What a wonderful, memorable, and poignant novel! I loved every single page, and wished I could meet the characters in real life.
I loved how the authorWhat a wonderful, memorable, and poignant novel! I loved every single page, and wished I could meet the characters in real life.
I loved how the author referenced one of my favourite short stories in the novel, "The Last Leaf" by O. Henry.
Another aspect of this novel which I appreciated was how the author had three separate characters and connected them through fate, and the recognition of each other's pain.
The story explores how we tend to keep ourselves to ourselves when we are in pain. How doing the opposite of this - letting others into our lives - can bring about such succour.
This is ostensibly a novel about loss and regret, yet it is permeated with hope. It delves into some serious, heart-wrenching issues like the death of a spouse, death of a parent, and parental kidnapping, but does it with such empathy that the reader feels better just for having read it. "A Quiet Life" is about people trying to live their lives when horrible things happen. These particular people though, do it with grace, kindness, and dignity.
A wonderful, poignant read which I highly recommend. All in all, a fabulous novel which is sure to be one of my lifelong favorites. ...more
I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel which reminded me of the better works of Rosamunde Pilcher. It was a rich narrative of family secrets, social isI thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel which reminded me of the better works of Rosamunde Pilcher. It was a rich narrative of family secrets, social isolation, guilt, regret, trauma, and artistic genius.
Set on an isolated peninsula on the northern English coast, the waves and the salty air were almost tangible. This was a ghost story - but only if the reader wants it to be... It was also a mystery of sorts.
I relished the writing: "She had made a promise to herself to keep out of Isla's way, but she was drawn to that house like a tongue seeking a loose tooth."
All in all, the characters, setting, and story came together to create a novel that I won't soon forget. Highly recommended!...more
Wow! What an unexpected, twisty, compelling novel! I know that this book will undoubtedly make my 2022 'Best List'.
Difficult to review without spoilinWow! What an unexpected, twisty, compelling novel! I know that this book will undoubtedly make my 2022 'Best List'.
Difficult to review without spoiling it for others, so I'll keep this very short.
First of all I adored the protagonist. Sadie Levesque was a feisty young woman whom I both admired and empathized with. The writing was both powerful and absorbing. The plot was original and engrossing - packed with red herrings, unexpected twists, and Scottish folklore.
The themes covered in this story are many. Parenting and its many challenges. Consequences of actions are far-reaching and can often involve ethical compromises. Today's modern world is only a hair's breadth away from ancient folklore and pagan ritual and history has lost some of its veracity in the re-tellings over time.
The ending was surprising, original, and left me bereft. I absolutely loved this crime thriller and will recommend it highly to all my crime fiction loving friends....more
In 2018 I read "Beartown". It was phenomenal. Then later that same year I read "Us Against You", and that actually managed to surpass 'Beartown'. WOWIn 2018 I read "Beartown". It was phenomenal. Then later that same year I read "Us Against You", and that actually managed to surpass 'Beartown'. WOW! So... you can imagine my excitement when I learned there was to be a final novel set in this tiny rural town in Sweden. I don't really even like hockey, but, like the previous two books in the Beartown trilogy, it is much more than a book about hockey. It is a book about people, about a town, about the world.
I strongly urge anyone who is entertaining the idea of reading "The Winners" to read "Beartown" and "Us Against You" first. In Beartown you will come to love the town and its inhabitants. In "Us against you" the love will swell enough to break your heart.
Told over a period of roughly two weeks, the narrative of "The Winners" is a memorable one. Old favourite characters are revisited, lesser known characters become more well known. Storms, rivalries, social injustice, and loss change the trajectory of many lives.
With myriad themes running throughout this novel, Backman does what very few authors can claim to do. He makes you CARE about each and every character (even the hooligans and the corrupt politicians). He makes wise and astute observations about parenting, explores the perils of obsessive rivalry, true friendship, responsibility, loss, loyalty, sacrifice, family, community, revenge, corruption, leadership, teamwork, violence, respect, courage, consequences, the human need to be 'needed, and the powerful feeling of 'belonging'. Not bad for one novel - albeit a lengthy one at 688 pages.
