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Book Review: The Edge Of Dark by Pamela Hartshorne

A dark and twisted tale exploring the haunted relationship beween past and present, for fans of Kate Mosse and Barbara Erskine

Jane believes in keeping her promises, but a deathbed vow sets her on a twisting path of deceit and joy that takes her from the dark secrets of Holmwood House in York to the sign of the golden lily in London's Mincing Lane. Getting what you want, Jane discovers, comes at a price. For the child that she longed for, the child she promised to love and to keep safe, turns out to be a darker spirit than she could ever have imagined. Over four centuries later, Roz Acclam remembers nothing of the fire that killed her family—or of the brother who set it. Trying on a beautiful Elizabethan necklace found in the newly restored Holmwood House triggers disturbing memories of the past at last—but the past Roz remembers is not her own. (from

Published by Pan Macmillan March 2015 (PB) (UK)

I love stories that switch between time periods, particularly ones that merge past and present. Sadly, I haven't read any of Pamela Hartshorne's previous work, but after reading The Edge Of Dark this is something I intend to correct as soon as possible.

The Edge of Dark follows the story of Roz, who has just moved to York to work on the grand opening of Holmwood House to the public. But on entering the Elizabethan mansion, Roz is instantly unsettled. When she tries on a beautiful necklace from the era she is suddenly transported through vivid visions to the life of Jane, 400 years previously. In unravelling the disturbing secrets of Jane's life, Roz finds her own past entangled between the dark and sinister secrets. It's a past she doesn't even remember, and one she isn't sure she really wants to.

Pamela Hartshorne combines two complex and sinister lives with tangible threads spanning the 400 year period between her two main protagonists. I loved how she made neither Roz or Jane's stories of greater importance, both being utterly compelling in their own right. Often in books which have a timeslip element,you find one era dominating, usually the historical one and thus more interesting to read. In this case I enjoyed both characters equally and wasn't disappointed to leave either when the narrative switched.

And oh, how well that narrative was switched! Not on a chapter by chapter basis, the two eras and characters blended effortlessly mid-page...sometimes even mid sentence, giving a beautiful seamless and fluid feel to the whole book. I'm awestruck at how the author managed this without ever causing confusion.

With richly evocative depictions of Jane's life in the sixteenth century, I loved how the historical period was brought to life. Coupled with the creepy atmosphere of the present Holmwood House and some dark, vengeful characters haunting both Jane and Roz, The Edge Of Dark is a deliciously compulsive read. I became so completely engrossed in this book, the world around me disappeared along with several hours of my day. I loved this book, and would highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction and timeslip novels. It's one of my personal favourites now from the selection I have read.

I read the Hardback edition courtesy of the publishers

Book Review: How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

They told her she killed her son. She served her time. But what if they lied? 

I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don't you?

 My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life. This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he's dead?

 If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back? (from

Published by Headline (UK) April 2015 

Wow. Talk about being sucked into a book from the very first page! Jenny Blackhurst certainly knows how to grab her reader and hang on to them until the very last page. I was hooked to this book, spurred on by the small chapters, sometimes only a couple of pages long but always leaving me needing to read 'just one more'.

How I Lost You tells the story of Emma/Susan,who after being convicted for the murder of her newborn son has just been released with a new identity. Still unable to remember that fateful day, she sets about starting over her life. But then strange things begin to happen and the doubts she's always had about the incident three years ago resurface.Susan is convinced she didn't kill her son. More so, she's sure he's still alive.

This is an edge of your seat, gripping read which will refuse to let you go. I was fascinated by Susan's story, horrified at the possibilities and suspicious of every character-never quite trusting anyone. Jenny Blackhurst twists her story in a number of unexpected ways, I never knew exactly how it was going to go and was extremely surprised by it's eventual direction. I had to know what had happened and read this book in two sittings.

