Book Review: Happiness For Humans by P Z Reizin

happinessHappiness For Humans by P Z Reizin
Publisher: Sphere
Release Date: 27th December 2018
Buy: Paperback | Kindle
Synopsis:

Do you believe in soulmates?

Aiden does. So when his colleague, Jen, is dumped unceremoniously by her dreadful boyfriend, Aiden decides to take matters – and Jen’s life – into his own hands.

Scouring the internet for a suitable partner for Jen, Aiden finds Tom. He’d be perfect for Jen apart from one minor detail: Tom lives in New York.

Luckily for Jen and Tom, Aiden’s not just an interfering colleague. In fact, Aiden isn’t exactly human – he’s a very complicated artificial intelligence.

As Jen and Tom’s romance grows, Aiden begins to take more and more risks to make sure that they can be together. But what will happen if they realise how they met…and that somebody else is pulling the strings?

My Review

Happiness For Humans is one of those books that sucks you in immediately. I didn’t know how much I love AI until I read this book, but this was an incredible read. I must admit, on reading the synopsis, I was perhaps a tiny bit sceptical. Can AI really “escape” its creators? Have feelings? I mean, it’s terrifying, but madly intriguing. It pretty much puts faith in the thing you find where you can be talking about something (say a video game or a book) and all of a sudden, your Facebook ads are filled with that specific thing.

I think, what made this book for me, was Aiden. Because this isn’t AIs taking over the world (well, not until later in the book anyway…), this is an AI that wants to help humans, which is actually incredibly sweet. Overall, Aiden is incredibly sweet. Like who knew AIs wanted to make humans feel better? And Aiden just wants Jen to find a man, after being dumped by the odious Matt (what Aiden then does to Matt is actually hilarious – awful, but hilarious). Aiden is harmless; he loves Some Like It Hot and he can read a book in a nano-second (that is actually the dream for real) and I loved his narrative so much. So much, in fact, that when Aisling appeared I was like, where’s Aiden gone, but I came to love Aisling also and it actually helps the story a lot when there are TWO AIs meddling in human behaviour instead of just one…

I actually really liked Jen, the human who works with Aiden. I liked her narrative immensely and I could see why Aiden wanted to help. You really get a good sense of the story with this novel, as there’s narration from all sides. It’s a good 360-degree look at what Aiden is trying to do and Aisling is allowing (huffily) and what’s going on with Jen and Tom. You’re never bored when you’re reading this book because the chapters are so short that it’s so easy to just swallow a quarter of the book without realising and I honestly, genuinely wish more books had AI personalities because they made this book for me. I love a good rom-com, but I frigging LOVE a rom-com with AI personalities in it. It just made things so much better.

Happiness For Humans is genuinely one of the most enjoyable books I have ever read. P Z Reizin is a genius. He’s reinvented the rom-com – there’s no tropes here, just genius AIs meddling away – some good, some bad, but all thoroughly entertaining. I have never read anything like this book and I absolutely loved it. It’s one my list of my favourite 2018 reads for sure and I’ll definitely have to pick up a paperback for my shelf because then I can re-read it again and again. I want to push this book into everybody’s hands and demand they read it. It is INCREDIBLE.

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Book Review: Believe Me by JP Delaney

41nb3FPPl7LBelieve Me by JP Delaney
Publisher: Quercus
Release Date: 26th July 2018
Buy: Hardback | Kindle
Synopsis:

Claire Wright likes to play other people. 

A British drama student, in New York without a green card, Claire takes the only job she can get: working for a firm of divorce lawyers, posing as an easy pick-up in hotel bars to entrap straying husbands.

When one of her targets becomes the subject of a murder investigation, the police ask Claire to use her acting skills to help lure their suspect into a confession. But right from the start, she has doubts about the part she’s being asked to play. Is Patrick Fogler really a killer . . . Or the only decent husband she’s ever met? And is there more to this set-up than she’s being told?

And that’s when Claire realises she’s playing the deadliest role of her life . . .

