commercial fiction · fiction · HarperCollins Publishers · new reads

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

I really enjoyed reading this novel and have been waiting for it to be available to review on NetGalley for months!

Quite a lot of commercial fiction is now exploring the issues of mental illnesses but yet I’m surprised it’s taken until now to finally explore loneliness and thank you to Gail for achieving this so beautifully and seamlessly through Eleanor Oliphant.

To me, the most striking thing about this book is the character Eleanor Oliphant – she is an extremely well developed character that I can imagine seeing her on the big screens. As the reader, you do live inside Eleanor’s head, which was particularly interesting to me, though she’s not a cool character or that likeable in the beginning. Despite her articulate judgements of other people and her throughs of her own nature, you can’t help but like her. Why? Well, because she’s different and she’s figuring out who she is throughout the novel. And besides, being different is good, we need to celebrate it more. You end up caring about her and as the plot unfolds, it’s easy to realise that her grating qualities are only a product of doing mechanism to a much wider mental issue. Eleanor is undeniably an unreliable narrator, but it didn’t seem to bother me because through reading the novel, I got to understand her, and she is the most important character.

Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine and the most she says it, the more she ends up believing it. Eventually, she believes it so much that she can’t seem to recognise let alone deal with how her past and her relationship with her mother is affecting her adult life.

This is a beautifully written book that takes you on an emotional roller coaster. Full of kean observations of the human condition, it has a well developed plot that moves at a good pace and even takes you on a few twists and turns. Towards the end of the book, you can’t help but fall in love for Eleanor for the changes she makes. The novel really is a journey to discovery and I was truly touched by Eleanor.

Thank you to HarperCollins for allowing me to review this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine was published in May 2017.

 

 

 

commercial fiction · HarperCollins Publishers · HQ Stories · new reads

The People At Number 9 by Felicity Everett

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Meet the new neighbours. Whose side are you on?

When Gav and Lou move into the house next door, Sara spends days plucking up courage to say hello. The neighbours are glamorous, chaotic and just a little eccentric. They make the rest of Sara’s street seem dull by comparison.

When the hand of friendship is extended, Sara is delighted and flattered. Incredibly, Gav and Lou seem to see something in Sara and Neil that they admire too. In no time at all, the two couples are soulmates, sharing suppers, bottles of red wine and childcare, laughing and trading stories and secrets late into the night in one another’s houses.

And the more time Sara spends with Gav and Lou, the more she longs to make changes in her own life. But those changes will come at a price. Soon Gav and Lou will be asking things they’ve no right to ask of their neighbours, with shattering consequences for all of them…

Have you met The People at Number 9? A dark and delicious novel about envy, longing and betrayal in the suburbs…

I was super excited to read this but was quickly disappointed when I discovered a slow-moving plot and characters I couldn’t relate to. The plot focuses on a toxic friendship between two married couples, which moves from adulation at the start to disillusionment and a hard-earned self-knowledge by the closing chapters. Gav and Lou are the cool, new couple in the neighbourhood. They’re glamorous, carefree and full of their own creative importance. Sara and Neil, on the other hand, are reliable, average, middle-class couple that get sucked into the glamour and glits of Lou and Gav.

Felicity shows us the world through the eyes of Sara: her crush on Gav and Lou, her misgivings, her eventual (very slow) wake-up, which is spurred on by rejection and jealousy.

If  you are someone that needs to like the characters in the book, then this is not the book for you, as it wasn’t for me. I didn’t like the characters I was reading about – Gav and Lou were not people that I could relate to, though it was easier to relate to Sara regarding many things she experiences with her new neighbours. I found that the plot moved very slowly and there wasn’t a hook pulling me all the way through it. I stopped and started this novel a few times and decided to give one push and finish it all.

Thank you to HQ for allowing me to review this novel.

The People at Number 9 was published by HQ Stories, HarperCollins in April 2017.

 

 

Avon · commercial fiction · HarperCollins Publishers · new reads

The Escape by C L Taylor

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“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

The Sunday Times bestseller returns with her biggest and best book yet. The perfect read for fans of Paula Hawkins and Clare Mackintosh.

