Story of a Secret Heart – Cassi Ellen

1459790813In this fast-paced chick-lit we follow the adventures of Cassi, a 30-year old Brit living in Australia, dealing with the fallout of a long term relationship. In an attempt to deal with her heartbreak, Cassi drinks heavily and phones her ex 30 times per-day, until she meets a tall, dark and handsome stranger who introduces her to the world of the rich and dangerous – a world she grows to love but knows that she can’t be a part of forever.

Some of Cassi’s escapades were questionable to say the least. As quite a reserved 20-something, I did have some difficulty connecting with her character. My biggest issue was struggling to understand why she was even with her horrible boyfriend to start with because he sounded like a complete arse, and I would have run a mile from the word go. Despite this, every woman will be able to relate to Cassi to some extent, and her adventures into the world of the rich, crazy and beautiful are funny and thrilling to read. The style was super-easy to follow, and Cassi’s narrative voice was witty and engaging. (The quotes at the end of each chapter were a nice touch too.)

There’s romance, danger, humour and excitement – unpredictable from the start, up to the very last line.

The Reflections of Queen Snow White – David Meredith

18780192What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone? Well not a huge amount apparently. With Prince Charming deceased, Queen Snow White feels she has little to live for. That is until she finds her wicked stepmother’s magic mirror abandoned in her old chambers. The mirror forces Snow White to look into the reflections of her past to find her inner strength and learn to live without her beloved prince.

Almost the entire story takes place in Snow’s memories, which is an interesting idea. I found Snow herself to be weak and irritating, but I suppose that was kind of the point of the story. The writing style was interesting – a lot of speech and description – and some sections were very graphic (the sex scene between Snow and Charming was particularly… vivid). The ending did redeem the story a little. Every fairy tale deserves a happy ending, even the darker ones.

Overall, The Reflections of Queen Snow White is an intriguing concept – one I’ve not come across before. However, it didn’t quite do it for me.

The Wild Hunt (The Hound That Hunts Nightmares Book 1) – Caractacus Plume

26073610Tom Dearlove is sent to stay with his uncle in Brighton during the school holidays. What seems like a boring and uneventful holiday quickly takes an exciting turn when Tom discovers that he’s there to be an apprentice of the Lyons & Hound Paranormal Investigation Agency, comprised of his eccentric uncle and the legendary Mr Hound – a huge but good natured were-wolf-wolfhound.

The Wild Hunt is full of amusing and unusual characters, set in England and written with delightful use of accent and dialect (sometimes difficult to read but certainly made things more interesting). During Tom’s adventure we meet elves, witches, vampires and an assortment of other paranormal beings. The descriptions and histories provided of each magical creature Tom encounters was a nice touch.

The storyline was quite fast-paced, detailed and intricate (but still very easy to follow), with a fun and unique writing style which helped to create an overall warm and engaging story. I give The Wild Hunt a solid 8/10.

The Lavender Witch – Elizabeth Andrews

51ToJBSR4xL__SX352_BO1,204,203,200_I love all things spooky, yet this is the first ghost book I’ve read and I must say I enjoyed it. Based around the true events surrounding the strange death of Devon ‘witch’ Hannah Beamish, the story follows Kitty and Gordon who move into a new house they’ve just had built and begin to experience some unusual occurrences. It turns out they’ve moved onto land belonging to the malevolent spirit of Robert Beamish, who just happens to have a vendetta against Kitty’s great granny and, consequently, Kitty herself. After a few visits from the spirits of Robert (trying to hurt them) and Hannah (trying to help them), Gordon and Kitty seek help from a pair of elderly sisters from the village in order to battle and banish the ghost and reclaim their house.

To begin with I didn’t think The Lavender Witch was going to impress – it had a very slow start. Gordon and Kitty’s relationship is confusing because they’ve clearly been married for a long time, but they seem to hate each other (I still don’t know if that was intentional or just poor writing). The flow is very stilted for the first couple of chapters, with little atmosphere. However, with the development of the storyline, Andrews’ writing seemed to improve rapidly (along with Gordon and Kitty’s feelings toward each other) and she managed to pull off a very engaging ghost story.

I wouldn’t recommend reading this at night if you have a good imagination. I did on a few occasions become convinced that the ghost of Robert Beamish was in my room, and I cope very well with horror so that should be considered quite high praise.

Now You See Me – Lesley Glaister

glaister-lesley-br-now-you-see-me-8538-pOur protagonist, Lamb, has run away from home and now lives a very private life squatting in a cellar and working as a cleaner, just getting by. That is, until she meets Doggo – a young criminal escaped from prison. Lamb reluctantly welcomes Doggo into her makeshift home and they begin to wrap each other up in layers of lies, hiding from the law and hiding from their own dark pasts with secrets too terrible to admit to themselves or anyone else.

Lesley Glaister’s writing is so good you’re drawn into Lamb’s dysfunctional thoughts to the point where every strange decision she makes becomes completely understandable and you really start to worry for this poor lost girl. Now You See Me is the beautiful love story of two lost souls, unconsciously helping each other get to the bottom of their tragic pasts and finding some glimmer of hope to have a real life together one day, to escape from the lonely half-lives each was struggling through before finding the other.

This is probably the most moving and engaging  story I’ve read so far and I could not recommend it more. Each turn of the page is shocking and dark, and yet completely realistic and believable. Once you pick this one up you won’t be able to put it down.