Monday, 28 May 2012

Finders keepers - Belinda Bauer

Finders KeepersFinders Keepers by Belinda Bauer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Quotes from Amazon:

'Belinda Bauer hit the big time with the excellent Blacklands and continues to explore her theme of West Country cruelty and corruption, balancing the procedural and psychological aspects of crime. Once again she nails the petty grievances, prejudices and loyalties of village life, and shows how some law enforcers operate at the outer edge of competence' --Financial Times, January 2012

'Bauer has established a reputation for plunging her characters into unimaginable gore. Her third novel easily matches her previous efforts, exposing village bobby Jonas events unprecedented in British crime fiction. The British countryside has never appeared so alien or so macabre.' --Sunday Times, January 2012

'Finders Keepers has an enjoyably creepy premise... But it's the book's humour that really shines. Bauer reveals her Gold Dagger-winning writing credentials in her neat skewering of everyday pomposities and her wry asides.' --Observer, January 2012

I've just finished reading Finders Keepers. I really enjoyed Blacklands and mistakenly thought this was her second novel but its her third and they are in sequence so I kept feeling I'd missed an awful lot of points they kept referring back to.

I enjoyed the writing and the way the story flowed, great characters and she's a very accomplished writer - but I did find the story extremely far fetched, how come all these dreadful crimes keep occurring to the same people in a small place? and the crime which was committed - well really - it was a touch too much for even my vivid imagination but maybe thats why crime fiction is NOT one of my favourite genres.

Good if you've read the first two and like crime drama thrillers but please Belinda - leave the poor souls on Exmoor in peace now and use some of that lovely talent writing stand alone novels with new characters in different locations.

Friday, 18 May 2012

The Unit - by Ninni Holmqvist

The UnitThe Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Blurb quoted from

One day in early spring, Dorrit Weger is checked into the Second Reserve Bank Unit for biological material. She is promised a nicely furnished apartment inside the Unit, where she will make new friends, enjoy the state of the art recreation facilities, and live the few remaining days of her life in comfort with people who are just like her. Here, women over the age of fifty and men over sixty–single, childless, and without jobs in progressive industries–are sequestered for their final few years; they are considered outsiders. In the Unit they are expected to contribute themselves for drug and psychological testing, and ultimately donate their organs, little by little, until the final donation. Despite the ruthless nature of this practice, the ethos of this near-future society and the Unit is to take care of others, and Dorrit finds herself living under very pleasant conditions: well-housed, well-fed, and well-attended. She is resigned to her fate and discovers her days there to be rather consoling and peaceful. But when she meets a man inside the Unit and falls in love, the extraordinary becomes a reality and life suddenly turns unbearable. Dorrit is faced with compliance or escape, and…well, then what?

THE UNIT is a gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the “dispensable” ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the “necessary” ones. Ninni Holmqvist has created a debut novel of humor, sorrow, and rage about love, the close bonds of friendship, and about a cynical, utilitarian way of thinking disguised as care.

My view

This is one chilling book. Such a realistically written view of a dystopian society where society is divided into two sectors - the needed and the not needed.
The needed are on the whole, parents or carers of others, indispensable, as some other persons well being relies on them and they have a "valued" place in society. The not needed are those who have remained childless, possibly following a career, not in a long term relationship, the single, the gay, the independent souls for whom life was enough without offspring.
Dorritt is one of the not needed, and she has reached the age of 50 - the age when women are compulsorily confined to the Unit, a facility for medical research and organ donation.
Finally she is needed - by strangers whose lives are deemed more valued than hers and whose illness requires an organ transplant or drugs which have been tested on another person.

Arriving at the Unit with some trepidation alongside other women of her own age and men of 60 plus, the age they are incarcerated at, she finds conditions there are excellent, she is housed in a smart apartment with all mod cons, much more upmarket than her shabby little home, yet with the added extra of multi security cameras in every room even the bathroom.

Provided with recreational facilities, entertainment and companionship of others in the same situation Dorritt begins to be lulled into her new life, taking part in trials and testing before any transplants of her organs begin and her journey towards the chilling final donation commences. Most rewardingly she begins to make some very close friends, relationships she didn't know she was lacking in on the outside yet which sustain and nourish her and one which leads to much more than she could have hoped for.

I was swept along with the story and characters, saddened - cried in places especially when her longing for her pet dog threatens to overwhelm her and friends she has come to rely on are suddenly no longer around.
It reminds me very much of Never Let Me Go and is thought provoking and heartwrenching yet leaves you with many questions. Highly recommended.

Monday, 14 May 2012

The Good Father - Diane Chamberlain

When I first saw advance reading copies of this new book by one of my favourite authors on Net galley for review I was so excited I told lost of my friends - I was therefore really gutted when I wasn't selected to receive a copy. However this was made up for when I won a copy from a blog giveaway on randomthingsthroughmyletterbox my friends book blog, glad to say I wasn't disappointed by it and here is my review:

The Good FatherThe Good Father by Diane Chamberlain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Diane Chamberlain has come up with yet another real heart tugging page turner of a novel here. It has everything to satisfy the hungry reader - an adorable little girl, her hunky yet gentle Dad who's misguided innocence leads him astray yet who adores his daughter, romance, loss, crime, action, grief, joy and lots of exciting tension.

