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This novel tells the story of two young women, trying to come to terms with their pasts. Georgetown Easy moved to small-town England with her mother and aunt when she was just a young girl, but she really wants to find the father she never knew. Her search takes on a physical and metaphorical journey.

Meanwhile Helena Jones knows her past, but wants to leave it where it belongs and escape the self-imposed confines of her life. Always at loggerheads with her layabout brother Troy, Helena has been the sensible twin for as long as she can remember, and now she is ready for change.

About 65% of the novel is narrated by Georgetown, and the remainder is mainly narrated by Helena. with a page short parts narrated by a young lady named Aurelie who blasts her way into the lives of the many characters, and leaves all of them changed.

There’s a lot to like about this book. Georgetown’s scenes and conversations with her mother and aunt are very believable and peppered with humour. I really liked her character and heart. Helena was less interesting to me, and without the difficult relationship between herself and Troy, she would not have been a particularly memorable character.

But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the novel because I did, although I think it started to lose it’s way somewhat towards teh end. The titel comes from the name of a blues bar where the characters often met and I must admit the scenes set there did make me wish there was somewhere like that near to where I lived!

Overall, an assured debut – I would probably read more by Kat Pomfret.

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This was an audiobook, narrated by Olivia Dowd, Aiofe McMahon, Chloe Massey, Sarah Owens, Rich Keeble and Jot Davies.

Jules, editor of a popular online magazine, and Will, host and hero of a reality tv show called ‘Survive The Night’ are getting married after a whirlwind romance. The destination is a remote Irish island, which is subject to high winds and rough weather. The narration switches between characters, including Jules herself, her half-sister and bridesmaid Olivia, the ‘plus one’ Hannah, best man Jonno and the wedding planner Aiofe.

It becomes clear that all of the guests have a secret from their past and there is a lot of tension simmering beneath the glittering surface. The timeline switches between ‘now’ – the wedding day and evening, and the day before when guests were arriving.

I liked the premise of the book and I generally do enjoy multiple narrators as it can be interesting seeing the same events from different perspectives. But while this started off well, it slipped into ridiculousness with too many coincidences being revealed towards the end. Also, almost all of the characters were just horrible people. I did like Hannah, but pretty much everyone else was awful.

I had high hopes for this one, but came away feeling disappointed.

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This is the story of two intertwined families, and especially the six siblings and step-siblings. It starts at the Christening of Franny Keating and ends when she is in her forties, albeit there are three timelines and the story changes between them. (I like multiple timelines, but am are that many readers don’t, so bear this in mind if you are one of them.)

When Franny is 24, she meets acclaimed author Leon Posen and starts a relationship with him. When she tells him of her complicated upbringing and reveals the childhood experiences of herself and the other children in her blended family, he turns those events into what becomes a best selling novel, making their private lives public.

I love Ann Patchett’s writing and I enjoyed this book a lot – not as much as State of Wonder, and certainly not as much as Bel Canto, although the latter of those is one of my very favourite books so would take some beating – but it’s fair to say that although lots of things happen, in some ways, very little happens. It’s the story of several lives and how our actions can affect the future. There is tragedy and sadness, but love and togetherness as well. I liked Franny very much and I loved her father. All of the characters were believable and relatable and the events felt authentic.

I would recommend this book, and if you enjoy it, pick up Bel Canto!

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Audiobook narrated by Aoife McMahon. The narration was excellent.

This is not the first Jo Spain book that I have read/listened to, but it is the first in the DCI Tom Reynolds series. I didn’t realise it was part of a series until after I had started listening to it, but it didn’t matter, as I didn’t need to be familiar with the previous books to follow this one.

17 year old Luke Connolly, dies after being pushed out of a third floor window of an abandoned house, and police quickly arrest and charge his friend Daniel Konate with raping Luke and then murdering him. Luke has a group of well-to-do friends with parents in well paid positions of power, but Daniel, being black, openly gay and from a lower socio-economic group, has never fitted in and only Luke himself really liked him.

When DCI Reynolds is asked by a colleague who also happens to be Daniel’s aunt to look into the matter, because she is convinced that her nephew is innocent, Ton agrees to do so and soon comes to the conclusion that the investigation which led to Daniel’s arrest was deeply flawed, and that there is a strong possibility that Daniel is innocent. He starts to investigate Luke’s other friends and as he does so, secrets are revealed.

I really enjoyed the book for the main part – I definitely liked Tom and his wife Louise, his friend and Chief Superintendent Shaun McGuinness (who is about to retire, and who’s position Tom is about to step into), and colleagues Ray and Laura. Luke is dead at the beginning of the story, and despite what happened to him it soon becomes clear that neither him nor his friends were particularly pleasant people. They have grown up with privileged lifestyles and believe that money and influence will allow them to get away with anything – and so far they have been correct.

I do have a slight niggle about the ending – on the one hand, it came as a complete surprise which is always welcome. On the other hand, it seemed very sensational and unbelievable compared to the rest of the book. Nonetheless the rest of the book held my attention and overall I would certainly recommend it to fans of the mystery genre, and I would definitely read/listen to more of the Tom Reynolds series.

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I listened to this in audiobook format, and it was narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis.

Four years after the death of her husband Joel and her subsequent breakdown, Darcy Hilton is finally beginning to look to the future and plan a life with her two sons, Harrison and Kane.

When Kane suffers from an accident during a day out in the park, he is helped by a handsome doctor named George, who quickly becomes Darcy’s friend, and before long, coffee and a cake has turned to dating, and then into a full blown relationship. Joel’s family are not happy as they feel that Darcy is moving too fast with George, and they worry about losing their closeness with Harrison and Kane. But it seems that someone else is trying to cause trouble. A number of sinister incidents cause Darcy to wonder who has it in for them – is it someone from her own past, or maybe the obsessed ex-girlfriend of George? And why is George’s housekeeper Maria so cold towards Darcy?

As the truth is revealed, Darcy starts to worry that she and her boys are heading towards danger.

I don’t like leaving negative reviews, but unfortunately this book did not really work for me on any level. The first problem is that the book is full of stupid women, making stupid decisions, and doing stupid things. Some of the things that happened to Darcy might as well have had flashing red lights spelling DANGER above them, but she still managed to convince herself that all was fine. And the ending was ludicrous and in no way believable – almost comically so. The writing was clunky in places with certain significant points being made, and then apparently forgotten about.

K L Slater certainly has many fans, judging by other reviews I have read of her books, so don’t let my review put you off if this book appeals to you. However, having read two of her books and reached the same conclusion with both, I am sorry to say that I don’t think she is an author I can enjoy.

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I listened to this audiobook, narrated by Philip Stevens, over the course of two weeks. The story is mainly narrated by Ed Collier, with chapters also told in the third person but showing the point of view of other characters.

When Ed and his wife Claire meet their daughter Abby’s boyfriend Ryan for the first time, Ed instantly distrusts him. He is shocked when Abby and Ryan announce that they are going to get married in just over a month, and he instantly determines to find out more about this stranger who has entered their lives, and get his daughter to at least postpone the wedding.

The bulk of the book mainly follows Ed’s investigations, with the last part being the culmination and consequences of what Ed does or doesn’t discover.

I liked the premise of the book, but unfortunately did not find that it lived up to its promise. Whether or not Ed was right about his suspicions (I’m not saying), his instant and extreme reaction seemed unbelievable. Based on literally nothing more than an uneasy feeling, Ed starts following Ryan and using underhand methods to discover more about him, even paying thousands to a private investigator.

The characters – even Ed, who narrates large parts of the book – never really seemed fleshed out or ‘real’ and it was hard to invest in any of them. Abby and Claire were bland, Ed was obsessive and Ryan was a cardboard cut out.

It’s a real shame because there was potential for a great story here. Still, lots of other reviewers online seem to have enjoyed it, so if this a genre you enjoy, you may want to give it a go.

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This is an audiobook narrated by Patience Tomlinson.

Siblings Robert (62) and Phoebe (60) are concerned about their 85 year old father James. After a fall renders the upstairs of his house out of bounds to him, they decide they need to hire a carer for him. After a few carers come and go for various reasons, they hire Mandy – hard-working, down to earth and plain speaking (sometimes too much so). Although Mandy’s outdated and somewhat questionable views are completely at odds with those of their father, Robert and Phoebe are grateful to her for her hard work, and pleased that Mandy and James seem to hit it off, with her presence lending him a new lease of life. But then they start to get jealous of her, and suspicious of her motives. Why is she going through their father’s private papers. And why did a previous client of hers leave her a flat in his Will? Is there more to Mandy than meets the eye?

I have mixed feelings about this book. First the narration – no complaints there; Patience Tomlinson did a great job with all characters. The first part of the book – with alternating chapters told from the points of view of Phoebe and Robert – was enjoyable with some amusing moments, and some believable insights into their situation, watching their once distinguished father grow older and frailer, and seeing him much closer to his carer than he often was with them when they were growing up. There is a twist which I genuinely did not see coming, but which set up the change of direction and narrative for the next part of the book, which is told from the points of view of James and other characters (unnamed here for fear of spoilers). I did not enjoy this part of the book anywhere near as much as the first part, and the conclusion when it came was something of an anti-climax.

I don’t doubt that Deborah Moggach can write believable scenarios and characters, and her prose is very engaging but I did feel a slight dissatisfaction with this book in the end. However, I would certainly try something else by this author.

