The Sunday Girl, by Pip Drysdale

6 Sep

40694496Format: e-ARC, 336 pages

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia

Published: 1 September, 2018

ISBN: 9781925685824

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Back cover blurb: The Girl on the Train meets Before I Go to Sleep with a dash of Bridget Jones in this chilling tale of love gone horribly wrong …

‘Some love affairs change you forever. Someone comes into your orbit and swivels you on your axis, like the wind working on a rooftop weather vane. And when they leave, as the wind always does, you are different; you have a new direction. And it’s not always north.’

Any woman who’s ever been involved with a bad, bad man and been dumped will understand what it feels like to be broken, broken-hearted and bent on revenge.

Taylor Bishop is hurt, angry and wants to destroy Angus Hollingsworth in the way he destroyed her: ‘Insidiously. Irreparably. Like a puzzle he’d slowly dissembled … stolen a couple of pieces from, and then discarded, knowing that nobody would ever be able to put it back together ever again.’

So Taylor consulted The Art of War and made a plan. Then she took the next step – one that would change her life forever.

Then things get really out of control – and The Sunday Girl becomes impossible to put down.

My review: Thoroughly enjoyed this and read almost all of it in one sitting. Taylor really was a naïve heroine, and I could see all the ways she would be tripped up long before she could, but there were also lovely twists and turns along the way that I didn’t see coming that kept me enthralled. I would have given this five stars except for the very end, which I found a bit weak. I was fully expecting another twist that didn’t come. However, this is a great debut and I will be sure to look out for this author in future. I really love the pink cover, too.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4.5/5

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The Upside of Unrequited, by Becky Albertalli

4 Sep

31286202Format: e-ARC, 352 pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s

Published: 11 April, 2017

ISBN: 9780141356112

Genre: LGBTQIA, Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: “I don’t entirely understand how anyone gets a boyfriend. Or a girlfriend. It just seems like the most impossible odds. You have to have a crush on the exact right person at the exact right moment. And they have to like you back.”

What does a sixteen-year-old girl have to do to kiss a boy? Molly Peskin-Suso wishes she knew. She’s crushed on twenty-six guys…but has kissed exactly none. Her twin sister Cassie’s advice to “just go for it” and “take a risk” isn’t that helpful. It’s easy for her to say: she’s had flings with lots of girls. She’s fearless and effortlessly svelte, while Molly is introverted and what their grandma calls zaftig.

Then Cassie meets Mina, and for the first time ever, Cassie is falling in love. While Molly is happy for her twin, she can’t help but feel lonelier than ever. But Cassie and Mina are determined to end Molly’s string of unrequited crushes once and for all. They decide to set her up with Mina’s friend Will, who is ridiculously good-looking, flirty, and seems to be into Molly. Perfect, right? But as Molly spends more time with Reid, her cute, nerdy co-worker, her feelings get all kinds of complicated. Now she has to decide whether to follow everyone’s advice…or follow her own heart.

My review: The author writes authentically about what it’s like being a teen, all self-centred and constantly with crushes on unobtainable boys, but I found myself seriously disliking Molly’s twin sister. She is just horrible! I didn’t really find anything to like about Mina or Will and Max either. There is a lot of diversity, and that’s great, but this didn’t grab my interest quite the way it seems to have many other readers. I haven’t read Albertalli’s earlier book, which is apparently much better, so I will give that a try.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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All That Is Lost Between Us, by Sara Foster

13 Jul

28517569Format: e-ARC, 368 pages

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Australia

Published: 1 February 2016

ISBN: 9781925184785

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

Back cover blurb: A mother’s worst fears. A daughter in distress. A family falling apart.

Seventeen-year-old Georgia has a secret – one that is isolating her from everyone she loves. She is desperate to tell her best friend, but Sophia is ignoring her, and she doesn’t know why. Before she can find out, Sophia is left fighting for her life after a hit and run, with Georgia a traumatised witness.

As a school psychologist, Georgia’s mother, Anya, should be used to dealing with scared adolescents. However, it’s very different when the girl who needs help is your own child. Meanwhile, Georgia’s father, Callum, is wracked with a guilt he can’t share – and when her younger brother, Zac, stumbles on an unlikely truth, the family relationships begin to implode.

Georgia’s secret is about to go viral, leaving her in terrible danger. Can the family rise above the lies they have told and fight for what matters most of all?

The lies we tell for love are the most dangerous of all.

Set against the stark, rugged beauty of England’s Lake District, All That is Lost Between Us is a timeless thriller with a modern twist.

My review: This is one of those books that makes you feel grateful your own family is not as dysfunctional as this. The characters here are all pretty awful, but at the same time very realistic. I understood the mother’s want to hover over her teenagers and her sadness at their growing apart, but at the same time she was stifling. The mystery relationship was obvious to me – I was reminded of Riley Redgate’s Seven Ways We Lie because the setup is almost identical – and the red herring side story was a little weird. Overall, just okay.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3.5/5

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We All Begin As Strangers, by Harriet Cummings

13 Jul

34907292Format: e-ARC, 315 pages

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 26 April 2017

ISBN: 9781409169055

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Back cover blurb: How well do you really know your neighbours?

