I read most of Look Behind You very late at night in the darkness of my bedroom. Books rarely scare me so that didn’t sReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
I read most of Look Behind You very late at night in the darkness of my bedroom. Books rarely scare me so that didn’t seem like a mistake at the time. The hour or so I spent lying awake in bed panicking about every tiny creak of my house suggests I should probably have left this one for daylight.
The story begins as Chloe Benson wakes up in an underground bunker. She is tied up, confused and quickly realises she’s been kidnapped. Terrified and determined to find a way out before her abductor returns, she manages to escape… but once in hospital, she can’t remember anything from the last few weeks of her life and has no idea who took her. The doctors inform her that she has a recent history of hallucinations, so the police don’t take her seriously. Chloe’s husband Liam helps to fill in the events of the weeks Chloe has forgotten – but she quickly becomes suspicious of his story and decides she needs to discover the truth on her own.
Hodge has done an excellent job in creating tension with this book. The story is told from Chloe’s point of view which perfectly conveys her confusion and frustration. I had no idea which characters were trustworthy and I questioned everyone, even Chloe herself. Liam is a truly horrible character and I hated him almost immediately; the more I knew about his marriage to Chloe the more I felt genuinely nervous. I read most of the book feeling like something bad was going to happen at any moment.
So much of this book is deserving of five stars, and the only reason it didn’t quite make it was because I felt like the outcome was perhaps more obvious than I expected. I had raced through the pages with a number of theories about what really happened to Chloe and kept changing my mind, but part of me was expecting a huge, shocking plot twist. It didn’t come, but this is only a minor detail in an otherwise fantastic psychological thriller. I only wish I hadn’t read it in the dark…...more
Fractured is a bit like the film Sliding Doors, in the way that we are shown two parallel lives for one character. RachReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
Fractured is a bit like the film Sliding Doors, in the way that we are shown two parallel lives for one character. Rachel is 18 and at a restaurant with her boyfriend and closest friends, enjoying one final evening together before they all go off to university. But the night takes a terrible turn when a speeding car loses control and heads toward the window of their restaurant. Rachel is trapped in the corner, unable to get away in time – until her friend Jimmy rushes back to save her before the car crashes through the glass.
We are then shown two very different outcomes for Rachel, taking place five years after the accident as she travels home for a friend’s wedding.
In the first scenario, Rachel’s life is falling apart. The accident left her with a terrible scar on her face, but Jimmy tragically died while saving her life and she can’t cope with the guilt of his death. She never followed her dreams and she pushed her boyfriend away. Her father has cancer. Everything is awful. The night before the wedding, she suffers an extreme headache and passes out next to Jimmy’s grave…
The second scenario is a much brighter outlook. The accident had been a lucky escape – Jimmy pulled her away from the window in time, so they both survived the ordeal without serious injuries. Rachel went to university, landed her dream job and got engaged to her boyfriend. Everything is perfect. But the night before her friend’s wedding, she is mugged for her engagement ring and hits her head…
Then ‘Rachel 1′ wakes up in hospital to find she’s in the life of ‘Rachel 2′.
This sounds confusing, but Dani Atkins introduces both scenarios so well that this isn’t a problem. Everything Rachel knows about the horrible last five years of her life isn’t true, as the doctors tell her she’s suffering from a form of amnesia which has created memories that don’t exist. The synopsis had led me to believe that we would see more of both stories, but this isn’t the case – the book simply follows Rachel’s attempts to make sense of her ‘new’ life. Why do her memories not match what appears to be reality? And how can she know so many details about her ‘other’ life if it never happened?
Fractured is an interesting concept and an enjoyable read. Rachel’s confusion is written very well (imagine waking up and your entire life being better!) and I loved Jimmy’s character. Rachel isn’t the most memorable of protagonists and I found some aspects of the story a little predictable (it’s another one of those books when you know who the character should end up with long before she does) but the ending was a clever, unexpected twist. It actually took me a while to realise what had happened in the final pages and I’m still not sure how I feel about it, but credit to Atkins for turning the story on its head in the very last chapter....more
As a single mother working extremely long hours, lawyer Kate Baron hasn’t been there for her daughter as much as she woReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
As a single mother working extremely long hours, lawyer Kate Baron hasn’t been there for her daughter as much as she would like to have been. But 15-year-old Amelia has always been fine – she loves books and sports, and always does brilliantly in school. It doesn’t make sense when Kate receives a phone call from the school, telling her that Amelia has been suspended for cheating on an English paper. Amelia would never cheat; it must be a mistake. Kate makes her way to the school, but when she arrives, she is met with even more horrifying news: her beloved daughter has jumped from the school roof in an impulsive act of suicide.
