#BookReview: One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

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About the Book

Five students go to detention. Only four leave alive.

On Thursday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention. Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule. Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess. Nate, the bad boy, is already on probation for dealing. Cooper, the jock, is the all-star baseball pitcher. And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app. Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investi­gators, his death wasn’t an accident.

On Thursday, he died. But on Friday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they just the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose? Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

My Thoughts

I was thrilled when I was approved to read this book from NetGalley as it has such an intriguing premise. I loved the movie The Breakfast Club so for it to have comparisons to that gave me high hopes!

The opening chapters of this novel are really intense, they grabbed me immediately and had me wondering what was going to happen next. The novel is then told from each of the perspectives of the four students who survived detention – we gradually get to see what their lives are like and it seems that they all have a potential motive for killing their classmate.

I really enjoyed how the teenagers changed as the novel progressed; it was also nice to see how, even though they all hung around in different groups before Simon’s death, they began to look out for one another in the aftermath. It made it really interesting as a reader too because as you get to know more about their pasts, you grow to like them more and it adds to the suspense that you don’t know for sure who you can trust. I did have my suspicions early on about what had happened in detention, and I was right, but there was more to the story than I had figured out so there were still shocks in store as the novel moves on. I would say that while this book does have the element of suspense there is much more to it than that. It’s more about the people left behind who suspicion falls on and we get to see how they cope with being under such scrutiny.

I have to be honest though and say that I did struggle to follow this novel because the voices of the main characters were not distinct enough from each other. I kept having to flick back because I couldn’t remember whose chapter I was currently reading and it made this novel a slower read for me than it might have been. It’s a small criticism but it would be remiss of me not to mention it because it did affect my enjoyment of the novel to a degree. That said, I would still recommend this novel because aside from this issue everything else is great and very enjoyable.

I’m a lot older than the target audience for this book but I have to say that, in terms of plot, it was one of the best YA books I’ve read in a long while so there are definite positives to this novel and I will be looking out for whatever Karen McManus writes next.

One of Us is Lying is out now!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

Karen McManus

Karen M. McManus earned her BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross and her MA in journalism from Northeastern University. Her debut young adult novel, ONE OF US IS LYING, will be released from Delacorte Press/Random House on May 30, 2017. It will also be published internationally in 18 territories including the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Serbia, and Slovakia.

(Author Bio and Photo taken from Goodreads)

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#BookReview: I Know My Name by C.J. Cooke @CJ_Cooke_Author @HarperCollinsUK

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About the Book

Komméno Island, Greece: I don’t know where I am, who I am. Help me.

A woman is washed up on a remote Greek island with no recollection of who she is or how she got there.

Potter’s Lane, Twickenham, London: Eloïse Shelley is officially missing.

Lochlan’s wife has vanished into thin air, leaving their toddler and twelve-week-old baby alone. Her money, car and passport are all in the house, with no signs of foul play. Every clue the police turn up means someone has told a lie…

Does a husband ever truly know his wife? Or a wife know her husband? Why is Eloïse missing? Why did she forget?

The truth is found in these pages…

My Thoughts

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When CJ Cooke offered a few copies of I Know My Name to bloggers on twitter I immediately asked if I could have one as the book sounded so good. It didn’t click with me until later that CJ Cooke wrote one of my favourite ever books, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, so when I found that my copy of I know My Name was signed I actually squealed with delight and was even more thrilled.

I’m so happy to say that I Know My Name doesn’t disappoint, I would go so far as to say that it’s the best psychological thriller that I’ve read this year. It had me on the edge of my seat at times and it really got under my skin.

I Know My Name is told in two strands. One is on a remote Greek island where a woman is washed ashore, she doesn’t know her name or where she came from or how she got to be there but she is lucky to be rescued by a group of writers that are staying on the island. The second strand is set in London where a man is called to come home from work by a neighbour as it seems his wife has gone missing leaving their two very young children behind.

This novel is thrilling, it’s unnerving and it gives you so much to consider as to what might have happened. But it’s so much more than that too. It’s a novel about how much you really know about a person, it’s about how much pain and damage people can hide from their loved ones and it’s about how easy it is to not see what is happening in your own home right in front of you.

