Review: The Nerdy and The Dirty by B. T. Gottfred

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: November 15, 2016

Publisher: Henry Holt

Genre: YA/Contemporary Romance 


Pen Lupo is sick and tired of hiding who she is. On the outside, Pen is popular, quiet, and deferential to her boyfriend. On the inside, however, Pen is honest, opinionated–and not quite sure that she’s like other girls. Do they have urges like she does?

His classmates may consider him a nerd, but Benedict Pendleton knows he’s destined for great things. All he has to do is find a worthy girlfriend, and his social station will be secured. Sure, Benedict is different–but that’s what he likes about himself.

When fate intervenes, both Pen and Benedict end up at the same vacation resort for winter break. Despite their differences, the two are drawn together. But is there such a thing as happily ever after for a nympho and a nerd?


Ugh you guys. This was a painful and cringeworthy read. That pretty much sums up my thoughts on this book. Just ugh. I hate writing negative reviews, I really do. But I cannot allow some other unsuspecting soul to think like me and say, oh this sounds cute and original! It’s not. It tries really hard to be but it misses the mark by like a mile. I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway and thank god, because I would’ve been pissed had I actually spent money on this.

There’s two POV here, Pen and Benedict. Pen is popular and sex obsessed. Weird that’s how I describe her, right? I have no choice because the author ensured that ninety nine percent of what she thought about was sex. She talks about how much she masturbates constantly, then as if that isn’t enough, there are multiple scenes where she’s masturbating as well. Look, maybe I’m just old, or prudish, but I don’t want to imagine a sixteen year old girl masturbating, much less have to read about it in detail. I felt like a voyeuristic creep way more than I’m comfortable admitting. 

Benedict has more substance to him than Pen, but honestly, that’s not saying much. He’s a nerd but he is overly confident and doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He’s unabashedly honest and totally awkward. Oh but behind all that he’s gorgeous, because of course he is. This hit every annoying YA trope you can think of.

My biggest gripe, (and I have many) is that there was so much shaming going on. Fat shaming, slut shaming, nerd shaming, it went on and on. Then, everyone used the word retard or retarded as an insult all the time. Even the adults! Why? This is not ok, it’s disgusting and totally insulting. 

This is way too risqué and sexually explicit for a YA novel. It’s recommended for kids 14-18 and there is no way in hell that I would be comfortable recommending this to a freshman. No way. I can see where the author was trying to go and a message of self acceptance was there, but it was hidden beneath insta love, terrible language and overused tropes. 

There was one thing I liked and it’s only fair to point out, but the acknowledgment  was awesome. The characters in the book helped write it and that was unique and fresh.

Overall rating: 1.5/5

Thanks to Goodreads and the publisher for my copy. 

Blog Tour: What Alice Knew by @TACotterell1 @Beckyh1712

Release date: April 20, 2017

Publisher: Transworld

Genre: Psychological Thriller 


Alice has a perfect life – a great job, happy kids, a wonderful husband. Until he goes missing one night; she receives a suspicious phone call; things don’t quite add up.

Alice needs to know what’s going on. But when she uncovers the truth she faces a brutal choice. And how can she be sure it is the truth?

Sometimes it’s better not to know.


I’m ecstatic to be a stop on the blog tour for What Alice Knew today! Besides my review, don’t miss an extract at the end. 

Many of you have probably seen tons of posts about this book all over social media, I know I did before reading it and my interest was piqued the first time as I wondered what, exactly, does Alice know? You have to read it yourself to find out, but suffice it to say, it’s troubling and really makes you think. 

Every once and awhile I strongly encourage you to go into a book as blind as possible and that’s what I’m suggesting here. I promise the extract won’t spoil things, it’ll just whet your appetite and leave you wanting more. But, when you finish you’ll most likely need to talk to someone else who has read it, so feel free to come chat with me! (Thanks to Kate from Bibliophile Book Club for letting me badger her!) 

