Monday, 16 September 2019

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Behind Her EyesBehind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1.5 days

Pages - 374

Publisher - Harper Collins

Source - Friend gave to me

Blurb from Goodreads

Why is everyone talking about the ending of Sarah Pinborough's Behind Her Eyes?

Louise is a single mom, a secretary, stuck in a modern-day rut. On a rare night out, she meets a man in a bar and sparks fly. Though he leaves after they kiss, she’s thrilled she finally connected with someone.

When Louise arrives at work on Monday, she meets her new boss, David. The man from the bar. The very married man from the bar…who says the kiss was a terrible mistake but who still can’t keep his eyes off Louise.

And then Louise bumps into Adele, who’s new to town and in need of a friend, but she also just happens to be married to David. David and Adele look like the picture-perfect husband and wife, but then why is David so controlling, and why is Adele so scared of him?

As Louise is drawn into David and Adele’s orbit, she uncovers more puzzling questions than answers. The only thing that is crystal clear is that something in this marriage is very, very wrong, but Louise can’t guess how wrong―and how far a person might go to protect their marriage’s secrets.

My Review

Ok so I am late to the party on this one, we all remember the #wtfthatending (at least I think that was what it was). The book splits between Louise, Adele and goes back to Then. Louise is a single mother, works hard at her part time job and her focus is on her wee boy. She meets a guy at a bar, snogs him and finds he is her new boss, awkward! Up next is Adele, stunning, loves her husband, lonely and he cannot stand being around her, she just wants things back to how they were. When Adele and Louise become friends it appears they may have more in common, each is hiding something from the other and things can get dark reeeeeeeeeal quick!

So it is hard to go into this without giving spoilers and I don't do spoilers but some of the info is in the blurb so I can tell. So Louise's new pal Adele with the husband she loves but he doesn't want to be with her? Yup that's Louise's boss, the guy she kissed at the bar! So quickly we have a really tangled web and each doesn't want the other to know about that one. Oh shocking! We flip back to then, we know Adele has some issues but this goes back to when she met Rob and you areb't too sure what relevance it has to now. Also Louise has problems sleeping but with Adele's history she can help Louise, she wants to help Louise and works on getting her to be happy. It is a very weird friendship but totally compelling because you want to see where it goes.

Now I get why some folk where WTF that ending, I think if you are familiar with a theme in the book, if you have read of it before or seen any movies then you will enjoy it more. Total vaguebooking here but mind no spoilers. I had a feeling about half way through oooh i wonder if so it made sense to me however Pinborough still managed to pull some punches and keep it switched up. Whilst it seems a bit marmite I really liked it, it is one of those things you will think is brilliant and really crafty or be raging as you just don't get it or the why.

I quite like books that are a bit different, shock you, you don't see the path a book is going to take or better you think you know and the author just chuckles as they pull the rug out from your "knowing" ways. 4/5 for me this time, I think this was my first dance with this author, it won't be my last.

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Saturday, 14 September 2019

Q&A with author Paul Burston

Q&A with author Paul Burston

Photo by Krystyna FitzGerald-Morris

• The book I hear is based on something you experienced yourself, is that true and if so what happened?

Yes, it’s true. Several years ago, I had a cyberstalker who made my life hell. It started with emails and trolling on Twitter, then spilled over onto various websites where I was employed as a journalist or featured as an author. It was mostly homophobic abuse. At its worst, I was receiving dozens of malicious communications every day. The stalker also contacted people who employed or supported me in some way, trying to persuade them to drop me. Then they started buying tickets for my events, posting the booking info on Twitter and making veiled threats to come and sort me out. Eventually I went to the police, who were very understanding. The scene in the book where Tom reports Evie to the police is pretty much as I remember it. I then helped the detective to build a case by taking screenshots of everything and making numerous police statements. Basically, you have to relive the abuse over and over again. Eventually the woman responsible was arrested and tried, found guilty and given a suspended sentence and a restraining order. I never heard from them again but the after effects of the harassment lasted for months.

• How did you get over something like that?

