Review: How to be Famous by Caitlin Moran

How to Be Famous by Caitlin Moran
How to Be Famous
by Caitlin Moran

I absolutely loved How to Build a Girl so was very much looking forward to picking up How to Be Famous. Unfortunately however, while it has all of the things that made the first book so great I was a little disappointed. It’s still brutally honest, funny and main character Johanna is one of a kind but I just found my attention wandering at times.


I’m Johanna Morrigan, and I live in London in 1995, at the epicentre of Britpop. I might only be nineteen, but I’m wise enough to know that everyone around me is handling fame very, very badly.

My unrequited love, John Kite, has scored an unexpected Number One album, then exploded into a Booze And Drugs Hell ™ – as rockstars do. And my new best friend – the maverick feminist Suzanne Banks, of The Branks – has amazing hair, but writer’s block and a rampant pill problem. So I’ve decided I should become a Fame Doctor. I’m going to use my new monthly column for The Face to write about every ridiculous, surreal, amazing aspect of a million people knowing your name.

But when my two-night-stand with edgy comedian Jerry Sharp goes wrong, people start to know my name for all the wrong reasons. ‘He’s a vampire. He destroys bright young girls. Also, he’s a total dick’ Suzanne warned me. But by that point, I’d already had sex with him. Bad sex.
Now I’m one of the girls he’s trying to destroy.
He needs to be stopped.

But how can one woman stop a bad, famous, powerful man?


I’m a big fan of Caitlin Moran, following her on social media & reading her columns, and when I read How to Build a Girl a couple of years ago I really loved it. I’d had one of those days that left me exhausted and emotional and How to Build a Girl somehow put me back together again. It was funny, sad and just so brutally honest and relateable it really resonated with me.

Needless to say when I heard Moran had written a sequel, How to Be Famous, I knew I had to read it. I felt invested in main character Johanna/Dolly and needed to know what was next for her. Unfortunately however, while it has a lot of the same humor, honesty and refreshing uniqueness to it, for me it lost a little of the relateability. It seems to lose the story at times and turn into a series of essays on feminism. When it’s in the moment and Johanna is acting it’s wonderful but there just isn’t enough of this to make a cohesive whole.

The story picks up not long after the end of How to Build a Girl (if you haven’t read it I’m not sure it really matters) with Johanna aka Dolly Wilde living what should be her best life in London, writing for a top music magazine but despite getting to meet and interview the famouses, she still feels like she’s on the outside. Her best friend and long time crush John Kite has just hit the big time and is constantly on tour, she’s not taken seriously at work and her father is having a mid life crisis and using her to relive his youth. Basically she’s miserable but rather than moping about (although there is a bit of that) she decides to take action, to become noticed through her writing. Unfortunately though while her writing does start to garner her attention a past encounter with a certain comedian results in her name on everyone’s lips for the wrong reasons.

In a lot of ways I really love Johanna, she is one of a kind, incredibly self aware and either determined or deluded, I haven’t figured out which. When she decides to do something she commits fully. Who else would decide when the man of their dreams becomes famous that the only solution is to become famous themselves. I love how she fights for what she wants and believes that it will happen. She has no doubts that she’ll get a new, better job if she quits her current one or that the letter she writes will open everyone’s eyes. She challenges and she pushes and it’s brilliant and often hilarious.

On the other side though, she’s also only 19 and despite her intention to become a “sex adventurer” fairly inexperienced and very self conscious about her appearance. This leaves her open to manipulation, wary of confrontation and easy to pressure into doing things she doesn’t really want to do. There were definitely moments when I worried for her or wanted to shout at her to run or stand up for herself.

She does however develop quite nicely over the course of the story. If How To Build a Girl was the story of her growing up and becoming someone new then How to Be Famous is about her realizing and accepting who she is, what’s important and what she’s willing to do. She has to face her fears and deal with her issues.

So far so good, so where did it go wrong for me? I’m afraid to say it was the writing. As I said, I love Caitlin Moran and think she’s a powerful voice for feminism but at times this book wandered away from fiction and into some kind of manifesto. Johanna’s job as a journalist and the letters she writes to John create the opportunity for the inclusion of articles on feminism, fame and fangirls among other things. I probably wouldn’t have minded this but it felt more like Moran writing from her pov rather than Johanna. I also felt like they were a little long-winded and this combined with the other extensive reflections on the 90’s, life in London and the music scene had my attention wandering. I’m sure there must have been a more effective way for the author to get the message across.

