Sunday, 29 July 2012

In her shadow - Louise Douglas

Firstly I must say a huge thanks to Louise and her publishers Transworld for providing me with a copy of her new book to review.

This hasn't influenced my review which is honest and unbiased.

In Her ShadowIn Her Shadow by Louise Douglas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From the publishers blurb ...

Hannah Brown has spent her whole adult life trying to pretend that Ellen Brecht almost never existed. That Ellen Brecht didn't die in a terrible accident. And, most importantly, that Hannah isn't to blame. 

When the Brecht family arrive in the sleepy Cornish village of Trethene, eight year old Hannah Brown is delighted. The Brechts are glamorous, exotic and exciting - especially the charismatic Mr Brecht, and his invalid wife. Hannah quickly strikes up an intense friendship with their young daughter, Ellen, who is wild and daring. For a while, life is perfect. Hannah is accepted into the enchanted world of the Brecht family, and is never happier than when she, her adopted brother Jago and Ellen escape to explore the glorious coastline of Cornwall. 

But, one hot sultry summer when the girls are eighteen, their idyllic world is shattered by obsession, betrayal - and death..

Another very engrossing read from Louise Douglas - who definitely features highly in my top ten favourite authors as she is so consistent.

This is a subtle and slightly sinister psychological drama written in a dual time frame of present day events and reminiscences of the narrators past.

Told in first person by Hannah who is in her 30s and working in a museum, in her past lies a mental breakdown and a few secrets. She is left shaken and disturbed by suddenly catching glimpses of a friend from her childhood .. who died years before. This sets her off down memory road remembering her own upbringing, with her adopted brother Jago and her best friend Ellen, from a bohemian and musical ubringing - so vibrant and dramatic that Hannah spends her teenage years drawn to her like a moth to a flame, devotedly fond and protective of her friend yet very much "in her shadow".

Gradually past events are brought to life through Hannahs memories although it's told at quite a gentle pace, and is a subtle story where the reader is kept guessing.

In each chapter we are given a little more information about past happenings and left wanting to find out more about How Ellen died, why Hannah is estranged from Jago and what part if any did past events play in Hannahs past mental health problems.

We wonder as does she, whether Hannah is heading for a breakdown again, is she seeing things? perhaps the girl she is seeing is a ghost. When everything is finally revealed it leads to a satisfying and quite unexpected conclusion.

Beautifully written, tense and poignant, highly recommended to anyone who enjoyed her previous novels The Secrets Between Us and who enjoys books like Ninepins and authors like Jojo Moyes

View all my reviews

Monday, 16 July 2012

One breath away - Heather Gudenkauf

One Breath AwayOne Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

BRILLIANT - I can’t praise this author highly enough, in just 3 novels she has progressed from good to great to sensational.

In this her latest novel she creates a story around just one snowy day in Iowa, where a gunman has entered the schoolhouse and is holding a class of pupils and their teacher hostage for reasons unknown to them and to us. The whole school is in lockdown and as events unfold and tension mounts we are drawn into the lives of every person whom this dreadful happening touches. Heather has taken an unimaginably appalling situation and handled it sensitively and with compassion, yet what emerges is a piquant peek into the lives of some real and diverse characters, a real human interest tale.

The story is skilfully woven like a length of the finest fabric - the hostage situation is the warp whilst the lives of the characters like the weft are drawn in and out of the material cleverly and subtly so all the components become a whole.

We meet PJ and his sister Augie, their lives already touched with more tragedy than 2 youngsters
should have to cope with, their Mum Holly separated from her husband, lies many miles away in hospital battling to recover from injuries she sustained in a fire. (The description of how easily an everyday moment turned to tragedy made my blood literally run cold)

Her almost estranged parents have stepped in to care for her children and her father Will a brusque cattle farmer tries his best to protect his only daughter whilst unknown to her both her children are deeply involved in the hostage situation.

Local police officer Meg tries her hardest to be professional and control the situation despite her own fears and lack of experience, back up promised yet thwarted by the increasingly bad weather.

Inside the building elderly teacher Mrs Oliver becomes an unlikely hero and despite being in the wrong place at very much the wrong time her bravery is real and the thoughts running through her mind provide a few touches of real humour in a bleak situation.

Heather Gudenkauf is rapidly becoming a real rival to the likes of Diane Chamberlain and Jodi Picoult.
Even though this story is written in the voices of many different characters, she nimbly skips from one voice to another without once breaking the liquid flow of the story. Almost every chapter leaves the reader in a cliff hanger situation thinking “Nooooo you can’t leave me here“ it’s a cinch to follow, a superbly crafted, deeply moving page turner that I loved every word of from start to finish.

Many thanks to Netgalley, Harlequin and Heather Gudenkauf for allowing me the privilege of this advance review ebook and giving me such a pleasurable read.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Love lies bleeding by Jess McConkey

I found this an exciting and satisfying read. Lots of twists and turns to keep you guessing. I love a good psychological suspense, mystery thriller which isn't a detective novel.

Imagine you come round from a coma and as conciousness returns you realise your life has changed not just physically but in the way you view the world. 

Successful and privileged Samantha was on her way home from her high flying executive job in the City when she was randomly and viciously attacked by a gang of youths, leaving her for dead with her skull caved in.

Now she is trying to rebuild her shattered life and recover from her head injury, heavily medicated, fearful of everything, one leg damaged and weak she is full of self loathing for the way she begged and pleaded with her attackers.

Her surgeon fiance Jackson and her controlling father appoint a nurse to care for her and rent a rural lakeside cabin for her to begin her recuperation in.

But she is a reluctant patient and Anne her nurse finds her difficult and unpredictable. When rumours of strange goings on in the cabins past have strange parallels with Sams dreams and behaviour, its up to her to work out who to trust and who really has her best interests at heart.

It has everything you want in a good chiller, lots of characters who might have ulterior motives, a hint of romance, a loyal canine companion and a flawed heroine.

Not perfect, a lot of coincidences and a few loose ends left untied but overall an enjoyable and entertaining read.

Might appeal to readers who enjoyed Into the darkest corner - Elizabeth Haynes
or The Secrets Between us by Louise Douglas

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour

Blog tour The Museum of Lost Love by Gary Barker a #Randomthings #BlogTour Hello blog readers and book lovers. Today I am joining in t...