How I Lost You takes on some dark and disturbing subjects. There's obsession, revenge, control and manipulation...creating a thrilling emotional mix. The book takes an even dark and sinister turn around two thirds through, and wasn't always comfortable to read, but it's a twist I hadn't been expecting and is something I haven't come across before. I did feel the character of Susan was at times a little too naive, considering the things she'd gone through, but that would be my only criticism. For the most part, this book is exactly what a reader of psychological thrillers wants; a twisty plot, fast paced and addictive writing and an explosive ending. Recommended!

I read an advanced proof copy courtesy of the publishers

Blog Tour Book Review: Disclaimer by Renee Knight

Finding a mysterious novel at her bedside plunges documentary filmmaker Catherine Ravenscroft into a living nightmare. Though ostensibly fiction, The Perfect Stranger recreates in vivid, unmistakable detail the terrible day Catherine became hostage to a dark secret, a secret that only one other person knew--and that person is dead.

Now that the past is catching up with her, Catherine’s world is falling apart. Her only hope is to confront what really happened on that awful day even if the shocking truth might destroy her. (from 

Published April 2015 by Doubleday 

When I read the premise for Disclaimer, I knew I just had to read it. Imagine picking up a book and realising it's about you? And that this book had somehow mysteriously appeared in your home, revealing a secret you thought no-one else knew? It's an amazing, intriguing and original concept, which Renee Knight pulls off with finesse and style page after page. 

I was hooked from the very first page. With the story of the book and Catherine's mysterious secret being slowly drip fed to the reader, I was compelled to keep reading. Renee Knight does a fantastic job of throwing the reader off the scent, and tricking the reader into believing one thing before completely turning everything on its head. I was not prepared or expecting the major twist in Disclaimer and when it came I was taken aback. 

What I particularly liked about Disclaimer is how it made me think about how our perceptions of events and people can be so easily influenced. For the first two thirds of the book, it's easy to be unsympathetic to Catherine, by believing someone elses perception. This is a theme throughout the book, as the people close to Catherine are also led down the same path as the reader.  It was interesting how the character's assume the truth put before them so easily. 

This is a tense,page turning thriller without a doubt. What makes it stand out for me are the more subtle themes running throughout this book, which gives the reader plenty to think about. There's grief, bereavement, obsession, revenge and a damaged relationship between mother and son. I did think the ending lacked a little bit of an impact, as I expected a more explosive conclusion to the one we got. However, the ending also throws in shades of grey, and leaves the reader with a degree of sympathy and understanding where they probably least expected it. 

Disclaimer is a compelling read, unsettling in it's ability to convince the reader of a truth that doesn't exist. It also leaves you with a lot to think about afterwards. With an original and gripping premise, Disclaimer is a must read for fans of well written, taut, psychological thrillers and I'd strongly recommend it. 

Don't forget to follow week two of the Disclaimer blog tour. 

Book Review: His Other Life by Beth Thomas

He was hiding a terrible secret...

Grace’s new husband Adam seems like the perfect package. Good looking, great job, completely charming – almost too good to be true...

So when Adam suddenly disappears from Grace’s life, she is left bewildered and heartbroken. And with a lot of unanswered questions.

As she tries desperately to find him, Grace opens a Pandora’s Box of secrets and lies – and starts to learn that Adam wasn't so perfect after all.

What shameful secrets was her husband hiding? Is Grace in danger? And can she survive the truth? However terrible it may be... (From

Published by Avon (UK) March 2015 

I had no idea what to expect from this book before I started it. The cover screams chick lit while the blurb hints at something more sinister. After finishing it, I'd say it definitely edges on the side of chick lit. But good chick lit, with a fresh and original slant, a mystery to solve and laugh out loud humour by the bucketful. 

Grace is endearingly scatty, frustratingly so at times, but I warmed to her. I loved the chatty style Beth Thomas wrote this novel in and it's almost like a running commentary of Grace's thought process. The secondary characters are equally as fun to read and I enjoyed the few hours I spent in their company. I laughed out loud on more than one occasion! 

The 'mystery' angle is interesting, especially given the popularity of psychological thrillers right now. If you're expecting this kind of book though, you may be disappointed. His Other Life refuses to take itself seriously. The search for Grace's missing husband verges on the ridiculous at times, and is definitely more parody than chilling' who dunnit'. That said, I was quite surprised at a more serious tone towards the end. 