I loved this book because it truly is a psychological thriller, it looks at a terrifying scenario of memory loss, of a creepy neglected island but also a look at how the mind works. The things people will do to survive, the things people sometimes have to do to survive.

I read this book in two sittings, the only reason I didn’t finish it in one is because I started reading late at night and fatigue overcame me. I immediately picked it up again the following morning and didn’t stop reading until I turned the last page. It’s now a few days since I read this book and I still find myself thinking about it, it really has made such a lasting impact on me and I know I won’t forget this story any time soon.

This is truly an outstanding psychological thriller that will unnerve you, it will give you the creeps and it will deeply unsettle you as it all begins to come together. It will grab you and it won’t let you go, even when you’ve finished reading it.

This is an incredible novel and I highly, highly recommend it. I feel certain that this book will be in my top books of this year!

I Know My Name is due to be published in paperback on 15th June.

I was sent a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review.

 

About the Author

CJ Cooke twitter

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queens University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health.
I KNOW MY NAME is C.J. Cooke’s first psychological drama and was inspired by her creative work in mental health. It is being published in several other languages and a TV adaptation is in development.

C.J. Cooke lives by the sea with her family.

#BookReview: The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis @MichaelJBooks @tinaseskis ‏

The Honeymoon by Tina Seskis

About the Book

There’s trouble in paradise. . .

For as long as she can remember, Jemma has been planning the perfect honeymoon. A fortnight’s retreat to a five-star resort in the Maldives, complete with luxury villas, personal butlers and absolute privacy. It should be paradise, but it’s turned into a nightmare.

Because the man Jemma married a week ago has just disappeared from the island without a trace. And now her perfect new life is vanishing just as quickly before her eyes. After everything they’ve been through together, how can this be happening? Is there anyone on the island who Jemma can trust? And above all – where has her husband gone?

My Thoughts

I read and enjoyed Tina Seskis’ first novel a little while ago and loved it so when I heard she had a new book coming out I was keen to read it. I was thrilled when NetGalley approved my request recently.

Jemma and Jamie are on their honeymoon on a beautiful and exclusive island resort in the Maldives. One morning Jemma wakes up to find her new husband is missing and from there the novel slowly builds as we find out what led up to him disappearing and what actually happened to him.

The novel is told in alternating chapters of past and present, and this worked really well as I found myself engrossed in both parts of the story and wanting to see how the timeline would converge and where it was all leading. It’s also told in four parts, and I have to say that at the end of the first part my head was spinning and I simply had to read on as fast as I possibly could.

The atmosphere on this beautiful island becomes increasingly stifling as Jemma feels that everyone, staff and other guests alike, are suspecting her of harming her husband. Even the couple she had become friends with start being a bit more distant with her. She is unsure how to behave and worries about how people who see her around the island are perceiving her. The paranoia she feels grows and grows – it emanates off the page to the point it was making me nervous about what was going to happen next.

As the book went on I became more and more unnerved by the whole situation. I’m scared of open water as it is so the idea of being on a small island resort isn’t my idea of fun, but there is an underlying sense of malice in this book that you can never quite put your finger on why. It gave me that feeling you have when you’re seriously sleep-deprived and everything has that slightly unreal feeling to it. This isn’t a scary book but there is a real creepiness to it and it gets under your skin – the feeling doesn’t let up until well after you’ve finished reading. The writing in this book is brilliant in the way it really evokes these feelings in the reader, almost mimicking some of what Jemma is feeling.

I suspected just about everyone in this book of having had something to do with Jamie’s disappearance. During the times when I wasn’t reading, my mind was constantly pondering on various scenarios that could have happened. Tina Seskis throws in so many brilliant red herrings and twists that it’s impossible to know how it will all turn out. One of my suspicions did prove to be partially correct but I defy anyone to work out what exactly happened on this island!

