Thursday, 30 June 2016

Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas


A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas
Published by Bloomsbury 2015 (Paperback)
416 Pages

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it... or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Thoughts

I'd heard a lot about Sarah J Mass, but had never actually picked up one of her books to read. However I knew there was a lot of hype surrounding her and her writing so I was pretty intrigued to discover it. Whilst I was at London Comic Con in May, I stumbled upon a stall run by Bloomsbury and sitting there was a copy of A Court of Thorns and Roses. After having a read of the blurb I went for it and brought it and soon enough I was ready to dive into this world that Sarah J Maas had created.

Nineteen year old huntress Feyre is the main provider for her family, ever since they fell on hard times when their large fortune got taken away. During a rather bad winter Feyre is out hunting in the woods and tracks down a wolf. Wanting to feed her family and earn money she kills it without hesitation. A few days later a faerie beast crashes her home, claiming that the wolf she'd killed was actually a faerie under disguise. The beast gives Feyre two options - to be killed or to live with him in Prythian, the land which faeries call home. Choosing to go with the beast, she starts a new life and soon her feelings for the faerie - Tamlin go from icy to sheer love. However, pure evil grows over the faerie lands and Feyre must find a way to stop it to make sure her and Tamlin's love can be forever.

First of all I am going to say that I absolutely positively adored this book! From the first chapter I was hooked and there were times when I just couldn't stop reading, I needed to know more and get more into the story. The story itself is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I love when classic tales get a retelling so I feel that this was one of the reasons why I became so engrossed. That along with the element of faerie lore was so unique and certainly unlike any YA Fantasy that I'd read before. Not knowing anything about Faerie lore I was slightly worried that I'd end up becoming confused, but I was wrong. I caught on pretty quickly as it is explained in great detail. 

The plot twists, I think were what made the book. Each time I thought I knew what was going to happen something ended up changing my mind. I went on an epic journey and it was mainly down to how many twists and turns were within the story and plot line itself. I did find myself gasping in shock at a few revelations towards the end of the book and honestly they will shock you as well.

I found Feyre, our heroine to be a strong willed, determined young lady willing to fight for whatever she feels is right. I'll admit when I first met her I wasn't entirely sure on her, but as I learnt more about her and got to see more into her feelings I started to love her as a protagonist. Tamlin - oh my god what can I say about him!? I literally found him to be perfect in every single way. I loved the mystery surrounding him and I just found him to be a pretty well rounded character. His blossoming relationship with Feyre was simply adorable and I was always going to root for them. I also found the characters of Lucien and Rhysand to be rather interesting. Especially Rhysand, I didn't know wether to love him or hate him and I really hope I find out more about his backstory in the sequel.

A Court of Thorns and Roses was an amazing read! I was literally captivated by the world that Sarah J Maas created and found it to be truly unique. I cannot wait to read the sequel and get transported to the stunning world of Prythian once more.

Rating



Author Bio

Sarah J. Maas is the author of the New York Times, USA Today, and internationally bestselling Throne of Glass series–Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of FireQueen of Shadows, and the series’ prequel, The Assassin’s Blade–as well as the New York Times and USA Today bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses and its sequel A Court of Mist and Fury. She wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in twenty-three languages. Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass novel, will release on September 6th, 2016
A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies. 


Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Review: Elemental Secrets by Elle Middaugh (Elemental Secrets Blog Tour with Giveaway)


Elemental Secrets by Elle Middaugh
Self Published 2016 (E-Book)
368 Pages

Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review and for allowing me to take part in this blog tour.

Valerie Moore was a beautiful, headstrong girl with below-average social skills and above-average anxiety (including a flair for over-analyzing). 

With her mother long deceased, and her father recently deployed, she ends up being sent to live with her eccentric aunt in a tiny town nestled in the mountains of Pennsylvania. But, being a Navy brat had made her into a bit of a loner, and making friends certainly wasn’t her strongest suit. As if the life of a typical teen wasn’t hard enough. 

But Valerie soon discovers she’s not a typical teenager. Not by a long shot. 

SECRETS are revealed… 

…About her family, about her newfound friends and relationships, and about her whole world… Things that have been kept from her for her entire life… 

But the biggest secret of all is revealed when Valerie discovers that she has Elemental powers, and a chain of inexplicable and irrevocable events unleashes throughout the little town… 

Thoughts

If you know me, you know I love YA Fiction, discovering new authors and promoting self published ones at that. So when the chance to review and take part in the blog tour for Self Published YA Fantasy Elemental Secrets came along I couldn't refuse. Just by reading the book synopsis I knew that it was something that I was going to be interested in.

