Book Review – My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged and the reason for that is several things going on in life that have taken up my time. It doesn’t mean I’ve stopped reading. I finished this book more than a couple of weeks ago I just haven’t got around to reviewing it. I’ve also read a few more… so I have some catching up to do!!! Lucky you, just means there will be a bunch of blog posts coming up.

My Lovely Wife is another fantastic thriller just making my life worth living right now!

I didn’t think it could get any better after Jane Doe, but I’m very happy with My Lovely Wife. Of course a murderous husband and wife team would peak my interest. I read a lot of thrillers and for it to be exciting to me there needs to be a point of difference.

It is the authors debut novel (kudos to Samantha) and a lot of these fantastic thrillers I’m reading are the authors first book. Perhaps there is a little more creativity and bravery among these writers? Who knows. I know I will be very interested in reading Samantha’ s next novel.

I was introduced to the male protagonist (we never find out his real name?) and straight away I was intrigued – even though I initially didn’t know what was going on. Straight away he was picking up a woman and it wasn’t his first. He has a wife, Millicent, who encourages and joins in on the killings. It would appear that he does all the hunting though.

Despite me knowing that Millicent’s husband is just as responsible as she is, I start to feel sorry for him. I find myself on his side – and that is what the author, Samantha does so well. The story from his perspective allows me to see how evil Millicent is, but somehow I forget about his part in it all. Until later…

Some have likened it to Dexter (I don’t think it’s quite there) or Mr and Mrs Smith (nope, not at all). I think it’s original in it’s own right and comparing it to either does not do it justice.

It’s a great read and I finished it quickly and easily. I have recommended to all my friends and that’s when you know it’s really good. It’s also great for psychopaths, like me ;o)

Synopsis

Every marriage has secrets. Everyone has flaws. Your wife isn’t perfect – you know that – but then again nor are you.

But now a serial killer is on the loose in your small town, preying on young women. Fear is driving your well-behaved young daughter off the rails, and you find yourself in bed late at night, looking at the woman who lies asleep beside you.

Because you thought you knew the worst about her. The truth is you know nothing at all.

Book Review – Get the Guy by Matthew Hussey

It’s another dating advice book!!!

I’m not even embarrassed to admit that I read them. I don’t always take the advice provided but I guess that’s why I’m still single?

I had seen Matthew Hussey’s videos on social media and you tube and decided to take the plunge and download his book. I got the audiobook this time and normally I have reservations about audiobooks but Matthew is easy to listen to and I made an effort to listen to the book in big chunks. It helped to listen to the book as I was driving, cleaning and walking the dog.

I don’t know if I had any lightbulb moments that I hadn’t read or heard about before from other dating books/websites, etc but I think I respected the advice a tiny bit more because it was coming from a man. Matthew is logical. Logic is what I need when it comes to dating. I tend to be a bit more emotional and sometimes this impacts how I date and relate to men.

There are a couple of things I took from Matthew’s book – the first and most important one being – I need to meet the guy to get the guy. Anyone who knows me well knows I’m a hermit who actually enjoys being at home more than having to go out on dates or go to places to meet people. Matthew’s advice is to attempt to meet and talk to people everywhere you go (train, shops, waiting for coffee) which is incredibly challenging for me. People who know me well wouldn’t say I’m shy either, but it is very hard for me to put myself out there and talk to strangers (let alone men) without a good reason. It sounds so simple, but he is so right with this point. SO – I may be saying yes to more outings, be more open to dates and start talking to random strangers as a result….even if I’m reluctant to start with…

Another tip I like a lot, which isn’t new advice to me but I really need to work on it. Being a woman of high value. Matthew talks about women realising their worth and being able to walk away from relationships or situations that are not meeting their needs. I’m getting better at this, slowly. I have no time for men who don’t want what I want currently and I’m no longer afraid to tell them what I’m looking for. I’m still working on the confidence bit.

The book also has a few great tips for flirting, talking, starting a relationship and even how to keep the flame going once you’ve got the guy. Matthew used to be a dating coach for men, so he comes from an interesting perspective. In the book he states that he understands what both men and women want when it comes to dating so this could make his advice also a little more trustworthy to me. Matthew talks about women approaching men and makings some of the initial moves in conversation, which is contrary to a lot of other dating advice books I’ve read…that are written by women. I am going to attempt to put his advice to the test, even if I feel/look like a weirdo in the process.

I did have one nice date last week. So there is hope!

Book Review – Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone

Jane Doe is the most exciting thriller I have read in a long time.