This is a slow-burn thriller that builds the tension and the claustrophobic atmosphere to such a degree that it feels like you’re enmeshed in the situation yourself. It’s dark and twisty, gripping and impossible to put down! I highly recommend The Honeymoon.

The Honeymoon is due to be published on 1st June and can be pre-ordered now.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin Michael Joseph via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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Tina Seskis grew up in Hampshire, before going off to study in the beautiful city of Bath and then moving to London, where she has lived on and off ever since.

Tina’s first novel One Step Too Far was released in 2013, and has since been published in 17 languages in over 60 countries. Her latest novel, The Honeymoon, will finally be released on 1st June 2017.

Tina lives in North London with her husband and son.

(Author photo and bio taken from: Goodreads)

#BookReview: The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan @ruthmariehogan @TwoRoadsBooks

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About the Book

MEET THE ‘KEEPER OF LOST THINGS’…
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.
Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you’ve finished reading.
WE’RE ALL JUST WAITING TO BE FOUND…

My Thoughts

From the moment I first read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it – what a brilliant premise for a novel! I love the idea of someone picking up and keeping safe all the lost things, and the idea of trying to reunite these items with their owners. It kind of made me feel that maybe some of the things I’ve been heartbroken to lose might have been picked up by someone who has looked after them over the years, rather than them having ended up in a bin. I admit that it made my heart sing.

The Keeper of Lost Things has two stories running through it. Anthony is the keeper of lost things – he began collecting lost things after his fiancee Therese died, and has carried on throughout the years. He is clearly still grieving for the love of his life but has channeled his emotion into trying to reunite people with their belongings – he seems to be focusing on this as a way atoning for his own loss. His story broke my heart – I felt such sadness for his loss and his pain. He reminded me a lot of my Grandad, who was forever mending things for people and when my Nan died he was broken himself and nothing could fix him.

‘It had been in his pocket as he stood waiting for Therese on the corner of Great Russell Street. But she never came, and by the time he got home that day, he had lost them both.’

Laura is Anthony’s housekeeper. She is dealing with the aftermath of a break-up and is feeling really low. She loves looking after Anthony and his home, but is shocked to find when Anthony dies that she is to become the holder of the lost things. Through this Laura meets Sunshine, who is a wonderful character. I adored her, her name really does suit her joyful personality.

The other story running throughout the book is about Eunice and Bomber. Their story is from the past and the way their story is woven through the novel with Laura’s story is wonderful. Bomber’s sister Portia is a wannabe novelist and this makes for comedy gold throughout the novel, there honestly were laugh-out-loud moments as Bomber read her latest attempt at writing.

Interspersed among the two story strands are the stories behind some of the lost things that Anthony has found and kept over the years. I loved these short snapshots of the life these items may have had before they were lost, it really made me think about all the times we see lost things in the street and often it seems like rubbish but some of these items will have been loved by their owners and probably much missed. The lost items exist in reality but it’s almost like they’re also metaphors for all the bigger losses we experience in out lives. The items are representatives of the moments that matter in our lives. The items we keep after we’ve lost a loved one became so much more precious because they’re all we have left, and our memories are so wrapped up in each item, so the thought of ever losing those things is almost too much to contemplate. Anthony’s collection of lost things seems filled with all the memories of people he has never met but he knows they need to be safe-guarded. It does give a sense of peace to know that someone like Anthony might be keeping our lost things safe.

The Keeper of Lost Things is one of those novels that will break your heart, but it will mend it again. It will make you cry, it will make you laugh and it will leave you holding your treasured items, and more so the people you love, a little tighter. It’s a beautiful novel, one that everyone will be able to identify with, and it’s one that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.

The Keeper of Lost Things is out now!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

ruth hogan

I was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford.  My sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me.

As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on.  Luckily, my mum worked in a bookshop.  My favourite reads were The MoomintrollsA Hundred Million FrancsThe Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and the back of cereal packets, and gravestones.

I passed enough A levels to get a place at Goldsmiths College, University of London, to study English and Drama.  It was brilliant and I loved it. And then I got a proper job.

I worked for ten years in a senior local government position: a square peg in round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage.

