Wednesday, 27 July 2016

On the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher

On the Other SideOn the Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Your soul is too heavy to pass through this door,
Leave the weight of the world in the world from before

Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. It's the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she's become her twenty seven- year-old self and the door won't open. Evie's soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy. For Evie, this means unburdening herself of the three secrets that have weighed her down for over fifty years, so she must find a way to reveal them before it's too late. As Evie begins the journey of a lifetime, she learns more about life and love than she ever thought possible, and somehow , some way, she may also find her way back to her long lost love...



I really enjoyed the beginning of this book and the sound of where the plot was going to go. I have read many Cecelia Ahern books and was hoping that I would be left with a similar feeling after reading hers.

Evie Snow is dead, she seems to be in a place that doors won't open. This really intrigued me and I couldn't wait to find out what was going to happen. There was a magical element in the story and was a little bit 'fairy tale' ish which I enjoyed.

I didn't read this book in a couple of sittings due to being too busy at work and this could have changed my view of the book. I personally found it a little tricky to follow, I was unsure of when the story was meant to be set, I got the impression Evie was from the 60's, however Vincent seemed to be more from the present day. I then thought perhaps we were going back/forward in time. Like I said though, it could have been down to the fact I read the book in a slightly disjointed way and perhaps if I had read it straight though this wouldn't have happened.

I loved the idea of this story and think it was really sweet. However some of the background 'contextual' information didn't seem to be correct. Evie being 82 when going back from modern day should be in her 20's and surely the environment should reflect this, which it doesn't.

Overall if you take the story with a pinch of salt and don't read too much into it, then you will enjoy it, however if you are looking for something perfect it isn't, Carrie though has done a great job on writing her first novel and can be forgiven for some of the mistakes she has made. I would say perhaps the story would be suited to a younger audience.

I have been asked not to share too much of the story in my review so you will have to go and buy the book if you want to know more!

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 25 July 2016

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

The Woman in Cabin 10The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was meant to be the perfect trip. 

The Northern Lights. A luxury press launch on a boutique cruise ship. 

A chance for travel journalist Lo Blacklock to recover from a traumatic break-in that has left her on the verge of collapse, and to work out what she wants from her relationship. 

Except things don’t go as planned. 

Woken in the night by screams, Lo rushes to her window to see a body thrown overboard from the next door cabin. But the records show that no-one ever checked into that cabin, and no passengers are missing from the boat. 

Exhausted, emotional and increasingly desperate, Lo has to face the fact that she may have made a terrible mistake. Or she is trapped on a boat with a murderer – and she is the sole witness...



Laura [Lo] Blacklock a travel journalist is chosen by her magazine to cover the maiden voyage of a very exclusive cruise liner bound for the Norwegian Fjords and the Northern Lights. Having been the victim of a burglary some nights before she leaves she has spent some sleepless nights in her flat leading up to the trip and is suffering from sleep deprivation by the time she boards the cruise liner. The first night aboard she is woken in the early hours of the morning by a scream and a splash which appears to have come from the cabin next to hers. When she goes onto the verandah she sees blood on the partition between the cabins. Convinced something has happened to the girl in the next cabin she calls for security who inform her there is no one in that cabin. The guest booked had cancelled at the last minute. Lo knows there was a woman in the cabin as she met her the evening before when she knocked and asked to borrow some mascara. Something is very wrong and she makes up her mind to find out what is going on.

I didn't think that Lo came across as particularly brave in many instances I thought she was quite a weak character. For me it was a shame that Ruth Ware didn't make her into a stronger person until almost the end of the novel but with her long history of taking medication for extreme anxiety and how easy it was for others to make her doubt herself perhaps the pitch was right but nevertheless it was at times frustrating and I wanted to shake her and give her a good talking to.

