Monday, 29 January 2018

Book Review: Everything I Know About Love by Dolly Alderton.

Product details:
Publisher: Fig Tree.
Hardcover, 336 pages
Release date: February 1st 2018.
Rating: 4½ out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

A spot-on, wildly funny and sometimes heart-breaking book about growing up, growing older and navigating all kinds of love along the way
When it comes to the trials and triumphs of becoming a grown up, journalist and former Sunday Times dating columnist Dolly Alderton has seen and tried it all. In her memoir, she vividly recounts falling in love, wrestling with self-sabotage, finding a job, throwing a socially disastrous Rod-Stewart themed house party, getting drunk, getting dumped, realising that Ivan from the corner shop is the only man you've ever been able to rely on, and finding that that your mates are always there at the end of every messy night out. It's a book about bad dates, good friends and - above all else - about recognising that you and you alone are enough.
Glittering, with wit and insight, heart and humour, Dolly Alderton's powerful d├ębut weaves together personal stories, satirical observations, a series of lists, recipes, and other vignettes that will strike a chord of recognition with women of every age - while making you laugh until you fall over. Everything I know About Love is about the struggles of early adulthood in all its grubby, hopeful uncertainty.

 A statuesque blonde with a penchant for prosecco and an absolute adoration of Rod Stewart, journalist Dolly Alderton first came to my attention a couple of years back via a Sunday Times ‘Style’ column, in which she detailed the adventures of her colourful dating life. So wry and engaging is Dolly’s writing style that her column became a firm favourite of mine, so much so that in a newspaper of a whole lot of must-read articles, hers was the first I’d read every week. I just had to know if Dolly and her guy, the Comedian, would live happily ever after, you know. Side note: I had a similar obsession with Ali Harris’s dating column for Company magazine way back when she used to write about her love for Email Boy. Anybody remember that? Well, it just so happens that Ali and her Email Boy are now husband and wife. Dolly and her Comedian, on the other hand, did not live happily ever after.

Sadly, just like her relationship with the Comedian, Dolly’s dating column is no more, but she’s stayed on my radar via her newsletter ‘The Dolly Mail,’ and ‘The High Low,’ the weekly current affairs and pop-culture podcast she co-presents with fellow journalist Pandora Sykes. If you haven’t yet checked out The High Low, then I really recommend that you do. It’s a big favourite of mine (despite unfounded allegations against The Lighthouse Family –Joke!)  

 It’s not an understatement to say that I was mega-excited when I heard Dolly had signed a book deal, a book deal that has garnered, as per The Bookseller, ‘serious film and TV interest’. (Think ‘Girls’. But funnier. With characters you can actually relate to and root for). I’m also glad to report that Dolly’s memoir Everything I Know About Love is a total winner; an honest, heartfelt and very, very funny reflection on life, love, loss and everything else in between.  At its core, Everything I Know About Love is a love letter to friendship, a celebration of Dolly’s close knit circle of friends who have stuck together through everything: good times, bad times, and lots and lots of wild times.

Everything I Know About Love details Dolly’s adventures in life and love from her early days as a MSN Messenger-obsessed teen (Dolly once went on date with a boy she met on MSN Messenger only for that date to end following twelve minutes of mutual insults involving a DVD of Toy Story 2 and a kilt) to her early days in London where life was all about cheap booze, communal living and Rod Stewart-themed house parties. I mean, I wouldn’t describe this as a Rod Stewart-heavy memoir per se, but he’s definitely in there. As he should be.


Friday, 19 January 2018

Book Review: The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn.

Product details:
Publisher: William Morrow.
Hardcover, 448 pages.
Release date: January 2nd 2018.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Ages: Adult.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

What did she see?

It’s been ten long months since Anna Fox last left her home. Ten months during which she has haunted the rooms of her old New York house like a ghost, lost in her memories, too terrified to step outside.
Anna’s lifeline to the real world is her window, where she sits day after day, watching her neighbours. When the Russells move in, Anna is instantly drawn to them. A picture-perfect family of three, they are an echo of the life that was once hers.
But one evening, a frenzied scream rips across the silence, and Anna witnesses something no one was supposed to see. Now she must do everything she can to uncover the truth about what really happened. But even if she does, will anyone believe her? And can she even trust herself?