Why is it exciting you ask?

Several reasons:

  1. The protagonist is a female sociopath, yet strangely likeable…
  2. The plot had me on the edge of my seat
  3. I found some of it humorous
  4. It was a very quick read (probably because it was a clear 5 stars to me)
  5. I think it would be an AMAZING tv show or movie
  6. I want more from Jane! (another book pleasssssee)

I have been telling EVERYONE to read this book and it is my favourite thriller I have read this year and it has been sitting in my TBR list since it was a nominee in the Goodreads Choice Awards (where it first came to my attention). I’m going to continue to shout it from the rooftops. I think the point of difference here is the strong female protagonist who isn’t a victim and is ultimately in a position of power and control (wohoo – go girl!).

I actually love Jane so much, even though she is mostly void of feelings and empathy. I want to know more about her. Jane is like a female version of Dexter. I haven’t read the Dexter books but I’m a big fan of the tv show.

Jane is funny. I read this book on the train and I had many giggles to myself.

…and if I have sex with him now, I’ll be trash.Women have to worry about that kind of bullshit when they’re dating and plotting a crime…

It is also very interesting to me that the author used to write romance novels. I am very glad Victoria is now writing thrillers and even more excited to learn that she has a new book out called False Step. Victoria is an author I really, really want to read more from.

Tiny word of warning, if sex scenes make you blush, it might not be for you. They are not terribly graphic but there are a few of them (I quite enjoyed them) but might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

So, it’s a standing ovation from me on this one.

Synopsis

A double life with a single purpose: revenge.

Jane’s days at a Midwest insurance company are perfectly ordinary. She blends in well, unremarkably pretty in her floral-print dresses and extra efficient at her low-level job. She’s just the kind of woman middle manager Steven Hepsworth likes–meek, insecure, and willing to defer to a man. No one has any idea who Jane really is. Least of all Steven.

But plain Jane is hiding something. And Steven’s bringing out the worst in her.

Nothing can distract Jane from going straight for his heart: allowing herself to be seduced into Steven’s bed, to insinuate herself into his career and his family, and to expose all his dirty secrets. It’s time for Jane to dig out everything that matters to Steven. So she can take it all away.

Just as he did to her.

Book Review – Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

I finished this one last week, but because I have a case of the cold/flu germy germs, I haven’t been able to focus on reading and/or writing till now. I read a few reviews about this book before reading – even though I was already convinced I’d find it interesting when I had a read of the blurb.

The reviews weren’t great. A few of them were indicating that ‘nothing happens’ and there is ‘no story’. I don’t think this is the case. A fair bit happens, but obviously the focus is on building up the characters and the story to the peak point.

Yes, it’s a little slow moving… which I actually think a lot of Laine’s books are to be honest. What Laine does very well is her characterisation and these characters certainly had personality. I think this book would actually be great as a movie adaptation. As usual, there is the underlying humour in Liane’s writing (which I love) and the characters were very varied, which made for an interesting read. Of course, there is more to everyone than meets the eye and you get to go deeper with each one.

This is not a thriller, it’s more of a drama and if you like a slower pace and a lot of different characters you will enjoy it. I also enjoyed that it was set in a wellness centre and all of the preconceptions about the centre were amusing and as I expected.

Not as good as Big Little Lies, but interesting…

It could have gone to darker places and I would have welcomed this, but, it was still entertaining.

Synopsis

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER 

“If three characters were good in Big Little Lies, nine are even better in Nine Perfect Strangers.” —Lisa Scottoline, The New York Times Book Review

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Big Little Lies

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

Book Review – The Catch by Samantha Brett

Nope.

I’m not ashamed at all.

The truth is, I have read many dating books. Albeit, I have read them very quietly, on my kindle where no one can see me reading them…

Today is a new day. Not only have I read this dating book, but I am shouting it from the rooftops and reviewing it publicly. I may even do it again one day. Whilst I was reading this one and talking about it a friend recommended another to me and I think I’ll read it too.

The Catch really wasn’t hugely groundbreaking, but I enjoyed it and I took a few tips from it, which I am now actioning.

The book is a guide to becoming “The Catch”. An elusive being who men want to date and eventually marry. Now, I like to think I’m already a catch…in so many ways, I just haven’t met the right man yet. However, there were a few things I took from this book, the exercises (already done a couple and another is in progress) and tips throughout.

