Tuesday 29 March 2016

Dear Dad - Giselle Green

Handsome, 28-year old, Nate Hardman is a frontline reporter with a big problem. Suffering from shell-shock and unable to leave his house, he’s already lost his social life and his girlfriend. Now his career prospects are sinking fast.

9 year-old Adam Boxley who lives alone with his ageing nan, also has big problems. Neglected at home and bullied at school, he’s desperate to reach out to his dad – and that’s when he sends his first letter to Nate. Only Nate’s not who he thinks he is. Will he help? More importantly – can he?

Across town meanwhile, caring but impulsive teacher Jenna Tierney really wants to help Adam - except the feisty redhead has already had enough of teaching. Recently hurt by yet another cheating boyfriend, Jenna’s now set her sights on pursuing a dream career abroad ... only she’s about to meet Nate - her dream man who’ll make her re-think everything.

The big question is; can three people desperate to find love, ever find happiness when they’re only connected by one big lie?

What did I think?

I had to wait a few days after reading Dear Dad to write my review; the book is so poignant and heartfelt that it simply took my breath away.  It's such an unusual idea for a story and with three strong, likeable characters it works so well.  I completely bought into the story and really felt that fate had a hand in the lives of Nate, Jenna and Adam.

Adam is a 9 year old orphan living with his Nan.  One day his Nan gives him the address of his Dad, so Adam writes a letter and posts it through his letterbox.  Nate is the recipient of the letter only he's never met Adam's Mum and he's never fathered a child, but there's something about Adam that stops Nate from throwing a bucket of cold water over Adam's dream of finding his Dad.

Nate is a war correspondent but, after some traumatic experiences, is afraid to leave the house.  When Adam's letter drops through Nate's door he can't face setting off to find Adam to explain the mistake, but fate soon brings Adam back to Nate's door.  Before Nate has a chance to tell Adam that he's not his Dad, Adam tells Nate about some boys who are bullying him.  Nate agrees to go to the school parents' evening to discuss the bullying, now he just has to get over his fear of leaving the house!  Adam has such an effect on Nate that he does overcome his fear and makes it to the school, albeit a little late, where he meets Jenna.

Jenna is Adam's temporary teacher and is one of the first people to notice Adam, a big occasion for Adam as he has never been noticed before.  Jenna is struggling after a bad break up and everything in her life felt temporary to me.  Jenna doesn't want to be hurt again but when she meets Nate through Adam she can't ignore her feelings.  The only problem is that Jenna thinks Nate is Adam's Dad and this lie is hanging over Nate's head like the Sword of Damocles.  How will Jenna react when she finds out the truth?

The chapters flick between Nate and Jenna giving us the perspective from both sides and it works brilliantly.  Giselle Green has written Dear Dad in such a way that I felt like I had the privilege of looking right into Nate and Jenna's souls.  I knew what they were thinking, their hopes and dreams, their fears and doubts and their growing affection for Adam.  The final chapter is written from Adam's point of view and finishes off the story magnificently.

I couldn't help but fall in love with young Adam and I missed Nate, Jenna and Adam from the minute that the last page was turned. With Dear Dad being her sixth book, I can't believe I haven't come across Giselle Green before now.  I shall certainly be adding more of her books to my must read list.

Heartfelt and poignant, Dear Dad is a wonderful book that will melt even the coldest heart.  It's so unusual and unique covering so many difficult issues in a sensitive and respectful way, whilst also reminding us of the true meaning of family.  This is storytelling at its best!

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Monday 28 March 2016

The Secrets of Castle Du Rêve - Hannah Emery

In the quaint, seaside town of Silenshore a legacy of secrets is about to be revealed...

Growing up in the imposing Castle du Rêve during 1940s wartime, young Evelyn longs for a life outside the castle walls. She dreams of attending glamorous parties, gracing the silver screen and being swept off her feet by a dashing, debonair beau. But innocent Evelyn is unaware that her bid for freedom from the oppressive castle will change the course of more than just her life...

