Haven by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Thank you to netgalley and for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you want a steamy summer read with some characters who aren’t your typical romance book types then this is the book for you. Our two main characters are a chubby Grenadian American woman and a bearded mountain man and their chemistry is just so good.

The book kicks off with our MCs meeting when Claudia is on a camping weekend with her brother and her brother gets murdered by a serial killer and Claudia is running away from the same fate and finds Shep who rescues her from the murderer. When Claudia tries to get back to her real life after the horrible events she can’t stop thinking about Shep.

Now obviously based on that synopsis you can tell that there are some triggers with this book. Claudia’s brother is murdered and Claudia herself nearly meets the same fate and is attacked so whilst it isn’t gone into too much detail, if you are triggered by these kind of things I would be weary, especially as it is continuously mentioned throughout the novel as Claudia is still dealing with the trauma. BUT the way the author dealt with that trauma throughout the book was really respectful I thought, and I felt like the way she wrote how Claudia dealt with the grief and trauma was really real and believable.

The erotic parts of this novel, which there were a lot, were so steamy. I had to make sure I read this book when I was in bed as I knew if I read it in public I would get very uncomfortable. There was some exhibitionist aspects in this book which I haven’t read much of in erotica and my god it got me a bit hot and bothered. There’s also a lot of bdsm parts of their relationship, which from what I’ve read Rebekah Weatherspoon includes of lot of her books, which were really good to read, as I find bdsm in books can be really awkward if the writer doesn’t know what they’re doing.

I loved the characters in this book, I need to get myself a Shep because they way I imagined him was just so perfect. And Claudia was just such a good person to read the POV of, I felt like she made a lot of decisions that I would.

So, yeah, get this book because god damn it’s so hot.

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You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood

Thank you to netgalley and Penguin UK/Michael Joseph for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was a very odd book. I don’t think I’ve ever read anything like this and I probably won’t for the very foreseeable future. This books is all written as the written files of a person on trial for murder as he gives his final argument for himself.

I’m not the biggest fan of books told in nuanced language, like if it’s told from a characters dialect or it has a different style of writing to the norm. But I was able to read this despite the MC’s voice being written exactly as it would sound. I think that’s what made the book work though, reading it the way it would’ve been spoken.

It felt like Mahmood did his research, he’s pakistani and the characters in this book are all black, so obviously a different racial background and upbringing. But it did feel like he wrote their stories very well with a good insight into how gang culture for black young people works in London.

There was some moments where there was some really sensitive topics, like rape and murder and drug dealing, so trigger warning for that, and at times I felt like it was dealt with well and other times it felt too casual. And of course that’s because the novel is all told through speech, but it was a little too blasé at times and I wasn’t too keen on that.

It was quite slow, when we got to the midway point where the story started winding up it moved a lot faster but I felt like the MC spent just a bit too long on the back story, and had I been a juror I probably would’ve fallen asleep.

I liked the MC, his attitude to his girlfriend kind of annoyed me. It felt like he thought he owned her at times, not like in an over the top way but there was some elements at times of him being a bit too protective. But he read well and I could feel his need for the jury to really hear his story, even if it meant messing up his life.

I looked up the author and he’s a lawyer so I assume he would know the legal system like the back of his hand but it was like a 10 day final argument which I didn’t even think could happen. It felt a bit unrealistic, like surely the judge would tell him to wrap it up?

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The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

So I used to love Twilight and I still like The Host so I wanted to give Stephenie Meyer’s new novel a try. I wanted to see what her writing was like now that it’s been like 8 years since her last full novel was released. And for someone who isn’t massively into thrillers this was ok!

Alex’s life since she left her job has been constantly on the move. She can’t stay in one place, but then she’s contacted by her old boss to find someone who could ruin the whole world.

The beginning was super slow so if you start the book and think the first few chapters are heavy going, it gets better. It was very much full of jargon and building that there wasn’t much plot.

Honestly this book ended up being very romance based, and the romance was quite unbelievable. It was like some sort of weird stockholm syndrome thing. If the couple had met under different circumstances I maybe would’ve liked them together but it just felt really awkward and wrong, and even the MC herself kept telling him not to like her because she tortured him.

