Wednesday, 14 February 2018

The Last Mrs Parrish by Liv Constantine

It’s a while since I’ve read a book like this: one where you can’t wait to find a free five minutes to dive in or can’t wait to go to bed to read…or even hope you’re going to get a teensy bit of insomnia!

Unusually authored (two sisters co-wrote), the writing is seamless. It’s a story of greed…and a girl, Amber, who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. It’s also a story of domestic abuse and the cunning the victim, Daphne, uses to escape it. How fortunate that she 'happens' to meet the greedy Amber.

It’s fairly easy to guess early on (well, early-ish) how the story is going to unravel, but the writing and plot is so engrossing, I was more than just a little compelled to read on. It’s a well-structured plot that moves at the right pace. 

Despite the dark elements in the book, the quality of the writing makes this an easy and satisfying read.

These authors have very definitely made it to my look-out-for list.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Awake under the Night Sky by Vanya Sharma

This was a romance. A sweet and charming romance, but it lacked maturity, and reminded me more of a YA or serialised magazine story…in something like Woman’s Weekly or The Lady.

It’s a story of two young people who meet while they’re studying in India and fall deeply in love. But each have ambitions that drive them apart geographically. Vivian…to follow in the footsteps of her humanitarian grandmother, wanting to make a difference in third-world countries, and Andrea, who has pledged to make a success of his father’s ailing glass factory in Venice. Each does his and her best to forget and move on from the love they shared, but, as they find, it’s an obstacle they find hard to overcome.

The story lacked research, credibility and authenticity. Vivian was Spanish, Andrea, Italian and their study was in India. Somehow, there were no language barriers. The story was a little jerky, jumping around continents and time frames, and it was a little monotonous. Nothing very much happens until the end.

Sharma has tender and sympathetic way with words and can certainly execute a love story, but I think this was a little undeveloped and a tad ‘raw’. With experience and the proper guidance, I'm positive this author will evolve promisingly.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan

A mix of first and third person POVs drives this story of a hard-nosed lawyer, Kate Woodcroft, intent on finding the charismatic James Whitehouse, an up-and-coming member of parliament, guilty of rape, an accusation made against him by the woman with whom he’d had a short affair. Sophie, his wife and university girlfriend, has to believe that everything he says, in court and out, is true. But her conviction is rocky, to say the least, because of THAT event in their final university year…

A couple of things irritated me…one, an odd ‘eh, ek, hn, hk, io, il, sy, SY' that ended most chapters. What on earth? Second…either the author or her editors seemed to have suddenly discovered the semicolon, the colon and the n dash and thought it would be a really jolly idea to put them in everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE, ninety-nine percent of the time incorrectly used. They really became a hurdle and a real annoyance. The text didn’t flow, and I very nearly put the book into my Kindle’s delete folder. 

I don’t think this enthralled me as much as it should have done. I would have liked more of the plot to be driven by a bit more dialogue rather than (sometimes tedious) narrative, but for all that, I enjoyed it, the way it was written and the little surprises along the way.

The plot was very credible and compelling, as was the style of writing, which was also insightful and intelligent.  Ultimately, I'm glad this book didn't end up in 'Deleted Items' before I finished it.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Hungry for Love by Maya Sacher

Here, supposedly, is a lady with a dilemma. Or does she?

Dentist, Elizabeth’s husband, Jesse, has been in a coma for two very long years. Along comes very handsome Australian zoo curator Aiden, and of course, she falls head-over-heels in love with him. She moves in with Aiden and doesn’t tell him she’s married until, rather predictably, Jesse wakes up. What an inconvenience. Elizabeth then spends the next 75% of the book trying to convince herself and the two men that well, couldn’t the three of them work in a non-ménage-à-trois sort of way. Why couldn’t she just merge them into one perfect man? Really.

I’m afraid I found this situation and Elizabeth very irritating. In fact, I rather wanted to slap her. Let’s remind you, dear: you’re married, and you must have realised that there was every likelihood that your husband (you know the one…in sickness and in health?) might wake up. I disliked her for her infidelity, I disliked her for expecting Jesse to be okay with her infidelity, and I disliked her for continually striving for a three-way set-up. It could work, couldn’t it, alternate weeks with each one? Seriously? I kept hoping that both men would just tell her to get on her bike, but no, she spoke, they said how high. 

