One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid #BookReview

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In her 20s, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure. On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her 30s, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness. That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants while trying to protect the ones she loves. But who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

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Another novel from my backlist as One True Loves was published in 2016. I bought an ecopy of it in 2017, long before she became even more of a bestselling writer with the hyped novel of The Seven Husband of Evelyn Hugo and Daisy Jones & The Six and I picked it up ‘now’ because I wanted to read it before watching the movie adaptation of this novel. If I’d watch it first then I wouldn’t make it a priority to read it and who knows in what year, if any, I’d get to it then.

There is much to love in this novel and I highlighted so many quotes hitting home, yet I still didn’t fall in love with it. Emotions run all through this novel but I didn’t always feel emotional myself as it was quite clear for me what Emma needed to do and it frustrated me sometimes when she wasn’t thinking along my lines.

The novel had a good structure. The opening chapter sets the scene where Sam and Emma are with her parents enjoying a meal in a restaurant, then she gets the call that her missing – presumed dead – husband is actually alive. The first part shows the encompassing love between Jesse and Emma, the second part defines how she meets Sam again after two years of grief and how they fall in love.

What makes this novel so compelling is the dilemma. Everyone will ask themselves whether she should be with Jesse again or continue with Sam. I did love the dilemma that Emma’s faced with even though it wasn’t so much of a dilemma for me because I was already those two steps ahead of her and had thought exactly what was about to come into her head. You’d probably enjoy this story most if you just let the emotions wash over you.

Both men are great guys and they both love Emma deeply, there’s no denying that. I think I liked them even more than I liked her if I’m honest. I know that Emma struggled but I didn’t always agree with the way she dealt with the situation. The fact that she tells one guy that she chooses the other one but still sleeps with him ‘one last time’ was frankly incomprehensible to me and made me question if she should be with either one of them. No, just no!

That being said, I did enjoy how the novel sets out to explore true love and the resolution is quite valuable, something we all need to be reminded of or simply informed of and a life wisdom I’m happy to carry with me from now on.

One True Loves was a bittersweet, emotional story about one woman searching for the love of her life. I can’t wait to see this movie now!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

PS Watch out for my battle of book covers because I found 5 different covers for this one and the latest one (publication 2022) is BE-AU-TI-FUL.

The It Girl by Ruth Ware #BookReview

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April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford.

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

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This was my fourth Ruth Ware novel (I have already reviewed The Lying Game, One by One and The Turn of the Key) and The It Girl is a wonderful addition, one that made me think and rethink about Neville’s involvement and other possible suspects.

I remember being slightly disappointed in one of her novels because the killer was too obvious for me but I promise you that The It girl kept me guessing and guessing some more. I thought I was a super sleuth but this novel certainly knocked me around.

The It Girl was a wonderful mystery to read. It provides an airtight case against Neville, one of the porters at Oxford University. Not only was he a seriously creepy guy, Hannah also saw him coming down the stairs and found April murdered minutes later. He always cried out his innocence though till the day he died in prison and it’s only when Hannah receives a tidbit of new information about April from a reporter that she wonders what was going on with April at the time. Did she know her at all? Why didn’t she tell Hannah, her roommate and best friend? She wants to get to the bottom of it so she visits her old college friends and it helps her to put the pieces together. Oh did I tell you that Will was April’s boyfriend and is now a soon-to-be father of Hannah’s child? I don’t know why I thought that would worth mentioning but I certainly found this an interesting turn of events.

Without divulging too much I can only say that I had a suspect and when this suspect was crossed out I found myself another one and it turned out in the end that I was wrong again. I love it when an author can wrongfoot me and she did so good! She put in several red herrings and the tension ramps up in the final chapters. I think I knew a little sooner than Hannah that she was in some kind of trouble but other than that I was as surprised as she was. There are lots of people who could have a reason to kill her but the real reason and finding out the background story preceding her murder was also an eye-opener for me.

The It Girl is the sort of novel that you just have to know who did it! It kept me turning pages at high speed. If you love playing detective and you enjoy books with multiple suspects then this is definitely worth putting on your readlist!

I received a free ecopy of this novel from the publisher Simon & Schuster via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

Same book, different cover #20

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Happy hump day! I’m here to bring you again 5 new book covers. It’s up to you to pick and choose your favorite one. This is just for fun so there are no wrong answers! OK then, I’ll go first, then it’s up to you:

The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

The Paris Apartment 02 TheParisApartment

I choose cover 2 because I really like how she added the Eiffel tower on the cover. I’ve seen enough buildings and windows but the second one is the one you can even recognize from a distance.

Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough

Insomnia 01  Insomnia 02

This is a difficult choice to make. The second one is the creepiest but I’m always hesitant about creepy books so in the end I choose cover 1. This one also fits best with the black and orange cover of Behind Her Eyes that I already have.

Ellie and the Harp Maker by Hazel Prior

Ellie and the Harpmaker  Ellie and the Harpmaker 02

I choose cover 1 but I’m not sure I can explain why I’m choosing the first one over the second. It just gives me a warmer vibe?

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

The Chain 02 The Chain 03 The Chain 01

I’m certain of my choice, I love the second cover! I want black to be the dominant colour. It’s the hardback version, whereas the third one is the paperback copy. Also, have you seen the cover of his next novel The Island? It’s also a black cover with red letters and white shadows so I love that he chose the same style for his next book.

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

HomeBeforeDark 02  HomeBeforeDark

In anticipation of his new novel, here’s one of his most memorable books. The cover that scares me the most is the second one, that luminous green feels very ghostly, so cover 2!

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So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out Battle Of The Books – #19

Demon by Matt Wesolowski #BookReview

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In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

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Demon’s the sixth book in the Six Stories series and one I’ve been very eager to read. If you’re new to the series I can only tell you that each novel can be read as a standalone because the only constant is the podcast presenter Scott King, who brings a new case each time to the reader’s attention where he interviews 6 people trying to gain more insight and to perhaps give a satisfying answer to why and what happened in the past. He’s not exactly trying to prove someone’s innocence like in many other novels, but still, by interviewing and hearing about the cases from different people there are always other viewpoints, other things they know and have seen and it changes things significantly. You start out with a very broad perspective but as you go on you start to see more nuance. It’s a wonderful journey how he peels back all these layers each time, twisting and turning the story as he goes, and – for lack of a better name – brings a sort of enlightenment in the end.

I do love finding out each time who the people are that he has lined up for the interviews, and this time around there were some unexpected guests on the show. He starts with a woman who lives in the village of the victim and the two teenage murderers. There’s never only a murder when Scott King is involved, there’s always some sort of legend involved, history that plays its own role, and certainly, again, there’s an atmosphere of creepiness and evil in the small rural town of Ussalthwaite predating the murders for decades.

Wesolowski really went all the way in this novel and for me it’s one that goes most deeply into the supernatural. It’s great but also the reason why it’s maybe not my favourite of the six books of the series. In the other novels there were clear answers and explanations in the end that satisfied me and in this case some of it remains rather trivial. I never thought I could get the heeby jeebies from the mention of a black stone that fits the palm of your hand. Such a stone is mentioned in relation to events in the seventies, the nineties and even in the present where it plays even a role in the life of someone who has nothing to do with Ussalthwaite. This person – for some reason – has summoned the wrath of the flies over herself too in the process and it was the first time ever I felt it was a little over the top, there was just too much of it you know?

I do hope this isn’t the last novel of the series although if it is, I think he did a brilliant job in every one of them. His writing is stellar in every novel! It’s also a great achievement for me that I read an entire series. If you need confirmation about the quality of the series, I think this tells you how great they are. If you want to read the reviews of all the novels, I’ve listed them, not in the order of publication but for you especially into my personal ranking:

Six Stories
Changeling
Deity
Hydra
Demon
Beast (frankly only because I remember the least about this novel now, also vampires are not my favorites to read about)

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This review is my honest opinion.

He Will Be My Ruin by K.A. Tucker #BookReview

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Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a bottle of Xanax and a handle of vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers secrets in the childhood lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man who Celine herself claimed would be her ruin.

On the hunt for answers that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life-and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.

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I’ll be honest, I certainly did not choose this novel for its cover, but I have already read 3 other books by this author (you can read my review of the last one Until it Fades on the blog in 2017, the others pre-date my blog) so I was able to look past first looks and decided it was time for another read by this author.

The prologue alone had me hooked as Maggie finds herself quite ‘trapped’ and I immediately wanted to know why and who, what was going to happen to her and what led up to this. But before any answers are given the story loops back to the start where Maggie arrives in New York to clear her friend Celine’s room after her death.

