Blog Tour Review: Losing Kate by Kylie Kaden

 

Title: Losing Kate

Author: Kylie Kaden

Published: Bantam: Random House April 2014

Read an Extract

Status: Read on April 10, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

Kylie Kaden’s compelling debut novel, Losing Kate, is an absorbing contemporary story of secrets, betrayal, love and redemption.

On the night that seventeen year old Kate disappeared while celebrating ‘schoolies’, Francesca lost both the best friend she adored and the boy, Jack, who held her heart.
Thirteen years later, Frankie is stunned to discover Jack has bought the vacant block of land bordering her cottage. Their unexpected reunion revives memories and emotions neither are prepared for, and to move forward they need to learn the truth about what happened to the girl they both loved.

The first person narrative shifts between the past and present as it traces Jack, Kate’s and Frankie’s teenage relationship, the events on the night Kate went missing, and Frankie’s and Jack’s reunion after 13 years. Though Frankie and Jack quickly reestablish the intimacy of their childhood friendship, Kate always stands between them. Guilt, regret and lies are irredeemably tangled with loyalty, truth and love. The situation is complicated further by Jack’s current relationship.

The mystery of Kate’s fate is what primarily drives the tension throughout the novel. The flashbacks slowly reveal what Frankie remembers of the night and how those memories fit with what she is learning in the present day. Frankie just can’t let go of Kate and her desire for closure. Suspicions rise and fall as the truth is pieced together, and the swirling ambiguity kept me guessing.

Despite the pop culture references (to bands like Powder Finger), elements of the story, including the oppressive summer weather, Francesca’s crumbling cottage, fire and illness, give the story a contemporary gothic feel. The doomed teenage romance between Kate and Jack also plays into this, as does Frankie and Jack’s unrequited love.

Set amongst the streets of suburban Queensland, Losing Kate is a gripping novel of suspense, drama and romance. An impressive debut, I really enjoyed Losing Kate and I’m looking forward to more from Kylie Kaden.

 

Losing Kate is available to purchase from

Random House I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I Amazon US

  via Booko

To learn more about Kylie Kaden visit Goodnight Carolina to read an interview with the author

 

awwbadge_2014

 

Review: Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson


Title: Before I Go To Sleep

Author: S. J. Watson

Published: Black Swan: Transworld Publishers March 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from March 29 to 30, 2014 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

S.J. Wilson’s debut novel, Before I Go To Sleep attracted much attention on it’s debut in 2011, winning the author a legion of awards, fans, and a movie contract, due for release later this year (2014), starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth.

A taut psychological thriller, Before I Go To Sleep tells the story of Christine Lucas, who each morning looks in the mirror to find her face aged by time she can’t recall passing, while a strange man, who claims to be her loving husband, Ben, patiently explains she experienced a traumatic brain injury nearly two decades ago and as a result suffers a rare type of amnesia obliterating much of her past and able to accumulate memories only for as long as she remains awake. As each day wears on, Christine struggles to understand what has happened to her, until, each day, Dr Nash calls and reminds her to read her journal, secreted in a shoebox in her wardrobe. A journal where underneath her name, on the very first page, she has written ‘DON’T TRUST BEN’.

As the story unfolds, so does the mystery of all Christine has forgotten. Her journal reveals lies, half truths and betrayals but can she trust the secrets spilling across the pages? Watson masterfully builds the tension with each revelation, each contradiction, each truth and each lie.

The narrative is infused with Christine’s confusion, fear and panic as she negotiates her past and present. Without her memory she is extraordinarily vulnerable to the manipulations of others and it is frighteningly easy to imagine yourself in her place.

Though some suspension of belief is required for elements of the plot to work, I found I was more than willing to do so. I turned the pages eagerly, caught up in the breathless pace leading to the shocking denouement.

Before I Go To Sleep is a clever, complex thriller that hooked me from the first page and kept me engrossed to the very last.

Available to Purchase From

Random House UK I AmazonUK I BookDepository I AmazonUS

via Booko

Review: The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit

Title: The Wives of Los Alamos

Author: TaraShea Nesbit

Published: Bloomsbury ANZ March 2014

Status: Read on March 17, 2014 {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

“Some of us thought we saved half a million lives. Some of us thought we, our husbands, were murderers, that we had helped light a fuse that would destroy the world.” p 198

In 1943, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the North American government established a hidden enclave in Los Alamos, New Mexico, drafting the nation’s best scientists, engineers and chemists into service. The men (and a handful of women) were tasked to work on a secret enterprise, requiring them to uproot their wives and children with little notice and move to the South West, forbidden to reveal any information about their new position or location to employers, colleagues, friends, or even family.