Meyer’s biggest plus I think has always been her dialogue, she writes really good believable conversations between characters. Obviously a lot of the lines from Twilight are super cringey now but at the time people quoted it so much and there’s a reason those lines were so memorable.

Overall I’d say this was a fun, kind of mindless read, I could tell where the general plot was going there was a couple of times I was shocked but there was never something that I found to be a big twist. It was definitely not a book that thriller lovers would enjoy.

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Why bother with writing this review when my feelings can be summed up in: READ IT.

Thank you to netgalley and Viking for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I’m a white woman so whilst I endeavour to explain things as best as I can let me know if I’ve said something offensive and I’ll correct it ASAP.

Homegoing follows the generations of 2 sisters (who didn’t know each other existed), Effia who is sold into slavery and Esi who is a slave trader’s wife. It alternates POVs from each side of the family though each generation until the modern day.

This book just really affected me. I just sat for like half an hour afterwards just not sure what to do with myself. I still just sit and think about it and I read it in December. It goes through every kind of racial inequality and experience that you can imagine from people who are descended from African slaves. Of course, it’s not every experience but it just felt like it. We go through riding the boat to America, to taking part in the slave trade just to live, to being persecuted for your father taking part in the slave trade, to growing up on cotton farms, to living free but not really free at all, to mine working, to the 1960s race riots, and so on and so forth. I really loved that there wasn’t just being put down for your race but also there was sexuality discussions in tense times for being gay.

I could not believe that this was a debut, the writing was so incredible. I could really feel everything and imagine all the settings described. I was so close to tears for a lot of it because the writing was so on point. I will definitely be reading anything Yaa Gyasi releases next.

If I have one complaint it was the PO switching, when I started the book I found it a bit disjointed because I wasn’t used to it. However after a few of these changes I got used to it and it began to feel a lot more natural. Gyasi was really good at introducing you to the next character, whether it be when they’re a baby or really getting to know them, you at least have a vague idea of who you’re going to hear from next.

I honestly don’t think I can do this book justice so please promise me you’ll read it. It’s one of those moments in life where I just felt changed as a person simply for reading it.

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The Martian by Andy Weir

I did a bad thing and watched the movie before reading the book. I honestly wasn’t even interested in reading the book until I watched the film though. The film was pretty true to the book I felt.

I’m sure you know what the Martian is about but if you don’t it’s about a guy called Mark Watney who gets stranded on Mars after his crew thinks that he died. The next mission to Mars isn’t for 5 years and he only has enough rations for 1-2 years.

I was worried after watching the film how they would explain all the science stuff in the books, I’m pretty good at understanding science related wording because I studied science a lot in school. It honestly was fairly straight forward, there was a lot of jargon but it was explained for the most part. However after a while I found my mind numbing with all the jargon, there was just so much. I get that it’s science fiction, I get that it’s all about getting a man back from being stranded on Mars, but honestly some of it was hard work. I didn’t have trouble understanding it, it was just tiring.

Despite the tiring jargon though it really felt like something that was actually happening. It felt like it was all in the realm of possibility, and I really felt myself getting to the edge of my seat sometimes, even though I knew what was going to happen.

Something I really adored about this book was how funny Mark was. Honestly his humour was right up my street, he’s a smart ass and I love reading people like that in books.

The rest of the characters were pretty diverse but also they kind of felt non existent sometimes. I couldn’t remember who all he people working at NASA were and who was what part of the team.

I think the film and the book are pretty on par in my opinion, which doesn’t happen often. So if you can’t be bothered to read all the info but could sit through a movie, you should watch the movie, if you aren’t a movie person the book is good too.

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Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

So I was quite a big McFly fan so I knew about Giovanna before she wrote any books, before Tom posted his wedding speech and went Viral. I’ve been meaning to read this since it came out… which was 3 years ago but let’s not talk about it.

Billy and Me is the love story of Billy, a famous actor, and Sophie, a girl who walks at a coffee shop. Throughout the novel we get to go through the peaks and troughs of love between a famous person and a non famous person.

