Teaser Tuesday: 11th July 2017

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody. I received this from NetGalley and only started late last night so it’s very early days but so far I’m enjoying the writing style and I get the feeling I’ll love the story.


My Teaser

His body is cloaked in shadow, barely visible against the black and red stripes of the tent, except for the whites of his eyes and the light reflecting off his comb. With his scarred face and patched-up clothes, he looks like a beast who just crawled out of the kennel

~ 3% Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody


BlurbDaughter of the Burning City

A darkly irresistible new fantasy set in the infamous Gomorrah Festival, a traveling carnival of debauchery that caters to the strangest of dreams and desires.

Sixteen-year-old Sorina has spent most of her life within the smoldering borders of the Gomorrah Festival. Yet even among the many unusual members of the traveling circus-city, Sorina stands apart as the only illusion-worker born in hundreds of years. This rare talent allows her to create illusions that others can see, feel and touch, with personalities all their own. Her creations are her family, and together they make up the cast of the Festival’s Freak Show.

But no matter how lifelike they may seem, her illusions are still just that—illusions, and not truly real. Or so she always believed…until one of them is murdered.

Desperate to protect her family, Sorina must track down the culprit and determine how they killed a person who doesn’t actually exist. Her search for answers leads her to the self-proclaimed gossip-worker Luca, and their investigation sends them through a haze of political turmoil and forbidden romance, and into the most sinister corners of the Festival. But as the killer continues murdering Sorina’s illusions one by one, she must unravel the horrifying truth before all of her loved ones disappear.

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

(I know, I really thought my rating would be higher too)

This is a book with a lot of hype around it and unfortunately for me it didn’t quite live up to it. It’s an enjoyable read and it’s fantastic to see this type of cultural diversity but it lacks that special something to make it stand out from all of the other YA contemporary romances out there.


Synopsis

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


Review

I’m a big fan of YA contemporaries, so when I saw all of the fantastic reviews for When Dimple Met Rishi I was so excited to get my hands on a copy. Unfortunately I think all of the hype around it may have been where it all went a bit wrong for me as it led to high expectations it couldn’t possibly live up to. There isn’t anything particularly bad about it but I think I just wanted more.

I do have to applaud the author for finally giving us a culturally diverse YA romance. I don’t know how accurate its portrayal of the Indian culture is (I suspect not completely given some of reviews I’ve seen) but I loved the way elements such as the language, importance of family, customs and even religion were woven into the story in a, for the most part, natural way.

I also loved that it was Dimple who was the driving force in the story. She’s the one who’s into computers and science and is determined to win the app design competition at all costs. It’s so good to see female characters in traditionally male dominated areas and also to have a female character who rates her career and future as more important than finding a boyfriend.

I do think though that the author could have taken this further with a bit more time spent on creating the app (I know nothing about techie stuff but I’m sure girls who do would have appreciated it). Unfortunately though, other than some discussion over the concept, Dimple and Rishi don’t seem to do any actual programming or anything remotely IT-ish. Instead the focus and the majority of the book is taken up with a scavenger hunt and preparing for a talent show, with everything else being brushed over. Why a talent show would be a vital part of the competition was a bit of a mystery to me and seemed more like an excuse to work some Bollywood dancing into the story.

It would also have been good to see at least one other female character who’s there to compete. Her roommate and friend is more interested in finding a rich and popular boyfriend and the only other girl seems to just be tagging along with the guys and doesn’t give the impression of being the brightest. I know it’s a male dominated area but I would have loved to have more than one female character who’s serious about it.

Dimple is also not the most likeable of characters. She is passionate and driven to succeed which I loved but had a bit of a tendency to throw a strop at the drop of a hat. She came across as unreasonable and immature a lot of the time and I hated the way she treated Rishi.

Rishi, is almost like the exact opposite of Dimple and I adored him. For him family and tradition are more important than what he wants. He’s proud of his background and his culture and speaks up for himself and others. He’s super sweet, generous, funny and a bit of a romantic. If someone wants to arrange for me to marry him I would not be against it 🙂

The romance was quite cute and I loved how it started as an arranged marriage but other than that there wasn’t anything particularly unique or stand out about it. There was the odd moment that made me laugh however, it’s one of those stories that you quite enjoy at the time but more or less forget the moment you finish.

Overall, an enjoyable read which definitely gets a thumbs up for a strong female main character and lots of diversity but isn’t quite the stand out read I was hoping for.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all thoughts are my own.

Review: Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

Don't Close Your EyesDon’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read in a while. It’s my first book from this author but I very much doubt it will be my last. It’s one of those books that you just can’t put down and I more or less finished the whole thing in one sitting.