While the technicians toiled away in laboratories and offices, their wives and children struggled to adapt to their new environment, making homes in flimsy pre-fab’s without bathtubs or electric stoves, shopping for wilting vegetables and sour milk, surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. The wives of Los Alamos created a community with dancing and book clubs and cocktail parties, cared for their children and sent letters home, heavily redacted by the censors. They remained largely ignorant of the work their husband’s were doing until the day the atom bomb was dropped on Japan.

Nesbit reveals the stories of the wives of Los Alamos using the first person plural narrative (we, us). It is an unusual style and did take me a little time to adjust to, but I came to appreciate the way in which it emphasised the unique community and the wives shared experiences, despite their individual differences. The narrative feels authentic and convincing I expect that Nesbit relied on genuine research to ensure the accuracy of the details.

I really enjoyed this unique book. The Wives of Los Alamos is a fascinating novel giving the reader a glimpse into one of the world’s most pivotal events – the development and use of the Atom Bomb, from a perspective rarely considered by history. I’d like to read more about the women’s experiences of Los Alamos.

The Wives of Los Alamos is available to purchase from

Bloomsbury I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AUvia Booko

Amazon US I BookDepository

Review & Giveaway: The Lost Girls by Wendy James

 

Title: The Lost Girls

Author: Wendy James

Published: Michael Joseph: Penguin February 2014

Status: Read from February 23 to 24, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

Read an Extract

My Thoughts:

Wendy James has been described as “A master of suburban suspense” {The Age} after the publication of Where Have You Been? and The Mistake. The Lost Girls, the author’s fifth novel cements this reputation with a compelling story of loss, grief and family secrets.

Fourteen year old Angie’s body was discovered a few days after she went missing in the January 1978, she had been strangled with her own scarf and dumped in the national park. Her unsolved murder, eventually blamed on an unidentified serial killer dubbed The Sydney Strangler, devastated her adoring cousins, Jane and Mick, with whom she was spending the summer, and the loss has haunted them ever since. Thirty years later, a journalist approaches Jane requesting an interview, claiming to be developing a radio documentary about the impact of murder on the loved ones of the victim. After so many years of silence, Jane finds relief in talking about the beautiful teenager idolised by her twelve year old self, but it isn’t just her talking, Jane’s brother Mick, her mother, and Jane’s husband, Rob, all have stories, and secrets, to share about Angie – about the way she lived… and about the way she died.

The Lost Girls is told through memories, interview transcripts, newspaper articles and the story of the present day, revealing the events that led up to, and followed, the death of Angie. As the novel unfolds, moving between time, place and perspective, the reader begins to piece together a wider view of the tragedy, and those affected, than any one character has.

While Jane remembers the cousin she adored with childlike innocence, her mother recalls a manipulative girl who, “…wasn’t really all that nice a child. She was always looking out for herself.” p158. Mick’s teenage crush on Angie colours all of his memories of the girl Angie was, while Rob has held one of her secrets for thirty years. Somewhere amongst their memories is the truth about who Angie was and how that may have contributed to her death.

It soon becomes obvious that the ‘journalist’, Erin Fury, is not motivated by professional curiosity but by a personal connection to the case. Her motivations are obscured for much of the story, helping to raise the tension as Erin digs for the answers to questions she is not even sure how to ask. Her ‘reward’ is learning a truth she wishes she never knew.

With a well crafted, multi-layered plot exploring the ways in which the past shapes us, and the difficulty in leaving it behind, The Lost Girls is an engrossing story of domestic drama and suspense. I’m happy to recommend this slow-burning but gripping suburban thriller.

Available to Purchase From

 

 PenguinAU I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko I AmazonUS

GIVEAWAY

Thanks to Penguin Australia

I have

1 print edition of The Lost Girls to giveaway

**Open to  Australian Residents only**

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Entries Close March 9th, 2013

Drawn via random.org

awwbadge_2014

Review: Someone Like You by Victoria Purman

Title: Someone Like You {Boys of Summer #2}

Author: Victoria Purman

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA February 2014

Read an excerpt

Status: Read from January 31 to February 01, 2014 — I own a copy — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

I was charmed by Victoria Purman’s debut, Nobody But Him, the first in her Boys of Summer trilogy set in a small fictional town on the coastline of South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula, and totally adored this second installment, titled Someone Like You.

