On My Wishlist...

Like any book addict, my wishlist is huge and constantly being added to. I don't always get to buy the books on it straightaway, or sometimes I'm waiting for them to be released. This week, two books which I've added to my wishlist stand out, so I thought I'd share them with you.

The Trophy Child by Paula Daly  


A doting mother or a pushy parent?

Karen Bloom expects perfection. Her son, Ewan, has been something of a disappointment and she won’t be making the same mistake again with her beloved, talented child, Bronte.

Bronte’s every waking hour will be spent at music lessons and dance classes, doing extra schoolwork and whatever it takes to excel. 

But as Karen pushes Bronte to the brink, the rest of the family crumbles. Karen’s husband, Noel, is losing himself in work, and his teenage daughter from his first marriage, Verity, is becoming ever more volatile. The family is dangerously near breaking point. 


Karen would know when to stop . . . wouldn’t she? 
(Published by Corgi January 2017) 

Why I'm wishing for it... 
I've read some fantastic reviews recently about this book, but this one by Cleo Loves Books clinched it. Also, a couple of years ago my daughter got into playing tennis competitively for a while, an environment way out of my comfort zone, and I definitely came across one or two pushy mums there! Taking this to the extreme sounds like a fascinating premise for a thriller.

And Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell 

 THEN
She was fifteen, her mother's golden girl. She had her whole life ahead of her. And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone. 

NOW 
It’s been ten years since Ellie disappeared, but Laurel has never given up hope of finding her daughter.
And then one day a charming and charismatic stranger called Floyd walks into a cafĂ© and sweeps Laurel off her feet. 

Before too long she’s staying the night at this house and being introduced to his nine year old daughter. 
Poppy is precocious and pretty - and meeting her completely takes Laurel's breath away. 

Because Poppy is the spitting image of Ellie when she was that age.
And now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back. 

What happened to Ellie? Where did she go? 
Who still has secrets to hide? 
Published July 2017 by Cornerstone 

Why I'm wishing for it...
I'm a MASSIVE Lisa Jewell fan. She's probably my favourite author and I've read and loved all of her books up until the most recent two (which I own and need to get on with!). And she's now writing psychological thriller style books? Well, putting two favourite things together like that, why wouldn't I be wishing for it?



 On My Wishlist was a regular weekly feature I hosted here at Cosy Books in 2012 (see HERE). While I'm not intending to start up as a meme again, I'm more than happy for others to join in if they like. 




Book Review: The People At Number 9 by Felicity Everett

Meet the new neighbours. Whose side are you on?

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.

When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…

Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs… (From Goodreads.com)

Published 6th April 2017 by HQ UK  

Sometimes your expectation of what a book is going to be about can skew your experience of reading it. I think this is probably the case with The People At Number 9, being not at all what I was expecting and leaving me a little confused regarding my feelings towards it.

The People At Number 9 tells the story of two couples living in middle class suburbia. When Lou and Gav move in next door to Sara and Neil, Sara is dazzled. Creative, charismatic and cultured, they're everything she wants to be herself. When a friendship between the set of couples is established, they quickly start spending more and more time together, becoming increasingly intertwined with each others lives. But familiarity breeds contempt - right? And when the friendship begins to feel one-sided, jealousy and resentment starts to creep in.

I'll be honest, I was expecting more of a heart thumping, twisty psychological thriller style read when I started this. It is neither of those things. The darkness in this book is more subtle, it won't chill you or jump out at you, but rather cast a slow, uncomfortable realization of the less attractive qualities we all can be susceptible to now and then and like to keep hidden - envy, dissatisfaction, longing and insecurity. In Sara, those feeling are intensified, simmering resentments escalating to almost obsession. I didn't like her - she's a social climber, tries too hard to impress those she deems intelligent and admirable, making her unattractive to all around her. She's constantly trying to mold herself and her family into what she thinks they should be. Yet, I think if we're completely honest with ourselves, we can all recognise some of the thoughts and feelings she has, even if only fleeting. That's where the darkness lies in this book.