Synopsis

A gripping novel of psychological suspense centered on two sisters whose lives have taken them apart, and the shocking family secrets that bind them together.

Twin sisters Robin and Sarah haven’t spoken in years.

Robin can’t leave her house. A complete shut-in, she spends her days spying on her neighbors, subtly meddling in their lives. But she can’t keep her demons out forever. Someone from her past has returned, and is desperate to get inside.

Sarah can’t go home. Her husband has kicked her out, forcibly denying her access to their toddler. Sarah will do anything to get her daughter back, but she’s unraveling under the mounting pressure of concealing the dark secrets of her past. And her lies are catching up to her.

The novel takes readers back in time to witness the complex family dynamics that formed Robin and Sarah into the emotionally damaged, estranged young women they’ve become. As the gripping and intricate layers of their shared past are slowly peeled away, the shocks and twists will keep readers breathless long after the final page.


Review

The story is told in alternating chapters from the points of view of twin sisters Sarah and Robin in both the present day and their childhood. Now in their early thirties both are having serious issues. Sarah has a wonderful family but has been ejected from their lives after being accused of something terrible. Robin is severely agoraphobic and spends her time spying on her neighbours or hiding from whoever it is she thinks is out to get her.

I loved the dual points of view and the two time periods and thought it worked wonderfully well. It’s not a particularly action packed read but there’s something about it that just draws you into the story completely and I found myself more emotionally engaged than I ever thought I would be.

For me Robin was probably the more interesting of the characters. As a child/teen she’s wild, angry, impulsive, out of control and just speaks her mind but as a thirty year old adult she has completely transformed into someone who’s scared of their own shadow and tries to control everything around her. You can’t help but wonder what has caused such a dramatic shift. I also absolutely loved the Rear Window aspects of her life. Trapped within her home, watching the neighbours and occasionally interfering in their lives.

Sarah, while possibly not as likeable as Robin, is still a fascinating character to read. She’s the complete opposite of her twin, the good girl, the quiet one who is always on her best behaviour but there’s something a little disturbing about her. She claims to love her family and her child but as you gradually learn the accusations that have been made against her you begin to wonder just how truthful she is.

I thought that the way the author gradually revealed the events of the past was exceptionally well done and a lot of the time I found that more compelling than the present. Without spoilers lets just say their childhoods were troubled because of the complex relationship between their parents and their parents friends.

It ended up being a much more emotional read than I was expecting and yes it did make me cry on a couple of occasions. Often with psychological thrillers you find that it’s difficult to connect with the characters (I blame the whole unreliable/unlikeable narrator trend) but I could feel what they were feeling.

It’s not too difficult to guess what the twists and turns in this book will be, they are quite clearly signposted, but I found I wasn’t really trying to guess and was just going along with the story, waiting for the disaster you could tell was coming.

If I had one criticism of this book, I’m afraid it would have to be the ending. I’m obviously not going to tell you what it is but with the build up I expected more and it was just all over a little bit too quickly for my tastes.

Despite this, I would definitely recommend. Just don’t start it if you have somewhere you need to be as it’s almost impossible to stop reading.

I won a copy of this book in a giveaway on Readers First.

Review: Two Nights by Kathy Reichs


Two NightsTwo Nights
by Kathy Reichs

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s been far too long since I read a book like this. I’m really hoping that contrary to the description the author changes her mind and turns this into a series as I definitely want more of Sunday Night & co.


Synopsis

Meet Sunday Night, a woman with physical and psychological scars, and a killer instinct… 

Sunnie has spent years running from her past, burying secrets and building a life in which she needs no one and feels nothing. But a girl has gone missing, lost in the chaos of a bomb explosion, and the family needs Sunnie s help.

Is the girl dead? Did someone take her? If she is out there, why doesn’t she want to be found? It’s time for Sunnie to face her own demons because they just might lead her to the truth about what really happened all those years ago.


Review

Before I start I should probably say that I’ve never read a single book by Reichs and I should also probably say that I’ve never watched the TV show Bones either so if you’re wondering how this compares I’m afraid I can’t tell you. What I can tell you however is that this is a very enjoyable read. Fast paced and action packed but with a lot of detail and some great writing and dialogue, it’s difficult to put down.

It’s one of those very American, cliche ridden stories about an ex cop with a bad attitude who’s convinced to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl. Sunday Night (yes that is really her name but it totally makes sense if you read the book) is definitely my kind of character. She has the troubled past which she’s burying deep, problems with authority, a need to be constantly armed and a great way with one liners. She’s a risk taker with absolutely no patience and a very short fuse. Basically she’s your usual fictional PI and is absolutely brilliant to read.

