Thursday, November 15, 2018

Blog Tour - Skin Deep by Liz Nugent

Not paid or sponsored.
Amazon & Book Depository links are affiliate links.


It's been a while, hasn't it? I've a dozen posts sitting in drafts, waiting to be finished. Truth be told, I've lost my reading mojo of late - since Repeal, I find it very hard to just sit and relax. I also feel like at this time of year I need to be doing several things at once.

When I was asked a while ago if I wanted to be part of the Blog Tour for Liz Nugent's third novel, Skin Deep, I was only to happy to say yes. Selfishly, I hoped that the novel would help me get out of my recent rut and back into reading. I'm already a huge fan of Liz - while her debut Unravelling Oliver left me wanting slightly more, her second novel Lying in Wait had me hooked from the off and became one of my favourite books of 2016. This is her third novel, another thriller/crime.

Cordelia Russell has been living on the French Riviera for twenty-five years, passing herself off as an English socialite. But her luck, and the kindness of strangers, have run out.

The arrival of a visitor from her distant past shocks Cordelia. She reacts violently to the intrusion and flees her flat to spend a drunken night at a glittering party. As dawn breaks she stumbles home through the back streets. Even before she opens her door she can hear the flies buzzing. She did not expect the corpse inside to start decomposing quite so quickly . . .

I never know what to expect when I go into one of Liz' books - she knows how to do a shocking opening line to hook a reader in. We are introduced to Delia, who appears to have landed herself, to put it mildly, in hot water. We begin in the present day and go back to Delia's beginnings on a small island off the coast of Ireland - with a father worringly obsessed with her and a mother feeling trapped and longing for freedom.

Back-and-forths are quite common in novels, especially thrillers  or crime - I always feel like the sign of a good one is when I get completely sucked in to the past and then get a bit of a land when we go back to the future - and this is what happened here. While the events of the present were intriguing and kept me wanting to read more, Delia's past was just completely addictive and I felt like I was there on the island, overhearing conversations with Tom Crow and spying on Delia's family. She's an incredibly intriguing character from the first moment she appears on the page.

I don't really want to spoil too much of the actual story, because Liz is a master writer and I feel like the best way to go into one of her books is blind - but I'm telling you, honestly, that if you're in a reading rut, this is the one to break it. I genuinely could not put it down, and I offer sincere thanks to Georgia at Penguin Random House for asking me to contribute a post to the blog tour - I purchased the kindle edition when it was released back in April and it has sat, waiting for me to read it. I'm kicking myself that I left it this long, but it's the perfect kind of book to curl up with as the weather gets colder and the evenings get darker.

If you're looking for a great book to give as a Christmas present, I'd strongly consider this - it's currently (at the time of publishing, November 15th 2018) part of 25% off promotion at Eason, plus it's available from the retailers below.

I don't know how Liz does it, but I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Highly recommended, one of the best thrillers I've read in years.

You can purchase Skin Deep at the following retailers, or at any good book shop (and don't forget your library):

Please do check out the other stops on the Blog Tour - while today is the official publication day for the UK paperback edition, there are many brilliant bloggers involved over the next couple of weeks who will be featuring their own insights, extracts and giveaways.

Sharon x

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Blog Tour: Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

ARC clearly defined in accordance with review policy here
Links to buy are affiliates


I'm delighted to be a part of this blog tour, Karin Slaughter is one of my go-to authors and I always try to keep up with her new releases. I was very kindly asked if I'd like to participate in this one, and I was only too happy to accept. Pieces of Her is a standalone. 

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all? 

Andrea Cooper knows everything about her mother Laura. She knows she's spent her whole life in the small town of Gullaway Island; she knows she's never had any more ambition than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she's never kept a secret in  her life.

But one day, a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura.

Now, Andrea must go on a desperate journey to follow the breadcrumbs of her mother's past. If she can't uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either of them.

Mother/Daughter relationship books always draw me in - I think it's fascinating that some people can think of their mother as their best friend while others grow up fearing that one day, they'll turn into their mother. Andy and Laura's relationship is an interesting one - Andy assumes she knows everything about Laura, but an event changes all that in seconds. 

