Category Archives: Reviews

Book Review: Pretty Honest by Sali Hughes

September 5, 2016

Book Review: Pretty Honest by Sali HughesPretty Honest by Sali Hughes
Published by Fourth Estate on 11th September 2014
Source: Gifted
Pages: 331
A witty, wise and truthful beauty handbook for real women on what works in real life from Sali Hughes, beloved journalist and broadcaster.

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together” Elizabeth Taylor

Beauty books. Exquisite coffee-table affairs featuring improbably beautiful models with wholly-unachievable-to-most women looks, product review-heavy volumes which become almost instantly outdated, or tracts of holistic mumbo jumbo, like how to make an unproven face pack from organic molasses and rough-hewn porridge oats.

Not anymore.

In Pretty Honest, Sali Hughes draws on over 20 years of wisdom, advice and expertise to show real women how to make the most of makeup’s physically and emotionally transformative powers. Covering everything from teenage skin to mature beauty, botox to bridal make-up, sickness to good health, it's a work that is part instruction manual, part love letter to makeup – in a writing style that combines beauty editor, feminist and painfully funny best friend.

I’m an avid beauty and skincare fan. I read beauty blogs almost daily, and I’m constantly spending my money on makeup, (when I’m not buying books, of course) much to my boyfriend’s despair. So when Pretty Honest was released, I, along with many other beauty aficionados were giddy with excitement.

Sali Hughes knows her stuff. She’s The Guardian’s beauty editor, and has tons of experience when it comes to beauty. So you can guarantee that the products mentioned in Pretty Honest are one’s Sali truly loves and believes in. This isn’t a book filled with paid endorsements, this is a book filled with genuine product recommendations. And it includes practically everything you could ever need to know – from your skincare routine, to how to apply eyeliner, to following proper salon etiquette, this book has you covered.

It’s obvious as you read Pretty Honest that Sali Hughes is genuinely passionate about beauty. It’s not only her job – it’s her hobby. She draws on a lot of her own experiences in Pretty Honest, some of which has me busting up in a fit of giggles – although waxing is no laughing matter! It’s to the point, but it reads as though you’re having a chat with Sali instead of being lectured by her.

Pretty Honest is a book I will not hesitate to recommend to any beauty fan of any age. There’s something for everyone to learn here, it’s a total gem of a book that you shouldn’t miss, if only for the excellent introduction alone.

Book Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K Johnston

August 15, 2016

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: A Thousand Nights by E.K JohnstonA Thousand Nights on 6th October 2015
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 324
LO-MELKHIIN KILLED THREE HUNDRED GIRLS before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time. But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

I can’t resist beautifully written books, full of gorgeous imagery that I’m happy to delve into for a good few hours, and A Thousand Nights definitely delivered. I feel like a lot of the hype for this book was due to the comparisons to fellow Arabian Nights retelling, The Wraith and the Dawn, which I haven’t yet read. From what I can gather though, the two are very different. A Thousand Nights is not a love story. There is a romance in it, but it is so much more. It’s a book about faith and spirituality, about sisterly love and how one sister can save the other. Beautiful and exquisite, this is a book I could reread over and over again.

Lo-Melkhiin is portrayed as a bad man, a ruler who takes a different wife each night and murders them all before sunrise. Our heroine refuses to let her sister follow the same fate, and takes her place as Lo-Melkhiin’s new bride, knowing what the sacrifice means, knowing that her death is imminent, but not caring because it means her sister will be safe. Talk about a selfless act of love. I love that the main theme of A Thousand Nights, for me at least, was the bond that the two sisters had, and how it carried on through the book.

I also loved how Lo-Melkhiin was shown to be a good man by his mother, who had watched her son change and become the monster he currently was, and how it helped the heroine save the day, as it were.

Seriously, just pick up a copy of A Thousand Nights and read it. Thank me later.

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

April 18, 2016

Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan MatsonSince You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Published by Simon and Schuster Children's Books on 6th May 2014
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Pages: 449
It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back?

Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough.

Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not?

Kiss a stranger? Um...

Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny-dipping? Wait...what?

As I’m away on holiday, I’ve been delving into my drafts pile to see what posts I can put up for you all whilst I’m gone. Much like Eleanor & Park, this review has been sat in the drafts for a long, long time but I can’t not share a review of a book by one of my favourite authors ever!