In the small English village of Heathcote the temperatures are rising as summer sets in, as is the sense of unease. It started with small things at first – a perfume bottle being moved, a photograph left behind in someone’s house. Harmless enough. But now Anna is missing.

As the search for Anna gathers pace, suspicion grows and secrets are revealed. Surely one of the villagers can’t be responsible? But then how well do you really know what’s going on behind closed doors…

Praise for WE ALL BEGIN AS STRANGERS – a quirky, darkly atmospheric mystery:
‘Suspense, plot twists and drama make this an exciting read to the very read’ THE POOL

‘A dazzling debut…beautifully plotted, fantastically written and compellingly strange’ DAILY MAIL

My review: Really enjoyed this book told from five POVs about a village under siege from a mysterious burglar who breaks into people’s houses but often doesn’t take anything. It’s based on a true story, although one much more sinister, and reminded me a lot of the Broadchurch TV series, where everyone in the village is a suspect and vigilantes run amok. The different POVs remind us that everyone has secrets they keep from their neighbours, often for good reason. All the characters’ POVs were touching and I really felt badly for how each one was treated. A very good debut novel.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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The Office Christmas Party, by Aimee Duffy

13 Jul

30400216Format: e-ARC, 289 pages

Publisher: HarperImpulse

Published: 24 November 2017

ISBN: 9780008197254

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

Back cover blurb: Natalie Taylor and Dean Fletcher are serial Christmas party crashers. But when they start crashing the same parties, the mittens are off!

As much as she loves Christmas, after her mother’s death, events planner Nat can’t face the jolly season anymore. So to get her festive hit she crashes everyone else’s party. It’s a sweet gig, until she meets her competition, tech empire millionaire, Dean, under the mistletoe…!

When it comes to relationships, Dean doesn’t do serious—being left at the altar will do that to a guy. So when he meets feisty Nat, the first woman in ten years to pique his interest, he’s tempted to break his one-night rule…just for the holidays!

Nat and Dean might get more than they bargained for in their stockings this Christmas!

My review: Of course I could see what was going to happen a mile off, but I still enjoyed this light, funny romance about a pair of Christmas party crashers who go from enemies to lovers. I really liked Dean’s POV, especially his relationship with his brother, and his mother was absolutely vile. Natalie was harder to like because I didn’t get the whole aversion to Christmas thing, but her banter was witty and I could easily see this as a Bridget Jones type festive film.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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Flame in the Mist, by Renee Ahdieh

16 Mar

36348675Format: e-ARC, 400 pages

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 16 May 2016

ISBN: 9781473657977

Genre: Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Wrath and the Dawn, comes a sweeping, action-packed YA adventure set against the backdrop of Feudal Japan.

Mariko has always known that being a woman means she’s not in control of her own fate. But Mariko is the daughter of a prominent samurai and a cunning alchemist in her own right, and she refuses to be ignored. When she is ambushed by a group of bandits known as the Black Clan enroute to a political marriage to Minamoto Raiden – the emperor’s son – Mariko realises she has two choices: she can wait to be rescued… or she can take matters into her own hands, hunt down the clan and find the person who wants her dead.

Disguising herself as a peasant boy, Mariko infiltrates the Black Clan’s hideout and befriends their leader, the rebel ronin Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, Okami. Ranmaru and Okami warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. But as Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets that will force her to question everything she’s ever known.

My review: Firstly, I loved that this was set in feudal Japan. Ninjas! Throwing stars! Tea ceremonies! Add to that a kickass heroine, swoony boys, and magical powers, and you have a great read. I agree with other reviewers who found the names a bit tricky to keep track of, especially since some characters had multiple names, but other than that I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading the sequel. This was my first Renee Ahdieh book and I will certainly be reading her other works now.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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The Masked Truth, by Kelley Armstrong

16 Mar

25727687Format: e-ARC, 352 pages

Publisher: Hachette Australia

Published: 13 October, 2015

ISBN: 9780349002231

Genre: Teens & YA, Action & Adventure

Back cover blurb: They want her dead – but this time, she won’t hide.

A few months ago, Riley Vasquez was caught up in a horrific murder. Now everyone around her thinks she’s a hero. Riley isn’t so sure.

Meanwhile British army brat Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal.

The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with ‘issues’. But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage.

The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree.

Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next. They’ll have to work together – but first they’ll have to trust each other with their deepest secrets.