With her mother dead and her father overseas with the Navy, teenager Valerie Moore is sent to live with her Aunt Marge in a rather small town - a town which she lived for a while when she was younger. Wanting to not draw attention to herself, Valerie tries to avoid making friends and tries to brings her social awkwardness out. However, this doesn't go entirely to plan as she soon captures the attention of both popular football star Holden Michaels and the mysterious Cade Langston. At the same time she finds out that the town isn't all it seems; its a town full of Elementals - people who can control one element once they turn a certain age. Valerie soon discovers she is one of these people and secrets are soon revealed.

The concept behind Elemental Secrets, I found was rather interesting. It was unlike anything I'd read in YA Fiction before and that on it's own gave it some individuality. I felt like once I got into the story I was become more and more intrigued by the powers of the certain Elementals and how they came to control their certain element. However, the story just start off quite slow so you don't really find out anything about Elementals until about halfway through, although it is hinted quite often in the first half. I also felt like the plot was slightly rushed towards the end and I feel like it could have been fleshed out more.

Valerie, I found was a character that I had to warm up to over the course of the story. When I was first introduced to her I found her to be slightly annoying and it did irritate me with the way she was purposely not wanting to make friends. However, once I got to know her as a character she did become more and more bearable. I loved watching her relationship with Holden blossom, and it was really sweet to see their friendship move into something more. Her relationship with Cade, I thought was a signifier of forbidden fruit - you want what you can't have. Despite this, I felt like her character development wasn't all that believable. She went from an anti-social loner to an extroverted party girl overnight, which I didn't really get. I also felt like she adapted to the news of Elementals too easily, I would've like to have seen her struggle with the news.

Elemental Secrets, despite its few flaws was a good read. I found the side about Elementals to be really interesting and that's what kept me reading. However, I feel that character development and the plot line could have been fleshed out a bit, but this may happen in book two, well that's what I am hoping.

Rating



Author Bio

Elle Middaugh was born in the sticks outside of Clearfield, Pennsylvania. After moving around the east coast a number of times, she now lives in her hometown with her husband and three children. 

She’s a proud Navy wife; a frazzle-brained mother; a homebody who dislikes cleaning; a fan of tennis, fitness, and health in general; a lover of hot and iced tea; an enthusiast of almost all things fiction; and she’s a bigger My Little Pony fan than her children. 


Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Reasons Why I Love YA Fiction

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. For this weeks Top Ten Tuesday it is freebie week where we can talk about any topic of our choice. I have decided to talk about the reasons why I love Young Adult Fiction. I've been a big fan of this genre, well since I was a young teenager (pretty self explanatory) and now, even though I am in my twenties it is still my favourite genre to read and I don't think I will ever get tired of it. 

1. Relatable Characters: I find that in YA Fiction many of the characters are rather relatable. This may because I am reading about young people, and I am still classed as one. However, I just find it easy to relate to every single character and the problems they are facing.

2. Escapism: I know reading in general is a form of escapsim. However some YA Novels are so out of the norm of reality that you can't help getting sucked in. You escape to different worlds, different zones and you just let that feeling overwhelm you.

3. Young Love: I am a sucker for romance and I love reading about the young love in YA. It's more innocent, new and fresh and I love reading about characters experiencing love for the first time. It's the romantic in me. Plus, it takes me back to when it happened to me.

4. Amazing Plots: I've noticed that the plots in the many YA Novels that I have read have been amazingly driven. The plot kicks in almost straight away and then I am swept up in the action and the moment at hand.

5. Realistic Characters: I feel that characters in this genre are more realistic. They don't come without flaws and their decisions are sometimes flat out wrong. Everyone has flaws and sometimes we make bad decisions, which makes these characters seem realistic to us, the reader.

6. Movie Adaptions: Some of the most well known YA Novels have been turned into pretty epic movies, thus making their franchise grow and bringing more people to the genre. I know some haven't been that good, but take The Hunger Games for example. The movie franchise was just amazing and so was the cast that brought the story to life.

7. Coming of Age Stories: Amongst all the action and drama packed into YA, there is also the theme of Coming of Age. I love going on a journey with the characters through their first love, first heartbreak, first kiss and seeing then discover who they really are.

8. Kick Ass Females: This may be the slight feminist in me talking, but you get some pretty bad ass female characters in these novels. They push boundaries and have become role models for girls of all ages. Take Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior and Hermione Granger for example.