As with most of Karin's books, this one starts with a bang (literally). We go back and forth between 2018 and 1986, and see the contrast between the two women (including the opportunities available to them). The issue of overprotective parents is not hammered home, but it's there - Laura has done everything she can to protect Andy, but has it backfired? Is it possible to grow up with a parent and still never really know who they are? 

Overall this is another fast-paced, action packed thriller from Karin that would be a great holiday read, as is evident from my photo above!

Thank you to Harper Collins for allowing me to read an advance e-copy. 

Pieces of Her will be released on August 9th. 

You can follow the other stops on the tour here:

Have you read any of Karin Slaughter's books? Which one is your favourite? 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Blog Tour: The Lost Letters of William Woolf by Helen Cullen

Links to buy are affiliates. 
ARC clearly defined in accordance with review/disclosure policy here


Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to the wonderful debut from Irish author Helen Cullen. If you're of the same vintage as myself, you will probably remember The Jolly Postman books - we had one in Primary School and I was fascinated with being able to open letters meant for other people. Considering that one of my greatest wishes as a child was to open all the mail in the Post Van, it always makes my voyeuristic little heart sing when I find a good epistolary novel. In my teenage years, I read the Griffin and Sabine series - a Supernatural story about letters and postcards between a couple who have never met. I've often wondered why there aren't more fiction books about letters - thankfully, this one (wait for it) delivers. 

While this story isn't explicitly told through letters, they do feature heavily. William Woolf works at the Dead Letters Depot in London. This is where all the undeliverable mail ends up - sometimes it's because the person doesn't exist, or the intended recipient is Supernatural, or sometimes it's due to damage. William is a letter detective - he spends his days sifting through the mail, and picking out special ones to unite with their intended recipients. 

William discovers a series of letters written to "My Great Love" - he's married to his own great love, Clare, but their marriage is strained. As William begins to develop an obsession with the writer of the love letters, is he at risk of missing what's happening to his own relationship? 

I assumed that this would focus entirely on the letters, and I was completely wrong. While they are sprinkled throughout, this is equally a story about a marriage. Fans of Us by David Nicholls may enjoy the relationship aspect of the story. 

A few years ago, I found a love letter in a piece of furniture that we acquired second hand. We never found the recipient, and later lost the letter, but I did archive it here on the blog if you'd like to see it: 

The Lost Letters of William Woolf is a sweet, charming read. Some of the letters are incredibly heartfelt and they did bring a tear to my eye at times. The story of William and Clare's marriage is not uncommon, and I liked how we heard from both William and Clare. For me, William came across as much, much older than he was supposed to be - he's not yet forty - but maybe that's just me refusing to accept the fact that I am, in fact, a middle-aged woman now.

The Lost Letters of William Woolf is released on July 12th, and you can purchase it at all good bookshops or via the links below:

If you'd like to check out the other stops on the Blog Tour happening throughout the month of July, you can keep track via the below graphic:

The importance of letters is beautifully documented here - some of my own most treasured possessions are letters or cards from people who are no longer with us. It's lovely to have memories, but it's even better to have something tangible, something you know they wrote with just you in mind. I do wish that more people would send letters and cards, I fear that it may become obsolete in the future. This story just proves how important it is to keep letter-writing going, and how much love and joy can come from a small envelope. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Monthly Reads: June 2018

Links under books are affiliates. ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


Since early June, we've had a heatwave here in Ireland. I find that I'm much less likely to pick up a book if the weather is too hot, so I've been struggling to fit reading in. I got through just six books, most of them very light holiday reads.

Click on an individual cover to go to my full Goodreads review.