In the weeks that follow, a devastated Kate struggles to accept that her daughter would have killed herself. So when she receives an anonymous text that reads “Amelia didn’t jump”, Kate is determined to find out the truth about what happened… and soon discovers she didn’t know Amelia as well as she thought.
There were elements of the plot that felt a bit far-fetched to me. I struggled to believe that the policeman investigating Amelia’s death would allow her grieving mother to talk to all of the witnesses with him, and the behaviour of some of Amelia’s teachers was also bizarrely unprofessional.
Despite this, Reconstructing Amelia had me hooked. The narrative takes a variety of forms: Kate in the present moment, told in the third person; first person flashbacks to Amelia before she died; text messages and Facebook updates that Amelia sent and received; blog posts from ’gRaCeFULLY’, a cruel and anonymous school gossip column; and the occasional entry from Kate’s diaries. I enjoyed this style and felt very immersed in the story.
The mystery is more complicated than simply discovering what caused Amelia’s fall from the roof, as so many of the characters have secrets that contributed in some way to the events of that day – including Kate herself. Amelia was keeping a lot of things from her mother, and although I managed to guess a few things along the way, I was still surprised by the final twist. Definitely worth a read (and I hear there are plans for a film…)....more
The Best Thing I Never Had revolves around a group of seven friends, and is split into two distinct halves: their timeReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
The Best Thing I Never Had revolves around a group of seven friends, and is split into two distinct halves: their time spent at university, and five years later, when they all find themselves brought back together for a wedding.
Initially I thought having seven main characters would be confusing, but I learnt about them all very quickly. Keeping it simple, the group is brought together by loved-up couple Miles and Nicky. Nicky lives with her three best friends, Harriet, Leigha and Sukie; Miles lives with Adam and Johnny. And they all hang out together, carefree and happy… for a short time, at least.
Leigha falls for Adam almost immediately, but he doesn’t feel the same way… so when he and Harriet fall in love, they decide to protect Leigha’s feelings by keeping their relationship a secret. But they had no idea how badly things would fall apart when the truth finally came out. The reactions to Harriet’s “betrayal”, and the way her best friends turn on her, is heartbreaking to read. With clashing personalities and plenty more little white lies, their close friendships are soon damaged beyond repair.
Five years later, Nicky and Miles are getting married, and most of their old university friends haven’t seen or spoken to each other in years. You’d expect lots of drama, but Lawless has done a fantastic job of keeping the plot realistic; the way the characters react to being reunited after so much time apart is handled very well.
I loved this book, but I particularly enjoyed the university half of the story – it took me straight back to my own student years. The house parties, drinking cocktails out of saucepans, ridiculous fancy dress themes and looming deadlines were all spot on.
I also really liked the fact the story doesn’t all get tied up perfectly for the sake of a happy ending. With so many regrets and past hurts, it would have been far-fetched for the group to fix all of their problems in the space of one wedding, and there are still plenty of feelings that stay buried. But that’s what makes this book so good, I think – it’s a true reflection of life, and how sometimes friendships don’t work out the way you want them to.
This is an addictive debut novel and the characters really come to life. I can’t wait to read more by Erin Lawless....more
Before I Fall has been on my list of books to read for a few years now, and really only because I’d seen so many peopleReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
Before I Fall has been on my list of books to read for a few years now, and really only because I’d seen so many people refer to it as ‘life changing’. A bestselling Young Adult novel that is most simply described as Mean Girls meets Groundhog Day, it was the many glowing reviews that intrigued me more than the synopsis itself.
Sam Kingston is one of the most popular girls in her high school; she has a gorgeous boyfriend, great friends, and cares more about having fun than anything else. But on the night of February 12th, Sam is killed in a car accident. The next morning, she wakes up at home like nothing has happened… before realising it’s still February 12th, and she is actually living her final day all over again. For one whole week Sam repeats the last day of her life, realising the mistakes she’s made and trying to put them right.