In the early Sixties, sweet, intelligent Victoria meets the man of her dreams! Yet the expression of their love comes with consequences. In the shadow of the mysterious castle, is their relationship doomed from the start?

In the present day, Isobel has just learned she’s pregnant. An unexpected challenge she can only hope she’s up to. Except living in the father of her child’s family home, beneath the eyes of the castle, all is not as it seems… Soon secrets that have been hidden for decades threaten to change the lives of Isobel’s new family irrevocably.

Three women’s lives tangled together in a web of secrets, scandal and deceit, as the legacy of Castle du Rêve is finally discovered…

What did I think?

With chapters told through the eyes of Evelyn, Victoria and Isobel we catch glimpses of life in the shadow of the Castle Du Rêve in the 1940's, 1960's and 2010 respectively.  These three very different women's lives are interwoven although they (and the reader) are not aware of exactly how until the very end.  

Evelyn grew up during World War II when the Castle Du Rêve was used as a safe place to stay for children from London.  As Evelyn makes temporary friends she longs for a life outside of the castle and wanders into a strange Aladdin's cave of a shop one day where she meets Jack.  Jack promises her a life of stardom in London but things change once they are married.

Victoria is blossoming into a young woman during the 1960's.  When she falls in love with handsome lecturer, Henry, she imagines a life together away from her oppressive father but Henry has a secret he has kept from Victoria.  A secret that will cost Victoria dearly.

Isobel has only been seeing Tom for a few months when she discovers that she is pregnant, and as they both live in tiny flats they have no option but to move into Tom's family home.  Isobel has a feeling that all is not as it seems and she wonders whether Tom told her all of his secrets or if Tom's mother, Daphne, is keeping secrets of her own.

The stories are so intriguing and captivating that this was more of a page-turner than I expected.  With the heart-rendering addition of letters that Henry has written to Victoria along the way I was amazed that I held my tears in until the end.  As the castle gave up all of its secrets, I found myself hoping that they can all now live happily ever after.

With a castle, a curse and bursting with family secrets, The Secrets of Castle Du Rêve is a book full of mystery and intrigue; so beautifully written and filled with emotion that you would need to have a heart of stone to remain dry-eyed at the end.

I received this e-book from the publisher, HarperImpulse, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

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That's What Friends Are For - Marcie Steele

Best friends tell each other everything… right?

Sam and Louise have been best friends since they hung their coats side by side on the first day of primary school. Now in their thirties, they’re still just as close, but life is a little bit more complicated …

Sam loves running her market stall with Louise by her side. They’re right at the heart of the community – and always one step ahead on local gossip. But Sam’s marriage is in a bit of a rut, and handsome stranger Dan has her wondering if the grass might be greener …

Louise is the life and soul of every party, but she’s hiding a broken heart, and worries about her beautiful but secretive daughter Charley. All she wants is someone to love – but could Mr Right be just around the corner?

Just when Sam and Louise need each other most, they suddenly have reason to wonder whether they ever really knew each other at all. Can the two best friends put the past behind them, and help each other find love and happiness again?

An emotional and uplifting tale of love, secrets and the importance of having a best friend.

What did I think?

Marcie Steele, aka Mel Sherratt, has done it again!  With such a colourful cast of characters, I jumped into the pages of this fantastic book and didn't want to leave it.  Along with the lovely characters, there's also a bitch and a man-tart to make this book so much more than chick-lit.

Louise and Sam are brilliant characters, working on Sam's bustling fruit and veg market stall.  They have known each other forever and are best friends who tell each other everything...well almost everything.  Louise has kept the secret of Charley's parentage from everyone including Sam, leaving the reader to jump to conclusions as to who Charley's father might be.  As usual, I had my money on completely the wrong horse!

Sam is also struggling with marital problems, after marrying her childhood sweetheart, Reece, but doesn't tell Louise the extent of her problems.  When she meets Dan, and he shows a keen interest in her, Sam wonders whether her marriage is worth saving after all.  I was willing Sam to speak to Louise properly about her issues; we all know a problem shared is a problem halved.

