Sunday, April 16, 2017

Designated survivor

"Designated survivor" is a TV series that's not only about conspiracy or USA politics. It's also about human decency. A bit of an oxymoron, decency and politics in one paragraph, but there you have it. Extremely watchable.


Monday, April 10, 2017

I see you

"I see you" by Clare Macintosh is a page-turner. Call it a who-dun-it or a psychological thriller... this is a fast-paced nail-biter about real characters in an almost unreal (and yet chillingly plausible) situation.

(I found the author's much-acclaimed debut too melancholy-grey to read beyond the first few chapters - and that's despite being aware of the twist. This book was not depressing like the first, and it did have an OMG twist nonetheless.)


Blurb:

You do the same thing every day.

You know exactly where you're going.

You're not alone.

When Zoe Walker sees her photo in the classifieds section of a London newspaper, she is determined to find out why it's there. There's no explanation: just a website, a grainy image and a phone number. She takes it home to her family, who are convinced it's just someone who looks like Zoe. But the next day the advert shows a photo of a different woman, and another the day after that.

Is it a mistake? A coincidence? Or is someone keeping track of every move they make . . .



The Memory Watcher

The Memory Watcher by Minka Kent is an intriguing psychological thriller with a twist I didn't see coming. I loved the message of the book "not everything you see online is real" - because, no matter how we know it intellectually, we keep falling for FaceMyth time and time again.

Blurb:
When Autumn Carpenter stumbles upon the social media account of the family who adopted her infant daughter years ago, she finds herself instantly drawn into their picture-perfect existence.

From behind a computer screen, Autumn watches Grace's every memory, from birthdays to holidays to bedtime snuggles. But what starts as an innocent fascination soon spirals into an addictive obsession that comes to a screeching halt the day the McMullen family closes their Instaface account without so much as a warning.

Frantic and desperate to reconnect with her daughter, Autumn applies for a nanny position with the McMullens, manipulating herself into Grace's life under false pretences. And it's only then that Autumn discovers pictures lie, the perfect family doesn't exist, and beautiful people? They have the ugliest secrets.




Monday, March 27, 2017

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi


I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi is a novel that you want to describe as “beautiful” and “poignant”, but those words have been used to often, and to reflect this book’s originality and depth, you ultimately need much fresher and more significant adjectives.

 

It’s a book about how to live your life, how to cope with loss, and how to not hurt those you love. It’s a book about marriage, teenagers, and death. It’s about what comes after and how what came before shapes our destiny.

 

It’s a book that deserves our attention.


Ready Player One


If you haven't read "Ready player one" by Ernest Cline yet, try it. You will love it if:

  • You remember the 80s fondly.
  • You liked video games.
  • You watched 80s movies.
  • You played text adventure games.
  • You’re into SF and VR.

Premise: The 80s have been recreated in virtual reality, and now a treasure hunt is on: for a fortune in money, but also for the ownership of the virtual reality and for the chance to save it from a greedy corporation hell-bent on changing the setting forever. The plot is one gigantic video game / treasure hunt / puzzle.

 

Young Adult level, a bit too much swearing for young young-adults. A romance subplot. Because the plot is a virtual reality game, any deux ex machina devices should be forgiven. J


Monday, March 06, 2017

When I was Invisible

"When I was invisible" by Dorothy Koomson is a beautiful book about an ugly topic. Don't let the backstory tragedy stop you, though. This novel will make you think about many issues and on many levels.

In 1988, two eight-year-old girls with almost identical names and the same love of ballet meet for the first time. They seem destined to be best friends forever and to become professional dancers. Years later, however, they have both been dealt so many cruel blows that they walk away from each other into very different futures – one enters a convent, the other becomes a minor celebrity. Will these new, ‘invisible’ lives be the ones they were meant to live, or will they only find that kind of salvation when they are reunited twenty years later?

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Girl Before

If you like thrillers, read "The Girl Before" by JP Delaney (pseudonym). It pulls you right in and doesn't let go, not even after the last page.


And do yourself a favour: don't read the blurb. Don't read any other reviews until you're done with the book. Let the plot unfold around you, let yourself guess what it's about. You won't be sorry.


(For those of you who've read it, scroll down.)





SPOLER ALERT!!!!

Please don't read further until you've read the book.




































So, here's the full review, or rather, my main thoughts:
  • I was blown away to discover the author is male: I thought the two main characters were written authentically and believably.
  • Full disclosure: I loved, loved, loved the house. What does that say about me?
  • Surprisingly, I didn't guess the culprit's identity. Always a refreshing thing for me.
  • At the end, I still don't know whether Emma had lied about the video. I like that it's not resolved, given that Simon could have been lying.
  • The ending moved me to tears. And then I found out about the author's own children.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Leave Me by Gayle Forman

"Leave Me " by Gayle Forman deals with important issues: motherhood, work-life balance, feeling unappreciated. The blurb takes us right into the crux of the matter: "Every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, and every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who’s so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn’t even realize she’s had a heart attack."


It's an enjoyable book, and a quick read,  though I must confess I couldn't empathise with the protagonist. I realise a heart attack combined with unresolved feelings around being adopted are powerful motivators, yet still I could not understand Maribeth's choices.



Friday, February 17, 2017

Right Behind You

"Right behind you" is Lisa Gardner's latest book. The local shooting gets personal for FBI Profiler Quincy and his wife Rainie, and probably because of it, this novel is more of a character-driven drama than a thriller. A fast, enjoyable read.





Monday, February 06, 2017

EXCERPT Operation: Genocide

Chapter 8 - Wednesday, 3 Days Before The Murder


Wednesdays were Hester’s days off. Funny that. She still had to cook breakfast and straighten the house. But if she hurried, the madam would let her go before lunch. Hester was counting on it today. She didn’t want to be late for her meeting.
            The night before Hester had left the kitchen spotless. This morning the sink held two smudged whisky tumblers, an oily pot encrusted with burnt popcorn (takes forever to scrub), a greasy bowl and two mugs with dregs of milky coffee.
            The madam and the master must have had one of their good evenings together. Shared popcorn, whisky and coffee. Alcohol to make her more agreeable and coffee to make him stay up. Hester sniggered. The master got a bargain last night. When he entertained his mistress at home the time his wife and kids went to the seaside, he served lobster with sparkling wine.
            “Good morning, Hester. The children will have soft-boiled eggs with toast for breakfast.”
            “Yes, missus. What will the master have?”
            The madam moved her mouth into a tight smile that faded before it began. “Probably nothing, Hester. He’s running late this morning. I’ll just pour the coffee.”
            Perhaps if the master took as much trouble with his wife as he had with his mistress, the smile would’ve been genuine.
Heavy footsteps on the stairs didn’t bode well. The master stomped in like a buffalo with tight testicles. A chuckle bubbled in Hester’s throat. Good for the madam not to have been seduced with a bowl of popcorn.
“I’m late,” the master’s growl was all buffalo too, “and the coffee’s bloody hot.”
“Sorry. Let me put some more milk in it.”
He took another sip. Scowled. “That makes it too weak.”
The madam handed him a paper bag. “I’m very sorry, Gordon,” she repeated. “Here is some dry sausage and fruit for your breakfast. Would you like to take a lunch sandwich as well? It’s ready.”
“No, I’ll get something at work.”
Hester was sure he would. Not once and not twice did she launder traces of lipstick off the master’s business shirts.
***
“I’m late,” Gordon said, “and the coffee’s bloody hot.”
Annette felt her stomach cringe. It was all her fault. She should have got up earlier. “Sorry. Let me put some more milk in it.”
“That makes it too weak.”
Annette still hoped to make amends as she handed him a paper bag. “I’m very sorry, Gordon. Here is some dry sausage and fruit for your breakfast. Would you like to take a lunch sandwich as well? It’s ready.”
He didn’t want it. Perhaps he realised she hadn’t made his lunch with as much love and devotion as a wife should. When they were newlyweds fourteen years ago, she would hide little “I love you” notes in his sandwiches, but Gordon complained he kept biting into the pink paper, so she stopped.
            When they were newlyweds fourteen years ago, Gordon had this contagious laugh that started in his belly and burst out like gunshot from his mouth. What had happened to that laugh? Had she killed it?
            “Bye, doll.” Gordon called out.
            For old times’ sake, Annette wanted to say, “Bye, honey.”
            She couldn’t.
***
 “Bye, doll.”
Doll. Well, the madam did look like a porcelain doll, and she certainly acted like one, too, whenever the master was around.
With the puppeteer gone, the doll regained control of her own strings. “Hester, I’m going grocery shopping later on. What do we need?”
Hester recited a long list of foodstuffs and cleaning products, and the madam wrote it all down. The whites couldn’t remember things, which explained why they had to be so good at reading and writing.
The clock hurried on without mercy. Hester changed the baby’s nappy, straightened the beds, picked up the dirty clothes, washed up after breakfast, changed another nappy. Beth was getting hungry. Hester was getting restless.
“Shall I make up the bottle, Missus?”
            “No, I’ll feed Beth myself. You may go now. Please take the sandwich from the fridge, if you like.”
            “Thank you, Madam.” The sandwich was bound to contain something more interesting than Hester’s usual apricot jam with a slice of pink Polony sausage.
            Free at last. The madam would make her own lunch and gobble it all up, away from the master’s controlling gaze. For dinner, the family would go out to a restaurant in order to relieve the white woman’s workload. After all, the madam was bound to be tired from lying by the swimming pool all day, painting her nails and pretending not to gawk at the gardener’s muscles covered with forbidden black skin.
            Hester glanced at the clock. Just enough time to catch a taxi van to the illegal meeting.
***
            Annette glanced at the clock. Just enough time to drive into the city for her meeting.

***




Saturday, February 04, 2017

Lie Lay Lain - Bryn Greenwood

Today I'm delighted to introduce you to "Lie Lay Lain" by Bryn Greenwood. Bryn is a New York times bestselling author, and the book's about lies. The lies we tell others. The lies we tell ourselves. It's also about truth and the importance of a good manicure.