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

one-of-us-is-lying-by-karen-mcmanus

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)

Advertisements

#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

tina seskis

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 Power by Naomi Alderman

41RUBuZRhZL

About the Book

‘She throws her head back and pushes her chest forward and lets go a huge blast right into the centre of his body. The rivulets and streams of red scarring run across his chest and up around his throat. She’d put her hand on his heart and stopped him dead.’

Suddenly – tomorrow or the day after – girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman’s extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light. What if the power to hurt were in women’s hands?

My Thoughts

The Power is a really interesting novel that looks at the way men and woman are viewed and treated in society. In this novel teenage girls discover they have the power to inflict pain through their hands. Society becomes scared and outraged and wants to lock the girls away to protect society but it soon becomes apparent that the girls are awakening the power in older women. Soon all women have the power.

The first half of this book feels very empowering. It’s fascinating to see women going about their lives and knowing that they won’t ever be hurt as they leave a club late at night, who know absolutely that they can protect themselves even if they walk home alone. Suddenly it’s men who are being warned not to walk home alone at night, that are being warned not to behave in a way that may provoke girls with the power.

As The Power goes on Alderman begins to rebut the notion that woman are instinctively nurturing and caring. It becomes a more uncomfortable to read, it is unsettling and at times horrifying.  I’ve seen criticism of this book from people who haven’t read it saying that making men victims doesn’t make anything any better. I completely agree with that statement but it’s absolutely not what this book is about. The Power is all about empowering women but then looking at what happens when they have all that power, and just like now, it’s not all good. The power becomes a corrupting force for some of the women, they turn power-hungry and want to be on top at all costs, which is how it is in reality – too much power is always corrupting. I couldn’t understand the motives of some of the characters, I couldn’t identify or sympathise with what some of them did and it was right that this happened. I’ll be honest and say that I was a little concerned that The Power would be a man-hating novel but it isn’t, it really does look at what happens when the people that hold the power lose it, and others gain it. It’s terrifying, but also fascinating.

The novel is framed by letters from a male scholar to Naomi asking her opinion on his latest novel, The Power, and it ends with her thoughts after she read it. The last line in this novel is brilliant, one of the best final lines I’ve read in a long time. It left me thinking for a long time after I put the book down.

This is a fascinating novel, it will really make you think and it’ll stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. I definitely recommend it.

The Power is out now!

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

About the Author

naomi alderman

Naomi Alderman grew up in London and attended Oxford University and UEA. In 2006 she won the Orange Award for New Writers. In 2007, she was named Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year, and one of Waterstones’ 25 Writers for the Future.

Her first novel, Disobedience, was published in ten languages. Penguin published her second novel, The Lessons, in 2010 and her third novel, The Liars’ Gospel, in August 2012. Her new novel, The Power, will be published at the end of October 2016. All of her novels have been chosen for BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime slot.

Her prize-winning short fiction has appeared in Prospect, on BBC Radio 4 and in a number of anthologies. In 2009 she was shortlisted for the BBC National Short Story Award.

From 2004 to 2007 Naomi was lead writer on the alternate reality game Perplex City. She’s written online games for Penguin, the BBC, and other clients. In 2011 she wrote the Doctor Who tie-in novel Borrowed Time. In 2012, she co-created the top-selling smartphone fitness game and audio adventure Zombies, Run!, which is a market leader and has been downloaded millions of times.

Naomi broadcasts regularly, has guest-presented Front Row on BBC Radio 4 and writes frequently for the Guardian. She is one of the presenters of Science Stories, a programme about the history of science on BBC Radio 4, as well as presenting many one-off documentaries.

Naomi is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University, has been mentored by Margaret Atwood as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, and in April 2013 she was named one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists in their once-a-decade list.

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

#BookReview: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr @emily_barr @penguinrandom

the-one-memory-of-flora-banks

About the Book

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHO TO TRUST WHEN YOU CAN’T EVEN TRUST YOURSELF?

I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can’t remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is.

Then she kisses someone she shouldn’t, and the next day she remembers it. It’s the first time she’s remembered anything since she was ten.

But the boy is gone. She thinks he’s moved to the Arctic.

Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?

My Thoughts

I’ve read a few of Emily Barr’s previous novels and always enjoyed them so I was excited when I got approved to read this new book, Emily Barr’s first young adult novel, back in January. I read the book back then but didn’t manage to get my review finished and posted but I can say that the book has really stayed fresh in my mind, which is always testament to a great read!

Flora Banks is such a brilliant character, I loved reading about her from the opening chapter. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to not be able to form new memories, to only have memories from childhood. Flora is now a teenager but her mother, in her need to protect Flora, keeps her trapped as a child. Flora tries to keep a grip on her life by writing notes to herself but inevitably they get muddled up, or moved and then she has to try and piece things together. One night she experiences her first kiss and the next day finds that she has remembered it. The details around the kiss are not there but she remembers the kiss so clearly.

