The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

 

43090369._sy475_Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 20th June 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeon Hole, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: Mystery & Thriller

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | PHardcover

| Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Her best friend is dead.
Now everyone thinks she’s a killer.

Littleport, Maine is like two separate towns: a vacation paradise for wealthy holidaymakers and a simple harbour community for the residents who serve them. Friendships between locals and visitors are unheard of – but that’s just what happened with Avery Greer and Sadie Loman.

Each summer for a decade the girls are inseparable – until Sadie is found dead. When the police rule the death a suicide, Avery can’t help but feel there are those in the community, including a local detective and Sadie’s brother Parker, who blame her. Someone knows more than they’re saying, and Avery is intent on clearing her name before she’s branded a killer.

Rating: two-stars

 

Avery’s and Sadie’s friendship seems impossible to be real: Avery comes from one of middle class families living in the resort town of Littleport in Maine, while Sadie is one of “the Lomans'”, who basically own everything in Littleport and are being treated like royals. Their relationship stayed strong until one day, during the Plus – One Party, Sadie has been found dead. The police believe that she has committed suicide, but Avery can’t believe that her carefree, strong – willed and confident best friend could do such a thing. A year later, Avery starts to ask more questions, to dig more into Sadie’s death and she begins to uncover secrets that someone doesn’t want to see the light of the day. Is Avery’s life in danger as well?

I must admit, I’ve heard brilliant things about Megan Miranda, though haven’t been lucky enough to read her previous books, so when the opportunity to read “The Last House Guest” came my way, I didn’t hesitate. I was hoping for a mind – blowing read and I am really, really sad to tell you that this book didn’t work for me. I can’t even blame reading it in staves on Pigeon Hole this time, because I found myself putting the book down somewhere during reading – it simply wasn’t this what I was expecting. The book started well, with something really bad happening and so we were thrown into the heart of the story, and now it was all in the hands of execution. The more pages I turned, the more my interest seemed to leave me.

The story felt flat and repetitive, there wasn’t anything significant, shocking, surprising, the characters were uninspired and I had a feeling that author’s heart wasn’t in her writing. There was no tension in the mystery and coming back to the characters, well, I’ve missed qualities in them that make the characters special and interesting and let’s be honest, I simply didn’t care about them and what can happen to them, I didn’t buy the whole poor but reformed bad girl Avery.

The part I liked most was the setting, a very picturesque town along the coast of Maine, and the scenic beauty of the town, that is not only a fishing/boating place to live for the middle class but also a holiday resort for the other half, was beautifully captured and brought vividly to life.

So I am extremely sad to say that I needed much more from this book. It simply lacked in tension and suspense, relatable characters and depth. The idea was there but it somehow felt incomplete, as if the potential hasn’t been made use of. The quite few and surprising reveals at the end were not bad but they simply came too late to save the book for me. But I am still looking forward to reading the author’s previous and future novels.

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Night by Night by Jack Jordan

Night by Night by Jack Jordan

 

42935574Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 2nd May  2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeonhole, thank you!

Number of pages: 366

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘If you’re reading this, I’m dead.’

Rejected by her family and plagued by insomnia, Rose Shaw is on the brink. But one dark evening she collides with a man running through the streets, who quickly vanishes. The only sign he ever existed – a journal dropped at Rose’s feet.

She begins to obsessively dedicate her sleepless nights to discovering what happened to Finn Matthews, the mysterious author of the journal. Why was he convinced someone wanted to kill him? And why, in the midst of a string of murders, won’t the police investigate his disappearance?

Rose is determined to uncover the truth. But she has no idea what the truth will cost her…

Rating: four-stars

 

Rose Shaw has been suffering with insomnia since the birth of her twin daughters 10 years ago. It’s no wonder that she’s quickly irritable and feels like letting her children and husband down. One day, on their way home from football training, a tragic accident happen, accident that is going to change all their lives for ever.
Rose is now a broken woman. Her daughter Lily resents her and her husband can’t look her in the eyes. She takes to walking the streets after dark and one night a running man crashes into her and Rose is left with a notebook. She reads it at home . it turns out to be a diary of Finn, a young man and journalist who is convinced that he’s being stalked and that his stalker is going to kill him. Rose is determined to find the young man before it’s too late – but what if it is too late? And why do the police and her family warn her to stop looking into the case?