With Louise's siblings, Ryan (the man-tart) and Nicci also on stalls in the market it really gives the sense of a close knit community. With everyone looking out for each other and willing to do anything for each other, I had a small tear in my eye towards the end when the market family came together to make a dream come true for one of them.  

As well as the adult issues in the book, through Louise's daughter Charley, it also looks at teenage problems such as raging hormones, the dangers of meeting strangers on the internet and cyber-bullying through Facebook.  

That's What Friends Are For left me surrounded with a warm glow - it's definitely a book to lose yourself in and has as many dramas as an episode of Eastenders.  A fantastic feel-good book that reminds us exactly what friends are for.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Bookouture, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Behind the Scenes at the Museum - Kate Atkinson

Ruby Lennox was conceived grudgingly by Bunty and born while her father, George, was in the Dog and Hare in Doncaster telling a woman in an emerald dress and a D-cup that he wasn't married. Bunty had never wanted to marry George, but here she was, stuck in a flat above the pet shop in an ancient street beneath York Minster, with sensible and sardonic Patrica aged five, greedy cross-patch Gillian who refused to be ignored, and Ruby...

Ruby tells the story of The Family, from the day at the end of the nineteenth century when a travelling French photographer catches frail beautiful Alice and her children, like flowers in amber, to the startling, witty, and memorable events of Ruby's own life.

What did I think?

This was a splendid family saga, perfectly blended with laughter and tears.  Anyone who doesn't love Ruby must need a heart transplant; she is so funny and endearing.  What is so strange is that I couldn't tell you what the story was about but I was so immersed in the family that I was just enjoying being along for the ride.  One thing I do have in common with Ruby is my dream of humans evolving into a species with earlids!

Set in the wonderful cobbled streets of York, we are introduced to the Lennox family.  Bunty and George have a family of girls but are anything but happy in their marriage.  As footnotes to each chapter we are treated to flashbacks to Bunty's family history as we look at the life of Ruby's grandmother, Nell.

I loved the way that certain possessions were passed down through history and each item had a story behind it.  I was reminded of the phrase 'one man's junk is another man's treasure' as something that could have very little monetary value can have great sentimental value in the right hands.

This is my first Kate Atkinson book but I know for definite that it will not be my last.  Behind the Scenes at the Museum is a book that drew me in from start to finish and I just didn't want it to end.  Kate Atkinson is a master storyteller and has written such an easy reading book that that it is hard to believe it was a debut novel.  I'm looking forward to reading more from Kate Atkinson as I think she will go on from strength to strength.

I received this book from the publisher, Black Swan, as a prize from a Twitter competition.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Sunday 27 March 2016

In Extremis: A Hellbound Novella - David McCaffrey

1888. Whitechapel. Think you know the story? You don't know Jack... 

James Maybrick had secured his legacy as the most infamous serial killer of all time…his diary would one day shock the world. 

Thomas Quinn wants revenge…his actions will give birth to an organisation of unspeakable power. 

Together, they unwittingly set in motion a plan that will one day lead to the serial killer, Obadiah Stark. 

Stark became The Tally Man. 

They were The Brethren. 

Maybrick is known to history by another name…

What did I think?

I recently read Hellbound so naturally raced on to read this prequel, In Extremis.  The famous Jack of 1888 is mentioned at the end of Hellbound, leaving a gasp of surprise that the reader can only recover from by reading In Extremis.

As a nation we have always been fascinated by the anonymity of Jack the Ripper.  When the diary of cotton merchant, James Maybrick, was discovered in the 1990's he was accused of being Jack the Ripper although the reliability of the diary has not been corroborated.  What is fascinating about Maybrick is the suspicious nature of his death, caused by arsenic poisoning; his wife, Florence, was convicted of his murder.

