Title: Hunting Annabelle

Author: Wendy Heard

Pages: 336 Pages

Publisher: Harlequin

The Blurb

“Her scream echoes in my memory. I know what happened. Whether anyone believes me or not, I know.”

Sean Suh is done with killing. After serving three years in a psychiatric prison, he’s determined to stay away from temptation. But he can’t resist Annabelle—beautiful, confident, incandescent Annabelle—who alone can see past the monster to the man inside. The man he’s desperately trying to be.

Then Annabelle disappears.

Sean is sure she’s been kidnapped—he witnessed her being taken firsthand—but the police are convinced that Sean himself is at the center of this crime. And he must admit, his illness has caused him to “lose time” before. What if there’s more to what happened than he’s able to remember?

Though haunted by the fear that it might be better for Annabelle if he never finds her, Sean can’t bring himself to let go of her without a fight. To save her, he’ll have to do more than confront his own demons… He’ll have to let them loose.

A chilling, deeply suspenseful page-turner set in the 1980s, Hunting Annabelle is a stunning debut that will leave you breathless to the very end.

The Review

I do like a good psychological thriller. Mainly this is because I am so bad at solving them I am always totally surprised. I did struggle with Hunting Annabelle though. I enjoyed the story. I thought the set-up was well executed and I loved that we had an unreliable narrator in Sean. Wendy Heard did an excellent job of convincing me that I couldn’t trust him but I should.

However, for me, the ending was a little unbelievable. I loved the whole Heathers-esque relationship between Sean and Annabelle. They were both a little self destructive and I loved how Heard fleshed out the character of Sean’s mum who you felt sorry for and angry at in equal measure but I just didn’t like the ending.

Hunting Annabelle by Wendy Heard is available now.

For more information regarding Wendy Heard (@wendydheard) please visit www.wendyheard.com/books.

For more information regarding Harlequin (@HarlequinBooks) please visit www.harlequin.com.

The Story of Our LivesTitle: The Story of Our Lives

Author: Helen Warner

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: Harlequin Books

The Blurb

They think nothing can tear their bond apart, until a long-buried secret threatens to destroy everything.

Every year they have met up for a vacation, but their time away is much more than just a bit of fun. Over time, it has become a lifesaver, as each of them struggles with life’s triumphs and tragedies.

Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa have been best friends since they were girls. They have seen each other through everything—from Sophie’s private fear that she doesn’t actually want to be a mother despite having two kids, to Amy’s perfect-on-the-outside marriage that starts to reveal troubling warning signs, to Melissa’s spiralling alcoholism, to questions that are suddenly bubbling up around the paternity of Emily’s son. But could a lie that spans just as long as their friendship be the thing that tears them apart?

The Review

One of my favourite genres of fiction is one that is focused on friendship groups. I love the love of romantic fiction but there is something special about the friendship between women. It can be both a curse and a cause for celebration and that is exactly what Helen Warner examines in her novel The Story of Our Lives.

The Story of Our Lives focuses on the friendship group Sophie, Emily, Amy and Melissa and how their friendship group grows, alters, falls apart and falls back together again over the course of a few decades. Warner throws massive curve balls at her readers throughout the novel and pulls the rug from under your feet far too many times. With several ‘shocked face’ moments and me screaming at the book several times I can honestly say that The Story of Our Lives put me through the emotional ringer.

The Story of Our Lives by Helen Warner is available now.

4 Stars

 

The DeviantsTitle: The Deviants

Author: CJ Skuse

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Mira Ink/Harlequin

The Blurb

When you set out for revenge, dig two graves

Growing up in the sleepy English seaside town of Brynston, the fearless five – Ella, Max, Corey, Fallon and Zane – were always inseparable. Living up to their nickname, they were the adventurous, rowdy kids who lived for ghost stories and exploring the nearby islands off the coast. But when Max’s beloved older sister Jessica is killed, the friendship seems to die with her.

Now years later, only Max and Ella are in touch; still best friends and a couple since they were thirteen. Their lives are so intertwined Max’s dad even sponsors Ella’s training for the Commonwealth Games. But Ella is hiding things. Like why she hates going to Max’s house for Sunday dinner, and flinches whenever his family are near. Or the real reason she’s afraid to take their relationship to the next level.

When underdog Corey is bullied, the fearless five are brought back together again, teaming up to wreak havoc and revenge on those who have wronged them. But when the secrets they are keeping can no longer be kept quiet, will their fearlessness be enough to save them from themselves?

The Review

I’ve read a lot of books this summer; some have been bad, most have been good and some have been bloody excellent. My latest read, The Deviants by CJ Skuse – an author I had never come across before but came highly recommended by Clare over at A Book and Tea – was bloody excellent.

With Clare’s recommendation in mind I started reading The Deviants.

Holy moly.

I can honestly say that I have never read such an intense YA thriller before. The story centres upon five people who were really close as children but with the passing of time have mostly drifted apart; due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control their lives begin to interweave again and once that happens the steady foundations that they have built begin to crumble apart.

CJ Skuse has written a very clever story of secrecy and lies, friends and enemies, and how life always throws you in at the deep-end. It is, by far, one of favourite books of the year. The Deviants is full of shock twists and turns and it really did blow my mind. I am sure it will blow yours too. If you like your YA fiction to pack a punch and to leave you a bit breathless then The Deviants needs to be your next read.