With the overriding theme of the myriad aspects of what it means to be human, this novel is told as a epic story laced with pathos, wisdom, and sometimes humour.
With concise sentences Backman turns just a few words into moving and impactful observations. I loved how he writes passages that allude to an outcome to be revealed further on in the book. This is a novel peopled by wonderful characters. Ordinary people. I was reluctant to finish the book as it would mean I would have to leave Beartown...
They say that reading fiction generates empathy in the reader. Whoever 'they' are must have read Fredrik Backman. "What is life, other than moments?"
I really cannot recommend "The Winners" highly enough....more
This is my second novel by Charity Norman and they were both wonderful, memorable, and fulfilling reads. She writes with the deepest understanding of This is my second novel by Charity Norman and they were both wonderful, memorable, and fulfilling reads. She writes with the deepest understanding of human emotions, weaknesses, and strengths. Her novels overflow with empathy.
The characters in "Remember Me" were all people who I would like to know in real life. The setting, rural New Zealand, became vivid and real to me - though I've never had the opportunity to go there.
There were many aspects of this novel that I relished. The most touching to me was the evolving relationship between Emily and her father. A relationship made more poignant by his increasing illness.
I would consider this book to be literary fiction, though there was an old mystery within its pages. For me, it was profoundly a novel about family dynamics, about how truth can be painful, and about how little or how much we can control our own destinies.
I loved every word. This is a novel more than deserving of all the stars......more
This novel left me with a book hangover. I was so immersed in Kay's world and life, that it was almost a shock to surface after the last page was turnThis novel left me with a book hangover. I was so immersed in Kay's world and life, that it was almost a shock to surface after the last page was turned. This is the author's debut novel, but the writing belied that fact. The novel was littered with phrases and descriptions that were so evocative of the place and characters that I found myself highlighting constantly. "...the sun so close to us like an iron overhead, pressing down with the steam button pushed hard." "My disappointment was like really bad breath; you didn't have to be very close to me to smell it."
Narrated solely by the twelve year old Kay, the book recounts her life with poignancy, humor, naiveté, and insight beyond her tender years. Kay was a complicated blend of vulnerability and strength.
This was the story of an indigent, dysfunctional family. It had elements of mystery which the reader wants to discover, yet the narrative itself is enough to keep one sustained. It eloquently tells of family secrets, poor chances, poor choices, and dogged perseverance.
I'm certain that I'll remember this book for a very, very long time. Highly recommended to those readers who enjoy skillfully written literary fiction - especially those who loved "Where The Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens.
Would I read another novel by this author? In a heartbeat!...more
With its gothic setting, its captivating protagonist, and its plethora of family secrets, paranoia, and deception, this was exactly my kind of novel.
Expert characterization coupled with a plot rife with menace and ‘gaslighting’, ensured that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.
This story was a well researched snap-shot of Edwardian society with all of its class divides and its gender inequality. It made me uncomfortable in places, especially when the doors were locked down at night…
I thoroughly enjoyed Nurse May’s rapport with the England children. She was industrious, yet she never skimped on them having fun and using their imaginations.
The ending was a trifle enigmatic and obscure – though I felt it fit the book perfectly. It causes the reader to reread it… and wonder…
In short, I loved “Mrs. England”, and Nurse Ruby May. The time spent in their company was an enjoyable one. Now I’m desperate to read this author’s previous two titles....more
I've been a huge fan of this author since first reading her debut, The Ruin. Though this is a stand-alone novel, it nonetheless follows in the footsteI've been a huge fan of this author since first reading her debut, The Ruin. Though this is a stand-alone novel, it nonetheless follows in the footsteps of her previous novels. In a word, brilliant!
With articulate and skilled plotting, the author has written a compelling legal thriller that is a step above the genre's norm. She has used her own legal expertise and knowledge of the intricacies of the law to pen a thriller rife with plot twists and unreliable characters.