David McCaffrey, using facts and fiction, brilliantly recreates the story of James and Florence Maybrick.  In Extremis could definitely be read as a standalone novella, but it is completely apt that it is a prequel to explain the ending of Hellbound.  Instead of recreating the Ripper's crimes, we join the story as the final victim, Mary Jane Kelly, is murdered.  We then meet Thomas Quinn, a member of the secret group, The Brethren, as the group decide that James Maybrick has killed his final victim.

I really enjoyed In Extremis; although it is a short story, there is so much packed into the book.  Linking nicely to Hellbound, but at the same time adding flesh on the bones of the Ripper story.  With an extract from the journal of James Maybrick, this is a must read for anyone fascinated with Jack the Ripper.

I received this e-book from Booklover Catlady Publicity in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

My Husband's Wife - Jane Corry

It's the perfect love story.
Lily meets Ed at a party, and on their second date, he proposes. She's a lawyer, he's an up-and-coming artist. They own a small but beautiful flat in London and mix with all the right people.
But Lily has a secret. Something from her past, that is soon to collide with her present. And she thinks her new husband is hiding something too...
The vows they made will soon be tested to the very limits.
'Till death us do part...'
What did I think?

With a title of 'My Husband's Wife' I knew from the outset that there would be no happily ever after for Lily and Ed Macdonald.  Jane Corry doesn't waste a single minute by grabbing your attention from the prologue announcing the murder of one of them.  We are then transported to 15 years earlier where we meet newly-weds Ed and Lily.

Lily is a lawyer and has just been transferred to criminal law.  Her first task is to defend Joe Thomas in an appeal against his conviction for murdering his girlfriend.  There is something about Joe that reminds Lily of her late brother, Daniel, and she feels irresistibly drawn to him.  As the case progresses, it becomes clear that Joe has also formed an attachment to Lily and I wondered whether he was manipulating her or whether he does really love her.

Ed is an artist without a muse, until Lily befriends a little Italian girl, Carla, in their apartment block.  When Lily agrees to look after Carla whilst her mother is at work, Ed finds that he can't stop drawing pictures of Carla and several years later gets his big break when an anonymous collector buys Ed's painting of 'The Italian Girl'.

Carla is struggling to fit in at school because, being Italian, she is different.  Her mother can't buy her the latest clothes, toys or pencil cases as they are not well off but Carla finds a way to obtain them herself.  When Carla spots her mother's boyfriend, Larry, with another woman we are treated to an early glimpse of her devious nature as Carla gets anything she wants from Larry in exchange for her silence.  

The story alternates between chapters written from Lily's perspective and chapters written from Carla's perspective; like curls of smoke destined to intertwine along the way.  As time goes on, Lily and Ed have a son, Tom.  Tom has Asperger's which puts a strain on their already crumbling marriage.  With Lily's attraction to Joe Thomas and Ed's constant contact with his ex, Davina, I was surprised that they remained married for so long!  Sparks really do begin to fly when the other Mrs Macdonald comes on the scene.

I had guessed Lily's secret before the end, but it didn't stop me enjoying this book immensely.  There are lots of twists and turns to keep you entertained throughout and I loved the way that each character has such flaws that ensured I was kept guessing right up to the very end.

My Husband's Wife is a gripping psychological family saga, reminding me of the 'who shot JR episode of Dallas'.  Written at a steady pace, it is difficult to put down with the many twists and turns and untangling of threads that the reader is tasked with.  It's an incredibly dark and twisty debut from Jane Corry and I'm sure it will climb the charts in 2016.

I received this book from the publisher, Penguin, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Friday 25 March 2016

The Lie - Helen Dunmore

Set during and just after the First World War, The Lie is an enthralling, heart-wrenching novel of love, memory and devastating loss by one of the UK’s most acclaimed storytellers.

Cornwall, 1920, early spring.

A young man stands on a headland, looking out to sea. He is back from the war, homeless and without family.

