Monday, 31 March 2014

The Accident - C. L. Taylor



Fabulous read ... as tense a page turner as I've ever read.
The recent popularity of Gone Girl by gillian Flynn and similar titles have spawned a glut of books describing themselves as tense psychological thrillers, and sadly not all of them quite make the mark. However this one ticks ALL the boxes and really blew me away.

It's the story of Sue who's teenage daughter Charlotte lies in a coma after an accident, one which Sue's convinced was more than accidental. As she seeks to unravel events leading up to Charlottes hospitalization, we are taken back 20 years to when Sue herself was young and in love with a guy who we soon realise isn't as perfect as he would at first seem to be. The 2 stories twist and turn together and what emerges is a story you just won't be able to put down.

It's superbly written, had me gripping the edge of my seat and gnawing the inside of my mouth. You won't know whether to trust everything Sue tells us, you'll begin to doubt her reliability as a narrator, but you will just have to keep on reading to find out the awful truths in this gripping and haunting novel. I was fortunate to receive an advance copy from Netgalley and am delighted that it was even better than I hoped and I'm certain it will be a huge hit with anyone, like me who likes their fiction to leave them shaken and wowed.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Gilded Lily - Deborah Swift



I'll be honest here I'm in the fortunate position of receiving quite a few free books and win quite a few too and the excitement of winning a signed copy of a brand new title of a book I've heard good things about never dissipates (OK I admit that I'm a hopeless book addict). Which is why I literally jumped for joy when I won a signed copy of The Gilded Lily through www.http://dizzycslittlebookblog.blogger.com I KNEW I was going to like this historical fiction set in grimy, 17th century, restoration London.

When I received my copy and saw the gorgeous cover I was smitten, my only concern being that there is a previous book by the author The Lady's Slipper featuring some of the same characters and I worried it might be a little difficult to follow not having read it. My concerns were unfounded, this makes a great stand alone novel and a perfect introduction to the authors beautiful writing.

The Gilded Lily is the story of two sisters, Ella and Sadie, fleeing from their rural home in the North, taking items with them from Emmas previous employer to which she has no right. The girls head for the seething mass and anonymity of the city of London in a bid to escape persecution for a greater crime than the theft of some treasures, Ella swears she did not commit although it soon becomes apparent that she is a much more flighty and unreliable character than her shy, timid sister born with a disfiguring birthmark on her face. Unlike Sadie, whose natural instinct is to hide away from company, vivacious Ella is more ambitious and outgoing and soon forsakes the job both girls have found working in a Perrukiers weaving wigs from discarded human hair (yeeuch), for the chance to better herself and sets her cap at the enigmatic and striking Jay Whitgift, son of a respected pawnbroker seeking to diversify the family business in more ways than one.

The Gilded Lily is a ladies salon he opens in the grounds of the secondhand business, primarily to relive the wives and daughters of wealthy businessmen of their husbands hard earned wealth and he employs Ella to help him do this. Soon she gets ideas far above her station and despite Sadies loyalty to her flighty sister, she increasingly leaves Sadie to fend for herself in the squalor of their rented room in the delightfully named Blackraven lane. Meanwhile the search for the 2 fleeing sisters continues and their increasing notoriety means measures have to be taken to ensure they are not recognised in public and gradually both girls lives grow much worse.

It's stunningly written with a Dickensian quality, especially in the names of the vividly created characters and places. I was gripped from start to finish, and despite wanting to give Sadie a little shake now and again I had great empathy for her and enjoyed watching her character develop. It has taken a while to finish it, but the ending was full of action and very satisfying and I actually put the book down at around midnight with about 30 pages to go only to wake up at 1.30 am realizing I couldn't wait until the next day to find out what happened, so put on the bedside light and finished it there and then.

It's almost a coming of age novel but with huge depth and I liked it as much as one of my favourite books, Slammerkin,  I'm actually relieved that I did enjoy it as much as I'd hoped (if not more) as sadly so often books which sound great don't quite live up to expectations - this one exceeds them and I will be rushing out to get a copy of the prequel to this today!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Frog Music - Emma Donoghue

Frog MusicFrog Music by Emma Donoghue
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley, after I'd read a couple of mixed reviews. I was hoping for another Slammerkin which I adored and in that I was a bit disappointed. I found the robust heroine od Slammerkin larger than life, engaging and likeable whereas in this one I found the lead characters very pale and flimsy. I wonder if this is because they were in fact. real life characters whom the author was trying to imagine herself in to rather than giving birth to them completely from her own imagination?

The storyline sounds fantastic and no wonder it captured her imagination, it has all the elements of another Fingersmith or even The Crimson Petal and the White Crimson Petal, historical setting, girls of doubtable morals engaged in disreputable occupations, the seediness of drinking dens and bawdy houses, music halls and Burlesque, the unique and strange girl/boy who catches frogs for a living and swans around San Francisco, half sober, riding a penny farthing cycle! Smallpox is rife and The heroine Blanche lives with her Maque (lover/pimp) and his close friend and has sent her baby son to a "farm" to be cared for when she meets Jenny the frog catcher she has no idea her life is about to change radically.

We are introduced to the murder right at the beginning so there are no surprises there, the book jumps back and forth to before and after this event as Blanche fights to get her son back and uncover the murderer.

I found the story very slow to get into and the characters hard to warm to but it really got going about 2/3 of the way in and I was glad I'd persevered as it eventually, suddenly changed pace and became everything I'd hoped it would be all along. The revelations along the way go a long way to explaining much about why and how things happened, but I still found Blanches unlikely naivety and motives difficult to grasp.

One for people who like their historical fiction based firmly around facts, with great atmosphere and sense of place.


Flight to Coorah Creek - Janet Gover

Flight to Coorah CreekFlight to Coorah Creek by Janet Gover
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Super romance set in the remote outback of Australia. Sheer escapism, not one but two superb romances in the fabulous setting of the Australian outback which the author brings to life beautifully.

Coorah Creek is as far from city life as can be, a small, close knit, remote community that has sprung up around a mining area in the outback and is surrounded by thousands of miles of nothingness, tranquil beauty and scattered ranches, and that's just what Jess is looking for when she makes her own flight to Coorah Creek to escape persecution from the press after being a high profile character in a notorious crime she was tricked into by the man she loved.

She's a pilot and comes to the outback to work as pilot for the flying doctor who is Adam, who has his own secrets and tragic past.

Also escaping is Ellen with her 2 small kids she is getting away from a bad marriage to a cruel abusive husband and when she meets gentle giant Jack, the aircraft mechanic at Coorah Creek its hardly surprising she can't bring herself to trust him.

These 2 stories intertwine and what could be a pretty standard predictable romantic novel is elevated through beautifully descriptive writing and immaculately crafted very realistic characters you can't help but believe in.

If you want a bit of good clean romance you won't get much better than this, a perfect holiday read.