This novel opens with probably the most intriguing and most used sentence in literature: “If you’re reading this, I’m dead”, and so I though, uh huh, either the story is going to live up to this promising start or it’s totally going to go downhill. I haven’t read the blurb before starting this book so the story totally took me by surprise – I didn’t know what to expect and there were a lot to be expected. The author touches upon many heavy and difficult issues making his novel very realistic and emotional. It was brutally honest and there were moments that I wanted to close my eyes, so raw it was, but well, I couldn’t have read further with eyes closed, right?

The characters, while not very likeable – maybe it was because you couldn’t trust anybody – literally! – came truly alive. Rose was a very special character. No, I didn’t feel much connection with her but my heart went out to her and all the things she must have gone through – I’d probably gave up already, and she kept going. On the other hand, would you, after finding a random diary, set on single – handedly finding a killer? I found her behaviour rash and destructive, to be honest, but I also could understand where she was coming from with this quest to find justice for all the missing men.

The tale is basically told from Rose’s point of view but it’s interspersed with some chapters narrated by – you could think at the beginning, random voices – of young men, and also the Finn’s diary entries. I could never be sure where the story is going to take me and what’s going to happen, and there were some truly shocking moments that made me hold my breath. On the other hand, there were also moments that made me roll my eyes, as somehow they simply didn’t sound very realistic.

Altogether, I haven’t expected that this book is going to be so dark, but it was also addictive, intriguing and hooking. It was a fast – paced, very emotional rollercoaster ride mixed with some terrifying moments. The author writes how it is, without pussyfooting around his chosen topics, and it’s brutally honest, realistic and terrifying at the same time. There were moments that felt too exaggerated for my liking, things happening too easy and too conveniently but it was also eye – opening and thought – provoking. “Night by Night” was a novel dealing with grief and guilt, full of secrets, hidden truths and understatements. A very important story with lessons to learn and raising awareness around mental health and corruption. Recommended!

 

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Lat by Uzma Jalaluddin

 

40133941Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeonhole, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A big-hearted, captivating, modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice, with hijabs instead of top hats and kurtas instead of corsets.

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been overtaken by a demanding teaching job. Her boisterous Muslim family, and numerous (interfering) aunties, are professional naggers. And her flighty young cousin, about to reject her one hundredth marriage proposal, is a constant reminder that Ayesha is still single.

Ayesha might be a little lonely, but the one thing she doesn’t want is an arranged marriage. And then she meets Khalid… How could a man so conservative and judgmental (and, yes, smart and annoyingly handsome) have wormed his way into her thoughts so quickly?

As for Khalid, he’s happy the way he is; his mother will find him a suitable bride. But why can’t he get the captivating, outspoken Ayesha out of his mind? They’re far too different to be a good match, surely…

Rating: three-stars

 

Ayesha is a substitute teacher though what she really wants to do is write poetry. Ayesha is single and happy, she’s not interested in arranged marriages, accompanying her younger cousin on this way will suffice. But then she meets Khalid… But she hasn’t met his mother yet…

The book had a great potential, and I appreciated the humour very much but there were moments (in the end, too many moments) when I had a feeling that the author simply tried too hard and overdone it. The book started very promising, and I found myself smiling at the characters’ antics but then it only went downhill for me, I found my interest slowly fading and I started to skip some parts of it, with the many subplots and the action that was almost like in a gangster movie, and a) it was too much for me, too hard tried on making the story hilarious, b) the subplots were not developed enough for my liking, they were not properly addressed, just like that left hanging.

The romance between Ayesha and Khalid was humorous and also head – banging – on – the – wall desperate. When one of them finally got to their senses, the other was not interested and other way round. It was for sure a rocky way but altogether I liked that it was not so straightforward and obvious, and the problems they had were for sure different to the problems that the characters in other books usually have.

The characters could be better drawn, I think, because they were either brilliantly good or awfully bad, and this made them feel a little too exaggerated and too obvious in their behaviour. Sheila and Khalid’s mother are the best example here, but also Hafsa, the spoiled, judgmental and shallow one who actually wasn’t charming but only annoying. I am also not so sure about Khalid himself – on one hand we can say that his character saw development, on the other hand I’m not so sure because well, he changed, but did he really want to change?