I liked the fact that the novel was set on a cruise liner in the middle of the ocean, it felt really very Agatha Christie and the slow incremental tension building added to the suspense. I did think in parts it could have moved a little quicker as pages were devoted to interviewing staff on board which the reader knows won't throw any light on the woman in cabin 10. The atmosphere was created very well conveying the claustrophobic feeling and size of the cruiser and the isolation of being cut off from the outside world with no internet or phone signals; it also had a creepy feeling about it with all the staff being so robotic and smiley all the time. Not being able to completely trust anyone was also conveyed well and of course Lo eventually doubting her own sanity.

I didn't really buy the end of Richard Bullmer (I won't go into it as don't want to show a spoiler) but after all that had happened and all his power and connections I couldn't believe it would have ended this way for him. But of course should Ruth Ware want to write a sequel then it might be that the body wasn't him at all - an interesting twist.

It was well written and an enjoyable read - perhaps one to take on holiday but maybe not on a cruise! A worthy 4 stars from me.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 22 July 2016

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next DoorThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You never know what's happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn't want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn't stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You'll have the baby monitor and you'll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She's gone.

You've never had to call the police before. But now they're in your home, and who knows what they'll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?




I read this in one day from start to finish - I am glad that I chose to do this as it helped the flow of the book.

After their baby sitter calls to cancel the couple Marco and Anne made a decision to leave their 6 month old baby alone while they go next door to a dinner party. They take the baby monitor and religiously go in to check her every half an hour throughout the evening. On returning home after the party they discover that the baby is missing. Racked with guilt at leaving the child the story proceeds to uncover what happened that night. It was well paced and had enough intrigue to make the reader want to find out what had happened to the missing baby.

I did however find the characters a bit flat and it was hard to like any of them. The mother was suffering post partum depression but we later learn she has some history of mental illness; the father Marco has money worries as having over extended his business he is now in financial trouble; Anne's mother Alice didn't really seem to have much personality until the latter half of the book and her step father Richard was a very nasty and manipulative character. The writer also didn't really allow the reader imagination as everything was neatly laid out - I felt it was more 'tell' than 'show' and because of this it was easy to predict.

I did guess the outcome but the twist at the end was somewhat unexpected so this saved it from being totally predictable. It was well rounded off and all ends tied up nicely but I did think it lacked a certain something that would have made it great for me, having said that it was still a good read, not the best psychological thriller but a passable read. I would give this a 4 star rating, not quite up there with the best but not a bad effort for a debut thriller.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Ruby Oliver 1: The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart

Ruby Oliver 1: The Boyfriend ListRuby Oliver 1: The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From E. Lockhart, author of the New York Times bestseller and Zoella Book Club 2016 title, We Were Liars, comes this hilarious and heart-warming series. 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs and Me, Ruby Oliver Ruby Oliver is fifteen and has a shrink. But before you make up your mind about her, you should know that she has had a pretty awful (and eventful) past ten days. She has: lost her boyfriend (#13 on the boyfriend list), lost her best friend, lost all her other friends, did something suspicious with a boy (#10), did something advanced with a boy (#15), had an argument with a boy (#14), drank her first beer (someone handed it to her), got caught by her mom (ag!), had a panic attack (scary), lost a lacrosse game, failed a math test, hurt Meghan's feelings, became a social outcast, and had graffiti written about her in the girls' bathroom. But don't worry, Ruby lives to tell the tale. Through a special assignment to list all the boys she's ever had the slightest, little, any-kind-of-anything with, comes an unfortunate series of events that would be enough to send any girl in a panic.



I have a couple of E.Lockhart's books and enjoyed them all. When I was offered the chance to read and review this book, I started straight away. I managed to read this in a couple of sittings, it is just over 200 pages and a relatively light read.

This is a story about Ruby Oliver, who seems to alienate herself from all her peers due to choices she makes. Ruby has had a series of panic attacks and it is not until her parents experience one that she is sent to see a Dr. The story is told through her eyes at her therapy sessions with Dr Z, as you read you begin to discover the reasons for her panic attacks. Ruby is a fifteen year old, who goes through the regular of issues most fifteen year olds deal with. Unfortunately for me, she was not a likable character.