The novel is all about Flora learning to forge her way in the world in spite of her memory problems. Flora believes that if she can just find the boy she kissed that it will unlock her memory, that he is now the answer to everything. Life never goes as planned though and Flora encounters a lot of difficulties on her journey to find him. She becomes fiercely determined to prove to herself that she is growing up and that she will be able to manage on her own. Reading about Flora as she attempts to find the boy she kissed is really touching. To see this girl making such valiant attempts to remember things, to find ways to trigger her memory is incredible.

I felt quite on edge at times as the novel went on, it was nerve-wracking seeing Flora out in the world without her support systems in place. There are moments when she becomes really quite confused and upset, and I was so involved in the novel that I wanted to reach into the pages and tell her it would be ok. I was really cheering her on and wanting her to find the boy on her own and for everything to work out fine.

I love how Emily Barr managed to show us Flora’s life, to show us how it is to have amnesia and while inevitably some things are repeated throughout the book as we experience Flora’s confusion each day, the book never feels repetitive.

I also really appreciated how this novel never became too cliched. I was fully expecting Flora to easily find the boy and for them to fall in love and live happily ever after as is often the case, but it wasn’t remotely straightforward for her. She has so many challenges to overcome and life is never going to be easy for her. The novel for me felt so much more about Flora finding a way to have some independence and to gain a life of her own than it is about a boy, although the boy is the catalyst for the story.

It was also really interesting how we get to see Flora with her childhood best friend Paige, who’s a healthy seventeen year old. The contrast between them is quite stark at times and it really highlights just how much Flora has missed out on due to her amnesia. Early in the book the two girls are at a party together and Flora really does seem like a child, it’s quite sad to see. Paige is tied to Flora because they were friends before the amnesia – Paige tries hard to be a good friend but you can see how hard it is for her at times, particularly in the early part of the novel. It must be so difficult to be growing up and having more and more independence while the girl you grew up with is still ten years old in her mind. This is so sensitively written and I was really hoping that their friendship would survive as the book goes on, more so than I was wanting a romance between Flora and the boy.

I really enjoyed reading this book and would recommend it to everyone. It is aimed a young adults but it’s a book that can be enjoyed by anyone.

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

About the Author

emily barr

I started out working as a journalist in London, but always hankered after a quiet room and a book to write. I managed, somehow, to get commissioned to go travelling for a year, and came home with the beginnings of a novel set in the world of backpackers in Asia. This became BACKPACK, a thriller which won the WH Smith New Talent Award, and I have since written eleven more novels published in the UK and around the world.

I live in Cornwall with my partner Craig and our children, and am working on my second YA novel, which is set in Rio.

(Bio taken from EmilyBarr.com)

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

swimming-lessons-by-claire-fuller

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: Everything but the Truth by Gillian McAllister

everything-but-the-truth-by-gillian-mcallister

About the Book:

Just how much can you trust the person you love?

Everything but the Truth is Gillian McAllister’s stunning breakthrough thriller about deceit, betrayal and one woman’s compulsive need to uncover the truth

It all started with the email.

Rachel didn’t even mean to look. She loves Jack and she’s pregnant with their child. She trusts him.

But now she’s seen it, she can’t undo that moment. Or the chain of events it has set in motion.

Why has Jack been lying about his past? Just what exactly is he hiding? And doesn’t Rachel have a right to know the truth at any cost?

My Thoughts:

This is such a well-written, accomplished debut domestic noir and I very much enjoyed it. I loved that it is set in such a normal, every day situation so that this story initially felt like it’s something that could happen to any one. Rachel sees Jack’s iPad light up with an email notification late at night and she feels compelled to glance over and read it. From then on she tries to find out what the email meant and skirts around the issue with Jack, as she doesn’t want to outright admit to reading his emails. I felt for a while that Rachel was reading too much into things, and was being a little paranoid but then I started thinking that Jack was acting a bit strangely so switched to thinking that he must be hiding something major. I was kept hooked by my inability to pin down what was going on.

On top of this Rachel is also hiding the reason why she quit medicine. This part of the plot was also great to read. I did work out early on what might have happened with her patient but I really liked that in the build up to the reveal we got to see her thought process and to really understand why she did what she did.

My relationship with my husband started off in a whirlwind – we’ve pretty much lived together since the very day we met – so I totally understood how Rachel and Jack had connected so quickly and how they fell in love so deeply in such a short space of time. It seemed strange to me at first that they weren’t sharing their pasts with each other but then as I read more I could see how that could happen. Rachel was grieving for  her mum, and for the loss of her career and adjusting to being pregnant; while Jack was only meant to be living in Newcastle temporarily for work and is really busy with his career plus trying to make time to get back up to Oban to visit his family.

I did find Rachel’s actions quite shocking at times, it was hard to think of someone behaving how she did but within the context of the plot it kind of made sense. Of course you’d want to know if the man you’re having a child with has skeletons in his closet, and because she had time on her hands and was in a stressful mindset she became quite fixated on having to know at any cost.

This book started off quite slowly and then it just builds and builds and builds until you simply can’t put it down. I finished it really late at night because I just had to know what was going on! I highly recommend this book, it’s such an accomplished debut and I really can’t wait to see what Gillian McAllister writes next.

This is an incredible debut that will have you staying up all night to find out what happens next. Don’t miss it! Everything but the Truth is due to be published on 9th March and can be pre-ordered here.

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