Yes the story of good father Travis bringing up his little girl Bella single handedly is practically guaranteed to melt the hardest of hearts.

We first meet Travis and Bella as things are starting to go badly wrong for them, disaster follows disaster and leaves them virtually penniless, jobless, lonely and homeless and desperately looking for work and security.

Meanwhile we are introduced to Erin, grieving mother trying to cope with life after a tragic accident and Robin - Bella's birth mother rebuilding her life after major surgery and trying to put memories of Travis and the baby they created together behind her.

When Travis is unable to find a job locally he's relieved when he gets a lead out of town and decides to up sticks and take Bella across country to a new area to meet a guy he's never met but whom he has been promised will give him work. In a town where he knows no-one and desperate need of someone to babysit Bella he decides to leave her with a woman he hasn't known long but who Bella is comfortable with, and at this point bad begins to go considerably worse!

The story is mostly about making the wrong decisions and the far reaching consequences, about moving on and moving forwards, of loss and grief and relationships and even though there were a couple of times I wanted to shake Travis and shout NOO don't be stupid - you can see why he gets confused and desperate, who amongst us can honestly say we can always remain calm in a crisis and make the best decisions under pressure?

Despite a few small anomalies and lots of amazing coincidences, you can forgive these because of the superb story telling. This is that rare thing a book which is truly character AND story driven, with precisely drawn characters so real you'd swear you'd actually met them and enough going on for there to be twists and turns all the way.

A lovely read and one I can highly recommend to existing fans of Ms Chamberlain and those of you who haven't yet tried her superb writing.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Beneath the Shadows - Sara Foster

Beneath the ShadowsBeneath the Shadows by Sara Foster
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A gripping and tense story set in winter in the wilds of the North Yorkshire moors, an area very close to my heart.
Between the pages we meet Grace and her young daughter Millie and very briefly her husband Adam - until he mysteriously disappears, shortly after the young family move into an isolated cottage he has inherited, from his grandparents.

A year after he leaves, and doesn't return, we see Grace return to the tiny Hamlet on the moors, as far removed from her usual life in bustling London as can be and she begins to rebuild her life, face her demons and possibly find answers.
We now meet the locals, Meredith and her daughters, the enigmatic Ben, feathery Jack and many more Yorkshire locals who in such an isolated location all play a part in Graces life and her sister Annabel and long term city friend James.

There are so many questions unanswered Grace doesn't quite know who to trust, she is a little overprotective of Millie, her temper becomes fraught and as she listens to local legends and ghost stories she begins to wonder if there is something ghostly happening in her life.
This is an easy read, the story flows well and is peopled with believable characters, the tensions builds subtly and there is a hint of spookiness which build to a satisfying conclusion.
Above all its a heart warming tale about loss, motherhood and family with lots of strong female characters - right up my street.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Revenge of the Tide - Elizabeth Haynes

Revenge Of The TideRevenge Of The Tide by Elizabeth Haynes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Exciting writing - This author certainly has the knack of grabbing your attention and immersing you in the storyline. Like her first book
Into the Darkest Corner she builds tension and suspense from the events surrounding a woman getting herself into a sticky situation and trying to extricate herself, whilst very humanly not always making the decisions which are best for her.

The "revenge of the tide" is the name of a boat which Genevieve has bought, in a bid to escape the rat race, and renovate. Leaving her previous high flying life in London and her old acquaintances and friends behind, she is living on the boat which she has only partly renovated.

When she throws a boatwarming party and invites a few of her city friends she's not sure whether they'll mix well with her new boatyard chums, but all seems to go fairly well - until she is woken early the next day by the sound of something bumping against the hull - only to discover a body and it looks familiar ....

We jump back and forth with consummate ease between today and a couple of years earlier where her double life in London is gradually revealed as something slightly risque - and risky! She treats many of her so called friends with such scant regard its hardly surprising she got herself on the wrong side of so many people - yet these very human frailties made her all the more real.
Events begin to spiral out of control and it seems that her old life has followed her and someone may be bearing a grudge against her.

The book made fabulous reading - a real page turner and virtually unputdownable. The only reason I have given it 4 rather than 5/5 is that I felt some of her motives were so questionable I was unable to work out why she made some of her decisions - I didn't really quite get her sheer desperation to renovate a boat and her willingness do do almost anything to achieve this. Also the ending was just a teeny touch unsatisfactory and left me wondering just what would happen to one or two of the characters I had really grown to like a lot (and she seemed to have done too) who suddenly didn't seem to be of any importance to her at all.

View all my reviews

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