I didn't like Lou or Gav either, pretentious and manipulating that they are. Yet they were fascinatingly intriguing - in fact all of the characters were. There isn't one who I could say I liked (even the children if I'm allowed to say that!) yet they were realistic. Each one is so well observed, you'll be recognising people you know personally in them. The plot isn't far fetched or out of the ordinary, it's a believable story of domestic life and could be playing out between neighbours across the road as we speak. Yet it is at times utterly compelling. Felicity Everett's ability to capture human nature and traits and make the mundane fascinating is outstanding, and while I struggled to begin with due to taking a deep dislike to the characters, from around halfway through I couldn't stop reading.

Wrongly again, I expected a climatic or dramatic ending, waiting for it to happen and realising with only a couple of pages left that this wasn't going to happen. It's taken me a few days to write my review, as I needed time to process how I felt about this book. On reflection, having put aside any preconceptions I had about what this book was going to be, I can appreciate how well written and brilliantly observed it is. The People At Number 9 is probably going to divide opinion between readers, I know I'm not the only reviewer to find it completely different to expectations. Despite feeling a little disappointed that it wasn't the pacey thriller I wanted, I did find it compelling, intense and uncomfortably believable. A few days on I'm still thinking about it and recalling it vividly - it certainly made an impression on me despite my mixed feelings.

(I read an advanced copy courtesy of the publisher)


Book Review: The Idea Of You by Amanda Prowse

With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.

But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything…

Heart-wrenching and poignant, this latest work by bestselling author Amanda Prowse asks the question: what does it mean to be a mother in today’s hectic world? And what if it’s asking too much to want it all? (From goodreads.com

Published March 21st 2017 by Lake Union Publishing 


I hadn't read anything by Amanda Prowse before reading this. I'm not sure why, I had a couple of her books on my Amazon wish list and had already identified that she sounded like an author I'd really enjoy. Since returning to blogging earlier this year, it was one author I saw a lot of praise for over on twitter, and her latest book, The Idea Of You created quite a bit of excitement among bloggers and I had it marked as a must read. So when I got a surprise email from netgalley with an invitation to read it, I accepted straight away. That was yesterday, and after downloading, taking a quick look and then finding myself finishing the whole book in a few hours, I can definitely say I will be reading more of Amanda's work very soon!  

The Idea Of You is a touching and thoughtful book, telling the story of Lucy; almost forty and desperate for a child. Having married later than those around her, she's aware that time is running out, so when she finds out she is pregnant, she and her husband Jonah are delighted. But sadly, it's not to be, as Lucy faces miscarriage in early pregnancy. Only a few chapters into this book and already I felt connected and that this story would resonate with me. I have two children, but before my first child was born I too suffered a miscarriage and Amanda Prowse captures in startling honesty the feelings I remember having back then - of  panic and fear to begin with, the indignity of the hospital cubical, the overwhelming feelings of loss, emptiness and guilt afterwards, with sensitivity and care.  

What surprised me about this book was the development of Lucy throughout, as more 'roles' for this character were introduced or revealed. I think there's an aspect of Lucy that a lot of us can relate to, and again, I found myself nodding in agreement or having a memory evoked just by a turn of phrase or expression. I particularly thought the fraught and emotional relationship between Lucy and her step daughter was well written, convincing and honest.  Each chapter ends with a letter written by Lucy, and it isn't clear until almost to the end who she is writing too. I wasn't expecting the turn the story took with regards to this, and it added an even extra layer of depth and back story to the main character.

This is an emotional book, and I had a lump in my throat several times throughout. Amanda Prowse's writing is heartfelt, intimate and sincere - an author's note explains why the subject of this book is close to her own heart and her honesty, experience and understanding is palpable. Lucy's journey isn't smooth or predictable, it is human. Yet among the ups and downs lies a tender and heart-warming tale of family and acceptance. I won't be leaving it long before I do read some more of Amanda's books and will look out eagerly for future releases.  