The beginning of this felt like a gender bent Notting Hill. You know, the quirky British person randomly bumps into a hot actor etc etc. But after the beginning this book diverged into it’s own plot. It was nice to read that beginning though as it gave me a bit of nostalgia for the classic rom com.

Sadly I was kind of disappointed by this book, I was hoping it would be something like a Sophie Kinsella or Lindsey Kelk but there wasn’t much humour in it. The beginnings of the relationship really get you invested in the characters and despite mistakes they make later down the line I kept reading because I wanted to see what was going to happen to them.

To begin with I loved the characters, I loved the love story, I was so into it, but then things started to get a bit dicey. I felt like they were moving ridiculously fast in their relationship, without spoiling anything I was literally reading it like wtf chill out. As we got further into the relationship I felt like both Billy and Sophie started to change and both got annoying to me in completely different ways: Billy just turned into an asshole and Sophie became so whiney. So even though I wanted to know what was going to happen to these characters I was just getting more and more annoyed at them.

I am going to read the sequel eventually as I was sent it on netgalley and I do want to see what happens, I’m also interested in reading other books by Giovanna to see how she’s changed as an author since this was her debut novel.

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We Were on a Break by Lindsey Kelk

Thank you to netgalley and Harper Collins for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I reviewed Always The Bridesmaid by Lindsey Kelk back in May and was keen on reading other books by her so when this popped up on netgalley I jumped on it. I didn’t like it as much as Always The Bridesmaid but I still really enjoyed it.

Liv and Adam are on holiday and everything is ready for Adam to propose, howevere the night heads in a bad direction and Ada has a bit of a breakdown and suddenly they’re on a break.

One of the first things that I really picked up on was how this read like a Richard Curtis film. Think something along the lines of Bridget Jones or Notting Hill. So many things kept going wrong when the characters were trying to sort their lives out. It was classic British farce comedy, yeah it could’ve been wrapped up a lot faster had the characters not being blundering idiots but that’s part of the journey. I could see people from other countries not getting it, and from other reviews I’ve seen there have been some people but oh well.

It was good to read a book of this genre with a split POV, I liked getting to see both characters and how they felt about the situation and how they tried to do things but ended up screwing up. I think after reading this that there’s a real gap in the market for romantic comedy books that have multiple POVs, there are a lot of films where we get to see all but it’s not as common in books.

Something I’ve noticed in both this book and Always the Bridesmaid is that Kelk likes to give her characters one kind of normal-ish friend and one completely batty/controlling/misguided friend. I often found myself getting annoyed because Liv and Adam’s friends kept getting themselves involved where they shouldn’t have been and making everything worse than it could’ve been.

As I read the book I really understood how things fell apart on their holiday, not even through things that the characters say but just witnessing their relationships with people. Some of their friends are married and from that they see the pressures of marriage and parenthood, and of course there are real life pressures and familial pressures, and I think Kelk did really well in showing the different pressures of a long term relationship.

This is definitely a good read to dip in and out of and is so funny, if you like Hugh Grant films then this is right up your street.

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Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

After a terrible accident Will is left as a quadriplegic, with no use of any of his limbs. Lou loses her job after her boss decides to move to Australia. After a few dodgy jobs from the Job Centre Lou applies to be the carer of Will and eventually comes to care about him a lot despite Will being an absolute arse to her.

I reserved this book at the library because I wasn’t sure if I would like it or not but wanted to check out what the hype was all about. Part of my uncertainty was that I’d seen a lot of comments about how it was ableist and the disabled community just wasn’t happy with it. After reading it I can truly say I really liked this book, I get the hype, I get the criticism but I also kind of disagree with the criticism, however, I’m not a person with a disability so it isn’t my place to tell someone who is that they shouldn’t be offended. In the book Will is suicidal and wants to go to Switzerland to commit assisted suicide and many people have read the book and read into it thinking the author is thus saying that all people who are disabled lead miserable suicidal lives, which I don’t personally think is the case. Will used to ride a motorbike and go thrill seeking and travel, which is obviously quite difficult for someone who is quadriplegic and he’s depressed because he can’t live the life he used to love not depressed just because he’s disabled. I’m not telling you not to be offended if you are but that’s just how I interpreted it.