His Other Life isn't going to appeal to everyone. Personally, I liked it. It was fun, it made me smile and I enjoyed Beth Thomas's easy writing style. This book is perfect comfort reading, ideal for holidays and lazy weekends. If you love a romantic comedy with a bit of a different spin, then I think His Other Life would be a good bet.  

My copy was an advanced proof from the Amazon Vine Program

Looking Back At March, And Forward To April

WOW! 2015 is storming on isn't it? I can't believe it's April already. SLOW DOWN! 

The good thing though is the nights are now light and the spring flowers are out! The weather may not have cottoned on just yet, but the promise of summer IS there. It always makes me feel so much better. And of course, the Easter Bummy will be making a visit this weekend...CHOCOLATE! 

March was a very, very busy month for me. In mid February I took on an extra job doing one nightshift a week in a residential home for Elderly people. This was great, as at the moment I only work three days during the week at College. However, they had a bit of a staff shortage and I ended up doing more shifts...and almost killing myself. I need to learn how to say no! 

So I didn't get as much reading done as I hoped. But I did read some amazing books... 

Still to review: 

His Other Life by Beth Thomas
A Room Full Of Chocolate by Jane Elson 

March Book Of The Month was difficult, but I'm going with...

The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Coming up in April... 

I've been thinking about how to mark 5 years since I started blogging, and came up with an idea for 5 posts, over 5 weeks, with top 5 lists of bloggy & bookish stuff and memories from the last 5 years. There may be a giveaway or two tolook out for too. Starts Saturday 4th April

New Books this month... 

Finally, here's the new books that have made their way into my home over that last month. I'm really looking forward to getting to these over April!

Waiting On Wednesday: The Silent Hours by Cesca Major

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine and is a weekly event to showcase upcoming, yet to published books we can't wait to read. 

The Silent Hours by Cesca Major 

An epic, sweeping tale of love and loss inspired by heartrending true events in the Unoccupied Zone of wartime France. 

The Silent Hours follows three people whose lives are bound together, before war tears them apart:

Adeline, a mute who takes refuge in a convent, haunted by memories of her past;

Sebastian, a young Jewish banker whose love for the beautiful Isabelle will change the course of his life dramatically;

Tristin, a nine-year-old boy, whose family moves from Paris to settle in a village that is seemingly untouched by war.

Beautifully wrought, utterly compelling and with a shocking true story at its core, The Silent Hours is an unforgettable portrayal of love and loss. 

Praise for The Silent Hours: 

'Absorbing and - ultimately - horrifying. A gripping, fictional account of a real event in war-time France, told with a sensuous clarity. A haunting and illuminating debut novel' Wendy Wallace 

Published by Corvus in June 2015 

After seeing Kirsty Greenwood tweet that this book "was the most amazing novel I've read in a long time" I quickly checked it out and added it straight to my wishlist. With a recomendation like that, how could I not? 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books Recently Added To My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday topic is books recently added to my TBR list. These are the books that have most recently landed on that ever growing, almost toppling over tower of books to read.  

(Clicking on the images will take you to Goodreads for a description)



There's a theme running there...and a LOT of black! I'm loving psychological thrillers with no sign of getting tired yet, but I still like mixing it up with some contemporary fiction and YA. 

These are books I've recently become the owner of, either through the Amazon Vine Program, Publishers, Netgalley or bought. 

Book Review: I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world descends into a nightmare. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.

Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating... 


Published by Sphere November 2014 (HB) May 2015 (PB)

I came by I Let You Go via a LOT of extremely positive recommendations. With over 200 5* reviews on Amazon, this book looked like a winner. So I'm not going to lie that when I first started it I was a bit disappointed. After the first shocking scene, the first chapters didn't grab me at all. In fact, it took me a week to get to the 20% read mark on my kindle. There isn't anything particularly wrong with it, and granted I was working crazily stupid hours that week at work, I just didn't feel inclined to pick it up or felt particularly drawn or excited by the characters.