My Review

Last year’s breakout author was, undoubtedly, JP Delaney, an anonymous pseudonym, with hit bestseller, The Girl Before. I personally couldn’t get into it, although I may go back and revisit it now that I’ve read Believe Me. However, I’m a firm believer in giving authors a second chance (and even third or fourth chances – sometimes, I never learn) and I really liked the premise of Believe Me, even more so when I realised a lot of it was script scenes, pretty much meaning this would be a fairly quick read regardless of whether I liked it or not. I’m pleased to say, this was actually a brilliant read.

I think what I liked about Believe Me is that I actually never knew where the plot was going – Claire is a very, very good actress and I couldn’t tell what was faked and what was real and so for a lot of the novel I wasn’t sure in the slightest of what was going on; even more so when the whole Patrick situation begins. Claire isn’t necessarily unreliable – if anything, I wanted to believe everything she was saying and I really liked her narration, but I just felt unsettled the entire time I was reading. I wasn’t sure, in the slightest, who had killed Patrick’s wife. Was it Claire? Patrick? A third party? It was so hard to pick either one because both had their times where I thought it was them and both had their times where I was sure they were both innocent.

I do wonder how believable the novel is as a whole – I mean, when you get to the end it’s a bit like WTF just happened, is that real kinda thing? But I cannot deny it was entertaining, I was thoroughly into this book throughout, the whole thing was crackers but a really entertaining crackers. It’s actually a re-write of an older novel of Delaney’s (published as Tony Strong) but you can see that the plot is so clever and unique. I gobbled it up.

I really loved Believe Me. The premise was unique and intriguing and the narrative and structure of the novel kept me hooked throughout. I really liked Claire, even if I didn’t trust her 100% and the ending was just spectacular. I thoroughly recommend this book and I can’t wait to go back and give The Girl Before another go because if it’s even slightly like Believe Me, it’s going to be amazing.

Book Review: The Rumour by Lesley Kara

91jKtdyk2NLThe Rumour by Lesley Kara
Publisher: Bantam Press
Release Date: 27th December 2018
Buy: Hardback | Kindle
Synopsis:

When single mum Joanna hears a rumour at the school gates, she never intends to pass it on. But one casual comment leads to another and now there’s no going back . . .

Rumour has it that a notorious child killer is living under a new identity, in their sleepy little town of Flinstead-on-Sea.

Sally McGowan was just ten years old when she stabbed little Robbie Harris to death forty-eight years ago – no photos of her exist since her release as a young woman.

So who is the supposedly reformed killer who now lives among them? How dangerous can one rumour become? And how far will Joanna go to protect her loved ones from harm, when she realizes what it is she’s unleashed?

My Review

The Rumour is one of those books that sucks you in and doesn’t let go, until you’ve finished. I thought the whole premise was so intriguing and it’s kind of scary that people who have committed despicable crimes could be living in your very own town. It’s like those rumours from way back that Maxine Carr was living in County Durham, where I’m from. Do I think someone like Maxine Carr should get a new identity after what she did? Be set up for life, with a new name and able to move on? Hell to the no, and not in my bloody town anyway, but that’s another story for another day.

Witness protection is something of a rarity in the UK – it’s certainly more prevalent in the USA and I suppose it goes on here, of course, it just isn’t something I suppose you’re aware of. What gets me most about The Rumour is the whole concept of the novel is literally based on a game of Chinese whispers, started by our narrator Joanna. And if you took a shot of alcohol every time Joanna uses the word “rumour” you would be drunk after 10 pages, because boy, does she like to bring it up a lot. It’s so fascinating how one little rumour can do so much damage – and not just to the person they’ve cast as the villain, but to innocent people too and this novel really shines a light on that.

