I received The Immortalists in exchange for an honest review
What would you do if you were told the date of your death? Would it affect the way you live your life? Whether you believe in it or not, that date will e ingrained in your mind throughout your days. That’s what I learnt from The Immortalists anyway – a story of four siblings, starting in 1969 when they get their futures read, throughout the trials and tribulations of their lives.
This is a gorgeous, emotive and intimate story. I expected it to be a little more supernatural, with a focus on the psychic who foretold the group’s fates. But really, she doesn’t take centre stage here at all. It’s all about the four of them; Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya and the way these siblings choose to live their lives.
The book opens with a short stint when this group are young, as the four of them visit a psychic who’s skills have been heard along the grapevine.They quickly wish they hadn’t as they all receive their varying death sentences.
We then follow them through their lives, starting with Simon, each sibling picking up where the last one’s story left off. Each is intertwined with the other, yet their all their own people, and I’m sure everyone will connect with different siblings. Simon starts a new life as a gay dancer in San Francisco, Klara a magician in Vegas, Daniel a loyal husband and military doctor, and Varya a researcher on the topic of how to extend human life. For me Simon and Klara were front runners in terms of stories told – their fragile, young lives and points of views made them all the more vulnerable and endearing to me, but every one of them has an important voice which contributes to this story’s many layers.
This is a story which revolves around a death date, but really it’s about life – and how this group chooses to live it. The storytelling here is utterly captivating – I love stories which span different time periods and places, and this nailed it on those counts. It captures times and places I’ve never experienced so personally they felt intimate and visceral; the characters like long-lost friends I won’t forget any time soon. A stunning debut, I absolutely fell in love with this story, and I can’t wait to see what the author does next.
I received The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock in exchange for an honest review
I read a lot of debuts; it’s always a risk – but I love finding those hidden gems when they’re still relatively undiscovered. This book was promoted as Vintage’s debut of the year and, whilst I hadn’t heard much about it from my fellow reviewers, I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover and the promise of mermaids, and went for it.
I would love to fall in love with every book I read, but unfortunately this one wasn’t really for me. It had a lot of promise – combining history, romance and magical realism, this book should work for me, yet I found myself struggling through the slow, meandering plot about characters who I just couldn’t care for. Continue reading
I received Genuine Fraud in exchange for an honest review
I loved E Lockhart’s We Were Liars, it felt unique, both the writing style and the plot itself, so I was keen to read the author’s latest novel. Genuine Fraud is less original – the writer admits in the introduction that it draws inspiration from other novels, particularly The Talented Mr Ripley. It was a fast-paced, entertaining novel but lacked some depth and character development. There’s not really enough length for me to feel truly invested in the characters, and none of them were really likeable – although I think this was intentional.
Lockhart does tell the story well; starting in 2017 we meet Jule. 18 years old and staying in a luxury hotel Mexico alone, it’s clear she’s running from something. She has a selection of wigs and identities which she changes at whim, and when she suspects her cover has been blown, she quickly makes a run for it. The story unfolds backwards from there. Continue reading
I received The Toymakers in exchange for an honest review
I read this novel over Christmas, and it was the last book I read last year. It was the perfect finish to my 2017 reading; not quite what I expected, but something even better.
The cover and blurb for The Toymakers alludes to it being a heart-warming, whimsical Christmas tale. I expected something light-hearted, and I got that in places but a lot more as well. Don’t be fooled by the cute, festive cover – this book has hidden depths.
“Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at heart? So are we.”
Teenager Cathy is pregnant and scared. She wants to escape the control of her parents and, when she sees this advert in the newspaper, she sees an opportunity to do so. She embarks on a journey to London, to Papa Jack’s Emporium. Continue reading
I received The Child Finder in exchange for an honest review
This was a surprise gem of a book. At first glance, I took it for a regular missing child mystery – a plot which has been covered many times – and I nearly passed it up. I’m so glad I didn’t because this is an elegant, atmospheric novel which tells a fairly unoriginal story in a unique, creative way.
Set in the heart of an Oregon forest, where it seems to always always be snowing, this is a beautifully atmospheric tale – you can almost see the snow topped mountains and feel the bitter cold. Denfeld makes the missing child story her own, bringing her setting and characters to life with rich, almost lyrical prose, interweaving fairy tales and magical realism with dark reality. Continue reading
There’s been countless takes on Conan Doyle’s famous detective over the years but, as far as I’m aware, this is the only series that was officially sanctioned by the Estate. And I’m so pleased it was Horowitz that was given that honour, as I loved his take on Sherlock Holmes.
