Tuesday, 28 February 2017

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Top ten positive things about unemployment

(Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and The Bookish!)

At the end of March, I'm going to be unemployed for the first time in two and a half years. I'm finding the prospect a little bit terrifying, but I'm also looking forward to it - something that a lot of people find incomprehensible.
Seeing as this week is a freebie week (Jamie from TBTB is dealing with her first pregnancy, so has put the feature on a brief hiatus) I thought I'd take the time to talk about the reasons I'm looking forward to being unemployed... If only because it'll convince me that I'm making the right decision!

10) No early mornings
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If you're unemployed, you never have to get up when it's still dark outside. You don't even need to know the definition of the phrase 'alarm clock', because you can get up when you want. Sleep all day, who cares?!

9) Binge watching galore
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Never seen an episode of 'Breaking Bad'? Only halfway through the first series of 'Orange Is the New Black'? Always meant to watch 'Game of Thrones'? Now's your chance! Watching long series like these shows commitment, which makes a great addition to your CV. 

8) No buses
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Well, this is a lie. I will still be taking buses to hang out with friends or go to see concerts. But I won't be a slave to the bus timetable. 
Often I arrive at work nearly two hours before my shift because I don't have a bus that will get me there any later, so all of the time that I've wasted over the years will be reclaimed! 

7) Pokemon hunting for days
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I bet I'll be able to finish the Pokedex within a week as soon as I leave my job. I have the determination and I have the data - this is my first goal as an unemployed person. 

6) Being able to conform to gender norms
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Instead of paying my own way, my boyfriend is going to be paying for everything. Instead of splitting food bills equally, I'll expect him to treat me all of the time, because that's what a real man should do. Who genuinely believes women should be earning their own money in this day and age?! 

5) Finding a talent
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I've always wanted to learn to draw or play an instrument or paint or knit or cross stitch, and I'm going to use this time productively to attempt one or more of those things. I'd love to be able to create my own items that I could sell somewhere like Etsy: I've always wanted to contribute more. 

4) Unlimited days off
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I can go wherever I want to go, do whatever I want to do. I've been thinking recently that I would love to learn more about the area around Swindon, fully exploring the different beautiful historic places that surround it. Bath, Trowbridge, Cricklade, Marlborough... I'm going to take the time to acquaint myself with all of them. 

3) Blogging bonanza
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I'm going to be able to think up new features, create new graphics, maybe even buy a domain and code my own website with all of the spare time on my hands. Maybe I can focus on monetising the blog, so I'll at least have some kind of income - that would be pretty awesome. 

2) Eliminating the TBR pile
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I read a lot. I've already read forty books this year! If I didn't have a job, I'd be able to read SO MUCH MORE. Maybe I could have read fifty or sixty books this year already.

1) Time to tidy
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I have a lot of books/CDs/clothes/magazines etc. etc. I keep acquiring things and not having time to sort them out, which is why there are encroaching piles of stuff all over my house. As soon as I lose my job I'm going to go through everything, getting rid of things that I don't want anymore and weeding my book and music collections and my bursting wardrobe. 

I hope you enjoyed this Top Ten Tuesday!
In case you haven't guessed, a lot of these were sarcastic. I'm trying to look on the bright side, but it's getting more difficult with every passing day.
Have you ever dealt with impending unemployment? If so, how did you cope? Teach me your ways!

'The Bronze Key' (Magisterium #3) by Cassandra Clare and Holly Black

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*This review will contain spoilers!*

"In Europe," she said, "when they discover someone is a chaos mage, they don't celebrate them. They kill them."

'Call made a few final tweaks to his robot right before sending him into the "ring" - a second of garage floor outlined in blue chalk.'
Boring. This might be one of the most disappointing first lines I've ever read.
Seriously, I'd been excited to rejoin the world of the Magisterium because I'd been waiting so long to read this third installment, and this really took the wind out of my sails.

