Archive

Archive for the ‘Review’ Category

the girls – emma cline

March 27, 2016 Leave a comment
26210512

The Girls – Emma Cline

I received an advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It is the summer of 1969 in California and Evie Boyd is about to turn 15. With her parents divorced, her best friend distant and the long warm days stretching ahead of her with nothing to fill them except transferring between her mother’s indifference and her father’s young girlfriend’s cool sexiness, Evie becomes entranced with a girl that she meets in town.

This chance meeting leads to Evie spending her summer becoming involved with a strange group of reckless and carefree misfits that will later be referred to in whispers as a cult. A summer that will end in horror and infamy, haunting Evie for the rest of her life.

I was absolutely blown away by this book – especially as it’s Emma Cline’s debut novel. The writing captured what I imagine to be the essence of the 60s, and what was going on at the end of the decade.

No doubt inspired by the Charles Manson and Sharon Tate story, it invokes a Polaroid photo story of coming-of-age and the passions and drive of teenagers.

It is easy to see why Evie chose the path that she did, and how easily she was influenced due to her experiences at that time.

Haunting, evocative and reminiscent of The Virgin Suicides, it is probably my favourite read of the year so far.

The Girls by Emma Cline will be published on 14th June.

my name is leon – kit de waal

March 23, 2016 Leave a comment
25743752

My Name Is Leon – Kit De Waal

I received an advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

It’s London, 1980 and nine year old Leon is proud of his little baby bother Jake. Although their mum has problems, Jake doesn’t cry much and anyway Leon always knows what to do to make him laugh and smile.

However, Leon’s dad left when his mum was pregnant with Jake, and Jake’s dad is already married – and now his mum is blaming Leon for Jake’s dad not wanting to be around.

When their mum finally has a breakdown, Leon & Jake are taken away to live with Maureen. At first, Leon is worried, but Maureen is cheerful and Jake likes her. Eventually though, a nice family come and take Jake away, and foster-carer Maureen has to explain to Leon that Jake will be living with them forever – without him.

Because Jake is a baby, and white, and Leon, nine years old, dark-skinned and troubled isn’t likely to be wanted by anyone else any time soon.

This is a poignant sympathetically written account of the difficulty of growing up when you’re unwanted and different. It tells the story of so many kids whose early years can shape the rest of their lives – no matter what direction they would have trodden their own path given the chance.

It is realistic and unapologetic for being so. However, at times it is also uplifting that there are unsung heroes out there who are making a difference to individual lives every day.

A well-written snapshot of a society we may occasionally bury our heads in the sand about.

My Name Is Leon by Kit De Waal will be published on 6th June.

shtum – jem lester

February 18, 2016 Leave a comment
25369192

Shtum – Jem Lester

I received an advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Ben Jewell is a 30-something husband and father of one. His ten year old son Jonah is profoundly autistic and him and his wife Emma have reached breaking point with him.

As they embark on a war with the local authority to gain the care they feel is best for Jonah, Emma & Ben agree to fake a separation to put them in a better position. So, Ben & Jonah move in with Ben’s elderly Hungarian Jewish father.

This brings its own problems, as Ben and his father have never really seen eye-to-eye (especially since Ben has been running his father’s business – mainly into the ground), but his affection and influence on Jonah is indisputable.

As the tribunal approaches, Ben prepares for it whilst dealing with his own domestic and work issues, and worries that everything is slowly slipping out of his control.

I have spent the last few days totally immersed in Ben’s life with the constant worry of both Jonah and his father, his fake separation, his countless visits and assessments leading up to the tribunal. The hoops he has had to jump through,  the humiliations he has to endure, the inadequacies he feels, his misguided coping method and eventually the story that brought him to where he is now.

It has been an emotional roller-coaster that I can only be grateful to have no first-hand experience of…and this book is a perfect example of why I read – I want to know more about these experiences.

I laughed, I cried, I cried some more, and I got angry. Heartfelt, heart-warming, heart-breaking – a must-read, although not an easy read.

Shtum by Jem Lester will be published on 7th April.

black widow – christopher brookmyre

January 30, 2016 6 comments
25149226

Black Widow – Chris Brookmyre

I received a free copy of the book in return for an honest review.

Diane Jager is a successful surgeon – but her words can cut as deep as her scalpel, as many found when she wrote an anonymous blog about sexism in the NHS.

With her anonymity outed rather dramatically, she has been living with the moniker ‘Bitchblade’ but now she is in real trouble. After a whirlwind affair, her husband of a few months is missing, presumed dead and everything is indicating that it is at Diana’s hand.

When her sister-in-law brings in Jack Parlabane to investigate, the nails can be heard firmly being hammered into her coffin – but is she really a murderer?

Whenever people ask me my favourite authors, Christopher Brookmyre is at the top of my list, and Jack Parlabane is definitely one of THE best crime novel characters. Although we’re seeing him at his most vulnerable in this book – disgraced, out of work and newly divorced to his beloved Sarah.

Parlabane is actually a secondary narrator to Diana in the story – her past narrative interspersed with his present investigations until close to the end, really twisting your perceptions of the truth one way and then another, leaving you guessing.

Tightly written, it is exciting, full of action, believable characters and a fantastic movie-esque plot.

Thank you Mr Brookmyre for never letting me down. I felt smug every time there was a hat tip to a previous book that I recognised.