With time and support - from my partner, my GP, friends and victim support. I had counselling and was also prescribed anti depressants. I wasn’t in a good way! I was very angry, not just with the woman responsible but also with myself for letting it get to me. Of course I realise now that I was wrong to feel that way. Harassment or stalking is seriously disruptive and unsettling. I was diagnosed with PTSD. I wanted to communicate some of that in the book. The impact of what happened to me still lingers, but in a more positive way. I changed my online behaviour. I’m far more discerning about what I share on social media now.

• How did you find writing the book when it is something so close to something you experienced?

It was very therapeutic. I often mine my own life experiences for my fiction, so I knew I’d write about it at some point. The idea for the book really seeded itself when I moved into crime fiction a few years ago. I knew it would make a good story. It was a story I had a specific insight into.

• The characters, well the main male and female, are not the nicest by any means how did you come up with them?

They’re partly based on various people or character types I’ve encountered over the years. I also put a bit of myself into each character I write - in this case, my less admirable qualities! I’m not really interested in nice characters. They’re not as much fun to write. I’m far more interested in characters who are compelling or damaged in some way. They’re more of a challenge.

• The female character, her voice was so authentic was that hard to create?

I found writing her the most enjoyable. I wanted the story to be more ambiguous than it was in real life, and for her character to be more sympathetic than the person who inspired her. Once I had her voice, writing her came quite easily. I’d hear her whispering in my head, sit down and write.

• Who was more fun, Evie or Tom?

Evie, for lots of reasons. She’s clearly damaged, obsessive and relentless but also very witty and well read. Her pop cultural references were great fun to write, too - Morrissey, obviously, but also Blondie, Bowie and Madonna. I’ve interviewed Debbie Harry and I met David Bowie. I’ve gone off Morrissey but I’m still a big Madonna fan. She’s a great pop star. So Evie and I have a few things in common.

• What is next for Paul Burston?

I’m working on my next book. It’s another psychological thriller, also set in Hastings, and revolves around a man seeking revenge for things that happened to him in the past. It’s more of a family drama than the current book. I’m also touring with my literary salon Polari and preparing for our Polari Book Prize event with Tracey Thorn in October and our twelfth birthday event with Russell T Davies in November, both at the Southbank Centre.

• Where can fans find you? (dare I ask that after reading “The Closer I Get”

My website has information about upcoming author events and Polari events.

I’m also on Twitter @PaulBurston, Insta @paulburston1 and Facebook @paulburstonauthor

• Anything else you would like to add/answer that I haven’t asked?

I’d like to encourage your readers to please support local bookshops and libraries! They do so much for authors.

About the book, My Review, Blurb from Goodreads

Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone. Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has. When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing. But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on. A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…

And if I haven't spoiled you enough with the interview I have a wee giveaway of the book. x1 ebook, UK ONLY, sorry guys but Amazon doesn't allow me to gift outside my own country. To be in with a chance just fill in the Rafflecopter below, good luck.

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Friday, 13 September 2019

The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor

The Anatomy of GhostsThe Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - in and out over 5 days

Pages - 469

Publisher - Michael Joseph

Source - Waterstones buy

Blurb from Goodreads

1786, Jerusalem College, Cambridge. The ghost of murdered Sylvia Whichcote has been sighted prowling the grounds by Frank Oldershaw, a disturbed fellow commoner. When his anxious mother employs John Holdsworth, author of The Anatomy of Ghosts- a stinging account of why ghosts are mere delusion - to investigate the sighting, the uneasy status quo at Jerusalem is rapidly torn apart. Holdsworth grows to realise that the sinister Holy Ghost Club governs the privileged life at Jerusalem with a rigour far more effective than anything the Master, Dr. Carbury, could muster. And when Holdsworth finds himself haunted - not only by the ghost of his dead wife, Maria, but also Elinor, the very-much-alive Master's wife - his fate is sealed. He must unravel the circumstances surrounding Sylvia's death ... or the hauntings will continue.

My Review

The opening chapter is a bit weird, it is Jesus, his apostles and an offering of a pure young lady awaiting a chosen apostle. The time in the 1786s so I had no idea what was going on, however as the book goes on you start to understand what the chat is.