Next To You (Love With Altitude #1) by Daisy Prescott
This was on offer via BookBub a few weeks ago. It's a dual POV between Stan, a hot South African rugby player, and his girl-next-door neighbour Sage, a dance teacher/animal welfare volunteer. It was sweet, and sexy, and had a little more bite than some other novels of this type (yay for safe, consensual sex!). I really enjoyed it so I bought the others in the series. This is free on Kindle at the time of posting.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Crazy Over You (Love With Altitude #2) by Daisy Prescott
These are standalone books - they're set in the same world and feature the same characters but you don't have to read them in order to enjoy them. This one focuses on Jesse (ski patrol) and Mara (a veterinarian). Again, it was really witty, enjoyable, and light.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Wild For You (Love With Altitude #3) by Daisy Prescott
This one is for the cowboy fans - Justin and Zoe get together despite Justin's brooding lone cowboy schtick. I didn't enjoy this one as much, who knew that the rodeo wasn't my thing?
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles
This has been made into a movie on Netflix, and I wanted to read the book before I watched it. Firstly, it's worth mentioning that the author first wrote this when she was 15 - and it's pretty indicative of what 15 year olds write - I wrote a short story when I was 16 (if you want to punish yourselves you can read it here) - so I get it, I get the fascination with America and boys and kissing. What I don't get is how this was published as it is. I thought it was going to be a story about escaping an abusive relationship, such was the level of obsession and control involved. It's disturbing, and the constant switching from UK to US slang was confusing. I really didn't like the book - but I have nothing but admiration for a young author who lands a deal like this. I wasn't mad about the movie either, to be fair.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Mad by Chloé Esposito
Following in the footsteps of quirky main characters like Eleanor Oliphant, Elvira Carr and Eileen, along comes Alvina Knightly. Foul mouthed and with no regard for other people, her life is a bit of a mess. Alvie accepts her estranged twin sister Beth's invitation to join her at her perfect mansion - thinking that being miserable in Sicily beats being miserable in London. But why does Beth want Alvie there after so long? It's funny, full of action, and clever - unfortunately, after about the first third or so, I just found it pure daft and didn't really buy any of it. I loved the first part and I really liked Alvie as a character, I'm very fond of a foul-mouthed evil twin. If you want something to read by the pool on holiday but you don't mind it descending into utter filthy, gory madness, you may enjoy this.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Review Copies

All The Little Lights  by Jamie McGuire
In the words of the great poet Vanessa Williams, I saved the best for last. It's a story about Elliott and Catherine, two young people in a small town who find solace in each others company. But when Catherine really needs Elliott, he can't be there - will she ever forgive him? This has a lovely "old" quality to it, I would have assumed it was set in the fifties or sixties but for a Beyoncé reference. It's part hazy Summer, part mystery - it really changes pace mid way and manages to do it well. I couldn't put this down, and when I wasn't reading it I was thinking about it. I adored it, it's one of my favourite reads so far this year.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

That's all for June - it's July 7th and I haven't read one single book this month, but Booktube-a-thon is on the way so hopefully July will be a better reading month. I'll be back in a couple of days with a blog tour spot for a wonderful debut novel by an Irish author and my Booktube-a-thon planned reads. If you've read anything interesting lately please let me know!

Monday, June 25, 2018

Blog Tour: The Dead Ex by Jane Corry

Links to buy are Affiliate Links.
ARC clearly defined in accordance with Review Policy here


Today I'm taking part in the Blog Tour for Jane Corry's third novel, The Dead Ex.

Vicki's husband once promised to love her in sickness and in health. But after a brutal attack left her with epilepsy, he ran away with his mistress.

So when Vicki gets a call one day to say that he's missing, her first thought is "good riddance". But then the police find evidence suggesting that David is dead. And they think Vicki had something to do with it.

What really happened the night of David's disappearance?

And how can Vicki prove her innocence, when she's not even sure of it herself? 

Vicki is someone with a lot on her plate. As well as her marriage ending, she is dealing with epilepsy, and has quite violent seizures. She's not particularly concerned about the whereabouts of her ex-husband, until the police come knocking on her door. 

Scarlet's story is being told simultaneously - this is set a decade before the current events, and we get a tale of a very troubled young girl struggling to survive a terrible upbringing. Scarlet's misplaced loyalty to the family who have treated her so badly will ultimately end up costing her dearly. 

Sometimes you see books with the tagline "shocking twist" or "you'll never see it coming" - this book takes that as a challenge and goes ten steps further. Just when you think you know what's happening, it changes again. I read this pretty much in one sitting - I couldn't wait to see how the story of one woman struggling to remember tied in with one woman determined to forget. 

Jane Corry writes very raw, gritty books - the prison scenes draw on her own experience from working as the writer-in-residence at a high-security prison facility for men. Her books would work great on TV - fans of UK prison dramas may really like her writing. 

I enjoyed this, I think it would be a great holiday read. 