One such exercise I am using to stop the scum of the male species from invading my heart and vagina. It is a 30 day man free, date free, dating app free challenge. Or as some of my friends so aptly called it “Dry July”. This is one of the extreme measures the book suggests to keep dickheads at bay and start fresh only attracting lovely men. I also enjoy the fact that the book suggests to focus on me during this time and things I want to do or achieve – I mean…I kinda do this anyway, every day of my life, so this part wasn’t really new to me, but I did get some good ideas and motivation to look out for myself a bit more.

Another exercise the book suggests is a 30 day bootcamp – which is kind of the same thing…but a little more of an intense focus on me. I can’t wait. I’ll be running the world before you know it. Sucks to be you (all of my ex’s).

One thing I did not like about the book, were the stories about, I’m assuming, real women and their dating struggles/wins. The problem with these stories were that the women were not relatable in any way, on any planet. They were either models, had perfect bodies, were CEO’s or some such garbage. They may have been completely fictional for all I know but I’m sorry….I’m not really buying that the model has trouble attracting a man.

Are there better dating books out there? YES. Was this still a bit of fun with good tips? YES.

Synopsis

Sick of dating guys who want sex and fun without any commitment? Ever wondered how some women always have men chasing them?

These women are what dating guru Samantha Brett describes as The Catch: the ultimate single girl who knows her worth, doesn’t settle for less and doesn’t get caught up in the whirlwind of the dating game.

After the abrupt end of a fairytale eight-year relationship, Samantha found herself thrust back into single life. As part of the healing process she interviewed thousands of men, as well as the women they defined as the ultimate Catch. In the process she developed a foolproof method to help you become The Catch.

This book will teach you how to:

– move on from a break-up

– avoid the traps of the dating game

– become a stronger you through the 30-Day Catch Boot Camp

– get a man to propose in only six steps

Forget chasing him ever again!

Book Review- Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I don’t normally read young adult novels, but I had heard about this series of books and when I saw Uglies and Pretties at my work book swap I had to give them a read.

The last young adult books I read were the Divergent trilogy and prior to that was the Hunger Games. So I might have expected a little too much from Uglies. The main comparison is that all of these series are set in a dystopian world, but that is where the similarities end. I felt that Uglies isn’t quite as sophisticated as The Hunger Games or Divergent…but I still had fun reading it and I will continue with Pretties.

I think the main point the book is tying to make is to be happy with yourself the way you are. Tally, the main character so desperately wants to become a pretty, but she soon learns that all that glitters is not gold in the world of the pretties.

Yes, I wanted to know what was going to happen and I kept on reading, but I found myself at times wanting a bit more from the book. As I said I think it needed a bit more complexity, more twists perhaps? I kept thinking, there must be more to the story and there could well be, given there are four books in the series, but I don’t hold to much hope. I’m not sure why its a New York Times Bestseller… I needed more from it.

It is no Hunger Games or Divergent, so keep your expectations a little lower if you want to read it.

Synopsis

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can’t wait. In just a few weeks she’ll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she’ll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally’s new friend Shay isn’t sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world– and it isn’t very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally’s choice will change her world forever…

Book Review – Parkland: Birth of a movement by Dave Cullen

Confession time.

I have re- written this review approximately 3 times. Not because I was confused about what I felt about the book, but because this issue – gun violence – is particularly close to my heart. It makes me angry, frustrated, sad and curious. I wanted to be very aware of what I wrote, because it impacts so many and I really want things to change in the US in relation to gun legislation. School shootings, or any shootings for that matter, make my blood boil and my heart ache.

There is a reason Dave Cullen is one of my favourite authors. Obviously, the subject choice interests me (and infuriates me), although, this topic wasn’t a choice but I think, a necessity for Dave to write about, but there is something about the way he writes. It’s honest, fair, with great insight and understanding of his subject. Dave’s choice not to mention the killer’s name is also such a wise and wonderful choice.

I loved his book Columbine. Parkland is different, it feels so personal. The way Dave writes about these amazing young people – he writes about their quirks, sometimes their flaws, worries and talents. I loved learning about the young people I knew very little about. I’m so removed from gun violence in the US, living in Australia. I had no idea the extent of work the survivors from Parkland undertook to advocate for gun legislation change. I’m so thankful for it and for them. We all should be. They did it on their own. I’m absolutely in awe of them.

Why was it different with the parkland movement? Why did it take so long?These young people acted quickly, they had great timing, and a great platform (social media). Most importantly, they were young people who are the future. They were victims. There are more of them than I can name, but David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez are just a few of these activists and names you need to know.

