Title: Pretending

Author: Holly Bourne

Pages: 304 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

He said he was looking for a ‘partner in crime’ which everyone knows is shorthand for ‘a woman who isn’t real’.

April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal – yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry.

If only April could be more like Gretel.

Gretel is exactly what men want – she’s a Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems.

The problem is, Gretel isn’t real. And April is now claiming to be her.

As soon as April starts ‘being’ Gretel, dating becomes much more fun – especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua.

Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?

The Review

Holly Bourne is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects. That is what I learned after reading her latest release – Pretending.

Pretending is the story of April. April is sick of the dating scene. She hates that she can’t live up to the expectations and standards that have been set for girls. More than that, she hates that men cannot live up to the exacting standards that she has set. There is a reason she has these standards and April is not willing to settle. So as a social experiment she invents Gretel. The perfect girl. She wants to see if Gretel is more successful than April. All of this goes well until she starts to fall for Joshua – the unwitting victim of her experiment. But who does he love – Gretel or April?

Pretending is a power house of a story. Bourne was asking questions that plagued my late twenties when it came to dating and men. Her questions and her characters anger are not unfounded. There are a lot of triggering moments in this story though so be prepared to wade through some topics that aren’t easy to read but it is with Bourne’s fearless style that as a reader you feel in safe hands.

Pretending by Holly Bourne is available now.

For more information regarding Holly Bourne (@holly_bourneYA) please visit www.hollybourne.co.uk.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.

Title: Holding

Author: Graham Norton

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn’t always been this overweight; mother-of-two Brid Riordan hasn’t always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn’t always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke – a former love of both Brid and Evelyn – the village’s dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community’s worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad, Holding is a masterful debut. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore – with searing honesty – the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

The Review

I’ve had Holding sitting on my Kindle for a while now. If I am honest with myself, I wanted to read it out of curiosity for what Graham Norton could produce rather than the story given on the blurb. There have been times when I have bought a book because of who the writer is and have been completely disappointed in the outcome. I wanted to read Holding but I didn’t want to lose my love for Graham Norton.

In this case, I really shouldn’t have worried. Holding is really funny.

It is set in a small podunk village in Ireland where nothing ever happens but when the remains of a body are found the whole town flails with uproar. While the whole town try to figure out ‘whodunnit’ more and more drama and mystery unravel among the residents.

Essentially, Holding is a murder mystery comedy. Norton perfectly encapsulates a gossipy town where everyone lives in the pockets of everyone else. It is a town in which no one can have any secrets. Indeed, Duneen becomes a character in its own right and even though it was the setting for a murder I found myself kind of wanting to go and visit.

Holding by Graham Norton is a very witty novel and I for one should have given him more credit for his writing ability.

Holding by Graham Norton is available now.

For more information regarding Graham Norton (@grahnort) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Vanished Bride

Author: Bella Ellis

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

Before they became legendary writers, Charlotte Brontë, Emily Brontë, and Anne Brontë were detectors in this charming historical mystery…

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters—the Brontë sisters—learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines—it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril…

The Review

I have a firm belief that you are either an Emily girl or a Charlotte girl (sorry Anne). If you read work by the Bronte sisters you will fall into either camp and it usually depends on which you read first: Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights. I, myself, am a Charlotte girl. I love Jane Eyre and for me it is the book form of a comfort blanket. It is the book I return to every few years and still fall helplessly in love with the heroine.

I have always thought that the life of the Bronte sisters must have been incredibly limited. The era in which they lived offered few opportunities for women and from what I did know about them beyond their work was limited. Therefore, it is brilliant to read a book like The Vanished Bride that affords the Bronte girls the chance to have excitement and a life filled with intrigue and mystery. Bella Ellis has really opened my eyes to how interesting their lives may have actually been. Granted, it is a fictional retelling but the story does have elements of truth in it and also uses historical accounts to help develop these writers into fully formed women which I found myself ignorant of.

The story of The Vanished Bride is really well told. It shows how the sisters were unable to quell their curiosity and had an opinion on what was right and wrong. It has all the elements needed for a gothic story and is in fact just a jolly good romp of a mystery. It is definitely worth a read.

The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis is available now.

For more information regarding Bella Ellis (@brontemysteries) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit the Twitter page.

Title: Sweet Sorrow

Author: David Nicholls

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

One life-changing summer
Charlie meets Fran…

In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.

But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.

The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare.

Poignant, funny, enchanting, devastating, Sweet Sorrow is a tragicomedy about the rocky path to adulthood and the confusion of family life, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, searing explosion of first love that can only be looked at directly after it has burned out.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Since the release of One Day I have hoovered the books by David Nicholls. One Day was one of those rare books that comes along and intoxicates you so much that you become even more antisocial that normal (seriously, I went to the pub with friends and ignored them so I could read my book).

Sweet Sorrow is certainly of a similar ilk to One Day. It is a book filled with nostalgia, of missed chances, and of coming of age. Nicholls manages to parallel what should be the most exciting time of a teenagers life with the pain of reality of growing up and life not going your way or going the way you expected it to go.

Sweet Sorrow is the butter sweet tale of first love and it is filled to the rim of those evocative feelings we have all had.

Whilst Nicholls hasn’t recreated the magic of One Day for me personally, he has created a sentimental story that was so damn endearing and enjoyable to read.

Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls is available now.

For more information regarding David Nicholls (@DavidNWriter) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Carrie

Author: Stephen King

Pages: 306 Pages

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

The Blurb

Carrie White is no ordinary girl.

Carrie White has the gift of telekinesis.

To be invited to Prom Night by Tommy Ross is a dream come true for Carrie – the first
step towards social acceptance by her high school colleagues.

But events will take a decidedly macabre turn on that horrifying and endless night as she
is forced to exercise her terrible gift on the town that mocks and loathes her . . .

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Ok. So this is probably going to be an unpopular opinion because I know that Stephen King is the master of horror and a genius at his craft but I just didn’t rate Carrie. I think the problem is that I was expecting to be absolutely petrified and I just wasn’t. I was a little bit underwhelmed if truth be told. This may have been due to many reasons; those being: I am of a generation that has seen so many real life horrors that it will take something pretty massive to scare me or because of Stephen King’s legendary status I was just expecting more.

One thing I will say about Carrie is that it really does excel in showing the cruelty of school kids. That is something that he definitely got right.

I plan to read more of King’s novels to see if this was just a one off.

Carrie by Stephen King is available now.

For more information regarding Stephen King (@StephenKing) please visit www.stephenking.com.

For more information regarding Hodder & Stoughton (@HodderBooks) please visit www.hodder.co.uk.