Did I Mention I Love You? (DIMILY trilogy, book 1) #BookReview

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When sixteen-year-old Eden Munro agrees to spend the summer with her estranged father in the beachfront city of Santa Monica, California, she has no idea what she’s letting herself in for. Eden’s parents are divorced and have gone their separate ways, and now her father has a brand new family. For Eden, this means she’s about to meet three new step-brothers. The eldest of the three is Tyler Bruce, a troubled teenager with a short temper and a huge ego.

Complete polar opposites, Eden quickly finds herself thrust into a world full of new experiences as Tyler’s group of friends take her under their wing. But the one thing she just can’t understand is Tyler, and the more she presses to figure out the truth about him, the more she finds herself falling for the one person she shouldn’t her step-brother.

Throw in Tyler’s clingy girlfriend and a guy who has his eyes set on Eden, and there’s secrets, lies and a whole lot of drama. But how can Eden keep her feelings under control? And can she ever work out the truth about Tyler? Did I Mention I Love You is the first book in the phenomenal DIMILY trilogy, following the lives of Eden Munro and Tyler Bruce as they try to find their way in an increasingly confusing world.

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

I know that reading young adult novels is not related to age but there was at least one time I couldn’t escape the thought of ‘I’m too old for this’ flashing through my mind.

Would you feel attracted to a moody teenager who can’t say a single nice word to you? Me neither but when Eden arrives at her father’s new place and meets his new family she can’t help being very interested in Tyler. Too much for her own good btw as he’s a) already taken and b) euhm.. family. She must have seen something in his eyes that I obviously didn’t share because I couldn’t immediately see past his arrogant, egotistical attitude. I had my eyes on another guy right away, someone who was more of a gentleman but of course Eden has a penchant for a bad boy type of guy.

I get it though, Tyler’s mysterious ways are a serious X-factor and of course he’s not the incredible badass that he claims to be. I did enjoy the story in the end and my own feelings towards Tyler started thawing when he finally gave some insight into his behaviour. The last part has a few twists in what was otherwise quite a straightforward storyline of slow burning attraction between Eden and Tyler, and made me race through it to know how they would handle their ‘situation’. Would they end up together or not?

If you enjoy dark brooding guys, a somewhat taboo relationship and a good dose of instalove then this is definitely a read you don’t want to miss. Even though I didn’t really fall in love with this read, the guy was too wishywashy for my taste, I am actually a little curious about the sequel, so you never know that I give it a chance in the future anyway.

I won a free paperback copy of this novel via a giveaway. This is my honest opinion.

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My holiday reads reviewed

I took 3 reads with me so you’re getting 3 reviews in one go. I compared them to each other too and that’s why you get a 3, 4 and 4.5 star review ;-). I’m showing them in the order I read them btw 😉

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She has a loving marriage.

But she has no friends.

Everyone knows her name.

But no one will speak it.

Why?

Cornelia Blackwood is about to do something very wrong, for reasons she believes to be right.

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The Flight of Cordelia Blackwood was a poignant novel with a tragic tale at the heart of it. The genre of novel was different from what I expected it to be but it was a gripping read and I really enjoyed reading it. Even without the experience of being a mother myself, I was drawn into the story right away and I could feel Leah’s agony and longing for a child.

The story is told via alternating chapters and shows Leah meeting Adrian in the past, going through some of life’s tragedies together and a new storyline that runs from the present onwards and hints at something bad happening in the past that made her lose all credit, all of her friends too. The author deftly steers the story in a certain direction and it’s impossible to miss where the answer lies. I couldn’t help conjuring so many worrisome thoughts and I held my heart at least a few times when I read about some of Leah’s life changes, but the author made me squirm in my seat with all the twists and turns in the story before getting to the exact heart of it.

I just couldn’t compute Leah’s treatment with the image that I was building of her in my head… surely she wasn’t capable of doing anything evil? Her story reads as one tragedy happening upon another and made me feel sad for her. But how did she end up so injured and broken, walking around with a cane, and why is she getting these looks? I was trying to get an idea how things added up but it was a well-kept mystery until the end and given her deteriorating state of mind I knew something was coming but I never expected that.

The Flight of Cordelia Blackwood was a story of grief and love and that feeling when it just all seems to be too much. It’s sad and heart-breaking at times and that ending, it left me reeling.

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion. I had the intention before I left to leave one good read behind so I left my copy in Kos for another reader to enjoy :-).

TFOCB

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LittleSister def

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After sixteen years apart sisters Jessica and Emily are reunited. With the past now behind them, the warmth they once shared quickly returns and before long Jess has moved into Emily’s comfortable island home. Life couldn’t be better. But when baby Daisy disappears while in Jess’s care, the perfect life Emily has so carefully built starts to fall apart.

