Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Book Review: Eyes Like Mine by Sheena Kamal

It's late. The phone rings.

The man on the other end says his daughter is missing.

Your daughter.

The baby you gave away over fifteen years ago. 

What do you do? 

Nora Watts isn't sure that she wants to get involved. Troubled, messed up, and with more than enough problems of her own, Nora doesn't want to revisit the past. But then she sees the photograph. A girl, a teenager, with her eyes. How can she turn her back on her? 

But going in search of her daughter brings Nora into contact with a past that she would rather forget, a past that she has worked hard to put behind her, but which is always there, waiting for her . . . 

In Eyes Like Mine, Sheena Kamal has created a kick-ass protagonist who will give Lisbeth Salander a run for her money. Intuitive, not always likeable, and deeply flawed, Nora Watts is a new heroine for our time. (From Goodreads.com)

Published by Bonnier Zaffre 9th February 2017 (UK)

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.

(I read an advanced readers copy from the Amazon Vine Program)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Sunday Wrap Up - 19th February 2016

 
Woohoo...on Friday I finished work for half term, and although I really love my job, the last few weeks have been intense for various reasons. I was also pretty ill over the Christmas holidays so didn't feel I'd had a proper wind down before going back in January. So for the next week my plans are to read, sort some stuff around the house, read, catch up with some TV and read some more. I've also started doing a bit of blog organising...making some small tweaks to the template, adding in links and general tidying. I need to work out the best way to organise my review A-Z. There's so many reviews here now, I don't think the long list works. I'm thinking of maybe separating by genre also...what do you think? Last night I also began jotting in ideas, plans and schedules in my diary. I'm going to keep this organised this time. Promise!  


Last Week On The Blog 

I reviewed these two fantastic but very different books (you can read my reviews by clicking the images) 


New Books This Week 

I got some fantastic book post this week. 
(clicking on the titles will take you to Goodreads for a summery)

 


Currently Reading  




Hope you all have a wonderful week 

I'm linking this post to the Caffeinated Book reviewers Sunday Post Meme


Saturday, 18 February 2017

Book Review: Sealskin by Su Bristow

Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous, and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives—not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies—seals who can transform into people—evokes the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. ( From Goodreads.com)  

Published 15th February 2017 by Orenda Books (UK)

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 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. 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Book Review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Don’t trust this book. Don’t trust this story. Don’t trust yourself.

David and Adele seem like the ideal pair. He's a successful psychiatrist, she is his picture-perfect wife who adores him. But why is he so controlling? And why is she keeping things hidden?

As Louise, David's new secretary, is drawn into their world, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong. But Louise can't guess how wrong – and how far someone might go to protect their marriage's secrets. (From Goodreads.com) 

Published 26th January 2017 by Hapercollins 

If you have any interest in books whatsoever, it would have been pretty difficult to miss Behind Her Eyes recently. It's hit No.1 in several best seller lists since its release. The buzz on social media, including it's very own hashtag #WTFThatEnding has been overwhelming and with recommendations from some of the biggest names in crime and thriller fiction shouting about its brilliance, Behind Her Eyes is a book that's been on everyone's radar. I couldn't wait to read it. 

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. 


Sunday, 12 February 2017

Sunday Wrap Up - 12th February 2017

 

I've only managed to read one book this week, it's been really busy both at work and with my daughter needing ferrying about to after school sport activities. Anyway, it was THIS book 

 

But you'll have to wait and read my review tomorrow to find out what I thought about #wtfTHAT ending 

I'm currently reading Sealskin by Su Bristow. I've read so many wonderful reviews of this book and I do love a bit of folklore and magical realism. I only managed a few lines last night before I nodded off...tiredness after a hectic week won out. I am looking forward to getting completely lost in this story though. 

 

Last week on the blog I reviewed two very different but equally great books. If you'd like to check out my reviews, just click on the images. 

Her Husband's Lover 

I also had a couple of new books make their way to me.  

 

And finally, some exciting news was that Katherine at BibliomaniacUK nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award, which was very much appreciated. It's always really lovely to have acceptance from other bloggers and to know they like what you do. It really is what I missed most about the book blogging community while I was away from it. Thanks Katherine, I'll be reciprocating next week with a post and some nominations of my own.  


I'm linking my post to The Caffeinated Book Reviewer's Sunday Post meme