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Keep My Secrets by Elena Wilkes - Blog Tour and Review

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Hello and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Keep My Secrets by Elena Wilkes! If you haven't been here before, please do click around to see my other reviews. I read quite a lot of crime thrillers, it's one of my favourite genres and things being as they are in 2021 means that I'm trying to read things that make me happy because god knows everything else is rubbish. 

I heard the blurb for this book and thought it sounded interesting, so immediately wanted to sign up. Thank you to Hera Books for having me on the tour, and for providing me with an electronic copy of the book for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

So, Frankie is thirty-three years old and lives on the Welsh border with her husband Alex. She is a social worker for kids in care and at the beginning of the book she's been up on a roof trying to persuade a teenager to come down. She ends up filthy and goes home ready to get in a hot bath. 

But, Frankie has secrets. She grew up in care after being abandoned as a child, and was a somewhat wayward teen. At seventeen, she started a relationship with a volunteer at the home she lived in. He was called Martin and they did seem to form a genuine connection. However, they also started breaking into houses together. On one such occasion they almost get caught and they run off together to a party. There, Martin meets a girl the same age as Frankie, called Charlotte. 

Charlotte ends up murdered, and Martin is prime suspect. He goes on trial, and is ultimately sentenced for murder. He has a sentence of fifteen years, and in the 'now' times, he's out of prison. And Frankie has a stalker. Someone is sending her strange notes, and keeps phoning her, and has even followed her. Frankie is genuinely frightened of Martin, and of Alex finding out the truth about her past. Alex has had a rough time due to the demise of his business, and he's got very paranoid of Frankie. He's convinced she's having an affair and is checking her possessions and her phone and handbag. He won't listen to her say she isn't having an affair, but of course she's aware she is keeping secrets from him. 

When Martin was on trial, Frankie ended up meeting Charlotte's mum, Vanessa, who was also in court. Charlotte lived with her mum, stepdad Peter, and stepbrother Jack. Frankie ends up getting embroiled in the family, despite her best instincts, and everything goes wrong. She soon meets Alex and marries him, and hopes that part of her life is over. 

I liked the book, although I did think a lot kept happening and towards the end it was one thing after another after another, a couple of which I found a bit unbelievable. I liked Frankie, but wished at the beginning she would just be honest with Alex. I found him frustrating and annoying, given his paranoia. I haven't heard of the author before but would read something else by her for sure! I'm giving this four out of five.

Those People by Louise Candlish - Review

Saturday, April 24, 2021

I've enjoyed Our House and The Other Passenger by Louise Candlish, and I've seen a bunch of people rave about Those People, so I really wanted to get to it. I'm trying to not buy any books though, so I looked on my local library site and saw it was available, so I put in a request for it. It arrived at my local library a couple of weeks later and Lee picked it up for me. It's so easy because it's already checked out to you - you just pick up the bag that's got your name on and go. Really simple! And I do like to support my local libraries because they're so important and because if we don't all use them, the Tories will shut them all down. 

So, like Candlish's other books, basically this one is full of terrible people and you want all of them to have terrible things happen to them. Most people in this book are posh and/or wealthy, and I like it when posh people don't succeed. Haha, sorry. I do love this kind of book.

All these people live on Lowlands Way, a street near Crystal Palace in London, and they are incredibly proud of that. At the bottom of the street are some lesser houses, but we don't have to care about them. At the top end are big Victorian villas, and people with a lot of money. But at the very top is two semi-deatched houses, built on the plot of a house bombed in the Blitz (although, why are they then numbers 1 and 3 if they only existed after WWII and all the other houses would have been previously numbered??? There's a plot hole!). Number 1 used to belong to an old lady named Jean, but she's died, and her nephew Darren has inherited the house. He moves in with his wife Jodie, and chaos starts to reign.

They are, no doubt, noisy neighbours. They do DIY at any time of the day, and they play loud metal music all night. They are also running a second hand car garage from the house, meaning they're taking up more than their fair share of parking spaces on the street. They make life hell for the house attached to them, which belongs to Ant and Em and their small baby, Sam. Sam can't sleep and Em is getting to the end of her tether. 

Everyone else in the street has problems with the newcomers too. Opposite, there's Sissy, who runs a bed and breakfast from her house, and who begins to get bad reviews because of the noise opposite. At numbers 5 and 7 there are brothers Finn and Ralph and their families. Finn is married to Tess, a stay at home mum, and she's desperate to move away from Finn's brother and wife, who she thinks have too much of an influence on Finn. The two families live next to each other and have a big shared garden. I'm not quite sure why this is relevant but they kept mentioning it. Tess gets delegated to by her sister in law a lot, and is often annoyed by her. 

