ARC – The Happy Family, Jackie Kabler – A Review.

Hello friends and bookworms, I’m so excited to share with you my review of The Happy Family by Jackie Kabler. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from NetGalley and HarperCollinsUK in return for an honest review.

The Happy Family is due to be published on the 4th June 2021 and you can read the synopsis here.

Overall rating – 5 out of 5 stars.

I’ve read books by Jackie Kabler before and I was not disappointed with her latest offering, I was completely addicted to reading The Happy Family, it drew me into the story and before I knew it I was halfway through without even realising. It was so easy to read and get swept up with.

Because the book was written in first person it felt as if we were in Beth’s head, which lent itself to the nature of the book so well. It felt as if we were falling apart, questioning everything and unsure of who we could trust… I felt myself becoming paranoid just reading the book, it really got under my skin.

There were points that felt unrealistic, with how Beth welcomed her mother back with open arms and with how she didn’t question certain things, but when you think that Beth is a divorced mother of two who really has her shit together (really refreshing to read by the way) you can understand why her mother suddenly reappearing out of the blue would throw her off kilter and lead her to make these decisions and assumptions.

Throughout the story Kabler dropped these small hints that built up the tension and lead into this great little backstory that eventually made it’s way to the forefront of the book and delivered the mother (excuse the pun) of all twists!

I did not expect the final third of the book to play out the way it did, and while I did guess some aspects of how it would pan out, there others that completely blindsided me and left me sitting with my mouth hanging open.

I also loved how the very end of the book showed everything coming a full circle, it rounded the story off and left me feeling really fulfilled with the story.

On the whole, I loved this book. It kept me guessing, had so many twists and turns that I thought I was on a rollercoaster and finished by wrapping everything up into this perfect little read!

Be sure to check out The Happy Family by Jackie Kabler on the 4th June when it’s published.

Until next time, Em xxx

ARC – The House of Whispers, Anna Kent – A Review.

Hello friends I am pleased to bring you a review of The House of Whispers by Anna Kent.

A huge thanks to NetGalley and hq publishers for the advanced copy of this book. The House of Whispers by Anna Kent will be published on 27th May 2021.

Overall rating – 3 out of 5 stars.

I’m going to start with the end of this book, which is an odd place to start but will allow me to explain my 3 star rating of The House of Whispers.

The very last pages, and I mean the last 2 or 3, absolutely ruined this book for me. It felt very much like a cop out and didn’t give us any closure at all. I felt let down by the author, as if they took the easy way out in ending this book.

The remainder of the book was average, it was a very slow burn which usually I would enjoy but this one felt like it went at a snails pace and I found myself wondering if we would ever get to the point of the story… I felt like I was wading through treacle for the first few chapters.

Once we met Grace things started to pick up a bit, and if nothing else the introduction of her character brought some life to the story, sped things up and made it quite an enjoyable read, from that point onwards at least.

I did enjoy the way there seemed to be an interview with Abi’s husband, Rohan, in every few chapters. It really interested me, gave us a different dimension to the story and kept me guessing why it was placed in the story.

Character wise, my opinion did change once I completed the book, but that was based on how the ending unravelled.

I will admit, I wasn’t expecting the twist that came our way but I also feel it was very thrust upon us, there were no hints leading up to it for us to piece together, we were just thrown in at the deep end.

Overall, I just feel really disappointed by this book. It took me a while to get stuck in, the ending was abysmal (the last 2 or 3 pages) and I felt the interviews with Rohan were never really expanded upon or explained. We were left with more questions than answers…

If you do read this book or have done so already let me know what you thought!

Until next time, Em xxx

ARC – The Players, Darren O’Sullivan – A Review.

Hello friends I am very excited to bring you a review of The Players by Darren O’Sullivan. A huge thanks to NetGalley and HQ publishers for the advanced copy of this book. The Players by Darren O’Sullivan is due to be published on 13th May 2021.

Overall rating – 4 out of 5 stars.