9. The Authors: The authors are what makes this genre what is today. Without authors such as John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Suzanne Collins, Veronica Roth etc I don't think this genre would be as popular as it is.

10. Can be Enjoyed by People of all Ages: It's not just young people that can enjoy YA Fiction. The stories and plot lines are that exciting that they can captivate people of all ages. I know people in their fourties and fifities that read YA and absolutely love it. 

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Review: The Hustle by Elizabeth Roderick


The Hustle by Elizabeth Roderick
Published by Limitless Publishing 2016 (E-Book)
330 Pages

Thank you to Xpresso Book Tours for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Liria is nineteen, homeless, and addicted to heroin… 

She’s also determined to not end up dead—like her mother. But every time she tries to get clean, on her feet, and back on the employment train, everything falls apart. This time is different. This time, she knows there are only two choices—recovery or death. Once she gets clean, though, her life ends up even rockier than before. 

Desperate for help, Liria goes to the one person she can count on for a safe place to stay and regular meals—her father, Cyryl Czetski. However, she soon learns Cyryl isn’t her real father, and he wants a very different kind of relationship. Liria ultimately rejects his advances and ends up on the streets yet again, this time working in an illegal strip club. 

Finally taking control of her life, Liria lands a job in a Vegas nightclub, where she meets Arty—the woman of her dreams. 

Arty is beautiful, funny, and rich. But when other nightclub employees turn up dead—including Liria’s best friend, Lee—Liria suspects the business might be a front for something far more sinister. 

When Arty reveals Liria’s life is also in danger, she promises to keep her safe. But Arty’s acting strangely, and seems to know too much about the mysterious deaths. Is she really trying to save her, or is she holding her hostage, using her as a pawn in a game Liria doesn’t understand? 

Liria thought she was used to always second guessing everyone’s intentions. That’s how life is. But if the drugs don’t ruin her, The Hustle will…

Thoughts

I'm always looking for books that push me out of my comfort zone. When I found out about The Hustle I knew that this was the kind of book that would do just that, judging by the themes that I knew would be in it from reading it's description. I went in with a clear mind, not really knowing what to expect.

Liria is nineteen and addicted to heroin. After the death of her mother to drugs and after being kicked out of her friend, Lee's house she seeks refuge with her father Cyryl, who is determined to get her off the drugs. However, she soon learns that Cyryl isn't her real father and wants a different kind of relationship with her. Not reciprocating his feelings, Liria runs off and soon finds herself working in an illegal strip club. After learning some devastating things about her new job she runs off again and is soon working in a Las Vegas club, where she meets Arty. When employees of the club turn up dead, Liria is soon caught up in something much more sinister.

As much as I wanted to like this book, due to it's unique concept, it just fell of the mark for me. I found it to be rather confusing and also very dark. The themes of drugs, murder and hustling in the book were rather graphic and at times made me just want to stop reading. I can understand why the author wanted to showcase them in this light, but I just couldn't really get to grips with it. I also felt like the sex featured within did get a little bit too over the top at times. Don't get me wrong, I'm no prude, but with some of the sex scenes I started to feel rather uncomfortable reading. I also found the scenes between Liria and Cyryl to be very off putting. Although I slightly understand why she had to do what she did, it just didn't seem right that she was doing the deed with a man who she'd thought was her father for so long. 

Despite this, I did find Liria to be a tragic heroine. When reading I was just thinking 'can't this girl catch a break'. Every time you thought she was going to get clean, she fell off the wagon. Which did disappoint me, I'll admit. However, after learning more about her back story as the book went on I did come to terms with why she was the way she was. Her relationship with Arty was a strange one. As much as I wanted her to find happiness, I knew Arty wasn't the one. I also felt like their relationship was more of a sexual one. Like every time they were together it would end up in sex. I couldn't warm to Arty was character, neither and knew something was dodgy about her from the moment she entered the story. 

The Hustle was a rather disappointing read and I was really upset about it, as I really wanted to like it as previously stated. If you like books about drugs, sex and crime then you will like this, but it just wasn't for me.

Rating



Author Bio

Elizabeth Roderick grew up as a barefoot ruffian on a fruit orchard near Yakima, in the eastern part of Washington State. After weathering the grunge revolution and devolution in Olympia, Washington, Portland, Oregon and Seattle, she recently moved to a small cluster of houses amidst the vineyards of California’s Central Coast.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, and worked for many years as a paralegal and translator. She is a musician and songwriter, and has played in many bands, rocking some instruments she doesn’t even know the real names for, but mostly guitar, bass and keyboards.