John Holdsworth is hired by a very wealthy woman to investigate what is happening to her son. He is as college and has become unhinged after seeing a ghost. John is hired after he wrote a book "The Anatomy of Ghosts" penned after he lost his son and his wife spent their money on a medium desperate to connect with her lost child. John doesn't believe in ghosts and that is what the good lady needs, John is in financial straits and over a barrel so reluctantly he goes.

What follows is a view into some very entitled folk, secrets within the college and a young man whose mental health is suffering and is volatile. I took a bit to settle into the book it goes at a sedate pace, the writing isn't the issue but I took a while to get what was happening and why it was relevant. A lot of the characters are pretty pompous and I felt for John who has already lost so much and now has to go ghost chasing. I think he was the only character I had any kind of feeling toward and mostly that was sympathy for what he had endured. 3/5 for me this time, this was my first time reading this author, if I came across his works I would give me another go.

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Thursday, 12 September 2019

Hiya from America

We travelled down to Manchester and overnight stayed in the Radisson Blu hotel, right next to the airport and a lot less faffing about. Technically away 13 nights I think it works out, think I have enough books?

Guys the internet here has been pretty shocking, I can get on Insta/Twitter but uploading takes ages and this post has been in progress since we arrived here 12 days ago now! It may even be we are home in Scotland by the time this thing goes live!

We are in one of my fav places, Las Vegas, this is our 7th trip here I think. I love the shows, people are so happy, the tacky tourists shops and a wee Mike's Hard Lemonade, not to mention the buildings and props..

The weather was pretty harsh when we arrived, 42 degrees, my Scottish skin was melting, timeline took ages to settle and we went chasing the sunrise at 5am on our second day here I think it was.

I love this place, the city that never sleeps not matter what time you get up or go to bed there are always folk still around, drinking, gambling, gabbing.

We always go to shows when we come here, we went to see Cher, omg she is a legend, 73 and could out dance a lot of artists. I have uploaded tons of piccys from our time on our instagram, it is an open account. We normally go to one show a day but this time we have been exhausted so just played it by ear. Went to a few comedy shows, we seen Def Leppard live, David Copperfield (fantastic, emotional and I totally recommend going seeing him, we saw him 7 ago and he has just gotten better!), we seen Penn & Tellar and for my birthday o/h took me to a drag queen brunch show. It even rained one night, second time we have been here we brought the Scottish weather.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

Luckiest Girl AliveLuckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 352

Publisher - Simon & Schuster

Source - Bought

Blurb from Goodreads


As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancĂ©, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that's bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

My Review

Ani is living the high life, engaged to a dreamboat who gives her money to cover every wish she could have. Working on a big magazine, she has the status and labels she dreamed of as a kid. Ani has a past though and she cannot quite outrun it. The past always has a way of coming to the present and Ani will need to deal with her past and the consequences it brings.

The book goes back and forth, past and present, to when Ani was TifAni and all she wanted was status and respect in her peer group. A lot happens when Ani was a teenager, horrific things that are hinted at or referred to in passing in the present. We know it was something bad and now they want her side of the story. In actual fact there is quite a few horrific and unsettling things, Ani being in positions that have shocking consequences. Peer pressure, wanting to fit into the "it crowd", vulnerability, abuse, sexual content, manipulation, relationships, friendships are only scratching the surface.

For me Ani was not a likeable character, she is shallow, very focused on materialistic things however once we get into her past you can understand her a bit better. The majority of characters I found very unlikable but sometimes these characters make for absolutely compelling reading, we have all came across some of these horrors.

It is a busy wee book with a lot of heavy, emotive, enraging topics covered and I would have liked to have seen more depth explored for them. As the book jumps past to present to only get small coverage on certain things covered however it kept my attention as I wanted to know how it all played out. The book does well to keep you on your toes and I can honestly say I never seen a lot of what came to pass. This was 3.5/5 for me, I have another by this author on my tbrm and look forward to it. Also, a lot of quotes said this book is like Gone Girl, if you go into this with no comparisons to that I think you will enjoy it much more, they are very different books!