 A typical day in the life of Dr. Anna Fox is spent watching old movies while drinking merlot, learning French and playing chess, all in the company of her cat. Now, you might be thinking that this is, in fact, not a bad way to spend a day, and you’d be right. I mean, who doesn’t want to watch old movies while enjoying a glass of wine, right? But this is not a day in Anna’s life. This is her life. As for that wine, Anna doesn’t drink her merlot by the glass, she drinks it by the crate. Save for her cat and the tenant who lives downstairs, Anna, who suffers from agoraphobia, lives alone. Anna’s husband left ten months ago, taking her daughter with him. Now, Anna sits at her window and watches the world go by without her in it. She also likes to sit at her window and observe her neighbours; witnessing the mundanities of their daily lives along with their fights, their affairs and their marriage breakdowns. This all serves to keep Anna entertained, until one day she hears a scream. Following this scream, Anna sees something she was ever meant to see…

One of the buzzed-about titles of 2018 with a movie already in the works, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, wears its love of film noir on its sleeve, taking inspiration from Hitchcock’s Rear Window and  Fritz Lang’s 1944 noir The Woman in the Window, from which it takes its title.  While A.J. Finn’s debut is a gripping page-turner of love, lies, murder and possible descent into madness, the real beauty of The Woman in the Window lies in its elegant prose and effortless turn-of-phrase, which is a cut above many other books in this genre. Truth be told, while The Woman in the Window kept me turning the pages late into the night, I found this story mostly predictable, guessing many of its plot twists long before they were revealed on the page. That’s not to say The Woman in the Window is poorly plotted, quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just that I have read so many psychological thrillers over the past few years that is it really, really difficult to surprise me nowadays. I wish things were different. If I had read this book five years ago, I’m sure I would be telling a whole other story. 

The Woman in the Window is not simply a case of solving a murder most wicked, it is also the story of Dr. Anna Fox, the woman who had it all and lost it all. So, what happened to Anna? At first it seems as though Anna has given up on life, spending her days in an alcohol and drug induced haze, where she puts down her wine glass only to feed her cat or speak to her husband and daughter on the phone. It soon transpires, though, that Anna does care. That, in her own way, she is trying to get back to living. She also cares enough to help other agoraphobia sufferers in a professional capacity via an online forum. And she cares enough to venture outside when she witnesses a horrific crime. Anna even cares enough that she’s willing to put her own safety on the line to help solve a murder. But how can Anna solve this crime when nobody, not even the police – especially not the police – believes a word that she says?

A winning debut, A.J. Finn’s The Woman in the Window is a noirish thriller that will appeal to fans of Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train and The Kind Worth Killing.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Book Reviews: My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland & Close to Home by Cara Hunter.

As a bit of a True-Crime-Podcast fanatic (currently listening to Beyond Reasonable Doubt? – check it out!) I knew that My Little Eye by Stephanie Marland, which follows a group of true crime fanatics as they attempt to hunt down a serial killer known as ‘The Lover,’ was sure to be right up my street.  Spoiler alert: I was right. This one is a total page-turner!

As someone with a whole lot of secrets and a very dark past, Clementine Starke doesn’t let people into her life all that easily. She also knows it’s probably not a good idea to join a group of online true crime fanatics in their quest to uncover the identity of ‘The Lover’ before the police do. Clementine is not comfortable with revealing her location (required for participation in the group). She’s not all that comfortable with IRL meet-ups either (ditto). But she needs in with the group. Why? Well, that’s got something to do with that dark past of hers…

DI Dominic Bell is in a race against time to catch the killer the tabloids have christened ‘The Lover.’  The pressure mounts as the body count increases – yet Bell is no closer to uncovering the identity of the killer. It could be that ‘The Lover’ is meticulous in leaving no trace evidence behind. It could also be that Bell is distracted. An internal investigation into a botched police operation has raised some doubts in Bell’s mind - doubts that lead him down a dangerous path of police corruption and dirty cops.

Will Bell catch the killer before he strikes again? What on earth was Clementine thinking when she offered up details of her location to a man who goes by the internet moniker ‘Death Stalker?’ Could he be the killer? Could Clementine be next?!

Read My Little Eye if you like: Serial and/or Line of Duty (As the Starke & Bell series progresses I have a feeling it could deal in police corruption that goes all the way to the very top!)