It's Call, Aaron and Tamara's third year in the Magisterium (if you hadn't guessed from the title, their Bronze year) and they're still dealing with the fallout of the events of 'The Copper Gauntlet'.
Aaron and Tamara finally found out that Call's soul is that of Constantine Madden, the Enemy of Death, the big bad who created chaos-ridden animals and an army of zombies he could command.
Having decapitated Constantine's preserved body, the gang ensured there was no longer a chance for the Makar's soul and his body to be reunited.
The Magisterium and Collegium join forces to celebrate the group - including Call's father Alastair and nemesis Jasper DeWitt - thanking them for finally ending the cold war that has been plaguing the mage world for decades.
When they're at the party someone tries to kill Call. He's lured to another room using a fake note from Celia, then a chandelier is almost dropped on his head. Jennifer, the girl who passed him the note, is found dead, floating in the water with a knife sticking out of her stomach. The Masters have no leads as to who could be trying to kill students left, right and centre.
The search to find whoever attempted the assassination is on. They introduce new security measures throughout the school, installing Anastasia Tarquin - Alex Strike's mother and a member of the Assembly - to guard the powerful elementals kept their following a previous attempt on Call's life.
But he's still not out of danger. Despite all of the security, someone still manages to loose an air elemental who attempts to attack him. Soon after, his school equipment is being tampered with, putting his life in terrible danger.
Call has no idea who is after him, but he knows why. Someone else must have figured out that he was the Enemy of Death, and must have decided to take him out.

God, this was bland.
I'm grateful that the words coruscating, stalagmites and stalactites were used less in this installment, but that's the only thing that's improved from the first two books in the series.
There are many reasons I hated this novel.

  • It has no plot, then a "shocking" event (that you could see coming from miles away) happens at the end of the novel - the only thing that happens during the entire story - but it dupes readers into thinking something has actually happened, explaining how it has such inexplicably high star ratings on Goodreads. 
  • Aaron dies. Yep. It's foreshadowed like hell but is still unnecessary and avoidable. It's using the shock factor to the max, trying to make people care about an uninteresting series with cookie cutter characters. Aaron, Tamara, Jasper or Celia could have died, and it would have had elicited the same response in me - nonchalance. 
  • This is 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' without the satisfying conclusion. Anastasia reveals she was Constantine Madden's mother in a revealing and impassioned speech, then the book just ends. It means people are still going to read on to the fourth installment, 'The Silver Mask', despite the fact that...
  • There's no compelling story to be told. Wow, Call has the soul of a big bad evil, that doesn't necessarily mean he's going to become evil. He's an average, neutral good character, and could have been written so much better.
  • It's repetitive. I felt like I'd already read huge sections, because they echo the events of the previous books so closely.
  • There's random romance, for no particular reason. Celia wonders if Call is going to ask her on a date, Call likes Tamara but thinks she likes Aaron, so Celia and Jasper end up dating. Sigh. Is this really necessary in a book for kids? I know both authors are popular for the romance that they write in their YA novels, but COME ON.
  • It's just filler. Other than Aaron's death, nothing integral happens. When you look back at the Magisterium series as a whole, when the last two books are out - and please, dear god, let those be an improvement on this one - you won't be able to remember anything from 'The Bronze Key'. Even the key itself is such a forgettable part of the plot.

The writing duo seem to have had no idea what to do with this book. This is the shortest Magisterium book so far, but despite that there still wasn't enough action to fill 250 pages.
This story would have made more sense as a novella - particularly because it's very similar to the events we've already read featuring Master Joseph and Drew - but instead this was a half-hearted and disappointing release from two insanely popular authors.
I'm going to continue on with the Magisterium series, because I'm interested to see what happens after the closing events of this book, but I don't have my hopes too high anymore. It's still possible for this series to be redeemed, but it's going to take a lot of hard work.

Monday, 27 February 2017

BLOG TOUR: The Saul Marshall series by Richard Davis - SPOILER FREE REVIEWS

Hello, and welcome to my stop on the 'Never Forget' blog tour! 
The wonderful Faye Rogers contacted me at the start of the month and invited me to participate in this tour, and I jumped at the chance. I hadn't heard of the Saul Marshall series before, but I've been reading more crime and thriller books this year than ever before so I was in exactly the right mood for these novels. 
I'm going to be reviewing 'False Prophet' and 'Never Forget' today. Both reviews will be as spoiler free as possible, but the events of the first book do impact upon the second so I will be giving some of the story away.

'Aaron Woolf sat down for breakfast, opened his newspaper, and read his obituary.' 
A guy reading his own obituary? Tell me that's not one of the most gripping first sentences you've ever read. It leaves you feeling instantly unsettled, and makes it impossible to put the book down until you know exactly how that could have come to pass.