I was utterly consumed by this book straightaway, I think a bomb could’ve went off and I wouldn’t have been bothered. Alice is an average woman living a pretty average life until one night her husband is unaccounted for. This is completely out of character for Ed, and as Alice starts to dig deeper into where he actually was, she uncovers things that have the power to change her life forever. The choices Ed made have a huge impact on their lives and this story is about the aftermath of one fateful night. 

There are so many underlying themes here, I kept thinking that this would spark so many fantastic discussions for a book club. The power and impact of lying, the lengths one will go to protect their loved ones, honesty and truth, I could go on and on. This isn’t a classic thriller in the sense that you’re wondering who committed a crime but rather you’re wondering how things will play out. Can a massive secret be kept or will lies fester and eat you up inside? There is not the typical mounting tension, but instead there are a number of very tense scenes where you’re sure things are coming to a head only to be proved wrong.

Cotterell has a very unique and fresh type of psychological thriller in What Alice Knew and his prose is infused with gorgeous descriptions of art as Alice is a portrait landscaper. I’m blown away that this is a debut novel as it doesn’t read that way. Besides a totally absorbing plot, you have vibrant and rich descriptions and fascinatingly complex characters. There are plenty of unexpected turns and outcomes throughout, then the ending. It was one of those shocking endings that I needed time to process. In a way it’s ambiguous but it really couldn’t be more fitting. 

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Thanks to Becky at Transworld for my review copy. 

About the author: 

T.A. Cotterell read History of Art at Cambridge University. He worked in the City before resigning to become a freelance writer. He is now a writer and editor at the research house Redburn. He is married with three children and lives in Bristol.


Nell. I had expected Ed, startled awake by exhaustion and the still-empty bed, the lamp switched on, wondering where I was, checking I was OK, eager to know what time I would be back.

‘Nell darling, what is it? Why aren’t you in bed?’ 

‘Mummy, Daddy hasn’t come home.’

It was a child’s voice again, stripped of the teenage ennui of her text.

‘Have you tried his mobile?’
‘Yup. No answer. I left a message.’
‘St Anthony’s?’
‘They said he left about eight and hasn’t been back.’ ‘And there hasn’t been any emergency call-out?’ ‘Not that I know of.’
‘OK, well I know he was going to Peter Spurling’s party. Maybe he stayed on later than he expected?’

 ‘Maybe. Only . . .’
‘Only what?’
‘Only he rang before he left the hospital and said he was really tired and would be back by nine thirty at the absolute latest and it’s . . .’

‘Late, I know.’

‘And he was working all night last night. Though he did come back for literally five minutes to check we were OK around suppertime.’

An all-nighter? We’d agreed he would never do all-nighters when I was away, barring a life-and-death. He was as insistent about it as I was, maybe even more so. It wasn’t fair on the children. They were too young to be left alone all night, even if it was just about legal. I was going to pick up on it but now wasn’t the time. Besides, I should have been there. It wasn’t the first time my work had taken precedence.

‘Mmm . . . OK, maybe he ran into someone he hadn’t seen for ages at the party?’

Silence. She’d picked up the doubt in my voice. I couldn’t blame her. It would be completely out of character for Ed to stay late at a party or to renege on a promise he’d made to the children.

‘Is Arthur awake?’

‘No. He’s at Mikey Sutton’s.’ She left a telling pause. ‘Remember? ’

‘Sorry, yes, of course. Well look, why don’t you go back to bed? You can get into ours, if you want. I’ll head on to the M4 so I’ll be quicker. I should be back in about an hour and a half.’

‘OK . . .’
‘Yes? You sound unsure?’
‘Do you think everything’s OK?’
‘Of course it is.’
‘Because it’s not like Daddy to—’
‘I know. But, darling, don’t you worry. There’ll be some totally ordinary explanation.’
I truly believed it. Ed was the most reliable man I had ever met. I don’t mean reliable in a Health & Safety, two-pens-in-his-breast-pocket way – he was too sharp for that – but in a family-means-everything way that made us all feel secure.

‘Don’t you worry, my darling,’ I put on the ‘there we go’ voice I used when she lost a school hockey match. ‘Everything will be fine. He’ll probably be back before I am.’