Something that’s talked about a fair bit in the book blogging world is the worry that you won’t love a favourite author’s new book. And let me tell you, the fear was strong when it came to Since You’ve Been Gone. But, of course, Morgan Matson more than delivered here.

I loved the theme of finding yourself – truly – when your best friend disappears. I’ve been in a similar situation – my friend didn’t disappear but we did grow apart and it was so hard to try and work out who I was as a person without having that person there. So to say I connected with Emily is an understatement. I expected to dislike Sloane for leaving, but I didn’t. I couldn’t. Because despite the fact that Emily was left alone, she still loved Sloane dearly, and wasn’t prepared to just lose her without a fight. I love how she left Emily the list – her way of making sure Emily would be okay without her. The flashback scenes that showed Emily and Sloane’s friendship were excellent to read. And it is so nice to read about a genuine friendship between two girls in YA – there’s no frenemy shit, just two best friends and I LOVED it.

And Frank! Where do I start with Frank?! I loved how his relationship with Emily grew throughout the book – it was so refreshing to read about a really nice guy who has no hidden agenda, no ulterior motive. He’s just super kind to everyone. That’s not to say he’s without flaws – he does have them – but I found him far more enjoyable to read about than the stereotypical ‘bad guy turned good’. Morgan Matson writes some stellar male characters who aren’t douches (Roger, Henry, Frank and Collins) and they are so realistically portrayed. I love nice guys. And I love that Morgan Matson seems to love nice guys too.

No Morgan Matson book is complete without music, so naturally, I nearly squealed when I saw the playlists. I love playlists. Especially  when they’re in books! And I loved how they became a part of Since You’ve Been Gone, they weren’t just thrown in to try and make things interesting – they actually had relevance to the story.

Since You’ve Been Gone was everything I needed and wanted it to be, and it’s easily one of my favourite reads of 2015 so far. Now just to wait for the release of The Unexpected Everything…

Book Review: The Lie by C.L Taylor

April 11, 2016

Book Review: The Lie by C.L TaylorThe Lie by C L Taylor
Published by Avon UK on 23rd April 2015
Pages: 461
I know your name's not really Jane Hughes...

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She's happier than she's ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put her past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won't stop until they've destroyed Jane and everything she loves.

I don’t generally read mysteries or thrillers, but there was something about The Lie that really attracted me to the book. The entire concept is really interesting, a woman who’s changed her name after a holiday of a lifetime took a sinister turn, and now the past is coming back to haunt her. And what starts off as a slow, easy going read soon turned into a horrifying series of events from Jane’s past. It’s so strange to be reading a book where you don’t like a single one of the main characters. And the plot was all kinds of messed up. I wasn’t expecting the Nepal storyline to develop the way it did, and it had such an explosive ending, it wasn’t hard to see why Jane had to change her name and create a whole new life for herself.

I didn’t think I was particularly enjoying The Lie until I realised I’d read over 100 pages in a morning during clinic. I found myself desperate to pick it up between patients and find out what twisted thing was going to happen next. It’s full of heart-stopping moments, and there were passages that left me asking “what the fuck?” as I finished them.

Definitely an interesting read, and a great page-turner if you’re into thrillers or just fancy reading something a bit different.

3 Great Books I Read at the End of 2015 + Mini Reviews

April 1, 2016

(No, we’re not going to talk about how overdue this post is.) ANYWAY these three books probably won’t get reviewed on the blog, because I’m not mega into writing reviews these days, but I still want to talk a little bit about them with you because, hello? These were three excellent books.

Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
(Also Siege and Storm, but Ruin and Rising was literally my fave of the two. Just.)

Okay, pushing aside how sad I am that this series is over and that I’m now putting off reading Six of Crows til Crooked Kingdom is a little closer to release, because if this series is anything like the Grisha trilogy I am not going to want to wait too long for the next book in the series to appear. I swear, Mal and Alina became my ultimate OTP in Ruin and Rising. I LOVE THEM SO MUCH. (Sorry my Princely Pirate.) Also David and Genya were amazing. (Of course.) And hello Nickolai, even though I felt really sad about what you went through. There was the action you expected, because the war against The Darkling was going to happen and there was no stopping until one side lost for good.