A psychotic terrorist has his son. He will do anything to save him.
When a rogue cult turns deadly, the FBI call on former conman Agent Saul Marshall. FALSE PROPHET introduces a gripping new series from thriller writer Richard Davis. 
Marshall is soon drawn into a cat and mouse chase with the leader of the cult, Ivan Drexler. As the scale of Drexler's terrorist ambition becomes ever clearer, news arrives that he has taken Marshall's son hostage. Removed from the line of duty, he must work alone, off-grid.
As the attacks intensify, Saul will stop at nothing to defeat Drexler.
But the FBI are questioning Saul's own part in the carnage. He must work fast to save both his country and his life. Can Saul stop the carnage before it's too late? And can he save his son?
As wave after wave of attacks break, the clock is ticking for Saul.

This was so close to getting four stars, but a couple of things didn't work for me. I can't discuss one of those here, because it's a HUGE spoiler - literally the last chapter of the book - so I'll probably end up writing a spoilery review in a couple of days, because I have a lot of thoughts about that ending that I want to go further into. 
The non-spoilery aspect that made this book an uncomfortable read was the constant info dumping. Richard Davis has obviously done a lot of research, because he knows an insane amount about the inner workings of the FBI and the CIA, but the reader gets told ALL of it. There are pages upon pages of irrelevant information, Saul mentally commenting on the exact make, model and size of cars, guns and planes, but none of it furthers the plot. It shows that Richard has planned every aspect of his story, making it absolutely faultless, but it's not necessary for the reader to know every tiny detail. It doesn't bring it to life, it just makes things clunky.
Other than that I really enjoyed this novel.
It's easy to relate to Saul's plight: because the Order of Babylon have his son, he has to decide whether to put family loyalty above his commitment to the job, and it's an internal struggle that plagues him throughout the story. He had to abandon Samuel before he was born, so he doesn't want to abandon his son again, but as it starts seeming likely that Samuel himself is a cultist which makes Saul's decision even trickier.
At points Saul verges into antihero territory, but that comes with the training: as a member of the FBI he is ruthless and unemotional when it coems to killing, which is harrowing to read when he's supposed to be the good guy. Richard Davis pulls no punches, allowing us to see both the good and bad sides of the law enforcement.
The extended cast of characters are all strong, and it's going to be great to encounter them again in the future. Vann's dry wit brightens up even the most harrowing scene, while Mort's father-like affection towards the man that he arrested shows that criminals deserve love too: he's the only reason Saul got a second chance, and even though he makes mistakes he ultimately saves more lives than he sacrifices.
This is a very quick read. If you're hoping to read a book that grabs you by the throat, stuffed with relentless action and heart-thumping tension throughout, you'll adore the Saul Marshall novels. Despite being disappointed with the ending, I automatically picked up the second book: it's impossible to take a break between these stories, because you're left with so many questions about what can have happened to Saul. 

Now for my thoughts on the sequel, 'Never Forget'. The end of 'False Prophet' does impact upon the events of the second novel, so if you want to avoid anything vaguely spoilery, look away now

'Crouching among the dumpsters, her body pressed against the cold brickwork, Juliette Dein contacted the man who'd come to kidnap her sister.'
Okay, Richard Davis has a skill at writing a killer opening line. These two are some of the best that I've encountered. He's certainly not afraid to kick start his novels with a huge dose of adrenaline. 

Saul Marshall is on the run.
As a wave of seemingly random assassinations engulfs California, Marshall finds himself drawn into a situation spiralling out of control.
He soon discovers some of the webs' most secure protocols have been compromised by a rogue team of former Chinese agents. When Marshall realises what they plan, the stakes are raised...
And that's before the Secretary of State gets involved. Can Marshall unravel the deceit and tricks before it's too late? Can he stop the carnage, or will he become part of it? One thing is for certain: either way his enemies will never forget.

This installment uses Saul's past as a conman to its full potential. He's constantly trying to deceive the people who are hunting him, and it's great to see him doing what he does best (and really makes me want a prequel novel of his adventures in con artistry!). It plays up the USP, and for someone who's read a lot of repetitive crime and thriller novels, that was great to see.
I have nothing to complain about when it comes to 'Never Forget'. All of the things I just discussed in regards to 'False Prophet' are irrelevant when it comes to the second novel in the series. The conclusion is satisfactory yet still leaves you wanting more, while the info-dumping is appropriate, as Saul teams up with a civilian called Ellen Kelden and she needs to be caught up. Instead of getting the information thrown at us, we learn with her: it's a more gentle way to introduce some complex theories.  
Despite the fact that Saul's now in California, there are plenty of familiar faces for us to get reacquainted with. I particularly enjoyed the reappearance of Vann, who was one of my favourite members of the supporting cast in book one, and the more central role of background character Scott Brendan. It seems Richard has plans for all of his characters, and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens to all of them in further volumes in the series. 
I loved the focus on technology: particularly the discussions about hacking, and how even seemingly foolproof methods of concealing your activities on the internet are vulnerable. It's terrifying, particularly when you look at the way the political landscape is at this current moment in time. Anyone could be watching your activity, and you have no way of knowing... *shudders*

