Good People by Marcus Sakey

Good People

Synopsis: A family, and the security to enjoy it: that’s all Tom and Anna Reed ever wanted. But years of infertility treatments, including four failed attempts at in-vitro fertilization, have left them with neither. The emotional and financial costs are straining their marriage and endangering their dreams. So when their downstairs tenant – a recluse whose promptly delivered cashier’s checks were barely keeping them afloat, dies in his sleep, the $400,000 they find stashed in his kitchen seems like fate. More than fate: a chance for everything they’ve dreamed of for so long. A fairy-tale ending.

But Tom and Anna soon realize that fairy tales never come cheap. Because their tenant wasn’t a hermit who squirreled away his pennies. He was a criminal who double-crossed some of the most dangerous men in Chicago. Men who won’t stop until they get revenge, no matter where they find it.

4 Stars From Me.

Funny old book this one, I bought it on a whim as I was stuck without a book (and panicking accordingly) so I literally grabbed a few random ones in the hope that one or two might be good.

In this book we meet a fairly typical couple who have the misfortune of struggling to conceive. They’ve blown a lot of money on IVF and are faced with the difficult decision of having to accept that they can’t afford another round of fertility treatment.

Then, in a random twist of fate, an opportunity presents itself for them to be stinking rich! Needless to say it isn’t as straight forward as that and the money comes with a dilemma of it’s own and whole heap of trouble to boot.

The story is good on the whole although it does wander into just plain silly territory a few times! The jury is out for me as to whether that enhanced it or not. It’s a good fun read with enough of an edge to it to keep you turning the pages.

This is an unusual yet engaging read it combines full on violence and threat with a good old fashioned moral in story type undercurrent: can money really buy you happiness?

 

The Carrier by Sophie Hannah

The CarrierSynopsis: When her plane is delayed overnight, Gaby Struthers finds herself forced to share a hotel room with a stranger: a terrified young woman named Lauren Cookson – but why is she scared of Gaby in particular? Lauren won’t explain. Instead, she blurts out something about an innocent man going to prison for a murder he didn’t commit, and Gaby soon discovers that Lauren’s presence on her flight can’t be a coincidence. Because the murder victim is Francine Breary, the wife of the only man Gaby has ever truly loved. Tim Breary has confessed to killing his wife and even provided the police with evidence. The only thing he hasn’t given them is a motive: he claims to have no idea why he did it…

Another excellent book from Sophie Hannah.

I absolutely adore the way she writes the ‘human’ elements of her books. The passages of self contemplation and, often, self loathing undertaken by her characters really hits home. It’s incredibly easy to believe that these people are real.

How wonderful it would be to be as brilliant as Gaby; and yet those uber brain cells of hers seem to bring disappointment ever so easily to her door too.

I confessed to @SophieHannahCB1 that I quite loved both Tim and lead detective Simon Waterhouse and she was delighted! She has created two deep and wonderfully mysterious men, both romantic in non conventional ways.

Yes I’m still gutted that Waterhouse married Zailer and yes the whole Proust thing still niggles me, but none of that changes the fact that this is yet another very clever story line with well rounded and believable characters.

So then I confessed that I had an overwhelming urge to text the phone number mentioned within the story – in fact after a fair bit of egging on from other tweeters I did text it… ‘Hi Gaby x’ but sadly no one texted back. (Note to self, that could well be because you texted a fictional character!)

This is a very engaging book, the story line weaves over itself a little too much (in my view) in places but overall I thought it was really good even if there were times where I’m not quite sure that I kept up!

If you are thinking about reading this book, I would urge you to go back to the start and read Little Face then work your way through.

To buy The Carrier click here.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark PlacesThe synopsis: Libby Day was just seven years old when her older brother massacred her family while she hid in a cupboard. Her evidence helped put him away. Ever since then she has been drifting, surviving for over 20 years on the proceeds of the ‘Libby Day fund’. But now the money is running out and Libby is desperate. When she is offered $500 to do a guest appearance, she feels she has to accept. But this is no ordinary gathering. The Kill Club is a group of true-crime obsessives who share information on notorious murders, and they think her brother Ben is innocent.