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

AHHH. AHHH! I finally FINALLY managed to finish The Infernal Devices, and I absolutely LOVED Clockwork Princess. It had been ages since I read Clockwork Prince, but I delved right back into the Shadowhunters world, with Tessa, Jem and Will. Ugh this book was amazing. I loved every second of it. And the ending! I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect ending to the series. I finished this book sitting in my cold car in a Holiday Inn car park in Peterborough blinking away tears as best as I could, and feeling so satisfied with the ending. I don’t want more. I’m happy knowing how Tessa’s story ended, and that’s that. Now to start City of Heavenly Fire. (And then I’ll read Lady Midnight because no matter how many times I say I won’t start that series we all know it’s gonna happen.)

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Oh my goodness. This book! I picked it up on a whim, not knowing if I would enjoy it or not, and got so sucked into the book I ended up reading it in a day. I know a lot of people had raved about this book in the past but oh my goodness I was so shocked at how good it really was and how much I felt for the characters. And the ending was lovely, but also kind of aggravating for me because I wanted more from the characters. But seriously a great read and one I’m going to recommend for years because it’s an incredible work of historical fiction.

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

March 30, 2016

Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow RowellEleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Published by Orion on 1st February 2013
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Pages: 325
Eleanor is the new girl in town, and with her chaotic family life, her mismatched clothes and unruly red hair, she couldn't stick out more if she tried.

Park is the boy at the back of the bus. Black T-shirts, headphones, head in a book - he thinks he's made himself invisible. But not to Eleanor... never to Eleanor.

Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall for each other. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you're young, and you feel as if you have nothing and everything to lose.

Okay, it’s been a YEAR since I read this wonderful book, but I found this review sitting in my drafts folder and Eleanor & Park is too good to not talk about, so here’s my gushy review for this amazing book.

I’ve put off writing this review for a very long time. It’s been nearly 4 months since I read Eleanor & Park, yet I still get a painful feeling in my gut when I think about it. This book is quite simply phenomenal.

But what is there to say about Eleanor & Park that hasn’t already been said? If you haven’t been persuaded to read it now, then I doubt my review will convince you otherwise. But I will say that Eleanor & Park is the first book since Before I Fall to hit me with this much emotion. It’s the first book in a long while that left me desperately willing for a sequel, just so I know that the characters are okay. And it’s the first book in forever to have made such a huge impression on my person. It’s all too easy to let go of characters, but Eleanor and Park have stuck with me and refused to let me go.

And it’s not just Eleanor & Park that won’t leave me. I started off hating Park’s father, but came quite close to bursting into tears when he offered Eleanor solace from her stepfather. The same with Park’s mother, who quite openly disliked Eleanor, but ended up having a total change of heart and tried her best to treat Eleanor like the daughter she didn’t have. (Much to Eleanor’s horror!)

I’ve spoken about this before, but I genuinely didn’t realise how awful Eleanor’s home life was. I was so unprepared for that, and I think that feeling was what made me love Eleanor & Park all the more. It pushed me out of my comfort zone. It made me uncomfortable. But I still kept on reading. And this book tore my heart in two. I finished Eleanor & Park with 30 seconds to spare on my lunch break, and had to somehow compose myself enough to start my afternoon clinic. Didn’t work. I had to blame my puffy eyes on hayfever. I don’t think that worked either.

Eleanor & Park is a book that I love wholeheartedly. It’s been a long time since a book has connected with me like Eleanor & Park did, and I know it’s going to be a book I revisit over and over again. This book genuinely made me love Rainbow Rowell even more, which I honestly didn’t believe to be possible.

Book Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp

March 21, 2016

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: This Is Where It Ends by Marieke NijkampThis Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on 5th January 2016
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 285
10:00 a.m.
The principal of Opportunity, Alabama's high school finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m.
The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

The auditorium doors won't open.

Someone starts shooting.

Told over the span of 54 harrowing minutes from four different perspectives, terror reigns as one student's calculated revenge turns into the ultimate game of survival.