My final thoughts about the Saul Marshall series are that it's worth sticking with. It's difficult to talk about in too much detail without giving away major plot points, but if you're unsatisfied with the first novel just try the first few pages of 'Never Forget': it'll grab you, and you'll be halfway through before you realise. It's just that good. 
All of the complaints I had about the first novel became null and void. Richard made a lot of development with his writing between the two, but you can't just start with the second installment. It's imperative that you read the first novel to get the back story and to really understand what's going through Saul's mind: the two plots are separate and could be enjoyed as standalone stories, but the character development is so much better in context. 
I wish the third book was already out, because I was enjoying binge reading these! 

About the author:

Richard Davis graduated from University College London in 2011 and Cambridge University in 2012.
The Saul Marshall series was born from Davis's extensive travels around the United States and his long-standing obsession with thriller fiction.
He lives in North London, UK, with his girlfriend.

Thanks once again to Faye Rogers for inviting me to participate in this blog tour - I hope you enjoyed my stop! Be sure to check out the rest of the posts on the tour: they're all absolutely brilliant. 

Sunday, 26 February 2017

WTF Did I Miss This Week? #21 (w/c 20/02/17)

The publishing world:

My shelves are straining, but I'm not going to be able to resist picking up some of these new releases:
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There were a couple of cover reveals, including one that proved TV tie-ins CAN be beautiful:
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In other news:
  • There's going to be a Red Rising comic book
  • Simon and Schuster FINALLY cancelled Milo Yiannopoulos's contract, following some controversial thoughts about paedophilia...
  • ...and Roxane Gay made a very eloquent statement about the entire affair. 
  • Another piece of news that involves both the publishing and music worlds: Corey Taylor will be releasing his fourth book, 'America 51', on August 15th. 
  • Fierce Reads have announced the touring schedule for their upcoming Fierce Reads tour, calling at bookshops across America throughout May 2017...
  • ...while YALLWEST released their line-up.
  • Maggie Harcourt will be releasing her next novel, 'Theatrical', in 2018 with Usborne
  • The MOST EXCITING BOOK OF ALL TIME has been announced, and it's called 'Floored'. Being released in 2018, it's a collaboration between seven authors: Holly Bourne, Sara Barnard, Non Pratt, Eleanor Wood, Melinda Salisbury, Lisa Williamson and Tanya Byrne. WOAH NELLY. 
  • Most irritatingly, the Daily Mail decided to shit on teenage reading once again. We should be celebrating the fact that people are reading, not dismissing the titles they choose to pick up.
  • Scarily, it seems 25 million books might be missing from public libraries throughout the UK. I knew it was going to be a high figure, but that's ridiculous.
The music world:

Could only find two new releases (and one was actually out at the end of last week, and I forgot to feature it. SUE ME!):
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More new music, including another pop comeback:

Yep, Lana Del Rey has returned with 'Love':

It's going to be a 'Long Night' at the With Confidence show that I'm going to in a couple of hours:

There's now an official video for that irritating new Katy Perry song. Groan:

Architects released a live video for 'Gravity', filmed at last year's triumphant headline show at Brixton O2 Academy:

Highly Suspect reminded the world that their name is human:

Blessthefall have been having some Star Wars themed escapades:

While The Maine have been getting up to some 'Bad Behaviour':

And While She Sleeps have been hanging out with one of their least famous friends:
Also this week, Knuckle Puck released their first new song since 'Copacetic', The Chainsmokers and Coldplay surprised the world with one of the weirdest collaborations ever, The 1975 covered Sade's 'By Your Side', Boston Manor threatened to 'Burn You Up', SWMRS really need to know if you have a car, and Grumble Bee's new song 'Red' is definitely not a Daniel Merriweather cover.