Was Emily right to trust her sister after everything that happened before?

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I expected a mystery but I had no idea the story would hold SO SO many secrets and lies. EVERYBODY here is hiding something or other and I absolutely loved all these surprises that follow up at warp speed. And then there is the lie of all lies.. I had no idea who’d turn out to be the biggest liar of them all so around midway the most stunning twist just happened that put everything into a new perspective. I had absolutely no idea and didn’t expect the direction this story was going in. It’s just the things you take for a truth and don’t question that can surprise you the most if they turn out to be a lie, isn’t it. I guess that’s also why we are surprised when someone tells us they don’t love us anymore, right?

The story kicks off right away with Daisy’s abduction and when the police question Jess, who was babysitting, and her parents, Emily and James, there’s already some little white lies here and there about their whereabouts and the circumstances. It starts small but after a while I couldn’t help wonder why they would lie about anything at all and then before you’re even very well aware of it one stone after another is thrown at each other and my paranoia was all over the place. I do love big happy families who come apart like that :-). You can really trust nobody here and I was keen to keep it that way too. Someone did earn my sympathy and trust little by little, and I also started to loathe another character quite vehemently at the same time when my feelings turned out to be viable in the light of some actions.

Little Sister turned out to be not only a story about abduction, the opening storyline even takes a backseat for a while when another timeline is followed taking place during the teenage years of Jess and Emily, but about what happened between the two sisters so many years ago as well. The picture becomes clearer with every flashback about the nature of their sibling relationship and the reasons why Jess left home at the age of 17.  This plotline was just as riveting to read and had its own shock-factor too.

If you’re talking about authors who can deliver an amazing twist then I have to count Isabel Ashdown among them. It took me by surprise how much I enjoyed this one and I already look forward picking up another book from this author. If you have any of her books you want to swap for something I have, you let me know!

I received a free copy of this novel from another blogger in a book swap. This is my honest opinion.

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IfYouKnewMySister def

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Dr. Irini Harringford was given away by her parents just before her fourth birthday. Although she has spent her whole life trying to convince herself she doesn’t need them, deep down Irini longs to understand why she was abandoned, while her parents kept her older sister, Elle.

So when Elle gets in touch with news that their mother has died, Irini reluctantly agrees to return to the family home. But she is ill at ease. She and Elle are not close. Irini knows only too well what Elle is capable of. Inexplicably drawn to her enigmatic sister, yet terrified of the sway she holds, Irini tries to protect herself even as she is sucked back into her family’s toxic web of secrets…and soon realizes that the past is more complicated than she imagined, and that her very future rests upon discovering the truth about why she was really given away.

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Irini’s haunted by her past and this has serious repercussions for her love life as it makes her doubt the person currently in her life. Just thinking about what her parents did, giving her up at the age of 3 and keeping her sister, Elle, made me instantly sympathetic and cautious of her parents. Was it because she had a handicap, was it because she was unlovable, she never knew the reasons. What she does know is that she doesn’t want to have children of her own, that’s how big the toll is because of their decision in the past. Truth be told, there was one member of the family who wanted her in her life, her sister has tried to find her again and again and she also succeeded. Isn’t it ever so strange though that she ran from her sister so many times then, going so far as moving and changing her phone number? I was wondering what happened right away. Now that Elle finally caught up with her again Irini decides to take the opportunity and find out the answers she’s always been craving.

This need to know her parent’s motives and the reason why Irini would run from her sister are at the core of the novel and there’s a lot of darting around the answers throughout the story. It was a bit transparent for me though why her mother and father sent her off and the biggest mystery was discovering why she and her sister have such a dysfunctional relationship and what happened in the past between them to cut all contact.

Sister relationships are always interesting to read about and the push and pull between the two sisters was no different. Their interactions make great waves and especially the domineering personality of Elle over Irini. Even though I sympathised with Irini at first and how she was hurt like that, the feeling waned and I can’t say I liked either of the sisters in the end, but Elle really is the worst character I’ve come across lately. Elle’s issues make her very manipulative and controlling and Irini is of course the perfect victim. It was impressive what Elle was capable of and fascinating to watch their interactions.

However, I didn’t always understand why Irini just went along with everything and not once stood up against her or told her off. I knew quite soon that there was something off about Elle so why she got so much credit from Irini I never fully understood. I also found it slightly unbelievable that nobody told her anything throughout her life about the reasons why her parents made the decision and in hindsight also why they didn’t even follow up on her from a distance, they could have at least sent a birthday card each year, right?

