Book Review

Book Review : The Search by Nora Roberts.

It’s been a few years since Fiona Bristow has moved to Orcas Island. Within the small, tight-knit island community she’s built up her business, a canine rescue centre that trains dogs to track missing persons. Whether they are lonely travellers on a hiking trip gone wrong or disappearances of a more sinister nature, more than once Fiona has been the last hope for those lost in Washington’s vast wilderness.

Other than her work, Fiona doesn’t ask for much: the peace of the landscape, the companionship of her dogs, the safe haven of friends and family. Romantic entanglements are very far down on her list – and certainly not with Simon Doyle, an artist newly arrived from the mainland. Impossible rude, and impossibly handsome, he suddenly seems to be around an awful lot. But he doesn’t know that Fiona harbours a terrible secret, and as her past unexpectedly catches up with her, she has to decide whether past grief will keep her from ever loving again …

I love Nora Roberts’ books so I was really excited when this one arrived in the post. I love the cover with the moody purple clouds and stark beach scene, it made me think I was in for a thrilling read.

My predictions played out, the story is tense and sucked me in within the first few chapters. The book focuses on Fiona, a woman who managed to escape and help to catch a serial killer years ago though her policeman partner and his K9 dog were killed. She has rebuilt her life in a small island community and runs a K9 search and rescue team, the book opens with one of their rescues. A new man on the island, Simon, looks like a potential love interest but the news that there appears to be a copycat killer who may be pursuing Fiona means that nothing is certain.

I really took to the character of Fiona, she is understandably damaged as a result of her past, but is trying her hardest to make a good life for herself. The way she relates to others seems very fitting, particularly in her struggle to work out how to deal with Simon. I liked Simon though whilst I appreciated the way he stood up to Fiona and challenged her I often found the way he went about it to be a little too direct and brusque for my liking. The supporting characters were all well written, by the end of the book I felt like I wanted to move to Orcas Island and become part of the community! I must also mention the dogs, Jaws, Peck, Newman and Bogart. They were such wonderful characters, I enjoyed reading about them very much.

I found the blend of thriller and romance to be very well balanced, Roberts is very good at writing this kind of book. It never felt like one half of the plot was threatening to overwhelm the other, and I cared equally about both of them. Robert’s narrative writing is great, I love the way she describes things. As I’ve already said though I didn’t completely like the way she wrote Simon, particularly his dialogue.

I really enjoyed reading this book and will continue to look forward to reading more by Nora Roberts.

The Search is published in paperback by Piatkus in the UK priced £6.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

Book Review : Buried Secrets by Joseph Finder.

When PI Nick Heller moves back to Boston to set up his own agency, he soon gets an urgent case even closer to home than expected.

Alexandra Marcus – teenage daughter of hedge fund titan Marshall Marcus – has been kidnapped. But it’s no ordinary kidnapping – and it’s not even clear what they want. She’s been abducted by professionals and buried alive in an underground casket. A video camera is streaming her desperate pleas live over the internet. With only a limited supply of food and water, her time is quickly running out.

A close friend of the family, Nick is more determined than ever to catch the perpetrators. But when Marshall is arrested for fraud, Nick uncovers some powerful enemies and a conspiracy that reaches up to the very highest levels of government. Faced with opponents well-protected by wealth and position, Nick must play a dangerous game if he hopes to flush out those responsible before Alexa is buried for good…

I have heard great things about the first Nick Heller book, Vanished, so when I got the chance to review Buried Secrets I jumped at it. I was a little unsure of whether not having read Vanished would put me at a disadvantage for enjoying Buried Secrets, but it certainly didn’t seem to. Whilst I’m sure there may have been little references that I missed but I never felt confused or as if I’d missed anything.

The plot is pretty gripping, we’re introduced to Alexa first and get to know her a little before she is kidnapped and buried alive. Her story is narrated in the third person, and I think this works well – reading the descriptions of both what is happening to her and what her kidnapper is doing lends itself to the narration. I found some of the passages describing her situation challenging to read, it really felt tense and claustrophobic.

Nick is introduced after Alexa is kidnapped, we get to see him dealing with a client before he gets the call about her case. I liked this, it meant I got a feel for him before he was thrown into the kidnapping case. In contrast to Alexa’s story the Nick thread is narrated in the first person. I sometimes find shifts in storytelling like this a bit clunky and awkward, but Finder pulls it off brilliantly. I think again that it works well for the type of narrative, I liked being able to follow Nick’s thoughts as he progressed through the case.

The plot is pretty involved, Nick has to uncover layer upon layer of lies and cover ups. I think Finder just about gets away with some of the more extreme plot points, though a couple did make me shake my head a little. It certainly felt like Nick had some convenient contacts and inside knowledge. That said, the reveal at the end of who was behind everything did work for me.

The need at times to suspend belief didn’t affect my enjoyment of this book at all, once I’d started reading it I found it very hard to put down and finished it in two sittings. I loved the occasional mentions of comic books, I always enjoy geeky references in the books I read. I’m certainly going to be going back and reading Vanished, and I’m sure I’ll probably give some of Joseph Finder’s other books a go too.

Buried Secrets is published in paperback by Headline in the UK priced £13.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

Book Review : Before I Go To Sleep by S J Watson.

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

I’ve blogged already about the brilliant marketing behind S J Watson’s debut novel, once I’d opened the padlock I couldn’t wait to start reading. I settled down with a coffee and began to read, I quickly got so caught up in the book that I didn’t move again until I’d finished it. Once I had finished reading I sat for a while amazed by what I had just read.