But then, around that 20% mark, things changed. The plot thickened, I became intrigued by main character Jenna and swept away by the atmospheric descriptions of the remote Welsh coastal village where Jenna has retreated in seclusion. I thought I understood her need for solace, her grief and pain. And then WHAM! Clare Mackintosh throws a twist I didn't see coming a mile off that literally made me gasp.

Hands down, this is the best twist I've read in a long time. It was just so unexpected,it left me wondering if I'd missed any clues. Looking back on the other reviews, I can see I didn't. Mackintosh wove this story to snare the reader into comfort, only to shake them all up and completely spin them around. It's genius writing.

The rest of the book takes a different tone as a third character is introduced. One who will unsettle you and leave shivers creeping down your spine. I was gripped by this shocking and suspenseful book. At it's heart is a message about domestic violence, and I thought Clare Mackintosh got the mix of secrecy, fear and shame from Jenna just right. It certainly drives home that you can never be certain at what goes on behind closed doors, despite outward appearances.

The twists keep on coming right to the very end page. I marvel at how authors keep the threads of such complex plots, and in I Let You Go, it is done with seamless perfection. It's a shame that in the first few chapters I almost dismissed this book as not for me and I'm so glad I didn't. It's probably the best psychological thriller I've read this year, and believe me, it's been one hell of a year for them. If this genre is your thing, the I Let You Go is a MUST read, and I recommend it without hesitation.

My copy was a proof courtesy of the publishers and Netgalley.

Book Review: Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel

A stunning coming-of-age debut full of love and danger, secrets and lies: this is a dark, tense, hard-hitting novel about two girls forced to grow up fast… 

When fifteen-year-old Becs meets Bracken, she is convinced she’s found her soul mate. So what if he’s much older? He understands her, she feels free with him and when he holds her she feels safe.

But is she?

Some young women in the local area have recently been sexually assaulted. It’s the talk of the school. And when Bec’s best friend Mary-Jane becomes the latest victim, the true dangers hit home: just as Becs is starting to wonder about her future with Bracken – poor M-J rapidly shrinks away from life. . . 

Set during the sweltering hot summer of 1976, Pretty Thing is a powerful coming-of-age novel, a story of first encounters, dark obsession, broken trust and last chances – perfect for readers of Meg Rosoff, Lauren Oliver and Annabel Pitcher. I pits true love against real life and ask: is love all you really need? (From

Published by Corsair (UK) February 2015

Pretty Thing by Jennifer Nadel was one of those books I picked up and became immediately involved in, right from the very first page. Set in 1976, Nadel effortlessly captures the atmosphere of the time and despite being born the year after the book is set, I had the odd memory of the late 70's/early 80's vividly evoked. I thought the language and tone of the character's conversation was particularly convincing, helped along with a pretty cool soundtrack of seventies classics.

I also found main character, 15 year old Becs, convincing. She comes across as both naive and mature in comparison to modern teens. I'm not going to lie, I found the affair between Becs and Bracken sinister and unsettling. Nadel certainly takes a no holes barred approach, delivered with brutal honesty. I admired how in such a short book, she created multiple, complex relationships for Becs and allowed her to grow and develope throughout the book. Over one summer and 250 pages we witness her metamorphosis into a stronger, independent young woman in charge of her own destiny.

I think readers will find some of the attitudes and actions uncomfortable in 2015. It reminds me how the world has changed in the last forty years, particularly for young females and also helps with the sometimes rose-tinted spectacles I occassionally look back with. While it's marketed at Young Adults, I actually think this may appeal to an adult audience just as much, if not more. I'm not sure I liked the very ambiguous ending, leaving Becs future a mystery to the reader. I know how I hope it went, but I think I'd have liked the author to tie things up a little more.

 Overall, I was surprised by this book, I read it in a couple of sittings and it left me with quite a bit to think about.