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I listened to this audiobook over the course of a week. It’s narrated by Lisa Coleman, who did an excellent job. This psychological crime thriller is apparently the eighth in a series featuring DCI Tom Douglas, and had I known that going in, I may well have skipped it; I have always felt that book series needed to be read in order from the beginning. However, it didn’t matter one iota – clearly there is a backstory to Tom’s personal life but it’s all explained clearly enough, and this book could actually serve as a standalone novel.

The story centres, and is largely narrated by, Anna Franklyn – mother, wife, headteacher, and a respected member of the community. As she is driving to work one day, Anna hears a voice from her past on a phone in radio show – that of her ex-boyfriend Scott, who says he is going to phone back in a weeks time and tell the story of himself and his lost love ‘Spike’ and their tragic relationship. The only problem is….Scott died 14 years earlier, taking Anna’s most guarded secrets with him…and now it seems he is here and ready to expose her past. Anna has a week to find out what happened to Scott, and to stop him ruining her life.

The narrative jumps forwards and backwards between Then (14 years earlier) and Now, and also includes chapters written in the third person which focus on the police investigation.

I actually really enjoyed this book. Yes, it is fairly implausible, and I did guess the twist about halfway through, but it was a well told story which did a good job of illustrating how a young naive woman found herself in such a predicament all those years ago. I HATED the character of Scott, but he was far from the worst character in the story. I felt sorry for Anna, but also wanted to shake her and tell her to get a grip! I’m not going to reveal any spoilers because the ending, although partly predictable, was still written well, and there was in fact one final twist which I didn’t expect.

My only niggle is that sometimes things were over explained. For example, there is a poker game that happens at one point where every play seems to be explained in detail. Unless you play / understand poker, this bit is all unnecessary filler – it would be enough to explain who won and who lost. But still – a minor niggle.

Overall, excellent narration and an enjoyable storyline (kept me listening for the most part anyway) made me give this a thumbs up, and I would definitely read / listen to moron this series.

 

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Described as Gosford Park meets Groundhog Day, by way of Agatha Christie, this is a twisty, confusing book with a brilliant premise.

The formerly grand Blackheath House is hosting a party, and the hosts’ daughter Evelyn is going to die at 11.00pm. It’s murder, but it won’t look like murder and until the culprit is brought to justice by Aiden, a young man who is visiting the house, the day is going to repeat itself over and over. But as if that wasn’t enough of a mystery, every day Aiden will wake up in the body of a different party guest, seeing the party and the crime through a new set of eyes. He will have to use the clues that he picks up in each persona to piece together what happens and work out who kills Evelyn. Only then will be free to leave Blackheath.

Right, so I have very mixed feelings about this book. I was very much looking forward to reading it; I like the whole Groundhog Day scenario, as well as the idea of seeing the same day through different eyes and perspectives. The writing itself was eloquent and often quite poetic – there were occasions when a sentence really caught my attention just by how beautifully it was phrased. But my goodness this book is confusing and I can’t help feeling the author got a little bit too clever with the idea, and tried to cram almost too much in. (I am in awe at the planning he must have made to get the timeline in order!) With every day starting over, every ‘host’ was somewhat affected by the actions of the previous host, and the times and locations of certain events became quite hard to follow. I would genuinely recommend keeping a notebook nearby and jotting down when key events happened, because it gets very convoluted, with most characters literally not being who they seem.

Despite all this, I still found myself drawn in and didn’t feel like giving up – this is partly due to the aforementioned writing style. I will say that the ending when it came was excellent, very clever and to my mind unpredictable.

I’m not sure if I would read another book by this author. Possibly, but I’ll be sure to keep that notebook handy next time!

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I listened to this audiobook, very well narrated by Emma Spurgin Hussey, over a few days. After a brief opening chapter by an unnamed character (all is revealed later), the story properly starts with a young woman named Vicky – who also narrates the story – going to Corfu after graduation, and deciding to stay there. She loses touch with her mother, with whom she has had a fractious relationship ever since her mother remarried and had children with her second husband. In Corfu she meets the charismatic William and falls madly in love. Before long their son comes along. But when real life and big responsibilities kick in, the bliss fades from their relationship and Vicky makes a shocking decision.

At this point the story switches abruptly to narration by a lady named Caro, who runs a holiday cottage business on a farm with her husband Gilbert and their son Fergus. She has a daughter named India, but there is clearly friction between India and her parents. I’m wary of giving away too much of the story, so I’ll just say that Vicky’s and Caro’s stories do converge, and their individual histories come to have great bearing on their current lives, and both end up fighting for their own families.

I actually really enjoyed this book. I definitely did not like all of the characters; Barbara was an awful woman, although not entirely unbelievable. I also intensely disliked India and really wanted to have someone give her some home truths. However, I loved Caro and Fergus, and felt for Vicky.

The ending was very good as it gave closure, but resisted tying everything up in a neat bow; I was expecting something different, and was pleasantly surprised.

If you like human dramas, I’d recommend giving this one a try.

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