In my early thirties I had a car accident which left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously.

It was all going well, but then in 2012 I got Cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing and the eventual result was The Keeper Of Lost Things.

I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering partner.  I am a magpie; always collecting treasures (or ‘junk’ depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan.

My favourite word is’ antimacassar’ and I still like reading gravestones.

(Bio and author photo taken from: TwoRoadsBooks.com)

#BookReview: The Affair by Amanda Brooke @AmandaBrookeAB @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK

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About the Book

A shocking story about a fifteen-year-old girl and the man who took advantage of her.

“You might as well know from the start, I’m not going to tell on him and I don’t care how much trouble I get in. It’s not like it could get any worse than it already is. I can’t. Don’t ask me why, I just can’t.”

When Nina finds out that her fifteen-year-old daughter, Scarlett, is pregnant, her world falls apart. Because Scarlet won’t tell anyone who the father is. And Nina is scared that the answer will destroy everything. As the suspects mount – from Scarlett’s teacher to Nina’s new husband of less than a year – Nina searches for the truth: no matter what the cost.

My Thoughts

I found this novel really drew me in and I actually read it all in one day.  If I’m to be honest I was expecting this book to be quite predictable but actually it wasn’t. Fifteen year old Scarlett has been having a relationship with an older man but when her mum finds out she refuses to say who it was with. Nina, her mum, is thrown into a tailspin and doesn’t know how to handle what has happened.

I thought it was clever that, as the reader, we don’t know who the relationship was with either. This book has multiple narrators – we mainly follow Nina, and Vicki – Scarlett’s teacher’s wife but we also get to see some of Scarlett’s thought processes interspersed throughout the novel. Immediately I suspected the teacher, but then I suspected the step-father, and briefly I even suspected Nina’s best friend’s husband. The two main men we’re led to suspect each seem to have opportunity to groom Scarlett and I couldn’t work out for a while who it most likely was.

We do get to see the life that Nina and Bryn lead as quite a newly-wed couple trying to adapt to living together with Nina’s two children. We also see a lot of Vicki and Rob, Scarlett’s teacher’s relationship and the way they seem madly in love. There are times when you’re reading that you wonder if it was neither of these men as they both seem happy and settled, but then you read the snippets from Scarlett’s viewpoint and remember that one of these men is likely a monster.

I have to say that I did feel uncomfortable that this book is centred around what is called an affair when it involved a fifteen year old. The two suspects are both in a position of power over her, and she is underage so really it’s not an affair: it’s a man taking advantage of a naive and underage girl. Scarlett does seem worldly-wise but it is very clear that she’s inexperienced and that she believes herself to be in love with the man. She believes he really wants to be with her at any cost. I can see how Scarlett views it as an affair – to her this is a relationship between equals. It’s clear that all of the adults in Scarlett’s life (barring the man who took advantage of her) are horrified at the supposed relationship so this changes the perception within the book from it being an affair to it being something much more serious.

The Affair is a novel that centres on a relationship between a man and an underage girl but it is about so much more than just that. It is just as much a look at how the female characters deal with the suspicion that the man they married, that they trust, could be cheating on them and how they have to then come to terms with the fact that the person their husband is involved with is a minor. I really appreciated all the strand to this novel, it made it a well-rounded and interesting read that throws up real moral dilemmas for the characters. This would make a great book club read as there is so much brought up in this book that would make for great discussion points.

I really enjoyed this novel – it kept me engrossed from start to finish and left me mulling it over once I’d finished reading. I’ll definitely be looking out for more of Amanda Brooke’s novels in the future.

The Affair is out now.

I received a copy of this book from the HarperCollins via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author

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I live in Liverpool with my daughter Jessica and writing was most definitely a late discovery.  I didn’t really begin to explore creative writing until I was almost 40, at which point my young son Nathan was fighting for his life.  Poetry and keeping a journal helped me through those difficult times and the darker times to come when he died in 2006.  He was three years old.

I continued to write and in 2010 I was fortunate enough to find an agent.  Luigi Bonomi has a fantastic reputation which is truly deserved and with his help we transformed my first manuscript.  Shortly afterwards in 2011 I was offered a book deal with HarperCollins.