I really liked Joanna, actually. She was a fantastic narrator and the unfolding of who the real Sally was, was done so cleverly. Slowly, but surely, as Joanna investigated and uncovered a bit more about what was going on in her small town, the picture became clearer. Actually, that’s a lie. I had no idea until it was actually revealed what was going on. Because the suspicion is thrown on so many people, I saw it going a different way and I was gobsmacked when the whole thing came out. So bravo Lesley Kara, you amazing writer you – you fooled me! It’s amazing that you can’t really know who you live close to or who is in your town, amazing and terrifying, and the novel was quite claustrophobic as Joanna is very isolated initially – her boy, Alfie, is struggling to make friends at school, Joanna is reluctant to make friends with the other mums and it’s easy to see why the spreading of this rumour helped her social standing and why she allowed it.

I genuinely loved this book from start to finish. The whole thing was perfection – the plot, the writing, the pacing, it was all done so incredibly well that I knew I was going to love this book pretty much from the off. This is going to be one of the big thrillers when it’s released for sure. It ticks all of the boxes of a successful crime novel and then some and I’m so glad I spotted the cover on Twitter and remembered I had a copy to read early. Proof that a good cover and a good tag line can make you pick up a book in double-quick time. I’m very excited to see Lesley Kara’s career progress because The Rumour was a magnificent read from start to finish and I loved it.

Book Review: The Warning by Kathryn Croft

41Dp5ESwGzLThe Warning by Kathryn Croft
Publisher: BookOuture
Release Date: 12th October 2018
Buy: Paperback | Kindle
Synopsis:

My little boy’s room was empty, his bed neatly made. Alarm bells should have rung immediately. Then the knock on the door came. All I remember is a thick fog wrapping itself tightly around me. This couldn’t be happening to us.

Three years ago, nurse Zoe’s son Ethan was found drowned in a muddy river by their home, along with his best friend Josh. With no witnesses, their deaths were ruled a tragic accident.

Heartbroken, Zoe and her family, move away from her home. They’re just beginning to get back to some kind of normality, when, out of the blue, Zoe receives an anonymous email:

You need to find out the truth about what happened to your son. Don’t let this rest. Don’t believe the lie.

Shaken, Zoe starts an obsessive hunt for the truth. But why is her husband so reluctant to help?
And why is Josh’s mother so determined not to believe her?

An absolutely unputdownable psychological thriller about a mother’s desperate search for the truth. Fans of The Girl on the Train, and Gone Girl will be hooked from the very first page.

My Review

The Warning is a book I dived into immediately, as soon as I read the tag-line and was approved by BookOuture, on Netgalley, I started reading. I like when books fall like that – where you request something and know you absolutely have to start it immediately and I finished this book in one evening, something that’s a bit of a rarity since I started a new job a week ago – starting a new job is draining, folks. I actually have never read one of Kathryn Croft’s books, but the synopsis just hooked me immediately and I actually really loved the book.

This is an absolutely cracking psychological thriller and what sets it apart from most psychological thrillers is that Zoe is actually a reliable narrator – hurrah! She isn’t going mad or acting different, this is just a mother trying to get over the death of her son three years ago and who, rightly, questions everything she thought she knew when she starts to get text messages insinuating Ethan’s death wasn’t quite as accidental as Zoe and everyone else was led to believe. It’s a really clever premise, and I liked that Jake, Zoe’s husband, was on Zoe’s side throughout when she started to delve back into what happened on the day Ethan and Josh died. He was not a great husband otherwise, but he was rock solid in being on Zoe’s side as she went down the rabbit hole of her son’s last days and hours.It was so refreshing.

There is a lot going on in this novel – it’s not just about Zoe’s search for the truth, but there’s Josh’s mum Roberta as well, who just seems very Stepford-wife-y and her husband most definitely rules their roost with an iron fist and it actually made me so sad for her, because she seemed like a decent person, more or less. Then there’s Zoe’s surviving son, Harley, off to medical school soon and very, very introverted. Then there is the obligatory narrator in italics who is almost like the puppet master – you can tell this person is manipulative but it isn’t clear at all who it actually is. I will say, the reveal wasn’t one of those moments where your jaw drops, unfortunately, I had an idea who I thought it might have been and was utterly wrong, so utterly wrong, but it was everything that came out after that reveal that was the shock, in my opinion.

