It was the cover of The Roanoke Girls that first caught my eye - pretty yet subtly chilling in equal measures, it hints perfectly at the da4.5 stars!
It was the cover of The Roanoke Girls that first caught my eye - pretty yet subtly chilling in equal measures, it hints perfectly at the dark, dark tale inside. After reading the blurb and a couple of reviews I was convinced....I definitely wanted to read this book.
Fifteen year old Lane has recently lost her mother to suicide. She's left alone in foster care, having spent her life being brought up by her distant and depressive mother. But when she's told her Grandparents want her, Lane hopes that for first time she can find a true family and home. Moving across the country to the huge mansion in the middle of rural Kansas, Lane is welcomed into the home by her vivacious cousin Allegra and her charismatic and doting Grandpa. But a dark secret simmers within the walls of Roanoke, and Lane is being pulled slowly into her family's twisted history. Ten years later, and Lane is again living away from Roanake and hasn't been in contact since she left suddenly. When she gets a call from her Grandpa to say Allegra has gone missing, Lane is drawn back to Roanoke to face the demons she left behind all those years ago.
To say The Roanoke Girls is a shocker of a book is an understatement. It's quite early in the book when one line, thrown so bluntly by Lane, made me gasp out loud in horror, despite the fact I had my suspicions where this book was going. This is a disturbingly dark story, yet I couldn't tear myself away. Some people are going to find this book too controversial. Personally, despite the horror of what was going on in those pages, I was hooked.
The story is told from Lane's point of view, both during the long, hot summer as a naive fifteen year old and ten years later, when she returns to Roanoke bitter, cruel and damaged. I liked the contrast between Lane's character in each section of then or now, which we're given in alternating chapters. Amy Engel creates the perfect atmosphere of oppression and dark secrets, from the eerie setting of Roanoke itself to the claustrophobic and searing heat of the Kansas summer. The cast of characters are damaged and flawed, trapped into the disturbing cycle of the Roanoke family...creepy in their own knowing silence. Added to this, there's an occasional chapter from each of the fated Roanoke Girls who came before Lane. Sprinkled throughout the book like ghosts, the horror at the extent of this family's disturbing and twisted history builds with each one.
The Roanoke Girls isn't exactly a thriller, there is the mystery of what has happened to Allegra, although my suspicions early on were right here and the author makes the secret of the Roanoke family clear within the first few chapters. This doesn't mean it's without its shocks and twists - it's full of them and I was gripped throughout, holding my breath and unable to look away. This is a dark, disturbing and chilling read, often uncomfortable but twistedly fascinating. I read it in two sittings, only breaking to sleep. It's not going to be everyone's cup of tea, its dark and taboo subject matter not being easy to stomach, but if you like your books tense, shocking and compulsive with evocative and atmospheric writing and deep, dark family secrets, then I'd recommend it. I thought it was fantastic, even though I sometimes felt I shouldn't! ...more
As soon as I started reading Eyes Like Mine, I realised it was going to be very different to other other thrillers I've read lately. The tone, style,As soon as I started reading Eyes Like Mine, I realised it was going to be very different to other other thrillers I've read lately. The tone, style, prose...it was sharp and edgy and very easy to become quickly gripped by.
Nora Watts is a tough, world weary protagonist. She's seen the worst of human nature in her life, and this is reflected in her attitude. She's aloof, suspicious and constantly looking over her shoulder. She keeps herself to herself, squatting in the basement of her employers office and keeping in the shadows of the violent and corrupt world she inhabits, the mangy stray dog who, for some reason latched onto her, the only company she has. But this lady can take care of herself, she's had to. Nora is fiesty and strong, and Eyes Like Mine is a fast paced, action packed thriller throughout.
Nora isn't a likable character. She's an ex-alcoholic, almost vagrant and distrusts most people she knows. She goes out of her way to keep everyone at more than arms length. As her story is revealed throughout the book, I understood why. Nora knows violence and betrayal. She's come to expect nothing less. She appears cold, even when the call about her missing daughter, adopted at birth, comes in. The author never lets Nora's guard slip, even for a second, but there are glimpses of what lurks underneath Nora's iron exterior, just enough to make the reader care what happens to her without slipping into sentimentality or smulch. For this, Nora is utterly believable.
