The One by John Marrs is out TODAY


Well, it was already out on Kindle but you can now get the real thing, and that’s way better ūüôā

A great choice for fans of romance and drama, and anyone who loves a good twist.

Here’s my original review.

Here’s where you can buy the paperback.

Gingernut x

Always by Sarah Jio is out TODAY


A beautiful story of a lost love, found again. If you like a good romance with an air of mystery and intrigue, this is the one for you.

Read my comprehensive review here.

You can buy the book from¬†any good book store – links are available on Jio’s website here.

Gingernut x

 

The One by John Marrs – Book Review


The One by John Marrs (Penguin Random House UK, Ebury Publishing)

Review copy provided by Netgalley.

Genres: Romance, Drama, Thriller

RATING: 4/5

The Story

Scientists have finally discovered the key to a lasting romance РDNA. Geneticists have identified one gene, which each person shares with just one other individual, their Match. Five people decide to take the test in the hope of meeting their one true love. What they encounter will change their lives irrevocably, and will they get their happily ever after?

The Review

Imagine if you could scientifically identify the love of your life. Would you do it?¬†The One is a fantastic exploration of the implications of this idea – what if your one true Match isn’t a good person? What if they are already in a relationship? What if¬†you are in a relationship? It also challenges what our idea of love really is, and how much people are willing to sacrifice in order to have it.

The premise of this novel¬†is a really unique idea, and its one which I think would appeal to a lot of people. Imagine being able to¬†prove you were meant to be with someone. I think I’d take the test.

The One is written from the perspective of 5 people who sign up to Match Your DNA with the hope of finding their true love. Whilst using 5 individuals is a really clever way to explore the different effects taking the test could have, I found it detracted a little from the flow of the novel. There was great tension created, and each of the 5 storylines were very distinct, but I think it would have worked better if there were fewer characters or more than one chapter dedicated to each person at a time. At times I felt a bit detached from the characters.

I also wonder whether this structure meant some of the characters weren’t as well defined as they could have been. For instance, there is a character called Ellie who initially claims not to be materialistic, but then states how much she loves clothes.

Chapter 5:

“Ellie‚Äôs business was her priority, not the thread count of the Egyptian cotton covering her bed, how many David Hockney paintings hung from her picture rails or the number of Swarovski crystals used in her hallway chandelier.”

Chapter 30:

“As much as she admired a strong female role model like Madonna, Ellie was no Material Girl.”

Conversely, in Chapter 35:

“…he held her vintage Alexander McQueen coat open for her to slip her arms into…she knew she shouldn‚Äôt feel guilty for buying nice things…and she was a girl who loved her clothes.”

It is just a small niggle, but it’s these sorts of things which vex me slightly. Nevertheless, the cast of this book are distinct, and all of them are at times relatable (even one who many would describe as abhorrent, though maybe less relatable than others!)

Sometimes The One can feel a bit fanciful, such as they way some characters lock eyes and instantaneously know they are Matched, but I suppose if you buy into the concept of a scientific test for your soul-mate these cliches can be overlooked. Maybe that’s the body’s physiological response to meeting someone with the same DNA match as your own!

One of the things¬†I liked best about this novel was the tension. There were some twists and turns that were a little too obvious for my liking, but some I definitely didn’t see coming – and I’m not ashamed to admit that one even had me shedding some tears! There was a particularly juicy twist right towards the end, but obviously I won’t share it with you. Let’s just say it definitely took me by surprise.

The book started off a little weak for my tastes, but it got better and better, and as I was nearing the end I couldn’t really put it down. A very engaging story,¬†if you have the patience to see it through the first few chapters.

The One is released on paperback on 4th May 2017, but you can get it on the kindle NOW!

John Marrs can be contacted via twitter.

Always by Sarah Jio – Book Review


Always by Sarah Jio  (Random House Publishing Group РBallantine)

Review copy provided by Netgalley.

Genres: Romance, Drama, Mystery

RATING: 4/5

 

The Story

Kailey is in love with life, her city and her handsome fiance. Her life is perfect. At least, until¬†an encounter with a homeless man drags her straight back into the past. The man is Cade, once the owner of a successful music empire, and the love of Kailey’s life. Devastated at what has happened to Cade, she takes it upon herself to help him. Cade barely recognises her and has no idea why his life turned out the way it did – it is up to Kailey to piece his life back together, but in doing so she risks tearing her own life¬†apart.

You never forget your first love. The old adage certainly holds true in this beautiful, thoughtful novel by Sarah Jio.

 

The Review

From the very first page, I feel like I know who Kailey is. That is Jio’s gift. Writing believable characters is hard at the best of times, but being able to do in a subtle, nuanced way is a real art. Jio uses the words and actions of this cast to show their personalities and emotions. The novel is a rollercoaster of emotion, and we live it inside Kailey’s head. Being able to accurately portray Kailey’s thoughts and feelings during some quite traumatic situations is key to the success of this novel, and Jio nails it.

