Ask Again, Yes – Mary Beth Keane

43666435._SY475_.jpgThis is the story of two neighbouring families, the friendship between their children, and a tragedy that tears them apart. Kate and Peter live next door to each other and were born six months apart. They are best friends, but their families just don’t get on. One horrific night, their bond is pushed past its limits. But can they move on from the events of the past when they meet again, years later?

Books of this genre aren’t rare. They’re full of drama and explore the darker side of family, but what makes this one stand out if that the catalytic event is truly shocking, while the fall-out is well considered and realistic. Issues around mental health and alcoholism are quite well (though not very sympathetically) explored, and suicide and sexual abuse are touched upon. Quite a lot of ground is covered, but it failed to keep my interest throughout.

Firstly, I would say that the pacing isn’t brilliant. The early portions of the book progress very slowly, and then things pick up speed as things start to happen later on. Because of this, the beginning of the story dragged a little and the end portions felt a bit rushed.

I did like the exploration of Peter and Kate’s marriage, and Kate’s commitment to Peter despite his problems driving her away and her family telling her to leave him. However, very little else stood out to me.

I would recommend Ask Again, Yes to fans of dark domestic dramas. The characters are well developed and their relationships are interesting, but I would steer clear if this isn’t your genre.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Blog Tour: The Moments – Natalie Winter

Today is my day on the tour for The Moments by Natalie Winter! I enjoyed this book so much, so I’m very pleased to be able to share my review. Remember to check out the other stops on the tour as well! (More info is available at the bottom of this post). Thanks for stopping by!

Life is made up of countless moments. Moments that make us who we are. But what if they don’t unfold the way they’re supposed to…?

hbg-title-9781409184850-15Matthew and Myrtle both feel like they’ve never found the person they’re destined to be with. They both make their way through life trying to find the happiness they desire, but never feeling like they’ve truly found where they belong. But they’re meant to be together, if only they can find each other.

The Moments follows the respective lives of Matthew and Myrtle, all the way from birth into old age. Their stories are told in a series of moments, which was a style that I truly loved. The snapshot-style of story telling meant that the plot progressed at a good speed without lingering too long on any particular periods, which really kept the pace up and stopped the book from ever getting boring.

The central thinking-point of the book is whether happiness can be missed by missing the right moment – like getting on the wrong bus or using the wrong gardening company – or will happiness find you eventually? It’s a really intriguing concept, which is explored beautifully through the choices Myrtle and Matthew make throughout their lives.

Myrtle and Matthew are very good lead characters. They were both a little bit annoying in their own ways, but likeable enough and well developed. I had mixed feelings about the rest of the characters in the book, because some of them were pretty hard work, and most of the good ones has some very negative moments. However, this did help to make them feel like real people.

Overall, The Moments is a very readable and pretty emotional story about relationships, missed opportunities and the moments that determine our lives.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon


The Other Half of Augusta Hope – Joanna Glen

44025076Augusta Hope has never fit in. As a child, she memorised the dictionary and corrected her teachers. As an adult, she has no interest in the dull, small town her family lives in. When tragedy strikes and severs her connection with her beloved twin sister, Julia, Augusta is more determined than ever to find somewhere she belongs.

I loved this book so much more than I expected. This isn’t a genre I particularly like, though there are always some gems (like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine) so I do give a few a try. It took me a while to get into; it wasn’t really until around halfway through the book that I realised how engrossed I was. But this is one of those books where pushing on is really worth it.

Augusta is quite a difficult character, but that’s kind of the point. She’s spiky and weird, but she knows she’s weird and all she wants is to find her place in the world. She and her family are eccentric and challenging characters, not always particularly likeable, but it just works.

The book is also about Parfait, a boy from Burundi who makes his way to Spain (to the exact place Augusta and her family visit). As the narrative alternates between Augusta and Parfait, it is inevitable that they will meet, but getting to that point is an emotional roller-coaster.

The Other Half of Augusta Hope presents a striking comparison between two people from very different worlds, coming together through their own individual tragedies. It is beautifully written and poignant. A surprising page-turner.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Bad Daughter – Joy Fielding

37649581Robin Davis hasn’t spoken to her family in six years. When her father, his young wife (Robin’s childhood best friend, Tara) and daughter, Cassidy, are shot, Robin rushes to be back with them. But her return isn’t entirely welcome, and she doesn’t know who she can trust. Was the shooting really a random robbery, like the police suspect, or was someone close to the family involved?

