Transworld – great books!
Publication Date: 5th April 2018 from Bantam
After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumoured to be shorter.
Donner’s decision will shape the lives of everyone travelling with him. The searing heat of the desert gives way to biting winds and a bitter cold that freezes the cattle where they stand. Driven to the brink of madness, the ill-fated group struggles to survive and minor disagreements turn into violent confrontations. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements, to something more primal and far more deadly.
Based on the true story of the Donner Party, The Hunger is an eerie, shiver-inducing exploration of human nature, pushed to its breaking point.
The Hunger was an interesting read for me, for the most part very excellent -taking the well known story of the Donner party tragedy and adding in speculative supernatural and horror, this is a slow burn towards terror, which is much more of a character drama than it is any kind of thriller until right at the end. At that point though you might want to engage the axe proof duvet.
A group of travellers run into issue after issue, a child disappears and is later found mutilated, food is growing short and the road they are on is untested. Add into that various interpersonal quarrels and interactions and it is surprising that they didn’t all kill each other before the actual thing that happens. The author builds her characters with huge depth and at a considered pace -this both works, because by the time they are all in trouble you are genuinely engaged with them – and doesn’t because it is a little convoluted in places and there are a lot of characters to separate, some of whom sound entirely familiar to each other. The end is an adrenalin rush coming upon you almost too suddenly…
Overall though it works very well. Descriptively speaking this is beautifully done, you get the sense of time and place brilliantly and the end of The Hunger is scary scary stuff – it is a reading journey but definitely one worth taking.
Publication Date: 15th June
Lincoln is a good boy. At the age of four, he is curious, clever and well behaved. He does as his mum says and knows what the rules are.
‘The rules are different today. The rules are that we hide and do not let the man with the gun find us.’
When an ordinary day at the zoo turns into a nightmare, Joan finds herself trapped with her beloved son. She must summon all her strength, find unexpected courage and protect Lincoln at all costs – even if it means crossing the line between right and wrong; between humanity and animal instinct.
It’s a line none of us would ever normally dream of crossing.
But sometimes the rules are different.
Wow Fierce Kingdom is like a rocket launched right at you – beautifully written, highly tense, this is without doubt a one sitting read (I rattled through it last night) and it is so utterly gripping I was slightly dazed when I came back out of it.
This works on many levels – first of all as a thriller, with our protagonists trapped in a Zoo not knowing when salvation might come – and then as a really emotive relationship drama that shows the maternal bond in all its glory – how far would you go to protect your child? Far of course is the answer and Joan is going to prove it.
Fierce Kingdom is full of layers – mostly we follow Joan and her child but with occasional insight from others trapped within the confines of the Zoo and from a man wielding a gun the wider picture gets painted in very hauntingly. I found myself clutching my hair at times and Gin Phillips just builds the pressure until BOOM the finale is brilliantly placed and emotionally resonant.
Overall I loved this. It is not a long book but it is hard hitting, emotionally traumatic and extraordinarily compelling.
Publication Date: November 17th (Transworld) January 2017 (Grove Atlantic)
Source: Review copies.
TV crime reporter Eve Singer’s career is flagging, but that starts to change when she covers a spate of bizarre murders—each one committed in public and advertised like an art exhibition. When the killer contacts Eve about her coverage of his crimes, she is suddenly on the inside of the biggest murder investigation of the decade. But as the killer becomes increasingly obsessed with her, Eve realizes there’s a thin line between inside information and becoming an accomplice to murder—possibly her own.
The Beautiful Dead is another one sitting brilliantly absorbing crime drama from the pen of Belinda Bauer – right at the top of the game in the crime genre right now and this one is an absolute corker.
I mean you can’t go wrong really when the story is utterly addictive, the characters utterly divinely authentic and the plot is unpredictable with no compromise on the fear factor with a genuinely fascinating concept.
The serial killer thriller is not new. Yet somehow Ms Bauer manages to make it FEEL new especially when its not really about that. Or not for me anyway. For me it was all about Eve (yes I did that) and her struggle to manage a relative with dementia, a hard hitting and uncompromising career and her own self doubt. When she inadvertantly comes to the attention of a madman she is tested to her limits – and this is where the author comes into her own – making you feel every moment of Eve’s inner struggle and outer actions.
Peppered with a strong and intriguing supporting cast, a fast moving and often edge of the seat plot and a killer whose motivations are just as compelling as the woman he obsesses over, The Beautiful Dead just rocks on every level. Awesome reading. Brilliant writing.
Thats all folks!
You can purchase The Beautiful Dead HERE
Publication Date: 2nd June from Bantam.
Famous killers have fan clubs.
Hamish Wolfe is no different. Locked up for the rest of his life for the abduction and murder of three young women, he gets countless adoring letters every day. He’s handsome, charismatic and very persuasive. His admirers are convinced he’s innocent, and that he’s the man of their dreams.
Who would join such a club?
Maggie Rose is different. Reclusive and enigmatic; a successful lawyer and bestselling true-crime writer, she only takes on cases that she can win.
Hamish wants her as his lawyer, he wants her to change his fate. She thinks she’s immune to the charms of a man like this. But maybe not this time . . .
So another standalone from Sharon Bolton whose writing I adore and who writes such addictive beautifully paced and gorgeously plotted novels whether that be within the Lacey Flint series or away from it that actually they are a joy to behold.
With “Daisy in Chains” the addictive quality is stratospheric (seriously I could NOT stop reading this thing) and the tale is a darkly delicious one with some terrifically drawn characters (I fell in love with Hamish myself I couldn’t help it I was not immune to his charms) and enough twists to satisfy the most fiendish of fiction addicts – especially towards the end where I was hanging off every word wondering what the ultimate outcome might be.
Some interesting and thought provoking themes as well – the strange fascination we can have with the darkest of hearts amongst us, the exploration of motives and reasoning, all of that wrapped up in a stonking good story that weaves a spell and keeps you enthralled throughout.
Not a lot else to say really – its a great book. Top quality fiction with a sharp and incisive edge and the type of novel I spend every day tracking down with the tenacity of a bulldog. Love the cover too just as a thing – that one is going to look GREAT on the shelf when the hardback arrives. Seriously these authors. Cost me a fortune.
You can purchase Daisy in Chains HERE
Publication Date: Available Now
Some moments burn in the mind for ever. The landing is dark. Light comes from a window at the far end, enough to run by. Breath comes hard. From the stairs sound heavy footfalls in pursuit. The landing ends in a last doorway. There is no more running, only the need to hide…
Imagine not knowing the father of your child. Not knowing his name. What he looks like. Or what sort of person he is. Although she is desperate for a baby, that is something that Kate Powell cannot accept. Single, independent, she likes to be in control of her own life – even if it has, somehow, become strangely shallow and meaningless.
Then Kate meets a man who seems to be the answer to all her problems. But we all know appearances can be dangerously deceptive. And Kate should too. Soon her life is out her hands. And out of control..