Check out all the stops on the tour!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #imwayr

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a weekly post to share what you recently finished reading, what you’re currently reading, and what you plan on reading this week. It’s hosted by Kathryn at Bookdate.

What I Read Last Week: 

I liked this one, it was a good emotional read.

I love this series, this may be my favorite book thus far.

I’ve really become a fan of this series.

This one was mediocre for me.

This was a solid read.

This was a satisfying conclusion to a great series.

I loved this one, can’t recommend it enough.

This was another great read.
Currently reading: 

By the time this post is actually up I should be finished though!

Up Next: 

I’m really excited about the books coming up this week, many have been highly recommended!

How was your week? What are you currently reading? Any must read books lately?

Blog Tour: Scared To Death by Rachel Amphlett @RachelAmphlett

Goodreads|Amazon US|Amazon UK|Author Website
I’m so pleased to be a stop on the blog tour for Scared to Death. Read on for my review and a Q & A with the author.

Release date: December 6, 2016

Publisher: Saxon Publishing 

Genre: Crime Fiction, Mystery Thriller 

A serial killer murdering for kicks. 

A detective seeking revenge.

When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong. 

But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.

When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.

With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.

For the killer, the game has only just begun…

Scared to Death is a gripping fast paced crime thriller from author Rachel Amphlett, in a new series introducing Kay Hunter – a detective with a hidden past and an uncertain future…


Oohhh what a fantastic beginning to a new series! I love nothing more than getting caught up in a new series and I’m so excited about this one featuring detective Kay Hunter. She’s intelligent, capable and tough, but she has enough skeletons in her closet to keep things interesting. She also has a keen intuition which makes her a sharp and formidable detective.

The book starts out with a bang, a couple is racing against the clock to try and save their teenaged daughter. Melanie has been kidnapped and there is a ransom demand. I could feel the terror of her poor parents, I can’t imagine the despair and helplessness they were feeling, so awful. When things end in the worst possible way, Hunter has a huge mess to wade through and clean up. Can Hunter and her team outsmart this ruthless and cunning killer before he strikes again?

The killer here is quite frightening, he literally scares his victims to death and there were times that I was pretty scared myself! He’s crafty, cocky and sinister and seems to enjoy toying with the police and his victims. The pace here is snappy with short chapters that urge you to keep reading. This is dark and gritty, with surprises that I didn’t see coming. There is also a good mix of business and pleasure as you get glimpses into Kay’s personal life and relationship with her boyfriend Adam. There were some funny scenes between the two that added some warmth and humanity to an otherwise dark story. I’m really looking forward to the next book in this series and can definitely recommend this to crime fiction fans.

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to the author for my review copy.

Q & A

Novel Gossip Author Q&A


1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.


I’m really lucky because I have a dedicated writing space at home, but that tends to get used for the “business end” of stuff most of the time, although I write in there when I’m doing sprints with author buddies in the evenings.


I still have a part-time job, so the majority of my writing takes place on the train during my morning commute – it’s a 35-minute trip into the city from where I live on the fringes of Brisbane, and in that time I can get upwards of 700 words done, and the same on the way back on a good day.


2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?


Yes, definitely. I could read before I started school, and we used to have regular fortnightly trips to the library when I was little because my parents couldn’t afford to keep up with my reading habits otherwise. I wrote my first short story at eight years old, but my mum had to type it up because no-one could read my scrawl. I had a school report at the time that stated my handwriting “resembled a spider walking across the page”.



3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?


When I set out to write the Kay Hunter series, I read every single interview I could find with Peter James, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Michael Connelly – I love their books, and I learned so much from them about the craft of writing a well-researched fast-paced crime thriller. It was like going back to school – I’ve got pages of notes!


I also enjoy books by Lee Child, Robert Crais, CJ Sansom, Ken Follett, Robert Bryndza and Angela Marsons – there are plenty of others, but I’d probably crash your blog page if I listed them all here! I love paperbacks, but Kindles are dangerous – every time I switch mine on, I forget I’ve downloaded another ten books…


4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?