Maggie and Celine were best friends, or so Maggie thought. After Celine’s death she finds a photo of a man who’s lying in bed almost naked. At the back of the photo her friend wrote “he will be my ruin”. Maggie wonders who he is and why Celine never told her of him. Was he her boyfriend? Even nosy neighbour Ruby (she’s an 81 year-old writer) who sees and hears everything knew nothing about him. As Maggie dives deeper into her friend’s life she is shocked to find out there’s a lot she didn’t know about Celine’s life. I loved the fact that Celine was into collecting antiques and I never thought I could feel so interested in this but the side-story of a theft that Maggie was looking into really only added to the intrigue.

In this murder mystery Maggie encounters two very good-looking men so there are some sexy times in this novel and the thought alone that she might just be making out with a killer was quite unsettling. Maggie is at least convinced that her friend didn’t want to kill herself. Initially I was looking in the opposite direction from where Maggie was looking – I thought it was kind of obvious even – but then the author pointed subtly to ‘my suspect n°1’ so I had to shift my opinion again, and again. I enjoyed how she kept me on my toes and while the suspect pool is very limited I couldn’t decide nor anticipate the ending.

The side characters were great to get to know and they all help to reveal the truth, from Hans the gay antique expert who helped Céline with her collection, Ruby the neighbour who bakes the best shortbread, detective Doug and hacker Zac. In addition there’s also worth mentioning Grady the sexy super of the building and Jace, the rich man who has all women lying at his feet.

He Will Be My Ruin was a decent mystery that kept my attention throughout and even when you find out who’s behind the wheel, the suspense is not over yet. She kept me hooked until the last page!

I bought an ecopy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

The Cliff House by Chris Brookmyre #BookReview

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One hen weekend, seven secrets… but only one worth killing for

Jen’s hen party is going to be out of control…

She’s rented a luxury getaway on its own private island. The helicopter won’t be back for seventy-two hours. They are alone. They think.

As well as Jen, there’s the pop diva and the estranged ex-bandmate, the tennis pro and the fashion guru, the embittered ex-sister-in-law and the mouthy future sister-in-law.

It’s a combustible cocktail, one that takes little time to ignite, and in the midst of the drunken chaos, one of them disappears. Then a message tells them that unless someone confesses her terrible secret to the others, their missing friend will be killed.

Problem is, everybody has a secret. And nobody wants to tell.

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An isolated Scottish island and secrets, secrets and more secrets! How could I not get excited about that? I have read quite a few of books with a remote setting but The Cliff House definitely sticks out among the others. I knew I simply couldn’t pass up the chance to see how Chris Brookmyre (author of previously reviewed novels Black Widow and The Cut) would handle one of my favourite settings and if I would be able to suss the biggest secret of all.

Jen is soon to be married to Zaki and she has booked a very luxurious retreat for her hen weekend. She is joined at this remote Scottish island by a few friends from the tennis club (Nicolette and Kennedy), two of her oldest friends (Helena and Michelle), her soon to be sister-in-law Samira and Beattie, the sister-in-law of her first marriage to Jason.

There is instant tension from the get go between some of the characters and a whole lot more tension is added when they start to wonder who has the biggest secret. The plot switches smoothly between all the characters and the twists and turns follow each other up rapidly. In order to find their missing party member they have to work together in pairs and while they are trying to survive until they can alert someone or escape the island old grudges are brought into the open and there are quite a few. The truth flips opinions and there were some great secrets that I had not expected.

This story made me quite paranoid and I was suspicious of everyone, like a good old merry-go-round it made my head spin. I thought I knew where the story was going to take us in the end from the very beginning but I was completely off the mark, the page-turning plot is completely unpredictable!

The Cliff House (apparently also published as She Knows) was deliciously addictive and I can recommend this novel and this author in general to everyone who thinks they’re smart enough to figure things out with ease. Consider yourselves challenged!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher Little Brown, Book Group via Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood #BookReview

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People aren’t sure what to make of Susan Green. Family and colleagues find her prickly and hard to understand – but Susan makes perfect sense to herself. Age 45, she thinks her life is perfect. She has a London flat which is ideal for one; a steady job that suits her passion for logic; and a personal arrangement providing cultural and other, more intimate, benefits.

Yet suddenly faced with the loss of her mother and, implausibly, with the possibility of becoming a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is being realised: she is losing control. And things can only get worse … at least in Susan’s eyes.