The story itself is pretty fast paced with a lot of action and a fairly high body count. There’s terrorism, murder, religious fanatics, child abuse (trigger warning) and a lot of violence and bad language so it’s not for the faint of heart (I’m not sure what it says about me that I love this type of read). Essentially though it follows Sunday as she follows the clues to find out what happened to a missing girl and resolves some of the demons from her past.

The methodical and logical way the author lays it all out is very well done and completely believable. There’s very little in the way of luck or chance, which is often the case in these types of stories, but rather a proper investigation where one clue leads to the next and the next and when Sunday runs out of clues she starts rattling some cages until one comes to her. She’s very tech savvy, open to a bit of breaking and entering and even sets the odd ambush to get what she wants. I did wonder how she could possibly know as much as she did but decided just to go with it.

The other characters in the story are also a little bit cliched (the ruthless rich client, her mentor Beau who keeps trying to help her, the disgruntled detective who doesn’t want her working his case) but they are all executed well and I just took them as part of the fun. Their interactions with Sunnie were probably the highlight of the story for me as there’s a lot of banter and her bad attitude and knack for a good one liner make for some real laugh out loud moments.

There were a few elements of the story that were a little unbelievable and it’s probably not the most unique plot but it is enjoyable. Perfect if you’re looking for something action packed, pretty violent and with a main character who could probably give Jack Reacher a run for his money.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all thoughts are my own.

WWW Wednesday: 5th July 2017

The WWW Wednesday meme is currently hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words and is a great way to do a weekly update on what you’ve been reading and what you have planned.

WWW Wednesday

To take part all you have to do is answer the following three questions:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently Reading

Close Enough to TouchI started reading Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley yesterday and so far so good. It’s about a man and women in their twenties who have issues. Hers possibly being a bit more serious (and interesting) as she’s allergic to other people. I do like unique books and this definitely sounds a bit different from the norm 🙂

Unfortunately my audio book Attack of the 50ft. Women by Catherine Mayer returned itself to the library and I haven’t been able to get it back out so it’s on pause for the moment. I am kind of missing having an audio so if you have any recommendations please shout out. I have three free audible books to pick so all suggestions welcome. I was thinking about Game of Thrones to make the most of my freebie (it’s like 30+ hours) 🙂


Recently Finished

Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1)I’ve had another really great reading week with four books finished. First up, I’m very happy to say was  Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare. It was possibly just that I had a physical book and couldn’t cart it around with me but this seriously seemed to take me forever to read. It is slightly longer than my usual reads but it just felt really slow and drawn out. Yep, unpopular opinion time, I didn’t love it. There wasn’t anything particularly bad about it, I just found that I didn’t really care what happened. I also wish I’d known there were spoilers for The Infernal Devices trilogy which I haven’t finished. I do have the next book so I’ll keep going but I may swing back and finish TID first.

Two Nights

Second book finished was Kathy Reich’s latest release Two Nights which I received from NetGalley. I hadn’t read any of Reich’s other books or watched the TV show so I can’t compare but I liked this a lot. It’s been a while since I’ve read this type of book and I’d forgotten what I was missing. This is supposed to be a stand alone with a new main character but I’m kind of hoping she changes her mind and turns this into a series. I liked Sunday Night (yes, that is her name) a lot and while she is a little cliched (bit of an attitude, doesn’t like authority, gets into trouble) I would like to see more of her.

The Duet

Looking for something a lot lighter, and not involving murder or terrorism, my next book was The Duet by R.S. Grey. It’s a contemporary romance about two singers who are forced by their record label to collaborate on a duet for an awards show. As you can probably guess they initially clash before things get hot and steamy. It’s probably not going to win any prizes for literary greatness but I enjoyed it and it was the kind of book I was in the mood for. I do like to alternate between different genres.

Don't Close Your EyesFourth and final book finished this week was psychological thriller Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon. I still haven’t figured out the reason for the title as it’s about twin sisters and their seriously dysfunctional families and relationships but it’s definitely one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read in a while. I found it completely addictive reading and while it’s not necessarily edge of the seat and action packed it just drew me in completely. I did think the ending was a little bit of a let down (it was all over too quickly) but the writing was brilliant and it had a surprising amount of emotion in it.


Reading Next

I posted my reading list for the Summer TBR Wipeout challenge hosted by Candid Cover at the weekend (here) so whatever book I read next will definitely come from there (well probably). I’m thinking most likely one of these.

Roar (Stormheart, #1)The Rome AffairWaiting For Columbus

It should really be Waiting for Columbus as that’s my RL book club book and the meeting is next Friday but I just don’t fancy it and the reviews are less than encouraging (One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest meets Mills and Boon). If anyone has read it and wouldn’t mind giving me details of exactly what happens so I can fake it that would be great 🙂

As always please feel free to leave comments and links below.

Happy Wednesday Everyone!!!