I found it difficult to feel anything for any of the characters; they were all rather bland and one-dimensional. Aiden came over as an Eastender, rather than an Aussie and had a very irritating habit of saying ‘bout, instead of about. I’m not sure why.

I think I would have rather read ‘bout Jesse and Elizabeth rebuilding their lives after such a life-changing event. This author certainly has the ability and competence to develop these characters. Maybe there’s a sequel I don’t know about! 

Saturday, 23 December 2017

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Krysten Ritter is an actress…I’ve only seen her once as Jesse’s rather unfortunate heroin-addict girlfriend in Breaking Bad. A memorable role. So…is she going to be a memorable author with this, her inaugural novel?

This is a story of environmental lawyer Abby Williams who returns to her home town, Barrens, after ten years to investigate a large company, suspected of poisoning the town’s water reservoir with their toxic waste. Not an easy task for her, as she’s returning to some bad memories. However, they not only resurface, she discovers a very unsettling secret making the investigation very complex indeed.

I’m not a great fan of the present tense, especially for dramatic novels…but it’s never a deal breaker in my choice of book. In this instance, however, it did confirm why I don’t like it. It just didn’t work, especially as this was also first-person POV. The run-up to the ending was tense and dramatic, but unfortunately, loose threads were hastily tied up in a clunky manner in the epilogue in a sort of ‘I later found out that this is what happened to me' way. It all fell rather flat. 

However…this is a debut novel, and I would be lying if I didn’t say it was well written, well observed and for the most part, pacey and dramatic. Despite my misgivings, this author can only get better and has a promising future.

I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for her next novel.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Dragon Walk by Melissa Bowersock

Well, really. There I was, in full mourning mode, after reading what I thought was the last Lacey and Sam book, when up pops number five! Quite threw me off kilter…ah, but was I glad. It seems the Lacey and Sam fan club just would not let them rest after their fourth mystery, so thank goodness for an author who listens. Cue Book 5 which sees our spirit hunters trying to solve a case that’s dumbfounded the police. 

A young marathon runner disappears suddenly on a regular morning run. All paths lead to either an ex-boyfriend or her current abusive one. It rests on Lacey and Sam to see if they can pick up any trails the police couldn’t. 

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dying to find out how their relationship was panning out…we saw it get to a very satisfying level by the end of Book 4. So I really needed to find out if was all wine and roses. And the answer is: yes, I did find out.

This book is a good 100-150 pages shorter than its predecessors. But fans, never fear…Lacey and Sam are not lying low just yet. A sixth mystery is imminent. And that, is very good news.

See also:

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Close to Home by Cara Hunter

Set in the lovely university town of Oxford, I was expecting this to be, from current reviews, a gripping thriller about the hunt, led by DI Adam Fawley, for eight-year-old Daisy Mason, who goes missing from a family party. The title suggests the obvious: were the parents responsible, a neighbour perhaps, a sibling? Your expectation is of a suspenseful, edge-of-your seat thriller to find out not only the culprit, but of course, is she dead or alive. It certainly lived up to all of that, but my guessing journey was completely thrown off course with a surprise twist at the end. I really wasn’t expecting a good way! (Sorry, no spoilers.)

A very skilfully written and devised plot with a full cast of well-portrayed characters…those you’re meant to hate (oh heck, you really hate them) and those who are meant to garner your sympathy, empathy even, did just that.

However, just a couple of issues needled me a little throughout. Firstly, various fonts and typefaces were used to isolate 'public' tweets (the public invariably become judge and jury in these cases)…but some were extremely difficult to read as they were very feint grey which does not work in Kindleland. Not a deal-breaker, but I just didn’t see the value of it as well as struggling to read them.

Secondly, whilst the book was written from both first POV and third-person POV in the present tense (not my favourite, I'm afraid), the present tense didn’t work for me with the flashbacks. They were in the past, so for me, they should have been in the past tense. And a message to the author, editor and copy-editor: ‘there’s (there is)’ is followed by a single noun, not a plural one. This is elementary grammar, so I was a tad disappointed to see the error in one of the slightly better-edited books I’ve read. 

For all that, this previously unknown-to-me author is a new, exciting find for me. Not only that, I gather this is the first in the D. I. Adam Fawley series, so I’m really looking forward to getting to know more about him.