13 minutes – sarah pinborough

January 24, 2016 Leave a comment
26842622

13 Minutes – Sarah Pinborough

I received an ARC copy of this book in return for an honest review.

I have never read any of Sarah Pinborough’s books before, but picked this one as it sounded like something that both myself and my 16 year old daughter could read and discuss – I read a lot of YA due to this 🙂

Teenage ‘Mean Girl’ and Queen Bee Natasha is found in the water by a dog-walker one early morning. She is revived but was dead for 13 minutes.

She can’t remember how she met her icy ‘death’, but is starting to mistrust her two closest friends who have been acting strangely around her since her ‘accident’, making her more dependent on her old geeky friend Becca. Could her friends have been attempting to kill her? Might they try again? Is she safe?

The story is told in a number of ways, mainly first hand by Becca, but also through transcripts of diary entries, counselling sessions and police interviews with Tasha. This gives the story a chance to give a multi-narrator view.

Having been one, I swear that teenage girls are one of the nastiest and hurtful groups of humans on the planet, and this book really encapsulates the underlying tensions that go on, in contrast to the veneer that they tend to show to the world.

I realised that there was going to be a twist when I got to about 80% and everything seemed to be wrapped up nicely – and it was a good one. Although I’d really enjoyed the story up to that point, it added another dimension and took it from good to great.

Well crafted characters – although almost all were completely unlikable and flawed, you really WANTED to know what happened, and what the outcome was going to be. A great skill for an author to have, and something that works really well in psychological thrillers such as this.

Beautiful cover too 😉

13 Minutes by Sarah Pinborough will be published on 18th February 2016.

boo – neil smith

Boo – Neil Smith

“The sky used to be bluer in my day,” says the old man. “But it is your day,” I reply. “You aren’t dead yet.”

I received a review copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Thirteen year old Oliver “Boo” Dalrymple got his nickname at school due to the ghostly colour of his pale skin, and his white-blond sticky-up hair. He is now having an opportunity to live up to his name as he is quite suddenly dead.

“I died in front of my locker at Keller Junior High on September 7, 1979,” he tells us.

Boo wakes up in Town. Town isn’t much of a heaven. Only thirteen year olds that have died in America inhabit his particular Town, but some of the thirteen year old inhabitants have been thirteen for decades – apparently you rebirth after 50 years.

Boo has always been a little ‘different’. He never made friends easily, his social skills were never the greatest, he has a habit of voicing the inappropriate, but his IQ is superior for his age. Town is both a disappointment (it’s much like America but with less stuff) and a wonder (people and buildings can ‘fix’ themselves when they are broken).  So, Boo spends time getting to know his fellow Townies, conducting his own experiments, and trying to work out how he died, which he believes is due to his heart defect.

However, when he discovers a fellow student from his school, Johnny,  who tells him that they were actually both murdered – and that their murderer, the mysterious Gunboy who he only sees in his nightmares, killed himself too, so is probably in Town somewhere.

Boo and Johnny decide to track down Gunboy and demand answers – but are either of them ready for the truth and its own consequences?

I loved the idea behind this book, although some of the details were a bit odd. A Town full of just thirteen year olds? All I kept thinking was that they were actually growing old and well into middle-age and probably falling in love – and then, well, wouldn’t they be wanting to have sex? And that would just be totally weird!

Surprisingly, even though the book starts off with a dead kid, it took me ages to get into it. Boo isn’t exactly the easiest character to like, and Town just seemed so…normal.  There was a lot of description about how things were, but there was so little that was fantastical (and perhaps that was just the point) that I kind of switched off through a lot of the text.

But after a slow start, the middle to end was far more interesting and it became quite a page turner for a while.  I loved the ideas more than the actual book, but it was an easy, unusual story that I’m glad that I read.

are you watching me? – sinéad crowley

June 20, 2015 2 comments

Are You Watching Me – Sinead Crowley

I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Liz Cafferky has her own past, but she is pushing through this to promote the work of the drop-in centre for men where she has been working for a while, to try and pay her dues to founder Tom, who rescued her from her own demons.  However, when men start being murdered, and their only connection is the centre where she works, Liz starts questioning everything – even whether she could be the next to die.  Can Liz escape her past – and the killer?

I hadn’t read ‘Can Anybody Help Me?’ which was the début novel from Sinéad Crowley, and apparently her first featuring Sergeant Claire Boyle of the Irish Garda in Dublin. And having read this second in the series, I don’t really feel that it is necessary, as the book definitely stands alone. However, I understand that there may be some who have read the first and may have a vested interest in this novel as they may have already bonded with Claire, especially as she has returned to her role after a few months maternity leave – and all that brings for her and her family.

Coming to this book as a Crowley virgin however, I almost felt that there was too much emotional and personal content about Boyle, and I didn’t buy into it. I understand that all those that HAVE read the first book may already feel that they have a history with her, and may have got more from those parts of the story.

The actual thriller was OK, no great shakes, but cruised along as a fair enough page-turner. I DID actually want to know what happened, I was invested enough to care, but didn’t feel that there was enough excitement to make it stand out amongst others that I have read.

The parts with Boyle and her baby and her husband kind of slowed the pace down, and that may have been on purpose, to add to the next in the series, but as a brand new reader to the Boyle series, it was just an irritation. Perhaps you actually NEED to read ALL the books in this series!

Are You Watching Me? by Sinéad Crowley will be published on 2nd July 2015.

%d bloggers like this: