400

Publisher - Michael Joseph

Source - Competition win (with a bottle of pina colada)

Blurb from Goodreads

Joni never thought she would try online dating but somehow - with the encouragement of her grown up daughter, Danielle - she's signed onto an app. After a few weeks of chatting to Ant, they really hit it off and agree to meet up. However Joni has been so nervous about the whole prospect of dating again that she's been using fake photos on the site.

She turns up to their date and sees Ant, but can't bring herself to come clean.

The problem now is that she can't stop thinking about him. They'd been getting on so well. And so she works out a way to 'meet' him without revealing herself as the person he's been talking to online.

But a few months in, she discovers not only is he still on the dating site but he's really active on it, too. She's hurt, and looks at his phone while he's in the shower one morning only to find intimate texts between him and two other women, Saff and Mary. At the same time, she is beginning to realise that the only thing Ant seems to have been honest about is his profile picture.

After a couple of drinks one night, Joni decides to call the two women. Their experiences sound identical to hers. And they're angry.

But how can they get their revenge? What can hurt a person who doesn't appear to be emotionally involved with any of them? What is it he's really looking for, and how can they catch him out?

My Review

Joni signs up to a dating site after much encouragement (and railroading) by her daughter and she meets Ant, he is good looking and seems to be the real deal. Problem is Joni used fake photos and when she turns up to finally meet Ant and sees he is the real deal she bows out. Despite this she can't let what they had go so after orchestrating a meet they hit it off and are dating, everything is great. That is until she finds out Ant may look the real deal but he isn't the devoted boyfriend he seems, dude has other women on the go, the shade! The ladies get together to work out what to do but they have their work cut out and does Ant have more secrets than they know?

I have only read a few Fallon books but I plan to rectify that, the ones I have read I have sank in one sitting. She creates captivating characters, some shady, some flawed and scenarios and dramas we can all either empathise with or see happening to us or one of our own.

Characters are real, situations and shenanigans are easy to envision and before you know it your day has gone and you want to see what is coming next.

For me this was a bit echoy of the Tinder Swindler - he looked exactly like what he was presenting on the app but much more and shady going on. A good read, perfect for escapism, poolside reading or just stepping out of your own life to watch someone else's dramas for a bit, 4.5/5 for me!

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Friday 7 April 2023

Someone Is Watching You by Tess James-Mackey

Someone Is Watching YouSomeone Is Watching You by Tess James-Mackey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 8 hours

Pages - 320

Publisher - Hodder Children's books

Source - Vine

Blurb from Goodreads

An abandoned prison. A deadly game. How far would you go for a dare?

Nia would do anything to win the approval of her boyfriend Scott and his friends, especially mean girl Olivia. When Olivia dares Nia to explore an abandoned prison, she sees it as the perfect opportunity to prove herself. Facing dark tunnels, distant noises and creepy mementoes left behind by incarcerated criminals will surely all be worth it.

But it isn't long before Nia and her little sister, Kayla, find themselves trapped inside. And then Kayla vanishes.

Suddenly, this feels like more than a game gone wrong. Someone is hellbent on making Nia and Kayla the prison's last inmates ...

An utterly compelling, terrifying thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, from remarkable new author Tess James-Mackey.

My Review

This is my first time reading this author but when I seen abandoned prison I was in, I love abandoned buildings! This however is an abandoned prison now lightly converted into a kids soft play type area. Much of the prison is of course off limits and some of it in states of crumbling disrepair. Meet Nia, she has a new boyfriend and group of friends, they are the year above so Nia could not believe her luck when Scott not only noticed her but is now hers! Being a tiny bit older (Nia is fifteen) and they are all still in school so Nia is doubly desperate to be accepted. The gang is led by Olivia who is one of those mean popular girls the group all pander to and Nia is determined to keep her man. Ah to be fifteen again eh! Nia is raging at her wee sister Kayla as she got Nia busted for a home party & now she is at soft play in the prison keeping mum and little sister company and her friends are keeping tabs via messaging.

Oh I wouldn't want to be fifteen again and certainly no in this wee group of frenemies, they always play dares as per Olivia and Nia feels hers is always worse. Anyways back to the prison, it is run down and when she gets dared to check it out Nia will not back down. Of course the wean wants to follow her and then goes missing and that is when things really kick off. For being young adult and the main characters teens the author does a great job creating creepy and tense atmosphere. The Whatsapp messages and goading/clipped and nippy messages takes you right back to your younger years regardless of your age or your social circle at the age.

The characters aren't really likeable and I think that self centred manipulation was captured well and sets up for all that follows, I felt so sorry for the wee sister who just wants her older sister to like and be with her.

I loved the exploration of the prison, I was having flashes to The Walking Dead programme so built quite an effective picture. The book features some adult themes (not in large measures), manipulation, control, coercion, toxic relationships, peer pressure to name a few. I think the thing that really gave a kick was the author has actually went to a soft play that was in an old prison, I would LOVE to visit. This was my first dance with this author, it won't be my last 4/5 for me this time.

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Wednesday 5 April 2023

By Any Other Name by Lauren Kate

By Any Other NameBy Any Other Name by Lauren Kate
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 304

Publisher - Penguin

Source - Review copy

Blurb from Goodreads

What she doesn’t know about love could fill a book.

With a successful career as a romance editor, and an engagement to a man who checks off all ninety-nine boxes on her carefully curated list, Lanie’s more than good. She’s killing it. Then she’s given the opportunity of a lifetime: to work with world-renowned author and her biggest inspiration in love and life—the Noa Callaway. All Lanie has to do is cure Noa’s writer’s block and she’ll get the promotion she’s always dreamed of. Simple, right?

But there’s a reason no one has ever seen or spoken to the mysterious Noa Calloway. And that reason will rock Lanie’s world. It will call into question everything she thought she knew. When she finally tosses her ninety-nine expectations to the wind, Lanie may just discover that love By Any Other Name can still be as sweet.

My Review

Imagine getting a coveted position working with an author you have loved for years, her work has inspired so much of your own life choices. The author in question, Noa, has writers block and Lanie needs to do everything she can to lift it, get the book completed and delivered on time or risk losing her own job. However Noa doesn't meet in person, attend events nor see anyone outside the top of the business and there is a reason for it, one Lanie may not quite be ready for.

Lanie is engaged to be married, her whole relationship ideals comes from one of Noa's books and the legacy/relationship/advice with her mum who had passed away. The book is multidimensional, shock, secret, romance, personal growth and honourable mention for the small passing characters in the park, an elderly couple who despite being almost reference characters come to have big impact on others.

It is absolutely one of those books you can just slip into and log off for a few hours and just immerse in the characters and dramas in the story, 4/5 for me this time. This was my first book by this author, I will be looking for her other works.

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