The story as I have mentioned is through Ruby's eyes in the form of a list, that her Dr has asked her to complete, to try and get to know Ruby better and for her to begin to identify with herself. I found it difficult initially to follow due to the footnotes, some of these are quite long on the pages.

Ruby came across a little shallow during the story and not really worried about who she hurt along the way. I felt sorry for Angelo and would loved to have seen more of him. I also wished he had perhaps confronted her about her behaviour on that night.

There was no resolution to the story and we were left hanging some what, I would have liked to have found out what happened with Kim. Saying this, this is part of a series and so I am hoping to find out more when I continue reading. Although I have only given this book 3 1/2 stars it does not mean it was awful, it kept me entertained, it was a light read but just left me feeling a little deflated, it didn't really set me on fire. Saying this it has kept me interested enough to want to read the next in the series.

I would recommend this is for you want a quick light read. I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 18 July 2016

The Salt Marsh blog tour with guest post

THE SALT MARSH
CLARE CARSON
 
Publication Date: 16th June 2016
Price: £18.99
‘The writing, whether about people or places, is excellent’ Sunday Express
 
A haunting thriller set in the windswept marshes of Kent and Norfolk, from the author of Orkney Twilight
It is a year since Sam's father died, but she cannot lay his ghost to rest. Jim was an undercover agent living a double life, and Sam has quit university to find out the truth about his work. Her journey will take her from the nightclubs of 80s Soho to the salt marshes and shingle spits of Norfolk and Kent. Here, in a bleak windswept landscape dotted with smugglers' huts and
buried bones, Jim's secret past calls to her like never before. Now Sam must decide. Will she walk away and pick up her own life? Or become an undercover operative herself and continue her father's work in the shadows…
AUTHOR
Clare Carson is an anthropologist and works in international development, specialising in human rights. Her father was an undercover policeman in the 1970s.   She drew on her own experiences to create the character of Sam, a rebellious eighteen year old who is nevertheless determined to make her father proud. 




Guest Post: 

Witchcraft



The Salt Marsh is my second novel about Sam the daughter of a police spy. It is set in England in 1986 and the plot involves witchcraft. The idea for this came from anthropological research I did in Zimbabwe in 1995. Anthropologists often compare different cultures – and find similarities in unexpected places.



I was living in a remote village in southern Zimbabwe researching women’s use of health services. It was hot and arid. There were deadly snakes, baobab trees and strange insects that looked like lobsters. At night the Southern Cross dazzled on the horizon. I spent my days wandering around mud huts interviewing women. Our conversations often drifted to witchcraft – women would whisper the names of those they thought used curses and potions to harm their neighbours. Accusations of witchcraft were a way of addressing jealousies and arguments, disputes about property, and general discontent. It was usually women who were accused of witchcraft. Widows were more vulnerable than most, particularly if they were still living on their late husband’s land.



On the edge of the village were four widows who had all once been accused of witchcraft. I sensed that they had an unspoken bond. I pieced together their stories and discovered that, during the seventies, they had been married to the same man. He was the local policeman, employed by the Rhodesian colonial state. He had a regular salary, which made him rich in comparison to the other villagers. That meant he could afford to have a lot of wives and he married six very young women - girls in fact. They had no choice in the matter. Their parents were glad to have the brideprice – money or cattle paid by the groom to the father of the bride.



The seventies was a decade of guerrilla war against white rule, culminating in Independence in 1980 and the election of Mugabe as President. When the independence fighters entered the village in the late seventies, the policeman was murdered by the rebels. His wives were all accused of witchcraft, beaten and chased away with their children. They dispersed – some to the towns to make a living hanging around the bars, and some to the South African gold mines. But eventually some of the widows returned. By then, the political tide in the area had turned against Mugabe, so the widows were no longer seen as wives of the enemy, and were allowed to resettle. They were not exactly forgiven, but tolerated on the margins.