The story touched upon many, many issues and probably this was the problem, maybe the author should focus on less than relationships, family ties, arranged marriages, family disownment, politics, stereotyping, racism at the workplace, theft and many, many more. It was simply too much. I had a feeling that if the story stuck to tell a romance, without all the other mosque and conference issues, it would be enough. I adored getting to know the colourful Muslim traditions, even the arranged marriages and the arguments that people involved in them had, their pros and cons, and I really got it all, it was really great to see the close – knit community and I’d really love it if the book focused more on this part of the characters’ lives.
There were too many moments that felt too drawn out and exaggerated for my liking. But altogether, it was a feel – good, funny and light story that had it moments. The writing style was lovely, so chatty and eloquent and the author is a great story – teller, that’s for sure, and she lets her imagination run wild.

 

How to Get a (Love) Life by Rosie Blake

How to Get a (Love) Life by Rosie Blake

 

32713563Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 2nd February  2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 320

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction (Adults)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

Nicola Brown doesn’t like to lose control. Her home is always meticulously tidy and her weekly meals carefully planned; Nicola keeps her life in order. When her carefree colleague Caroline challenges Nicola to find a date for Valentine’s Day, it’s a surprise to them both when Nicola agrees. As Nicola’s search for a man begins, she is thrown in at the deep end—sometimes quite literally—of the dating scene. From men more likely to sell their mother than open their wallet, to those who are determined to find a girlfriend who shares their passion for extreme sports, Nicola has to run the full gamut of dodgy dates. But as the deadline looms closer, Nicola realizes it isn’t so bad to lose control. It turns out that trying to get a love life can be rather a lot of fun.

Rating: 5/5

How to Get a (Love) Life is Rosie Blake’s debut novel turned into a lovely, gorgeous paperback and even though I’ve read it few years ago I was desperate to get a copy of this book in my greedy mittens and read it again! It was a great joy to meet with the characters for a second time, the story was just up to my street and what more can I say? I love Rosie Blake and her brilliant, funny and uplifting stories! So there.

Nicola has OCD. Yes, I love OCD people, maybe because I am very far away from OCD myself. I am a big fan of the routine, as long as the routine is a far cry from me. Nicola is very straight and very good organised and it is such a pleasure to read about such people, believe me. She is very careful with what she says and what she does, she’s very punctual, she eats the same things on certain days, she’s very VERY. She may seem shallow at the beginning but actually I found her totally nice and I have warmed to her immediately. She is actually happy with her life and it’s not a problem to her that she’s 29 and single. It is more problematic for her work colleague Caroline and when she dares Nicola to find a date for the forthcoming Valentine’s Day, Nicola agrees. And starts dating. On a series of dates set by her brother and Caroline.

Apart Nicola we have a little cast of characters in the book. There is Mark, her brother, with whom she has a brilliant relationship and who appears on her doorstep whenever he wants, there is Caroline, Nicola’s work friend with her two hilarious children, and James, the boss. The most significant characters in the book and all of them brilliantly written, all of them warm, funny and likeable.

Some of Nicola’s dates were ridiculous and I have laughed more than often reading about them. The dates and the men that she met were crazy, were impossible, and altogether disastrous. For me it was a great fun, an easy read that I needed so much, and I have enjoyed seeing Nicola coming out of her shell step by step with each date.

I also liked that many of the chapters began with a personal ad, and each ad summed the previous disastrous dates up. They were really funny and each one of them made me chuckle.

I know that some of the reviewers said that they haven’t felt any chemistry between Nicola and The Obvious One but well, I have. And although I have known after reading approx 30% of the book how it’s going to end and that Nicola shouldn’t look far away for her date for Valentine’s Date, it hasn’t spoil the book for me at all. It was a real pleasure to see how Nicola develops and leaves her comfort zones. It was a light, fun, feel – good read, women’s fiction at its best, something that I needed very much in the moment. Keep them coming, Rosie!

Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson

Everything I Told You by Lucy Dawson

 

33024073Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 5th January 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 324

Genre: Psychological Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

You went to bed at home, just like every other night.
You woke up in the back of a taxi, over 250 miles away.
You have no idea how you got there and no memory of the last ten hours.
You have no phone, no money; just a suicide note in your coat pocket, in your own writing.
You know you weren’t planning to kill yourself.
Your family and friends think you are lying.

Someone knows exactly what happened to you.
But they’re not telling…

Impossible to put down psychological suspense, perfect for fans of Mark Edwards, Louise Jensen and Lisa Hall.