This is a book the author first wrote years ago, revised and updated for the digital generation – It is a fast paced and fairly quick read following Kate as she decides she wants a baby – and lands herself in all types of trouble.
It didn’t take me long to rocket through this one – it has some intriguing themes about nature v nurture, as Kate goes looking for a suitable donor for insemination, meets a seemingly perfect choice and then…well…things don’t go entirely to plan.
I really enjoyed it, some great characters and and some thought provoking strands to the tale with reference to parenthood in all its glory and the choices we make for ourselves in that respect – then it turns into an edge of the seat psychological thriller as Kate begins to realise that her perfect man is not so perfect after all.
The mystery elements are cleverly interwoven into the wider aspects of the story – as those around her get dragged into the maelstrom that Kate’s life has become she is having to make some difficult choices, it is utterly riveting in places and builds to a brilliantly tense ending.
Overall really excellent. As good as his later novels? No I’d say not, even with the updates (although I have not read the original work) but when the writer is as good as this one is “not as good” is still pretty darn impressive.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: November 5th 2015
A tragic suicide? When Rose’s daughter, Vivian, is found dead of a suspected suicide, Rose has questions nobody can answer. Wasn’t Vivian living the perfect life? A caring husband, a sweet little girl of her own. Or the perfect murder? But as the police investigation develops, their findings raise new questions. Did Vivian kill herself, or was she attacked? If so, who has something to hide?
Forget Me Not was a really good psychological thriller – one of those eminently readable clever books that really keep me involved, some intriguing if often dislikeable characters and a beautifully twisted storyline.
Rose and her daughter Vivian are estranged, for what reason we do not know. When Vivian is found dead in a suspected suicide, Rose tries to piece together the minutae of her daughters life. But the police are questioning and things may not be at all straightforward – yet Rose is determined to become part of her grandaughter’s life again, despite being at odds with her Son in Law.
This book was very clever when messing with your perception of things and Luana Lewis has a lovely narrative touch that makes you question everything. I did not find Rose particularly sympathetic, she annoyed me quite a bit and yet I still wanted her to find what she was looking for. Vivian, as we discover more about her, has a gorgeously drawn vulnerability but also a dark and destructive side that was extremely fascinating. Throw into the mix a friend who might be psychotic, a husband who keeps his cards close to his chest, a “driver” who Rose starts to become involved with (loved Isaac my favourite of the characters) and there is a huge scope for messed up personal relationships that the author uses to play with your mind and keep things unpredictable.
It was a fast addictive read, the mystery element intelligently done, definitively character driven and overall a really excellent novel that fans of psychological thrillers and domestic noir will love. Including me.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now
Situated deep in the Sahara Desert, New Cairo is a city built on technology – from the huge, life-giving solar panels that keep it functioning in a radically changed, resource-scarce world to the artificial implants that have become the answer to all and any of mankind’s medical problems.
But it is also a divided city, dominated by a handful of omnipotent corporate dynasties.
And when a devastating new computer virus begins to spread through the poorest districts, shutting down the life-giving implants that enable so many to survive, the city begins to slide into the anarchy of violent class struggle.
The Hive Construct is a well written and engaging scifi thriller, an intriguing mix of adventure and technology set in an imaginative world of political shenanigans.
Multiple points of view but grounded by protagonist Zala, a colourful and interesting character who has been exiled due to her Father, but who returns to New Cairo upon the death of a friend with the intention of finding out what is causing the virus that is decimating the population.
I really enjoyed this it has to be said – the scientific elements are really compelling, I am a bit of a sucker for a good hacker story and on top of that we have a rebellion and a political landscape that is well drawn and absorbing.
It is the story of a city in turmoil, the author does a good job of blurring the lines between right and wrong – some interesting and thought provoking concepts of class divide but all mixed up in plenty of action and twists and turns. Overall a really great read, absolutely riveting in places and full of fascinating characters all with different agenda’s.
I will look forward to more from this author.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now.
One day she was there . . .
and the next day, the day after the fire, she was gone.
In the summer of 1983, when Helen is sixteen, Victoria Dover and her eccentric family move in next door, at once making her lonely world a more thrilling place. But the summer ends with a terrible tragedy, and everyone involved – her father and the entire Dover family – simply disappears.
Then one day, thirty years later, Victoria comes back.
The Summer of Secrets is a slow burning, hauntingly atmospheric novel – a coming of age tale with a lot of emotional resonance and a real feel for the teenage mentality.
Told in two timelines, we see the relationship between Helen, on holiday and ignored pretty much by her Dad – and Victoria – a girl she meets whilst there. The two become friends, Victoria’s family fascinates Helen and she becomes very obsessive about the friendship. Then something happens…something that affects Helen’s whole life moving forward..
Years later Helen finds Victoria again – so begins a journey back into the past and a slow but inevitable uncovering of the truth about what happened that night…
This is not a BAM in your face, full on twisty turny mystery that rocks along so if you are expecting that, then you might be diappointed – for me however, Sarah Jasmon’s approach to weaving her web is one of consideration and content – a deeper exploration of the human condition and how we form our relationships especially in our formative years.
As a character study it works extremely well – using the mystery element to anchor the plot, giving you something to work towards, whilst delving into the psyche of Helen and Victoria, painting a picture, leading you inexorably towards an emotional conclusion.
Descriptively speaking this is gorgeous – evoking a real sense of those long ago hot summers, the teenage years when one day blends into the next – Sarah Jasmon has a real talent for transporting you there, the sights, the sounds the feelings…this is one of the huge strengths of this novel as a whole.
Overall a really great read. One I will remember.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 7th May
Jasper Dent can’t escape his family. Wherever he goes, whatever he does, his father’s reputation hangs over him.
Because Billy Dent’s not like other dads. He’s a serial killer.
And now he’s got Jasper’s girlfriend in his clutches.
So here we are then, the third in the Jasper Dent trilogy of books, a series I have adored for its adult young adult serial killer thriller vibe with a heck of a lot of heart stopping action and a main protagonist you just cannot help rooting for all the way through.
The end of the last novel left Jasper and cohorts in jeopardy, so to say I was desperate to read this one would be an understatement. Well that cliffhanger is sorted out toote suite in a very exciting opening and then we move on to see whether Jasper can FINALLY bring his serial killing psychopathic father down.
These are such terrific reads because they are, all three, so terribly addictive. Jasper fights his inner demons (is he his Father’s son?) struggles to maintain the two relationships that are sustaining him, with best friend Howie and girlfriend Connie, whilst at the same time dealing with his erstwhile family connections.
The story flows along at a breakneck speed, there is very little let up and the pages practically turn themselves. Violent for a novel involving teenagers for sure, crime fiction and serial killer thriller fans will enjoy this no matter what their age. Considering the subject matter the Jasper Dent novels are WAY more fun than they should be.
Barry Lyga brings the series to a (probable!) conclusion (certainly for the main portion of the plot) in a most terrific way – ok so the big twisty twist isnt so much a twist as it is a confirmation of what most of the avid fans of Jasper have seen coming for a while but it is tremendously satisfying for that very reason and beautifully done.