(I read an advanced ebook copy courtesy of  Netgalley)
 





Upcoming Blog Tours

I'm really excited to be part of two fantastic blog tours which start next week. 

The first which will be stopping by is the Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine tour which will stop here on the 27th March. Here's the book description and the full tour line up. 

I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was like tasting for the first time. Like discovering colour . . .

It is 1919 and the war is over, but for Emeline Vane the cold Norfolk fens only are haunted by memories of those she has lost. In a moment of grief, she recklessly boards a train and runs from it all.

Her journey leads her far away, to a tiny seaside village in the South of France. Taken in by cafe owner Maman and her twenty-year-old son, Emeline discovers a world completely new to her: of oranges, olives and wild herbs, the raw, rich tastes of the land.

But when a love affair develops, as passionate as the flavours of the village, secrets from home begin blowing in on the sea wides. Fifty years later, a young solictor on his first case finds Emeline's diary, and begins to trace a story of betrayal, love and bittersweet secrets that will send him on a journey to discover the truth...   (Published 23rd March 2017  (ebook) and 21st June 2017 (paperback) by Transworld)


 

 Next up is the Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney tour, which calls at Cosy books on the 30th March 


My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me.

1. I’m in a coma

2. My husband doesn’t love me any more

3. Sometimes I lie

Unnerving, twisted and utterly compelling, you won’t be able to put this new thriller down. Set to be the most talked about book in 2017, it’s perfect for fans of Behind Closed Doors, The Girl on the Train and The Widow. 

Published 23rd March by HQ Stories  




 




Book Review: This Love by Dani Atkins

Sophie Winter lives in a self-imposed cocoon - she's a single, thirty-one year old translator who works from home in her one bedroom flat. This isn’t really the life she dreamed of, but then Sophie stopped believing in happy endings a very long time ago, when she was fifteen years old and tragedy struck her family. Her grief has left her scared of commitment and completely risk averse, so she plays it safe and keeps everyone at arm’s length. Sophie understands she has a problem, but recognising it and knowing how to fix it are two entirely different things.
            One night a serious fire breaks out in the flat below hers. Sophie is trapped in the burning building until a random passer-by, Ben, luckily happens to spot and rescue her. Suddenly her cocoon is shattered - what will be the consequences of this second life-changing event? (From Goodreads.com)

Published 23rd March 2017 by Simon and Schuster UK   

Wow. If I had to sum this book up in one word it would be emotional. But one word is not enough, so here follows what is likely to be a slightly (very) gushing review.

Sophie Winter keeps herself to herself. She works at home and spends most of her evenings at home. She really didn't want to go to the Halloween party in the flat below her, but when best friend Julia convinces her that she should at least try to socialise, she gives it a go. For half an hour. Then she's back in her flat, in her comfy PJ's and dozing on the sofa with her beloved cat, Fred. Sophie is already my kind of person. I'd related to and connected with her within the first few pages. There's a sense of vulnerability, insecurity, grief and loneliness combined with hints of a hidden strength and kind heart that make her endearing, interesting and gets the reader onside immediately.

When she's woken that same night by the fire raging in the flat below, I was transfixed. I felt her panic, smelt the smoke and saw the terrifying scene unfold in breathtaking clarity. I was then swept away on the developing relationship between Sophie and Ben- a complex, tentative, and extremely romantic journey with some unexpected twists and turns, which both binds and complicates things for them. I'm not a huge believer in fate, but there's a tangible feeling that this was meant to be. Both Sophie and Ben are carrying the weight of guilt and the effects of grief and trauma. Finding each other becomes the key to letting go, righting wrongs and moving forward.

There's something very real and personal about Dani Atkin's writing and it is utterly compelling. I was immersed in these characters lives as I read this book, almost as if I knew them. I remained hooked throughout this absorbing story of coming to terms with grief and loss, facing your fears and being able to open your heart again, even if you know that means your heart will eventually be broken. I cried. I smiled. The end of this book absolutely broke me. But it was beautiful and heartwarming too. I can't recommend it enough.

