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Leave No Trace By Mindy Mejia

Leave No Trace‘Leave No Trace’ is the second book by Mindy Mejia and it’s just as dark and compulsive as her previous novel called ‘The Last Act of Hattie Hoffman’.

Ten years after a boy and his father went missing in the wilderness of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, the boy – who is no longer a boy – walks back out of the forest. He is violent and uncommunicative. The authorities take him to Congdon Mental Institution in Duluth, on the edge of mighty Lake Superior. There, language therapist Maya Stark is given the task of making a connection with this boy/man who came back from the dead. But their celebrity patient tries to escape and refuses to answer any questions about his father or the last ten years of his life. In many ways he is old far beyond his years; in others, still a child. But Maya, who was abandoned by her own mother, has secrets, too. And as she’s drawn closer to this enigmatic boy, she’ll risk everything to reunite him with his father who has disappeared from the known world – but at what cost to herself?

The book is primarily seen solely through the narrative of Maya Stark, a speech therapist at a psychiatric hospital who has been give a new patient called Lucas Blackthorn, a violent and non-responsive young man who came out from the woods one day, ten years after him and his father disappeared. He’s unresponsive and refuses to answer questions, so Maya is brought in to help him and two of them form an unlikely bond and kinship as they have more in common than neither of them realise. There are occasionally perspectives from Lucas and his father and these insight provide an interesting slant to the story.

Along with her patients, Maya is a troubled young soul who never got over her mothers disappearance and has regularly tackled her own demons and mental issues, she provides a relatable voice to her patients with her kind and gentle nature. Right, from the outset it’s obvious that she has had issues in life and those are revealed as the story progresses shocking not only the reader of the book but also supporting characters in the story. Even though Lucas, is also troubled it is hard not to feel empathy for the young man, after living in the woods for 10 years, he’s scared of the world and the new found celebrity status that is suddenly bestowed onto him as well as his concern for his father, the man he had to leave behind in the woods and that he so desperately wants to get back to.

Lucas and Maya trust each other, where people see volatility and unrest, there’s a quiet friendship brewing between the two as they begin to trust each other and find out they have more in common, than they could have ever imagined and when Lucas begs Maya to help him, she puts herself and her job at risk.

The book is a cleverly written tale that is vividly written and atmospheric from the very first page. Filled with drama and shocks throughout and underlined with tension that makes for a gripping ending. With relatable characters tackling real life issues, ‘Leave No Trace’ is a thrilling and occasionally gory story about mental illness and the major impacts that unanswered questions can have on our lives.

You can buy Leave No Trace from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Relight My Fire By Joanna Bolouri

Relight My Fire‘Relight My Fire’ is the latest book by Joanna Bolouri.

When Phoebe and Oliver had their happy ending, they thought the hard part was over. And now, with a five year old daughter, they are far from the blissful hedonistic lifestyle of when they first started dating. Not one for giving up, Phoebe creates a sexy wishlist: a jar where they can ask the other for anything they’ve ever wanted in bed – or out of it. But with distractions aplenty, will they be able to relight the fire in the bedroom?

I spent the weekend with my head in this funny and fresh tale. A frank and honest reflection on relationships, with hilarious situations and witty one-liners.

This is the third book that I’ve read by Joanna and this book sees the welcome return of Phoebe Henderson who appeared in one of her earlier books called ‘The List’. In this book, Phoebe is hurtling towards her 39th birthday and feels that her relationship with her boyfriend called Oliver is growing stale, so with the advice of her best friends, Lucy and Hazel, she enlists the help of a therapist called Pam, who helps them ignite their fires.

As they progress with their therapy, Phoebe and Oliver begin to discover things about themselves as well as their relationship.

Joanna is a fantastic writer, she writes wittily and from the heart. With a strong relatable leading woman who makes for delightful reading. Phoebe is my new best friend, she’s frank and straight to the point and with her best friends, they’d be perfect for a night out.

Fun from the very start, ‘Relight My Fire’ is a deliciously, naughty book, a story that had me snorting throughout, a must read for all fans of Mhairi McFarlane.

You can buy Relight My Fire from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Almost Love By Louise O’Neill

Almost Love‘Almost Love’ is the latest book by Irish author, Louise O’Neill.

When Sarah falls for Matthew, she falls hard. So it doesn’t matter that he’s twenty years older. That he sees her only in secret. That, slowly but surely, she’s sacrificing everything else in her life to be with him. Sarah’s friends are worried. Her father can’t understand how she could allow herself to be used like this. And she’s on the verge of losing her job. But Sarah can’t help it. She is addicted to being desired by Matthew. And love is supposed to hurt. Isn’t it?

When it comes to books by Louise, you are guaranteed, an emotional rollercoaster of a story that will leave you exhausted at the end, so much so that I literally had to take a step back from the book and review my thoughts before typing them up

Her books delve into the dark worlds of toxic relationships, gas lighting and leading characters, that leave you feeling conflicted when you find yourself disliking them.

In ‘Almost Love’, we meet Sarah, a troubled young woman who has moved from one disastrous relationship to the next as she tries to put her life in order and sort out her head. The story is written in the past and present tense and is seen solely through the narrative of Sarah, as she reflects on her current relationship that is crumbling around her because of a previous relationship that she never got over.