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A warning, there’s an unpopular opinion ahead so if you only want to read positive reviews you might want to skip this one.

I picked this novel because I read it’s similar in style to Eleonar Oliphant is Completely Fine (loved it!) and Meredith, Alone (waiting for my copy) and I also heard they’re adapting the novel into a Netflix series with Reese Witherspoon.

Well what can I say, those are hours I can’t get back. I wanted to read this novel as fast as I could, not because I loved it but because I wanted to get to the end of it. I couldn’t get on with Susan at all. I did want to find out if see was capable of loving someone and making friends but I didn’t hold out much hope to be honest. See Susan comments on everything and everyone ALL of the time, she’s spiteful and self-centered, jealous of her brother who received more attention and love from their mother than she had. There are a few people who try to engage with Susan, his brother’s friend Rob, her cousins, her upstairs neighbour Kate who’s a single mum and just looking for a friend but Susan’t not very interested in anyone. This changes thanks to their continued efforts towards the end but it’s quite a slow process. No the one thing that she invests herself in is finding a way to make her brother Edward move out of their mother’s house. It’s her mission and she’ll take it to court if she has to.

Believe it or not but Susan did manage to find a guy (Richard) to hook up with, on her terms of course and finds herself pregnant. She doesn’t want to lose her independence so she shuts the door on him too (in a text no less) after 12 years of Wednesday evenings spent in each other’s company. Why she wanted to keep the child is beyond me and I already felt for this unborn child. She’s not excited at all about the pregnancy and it doesn’t really occupy her thoughts, she doesn’t think about baby names, she isn’t into nesting, so I wanted to see how this would go. I’m happy the novel didn’t take me so far to see how she would exactly raise this child, and how she would cope with the noise and the mess. She did babysit once rather reluctantly when her neighbour had to rush to the hospital but I can’t say the scene warmed my heart and made me feel optimistic about her motherhood.

Towards the end she mellows a little bit and is slightly more open to other people which was of course what I wanted to see but the damage was done, she couldn’t atone enough for all the negativity I had to live through. The plotline involving her trying to get her brother out suddenly gets a spin to it with a twist that makes perfect sense and I hadn’t seen coming. The ending turns out quite positive for everyone involved but I can’t shake the negative atmosphere all through the novel. I thought she was cruel and unfair so many times and I rooted for Edward to win actually most of all. You’ll have to read this novel if you want to know the outcome of the disputed will!

I bought an ecopy of this novel and this is my honest opinion.

The Devil’s Advocate by Steve Cavanagh #BookReview

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HE’S WON EVERY TRIAL. BECAUSE HE’S BEHIND EVERY MURDER.

Ambitious District Attorney Randal Korn lives to watch prisoners executed.
Even if they are not guilty.

An innocent man, Andy Dubois, faces the death penalty for the murder of young girl. Korn has already fixed things to make sure he wins a fast conviction.

The one thing Korn didn’t count on was Eddie Flynn.

Slick, street smart and cunning, the former con artist turned New York lawyer has only seven days to save an innocent man against a corrupt system and find the real killer.

In a week the Judge will read the verdict, but will Eddie be alive to hear it?

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There’s not a doubt in my mind The Devil’s Advocate deserves five stars. It’s brilliant, bloody brilliant. I loved every second of reading this. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that courtroom procedurals are boring because they clearly haven’t read this one yet!

Eddie Flynn is a good lawyer – the very best if you ask me (I work at a law firm so it might be in my best interest to watch what I’m saying but I’m saying it anyway) but he’s looking at a hopeless case and even he’s not sure he and his team (Kate, Bloch and Harry) will be able to win the case he’s taken on because he believes in defending the innocent and battling evil. The evil in this case is Randal Korn, working as district attorney in a small rural town called Buckhead. There’s not a millisecond of doubt that he’s evil reincarnated as he gets his kicks from sending people to the electric chair, it doesn’t even matter if they’re guilty, he just wants to win and feel the power he has.

The evidence against the young man is massive, he was seen arguing with the victim, his dna was found under her fingernails and she scratched him, and he confessed twice to the murder. Still Eddie Flynn believes he’s innocent. I thought this was a mission impossible but Flynn is the Tom Cruise to save the day. Korn plays it unbelievably dirty but I loved how Flynn and his team parried every move. This game they play was incredibly compelling. This novel only consists of twists and turns and I loved how inventive Flynn was (his first mission is of course talking to his client and that alone requires some ingenuity). The author also had a few cleverly placed red herrings in store, one of them even a heartstopping moment that I could hardly even handle.