From the very beginning of this novel, I felt like I understood Kailey’s situation. She has a great fiance, an exciting job, a fantastic future awaiting her, but there’s an air of hesitation about her. In a way, it all seems a little too perfect. The opening chapter does a brilliant job of making me curious, and I love a book that makes me curious.

This intrigue is maintained for the entirety of¬†Always, helped immensely by Jio’s clever use of time-jumps. We live through Kailey’s present and past in alternating segments, slowly piecing together her story. These flashbacks to the past are great not only for providing context to Kailey’s current situation, but also for explaining to the reader all that Cade has lost, and how difficult it is for Kailey to see him like he is.

It’s a novel which is uplifting, emotional, thoughtful and at some moments truly heart-wrenching. What it isn’t, however, is a sappy, wet tale of stereotypical love. It’s nuanced. Kailey ends up in an impossible situation; helping her first love to get his life back together, whilst also making sure her new love doesn’t think she’s abandoning him.¬†Always is a novel that makes the reader think. What would I do in this situation? Often there is no right or wrong answer, but in the end we are left with a satisfying story which feels like everything happened the way it should.

It’s a very unique idea for a novel, but one which I think every reader could relate to in one way or another. My only criticism? Though intriguing, the novel is, on some occasions, a little predictable.

Always is released on 7th February 2017, and is available for preorder now.

Jio can be contacted via her website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

 

Final Girls by Riley Sager – Book Review


Final Girls by Riley Sager (Random House UK, Ebury Publishing, Ebury Press)

Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Drama, Mystery

 

RATING: 5/5

 

The Story

Quincy is a baking blogger living a picture-perfect life with her lawyer boyfriend in central New York. At least, that’s what an outsider would see. When Quincy was in university herself and her friends were brutally attacked at Pine Cottage, a trauma which Quincy has carried with her, along with a media label she can’t escape – she is a ‘Final Girl’. This name links her with two other survivors of violent crime, Sam and Lisa.

The famous trio have never met, but that will quickly change with Lisa’s apparent suicide and Sam’s arrival on Quincy’s doorstep.Alongside her Final Girl companions comes the past Quincy wants to forget, and some hard truths which make her question even her most steadfast beliefs.

Final Girls is a compelling mystery thriller with a intricate narrative that keeps the reader hooked until the very last page.

The Review

The first thing I thought when I picked up this book was that it was extremely well written.

This may seem obvious – ¬†after all it is a published novel. Sadly, that is becoming less and less indicative of quality literature nowadays. When I started reading Final Girls I could tell within the first few pages that it would be an easy read. Sager’s prose has a diversity and fluidity which makes it interesting, engaging and yet not so complicated as you have to work out what she’s on about. Even better, it’s not so simple that you feel like you’re reading a book aimed at tweens.

By no means, however, does an easy-reader mean that we are faced with a simple chick-lit novel for people who aren’t interested in a good plot or character development. The story is one of the most compelling I’ve read in a long time.

Sager has actually managed to write a novel full of twists which I didn’t see coming. I don’t mean to bang my own drum here, but I find imaginative twists more and more difficult to come by. Perhaps I’ve read too many books, so I expect the unexpected. Or maybe quality authors who still have the ability to surprise a modern audience are just harder to come by. Whatever the reason, I’m delighted to have come across Sager. She’s one of those authors who gives you just enough information to make you think you’re clever and that you’ve worked it out, and then throws not one but ten curve-balls at you.

I will admit, I wasn’t always happy about those curve-balls. The ending of the novel is not as satisfying as I’d like it to be, because it results in Quincy losing someone who I thought was a brilliant, admirable character. I felt a little cheated, and I’m not sure that the decision really benefited the novel. That, however, is personal preference.

 

Final Girls¬†is an intriguing, harrowing, uplifting and occasionally tragic story, which sensitively illustrates the reality for many real victims of violent crime. Sager provides a unique opportunity to delve into the psyche of the ‘victim’, not with one character but with many, and reveals just what we would expect; no two victims are the same, and they may, in fact, be something entirely unexpected.

In many ways Final Girls¬†is a by-the-numbers mystery novel. As you proceed through the story you discover, alongside the protagonist, the gratifying and horrifying truths of life. What helps it to stand out from the crowd, however, are clearly defined characters with real motivations. They are the backbone of this novel. The reader feels for them, understands them, envies them, hates them, and¬†has¬†to find out how their stories end. The plot is compelling, but without this strong cast of characters I’m doubtful the story would have the same impact.

A review copy of this book was sent to myself via Netgalley ‚Äď the novel is released to the public on 29th June 2017.

I hope you put it on your reading wishlist, and please let me know what you think!

You can follow Riley Sager on Twitter.