The Book Whisperer

jottings, musings and recommendations of an incurable bookaholic

Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton May 21, 2016

Filed under: Crime/Mystery/Thriller,S J Bolton,Uncategorized — The Book Whisperer @ 2:16 pm

Daisy in chainsWhat I thought:

There is little more comforting that settling down to read a book by one of your favourite authors and knowing you’ll be in for a treat. And little more satisfying than reaching the end and congratulating yourself on being right.

I first discovered Sharon Bolton’s books about 5 years ago (then known as S J Bolton) when I was recommended Sacrifice by a friend. I devoured it. And all her others since.

Daisy in Chains centres on prison inmate Hamish Wolfe, incarcerated for the murders of 4 young women. Despite the court case being lost and Wolfe being found guilty, he wages a campaign to get lawyer Maggie Rose on his side to help him prove his innocence. Maggie Rose has a reputation – that of an illusive, limelight-shunning lawyer who finds loopholes and inconsistencies in evidence that has overturned the convictions of even the guiltiest of murderers. That’s why Wolfe wants Maggie on his side, only she is playing very hard to get.

What ensues is a game of cat and mouse between Wolfe and Rose and we’re never really sure of either Wolfe’s guilt or innocence or Maggie’s belief in him. What I like about Bolton’s books is her way of dropping in bits of information throughout the book, some almost seeming irrelevant at the time. It is held back and then weaved cleverly in to the plot, constantly making your question your assumptions.

 

  Verdict:

In this age of the psychological thriller (and it is – just check out the supermarket shelves!) I have either read far too many of them that I can guess way too early what will happen, or publishers are jumping on a bandwagon and pushing any old rubbish out it sometimes seems, it restores my faith in good writing and plotting when I am left with some surprises at the end.

Great book, highly recommended. And if you haven’t read any of Bolton’s other books please make sure you do, they really are fantastic.

 

 

 

The Doll’s House by M J Arlidge April 10, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Book Whisperer @ 1:21 pm

dolls house 

What I thought

As with the first two books in this series, Eeny Meeny and Pop Goes the Weasel, this latest race round Southampton for a serial killer is just as worthy of the lashings of praise I heaped on its predecessors.

The story begins with a body found buried on a beach by a young family on a day out, the body of a young girl with dark hair, bright blue eyes and a bluebird tattoo on her shoulder. And it soon becomes clear that the girl was the victim of a serial killer, one who starves his victims to death, all with a similar appearance – and missing girl Ruby Sprackling also fits that profile. The story itself is darkly chilling, all the more so because we view some of it through Ruby’s eyes as she tries to stay alive.

D I Helen Grace leads the hunt once again, and with her own flawed character and obstacles put in her way by those who should be working with her, this only makes us route for her more. But what I particularly liked about this book was, as we got to understand more about the killer and understand his background, he becomes real to the reader rather than just some faceless ghoul who’s motivation is not only believable but actually sympathetically drawn.

Arlidge really knows how to create tension, fear and excitement and knows how to do it well.

  Verdict

I suspected this may be the case after having read just the first book in the series, but having now read all three I can confirm that not only am I a huge fan, but Arlidge joins the ranks with Tess Geritssen and Val McDermid et al to be classed as one of my favourite crime authors. Praise indeed.

 

The Ice Twins by S K Tremayne February 18, 2015

Filed under: Crime/Mystery/Thriller,Paranormal,Spooky — The Book Whisperer @ 9:38 am

ice twinsWhat I thought:

I think I enjoyed the idea of this psychological thriller which concerns the tragic death of one identical twin more than the actual book. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it – I did – but it never quite reached eerie enough, or creepy enough or thrilling enough for me. After the death of one of their twin daughters, Lydia, in a tragic accident witnessed by the surviving twin, Kirstie,  parents Sarah and Angus move to a tiny Scottish island which Angus inherited from his Grandmother. With Angus away working Sarah Starts to feel increasingly isolated and her surviving daughter is becoming more and more disturbed including telling Sarah that Lydia isn’t the twin who died.