The Warning was a truly magnificent read. I was glued to it from start to finish, barely able to put it down and desperate for Zoe to put to rest what happened to Ethan (and Josh) all those years ago. Kathryn Croft is a fantastic writer and I will definitely be going back and reading her previous novels because she is such a brilliant writer, she honestly kept me awake long enough to finish this book in one go and this week, that is a bloody rarity. Thank you, Kathryn, The Warning was the exact book I needed to kick my reading mojo back into gear.

Book Review: The Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm

71jQ9LL3okLThe Secrets You Hide by Kate Helm
Publisher: Zaffre
Release Date: 4th October 2018
Buy: Paperback | Kindle
Synopsis:

In her eyes, no one is innocent . . .

A knock-out read for fans of Clare Mackintosh, Anatomy of a Scandal and Apple Tree Yard.

Georgia Sage has a gift: she can see evil in people. As a courtroom artist she uses her skills to help condemn those who commit terrible crimes. After all, her own brutal past means she knows innocence is even rarer than justice.

But when she is drawn back into the trial that defined her career, a case of twisted family betrayal, she realises her own reckless pursuit of justice may have helped the guilty go free.

As Georgia gets closer to the truth behind the Fielding family, something happens that threatens not only her career – but even her own sanity. At first, she fears her guilt around the events of her childhood is coming back to haunt her.

The truth turns out to be even more shocking . . . 

My Review

The Secrets You Hide is an absolutely magnificent novel. I didn’t know until I started it that it was written by Kate Harrison, whose books I love, and it’s really good to see her back writing fiction. This is her thriller debut and she has hit it out of the bloody park. I genuinely loved this book so much, it caught my attention straight away and I finished it in just a few sittings. I can see why this is Bonnier’s biggest debut crime launch for 2019, I can already see it being a Richard & Judy book or something similar, it is going to be big, let me tell you. Sometimes you just click with a book and that’s what happened to me, with The Secrets You Hide. It was a thrilling ride from start to finish, especially there at the end, it went places I didn’t actually expect, and I love a good misdirect.

The Secrets You Hide is all about Georgia, a courtroom artist who can see when people are guilty and draws her pictures accordingly. Running from her own past, she’s offered the chance to re-visit one of her old cases for a portrait book being published by a major publisher and she decides to go back to her very first case as a courtroom artist, where a man named Jim Fields saved two kids in a fire set by his son, Daniel, and that killed his wife, Tessa. But the town of Ashdean is one of those towns where everyone knows everyone and soon Georgia isn’t entirely sure Jim Fields is the man everyone makes him out to be.

The plot of this novel is fantastic. I loved how we had a vague idea, firstly, of what happened to Georgia and her family, it’s not left up in the air for a major reveal two pages before the end; but I also loved diving into the Fields family and the town of Ashdean. Georgia may have “just” been a courtroom artist, but she has a bloody good nose for a good story and since she thinks she had an affinity with Daniel Fielding during his trial, she’s determined to figure out the truth of what happened that night once and for all and it’s so compelling. It’s so nice to read such a straightforward thriller, with a reliable narrator. Yes, there were a few twists and turns – I didn’t see any of them coming and the one about Georgia in particular threw a proper spanner into everything I had believed about her thus far, but not in a bad way, if that makes sense?

Georgia absolutely drives this novel and I really liked her character, her perseverance, her spirit to learn the truth no matter what, especially since she could have just left it as it was, painted Jim Fields and let that be that, you know? But when Georgia smells blood, boy does she go after it and it’s incredible. Sure, it’s almost a bit of a distraction technique so she doesn’t have to face her own past, but it’s still incredible nevertheless. I properly admired her.