My first novel Yesterday’s Sun was published in January 2012.

(Bio taken from author’s website: amanda-brooke.com)

Review: Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller @Fig_Tree_Books @PenguinUKBooks @ClaireFuller2

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About the Book:

‘Gil Coleman looked down from the window and saw his dead wife standing on the pavement below.’

Gil’s wife, Ingrid has been missing, presumed drowned, for twelve years.

A possible sighting brings their children, Nan and Flora, home. Together they begin to confront the mystery of their mother. Is Ingrid dead? Or did she leave? And do the letters hidden within Gil’s books hold the answer to the truth behind his marriage, a truth hidden from everyone including his own children?

My Thoughts:

This is the first novel I’ve read by Claire Fuller and I very much enjoyed it. Swimming Lessons is a real character-driven novel told partly in letters from the past and partly in the present day. I loved the way that a picture was gradually built up of this family, the way all their brokenness, their quirks and emotions were shown in one light in the present day and then there was another layer when we read a letter from the past.

In the present Gil has had a fall and is in hospital so his daughters Nan and Flora rush back to their childhood home to look after their father. We see the house through their eyes – all the piles and piles of books crowding every inch of space and immediately I wanted to know more.

We then begin to read the letters from Ingrid – mother to the two girls, who disappeared one day years earlier and of whom no trace has ever been found. We see through her eyes the happy times, the heartbreaking times that she went through with Gil. We learn from the very first letter that she wrote to him many times and then hid the letters in a book she felt was appropriate in some way. We don’t know how many Gil ever found or read, and there’s an added melancholy feel that runs through the book caused by missed chances and lack of knowing. In the present day we see the daughters occasionally pick up a book, and we, the reader, know there is a letter from their mother to their father in there, but for whatever reason they don’t find it. This left me feeling almost bereft at times.

There is a sense that Ingrid must be dead, for there have never been any sightings of her since the day she disappeared. Yet, there is also a haunting sense that she’s just around the corner, that if you just turned around quicker she’d be there. This broke my heart at times when the two daughters could sense her. My mum died a few years ago and sometimes I can randomly smell her perfume in my house, and for a moment I go still and it feels like she’s right there. It’s comforting, even though I know it’s not real. I think this sums up so much of this novel – the idea of people feeling things or sensing things but not always knowing what it means or how to deal with it. Then sometimes it’s the opposite – Gil’s lack of awareness, or lack of care, of his wife led to the emotional loss of her from their marriage before she was fully lost from all of their lives.

The ending of this book is perfect in my opinion, I honestly can’t see how it could have ended differently. The whole story is like a family haunted by memories and secrets and things they don’t know, so to wrap it all up in a neat bow would have been too heavy-handed. The beautiful wistfulness of the writing combined with the heartbreaking storyline is just incredible and I fell in love with this novel – it’s one that will stay with me for a long time to come.

I have Claire Fuller’s debut novel on my TBR and will definitely be reading it soon, and I already can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Swimming Lessons is out now.

I received a copy of this book from Fig Tree / Penguin via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

Claire fuller

 

Claire Fuller trained as a sculptor before working in marketing for many years. In 2013 she completed an MA in Creative Writing, and wrote her first novel, Our Endless Numbered Days. It was published in the UK by Penguin, in the US by Tin House, in Canada by House of Anansi and bought for translation in 15 other countries. Our Endless Numbered Days won the 2015 Desmond Elliott prize.
Claire’s second novel, Swimming Lessons will be published in early 2017.

 

(Bio taken from author’s Goodreads profile: Goodreads: Claire Fuller)

#BookReview: Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish @Zer0Books @steleenaish ‏

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing by Stephen Lee Naish

About the Book

Renowned film critic Roger Ebert said Dirty Dancing “might have been a decent movie if it had allowed itself to be about anything.” In this broadly researched and accessible text, Stephen Lee Naish sets out to deconstruct and unlock a film that has haunted him for decades, and argues that Dirty Dancing, the 1987 sleeper hit about a young middle-class girl who falls for a handsome working-class dance instructor, is actually about everything. The film is a union of history, politics, sixties and eighties culture, era-defining music, class, gender, and race, and of course features one of the best love stories set to film. Using scene-by-scene analyses, personal interpretation, and comparative study, it’s time to take Dirty Dancing out of the corner and place it under the microscope.