From reading other reviews, it seems that most people take an instant dislike to Sam, only for her to grow on them as she changes through the book. At the beginning she has that typical ‘popular girl’ attitude where she doesn’t give much thought to other people: “It’s nice that everything’s easy for us. It’s a good feeling knowing you can basically do whatever you want and there won’t be any consequences.” She smokes, drinks, cheats on exams and skips school… but, unlike others, I didn’t immediately hate her for any of these things. I used to work in a high school and have seen plenty of kids who think they’re better than everyone, and she just struck me as another one of these girls that value popularity above anything else. Irritating, yes, but a typical teen attitude. It was only as I got further into the book and realised just how cruel Sam and her friends had been to people, and learnt about all the awful things she’d done (or let happen) in the past, that I began to dislike her. I also felt extremely sad about the way she had treated her family.
The book is beautifully written and it really makes you think about the way people treat each other. If it all ended today, how would you be remembered? It’s clever and thought-provoking, and for many reasons I wanted to give it five stars. Unfortunately, the ending bothered me.
The more I think about how life for each of the characters would be after the events of the final pages, the more I feel dissatisfied with how Oliver chose to finish the story. After the book had explored seven days of Sam’s attempts to make things right in her life, I was left wondering how many of the characters would actually be better off – and I don’t think it’s very many.
I’d be interested to see how a real-life ‘Mean Girl’ might feel after reading Before I Fall; I’m sure it has the potential to make people question their actions. But I’ve been out of high school for a decade, and I still found it captivating… if not a little depressing.
“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it. But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”...more
Early one morning in a quiet village, police are called to two separate incidents: the violent murder of a young woman,Reviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
Early one morning in a quiet village, police are called to two separate incidents: the violent murder of a young woman, and an apparent suicide after a car was driven into a quarry. But as DCI Louisa Smith and her team investigate, they soon discover links between the two deceased women. Are the incidents related, and what happened that night?
Elizabeth Haynes has a background in police intelligence analysis, and she has used this expertise to make Under a Silent Moon a particularly interesting read. Throughout the book Haynes has included documents that the characters are using to solve the case, such as dispatch logs, witness statements and intelligence emails. These documents add a unique element to the book and make you feel much closer to the investigation.
Instead of traditional chapters, the book is split into days and times (“Day 1, Thurs 1 November 2012. 09:41″) and the focus regularly switches between characters – police, witnesses and suspects – so we get an all-round view of the case. Initially I struggled with the number of characters and had to remind myself who people were, but seeing the case from so many sides adds a lot of depth to the mystery. The plot is cleverly written so that even when you think you know exactly what happened, a new piece of evidence or witness statement will come to light that changes everything.
I believe this is the first book in a series about DCI Louisa Smith, and I will definitely keep an eye out for the next one....more
I bought The End of Winter because it is described as a crime thriller – my favourite genre – and I was expecting the tReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
I bought The End of Winter because it is described as a crime thriller – my favourite genre – and I was expecting the typical fast-paced hunt for a killer, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. What I got instead was not so much a thriller, but a beautifully written, haunting tale of grief and regret.
Dr Michael Severin returns from working away to find his wife dying on the stairs. The police investigation into Caitlin’s murder soon reveals that Michael didn’t know her quite as well as he thought, and the book follows his own attempts to discover the truth about their marriage and what happened on the day she died. It is not, however, a race to uncover the clues and find the person responsible. Michael’s need for the truth is more about coping with the bereavement than a need for justice, and much of the book is focused on his loneliness and feelings of failure rather than the crime.
The End of Winter is told from Michael’s perspective, and the narrative has a depressing quality that highlights the tragedies he has seen in his life. There are regular flashbacks to earlier times spent with Caitlin, which helps us to understand their relationship and the problems they faced before she died.