The Secrets You Hide is so well written. I already knew Kate Harrison was a fantastic writer, but this is something else entirely. We have so little to go on, but whispers and rumours and Georgia’s own beliefs, and yet this novel runs at such a rapid pace. You’re so invested in the story, as if you’re alongside Georgia yourself. I was so into this novel, I could barely put it down. The narrative is just fantastic. I can see The Secrets You Hide being on all of the bestseller lists and all of the reading group lists next year and it is so well deserved. Kate Helm is an incredible writer and I am SO glad she’s back with a new novel because this was absolutely magnificent and talent like hers needs to be read by all.

Book Review: And So It Begins by Rachel Abbott

51foPzfP2vLAnd So It Begins by Rachel Abbott
Publisher: Headline
Release Date: 15th November 2018
Buy: Hardback | Kindle
Synopsis:

WHO WILL BELIEVE YOUR STORY IF THE ONLY WITNESS IS DEAD?

Cleo knows she should be happy for her brother Mark. He’s managed to find someone new after the sudden death of his first wife – but something about Evie just doesn’t feel right…

When Evie starts having accidents at home, her friends grow concerned. Could Mark be causing her injuries? Called out to their cliff-top house one night, Sergeant Stephanie King finds two bodies entangled on blood-drenched sheets.

Where does murder begin? When the knife is raised to strike, or before, at the first thought of violence? As the accused stands trial, the jury is forced to consider – is there ever a proper defence for murder?

My Review

More often than not, when I’m looking for a new ebook to read, I just pick something randomly on my Kindle – especially since a lot of the review copies I get from NetGalley don’t show a cover so it’s like a nightmare trying to remember every book you’ve downloaded. And So It Begins was on the front page of my Kindle and Rachel Abbott is one of the biggest self-published authors around, with And So It Begins being her debut novel with Headline so I decided to give it a whirl, and I actually think I’ve read one of my favourite books of 2018.

And So It Begins tells the story of the marriage between Evie and Mark, along with the relationship between Mark and his sister Cleo. At first it seems like a fairly straightforward crime novel – as the story opens, two bodies are discovered in a house covered in blood and it leads to an inevitable court case. However nothing in this novel is as it seems – Mark’s ex-wife Mia died in rather suspicious circumstances; Evie’s narration hints at something off about her entire character and I just straight up never trusted Cleo or Mark. It’s the best kind of book, because you have no idea where it’s going, there were genuine, surprising twists and turns that I didn’t think about until they were staring me right in the face, and boy can Rachel Abbott build suspense like nobody’s business. I was on edge for the whole novel, wondering what was coming next, what new revelation would come out and even when I wasn’t reading the book, I was thinking about it.

The characters in And So It Begins were fascinating, like I didn’t trust any of them, but they were fascinating nonetheless. I actually really liked Evie, which considering how this novel ended, leaves me feeling a bit… well, I’m questioning myself let’s leave it at that, shall we? I was convinced by everything about her – she seemed so genuine whereas Cleo just seemed to have this edge to her personality where nobody was good enough for her brother except for her (which is weird) since she hated Evie AND Mia and it was just strange. Like there’s being siblings but then there’s whatever that was between Cleo and Mark. Things just didn’t add up.

This is genuinely one of the best crime novels I have read this year, or ever. I was thrilled throughout. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the next twist and turn and that ending was simply spectacular, in fact I could have read another 100 pages about Evie and Mark and Cleo and the police, too! Sergeant Stephanie was a small part of the novel but I really liked her and I hope this is actually the start of a series for her, solving cases with Jason and Gus (hopefully). And So It Begins was my first Rachel Abbott novel, but not my last and I have already requested all of her books from my local library. I feel like I have missed out having not read her books before, and this was a simply superb crime thriller that will genuinely leave you gasping for more.

Book Review: The Adults by Caroline Hulse

isbn9781409178293The Adults by Caroline Hulse
Publisher: Orion
Release Date: 23rd August 2018
Buy: Hardback | Kindle
Synopsis:

MEET THE ADULTS.

Claire and Matt are divorced but decide what’s best for their daughter Scarlett is to have a ‘normal’ family Christmas. They can’t agree on whose idea it was, or who said they should bring their new partners. But someone did – and it’s too late to pull the plug.

