Monday 29 September 2014

Black Roses by Jane Thynne

Berlin, 1933. Warning bells ring across Europe as Hitler comes to power. Clara Vine, an attractive young Anglo-German actress, arrives in Berlin to find work at the famous Ufa studios. Through a chance meeting, she is unwillingly drawn into a circle of Nazi wives, among them Magda Goebbels, Anneliese von Ribbentrop and Goering's girlfriend Emmy Sonnemann.

As part of his plan to create a new pure German race, Hitler wants to make sweeping changes to the lives of women, starting with the formation of a Reich Fashion Bureau, instructing women on what to wear and how to behave. Clara is invited to model the dowdy, unflattering clothes. Then she meets Leo Quinn who is working for British intelligence and who sees in Clara the perfect recruit to spy on her new elite friends, using her acting skills to win their confidence.

But when Magda Goebbels reveals to Clara a dramatic secret and entrusts her with an extraordinary mission, Clara feels threatened, compromised, desperately caught between her duty towards — and growing affection for — Leo, and the impossibly dangerous task Magda has forced upon her.

I read this earlier in the year as our bookclub choice, I really enjoyed it as I've always had an interest in Germany and it's history, which I studied as part of my Curriculum and I also studied German throughout my years in High School so I was really happy when this was chosen.  Jane Thynne has written a tense and exciting thriller, which is well-developed and researched and she also shows how small acts of heroism made a big, if temporary, difference and captures the pressures and motivations of the time. Black Roses is a compelling read of interest to readers of historical fiction and those who like spy thrillers.  I am looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of The Winter Garden which is the second book in the Clara Vine series.

Black Roses is available in Kindle & from all good bookstores.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Last Kiss by Louise Phillips

In a quiet suburb, a woman desperately clings to her sanity as a shadowy presence moves objects around her home.

In a hotel room across the city, an art dealer with a dubious sexual past is found butchered, his body arranged to mimic the Hangman card from the Tarot deck. But what connects them?

When criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson is brought in to help investigate the murder, she finds herself plunged into a web of sexual power and evil which spreads from Dublin to Paris, and then to Rome.

Will Kate discover the identity of the killer before it's too late to protect the innocent? But what separates the innocent from the guilty when the sins of the past can never be forgotten?

This is Louise's third novel and it is just amazing, definitely her best one yet. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I couldn't wait to find out what was going to be on the following pages, I devoured it. As I said in my previous reviews of both Red Ribbons and The Doll's House, I am from Dublin, alot of the locations that were written into the book where very poignant for me and as I was reading all three of Louise's books, they seem to have had that effect on me, an excellent read & I would highly recommend that you go out and pick up all three of her books. I was at Louise's book launch for Louise's third novel, Last Kiss on the 12th August.

I knew that I was going on holiday for a week in September so I decided to keep this to read until then & I wasn't disappointed, I had it read in just two days and couldn't put it down, it was face paced and creepy in places especially when things were been placed and moved around the woman's house.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes psychological thrillers; it is a well crafted book that takes you on a thrilling journey, fully of twists and turns. It's prose is simple and the sort of novel you can happily cosy up on the sofa, once you have locked all the doors and windows and know you are going to be in for a cleverly crafted psychological thriller (you've been warned).

Last Kiss is available on Kindle & from all good bookstores.

Sunday 14 September 2014

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Nothing can break the bond between sisters...........When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister's disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister's life - and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face. The police, Beatrice's fiance and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

Sister tells the story of Beatrice Hemming's search for her sister's killer. This search leads her down many surprising, dangerous, and unexpected roads. Sister is a psychological thriller from the viewpoint of Beatrice. Beatrice communicates to her missing sister Tess through a letter or diary-like entries. The plot is centered around her attempts to find out the truth about Tess's disappearance. This book was astonishing. The blurb does not do the book justice and from what I read on the cover, it was certainly not what I expected. From the start, the book was quite a page turner and it was filled with intrigue. I thought that the way it was written - through a letter/conversation with her 'lawyer'/sister - was very different and effective. The realisation of what the message was and who Beatrice was talking to all along was incredible and quite shocking - The concept of this book is amazing.The book was quite complex with the twists, but easy to follow and become absorbed in. The twists and turns are what make this book - especially the great twists at the end, where what you think is changed dramatically at the turn of each page. Emotive and full of intrigue. I brought this book on holiday & it didn't disappoint, I read it in a couple of days, it was such a roller coaster ride and I had no idea what was going to happen next!  I'd highly recommend this book to anyone, this was a book that I really, really enjoyed.
Sister is available on Kindle & in all good bookstores.