My review: I put off reading this one for ages, and now I’m finished, I think I’ll stick to this author’s paranormal series. This just didn’t grip me like a thriller should. The characters were good, and top marks should go to Armstrong for showing the complexities of mental illness, but I guessed the twist and it just seemed so unlikely it made me groan. I did like Max and Riley, though, and would have cheered had the second half of the book been a romance rather than an episode of Scooby Doo.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 2/5

 

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Driving Miss Crazy, by D.J. Van Oss

22 Feb

30224056Format: e-ARC, 292 pages

Publisher: Blue Penny Press

Published: 16 May, 2016

ISBN: 9780692685730

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Back cover blurb: He’s got a car. She’s got places to be. If only things were that simple.

Maggie MacNally always falls short, no matter what she does. Whether it’s her career or her love life, nothing ever ends up right, and even as she tries to put her work mishaps and dating missteps behind her to forge a new life in Washington DC, she wonders: is she really heading where she wants to go, or simply following in the family footsteps?

But just as she’s considering packing it all in, an out-of-the-blue proposal from her influential grandmother offers her one last chance at success — a chance which puts her in the path of beguiling and mysterious French diplomat, Valery.

Meanwhile, diplomatic driver and widowed father Adrian Adams isn’t looking to change anything about his life, he just wants to keep his seven-year-old daughter Charlie safe and happy. The last thing on his mind is finding love again – and the last thing he expects is to suddenly lose his job. Luckily, he’s soon got a new assignment, one which brings him face to face with an overworked, stressed-out, but oddly charming Irish girl with a penchant for talking to squirrels: Maggie. It’s not long before Adrian finds himself, unwittingly, falling in love again.

Will Maggie seize the life she’s always yearned for, or be left with the pieces of yet another broken dream? And will Adrian take a second, crazy chance at love, or just play it safe? And what’s with all the squirrels?

My review: I picked this up from Netgalley because of the cute graphics on the cover and the pun in the name, and then was intrigued to find it was a sweet romance debut by a male author. However, I wasn’t really bowled over by the plot. My favourite character was Adrian’s daughter, rather than the couple themselves, and the “intrigue” at the embassy was signposted so far out that nothing came as a surprise in the end. There was a love triangle, of course, and lots of people telling Maggie what to do so she came across as a bit of a child. So overall it was just okay.

Since it was first published the cover has been redone to show a photo of a couple, and I’d have to say that I wouldn’t have picked it up at all had that been the original cover. I much prefer the cute pink and blue graphics.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 2.5/5

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Seven Ways We Lie, by Riley Redgate

21 Jan

26240663Format: e-ARC, 343 pages

Publisher: Abrams Kids/Amulet Books

Published: 8 March, 2016

ISBN: 9781419719448

Genre: Children’s Fiction, Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: Seven students. Seven (deadly) sins. One secret.

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like every high school, every student has something to hide—from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues onstage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, the collision of their seven ordinary-seeming lives results in extraordinary change.

My review: This took me ages to get around to, but once I started I wondered why I had been putting it off. It seems quite fitting that a high school should be the setting for a book about the seven deadly sins, and although you could assign one sin to each of the seven main characters, in fact they were not so one-dimensional. I have totally known a few envious Claires in my time (and been her), so even though she was the worst-behaved character she rang very true. Matt, allegedly the sloth, was actually lovely, and his scenes with his little brother were the best. Olivia was more misunderstood than the “lust” label would indicate, and I loved the way she owned her sexuality.

The parents in this are generally absent, which annoys me as a parent myself. I expected Juniper’s to put their foot down, but what happened with them surprised me. I must add that a teacher at my high school married a senior after she graduated, not long before I started there, so I can understand how a young teacher must find it difficult when they are not much older than their students. The way the teacher and student met in this story made it not seem creepy, which I appreciated.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and found it hard to put down once I’d started. I’m looking forward to reading Redgate’s subsequent work.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5

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How I Magically Messed Up My Life in Four Freakin’ Days, by Megan O’Russell

14 Jan

32231955Format: e-ARC, 214 pages

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Published: 15 August, 2017

ISBN: 9781620072653

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: Ever wanted to grow a five-story tall flower in central park? How about fight a deadly battle under the subway tunnels of Manhattan?

Don’t worry. I never wanted to either. But if you’re ever being chased by ladies made of mist and you have to save the girl with the sparkly eyes you’ve never had the guts to say actual words to, there’s an app for that.

I found a magic cell phone, opened an app I shouldn’t have, burned down the set shop for my high school’s theatre, and it was all downhill from there. A drag queen seer who lives under a bridge is my only hope for keeping my mom alive, and I think the cops might be after me for destroying my dad’s penthouse.

But it gets better! Now I’m stuck being the sidekick to the guy who got me into this mess in the first place. It’ll be a miracle if I survive until Monday.

My review: This one lost me about halfway through. It started off well and I enjoyed the three main teen characters coming to grips with the mysterious phone they found, but when they got together with a fourth person – I won’t spoil by naming – I didn’t enjoy it as much and it was a slog to get to the end. If this is the start of a series I don’t think I’ll bother continuing.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 3/5

 

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