The Deviants by CJ Skuse is available now.

For more information regarding CJ Skuse (@CeejaytheAuthor) please visit www.andrewnurnberg.com/authors/c-j-skuse/

For more information regarding Mira Ink (@mira_booksUK) please visit www.miraink.co.uk.

5 Stars

Remember My NameTitle: Remember My Name

Author: Abbey Clancy

Publisher: Harlequin (UK) Limited/Mira UK

Pages: 352 Pages

The Blurb

From the moment Liverpool teenager Jess stars in the school musical, she knows that she’s GOT to be a star. Fast forward a few years and the closest the now 22 year old Jessica has got to stardom is as a children’s entertainer – which is where she meets Jack, uncle to the spoiled 5 year old birthday princess, who spots Jessica’s talent and offers her a job with a record label. But that means that she’ll have to leave her family and her home and move to London – where she quickly finds that the streets aren’t quite paved with gold. And as she spends her days making tea for bitchy PR girls and her nights in a mouldy studio flat, Jessica wonders if leaving Liverpool for London has been a terrible mistake.

Attending an industry party – unfortunately only to serve canapes – Jessica’s fortunes suddenly change when Vogue, the singer due to perform at the event drops out. Before she knows it, Jessica volunteers to stand in and takes centre stage. After a dazzling performance, she is surrounded by people wondering who this amazing new talent is. What’s more, her star turn has been captured by the press and she has become an overnight sensation.

Plunged into the crazy world of glitz and glamour, Jessica’s life is transformed but as her star rises, she loses touch with her roots. Jessica’s teenage dreams of stardom may have come true, but at what cost?

The Review

Now, I may be biased because I come from the greatest city in the world but I do love a good book set in Liverpool. And that is exactly what you get from Abbey Clancy’s debut novel Remember My Name.

The story centres on Jessy Malone, a young girl with a big dream and who unfortunately has never had a chance to have her talents seen…except by children as she performs at birthday parties dressed as Disney princesses. Hardly rock and roll. However, a chance encounter changes all that and Jessy’s life is changed beyond comprehension.

Suddenly Jessy has to figure out who she is: Jessica, the down to earth family girl from Liverpool or Jessika the newest musical sensation?

The great thing about Remember My Name (besides the celebration of Liverpool) is that the whole “fish out of water” storyline reads so truthfully. You totally buy into the fact the Jessy’s head is turned by all the madness and that it would be easy to forget the person that you once were. I think it also helps that we live in a world of instant (and social) media. It is no longer a hard slog for a lot of singers who are plucked from obscurity and thrown in at the deep end. Furthermore, we are allowed to see Jessy at her most vulnerable and (arguably) her most real.

Remember My Name is a really enjoyable read and it is a rags to riches story that really packs a punch. It is a must for summer. It is as essential for your trip to the beach as your sun lotion!

Remember My Name by Abbey Clancy is available now.

Follow Abbey Clancy (@OfficialClancy) on Twitter.

Follow Mira UK (@mira_booksUK) and Harlequin (@HarlequinBooks) on Twitter and for more titles visit www.mirabooks.co.uk and www.harlequin.com

4 Stars

The Curious Charms of Arthur PepperThe Blurb

In this poignant and curiously charming debut, a lovable widower embarks on a life-changing adventure 

Sixty-nine-year-old Arthur Pepper lives a simple life. He gets out of bed at precisely 7:30 a.m., just as he did when his wife, Miriam, was alive. He dresses in the same gray slacks and mustard sweater vest, waters his fern, Frederica, and heads out to his garden.

But on the one-year anniversary of Miriam’s death, something changes. Sorting through Miriam’s possessions, Arthur finds an exquisite gold charm bracelet he’s never seen before. What follows is a surprising and unforgettable odyssey that takes Arthur from London to Paris and as far as India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met—a journey that leads him to find hope, healing and self-discovery in the most unexpected places.

Featuring an unforgettable cast of characters with big hearts and irresistible flaws, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a joyous celebration of life’s infinite possibilities.

The Review

Sometimes a book will come along that will be so charming and endearing that when you turn the final page you feel content. This is the feeling that The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper gives you. It is, for want of a better word, lovely.

Arthur Pepper is a widower who is drowning since his wife’s death. A year after Miriam’s death, Arthur is encouraged by his children to have a cathartic clear out of Miriam’s things. Among her clothes he finds a charm bracelet and sets about discovering things about his wife that he never knew.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is a story of discovery and also one of growth. It is different in that it is a 69 year old man who is still growing – not physically, but certainly, emotionally. As Arthur embarks on this journey he discovers things about his wife but more importantly, he discovers things about himself too.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper is wonderful because we can all imagine that Arthur Pepper is our granddad, father or, one day, ourselves. He is a man dealing with the pain of losing the love of his life but trying to move forward. It is a beautifully told story and Phaedra Patrick has created a story and characters that have the ability to resonate with everyone who picks up this book.

The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick is available now.

Follow Phaedra Patrick (@phaedrapatrick) on Twitter.

5 Stars