There are some violent scenes in this book, with the setting being the dark and corrupt world of private investigation and billionaire business. It's edge of your seat fast at times, with car chases, gun fights and an ever present sense that danger lurks right around the corner. I did loose my way a little bit regarding Nora's investigation into the Canadian mining business, it got a little to technical for me and I started loosing track of who was who and how it was all connected-however, my confusion wasn't that long lived and is probably down to me not having any idea about billion dollar mining business and the Canadian setting (there seemed to be a political undertow? It's just not something I know anything about). There's also one thread early on in the book which I kept expecting to resurface, and when it didn't I wondered what the point of it had been. On reflection though, I think it was to show there is a softer, human and empathetic side to Nora.
Eyes like Mine proved to be more action packed, gritty and perhaps political, then what I'd usually choose. I'm not usually drawn to books about corruption, however having read this, I'm glad I did. I raced through it in a couple of sittings and was gripped throughout....more
I knew, as soon as I read the synopsis for Sealskin, that this was going to be my kind of book. I love re-tellings of old legends and myths and a hintI knew, as soon as I read the synopsis for Sealskin, that this was going to be my kind of book. I love re-tellings of old legends and myths and a hint of magic realism. Having read some wonderful reviews and followed the author's fascinatingly interesting blog tour, I couldn't wait to read it for myself.
Sealskin is set on a Scottish Island in a small fishing village and Su Bristow captures the essence of the rugged landscape and sea beautifully - harsh, raw and at times violent combined with a breathtaking beauty, purity and etherealness. And it's those same qualities which transcend into this exquisite story and the lives of its characters.
The story begins with Donald, a lonely and often ostracised member of this close knit community, who while out fishing late at night witnesses something magical, something only a few humans have ever seen. His reaction is shocking and uncomfortable, a violent act in contrast the purity of the magic he has just seen. It was difficult here to accept Donald's actions, and I worried that my distaste and anger at what Donald does was so great, I wouldn't be able to enjoy the rest of the book.
But this where Su Bristow's skill as a master story teller shines. Sealskin is a fairytale-not the watered down, happy ever after ones we're accustomed to nowadays, but of the traditional variety. Dark themes, flawed characters, naivety and wisdom mixing together with a message of hope, learning and overcoming both real and personal demons. I could imagine this story being told by candlelight hundreds of years ago, while remaining as enchanting and relevant to a modern reader.
I loved the character of Mairhi. She is written with such care that the feelings of calmness and healing she shares with those in the book seep from the page. She doesn't speak, but the lyricism of her aura and eyes expressing her needs and feelings is written so evocatively, I could feel and imagine it myself. Indeed, Su Bristow's prose throughout, from her depictions of characters to descriptions of the stunning scenery and nature, are so mesmerising and vivid, that I truly became lost in the story. While reading, my own surroundings blurred away and I had a feeling of coming out of a dream when looking up from the pages, needing a few seconds to anchor myself back in my own world.
I went into Sealskin hoping that I would love it, and I did. Every word of it. For me, reading Sealskin was reminiscent of my experience of reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern or The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. There aren't many books I can think of that have had this all encompassing effect on me while transporting me to another world, which stays with me so vividly for years to come, but I'm adding Sealskin to that list....more
Behind Her Eyes tells the tangled story of three people, from the view point of two of them - Louise and Adele. Louise is a single mother, who on a ra Behind Her Eyes tells the tangled story of three people, from the view point of two of them - Louise and Adele. Louise is a single mother, who on a rare night out meets and connects with David - a good looking and successful doctor. When David turns out to be not only her new boss, but also married, Louise is disappointed. But when a chance encounter with Adele, David's wife, leads to friendship, Louise finds herself ever drawn into this strange and captivating couple's world. But all is not as it seems, it soon becomes clear that there's a huge, toxic secret shadowing this seemingly perfect marriage. As Louise becomes closer to both Adele and David, she finds it more and more difficult to know just who to believe.
Sarah Pinborough knows just how to keep her readers hooked. Behind Her Eyes is compulsive reading, with switching narratives and tendrils of suspense and suggestion careful dropped into each chapter, meaning that "just one more" quickly becomes a massive chunk of book. Her characters are crafted so well that, just like Louise, as a reader it's difficult to know who to trust. There's just the right amount of chilling, especially from Adele, to send shivers down your spine and keep you holding your breath, desperate to know what's going to happen next.