There were quite a lot of events unfolding in the last part of the novel and that’s the part that I really enjoyed best, the more you read the better it gets. I’m still not entirely sure about Elle in the end though, is she evil or disturbed, I’m still doubtful. Maybe a bit both.. you’ll have to make up your own mind.

I received a free copy from the author in exchange for my honest opinion.

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The Plus One by Sophia Money-Coutts #BookReview

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The Plus One [n] informal a person who accompanies an invited person to a wedding or a reminder of being single, alone and absolutely plus none

Polly’s not looking for ‘the one’, just the plus one…
Polly Spencer is fine. She’s single, turning thirty and only managed to have sex twice last year (both times with a Swedish banker called Fred), but seriously, she’s fine. Even if she’s still stuck at Posh! magazine writing about royal babies and the chances of finding a plus one to her best friend’s summer wedding are looking worryingly slim.

But it’s a New Year, a new leaf and all that. Polly’s determined that over the next 365 days she’ll remember to shave her legs, drink less wine and generally get her s**t together. Her latest piece is on the infamous Jasper, Marquess of Milton, undoubtedly neither a plus one nor ‘the one’. She’s heard the stories, there’s no way she’ll succumb to his charms…

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

This is a perfect summer read to ‘put your feet up and relax’. The Plus One has a high Bridget Jones vibe although Polly is a much cooler and fun person than Bridget and she’s certainly not as clumsy and insecure, so I think I actually like her a whole lot more!

She doesn’t have the most interesting job at a magazine called Posh! but I must say it did make for some very entertaining reading. Her job includes writing articles about the new IT-dog (because the rich have an obsession for horses, and dogs come a close second), finding baby scans so they know who the little ones can become friends with when born, to being sent to places she’d normally never go for the best scoop… like interviewing the new singleton marquess at his parent’s castle, or attending ‘special and top secret’ parties frequented by people of the high classes.

It is going to sound very weird coming from me ‘of all people’ because you must know how I feel about explicit sexual scenes in novels by now. To recap: knowing they’re in there is enough reason for me not to read a novel BUT in The Plus One they were actually one of my favorite parts. Why? Well I’m not sure I can explain this very well, it’s not that they were superhot, they were actually quite the opposite of the usually perfectly orchestrated ‘we end up in bed and suddenly all clothes are off without any mention of the inevitable bra hook problem’ and the ‘everyone’s conveniently bathed and shaved while sex was not to be expected’. It’s more that everything that could go wrong, really went wrong there and I believe that’s actually why I enjoyed them so much. The Plus One isn’t full of fairytales… although now that I think of it, the book does include a castle, a sheikh, a gold bath, bidet and loo seat… but at least in the bedroom department, when it comes down to it, it was hilarious and brutally honest :-). The many struggles and thoughts flashing through Polly’s head were super funny and made me snort OUT LOUD. Yep, damn this book.

“I always get nervous with these conversations about what one is into versus what one is absolutely not into. Like when a man asks ‘What is your fantasy?’ and you want to say ‘A film on the sofa and a grab bag of Maltesers’, but you have to think up some implausible positions and say you like dressing up as a naughty optician because that’s what you think they want to hear.”

I think you get the idea what type of novel it is :-). If you read this you’re bound to get along with and root for Polly. Now there is a very serious health issue in this novel as well which makes it sometimes a bit more serious but overall this is just a fun chicklit novel that will transport you to a whole other world. I came to realise that even the rich and famous don’t have the perfect lives and you can find sleazebags in every layer of society :-). I was a fan of the colorful cast in the novel, her gay roommate Joe, best friend Lex, colleagues Lala and Legs, old friend Bill, but I would have liked to see their own lives more in detail too and missed a bit more intrigue and drama perhaps. The ending left me completely satisfied though, I saw what was coming but was very happy the way it ended.

I received a free paperback copy from the publisher, HQ, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Do Not Disturb by Claire Douglas #BookReview

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COULD YOUR DREAM HOME BE YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE?

After what happened in London, Kirsty needs a fresh start with her family.
And running a guesthouse in the Welsh mountains sounds idyllic.

But then their first guest arrives.
Selena is the last person Kirsty wants to see.
It’s seventeen years since she tore everything apart.

Why has she chosen now to walk back into Kirsty’s life?
Is Selena running from something too?
Or is there an even darker reason for her visit?