My Thoughts

I accidentally ended up with this book from NetGalley and I was in two minds about whether to read it or to just contact the publisher and explain my error. In the end I decided to read it. I think everyone my age will have watched and loved Dirty Dancing when they were around their early teens. I know so many people who still consider this one of their favourite films. It was my favourite feel-good film for many years.

This is a wonderful book for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the film as it really does look at all the key moments, and allows you to re-live them. I liked the descriptions of some of the deleted scenes from the film and the discussion on how they may or may not have added to the storyline had they have been left in – it’s made me want to buy the special edition DVD so I can see those deleted scenes now! Occasionally there are really interesting references to other studies that have discussed Dirty Dancing and I would have loved more of that, but it has led me to look at the bibliography at the back of this book so that I can maybe read more on the subject another time.

I’ve always seen the depth in Dirty Dancing, and assume that most people have – the way the main plot line hinges on Penny’s botched abortion, and the way the politics (and class and race issues) of the time the film was set really did have a huge impact on the story being told. This book considers the themes of the film and how out there it was for the time it was set, and the time it was made. I only wish that there had been more of a discussion about about why no one makes films like Dirty Dancing anymore, and that’s not me being nostalgic, it’s a genuine thing that interests me as to why we don’t have romantic films that look at serious issues in the way that Dirty Dancing did anymore. Now romantic films always seem to be very light and fluffy and while I enjoy them from time to time none of them are all that memorable, whereas Dirty Dancing always feels forward-thinking in the way it tackled big issues.

There is an interesting chapter earlier in the book that compares the themes of Dirty Dancing to those in Blue Velvet and I found that quite fascinating as on the surface I don’t automatically think of these films being in any way similar. I now see the common themes that Naish discussed in the book and it has made me ponder them, and to want to re-watch both films to see what else I may have missed in my previous viewings of them.

Naish also discusses how certain quotes from Dirty Dancing have become part of popular culture now. The way we all quote ‘I carried a watermelon’, for example, as shorthand for the most mortifying things we’ve ever said or done.

I found the author’s analysis of the end of Dirty Dancing utterly fascinating. I’ve watched the film numerous times and I’ve always thought that the ending was just super romantic and a perfect end to the film. Naish considers the idea that the whole ending was just a fantasy that Baby was having, it was what she imagined happened and that really the love story between her and Johnny was over when he left Kellermans earlier in the the film. I actually see that this is entirely plausible and it has made me really think about whether this is more likely than how I’ve always viewed it.

All in all this is an interesting, nostalgic look back on a great film and if you’re a Dirty Dancing fan I think you’ll very much enjoy this book – I definitely recommend it.

Deconstructing Dirty Dancing is due to be published on 28 April.

I received a copy of this book from Zer0Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

#BookReview: The Trophy Child by Paula Daly @GroveAtlantic

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About the book

Karen Bloom is not the coddling mother type. She believes in raising her children for success. Some in the neighborhood call her assertive, others say she’s driven, but in gossiping circles she’s known as: the tiger mother. Karen believes that tough discipline is the true art of parenting and that achievement leads to ultimate happiness. She expects her husband and her children to perform at 200 percent—no matter the cost. But in an unending quest for excellence, her seemingly flawless family start to rebel against her.

Her husband Noel is a handsome doctor with a proclivity for alcohol and women. Their prodigy daughter, Bronte, is excelling at school, music lessons, dance classes, and yet she longs to run away. Verity, Noel’s teenage daughter from his first marriage, is starting to display aggressive behavior. And Karen’s son from a previous relationship falls deeper into drug use. When tragedy strikes the Blooms, Karen’s carefully constructed facade begins to fall apart—and once the deadly cracks appear, they are impossible to stop.