Speaking of holiday reads, Jane has a short story available for free on Kindle at the moment. You can find it here: 

You can buy The Dead Ex at:

Or order from your local library. 

You can check out the other stops on the blog tour below:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Blog Tour: Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian

Links to buy are Affiliate Links.
ARC clearly defined in accordance with Review Policy here

I'm delighted to be hosting the penultimate stop on the UK/Ireland blog tour for Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian.

Theodosia was six when her country was invaded and her mother, the Fire Queen, was murdered before her eyes. On that day, the Kaiser took Theodosia's family, her land, and her name. Theo was crowned Ash Princess - a title of shame to bear in her new life as a prisoner.

For ten years Theo has been a captive in her own palace. She's endured the relentless abuse and ridicule of the Kaiser and his court. She is powerless, surviving in her new world only by burying the girl she was deep inside.

Then, one night, the Kaiser forces her to do the  unthinkable. With blood on her hands and all hope of reclaiming her throne lost, she realizes that surviving is no longer enough. But she does have a weapon: her mind is sharper than any sword. And power isn't always won on the battlefield. 

For ten years, the Ash Princess has seen her land pillaged and her people enslaved. That all ends here. 

I received a copy of this to review via NetGalley. Sometimes when I'm approved for books they could sit there for weeks (okay, okay, months) before I read them, but I started this immediately based on that blurb. I'm a sucker for a fantasy, especially ones involving strong female leads, and this was exactly the kind of book I love to read. Theo is a fantastic character, and the world building got off to a great start. This is going to be a trilogy (according to Goodreads) and I can't wait to see what happens next. Yes, it's gory in parts, and there are pretty awful instances of abuse (as happens regularly with this genre) but it's hard to believe that this is a debut novel - it holds its own against any other fantasy book I've read. It's miles ahead of many. 

I loved the concept of the Spirit Gems - these are beautiful stones that are mined by the Astreans, the former rulers of the land. For Astreans, the stones hold great power, but for the Kalovaxians (the ones who have taken control of Astrea) they are little more than trinkets.

Although I received a copy for review, I've also bought my own paperback copy. Now sadly it didn't arrive in time for this post, so please excuse my poor image editing, but I'm really looking forward to re-reading it and I can't wait for the next installment. 

In honour of Theodosia, who is most definitely a trailblazer, I wanted to mention three other women in fantasy who really broke the mold when it came to doing things their way. 

Buffy Summers
I will not let the whole Joss-Whedon-is-actually-not-a-feminist-ally-after-all revelation spoil my enjoyment of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy was an amazing character played by a wonderful actress and she was one of my ultimate heroes growing up. She did the right thing at the expense of her own happiness many, many times for the greater good.

Piper Halliwell
Piper was always my favourite sister in Charmed, mostly because she was the one I related to the most. She really wanted everything she was told she couldn't have - she wanted a loving relationship, and kids, and she found a way to make that work for her while repeatedly kicking ass, looking out for her sisters, running a business, being a brilliant mother and staying true to herself. 

Ursula the Sea Witch
Hear me out. As a child, I loved Disney movies. I still do. But, I always found myself rooting for the villain, hoping they'd win sometimes. Yes, Ursula was evil, but she was also just a smoky-eye- wearing, plus-sized woman irritated by mermaids who thought the world owed them a favour. I love her. Did you know that she was based on the iconic drag performer Divine?

I really recommend Ash Princess if you're looking for a fresh YA fantasy book that you won't be able to put down. 

You can buy Ash Princess at:

You can check out the other stops on the blog tour below: 

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Monthly Reads: April & May 2018

Links under books are affiliate links. ARCs are clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


Long time, no see, eh?

As many of you who follow me elsewhere will know, every spare minute of time I had over the past number of weeks was taken up by trying to help Repeal the 8th Amendment (which we did) so I had to sacrifice the blog for a while. I still read a fair amount in the evenings when I could, so this is a joint April/May Reads post.

Over the two months, I read 16 books. About half of those were free ones that I picked up via BookBub, I needed light escapes from reality on days where I'd been out canvassing or speaking with people online.

Click on any individual cover to go to my full Goodreads review.