Because Kirsty knows that once you invite trouble into your home, it can be murder getting rid of it . . .

amazon uk amazon com

review-2

star three and a half

I had very high expectations of this novel after reading Last Seen Alive, which was one of my favorite reads last year. It’s always difficult to live up to that expection so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that I was feeling it just wasn’t as twisty compared to last time. I remember feeling actually shocked by the revelations in Last Seen Alive but that shock-effect with everything being turned upside down didn’t really make it into this one for me since I was able to foresee at least some of it. Am I getting just too good at this thing, it could also be a possibility :-).

Kirsty’s family of four moved to Wales to get a new start and they’re starting a b&b with her mother. As if that’s not enough eggshells to walk on, her mother invites Selena to stay, the niece she has cut out of her life for 17 years because she’s such a liar. They are adults now though and when Kirsty sees her with her daughter Ruby, her heart softens and she has to wonder if it’s time to put the past in the past. Do Not Disturb brings this estranged family back together, adding also her brother and his wife into the mix, and it was great seeing all the underlying tensions and secrets they kept from one another. Finding out why Kirsty and Selena fell out of love and out of touch kept me very busy, it was all very mysterious and things remained unspoken for quite a while. The author then adds an extra dash of creepiness by letting a few strange things occur in the house which make you wonder what exactly is going on and where the threat is coming from.

Do Not Disturb was a compelling read that is more than just a thriller or murder mystery. It’s about life as a family and I really appreciated how all the secrets and the façade of their splendid lives was slowly peeled away to its core. I found many ugly truths and tragedy in the end. But as I said, I did anticipate some of it and my instincts also told me to read certain scenes with a good dose of suspicion and it proved I was right on at least one major issue. I also kind of felt how it was going to end and I would have liked to have seen another culprit really. There were plenty of secrets and lots to discover and it’s definitely a good thriller that kept me well entertained but it’s not the novel that I would recommend most if you haven’t read any of her novels yet. I do look forward to reading her next one though because I’ve already seen what she can pull off!

I received a free copy of this novel from the publisher through Netgalley. This is my honest opinion.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Holly Seddon #BookReview

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Fearing eternal singledom, childhood friends Kate and Paul make the age-old vow that if they don’t find love by thirty, they will marry each other.

Years later, with the deadline of their 30th birthdays approaching, the unlikely couple decide to keep their teenage promise. After all, they are such good friends. Surely that’s enough to make a marriage?

Now, on the eve of their 10th wedding anniversary, they will discover that love between men and women is more complex, and more precarious, than they could ever have imagined.

As Kate struggles with a secret that reaches far into their past, will the couple’s vow become the very thing that threatens their future?

amazon uk amazon com

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Love Will Tear Us Apart is a novel that has its entire focus on Kate, Paul, their children and their own parents.

It’s a novel built up with time shifts, starting with the moment Kate and Paul met at the tender age of 13 up and up to now, celebrating their 10 year wedding anniversary. Well, there’s not really a festive mood and it seems all is related to a mysterious letter Kate found.

I would call this novel a descriptive family saga. I can’t say this was a love story… I wondered more than once where the love was. I didn’t really feel it from Kate’s side, at any given moment in her life which made me feel sad in her place. I didn’t see any tell-tale signs between Kate and Paul, any tentative gestures or touching by accident, nothing like that and I knew they were good together as friends but I wondered when love would change them.

I actually really liked everything about the mystery in the novel but I wasn’t really waiting to hear every single thing that happened in Kate’s life. I enjoyed reading how they became friends and how their friendship developed in the beginning of the novel, and I loved Viv, Paul’s mother who took Kate into her house and treated her like she was her own daughter. But as the novel went along it became a bit tedious having to read everything that followed and happened in her life, from her first steps into university, her first job and everything that came with it, her life felt rather depressing and I felt the focus was off.

I was more interested in that moment where they – childhood friends – finally fell in love, how they got to this point  and especially what was in the letter which was brought up so many times. There was A LOT of build up to finding out what was in that letter! Some readers had expected more of it but it didn’t disappoint me, it was a good secret. Will they stay together or not after the contents of the letter are revealed though? Will love rule after all? My lips are sealed :-).

I was happy I got to read this novel through receiving daily staves. It really helped me to stay curious and not rush through the novel to get to the ending more quickly. I’d recommend this novel to readers who like to hear the life-story of their characters and truly enjoy reading family sagas.

I received a copy of this novel via The Pigeonhole. This is my honest opinion.

The Unlikely Heroics of Sam Holloway by Rhys Thomas #BookReview

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Sam Holloway has survived the worst that life can throw at you. But he’s not really living. His meticulous routines keep everything nice and safe – with just one exception . . .

Three nights a week, Sam dons his superhero costume and patrols the streets. It makes him feel invincible – but his unlikely heroics are getting him into some sticky situations.