I’m going to state the obvious in saying I’ve never read a book like This Is Where It Ends. I don’t pick up these kind of contemporaries normally, I stick to the more fluffy realms of the genre, aiming for feel-good romances instead of the read hard-hitting stuff. But This Is Where It Ends is a book that needs to be read. Saying I enjoyed it feels like the wrong thing to say – because a book with this kind of topic shouldn’t be enjoyed. It should be absorbed, thought about and make you face the facts about topics you don’t normally have at the forefront of your mind.

This Is Where It Ends was an intense read, and sucked me in right from the start. It’s literally the best definition of a page-turner that I’ve read recently, I was constantly flicking through the pages, desperate to find out what happened next. To say the course of the book takes place over less than an hour, the writing was full of description that transported me right to the auditorium, and that made it all the more terrifying to read. At times I felt like I couldn’t breathe with fear over what was going to happen to the students. This Is Where It Ends is scattered with various points of view, which add to its depth and gave us an insight into how so many different students were affected, and how they reacted to it.

This Is Where It Ends does not have a happy ending. It’s cruel, heart-breaking and so necessary. It wouldn’t have been right for it to all be neatly tied up with a bow at the end, because how many school shootings in reality end with a happy ending? They don’t. And a happy ending wouldn’t have done the story, and the message of This Is Where It Ends justice. I applaud Nijkamp for writing this book realistically, and how she refused to shy away from those extra details that were hard to read but ultimately made the book better.

Book Review: Mercer Street by John A. Heldt

February 3, 2016

I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Mercer Street by John A. HeldtMercer Street by John A Heldt
Series: American Journey #2
Published by Self-Published on 21st October 2015
Source: Author
Pages: 431
Weeks after her husband dies in the midst of an affair in 2016, Chicago writer Susan Peterson, 48, seeks solace on a California vacation with her mother Elizabeth and daughter Amanda. The novelist, however, finds more than she bargained for when she meets a professor who possesses the secret of time travel. Within days, the women travel to 1938 and Princeton, New Jersey. Elizabeth begins a friendship with her refugee parents and infant self, while Susan and Amanda fall for a widowed admiral and a German researcher with troubling ties. Filled with poignancy, heartbreak, and intrigue, MERCER STREET gives new meaning to courage, sacrifice, and commitment as it follows three strong-willed souls on the adventure of a lifetime.

The one thing I love with books by John A. Heldt is that I’m guaranteed to enjoy them. Mercer Street was absolutely no exception, and a stellar addition to the American Journey series. I loved how three generations of a family were sent time-travelling by the mysterious Geoffrey Bell in Mercer Street, and how Elizabeth’s past was woven into their new present in 1938. Reading about Princeton was great, and Heldt never fails to disappoint with his rich descriptions of the past. I love travelling back in time with these books, as I honestly feel like I’m right there with the characters in the past.

I enjoyed the romance in Mercer Street, as it really tied in well with the plot and added to the story, and I found myself desperately rooting for Amanda and Kurt’s relationship to make it through to the end of the book, even though it seemed, at times, that their differences were just too difficult to work through. I enjoyed Susan’s relationship with Jack as well, although it didn’t have the outcome I wanted it to, I understand and appreciate why Heldt chose to follow that path.

It’s so hard to talk about these books without giving something away, as they are full of little twists and turns that have a huge impact on the outcome, but don’t let my vagueness stop you from picking up these books, because John Heldt is definitely a master of his craft, and I would absolutely LOVE to see his works getting more recognition in the future.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading Mercer Street, and found it to be yet another fantastic addition to John A Heldt’s work,

Book Review: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury|Blog Tour

February 1, 2016

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: The Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury|Blog TourThe Sleeping Prince by Melinda Salisbury
Series: The Sin Eater's Daughter #2
Published by Scholastic on 4th February 2016
Source: Publisher
Pages: 336
Return to the darkly beautiful world of The Sin Eater's Daughter with a sequel that will leave you awed, terrified . . . and desperate for more.

Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin's life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.

When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won't reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.

I’m super excited to be kicking off The Sleeping Prince Blog Tour! I really enjoyed The Sin Eater’s Daughter, and I was so glad to be able to have the opportunity to grab a copy of The Sleeping Prince early. Make sure you check out the rest of the stops on the tour for more reviews of The Sleeping Prince.