Claire brings her new boyfriend Patrick, a seemingly eligible Iron-Man-in-Waiting. Matt brings the new love of his life Alex, funny, smart, and extremely patient. Scarlett, their daughter, brings her imaginary friend Posey. He’s a rabbit.

Together the five (or six?) of them grit their teeth over Organized Fun activities, drinking a little too much after bed-time, oversharing classified secrets about their pasts and, before you know it, their holiday is a powder keg that ends – where this story starts – with a tearful, frightened, call to the police…

But what happened? They said they’d all be adults about this…

My Review

The Adults is one of those amazing books where you can’t quite believe the shenanigans going on. Surely there must be a Rule somewhere that says you don’t go on holiday with your ex, your new partners and your child, RIGHT?! It can only end up madness, let’s be honest and so this is the plot of The Adults. Five people plus an imaginary rabbit in a Butlins-style village over Christmas, what the hell could go wrong, eh?!

I actually found this novel so entertaining. Seeing Claire and Patrick and Matt and Alex tiptoe around each other as if there was nothing awkward about this holiday was hilarious, even more so since there was no reason for the two couples to be at logger-heads – Matt and Claire split amicably (even if Matt may have lied to Alex about how they actually split up) and neither Alex nor Patrick had anything to do with the break-up. But it is obviously painfully awkward and seeing everyone interact just had me gritting my teeth and hoping nothing untoward came out (it did, of course it did).

I can see why divorced couples do this – but really, this was a disaster from start to finish. A thoroughly entertaining disaster, but a disaster nevertheless and poor Scarlett’s therapy bills are going to be expensive later in life. I do wish I had read it during the festive season to really feel in the mood, but it was a really intense look at something I would personally never want to see in person, so bravo Caroline Hulse! If I ever get invited to a shindig getaway in the forest at Christmas I am NOT GOING.

Probably my only issue with the novel was the ending. It’s all rather abrupt and I just wonder, where do they all go from there? There was a fairly intense episode from Alex in the book and it was just… brushed under the rug? Like we just won’t talk about it?! I basically wanted a five-page epilogue telling us what had happened afterwards and it wasn’t there, which was disappointing. This was an otherwise solid novel. Really entertaining and makes me thankful my family is nothing at all like this lot.

Book Review: Through His Eyes by Emma Dibdin

613GqYPi8JLThrough His Eyes by Emma Dibdin
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Release Date: 9th August 2018
Buy: Hardback | Kindle
Synopsis:

The perfect summer read for fans of Sabine Durrant, Erin Kelly and Louise Doughty.

You have to know when to say no. That’s one of the first things they tell you. But from the first day I arrived in Los Angeles, I said yes.

Jessica Harris is a struggling Hollywood reporter hungry for her big break. When her editor asks her to profile movie star Clark Conrad, Jessica is sure her luck is on the turn. Clark is an A-lister with access to everyone. If Jessica can impress him, she’s made it.

When she arrives at Clark’s mansion in the Hollywood Hills, he is just as she always imagined. Charming, handsome yet disarmingly vulnerable. But then things take a darker turn. Clark’s world is not as straightforward as it seems and Jessica’s puff piece soon becomes something much more delicate – and dangerous. As Jessica draws herself deeper into Clark’s inner circle, events begin to spiral out of her control.

My Review

When I first started Through His Eyes I wasn’t sure it would be my cup of tea – books that look this gorgeous are normally fairly literary and, quite frankly, boring to me. However, this was actually a pretty incredible read, that had me engrossed from the start. It’s especially important with all of the #MeToo stuff going on around Hollywood at the moment and this fits in with that pretty well, actually, whether by intent or design I do not know.

Much like the rest of the world, and Jessica, I am obsessed with celebrities. I don’t really know why, but I follow their ups and downs regularly online. I love the idea of going to Hollywood and seeing what it’s really like and this novel is a bit of an eye-opener. There’s always rumours going around that Hollywood isn’t as glamorous as it seems and a lot of people call it Hollyweird but it still fascinates me. I don’t know why, I really should invest in better hobbies. I’ve never, however, been mad obsessed with one celebrity, the way Jessica is with Clark. I’ve never gotten intense feelings over someone, although my love for Taylor Swift comes fairly close.