There’s also something very odd going on with the tenses, particularly at the start (although I may just have gotten used to it and stopped noticing). I found myself becoming confused as to when the narration was coming from. At times it’s in the moment but at others it’s almost like future Johanna reflecting back. It’s not however consistent enough to really be either so is very jarring.

I feel like I should also add a warning that this is probably not a book for the easily offended as much like the first book there’s lots of swearing and some pretty graphic and realistic sex scenes.

When it is in the moment though it does have some truly magical moments. It is a little bit slow and wandering but I do love the character development and the story. There were moments that made me laugh out loud and others that made me cry.

Overall, it was a little disappointing but I am glad I read it and would recommend if you like unique characters, feminist reads and aren’t too easily offended.

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. This has in no way influenced my review.

Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
The Kiss Quotient
by Helen Hoang

Believe the hype, this is a wonderful story. It’s smart, it’s funny, it’s very cute and more than a little steamy. I adored it.


It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analyzing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.

Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.

The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.


I am always a bit skeptical about books that seem to have a lot of hype around them, particularly when it’s a romance, but this really blew me away. It’s most definitely an “adult” romance (there are more than a few fairly explicit sex scenes and a lot of time talking about sex) but it’s sweet and funny and I really shipped Stella and Michael.

The story is essentially a gender switched Pretty Woman, with wealthy and attractive Stella hiring escort Michael to pretend to be her boyfriend. Needless to say what starts out as a fake relationship very quickly develops into real feelings but given Stella is paying Michael to be the perfect boyfriend and they come from very different worlds could it ever become something long term?

So far so tropey right? We’ve all read the fake relationship becomes real story a million times before but what makes this one unique is main character Stella and the reason she needs a fake boyfriend. Stella may be extremely good at her job, be wealthy and beautiful but she’s also autistic. She struggles with social interactions and physical intimacy so hires Michael initially to teach her how to get better at sex and later how to be in a relationship.

I absolutely loved the portrayal of Stella in this story. It’s an #ownvoices book as the author is autistic so it’s very sympathetically and sensitively done and Stella always comes across as completely believable. She’s just so socially awkward, honest and unsure of the right thing to say or do. It is funny at times but in quite a sweet/cute way rather than a nasty one. I have to admit that I related a lot to Stella, possibly too much, leading me to look into autism in women further. I suspect I will not be the only one to read this and recognise a lot of the traits in themselves so if nothing else this book will definitely raise awareness of what it turns out is an often missed condition.

I also have to say how much I loved Michael and how fantastic he is with Stella. He’s incredibly sweet and kind (new book boyfriend material for sure) and never pushes her for more than she can give. It would be all too easy for him to take advantage, something a lot of previous men seem to have done, but he never does and it feels like a genuinely equal relationship. That’s not to say it’s all sweet and innocent, there are plenty of steamy moments and as a couple they have a real spark. It’s clear from the very first moment that if they can each overcome their issues and insecurities they could be perfect together.

If I had one gripe about this book it would be those issues which felt like they were dragged out a little too long. They were built up into something they really weren’t and could have been resolved fairly easily without all of the drama, although like all good romances I suppose there had to be some roadblock to throw things off course just before the big finale.

The focus is very much on Michael and Stella but I should also mention how wonderful the secondary characters were too. I loved Michael’s family and the way the author used them to bring in a little of the Vietnamese culture, it really added something extra to the story. I would have maybe liked a few more nice people in Stella’s life but for the most part they do try, and really none of this story would have happened without her mother giving her a push.

This really is a fantastic read and even though I will admit it’s not perfect I enjoyed every second of reading it. I’m very excited to see what the author does next.

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this book. This has in no way influenced my review.

Review: The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

The Governess Game
The Governess Game
by Tessa Dare

The Governess Game is yet another brilliantly fun historic romance from Tessa Dare. I loved the little nods to one of my favorite classics (and a certain movie with an iceberg).