Behind him lie the mud, barbed-wire entanglements and terror of the trenches. Behind him is also the most intense relationship of his life. 

Daniel has survived, but the horror and passion of the past seem more real than the quiet fields around him. 

He is about to step into the unknown. But will he ever be able to escape the terrible, unforeseen consequences of a lie?

What did I think?

I do love my historical fiction although I am more used to reading about medieval kings and queens, but I was loaned this copy of The Lie, set during and after World War I.

Daniel has returned from the First World War and is haunted by the things he has seen and the friends he has lost.  He appears to be quite happy in his solitude with his old friend, Frederick, never far from his thoughts.  Frederick never made it back from the war and Daniel soon finds himself spending time with Frederick's sister, Felicia.  They keep Frederick's memory alive as the reminisce about old times.

Daniel's thoughts often return to the dreadful conditions in the trenches and we are given glimpses into what life was like for a 'Tommy' on The Front.  Daniel also has his personal demons to overcome and his guilt and deep personal loss surrounding Frederick's death.

I really expected to love this book but I neither loved it nor hated it.  I just didn't experience any positive or negative feelings as I progressed through the book.  I should have been crying my eyes out at the end but unfortunately I hadn't built up any feelings for Daniel at all.

It's not a bad little book for a weekend, but it isn't a book I would recommend.  It has not, however, put me off reading other Helen Dunmore books and I will be sure to take a look should one cross my path again.

My rating:

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Hellbound: The Tally Man - David McCaffrey

His crimes - unforgivable. His death - inevitable. His suffering - just beginning.
Obadiah Stark aka The Tally Man, is executed at ADX Absolom, his death sentence watched by the world's media, victim relatives and one investigative reporter, Joe O Connell. Penning an account of Stark's personal history and subsequent crimes in the hope of determining what elements make the sociopathic mind tick, Joe discovers clues and inconsistencies which cause him to investigate Stark's execution.
While this is happening in the real world, Obadiah Stark awakens to an afterlife where he has a wife and daughter bound to his childhood hometown. Following his natural predatory instinct, Obadiah proceeds to torment the town, committing multiple murders before being gunned down by the police. He awakens to find that everything has reset, with no one recalling his murderous spree a reality which offers no escape. As the scenes repeat, he is forced to submit to emotions he has never experienced before... and with it, a poisonous dose of morality.

What did I think?

This book really got under my skin and it was so unique in the way that it was more about the punishment than the crime.  Obadiah Stark is a chilling sociopathic killer who has a tattoo on his back keeping count of his victims.  When his killing spree moves from America to Ireland he is finally captured and sentenced to death by lethal injection.  One of the people in the crowd at the execution is reporter Joe O'Connell, who is writing a book on Stark.  As he continues researching his book, he finds that something wasn't quite right with the execution and relentlessly digs until he finds out the shocking truth.

I really enjoyed Hellbound.  It was so completely unique and had my brain in a bit of a tizz.  I alternated between thinking either Obadiah is in the afterlife or something really freaky is going on.  As Obadiah relives the same day over and over again (which to some would be punishment enough) you can feel him gradually becoming more human and less killer as he forms an attachment to his family.  As Joe's investigation gets closer to uncovering the truth, Obadiah's real punishment is ready to be doled out.

This is a book that you definitely can't stop thinking about or talking about long after you've finished it.  There are so many moral and ethical questions to dissect and discuss.  Hellbound has given me a cracking moral question to mull over and discuss over a few beers: is one death adequate punishment for taking 27 innocent lives?  I think not.

Hellbound is intelligent and unique; I will definitely be adding the prequel, In Extremis, to my kindle without delay!

I received this e-book from Booklover Catlady Publicity, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Beneath the Surface - Heidi Perks

I don't know where you are...
I don't know what I've done...
Teenager Abigail Ryder is devastated when she gets home from school to find her family gone. Nothing makes sense. Things are missing from the house and her stepsisters' room is completely empty. But the police think she's trouble, and when grandmother Eleanor tells her to forget them all and move on, there's no choice other than face the future - alone.
Fourteen years on, Abi and Adam are a happy couple on the verge of parenthood. But when the past comes back to haunt Abi, the only way forward is to go back and uncover the truth - and reveal the dreadful secrets a mother has been hiding all these years.
What did I think?