Those familiar with the first book will remember the frisson of attraction between the best friends of Julia and Ry, Lizzie Blake and Dan McSwaine. Picking up just a short time after Ry and Julia found their happy ending in Someone Like You, we learn that Dan, having been involved in a horrific car accident, has become a virtual recluse in Middle Point, struggling with the trauma of his experience. Desperate to provoke Dan into some sort of action, Ry and Julia send Lizzie to his door, ostensibly to deliver dinner from the pub Ry owns and Lizzie manages, but hoping that seeing Lizzie will reignite his interest in the world outside his door. Lizzie, who hasn’t laid eyes on Dan since the accident, is shocked to find Dan resembling the Wild Man Of Borneo more closely than the charismatic GQ model she remembers. When he slams the door in her face, Lizzie is willing to respect his desire to be left alone but it isn’t in her to give up that easily and Dan needs her help.

Purman creates appealing characters with credible motives for their attitudes and behaviour and I really liked the way in which Lizzie and Dan grow and change in Someone Like You. The romance that develops between the pair builds on their initial attraction in Nobody But Him, but evolves slowly as they struggle with their own problems. While Dan deals with the physical and emotional repercussions of his accident, Lizzie’s issues are less obvious, revealed gradually by the author over the course of the novel.
Though the relationship is beset by the usual obstacles plaguing the romance genre, the push and pull builds the romantic tension without turning it into a farce. It’s important to me that I believe in the reasons for conflict between the couple, and their chemistry, and Purman achieves this beautifully.

Ry and Julia were more than cameo characters in this novel and it was lovely to see them blissfully happy with one another. I look forward to catching up with Dan and Lizzie in the third book which I’m guessing will focus on Lizzie’s brother, Joe, and perhaps Dan’s ex, Anna.

I was glad for the opportunity to revisit the beautiful coast of Adelaide and enjoyed losing myself in the romance, drama, humor and heat of Someone Like You. A delightful read, so far this is my favourite romance novel of the year.

Available to purchase from

Harlequin I boomerang-books_long I Booktopia I Amazon AU I via Booko I AmazonUS

awwbadge_2014

Review: Prayers For The Stolen by Jennifer Clement

Title: Prayers for the Stolen

Author: Jennifer Clement

Published: Vintage: Random House UK February 2014

Status: Read on February 04, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher}

My Thoughts:

In the mountains of Guerrero, there is more to be afraid of than the deadly snakes, spiders and scorpions that lurk in the rubber plant jungle. The rumble of an engine chills the blood, sending teenage girls scurrying into holes dug in the ground, desperate to avoid being stolen by prowling Narco’s. Those who are taken never return but every one is aware of their fate – to be used, abused, traded, sold and eventually murdered by the cartels.

Ladydi Garcia Martinez, named for the British princess, lives with her mother, a kleptomaniac alcoholic, in an impoverished rural Mexican village ‘an hour by bus and four hours by mule from Acapulco’. Her father is long gone, like all of the men in the village, having made a new life for himself in America. From birth Ladydi, and her friends, are dressed as boys, until puberty hits and their mothers blacken their daughters teeth and rub charcoal into their skin in a desperate effort to protect them from the notice of the cartels.

“The best thing you can be in Mexico is a ugly girl”

Despite the poverty, the hardship, and daily dangers, there is no trace of self-pity in Ladydi’s voice, her life is simply what it is, and not much different from that of her friends, Paula, Maria and Estifani, though each girl faces their own additional challenges. It is not always easy to read, for though rarely explicit, Clements portrays the society in which Ladydi lives, and her experiences, with searing honesty.

Clements writing is simple, even stark, yet it possess an unusual beauty that illustrates the harsh landscape and society in which the novel is set. The narrative is well paced, some may be irritated by the lack of speech marks – I barely noticed.

Prayers for the Stolen may be fiction but this way of life is reality for too many of the women and girls in Mexico. Thought provoking, moving and powerful this is a story of compelling character and courage.