Because Hannah was conniving and untrustworthy at the beginning of the book it would be easy to dislike her, yet the opposite proved true. The author created such a well-developed character in Hannah that the reader can appreciate all the myriad aspects of her character and the good far outweighed the bad. I did wonder at times just how Hannah had come upon her tech expertise. At times she seemed to have the skill set of a hacker.
The ending chapters of "The Murder Rule" were loaded with tension and uncertainty as Hannah encounters a corrupt public official and puts her in dire jeopardy. Then, the ending theatrical courtroom scenes ensured a satisfying and just conclusion....more
Oh Janice. You have left an indelible imprint on my heart!
"The Keeper of Stories" is about human nature with all its flaws and inconsistencies. A fabuOh Janice. You have left an indelible imprint on my heart!
"The Keeper of Stories" is about human nature with all its flaws and inconsistencies. A fabulous story about storytelling and about guilt. It showcases people who are selfish and narcissistic as well as people who are kindness personified. It also portrays the blessings of friendship, and the influence parents have over their children, both good and bad, and the love of a good dog (with a foul mouth).
The writing, the way the story was told and how it flowed, reminded me greatly of the work of Fredrik Backman. Anyone following my reviews will know that that is high praise from me indeed. Written with empathy and humour, it conveys the author's love of books and story-telling with aplomb. It also serves to remind us that the elderly, the people with the richest and most abundant stories, should never be underestimated.
Life-affirming, hopeful fiction that can definitely fit into the 'Uplit' genre, this wonderful novel will definitely be on my list of 'Best Books of 2022'. Highly recommended!...more
Frankie Elkin is unique, damaged, and so very memorable. I loved her and was sad when I turned the last page on her story when I read "Before She DisaFrankie Elkin is unique, damaged, and so very memorable. I loved her and was sad when I turned the last page on her story when I read "Before She Disappeared". I feel the same way now... Frankie is so endearing in her own stubborn, slightly reserved way. She is fast becoming my all-time favorite fictional character.
She is out of her usual urban element and it tests her in ways both physical and emotional. Driven by some unknown compulsion to bring back the body of a young man to his mother, she risks life and limb in her efforts.
I adored the writing in this book. The dreadful and disturbing circumstances which were lightened with levity and sarcasm. Many themes run through this page-turning narrative, the most predominant ones being guilt, remorse, loss, and human connection.
This is a character-driven thriller and an epic adventure of wilderness survival wrapped up into one.
Gosh... do I have to wait until next January to read more Frankie Elkin? Write faster Lisa Gardner!
What a fantastic read! And how clever! All the while, the reader wonders just which of the Castle sisters is in fact 'the good sister'.
We must remembeWhat a fantastic read! And how clever! All the while, the reader wonders just which of the Castle sisters is in fact 'the good sister'.
We must remember that each of the girls have different recollections of the same events. Whose is correct? Each sister displayed good and bad traits and their characters were complex and multi-layered. Is their sisterly relationship supportive and caring, or, is it manipulative and devious?
I'll confess, I never really bonded with Rose despite the fact that she seemed caring and protective of Fern. Though being privy to her diaries made me sympathetic to her life and situation, I still had a feeling of unease about her.
I found myself loving Fern. Sure she was bizarre in many ways - but she was so genuine. Hyper-sensitive to sensory stimulus, socially inept, resistant to change, unable to maintain eye contact, and very literally minded, she nonetheless captured my heart. I also came to care for her boyfriend 'Wally' aka Rocco who understood and loved Fern for who she was.
This was an expertly written thriller that will doubtless make my list of Top Reads for 2021. A skilled character study masquerading as a thriller. Brilliant!
I'm always drawn to books that feature eccentric characters and this one really delivered in that aspect. The protagonists in this novel live on the fI'm always drawn to books that feature eccentric characters and this one really delivered in that aspect. The protagonists in this novel live on the fringes of society, or more accurately on the dust held by the fringes of society.
Most of us cannot fathom their isolation and their abject poverty, but both of these things are not of great importance to either of them. The twin brother and sister are fifty-one years old at the time of their mother's death. This event changes their isolated and sheltered world to such an extent both physically and emotionally, that they flounder - and understandably so.