Rating: 4/5

“Everything you Told Me” is my first book by Lucy Dawson, even though I have her previous novel “You Sent Me a Letter” on my never ending TBR pile, but as I’ve heard many good things about this author and her writing, I made sure to read the newest release in time for its publication. This book turned out to be a great slow burner, with brilliantly developed characters and complex plot. It was an ambitious, clever and twisty read that stays in your mind even if you’re not reading it. I was already hooked when this crumpled £400 taxi receipt, just like the one Sally finds in her pocket, arrived ahead of my review copy, and as soon as the book hit my doorstep I started reading it.

Sally is a stay – at – home mother, Chloe is 4 years old and Theo is 6 months, and it is Theo that’s causing so many problems, as he’s a very bad sleeper. Sally and her husband Matthew are trying to cope but they are both on their tenterhooks – mostly Sally, as she’s the one looking after children while her husband can work, and as much as she was tired and at the end of her tether, she loved her children above all – it was crystal clear for me, so I was also sure she would never put them in danger voluntarily. One day Sally wakes up in a taxi, 250 miles away from home, with the right amount of money to pay the taxi – driver and a piece of paper that turns out to be her suicide note. She doesn’t have any recollection of what happened and how she got there. Back at home, she’s surrounded by her friends and family, all of them trying to help her – or is someone trying to make her feel uncertain, unsure and paranoid? Or does Sally really need professional help?

As I have already mentioned above, the characters in this novel are brilliantly developed and described, and truly, they all made wonderful suspects for me. Some more, some less, but when you read the book for yourself you’ll see what I mean. There was not a single character that left me feeling unsuspicious, and everyone was under my suspicion at one point, maybe except for Sally’s father. They all had motives and the author took her time to mess with our heads with the web of lies, secrets and manipulations. This is this kind of story that make you suspect every single character. Even though I must admit I relatively quickly set my heart on one person, I didn’t rule out any other person – there could happen anything, really. As it turned out, I was right, but only 50% right. Ha, you can say, how can you be only half right, either you are right or not – but THIS is THE TWIST. The surprise that blew me totally. Intrigued? I hope so – please go and get a copy of this book! It is also this kind of read that’ll make you think and wonder, and I think there are two ways your mind can go – either you’ll be on Sally’s side or against her. Everything was possible, in my opinion, and even though I belonged to those who believed Sally, there WERE moments that I was doubting her. The story is told from her point of view, she’s the narrator, so it made the book even more intriguing, because you were never sure if she’s a trustful narrator or not.
They were also those kinds of characters that I rather do not take close to my heart. I don’t mean that they’re unlikeable or something, it’s just that I didn’t trust them and didn’t want to feel disappointed at the end. I fell for Sally, of course, I could partly relate to her and understood her problems, and I hated to see how the others don’t believe her, how they try to make her paranoid, how they play her and in the end she didn’t have a single person who she could turn to and ask for help.

The only thing that spoiled the book for me a little was that there were moments that really felt too far – fetched, too exaggerated and impossible to happen, some situations too clichéd and some of the characters were self – obsessed, and I think I can’t change someone’s life only because I feel it’s the right thing to do. But these are only small things and altogether, I really enjoyed this book. Lucy Dawson is a very talented writer who skilfully and cleverly delivers a tale full of tension and suspicion. It was really this kind of book that made me want to look at the last page to see if my suspicions are right and it took almost my all willpower not to do this – because I didn’t, which I’m proudly reporting here – I didn’t skip a single word, to be honest, I was so absorbed in this story that I didn’t want to miss a thing. It got under my skin, guys, it intrigued me and also annoyed me – but I can’t say why, I’m scared I’ll let slip too much and spoil the read for you.

“Everything You Told Me” is a brilliant read about manipulation. I wouldn’t call it thriller, to be honest, maybe psychological suspense? Because it kept me gripped and it was full of tension and suspense. A slow burner, but in such books you don’t need incredible pace, you rather need it to be slower, with the right number of questions and misunderstandings, and you get it all here. I really liked how cleverly the author made the lines between lies and truth blur – the way she wrote it made me want to know the truth immediately! She skilfully put the wool over our eyes and made the journey to the truth very twisty and curvy, but without making it too overwhelming or tiring or keeping it on too long and hence losing our attention – by giving very subtle clues she made me feel desperate to know the truth and to read further. A great read, guys, highly recommended!