The plot of the book is very clever, Christine is suffering with amnesia – she wakes up every morning not recognising herself or her husband or knowing anything about how she’s come to be there. Ben, her husband explains each morning who he is and what has happened to her, and Christine lives the day before going to sleep and forgetting it all again. The sheer panic and confusion she experiences at the start of the book when she wakes up with these memories missing is hard to read, and when you realise that this happens to her and her husband every single day it feels quite heartbreaking.

We quickly discover that Christine has been seeing a doctor in secret and he’s encouraged her to keep a journal. Each day he calls to tell her where the journal is hidden, she catches up with everything she’s previously written and adds to it. We join Christine in catching up with her journal after she’s lent it to her doctor. You can almost sense the urgency Christine has written this journal with, I found I was feeling the same sort of urgency to keep reading, to find out the secrets it contains. I read faster and faster, desperate to turn the pages quicker and uncover more if the story.

A few times through the book I started to formulate an idea of where the book was going, each time I was wrong. The final section of the book is wonderfully twisty, whilst I’d guessed one bit of it I’d barely scraped the surface of what really went on. Just as I’d managed to catch my breath I came to the last little bit and had it stolen away again.

The promotional material I’d received and the cover of the book contain lots of quotes about how wonderful this book is. I don’t normally pay much attention to these but I have to say that for Before I Go To Sleep they’re all well deserved. It is an absolutely brilliant book, when I finished reading it I was torn between wanting to sit and process it and wanting to jump up and down telling everyone around me how brilliant it is. I settled for saving the jumping up and down for this post – I didn’t want to scare the other people in the cafe! I can’t believe this is S J Watson’s first book, I can’t wait for the next one!

Before I Go To Sleep is published in hardback by Doubleday in the UK priced £12.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

Book Review : Blind Faith by Michael Schneider.

Blind Faith is a romantic suspense novel set in modern day east Texas. Small town life has taken an unexpected turn for the sheltered Karsyn McKenna. Caught in a web of deception and lies that has led to murder, she must choose between Chase Carter, a local rancher who is secretly in love with her and Gabriel Thompson, the mysterious new stranger in town.

Will blind faith be Karsyn McKenna’s salvation or her destruction?

When Karsyn gets together with Gabe, her father’s new employee Chase, her long time friend, is very unhappy. When Karsyn discovers Gabe in bed with another woman Chase is there waiting and ready to pick up the pieces. He whisks her away and upon discovering that she is pregnant with Gabe’s baby marries her and agrees to bring up the child as his own. This is a book filled with intrigue, and over time the gloss of Chase’s knight in shining armour act begins to fade and the plot twists and turns.

I found Karsyn to be a likeable character though she was incredibly naive and over trusting. At times I did find myself wondering whether anyone could be quite that naive. I found Chase to be sinister from the start, I think my default setting is cynical so from the offset I was questioning his every move.

The first part of the book didn’t really grab me, it was a slow start and I could easily have put it down and not returned to it. As the book progressed however I became more and more engaged with it, the plot picked up and what had started as a fairly basic story became wonderfully tense and twisty. I’m very glad I didn’t give up on it, I’d have missed out on a good read.

Blind Faith is published in paperback by The Writer’s Coffee Shop in the UK priced $13.99 (ebook available at $7.99). Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review

Book Review : Cuckoo by Julia Crouch.

A dark, juicy, deliciously unsettling, read-it-in-one-sitting psychological drama.

Rose has it all – the gorgeous children, the husband, the beautiful home. But then her best friend Polly comes to stay. Very soon, Rose’s cosy world starts to fall apart at the seams – her baby falls dangerously ill, her husband is distracted – is Polly behind it all? It appears that once you invite Polly into your home, it’s very difficult to get her out again…

When I sat down to start reading Julia Crouch’s debut novel I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. The synopsis appears to give you an idea of what the book is but as you get drawn deeper and deeper within the book the plot almost seems to swallow you in. I found that the further into the book I got the harder it was to put down, I was more and more gripped with the more I read.

The major characters are all really well written. I found them to be very three dimensional, no character was all good or all bad. I loved that it was written from Rose’s perspective, I found that when she was wondering about what was going on I was wondering too. Within in this I liked the fact it was written in the third person rather than the first – for me this helped to build the suspense.

Cuckoo feels very realistic as you read it. I think it taps into the world of friendship so well, most people will find thoughts that resonate with how they’ve felt about a friendship in the past. I think the fact it is so believable makes it all the more creepy. There are twists and turns throughout the book, but the ending still managed to blow me away. This was a book that stayed with me for days, I kept catching my thoughts wandering back to it.

If this is what Julia Crouch writes for a debut novel I’m very excited to see what’s going to come next.

Cuckoo is published in hardback by Headline in the UK from 3rd March 2011 priced £19.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review · Reading Challenges

The Summer Reading Challenge: “Lockdown” by Sean Black.

This was my fourth and final choice from the Transworld Summer Reading Challenge. Whilst chick lit is a favourite genre of mine I also love bloke lit so I thought it’d be good to include a new bloke lit author in my selection. Within a few chapters of this book I was very glad I’d picked it.

Lockdown is the story of Ryan Lock, a security expert employed by a company that is involved in testing products on animals. Within the early chapters everything blows up, the pace picks up and I found myself swept away in the story. I found the characters interesting and engaging, and the New York setting worked really well.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will be looking out for the next instalment in the series. I think I’ve found a new must read author!

This was my fourth and final read for the Transworld Summer Reading Challenge, I’ve really enjoyed being involved in it and am looking forward to getting involved with any future challenges they hold.