(I read a proof copy supplied by the publisher)  






Book Review: The Escape by CL Taylor

"Look after your daughter's things. And your daughter…"

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn't.

The stranger knows Jo's name, she knows her husband Max and she's got a glove belonging to Jo's two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo's own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there's only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.
(from Goodreads.com

Published by Avon UK 23rd March 2017 


This is the fourth book by CL Taylor I've read, and I've always found her books very, very readable. The Escape is no different - immediately I was drawn in, hooked to the pacey flow and intrigued by the evolving situation the main character Jo has found herself in. 

The book begins when Jo is approached by a stranger and asked for a lift - only once in the car it turns out that the stranger, Paula, isn't so random. She's looking for something that she claims Jo's husband Max took from her, and she's determined to get it back. Within the first couple of chapters, the image of both Jo and Paula is firmly and expertly set, with Jo cast as weak, nervy and anxiety ridden in contrast to Paula's tough, brash and bullying attitude. Taylor uses perfect dialogue and descriptions of mannerisms, particularly in the case of  Paula, so that these characters are vividly realistic. I could see Paula -her stance, her facial expressions - so clearly in my mind. This continues throughout the book with the entire cast of characters, who each have their unique and distinctive voice and style, making The Escape feel almost like watching a TV drama. 

The book is also interspersed with short italicized chapters conveying one of the character's thoughts and intentions. These sections are filled with malice and threat and are pretty creepy. The author also cleverly leads the reader down one path, before throwing a huge twist I didn't see coming and had me scrolling back through the ebook to see if I had missed something.  

Jo is an interesting main character, I was torn between sympathy at the terrifying situation she found herself in and frustration at some of her reactions. I thought CL Taylor executed her seemingly irrational and declining grip on reality well, and kept me guessing whether she was to be trusted or not for a large portion of the book. I felt Max on the other hand, lacked a little something. I don't quite understand his actions and why he did what he did. I won't go into it further as to do so would give away the plot, but it affected the tension of the book slightly as I read it in my opinion. I did enjoy part two of The Escape, set in Ireland and introducing another well written character, Mary. I wondered how the two parts connected to begin with, seemingly two separate plots going on at once, and loved the way they eventually tied together. 

The Escape is a gripping and accessible read with broad appeal. It's a once you start, you won't stop kind of read and you'll find you've covered a massive chunk of book without even realising it. With vivid and well drawn character's, it's a book which will play out in your head when you read and has enough twists to keep the reader surprised and intrigued. My kindle broke half way through reading this book, and I was so keen to carry on reading that I couldn't wait the two days that Amazon would take to deliver a new one, that I found a second hand one for sale on a local selling group and had a replacement in my hand within half an hour.  CL Taylor is an author who knows how to hold her audience, and The Escape is no different. If you're a fan, then you won't be disappointed!

(I read an ebook copy supplied by the publisher via Netgalley)

Sunday Wrap UP - 12th March 2017

 

It's been a good week this week. The sun was out for a lot of it, there was a bit of warmth in the sun and the increasingly lighter nights have really lifted my spirits and helped me be way more productive than usual at home! 

 I did have minor panic on Tuesday night, when I got home from work eager to pick up my kindle and continue reading The Escape by CL Taylor, only to find it was BROKEN. No idea what happened, but half the screen saver just wouldn't go and blocked half of the words on the page. I've had it around five years, so it has served me well, but I was distraught! Luckily, I logged onto the local facebook selling page and someone was selling a similar one. I had a replacement in half an hour...I don't think I could've waited until  one from Amazon arrived. Anyway, I got to read The Escape...it was gripping. I'll review it this week.



 I finished Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land (Review HERE) This was such an engrossing and creepy read, with a narrator whose voice stayed in my head way after I'd turned the last page. 