When they are made homeless, Julius seeks independence and a 'life' outside their insular world, while Jeanie wants only to preserve their former existence. When the late Dot's secrets are revealed, Jeanie is most profoundly impacted.
This is definitely not an uplifting story. It is a tale of hardship, of poverty, injustice, and perseverance. Of living an austere life; of opportunities missed, and of pride. The tale is told with vivid imagery, a few of which scenes will remain with me for a very long time.
To say I enjoyed this book seems wrong because of the many distressing circumstances described within it. Yet to say that I did not enjoy it would be a lie. The writing was astounding and I was completely immersed in Jeanie's story and had great sympathy for her plight. So yes, I would definitely recommend this novel, though you might have to be in the right frame of mind to do so....more
What a wild ride! Anyone who enjoys original thrillers with unreliable narrators have hit the mother-lode with this novel. You get four for the price What a wild ride! Anyone who enjoys original thrillers with unreliable narrators have hit the mother-lode with this novel. You get four for the price of one!
The nature of the plot makes it almost impossible to review the book without giving too much away. On that note, this review is going to be short and sweet. Just let it be said that this novel has myriad plot twists, and it deals with how the human mind finds different ways to deal with pain, fear, and emotional distress.
I can understand that this would not be to everyone's taste. The cat co-narrator, the dark subject matter, the unreliability of all the narrators. Yet, somehow, I loved it! "The Last House on Needless Street" is probably one of the most unique, original, twisted, and riveting reads I've had for quite some time.
Frankie Elkin is a one in a million character. So unique, so broken, and so very memorable. I loved her and was sad when I turned the last page on herFrankie Elkin is a one in a million character. So unique, so broken, and so very memorable. I loved her and was sad when I turned the last page on her story.
That being said, she could, potentially return in further books (she said with her fingers and toes crossed). However, I want Frankie to stop drifting and stay in Boston, working at Stoney's bar, going to AA meetings with Charlie, and teaming up with Boston Police Detective Lotham.
I adored the writing in this book. The dreadful and disturbing circumstances which were lightened with levity and sarcasm. This is my very first Lisa Gardner book, and now I want to read her previous work.
The book brings home the truism that people all over are really the same. Regardless of their social standing, ethnicity, religion, or other persuasion, people all want enough food to eat, a safe place to live, someone to care for, someone who cares for them.
This novel also spoke to the plight of illegal immigrants in this modern world. It told of inner city teens striving to better themselves and their situations in any way they can.
I adored this book much more than I expected to. It is all Frankie Elkin's fault.
This novel had three of my vital requirements in a novel: strong characterization, appealing setting, and a compelling plot.
Set in a rural location inThis novel had three of my vital requirements in a novel: strong characterization, appealing setting, and a compelling plot.
Set in a rural location in the West of Ireland, it evoked misty green fields, the smoke from peat fires, birdsong, and fresh air.
Cal Hooper, the protagonist, was a great character. Strong in moral ethics, worldly-wise, and seeking sanctuary from a life that has been less than kind, he exudes a kind of calm, quiet strength. He is an outsider, a newcomer, who is under constant invisible scrutiny by his neighbours. And hey, he drinks my favourite Irish beer!
Trey Reddy was a character that pulled at your heart-strings. I loved the way Cal bonded with Trey in a fatherly/friendly manner. Both characters were damaged, yet together they formed a bond that I am confident will eventually heal them both.
The plot was a page turner which divulged that even the most bucolic places often hide dark and nasty underbellies. The masterful and eloquent writing evoked the menace and unease which contrasted greatly with the tame and idyllic setting. The book spoke to how justice is not always clear-cut, and that sometimes rural justice is a different kettle of fish altogether...
There was one shocking plot revelation that surprised me as much as it did the protagonist, Cal Hooper.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and though I know it is a stand-alone novel, would love to see the characters of Cal Hooper and Trey Reddy return in later books.
