Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Everything You Told Me by Lucy Dawson

I experienced some problems reading this tale, because there was a disconnect between what I know and what was being said in it - but this was somewhat explained in the way it all turned out, and I'll say no more, because I wish to remain spoiler-free!  Aside from this difficulty, I thought this a very interesting and unusual story and I could easily identify with poor, frazzled and exhausted Sally, as two of my three children believed that sleep was a waste of their lives.  However, thankfully I never found myself, like Sally, waking alone in the back of a taxi at the far end of the country in pyjamas and a raincoat, and with just enough cash to cover the fare.  This is a pacey and complex story which contains plenty to keep the reader guessing as a nightmarish series of events unfolds and a family's safety and happiness is jeopardised..

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Secret Lives of the Amir Sisters by Nadiya Hussain

I approached this story with trepidation: Nadiya Hussain is an engaging, charming and likeable person on TV, but that does not mean she can tell a story and not all celebrities can write.  I was relieved to find myself quickly immersed and engrossed in the secret lives of the Amir sisters (from the only brown/British Asian family in the small community of Wyvernage).  The book explores themes of identity, family, love, culture and expectations.  A major crisis has repercussions for each of the sisters as secrets are revealed which shake the whole family to the core, and all of them must change.  The sisters are all interesting and likeable, the story is fascinating and very well crafted, and there is plenty to think about.  It is a very good read.

In the acknowledgements at the end, Nadiya gives thanks to her writer.  It is an excellent collaboration.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

A poignant, gently humourous tale of life with an aggressive brain tumour and the effects on its host, his family and the world.  An original story of hope, love, teamwork, dying with dignity and exploitation, which is beautifully and cleverly told.  Jared, Dierdre, Jackie and Megan are engaging and easily recognisable characters who have to deal with the unthinkable and find themselves prey to greed from many quarters.  I was gripped, I was moved, and was given plenty of food for thought.

Monday, January 02, 2017

The Woman in Black by Kerry Wilkinson

Kerry Wilkinson has created a fascinating character in Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniels and in this, the third in the series, she seems to be learning better to work in a team while retaining her ability to think outside of the box and combine instinct and deduction to solve some of the crimes that fall to her to investigate.

The story starts with a severed hand being left in a very public place in Manchester.  A mother is reporting her son missing and then a package arrives at the police station, addressed to Senior Detective.  The parcel reveals a finger removed from the hand - and DNA evidence shows that the hand and finger are not the missing young man.

Then a second hand and finger surface, and  it is a DNA match for the missing son.  Similar modus as last time, but this time it is addressed to Jessica, so it feels as if it's getting personal, and seems as if there might possibly be a serial killer at work - except there are only hands and fingers, but no further body parts.  Careful scrutiny of security camera footage suggests the hands are being planted by a woman dressed in a hooded black cape and low heels. The search is on for connections between victims, and to discover what is going on.

This is a really gripping story and a very satisfying read.  Happily, there are more cases to enjoy in the series beyond this one, but I am totally hooked on these books and am happily anticipating the next instalment.

The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

A gripping thriller about what happens when tragedy strikes.  Iris Griffiths is appalled when a plane from her local airport crashes - and her beloved husband has just flown out to go to Florida for a work conference.  The plane in question was on its way to Seattle, so she is relieved that he must be fine, although concerned that she cannot make contact with him.  It then transpires that his name was on the passenger list of both flights and that he is missing...  What is going on?

This is a fascinating tale of deceit and deception, and there are so many secrets for Iris to uncover before she can discover the truth about her husband and her marriage.  Iris is a sympathetic heroine and this is a well-written and cleverly crafted story which makes compelling reading.

House of Silence by Sarah Barthel

I have not read a historic romance for a long time and, despite the cover image suggesting that House of Silence might be one, it is not straightforwardly of that genre.  Set in 1875 Illinois, a young woman's future is determined by the marriage that she makes, and this is the course that Isabelle Larkin is set upon, with her mother eager to confirm her match with Gregory Gallagher, a charismatic political aspirant.  Isabelle is excited by the prospect of a marriage to Gregory, until she is the unwitting witness to him committing a violent crime.  

Isabelle is revolted by Gregory's actions and appalled that no-one, not even her mother, will believe her when she tells them what happened.  Her mother is determined that Isabelle should honour her promise to marry Gregory, but Isabelle is equally adamant that this will not be her fate, even if it means that she will be committed to a sanatarium to avoid scandal and to persuade her to see the error of her ways.  Shocked and fearful for her life, she encourages this by becoming mute and feigning a breakdown.

Her time in the asylum brings her into contact with Mary Todd Lincoln, widow of the assassinated President, who is suffering problems of her own.  A fragile friendship grows up in the face of their common situation, but Isabelle is still not safe and must reclaim her voice to save herself.

The historical context is fascinating and there is plenty of suspense as we are caught up in Isabelle's quest to save herself.  She is a feisty character caught up in a situation of her time and status and interesting to read of in the context of the present.  An enjoyable book.

While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft

Start reading this book in the keen anticipation that it will keep you gripped and wondering about just about every character until its chilling denouement.  

Tara is the main character, and she lives in a South London cul-de-sac with her husband Noah, teenaged daughter Sophie and son Spencer (11).  One night, when her husband is away on business, she pops in to speak to her neighbour, and ends up having a drink with the neighbour's husband.  The next thing she knows, she is waking up in her neighbour's bed, next to Lee - who is dead - with no memory of how this came to pass but certain she had not had enough to drink to explain this lapse.  Shocked, she makes her escape from the house and begins the switchback journey to make sense of what happened, initially deciding not to go to the police.  There are plenty of shocks and surprises along the way and Tara's trust in all of her family is challenged to the extreme.  

The Day She Can't Forget, by Meg Carter

An unusual, intriguing and engrossing thriller which is a thoroughly enjoyable read.  Zeb's mysterious injuries and memory loss land her in hospital, but she is determined to solve the enigma of how she came to be where she was found, far from home, and what had led her into danger.  However, retracing the few steps she can recall could help her find herself - or take her back into peril.  As she seeks to secure the future for herself and her son, Matty, she needs to travel into her misty past.  Who is it safe to trust, and can she even she trust herself?  Plenty to keep the reader guessing right to the end.