Young Adult


The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr
Having enjoyed The One Memory of Flora Banks by the same author, I picked this up in the library via Borrowbox. It's about Ella, who has a very dark side to her in the form of Bella, or Bad Ella. Ella's parents have been keeping a huge secret from her, and their years of secrecy culminate in a last-minute dash to Rio. Here's where it fell apart for me, I felt like the whole Bella angle was dropped and the plot got messy. This just wasn't for me.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

A Court of Frost and Starlight  by Sarah J Maas
Fans of the series will know that this is the fourth installment of the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. It's a novella, and the sole purpose is to wind up Feyre & Rhysand's story in order to focus on different characters for the rest of the series. Not a lot happens bar a Solstice and a truly gross sex scene, but it's a nice teaser for the next book, which will more than likely feature Feyre's sister Nesta as the main character.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Every day, people receive calls from Death Cast, informing them that they are due to die that day. There's an app called Last Friend where people can message each other, and this is how Rufus and Mateo end up meeting. Rufus is a foster kid in trouble for beating a guy up, while Mateo lives alone because his Dad is in a coma. Together, they have the best last day - doing things they've always wanted to do. This sounded so good, but my cynical little heart didn't buy it. I found it so hard to care about either of them, I didn't feel like I knew them well at all and I didn't like the chapters from other people. Thousands vehemently disagree with me going by the Goodreads reviews, so I'd say give it a go if the premise interests you.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository


Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron
This was the Book Box Club pick for May, and I really enjoyed it. I read it pretty much in one sitting. All over the world, Angels, or "Beings" are falling from the sky. They're usually dead by the time they land, but Jaya's Dad is convinced that he knows where the next one will fall and it's only a matter of time before one survives the fall. One does - but it's Jaya who finds her. 
This was unique, lovely, and touching. I'd have loved to know more about the beings themselves, but it was a really fresh take on grieving and letting go.

The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw
This was another Book Box Club pick, and it's by far my favourite book that they've featured so far. The Swan Sisters were put to death for enchanting local men centuries ago, but every Summer they rise from the ocean and inhabit the bodies of local women to exact their revenge. There's a lighthouse, a mysterious stranger, a curse, a beach party - all the things I love in a Summer read. I loved this one. Think Practical Magic meets We Were Liars and you're about halfway there. 



Calypso by David Sedaris
David's latest collection of stories features his family and how they deal with getting older, the death of their mother, and the death of David's sister Tiffany. At times very sad but mostly witty and warm, I enjoyed this - but not quite as much as some of his previous works.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Cornflakes for Dinner by Aidan Comerford
Comedian Aidan Comerford has written a very touching, honest book about his family and the stress that comes with having two children on the autism spectrum in Ireland. He chats about his wife Martha, their marriage, their daughters, their family outings in a frank, friendly way. There is sadness, but there is also hope. Really enjoyed this, it was a Rick O'Shea Book Club pick earlier in the year.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Woman Who Fooled the World by Beau Donnelly & Nick Toscano
This is an account of how Belle Gibson grew a following on social media as a wellness influencer, gaining lucrative sponsorship and publishing deals after she documented her journey with cancer and how she treated it with diet and alternative therapies. Only - she never had cancer in the first place. A fascinating read, really gripping, and there's a Fair City fact towards the end that Irish readers may find interesting!
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Books I Received for Review


One Click by Andrea Mara
This is Andrea's second novel, her first being The Other Side of the Wall which I read last Summer on holiday. This is about the dangers of Social Media and what happens when a woman takes a photo of a stranger and uploads it to Instagram. It goes viral and both women are put into unimaginable danger. I liked this a lot, I liked how the storyline showed both the positives and negatives of being active online. This would make an excellent holiday read.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Stalker by Lisa Stone (published June 14th)
This is Lisa's second crime thriller, having previously published non-fiction books about fostering under the pseudonym Cathy Glass. In this book, loner Derek Flint is a middle-aged man who lives at home with his mother. Derek runs a security firm, providing cameras for clients - but the clients are unaware that Derek can, and does, watch their every move. However, someone is watching Derek - and he's about to be dragged into a web of crime.
I received an e-mail about this and downloaded it from NetGalley - I was only going to read the first chapter to see what it was like and I got completely sucked in. It read like a really gripping TV crime drama, I think fans of things like Prime Suspect or Happy Valley would really like it.
Pre-Order: Kindle | Book Depository