Oh... what a book! A dual-time line historical love story that cannot fail to stir your emotions. Separated by three hundred years, the timelines evokOh... what a book! A dual-time line historical love story that cannot fail to stir your emotions. Separated by three hundred years, the timelines evoke the connection of people to a place and explore the possibility of genetic memory.
I'll confess that I read this book many years ago, long before I began blogging. When I saw it was re-released and offered on NetGalley, I wanted to see if my feelings about the book might have changed over the passing years. Rest assured, this is a novel that can withstand the passage of time.
Like the narrator, Carrie McClelland, I was born and raised on the shores of Nova Scotia (New Scotland), so the sea is in my blood.
Rich in well-researched Scottish history, this is a dual love story. The sense of place is all prevalent and I could almost smell the sea and hear the waves crashing on the rocks. Set for the most part on the site of Slains Castle in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, this novel spoke to my own Scottish heritage.
This book will be loved and appreciated by all fans of historical fiction, most especially by those readers who appreciate the unexplained, and enjoy the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Some would term this book a 'romance', but I disagree. It is no more a romance that "Outlander". It is a love story overshadowed by some turbulent and often tragic Scottish history.
In short, I loved all 528 pages of this wonderful book. Highly recommended!...more
I loved this wonderful book! After reading the last page I felt bereft and wanted to return to the fictional Irish village of Killrowan again as soon I loved this wonderful book! After reading the last page I felt bereft and wanted to return to the fictional Irish village of Killrowan again as soon as possible.
Grace's family were wonderful people who I delighted in getting to know. I loved the theme of 'starting over' and how Grace entrenched herself in the village dynamic and reunited with old friends.
The story related how domestic abuse affects its victims and those who love them.
The setting was so perfect - a small Irish village on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
This is an uplifting and heart-warming read that is just exactly what I needed right now. A novel of familial love, warm friendships, and fresh starts.
This was one of those novels that I just knew would become one of my all-time favorites. It touched my heart with its eloquence.
The characters were soThis was one of those novels that I just knew would become one of my all-time favorites. It touched my heart with its eloquence.
The characters were so authentically and vividly portrayed that I felt I knew them - and shared their lives.
The Maine setting added greatly to the narrative and is one I've come to appreciate. The eye-catching cover drew me in, and I'm so, so glad it did.
Many, many themes were covered within the pages of "Margreete's Harbor". Marital relationships, fidelity, dementia, parenting, hurt, homosexuality, what it means to be a family, and life - glorious, messy life. The book eloquently portrays the complicated intricacies of married life.
"You can't take bad things back. Not as a person. Not as a country. It becomes part of who you are."
Set from the mid 1950s to the late 1960s, in addition to being a narrative about a decent, complicated family, this book also incorporated some pivotal events in American history. The civil unrest in the South, racism, the Vietnam war and the draft, the assassination of President Kennedy, the speeches of Martin Luther King, etc.
I highly recommend this wonderful novel to those who enjoy well executed literary fiction that is character focused and includes more than a little history. A wonderful read!...more
Eudora Honeysett – 85 years old and increasingly troubled by the usual ailments, vulnerabilities, and indignities of old age. Eudora has never been maEudora Honeysett – 85 years old and increasingly troubled by the usual ailments, vulnerabilities, and indignities of old age. Eudora has never been married and still lives in the London house she grew up in – her only company is a cantankerous black cat named Montgomery. She feels like she is ready to meet death ‘head on’ and she has no fear of its mysteries. Alone, with neither family or friends, Eudora feels that she is done with life. She despairs of the modern way of life with lack of manners, its technology, and public displays of affection.
“It’s such a nuisance that elderly people have to look so old. This shrunken, prune-like appearance, as if someone is slowly deflating them, is most unprepossessing.”
Rose Trewidney – a 10 year old, precocious, talkative, relentlessly cheerful girl with a colorful and often ill-advised dress sense. She has just moved in to the house next door to Eudora, and she makes it her mission in life to ease Eudora’s loneliness and become her best friend.
Though Eudora tries to resist Rose’s persistent attempts at forming a friendship, she realizes quickly that Rose is a ‘force of nature‘ who is impossible to resist.
