Friday, 20 September 2013

Book review: Tuesday's Gone - Nicci French

Tuesday's Gone

The blurb.
Sometimes the mind is a dangerous place to hide.

The rotting, naked corpse of a man is found amidst swarms of flies in the living room of a confused woman. Who is he? Why is Michelle Doyce trying to serve him afternoon tea? And how did the dead body find its way into her flat?

DCI Karlsson needs an expert to delve inside Michelle's mind for answers and turns to former colleague, psychiatrist Frieda Klein. Eventually Michelle's ramblings lead to a vital clue that in turn leads to a possible identity. Robert Poole. Jack of all trades and master conman.
The deeper Frieda and Karlsson dig, the more of Poole's victims they encounter . . . and the more motives they uncover for his murder. But is anyone telling them the truth except for poor, confused Michelle?
And when the past returns to haunt Frieda, she finds herself in danger. Whoever set out to destroy Poole also seems determined to destroy Frieda Klein.

My opinion.
This is the second "Frieda Klein" novel, and it's even better than the first one. Where Blue Monday was an amazing novel and the perfect introduction to the character of Frieda Klein, this novel really digs deeper. The crime is more complicated, Frieda's personal life is more complicated and gets more attention, and nothing and no one is as they seem.
You've got the main story: a body is found and now the search begins for it's identity and killer, but there's a second mystery, one that seems unrelated to the rest of the story; a mystery within a mystery. The story intrigues from the very first page and it doesn't let you go. Even after finishing the book. Frieda Klein's story isn't finished yet, and I'm very happy for that.

My review for Blue Monday

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Book review: One Hundred Names - Cecelia Ahern

One Hundred Names

The blurb.
Journalist Kitty Logan's career is being destroyed by scandal - and now she faces losing the woman who guided and taught her everything she knew. At her terminally ill friend's bedside, Kitty asks - what is the one story she always wanted to write? The answer lies in a file buried in Constance's office: a list of one hundred names. There is no synopsis, nothing to explain what the story is or who these people are. The list is simply a mystery. But before Kitty can talk to her friend, it is too late. With everything to prove, Kitty is assigned the most important task of her life: to write the story her mentor never had the opportunity to. Kitty not only has to track down and meet the people on the list, but find out what connects them. And, in the process of hearing ordinary people's stories, she starts to understand her own.

My opinion.
I liked reading this book, it was a very relaxing read. At first I thought it would be "just another girly book", but what started as just an ordinary novel, turned out to be much more interesting than I first imagined it would be. 
When Kitty fist started on her quest and first started meeting "the names", I mostly shared her feelings: exciting to know what the missing link was, but confused and maybe even a bit disappointed at the slow progress. But, again like Kitty herself, you warm up to all of them once she discoveries more about them.
The most interesting and surprising aspect, to me, is that you feel both hate and love for the main character, Kitty. (Ok. hate is a strong word). Apart from following her on her journey, you're also trying to figure out whether to like her or not and while she starts forgiving and "re-inventing" herself, you start liking her anyways.
The plot is a bit cheezy, but it moved me to tears since a lot of those people's stories are quite moving, so I don't mind too much.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Book review: First Daughter - Eric Van Lustbader

First Daughter

The blurb.
When an accident takes the life of his daughter, Emma, ATF agent Jack McClure blames himself, numbing the pain by submerging himself in work. Then he receives a call from his old friend Edward Carson. Carson is just weeks from taking the reins as President of the United States when his daughter, Alli, is kidnapped. Because Emma McClure was Alli's best friend, Carson turns to Jack, the one man he can trust to go to any lengths to find his daughter and bring her home safely.

My opinion.
The mention of the Jason Bourne series set the bar high, and I wasn't disappointed. The story grabbed my attention from the very first page. 
The story contains a lot of flash backs into Jack's history, and although most of them turned out to be relevant to the story, it did slow it down considerably. The second half of the book though was so exciting I couldn't put it down, not even for a good night sleep. All the background information and anecdotes found their meaning in the story and all this build up tension led to an amazingly thrilling read with some very unexpected turns. I'm intrigued by Jack McClure's character and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Book review: Bodie - Anne Sweazy-Kulju

The blurb.
"Blowing out the exhale, he tipped his hat at the few still-breathing horses. 'Don't worry; you'll be dead 'fore the buzzards gather to pick at ya.' Parker squinted up at the sun and saw buzzards were circling overhead already. 'I think, ' he laughed cruelly." 
Lara and Lainy survived foster care and all its horrors, but the experience left them incomplete in that they had no knowledge of the people they came from. Unknowingly, until now, each of them has had a reoccurring dream for more years than they can remember the same dream. When the girls are regressed by a therapist anxious to publish their story, they learn shocking details about themselves, an unsolved murder in Bodie, California, and a massive cover-up. They want to investigate but a mining executive can't allow the "Dream Sisters" to go poking around Bodie, anymore than he could allow the therapist to go public and threaten his thirty-five million dollar deal. Are the "Bad Men From Bodie" really dead? Join Lainy and Lara as they dig up shocking secrets in Bodie. Based on a true story.