 

I also caught up with some mini reviews from earlier on the year. I really have to write reviews very soon after I read a book, otherwise I struggle - so a mini review round up seemed the perfect solution. You can see what I thought of The Stranger in My Home by Adele Parks, While My Eyes Were Closed by Linda Green, The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist and Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris HERE 




Some fantastic book post this week. I've already read This Love...it was amazing! So beautifully written, and heartbreaking and warm. I'll be reviewing it this week.  Thanks to Simon Schuster for sending it to me, along with The Queen of Wishful Thinking by Milly Johnson and Quicksand by MALIN PERSSON GIOLITO. The Fire Child by S K Tremayne and The One by John Marrs were competition wins. Thank you Bilbliomaniac UK and Jess Hearts Books


I'm reading The People At Number 9 by Felicity Everett at the minute, then up next will be Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine 


 


How's your week been and what are you reading this week? 

Have a wonderful week.





Mini Book Reviews: Short & Not All Sweet But Definitely Worth a Mention.

I didn't begin posting on the blog again until mid-January, but over the New Year I had my first major book binge for a while and flew through these in a few days before going back to work. Unfortunately, I'm one of those reviewers who HAS to write a review pretty much immediately after finishing a book and moving onto the next one, so while these four books didn't get a full review, they are most definitely worth a mention.


What would YOU do if your child wasn't yours?

Alison is lucky and she knows it. She has the life she always craved, including a happy home with Jeff and their brilliant, vivacious teenage daughter, Katherine - the absolute centre of Alison's world. Then a knock at the door ends life as they know it. Fifteen years ago, someone else took Alison's baby from the hospital. And now Alison is facing the unthinkable.

The daughter she brought home doesn't belong to her.

When you have everything you dreamed of, there is everything to lose.
(From Goodreads.com)
Published by Headline in ebook Septemeber 2016 /paperback February 2017

There's something fascinating about swapped at birth stories...I can't even begin to imagine the horror. Adele Parks' The Stranger In My Home tackles this subject in a compelling and unputdownable style with a twist I didn't see coming AT ALL.  


--------------------- 


Lisa Dale shuts her eyes and counts to one hundred during a game of hide-and-seek. When she opens them, her four-year-old daughter Ella is gone. Disappeared without a trace. The police, the media and Lisa's family all think they know who snatched Ella. But what if the person who took her isn't a stranger? What if they are convinced they are doing the right thing? And what if Lisa's little girl is in danger of disappearing forever? (From Goodreads.com)

Published by Quercus May 2016

I don't think there's a mother or father among us who hasn't been terrified at the thought of our children disappearing in the blink of eye. Linda Green captures Lisa's panic, terror and guilt perfectly and realistically conveys the heartbreaking and devasting affect on the whole family. Yet, the villain in this book isn't as straight forward as you might expect, and the book drives home that sometimes good people do bad things when they're pushed to their own mental limits.

                                                                     ---------------------


On her fiftieth birthday, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material: a state-of-the-art facility in Sweden where she will make new friends, enjoy generous recreational activities and live out her remaining days in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over the age of sixty who are single and childless are saved from a life devoid of value and converted into productive members of society. The price? Their bodies, harvested piece by piece for the ‘necessary’ ones (those on whom children depend) and sometimes their minds, as they take part in social and psychological experiments, until the day comes when they make their Final Donation and complete their purpose in life. Despite the ruthless nature of this practice, the ethos of this near-future society and the Unit is to take care of others. Resigned to her fate as a ‘dispensable’, Dorrit finds her days there to be peaceful and consoling. For the first time in her life she no longer feels like an outsider – a single woman in a world of married couples with children. But when she meets a man inside the Unit and falls in love, everything changes… (From Amazon)

Published 2009 by One World Publications  

I've owned this book since early 2010, after reading an amazing review by a fellow blogger (who no longer blogs and sadly can't be linked to) and rushing straight over to Amazon to buy it. Seven years later, I picked it up. And Damn, why I didn't sooner ... it was gripping and I read it in one sitting.  Haunting, plausible and spirited, this was a thought provoking read of a future that isn't altogether unimaginable.  