Sarah meets Matthew, twenty years her senior she becomes infatuated with him and waits on his every beck and call. She craves for mere seconds of his attention and when he calls her, she drops everything for stolen moments in hotel rooms. She becomes obsessed with him, which causes trouble with friends and her father, who all want better for her. But for Sarah, Matthew is perfect for her, he introduces her to a world of arts and culture, a world that she longs to be part off. Now, in a new relationship with Oisin, a man her own age, she can’t seem to move on from Matthew and finds herself comparing the relationships and the men and takes all her inner turmoil out on Oisin.

This story is a dark and gritty read that really question relationships and where you stand in them. Sarah is a complex character and as much as I tried to, I couldn’t warm to her. She was horrible to all those close to her particularly her father, who she has a turbulent relationship with ever since the death of her mother. She’s quite self-absorbed and uses those around her, she belittles Oisin constantly and this can sometimes be unsettling reading as she battles her emotions around her.

This book is honest and that’s what makes it such an unique and compelling story, it doesn’t gloss on the fairy tale magic of relationships but focuses on the harsh reality of wanting to be loved and falling out of love, which also a sad and tender element to the tale. A frank and honest tale about love, self loathing, obsession and just how dark it can all become, ‘Almost Love’, is an agonisingly realistic story about the complexities of relationship and how sometimes in life, being you is never quite enough for someone to love you, this book is relatable to any person who has ever been in a relationship.

You can buy Almost Love from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

What Lies Within By Annabelle Thorpe

What Lies Within‘What Lies Within’ is the latest book by Annabelle Thorpe.

Freya, Paul and Hamad. Three friends from two different worlds; a seemingly unshakeable bond, suddenly under threat.
A move that would change all their lives. The trio have stayed close since university despite Freya and Paul’s marriage and Hamad’s wealthy lifestyle – so different from their own. Then an incredible job offer from Hamad sees Paul and Freya move to Morocco. A city where nothing is as it seems Marrakech soon proves a perplexing place to live. Instead of reinvigorating their marriage, Freya finds the move is driving them apart. Revelations about their shared past force her to acknowledge that neither Paul nor Hamad is quite the man she thought. When a shocking crime is committed, Freya finds herself cast adrift in the dark corners of a bewildering city, unsure who to trust or to believe.

Set against the exotic location of Marrakech, this story is seen from the perspective of married couple Freya and Paul and their best friend Hamad, the couple have recently moved to the city, after receiving a mysterious invite from their best friend Hamad, which results in both getting new jobs in the bustling city. Freya is hoping that that the new city, will help their troubled marriage but it seems to driving the couple further apart.

As Freya throws herself into her new job, writing the memoirs for Hamad’s glamourous grandmother’s Edith, a woman who’s on the cusp of dementia but wants to share the memories and dramas of life before it’s too late. But as Freya delves into the Edith’s life, she begins to unravel secrets and lies that were buried deep long ago.

Meanwhile, Paul is working on a new project of redesigning three houses, but it seems that something sinister and supernatural at work preventing him, with a guilty conscience and a heavy workload, Paul is strugglng.

A complex and claustrophobic story about the dark side of expat life and the loniness of settling in, ‘What Lies Within’ is a cleverly written tale about love and deceit. Beautifully descriptive in parts, that made me want to jump on a plane this exotic tale was impossible to put down.

You can buy What Lies Within from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

I’ll Eat When I’m Dead By Barbara Bourland

I'll Eat When I'm Dead‘I’ll Eat When I’m Dead’ is Barbara Bourland’s debut novel.

Everyone thinks Hillary starved to death – but Cat knows her friend’s dieting wasn’t a capital P problem. If beauty kills, it’d take more than that. Hot-headed and fiercely feminist, Cat’s sure she can match the investigating skills of Detective Mark Hutton, solve the case, and achieve sartorial fulfillment.But going undercover, Cat’s in over her head, and soon becomes snared in a very stylish web of drugs, sex, lies and moisturizer that will change her look – and outlook – forever.

This book has been described as ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ meets ‘American Psycho’ and that would be a statement that I agree with. It is based in the busy and competitive environment of Rage book, a popular lifestyle and culture magazine where there is constant pressure to succeed.

When Hilary, a leading member of staff is found dead in suspicious circumstances. Cat, a staff member and friend of Hilary, is still unconvinced about her friends death. On this journey with the help of the handsome detective Matt Hutton, Cat discovers the dark world of journalism and fashion and how it’s not all just about flashing lights and glamour.

With sass and reeking of attitude, this book delivers a clever plot line with a investigative twists. As Cat and Matt delve further in Hilary’s death, they uncover a world hidden away from the public eye.

Filled with glamour and wit, this book highlights the pressure of this high paced job and sometimes it’s not as rewarding as public are lead to believe.

Barbara’s writing is fast paced delivered with a funny quips along the way that made for enjoyable reading. The wide range of characters are vibrant and engaging that made for gripping reading.

With an eye catching title and gripping plot line, ‘I’ll Eat When I’m Dead’ is an honest but humorous story about the pressure of journalism, that was fun to read from start to finish.

You can buy I’ll Eat When I’m Dead from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.