Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Normal - Graeme Cameron - darkly humorous and quirky


The blurb:

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you as you pass him and apologizing with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving to let you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don't know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he's carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he's holding there against her will--one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it's been for a long time. It's normal...and it works. Perfectly.

Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room...the others. He doesn't need any of them anymore. He needs only her. One small problem--he still has someone trapped in his garage.

Discovering his humanity couldn't have come at a worse time.

My thoughts
 
Really enjoyed this quirky book but not quite up to 5 stars for me, found it a little too far fetched but loved the laugh out loud dark humour throughout.

Narrated by a serial killer who keeps a girl captive in a cage in his purpose built cellar, you could be forgiven for expecting it to be a different take on Room Having read that its dark and horrible what I didn't expect was to be laughing so much. The storyline really kept ME captivated, as the narrator develops from sociopathic mass murderer to socially responsible, misunderstood, love-lorn sweetie almost overnight by dint of meeting the right girl.

Its almost too much to believe in, nay it IS too much to believe, but if you can suspend your disbelief and just go with it its a really entertaining and lively, quirky thriller with some great characters.

I loved Annie and felt she was actually the turning point for our reluctant heros change of heart. Erica is one seriously mixed up chick, and Rachel - well she is just plain weird, I'd have liked some input in her voice so we could get to know her motivations.

What I didn't really get from it was much emotional involvement, perhaps thats because the narrator is obviously so far FROM normal that his emotions are flawed and skewed, but I did thoroughly enjoy reading it and it had me fascinated and coming back for more.

My thanks to Netgalley and the publisher Harlequin for my review copy.


Monday, 16 February 2015

One step too far - Tina Seskis - terrifically gripping

Having searched fruitlessly for my original review for this book I loved when I read it nearly 2 years ago I have decided I can't have put it on my blog at the time and just posted it on Goodreads, so in case you missed it first time around here is my review of the exceptional One step too far.


The blurb

No one has ever guessed Emily’s secret.

Will you?

A happy marriage. A beautiful family. A lovely home. So what makes Emily Coleman get up one morning and walk right out of her life—to start again as someone new?

Now, Emily has become Cat, working at a hip advertising agency in London and living on the edge with her inseparable new friend, Angel. Cat’s buried any trace of her old self so well, no one knows how to find her. But she can't bury the past—or her own memories.

And soon, she’ll have to face the truth of what she's done—a shocking revelation that may push her one step too far. . . .

My thoughts

The tagline "the book everyones going to be talking about" nearly put me off this book but I thought 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, a psychological chiller with enough twists and whys and what's and who's to keep you guessing and second guessing all the way through - a real page turner.

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 it's 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: A Novel or The Rose Petal Beach it's 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!

I let you go - Clare Mackintosh - devious and cunningly clever thriller



The blurb:

A tragic accident. It all happened so quickly. She couldn't have prevented it. Could she?

In a split second, Jenna Gray's world is shattered. Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows to start afresh. Desperate to escape her past, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of the cruel November night that changed her life for ever.

DI Ray Stevens is tasked with seeking justice for a mother who is living every parent's worst nightmare. Determined to get to the bottom of the case, it begins to consume him as he puts both his professional and personal life on the line.

As Ray and his team seek to uncover the truth, Jenna, slowly, begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future. But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .


My thoughts:

WOW - I am completely blown away by this brilliant, heartstopping, thriller. So much that I REALLY don't know how to review it adequately without giving too much away.

I must begin by saying it begins slowly, but if you read it please, please stick with it, as friends in my online book group advised me to when I complained that it was a little slow paced, that I like fast paced thrillers, rollercoaster rides ... but I stuck with it despite a few misgivings and - it - is - AMAZING.

The slow beginning is I think quite deliberate, it almost lulls you into a sense of false security. Very sad at the beginning, it tells the story of Jenna, wracked by nightmares of the hit and run which killed little Joshua running away to remote Wales to try and rebuild her life. It almost seems too easy, she begins to put the past behind her and makes new friends, even meets a special someone - surely this book is just a competent piece of chick lit? Oh no it isn't ... The past isn't always that easy to put behind you and, BANG almost half way through the book there is a real shock factor, that OMG moment I had been told about but still wasn't expecting when it came. The whole story suddenly spins on its axis and we realise that things haven't been quite what they appeared and things are about to get much MUCH darker.

Very much a book of 2 halves, the latter part is taut, violent and brain numbingly, deliciously twisted. This is one of the cleverest thrillers ever, the author has left no stone unturned, I really can't say too much about the actual story as it will spoil it but every loose thread is deftly caught up and woven immaculately into this cunningly inventive novel and I loved the single faint thread of possible ambiguity right at the end.

Ohh I'm getting frustrated here I'm really not doing this amazingly, enjoyably, dark and devious book justice - Please please do read it if you like the twisty psychological chillers I enjoy. I can almost guarantee you'll love it too.

Thankyou to all the members of THE Book Club whose recommendations enticed me to read this fabulous debut novel.
 

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Ice Twins - S K Tremayne - chilling and creepy




The Blurb ....


A year after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia, dies in an accident, Angus and Sarah Moorcraft move to the tiny Scottish island Angus inherited from his grandmother, hoping to put together the pieces of their shattered lives.

But when their surviving daughter, Kirstie, claims they have mistaken her identity – that she, in fact, is Lydia – their world comes crashing down once again.

As winter encroaches, Angus is forced to travel away from the island for work, Sarah is feeling isolated, and Kirstie (or is it Lydia?) is growing more disturbed. When a violent storm leaves Sarah and her daughter stranded, Sarah finds herself tortured by the past – what really happened on that fateful day one of her daughters died?

My review

Finished this last night - yet another book I galloped through and enjoyed reading even though the storyline was pretty implausible.

I'm finding that authors recently seem to be pushing the boundaries of credibility more and more in order to come up with ideas which are unique and original. This book is certainly pretty unique, very readable and completely entertaining.

It's the story of identical twins Lydia and Kirstie and as the story begins we know that 7 year old Kirstie is the surviving twin whilst Lydia died recently in a horrible accident. Mum and Dad, Sarah and Angus decide they need a fresh start, and fortuitously inherit a run down old cottage on a remote Scottish Island so up sticks to head off there to start a new life and try to recover from their overwelming grief.

But life on an island is a far cry from their former life in London and predictably things begin to go wrong. Especially when they enrol Kirstie into the little local school and on her first day she throws an almighty Wobbly claiming she isn't Kirstie at all but Lydia and it was Kirstie who died. The twins were so identical even their parents couldn't tell them apart visually but character traits which helped give the girls different identities begin to emerge which suggest that possibly the surviving twin is Lydia - or is she?

Parents begin to take sides against each other, Sarah begins to doubt Angus, and even her own grasp on things starts to slip and as things get out of control we wonder are both twins somehow still present? and was the accident really as blameless as it first appeared. Is this a case of split personality, haunting, or just a very confused and grieving child unable to come to terms with the loss of her beloved twin sister?

The story is creepy and menacing and sucks you in and drags you along for the ride. The bleak remote setting on Skye is well painted and atmospheric and the story simmers with barely concealed hostility and tension, with concealed past events which keep emerging to throw red herrings into the turbulent sea which contains Torran Island. This chilling tale is told with spontaneous magnetism which makes it a captivating read.