My thoughts

I’m a big fan of Paula Daly’s writing so was eagerly anticipating The Trophy Child and I have to say that it didn’t disappoint.

Karen is a real tiger mum. She puts all her hope and ambition onto her daughter, trying to mould her into the perfect person. Karen won’t accept failure, won’t even accept good enough – Bronte has to be perfect. Bronte is obviously struggling at not being allowed to be a normal child with time to play with friends, and the situation is like a giant pressure cooker. Bronte’s step-sister Verity has already lashed out at Karen once, and there is still such a fury simmering under the surface in their relationship. Karen’s husband, and father of both girls, is quite ineffectual when it comes to to his family – he basically wants to keep the peace and if he can’t keep the peace he’ll do his best to stay out of the situation.

I think what I loved the most about this novel was all the layers. I thought it was going to be a novel about a child who goes missing and the way the family copes but it’s about so much more than that. There are so many different dynamics to the family at the centre of this novel that it makes for a fascinating look at why people are the way they are. We see how it feels to be the second wife, the step-child, the half-sister, the first wife, and the husband who seems to be caught between his wife and ex-wife, his children and step-child. It was the relationships between all the characters that fascinated me the most, especially when the police become involved. It’s the characters that make this novel so brilliant, even more so than the great plot. None of the characters are particularly likeable and that made this book so fascinating as I wasn’t sure how I felt when they were in turmoil. It made me consider my own emotions and I love when a novel draws me into it to this degree.

I have to admit that I did not see where this book was going. I was so confident for a fair bit of this novel that I knew how it was going to end and I was completely wrong. It’s not often that a book has me stumped but this one got me and I loved it for that!

This is definitely one of those ‘just one more chapter…’ books that you end up staying up ’til the early hours reading because you just can’t put it down. It’s a gripping read, and really does have you turning the pages at a frantic rate as you want to know what is going on.

The Trophy Child is a disturbing look at how tense and difficult trying to integrate children from one relationship, and a child from a second relationship into one family can be. This novel takes the situation to an extreme but the the day-to-day issues within this family will resonate with readers, and will likely send a cold shiver down some spines!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Trophy Child is out now and available to buy here.

About the author

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Paula Daly was born in Lancashire. Before beginning her first novel JUST WHAT KIND OF MOTHER ARE YOU? she was a self-employed physiotherapist. She lives in the Lake District with her husband, three children and whippet Skippy.

#BookReview: Year of No Clutter by Eve O. Schaub

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About the Book:

From Hoarders to The Life- Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the question of what to do with all of our stuff seems to be on everyone’s mind. Eve Schaub’s new memoir is the tale of how one woman organized an entire room in her house that had been overtaken by pointless items. It’s also a deeply inspiring and frequently hilarious examination of why we keep stuff in the first place—and how to let it all go.

Eve O. Schaub graduated from Cornell and Rochester Institute of Technology. She has written for Vermont Life and Vermont Magazine, among others. During her family’s year of no sugar, Schaub blogged regularly and was often a guest on WAMC, New York’s NPR affiliate, as well as a regular visitor to Vermont Public Radio. She lives in Vermont with her family.

My Thoughts:

I requested this book from NetGalley because I can’t resist books about clutter, which is kind of ironic given that my natural tendency is to hoard stuff!

I have to be honest and say that the first couple of chapters of this book didn’t pull me in,  reading about someone’s room full of clutter that they know has a dead mouse in, and also that a cat has peed all over made me feel a bit squeamish. This isn’t the kind of clutter situation that I can identify with. I do tend to want to keep things but I’m also quite obsessive about cleaning.

I’m so glad that I decided to give the book another go through because from the point when Eve starts to explore what makes a hoarder, and what makes her the way she is I was fascinated and I could really identify with some of the things she discovered about herself.