We all know my relationship with series. I don’t tend to be very quick with reading the sequels, even if I super enjoyed the first book. So to read the first AND second book in a series within two weeks of one another is pretty much unheard of for me, and it shows just what kind of series The Sin Eater’s Daughter is to capture my attention the way it has.

I enjoyed The Sin Eater’s Daughter, it wasn’t the most perfect fantasy I’ve ever read, but it was certainly enjoyable for me. Dare I say, I liked Errin more than Twylla in The Sleeping Prince? She just seemed to have more oomph about her, and was determined to save herself instead of waiting around for someone else to do it for her. I loved her grit and determination when it came to looking after her mother and keeping a roof over their heads without the villagers realising just how bad her situation really was. That said, I really enjoyed seeing Twylla’s development from the first book, she was so determined to be as independent as possible, because she didn’t want to follow whatever destiny someone told her she had to fulfil. I was kind of disappointed to not see more Merek and Lief in the book, but at the same time, Lief was such an arse I didn’t really have a problem with it! (I’m sure that makes me a bad person but I don’t really care. #TeamMerek.)

Thankfully there was no love triangle in The Sleeping Prince!! I was so thrilled, and it made the kind-of romance between Errin and Silas incredible, although I spent a lot of my time torn between wanting Silas to help Errin and really not liking Silas for abandoning Errin. (The git. I know it all gets explained, but still. The git.) And then Silas’ BIG SECRET was revealed and I swear my heart broke a tiny little bit. Although he had some seriously swoonworthy moments towards the end of the book, and I really, really hope he gets a happy ending in the next book. I’ll be devastated if the end of The Sleeping Prince turns out to be his true ending.

The Sleeping Prince was excellent, and I really enjoyed reading it. Although I’m so traumatised at the fact that I have so many questions and NO BOOK THREE TO READ YET. Seriously. I loved the fact I got to read The Sleeping Prince early but I hate that I probably have to wait an entire year to read the next installment to this fantasy series.

About the Author

When not working on her next novel, Melinda Salisbury is busy reading and travelling, both of which are now more addictions than hobbies. Website|Twitter|Goodreads



Book Review: Can We Live Here? by Sarah Alderson

November 30, 2015

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Can We Live Here? by Sarah AldersonCan We Live Here? by Sarah Alderson
Published by Blink on 6th August 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 256
Last week, I was sitting in seven layers (two of them thermal) next to a fire, with a blanket wrapped around me. Now, I am sleeping in kickers and a vest under a fan. Let the mosquitos bite me. They can have me ... Can we live here? ... If I don't become roadkill in the next few days, I'll let you know my thoughts.

In 2009, Sarah and John Alderson quit their full-time jobs in London and headed off, with Alula, their three-year-old daughter, on a global adventure to find a new home. For eight months, they travelled through Australia, the US and Asia navigating India with a toddler in a tutu, battling black magic curses in Indonesia and encountering bears in North America asking themselves one defining question: Can We Live Here?

Inspirational, hilarious and fascinating this is an unforgettable travel memoir and a unique guide to quitting your job, following your dreams and finding your home in a far-flung paradise

I generally don’t read non-fiction, but I couldn’t resist picking up Can We Live Here? by Sarah Alderson. I already follow her on Twitter, and have been meaning to read more of her books since Conspiracy Girl, so this was the perfect place for me to start.

I absolutely loved this book. It’s more like you’re having a chat with Sarah about her travels to Goa, Singapore and Bali (amongst other places) instead of reading her blog-turned-book. I loved the underlying theme of the book, the “fuck it, yes” mentality, as it’s something that we all secretly wish we could say to most things. It’s easy to daydream about quitting our jobs and travelling the world, but instead of daydreaming about it, Sarah Alderson actually did it, and that’s what made reading Can We Live Here? all the more entertaining.

And this book is hilarious. There were parts that had me giggling out loud, chuckling away to myself during my lunchbreak, parts that had me cringing at the sheer awkwardness of the situation, and parts that just made me feel obscenely jealous that Sarah had the balls to say “fuck it” and just go for what she wanted to do.

I would urge everyone to pick up this book, not just fans of Sarah Alderson, but those who feel they’re stuck in a rut, and want help in pushing themselves out of their comfort zones and dipping their toes into unknown waters.