I felt an unexpected connection with these women and their stories, because I am the daughter of a policeman, and they suffered from being the wives of one. When I was writing a story about Sam, the daughter of a police spy dealing with her late father’s enemies and the accusations they make about her, witchcraft seemed like an interesting way of expressing her fears. The Salt Marsh draws on the history of witchcraft in England as well as the stories from Zimbabwe, but it’s easy to sense the similarities in human behaviour sitting uncomfortably close to the surface, despite the differences in place and time.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Dr Hedgehog and the Tree Rescue by Jerry Mushin

Dr Hedgehog and the Tree RescueDr Hedgehog and the Tree Rescue by Jerry Mushin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Dr Hedgehog picture book series is intended to be read aloud to young children. Both the readers and the listeners will enjoy the stories. There are common characters, but each story can be read independently of the others. In most of the stories, Martin Mouse finds himself in awkward situations but Dr Hedgehog, usually with the help of other animals, is always able to assist. Children will recognise their mothers in Mavis Mouse, who worries about her son and is always greatly relieved when he arrives home safely. In this story, Martin Mouse climbs a tree to pick some leaves for his teacher, and he cannot get down. How does Henry Horse help Dr Hedgehog to get him down?

Once again we meet Dr Hedgehog, like the previous story in the series there are the same characters and some of the sayings are present, which is nice as it makes the books link. Saying this, this book could easily be read alone as the story makes sense without reading the others.

I mentioned the illustrations were not my favourite during my previous review, this again is the same, unfortunately they are not growing on me and I think Dr Hedgehog could come across a little nicer in stories, personally I don't like his character at all. My class who I read this too, were also not too keen on him as he seems to always be cross.

This book started off better than one of the previous I felt and had a bit more too it as in way of a story, however I felt it was let down towards the ending, where Dr Hedgehog got cross and told Martin Mouse just 'go home and find out'. He didn't come across very patient and considering he is a doctor should be!

The length of the book is good and perfect for a 15 minute read with a child, or during snack time if you are at school. This book is O.K, my class probably will pick it up again to read independently at some point.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Dr Hedgehog and the River Rescue by Jerry Mushin

Dr Hedgehog and the River RescueDr Hedgehog and the River Rescue by Jerry Mushin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The Dr Hedgehog picture book series is intended to be read aloud to young children. Both the readers and the listeners will enjoy the stories. There are common characters, but each story can be read independently of the others. In most of the stories, Martin Mouse finds himself in awkward situations but Dr Hedgehog, usually with the help of other animals, is always able to assist. Children will recognise their mothers in Mavis Mouse, who worries about her son and is always greatly relieved when he arrives home safely. In this story, Martin Mouse walks across a frozen river and falls through the melting ice. He cannot get out. How does Fred Frog help Dr Hedgehog to get him to the edge of the river?

Unfortunately out of all 3 in the series this book was liked the least. Just like the other books in this series we meet Martin mouse and Dr Hedgehog. Martin mouse is excited about the weather, it has snowed and it has been the first time it has snowed since last year. His mother warns him about the ice and tells him to remember to take the bridge. Of course Martin mouse decides to ignore her warning.

The illustrations are the same as the others in the series, which I was not keen on. They seem a little simple and could have been portrayed a lot better in my opinion.

This book out of the series seems to be the most random, Dr Hedgehog decides to throw Martin mouse a sandwich while he waits, which seems a little strange to me. I am also a little disappointed with the moral in this book. Martin mouse is hoping no one tells his mother he ignored her advice to cross the river, which seems a little deceiving to me. The book also seemed to end a bit abruptly, it would have been good to see what Martin's mother would have made of him ignoring her. I think if it had shown that and depending on how she would have dealt with his behaviour I would have been able to give this a higher star rating.

I read this to my class and they were a little underwhelmed with the story. They didn't have a lot to say about it. I think perhaps younger children would like this book, maybe 4 or 5 year olds.

I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.