You need to read Columbine. You need to read Parkland: Birth of a movement. It doesn’t really matter the types of genres you usually read. This is important. Thanks to Dave Cullen for writing about it. I really hope that there will be a difference in our future. The March For Our Lives group gives me hope.

Dave is writing his next book about two gay soldiers and of course, I’ll be reading that.

Book Review – Sister by Rosamund Lupton

I really enjoyed Sister by Rosamund Lupton. I read this in paperback format (and realised I had become far too comfortable with my kindle and that I had missed reading physical books), mostly at home in bed and in the bath.

I was lucky enough to find this book in my street library and I really feel the need to either take it back or pass it on to a friend to share it, so it can be enjoyed by others. One of the most important things about reading for me is the joy of sharing the story. Whether it is just shared by talking about it, blogging a review, recommending it to a friend or lending it to someone – it’s such a great gift to give I think. I’m going to give Sister to my friend Lisa I think (hopefully she hasn’t already read it!).

I don’t know about this being a particularly “on the edge of your seat” thriller. I did get into the story and was engrossed in it pretty quickly, but I think it was the relationships I liked the most. One of my favourite aspects of the book was not the suspense, but the relationship between the sisters, Tess and Beatrice. I loved that throughout the book when Beatrice was telling the story about Tess’s disappearance and murder, she was telling it to Tess, talking to Tess as she would normally. I also loved how she would recount moments between them, emails, conversations and shared jokes. It’s what sisters do and I could relate to the moments shared between them.

Both Tess and Beatrice were likeable characters and I think this also helps. It was clear they were very different – like chalk and cheese – but I really like both of their personalities and traits. Of course, Beatrice’s relentless hunt for her sister’s killer was fantastic and made me want to keep reading to know the outcome.

I’d love to read more of Rosamund’s books (she has three more and another coming out in August) so definitely another author I need to be on the lookout for. If you are fairly new to the thriller genre, I think this would be a good book for you – it isn’t really the scary kind of thriller and I don’t think there is anything particularly shocking or different about the story – but it’s a great read, great characters and is well written.

Synopsis

When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered.  Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life–and all its secrets. 

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficultly with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong.  As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder–and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

A thrilling story of fierce love between siblings, Sister is a suspenseful and accomplished debut with a stunning twist.

Book Review – The Bus on Thursday by Shirley Barrett

Welcome to a wild ride from Shirley Barrett.

Australian Author – check

Australian setting – check

Humour – check

Creepy weird AF story – check

I got this ripper from my Street Library and I don’t regret it. The protagonist, Eleanor, tells it like it is, with all the Aussie slang and references (as well as swear words) she can muster.

Written in a blog/diary entry form, it made for an easy read that was entertaining and kooky. It might be written a little too casually for some, but I enjoyed it and felt it was refreshing to read something a little more relaxed.

I mean, it is written by one of the directors of the tv show Offspring (Australian soap) and I certainly see some similarities in that Eleanor has an internal dialouge that isn’t unlike Nina’s in Offspring. Offspring is one of my favourite tv shows…so it all makes sense.

This book might not translate very well for international readers, due to Aussie terms and references. If you can get past that and the curse words you will enjoy the humour and weirdo storyline.

I don’t think I can say that Eleanor is a particularly likeable character, but she is relatable…well…sort of, if you can see yourself making passes at your elderly doctor or discussing exorcising demons at the local church. Eleanor finds herself in some interesting situations when she gets a new teaching job in a small town – most of which are funny, strange or confusing.

There were times when I didn’t know where the story was going or if it was in fact going anywhere, but I had gotten so far in that I didn’t mind the commitment and I had invested myself to reading Eleanor’s story. Perhaps I liked her more than I’m happy to admit.

The new town is full of crazy characters and whilst Eleanor might seem like one of the ‘normal’ ones, she herself has some questionable behaviours. Actually, she fits right in.

Just when you think things couldn’t get any more quirky in this story, there is what I like to call an “Evil Dead” moment. I’ll say no more, if you’ve seen the movie you’ll likely put two and two together. I’ll just say, I enjoyed it.

If you love the weird and wonderful, interesting characters and a touch of the supernatural you will enjoy this book – just don’t expect to be given all the answers and don’t take it too seriously.

Synopsis

Bridget Jones meets The Exorcist in this wickedly funny, dark novel about one woman’s post-cancer retreat to a remote Australian town and the horrors awaiting her

It wasn’t just the bad breakup that turned Eleanor Mellett’s life upside down. It was the cancer. And all the demons that came with it.