Stanley Marcham – an elderly widower who lives near Eudora. Though he is very gregarious, he too is lonely, and grieving his beloved wife. He lives with two King Charles Cavalier spaniels who he walks regularly on Eudora’s street. When he comes on Rose’s radar, she adopts him as another of her ‘best friends‘.
“Life is precious and as long as we have a reason to continue, we should follow that path.”
The unusual trio of Eudora, Stanley and Rose become true friends and their journey together is a joy to read. The importance of inter-generational relationships between the very young and the very old are showcased in an absorbing way.
The narrative switches from the present day to frequent flashbacks of Eudora’s life throughout the years. This gave the reader a comprehensive understanding of Eudora and her way of thinking.
The book discusses death, a topic that is usually avoided at all costs. It approaches this often taboo subject with empathy, compassion and levelheadedness. Also stressed in this novel is the paramount importance of being kind to others.
This lovely novel engenders all the emotions with its straight-forward Eudora and her dry humour. It is a book that I think everyone should read, regardless of their age as it clearly describes how it feels to get old – a state that is often neglected and ignored by society at large.
While reading Eudora’s story I was strongly reminded of Fredrik Backman’s “A Man Called Ove“. Fans of that book will surely love this one as well.
A heart-warming, life-affirming novel of intergenerational friendships. I laughed – I cried. It was a book that you feel like hugging at the end. ‘Uplit‘ at its finest! All the stars!...more
It is always a treat when you read a debut novel that is written with the skill of a more seasoned novelist. "The Silence" is just such a book.
This isIt is always a treat when you read a debut novel that is written with the skill of a more seasoned novelist. "The Silence" is just such a book.
This is a book about dysfunction. In families and in social justice. Rife with family secrets, shame, moral quandaries, apologies, and betrayal, the novel depicts how secrecy, alcoholism, adultery, and spousal abuse all serve to play a part in the history of two neighbouring families.
Also, the book sheds light on a fact of Australian history that I was previously unaware of. "The Great Australian Silence" which saw children of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples forcefully removed from their families and rehoused. These children are sometimes referred to as "Australia's Stolen Generation".
One wee quibble I had was the use of the word 'but' at the end of myriad sentences. Then, I realized it might very well be an Australian colloquialism. It seemed to translate as the word though... (Eg. "Her roses were doing well, but." and "Bad posture, but."
Since this is a debut novel, I had absolutely no expectations going in. I discovered it to be a domestic thriller expertly blended with social history. A well researched, skillfully written novel that will likely make my 'Best of 2020' list. Highly recommended!...more
Wow! Just wow! I'm ashamed to admit that this was my first time ever reading work by Fiona Cummins. The great thing about that is I now have four othWow! Just wow! I'm ashamed to admit that this was my first time ever reading work by Fiona Cummins. The great thing about that is I now have four other novels of hers to read!
This novel grabbed me right away and I finished it feeling as though I'd been trapped in a whirlwind and dropped.
The subject matter was oftentimes very dark. Those who cannot bear to read of children who are abused should stay well clear.
The repercussions of the withholding of love, humiliation, and physical and mental cruelty on a child's psyche will follow them until their dying day. The book explored how this factor impacted the two abused sisters and their best friend.
The descriptions were expertly wrought. The characterization compelling. This book examines some serious issues such as parricide. It highlights how abusers are expert at keeping their crimes hidden.
The pace felt breakneck, but was not really. With flashbacks to that fateful day when she was ten, interspersed with scenes from one of the sisters' lives and the life of their friend kept me mesmerized throughout.
Dark and twisty. Highly, highly recommended to all those who enjoy a well-written crime thriller which feels authentic and will keep you riveted to your reading chair....more
What a brilliant thriller! The entire time I was reading I was desperately wondering... WHY? Why did Jim terrorize and even kill those people twenty yWhat a brilliant thriller! The entire time I was reading I was desperately wondering... WHY? Why did Jim terrorize and even kill those people twenty years ago? Why did he commit five horrendous crimes, then STOP? Even the Gardaí agreed - these were crimes with no apparent motive and no physical evidence linked anyone to the crimes.
He seemed such a benign family man. He sort of faded into the woodwork. His crimes, at least in his own mind, made him powerful, special, a force to be reckoned with. That might go some way toward explaining why he began his two year long crime rampage, but WHY stop when he did?
I felt such sympathy for Eve. She had no family left. No one to share memories with, no one to share holidays with, no one who loved her unconditionally like families are supposed to.
I liked the relationship between Eve Black and Detective Sergeant Ed Healy who had never given up on the case of The Nothing Man. He was the man who linked the crimes as having been perpetrated by one person.
This is a thriller with more than one plot twist, all of which were written - to not disturb the integrity of the book, but to embellish it. All of my questions were answered in a satisfactory way, and most importantly, the ending left me gruntled.
This is an astute and skillfully rendered crime thriller that I will recommend heartily to anyone who will listen....more
After reading Doug Johnstone's "A Dark Matter", the first book in the Skelf series, I was very much anticipating this follow-up. If anything, I found After reading Doug Johnstone's "A Dark Matter", the first book in the Skelf series, I was very much anticipating this follow-up. If anything, I found it even more enjoyable than the first book, due to the fact that now I'm familiar with the characters, and they have become almost like friends.
With a unique family dynamic, and an even more unique family business, this series had me hooked from the beginning. The Skelf women are memorable, moral, and authentic.
In addition to the family's personal stories, I enjoyed following the cases they were working on throughout the book.
Set in Edinburgh, in early spring, the novel explores loss, revenge, betrayal, selfishness, and guilt. If there is a moral to the story it is that we must all grab happiness where we can - for life is short.
Written with an engaging dark humour, this crime novel displayed a richness in characterization along with unique and clever plotting that made the story stand out from its peers. The book reads as a pleasing cross between crime thriller and literary fiction. I found the three strong female protagonists fascinating, and the I am eager to read more about their lives and exploits in further books. Guess you could say I'm an ardent fan. The ending left one of the story-lines unresolved which makes me desperate to read book three in the Skelf series.
I was fully prepared for this novel to be dark - one only has to read the blurb to know that. Just how dark and disturbing I was not quite ready for. I was fully prepared for this novel to be dark - one only has to read the blurb to know that. Just how dark and disturbing I was not quite ready for. Also, I thought that its darkness would be off-putting and hard to read, yet the author turned this story into one which I found myself devouring. I couldn't read the pages fast enough.
Why? Hannah. A young girl with such a distorted view that I just couldn't reconcile how she was going to move on with her life. And Jasmin... so damaged that at times she didn't even know who she was, or how to cope with living. Such characters are the type of characters that writers and readers dream of. Alive on the page.
The entire time I was reading I wondered just WHO these people really were. HOW they would continue on with their lives - all the time wondering... was their nightmare really over? What really happened to them? Whose story can you trust?
The book causes the reader to realize that 'normal' is subjective. What is normal for one person can be the very antitheses of normal for another. It also questions 'fate'. Are some people just terribly unlucky? or, can we influence our lives to control our fate?
Shocking, disturbing, mesmerizing, and compelling are all words I would use to describe this debut novel. Wow! Highly recommended! Definitely a contender for this year's "Top Ten List". Enthralling and unsettling in equal measure....more
Fredrik Backman’s writing displays such profound empathy for humankind that he must be an ‘old soul’ in a young man’s body. His writing elevates a quiFredrik Backman’s writing displays such profound empathy for humankind that he must be an ‘old soul’ in a young man’s body. His writing elevates a quirky and sometimes farcical little story into something that moves you and makes you think.
Once again he delves deeply into the parent child relationship while at the same time exploring the themes of loss, loneliness, anxiety, happiness, economics, suicide, how one person's life affects another persons, and doing the best you can...
It is true that you never really know another person until you've walked a mile in their shoes. After spending several hours in a small London café wiIt is true that you never really know another person until you've walked a mile in their shoes. After spending several hours in a small London café with the characters in this book, I have come to know them. And love them.