My copy was provided by the publisher for review purposes

Books I Wish I Could Read For The First Time... Again

A few days ago, while wasting time on Twitter, I spotted a tweet by a fellow blogger linking to her latest post about books that had fell 'Between The Cracks' This week it was The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and my immediate response was "I'm Jealous". OK, that may seem a fairly odd response, but oh! how I wish I could read that book again for the first time! I absolutely adored the intricate, spellbinding world in this book and was absolutely mind blown. It's a feeling that just can't be recaptured in subsequent readings. (My original review is HERE if you would like to see just how much I did love it) 

It got me thinking about other books that I really, really wish I had never read JUST so I could experience them for the first time again. Two more immediately sprang to mind. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusack is one I'm sure lots of people will feel the same about. I was bought this book as a gift when it first came out, and to be honest, wasn't really sure it would be for me. I read a LOT of chick lit back then and stuck with the same, safe authors and formats I was familiar with and wasn't sure I liked the idea of Death as the narrator. If The Book Thief taught me one thing, it was to open my mind more to the wonderful world of books. Actually, it taught me much more than this. It was life changing. 

The other book that jumps right out as a book I'd love to experience for the first time again is one that I count as my favourite book of all time, The Time Traveller's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I was so utterly blown away, madly in love, breathtakingly mesmerised by this book, when I turned the last page I immediately went back to the beginning and read it again. I've read it a tonne of times since, but never has been as magical as that very first time. 

I'm not that much of a re-reader. Like book lovers the world over, my 'want to read' piles and lists mean there isn't enough hours in the day (or night). I have read these three books again (and again) though, and no doubt I'll carry on pulling them out every now and then as they remain firm favourites. But, damn, I wish I could read them again for the very first time!

Do you have books you'd love to experience for the first time again? Let me know in the comments or write a post of your own and feel free to come back and link to it.

Book Review: Amy & Matthew by Cammie McGovern

Amy loves Matthew and he loves her back. This is their story.

Amy is unflinchingly honest about her limitations. Born with cerebral palsy, she can’t walk or talk without help. But trapped inside this uncooperative body lies a brilliant mind and a luminous spirit – a girl capable of truly loving and worthy of being loved in return.

Matthew has his own set of challenges – a mind consumed by unwanted repeated thoughts, obsessive rituals and a crippling fear that he can't explain. But underneath all of the anxiety lies a deep seed of hope for someone to come along who believes in him…

This is the story of Amy and Matthew. It may not be a fairy tale romance or set in an imagined world far from our own. But the love they share is real. And yes, there's magic in it. (from

Published by MacMillan Children's Books March 2014 (UK) 

When I read the synopsis to Amy & Matthew, I had to read the book. Cerebal Palsy is a condition which affects 1 in 400 people born in the UK (Scope) yet as a general population we know very little about it and it's largely misunderstood. I was the same, until I began working with Young Adults with CP. 

What I loved about Amy & Matthew is it's ability to shatter preconceptions. Cammie McGovern doesn't shy away from the issues that people may first imagine when they think of CP and gloss over them, but by giving Amy a voice she really allows us to see the person behind the disabilty. I also loved that she didn't make Amy a victim or someone to be pitied. She's bright, strong, ambitious and focused.  She's also at times stubborn, selfish and thoughtless and makes some pretty poor choices. In other words, she's a real, multifascted person like anyone else.  I LOVED her.

The aspect of the relationship I found most interesting between Amy and Matthew was the unexpected dynamics. Matthew suffers OCD, he struggles with rituals, a dibilitating fear of hurting others and a severe lack of self belief. Matthew offers Amy the oppotunity she most desperatly wants, to have friends. By becoming a 'peer aide', Amy can be herself at school rather than being isolated by being constantly accompanied by an 'Adult' assistant. But this relationship is equal, and Amy's compassion towards Matthew's difficulties is inspiring. 

I took a lot away from this book, some of which I'll be more aware of in my work. I'd never considered how it must feel for a teenager to be constantly shadowed by an adult and how that in itself can be isolating from their peer group but once I'd read it, it made perfect sense. The frustration Amy feels when people say 'Hi' but then don't wait for her to reply via her pathway (a computer communication devise) also struck a chord. I see this happening a lot. But it also reminded me that disabilities aren't always visable. Strength and support can be found in unexpected places and inside, people are rarely who we presume them to be from outward appearences. Amy and Matthew celebrates differences and acceptance, and proves love and friendship have no barriers if we only give it a chance. We need more books like this.