My opinion.
Where to begin... Let's start by saying I absolutely loved this book. The story captivates you from the very first page and it haunts you until you've unraveled the mystery that is "Bodie" and the dream-connection; much like it is for the sisters themselves, who need to dig up all that history so they can put it to rest and find peace themselves. This story really has everything: it's got history and modern day live (until those eventually blend together), it's exciting, thrilling, scary at times but with a hint of romance. Perfect.
I really loved the blend between history and present, both through the dream connection and in the relationships between those characters (both "then" and "now"), their plans, hopes, schemes,... History does seem to repeat itself, especially through human flaws and greed, but luckily also through love.
Before this book, I had never really given much thought to past lives, destiny, dreams,... but this story really makes you reconsider; although you don't have to believe it to enjoy this book: it captivates you no matter what. 
Last note: the book cover is perfect. It gave me chills, it's mysterious, dark, ominous, it breathes history... It's the ideal cover for this book.
Many thanks to Anne for giving me the opportunity to read and review your novel. 
I loved every minute and every page.

'Bodie' by Anne Sweazy-Kulju is out on September 17th 2013. 
Go get your copy!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Book review: Blue Monday - Nicci French

Blue Monday

The blurb.

Monday, the lowest point of the week. A day of dark impulses. A day to snatch a child from the streets ...

The abduction of five-year-old Matthew Farraday provokes a national outcry and a desperate police hunt. And when a picture of his face is splashed over the newspapers, psychotherapist Frieda Klein is left troubled: one of her patients has been relating dreams in which he has a hunger for a child. A child he can describe in perfect detail, a child the spitting image of Matthew.

Detective Chief Inspector Karlsson doesn't take Frieda's concerns seriously until a link emerges with an unsolved child abduction twenty years ago and he summons Frieda to interview the victim's sister, hoping she can stir hidden memories. Before long, Frieda is at the center of the race to track the kidnapper.

But her race isn't physical. She must chase down the darkest paths of a psychopath's mind to find the answers to Matthew Farraday's whereabouts.
And sometimes the mind is the deadliest place to lose yourself.

My opinion.
I'm ashamed to admit that this is my first Nicci French novel. But since I'm trying all kinds of different genres lately, I felt that Nicci French finally had to be on the "to read list", and haven't regret doing that. This is a difficult review to write without giving away any (or too many) spoilers. I'll just start by saying I loved reading this book. It was exciting, insightful, thrilling,... 
The blurb gives some information that makes you think you're ahead of everyone else, the police, Frieda,.. But it doesn't turn out to be that easy and straight forward. Until the very last page, the story kept surprising me and made me gasp. It will hunt me for a while, but I don't think I mind too much.
I'm definitely planning on reading the rest of the Frieda Klein series, she's a very interesting heroine and an intriguing character, and I feel there's a lot more to know about her, and I'm really excited about that.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Book review (double): A Street Cat Named Bob & The World According To Bob - James Bowen


The blurb.

When James Bowen found an injured, ginger street cat curled up in the hallway of his sheltered accommodation, he had no idea just how much his life was about to change. James was living hand to mouth on the streets of London and the last thing he needed was a pet.

Yet James couldn't resist helping the strikingly intelligent tom cat, whom he quickly christened Bob. He slowly nursed Bob back to health and then sent the cat on his way, imagining he would never see him again. But Bob had other ideas.

Soon the two were inseparable and their diverse, comic and occasionally dangerous adventures would transform both their lives, slowly healing the scars of each other's troubled pasts.

James and his street cat Bob have been on a remarkable journey together. In the years since their story ended in the bestselling A STREET CAT NAMED BOB James, with Bob's help, has begun to find his way back to the real world. Almost every day, Bob provides moments of intelligence, bravery and humour, at the same time opening his human friend's eyes to important truths about friendship, loyalty, trust - and the meaning of happiness. In the continuing tale of their life together James shows the many ways in which Bob has been his protector and guardian angel through times of illness, hardship, even life-threatening danger. As they high five together for their crowds of admirers, James knows that the tricks he's taught Bob are nothing compared to the lessons he's learnt from his street-wise cat.

My opinion.
I decided to wright these to reviews together as I sort of see them as one and the same story, just divided up into two books: a part I, II and apparently III on the way. It's like reading James' diary. Or even Bobs. It truly is a heartwarming story. Sometimes it sounds a bit cheezy, describing a book as being a story that "gives hope", but this truly is the case for these two. James had a really difficult past, one that is hard to comprehend, even with his honest tales about his history. But by being as open and honest as he can manage to be (it's not a fictional story!), he gives his readers an inside look into a "hidden world" within our day-to-day lives. Drug addictions and homelessness are problems we are aware of, but not really. By reading James' side of things, you can see how you never really understood before, and how blind we all are.
And then we have Bob. Wauw. Maybe I'm a bit prejudiced because I am a cat lover already and always had cats whom I adore very much, but seriously, you cannot resist Bob. You just fall in love with him. The way he cares about James in a really atypical way, the way he senses things,... And I love James' honest anecdotes. Some of them might be truly trivial, but they're just so heartwarming.
These books make me want to go and cuddle my cat, knit her scarves and try to get her to give me high fives. Also, next time I'm in London, I'll be on the look-out for Big Issue -sellers. As a Belgian tourist, I was never aware of them and had never heard of the magazine before. Thank you James for changing that.
I'll definitely be reading the next James & Bob story.