Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Review - Obsession by Amanda Robson

Obsession is the debut novel written by Amanada Robson that was labelled as a psychological thriller. As someone who thoroughly enjoys reading books of this genre, I couldn’t wait to begin Obsession and went into it with very high hopes. One thing that can definitely be said about this book is that it was a thought-provoking and shocking read the likes of which I’ve never read before. It certainly stands out from the crowd!

Carly and Rob have been married for several years, work at the same GP surgery and have had three children together - Pippa, Matt and John. One day Carly asks Rob who he would go for if he wasn’t married to her and is totally unprepared when he reluctantly says Jenni Rossiter, their friend of many years who is married to Craig. Although he doesn’t know it at the time, this revelation is one that has a number of consequences that turn out to be truly catastrophic and will completely change the lives of each and every one of the characters in one way or another. 

The story is told from the perspectives of each of the four main characters - Rob, Carly, Jenni and Craig. As a story that is told in this way, I felt that this is something that works really well as it allows the reader to get to know each of them as individuals and really get inside their heads. Whilst I couldn’t relate to the vast majority of what the characters were going through and thought that their behaviour was often quite bizarre and bordering on unbelievable I found that I became extremely involved with their lives, relationships and secrets.

Although I wasn’t massively keen on the erotic scenes that appeared within Obsession, scenes which in my opinion occurred far too frequently and unnecessarily and my rating of the book reflects this, I must say that I think Amanda has done a spectacular job with the book. Throughout the book we see Amanda deal with a number of different themes, including depression, alcoholism and paranoia to name just a few whilst the tension builds continuously. I thought that the book was incredibly well written in an engaging style, with Amanda raising a number of questions throughout that left me desperately turning the pages to find out the answers to them. 

Every now and then you come across a book that is appropriately titled and for me Obsession is one of those books - the characters were obsessed with eachother and I found that I was well and truly obsessed with it. For a debut novel I thought that it was very accomplished and it’s certainly left me looking forward to reading more by Amanda in the future. I feel certain that we will see many more great things from her!

Monday, 23 October 2017

Review - The Secret by Katerina Diamond

The Secret was the second book written by Katerina Diamond that I’ve read and is the second in the series of books featuring DS Imogen Grey. Having read The Teacher, the first book in the series, I was looking forward to being reunited with DS Imogen Grey within The Secret. Although it took me far longer than planned to get started on it, I have to say that I found it to be a thoroughly engaging and compelling read that really did have me on the edge of my seat. 

At the start of the book we are introduced to Bridget, an undercover police officer who is playing the part of a prostitute in what can only be described as a brothel. One evening, after two men break into her apartment whilst she is upstairs and murder two of the girls she works with and one client, Bridget is forced to go on the run. However after passing out whilst on the run, Bridget wakes up to find herself in a locked basement room where she is held hostage and visited regularly by a captor who she doesn’t know. Assigned the task of finding out what happened to Bridget is DS Imogen Grey and her colleague DS Adrian Miles. As the investigation gets under way Imogen can’t help but feel that this case is connected to a past case she was working on and the past is really not a place that she wants to revisit. 

The Secret is a novel that is told from the viewpoint of multiple characters - Imogen, Bridget, Adrian and a boy who is clearly very disturbed. Each of these characters had a very distinctive voice and I thought that Katerina had done a fabulous job at allowing us to get to know each of them with some fantastic character development throughout. Although not essential to have read the first book in the series, it’s something that I would recommend to appreciate the characters and the events that have happened to them previously that The Secret sometimes refers to. 

The first book in the series, The Teacher, contained lots of gory and graphic moments and this was something that I struggled with. I have to say that I thought there were far fewer of these scenes within The Secret and this was something that I personally appreciated very much. Another thing I loved about this book was the way in which it was truly unpredictable from beginning to end, with so many twists and turns that you felt you were discovering the leads at the exact same time as the police. In fact the only negative for me was that it jumped around between the past and present quite a lot, sometimes making it quite difficult to keep track of what had happened previously. 

With this now being the second book by Katerina that I have read, I can honestly say that I feel she is an author who will continue to deliver great things as an author. I’ve really enjoyed follwing DS Imogen Grey on her investigations to date, and feel that I am now in a good position to pick up the third book in the series - The Angel - that has recently been published. I’m very much looking forward to seeing where life will take Imogen to next! 

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Review - The Big Little Festival by Kellie Hailes

The Big Little Festival by Kellie Hailes is book number two in the Rabbit’s Leap series of books, but was actually the first that I’ve read. Having been instantly attracted to this book thanks to a simply adorable and eye-catching cover, I went into this book with high hopes and I’m delighted to say that it did not disappoint me in the slightest. It provided a fabulous introduction to Kellie Hailes’ wonderfully fun and engaging writing style and made for the perfect summer read! 

Within this book we meet Jody who is a single parent to twin boys. Having once been helped and supported so much by the village in which she lives, Jody really wants to give something back to Rabbit’s Leap by raising funds to rebuild the local swimming pool. Determined to host a village festival to raise these all important funds, she employs the help of the very handsome Christian, a hugely successful and talented event planner from London. As they start to prepare for the festival, it’s safe to say that Christian makes a pretty big impact on not just the village of Rabbit’s Leap but Jody too - could a village romance on the cards?