Play by Piper Lawson
Payton works at a bank. She needs to land game designer Max Donovan as a client in order to nab herself a promotion - but Max isn't being entirely honest about his finances. Payton and Max are both solid, decent characters - likeable, sexy, with great chemistry. The plot is decent, this was one of the better contemporary romance books that I read in May.
Buy: Kindle

Bet Me by Lila Monroe
Lizzie works at a museum and needs help with finding rare Old Hollywood merchandise for an upcoming event. Jake is drafted in, and Lizzie realises that they've met before - they had a very saucy encounter that didn't end well. This is a typical will-they-won't-they-when-will-they type of read, it's not one for the faint of heart (think Samantha Jones) and leaving the awful side plot of someone betting on a woman's sex life aside, this was enjoyable enough. I really liked the museum setting and the wittiness of the characters.
Buy: Kindle

Nashville Heat by Bethany Michaels
Sydney is a singer songwriter with a dream. Dex Wylder is a rising country star. The chemistry between them is instant, and they end up having a one-night-stand. Roll on a couple of years, they haven't seen each other since that night, but Sydney is still trying to make it and Dex is a big star. This one dragged a lot for me - I felt like Sydney needed a kick in the ass, she didn't know what she wanted but kept arsing about going back to Dex then dropping him then going back then dropping - etc. This took me the guts of a week to finish and I was sick of them both by the end.
Buy: Kindle


Shy Girls Write it Better by May Sage
Cassandra Franklin is a shy, quiet accountant by day - but by night she's Cassie Frank, writer of erotic novels. There's just one problem - her next novel will feature BDSM but she has no experience. When her manuscript ends up in the hands of her sexy boss, Carter, he offers to teach Cassie everything she needs to know.
This is blatantly based on that other famous BDSM sexy boss/quiet woman series, but it's actually hilarious - the sex scenes alone are worth a read if only for the term "nether lips". I found it cheesy and predictable, but I knew exactly what I was letting myself in for so I couldn't complain. I almost bought the sequel purely on the fact that it's called "Scrooge McFuck" - I mean, COME ON.
Buy: Kindle

Tempted by Her Boss by Karen Erickson
Paige takes a job as a Nanny to the young son of a wealthy Italian single Dad. Matteo is pretty moody and boring, but Paige inexplicably develops a huge crush on him. I didn't enjoy this - I felt like it romanticized being a total dickhead, and that Paige as an employee was treated horribly. At the beginning of the story there's a revelation about why she left her previous job, and I felt like based on that alone the events that followed with Matteo weren't appropriate or believable. I also thought he had zero redeeming qualities and really didn't like him.
Buy: Kindle

The Cowboy's Runaway Bride by Laurie LeClair
Elizabeth Eve Barrington is due to be married. On the morning of her wedding, she overhears her fiancée making his intentions clear - he's only doing it to gain control of her father's business. She flees, hides in a truck, and feigns amnesia when she's discovered by a handsome cowboy. It's a pretty tame romance after that, it's wholesome enough (aka no sex) and is more of a ranchy, horsey, cowboy type thing full of kisses and chemistry and secrets. It verged into very twee territory towards the end but it was a light, pleasant read and by no means the worst of the month.
Buy: Kindle

So - there we are, I've lots of posts to catch up on and a few new things in the pipeline for the next few months. If you've any reading recommendations or there's anything you'd like to see me cover, please shout!

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Throwback Thursday: The Babysitters Club #5: Dawn and the Impossible Three

Nothing to Disclose.


This week almost didn't happen because Polyvore shut down without warning and took all my outfit sets with it - if you also used it, you can retrieve your data before May 28th by signing in to your account here:

We're up to Book Five - and it's the turn of California girl Dawn Schafer.

The book starts with a little recap of who everyone is, and what has happened so far. Dawn has recently moved to Stoneybrook with her little brother Jeff and their mother, Sharon (a former flame of Richard Spier, Mary-Anne's Dad). Dawn is a super-healthy avocado-loving all-natural girl that would be bang on trend in 2018 - I'm fairly sure this was my first introduction to tofu. And probably avocados. 