What I did enjoy about this book was the setting – a remote Scottish island only accessible by boat. Wind-swept and isolated and inhabited only by grieving parents who are becoming increasingly distant from one another, a twin who appears to still be playing with her dead sister and a dog who has started to act strangely. There is a very melancholy tone throughout the book which I confess I do like in a book, but I did find it difficult to warm to the characters, particularly Sarah and Angus, so I never really felt fully invested in their plight and never quite cared enough about the outcome, curious though I was to find out which twin really had survived that fateful fall.

 

  Verdict:

Although it was a good read and overall I enjoyed the book, it didn’t feel quite polished enough for me. I will definitely look out for future books by this new author though as this is a very promising start. Recommended if you like psychological thrillers.

 

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins November 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Book Whisperer @ 11:45 am

9780857522313-largeWhat I thought:

Rachel, in her thirties, divorced (husband left her for another woman), drinks to ease the pain, boards the same train every day – the 8.04 to London. Every day that same train grinds to a halt on the track backing on to a row of houses where Jess and Jason live. Or at least that’s what Rachel calls them. Jess and Jason are in love, they are happy and they have the life Rachel wants. Jess is a fashion designer and Jason is a Doctor and flies off to war-torn countries to save lives. Not really, but that’s what Rachel wants to believe when she stares into their window every morning at the same time. Only one morning, something happens. Something that shatters Rachel’s daydreams and destroys everything she thinks she knows about them and this sets off a chain of events that starts to get out of control.

The idea is a great one. I was intrigued. I wanted to know more. While I admit the book is well enough written to keep those pages turning, I can’t help but feel that this sort of thriller has been done to death now. The one with the wronged wife, the flawed heroine, the domestic bliss (or is it?) plot-line. There have been so many of this ilk in the last few years (and while I have read some really great ones, I have read more really bad ones by now) and this genre is starting to grate on me. And what I really dislike is the “confessions” at the end of the book: the perpetrator suddenly starts telling all in a Scooby-Doo “if it hadn’t been for those meddaling kids” way. There must be a better way than this to show the reader what really happened and why.

 

  Verdict:

Not a bad book. In fact I quite enjoyed it and it’s certainly getting some great reviews. It’s just that I am feeling somewhat jaded by this particular formula at the moment and I am hankering after some hard-boiled crime again. Give me a good old police procedural any day. 

 

 

Playing Big: Find your voice, your vision and make things happen by Tara Mohr October 28, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Book Whisperer @ 5:13 pm

playingbigcoverWhat I thought:

I have to be honest here; I have managed to avoid books about women empowering themselves for 4 decades. Just stand up for yourself I’d think, make yourself heard, we’re equal to men blah blah. I’m not entirely sure where my epiphany came from just recently but after nearly 20 years of more than holding my own in corporate sales (and mainly in IT/Telecoms which is particularly male dominated) I have suddenly realised that women are vastly under-represented at the top. In fact the higher I climb up the corporate ladder, the less of us there are at the top. Why is that and why has it never bothered me before now? I believe it may have dawned on me after having a conversation with a female colleague about the strategy and focus of our organisation and those running it and after having brainstormed ideas and discussed ways of driving some dynamism into the company that I realised that those leading from the top are all men. Not that this is about man-bashing (there are some brilliant minds at the top of our company) but I have realised that we are very conspicuous by our absence.

When I saw this book in the Netgalley catalogue it came just at the right time. In fact it yelled my name. I have read dozens of books on selling and presenting and coaching etc. and, although there are some great books out there, I have never ever read one start to finish, in the order it was written, and actually completed all the exercises in it. EVER. Until now. I think reading it on my Kindle helped as there wasn’t the temptation to go flicking around out of sequence looking for the bits that might interest me more. What’s more, I looked forward to getting back to the book and the exercises every day.

Tara Mohr’s style is conversational, friendly and genuinely made me think. It made me stop and analyse my own inner-critic (and we all have one – but before now I didn’t know what she looked like, spoke like and why she was trying to stop me in my tracks from time to time). I had lots of “a-ha” moments and many a moment for pause and reflection.

  Verdict:

I genuinely can’t praise this book enough. In fact I have just ordered a hard copy so that I can make notes in it and flick through parts of it again at my leisure. I found it inspiring and wise and highly motivational. Brilliant book!

