The Truth and Lies of Ella BlackTitle: The Truth and Lies of Ella Black

Author: Emily Barr

Pages: 346 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House Children’s UK

The Blurb

Ella Black seems to live the life most other seventeen-year-olds would kill for . . . Until one day, telling her nothing, her parents whisk her off to Rio de Janeiro. Determined to find out why, Ella takes her chance and searches through their things. And realises her life has been a lie. Her mother and father aren’t hers at all. Unable to comprehend the truth, Ella runs away, to the one place they’ll never think to look – the favelas. But there she learns a terrible secret – the truth about her real parents and their past. And the truth about a mother, desperate for a daughter taken from her seventeen years ago . . .

The Review

Emily Barr has really knocked it out the park with her latest young adult novel. The Truth and Lies of Ella Black is a superb psychological thriller for the young adult audience.

Our eponymous heroine Ella Black has a dark side that she has always tried to keep hidden away but when her parents whisk her off on an impromptu holiday and take her phone away from her, Ella’s bad side starts creeping out.

The holiday to Rio reveals some things about Ella’s past that cause her whole word to crumble an Ella ends up finding her real self by getting lost in the hustle and bustle of one of Rio’s favelas.

Barr has really created a character with depth and emotional layers with Ella Black. She is easy to relate to and you cannot help but feel her desperation. She is brave and fierce and definitely a heroine for generation Z.

The Truth and Lies of Ella Black by Emily Barr is available now.

For more information regarding Emily Barr (@emily_barr) please visit www.emilybarr.com.

For more information regarding Penguin Random House Children’s UK (@PenguinRHUK) please visit www.penguinrandomhouse.co.uk.

3 Stars

We Could Be BeautifulTitle: We Could Be Beautiful

Author: Swan Huntley

Pages: 354 Pages

Publisher: Doubleday Books

The Blurb

A spellbinding psychological debut novel, Swan Huntley’s We Could Be Beautiful is the story of a wealthy woman who has everything—and yet can trust no one. 

Catherine West has spent her entire life surrounded by beautiful things. She owns an immaculate Manhattan apartment, she collects fine art, she buys exquisite handbags and clothing, and she constantly redecorates her home. And yet, despite all this, she still feels empty. She sees her personal trainer, she gets weekly massages, and occasionally she visits her mother and sister on the Upper East Side, but after two broken engagements and boyfriends who wanted only her money, she is haunted by the fear that she’ll never have a family of her own. One night, at an art opening, Catherine meets William Stockton, a handsome man who shares her impeccable taste and love of beauty. He is educated, elegant, and even has a personal connection—his parents and Catherine’s parents were friends years ago. But as he and Catherine grow closer, she begins to encounter strange signs, and her mother, Elizabeth (now suffering from Alzheimer’s), seems to have only bad memories of William as a boy. In Elizabeth’s old diary she finds an unnerving letter from a former nanny that cryptically reads: “We cannot trust anyone . . . ” Is William lying about his past? And if so, is Catherine willing to sacrifice their beautiful life in order to find the truth? Featuring a fascinating heroine who longs for answers but is blinded by her own privilege, We Could Be Beautiful is a glittering, seductive, utterly surprising story of love, money, greed, and family.

The Review

Oh boy. This is another hit and miss for me.

Swan Huntley’s psychological thriller We Could Be Beautiful is set amongst the rich and elite of New York society. Catherine West, an art lover and exclusive card shop owner is swept away by a mysterious man, William. She and William sort of knew each other’s families when they were younger but the passage of time and loss of parents made them lose contact.

When William appears back in her life he does so like a tornado, within weeks they are in love and set to be married yet there is something distinctly off about William. Catherine has to figure out what it is before losing herself and her inherited fortune.

Meh. On the surface this story seems fine. It seems like it could have great potential but the characters were just so unlikable; in particular, Catherine. Now, for me personally, when you read a story about the elite society you have dreams and aspirations of having all that money and the comfortable life but Huntley subverted that by showing that rich people have problems too which I suppose is an interesting twist but the execution just left me asking ‘who cares?’

I’m sure that We Could Be Beautiful is a good book for some people but for it just didn’t hit the right notes.

We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley is available now.

For more information regarding Swan Huntley (@SwanHuntley) please visit www.swanhuntley.com.

For more information regarding Doubleday Books (@doubledaybooks) please visit www.doubledaybooks.com.

2 Stars

Title: This is Not Over

Author: Holly Brown

Pages: 400 Pages

Publisher: William Morrow Paperback

The Blurb

You’ll have your deposit within seven business days, just like it says on Getaway.com. I’ve put through a refund to your credit card for the full amount, minus $200 to replace the stained sheets…

Miranda

When 30-year-old Dawn reads Miranda’s email, she sees red. People have always told Dawn she’s beautiful, and she just hopes they don’t see beneath—to how she grew up, to what she’s always tried to outrun. She revels in her getaways with her perfect (maybe too perfect) husband, the occasional long weekend in luxurious homes, temporarily inhabiting other people’s privileged lives. Miranda’s email strikes a nerve, with its lying intimation that Dawn is so dirty you need to throw out her sheets.

Beware of your “host”

I wouldn’t have left a review at all, if I didn’t feel it was my civic duty to warn others…

57-year-old Miranda thought she’d seen it all, but she can’t believe her eyes when she reads Dawn’s review. She’s a doctor’s wife but she needs that rental money, desperately. People might think her life is privileged, but they don’t know what’s really going on. They don’t know about her son. She won’t take this threat to her livelihood—to her very life—lying down.

Two very different women with this in common: Each harbors her own secret, her own reason why she can’t just let this go. Neither can yield, not before they’ve dredged up all that’s hidden, even if it has the power to shatter all they’ve built.

This is not over.

This is so not over.

(Amazon Blurb)

The Review

I’m not a huge fan of psychological thrillers. I’ll read them but it takes something really special to capture my attention. Sadly This is Not Over was not a book to grab my attention.

The story is of a bad review on a holiday website and the back and forth between two women who refuse to admit either one is wrong. As the animosity between them grows their civility diminishes. I think my problem with the book was that I just didn’t care. Both protagonists were annoying. They didn’t garner my sympathy and the threads of the storyline just seemed feeble and too coincidental at best.

This is Not Over was not the book for me.

This is Not Over by Holly Brown is available now.

For more information regarding William Morrow Paperbacks (@Morrow_PB) please visit www.harpercollins.com.

2 Stars