I’m just completing the first draft of the second book in the Kay Hunter series and over December while I’m promoting Scared to Death I’ll be outlining books 3 and 4 so I’ve can get on with writing those in early 2017. I’ve also got to sit down and start researching for what will be the fifth in my Dan Taylor espionage series…


5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.


I’ll have an idea rumbling around in my head for a few weeks, over which time I’ll jot down scenes in a new notebook (any excuse for more stationery!). Once those start coming together more quickly, I’ll use the index card feature in Scrivener (a writing software app) and move scenes around until they start to make more sense.


For each scene, I’ll write out a couple of sentences about what happens and what I need to write. I outline about 50% of the book in this way before I start, which speeds up the writing process considerably – I let the characters dictate the rest, but having a structure keeps me on track and ensures I keep the story moving forward.




6. Preferred method for readers to contact you?


The easiest way for readers to keep up to date with me is by joining the mailing list via my website (, but you can also find me here:



Twitter: @RachelAmphlett

Instagram: @RachelAmphlett


I always respond to emails personally, so feel free to drop me a line.



7. On average, how long does it take you to write a book?


A first draft typically takes me between 9-12 weeks, no more. The above process makes it so much easier to bash out the words – if I can’t settle into one scene of a morning, I’ll move onto another, even if it’s out of sequence. As long as I get the words down, it doesn’t matter.


8. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?


Probably Kay, because I’m stubborn and I don’t give up easily.

 9.What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?


Any time someone compares me to one of my writing influences in a review for one of my novels, that’s a big pat on the back. It’s nice when those crop on days where I might be struggling with the word count for the next book!



Thanks for having me on your blog, Amy!

Check out all of the stops on the tour!

Review: Evelyn, After by Victoria Helen Stone @VictoriaHStone

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: November 1, 2016

Publisher: Lake Union 

Genre: Mystery/Thriller


Evelyn Tester is sleepwalking through her suburban life—until a late-night phone call startles her awake. Her husband, a prestigious psychiatrist, has been in an accident. And he isn’t alone.

Suddenly Evelyn’s world isn’t as tidy as she thought. And in the midst of it all is Juliette, not only her husband’s secret lover but also his patient. If news of the affair were to get out, it would ruin more than just Evelyn’s marriage. Although it’s a bitter pill for Evelyn to swallow, protecting her family means staying silent—even if, as she begins to discover, the night of the accident has consequences far more dangerous than the unmasking of an affair.

But the more Evelyn learns about Juliette’s picture-perfect life—complete with a handsome, unsuspecting husband—the more she yearns for revenge…and satisfaction. Her growing obsession fuels her rage, burning away her complacency. What will be left of her after it flames out?


Told in alternating timelines, before and after, the entire story is from Evelyn’s perspective. Before starts immediately when the accident happens and after deals with the aftermath until everything finally merges together and there is one final chapter entitled now. I know many are sick of alternating timelines, but it really worked well here. The Evelyn from both was almost like reading about two different characters as she evolved and grew so much. You have a vague idea of what happened, but there are missing pieces, yet everything ties together and makes sense in the end.

Evelyn is caught in a monotonous life, and she doesn’t even realize that’s she unhappy until her husband’s accident. She’s a typical suburban mother who’s entire identity has been so wrapped up in being the perfect mother and wife that’s she’s totally lost track of herself. Plagued with self doubt and insecurities, she’s weak and doesn’t even realize she gave up all of her hopes and dreams to support her doctor husband, Gary and her bright and charming son, Cameron, until after the accident changes everything. Though there are many secondary characters that play important roles in this book, this is truly Evelyn’s story. She is a very well developed character and she undergoes a startling transformation by the end of the book. She’s wholly relatable and easy to like, even when she was behaving erratically I was rooting for her. 

This is yet another one where I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that it was a very engrossing read. It’s on the shorter side too, so it can be read fairly fast. I’ve also seen some griping about the romance here, but I don’t see the problem. This isn’t a romantic love story, it’s full of lust, desire and obsession. I also felt it was an important part of Evelyn’s journey and it just made sense to the story. 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Lake Union for my review copy. 