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Friday, 6 September 2019

Flesh and Blood by John Harvey

Flesh & Blood (Frank Elder, #1)Flesh & Blood by John Harvey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages - 320

Publisher - Carroll & Graf Publisher

Source - bought

Blurb from Goodreads

After his wife's betrayal and his own retirement from the force, Detective Inspector Elder has fled as far as possible to go in England without running out of land. But he is haunted by the past and in particular by the unsolved disappearance of sixteen-year-old Susan Blacklock back in 1988. Shane Donald and Alan McKeirnan, convicted just one year later for the brutal rape and murder of a young girl, remain the prime suspects in Elder's mind, and when he hears of Shane's early release from prison, he feels compelled to leave his safe haven and to revisit the scene of the crime. When Shane breaks parole and disappears and yet another young girl is horribly murdered, Elder's involvement becomes crucial. McKiernan seems to still wield a frightening power over his ex-partner even from his prison cell, and the new murder bears all the hallmarks of their earlier crime. Taunted by postcards from the killer, an increasingly desperate Elder battles his own demons as he and his family are inexorably drawn into the very heart of the crime in this breakthrough novel from John Harvey, winner of the first-ever Sherlock Award for the best detective created by a British author.

My Review

This is book one in the series of Detective Inspector Elder. After a whole host of betrayal he left his job, family and went off to England. There was a case that he could never forgot and one of the killers or a similar case is now being freed. Soon another girl is found dead and Elder is being taunted, will he find the killer, will he ever get answers to his old case that never left him?

The opening chapter has a horrible scene with some cat so maybe if you are a bit like me and it gives you the boak, be cautious when reading. Elder's daughter has tracked him down so he has a lot on his plate and trying to sort through.

One thing I would note is we hear from the newly released convicted killer, his back story and follow him as he tries to get back on his feet after release. It was thought, by some, he wasn't the main culprit and was actually vulnerable. It is interesting to see that side.

Elder gets involved in the investigation and we follow it through with insight into the old case. It is a good opening to a series, I liked it but didn't love it. Sex, emotions, murder, abuse, cold cases, investigation, this is a series loved by so many, I thought it was good but I didn't love it. I will check out the others in the series 3.5/5 for me.

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Tuesday, 3 September 2019

The Pact We Made by Layla AlAmmar

The Pact We MadeThe Pact We Made by Layla AlAmmar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 2 days

Pages - 288

Publisher - The Borough Press

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

THE PACT WE MADE tells the story of Dahlia who is staring down the barrel of her thirtieth birthday, the age when a Kuwaiti woman from a good family is past
her prime marrying years. Dahlia straddles two worlds: one in which she’s a modern woman living in a modern city, and another where she can’t have male friends, or leave the country without her father’s consent.

With shades of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and woven through with reflections on Ariel’s story from The Tempest, THE PACT WE MADE explores ideas of freedom and the duality of being a woman in Kuwait.

My Review

Dahlia is our main character a Kuwaiti woman rapidly approaching her thirtieth birthday, from a good family with strong values and tradiitons the pressure is on Dahlia to marry. Her mother arranges constant "dates" and meetings with suitable males and their families to try and finally find a match for her daughter. As the years pass the less suitable and appealing they seem to Dahlia. She just wants to be free, do her own thing and has zero interest in getting married.

This is a bit of a genteel paced book, we flip between present day and hints of Dahlia's past or actually going back to the past. Something happened that changed Dahlia forever and whilst she has strong values and a sense to do right by her family she also just wants to be happy.

I think we take so much for granted these days, where I come from you are free in pretty much all of your life choices. We know in some countries arranged marriages are still very much a thing and these girls/women have very controlled lives. Dahlia is a bit different, she has friends, a job, she wears make up, she has nights out and had dabbled with some drugs. She has a bit more freedom than some ladies that comes from families that have expectations of planned/arranged marriages.

It makes for a really interesting read as many of us do take our freedom of choice as a given. Very well written, I was drawn into Dahlia's life and the struggles she faced, the judgements both her own and those thrown her way. Friendship, family, overcoming past trauma, there are also passages dealing with self harm and abuse although not covered in huge detail there is enough to give you a more intimate insight into Dahlia as a person. Not normally a book I would pick up but I am so glad I was sent a copy of this. I will be looking out for what this author does next, 4/5 for me this time.

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