                                                                         --------------------- 

Evie Taylor, a girl with a big heart, gets lost in the big city. For the past two years, Evie has lived an invisible life in London. Her neighbours think she’s just moved in, her sister mistakes her for a live-in nanny, and even Evie’s manager at work can’t remember her name. But all that is about to change …this Christmas has brought a flurry of snow and unimaginable possibilities into town. Evie works in the stockroom of an old-fashioned, family-run, London fashion department store. Hardy’s is a beautiful, wood-panelled jewellery box of a building, but it’s in dire need of a makeover. One day Evie overhears that if the entire store’s takings don’t turn round by Dec 26th – 3 weeks’ time – the family who own it will be forced to sell to one of the big chains. Hardy’s is in need of a Christmas miracle. Determined to save her beloved store, Evie hatches a plan to secretly transform it into a magical place to shop again. But has the time come for her to be noticed too? When an accidental romantic encounter with handsome, enigmatic Joel gives her the chance of a whole new identity, she takes it. (From Goodreads.com

Published by Simon & Schuster 2011 

This year I got pretty ill over Christmas, a cold virus that lead to severe sinusitis and chest infection. Lovely. Anyway, I missed the last week of work and all the pre-Christmas fun of panto's, meals out, parties. My youngest child also started secondary school this year so there were no angelic carol services to go to or visits to Santa. Seriously, it was so unfestive and depressing. So, I picked up this book which I'd had on the shelf since 2011 and for a few hours it relieved me of my misery. Heartwarming, fun, shopping = A great Christmas pick me up indeed.  

                                                                      --------------------- 

Have you read any of these books? Writing this actually makes me more determined to read some of the books I've had for years and never got around to, how many other hidden gems lurk on my shelves? 

Book Review: Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

'NEW N A M E .
NEW F A M I L Y.
S H I N Y.
NEW.
ME . '

Annie's mother is a serial killer.

The only way she can make it stop is to hand her in to the police.

But out of sight is not out of mind.

As her mother's trial looms, the secrets of her past won't let Annie sleep, even with a new foster family and name - Milly.

A fresh start. Now, surely, she can be whoever she wants to be.

But Milly's mother is a serial killer. And blood is thicker than water.

Good me, bad me.

She is, after all, her mother's daughter... (from Goodreads.com)

Published 12th January 2017 by Michael Joseph, Penguin UK   

Woah, this was an intense read! I picked it up on Saturday night, immediately finding myself pulled in and consumed by this tragic, chilling and fascinating tale.

Good Me, Bad Me tells the story of fifteen year old Milly as she adjusts to a new life, new family and new identity. Daughter of a serial killer, it was she who turned her Mother into the police after years of abuse herself and now she must prepare to give evidence at her trial. It's told completely in the first person from Milly, and Ali Land uses an unusual, but extremely effective style to get over her unique voice. Short, clipped, sometimes one word sentences give a flitting, intimate and authentic feel to the narrative, making me feel I was absolutely in Milly's head as I read this book. So much so, that even an hour after I'd finished reading, I could still hear her voice running through my mind. It was completely consuming and brilliant.

Milly's foster family add an extra layer of darkness to what is already a very dark and disturbing story. Mike's job is to guide and prepare Milly for the upcoming trial, yet such a delicate and traumatic case seems misguided considering the dysfunctional and mental frailty of his own family. I didn't understand him fully or his motives. It made me think perhaps the quest to help is more about the giver and what they get out of it: prestige, respect, admiration perhaps?  Mike's own family are themselves deeply troubled, with his daughter Phoebe's jealous, neglected and resentful personality creating an explosive environment for the traumatised and troubled Milly.

Ali Land writes Milly's voice with astonishing authenticity as she struggles between hatred and love for her mother. Her confusion, fear and guilt create a roller coaster of heightened emotion which takes the reader swiftly alongside with chilling anticipation. As a reader, it provokes internal debate and doubt - Is Milly to be pitied or feared? Can she be accountable, or is she an innocent victim of her unfortunate circumstances? This isn't a comfortable read, it prompts exploration of grey areas and left me mulling over things long after I'd finished. Milly's voice was so distinctive, even now I can recall it vividly, making Good Me, Bad Me an unforgettable and compelling story. Intense, chilling and completely engrossing, this is definitely a book and author to watch out for.