Review: I Found You by Lisa Jewell 

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: April 25, 2017

Publisher: Atria Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 


A young bride, a lonely single mother, and an amnesiac man of dubious origin lie at the heart of New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell’s next suspenseful drama that will appeal to fans of Liane Moriarty and Paula Hawkins.

In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.

Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.

Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.

Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (London Daily Mail) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.


This is my first experience reading a Lisa Jewell novel but it most certainly will not be my last! I was completely blown away by this book, it was absolutely stunning. It came highly recommended, especially from my buddy Renee at It’s Book Talk. If anyone has read any other of Jewell’s books and has a favorite, please let me know!

I so love converging storylines, I like trying to figure out how they’ll all end up being connected and intertwined. You have three separate stories here; Alice is a single mom of three children who sees a man sitting for hours in a storm outside her house. He has no idea who he is or where he came from. Meanwhile Lily is a young woman who was recently married. Her husband never returns home from work one evening which is completely out of character for him. Then, we flashback to 1993 to a family on vacation. This may sound like a little bit too much going on, but trust me, it’s not confusing at all when you’re actually reading it. 

Jewell’s writing really draws the reader in, I was totally hooked and captivated by the plot and the characters. I adored Alice and loved her openness and honesty. She’s far from perfect and she’s not afraid to admit it. Whenever I want to befriend a book character, I know I’ve found a winning book. Lily is so very different from Alice, she’s only twenty one and from the Ukraine and has no one besides her now missing husband in the U.K. Even though I thought I knew exactly how their stories would merge, I was wrong. The additional story from over twenty years ago added an extra layer of mystery and intrigue as well as even more fantastic characters. Gray and his sister Kirsty are on a vacation with their parents. They are just an average, normal family and I was so curious as to how they would all fit into everything.

This is yet another book that I would recommend going into blind, so I won’t be delving too far into the plot. I’m fascinated by the thought of amnesia and found myself thinking how terrifying it would be not to know anything about my life. This book has a little bit of everything, there is mystery, suspense, romance and family drama. I really didn’t want to put it down anytime I had to, it was that fantastic. It’s already a hit in the U.K. and I’m quite sure that it will be here in the US as well. Look out for this one in 2017; preorder it, request it on Netgalley, badger the publisher for a copy, just plan on reading this one. 

Overall rating: 5/5

Thanks to the publisher and Jellybooks for my copy.

Saturday Shoutout: Q & A with Helene Leuschel @HAleuschel

Today I have the lovely Helene Leuschel here for an interview. She’s the author of Manipulated Lives

About the book: 

Five stories – Five Lives. 

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance? 

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 

In this collection of short novellas, you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth. 


About the Author: 

Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction. 


Q & A
 1. What’s a typical writing day for you look like? Describe your perfect writing environment.


I write anywhere and at any time really. I always carry a small notebook with me or jot some ideas down into my mobile phone which means I never get bored standing in a queue. My typical day writing though is sitting at my laptop at home in our lounge because every time I look up, I have a splendid view of the Atlantic Ocean. I usually write at least 1000 words per day and am most productive in the morning and early afternoon. I have found that setting myself a minimum word count target helps with my motivation!


2. How did you get started writing? Was it something that you’ve always loved?


I have always loved writing and being a journalist for many years, I found it was one of the most enjoyable parts of the job. When I decided to move to Portugal seven years ago with my Scottish husband and our two young children, my dream of enrolling with a postgraduate MA programme in philosophy came true. It meant reading a lot and writing a lot which is exactly what I enjoy most in life. I felt immensely grateful for that opportunity. Tragic personal circumstances then led me to start writing fiction. Someone close to me has been the victim of domestic abuse for decades. The more I spoke to others who’d suffered similar experiences, studied the important phenomena of empathy and case studies about people who lack it, I had the idea of writing about five people at various ages and with different backgrounds but all suffer from someone exerting psychological manipulation on them.


3. Who are your favorite writers/inspirations?


I take my inspiration from a wide selection of areas such as philosophical or psychological essays, novels, art (especially paintings) and simply everyday life which inspires my thinking and my writing. A sound or a smell can make me want to sit down somewhere on a bench or the steps of a staircase and jot down some ideas. Another time, it is a conversation with the neighbour or watching people walk passed as I have a drink with my family or a friend in a café on the weekend which gives me ideas for settings in my book.