The chapter formatting of this book really annoyed me, which is I’ve only given it 4 stars. For me chapter formatting and the overall format of the book are super important and I feel this was overlooked with The Players. There were points where the dialogue was oddly presented on the page and where words were misspelt or the incorrect word was used. It really bugged me 😦

I also felt that the first chapter was incredibly similar to a book I read last year, like practically down to the letter, so I felt like I was off to a bad start.

The Players is a multiple POV book, with one POV in first person (DI Karen Holt) and the remainder in third person. I enjoyed this way of writing because we got that personal feel from reading the first person chapters but there was no confusion then within the other chapters over who’s POV we were reading from.

The characters were a major high point of this book for me. Karen and her wife and their unwavering support of each other, even when things were difficult. Karen and her policing partner, Howard, how beautiful their relationship was. The Host themself and how we didn’t know anything about them until the author was absolutely ready for us to. The characters made the book for me.

Once we got deeper into the book it started to really make me think, and it had a very moral/ethical aspect to it, which I personally loved. And the way the author integrated the idea of technology and how that tech was used in the story really brought the plot to life.

I do wish the author had gone into more details of the crimes and killings, it felt quite tame, which was disappointing.

There were points where I was laughing with the characters, points where I was in shock and even points where I cried. I had no shortage of emotions reading The Players…

And the ending definitely added to that feeling of shock. I don’t want to give anything away so that’s all I’m going to say!

On the whole, The Players was something new and exciting that I hadn’t read before and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My only hope is that the author/editor can correct the formatting and wording issues and that the author writes another book to continue the story.

Until next time, Em xxx

ARC – Bad Karma, Debi Chestnut – A Review.

Hello friends I am very excited to bring you a review of Bad Karma by Debi Chestnut. A huge thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial publishers for the advanced copy of this book. Bad Karma by Debi Chestnut was published on the 15th Decemeber 2020.

Overall rating – 5 out of 5 stars.

Bad Karma was such a good read, I absolutely loved every single second of this book.

It was so fast paced which I really enjoyed and from the very first page it felt like we hit the ground running and this pace continued the entire way through the book. The book never dipped or became boring, it just kept us on this crazy ride.

The book itself focuses on Zoey, who I loved as a character, and follows her through her need to find out who killed her Uncle and she eventually gets mixed up in a number of crimes that are rocking this small town…

Zoey herself was a really interesting character, everything from her job to how she handled herself to how she clearly had an emotional interest in the criminal cases, despite not knowing the victims or their families. She was everything I would want from a strong female lead.

There were several different layers to this story, but they were woven together really cleverly and nothing was revealed until the author wanted it to be. Because of this I felt Bad Karma was a really addictive read, I needed to know what was going on and I just couldn’t put it down.

The plot itself was fairly simple but was brought to life by the authors writing and how she described the surroundings and the spaces we were in. For me, this enhanced the book and even enhanced the plot and made it feel more real to me. There were points that I had goosebumps reading this book because of the way the author wrote about or described a situation – so I was really impressed.

Right up until the ending of this book I absolutely loved it! But sadly, the ending did a feel like a bit of a let down after such a brilliant book, it disappointed me.

That being said, I can’t criticise the other 200 odd pages of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely read any further books in the Zoey Callaway series!

Until next time, Em xxx

ARC – The Pastel Effect, Arly Carmack – A Review.

Hello friends I am very excited to bring you a review of The Pastel Effect by Arly Carmack. A huge thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial publishers for the advanced copy of this book. The Pastel Effect by Arly Carmack was published on the 25th November 2020.

Overall rating – 5 out of 5 stars.

I honestly think The Pastel Effect is my favourite read of the year so far, I adored this book from start to finish and I genuinely do not have a criticism for it…

From the start I was drawn into this story and I loved the way it was presented to us a couple of teenagers trying to navigate the incredibly stressful experience that is high school. In fact, a lot of what was written resonated with me and reminded me of my own experiences in school and I think that’s part of the reason why I loved it so much, it felt very real.

The book itself was beautiful. Every word written and spoken was carefully crafted to bring us happiness, or sadness, or excitement. There we no shortage of emotions that I felt during my read of The Pastel Effect.

I loved the characters that we were on this journey with, every single one of them felt relatable.