Review: Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Ginny MoonGinny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Completely original, compelling and a little bit heartbreaking this is an incredible debut novel from Benjamin Ludwig. It’s not my usual type of read and I didn’t expect to love it but I totally did.

Definitely not tedious.


Synopsis

Meet Ginny. She’s fourteen, autistic, and has a heart-breaking secret…

‘Brilliant’ – Graeme Simison, author of The Rosie Project

Ginny Moon is trying to make sense of a world that just doesn’t seem to add up….

After years in foster care, Ginny is in her fourth forever family, finally with parents who will love her.

Everyone tells her that she should feel happy, but she has never stopped crafting her Big Secret Plan of Escape.

Because something happened, a long time ago – something that only Ginny knows – and nothing will stop her going back to put it right…

A fiercely poignant and inspirational story a lost girl searching for a place to call home. Ginny Moon will change everyone who spends time with her.


Thoughts

They like you, Ginny, and believe me, it’s hard to find people like that. It’s much easier to love someone than it is to like them.

Let me just start by saying that I’m completely in awe of anyone who cares for an autistic child and having read Ginny Moon I’m now even more in awe. I have to admit that it’s not something I know a lot about as I don’t really have anyone in my life who’s autistic but this definitely opened my eyes. The whole story is told from inside Ginny’s head giving a completely unique and fascinating view of what it’s like to have a brain that just doesn’t quite work the same way as everyone else’s. It’s compelling, frustrating, amusing, touching and emotional. Once I started reading I literally couldn’t stop.

Ginny is an absolutely fabulous character and I couldn’t help but love her, even though she drove me and everyone around her crazy at times. She is completely single minded and once she’s on a path there is absolutely no way you’ll change her mind. She takes everything literally and picks up the most bizarre words and phrases from those around her. I found myself laughing at some of the things that come out of her mouth one minute and being so incredibly frustrated the next that I wanted to shake her.

Ginny was brought up in an abusive home (trigger warning: there are some disturbing scenes) but despite being in her newest forever home she can’t let go of the past and is determined to escape and find her birth mother Gloria who she hopes has her baby doll. I felt so sorry for her adopted parents Brian and Maura and I could feel their frustrations that they want to give her a stable and loving home but she seems determined to leave. While Ginny is unable to interpret their emotions and reactions the author still managed to transfer them to the reader through her observations, something I thought was incredibly well done.

There were more than a few occasions where I felt like crying or shouting because Ginny just doesn’t see what she’s doing to those around her. Her aunt “Crystal with a C” in particular really got to me. Her guilt, frustration and just desperation to do the right thing was a little bit heartbreaking.

I have to confess that I was surprised the story held my attention the way that it did. It’s not my usual type of read and I would stop every so often and think “I don’t know where this can possibly go” and “I’m not sure how the author can keep this level of engagement and intensity for the remaining x number of pages” but somehow he did. I found myself unable to put it down and even when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it or talking about it.

It’s not a perfect book, there are elements that are a little unbelievable, but I definitely think it’s a worthwhile read for everyone. There aren’t anywhere near enough characters like Ginny in books and it gives a real insight and unique perspective to their everyday lives and thoughts as well as those around them.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review and apologies for taking so long to read it.

Teaser Tuesday: 4th July 2017

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by The Purple Booker. If you want to join in grab your current read, flick to a random page, select two sentences (without spoilers) and share them in a blog post or in the comments of The Purple Booker.


This week my teaser comes from psychological thriller Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon which I received for free from Readers First. I finished this late last night and enjoyed very much. It’s seriously addictive reading and unusually for a thriller did somehow manage to make me cry.


My Teaser

The matching tattoo they both have is just visible from her angle. The quote from Labyrinth, mirrored on her own arm: “It’s only for ever, not long at all.”

~ pg 268 Don’t Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon


BlurbDon't Close Your Eyes

A gripping novel of psychological suspense centered on two sisters whose lives have taken them apart, and the shocking family secrets that bind them together.

Twin sisters Robin and Sarah haven’t spoken in years.

Robin can’t leave her house. A complete shut-in, she spends her days spying on her neighbors, subtly meddling in their lives. But she can’t keep her demons out forever. Someone from her past has returned, and is desperate to get inside.

Sarah can’t go home. Her husband has kicked her out, forcibly denying her access to their toddler. Sarah will do anything to get her daughter back, but she’s unraveling under the mounting pressure of concealing the dark secrets of her past. And her lies are catching up to her.

The novel takes readers back in time to witness the complex family dynamics that formed Robin and Sarah into the emotionally damaged, estranged young women they’ve become. As the gripping and intricate layers of their shared past are slowly peeled away, the shocks and twists will keep readers breathless long after the final page.