As for which writers are my favourites, there are so many I love – Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing, Maggie O’Farrell, Stefan Zweig and Jamaica Kincaid to only name a few. I’d have to say though that my all-time favourites are Simone de Beauvoir (because she wrote great fiction as well as non-fiction and I have enjoyed reading her work ever since I am a teenager), Helen Dunmore (because she conveys what our senses make us feel, smell, hear and see in such a memorable and compelling way), Iris Murdoch (because I feel as if I was part of the plot, a shadow of her characters), Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins (because they write about philosophy in an engaging, stimulating as well as entertaining way), Amélie Nothomb (her long novellas have convinced me that nothing is ever what it seems) and finally I need to mention Jacqueline Harpman (because she wrote stories that are hugely imaginative and thought provoking and are always set in my home country: Belgium).


4. Anything you can tell us about upcoming projects?


I am currently working on my second book which further explores the dynamics of psychological manipulation. I have also written half of another novel, which I intend to finish once I have published the second book.


5. Normally how do you develop plots/characters? Brief us on your process.


For my characters to come ‘alive’ so to speak, I need a setting that I am familiar with myself. If I cannot situate the person, I don’t think they can be believable. Then I decide on their age and looks, the kind of skills and dreams they have, their main personality traits and the way they perceive themselves. These various aspects become apparent as I write a first chapter, then re-read it and edit the parts where I feel there is a discrepancy or lack of logic.


I also believe that we are who we are, behave the way we behave not only because of the environment we live in but very much because we interact with certain people, some who have a great influence on us and others less. Then comes the reason why we choose to interact with certain people and I ask myself what it is that attracts us to them? So, once I feel comfortable with the main character and decide on one or two others, I write a rough plan and alter it as I go along, always staying flexible and open-minded because I think that nothing is ever what it seems!


6. Favorite character from one of your own novels?


I have published my first work of fiction, a collection of five novellas, in June 2016. Each story has a main character at its heart. I guess my favourite character has got to be teenage Holly because I can imagine writing a sequel about her and I feel like I want to know how she gets on in life.


7. Preferred method for readers to contact you?


The easiest and quickest way for readers to contact me is via twitter @HALeuschel and/or on Facebook


8. Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?


I would say it must be Sophie in ‘The Spell’ because when I arrived in London back in 1994, I was a bit naïve like her, yet so open-minded, curious and keen to meet different people. Like her, I had the caring backing of my family and knew who to turn to when things got a bit tough.  


9. If writing wasn’t your career what would you be doing?


Apart from a career as a journalist, I am qualified yoga teacher which was a wonderful part time job when my two children were very young. I think if I hadn’t been able to follow my dream of completing an MA in philosophy when we moved to Portugal and start writing fiction, I’d have happily continued teaching yoga!


10. What’s the best compliment that you’ve received about your work?


A few readers have mentioned that Tess from ‘Tess and Tattoos’ has moved them to tears and that they felt like wanting to hug her. I´m amazed when I hear that my writing stirs up such strong emotions and do take it as a compliment.

 Thank you to Helene for answering my questions and joining me today! 