Overall I thought all of the trilogy, both individually and now seen as a whole were really really great reads. I will miss Jasper. Although hoping that possibly I won’t have to for long. SO much potential here to follow him through adulthood…
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available now
Five footprints are the only sign that Daniel Buck was ever here.
And now they are all his mother has left.
Every day, Anna Buck guards the little prints in the cement. Polishing them to a shine. Keeping them safe. Spiralling towards insanity.
When a psychic offers hope, Anna grasps it. Who wouldn’t? Maybe he can tell her what happened to her son…
But is this man what he claims to be? Is he a visionary? A shut eye? Or a cruel fake, preying on the vulnerable?
Or is he something far, far worse?
This was a clever and evocative novel from the pen of Belinda Bauer – I love her writing for its haunting quality and sense of emotion and this was no different.
In The Shut Eye we find Anna, who is falling apart after the disappearance of her son, her husband who is losing his wife to grief and various other characters including the brilliantly drawn Jack Marvel who I absolutely fell in love with. When Anna turns to a psychic in the hopes of getting some closure, things take a sinister turn. In her indomitable style, Ms Bauer then manages to take you on a spiralling, often creepy but terribly emotive journey towards the truth..
This is a story that manages to capture the essence of grief beautifully, the differing reactions and ways of coping – whilst also telling a terrific story and using the mystery element perfectly to get us into the heads of the people we meet here. Offset with some truly hilarious moments (Jack on the hunt for a missing dog) it is a terrifically compelling read throughout.
Whilst “Rubbernecker” remains my favourite so far of this authors novels, I would say that this is probably very close to it as far as addictive reading and great story quality go. She never fails to make me lose a bit of sleep whilst pondering themes explored and that to me is the sign of a darned good book.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 1st January 2015
A taxidermist has been found hanging from a tree, gutted like one of the animals he hunts. When the remains of another victim are found, Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles realise this is a murderer who has been at work for years. And that Boston is not his only hunting ground . . .
I’ve been a fan of the Rizzoli and Isles series since the start, have never missed one and I look forward to each new instalment with a great deal of anticipation – in the case of “Die Again” I have to say I honestly believe it is my favourite one so far. Rather than stagnate this series just gets better and better with every tale told.
In this case we have two strands running through the narrative – in Boston, Jane and Maura begin to investigate murder most horrid as a well known taxidermist has been given a taste of his own medicine – meanwhile in Africa, Millie Jacobson is supposed to be on the trip of a lifetime, but things take a sinister turn. As the two threads come together this is a highly addictive and utterly compelling tale, one that had me gripped throughout.
Tess Gerritsen writes so beautifully and Rizzoli, Isles and their close ones are like old friends to me now so it is so easy to get right back into their world. I would definitely recommend you read from the start as their ebbing and flowing relationships and lives are a huge part of what makes this so terrifically readable. With Die Again, for me, the whole thing went up a notch, possibly because I loved Millie as a character and her story was utterly fascinating. The portions set in Africa are so well described, the sense of place is stunning and it just added to the ambience so well.
The mystery element is brilliantly imagined, I still think Maura Isles is one of the best female characters ever created in Crime Fiction, so beautifully flawed yet absolutely loveable. The scenes with her and an unwanted houseguest in the shape of a cat made me smile and gave some light relief to the darker moments – and there were some dark moments indeed. Ms Gerritsen does not pull punches with her prose, so authentic and believable that you will definitely have the odd shiver.
Overall then a most terrific additon to this long running series – long may it continue if this is the standard we are to expect.
Publication Date: January 1st 2015
America at the end of the 21st century: 17-year-old James doesn’t even know what his real name is, though he feels if someone uses it one day, he’ll know it’s his. Kindness to others is not an option at Goodhouse, a brutally run corrective school for boys with criminal genes.
Awaiting him over the barbed wires of the school are the Zeros, a religious group who aim to rid the planet of impure boys like those at Goodhouse. But for James, his greatest threat is not the fundamentalists outside. His dream of walking through the gates as a civilian may yet be destroyed by the much deadlier threat from within …
So another Dystopian tale then, one that takes as its premise a future world where the “criminal” gene has been identified and all male children who have it are put into the care of the government – within a “GoodHouse” and “trained” to be model citizens. An intriguing idea for sure and one that is not that far beyond the realms of possibility.
I really enjoyed this one, James is an interesting main protagonist, trying his best to keep his head down and “graduate” without incident – but the GoodHouse is a melting pot of teen angst with no real outlet, added to that not everyone has their best interests at heart and so the scene is set for a great tale.
This has a great flow to it and keeps you involved all the way and there are some interesting and thought provoking themes explored here – not only of nature v nurture but also the gender divide – in this world it is only the boys who are separated out, not the girls. When James meets a girl, Bethany, during a trip to the “outside” this sets off a chain of events that is fascinating and very addictive.
There are several plot strands – what is going on within the house itself, the relationships the boys form and their secret ways of communicating and letting off steam. My favourite part of the story involved James and his relationship with room mate Owen, who was himself a rather enigmatic character who was very appealing. Then there is the outside and how the “Inmates” are viewed, the political shenanigans that keep people informed without actually telling them anything and, of course, the religious fanatics who believe that if you have the gene you should simply burn…
Overall then, a lot going on but Peyton Marshall manages to hold it all together in a very gripping way, there are some very exciting moments and some very emotional ones, overall a most terrific read. If I had one small bugbear it was that I felt the ending was slightly rushed – a lot of information in a small part of the book – it felt like perhaps there was meant to be a sequel but then it changed to a standalone, so I will be interested to find out if there are or were any more books planned in this world.
Some great writing and a very intelligent take on the idea of genetic make up influencing how we are treated, I would definitely recommend it for fans of Dystopian reads.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: October 9th 2014
Jacob Underwood is not like other people. He has Cotard’s Syndrome. He believes he is dead. Which makes his job as a hired assassin neutralising ‘problems’ for DBG, a massive multinational corporation, very simple. He carries out the task – and feels nothing. Now DBG has such a problem. A key employee, Emily Buchanan, has disappeared, taking with her a fortune and priceless information which could destroy the company. Jacob must track her down. In previous assignments, he had worked with cold logical precision, but this time he has to confront a threat that he first must understand before it destroys him…
This is a clever book, because it manages to be a fast paced action thriller, with dystopian themes, but right at the heart of it is a pure character piece.
Jacob Underwood is definitely one of the more fascinating characters you will find in fiction – emotionless and unfeeling it is hard to judge him for the things he does, which are lets face it, pretty horrific, because despite his actions he is eminently likeable. He doesnt make excuses or justify, he simply is…but as the book progresses there is a spark of life somewhere in there just waiting to emerge…
The flow of it is very intense…I dare you to put it down once you pick it up…but still, the characters are key all the way. Seen through Jacob’s eyes throughout, referred to by him as the “human units”, his outlook on life will often strike you as very sensible, sometimes funny but realistically speaking quite dangerous for those around him. As the story goes on and we find out how he got to be the way he is it is endlessly compelling and terribly addictive.