I read The Escape in three sittings because it really was that good! Here’s what I thought about it.

The story centres around Jo Blackmore who is un an unhappy marriage. She suffers from agoraphobia and is still grieving the loss of her first born. This loss has understandably made her over-protective of her daughter, Elise.

Quite early on in the novel Jo is approached by a strange women, Paula, in the street who claims she knows her husband, Max. This stranger makes Jo feel uneasy as she threatens Jo and her daughter; a chilling turn of events begin to unfold after this. This is certainly not the last time that Jo hears of Paula. The seed of doubt is planted in Jo’s mind, yet Max denies knowing anything about the odd woman that Jo describes to him. As the threat begins to turn into a harsh reality, life as Jo knows it becomes terrifying. Her parenting skills are questioned and the situation escalated until Jo’s own husband starts to turn against her. With no-one she can fully trust, where is Jo to turn?

A good psychological thriller will dive straight into the story and kick off with lots of action from the very first scene. Cally does exactly that with this novel. There is no sense of security as I read this – I had absolute no idea what was going to happen, I was almost always on the edge, fearing the worst but praying that things would work out for Jo. This really was an excellently written, chilling page-turner from the very beginning all the way to the end.

Jo is a fascinating and complex character and it’s very easy to sympathise with her as she does go through an awful hell-of-alot throughout the novel. Her mental health is being called into question, which sometimes allows you to doubt her, but then you’re also being swayed to doubt Max too. So, who can you really trust? Cally creates believable and realistic cases for both Jo and Max and she allows both characters’ viewpoints to come across successfully throughout the novel.

The novel also allows the readers to relate to the circumstances being explored – especially through the character of Jo. It was very easy to feel her fear, anxiety, confusion etc as the plot developed. Being without children, I tried to put myself in her situation – what would I do if I had to protect my child at all costs? I was on one big adrenaline rush reading this novel and could not highly recommend it enough. I like books that make me think, but also surprise me with great, big hooks and twists and turns.

Many thanks to the Avon team for allowing me to review this.

The Escape was published by Avon, HarperCollins on March 2017.

new reads

A Yorkshire Christmas by Kate Hewitt | Book Review

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A  cute little read that was finished in one sitting. Fed up with her superficial family, Claire decides to avoid the ‘perfect’ Christmas with her family in American and decides to take residence of her godmother’s cosy cottage in Yorkshire. Having her own emotional baggage from the past, Claire yearns nothing more for a peaceful and quiet Christmas.

After her car skids into a snow bank, Claire has the fortunate pleasure of meeting Noah and eventually his daughter Molly – the family and love she’d craved for a very long time. Claire helps Noah to push the back end of one of his sheep out of the icy mud, even if she’s going to ruin her brand new pair of Prada boots, the meeting between the two begins the early stages of their romance.

Hewitt combines and develops the characters of Noah and Claire by allowing the third person narrative to focus on both character’s viewpoints.

The writing was engaging, descriptive and effortless to read. I loved that both Claire and Noah had past relationships which still had an impact on them in the present as they seemed like realistic characters, one that I could relate to.

I found the ending to be a bit rushed for a novella. I would have liked to read a bit more of a realistic ending. But if anything, it was a pleasure to read that I wish it wasn’t a novella and that I could read more about the relationship of Claire and Noah.

Would recommend to anyone that wants a light and easy read.

 A Yorkshire Christmas was published by Tule Publishing.

2016 · commercial fiction · fiction · Hachette · Little, Brown Book Group · new reads · psychological thrillers

The Primrose Path by Rebecca Griffiths | Review

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This psychological thriller is about Sarah, known as Rachel, who was abducted in a high profile case some years earlier. She learns that her abductor is due to be released from prison having served his sentence and decides to protect herself by leaving her life, friends and family in London. Sarah moves to a remote part of south Wales on the edge of the Brecon Beacons as Rachel. Within this area, there are four properties that are not far distant from each other and so, in addition to Rachel, we also gradually learn about the Morgans, Dai and Idris.

I found the first part of the book which is titled “50 years before” a challenging read. It’s quite dark and I did struggle to get into the plot though the characters are well developed and each have a distinct individual voice.