Undoubtedly, the characters in this book were what helped to make this book as fabulous as it was. As one of the main people in the story, I have to say that I really loved getting to know Jody and seeing just how devoted and dedicated she was to her children and Rabbit’s Leap. Although her behaviour towards Christian sometimes seemed a little strange, as we got to know Jody more we learned that she had very good reasons for this. The chemistry between them was evident from very early on and I spent so much time desperately hoping that things would turn out well for the pair. 

Knowing that The Big Little Festival was the second book in a series, I was a bit worried that I’d feel a bit lost and not know who any of the characters were. However, I can safely say that this was not the case at all thanks to the way in which Kellie really goes the extra mile to set the scene for the reader. One thing I particularly loved about the way in which this book was written was that it was so fun and upbeat, with plenty of community spirit, humour and romance throughout. The more I read, the more I fell in love with the village of Rabbit’s Leap, a place which really did capture and come alive in my imagination. 

As a book that can easily be read as a standalone novel, The Big Little Festival was a book that I truly adored from beginning to end. I fell head over heels in love with Kellie’s way of telling her readers a story and am truly looking forward to being reunited with both her writing and Rabbit’s Leap again in the future. If you’re looking for a little bit of sunshine on these dull, dark and rainy autumnal days then I highly recommend The Big Little Festival to you. 

Friday, 6 October 2017

Review - The Snow Globe by Judith Kinghorn

As someone who doesn’t normally read much historical fiction, The Snow Globe by Judith Kinghorn was definitely a little bit out of my comfort zone. However I can honestly say that I am so incredibly glad that I picked this book up, because it was truly wonderful. With what is a very stunning cover, The Snow Globe was the first of Judith’s books that I have ever read before and I thought that it provided a fabulous introduction to her writing. 

Within the book we meet Daisy whose most treasured possession is a snow globe which she was given by her beloved father when she was just five years old. Featuring a perfect replica of their family home within it, Daisy proudly displays it every Christmas. As we join Daisy and her family in the run up to Christmas 1926, she soon discovers that her dear father is not as perfect as he’s always seemed. As huge secrets are revealed, Daisy’s life is thrown into turmoil and the question is just how will it all turn out for her?

One thing that became apparent whilst reading The Snow Globe is how talented Judith is at creating characters. Each character that we met throughout the book, really came alive in my imagination and seemed incredibly realistic. Whilst I didn’t relate to all of them, I was still interested in their stories and I thought that Daisy was a wonderful lead character. Despite the difficulties she was experiencing, Daisy was a character who was very easy to like thanks to her strength and determination. 

With writing that flows so nicely, Judith Kinghorn has created a book that is an absolute dream to read despite a few occasions when I found myself a bit lost as to who all the characters were and where they all fitted in. One thing I particularly loved about this novel was the way in which the title of the book was so very appropriate and really summed up the story as a whole - Daisy’s life and everything she thought she knew had been shaken up like a snow globe leaving her to watch it all land and see what the repurcussions would be. Judith’s writing was incredibly engaging and kept me interested from beginning to end. 

The Snow Globe is a book which I feel would definitely appeal to fans of shows such as Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs. It was such a pleasure to read this novel, to try and love something that was so very different to what I would normally read. Having finished The Snow Globe feeling nothing but entirely satisfied, I’m really looking forward to discovering more of Judith’s novels. 

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Review - The Blind by A F Brady

The Blind is the first book written by A F Brady that I immediately wanted to read as soon as I first heard about it. With the author’s background being in counselling/psychotherapy The Blind was a novel that was truly psychological in every sense of the word. This was a book that had me gripped from beginning to end as I was so desperate to find out just what would happen next. 

Sam James is a psychologist at the Typhlos Psychiatric Centre in Manhattan who, despite appearing calm and professional to her clients, has a personal life that is in turmoil. As a barely functioning alcoholic in an unhealthy relationship who appears unable to save herself, she is passionate and dedicated to helping others. Soon after the novel begins Sam begins working with Richard who comes to Typhlos and appears to be a very challenging patient who says very little. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Sam is determined to discover just what is going on with him, but to do so she’ll have to face her own demons…

Although I couldn’t relate to much of what Sam had experienced in her life, I liked her as a character and admired her for her dedication to her job and supporting patients. Given their role, some might think that the life of a counsellor away from work is nothing but perfect, but Sam demonstrated how this may not always be the case - counsellor’s are human and as such face difficulties of their own too. I loved getting to know Sam and thought that A F Brady had done fantastic job with her character. 

As a book that provides a very real insight into mental illness and the therapies that patients may have in order to treat these, A F Brady’s own experience of working in this field really shines through and as such I thought that The Blind was a fascinating novel. Given the many additional themes that this book deals with alongside mental health, including domestic abuse and alcoholism, one thing that must be said is that this book does not always make for easy reading but I thought that A F Brady handled the subject matter perfectly. I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s writing style and thought that it was engaging and compelling throughout. 

Whilst there was no big or surprising reveal within The Blind, this was a book that carried an important message about learning to cope, heal and move forwards in life. I enjoyed it and hope to read many more great things by A F Brady in the future.