I read a proof copy supplied by the Amazon Vine program 

Book Review: The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer

Kate Hamer's stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Carmel has always been different. Carmel's mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter's strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children's festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour.  (from  

Published February 2015 by Faber (UK)

The Girl In The Red Coat was a 'Waiting on Wednesday' pick a few weeks ago. It had grabbed my attention by some pretty positive and excited tweets I'd spotted on twitter. Yet I was still completely unprepared for this utterly compelling book!

The story starts off by introducing us to single mum Beth and her eight year old daughter, Carmel. Carmel is instantly interesting- being a little difficult in an otherworldly,distant way. As a single parent myself, I related with Beth, I think Kate Hamer really captured feelings I'd also experienced perfectly in the early parts of the book, before Carmel's disappearance. So right away I was invested in these two characters.

I thought I knew how this book was going to go. I was looking forward to some twists and turns, but was pretty confident I knew what the format would be. How wrong was I! Yes, The Girl In The Red Coat is the story of a missing girl, but put any preconceptions aside...this is completely different to anything else I've read recently. Spanning several years, we follow both Beth and Carmel's unexpected journeys. There's a more subtle, developing terror in this book, rather than one explosive incident and it kept me hooked.

I've found this review so difficult to write, and know I haven't done any justice to the book at all, but I really don't want to give anything away. The Girl In The Red Coat is written with such emotion at times, especially from Beth, that her grief, panic and desperation was tangible. In Carmel, I found myself rooting for this quietly stubborn and strong child veiled in an air of etherealness. I raced through the book, hours slipping by and unable to put it down. I was so desperate to know how it ended, I even stayed up from a twelve hour night shift to finish the last 50 pages, despite being exhausted. This is a book that will creep under your skin and consume your thoughts, even after the very last page is turned. All I can say is read won't be disappointed.

My copy was an advance proof courtesy of the publishers and netgalley

Waiting On Wednesday: In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine

Someone's getting married. Someone's getting murdered.

In a dark, dark wood 

Nora hasn't seen Clare for ten years. Not since Nora walked out of school one day and never went back. 

There was a dark, dark house

Until, out of the blue, an invitation to Clare’s hen do arrives. Is this a chance for Nora to finally put her past behind her?

And in the dark, dark house there was a dark, dark room

But something goes wrong. Very wrong.

And in the dark, dark room.... 

Some things can’t stay secret for ever. 

Published by Harvill Secker July 2nd 2015 (UK) 

This came to my attention when someone posted a picture of the gorgeous looking proof of this book (I can't remember who now) I instantly checked it out and yep, sounds good. On the wishlist it goes.

Book Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

Aysel and Roman are practically strangers, but they've been drawn into an unthinkable partnership. In a month's time, they plan to commit suicide - together. 

Aysel knows why she wants to die: being the daughter of a murderer doesn't equal normal, well-adjusted teenager. But she can't figure out why handsome, popular Roman wants to end it all....and why he's even more determined than she is. 

With the deadline getting closer, something starts to grow between Aysel and Roman - a feeling she never thought she would experience. It seems there might be something to live for, after all - but is Aysel in so deep she can't turn back? 

Published February 2015 by Hodder and Stoughton  

Depression and mental health in general is something we don't take seriously enough in our teenagers. It's easy to brush it off as teen moodiness and sulkiness. In 'My Heart and Other Black Holes' Jasmine Warga takes the topic of depression and suicidal thoughts and manages to convey the crippling sadness of main protagonist Aysel very well. As someone who did have a difficult adolescense, I related to those feelings of despair and the metaphor of 'a black slug' for Aysel's depression really struck a chord.

But this books also investigates a darker, more modern topic relevant to teenagers today. The internet, specifically Suicide websites. I'll be honest, as a parent this scared me. Aysel meets Roman on a site for people looking for suicide partners, and as they set 'the date' the slowly begin to get to know each other. I could feel the pressure Aysel started to feel under from Roman and it chilled me. I didn't like him all that much and didn't relate to him the way I did Aysel.