The plot itself opens in typical Holmes style, with a frazzled client turning up at 221B Baker Street. I found the section a little slow, as personally I didn’t really enjoy this story; ‘The Man With the Flat Cap’. If you’re feeling the same as I did, hang on, – there’s a much deeper, darker mystery here still to be explored; The House Of Silk.
The House Of Silk is a great modern take on the classic series; it retains the atmosphere of the era and captures the characters wonderfully, but eliminates some of the more archaic language and views which (I’m sorry to admit) held me back from completing loving the original books. Continue reading
I received I Know a Secret in exchange for an honest review
This is the twelfth in the Rizzioli ad Isles series, and Tess Gerritsen has done it again! Fast becoming one of my favourite thriller authors, Gerritsen has really mastered creating unputdownable stories which explore complex issues and characters without ever dropping the fast pace.
The story opens, as most of them do, with a body. This one is of Cassandra Coyle, a young amateur film maker who specialises in the horror genre. There’s something horrific about her death too; her eyes have been gauged out and placed in her had post-mortem. Our resident Doctor, Maura Isles, struggles to identify a cause of death, and so the mystery begins.
The characters shine through again in this instalment; I love the story arc of Jane Rizzioli and Maura Isles and their strong friendship (although I don’t think you need to read all the books in order to enjoy this one), unbroken by the countless murders the two have seen. In this novel we have a third point of view, Holly. Holly was fascinating to read as well – she certainly knows a few secrets and it’s unclear until the very end whether she’s a culprit or another victim.
The body count and the suspect list increases, as Gerritsen unfolds a mystery which stems back decades, linking to an old unsolved case of a missing nine-year-old girl, and a scandalous child abuse case which connects the victims. It’s one which not only kept me on tenterhooks, but it’s deeper and more multilayered than many in this genre.
I already know that Gerritsen has a background in medicine which helps with those oh-so-authentic (and gory) autopsy scenes, but this novel feels well researched in other areas too. The tale is rich in symbolism, from religious iconography to to horror movie classics, and clues are scattered behind throwaway lines, just tantalisingly hidden from view until the big reveal. It’s an intelligent story, yet it’s a page-turner too – a rare and extremely satisfying combination.
I received I Am Behind You in exchange for an honest review
This was a bizarre book. Simultaneously bleak, brutal and beautiful but, above all, weird. It won’t be for everyone, but I enjoyed how different it was.
We meet four families from vastly different backgrounds, from a footballer and his wife to a same sex couple of farmers, who gradually found solace in each other when they lost their wives. What the group has in common is that they’ve all got secrets, and they all wake up one day to discover all signs of life have disappeared from their campsite. Continue reading
I received Artemis in exchange for an honest review.
I have to admit, when I initially heard the premise for Artemis, I was nervous. Andy Weir’s debut worked because, despite being sci-fi, it felt like realism. Every step of the main character’s journey and struggles on a failed mission to Mars felt meticulously researched. Can the author pull off that same feel of authenticity in a new novel set in an entirely fictional city on the moon? Turns out, the answer is yes!
I loved Artemis. I loved the incredible world-building, the high-stakes heist and, most of all, the protagonist, Jazz. This wiley, feisty, street-smart character is a rebel with a heart; she seems to have split readers but I am firmly in camp Jazz. She’s got confidence and wit in bucket-loads and it was fantastic to read. I’m so glad the author opted for diversity here, with a Saudi Arabian woman from a Muslim family as the main character, for me it strengthened the novel as a whole. Continue reading
I saw one reviewer describe It as a story of the ties that bind, and I think that’s a pretty much perfect description. In a nutshell, It’s about a group of friends, the self-named ‘loser’s club’, who face an unspeakable horror when they’re young. When It returns 27 years later, they each leave their new lives behind to come back and defeat it together.
Stephen King’s imagination is like no other, and his depiction of an unspeakable terror which will take on a different form dependent on the viewers’ own fears allows that imagination to run riot. It preys on children because they’re weak, but also vulnerable and susceptible to the powers of the imagination in a way that adults just aren’t. The children in this story believe easily and bond quickly, and the bond they forge at that age is almost unbreakable. That’s why, when decades later they receive the call, the bunch regroup without question. Continue reading