Thursday, 30 October 2014

Waiting for Doggo - Mark B Mills - doggedly determined to win you over

From Goodreads:

No-one ever called Dan a pushover. But then no-one ever called him fast-track either. He likes driving slowly, playing Sudoku on his iPhone, swapping one scruffy jumper for another. He's been with Clara for four years and he's been perfectly happy; but now she's left him, leaving nothing but a long letter filled with incriminations and a small, white, almost hairless dog, named Doggo. So now Dan is single, a man without any kind of partner whether working or in love. He's just one reluctant dog owner. Find a new home for him, that's the plan. Come on...everyone knows the old adage about the best laid plans and besides, Doggo is one special kind of a four legged friend...and an inspiration.

My thoughts:

Q. How can you guarantee readers will fall for your leading character in droves?

A. Make sure he's a quirky, loveable dog!

Like most other readers of Waiting for Doggo I fell, hook line and sinker for the eponymous canine of this quirky, quick read by Mark B. Mills.

However I failed to warm quite so much to his human counterpart Dan, whom I found to be a rather self centred, show off, too laddish for my taste.

It’s a simple little story told by Dan, whose long standing girlfriend has left him (I’d have gone a LOT sooner) and bequeathed him the ugly, snappy little rescue dog she took in from Battersea, who he doesn’t really want. Dan is also having a bit of a crisis on the work front and a few upheavals in his personal life. Of course being suddenly single again leaves the poor chap at the mercies of every predatory female who comes along.

It’s all told light heartedly with some genuinely humorous moments especially ones surrounding the delightful Doggo, who steals the show as I’m sure he was intended to, I was especially amused by his obsession with Jennifer Aniston. Also a rather tear jerking little scene towards the end of the book which had me wiping my eye.

A quick easy, romantic read and a must for anyone who likes curmudgeonly canine companions who are doggedly determined to win you over.

My thanks to Netgalley and Headline for my advance review copy.

Monday, 27 October 2014

The Liar's Chair - Rebecca Whitney - disturbing

From Goodreads:

Rachel Teller and her husband David appear happy, prosperous and fulfilled. The big house, the successful business . . . They have everything.

However, control, not love, fuels their relationship and David has no idea his wife indulges in drunken indiscretions. When Rachel kills a man in a hit and run, the meticulously maintained veneer over their life begins to crack.

Destroying all evidence of the accident, David insists they continue as normal. Rachel though is racked with guilt and as her behaviour becomes increasingly self-destructive she not only inflames David's darker side, but also uncovers her own long-suppressed memories of shame. Can Rachel confront her past and atone for her terrible crime? Not if her husband has anything to do with it . . .

A startling, dark and audacious novel set in and around the Brighton streets, The Liar's Chair will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the final page has been turned. A stunning psychological portrait of a woman in a toxic marriage, Rebecca Whitney's debut will show that sometimes the darkest shadow holds the truth you have been hiding from . 

My thoughts .....

The Liar's chair is the clever, disturbing, debut novel by Rebecca Whitney, which looks at the psychological turbulence of being trapped in a venomous marriage.

Rachel is already struggling to maintain a veneer of respectablity, trapped in a relationship which brings her no solace, she is returning from a night of drunken indiscretion when her car hits a vagrant killing him. As the accident occurs on a lonely stretch of road she panics and drags the body into the trees and leaves the scene.

Husband David offers to help her conceal the crime in order to continue to present to the world the pretence of civility and opulent success the couple enjoy, to all outward appearances. But she has just presented him with the perfect opportunity to be more sadistically controlling. Her already dissatisfying, sham of a marriage when coupled with her crippling guilt becomes a trap from which she can only escape inside her head by indulging in increasingly self destructive behaviour.

This story illustrates the downward spiral of a woman tortured by guilt and haunted by her own past and present. Neither character is in any way likeable. David is a self centred shit, although I felt his behaviour might have actually been shown to be even worse and I was a little irked by Rachels self destruct mentality, constantly blaming childhood events and other people for her own foibles and rather large flaws.

However I really admire authors who can create characters I believe enough to dislike and the rather impudent and shady storyline kept me turning the pages deep into the night, it's dark and disturbing and has just enough of the "there, but for the grace of God" about it to make you think, and then think again.

A thoroughly enjoyable caliginous read with characters who will make you cringe and a tense, unconventional, truly chilling storyline. My huge thanks to Panmacmillan/ Mantle books for my advance copy.