Ralph and Naomi are kind of the A list couple on the street. Naomi runs some kind of thing like Mumsnet, and she's very posh and really annoying and thinks everyone is beneath her. Ralph (and Finn) came from working class origins but have managed to drag themselves up! Wow. And now Ralph owns a leather goods business in Bermondsey, and reckons he's the king of the world, to be honest. He's hotheaded and very irritating, and I so badly wanted him to get his comeuppance. 

The street is very proud of this thing they have called Play Out Sunday where they all move their cars off the street and close the road to traffic so that the children can play out in the street like in the olden days. Darren doesn't even KNOW about this initiative when everyone has a go at him for not moving his cards, but like fine, expect him to just know that this thing happen. (And also right, where did they all move their cars TO? Nearby streets, apparently - and how is that fair?! Or do only poor people live there, and therefore they don't matter????? Omg, this book)

Relationships between the residents and Darren and Jodie go very sour very fast. The police and council say they need documentation of what's happening, so Ant sets up a camera from his front window. But then tragedy occurs - as it was obviously going to - and everyone is a suspect. It's like Murder on the Orient Express, honestly. I wouldn't have been surprised if they had all been in on it. 

I really enjoyed Our House, and I liked The Other Passenger, but this book kind of annoyed me because everyone was just so snobby and snotty. I didn't get what Naomi's problem was, and it was never resolved. I didn't understand why almost anyone did what they did. I'm giving this three out of five. 

Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli - Blog Tour

Monday, April 19, 2021


Hello and welcome to my blog for today's stop on the tour for Kate in Waiting by Becky Albertalli! It is a pleasure to welcome you here, especially for Becky as I love her books and it feels like forever since we've had a new one to read! 

I read a lot of YA so I would invite you to click around my blog and see my other reviews. You can see my other reviews of Becky's books as follows: Yes No Maybe So (with Aisha Saeed) here, Leah on the Offbeat here, The Upside of Unrequited here, and Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda here

So, Kate in Waiting! Kate Garfield lives in Georgia and the prologue of the book sees her at theatre camp with her friend Anderson, saying goodbye to a boy they've met there, Matt. They both have a crush on him and ask for a selfie so that they can send it to their friends at home, Brandie and Raina. 

Back at home, their junior year of high school is about to start. And then it turns out that Matt has transferred to their school because his mother is from their town and wants to move back following her divorce! Andy and Kate are immediately agog, and have to have a conference in a bathroom about it.

Matt will be doing drama class, and Andy manages to get himself transferred into the same class. But Kate can't, so she's wildly jealous. Everyone then auditions for this year's musical, and both Kate and Anderson begin to make real friendships with Matt. 

They decide to set some ground rules. They have often had mutual crushes before. In fact, their friends think they're a little bit too codependent. But they'll be fine, right? They're Kate and Andy! But then Kate finds herself thinking there's chemistry between her and Matt, but she has to keep it from Andy, and then she feels awful about it. 

Meanwhile, there's fuckboys. Kate's brother Ryan is a little bit of a fuckboy, but she won't let her friends call him that. His friend Noah usually plays baseball, but he's broken his wrist so he's doing drama with Matt and Anderson, and he's in the musical. He and Kate have been friendly, but Kate hates fuckboys because of a mortifying experience when she was bulled in eighth grade. But Noah is just always around, and he is pretty cute... 

I loved this book! Not a lot actually happens in it, but it's a lovely slice of life, of being sixteen/seventeen, of families, of romance. Kate's family is Jewish and her parents are divorced, so she and Ryan split their time between their parents' homes. I loved how this was portrayed. Anderson is black, and gay, and the book touches on how difficult that is for him in a state like Georgia. Raina is trans, which was just a nice little extra in the book. I liked Kate a lot, and felt sorry for her in parts. I didn't warm to Anderson fully, but I liked Matt and even Noah even though he is obviously a fuckboy. I love how Becky writes characters with such depth. I love her easy way with dialogue. I love how her settings come alive. I would have read a novel the length of War & Peace about Kate and her friends! 

I'm giving this five out of five, and want to thank The Write Reads and Penguin for having me on the tour!

The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King - Blog Tour and Review

Sunday, April 18, 2021


Hello and welcome to my blog for my stop on the tour for The Lore of Prometheus by Graham Austin-King! If you haven't been here before please do have a click round to read some of my other reviews!

This book is quite outside of what I normally read, but I really enjoyed it and I'm glad I got the chance to read it. We start off in London with a man called John Carver. He is an ex-soldier who is addicted to gambling and who is running out of luck. He owes a lot of money to a loan shark so, in desperation, he goes to another ex soldier, Jim McCourt, to ask for a favour. The two served together in Afghanistan, and even though he hates the place, John has no choice but to go back to Kabul to do security work for a man called Gharfour. When he arrives, the dust and chaos get straight back into his bad books, but he starts the job anyway.

Carver has some kind of PTSD, and an interesting back story. On a mission in Kabul, several of his squad - Pearson, Turner, and Wilson - were killed by Taliban or Al Qaeda fighters. When the gun was turned on Carver, he managed to stop the bullet in mid air. Stories about "The miracle of Kabul" have followed him ever since. But Carver has his demons in the form of his dead squaddies. They turn up at inopportune moments in his mind, showing off their wounds, and blaming him for their deaths. Rule number three is that he never talks to them, but they are always there.

Meanwhile, a young woman wakes up in darkness, in a cell. She is strapped naked to a frame, with a tube for water and a tube for food within reach. She is called Mackenzie and she's Australian, and she has been working as a nurse for the Red Cross in Kabul. She also has somewhat of a traumatic past. Several tests are done to her and she manages to shout to someone, Armond, who is imprisoned in a nearby cell. Eventually, the staff in the facility bring in a candle and tell Mackenzie to put it out with the power of her mind.

I don't want to say anymore about the story because I think it'll go into spoilers, but I did really like the book. The powers that John and Mackenzie have reminded me of some of the mutant powers that the X Men have, and I'm a big fan of those films. I like that kind of science fiction where it is very firmly rooted in our world but with something just a little different (that is also my favourite kind of fantasy!) I liked both John and Mackenzie and was rooting for them both the whole way through.

This book has some really horrific parts and is quite gory, but it was completely in keeping with the book. I am giving this four out of five, and want to say thank you to all involved for having me on the tour!

__________________________________________

I received this book to read and review as part of the BBNYA 2020 competition and/or the BBNYA tours organised by the @The_WriteReads tours team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest (or insert your own standard version of the same). 

BBNYA is a yearly competition where book bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. 

If you are an author and wish to learn more about the 2021 BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website (https://www.bbnya.com/) or our Twitter account, @BBNYA_Official. If you would like to sign-up and enter your book, you can find the BBNYA 2021 AUTHOR SIGN UP FORM HERE. Please make sure to carefully read our terms and conditions before entering. 

If you are a book blogger or reviewer, you can apply to be part of BBNYA 2021 by filling out this form (also remember to read the terms and conditions before signing up)! 

BBNYA is brought to you in association with the Folio Society (If you love beautiful books you NEED to check out their website!) And the book blogger support group TheWriteReads 

Camp by L C Rosen - Review

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Where did I get it?  I bought it in early January. I loved Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts) so I've been meaning to read this for a while. 


What's it about? Randy is sixteen and gay, and every summer for the past four years he's attended four weeks at Camp Outland, a camp specifically for queer teenagers. Randy is a theatre kid and usually spends all four weeks preparing for the show, wearing lots of glitter and nail polish, and basically being fabulous. However, he has a huge crush on Hudson, a boy who also attends the camp. And Hudson doesn't like campy, femme boys. He likes 'straight-acting' masculine boys. He usually gets together with a boy for two weeks, culminating in sex in a private place, and then ignores them for the remainder of camp. 

But, this year Randy has a plan. He is reinventing himself as Del, a boy who likes obstacle courses and hates musical theatre. He's cut his hair, worked out all year, and isn't going to be in the show this year. He's wearing boring preppy clothes and doing all the same electives are Hudson.

His best friends, George and Ashleigh, think the plan is absolutely insane, but they do agree to support Randy. Their cabin counseller, Mark, also thinks it's loopy, and tries to tell Randy that he's better off being himself. But Randy isn't to be deterred, so the plan goes ahead.

And to begin with, it works. Del and Hudson do get close, and start to see each other, and make out all over the place. Randy is determined to not become a two week wonder, but it's obvious that things are going to go wrong. 

I couldn't gel with the book to begin with, and it took me three days to read like 150 pages. But then I got into it, and I wanted to know what would happen, and how everything would get messed up. I do think the end of the book was worth it, and I don't know why I wasn't feeling the beginning. I liked Randall and all his lovely queer friends! 