The “backdrop” if you like, about his latest task, to find and neutralise upon instruction one Emily Buchanan, a young lady who has in her possession some very dangerous information, is the perfect plot within which Jacob can function, evolve and draw you into his world…and he will certainly do that. There is plenty of action, some dark themes explored well, and a strange kind of life affirming humanity to the whole thing considering you are travelling the road alongside a character who believes he is dead..
The author has created a wonderful mythology here, using some standard dystopian themes, but then putting front and centre a character from which everything else flows…I absolutely loved it, certainly one of my reads of the year, and I can only hope that there will be more from Jacob. Whilst this particular adventure is satisfactorily complete it is obvious that as far as our main protagonist is concerned, the surface has barely been scratched…
Highly Recommended: Most especially for fans of character driven genre novels with heart.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: Available Now.
Anna has not been back to Oxford since her last summer at university, seventeen years ago. She tries not to think about her time there, or the tightly knit group of friends she once thought would be hers forever. She has almost forgotten the fierce sting of betrayal, the heartache, the secret she carries around with her, the last night she spent with them all. Then a chance meeting on a rainy day in London brings her past tumbling back into her present, and Anna is faced with remembering the events of that summer and the people she left behind. As Anna realises that the events of their past have shaped the people they’ve all become, hope begins to blossom for what the future could hold . . .
This was an absolutely wonderful and evocative novel, just the type of story I love to read where an old incident shadows a new life and over the course of the tale we find out what, where, who, when, why and any number of other questions. Beautifully written with some well drawn and heart warming characters this really was a top notch read.
When Anna runs into her ex -boyfriend unexpectedly it brings into sharp focus some upsetting and life changing events from her past at an Oxford university – slowly but surely she begins to reconnect with her old friends from that life, one she thought she had left behind for good.
This is gorgeously constructed as we meet Anna in her present life then over time hear about her time at Oxford, the glorious friendships she developed there and how things did not really go to plan. You can see how she has changed, her personality very different now to the bubbly outgoing girl she comes across as in her younger years. This is very much a group arc tale,every character, although seen through Anna’s eyes,has a distinct personality all their own. The handsome Victor, the terribly needy Clarissa, the stable Meg and Keith, who struggles through the darkness. He was the one I related to the most, but all of them including Anna herself are absolutely fascinating.
As the author said, Anna’s Oxford is not entirely her Oxford and nor is it mine, but still it is captured in its essence perfectly, which probably made this an even better read for me. The setting comes to life around the characters and the whole thing is stirring and elegantly done.
Overall a really really good read, examining some issues which I can’t talk about in case of spoilers – but suffice to say it is done with sensitivity but still utterly compelling. An excellent story well told.
Happy Reading Folks!
It was the day when everything stopped, and something started that was quite different, that couldn’t be controlled or shaped or ended.
At quarter past two on a Wednesday afternoon, Anna leaves her big sister, Rose, dozing on a sun lounger in the garden and goes out to the shops. She never sees her again.
Twenty years later, and the tragedy of Rose’s mysterious disappearance still haunts her family.
So another family drama for me and I can’t get enough of them these days – always something that speaks to me somewhere in the pages – and this one was no different, it was a wonderfully emotional and compelling story, beautifully written and constructed, telling the tale of Anna, Rose, and those around them.
The story is told through several different layers of time, each part uncovering another nugget of family background that adds to the whole and understanding of the people involved. Some excellent characterisation and insight allows you to slowly come to know them and I was enthralled throughout. I adored Anna, who drifts without anchor through her life, every decision or indecision coloured by her loss and Rose is an enigmatic character who although no longer around, influences the lives of those she left behind in very emotional ways.
I especially liked the sense of time and place – how very different the before and after was for Anna and her family – added to that the differences in ambience between modern times and the time when Anna’s parents were growing up, it made the whole thing more poignant and evocative. Cleverly achieved.
Overall I found this to be a fascinating read and one that will definitely appeal to fans of well written family drama with a mystery twist. Excellent stuff, I shall look forward to more!
Happy Reading Folks!
Copy via Netgalley – thank you.
In an effort to prove murder didn’t run in the family, Jazz teamed with the police in the small town of Lobo’s Nod to solve a deadly case. And now, when a determined New York City detective comes knocking on Jazz’s door asking for help, he can’t say no. The Hat-Dog Killer has the Big Apple–and its police force–running scared. So Jazz and his girlfriend, Connie, hop on a plane to the big city and get swept up in a killer’s murderous game.
So Jasper Dent take two and lets start by saying – Yes it is HIGHLY unlikely that the NYPD or the FBI would involve a seventeen year old in their investigations to this extent no matter what his parentage or intelligence, so suspend that moment of disbelief for now because this is fiction not fact, and lets see if this was as addictive and compelling as the first one. Well yes. For a good few reasons, none of which have to do with the ending, on which some people at Transworld and I are going to have serious words…excellent as it was. Grr.
Next…I very much liked how this book moved on from, but kept the heart of I hunt killers – by expanding the characters of Howie, Connie and Billy and giving Jasper new fears to ponder in his quest to be anything OTHER than his father when it comes to life choices, this was a brilliant follow up and I was hooked into it all the way from the beginning to THAT ending. As an expansion to the growing mythology it was terrifically well imagined – I saw Barry Lyga called a “YA Author Rebel” and I think that tags it just right. This is dark and violent in places, highly amusing and ironic in others (I adore Howie with a vengeance) and doesnt pull any punches or assume that the reading audience, older teenagers, need mollycoddling.
Overall a terrific read and I say PFFT to being ashamed – if YA is going to be this good I’m going to read it. Anyone who is too pretentious to do so will miss out. Sad for them eh?
Happy Reading Folks!
You’re seventeen years old and your father is the most notorious serial killer America has ever produced.
He brought you up. Taught you everything he knows. Everyone in your ordinary American town knows who you are. So even though Dear Old Dad is safely behind bars, when the killing starts all over again, you are the first person the police come to see.
They don’t know whether it’s nature or nurture. And neither do you
First of all, I had a copy of “Game” and then realised that it was a book 2 – so thank you SO much to Transworld for indulging me and sending me this so I could start at the beginning. And what a beginning it was…
As a premise it was brilliant. Jasper Dent had a unique upbringing – his father was a serial killer, and like most fathers he was keen for his son to follow his career path. Jasper knows a lot about the deadly game of murder, so when bodies start popping up in and around his hometown, he is determined to discover what is going on and to prove once and for all that he is a decent human being and not someone who is about to gut you with a knife. However Jasper himself struggles with his true nature v nurture and this makes for some compelling reading..
Definitely an addictive rollercoaster ride this one – the author manages to offset Jasper’s inner struggle with his outer persona brilliantly – you are never quite sure what he is going to do. In a lot of ways he is a typical teenage boy, up to no good with his best friend, testing the waters of a relationship with his girlfriend and testing the boundaries of life. In all the other ways though he is anything but typical – horrific thoughts and flashback memories of his childhood haunt his dreams and he worries that one day he will step over a line that there is no coming back from. And yet he is SO loveable, compelling and utterly fascinating.