The book will be launched in January - keep your Christmas book tokens for this one and you won't be disappointed.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The girl on the train - Paula Hawkins - full of apprehension and tension

From Goodreads: 

To everyone else in this carriage I must look normal; I’m doing exactly what they do: commuting to work, making appointments, ticking things off lists.
Just goes to show.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and every evening. Every day she passes the same Victorian terraces, stops at the same signal, and sees the same couple, breakfasting on their roof terrace. Jason and Jess seem so happy together.

Then one day Rachel sees something she shouldn't have seen, and soon after, Jess disappears. Suddenly Rachel is chasing the truth and unable to trust anyone. Not even herself.

MY thoughts ....

Completely blew me away - superb psychological thriller. 

Where do I begin to share my thoughts on this one .... when it made such a huge impact on me? It's the story of Rachel, the girl on the train, who commutes daily, the train journey itself becoming a huge focal point of her days. She watches the same houses as she passes by and recognises certain people so well she feels she knows them - she is the ultimate people watcher and concocts little stories about their lives until one day she witnesses something disconcerting and worrying and feels she must do something - but what? 

A young woman is missing and because of her observations from the train, Rachel thinks she may be able to throw a little light on what has happened to her. She is used to being disbelieved so is at first reluctant to get involved. As she gets drawn more deeply into the lives of others we realise her own life isn't quite as it at first appears and secrets begin to emerge which threw me time and time again. I had huge sympathy for her situation despite her often being her own worst enemy. This story is so tightly woven it wraps itself around you like suffocating in kid leather. Impeccably constructed and penned with breathtaking intensity.

A police investigation is going on around the missing girl and Rachel tries to do her own investigation, but is thwarted time and again and we begin to wonder if she knows more than she is letting on about what happened or maybe she is barking up completely the wrong tree?

The story is told in the different voices of 3 women, all a similar age and in similar circumstances yet all very different (and all with hidden flaws) and this technique works incredibly well

Unreliable narrators have become De Rigeur since [book:Gone Girl|21480930] set the bar and, like gone girl, this work contains several different viewpoints and we don't really know who can be trusted or even who to believe. It sucked me in from the first few words and kept me in a state of nail biting tension throughout.

Its a refreshing relief for the women in the story to have such dark and yet very recognisable faults and vices, it makes them so immensely human yet kept me wary and alert all through the book.

To say much more would be tantamount to spoilers and I don't want to spoil the pleasure anyone is going to get from reading this - if you like tangled tales, unreliable narrators, apprehension and tension in your stories look no further. The Girl on the train is waiting to blow your mind - go for it!

My grateful thanks to and the publisher Random House for providing my advance copy of this super book, in exchange for sharing my thoughts.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The book of You - Claire Kendal - Scary stalker story

From the Publishers blurb

A terrifying psychological thriller about obsession and power, perfect for fans of Gone Girl and Before I Go to Sleep.

Clarissa is becoming more and more frightened of her colleague, Rafe. He won’t leave her alone, and he refuses to take no for an answer. He is always there.

Being selected for jury service is a relief. The courtroom is a safe haven, a place where Rafe can’t be. But as a violent tale of kidnap and abuse unfolds, Clarissa begins to see parallels between her own situation and that of the young woman on the witness stand.

Realizing that she bears the burden of proof, Clarissa unravels the twisted, macabre fairytale that Rafe has spun around them – and discovers that the ending he envisions is more terrifying than she could have imagined.

But how do you protect yourself from an enemy no one else can see?

My thoughts

The kind of book that makes you look over your shoulder, not once but several times.

A terrifying diary written by a victim of a stalker, Clarissa is a dainty, fragile, little thing who is being stalked and the book takes the form of a diary she is advised to keep, by the helpline leaflets. The guy who is stalking her is a thoroughly nasty, deranged character with seemingly very little motive for making this girls life a nightmare.

At the same time as writing her diary Clarissa is taking part in jury service which offers her a welcome break from routine and the chance to make some new friends outside her work, where her stalker can reach and manipulate her.

I couldn't really relate to her as she seems a very flaky and needy type of woman yet I could really sense the terror she must have been feeling and as her stalker ramps up his assaults and bizarre gift giving I felt her fear and loathing.

Clarissa is a bit of an enigma, well brought up, she is polite and meek yet has been mistress to a married man, her usual oufits include a hand made dress, coupled with stockings and hand knitted mittens! She also seems a little too keen to get into a relationship whilst she is barely out of one disastrous one and is still being terrified on a daily basis by Rafe the guy who just won't take no for an answer

As the story continues there are scenes of graphic terror and abuse of women, which made me glad it wasn't me yet I had to keep on reading to find out what happens. A scary and rather nasty look inside the mind of a depraved man and his victim.

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

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