Then a girl comes along and starts to shatter the walls Sam has built around himself. Now, he needs to decide if he’s brave enough to take off the mask, and to confront the grief he’s been avoiding for so long . . .

Hilarious and heart-warming, this is a story about grief, loneliness, and the life-changing power of kindness.

amazon uk amazon com

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Sam is 26, lives in his immaculately clean house, has 2 equally geeky friends and he works in the factory of a Japanase wholesaler where he’s a model employee. At night he’s roaming the streets (in a ridiculous costume) and although his actions are limited to helping elderly ladies with their shopping or bringing lost dogs back home, he feels good with these little helpful acts. Good people doing good deeds definitely applies to Sam.. but when he falls in love, everything is jeopardized and in danger of falling apart, including the safe, simple life he carefully built up. It all starts to unravel and while he is used to coping on his own, he might need some help to deal with the setbacks he comes across. Sometimes help does come from the people you least expect it from. One of the people reaching out and helping him was definitely a surprise but I cheered when I realised he was actually getting help from someone in his corner!

It took me a while to get into this novel but Sam did grow on me as the story developed and in the end I genuinly cared and I wanted him to overcome the past. The episodes of ‘The Phantasm’ were at first quirky and funny – as a parody on old heroes like batman –  but behind Sam as the masked man lies a tragedy slowly revealing itself as the story progressed. There was a shift at a certain moment from which point I started to understand more clearly why he felt like he needed this alter ago. The general hilarity of it all changed everything with the new insights. His background and the trauma which he dealt with on his own definitely shed a different light on his actions. There’s a reason why he feels best when he’s in character and why he simply can’t hang up his costume, even after he hears his love interest say she thinks The Phantasm is ridiculous, and it was sad and I felt heavy-hearted hearing what life had thrown at him.

There was a good mix of laughter and pain in this novel. His backstory was very tragic, well thought-out and the best part of the novel for me. Unfortunately that’s also probably what I will remember in a few month’s time and the first part of the novel won’t hang in my head as long.. it was so cartoonish at times that I had a hard time imagining this character could be a real person. So to end I’d say I liked it, but didn’t love it. A commendable debut and if you have a bit more fantasy than me, you might love it.

I received a free copy of this novel from publisher Wildfire in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

The Tall Man by Phoebe Locke #BookReview

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A SENSELESS MURDER. A TERRIFYING LEGEND. A FAMILY HAUNTED.

1990: In the darkest woods, three girls devote themselves to a sinister figure.

2000: A young mother disappears, leaving behind her husband and baby daughter.

2018: A teenage girl is charged with murder, and her trial will shock the world.

Three chilling events, connected by the shadow he casts.

He is the Tall Man. He can make you special…

amazon uk amazon com

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star three and a half

The Tall Man turned out to be a very creepy and unsettling read. I couldn’t make head or tale of what was going on and my mind was begging for the answer to that question which didn’t leave my mind for a minute when reading: who is The Tall Man? Is he someone real? Is it the legend that became ingrained in Sadie’s mind and is it possible he’s only a figment of her imagination that she takes for real? Is it linked to a  post-natal depression? The novel is set up to confuse and confuse it certainly did. I didn’t mind not knowing though and the author did a terrific job balancing that fine line, making me wonder. The suggestion was superb and your own fantasy and imagination will do lots of the work, which is of course the strength of the plot. Locke makes it easy enough with her smart writing, she really masters this and even I was not sure what to think and believe.

The story is somewhat of a slow build but really delivers when it comes to the two big reveals.

It was a great idea to insert the documentary makers, reporting and questioning Sadie’s daughter Amber. She was tried for murder and Phoebe Locke left me guessing for so long about the identity of the person she murdered and the motive she had for doing so! Amber was for me the most interesting character of the novel. I was however a bit disappointed I didn’t get to find out more about the documentary makers following her. There’s no background story of Greta and Federica but I had the feeling there was something to tell there as well.. I’m sure they had some interesting secrets but they both held out so I didn’t find out.

I very much enjoyed how this novel ended, the final chapters managed to really blow up in my face, it was so good. The ending only threw me completely off balance. I did find it strange that the focus was on The Tall Man for so long and then in the final disclosure so much other stuff suddenly came to the surface, out of nowhere I might add, which became relevant to the story and was actually so great and astonishing to hear that it instantly became so much more intriguing than what Sadie saw or heard in the shadows. I felt a bit cheated by The Tall Man and his mystery became a bit anticlimatic. I’m sorry for being so vague but I certainly don’t want to spoil it all and you’ll have to read it for yourself to see what he’s made of.

I received a free copy of this novel through daily staves on The PigeonHole website. This is my honest opinion.