The story unfolds in breakneck fashion, interspersed with more thoughtful and emotional moments. The people surrounding Jasper are all intriguing in their own right for various reasons, best friend Howie is particularly well drawn. There is also a thread of dark, ironic humour running throughout that will often make you smile and the author casts a wry eye over those “coming of age” scenario’s by using an extreme method of insight. Very clever. And “Dear old Dad” is an enigmatic lunatic. Within the reading world I just love one of those..
Never have I been more pleased to have another instalment waiting at my fingertips – keep an eye out for a review of “Game” coming very soon.
If you like serial killer thrillers this is one like no other… and that is not all it is either, this is many things all wrapped up in one addictive reading package. I’m not really sure who I’d recommend it to. Hey actually I do know. Everyone! Try something new and improved, meet Jasper Dent.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 22nd May 2014 from Doubleday/Transworld.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy.
Best friends tell you everything; about their kitchen renovation; about their little girl’s schooling. How one of them is leaving the other for a younger model.
Best friends don’t tell lies. They don’t take up residence on your couch for weeks. They don’t call lawyers. They don’t make you choose sides.
Best friends don’t keep secrets about their past. They don’t put you in danger.
Best friends don’t always stay best friends.
Its very hard to put into words how TOTALLY addictive this read was…every time I put it down it called to me to come back, to the point that I actually got quite grumpy when I had to do mundane things like making sure I fed the children….Grumpy. Thats how good it was.
Take two married couples – best friends – spend the majority of their time together, help out with each others kids, close as any friends ever were. Then split two of them up and set them at each others throats – what would you do? Could you choose one over the other? This is what the author explores here and it is absolutely fascinating, brilliant and evocative reading. As one couple struggle to hold their own marriage together in the aftermath of an untenable situation, you will not be able to look away. And not everyone is telling the whole truth..
Cleverly constructed to give you hints and nuances of each individual’s situation and thoughts, you will find your sympathies wavering between one person and the next, often feel like you would like to lock them all in a room somewhere and throw away the key, but mostly just be desperate to know what the heck is going on. The characters are amazingly real, popping off the page and into your head at random moments, telling you their side of the story, inducing either sympathy or outright rage and generally messing with your social life. Be prepared to put that on hold for the duration…
Dare I say this is the best book I’ve read so far this year? I think I do dare, although its up against some stiff competition. 2014 is looking to be one heck of a reading year…
Happy Reading Folks!
Elizabeth’s world is turned upside down when her husband dies in a tragic drowning accident.
How typical of her kind, generous husband – a respected police officer – to sacrifice his own life saving a complete stranger’s.
Elizabeth must face the consequences of her husband’s actions. As she does so, it seems that the end of Mike’s life is only the beginning of his wife truly getting to know him.
A very good friend of mine sent me a quote the other day. That quote was “You learn more about someone at the end of a relationship than at the beginning” How absolutely true that can be…as Elizabeth discovers in “Surrounded by Water”..
This is a novel about family. This is a novel about secrets. But mostly, mostly, this is a novel about grief. In all its forms, in all its gut wrenching, heart stopping, can’t breathe eat or sleep moments. And about coming out the other side no matter what the cost.
I absolutely refuse to tell you much about the ongoing story here apart from some very basic details. This book needs to be felt…and the more you know the less you will feel it. When Elizabeth loses her husband to a tragic accident, the ramifications of that spread like wildfire through the small community setting. As Elizabeth tries to come to terms with her loss, and realises that she didnt know everything there was to know about the man she loved after all, it is compelling, emotional, utterly profound and oh so very authentic.
This is not just about one woman. This speaks to the whole, the family unit which extends to friends and even acquaintances – How you support others in their grief when you are grieving yourself, how different personalities cope with the myriad of consequences to just one action…and how lives unravel with the simplicity of just knowing. I can’t make any more sense than that.
This was a wonderful if sobering reading experience. I will never forget this book. It will stay with my reading soul in the way that some do. Exquisite writing. Graceful and in a lot of ways inspiring, this one will hit you right in the heart. And the letters. Oh my, the letters. I don’t think I have any tears left to cry.
To leave you with another quote.. Grief is the price we pay for love.
Find out more about the author here: http://stephaniebutland.com/
Follow her on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/under_blue_sky
‘Call your mother.’
‘What do I say?’
This is how it begins. Living with her parents in the dank beach community of Limeburn, ten-year-old Ruby Trick has her own fears. Bullies on the school bus, the forest crowding her house into the sea, and the threat of divorce.
Helping her Daddy to catch a killer might be the key to keeping him close.
As long as the killer doesn’t catch her first..
So I recently read “Rubbernecker” from Belinda Bauer, also incidentally the first novel of hers I have read since Blacklands and it was so good that I was kind of worried that this one would fall flat. It absolutely did not do any such thing.
We follow along mostly with ten year old Ruby as she explores her world, puts up with bullies, hangs out with her friends and observes her people – she adores Daddy and is determined that he will be happy despite the fact that her parents are not getting on. Meanwhile young women are going missing, as a fledgling killer becomes more confident.
This was an extremely clever psychological thriller, especially as young Ruby’s viewpoint was so very authentic – she behaves like a ten year old with all the curiosity and wonder that time of life brings – and it was a different take on the way an adult would look at the world or peoples actions. Ruby, whilst helping her Dad try and track the killer, ends up with a lot of information that she doesnt realise is important. Offset that against the beautifully drawn police team (and not cliche at all – I thought Calvin was probably one of the most realistic sounding Police Officers I have ever read in fiction and boss Kirsty King was delightfully normal) and you have a cleverly constructed, character driven tale of the darker side of human nature. A thing that is a particular strength of Ms Bauers if this and Rubbernecker together are anything to go by.
Aptly titled – The Facts of Life and Death are indeed right in here – I thought this was terrifically good. Certainly one of my favourite “crime” novels I have read in 2014 so far.
Very much recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
On a cold December morning, a small boy is enticed away from his mother and his throat savagely cut. This could be just one more small, sad death in a city riven by poverty, inequality and political unrest, but this killing causes a public outcry. For it appears the culprit – a feckless student named John Delahunt – is also an informant and in the pay of the authorities at Dublin Castle. And strangely, this young man seems neither to regret what he did nor fear his punishment. Indeed, as he awaits the hangman in his cell in Kilmainham Gaol, John Delahunt decides to tell his story in this, his final, deeply unsettling statement . . .
This is a terrific tale based on a true story and a real page turner of the highest order. I was immediately captivated by the ambience of the setting and the truly strange and wonderful character of John Delahunt.