Saturday 13 September 2014

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Stressed single mother and law partner Kate is in the meeting of her career when she is interrupted by a telephone call to say that her teenage daughter Amelia has been suspended from her exclusive Brooklyn prep school for cheating on an exam. Torn between her head and her heart, she eventually arrives at St Grace's over an hour late, to be greeted by sirens wailing and ambulance lights blazing. Her daughter has jumped off the roof of the school, apparently in shame of being caught.

A grieving Kate can't accept that her daughter would kill herself: it was just the two of them and Amelia would never leave her alone like this. And so begins an investigation which takes her deep into Amelia's private world, into her journals, her email account and into the mind of a troubled young girl.

Then Kate receives an anonymous text saying simply: AMELIA DIDN'T JUMP. Is someone playing with her or has she been right all along?

Reconstructing Amelia swings back and forth between alternating chapters; Kate in the present and Amelia approximately 1 month before her death to slowly reveal what happened on the roof. We quickly learn that both Kate and Amelia had secrets that are also revealed through snippets from Amelia's E-mails/Facebook page and a scathing school gossip blog. Amelia had recently been pegged to join an elitist all girls club at school. As a pledging, Amelia becomes enamored with one if its founding members, Dylan, and makes an enemy of another vindictive club member, Zadie. Amelia's secretive/time consuming membership in this club called the Magpies also causes tension between her and her self-centered boy/crazy best friend Sylvia. It tackles very relevant subjects such as emotional bullying, teenage isolation, autism and sexuality. Amelia was a believable and likable teenager. Kate's guilt and regret were palpable as she slowly begins to uncover the many facts she did not know of her daughters life.

Reconstructing Amelia is a well written story about cruel teenage behavior and a coming-of-age story. For Kate Baron, a lesson in how secrets from the past can influence your future. Reconstructing Amelia is highly recommended for the appropriate reader including a young adult. It has been compared to "Gone Girl" but unfortunately I don't see many similarities as I didn't like Gone Girl at all, this story was much better & was well paced with a few great twists in it. That is a huge difference between these two books. I brought this book on holiday & it didn't disappoint, I read it in 2 days, it was such a roller coaster ride and I had no idea what was going to happen next!  I'd highly recommend this book to anyone.

This book is available on Kindle & in all good bookstores.

Friday 12 September 2014

One Breath Away by Heather Gudenkauf

"‘He has a gun.’ ‘Who? Tell me, where are you? Who has a gun?’ ‘I love you, Mum.’’

An ordinary school day in March, snowflakes falling, classroom freezing, kids squealing with delight, locker-doors slamming. Then the shooting started. No-one dared take one breath….......He’s holding a gun to your child’s head. One wrong answer and he says he’ll shoot. This morning you waved goodbye to your child. What would you have said if you’d known it might be the last time?

This novel follows five people; Augie, Will, Mrs. Oliver, Meg and Holly.  They are all linked by the chilling events through their eyes, each giving a different perspective, and we find out a little about each of their backgrounds too, which allows us to learn about them, and relate this to how they are behaving now, on this day in the small town of  Broken Branch, Iowa, when a gunman enters an elementary school. Five narrators who are all linked by the events tell us about the day. As the snow falls, the rest of the town can only sit and wait.

Police officer Meg Barrett, farmer Will Thwaite, his thirteen-year-old granddaughter Augie Baker, and Evelyn Oliver, the teacher trapped in her classroom with her pupils and the gunman, recount what is happening around them, and then the final narrator is Holly, who is mother to Augie and her younger brother P. J., and who is in hospital across the country recovering from the effects of a terrible accidental fire.

This is an emotional, captivating story of everyday lives and relationships interrupted by one terrifying moment. The tension builds as the story progresses. The author conveys the worries of those waiting to hear any news from the school. I found myself thinking about who the gunman could be, and what his motivation was. There is suspicion and speculation as to his identity by those closely involved. Through what we slowly learn about these characters' pasts, the author introduces several possible candidates who could be the gunman. Anxious parents and friends wait, desperate for news, but little is forthcoming. For policewoman Meg, this is frustrating: 'I feel at loose ends; the little information I have is fragmented and disjointed, doesn't make sense.' The reader is kept on edge for most of the novel as to how the events will conclude.