Please don't ever change yourself just to get a boyfriend or girlfriend or partner! It's not worth it! The right person will love you just for who you are! 


What age range is it for? 15+ 


Are any main characters LGBTQ+? Of course! I think there's queer people of all different kinds - gay, trans, non binary, asexual people. I would have liked a bisexual person! But that's just me being picky. 


Are any main characters people of colour?

Yes, Hudson is mixed race - I think half white and half Korean. He is also Jewish. I think Randy is too. I think George was a person of colour, too. 


Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No I don't think so 


Is there any sex stuff? Yes, it's explicit. I liked it a lot, and there's a lot of emphasis on safe sex, but it is explicit. 


Are drugs mentioned or used? No I don't think so 


Is there any talk of death? No, this is a mostly very uplifting book! 


Are there swear words? A few, not many 

 

What criticisms do I have? I felt there was a bit of repetition towards the beginning which is maybe why I struggled to get into it. But otherwise, none really. 


Would I recommend the book? Yes, but I preferred Jack of Hearts. 


Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I had just been meaning to! 

 

What do I think of the cover? It's really cute! It looks like a camp badge and it has the rainbow on. I like it! 

 

What other books is it like? None spring to mind, I'm sorry. 


How many stars? Three and a half out of five. 

 

Where is the book going now? Oh I'll keep it, don't worry!

The Good Neighbour by R J Parker - Review

Sunday, April 11, 2021

 


I saw this book on Netgalley and liked the premise, so requested it. Thank you very much to Harper Collins UK and One More Chapter for granting me access to the book for the purpose of review. I received an ecopy of the book for review but was not otherwise compensated. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

So, Leah Talbot is driving home on Valentine's Day when she hits a deer on a quiet road and damages her car. She isn't expected home - she and her husband, Elliott, have been together for eight years but are basically living apart. She walks to a gates house and finds the gates slightly open, so she goes to knock on the door. A man called something Tate answers, and lets her in so she can use the phone to call Elliott, and a breakdown recovery. She's covered in the deer's blood so she goes to clean up, and while she does Tate supposedly phones the police to tell them about the deer on the road. 

Leah ends up fainting due to low blood pressure, and when she comes round she's sitting in the living room with Tate pressing a glass of brandy on her. She begins to be very uncomfortable and wants to leave. She borrows an umbrella and then ends up kissing Tate on the doorstep, despite her misgivings. She goes home, where Elliott is not yet home, and has a long shower. Elliott is concerned about her, but it's obvious there's no love between them anymore. 

The next morning, Elliott leaves the house early and Leah decides to take Tate a bottle of wine to thank him for helping her. When she arrives at the house there are police all over. It turns out that the man introduced himself as Tate killed the owner of the house and has disappeared. The police are a little suspicious of Leah, too, since she was in the house too, and she doesn't tell them about the kiss.

She then gets a text message from Tate, and so begins a game of cat and mouse as Leah races to save everyone she loves and Tate toys with her.

I raced through the book and I did think the first half was pretty good. I wished Leah had just told police what had happened in full, but fine, whatever. I liked the mystery and Tate was genuinely chilling. However, the second half got repetitive and I totally lost track of what time it was supposed to be (it was dark? And then it was the afternoon?). By then I just hoped that the ending would make the whole book pay off. However, it did not. There was no explanation at the end as to why Tate had done what he did. There was no explanation as to how he knew Leah before the night she showed up at the house (which he did - he had already been to her house?? But how/why???) 

I wanted to like this a lot more than I did and I'm giving this three out of five. 

The Body Lies by Jo Baker - Review

Wednesday, April 7, 2021



My friend Laura bought me this for my birthday. She really likes Jo Baker and has bought me one of her books before, although I can't remember which one so don't ask me. As I've said before, I've been trying to read all the books I was given for my birthday and Christmas. I've got them all still by the side of the bed, and I'm working my way through them!

So, this book is about a woman, who I don't think is actually ever named in the book or by anyone, who is assaulted by a man while pregnant, near her home in London. She is married to Mark, and she struggles to get over it. Three years later, she is still struggling. She has had a novel published, and on the back of that she applies for a job in the north of England as a Creative Writing tutor. 