There are two excellent things in this novel – firstly the main protagonist – not a nice man, no not at all. Needy and selfish, with a hard edge, it is unsurprising that he ends up where he does and yet – he is probably not the most nefarious character here. Malleable and dangerous he is manipulated by dangerous men…
Then you have an absolutely authentic setting, chilling in its intensity, a snapshot of a different time – you will be transported there entirely, following Mr Delahunts life as it unfolds and leads to tragedy and murder..
Utterly compelling, completely fascinating and ultimately a sad and intense tale of violence and greed. Hard to put down and even harder to put away from your mind once done, this is a hugely impressive debut. Highly Recommended.
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: April 24th 2014
When a vagrant—the Walking Man—finds a dog wandering alone with the words “HELP US” written on its collar, he’s sure it’s a desperate plea from someone in trouble and calls on Detective Inspector Jack Caffery to investigate. Caffery is reluctant to get involved—until the Walking Man promises new information regarding the childhood abduction of Caffery’s brother in exchange for the detective’s help tracking down the dog’s owners. Caffery has no idea who or what he is searching for, but one thing he is sure of: it’s a race against time.
Is it really Book 7 of the Jack Caffery series already? Yep it would seem so and the first thing I want to say about this one is – for me it was the best one yet. Part of the “Walking Man” series within the series, as always it featured compelling characters, a dark and violent mystery and some truly shivery moments.
Somewhere a family is in trouble. We know this, we also know that its possible their one hope is Jack Caffery, a man who does not know they exist. With her usual trademark build up of tension, Mo Hayder takes us on a twisted journey towards an unknown outcome.
The first part of this novel totally freaked me out. I mean REALLY. Dark dreams, not wanting to be alone in the house, jumping at every sound – freaked out. And to be honest even as things became clearer and the story took shape that feeling never really went away. Sublimely creepy throughout, perfectly constructed to keep you on edge, this was one of those tales that will wake you up in a cold sweat weeks later and wondering what the heck you were dreaming about. Yep. One of them.
I love the writing style of this author, it flows off the page and into your psyche without missing a step – and Jack Caffery, as always, is right at the heart of it, developing more with every novel, coming into focus and living with you for the entirety of the reading experience.
One negative for this reader – Flea. Where was she? But to be fair, those of you who follow this series will understand her absence – Jack had to take this portion of his journey alone. And I gulped at the ending.
Brilliant brilliant writing. Inventive, fascinating and disturbing as ever, Mo Hayder is right at the top of the game when it comes to terrific Crime and Psychological thrillers. Wherever Jack goes next I’m heading there with him…
Happy Reading Folks!
Publication Date: 8th May 2014
Ex-Detective Lacey Flint has quit the police for a safer, quieter life. Or that’s what she thinks.
Living alone on a houseboat, she is trying and failing to get over the man she loves, undercover Detective Mark Joesbury. But Mark is missing in action and impossible to forget. And danger won’t leave Lacey alone…
When she finds a body floating in the river, wrapped in white burial cloths, she can’t resist asking questions. Who is this woman and why was she hidden in the fast-flowing depths?
And who has been delivering unwanted gifts to Lacey?
So here we are at Book 4 in the Lacey Flint series from Sharon Bolton (where does the time go? Hey not complaining, if I could have book 5 now I would..along with books 6 and 7…well you get the point) and after the events in Like This For Ever, Lacey has left the team and joined the River Police hoping for a quieter, less dramatic life. Yes well..it sounded like a good idea at the time. After she discovers a body on one of her morning swims, she again becomes caught up in an investigation that will put her once more into the danger zone.
There are a few reasons why I love this series. Lacey Flint is a tremendously well drawn character with huge depth to her – and the fact that we are on Book 4 and you feel like you have only just scratched the surface is one of the things that keeps you reading and always hanging on for more. Lacey is not even my favourite – you have the enigmatic Mark Joesbury always somewhere in her life, their ongoing and developing relationship is compelling. Then there is Dana, who is perhaps my most loved character – and again there is a lot more to learn about her.
The mystery elements of the stories are always top notch, wonderful twisty turny tales with a poetic, haunting feeling that stays with you long after the book is finished. A trademark of Ms Bolton for me is that I always kind of feel like I’m reading a ghost story…there is a dark and twisted side to these indeed.
In this particular instalment I was fascinated by the backdrop of the River Thames – and Lacey’s relationship with it – strange and unknown in a lot of ways, the descriptive and eerie prose that tells you that you are indeed reading a Sharon Bolton book is perfectly applied here. The river holds hidden secrets, uncharted territory and the events that take place within its confines are truly memorable.
So all in all another terrific read from this author. No doubt about it, some of the top crime fiction available right now – especially if you like a portentous twist.
Happy Reading Folks!
‘The dead can’t speak to us,’ Professor Madoc had said.
But that was a lie.
Sometimes, only an outsider can get to the truth.
Patrick has been on the outside all his life. Thoughtful, but different, infuriating even to his own mother, his life changes when he follows an obsession with death to study anatomy at university.
When he uncovers a crime that everybody else was too close to see, he proves finally that he has been right all along: nothing is exactly as it seems.
And that there have been many more lies closer to home…
I had been yelled at by many people about reading this book – so I decided to see what all the fuss was about and well, the fuss was about an absolutely compelling main protagonist, a dark and twisty wonderful story and a bit of an addictive read.
Gripping from the very first page, I fell immediately in love with Patrick and followed avidly along with him as he uncovered a hidden murder – due to his unique outlook on life though, will he get anyone to believe him? With some stunningly drawn characters and a truly involving mystery this is definitely one to curl up with and lock the world out for a while.
In places definitely not for the faint hearted but authentic throughout – I found the dissection scenes endlessly fascinating in a car crash kind of way – this is a highly engaging and interesting read with a truly remarkable look at Aspergers syndrome to boot.
Happy Reading Folks!
Thank you to the author and publisher for the copy via netgalley.
What would you do if a young girl knocked on your door and asked for your help?
If it was snowing and she was freezing cold, but you were afraid and alone?
What would you do if you let her in, but couldn’t make her leave?
What if she told you terrible lies about someone you love, but the truth was even worse?
Oh how I do adore a great psychological twisty tale and I was SO looking forward to this one and what a tale it was. Stella is severely agoraphobic – she never leaves her house these days and is solely reliant on her Husband for human contact. One night when he is away the mysterious “Blue” turns up on her doorstep demanding entry, despite her fears Stella cannot allow her to freeze and so lets her in. But Blue is obviously damaged and possibly also dangerous.
A terrifically engaging read this one, we watch as events unfold in the house, alongside flashbacks of both Stella and Blue’s previous life – but how much of EITHER of their stories are real and how much is fantasy…that is the question. They are both psychologically damaged for different reasons, and the connection between them is not immediately obvious.
Ms Lewis teases out the various strands of the mystery in tantalising titbits – each part giving subtle clues to the whole and demanding that you read the very next chapter. I hovered between being intrigued to see what had come before and yet desperate to know what was happening in the isolation of the house right at the moment. Both “sides” of the story are equally compelling.