He’s been a bad, bad rake—and it takes a governess to teach him a lesson

The accidental governess

After her livelihood slips through her fingers, Alexandra Mountbatten takes on an impossible post: transforming a pair of wild orphans into proper young ladies. However, the girls don’t need discipline. They need a loving home. Try telling that to their guardian, Chase Reynaud: duke’s heir in the streets and devil in the sheets. The ladies of London have tried—and failed—to make him settle down. Somehow, Alexandra must reach his heart . . . without risking her own.

The infamous rake

Like any self-respecting libertine, Chase lives by one rule: no attachments. When a stubborn little governess tries to reform him, he decides to give her an education—in pleasure. That should prove he can’t be tamed. But Alexandra is more than he bargained for: clever, perceptive, passionate. She refuses to see him as a lost cause. Soon the walls around Chase’s heart are crumbling . . . and he’s in danger of falling, hard


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really, really love Tessa Dare’s books and her latest is no exception. I wouldn’t say it’s my favourite, that honour goes to the first in this series, The Duchess Deal, but it does have all the things I love, a sweet but feisty heroine, a troubled hero, quite a few funny moments, a bit of drama and a lot of chemistry.

This time around there is a very Jane Eyre feel to the story as Alexandra Mountbatten, orphan making her own way in the world accepts a job as governess to the two wards of soon to be Duke and rake about town Chase Reynaud. She’s trying to make enough of a living to be independent and he’s looking to get the two wards he’s been landed with, who are not the best behaved, shipped off to school. Neither are really looking for a relationship but as you can probably guess sparks fly between them.

I really loved Alex as a character. She’s clever, caring, a little naive and wonderfully unconventional. She also doesn’t let her financial situation or the hardships of her past hold her back. She has no experience as a governess but seems to instinctively know how to help Rosamund and Daisy who it’s safe to say have some issues (doll Millicent dies of some horrific disease most days).

Chase, I have to admit, I had some reservations about initially. The rake thing doesn’t really do it for me, but as the story progressed he did grow on me. It’s also difficult to resist someone who’ll eulogize a doll so eloquently and hilariously (in case you can’t tell those doll funerals were a highlight of the story for me) and there are reasons for why he behaves as he does.

The biggest draw was however the relationship between Alex and Chase. There is some brilliant banter between them and some serious heat. I just loved how their relationship developed and changed. There aren’t many surprises (there’s no mad wife locked in the attic for example) but it’s an enjoyable journey.

If I had one criticism of this story it’s that there are certain elements that are becoming very familiar from Dare’s other books and it’s starting to feel a little formulaic (sorry). I suppose there is a limit on how unique they can be but if like me you’ve devoured a large number of them in a short space of time they start to all feel quite similar. Certain characters seem to keep popping up.

Despite this though I would really recommend to anyone who loves a historic romance. I should also add that while this is the second in a series it can easily be read as a standalone, although The Duchess Deal is brilliant so you should read it too.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advance copy. As always all views are my own.

ARC Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

by Christina Dalcher

With an intriguing premise and clever writing I found this to be an incredibly engaging and addictive read.


Set in an America where half the population has been silenced, VOX is the harrowing, unforgettable story of what one woman will do to protect herself and her daughter.

On the day the government decrees that women are no longer allowed more than 100 words daily, Dr. Jean McClellan is in denial–this can’t happen here. Not in America. Not to her.

This is just the beginning.

Soon women can no longer hold jobs. Girls are no longer taught to read or write. Females no longer have a voice. Before, the average person spoke sixteen thousand words a day, but now women only have one hundred to make themselves heard.

But this is not the end. 

For herself, her daughter, and every woman silenced, Jean will reclaim her voice.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Despite being bombarded with promotion for this book all over social media it was only when I read the premise that I decided it was one I had to read. I was suspicious of all of the comparisons to the Handmaids Tale (I’m suspicious of all comparisons though) but there are actually a lot of similarities in the world the author creates. Due to a change in political power and the influence of religion, America is seeking a return to “traditional values” and family roles. The men are educated, given jobs, bring home money and make all of the decisions and the women are there to support them by keeping house.

Where it diverges however, and what fascinated me, is that this is enforced by limiting women’s access to words and language. Every woman/girl is given an allocation of 100 words a day and is fitted with a counter to ensure they stick to it. They are not permitted to read or write, have no access to computers, mobile phones or tablets and there are cameras set up to ensure they don’t communicate by any other means. It’s extreme but it really intrigued me. How would a loss of language affect your life, how would it affect your relationships and the dynamics within a family?

Through a number of situations and little nuggets of detail the author does an incredible job of portraying this world in a way which feels very real and easy to imagine. It’s clear that a lot of thought has gone into it in the way that the author answers almost all of the questions I had about what kind of impact this would have on the day to day life of different types of people. There are maybe a few too many coincidences and it lacks a little subtlety at times but it gets the message across.

I liked that the main character Jean (Gianna) was a former professor of neurolinguistics and the opportunities this gave for bringing a lot of the science into the story to give it a bit more depth and direction. Jean herself is a complicated character and I thought it was interesting how flawed the author made her. There was a lot I could relate to and empathise with but there were aspects of her behavior I just didn’t like or agree with. I also thought it was good the way the author brought in different and very diverse characters to illustrate the impact this society was having on them.

For a debut this is a pretty impressive book. I did have some minor quibbles with some of the writing, I found the alternate scenarios irritating and there were a couple of jumps which confused me but otherwise it was very readable. The pacing was pretty much spot on and I loved how the author managed to work in the events leading up to the current position without info dumping.

Overall this was a truly engaging read with a fascinating premise. One I’d definitely recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of this. As always all views are my own.

Review: How To Keep A Secret by Sarah Morgan

How To Keep A Secret
How To Keep A Secret
by Sarah Morgan

This may be a little different from Morgan’s usual stories but it’s every bit as enjoyable and addictive.


When three generations of women are brought together by crisis, they learn over the course of one hot summer the power of family to support, nourish and surprise

Lauren has the perfect life…if she ignores the fact it’s a fragile house of cards, and that her daughter Mack has just had a teenage personality transplant.

Jenna is desperate to start a family with her husband, but it’s… Just. Not. Happening. Her heart is breaking, but she’s determined to keep her trademark smile on her face.

Nancy knows she hasn’t been the best mother, but how can she ever tell Lauren and Jenna the reason why?

Then life changes in an instant, and Lauren, Mack, Jenna and Nancy are thrown together for a summer on Martha’s Vineyard. Somehow, these very different women must relearn how to be a family. And while unraveling their secrets might be their biggest challege, the rewards could be infinite…

Heartwarming and fresh, Sarah Morgan’s brilliant new novel is a witty and deeply uplifting look at the power of a family of women.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always look forward to a new Sarah Morgan book and while this was a bit of a departure from her usual style I very much enjoyed it.

Rather than being a romance focusing on one couple this is much more about family and tells the story of three generations of women, Nancy, her daughters Lauren and Jenna and Lauren’s daughter Mack. Each of them facing a crisis and in need of the support of their family, if they can find their way back to each other and reveal the secrets that have kept them apart.

While this is a little bit different from Morgan’s typical books it does feel like a natural progression and hangs on to all of the things I love about her writing. Her romances always had a little bit more depth, dealt with difficult issues and had strong friendships and family relationships. This is just a little lighter on the romance and a little heavier on the family relationships, what brings them together and what pulls them apart.

That’s not to say there’s no romance in this story because there most definitely is and as you would expect from a Morgan story it is wonderful. Sweet, funny, emotional and with quite a bit of heat. What’s particularly good about it is the way that the author looks at the different types of relationships and romances. We have Nancy who’s in her 60’s, 5 years a widow and trying to deal with betrayal and move forward in her life, 35 year old Lauren whose seemingly perfect life with her husband and daughter falls apart forcing her to return home as a single parent where she runs into an old flame, first grade teacher Jenna who’s very happily married to her childhood sweetheart but desperately wants children of her own and 16 year old Mack who’s having a hard time at school, doesn’t know who she is and just wants to fit in.

I really loved the way all of the different relationships within this story were portrayed and how realistic both they and the characters felt. I have to admit I had a particular soft spot for Lauren but by the end of the novel I think I came to love them all even Nancy who initially seemed very self centered and cold.

It was good to have chapters from the point of view of each of the women in the story. They each had very distinctive voices and you could tell even without the chapter headings whose head you were in. It made them very real and I have to say the chapters from Mack’s perspective in particular were very well done. I can’t really remember what it was like to be a teenager but I think the author captured it so well.

The story is a little bit on the predictable side, the secrets are pretty easy to guess, but I still enjoyed reading it. In fact as always I found it an incredibly addictive read and ended up finishing the whole thing in a day, although this is normal for me with Morgan’s books. They’re just too likable and easy to read.

Overall therefore while this is a little different from Morgan’s usual style I very much enjoyed it and I will be hoping for more of the same.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all thoughts are my own.

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne : I Loved It

How Do You Like Me Now? by Holly Bourne
How Do You Like Me Now?
by Holly Bourne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow..this book!!! I read an ARC of this back in December and I am so happy I can finally start gushing over it.

Have you ever read a book that just speaks to you? This book was that for me. There is so much about it that is so real and so relevant and that I could really relate to. I wanted to just shout “YES!!!!”, it’s so completely and totally spot on. I like to highlight quotes as I read and can honestly say I’ve highlighted half of this book. It’s just so well written.


‘Turning thirty is like playing musical chairs. The music stops, and everyone just marries whoever they happen to be sitting on.’ 

Who the f*ck is Tori Bailey?

There’s no doubt that Tori is winning the game of life. A straight-talking, bestselling author, she’s inspired millions of women around the world with her self-help memoir. And she has the perfect relationship to boot.

But Tori Bailey has been living a lie.

Her long-term boyfriend won’t even talk about marriage, but everyone around her is getting engaged and having babies. And when her best friend Dee – her plus one, the only person who understands the madness – falls in love, suddenly Tori’s in terrifying danger of being left behind.

When the world tells you to be one thing and turning thirty brings with it a loud ticking clock, it takes courage to walk your own path.

It’s time for Tori to practice what she’s preached, but the question is: is she brave enough?

The debut adult novel by bestselling author Holly Bourne is a blisteringly funny, honest and moving exploration of love, friendship and navigating the emotional rollercoaster of your thirties.


This was my first book from Holly Bourne (and the first adult book she’s written) but it won’t be my last. From the blurb I was expecting the standard chick lit or romcom type book that is all too common but this has so much more depth and realism to it than I ever could have anticipated.

As someone who is single and in their thirties (Edit: I was in my thirties when I read it so it still counts) I could relate to so much of this story. How it seems that at a certain age everyone suddenly starts getting married and having kids and how this creates a barrier between you. How scary the thought of being on your own, or never having children can be and how sometimes it feels like you’re losing at life if you’re not blissfully happy, married and popping out babies. How you can feel judged and inadequate for putting your career first, or for those with kids, for not being the right type of mother.

I don’t really like making comparisons but for me this had echoes of Bridget Jones Diary. It’s less of a romance but while Bridget was made to feel like there must be something wrong with her for being single by the smug marrieds, Tori is made to feel the same for not being a mother. Some of the things said to her are truly awful but I know from personal experience that it does happen. I could completely understand her jealousy and the feeling she had that she was trapped on the wrong side of a wall.

There are a number of other very relevant themes prevalent throughout this story. Our obsession with social media at the expense of enjoying the moment (if there’s no pictures on insta it didn’t happen), the endless quest for validation from a bunch of strangers on the internet, how success is determined by how many likes or comments something gets. It really made me question my own obsession with twitter and instagram. Tori may have driven me nuts with how obsessed she was with presenting the best image of herself, the idea that she has the perfect life and all the answers but really she was just an exaggerated version of a lot of us.

I did love the strong feminist vibe that runs through this book. I may not have loved Tori but I loved how she challenged those claiming to be feminists. One of my favorite moments was when she was on a panel with a man claiming to be a feminist, she may have been drunk but she was hilarious and absolutely spot on.

Her relationship with Tom made for some difficult reading and I absolutely hated it and kept praying she would end it but as the book points out starting over in anything is a much more daunting prospect in your 30s than in your 20s. There’s a definite feeling that you’re locked into the decisions and the path you’re on and just have to make the best of it.

If I had one minor qualm about this book and it is minor it’s that I just couldn’t understand Tom’s behaviour. He was just so horrible and manipulative. I can’t believe it was deliberate but I can’t accept that he didn’t know what he was doing.

I’ve probably made this sound like quite an intense read, dealing with heavy and depressing issues, but it’s not like that at all. There was the odd heartbreaking moment but there were more than a few that were hilariously funny, many of which involved best friend Dee (and often some kind of celebratory event). My personal favorite was a baby shower and some discussion over landing strips, I’m saying no more except that Tori is truly gifted at saying exactly what I would be thinking.

Thank you Holly Bourne for creating such a wonderful book and if you’re still reading after all of my waffling thank you too. If you can’t tell I absolutely loved it and would recommend everyone read this immediately. I kind of hope it’ll encourage women everywhere to maybe be a little less judgmental about how others choose to live their life.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

Review: The Last Family in England by Matt Haig

The Labrador Pact
The Last Family in England
by Matt Haig

Beautifully written but possibly a little too upsetting for me


Meet the Hunter family: Adam, Kate, and their children Hal and Charlotte. And Prince, their black Labrador.

Prince is an earnest young dog, striving hard to live up to the tenets of the Labrador Pact (Remain Loyal to Your Human Masters, Serve and Protect Your Family at Any Cost). Other dogs, led by the Springer Spaniels, have revolted. As things in the Hunter family begin to go badly awry – marital breakdown, rowdy teenage parties, attempted suicide – Prince’s responsibilities threaten to overwhelm him and he is forced to break the Labrador Pact and take desperate action to save his Family.


My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Phew I made it through to the end. I never would have picked this book up if I’d known what it was about (I really should have read the blurb). Books like this just upset me too much and I prefer not to put myself through the trauma.

The fact that the story begins with dog Prince being taken to the vet to be put down was a very early hint that this was probably not going to be a happy read and it’s not. From the vet’s office we flash back to the preceding months to discover how Prince’s attempts to protect his family resulted in his current situation.

I do have to give Haig a lot of praise for this book despite its storyline. His writing is wonderful and he really captures real family life with all of its ups and downs. I loved the unique way the story is told and I thought the way he used the dogs POV to show each member of the families insecurities and emotions was genius. The family open up to him in a way they don’t to those around them baring all (both literally and figuratively) in front of him.

I also loved the philosophy and belief system he created for the dogs (and cat) and the conflict between the different breeds and I would love to think it true. It certainly reflected the characteristics of the various breeds and I could easily imagine Labradors being the voice of reason and responsibility in the dog community.

The story is not particularly fast paced or action packed but it is a fairly easy and quick read. It’s the story of a family falling apart and includes issues such as infidelity, death and grief, teenage insecurity and anger and attempted suicide. As you can imagine there are a lot of sad moments but there are also a few laughs too (mostly Prince’s incredibly keen observations of the behavior of the family members when they’re on their own in front of a mirror).

Prince is an absolutely wonderful character and I kind of wish he was my dog. He’s so desperate to hold everything together and blames himself when things go wrong. He’s naive and innocent and occasionally hilarious.

Despite all being told from Prince’s point of view you do get a real sense of the other characters too, dogs and humans. Each and every one is well rounded and believable and the interactions between them are spot on.

This was a little too emotional for me to say it was an enjoyable read but I am glad to have read it.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy.

ARC Review: Killman Creek by Rachel Caine

Killman Creek (Stillhouse Lake, #2)
Killman Creek
by Rachel Caine

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my most anticipated reads, the sequel to Stillhouse Lake didn’t let me down. It’s a fast paced and gripping story that still has a few surprises in store.

Spoiler Alert: as Killman Creek is a sequel both the blurb and my review contain spoilers for Stillhouse Lake.


Every time Gwen closed her eyes, she saw him in her nightmares. Now her eyes are open, and he’s not going away.

Gwen Proctor won the battle to save her kids from her ex-husband, serial killer Melvin Royal, and his league of psychotic accomplices. But the war isn’t over. Not since Melvin broke out of prison. Not since she received a chilling text…

You’re not safe anywhere now.

Her refuge at Stillhouse Lake has become a trap. Gwen leaves her children in the protective custody of a fortified, well-armed neighbor. Now, with the help of Sam Cade, brother of one of Melvin’s victims, Gwen is going hunting. She’s learned how from one of the sickest killers alive.

But what she’s up against is beyond anything she feared—a sophisticated and savage mind game calculated to destroy her. As trust beyond her small circle of friends begins to vanish, Gwen has only fury and vengeance to believe in as she closes in on her prey. And sure as the night, one of them will die.


I was blown away by Stillhouse Lake when I read it a few months ago so I was beyond excited to finally get my hands on a copy of sequel Killman Creek from NetGalley and while my expectations were ridiculously high, Caine didn’t let me down.

Whereas Stillhouse Lake was a good old fashioned who dunnit which kept you guessing till the very end this is a much different type of thriller. Unlike the first book where Gwen was very much on the defensive this time she’s going on the attack. Her serial killer ex-husband is still on the loose and with help from hacker Absolom he seems to be able to find her and her children everywhere they go. She’s fed up of running and hiding though so she stashes the children Lanny and Connor somewhere safe while she and Sam go hunting.

Due to the nature of the story there’s a lot less mystery this time around, it’s more a game of cat and mouse, but that’s not to say there isn’t the odd unexpected twist and there are still a lot of questions over who can be trusted. It’s a fast paced and gripping story that does somehow make you question everything you previously thought was true.

Rather than being told solely from Gwen’s point of view, Killman Creek is told from multiple pov’s, something that took a little bit of getting used to. As well as Gwen, there are also chapters from Sam, Lanny and Connor’s points of view and while I liked some more than others it did add a new and interesting perspective to the story and let us get to know the other characters a bit better.

I have to say I do love Gwen/Gina. She does get put through the wringer time after time but no one can say she isn’t a fighter and I love how she always puts her kids first. Sam is quite an intriguing character, brother to one of Gwen’s ex-husband’s victims, he’s out for vengeance but is very confused about his feelings towards Gwen. It was great to see them spending so much time alone together this time around. The way the dynamic between them shifts and changes makes for some brilliant reading.

As for Lanny and Connor, gah!!! I know they’re young but really? Did they have to do everything they weren’t supposed to do? So frustrating but you just know they’re going to do the stupid thing that lands everyone in danger.

There aren’t very many new characters, and the ones there are come and go fairly quickly with only one or two making much of an impression, but really this is all about the relationships between those we know, so who cares.

This is pretty much non stop action and suspense from beginning to end and the final explosive showdown makes it all worthwhile. Caine’s writing is as always brilliant, creating just the right balance of tension, action and the more emotional scenes which keep you connected to and rooting for the characters.

Overall I thought this was a great conclusion to the story and definitely one I’d recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for providing me with an ARC. As always all views are my own.

Killman Creek will be published on the 12th December

Mini Review: Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh


Cherish Hard (Hard Play, #1)

Cherish Hard by Nalini Singh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet, funny and very steamy, I found it difficult to resist reading at every opportunity.


New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…

Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.

Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.

And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.

As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.


This is only my second Nalina Singh book and the first contemporary romance from her I’ve had a chance to read but it won’t be the last.

Main characters Sailor and Isa are extremely likeable and from pretty much the first page the chemistry between them had steam rising from my kindle. Both are troubled by events from their childhood, Isa pretty much ignored by her family who thought work was more important and Sailor by a father who walked out on the family leaving them destitute, and they’re looking for very different things in life. When they meet however they just can’t resist getting involved despite expecting it to end in disaster.

I had a lot of love for Isa and the way she fought for her family but honestly Sailor has to be the sweetest, kindest and sexiest man alive. The secondary characters were also brilliantly done and I loved how the author worked in a lot of diversity as well as issues such as arranged marriage, bullying and neglect.

The pacing is spot on and I absolutely loved a lot of the dialogue. Sailor and Isa definitely have a lot of chemistry and the sparks certainly fly between them at every interaction but there’s a lot of affection and humor between all of the characters.

I only really had a couple of small niggles the first of which was Isa’ s inner alter ego Devil Isa. That was wandering a little too close to the Fifty Shades inner goddess for me (although I promise it’s nowhere near as bad). I also would’ve liked a bit more struggle, a few more obstacles on the path to “Twue Love” but maybe I’m just mean.

Overall though I did love this book. It’s funny, sweet and has just enough chemistry to keep you going back for more.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC. This has not influenced my review.