Some reviewers have said this book is too slow, and that they got bored. It is certainly not the race against time that I am so used to within this genre, and the bleak mood of the writing may not be for everyone. But the intriguing descriptions and the flawed characters kept me turning the pages. I had a number of different theories about how Caitlin died, and had accused near enough every character by the time the mystery was finally solved, but I still felt surprised by the outcome. And yet, despite the interesting twist, in some ways I feel like this story is not really about discovering who killed Caitlin. After finishing the book it was not the details of the crime or investigation that were most memorable, but the depictions of grief and anguish over past mistakes....more
I read the first Bridget Jones book when I was about 14, and I remember finding it hilarious. The big pants, the “v. goReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
I read the first Bridget Jones book when I was about 14, and I remember finding it hilarious. The big pants, the “v. good"s, the Mark Darcy vs. Daniel Cleaver debate – Bridget was my first introduction to chick lit, and I was sold.
Now in my late 20s (ironically still not the age at which Bridget was in her first diary), I imagine the “waahh, I’m so fat and I need a boyfriend” struggle would irritate me far more than entertain me. But through nostalgia more than anything else, I still felt I should read the latest instalment.
Bridget is now 51, a mother of two young children, and a widow after Mark Darcy was tragically killed in an accident a few years previously. But Bridget hasn’t really changed at all. She’s still counting calories, panicking about her love life (although this time with added technology: think online dating and Twitter) and getting herself into embarrassing situations.
If you’re hoping to find out what happened after The Edge of Reason, you’ll be disappointed. Fielding mentions very little of Bridget’s married life, and Mark’s death is only touched upon – this book is set very much in her post-Mark single life. I kept expecting to finally see the aftermath of losing her husband, particularly as it includes extracts of previous diaries… but it didn’t come. Perhaps grieving and trauma isn’t what we expect from Bridget Jones, but I do believe Mad About The Boy would have benefitted from it. It almost feels like Bridget has moved on while her readers are still in mourning.
I found the story to be rather slow paced, and with an ending that seems to come from nowhere. But the book does remain true to the Bridget Jones formula that worked so well in the past. If you’re a big fan of the previous diaries and can get over the fact that Mark Darcy is no more, it’s familiar territory in the way of dating, diets and career crises. Unfortunately I was hoping for much less ‘about the boy’ and much more about Mark....more
When Mhairi McFarlane‘s debut novel You Had Me At Hello was released, I remember thinking “that sounds great! I must reReviewed at JudgingCovers.co.uk
When Mhairi McFarlane‘s debut novel You Had Me At Hello was released, I remember thinking “that sounds great! I must read that immediately!”… and then I got swept up in my never-ending pile of books to read, and never quite got round to it. So when I saw it was time for her second book, I got straight on the case. After hearing so many positive things about McFarlane, I would not be missing another one!
Here’s Looking at You is told from two viewpoints: Anna Alessi, a history lecturer who was viciously bullied in high school; and James Fraser, the instigator of Anna’s most humiliating experience during her awful teenage years. Now in their 30s, Anna has undergone something of a transformation (think ‘ugly duckling to beautiful swan’) and changed her first name – which means that when James suddenly walks back into her life, he has no idea that they have ever met before. Or that he made her life hell all those years ago.
I found the relationship between Anna and James totally fascinating, and loved following their story. Forced to work together, Anna initially hates him – she has never really got over the terrible time she had at school – and since she’s not very nice to him, he doesn’t like her very much either. But James actually seems a lot nicer than he used to, and as much as she doesn’t want to admit it, Anna soon finds herself enjoying his company…
You can probably see where the story ends up, but there’s a depth to the plot that stops it feeling predictable. I couldn’t wait to know how James would react when he finally realises who Anna really is, and there were plenty of “ooh, I didn’t see that coming!” moments. Add in some brilliant friends, an extravagant family wedding and Anna’s online dating disasters, and there’s plenty of reasons to keep the pages turning.
The bullying in Anna’s past is truly heartbreaking, and she’s still so insecure as a result that I was desperate for her to get a happy ending. She’s a fabulous character: intelligent, funny, and nothing like the ditzy chick lit protagonists you sometimes come across. I loved James too; he did something cruel as a teen, but you can’t help but connect with him and his struggle to get over the recent separation from his wife.
McFarlane has a brilliant writing style that had me laughing aloud on a few occasions. I do love a dry sense of humour, and her amusing observations on everything from Google Plus to the songs used in department store Christmas adverts had me nodding along in agreement. I will be picking up her first novel immediately (how could I ever have missed it?) and will definitely look out for more by this author....more