The relationships that the author built up with Caroline and her Dad (Teddy) was stunning, I was moved so many times throughout this book. We were shown a strong relationship between Dad and daughter and we were shown Teddy as a single Dad and how he raised Caroline into this strong young woman. The whole backstory they had was amazing.

I loved how Tressa (Caroline’s Mom) had this influence throughout the book, without her actually being there as well. The author featured her beautifully and brought her to life through the pages of her diary.

Cody, I changed my opinion on at various points throughout the book, but when the latter section was from his POV my feelings towards him completely changed, I was in awe of him. His character was written so true to teenage boys!

The journey that we saw our characters go on, a journey of love and self discovery and joy and sadness and everything inbetween was truly beautiful.

One of my favourite things about this book was how it introduced topics that should be discussed and included in conversation. Namely, the topic of casual sex, the topic of consensual sex and the topic of therapy. The author wove these into the book perfectly.

The ending of this book made me SOB, it was the most fitting ending to the most wonderful book.

I have nothing but praise for The Pastel Effect and Arly Carmack and her writing. This was amazing and I honestly would put this as my favourite read of the year so far.

Until next time, Em xxx

ARC – A Conventicle of Magpies, LMR Clarke – A Review.

Hello friends I am very excited to bring you a review of A Conventicle of Magpies by LMR Clarke A huge thanks to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial publishers for the advanced copy of this book. A Conventincle of Magpies by LMR Clarke was published on 6th Jan 2021.

Overall rating – 4 out of 5 stars.

Let me start by saying the cover of this book is absolutely gorgeous, it was one of the main reasons why I decided to request this book as it caught my eye straight away!

On the whole, A Conventicle of Magpies was an excellent read and I thoroughly enjoyed the journey that we were taken on throughout this book.

From the start I loved the vibe of this book, there is a very Victorian/Jack the Ripper kind of feel throughout the first chapters which grabbed my attention. And all credit to the author as they kept this theme going throughout the whole book, which definitely kept me hooked onto this one.

I found A Conventicle of Magpies to be really easy to read, and that is in no way a criticism! It just flowed so well through the plot and before I knew it I was halfway through the book, I was so desperate to find out what would happen next that I just kept on turning the pages.

Whilst the idea of two sides being opposed to each other and one trying to remove the other from society isn’t the most original plot, the way the author wrote made us feel like it was a brand new trope. The introduction of the authors own groups (the SaosuĂ­asei and Avanish) only helped that feel.

And with the introduction of Rook’s sister being missing, Billy Drainer our Jack the Ripper-esque serial killer and the bloodskill aspect (discussed further below) this book was not short of other interesting layers to elevate the story to a higher level.

I would like to praise LMR Clarke for the bloodskill aspect within this book. I’ve seen a lot of magic/fantasy ideas as to how people gain their skills but never through bloodwork, so that was a nice new introduction.

I have to say though my favourite part of this book was the Magpies, the way this book was very female led, and how strong and supportive they were of each other and the SaosuĂ­asei people around them. It’s nice to see some female representation!

This isn’t to say that the Jaguar and every other character in this book wasn’t excellently written, it’s just that, for me, Rook stole the show.

The ending of this book was absolutely excellent too, it rounded the story off perfectly but also left it open for later books to be written. And I, for one, will be picking up the next book in the series when it’s written.

Until next time, Em xxx

ARC – Face of Evil, George Morris De’Ath – A Review.

Hello friends, I’m here with a review of Face of Evil by George Morris De’Ath, this was an ARC that I very kindly received from NetGalley and Aria & Aries – so thank you to them!

Overall rating – 2 out of 5 stars.

From the start I thought Lydia was rude, insensitive and an awful character… I didn’t warm to her at all, she was very up herself and I found her really hard to like. I really struggled with how she constantly thought she was better than everyone else, it made her very irritating as a character.

I’m not sure if the author has tried to deliberately make Lydia as unlikeable as possible, if that’s the case then they’ve certainly achieved their aim!

Because the book focused on Lydia I found it very hard to enjoy. I also feel like we didn’t get a fair share of the other characters, they were very 2D and flat and as such were hard to form an opinion on.