Fix You by Carrie Elks

Fix You

by Carrie Elks

 

Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 4th February 2016

Source:  Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 368

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 Synopsis:

You’ve found the one, but what if life has other plans?

London, 31st December 1999
At a party to toast the new millennium, Hanna meets Richard. He is a gorgeous, wealthy New Yorker. She is a self-assured, beautiful Londoner with no interest in clean-cut American men. They are from different worlds and have nothing in common… except for their instant – and mutual – attraction to one another.
As the clocks chime midnight it is a new year and the beginning of a wonderful romance.

New York, 12th May 2012
Hanna, the girl who broke Richard’s heart, walks into his Wall Street office – and back into his life – to reveal an explosive secret.

He was sure they were meant to be together forever, but she broke his heart so completely the last time, can he find a way to let her mend the pieces?

Warm, witty and a perfect piece of modern romance, Fix You is a love story to melt your heart.

Rating: 2/5

 

„Fix You” by Carrie Elks was an ebook sensation, but I personally came across this beautiful paperback through Twitter, after Corvus was to published it, where there was a great buzz going on. I loved the cover, I loved the synopsis, and I wanted to see for myself if the book is as brilliant as people say, so as soon as my copy arrived, I started reading it.

So I’ll be honest with you. When I started it, after some time I have put this book away for a few moments hoping that when I get back to it, I’m going to enjoy it much more. Sadly, it was not the case. I’ve mostly skim – read this book, getting more and more angry for wasting my time that I’ll never get back. It may sound harsh, but this is the way I’m feeling – it really tried my patience. I kept reading in the hope to eventually start enjoy this book as much as so many other people did but it never happened.

I lately read a book that covers over 20 years of relationship, also jumping between the time and covering the most important events in the characters’ lives, almost same as in „Fix You”, as here the story follows the characters for over 13 years, but the books couldn’t be differently written, and while I adored the other one, I had some issues with „Fix You”. The chapters jump in time and between London and New York, and the breaks between the dates are very different and they also don’t help – sometimes it’s only a day and sometimes a year, and they present some significant moments in the characters’ lives, their paths crossing and un – crossing to make a full circle and get back to the opening conversation between Hanna and Richard at the beginning of the book. But this jumping between the dates, it just made the story so unclear, so choppy, the chapters end abruptly and then we see the characters a year later. The author drops some events that happened in the particular years into the story, such as 9/11, the „accident” of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson at the Superbowl Final in 2004, and more, and I thought, why? What does it bring to the story? Anyone?

The story follows mostly Hanna Vincent’s life and it starts in 2012, when Hanna enters Richard Larsen’s office to announce that they have a baby – so actually from the very beginning we know the climax, and we can easily predict what’s going to happen next – the will they/won’t they between the characters with some obstacles thrown under their feet until eventually they sail together into the sunset and happy end. Full marks for guessing here.
The characters. Oh my word, guys, how they annoyed me. Richard belongs to my least – favourite category of characters. You know, you can be rich and wealthy, have connections, be well – born etc, and still be a likeable hero, but Richard was not. He was obnoxious, arrogant, used to get what he wants, and of course with a tender heart somewhere deep, such a cliché. With zero depth to him. And there were thousands of characters in the story. Both Hanna and Richard had patchwork families with step – mothers, fathers, siblings and I was mostly wondering who is who, to whom they belong and are we on the set of „Dynasty” soap opera?

The story dragged. Really. It felt so slow and I had a feeling that nothing in particular is happening there and to be honest, I’m not sure what was the story. It just felt so on the surface, I’ve missed some depth to it and I had a feeling the author tries too hard and then just let go. The narration, writing style feels too wooden and there is no progress at all. I really feel sorry because I wanted to love this book so much, and disappointed that it didn’t happen. But this is not a bad read altogether, I think. It just didn’t work for me. All the men fell immediately in love with Hanna. Every chapter took us more and more in the future and quickly it just made me feel tired, as we didn’t stop at anything and it just felt so very cursorily. All the things that were happening usually found their solutions in the same chapter. Yes, I have really had high expectation for this story and it makes me feel angry with myself that it didn’t happen, but I can’t change these feeling. Nevertheless, I will be looking for more from Carrie Elks – who knows, her next novel may blow me away :)