The novel is fast-paced, the narrative voice shifts regularly between the five characters, and the sections are all fairly short, until at one point we have as little as a paragraph or two from one character, then we skip straight to another. This occurs as the story is at its most uncertain moment, and adds to the tension for the reader.

The main characters are all convincing and well-drawn, each with their own individual concerns already playing on their minds, these anxieties then being compounded by the shocking events of this day. It's fascinating to see how each character reacts in this awful situation.

This is the first book that I've read by this author and will definitely be picking up more of her work, she has also written Little Mercies, Little Lies, These Things Hidden & The Weight of Silence. I kept wondering what would happen next and I was thinking about the story even when I'd put the book down. I knew that I was going on holiday for a week in September so I decided to keep this to read until then and I wasn't disappointed, I had it read in 2 days & couldn't put it down. This is an amazingly gripping read and if you're a fan of Jodi Picoult or Diane Chamberlain then you will love this book and I'd definitely recommend this to anyone.

This book is available on Kindle & in all good bookstores.

Thursday 11 September 2014

One Wish by Maria Duffy

When Londoner Becky Greene moved to Ireland, she was ready for a fresh start and to leave her dysfunctional family far behind. But when she discovered that she was pregnant after a one-night stand, all of a sudden she had more than herself to think about.

Fast-forward four years and now her daughter Lilly is asking questions about her father. Tracking down the high-flying property developer, Dennis Prendergast, is the last thing Becky wants to do, but she reluctantly admits that Lilly has a right to know who her father is. But when Becky finally locates Dennis, she discovers that his life has taken a very different route. And finding out he has a daughter is definitely not in his five-year plan.

Can people every really change? That’s what Becky sets out to discover and as she comes to know the person Dennis is now, she discovers a lot more about herself in the process.

I was at Maria Duffy's book launch of One Wish on 10th July in Dubray Books on Grafton Street, this is her forth novel, she's also written Any Dream Will Do, The Terrace and The Letter.

 I knew that I was going on holiday for a week in September so I decided to keep this to read until then & I wasn't disappointed, I had it read in just over a day and couldn't put it down, it was such a heart-warming, uplifting story.  This story had it all from love, family, protectiveness to more sensitive and hard-hitting issues with a little bit of humor thrown in - I found I had a little tear in my eye at the end along with shedding a few along the way, so grab this book, curl up on the couch and prepare to have a few lump in your throat moments too.

This book is available on Kindle & in all good bookstores.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

The Doll's House by Louise Phillips

 Thirty-five years ago Adrian Hamilton drowned. At the time his death was deemed a tragic accident but the exact circumstances remain a mystery. His daughter Clodagh now visits a hypnotherapist in an attempt to come to terms with her past, and her father's death. As disturbing childhood memories are unleashed, memories of another tragedy begin to come to light. Meanwhile criminal psychologist Dr Kate Pearson is called to assist in a murder investigation after a body is found in a Dublin canal. And when Kate digs beneath the surface of the killing, she discovers a sinister connection to the Hamilton family. Time is running out for Clodagh and Kate. And the killer has already chosen his next victim . . .

 I really enjoyed this book, it's a real page turner & I couldn't wait to find out what was going to be on the following pages. As I said in my previous review of Red Ribbons, I am from Dublin, alot of the locations that were written into the book where very poignant for me and as I was reading The Doll's House I could still visualise myself standing in all of the scenes, from the Garda Station in Harcourt Street, walking along Kildare Street, Leeson Street bridge amongst other locations, even to standing at the side of the canal where the body was found. Louise's books seem to have that effect on me as I'm reading her books, an excellent read & I would highly recommend it. I was at Louise's book launch for Louise's third novel, Last Kiss on the 12th August and I can't wait to get started on Louise's third novel next.  Louise has also won Crime Fiction Book of the Year at the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards 2013 for The Doll's House.

If you love the likes of Criminal Minds, CSI & Profiler or if you're a fan of Sophie Hannah, Elizabeth Haynes or SJ Watson you will devour this book.

This book is available on Kindle & available from all good bookstores.