The case is airtight, the evidence speaks for itself and the testimonies are either against Andy Dubois or people don’t want to talk, but Flynn wouldn’t be the best if he didn’t find something to use in his favour. Is it enough to save Andy though, and who is the real killer of Skylar then and why would this popular girl be killed? There are a lot of questions to be answered in this novel and the answers were so surprising, it was a delight.

The Devil’s Advocate is a riveting novel and so cleverly written. I can’t recommend this one enough!

I bought a paperback copy of this novel. This is my honest opinion.

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella #BookReview

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After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. They have a happy marriage and believe they know everything there is to know about each other. Until it’s casually mentioned to them that they could be together for another sixty-eight years… and panic sets in.

They quickly decide to create little surprises for each other, to keep their relationship fresh and fun. But in their pursuit of Project Surprise Me – anything from unexpected gifts to restaurant dates to photo shoots – mishaps arise with disastrous and comical results.

Gradually, the surprises turn to shocking discoveries. And when a scandal from the past is uncovered, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all. . .

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This is my first Sophie Kinsella novel, can you believe it? I did see Confessions of A Shopaholic with Isla Fisher on tv and I happened to watch it again not so long ago. I quite enjoyed myself and that is why I finally picked up my copy of Surprise Me.

Sylvie and Dan have been together 10 years, married for 7 years. They are THAT couple, the perfect one, they literally finish each other’s sentences and are in a great place at the start of the novel. Then they hear from the doctor that they’re in excellent health and are expected to be together for another 68 years; they have to recover a little bit from that announcement. Sylvie and Dan make a plan to surprise each other to help keep their relationship fresh and exciting but nothing goes to plan. I enjoyed the little surprises they threw for each other, they’re good fun and most are things that are easily considered when you’re a couple (surprise breakfast in bed for instance). But then halfway through the novel Sylvie hears Dan having a hushed conversation that unsettles her and he reaches out to some old friends among which an ex-girlfriend. There might be a surprise coming up she doesn’t want to discover. She thought her marriage was solid but Dan is absent-minded, taut and he always has to work. Can they get back to the way they were?

Surprise Me was easy to read, it’s not too taxing so perfect reading material while you have some time off and are enjoying the sun. The characters, especially Sylvie, and many of the situations she finds herself in were quite relatable. The second half and the ‘secret’ that Dan keeps from Sylvie was more serious than I expected but a great twist in the story too, it’s something that brings on a change for the couple on its own and the biggest surprise she’ll have all things considered.

A great book that certainly surprised me. I’ll be looking out for more books by Sophie Kinsella.

I received a free paperback copy of this novel a few years ago in a giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

Same book, different cover #19

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Happy hump day! I’m here to bring you again 5 new book covers (ok I was so fired up I even added an extra one so you get 6 book choices this time). It’s up to you to pick and choose your favorite cover. This is just for fun so there are no wrong answers! OK then, I’ll go first, then it’s up to you:

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

TheHatingGame 02 TheHatingGame

I choose cover 1. It’s still on the fun side with the female character turning her back on him but looking over her shoulder, so there’s the title but at the same time you see some possible flirting too, which captures what this book will be about really well. The other cover has more of a negative feel to it.

He Started It by Samantha Downing

HeStartedIt 02  HeStartedIt 01

The first cover feels like a movie cover so it’s obvious I go for cover 2. I’m normally not a fan of faces on covers but they picked the right person for this one. Her stare keeps my eyes on it.

What Might Have Been by Holly Miller

WhatMightHaveBeen 01  WhatMightHaveBeen 02

The most difficult one! I think I’d ultimately go for cover 1 because it’s so nice to look at but I do love the contrast in the second cover which gives a glimpse of the two different lives she’ll lead in the book.

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

True Crime Story 01  True Crime Story 02

Ah cover 1 of course. The pink is the most obvious reason but I also like that there’s a photo of a person on the cover, it gives it a more realistic touch to it.

You’ll Be The Death of Me by Karen M. McManus

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This one’s very easy. Cover 1 looks so much better. I love that many of her books have the same lay-out too. The second cover doesn’t really do anything for me.

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So that’s it. Tell me your thoughts! If you can’t get enough, check out the previous book battle #18