Four Stars -- Very good read. Liked it a lot. Recommended.
Published November 2nd 2017 by Trapeze


Tasked with investigating the disappearance of Daisy Mason, an eight-year-old who vanished without a trace from her parents’ summer barbeque, DI Adam Fawley knows that he faces a race against time if he is to find Daisy alive. He also knows that it’s very likely that Daisy was taken by someone known to her. How else could this girl, who reads as intelligent and wise beyond her years, have vanished without a trace, without a sound, from a garden party where she was surrounded by friends and family? Something’s not adding up. Then, there’s Daisy’s family: far from being eager to bring their daughter home, Daisy’s father is reluctant to make a televised appeal for her return while her mother, a cold-as-ice woman who is more interested in her appearance than her missing daughter, refuses to let the police conduct a search of their house. Strange behaviour indeed.

Compelling and multi-layered, Close to Home is one of those books I enjoyed pretty much all the way through, only to be left disappointed right at the end. Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Actually, I find this happens quite a lot in crime fiction and psychological thrillers. I guess a satisfying ending is a very difficult thing to get right. Also, you can’t please all of the people all of the time. This will work for many, I’m sure. However, it didn’t work for me. I want my crime fiction to be twisty and unpredictable, of course, but I want it to be believable too. That’s not the case here.

A book about lost children, not just Daisy Mason, but all the children who are lost through neglect, illness and death, and the effect of these losses on those left behind, Close to Home is an ultimately worthwhile read with an ending that will surely divide readers.

3.5 Stars -- Good read. I enjoyed it pretty much. Worth checking out.
Published December 28th 2017 by Viking
Received for review


Monday, 1 January 2018

New Books on my Radar!


Here are just some of the titles on my already-huge 2018 wish list.

Added any must-read books to your wish list lately?

Let me know in comments


Young Adult Fiction

Clean by Juno Dawson || Release date: April 2018

A razor-sharp, adrenaline rush of a novel from award-winning author Juno Dawson, Clean is Gossip Girl meets Girl, Interrupted.

'I can feel it swimming through my veins like glitter ... it's liquid gold.'

When socialite Lexi Volkov almost overdoses, she thinks she's hit rock bottom.

She's wrong. Rock bottom is when she's forced into an exclusive rehab facility.

From there, the only way is up for Lexi and her fellow inmates, including the mysterious Brady.

As she faces her demons, Lexi realises love is the most powerful drug of all ... 

It's a dirty business getting clean ...

Addiction and redemption, love and despair. Clean will have you hooked from the first page.


I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman || Release date: April 2018

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from home to find the boy that he loves, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City after a family tragedy leaves him isolated on the outskirts of Washington state. After the three of them collide in Central Park, they slowly reveal the parts of their past that they haven't been able to confront, and together, they find their way back to who they're supposed to be.

Told over the course of a single day from three different perspectives, Gayle Forman's newest novel is about the power of friendship and being true to who you are.


9 Days and 9 Nights by Katie Cotugno || Release date: May 2018

The irresistible sequel to the bestselling 99 Days.

Molly Barlow isn’t that girl anymore. A business major at her college in Boston, she’s reinvented herself after everything that went down a year ago . . . after all the people she hurt and the family she tore apart.

Slowly, life is getting back to normal. Molly has just said “I love you” to her new boyfriend, Ian, and they are off on a romantic European vacation together, starting with scenic London. But there on a Tube platform, the past catches up to her in the form of Gabe, her ex, traveling on his own parallel vacation with new girlfriend Sadie.

After comparing itineraries, Ian ends up extending an invite for Gabe and Sadie to join them on the next leg of their trip, to Ireland. Sadie, who’s dying to go there, jumps at the prospect. And Molly and Gabe can’t bring themselves to tell the truth about who they once were to each other to their new significant others.

Now Molly has to spend nine days and nine nights with the boy she once loved, the boy whose heart she shredded, without Ian knowing. Will she make it through as new, improved Molly, or will everything that happened between her and Gabe come rushing back?


Save the Date by Morgan Matson || Release date: June 2018

Charlie Grant’s older sister is getting married this weekend at their family home, and Charlie can’t wait—for the first time in years, all four of her older siblings will be under one roof. Charlie is desperate for one last perfect weekend, before the house is sold and everything changes. The house will be filled with jokes and games and laughs again. Making decisions about things like what college to attend and reuniting with longstanding crush Jesse Foster—all that can wait. She wants to focus on making the weekend perfect.

The only problem? The weekend is shaping up to be an absolute disaster.

There’s the unexpected dog with a penchant for howling, house alarm that won’t stop going off, and a papergirl with a grudge.

There are the relatives who aren’t speaking, the (awful) girl her favorite brother brought home unannounced, and a missing tuxedo.

Not to mention the neighbor who seems to be bent on sabotage and a storm that is bent on drenching everything. The justice of the peace is missing. The band will only play covers. The guests are all crazy. And the wedding planner’s nephew is unexpectedly, distractingly…cute.