Elizabeth writes novels for young adults and adults; short stories; and memoir which is way more interesting than it should be. Her stories are about love, death, gang warfare, and madness; her characters tend to be of the type that society generally shuns: addicts, convicts, and the mentally ill. She believes if people get to know these characters in stories and in real life, they’ll find them more likeable than they originally thought.



Thursday, 23 June 2016

Getting Cheap Books!

So, I've been stuck on blog post ideas for a while and that is why I haven't been posting much recently (well that and the fact I have been quite busy). However, after brainstorming blog post ideas in my Bullet Journal (more about that to come) I have come up with a few ideas to tie me over for a while! Which means you will be seeing more posts from me from now on. This post is one which I'm really excited to share with you.

I love a bargain, be it with clothes, accessories, food and most certainly books! I love finding amazing books for bargain prices or even for free in some cases. I know some people do struggle with getting books for good prices so today I wanted to share with you some of my tips for getting cheap, free and bargain priced books. 

(Belle sums up my reaction when I get a bargain book!)

  • Look out for deals in bookstores: I often find many different deals when visiting my local bookstores. Stores like Waterstones, WHSmiths and The Works always have great deals on throughout the year. The Works I've found always do a 3 for £5 deal on selected books which is brilliant! Waterstones and WHSmiths always seem to do buy one get one half price or buy one get one for £1 deals quite often. Which essentially is great and pretty good on my bank balance!
  • Charity Shops: If you are looking for some cheap books Charity Shops are a must! I have found many a good book whilst rummaging around in Charity Shops, some for as little as 50p! Also, you are giving money to a charity which is always a good thing.
  • Car Boot Sales: Some people may not be able to get to a Car Boot Sale and they do usually happen in spring/summer because of the nice weather. However, if you can get to one, go! You can usually pick up books at car boot sales for good prices. Also, it's a good feeling knowing that you are ultimately taking a book that someone else has read and enjoyed.
  • E-Readers: I know this may be a sore subject amongst some, but if you can use an E-Reader from time to time. I have a Kindle and I have managed to get some cheap books on the amazon store! Some for just 99p. Also, you can get most classics on the amazon store for free, so if you are into classics it is a must!
  • Shop Online: This may defeat the purpose of 'shopping' for books but you can sometimes get books for cheaper if you shop online. I have definitely noticed this with sites like Amazon and even Waterstones. 
  • Pre-Order Books: If there's a book coming out that you really want, Pre-Order it! Most stores and websites for special deals if you pre-order books. For example I have pre-ordered Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and On The Other Side via Waterstones and I have both got them for half price.
  • Visit Your Local Library: For the ultimate book binge, visit your local library! Libraries are amazing places and should be used more than they are. You can borrow as many books as you like and for free! Libraries are declining in popularity, which is a shame, so visit one if you can!
So there we go! I hope you have enjoyed these few tips! Do you have any to share? Let me know!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Favourite Releases of 2016 so far


Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. I totally forgot to do last weeks Top Ten Tuesday so I apologise for that. I guess life has been really busy lately, but I am back and ready for this weeks topic! This week it is all about my favourite releases of 2016 so far. I have read many great books so far this year and I am looking forward to sharing these with you!

1. Always with Love by Giovanna Fletcher


2. Painting Sky by Rita Branches


3. The Flood by Steven Scaffardi


4. Flawed by Ceceila Ahern


5. Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan


6. My Name is Leon by Kit De Waal 


7. The Second Love of my Life by Victoria Walters


8. The Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline Roberts


9. My Mother's Secret by Shelia O'Flanagan


10. Changers Book 2: Oryon by Allison Glock-Cooper and T Cooper


What have been your favourite releases of 2016 so far? Be sure to let me know!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Review: The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle

The Hope Family Calendar by Mike Gayle
Published by Hodder & Stoughton 2016 (Paperback)
312 Pages

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review.