The Bad Daughter is a really good crime/thriller novel. The official synopsis heavily implies that Robin is the mystery character, coincidentally returning home when her family have been attacked, but this isn’t the case. The story is told from Robin’s point of view, as she tries to figure out what really happened.

This book has some really great characters, all with their own personalities and problems. The relationships within the family were brilliant. They’re a messed up family with a very strained past, but they’re family nonetheless and they want to believe the best about each other despite their considerable doubts. Melanie was my favourite; she’s harsh and defensive, but only in response to the judgement she’s had to put up with in the past.

The plot was very good because the mystery was drawn out effectively with red herrings dotted about here and there, and a really strong twist at the end – which I didn’t really like but definitely didn’t see coming. This is by no means one of the best books I’ve read, but it captured my attention and kept me engrossed in the story. I really enjoyed it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Family Trust – Kathy Wang

38359019For years, Stanley Huang has claimed to be worth a small fortune. Now, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and close to the end, Stanley’s true worth is about to be revealed and his family is worried. His two children, Fred and Kate, and his ex-wife, Linda, find themselves at odds with his current wife, Mary, as each wonder what they’re going to get when Stanley dies.

This book really missed the mark for me. The only reason I didn’t DNF it is because I was sent a physical copy and felt guilty about not reading it. But, honestly, the time I spent reading this book was time wasted. There were two major negative factors making me dislike this book: the characters and the plot.

First, the characters: Good Lord, I hated them all. They were all obsessed with money and didn’t really seem to care about much else – least of all each other. This is a book about family, but this family didn’t care about each other at all. They spent literally the entire time worrying about money, calculating costs and trying to get more money. And these people appeared to be quite rich, so they didn’t need more money. It’s a culture that I simply did not get.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the plot: Boring, to put it simply. The official blurb makes it sound like a reasonably intricate family drama but, really, it’s all about money. Stanley Huang is dying and his family all start panicking and making grabby hands at his money. That appeared to be the extent of it. And it’s not even a short book.

Other reviews have talked about the multilayered-ness of this book, but I simply didn’t see it. The best parts were definitely the chapters focusing on Kate and her marriage, but these were too short and too few, squeezed between truly dreadful chapters following Fred’s money-grabbing antics.

Unless you’re particularly a fan of these kinds of books (compared by many to Crazy Rich Asians), I would advise a wide berth. Finding something better won’t be hard.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Lost Man – Jane Harper

40692028In an isolated part of Western Australia, two brothers live three hours apart, but are each other’s nearest neighbour. They meet at a landmark between their properties, the stockman’s grave, where their middle brother, Cameron, lies dead in shadow of the gravestone. How did he end up here, miles away from his fully-stocked car, in the middle of nowhere?

This is the first novel by Jane Harper that I’ve read, but I’d heard great things about her work and had high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed. The Lost Man is a cross between a crime novel and a family drama. Instead of a trained detective investigating Cameron’s death, we have his brother Nathan trying to work out what happened. This is extremely well-written and, combined with the context and setting, is entirely realistic and believable.

The story is filled to the brim with secrets and mysteries, but it is written in such a way that I was consistently intrigued rather than annoyed about not knowing anything. I was desperate to know more, in a way that made it very difficult to put the book down because I just wanted to keep reading. While some aspects of the plot were relatively predictable for an experienced crime reader, it was impossible to guess at everything correctly. The final reveal was well thought-out and satisfying.

The characters are nicely damaged and complex, and the setting is stunning. Thanks to Harper’s atmospheric writing, the scenery comes to life, turning the Australian outback into a character of the story itself. I don’t think this book could have been set anywhere else.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

My Sister, the Serial Killer – Oyinkan Braithwaite

38819868.jpgKorede’s sister, Ayoola, is beautiful, charming, and has murdered her last three boyfriends. Korede is the only person who knows and has helped to clean up the blood and get rid of the bodies, but she’s had enough. When Ayoola starts dating a handsome doctor from the hospital where Korede works, she is finally forced to look at what her sister has become and do whatever she can to stop the list of dead boyfriends from growing.

This book is genius. It is filled with dark humour and is surprisingly plausible. The characters are distinctly flawed but also believable and I found myself sympathising with both sisters. Although the story focusses on the present and Ayoola’s relationship with Tade, enough information is given about their childhood to really allow the reader to understand their personalities.