One day she felt a bit of a bump when she was scratching her armpit at work. The next thing she knew, her breast was being dissected and removed by an inappropriately attractive doctor, and she was suddenly deluged with cupcakes, judgy support groups, and her mum knitting sweaters.

Luckily, Eleanor discovers Talbingo, a remote little town looking for a primary-school teacher. Their Miss Barker up and vanished in the night, despite being the most caring teacher ever, according to everyone. Unfortunately, Talbingo is a bit creepy. It’s not just the communion-wine-guzzling friar prone to mad rants about how cancer is caused by demons. Or the unstable, overly sensitive kids, always going on about Miss Barker and her amazing sticker system. It’s living alone in a remote cabin, with no cell or Internet service, wondering why there are so many locks on the front door and who is knocking on it late at night.

Riotously funny, deeply unsettling, and surprisingly poignant, Shirley Barrett’s The Bus on Thursday is a wickedly weird, wild ride for fans of Helen Fielding, Maria Semple, and Stephen King.

Book Review – Life Will Be The Death of Me by Chelsea Handler

I love her. I love her. I love her.

Chelsea Handler is my girl crush. Woman crush….whatever. I found Chelsea on You Tube, many years ago interviewing someone famous and I found her so hilarious, witty and accomplished. She oozes a confidence I admire and wish I had. I’ve followed her since I discovered her, through her Netflix specials, numerous books and I also stalk her on Twitter (told you, girl crush).

I have read all of Chelsea’s books. Some I found more hilarious than others, but all of them had me laughing out loud at some point.

Life will be the death of me is different. There were still some laugh out loud moments, but the overall tone is much more sombre. Chelsea is incredibly vulnerable in this memoir. It was a side I hadn’t seen (except when she was being interviewed by Ellen, who mentioned the death of her mother and she started crying). I did expect lots of laughs from this book, but there was a vast journey into grief and loss and how that has manifested into Chelsea’s life now.

As always, there were some side stories which were less emotional. I loved reading about Chelsea’s many dogs over the years (yet another reason to love Chelsea). One story in particular I found extremely hilarious was her dog getting high on a plane and running amok.

Nothing ever surprises me with Chelsea. Usually. In this book she is completely open about the work she has done with her psychologist, her flaws, her downfalls and it makes me love her more. Was this book my favourite of hers? No. Am I still a massive fan and respect her for writing about many losses and her therapy experience? Yes.

I think if you are a fan of Chelsea you will still enjoy this book. Just be aware that it’s a little more emotional and deep than her other books.

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The funny, sad, super-honest, all-true story of Chelsea Handler’s year of self-discovery—featuring a nerdily brilliant psychiatrist, a shaman, four Chow Chows, some well-placed security cameras, various family members (living and departed), friends, assistants, and a lot of edibles

A SKIMM READS PICK • “This will be one of your favorite books of all time.”—Amy Schumer

In a haze of vape smoke on a rare windy night in L.A. in the fall of 2016, Chelsea Handler daydreams about what life will be like with a woman in the White House. And then Donald Trump happens. In a torpor of despair, she decides that she’s had enough of the privileged bubble she’s lived in—a bubble within a bubble—and that it’s time to make some changes, both in her personal life and in the world at large.

At home, she embarks on a year of self-sufficiency—learning how to work the remote, how to pick up dog shit, where to find the toaster. She meets her match in an earnest, brainy psychiatrist and enters into therapy, prepared to do the heavy lifting required to look within and make sense of a childhood marked by love and loss and to figure out why people are afraid of her. She becomes politically active—finding her voice as an advocate for change, having difficult conversations, and energizing her base. In the process, she develops a healthy fixation on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and, through unflinching self-reflection and psychological excavation, unearths some glittering truths that light up the road ahead. 

Thrillingly honest, insightful, and deeply, darkly funny, Chelsea Handler’s memoir keeps readers laughing, even as it inspires us to look within and ask ourselves what really matters in our own lives.

Advance praise for Life Will Be the Death of Me

“You thought you knew Chelsea Handler—and she thought she knew herself—but in her new book, she discovers that true progress lies in the direction we haven’t been.”—Gloria Steinem 

“I always wondered what it would be like to watch Chelsea Handler in session with her therapist. Now I know.”—Ellen DeGeneres

“I love this book not just because it made me laugh or because I learned that I feel the same way about certain people in politics as Chelsea does. I love this book because I feel like I finally really got to know Chelsea Handler after all these years. Thank you for sharing, Chelsea!”—Tiffany Haddish