There is a point where she writes that as a child she believed she had to keep everything so that she’d have enough stuff to fill her own home when she was grown up, and that is just how I was too. I kept all my childhood ornaments for years because I believed that shelves had to be filled with stuff. The idea that some people had empty surfaces in their home was alien to me. Eve’s father had a problem with clutter so she sees that her issues partly came from seeing what his house was like. My mum was very sentimental and could never get rid of things that people had given her, so I can see how Eve, and I, ended up being clutter bugs.

The part that really got to me was when Eve talks about her belief that if she lets go of things that she is sentimental about then she risks losing the memory of that particular point in time: that by holding on to the object, she has a trigger to bring back the memories instantly. I struggle with this too. It’s really hard when you get to an age where you’ve lost people who meant the world to you, how do you let go of the things they gave you? I felt Eve’s pain as she tried to work out which things to keep, and which to let go of.

Eve has an issue with making decisions, she really fears making a wrong choice and believes this feeds into her obsession with keeping things. This was eye-opening for me. I’ve always been indecisive but have never connected that to the way I keep things, but it makes total sense that if you really dread making a bad decision that you would find it hard to be confident in the things you get rid of. Eve gradually learns that it’s not the end of the world if you get rid of something and later wish you hadn’t, and that’s something I’ve learnt during my regular de-cluttering sessions. To be honest, I’ve agonised over some of the things I’ve being considering getting rid of but once they’re out of my house I’ve never regretted any of it. Objects might hold memories but they can’t bring a person back, it’s how you feel in your heart that matters.

One of the things Eve struggled with most was dealing with her paperwork. She couldn’t get rid of any of it without reading it first and then had to deal with whatever memory was attached before she could move on to the next lot of papers. It really struck a chord with me when Eve said: ‘… I keep souvenirs even of negative occurrences in my life, for fear that without them I would forget that event and even any lesson learnt from that event’. It sounds utterly ridiculous to keep paperwork from the worst moments of your life, but I used to be exactly the same. My mum kept some papers that were so painful to her but she felt she couldn’t ever shred them. When she died I took the papers for safe-keeping, and added some of my own from the year my mum was dying. I kept all of her hospital letters because I didn’t want to forget, and yet I was trying to hard not to drown in all the trauma that happened in that year. I moved in with my then new boyfriend (now my husband) the year my mum died and I took all the paperwork with me because I just couldn’t leave it behind – it felt like it was haunting me. Then one day I decided enough was enough. I burnt the lot and it was so therapeutic to let it go for both me, and my mum’s memory. I try to always remember now that the things we keep will one day be someone else’s problem to deal with and it helps me get rid of stuff that’s not really important in the grand scheme of things. Eve learns the same lesson in a different way. We can’t keep everything, we don’t have the room. So if you can only keep a fraction of the stuff, pick the good stuff, the happy stuff.

This isn’t a how-to book, it’s not about helping you clear your clutter. It is one woman’s open and honest journey through her own battle with clutter but in the process of reading you will probably recognise yourself in Eve, as I did, and it will spur you on to deal with your own clutter.

I highly recommend this book. Year of No Clutter is out now and available here.

I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

About the Author:

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Serial memoirist Eve O. Schaub lives with her family in Vermont and enjoys performing experiments on them so she can write about it.

During 2011 Eve wrote a blog about her family’s attempt to live and eat for a year without any added sugar in their food, which became the book Year of No Sugar (Sourcebooks, 2014). She has been a guest on theDr. Oz Show, and FOX and Friends, and has appeared in numerous print and online outlets. She considers not hyperventilating on national television one of her greatest accomplishments.

Her upcoming book, Year of No Clutter, (March, 2017) reveals her deepest, darkest secret: clutter. In it, she details her struggle to transform herself from a self-described “clutter-gatherer” into a neat, organized person who can actually walk through every room of her house and does not feel the need to keep everything from childhood raincoats to cat fur. And yes, the family gets roped in on this one too.

Eve holds a BA and  BFA from Cornell University, and a MFA from the Rochester Institute of Technology. At various times she has been a newspaper reporter, magazine columnist, and copy writer. She likes to say that she has written for everything but the classifieds section, but in truth she did that too.

(Author bio taken from her website: EveSchaub.com)