She and her son, Sammy, move to a remote village in an even more remote house, near a farm. She starts her job at the university and finds herself struggling. She has a lot of work to do, part of which is teaching the MA course. She has a handful of students on it, including Nicholas, an enigmatic 20something year old, Meryl, an American student who wants to go out with Nicholas, and some others. They review each other's work, and Nicholas and another student end up in an argument over trigger warnings. Nicholas' work is supposedly autobiographical, and it becomes obvious that he is writing about a girl that he lost, whose body turned up in the village that our heroine lives in. 

Nicholas becomes more obsessed with our heroine, and she begins to be scared in her own home. She goes to a party at his house and something happens that makes her even more scared. The narrative is also interspersed with "statements" from her colleagues and students, but it's not obvious what has happened until the end.

This is only a short book but it took me a while to read it. At the beginning I couldn't really engage with it, and I'm not sure why. At that point I would have given this book three out of five. However, I do think it picked up in the second half and by the end of it, it was more like a four. So I'm giving this 3.5 out of five.

I will say that I had a problem with a couple of things: one, I couldn't really understand why the heroine's assault was such a problem for over three years that she had to run away three years later. Why didn't she run away to begin with? Why didn't she get help in that time? I feel like this was just a way to make her child over three in the book, when she moves to the remote village, and I didn't really like that. The second thing I didn't like was that she had a problem in the relationship with her mother, to the extent that she doesn't tell her mother that she is pregnant until after Sammy is born. This is never explained and it annoyed me!

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas - Review

Sunday, April 4, 2021


Where did I get it? I pre-ordered it from Round Table Books as I knew I wanted to read it, and I wanted to support them. I utterly recommend them! 


What's it about? It's a prequel to The Hate U Give! It's about Starr's dad Maverick! You may remember in T.H.U.G that Starr has an older half brother, Seven. His mum is Iesha, and when he was tiny, everyone thought King was his dad. But then right at the beginning of Concrete Rose, Maverick discovers via DNA test that Seven is his baby. Iesha then takes off, leaving Maverick looking after his son full time. 

Maverick lives with his mum, Faye. I think we see her in T.H.U.G. too. His dad is in prison. He was a King Lord gangster and was arrested when Maverick was around nine. He was sentenced to like forty years in prison or something, and is in a prison three hours away from The Garden where Maverick lives, meaning thet don't see him very often. I can't remember if he makes an appearance in T.H.U.G but I really liked him.

Maverick's girlfriend Lisa breaks up with him because he's had a baby with Iesha, and he is desperate to get her back. He has been selling drugs with his friend King, but he also wants to do the right thing so he gets a job in the grocery store with Mr Wyatt, his next door neighbour. But he is a King Lord, and that means certain things in The Garden. There's stuff going on with the big homies, including Maverick's cousin Dre. King is selling drugs without their say so, which will end in trouble (I wish I could remember what has happened to King in T.H.U.G!) 

Then of course we know there'll be Starr on her way soon... 

I loved this look back at Maverick's teen years. I loved seeing who he was and how through the course of the book he grows up, becomes a man, and shows up for everyone who needs him. I love how close he is to Faye, and she is a brilliant character. I also loved the relationship between Maverick and his dad - I loved how soft and raw and honest with each other they could be. I cannot say how much I loved this book. 


What age range is it for? 15+ 


Are any main characters LGBTQ+? I don't want to spoil anything, but yes, and this was a very, very sweet part of the book 


Are any main characters people of colour? Of course! I think most people in the book are Black. 


Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? No, I don't think so. 


Is there any sex stuff? Yes. It's not graphic, but it is there. 


Are drugs mentioned or used? Yes, mentioned. There's some mentions of drug users, but they're not a main part of the books. 


Is there any talk of death? Yes. No spoilers, but it is quite graphic, and I really didn't remember what had happened when Maverick was a teen that we were told in the first book. 


Are there swear words? Yeah, a few 

 

What criticisms do I have? My ONE criticism is that it was SO SHORT. I wanted 150 pages more! I could've read SO much more about this family. I do think Angie made the right choice to end it when she did, though. 


Would I recommend the book? Yes, definitely 


Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I'd forgotten it had arrived then my kittens knocked over my pile of books next to the bed and I though, oh yeah! Let's pick that up soon! So I did 

 

What do I think of the cover? It's lovely. I loved having a visual of Maverick. 

 

What other books is it like? There's a book I read as a teen where a dad had to look after his baby by himself, so it kind of reminded me of that. 


How many stars? Five out of five! So, so good. 

 

Where is the book going now? I want Lee to read it - he's read both of Angie's previous books so I definitely think he should read this too!

 

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