There was no hanging around in this book as we are transported back to 2001 and immediately plunged into the drama when Abigail returns home from school to an empty house.  A house that is normally bubbling with the excitement and chatter of Abigail's two year old twin sisters, Hannah and Lauren.  As Abigail makes her way through the house in search of her mother and sisters, she makes a startling discovery; the twins' room has been stripped bare and, apart from a stray teddy that seems to have been overlooked, there is no trace that her little sisters were ever there at all.

Where has Abi's family gone?  What kind of mother would leave her daughter?  Why does her strange, controlling grandmother not help Abi?  So many questions were flying round my head as I tried to unravel the mystery surrounding the disappearance.  All of my questions were answered superbly after I was shocked, surprised and moved to tears as the story unfolded 14 years later in 2015.

Hooked does not even begin to describe how I felt about this book.  From the opening page, I was drawn into the tangled web of Abigail's life.  I couldn't put the book down until I found out what on earth had happened to make a mother leave her eldest daughter behind and start a new life with her young twins.  Also throughout the book, Abi is writing letters to her husband, Adam.  It is clear that Abi and Adam are having some marital problems, due to events that Adam is unaware of in Abi's past.  The letters are so poignant and personal that I felt like an eavesdropper as Abi's heart is poured out on the page.  

I was so emotionally invested in this book that I could barely read through my tears as the story drew to a close.  I was so completely immersed in Abi's life that I wanted to keep on reading about her long after the final page had been turned.  Beneath the Surface is an absolutely outstanding debut novel from Heidi Perks and I can't wait to see what she has in store for us next.

I received this e-book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Saturday 19 March 2016

The Girl Who Broke the Rules - Marnie Riches

The pulse-pounding new thriller from Marnie Riches. For anyone who loves Jo Nesbo and Stieg Larsson, this book is for you!
When the mutilated bodies of two sex-workers are found in Amsterdam, Chief Inspector van den Bergen must find a brutal murderer before the red-light-district erupts into panic.
Georgina McKenzie is conducting research into pornography among the UK’s most violent sex-offenders but once van den Bergen calls on her criminology expertise, she is only too happy to come running.
The rising death toll forces George and van den Bergen to navigate the labyrinthine worlds of Soho strip-club sleaze and trans-national human trafficking. And with the case growing ever more complicated, George must walk the halls of Broadmoor psychiatric hospital, seeking advice from the brilliant serial murderer, Dr. Silas Holm…

What did I think?

After The Girl Who Wouldn't Die I was eager to read what was next in store for George McKenzie and Paul van den Bergen after the little spark of sexual tension was ignited.  Although you could read this as a standalone, I welcomed the characters as I would old friends and feel that it is beneficial for full enjoyment of this book to know the history that was set out so breathtakingly in The Girl Who Wouldn't Die.

Marnie Riches writes with such a skill that grabs you round the neck and draws you into the book, although there were moments that were a bit squeamish - I do wish there was an equivalent of hiding round the back of the sofa when reading!  I had so many visual scenes in my head as I was reading this, and the Amsterdam setting is so colourful and vibrant that I could almost hear the hoot of the horns and the chatter on the street.

Again, we have another fast paced thriller as George races against time to identify the killer causing havoc, not just in Amsterdam but across the channel.  My reading speed increased the further I got through the book until I was left breathless at the end.  All that was missing was a massive 'TO BE CONTINUED' and I for one, cannot wait for The Girl Who Walked in the Shadows to complete this outstanding trilogy.

I received this e-book from the publisher, HarperCollins, via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

Homecoming - Tanya Bullock

All that mattered to Rosie, all that had ever really mattered, was that she loved Tom and he loved her

Rosie and Tom belong together. 