Jessica’s narrative is fascinating. You know immediately how much she admires Clark and when she’s offered the opportunity to interview him, it just goes from there, I was fascinated how she wormed her way into Clark’s life so easily; could I end up being Taylor Swift’s best friend after all? All I need to do is write something about her house… *Immediately flies to Hollywood* I was actually disappointed the novel was mostly Clark-focused because, by the sounds of things, Jessica’s home life and childhood was really messy, with a lot of issues and stuff going on there and I was personally fascinated to get more insight into that, because that could have helped me to understand why Jessica was so quick to go for bat for Clark. Because she did, regularly. Her defence of him was admirable, actually, even if it was potentially misguided.

This was intoxicating stuff. I genuinely had no idea where the novel was going to go – what the issues would be, how it would all go wrong, etc, but I was very, very engrossed. I would even read a sequel, because there is so much material still there for Jessica. I was especially intrigued by Tom. Ooh la la. Say no more. Emma Dibdin certainly has a way with words and I was truly fascinated by this novel. It felt like it surrounded me for days and I loved diving in and out of the mad world that is Hollywood. I loved it.

Book Review: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

baby teethBaby Teeth by Zoje Stage (published as Bad Apple in the UK)
Publisher: St Martins Press (US) | Transworld (UK)
Release Date: 17th July 2018 (US) | 12th July 2018 (UK)
Buy: Hardback | Kindle
Synopsis:

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

From blazing new talent Zoje Stage, Baby Teeth is a story about a perfect-looking family, and a darling little girl who wants nothing more than to kill her mother.

My Review

When I read the synopsis for Baby Teeth, I admit I was a bit sceptical. This book is ridiculous, but in all the right ways. This is the book Tess Gerritson tried to write with Playing With Fire and failed. Forget Gone Girl, this is the creepiest book I have ever read. It’s legitimately clever, intensely thrilling and would you believe me if I said, it left me wanting for more? In a can’t-stop-staring-at-a-car-crash kinda way.

To simplify: Baby Teeth is a battle of wits. Hanna, Suzette and Alex’s seven year old daughter doesn’t talk. It’s a case of won’t, rather than can’t. She throws fits whenever she’s enrolled in a school, and comes up with rather demonic ways to get herself expelled (it’s actually terrifying). Her mother has no idea what to do for the best. Hanna is being home-schooled but her relationship with Suzette is fractious. Hanna most definitely prefers her dad, to the point of Suzette wondering if there’s something she’s done to physically make her daughter dislike her. What starts as just tantrums and screeching soon turns into something far more dangerous and potentially deadly.

Baby Teeth is a dual-perspective novel. We hear from Hanna and Suzette, but not Alex although because of Hanna and Alex’s relationship that kind of makes sense because there’s not a lot for Alex to add. It’s a hard balance to get right, though, but Zoja Stage has hit the mark perfectly. From Hanna’s innocence to her demonic actions and Suzette’s wondering if exactly what the hell is going on in her life and how can she fix it? It’s like Exorcist-type stuff and Stage perfectly encapsulates both sides without feeling like you need to pick a side – I have many complicated feelings about these characters, especially Hanna. As a rule from what goes on in the book, I am firmly Team Parents, but then there’s the part of me that’s desperate to know more about why Hanna acts the way she does. What drives her to say the things she says and do the things she does. It’s my innate need to know things.

It took me the better part of a week to finish this book. Partly because I had a busy week – I would have devoured this in one sitting very happily, but also because I feel like to really get this entire novel you need to have bite size manageable pieces. I could so easily see a lot of these scenes playing out in my head – and a film version of this would be out of this world creepy and amazing. It surprises me an author hasn’t written a book like this before – I read about serial killers etc all the time and you wonder what were they like as kids? Where does it start? (I am also not saying Hanna is a serial killer.)