Have you read any books by women for women? Can you recommend any others that inspired you?

 

Pop Goes the Weasel by M J Arlidge August 20, 2014

Filed under: Crime/Mystery/Thriller,Uncategorized — The Book Whisperer @ 10:08 am

pop 2What I thought:

A new kid on the crime block! And a damn good one too!

I am a massive crime fiction fan, and like anyone I have my staples – my trusty back catalogues of favourite authors I can always go to when I want to be assured of a good ole murder – but I do like to explore new crime authors too. Sometimes I am rewarded, sometimes I am not. M J Arlidge has released two books and is already a firm favourite!

I read purchased Eeny Meeny on my Kindle a few weeks ago as it was only 99p (it still is, I believe – so hurry!) and I wanted a crime book for my holiday (short chapters, gripping, sun-lounger fodder). I expected to be entertained but not to love it as much as I did. I immediately requested the next book in the series, Pop Goes the Weasel, from Netgalley as I couldn’t even wait until September for it to come out.

Both Eeny Meeny and Pop Goes the Weasel (and future books, I suspect) are set in Southampton with Helen Grace leading the charge. Grace is a great character – determined, driven and flawed (but not in a clichéd alcoholic, divorcee way) and has a past that both spurrs her on and stops her in her tracks. Much is revealed about Helen Grace’s past in Eeny Meeny (in fact, I normally don’t say you should read crime books in order, as I think with most series it is possible to enjoy out of sequence – but if you do plan on reading Eeny Meeny then read it first as some things are given away in Pop Goes the Weasel that will may spoil it for you).

Pop Goes the Weasel is centred around an investigation into a prostitute who is killing her clients and then dishing their hearts up in courier-delivered boxes to family and work colleagues. Nice. If I’m honest, whereas Eeny Meeny ripped through at helter-skelter pace, Pop Goes the Weasel slightly lost some momentum in the middle for me, but when it picked up again towards the end I was just as hooked.

 

  Verdict:

I am a massive fan of this new author. Some of my favourite crime authors are Val McDermid, Tess Geritsen, Karen Rose, Jo Nesbo, Michael Robotham, and if M J Arlidge continues like this, well…

 

 

Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Filed under: Uncategorized — The Book Whisperer @ 9:35 am

little_liesWhat I thought:

After having read and really enjoyed The Husband’s Secret by the same author last year, I was keen to get my hands on this book this year. I was not let down. In fact, not only did it exceed my expectations but in my opinion it was better then The Husband’s Secret (and if you’ve seen the shere volume of and content of those review then you’ll know that this is a bold claim). I loved it!

This book is centred around a primary school in the beach town of Pirewee in southern Australia. The parents play the starring roles, as do playground politics and a school trivia night murder. Although I am not a parent myself (and this book makes me think I may have dodged a bullet!) I completely bought in to the cliques, bitching, competitiveness, and gossiping that goes on around a primary school.

The three main characters are Madeline (mother of three, one of the leaders of a clique who I fully expected to hate but who was actually a wonderfully witty, flawed, self-depreciating woman who became my favourite character), Jane (young mother of Ziggy, always moving from place to place, has a secret) and Celeste (mother of twin boys, married to a very wealthy banker and gave up her own legal career to stay at home, also has a big secret). All of the characters in this book, from the warring parents to the children themselves felt so rounded and fleshed out that I believed every single one of them. Liane Moriarty knows people! She understands what makes them tick, she gets them! I just love it when I read a book where I fall in step with the characters and don’t feel like I’m having to suspend my disbelief (or worse, roll my eyes).

I don’t really want to say too much about the plot; we know straight away that one of the parents has been murdered at a school trivia night. The story, after that first chapter, takes us back in time and shows us the lead-up to that night. While this isn’t a murder-mystery book at all, there is always that element of wanting to know who was killed and who killed them which gives a great forward momentum in the book. For me though, this was a character-driven book, and a fantastic one at that.

 

  Verdict:

I loved it. Just loved it. One ogf the best books I’ve read this year.

NB/ 1) I receievd my copy of this book via Netgalley in return for an honest review. 2) This book is called Big Little Lies in the USA and Australia.