There is some really excellent integration of African culture. I love it when accent and colloquialisms are used in a book, and they work very well in this one. To be honest, I didn’t actually understand a lot of them (my African language knowledge is limited at best) but this didn’t hinder my enjoyment at all.

I was a bit disappointed by the ending (which I won’t give away), but it did work with the story so I can’t complain too much. Overall, a brilliant debut and I would definitely read more from this author.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Immortalists – Chloe Benjamin

35663816This family drama follows the live of four siblings who visit a fortune teller who tells each of them the date they will die. Burdened by this knowledge, the Gold siblings make very different decisions about how to live their lives. Simon and Klara both run away to San Francisco to follow their dreams, while Daniel becomes an army doctor and Varya turns to science.

It took me a really long time to get into the story. I found that for the whole first part, following Simon, I didn’t really care about the characters or what was going on. It wasn’t until Klara’s section that I got more interested, but then I began to lose interest again reading about Daniel and Varya.

The Immortalists is based on an interesting concept and had quite an intriguing opening, but after the first death the plot became surprisingly predictable and was pretty depressing throughout. None of the Gold children lived happy lives and it wasn’t much fun to read.

I saw so many positive reviews and comments about this book before I read it, but I was really disappointed in the end. I could just never get into it enough to enjoy the story or develop much interest in the characters.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Home – Amanda Berriman

38457392Jesika is four and a half. She lives in a flat with her little brother, Toby, and her mum, who is struggling to make ends meet. Jesika struggles to understand everything that’s going on, and has to deal with a lot when her mum and Toby get ill. All she knows is that she loves her mummy and doesn’t want to live anywhere but with her.

Home is a very special book. It is written entirely from Jesika’s point of view, which is brilliantly done. Her thoughts and feelings are entirely realistic and it’s really easy to understand why she reacts to things the way she does. The writing really feels like it’s coming from the mouth of a 4-year-old. I loved the touch of misspelled words to enhance the experience of reading from a child’s perspective.

I loved Jesika’s personality. She is a sweet and brave little girl, and impossible not to love. At times, it was kind of frustrating to read because, being so young, Jesika doesn’t understand everything that’s happening and doesn’t tell the adults. She comes so close a few times and I was practically yelling out at the book when she forgot or got too scared. I can’t remember the last time I was so emotionally invested in a story.

Trigger warning: this is a very emotional story and one thread involves child sexual abuse, but it isn’t graphic or descriptive and, though upsetting, I didn’t find it too difficult to read.

Home is completely addictive and fantastically well written. Quite possibly the best book I’ve read this year.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchage for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Accusation – Zosia Wand

The blog tour for Zosia Wand’s new book, The Accusation, has begun and today is my day. I hope you enjoy my review, and be sure to check out the other stops on the tour (details can be found at the bottom of this post).

9781786692320_preview.jpegEve and her husband, Neil, are in the final stages of adopting four-year-old Milly. They only have a few more hurdles to jump before they can officially call her their daughter. Everything seems to be going smoothly, until Eve’s mother, Joan, shows up. Joan has never liked her son-in-law, and never liked sharing her daughter. Can she be happy for Eve, finally starting her own family, or will she want to keep her all to herself?

I really enjoyed Zosia Wand’s Trust Me, so I was excited to hear she had a new book coming out. To begin with, I was actually a little surprised and miffed at some of the similarities between the two books. The lead characters have the same jobs and similar interests, and I thought this was a bit lazy. It wasn’t until later in the book that I realised that Lizzie from Trust Me is actually a character in this book and they live in the same town. This was so clever – like an Easter egg in a video game – and I loved the cross-over!
I instantly had to take back all my negative thoughts in appreciation for the genius of this.

Zosia’s writing is magnificent, and I was fully drawn in. I couldn’t put it down. The story is entirely engaging and (mostly) believable.

The one and only flaw was that Eve’s mother is just awful. We’re supposed to empathise with the character, that Joan is clearly not a great person, but she’s Eve’s mother and she loves her and wants her in her life. Perfectly realistic and understandable. However, Joan is just terrible the entire way through the book. She has no redeeming qualities at all. If my mum was like this, I wouldn’t stand for it at all, regardless of being my parent and wanting that connection. (As it is, my mother is an absolute delight). It just made it really difficult to see why she puts up with her and allows her to become a danger to her family, especially during such an important time in their lives.

Despite any flaws, The Accusation is an interesting, exciting and thoroughly engaging story. I loved it.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads | Amazon

Thank you for stopping by! Here’s the poster for the rest of the tour: