Review: The Spider in the Corner of the Room by Nikki Owen (#1 Project Trilogy)


Published by Harlequin/MIRA, 4th June, 368 pages, £7.99

Quick Description: Psychological thriller, suitable for YA and over, deals with Asperger’s syndrome, the justice system, espionage, drugs and memory.

Plot: Plastic surgeon Dr Maria Martinez has Asperger’s. Convicted of killing a priest, she is alone, in prison and has no memory of the murder. DNA evidence places Maria at the scene of the crime, yet she claims she’s innocent. Then she starts to remember…
A strange room. Strange people. Being watched.
As Maria gets closer to the truth she is drawn into a web of international intrigue and must fight not only to clear her name but to remain alive.

Once in a while I like to branch out from the romance genre and write reviews for books that I feel deserve them, like Weightlesswhich was a mega-brilliant YA piece.

I do like a good psychological thriller sometimes because I don’t like too much gore and violence. I think this novel hits the right notes in terms of mental and physical balance. It is very action-packed and there are some punchy fight-scenes, but its not freakishly brutal. It definitely takes paranoia to another level, making the reader want to scan the room for any hidden ‘spiders’. I actually was a bit hesitant about reading a book that might have spiders in it. I know, I know. But fellow arachnophobes would understand ;).

Anyway, the ‘spider’ and its position is more of a symbol for Maria’s state of mind: its too small to tell, so is it really there or not? Is this real or not?- basically. Maria has Asperger’s, a condition that I was not familiar with. I think the author provides a good insight into it after some solid research. She captures the heightened sensitivity, hyper-intelligence, and inflexibility. We feel for Maria’s state of confusion, panic and anxiety as she finds it difficult to socialize and follow orders in prison. Something that frustrated me was how characters kept trying to stop her from saying or doing things and treat her as if she is crazy. So I was definitely rooting for her.

The novel is split into two settings. It starts with Maria in prison, but also shifts to a later date where she is undergoing therapy and recounting her time there. The two periods start to weave as the past catches up to the future. Within these time-frames, there are also flashbacks, some related to her childhood but some disturbing she cannot figure out why they are there. So the author cleverly allows us to live out Maria’s mental state and be completely disorientated in the mess of her memories. I was constantly dizzy- did that just happen? Seriously what is going on right now? 

Apart from being compelling and intriguing, I loved how the novel was very unpredictable. The author teases out revelations which are like POW POW, but I would never have guessed them. The mystery just gets bigger and bigger. And the characters surrounding Maria; her prison inmates, her therapist, her lawyer and her own family get harder and harder to trust. And here’s another thing, it gets difficult at times to trust Maria as well. She is constantly accused of having impaired memory and even questions herself. As she gets closer to piecing the puzzle together, she gets closer to the ‘spider’, but is it really there??

This is what I love. Not a simple find-and-solve, but a deep, complicated scramble and double-back. Bring on book 2!

Connect with the author:

Many thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin for my review copy! x

Review: These Days Are Ours by Michelle Haimoff


Published by Penguin Books, September 2014, 304 pages, £7.19

Quick description: young rich New Yorker freaking out after college, an insight into the post-9/11 generation.

Steam?: not much, but definitely PG rated content.

Plot: Only six months has passed since 9/11 and New York is still reeling from its devastating after effects.For Hailey, living back with her parents in their Fifth Avenue penthouse after graduation, life feels like a struggle – to find a job, to come to terms with her new post 9/11 home, and to create a new identity in the adult world she finds herself thrust into.Whilst all those around her seem to be doing so well -Katie is already working at Morgan Stanley, Randy and Jess seem content to stay out all night and party like they are still students – Hailey is desperate for something more. She just doesn’t know what. And to top it all, Michael Brenner, the man she feels sure is the one for her, always seems just out of reach.But when she meets Adrian, a recent Brown graduate who is wildly different from her privileged milieu, she finds her world view turned upside down and begins to realise that there is more to life and love than she ever believed. 

This is another great revisit to the old bookshelf like Coco’s Secret and The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House.

This novel is totally up my alley and would resonate with anyone in their early to mid-twenties. It is thoughtful, engaging and absolutely right. This is not about a little rich girl constantly whining. This is about a young women whose structured life-list has dwindled to two more boxes to tick: get a job and get married. On the outside her life seems fantastic. She can go out till dawn at fancy clubs drinking Mandarin Tonics, go for a luxury brunch and if she really wanted, have her mum make that call that would get her a job. But she wants to be somebody with a sense of purpose, and finally achieve something by herself, not wasting away at an empty penthouse. There are also so many crappy issues swimming around and plenty for the reader to chew on. She is in love with someone who is too perfect he is unreal. She tries to deal the massive rifts in her family and on top of that struggles with the tremors of uncertainty that 9/11 had created.

I am not an Upper East Sid-er or a Chelsea girl but I have definitely not been roughing it all my life. So I get how Hailey feels when the pressure is there to succeed, especially when the odds are stacked in your favor. As graduates we KNOW right? We are in a hotpot of expectations: comparing, asking, waiting…  Its funny how situations haven’t really changed since the early 00’s. The author captures all these feelings very well.

The novel is structured with no chapters, but paragraph breaks, which really captures the never ending fragmentation. Hailey’s thoughts drift back and forth between dark memories, make-belief scenarios and dreams of the future. The writing is super witty at times, with very sharp dialogues. I loved this line of Hailey’s: ‘Even if I handed her the stack of cover letters I sent out since I graduated, or mentioned all the second round interviews I’d gone on, or all the hours I spent perusing the Times, Hotjobs and Craiglist, they’d still picture me in my pajamas padding around this apartment all day’ (p.27) (I totally get you girl).

It was really interesting getting an insight into a post-9/11 world and the New York elite; their lives are so shiny but suffocating. I never realised that you can live in a big city but still feel like your in a small neighborhood where everyone knows everybody’s business. But this novel is not all gloom. Hailey’s hopes are restored towards the end, especially in the form of Adrian, who breezes in like fresh air.

Connect with the author: @michellehaimoff

Review: The Elite by Kiera Cass (The Selection Series Book 2)

Great sequel
Great sequel

Published by Harper Collins UK Children’s, April 23 2013, 352 pages, £6.33)

Quick Description: Fantastic sequel to the dystopia/fairytale series.

Steam?: pretty much the same as the first book- passionate moments but nothing graphic.

Plot: *Spoilers* look away if you have not read The Selection 

The Selection gets fierce as rivals stake their claim on the prince. Six girls, one life-changing prize… America Singer will leave her pre-destined life for a world of glamour and luxury, if she wins…

But surviving The Selection is tough. Rivals are battling to become Prince Maxon’s bride as the threat of rebel violence just beyond the palace walls escalates into war.Only six girls are left and sworn friendships are tested to breaking point. America’s feelings for Maxon grow stronger, but she suspects darker mysteries in his royal past. With ex-lover Aspen waiting for her in the shadows, where do her loyalties truly lie?

This is a brilliant sequel to the first book, and I pretty much devoured it in one sitting. The competition is now down to only 6 girls and tensions are turned up a notched. I can almost feel the subtle animosity and jealousies crackling. Plenty of things happen for us get stuck in. The contestants are tested even harder for their suitability for the Crown. I was on America’s side from day one and really wanted to see everyone go down. However, a few surprising events start to unfold- we learn a bit more about Marlee’s background and get a good glimpse into the darkness of Illea and their royal family. Prince Maxon’s affections also start to waver and he turns out a more complicated character than we thought. Meanwhile, America gets her hands on some historical material that asks more questions than answer them.

The main point in this novel is that America is confused; as anyone would be really. She struggles with her feelings for Maxon and Aspen, both different (but gorgeous) men who offer her different things. She gets very close to losing them both as they start giving out ultimatums. She started the competition only wanting her normal life with Aspen, but now everything has changed and she can’t look back. She doesn’t know whether she wants the Crown or not, or whether she can actually do it. She is scared, determined, and love-sick all at the same time. The author conveys this mash-up very well, but the ‘I don’t know’s start to get a bit frustrating after a while.

The increased rebel attacks terrify everybody, but also bewilder America who starts seeing clues and patterns. What I really want to know is, what the hell is going on with the country? And who are we really afraid of- the rebels or the royals?

Connect with the author: @kieracass

Review copy courtesy of Netgalley. Thank you!

Review: The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam

Mystery with a capital M
Mystery with a capital M

Published by Penguin, 28 August 2014, 512 pages, £7.99

Quick description: Mystery and romance novel, set in two different time periods, will leave you HOOKED.

Steam?: Some intense moments.

Plot: It’s 1965 and eighteen year-old Rosie Churchill has run away to the beautiful but run-down Castaway House in the seaside town of Helmstone. But when she uncovers a scandal locked away in the walls of the old house, she soon comes to realise that neither her own troubled past nor that of the house will stay buried for long. . .

In 1924 fresh-faced Robert Carver comes to Castaway House to spend a languid summer in the company of his much wealthier cousin, Alec Bray. But the Brays are a damaged family, with damaging secrets. And little does Robert know that his world is about to change for ever.

As Rosie begins to learn more about Robert, the further she is drawn into the mysterious history of the house, and their stories, old and new, entwine.

Like with my previous review of Coco’s Secret by Niamh Greene, I have been revisiting the old book shelf and seeing what has been left behind. Many books that I have currently lined up for me won’t be published till June so I need to do some filling in the meantime. But Castaway provides pretty good filling.

This novel is BRILLIANT and it got me so HOOKED. I don’t want to say too much about the plot in case of spoilers, because the mystery pretty much kicks in on page one. If you want a well-written mystery that deepens with every page and some romance splashed in, trust me blindly and get it. I would recommend an eBook version, because its quite a thick book and I hated leaving it behind during my commute.

The chapters alternates between the two protagonists; Rosie in the 60s, Robert in the 20s, and one place, Castaway House. Rosie is a young women who is trying to piece together her life after a terrible incident which has left her confused and frightened. Robert is also young and naive, with little knowledge of love and desire. As he immerses himself into the Bray’s troubling issues, Rosie starts piecing together the end of his story and discovering the start of her own.

I loved how the author entwined the time zones together in a fluid motion. The mystery is teased out gradually, but not in an aggravating pace. The reader gets enough to be curious and craving more till the end. I also loved how well the author captures the youth of the Rosie and Robert; the vulnerability, the awkwardness, the energy and the daring strength. There were certainly some passionate moments to get snared in. Great detail had also gone into the secondary characters, and they are more significant than at first glance. (wink)

The revelations are surprising, and the issues are resolved in unexpected ways. Rest assured, you will not have typical ending. You will, hopefully as I have, face more mysteries in terms of the enigma and ever underestimated power of love.

Connect with the author: @StephanieLam1

*COVER REVEAL* This Is One Moment by Mila Gray

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for Mila Gray’s (aka Sarah Alderson) latest book, This Is One Moment. As you well know I fell in love with Come Back to Me  and am super pumped for a follow-up. The cover is in the same style as its predecessor- bold, intense,but also young and fun. Its out by Macmillan 10/09/15, £7.99, £5.99 (eBook).

The steamy, romantic follow-up to Come Back to Me
A forbidden romance.

A wounded Marine who thinks he’s beyond saving.

A girl who’s determined to prove him wrong.Didi Monroe’s waited her whole life for the type of romance you see in the movies, so when Hollywood heartthrob Zac Ridgemont sweeps her off her feet, Didi believes she might finally have met the one.While Zac’s away filming for the summer, Didi begins her internship at a military hospital in California. There, she meets wounded Marine Noel Walker. Frustrated on the outside and broken on the inside, Walker’s a pain-in-the-ass patient who refuses all help.

Yet Didi can’t help but be drawn to him, and though he’s strictly out of bounds it soon becomes impossible to ignore the sparks flying between them.

As the attraction simmers into dangerous territory, Didi finds herself falling hard for a man she knows is going to break her heart. Because Walker doesn’t believe in love or happy ever afters. So what possible future can there be?

Then tragedy hits, shattering both their worlds, and Didi is forced to choose between fighting for love or merely falling for the illusion of it.

From Mila Gray, author of the bestselling romance Come Back To Me, comes a devastatingly beautiful, compelling and sexy story about the meaning of love and the heartbreak of loss.

“A captivating, heartfelt and sexy romance about the power of a love that won’t let go” – Liz Bankes, author of Irresistible

“A perfect, heartwrenching love story” – Weaving Pages

“The sexiest, most romantic book I’ve ever read . . . I couldn’t put it down” – Becky Wicks, author of Before He Was Famous

“This book was just PERFECTION and I cannot recommend it enough!” –

About The Author
Mila Gray is the pseudonym for author Sarah Alderson. Having spent most of her life in London, Sarah quit her job in the non profit sector in 2009 and took off on a round the world trip with her husband and tutu-wearing daughter on a mission to find a new place to call home. She now lives in Bali.
She is the author of YA novels Hunting Lila and Losing Lila, as well as a further four novels and several short stories.
www.milagray.comFor further information please call 020 7014 6000


Notebooks of a Middle-School Princess


Published by Macmillan Children’s, 21 May 2015, 192 pages, £3.79 (Kindle)

Plot: Olivia Grace is completely average. Or so she thinks . . . until Her Royal Highness, Princess Mia Thermopolis turns up at her school one day and whisks Olivia away to New York City! In a limo, no less! Where you can eat all the cookies you want and the ceiling lights up pink and purple – like a disco! But discovering that your father is actually the Prince of Genovia is quite a shock. Especially since it means you’re a descendent of the Kingdom of Genovia, and a princess. Olivia’s got a lot to learn about her long-lost family – and everyone’s got a lot to learn about her! Olivia chronicles her transformation from ordinary girl to princess in her notebook, with illustrations from Meg Cabot, who studied Fine Arts as an undergraduate.

This book is the first of the two new Princess Diaries published this year- WOOP. Thank you so much Macmillan and Net Galley for approving my request! See my hype on Meg Cabot, romance, YA extraordinaire and one of my all-time favorite authors. If you have been following Princess Mia for half your life, then this is a lovely quench to a 6 year starve.

This book is seriously CUTE. Such a lovely story about a young girl finding self- confidence in her abilities. Olivia triumphs over bullies, embraces who she really is and has a fairy-tale ending. The illustrations add a nice touch- I love the one of Grandmere.

As this book is aimed for a younger audience and is quite short (I finished it in an hour, probably less if I wasn’t fawning over the pictures), I would recommend it only to Princess Diaries fans if you are over teen years. Otherwise, this book is perfect for young girls of a fluent reading ability.

I CANNOT wait for Princess Diaries 11, coming in June………………….