Available to Purchase from

Random House UK I AmazonUK I Amazon US I BookDepository

via Booko

US COVER

around-the-world-2014

 

Review: Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-cream Float Before He Stole My Ma by Kerry Hudson

Title: Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma

Author: Kerry Hudson

Published: Penguin US January 2014

Status: Read from January 19 to 20, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

Janie Ryan narrates ‘Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma’ from the moment of her birth, greeted by curse laden screaming, boozy breath and muttered recriminations. Her teenage mother lasts barely a week under her mothers roof before she drags Janie first to a refuge, then through a series of rundown council flats and B&B’s in the worst areas of Scotland and briefly, England. Uncle’s come and go, some stay only a night, others, like Tony Hogan, far too long. As a child, Janie takes comfort in her ragged collection of toys, full plates of hot chips, orange velour curtains and the occasional icecream, accepting her mother’s days spent in bed, the violent altercations with a succession of men and moonlight flits as a normal part of everyday life. But as she grows into a teenager Janie becomes aware of her mother’s failings, of the poverty and despair that blights their lives and of a desire to escape the cycle that ensnared her mother.

This is a novel driven by character rather than plot. Janie is an irresistible heroine who begins the story with a wide eyed innocence that far too soon develops into defeated cynicism. Bright and loved, as a child Janie shares her grim existence with the naivete of one who doesn’t know any different. Hudson vividly portrays the world in which Janie lives – the dingy rooms, the barren council estates, the empty pantries and broken furniture overlaid with the ever present threat of violence and despair. And just as deftly, Hudson allows Janie, as she ages, to share her growing disillusionment – with her mother, with herself and the possibility anything could ever be any different. It seems there is no escape for Janie who seems destined to follow in her mother’s footsteps.

Janie’s journey is heavily influenced by her relationship with her mother, Iris, and Hudson skilfully captures the complicated dynamic between mother and daughter. Despite her mother’s failings, Janie loves her and her mother in turn loves Janie. It is evident that Janie suffers because of Iris’s depression, addictions and penchant for the wrong sort of man though Hudson neatly side steps judgement and blame, focusing instead on the bond between them.

Despite its often bleak and brutal narrative, Tony Hogan Bought Me an Ice-Cream Float Before He Stole My Ma is told with empathy, humour and surprising heart. I found it funny, moving and heartbreaking in turn, and I think you will too.

Available to Purchase From

Penguin I AmazonUS I BookDepository

Review: Snowblind by Christopher Golden

Title: Snowblind

Author: Christopher Golden

Published: St Martin’s Press January 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from January 17 to 18, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

In the midst of a raging blizzard, more than a dozen people in the small New England town of Coventry lose their lives. A young boy falls from a window, a teen is electrocuted while sledding and others simply wandered into the snow, their bodies discovered only after the storm passed, though some are never found at all. Twelve years later another blizzard approaches the town and with it comes the memories of that dark time..and something else.

Despite the heatwave my town is currently enduring, I experienced chills running down my spine as I read Snowblind. This supernatural horror is a slow building psychological thriller, that builds on feelings of unease and dread until it culminates in a fierce life or death battle. The book begins with the deaths in the first storm, hinting at a sinister force, before jumping ahead twelve years as another major storm descends on the town. Here Golden explores the consequences of the previous blizzard for the family and friends who survived before revealing their terrifying fates.

The cast is large and varied, though intrinsically connected by their experiences and losses in the first storm. I found it fairly easy to track them as Golden reveals each character, their fears, their flaws and their desires. They mostly typify small town residents, ordinary people caught up in an extraordinary event. In particular focus is Jake, a photographer, whose youngest brother died in the last storm, and Detective Keenan, who has since felt he failed his community. Both witnessed something during the storm that they have tried hard to forget and now are confronted with something they can’t hope to understand.

This came close to a five star read for me except that Golden fell into the trap of trying to explain the inexplicable which blunts the mystique, and quite frankly, once all is said and done, why would the characters not immediately be thinking of relocating to somewhere, anywhere, it doesn’t snow, ever?

Still, if your city is currently in the grip of a snowstorm I would recommend caution before reading Snowblind, you may never listen to the howl of the wind or watch the snow fall without apprehension again. This is a gripping chiller.