This is one of those novels that I'm sure I'll think about for years to come. Though it is only January, I'm also certain it will make my end of 2021 Top Reads list.
Superb characterization and deep human understanding make this novel stand heads above the rest. The author's own career as a lawyer and crisis line mediator shines through in this book via the narratives of Eliza and Abi.
The novel takes place over the course of one very long day. It is by times, tense, emotional, heartwarming, and heartbreaking. I'll never be able to hear Elton John's 'Rocket Man' again without thinking about this book.
My favourite characters were definitely Sam and Mutesi. Characters that are ordinary people yet are larger than life, characters whose stories moved me to tears.
This novel had everything I require in an excellent read. A setting that evokes atmosphere in spades, a protagonist with a secretive past, and a dysfuThis novel had everything I require in an excellent read. A setting that evokes atmosphere in spades, a protagonist with a secretive past, and a dysfunctional family that seem to have a hidden agenda.
The Oxford University Master’s Lodging house was an ancient gothic pile with creepy vibes. A house steeped in history – it even had a priest’s hole.
The nanny, Dee, was an eccentric and enigmatic woman. The allusions to her past evoked an aura of mystery and earlier trauma. Her brilliant mathematical mind lent her personality a certain gravitas. While she seemed a quirky, aloof person, she seemed very loving toward her small charge Felicity.
Felicity herself was an extremely troubled little girl with whom you couldn’t help but have empathy for.
The plot was clever and expertly executed. It was a cut above the typical ‘missing child’ thriller. The ending was perfect – somewhat ambiguous, but perfectly fitting for the book.
This psychological novel kept me captivated throughout. I have added all of Lucy Atkins previous novels to my TBR. Highly recommended!...more
What a delightful reading experience! I read the last pages very slowly… I just didn’t want the story to end.
Told via the alternating perspectives of What a delightful reading experience! I read the last pages very slowly… I just didn’t want the story to end.
Told via the alternating perspectives of Veronica and her grandson Patrick, the story was heart-warming, poignant, humorous, and up-lifting.
A story about caring, moral values, the ravages of war, environmentalism, human-animal connection, and love. It explores the possibility that even a heart that has been rusted shut for seventy years can be opened to love and connection.
This is a ‘feel-good’ novel that will stay in my heart for years to come.
WOW! “All In Her Head” was a debut thriller that really packed a punch. I feel as though IFor my complete review of this title: https://bit.ly/2yP4Pap
WOW! “All In Her Head” was a debut thriller that really packed a punch. I feel as though I’ve gone through the wars and come out the other side slightly stunned. A mesmerizing page-turner, it deftly portrayed mental illness and a tortured soul with clarity that was only too real. I found myself holding my breath at times, so real was the predicament of these characters.
This novel begs the question “Are people who come from tragic and dysfunctional backgrounds always destined to repeat history with their own families?” It is a testament to the overwhelmingly destructive power of guilt – whether real or imagined.
And that ending… it chilled me to the bone.
Well done Nikki Smith! I look forward eagerly to whatever you write next. Highly recommended to all fans of domestic thrillers....more
The two women in this saga were both strong and resilient. They had many things in common despite their sixty+ year age difference.
The house, Chynalls, (Cornish for 'the house on the cliff'), was almost a character unto itself. Imagine it, on a cliff overlooking a Cornish beach, complete with secret tunnels, and a colorful and precarious history. When reading this book, one can't help but think of Daphne Du Maurier's "Rebecca". The setting coupled with the one of the protagonist's names - how could you not?
The story set during the war years was vividly rendered and well researched. The present day story was also quite compelling, including themes of family secrets, blackmail, and elder abuse.
The ending wrapped up the book perfectly. Poignant and hopeful in equal measure.
To be honest, anytime a novel is set in Cornwall it grabs my attention. It seems so idyllic. This time round I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there via the pages of "The Sea Gate" and can highly recommend it to readers who enjoy the work of Rosamund Pilcher, Kate Morton, Harriet Evans, and the like.
Loved it! Every minute of it! A sure contender for my 2020 Top Reads list....more