Honestly, the book is just a sweet story about love and how much someone is willing to do for someone. Lou is a wonderful girl, if sometimes a bit easily led, and the way Moyes writes really made me feel for Will and the entire situation. The way Lou’s family treat her made me so angry at times, as if she’s only good enough to get them money to pay their bills, god forbid she do something for herself.

I found myself beginning to like Will as Lou begun to like him and I really enjoyed that experience, it read really well. As the characters warmed up to each other I really began to understand why so many people love this book and how it became a movie.

My one issue with MBY was that it seemed to be a bit longer than necessary. Like there’s the occasional scene that just isn’t really needed to advance the plot or develop the characters. On top of that, I didn’t cry. I was promised I would cry. I’m so disappointed, I’m fairly quick to cry as well.

There is a sequel to Me Before You, called After You but as much as I liked Me Before You I have no intention to read After You. The way MBY ends it just feels completed and I don’t really get why there would be a sequel to it, especially as from most of the reviews I’ve read it doesn’t seem to be that great.

I hope to watch the movie at some point as I adore Sam Claflin and have done since he was in Pirate of the Caribbean, and Emilia Clarke is ok too.

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Mini Reviews #1

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Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings 

 

I enjoyed this for what it is – a quarter of a novel. I don’t know why they’ve decided to release this in small parts but whatever. I couldn’t really get a great feel for the characters so I think I’ll wait until all the parts are out to read the rest. It definitely showed potential and I thought the writing was seamless for a joint written novel.

 

 

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Bespoke by Val Prozorova and Megan McFerren

Thank you to netgalley and Less Than Three Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. Again, as this was a co-authored book the writing didn’t feel disjointed. This was a very character driven novella surrounding a chance encounter. It was kind of sweet kind of funny and a nice quick read.

 

 

 

 

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Prom & Other Hazards by Jamie Sullivan

Thank you to netgalley and Less Than Three Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review. This was a sweet, mindless novella about a girl wanting to ask her best friend to prom. She saves up for a suit by working at the shop it comes from. It was nice to read something that is so overdone in straight contemporaries in a lesbian light.

 

 

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Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

This was my first graphic novel and I adored it. The art was wonderful, the writing was both hilarious and heart warming. I loved seeing a world like this from the “villain’s” eyes.

 

 

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The Haunted Pub by Melanie Tushmore

Thank you to Netgalley and Less Than Three Press for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was an incredibly weird, funny, over the top read for me. I felt like I should’ve hated it but I kind of loved it.

Fizz is kicked out of his home by his parents after they decided they’d had enough of his depressed self (fucking terrible parenting). So his brother gets him situated with their cousin in a pub in Brighton. Gradually with the help of the guys who all live in the pub and their friends Fizz begins to come out of his skin, until everything goes wrong.

I honestly don’t know what I was expecting with this book, it was hilarious until things went really strange and where it was supposed to be scary it was just really odd and confusing.

I found myself pulling for all the different couples. Though I do question the reality of there being 3 different same sex couples in the one work place, but it is Brighton so… I especially adored the relationship between Fizz and Ash because Ash never pushed Fizz despite him being so incredibly shy and awkward.

There’s a sex scene at about 90% of the book which I just found really out of the blue and jarring. There’s no other sexual stuff in the book like this and it kind of made me feel like “was that necessary”. I’m no stranger to literotica but it just felt kind of shoved in there (ha ha ha ha ha ha).

The “haunted” part of the book started off really funny, the poltergeist was messing with people in a way that I really enjoyed and I found really different. But then things go a lot more sinister with the ghost and like I said earlier I found it really weird. The way things were described by Tushmore was just a bit off. It seemed like she was trying to do something different with the whole poltergeist thing whilst trying to not go completely off base. I honestly just found it weird to read.

Overall this was a fun, fast read for me. Not the best thing I’ve ever read but I’d consider reading something else by this author.

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