Over the course of three ridiculously chaotic days, Charlie will learn more than she ever expected about the family she thought she knew by heart. And she’ll realize that sometimes, trying to keep everything like it was in the past means missing out on the future.


Adult Fiction

The Girls in the Picture by Melanie Benjamin || Release date: January 2018

An intimate portrait of the close friendship and powerful creative partnership between two of Hollywood’s earliest female superstars: Frances Marion and Mary Pickford. An enchanting new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife.

Hollywood, 1914. Frances Marion, a young writer desperate for a break, meets “America’s Sweetheart,” Mary Pickford, already making a name for herself both on and off the screen with her golden curls and lively spirit. Together, these two women will take the movie business by storm.

Mary Pickford becomes known as the “Queen of the Movies”—the first actor to have her name on a movie marquee, and the first to become a truly international celebrity. Mary and her husband, Douglas Fairbanks, were America’s first Royal Couple, living in a home more famous that Buckingham Palace. Mary won the first Academy Award for Best Actress in a Talkie and was the first to put her hand and footprints in Grauman’s theater sidewalk. Her annual salary in 1919 was $625,000—at a time when women’s salaries peaked at $10 a week. Frances Marion is widely considered one of the most important female screenwriters of the 20th century, and was the first writer to win multiple Academy Awards. The close personal friendship between the two stars was closely linked to their professional collaboration and success.

This is a novel about power: the power of women during the exhilarating early years of Hollywood, and the power of forgiveness. It’s also about the imbalance of power, then and now, and the sacrifices and compromises women must make in order to succeed. And at its heart, it’s a novel about the power of female friendship.


Paper Ghosts by Julia Heaberlin || Release date: April 2018

A gripping thriller about a man who may or may not have dementia—and who may or may not be a serial killer—from a master of twists and turns, in the tradition of Laura Lippman and Gillian Flynn

An obsessive young woman has been waiting half her life—since she was twelve years old—for this moment. She has planned. Researched. Trained. Imagined every scenario. Now she is almost certain the man who kidnapped and murdered her sister sits in the passenger seat beside her.

Carl Louis Feldman is a documentary photographer. The young woman claims to be his long-lost daughter. He doesn’t believe her. He claims no memory of murdering girls across Texas, in a string of places where he shot eerie pictures. She doesn’t believe him.

Determined to find the truth, she lures him out of a halfway house and proposes a dangerous idea: a ten-day road trip, just the two of them, to examine cold cases linked to his haunting photographs.

Is he a liar or a broken old man? Is he a pathological con artist? Or is she? Julia Heaberlin once again swerves the serial killer genre in a new direction. With taut, captivating prose, Heaberlin deftly explores the ghosts that live in our minds—and the ones that stare back from photographs. You won’t see the final, terrifying twist spinning your way until the very last mile.


The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll || Release date: May 2018

When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett’s the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her cast mates.

Kelly, Brett’s older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

Lauren, the start-up world’s darling whose drinking has gotten out of control, is Goal Diggers’ recovery narrative—everyone loves a comeback story.

And Jen, made rich and famous through her cultishly popular vegan food line plays a holistic hippie for the cameras, but is perhaps the most ruthless of them all when the cameras are off.


Friday, 22 December 2017

My Top Reads of 2017!

I didn't realise until now that almost all my favourite books from this year fall into the adult fiction category - with just one YA title making my list. I guess that's just how it goes sometimes!

Here are five of my favourite reads from 2017, listed in order of preference.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to wish all readers of the blog a very Merry Christmas!

See you back here in the New Year!


A literary thriller with huge commercial appeal, Noah Hawley’s Before the Fall is a master class mystery of secrets and suspense that plays alongside a social commentary that is timely, clever and knowing. 


Highly imaginative in a totally-twisted very off-the-wall sort of way, Behind Her Eyes is the must-read thriller of 2017.

Up next from Sarah Pinborough: Cross Her Heart releases May 2018.


If you’re anything like me you’ll be crossing your heart and fingers and toes for Lara Jean, Peter K. and a happy ever in Always and Forever, Lara Jean.  


Immersive, engaging and superbly well-written, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is one of my favourite reads of summer 2017 and a must-read for fans of Old Hollywood.  


 A darkly evocative tale of sisters and secrets, The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde, a multi-layered, decades-spanning mystery told in the gothic tradition, will keep readers hooked from start to finish.

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