Available to Purchase From

StMartins Press I AmazonUS I BookDepository

Hachette Au I via Booko

Review: The Girl in the Yellow Vest by Loretta Hill

Title: The Girl in the Yellow Vest

Author: Loretta Hill

Published: Random House Jan 2014

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from January 02 to 05, 2014 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

The third book in a loosely linked series, The Girl in the Yellow Vest is another engaging Australian contemporary romance by talented Aussie author, Loretta Hill.

Emily Woods was expecting her boyfriend of five years to propose, instead he asked her to move out and with her engineering career, stalled, she is in desperate need of a fresh start so when her best friend, Will, offers to find her work at his current project on Queensland’s coast, Emily jumps at the chance. Will is excited at the prospect of Emily joining him in Mackay, for five long years he has been careful to never betray his attraction to her, but now that she is single, perhaps he will find an opportunity to tell her how he feels.

I enjoyed the change of scenery Hill provides in The Girl in the Yellow Vest. Previous books, The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots and The Girl in the Hard Hat, featured Western Australia’s Pilbara region while here, Hill sets the book in Northern Queensland, based on a project she once worked at the Hay Point Wharf.

Emily and Will’s transition from friends to lovers is slow but lovely, both are afraid of damaging their close friendship and admitting their mutual attraction. Will is especially wary given his long standing friendship with Emily’s ex and the possibility they might make up. It takes a good while for Emily to realise that her feelings for Will have changed and their attempts to connect are plagued by miscommunication, poor timing and outside interference.

The subplot involving Barnes Inc boss, Mark Crawford and hotel owner Charlotte Templeton tends to steal the limelight from Emily and Will though. Charlotte, struggling with a failing business, a rebellious teenage sister and ill mother, and Mark, still mired in grief after the death of his wife two years previously, barely tolerate each other to begin with and the complications of their lives affects the way in which their relationship develops.

Really my only complaint about the novel is in regards to Mark, who, apart from being very similar to Dan ‘Bulldog’ in The Girl in the Steel Capped Boots, his speech in particular is too formal and often didn’t sound ‘true’.

I did really enjoy The Girl in the Yellow Vest, I love the way the author combines humour, romance and drama in an unique Australian setting. It was also lovely to be briefly reunited with previous characters (the book opens at Dan and Lena’s wedding) and I look forward to catching up with these characters again in Hill’s next book.

Available to purchase from

Random Houseboomerang-books_long  I Booktopia I AmazonAU I via Booko

AmazonUS

Click the covers for my reviews of the previous titles.

@ Goodreads

awwbadge_2014

Review: The In-Between Hour by Barbara Claypole-White

Title: The In-Between Hour

Author: Barbara Claypole-White

Published: Harlequin MIRA December 2013

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from December 24 to 26, 2013 — I own a copy {Courtesy the publisher/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:

An emotional story of the struggle to survive tragedy, grief and loss, The In-Between Hour probably wasn’t the best choice of reading for the festive season, but it was a compelling and thought provoking novel which ultimately reveals a message of healing and hope.

Will Shepard is mired in grief after the death of his five year old son in a horrific car accident, and he doesn’t have the heart to repeat the news to his father whose Alzheimer’s allows him the relief of forgetting his loss. Instead Will, a bestselling author, tells Jacob a story of young Freddie traveling the world with his mother, a story his father unexpectedly latches on to, a fiction that both sustains, and traps, them.
A holistic veterinarian, Hannah Linden has always prided her self on her ability to offer comfort, nurturing and care, but her oldest son, Galen, seems beyond her reach. When Will and his father temporarily move into her guest cottage their broken relationship proves to be the distraction she needs from her own failings, but it cannot shield her from the devastating heartbreak to come.

Exploring grief, love, loss, forgiveness and redemption, Will and Hannah battle the past in order to deal with the present, and find a path to future happiness. They slowly become enmeshed in each others lives, finding unexpected solace and strength in each other, to deal with the challenges they are faced with.
With Jacob the victim of Alzheimer’s and Galen of severe depression, the tragedy of mental illness is a major theme of the novel. In addition we learn that Will’s mother was an(undiagnosed) bipolar and Hannah’s father and grandfather both had a history of depression. Claypole-White explores the issues with sensitivity and compassion not only for the sufferers, but also for their loved ones.

Beautifully written, the characters of The In Between Hour are richly and realistically drawn, and the story compelling. A poignant, moving novel, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

Available to Purchase

Harlequin I Amazon US

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,485 other followers