Mary-Anne has become a new woman since Book 4 - her Dad has now relaxed a little and let her stay out later, plus she has contact lenses and JEANS. Jeans! The ever-stylish Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill have a discussion in this book about using egg rinse and lemon in their hair to keep it shiny - I too used lemon in my hair at school, because one of my friends told me it'd lighten it. See also: household bleach, Sun-In....none of which worked on my hair (thankfully). The more I read these books the more I realise how much of an impact they had on me as a child - I remember buying a pair of dice earrings purely because I knew they were the type of thing Claudia would have worn. 

Anyway - I'm rambling. Back to the plot of this book. Dawn books a job sitting for the Barrett kids. Their mother is a young, really stylish woman - I've included her iconic outfit in this weeks collage - but their house is an absolute shit hole. Here's what Dawn encounters when she first walks in:

I noticed that Suzi's jumper was coming unbuttoned, and that Mamie's diapers were drooping and the hem was falling out of her overalls. A grubby bandage was wrapped around one of Buddy's fingers. All three kids needed to have their hair brushed.
I looked in the living room. It was a sight. Newspapers and toys were scattered everywhere. A plateful of crumbs sat under a lamp. Something red had been spilled on the coffee table and was never wiped up. Our house might have been disorganized, but the Barretts' house was a pigsty.
I dared to glance in the kitchen. What a mistake. The sink was overflowing with pots and dishes, napkins and Popsicle wrappers, and about a million TV dinner trays. The breakfast dishes were still on the table. I could tell exactly what Mrs. Barrett had served because the remains were in plain view. Soft-boiled eggs (the yolks, now crusty, glued to the plates); orange juice (dried pulp in the glasses), bananas (peels on the table), and Pop-Tarts (crusts stuck in a glass).
Yick. Ew, ew, ew.

Dawn sorts the house and the kids, Mrs. Barrett is delighted, and then comes to rely a little too much on Dawn (WHO IS TWELVE) to keep doing it. And not only the cleaning and childminding - fielding calls from her ex-husband and landing her in the middle of a fairly toxic custody situation. Dawn puts her foot down, says no, and makes Mrs. Barrett realise how unfair she is being. 

Speaking of unfair, Kristy is being a wagon as per because Mary-Anne and Dawn are becoming close friends, and Kristy is jealous. When is she ever not jealous?

Here are the notable outfits: 

Stacey: A simple pink t-shirt under a baggy jumpsuit with big pink and red flowers all over it.
Dawn: Blue jean shorts and a white t-shirt that said 'genius inside'.
Mrs. Barrett: A silk blouse, sleek linen suit, brown heels and gold jewellery.

The special mention this week goes to Puff, the Magic Dragon - not actually a song about marijuana, but a really bloody sad tune about the end of childhood. I cried.

Gummi Worms hidden in her desk drawer
How does Claudia have any teeth left? Gummi worms are gelatin-based worm shaped jellies made almost entirely from sugar. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Monthly Reads: March 2018

Links under books are Affiliate links. ARCs clearly defined in accordance with review policy here


I read 12 books in March (some were much shorter than others), so as always I'll dive right in.

The covers below are all clickable and should take you directly to my longer review on Goodreads. 

Books I Recieved for Review


Ash Princess by Laura Sebastian (Published June 14th)
Described as "Sarah J Maas meets Game of Thrones", this is a YA fantasy about a young woman who has been denied her rightful title, Queen of Astrea. She has a decision to make - will she escape in search of a better life, or will she stay and try to get her throne back from the inside? I really enjoyed this, I'm almost gutted that I read it so early because I've over a year to wait until the next installment. 
Pre-Order: Kindle | Book Depository

Elefant by Martin Suter (Published May 31st)
Originally published in German, this is a really unique story about a homeless man living in Zurich. Naturally, when he sees a tiny glowing pink elephant in the cave where he sleeps, he thinks it's down to the alcohol he consumes regularly. In fact, she's the result of genetic engineering and a guy determined to gain infamy as the creator of "pets for people who have everything". Sweet, engaging, and unlike anything I've read before. Loved it. 
Pre-Order: Kindle | Book Depository 

