Sunday, 24 September 2017

Review - The Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

Everyone has an author whose books they always look forward to and for me Amanda Prowse is one of them. Having been reading Amanda’s novels for several years, I’ve never read a book of hers that I haven’t enjoyed and so I was very excited to receive a copy of her latest release, The Art of Hiding. As I hoped would be the case, I knew from the very first pages that I wasn’t going to be disappointed - it was a fabulous book and there was just so much to love about it. 

Within this particular book we meet Nina McCarrick who seems to have both a perfect life and perfect family with her successful husband, Finn, and their sons Connor and Declan who are both enrolled at a posh school. She couldn’t imagine life being any different until she receives a call that changes everything - there has been a terrible car accident and Finn has died. As Nina starts to come to terms with life without Finn, it quickly becomes apparent that things were not as perfect as they appeared. Finn has left behind a mountain of debt leaving Nina with no choice but to take her boys and return to her hometown where she turns to her estranged sister Tiggy for help. 

One thing that Amanda seems to excel at is taking a seemingly normal family before turning their world upside down by revealing hidden truths and then fixing things again. In the process characters are created who you can’t help but feel connected to and whose stories you can’t help but feel invested in. This was certainly the case with Nina who seemed incredibly believable and real, someone who demonstrated a huge amount of strength and determination. Nina’s story is one that really highlights what’s important in life, what matters and what really doesn’t. 

Throughout the entirety of The Art of Hiding, Amanda’s signature writing style that I have grown to love so much over the years really shone through. She has once again taken several challenging themes within this book and dealt with them in an expert manner - so beautifully and sensitively. Through her writing, Amanda really shows how it is absolutely possible to overcome any situation that life throws at you in order to find happiness and peace once again. 

An emotional but ultimately uplifting and inspiring story, The Art of Hiding is yet another of Amanda’s books that will stay with me for a long time yet to come. Every time I think Amanda’s writing can’t get any better, she publishes something that proves it absolutely can. I adored the Art of Hiding and am thoroughly looking forward to seeing what Amanda writes next. 

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Review - The Watcher by Ross Armstrong

After a slightly unplanned but I think much needed hiatus in blogging over the last few weeks, I couldn’t think of a better way to get back into it again than with a review for The Watcher by Ross Armstrong. Anyone who has been following my blog for a while will know that I love getting stuck into a good psychological thriller and The Watcher was most certainly one of those books. With a clever and unique plot this was a book that really stood out from other books of its genre and I thought it was a fantastic debut. 

Within The Watcher we are introduced to Lily Gullick who lives with her husband Aiden in a new build flat directly opposite an estate that is due to be demolished. Lily is an avid birdwatcher who was taught by her dad from a young age to record and identify the different species of birds that she spots. One day, whilst birdwatching and gazing through her binoculars, she sees something suspicious and not long after hears that her neighbour Jean has been found dead. Determined to discover the truth about her neighbour’s death, Lily involves herself in the investigation often putting herself in serious danger.

The Watcher is a book that is told entirely from the perspective of Lily and this is something that I think works very well. Although an unreliable narrator, the reasons for which become clearer as the novel progresses I have to say that I found Lily to be a fascinating character. She was someone who I felt we really got to know thanks to the fabulous introduction Ross gave us to both Lily and her neighbourhood towards the start of the novel. Despite sometimes making some questionable decisions, Lily was a character who I really did find myself rooting for and loving by the end. 

Although it took me a little while to get into the book and adapt to the way in which the book was written, I have to say that I think that Ross has done a fantastic job of writing a fast-paced, intriguing and highly memorable thriller. The Watcher is a book that contains twist after twist that leaves the reader never knowing which direction it was next going to go. In fact one thing I particularly enjoyed about this novel was the satisfying ending, the way in which it all came together and ended up making sense.

Overall I have to say that everything combined made The Watcher a hugely compelling read and one that had me well and truly hooked. As I was reading the book there were many times that I found myself forgetting that this was just a debut novel, a sign of how accomplished it was. I’d definitely be interested in reading more by Ross in the future.