 However, the developement of the relationship between the two was sweet and tender. There's a part of me that sighs at the 'love solves all problems' message that could so easily have dominated this story. Thankfully, Aysel's new found hope in life isn't confined to her growing fondness for Roman and I hope this isn't lost on a younger audience.

There is a lot of good in this book. It's written very, very well and I think anyone who has suffered depression, teens and adults alike, will relate to Aysel and her feelings. The first half of the book was excellent, but then I felt the second half was rushed and it lost me a little. The parent in me says I'd recommend this book to other parents of teenagers happily, as an excellent insight into depression in teenagers. As for it's target market, I think it would be ideal for mature young adults. I would look out for more from the author in the future, who really does have a beautiful way with words.

Published February 2015 by Hodder (UK)

My copy was an advance reader from the Amazon Vine program

Waiting On Wednesday: We Are All Made Of Stars by Rowan Coleman

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine   

We Are All Made Of Stars by Rowan Coleman

Do not miss me, because I will always be with you…I am the air, the moon, the stars. For we are all made of stars, my beloved... Wherever you look, I will be there.

Stella Carey exists in a world of night. Married to a soldier who has returned from Afghanistan injured in body and mind, she leaves the house every evening as Vincent locks himself away, along with the secrets he brought home from the war.

During her nursing shifts, Stella writes letters for her patients to their loved ones - some full of humour, love and practical advice, others steeped in regret or pain – and promises to post these messages after their deaths.

Until one night Stella writes the letter that could give her patient one last chance at redemption, if she delivers it in time… 

We Are all Made of Stars is an uplifting and heartfelt novel about life, loss and what happens in between from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Memory Book.  

Published May 2015 by Ebury Press, UK 

I loved The Memory Book by Rowan Coleman. It was all at once beautiful, touching, heartbreaking and inspiring. I'm really looking forward to this one. 

Top Ten Tuesdays: Top Ten Favourite Books Of The Last 5 Years

 Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish 

The theme this week was top ten favourite books from the last 3-5 years. I went with five, as pretty much exactly five years since I started blogging (January 2010...where has the time gone!) I've read some amazing books in that time, but looking back, these are the ten that stand out as the ones I loved the very, very most.  


Would any of these books feature on your top ten list? 

Book Review: The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah

Ivo fell for her.

He fell for a girl he can’t get back.

Now he’s hoping for something.

While he waits he plays a game:

He chooses a body part and tells us its link to the past he threw away.

He tells us the story of how she found him, and how he lost her.

But he doesn't have long.

And he still has one thing left to do ...  (from

Published by Doubleday 12th March 2015 

As someone who reads a fair old amount of books, sometimes there becomes a bit of sameness between them, you know what to expect and individual stories end up blurring in your memory. Then along comes a book which completely throws you of guard and offers a completely original and fresh approach to blow you away. The A-Z of You and Me is one of those books, and I know it won't be one I'll be forgetting any time soon.

Looking at the blurb above, the concept of using body parts seems a bit odd. However,it works perfectly in this story and isn't anywhere near as weird or squeamish as it first sounds. Ivo is forty and in a hospice when his nurse suggests this game to him. It's through this game, and each letter/body part, that we get to know Ivo, what brought him to the point he is at today, and the heartbreaking love story at the centre of this book. For each letter,while relating to a specific part of the body, a memory or anecdote from his past is revealed. It's really very clever.

The heart of this book is the tragic love story between Ivo and Mia, but this isn't a slushy tale. It's pretty raw and flawed, uncomfortable at times as Ivo's life and regrets are revealed. Yet, given the situation Ivo is now in, it's not at all depressing or morbid. There is humour and kindness (particularly from nurse Sheila, who is an amazing character) which lifts the mood of the book completely.

I was completely sucked into this book and flew through the pages. I felt I really got to know Ivo very, very well. I wanted to know more as I was reading and became completely involved in his story. Yes it's sad, if like me you're prone to tears then I recommend tissues. But the whole book was so beautifully resolved, it was strangely uplifting too. I loved it.