Book Review: The Last Act Of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia

Eighteen-year-old Hattie Hoffman is a talented actress, loved by everyone in her Minnesotan hometown. So when she's found stabbed to death on the opening night of her school play, the tragedy rips through the fabric of the community.

Local sheriff Del Goodman, a good friend of Hattie's dad, vows to find her killer, but the investigation yields more secrets than answers; it turns out Hattie played as many parts offstage as on. Told from three perspectives: Del's, Hattie's high school English teacher and Hattie herself, The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman tells the story of the real Hattie, and what happened that final year of school when she dreamed of leaving her small town behind . . .

Wonderfully evocative of its Midwestern setting and with a cast of unforgettable characters, this is a book about manipulation of relationships and identity, about the line between innocence and culpability, about the hope love offers and the tragedies that occur when it spins out of control (from Goodreads.com


Published 9th March 2017 by Quercus (UK)   

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman by Mindy Mejia wasn't a book or author I'd heard of when I first came across it, but with such an intriguing title and synopsis, I thought I'd give it a go. I am so glad I did, this book is one of those wich grip you from the very first page and keep you reading right the way through. 

The story centers on the shocking murder of a eighteen year old Hattie, in a small mid-western town in America. Local sheriff, Del, investigates the crime, but he's also got an emotional attachment to the case. He's a good friend of the family and has known Hattie since she was born. The book tells the story from his point of view as he investigates the murder, and also from Hattie's teacher, Peter, all in the present. A third narrator from the past is from Hattie herself, in the months leading up to the murder, and the alternating chapters and perspectives each have a distinct style and voice, making for an intriguing and absorbing read. 

I really liked Del and thought he was the main strength behind this book. Yes, he's the typical workaholic, coffee drinking, single and lonely, tough detective character, but there's a real empathetic and understanding side to him. The emotional connection he feels to the family is clear, yet I loved how his character dealt with facing conflicting feelings of personal bereavement and loyalty to Hattie and her family and professionalism to the case. Del is a fair man. He isn't perfect, he has his flaws, but he's the type of person you'd want to have your back. It's not just with the family who he has close ties to that we see this side of him, but in his interactions with other characters throughout the book. 

I also thought it was a clever idea to add in the voice of Hattie herself, and this meant we really got to know her. Hattie is complex, in that she presents herself as one thing to the community she lives in, while concealing her real dreams and feelings to the rest of the world. I felt conflicted about her character. On the one hand, it's easy to dislike her...she comes across as calculating and cold, but I think that's because it's easy to forget that she is only Eighteen years old. Despite her apparent maturity, she's actually pretty naive and easily influenced. I ended up feeling quite sorry for her, a girl who is dissatisfied with her life, feels out of place and dreams for more, she thinks she's found it and this makes her quite vulnerable. The third narration comes from her English teacher, Peter Lund. He's the character I struggled with most, finding him pretentious, weak and self pitying.  I think it's credit to the author's excellent writing that I felt this way, as that's exactly the response I presume I was supposed to have. 

The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman is a whodunnit murder investigation, and the prime suspects are flagged up pretty obviously. Yet despite knowing it was going to be one of these people, the author had my accusations switching from one to the other throughout. But this book is also an exploration of personal responsibility, a theme found in several of the small sub-plots and background stories. It had me questioning who was taking advantage of who at times, who was actually in control here and who was to blame. It also made me consider how being the person on the pedestal can actually make you the most vulnerable of all. The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman throws up every human flaw found in dysfunctional relationships: jealousy, weakness, selfishness, desire, need, revenge and control. I read this in two days, was gripped and absorbed throughout and even the ending left me with something to think about. 

(I read a proof copy from the Amazon Vine program)
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