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne (Published June 14th)
Holly's first adult novel follows Tori Bailey, a woman who has become successful by telling women they don't need to have it all. She has a perfect relationship, she has a great life, she has scores of fans online - but could she do with taking some of her own advice? I've read most of Holly's YA books and enjoyed them, but I think this is my favourite of hers so far. Fans of Dawn O'Porter would enjoy, this is witty and sharp and fresh. 
Pre-Order: Kindle | Book Depository 


Almost Love by Louise O'Neill (Available Now)
This is Louise's first book aimed at adults. It's about how an obsessive relationship can change and form you as a person, having an impact on all future relationships. This wasn't what I expected (nothing Louise writes ever is) - it made me feel uncomfortable and shaken. It's very realistic and sad, like both of Louise's other books. I received a copy of this from Netgalley but I had already bought one myself. This was also a ROSBC pick for March.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

The Dead Ex by Jane Corry (Published June 21st)
I'll have a full review of this book nearer to publication. Vicki, the main character, is a really interesting one - her ex husband is missing, presumed dead. Vicki has a condition that means she may not be 100% reliable about events, and we also have chapters from a very troubled young girl in foster care in 2007. If you like a very twisty, dark novel you may like this one.
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Books I Borrowed

Ireland's Arctic Siege: The Big Freeze of 1947 by Kevin C. Kearns
I saw this mentioned somewhere around the time of Storm Emma so requested it at the library to learn a little more about one of our most talked about weather events. Unfortunately this book was almost entirely focused on the Dublin area - I wouldn't have requested it had I known that. For Dubliners, this will be a nostalgic visit to a city from times long gone - from mentions of the Adelphi and Switzers to anecdotes from people who still remember the freeze. Other counties are very briefly mentioned but I lost interest fairly soon after I realised it was mainly centered around the capital.



Clean Break by Tammy Cohen
I did a blog post about the 2018 Quick Reads - they're specially commissioned every year and aimed at people who feel intimidated by longer books or those who haven't as much time as they'd like. This one was good, it was a domestic thriller about a couple who are divorcing, but one of them is not going to give up easily. 

The Great Cornish Getaway by Fern Britton
This features a very famous actor who walks off set and ends up in a small, quiet Cornish town. I didn't enjoy this, I felt the use of a real actor cheesy and rather than add to the enjoyment of the story, I felt like I was reading fan fiction. Which is fine if that's what you're into - I'm not.



The Baby Sitter by Sheryl Browne
I had pre-ordered this and forgotten about it. It's about a woman who suddenly becomes a huge part of the life of a family when she agrees to be their babysitter in return for letting her stay with them after her home is damaged in a fire. It was a quick read, nothing spectacular, I found a lot of the situations a little unbelievable. It might make a good holiday read unless you're saturated by books with "gripping psychological thriller" - I think I'm reaching my limit, unfortunately.

The Liar's Girl by Catherine Ryan Howard
Having read and loved this authors previous book Distress Signals, I was really looking forward to the release of this book. A decade ago, Alison left Ireland after her boyfriend confessed to a series of grim murders. Now, there are crimes happening that bear remarkable similarities to the ones Will committed - and he may know something. Unfortunately, the only person he'll talk to is Alison, who has made a new life for herself in the Netherlands. I really liked this - there was only one character I was a little iffy about, but overall this was fast paced, full of action, and had a great story. Loved it. 



A Cowboy to Remember by Barbara Ankrum
This was free for Kindle via the Bookbub daily email - I've mentioned before that I'm a sucker for a few different cheesy romance tropes, especially "The Childhood Pact". Olivia and Jake were High School sweethearts that drifted apart. But will sparks fly when they see each other after so long? This was predictable, cheesy, saccharin, and exactly what I needed in between thrillers. I really liked the characters, they had a little more depth than I expected.
Buy: Kindle

The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober by Catherine Gray
I'm always a bit wary of approaching books about alcohol, having grown up with someone dealing (or not dealing) with an addiction. This was a Rick O'Shea Book Club pick (for February, I think) so I said I'd give it a go - it's Catherine Grays own story, in her own words, about how she came to stop drinking alcohol. It's not preachy, it's not clinical, it's warm and witty and has great life advice. I took a lot from it and I'm glad I read it, if only to take a closer look at my own relationship with alcohol and why/when I choose to have a drink. 
Buy: Kindle | Book Depository

Have you read anything good lately that you'd like to share? Let me know!