13 minutes – sarah pinborough

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.


a serpentine affair – tina seskis

A Serpentine Affair

I received this as an Advance Review Copy from the author via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This is Tina’s second novel – her first being the excellent One Step Too Far.

Also set in London, this time we meet seven women who have been ‘friends’ since their university days.  For their annual reunion, they have chosen this time to have a picnic in Hyde Park on the bank of the Serpentine.

This year however, old feuds seem to have been stirred up by newer ones, and fuelled by a little too much alcohol and sunshine, the reunion descends into arguments, accusations, tears, tantrums, general chaos and eventual tragedy.

The chapters were arranged alternating between the present and various years in the past, in order to build the tension and back stories of each of the characters, until an overall picture was eventually seen.

I have to admit, I did find the full cast a little over-whelming. not only were there seven ‘main’ characters, but obviously the partners / children / families that they brought with them, and I did get a little confused occasionally as to who belonged to who, and who had done what in the past and was saying what now in the present.

And they weren’t very nice.  There seemed to be a large gaping hole where all the morals should have sat!

However, Tina has again proven her ability to spin a good tale, toying with your emotions and questioning right from wrong – not everything is black and white.

It felt very ‘real’ that this group of women still felt pressured to spend time together each year when after 25 years, they had very little in common and didn’t particularly seem to like each other.  I have known so many people who don’t really like some of their ‘friends’ but who continue to see them just because they always have – especially as a group!

This book could be a wake up call to some that it could be better for everyone involved to just make that break!

negative space – mike robinson

Negative Space

I received this as an Advance Review Copy from Curiosity Quills via NetGalley for an honest review.  For once, I am going to start with the blurb from the book.

“Negative Space tells the story of a provocative Los Angeles painter named Max Higgins, on the verge of local fame. The secret to his work’s haunting allure? He collects photos of missing persons and incorporates them into his paintings, giving the often melancholy faces, as he puts it, a “home in his work.” This fascination stems from the bizarre disappearances of people he knew growing up, including his father. Then, one day, someone recognizes a face in one of his paintings, and he is suddenly thrust into a journey as surreal as anything from his brush, a journey into his past that will determine irrevocably his future.”

Now, this coupled with the cover image, I kind of assumed that this was going to be some kind of supernatural thriller – or at least some kind of supernatural element to it.

The first chapter didn’t dissuade me from this idea either – it was extremely odd, mysterious and had all sorts of surreal elements running through it as we met Max on a life-changing night in his childhood.

And then after that, all kinds of supernatural element seemed to disappear.  And that felt rather disappointing.  i felt a little cheated that I hadn’t got the story that I was expecting.  and I know that this could have had an affect on my enjoyment of the book.

If I had thought that this was a ‘straight’ book about missing people, and the reasons that they can disappear, then I wouldn’t have constantly been waiting for something ‘other’ to happen.

Max was a pretty likeable character, as was Penelope / Karen who came looking for him.  She had a really interesting story line that I would have liked explored a little more.  Her involvement with James, her client turned crazy stalker was a bit odd, but i guessed that this could’ve been quite realistic considering the situation.

A couple of the other characters – Dwayne and Ritter – didn’t even seem to have much place in the story, and part of me wondered what the point of them was, apart from to help move the story on a little.

Altogether, I found it a little confusing, and the ending didn’t feel ver satisfactory. However, Robinson obviously has the ability to portray good, likeable characters.

If you’re going to read it make sure that you’re not expecting ghosts or anything else mysterious!

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