Even more tour announcements:
  • Vicky Speedboat are returning to the UK for a headline tour in April and May.
  • I Prevail have announced a huge US tour throughout April and May. Support comes from Starset, As Lions, Vamps and Cover Your Tracks.
  • PVRIS are finally returning, playing five European headline dates in May (including that extra UK show). 
  • To celebrate the release of new album 'Outsiders', Gnarwolves have announced an extensive UK headline tour, also in May...
  • ...while Twin Atlantic have also announced a UK tour in May, playing much more intimate venues than they would normally call at...
  • ...and SayWeCanFly will also be returning to our shores that same month. 
  • Korn are touring North America in May. Support comes from Animals As Leaders and DED.
  • Meanwhile PUP are focusing on the East Coast on their North American headline tour, also taking place in May
  • Against Me! and The Bronx are co-headlining shows throughout France in May and June.
  • Knuckle Puck will be playing headline shows across the UK in June, around their Download festival appearance...
  • ...while Coheed and Cambria have announced a one-off headline show following their Download appearance, playing 'Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness' in full at Koko in London on June 18th.  
  • Alter Bridge have added a bunch of shows to their European touring schedule, which sees them playing a variety of festivals and headline shows during June and July.
  • All Time Low are going to be touring North America from June to August, taking SWMRS, Night Riots, Waterparks and The Wrecks on the road with them.  
  • Young The Giant are touring North America during August and September. Support comes from Cold War Kids. 
  • New Found Glory added more dates to their twentieth anniversary UK tour in September.
In other news:
  • This week contained the Brit awards 2017. Check out the list of winners here.
  • Dead! took a stand against venues who take a large cut of merch sales, by selling their merch outside after the show. Risky business.
  • On what would have been Kurt Cobain's fiftieth birthday, Frances Bean Cobain paid tribute to her father.
  • Even more festival announcements, including the third headliner from Reading and Leeds, 11 more bands for Slam Dunk, a huge announcement from Pukkelpop and the news that Foo Fighters will be headlining the Saturday night at Glastonbury
  • Quite a lot of new albums were announced this week. First up, At The Drive-In announced the details of their first album in 17 years...
  • ...Kingdom of Giants will be releasing their new album on May 5th...
  • ...Seether will be releasing their new album, 'Poison The Parish', a week later on May 12th...
  • ...while Biters announced their new album, 'The Future Ain't What It Used To Be', which will be out on May 19th...
  • ...the same date that The Mountain Goats will be showing their 'Goth' side to the world...
  • ...and Employed To Serve will be releasing their next album, 'The Warmth of a Dying Sun'. Spooky.  
  • Then there was that new All Time Low album announcement, for 'Last Young Renegade'. Being released on June 2nd, it has one of the most beautiful, intricately detailed pieces of album artwork I have ever seen:
  • All Time Low also announced that they're matching the money that their fans raised for ACLU, meaning that altogether they've raised $24,000 for the charity. Impressive. 
  • PRIDES announced the support for their upcoming UK tour: Twin Wild
  • Alan Ashby has spoken out about Austin Carlile's departure from Of Mice and Men...
  • ...while The Word Alive have revealed the identity of the drummer replacing Luke Holland: former drum tech Matt Horn
  • Three more bands were robbed: GuttermouthMalignancy and Islander. What is going on?
  • Slaves have had to postpone their shows in Texas and New York following Jonny Craig undergoing back surgery. No news yet as to whether this will include the UK tour scheduled for the end of March. 
  • Avenged Sevenfold cancelled their show in Milan, citing M. Shadows' laryngitis, but it may have also been a way of paying their respects to a 19-year-old stage hand who died in Germany
  • Because twenty one pilots aren't tired of doing impressive things, they've now earned the record for most consecutive weeks at the top spot of Billboard's Hot Rock Songs chart. 
Okay, so now that's done I'm off to see With Confidence. See y'all next time, losers.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

BLOG TOUR: 'Lie With Me' by Sabine Durrant - SPOILER FREE

Welcome to my stop on the 'Lie With Me' blog tour! 
In May last year, I received a copy of 'Lie With Me' via bookbridgr, but unfortunately I didn't have the time to read it once it arrived. I was intending on going back to it, but with so many other releases filling my inbox it slipped further and further down my TBR. 
That's why I'm so grateful to Vero Norton for contacting me with this wonderfully exciting opportunity. It gave me a kick up the bum and made me prioritise this book, and I'm so glad that I finally picked it up because it is gripping.

'It struck me in the night that this might have started earlier.' 
I'm not a big fan of instant foreshadowing.
I often find that it's too cliched, giving away a huge part of the plot before the action can progress and before we can learn to care about the characters and what could possibly happen to them. If you know something bad is going to happen to someone, there's no point in wasting your hope that things might turn out okay.
In this instance, however, I thought it worked really well.
Paul Morris wakes up in the middle of the night, ruminating on something that has happened in his life. It's dark and disorienting, throwing you straight into the action. His voice is established within the first few paragraphs - he's a strong character, and you know exactly what motivates him within a couple of pages.

Paul Morris is the definition of a bachelor. He's always on the lookout for his next conquest, which is how he ends up going to the book store in Charing Cross: he sees a young redhead through the window, and decides to try his luck. 
He strikes out. He's embarrassed: how dare she not want him? He looks good for 42. He's a published author, a Cambridge graduate. A catch. 
When he bumps into old school friend Andrew, he's distracted. Andrew asks for his number to arrange a lunch and he gives it to him, wondering if the redhead behind the desk will be surrepititiously writing it down now she knows how successful he is. He doesn't want Andrew to contact him, and decides he'll decline the call when it arrives.
He lets his guard down, though, hoping to hear from a journalism student who wanted to wrack his brains for advice. Next thing he knows he's booked in that lunch date with Andrew and he's travelling across London and back into his past.
Arriving at Andrew's house, he meets Alice. He can't remember, but they've met before: ten years ago, when they were both on holiday in Greece. Alice and Andrew have a yearly pilgrimage back, taking both of their families on holiday to a villa that Alice owns: one that they won't be able to visit again, as developers are tearing up the property to clear the way for a new hotel complex. 
Alice is on a mission. Ten years ago, when they were all in Greece, a young girl named Jasmine vanished. She feels personally involved, as she was there to comfort Jasmine's mother in the hours directly following her disappearance, and she's been campaigning for the last decade to get the Greek police to do more to find Jasmine, who she's convinced must still be alive.
She's too old for Paul, but her drive turns him on. She has a villa in Greece, a huge house... She has a lot of money, and he's about to lose the place he's been living. He decides to seduce her, then when her daughter Phoebe goes to university he's hoping she'll invite him to lodge in the spare room. 
Their romance is a whirlwind one. Alice seems unconvinced to start with, inviting Paul to Greece and then refusing to mention the offer again despite his hints, but he pushes into her affections until he finally seems to have her under his spell. He gets the invitation to Greece, and he's certain he'll be able to move straight in as soon as they get back. Easy. 
But Paul starts to wonder if something's going on between Alice and Andrew. The long, lingering looks between them make him uncomfortable, and when he finds condoms in Andrew's bag he takes them, hoping he can stop the affair in its tracks. Then there's a rape on the island, and Alice and Andrew collude to cover up the potential involvement of Alice's son, bringing them closer and making Paul feel as though he's being pushed out...
Paul just wants her to trust him and open up to him, but she won't. He doesn't think it's fair: he's doing everything he can, granting her every wish, but she still seems to favour Andrew. He feels like he has to lie to her constantly, because she believes he has more money than he does - he wants her to have a high opinion of him, and is afraid that if she knows he's broke she'll no longer be interested. Keeping up with all of the falsehoods he's weaving is exhausting, and she still doesn't seem to care for him as much as he does for her.
Their beautiful getaway isn't really a holiday. Alice is so focused on the Finding Jasmine campaign that she barely has time for him, and tensions are rising between him and Andrew. The teenagers aren't making things easier: Louis is moody and uncooperative, while Phoebe and Daisy are constantly flaunting their bikini bodies.With family drama at the forefront of his mind, Paul can hardly relax at their villa, especially with the constant droning of the diggers working ever closer to Alice's property line.

The first third of the book is achingly slow, but as soon as Paul gets to Greece the tension becomes unbearable. 
I will admit, I almost gave up a few times towards the beginning. Paul is arrogant, and reading the story from the viewpoint of a man with such an inflated ego is exhausting. He thinks he's so clever, lying at every possible opportunity, but that gave me secondhand embarrassment. It was obvious that he was going to get caught out. That's the moral of this story: even the smallest lies catch up with you.
His constant scheming to get invited to Greece is also tiring. If he didn't get to go to Greece their would be no story, so all of the chapters where he's hinting his interest are unnecessary. He's so needy, refusing to outwardly ask if he can go, just desperately trying to manipulate her into wanting him there. I hate men who treat women as though they're less intelligent. Paul is one of those people who only sees women for their bodies, rather than for their minds. He's not attracted to Phoebe, Alice's teenage daughter, because she has badly dyed hair, so when she asks him about journalism he's dismissive and uninterested. 
If you haven't guessed, Paul is a hateful man. That's the point; because you know that bad things are coming to this irritating character, you're eager to see him experience his downfall. That's not to say that you'll celebrate it when it eventually happens, though. Sabine Durrant knows how to manipulate her reader's emotions, meaning that you care for characters you previously hated and despite those you thought you loved.
Bear with it. If you're hoping to read a thriller that is relentless in its intensity then this is not the book for you (but I'm going to be featuring one like that next week, so stay tuned!). Be patient: it pays off
Sabine's descriptions of Greece are delightful. It was raining every day I read this book, but I could feel the heat emanating from the pages and warming my soul, making me desperate for summer to hurry up and arrive. This is the perfect holiday read, so if you're going anywhere nice any time soon keep this book in mind. 
After you get through the dragging establishing chapters the book is a very quick read, becoming almost impossible to put down. There are subtle clues sprinkled throughout the story, but until you know exactly what happened it's difficult to pick up on them. As soon as you know everything makes sense - you can feel that last piece of the jigsaw puzzle snap into place, clearing the meaning that has been obscured throughout. 
It takes a very clever writer to create a story like this. The way that everything gets twisted to have a different meaning is mind-blowing, and if it hadn't been for the way that Sabine neatly tied up the loose ends and explained everything that had happened throughout, this would have been an instant reread for me. 
I'm not going to give spoilers, because this isn't a book that would be easy to enjoy if you knew what was going to happen. All I can ask you to do is to give it a chance. If I hadn't been reading this for a blog tour I would have given up, and after seeing how it all ends that would have been a huge mistake. 

I haven't read any of Sabine Durrant's novels before, but after this I'm craving more of her writing. Her characters are very authentic, and the way she weaves her plot is astounding. It's been a long time since I've read a novel with an antihero protagonist, and this is making me want to read books about hateful people - something I normally dislike doing. 
Also, just look at how gorgeous the cover is. How can you resist a book that beautiful?

TOP FIVE WEDNESDAY: Five books to break your reading slump

(Top Five Wednesday was created by GingerReadsLainey. Find out more at the Goodreads group!)

I am the queen of the reading slump.
"What?" I hear you cry. "How can that be? You're always reading!"
Well, yeah. Now I am. But for most of my teenagers years I couldn't bring myself to pick up a single book, and the ones that I did took me months of struggling to finally finish. 
These five books are ones that I read during that period of my life. Despite the fact that every book was taking me weeks (okay, months) to finish, I managed to finish all of these books in one sitting, and loved every moment. 

5) 'Red Rising' by Pierce Brown
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I can see that some people could find this one slump-inducing. Pierce Brown's world is very complex, and the hierarchy ranging from the Golds to the Reds is hard to get your head around. Despite the fact that I normally struggle with sci-fi, this quickly became one of my favourite books in the entire world. If you love characters with huge motivation and lots of action, you'll love this one too. 

4) 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' by J.K. Rowling

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Despite the fact that I haven't read the entire Harry Potter series, I really like the first book. I've read it at least four times, and every one of those times I've finished it within a day. I will eventually move on to the other books in the series (I've read the second book a few times, but only read the third once), but it definitely helps inspire me to start reading again. 

3) The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer

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I read this entire series in a week. I don't normally finish series. 'Nuff said.

2) 'Looking For Alaska' by John Green

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'Looking For Alaska' - aka the only John Green novel I'll ever recommend - is a brilliant slumpbuster. It's fun, it's romantic, then it's heartbreaking and depressing and destroys you and makes you never want to read another book again, but you have to read another book to stop thinking about this one.

1) 'Entangled' by Cat Clarke
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This is my ultimate slumpbuster. I've only read it once, but if I ever get into a terribly deep reading slump I am going to pick this one up again and I KNOW it will cure me.
I didn't used to be a fast reader, but I read this one in a sitting. I sat completely still and finished it and then felt extremely disoriented and realised I was late for sixth form. You can't say better than that.

I hope you enjoyed this Top Five Wednesday! What books do you read when you have a slump that really needs bustin'?