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Griffiths is an exceptional writer; there is a Welsh feel to the narrative with some nice turns of phrase even though it was dark. This book doesn’t explain everything as it goes along, it allows the readers to piece each puzzle of the story together, which was more enjoyable to be able to work it out on my own. It made me feel like an involved, active reader.

The Primrose Path is Rebecca Griffiths debut novel published Sphere in 2016.

2016 · commercial fiction · fiction · new reads · October · Uncategorized

Chocolate Truffle Kiss by Cassandra O’Leery | Review

https://allthingsbooksweb.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/chocolate-truffle-kiss-book-review-all-things-books-blog-20161024_130013_hdr.jpg?w=663Roughly eighty pages long, this one-sitting read was pure bliss. Structured over a week, we are invited into the sparks, sexual tension and romance between Beth and Samuel.

Beth visits the same café every afternoon where she takes out a notepad and pen and starts writing short stories whilst enjoying her usual latte and a chocolate truffle. The delicious, sweet treats come her way as well as the inspiration she finds there – barista and hunk, Samuel.

Beth’s love life after her divorce has been close to extinct, but the sight of Samuel drive Beth’s desires for him spiraling out of control. Doubting Samuel would go for an older woman, when his beauty could attract a more ideal woman, Beth doesn’t think anything of it.

Over the course of a week, the tension between them continues to rises until…

I won’t spoil it for anyone wanting to read it, but it is delicious.

O’Leary has the art of writing in such a way that not only are her characters well developed but they come alive as real people and their distinct voices create a dynamic impact on the plot. This novella is concise, has a well-developed plot that has urgency and moves forward in a good pace and is relatable. It’s very easy to imagine Samuel, his attractiveness and instantly liking him.

The ample amount of tension in this novella allows it to be a page-turner worthy  read.

Cassandra O’Leary also wrote The Girl on a Plane.

2016 · fiction · Little, Brown Book Group · new reads · October · psychological thrillers · Sphere · Uncategorized

I See You by Clare Mackintosh | Review

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My heart was beating in my mouth the whole time when devouring I See You.

Protagonist Zoe Walker, a forty-something mother of two teenage kids, makes her way home from a job she hates. She takes the same route every day. When she eventually finds a seat in a pack carriage, she flicks through the evening paper to find a picture of herself in the classified ads section, with just a website address – findtheone.com. Seeing her own photo published without her knowledge throws Zoe off, as it would any other person.

Once returned home, her family all try to persuade her it is nothing but a freaky look alike. But she knows, and we know and some mysterious, sinister third party who speaks in italics knows, that is it indeed Zoe’s picture.

Shortly after, Zoe sees a similar ad, only this time with a picture of another woman. When that woman is found strangled in Muswell Hill, days later, Zoe is on the phone to the police.

Kelly Swift, a disgraced detective who has been sent to the gulag of transport policing for some misconduct (she attacked a child molester during an interview) and who badly needs her a chance to redeem herself. With Zoe’s lead about the classified ads, Kelly gets it and elbows her way back on to the murder investigation.

Findtheone.com is a bizarre dating tool that is a tormented way for men to try and date women. The unseen orchestrator of the website, who is often voices in italics is relentlessly creepy and heightens the build up of tension within the plot.

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Mackintosh builds a convincing and complex emotional backstory for both Zoe and Kelly throwing enough teasing red herrings to leave us vaguely suspicious of everyone in their lives. In Zoe’s case, her boyfriend isn’t all he says he is, her kids are roving to be a handful, her ex is devoted to her but is odd and her boss is a living nightmare.

I See You is a clever and plausible thriller, which has all the right ingredients to make it a gripping read. Mackintosh takes a subject, which everyone can relate to: commuting, and makes us see the mundane act of getting into work in a completely different light. Your fellow commuters might be just that, or then again, they might not be. The daily commute to and from work will never be the same again.

A cleverly thought out book that will give you the chills. I’d recommended to anyone that wants to be hooked from the very first chapter.

I See You, Mackintosh’s second novel, was published in 2016 by Sphere, an imprint of Little, Brown Book Group. Her debut novel, I Let You Go is a Sunday Times bestseller.