For too long, war and its devastating aftermath have kept them apart. 
Now that Tom has finally returned home, Rosie hopes that they will be able to put the past behind them. 
But when a mysterious sequence of events unfolds, their love is put to the test once more 
With a shocking secret hanging heavily over their relationship... 
With circumstances conspiring against them at every turn... 
Rosie and Tom find themselves caught up in the biggest battle of their lives. 
Will their demons ultimately consume them? 
Or will love conquer all in the end? 

What did I think?

With a title of 'Homecoming' and the opening chapter referring to Tom returning back from war, my heart attempted to prepare itself for any shocks and surprises that might be in store in this short story.  If I thought I could have ever prepared myself for this book, I was wrong!  My mouth gaped open in surprise at the end of chapter 2 as I realised that my initial thoughts were wrong, in fact so completely wrong that they were blown out of the water!

This is such a hard book to review without giving anything away, but for such a short story it packs a big punch that stays with you long after the final page has been read.  The main characters were immediately given a place in my heart and I warmed to them as if I had known them for years.  I was so disappointed when I came to the end as I wanted to keep reading about Rosie and Tom.

Homecoming is so poignant and beautiful that I intend to read it again in the future and, although the surprises won't be there, I'm sure it will be even more enjoyable.  Homecoming is a heart-warming story about love; how love knows no bounds and never dies.

I received this e-book from the publisher, Blackbird Digital Books, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Quicksand - Steve Toltz

A daring, brilliant work by one of our most original and fearless novelists.

'Why should I let you write about me?'
'Because you'll inspire people. To count their blessings.'

Aldo Benjamin, relentlessly unlucky in every aspect of life, has always faced the future with despair and optimism in equal measure. His latest misfortune, however, may finally be his undoing. There's still hope, but not for Aldo.

His mate Liam hasn't been faring much better - a failed writer with a rocky marriage and a dangerous job he never wanted - until he finds inspiration in Aldo's exponential disasters. What begins as an attempt to document these improbable but inevitable experiences spirals into a profound exploration of fate, fear and friendship.

Anarchically funny and wildly entertaining, Quicksand is a subversive portrait of 21st-century society in all its hypocrisy and absurdity, an exquisite interpretation of suffering and resilience, and a powerful story about taking risks and finding inspiration.

What did I think?

This is a very quirky book and I think, for some people, it will be one of those marmite novels; you'll either love it or hate it.  Despite the incredibly long chapters, it was certainly a very addictive book as the story of Aldo's life unfolds throughout the pages.  I didn't find it terribly funny, although there are some moments of dry wit, but mostly I felt quite sad.  Aldo seems to be the unluckiest man I've ever read about but he really doesn't care and he sees the world in his own inimitable way.  I did laugh out loud at his reference to saddults and businessapiens - people that you or I would term normal working adults!

Liam is Aldo's best friend from school and he's using Aldo as his muse to write a book.  Aldo is certainly giving him plenty of material for a novel, sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes amusing.  I don't think Aldo really wanted to grow up, he certainly didn't value his life or ever consider the feelings of those around him.  This still doesn't stop his friends, or indeed the reader, from loving him.  Aldo is Aldo; there's no way to describe him, he's definitely one of a kind.

With such wickedly humorous observations, Aldo is certainly a character who grows on you throughout the book.   At times I felt I was encroaching on a particularly personal and poignant moment in his life but then he bounces back Aldo-style and my guilt was quickly assuaged.

Thought-provoking and addictive, Quicksand is a novel I really enjoyed but it's really hard to put my finger on why I found it so enjoyable.  I think it was just that the character of Aldo is so unique, unlucky and carefree that you can't help but be drawn into his life story.

I received this book from the publisher, Sceptre, in exchange for an honest review.

My rating:

Buy it from Amazon

My review has been posted as part of the Quicksand Blog Tour.  Check out the schedule to follow the tour.