My copy was an advance reader from the Amazon Vine program

Waiting On Wednesday: The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Breaking The Spine, and is a weekly event to spotlight upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.  

The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan  

A lyrical and moving debut in the tradition of Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood, introducing an original and commanding new voice in fiction

As a Gracekeeper, Callanish administers shoreside burials, sending the dead to their final resting place deep in the depths of the ocean. Alone on her island, she has exiled herself to a life of tending watery graves as penance for a long-ago mistake that still haunts her. Meanwhile, North works as a circus performer with the Excalibur, a floating troupe of acrobats, clowns, dancers, and trainers who sail from one archipelago to the next, entertaining in exchange for sustenance.

In a world divided between those inhabiting the mainland ("landlockers") and those who float on the sea ("damplings"), loneliness has become a way of life for North and Callanish, until a sudden storm offshore brings change to both their lives--offering them a new understanding of the world they live in and the consequences of the past, while restoring hope in an unexpected future.  

Inspired in part by Scottish myths and fairytales, The Gracekeepers tells a modern story of an irreparably changed world: one that harbors the same isolation and sadness, but also joys and marvels of our own age. 

Published May 7th 2015 by Harvill Secker (UK) 

SOOOOO... This sounds good! It reminds me a bit of The Night Circus from the blurb, and then I read an early review that compared it to it in atmosphere and magical-ness (!?!) As The Night Circus is one of my favourite books of all time, this is firmly on my waiting for wishlist. 

Book Review: Alice and the Fly by James Rice

A spellbinding debut novel by an exceptional new young British talent.

This is a book about phobias and obsessions, isolation and dark corners. It's about families, friendships, and carefully preserved secrets. But above everything else it's about love. Finding love - in any of its forms - and nurturing it.

Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition's caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I'll flood out all these tears and it'll all be ok and I won't be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can't think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories - Herb's death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah - but none of these are what caused the phobia. I've always had it. It's Them. I'm just scared of Them. It's that simple. (from

Published January 2015 by Hodder and Stoughton

I didn't know much about this book going into it, the blurb-as intriguing as it is-actually gives away very little. And that's definitely a good thing, knowing so little is the best way to get the most from this book and the authors intention of revealing the story slowly works very well. Of course this makes it difficult to review! I really wouldn't want to give too much away here.

Alice and the Fly is pretty dark. Main character Greg has his issues, but it's the characters around him, as everyday as they appear, that really gave me the chills. This story is one of innocence and dysfunction, repercussions and responsibility (or lack of it). We know there's a huge, traumatic climax, alluded to in police transcripts interspersed between chapters, but by the slow reveal of the story I found my sympathies lay where they probably wouldn't have had I already known what was going to happen.

The writing in Alice and the Fly really adds to the sense of looming tragedy, with an almost eerily naivety and honesty. I've seen it likened to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time by Mark Haddon, and I'd say that's pretty fair. James Rice really does capture his complex, confused and troubled young character very well, and I found him completely believable.

With snappy chapters, broken up by the transcripts, this was a book that I found myself glued to, the pages turning effortlessly. I'd recommend this both as older, mature YA and Adult reading. It really is a fantastic debut, and an author I'll definitely be looking out for in the future.

My copy was a free advance reader through the Amazon Vine Program

Waiting On Wednesday

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking The Spine and is a chance to spotlight upcoming books you can't wait to read.

The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer

The Girl in the Red Coat

Kate Hamer's stand-out debut thriller is the hugely moving story of an abduction that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Carmel has always been different. Carmel's mother, Beth, newly single, worries about her daughter's strangeness, especially as she is trying to rebuild a life for the two of them on her own. When she takes eight year-old Carmel to a local children's festival, her worst fear is realised: Carmel disappears. Unable to accept the possibility that her daughter might be gone for good, Beth embarks on a mission to find her. Meanwhile, Carmel begins an extraordinary and terrifying journey of her own, with a man who believes she is a saviour. 

Published March 5th 2015 by Faber & Faber (UK)


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