Characterisation is of a high standard – both Stella and Blue are completely fascinating for very different reasons and their interaction is exciting and scary. There are of course other people in the mix – I do not want to say too much about that as it may spoil things, but suffice to say it appears as if one or both of these women may have put their trust in the wrong people and that is right at the heart of the matter.
Perfectly paced, absolutely a page turner of the highest order.
Happy Reading Folks!
Bright red. Like rose petals. Or rubies. Or balloons. Little red droplets.
Barney knows the killer will strike again soon. The victim will be another boy, just like him. He will drain the body of blood, and leave it on a Thames beach. There will be no clues for detectives Dana Tulloch and Mark Joesbury to find. There will be no warning about who will be next. There will be no good reason for Lacey Flint to become involved… And no chance that she can stay away.
This is crime writing bang at the top of its game and I’ve come to adore Lacey Flint (and Mark Joesbury) and have been getting quite fond of Dana Tulloch as well so one of the very best parts of my holiday reading this year was knowing I could settle into my chair and read this without disruption…
So here we are, the third of Lacey’s stories and we find her recovering from the events of Dead Scared (frankly I was right there with her I needed to recover as well!) and trying to come to terms with her life and what is next for her. Meanwhile her neighbour, Barney, is struggling with his own demons – children are going missing and Barney knows more than he is saying. So Lacey gets drawn into an investigation she wanted no part of…and it may well end up being kill or cure.
For me these get better and better and never fail to surprise me. Sharon Bolton changes the game somewhat each time and with Lacey Flint she has created a truly compelling heroine. Lacey is enigmatic – its a bit of a cliche way of describing a main character in a crime novel but in this case it is EXACTLY the right word. You never know quite where you are with her and she keeps you on your toes. Add to that a very clever and intelligent mystery and you have a perfect storm.
I love the mix of psychological thriller and crime mystery that Ms Bolton brings us each time – and the way the clues to solving the tale are subtle and yet fair. You won’t get a convoluted work around of a reveal moment to offset various plot holes here because the plot is complex yet tight and well thought through. The police procedural element feels authentic and is obviously well researched. Thrown into the mix are an eclectic and often unusual bunch of people that you can get truly involved with and therein lies the beauty of the storytelling.
As I said before, some readers were disturbed when the author moved away from the more Supernatural into straight up crime writing but now I’ve read three in this series I’m not entirely convinced that is true. While it IS true that this is crime fiction and you won’t find ghosts here, for me there is still an other worldly hint to these stories – along with enigmatic I would also call Lacey ethereal…and certainly the haunting evocative tone of her previous novels such as Sacrifice is still very much in evidence here.
Happy Reading Folks!
Coming February 2014 from RandomHouse UK Transworld Publishers.
Thank you to the author and publisher for the review copy via Netgalley.
You won’t remember Mr Heming. He showed you round your comfortable home, suggested a sustainable financial package, negotiated a price with the owner and called you with the good news. The less good news is that, all these years later, he still has the key.
That’s absurd, you laugh. Of all the many hundreds of houses he has sold, why would he still have the key to mine?
The answer to that is, he has the keys to them all.
Ha! Pure reading joy. Mr Heming tells the tale, oh and what a tale he has to tell. A voyeur, a strange man, a man with his finger on the pulse of, well, everything – he keeps a weather eye on the inhabitants of his town..and their places of residence. He has his favourites and those he despises – who may find themselves having no fun at all…
I adored this – what a fascinating character, possibly the most fascinating I have come across since Mr Ripley. Tis true I would not want him poking around my house, or eating breakfast in my kitchen, but I followed avidly and willingly along with him as he wandered the halls of houses past sold..still, when a man like Mr Heming develops an obsession that takes him beyond even his own obsessive personality you just know there is trouble ahead. You may want to look away…but that is impossible – he has drawn you in, made you complicit in his excursions…and now you are as guilty as he is…Read on..read on no matter what!
Resourceful talented writing and a delightful, dark and delicious narrator make this a wonderful, creepy, exquisite reading experience. Next time you come home unexpectedly..look for the signs. Has Mr Heming visited in your absence? He may well have done you know…
Happy Reading Folks!
Coming January 2014 from Random House UK/Transworld Publishers
Thank you to the author and publisher for the netgalley review copy.
When their mother dies unexpectedly, twelve-year-old Easter and her six-year-old sister Ruby are shuffled into the foster care system in Gastonia, North Carolina, a town not far from the Appalachian mountains. But just as they settle into their new life, their errant father, Wade, an ex-minor league baseball player whom they haven’t seen in years, suddenly appears and wants to spend more time with them. Unfortunately, Wade has signed away legal rights to his daughters, and the only way he can get Easter and Ruby back is to steal them away in the middle of the night.
So, a wonderfully evocative novel, the first I’ve read from this author and one that touched my heart at the same time that it was making me think. Some terrific characters can be found right at the heart of this story and of course, as always, characters are key…you have to want to know them, you have to care on some level for them, or detest them in such a way as to want to jump into the pages and kick them up the bottom. Here you have all of that wrapped up in a compelling tale of greed, hope, love and loss.
We hear from various players in the drama at various times and each has their own unique feel, which is not as easy to pull off as it sounds – here we have a diverse range of people all caught up in this thing we call life.
My heart was right there with Easter as she struggles with her feelings towards her errant Father, her intuitive and heartfelt need to protect her sister and her coping mechanisms for the things being thrown at her. As she and Ruby get caught up in the mess their Father has made of his life, it is an irresistable read.
On their trail is a dangerous man…a truly dangerous man and when he is front and centre, that is when you feel discombobulated. That is truly how he made me feel…that and just a little bit terrified. Yin and Yang folks – needed in every great reading experience!
The court appointed guardian to the girls also gets a story and a role here – he was perhaps the one I related to the least but was important as a “middle man” if you like…the link between one life and another.
I felt for Wade on occasion, at other times I truly wanted to drive him off a cliff – why oh why do some parents think that their right to be with their children outweighs anything else…he is at turns naive, determined, foolish and pathetic. Is his heart in the right place? Well that is the question…yes I believe it is.
It is kind of a gentle rolling tale about actions and consequences – with a very mellow yet intriguing writing style, Wiley Cash takes you on a journey of redemption.
I very much enjoyed it and will be checking out “A Land more Kind than Home” as soon as time allows.
Happy Reading Folks!
Coming January 2014
Thanks to the publisher,author and netgalley for the advance copy.
Sean is on the run. We don’t know why and we don’t know from whom, but we do know he’s abandoned his battered, blood-stained car in the middle of an isolated, lonely part of rural France at the height of a sweltering summer. Desperate to avoid the police, he takes to the hedgerows and country lanes only to be caught in the vicious jaws of a trap.
