Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Accidents Happen by Louise Millar

Accidents Happen: A NovelAccidents Happen: A Novel by Louise Millar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having absolutely adored this authors debut novel The Playdate I eagerly anticipated her next book and when I spotted it available for review on Netgalley I instantly applied to read an advance copy - I knew her first book was going to be a hard act to follow ... I'm relieved to say this didn't disappoint.

Accidents happen is another startlingly complex look inside a deeply traumatised mind and a mixture of flawed and complex characters. I found it quite hard to follow at the beginning but this is the authors deliberate attempt to build a sense of suspense and an atmosphere of strangeness and all does become clear if you stick with it.

It's clear from the very beginning that Kates behavior is a little bit peculiar, she is strange and emotionally disturbed, she believes that life is out to get her and that bad things which occur must be more than mere coincidence and she obsesses about facts and figures pertaining to the probability of accidents. Unable to accept that accidents ARE merely coincidences, as her background is revealed we begin to understand her habits better as we realise she has had some truly awful things happen, which would make any of us begin to freak out.

Since she was widowed in one of these dreadful past events, she has made her son Jack her main priority, but in her bid to insulate him against life's knocks she has become an overprotective Mum who can be an embarrassment to a ten year old boy. Her in laws try and act as a buffer but their bewilderment at her increasingly bizarre behaviour begins to cause greater rifts in this fractured family.

It's a relief to all concerned when Kate finally meets someone who seems able to help her overcome her fears and obsessions and gradually she begins to feel a future without fear may be a dim possibility, but of course this is a thriller and things that seem too good to be true usually are and what begins as an exercise in helping her to overcome her compulsions evolves into something much more warped and sinister.

This is quite a difficult book to review without giving too much away, its a fairly complex plot with lots of twists, it changes pace quite a bit and the middle part although never dull begins to lull you into a sense of false security making you believe this is just going to be a nice romance with a happy ending in sight - don't be fooled, it builds excellently towards a very tense and twisted climax you won't want to miss.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

One step too far - Tina Seskis

One Step Too FarOne Step Too Far by Tina Seskis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The tagline "the book everyones going to be talking about" nearly put me off this new title when I spotted it on Netgalley but I decided it did sound pretty interesting and decided to give it a whirl. I'm really glad I did I absolutely loved it.

Its romantic fiction with lots of twists and turns not quite a psychological chiller but enough twists and whys and what's and who's to keep you guessing and second guessing all the way through.

It tells the story of identical twin Emily, on a train, running away from what would seem to be the perfect life and changing her identity, seeking anonymity and escape but from what or why is not clear and the book keeps us wondering and guessing. Emilys alter ego is Cat and she soon finds some rather seedy digs in London and is taken under the tender wing of Angel, herself an escapee from a difficult past. The 2 young women become firm friends but their troubled backgrounds are perhaps not the best basis to build a new life on and despite giving both the ability to accept and tolerate each others flaws an foibles they lurch from drama to crisis together, eventually becoming reliant on drugs and living an increasingly erratic lifestyle.

We are taunted with glimpses of both girls pasts, but never quite enough to work out why Cat would walk out on a much adored husband and a son she obviously still loves deeply. Her twin is shown to be a very unreliable and unlikeable character, her family rather dysfunctional and her own past obviously conceals some deeply traumatic event which has caused her inability to cope and just run away.

Yet its only when tragedy occurs once more that Cat/ Emily is forced to confront her past and we discover exactly what has gone on that she couldn't cope with and its truly, deeply disturbing.

A fabulous debut novel which I think would appeal to lovers of books by Diane Chamberlain and who enjoyed books like The Playdate or The Rose Petal Beach its womens fiction at its very best, human interest drama, well written, teasing and puzzling with exceptional characters you'll feel as though you really know. HIGHLY recommended!

View all my reviews

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Out of sight out of mind - Evonne Wareham (Choc-lit)

Out of Sight Out of MindOut of Sight Out of Mind by Evonne Wareham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Distinctive and unconventional this is a savvy supernatural/ sci-fi romance with a difference. No vampires or werewolves but mind reading experiments, laboratories and scientists somewhat reminiscent of Fringe (the tv series)

Maddy Albi is an influential scientist at the pinnacle of her career in the field of mind experimentation, she can enter peoples heads and feel their feelings and share some of their thoughts, and when she is accosted in an alley by an injured down and out man she uses her skills to determine that he's no real threat. She helps this mystery man she knows only as J and when she discovers he's suffering from amnesia the temptation to use him to further her research and at the same time help him recover his lost memories, is too great to resist and they begin building a tentative relationship based on breaking down the barriers holding back his past.

When she finds that beneath the grime is a man she is very much attracted to, despite her reticence to get emotionally involved with anyone, a relic of her traumatic past she has to call on all her reserves not to fall in love with him, after all neither of them know who he really is or whether he can be trusted and even with her unusual talent she is finding it impossible to breach the wall that's keeping his memories at bay.

What evolves is a complex tale of mystery and suspense coupled with passion and romance to satisfy even the most enquiring reader. J is a complex and desirable hero but deeply mysterious with a sinister past waiting to be revealed. The tension builds until what seems to be a slow paced story begins to hurtle towards a complex and exhilarating finale. Definitely a romance for the discerning intellectual bookworm.

You can buy a copy here

Friday, 1 March 2013

Rubbernecker - Belinda Bauer

RubberneckerRubbernecker by Belinda Bauer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My advance reading copy kindly provided by Net Galley.

I'm very glad Belinda Bauer has written this as a standalone novel, as although her first 3 books were excellent I was beginning to despair at just how many unfortunate events could befall one small village and an even smaller group of people.

This is an unusual and quite quirky look at the world of anatomical dissection so if you're the slightest bit squeamish its probably not for you! The hero Patrick, is a young man with Aspergers syndrome, sparking inevitable comparisons with "the curious incident of the dog in the night time"

Losing his father to a tragic and sudden accident when he was younger has created a deep need to understand the whys and wherefores of death and sets his mind on studying anatomy to further his knowledge of the frailty of the human body and satisfy his curiosity about death. His fellow anatomy students often have difficulty understanding Patricks motives, yet despite his inability to relate to his mother, once he is away from home and living in student digs he begins to develop tentative friendships and gradually to gain insights into why people do and say things he previously didn't understand.

Alongside his story run several other storylines, the patients and nurses in a coma ward play a big part and a mystery is uncovered by Patrick, which many people are reluctant to even listen to, the quirks of his condition creating difficulties for his credibility and giving rise to some unlikely humour. This is in fact a wryly humorous book throughout, although much of it is very dark.

The characters, many of whom are somewhat larger than life are all nevertheless very credible and real. The storyline twists and turns yet all ties up neatly at the end. It's a very enjoyable thriller and nicely unusual enough to lift it out of the run of the mill and be something a little special. Read it, shudder a little, laugh now and again and be entertained throughout.