Audiobook Review: Winter Storm by Elin Hilderbrand @hachetteaudio

Goodreads|Amazon|Author Website
Release date: November 4, 2016

Publisher: Hachette Audio

Narrator: Erin Bennett

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Christmas


Gather under the mistletoe for one last round of caroling with the Quinn family in this heartwarming conclusion to Elin Hilderbrand’s bestselling Winter Street Trilogy. Some of the stormy weather of the past few seasons seems to have finally lifted for the Quinns. After a year apart, and an ill-fated affair with the Winter Street Inn’s old Santa Claus, Mitzi has returned to rule the roost; Patrick is about to be released from prison; Kevin has a successful new business and is finally ready to tie the knot with Isabelle; and best of all, there’s hopeful news about Bart, who has been captured by enemy forces in Afghanistan. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few dark clouds on the horizon. Kelley has recently survived a health scare; Jennifer can’t quite shake her addiction to the drugs she used as a crutch while Patrick was in jail; and Ava still can’t decide between the two lovers that she’s been juggling with limited success. However, if there’s one holiday that brings the Quinn family together to give thanks for the good times, it’s Christmas. And this year promises to be a celebration unlike any other as the Quinns prepare to host Kevin and Isabelle’s wedding at the inn. But as the special day approaches, a historic once-in-a-century blizzard bears down on Nantucket, threatening to keep the Quinns away from the place–and the people–they love most. Before the snow clears, the Quinns will have to survive enough upheavals to send anyone running for the spiked eggnog, in this touching novel that proves that when the holidays roll around, you can always go home again. 


Elin Hilderbrand is one of my auto buy authors, nothing says summertime like one of her books. A couple of years ago she came out with Winter Street followed by Winter Stroll and I was thrilled. One of my favorite beach read authors was writing a Christmas series?! Bliss. I’ve often wanted to hear about how different Nantucket is during the winter months and it sounds every bit as enchanting as I had imagined.

This is the third book in a trilogy and I really wouldn’t recommend starting here. The first two books are so great and you would be missing out on such a fun series! Here’s what I suggest. Buy all three, you won’t have to wait like I did, and read them all under a plush throw next to your Christmas tree. I promise that they will not only entertain you, they’ll put you in a festive mood.

I’ve really come to love the Quinn family by now. They are a totally dysfunctional group, but aren’t most families a little bit dysfunctional? In her usual fashion, Hilderbrand has a different character narrating every chapter. I’ll break down the family dynamics really quickly, but trust me when I say that I think you’ll at least like every single one of them, maybe even love them. Kelley is the father and matriarch, he has two ex wives, Mitzi and Margaret. He runs an inn in Nantucket with Mitzi and they have a son Bart. He’s a marine and has been missing in Afghanistan. Margaret is a news anchor for CBS and they have three children together; Patrick, Kevin and Ava. Patrick is married to Jennifer and he’s in jail for a white collar crime. (Fraud) Kevin is engaged to Isabelle and has a baby daughter. Ava is an elementary music teacher and is dating two men, Nathaniel and Scott. Phew! I’ll stop there, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Erin Bennett did a fantastic job as the narrator, her voice is soothing and melodic, but very entertaining. Coupled with an amazing narrator, you have this fascinating plot with so much going on. Every single person in the Quinn family has their own personal struggles and issues and I loved seeing how they dealt with them as well as how they interacted with each other. I’m really bummed that the series is over, I have to wait until next summer for a new Hilderbrand book?! 

Overall rating: 4/5

Thanks to Hachette Audio for my review copy.

Review: The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

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Release date: July 19, 2016

Publisher: Scout Press

Genre: Mystery/Thriller 


From New York Times bestselling author of the “twisty-mystery” (Vulture) novel In a Dark, Dark Wood, comes The Woman in Cabin 10, an equally suspenseful novel from Ruth Ware—this time, set at sea.

In this tightly wound story, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for—and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong…

With surprising twists and a setting that proves as uncomfortably claustrophobic as it is eerily beautiful, Ruth Ware offers up another intense read. 


In A Dark, Dark Wood was one of my favorite reads of 2015, so I was really curious about Ware’s sophomore novel. Would she be able to keep momentum with this one? Or would it end up being a huge disappointment after such a stellar debut? While I wasn’t as blown away by this one, I still thought it was good read.

Lo is a journalist who has been handed a plum assignment. She’s been invited to be a guest on the maiden voyage of a luxury cruise ship, Aurora. This wasn’t a typical city at sea type of cruise ship, but rather a smaller, boutique style craft with only ten guest cabins. On the first night aboard, Lo hears a woman scream and a splash and when she investigates, she swears she sees a hand disappear beneath the inky surface of the frigid water. Desperate to help whoever this woman is, Lo tries to enlist the help of the crew and guests. But no one seems to believe her as there are no missing guests or crew members. 

I loved the premise for this novel. Is Lo crazy, did she really see and hear what she thinks she did? I had no idea if she was reliable or not for most of the book and I liked the questions and concerns that were swirling around in my head. The setting was also fantastic, it was so isolated and claustrophobic. Everyone is completely cut off from civilization except for their fellow passengers and crew and at least one of them is at the very least dangerous and sinister, if not a killer. I was unsettled and pretty creeped out, which is exactly how I want to feel when I’m reading a mystery.

Lo was annoying, and I’m not the first, nor will I be the last person to say this. She’s weak minded and paranoid and I just couldn’t sympathize with her as much as I probably should have. She gave off a nervous energy that made me anxious and feeling unsettled. I think it’s mainly due to the fact that I couldn’t trust her or anyone else aboard the Aurora. All signs were pointing to her being delusional and though I had moments where I wanted to believe her wholeheartedly, I just couldn’t fully back her. 

Ware has a sharp and clearly defined writing style that held my attention for most of the book. There were a few parts that were a little bit slow, so some patience is required here. I do believe the payout is worth it in the end as the ending was completely unpredictable for me and I didn’t see it coming. Bottom line? A solid mystery with a fantastic setting. I’m a Ruth Ware fan and will be following her closely.

Overall rating: 4/5

Review: When All The Girls Have Gone by Jayne Ann Krentz

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Release date: November 29, 2016

Publisher: Berkley Publishing 

Genre: Romantic Suspense 


Jayne Ann Krentz, the New York Times bestselling author of Secret Sisters, delivers a thrilling novel of the deceptions we hide behind, the passions we surrender to, and the lengths we’ll go to for the truth…

When Charlotte Sawyer is unable to contact her step-sister, Jocelyn, to tell her that one her closest friends was found dead, she discovers that Jocelyn has vanished.

Beautiful, brilliant—and reckless—Jocelyn has gone off the grid before, but never like this. In a desperate effort to find her, Charlotte joins forces with Max Cutler, a struggling PI who recently moved to Seattle after his previous career as a criminal profiler went down in flames—literally. Burned out, divorced and almost broke, Max needs the job.

After surviving a near-fatal attack, Charlotte and Max turn to Jocelyn’s closest friends, women in a Seattle-based online investment club, for answers. But what they find is chilling…

When her uneasy alliance with Max turns into a full-blown affair, Charlotte has no choice but to trust him with her life. For the shadows of Jocelyn’s past are threatening to consume her—and anyone else who gets in their way… 


This was a total cover request for me, it’s so gorgeous! I think I may have even clicked request on NetGalley before I properly read the blurb. Whoops. But when I did read the description fully, I was even more interested. I like a little bit of romance mixed in with my mysteries occasionally and Krentz definitely nailed that aspect. Unfortunately the mystery aspect was lacking for me and overall I was feeling underwhelmed in the end.

Charlotte finds herself entangled in a web of secrets and lies when her step sister, Jocelyn cannot be reached. Max is a PI looking into the murder of Jocelyn’s best friend, Louise, and she begins to help him as the two incidents seem to be related. 

As I’m feeling pretty lackluster about this book, I’m going to try and keep things brief. I’ll start with what I liked, because there were definitely some parts of the story that were solid. I did keep reading it after all. Krentz is a polished writer and I enjoyed her approach and style. It was obvious from the blurb alone that Charlotte and Max would wind up together, but I still liked seeing it play out. They didn’t have sizzling chemistry, but they did have a spark. 

My biggest problem was with the mystery itself. For a book labeled a romantic suspense, I was suspecting more…well, suspense. There were no big surprises here, everything was a bit predictable and easy to figure out. While I liked the relationship between Charlotte and Max, she was actually quite boring. I was never all that invested in her, but I didn’t dislike her either. Max was definitely more interesting to me, his past was fascinating and if Krentz writes a sequel focusing on him, I would read it. 

Overall this was just an ok read for me. There was nothing noteworthy or anything that would make this stand out. I can’t wholeheartedly endorse it either, as I’m feeling pretty indifferent about the book.

Overall rating: 3/5

Thanks to Berkley Publishing for my review copy.