Tom Hope is broken. Ever since his wife Laura died he hasn't been the same man, and definitely not the same father. Luckily for Tom his mother-in-law Linda is around to pick up the pieces and look after his two struggling daughters, Evie and Lola.
But Tom getting arrested on the first anniversary of his wife's death is the last straw for Linda.
In a last bid attempt to make Tom reconnect with his daughters she takes drastic action and leaves for Australia. With two fast-maturing daughters Tom has to learn how to accept his responsibilities and navigate the newly discovered world of single fatherhood - starting immediately.
With only himself to rely on, will Tom fall back into grief or finally step up and be the father his girls need?
Thoughts
I love discovering new authors and I also love reading books about families and how they can come together in times of desperate need. So I was in for a treat when I received an advance proof of The Hope Family Calendar. I'd never heard of the author, Mike Gayle before and from reading the synopsis I knew that it was going to be about family, which is what I wanted.
Tom Hope hasn't been the same ever since his wife, Laura died in a tragic car accident. He isn't the same man as he was before and he certainly isn't the same father to his two daughters, Evie and Lola. However, luckily for Tom he has his mother-in-law Linda to pick up the pieces and run the family home and look after the girls. When Tom gets arrested on the one year anniversary of Laura's death, Linda finally snaps and to help Tom reconcile with his daughters leaves for a six month trip to Australia to visit an old friend. Leaving Tom to look after the girls and accept his responsibility as a father. 
This book will definitely pull at your heartstrings a lot, well it certainly did for me. I would find myself tearing up or sniffling a few times when I was reading certain parts and it did certainly turn me into an emotional wreck. The main theme, I think, throughout the book is loss and grief and how we all deal with it in different ways. Having lost someone myself just over a year ago I could certainly relate to it. I feel that Mike really did his research into loosing someone close and it definitely showed through the reactions of the many characters. 
Family and how important they are is also a reoccurring topic throughout the 312 pages of the book. It shows you how crucial family support is when going through a loss and how you all need to stick together. Linda, I felt showed this the most as she was the one that was looking after Evie and Lola and trying to keep the family from breaking. Yes, she did leave them, but that was to help Tom finally figure out his responsibilities and start taking action for himself. Linda, in my opinion was the strongest character in the book. Everything she did was for her family and to help keep them close and to stop them breaking apart. All her decisions helped the Hope family one way or another. I also feel that come the end of the story Tom also realised how important family was. His character development was second to none and I loved watching him grow from this man who didn't know how to deal with his loss to this family man who made every matter count. Yes, he hit bumps along the way but this just made it more realistic and relatable. 
All in all, The Hope Family Calendar was a heartwrenching, but also heartwarming read. It goes to show that no matter how bad things can get you will always get through them with the love and support of family. I most certainly will be looking up more of Mike Gayle's work as judging by this read I have been missing out.
Rating

Author Bio
Mike Gayle was born and raised in Birmingham. After graduating from Salford University with a degree in Sociology Mike moved to London with ambitions of becoming a music journalist. This didn't happen however and following a slight detour in his five-year plan he ended up as an agony uncle for teenage girls' magazine Bliss before becoming Features Editor on the now much missed Just Seventeen. Since those early days Mike has written for a variety of publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian and Cosmopolitan.
Mike became a full time novelist in 1997 following the publication of his Sunday Times top ten bestseller My Legendary Girlfriend, which was hailed by The Independent as 'Full of belly laughs and painfully acute observations,' and by The Times as 'A funny, frank account of a hopeless romantic.'
To date Mike is the author of twelve novels including Mr Commitment, Turning Thirty and Wish You Were Here. His books have been translated into over thirty languages.
After stints in Manchester and London Mike now lives in Birmingham with his wife, kids, two sheds and a rabbit.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Book Blitz: The Wendigo Witchling by B. Kristin McMichael (with Exclusive Excerpt)


The Wendigo Witchling

B. Kristin McMichael
(The Skinwalkers’ Witchling #2)
Published by: Lexia Press
Publication date: June 7th 2016
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult

Cassie is part of it now. Turns out, she may not want to join the coven, but that’s exactly what she did when she bonded herself to Nate. Rather than face the ordeal of joining the clan, Cassie finds it’s time for a road trip with her best friend, Whitney. The road trip was to get away, maybe learn a bit more about night humans—it wasn’t to find a deep dark secret hidden in Whitney’s past, one that may hit a little closer to home than Cassie wants to admit. With their road trip cut short, it is time to confront everyone about the lies that had been their lives, but Cassie soon finds out home isn’t exactly how she left it.
Where have all the witches gone? She’s the only witch left in town when they return. Soon she is dragged into more than she bargained for and she has to make choices that will change everything. She’s finally given a choice: does she want to be a skinwalkers witch or a wendigo witch? Too bad there are more secrets than answers. Without all the facts, can she really choose her life’s direction? Time isn’t on her side as she has to make a choice. Now she just hopes it’s the right one.