The ending of this book has created a massive stir, and you really do need to go into it not knowing what it could be to get the full impact. Because of all the hype surrounding it, I was second guessing it all the way through. I'm going to be honest and say I half guessed, which for me probably did soften the impact. I'd read a book over twenty-five years ago by a popular teen author of the time with a similar theme, and could see exactly where things were going. Yet, even when I smugly thought I'd worked this book out, the author still managed to throw a curveball that made me go "OH" - it turned out to not be exactly what I thought it was after all.
Behind Her Eyes is very different to most psychological thrillers around at the moment, in that it throws in a slightly paranormal element. Now I'm all for suspending belief and love twists like this, so in my opinion this was only a good thing. But if you are someone who struggles with anything other than reality, then this book isn't for you. Personally, although I wasn't quite as shocked and surprised by the ending as some other reviewers, I thought Behind Her Eyes was a very good book and I enjoyed it immensely. I'll be looking out for more of this authors work in the future. ...more
If Ever I Fall is boldly recommended for fans of Jojo Moyes -an author I really enjoy. And it was that claim which first drew me to the book. Well ok, If Ever I Fall is boldly recommended for fans of Jojo Moyes -an author I really enjoy. And it was that claim which first drew me to the book. Well ok, the cover too, because yeah. I'm a sucker for a pretty cover. Anyway, after investigating further I was convinced, this did indeed sound like a book that would be right up my street.
I picked it up to read last Saturday morning. Typically, I had woken up early on my day off (why does that always happen?) and even though I had a list as long as my arm of things to do, it was early enough to have a relaxing morning and squeeze in a bit of reading first. BIG mistake. I ended up glued and pretty much lost my entire morning, and some of the afternoon. But it was worth it.
If Ever I Fall is a story told from three perspectives. Dan is struggling with the break up of his family, living alone in a flat he hates and missing his wife and daughter. Maria, Dan's wife, writes letters to someone who she know's will never answer, in an attempt to make sense of events which have devastated her family's life. Then there's Jack. He doesn't know who he is....he's suffering from amnesia. One thing's for sure though...something is certainly not right about his surroundings. How can he find out the truth when he can't even remember who he is?
Wow! When I thought this was a book that would be right up my street I was right. I quickly became engrossed in all three character's lives and felt I was taken on an emotional rollercoaster alongside them. I loved the way that Dan and Maria's story unfolded throughout the book, so that as a reader, when realisation about their situation slowly dawned and pieces of the jigsaw were put together in my mind, I could really understand and empathise with them. I especially loved the addition of Jack....I had absolutely no idea how he related to the story at first and was intrigued by his situation. When I did realise, I was blown away. It's not something I've come across in this way before and gives the whole book an interesting and unique twist.
If Ever I Fall is an emotional read which had me wiping away tears and holding my breath. It's a tale of grief, loss and despair-but there's also hope and the underlying sense that strength comes from those we love, if only we can realise this and reach out. I finished this book feeling that I'd been on a real journey with the characters and thought about it for hours after. It is a beautifully written, engrossing and unique story, and I loved it.
It was the promise of a dark, twisty friendship that drew me to this book, telling the story of Gracie-a successful celebrity chef, with the perfect lIt was the promise of a dark, twisty friendship that drew me to this book, telling the story of Gracie-a successful celebrity chef, with the perfect looks, family and home to match and poor Juliet-downtrodden single mum, bitter and jealous while watching others live the life she believes she should have had. I really love the switching narrative here, it gives the reader a real opportunity to get to know each woman and understand their insecurities, flaws and strengths. I think Juliet was particularly well written, I could feel her sense of disappointment, bitterness and envy throughout the whole book.
There are lots of little threads running throughout this book which don't seem to particularly relate to the main story. What surprised me was how they were all tied together in a massive twist I didn't see coming at all. Sam Hepburn very cleverly and quietly drops the clues, then brings them all together in an OMG???!!! revelation. I had a few theories running through my mind as I read-none of them were right. There's also a third, mysterious narrator, who also isn't revealed until the end, adding to my need to race through the chapters and know exactly what was going on.
Her Perfect Life is exactly the kind of book I can find myself glued to until I've read the last page. It's got a great premise, fast flowing and pacey chapters, multiple narrators (my favourite) and some real out of the blue twists. I just couldn't put it down. If you're looking for a page turner to keep you guessing, then look no further. ...more