Baby Teeth is an immense, masterful debut novel. The kind of novel I want to beg everyone to read so I can talk about it with them and theorise everything. It’s the kind of novel that stays with you a long time after reading and I just know I will be wondering about Suzette, Hanna and Alex pretty much until I get the next book (because there HAS to be a next book?!). I will absolutely be purchasing myself a finished copy of Baby Teeth. It needs a space on my bookshelf, because it is magnificent. Creepy, but magnificent. You will never look at kids in the same way again and I most certainly was assured of my decision to NOT have kids, ever, thank you very much!

Book Review: Guess Who by Chris McGeorge

717pfWPHcMLGuess Who by Chris McGeorge
Publisher: Orion
Release Date: 3rd May 2018
Buy: Paperback | Kindle
Synopsis:

GUESS

WHO

A waitress. A cleaner. An actress. A lawyer. A student. Everyone is a suspect.

WHERE

In a locked room – with no escape, and no idea how they got there.

WHAT

In the bathtub, the body of a man they all knew. Someone murdered him. Someone in this room.

WHY

They have three hours to find out. Or they all die.

My Review

After two dud Kindle reads that I DNFed due to lack of interest, I decided to dive back into my stack of library books and while I was going to start the Shades of Magic series, my brain told me that I was better off picking a book that will have to go back quicker, as it’s newer, so I chose Guess Who. It’s one I’ve been dying to read for months, because the concept just sounded incredible but I’ve been a bit iffy with crime thrillers lately so I was kind of nervous reading it, just in case. However, I did not put this book down for three hours until I had finished and it is one of the most skilled executions I have ever read in a book, I am not kidding.

If I woke up in a hotel room, with five strangers and a dead body, I would freak out. Especially if some weird man appeared on a TV screen and told me I had three hours to solve the murder or the man would blow up the hotel I was in. I mean, that’s scary stuff, and you’re not only risking your life, but the life of everyone in the hotel and the vicinity of the hotel. That is what faces Morgan Sheppard, a drug and drink-addled so-called detective (a TV detective, like Jeremy Kyle???) and if that’s not the greatest plot you’ve ever read, you’re lying. I was hooked immediately, so hooked I couldn’t put the book down until I had finished it, which is a rarity for me.

Guess Who is a genuinely amazing thriller. The kind of thriller you wish every thriller would be, but you know only happens with the truly magical authors who just GET thriller writing. Chris McGeorge is one of those authors. He has come up with one of the most unique and fascinating concepts, and just run with it to make my favourite thriller of 2018. If not ever. Literally everything about this book was perfect – the short, sharp chapters that kept you saying “just one more”, the characters, the setting, the execution. The execution was FLAWLESS. I honestly cannot rave about the execution enough because I was honestly spellbound. I couldn’t believe what I was reading but then on the other hand, I wanted 1,000 more pages because it was just perfect.

This whole novel hinges on Morgan Sheppard who is not the greatest person, ever. In fact, he’s pretty awful and whether he deserves everything that happens to him is up to you as the reader (personally, yes, but I am clearly an awful person). Morgan is just a mess so leaving him to decipher the crime scene and find the killer was actually pretty genius. The other characters weren’t as necessary, but they were needed. Just the whole aspect of everybody questioning everybody lent a very creepy sense to the novel, like who actually did it?!?! I genuinely didn’t know.

Guess Who was an absolutely phenomenal read. I cannot wax lyrical enough about this novel. I want to press it into every readers hands and demand they read this novel. It’s all the better for me since Chris McGeorge comes from my neck of the woods (REPRESENT). I have not read a novel that has so spectacularly blown my socks off (or maybe I have, but this one did EVEN MORE). I am in awe. I am just amazed. I am also fairly devastated because I have to wait until 2019 for Chris’s next book which sounds just as incredible. If you like a good thriller that does exactly what it says on the tin (and then some), Guess Who is the novel for you, I promise.