Excerpt

The boy glanced down. “Entry denied,” he read out on the machine.
“Denied?” Cassie asked in disbelief.
“You’re not just a day human,” the boy replied, pointing to the scanner which had just tried to eat Cassie’s hand. “Anyone who is part of a ruling family must seek permission to visit before coming so that the proper welcome can be made.”
“I’m not part of any ruling family,” Cassie replied. What is he talking about?
“Ugh,” Whitney groaned. “You’re Than’s mate and thus part of the ruling family. I didn’t think about that. I figured your family or mine had called ahead of us and wanted us home. They didn’t, but this …” Whitney shook her head like she should have guessed as much.
Cassie groaned, too. Their road trip was being cut short. She just wanted to get away, and now that was being foiled by Nate, and he wasn’t even there.
“Well, technically, she isn’t part of the family yet. She has yet to complete all the bonding rituals and right now is still under her own family,” Whitney added, batting her eyes and using her movie star looks to try to win over the guy.
“Completely true,” Cassie added, trying her best to imitate her friend and her “pretty please” face.
The guy glanced first at Cassie, and then at Whitney. He gave in. “I need to verify this with my boss,” he said before he turned and walked away.
Author Bio 
B. Kristin McMichael graduated with her PhD in biology at Ohio State where she worked as a scientist before taking her passion of writing full-time. Besides writing, she enjoys chasing her kids, playing outside, and baking cookies. She lives in Ohio with her husband and three children. 



Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Review: Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan


Dear Amy by Helen Callaghan
Published by Penguin UK - Michael Joseph 2016 (E-Book)
348 Pages

Thank you to Penguin UK - Michael Joseph for sending me this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Margot Lewis is the agony aunt for The Cambridge Examiner. Her advice column, Dear Amy, gets all kinds of letters - but none like the one she's just received: 

'Dear Amy, 
I don't know where I am. I've been kidnapped and am being held prisoner by a strange man. I'm afraid he'll kill me. 
Please help me soon, 
Bethan Avery'

Bethan Avery has been missing for years. This is surely some cruel hoax. But, as more letters arrive, they contain information that was never made public. How is this happening? Answering this question will cost Margot everything . . .

Thoughts

So I've been wanting to get out of my 'reading comfort zone' for a while now. I only seem to read specific genres and I wanted to get out of that even just for a while. So, when the opportunity arose to read debut psychological thriller, Dear Amy, I just went for it and started reading with an open mind.

Margot Lewis is a Secondary School teacher at a quite respected school in Cambridge. She is also agony aunt for the Cambridge Examiner where she tries to give advice to all sorts of people from all walks of life in the local area. One evening she receives a rather interesting letter from someone who is believed to be dead after going missing several years ago, Bethan Avery. The letter claims that the writer has been kidnapped and is fearing for their life, with Margot taking it rather seriously. As one of her previous pupils has also gone missing, Margot sets out to discover the truth even if it will cost her everything.

I've got to say that I was definitely surprised when reading this, I wasn't really sure if I would like it at first seeing as it was out of my usual reading material but oh boy was I wrong! I was literally sucked in by the suspense, the thrill and the mystery of it all. There were points in the book where I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat with my heart racing. It felt like when you watch a horror/thriller movie and you can't bare to watch but at the same time you know you need too! There were times where I knew I had to stop reading for the day, but I just couldn't move my eyes from the page. 

Margot as a character was rather interesting, at first she just seems like a normal woman getting on with life, but further down the line you realise that not all is what it seems with her. You do get glimpses into her past involving drugs and homelessness and you also realise what she has to deal with in her present life, including her divorce from husband Eddy. So all in all I ended up seeing her as quite a complicated, but likeable character who just wanted to do the right thing and save a life.

The only downside to Dear Amy was that I found parts a little bit too predictable. I'd already guessed what was going to happen at the end before I was even halfway done with the book and I did have an inkling that I knew what was going to happen to Margot. However, I didn't let this get in the way of the suspense and excitement throughout.

Dear Amy was a really good introduction to the Crime/Thriller/Physiological genres for me and I couldn't have asked for a better read! The uncertainty, the excitement and the thrill all kept me hooked and I am astonished that this is a debut novel! I will most certainly be looking into reading more books within this genre. Now that I have read one, I want more!

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Author Bio

Helen Callaghan is a fiction writer. Her debut novel 'Dear Amy' published by Michael Joseph is out on 16th June. She is represented by Judith Murray at Green and Heaton Ltd.