So I adore Mr Beckett’s David Hunter series and was eager to leap into this, his first standalone book, and wow it was a page turner and a half. Immediately dropped into the action as we meet Sean, abandoning his car and heading off in a panic…only to find himself in a very surreal situation…
Rescued it seems, from the trap, he finds himself on a run down farm and in the bosom of a strange and enigmatic family…but as we read on we realise that the danger Sean has left behind may well be nothing when compared to what he is about to face…
Written in two timelines – as we see Sean’s London life and the events leading up to him abandoning the car and also in the present as he recovers from his injury and gets more and more entangled into the strange existance of those on the farm, it is compelling stuff. Slowly but surely things are revealed – and trust me you will have a few late nights with this one.
As always the writing is suberb – You may have to wait a while inbetween Mr Beckett’s books but it is always always worth the wait and the same can be said for this. The characters are all fascinating – certainly if Sean was not injured in such a way he would have been running for the hills again but as things move on, he starts becoming part of the family in ways that may not be easy for him to escape from.
Note I have been careful not to say too much. This novel is so atmospheric as to really make you feel every part of it, and most of that comes from meeting the people that live in its pages and understanding more about them..almost impossible to put down, it will keep you right there until you are done.
The setting is perfect – the French countryside comes alive with the reading and adds to the effect.
All in all a brilliant involving read – If you have loved the David Hunter novels you will like this, and if this is your first time reading a Simon Beckett novel, I can almost guarantee you will then read more.
Happy Reading Folks!
The Book Thief – A book I loved with all my heart but found it impossible to put into words. So instead I made Sharon Sant do it! ( https://twitter.com/SharonSant )
I’ll be brutally honest here; when I began this book I hated it. I thought that it was pretentious and over-written and ever so slightly jarring, even though I thought that the idea of Death as a narrator was the biggest stroke of genius ever. But so many people had so much good to say about it that I didn’t want to give up on it. I’m so glad that I didn’t. What started out as a book I didn’t think I would get on with at all became a story that will be branded on my consciousness for a long time to come. Just like sushi, I realise now that I needed to acquire the taste for Zusak’s unique writing style, but once I had, I couldn’t get enough of it. Through Death’s omniscient and touchingly sympathetic narration (this Death is not the traditional image of Death as an unthinking demigod who scythes humanity down, but a Death who connects emotionally with each soul he takes), Zusak weaves an epic tale that takes in the whole sweeping panoply of the second world war but still manages to draw it all, every consequence of every action and every decision, back to one little girl. Liesel Meminger, the girl in question, and the cast of supporting characters are sublime; there wasn’t a one that you could say wasn’t utterly fascinating and well-rounded. I had a particularly soft spot for Rudy, the boy who was always trying to get a kiss from her; he just stole my heart, as did Liesel’s foster Papa, Hans. Zusak’s poetic prose was so evocative of the time and place, I felt like I was standing on a German street watching the bomber planes come over, or hiding in the bomb shelter, or sitting next to the Jew in the basement. I also loved the smattering of German mixed in with the prose; it lent such an authenticity to the book. Death takes us backwards and forwards through events, so that most of the time we actually already know what event the narrative is driving us towards, but that does not lessen the impact when we get there.
And here is where I have to warn you that I cried. I’m known for crying quite a lot, but I cried like a baby, so people with normal crying thresholds will only cry a little, but you will still cry just the same. If you don’t, you have a stone where your heart should be.
Coming January 2014 from Randomhouse/ Transworld
Thank you kindly to the author and publisher for the unexpected pleasure of a copy of this book in the post.
Wake: 1) Emerge or cause to emerge from sleep 2) Ritual for the dead 3) Consequence or aftermath.
The lives of three women are braided together, their stories gathering tremendous power as the ties that bind them become clear, and the body of the unknown soldier moves closer and closer to its final resting place.
Right well the first thing to say is I read this book in 4 hours – I started it on Saturday morning and by lunchtime I was done, such was the power of this novel – it wasnt that I couldnt put it down it was more that I didnt even consider doing so…
This is subtle, compelling and heart wrenching storytelling and I am not going to give much away – suffice to say this is a story of the life changing effects of war – we follow three women over five days against the backdrop of the effects of WW1 and the journey home of the unknown soldier. It is at turns addictive, fascinating, wonderful and emotional and will draw you in slowly but surely until you feel you are right alongside the characters.
Until lately I have never read much historical fiction – at the moment I am discovering some wonderful examples of this and wonder to myself why I have ignored it in the past. This book as much as any other has told me that I need to find more of it, although its doubtful that any other (with the possible exception of the one I’m reading right now) will touch my heart in the way that this one did.
Storytelling art. A canvass in words. Beautifully written and exceptionally absorbing. I am undone.
Happy Reading Folks!
In some ways this may end up being a fairly simplistic review in comparison to others I have read about this wonderful novel. However for me, this book was very much about the journey I found within its pages – hooked from the very first paragraph I barely looked out on the world again until I was done. For me, as a book lover, blogger and a person who just wants to send your way the very best stories I find out there, this says more than any in depth critique of “I am Pilgrim” could achieve. I do have more to say of course – but that is the long and the short of it fellow readers.
Firstly, what struck me when I received my copy was the sheer size of the book. That excited me – nowadays its rare to find a book that can hold your attention over so many pages – authors don’t tend to write them. Now of course, there is nothing wrong with a book of any size as long as you ENJOY it but I have always been a lover of stories that perhaps give you that little bit more. Its difficult to achieve but Terry Hayes has done so. There is a reason why “The Stand” by Stephen King is still my number 1 book of all time – it, like Pilgrim, is an absorbing, exciting, heart stopping tale with heart that doesnt end in a flash but gives you greater insight and a longer period of time over which to enjoy it. If you, like me, appreciate that sort of thing then this book is definitely for you.
Following “Pilgrim” on his journey was without doubt one of my favourite reading experiences ever. The sheer scale of the story will astound you – as you learn about his background, the things he achieved or perhaps didnt, you will be enthralled and totally caught up in the moment. I have seen reviewers say that it was obviously written with an eye to a blockbuster movie – well I can see their point, especially given the author’s background – but actually I disagree. Its all about the story….written in a way that will keep you READING – it wasnt until I was done with it that I cast it in my head (yes, yes I do that with everything!) during the actual time spent within its pages, a movie was the last thing on my mind. Starting off as a murder mystery it turns into something else altogether – a chase across continents to stop an atrocity and to catch an evil man. Part crime mystery, mostly enthralling spy thriller with an opponent the like of which you may think y0u’ve seen before but havent – its heart stoppingly good. Not since Nelson De Mille’s “The Lion” who appeared in some of the John Corey books will you find a “terrorist” as intriguing as this one. And just as intriguing is the man trying to catch him…a man I still don’t truly know.
Its clever. Its exciting. It is never dull and always unexpected. It has more than one story – you will get an awful lot for your money here. Apart from that I say nothing. If you want an in depth plot analysis you will need to look elsewhere – it won’t be hard, this book has touched many – I will end by saying that this is a must read for anyone who simply loves books. And reading. And finding those stories that will always stay with you and you will read again. Will it knock any of my “top ten reads of all time” down a space on my list? Well you’ll have to wait and see. My Top Ten Books is a blogpost that will appear later in the year!