I felt very indifferent to the book on the whole, it didn’t exactly fill me with enjoyment to read it but I didn’t hate it.

It wasn’t the most original plot, it felt like a cheaper version of Silence of the Lambs and didn’t really offer anything new that I hadn’t already read. There were no real shock factors.

I also felt the book alluded to a lot of backstory that was never fully expanded upon and I feel would have made Lydia more likeable and generally added more the story.

There were sections of this book that I enjoyed, namely the interactions between Lydia and the killer she was interviewing, they were written really well and were a breath of fresh air through this book.

However, the remainder of the book just didn’t hit the spot for me.

I will admit I was shocked by the turn of events within this book, but, once it started to unfold I very quickly guessed where it was headed and what was going on. I don’t want to give too much away but I pretty much guessed what was happening/had happened previously…

The final ending of the book just was not it. It added absolutely nothing to the story, and actually went against the image of Lydia that had been portrayed to us throughout the book.

Sadly, this book just was not good, in my opinion. As we focused a lot on Lydia it was hard to enjoy due to the nature of her character, and with the boring and predictable story I just didn’t enjoy it.

Please let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought!

Until next time, Em xxx

NETGALLEY – Haunt and Seek, Thomas Kingsley Troupe – A Review.

First of all, thank you to NetGalley, North Star Editions and Jolly Fish Press for the advanced reader copy of this book.

Here is my first ARC read of 2021! I’m so excited to share this with you guys as I really enjoyed it, as you’ll see…

Haunt and Seek Thomas Kingsley Troupe.

Overall rating – 5 out of 5 stars.

I really enjoyed Haunt and Seek, it was a great little read.

Aimed at middle graders this book was the perfect length to introduce your child to ghosts and spooky stories. And spooky it was, even as an adult I was a bit freaked out by the ghost!

The book itself flowed really well, the story progressed with every page we read and the pictures inbetween pages helped bring Haunt and Seek to life and helped me personally to visualise the characters. The pictures were beautiful too.

One of my absolute favourite parts was how the history of Chicago was woven in to the book, it was like a ghost story and history book into one, perfect for middle graders.

The ending of Haunt and Seek melted my heart, as did the family dynamic and relationship that was shown throughout the story. It was just lovely to read.

For middle graders I cannot recommend this book enough.

If you’ve read Haunt and Seek please let me know what you thought of it!

Until next time, Em xxx

NETGALLEY – I Can’t Sleep, J E Rowney – A Review.

I Can’t Sleep by J E Rowney. As always a huge thank you to NetGalley and BooksGoSocial for the ARC of this book.

Synopsis… “I can’t sleep. Not since June 16th, 2018.Not since what happened… Traumatised by the events of her past, exhausted by insomnia, Becky Braithwaite believes that a new start will help her to recover. She leaves home to fulfil her brother’s dreams, and honour the life he never had but she soon finds that escaping from the past is not as easy as she imagined. Is her fatigued mind playing tricks on her, or is danger really lurking in the shadows?

Overall rating 4 out of 5 stars.

My review…

This book had great promise, and I was super keen to read it but I feel at some points it did let me down a little bit.

The book is based on Becky a journalism student who experienced a traumatic event in her life that turned her into an insomniac, who throughout the book becomes increasingly more paranoid and jumpy.

From the get go I was intrigued by this book, but I do feel a lot of that came down to us not knowing what said trigger event was and obviously wanting to know… That being said, as the book built up we were able to piece together elements of said event.

As the book was written entirely from Becky’s POV I felt we didn’t get to see much of the other characters, which was a good thing as it made us super aware of how little Becky observed and how her life had been overtaken by her insomnia.

The writing itself was good but I do feel the author tried a bit too hard to build suspense into every sentence. The chapters were the perfect length though and helped me devour this book in a day!

The ending was what put this book so high in my rating, I had goosebumps when I was reading it and now I have no idea what to trust or who to believe when I think back on everything I read during it…

I wouldn’t say this is the best thriller I’ve read but it definitely pulled me and made me question everything I had read previously. Let me know if you’ve read it and what you thought.

Until next time, Em xxx