Ben was a social misfit, ground down by the small-town farming community in which he lived. But he did have a girlfriend – a brooding heavy metal fan called Diondra. Through her, Ben became involved with drugs and the dark arts. When the town suddenly turned against him, his thoughts turned black. But was he capable of murder? Libby must delve into her family’s past to uncover the truth – no matter how painful…

I LOVED THIS BOOK!

Having recently read Gone Girl and loved that I was almost expecting Dark Place to be a let down but it so wasn’t.

Dark Places is a fabulously gripping and engrossing tale that unfolds before your eyes like a car crash that you can’t help but watch.

I didn’t guess the ending which is pretty rare these days and I found the key elements which were woven into the story to be clever rather than clumsy and annoying (like I so often do!).

Gillian Flynn writes beautifully, effortlessly (well to read, it’s probably darn hard work to write) and engagingly. Her characters are alive in your mind and you care about each and you can’t help but have feelings about each and every one of them. You hate the bad guys, feel empathy with the victims and fear/sorrow/pride as required for the main stars.

This is a great book and Gillian Flynn is bloody star!

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Schriver

KevinWe Need To Talk About Kevin

by Lionel Schriver

Wow.

I have actively avoided reading this book for years; albeit for the wrong reasons. I had incorrectly thought that the book was letters from wife to husband requesting they discuss their son’s behaviour as she thought he had special needs. Like I said, I was wrong.

This book has a painfully slow start and had I not been reading it for a book group, I confess I may have given up on it.

However, in retrospect I think this slow build is deliberate and intended to fully put you in the mind of the mother, to understand her, to be able to predict how she would react and how she would feel.

Once this story grabs you it doesn’t let go and you find yourself turning page after page with a growing feeling of dread.

I won’t spoil it – go read it yourself. I’ve just finished it and am writing this feeling a kind of sick numbness and a sadness – how amazing that a book can evoke such emotion.

Notting Hell by Rachel Johnson

Notting HellNotting Hell

by Rachel Johnson

What can I say about this book….. it certainly does sound like hell, I’d hate to live there!

Intelligent, witty and well observed – it offers a tale of the ‘idyllic’ lives of the rich and/or famous.

I think the most worrying aspect is that it is probably a perfectly good example of some real lives in that area. How draining to have to be so fake and pretentious all the time; while shagging your neighbour’s husband and being blissfully unaware that she is shagging yours.

That about sums it up really.

 

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year by Sue Townsend

The Woman Who Went To Bed For A Year

Woman Bed Year

by Sue Townsend

As I am currently experiencing a bit of enforced bed rest, this seemed an apt book to read!

It is billed as ‘laugh out loud’ and ‘wonderfully funny’. According to the back of the book Jeremy Paxman said “The publishers could offer a money-back guarantee if you don’t laugh and be sure they wouldn’t have to write a single cheque” – I am not so sure that I agree. It is certainly sharp and well-observed, with humorous descriptions in places, but is it a comedy? I think not.

Beautifully and intelligently written as you would expect from Sue Townsend, it is in places briefly uplifting yet on the whole seemed to be a slightly melancholy, cautionary tale which serves as a reminder that we are all the same underneath all of our learnings and affectations and that we all seek that one person who understands us and accepts us for who we really are.

The overall message that came across was that we all hold on to things (careless insults, preconceptions, embarrassing memories, feelings of inadequacy) that we should have left behind years ago and yet, conversely/perversely, we fail to retain things which we should hold dear (compliments, friendships, self esteem/respect and kindness).

Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Sister

by Rosamund Lupton

Sister

I was bought this book for Christmas and have stoically put off reading it because it has been so acclaimed, that may sound odd but it makes sense to me! I like to read books and judge them for myself rather than having a preconceived expectation.

That said, this book IS worth all the hype. It is beautifully written. It does touch you. The prose throughout the whole book is just lovely and poignant, it is incredibly clever the way that sometimes you feel you are reading a story and then suddenly it hits you in the face that the book is talking to you, and makes you look at yourself in a new way.

That makes it sound preachy and predictable, it truly isn’t. An example of such a passage would be:

Before this, I’d confidently assumed myself to be a considerate, thoughtful person, vigilant about other people. I scrupulously remembered birthdays (my birthday book being annually transcribed onto the calendar); I sent thank you cards promptly (ready-bought and waiting in the bottom drawer of my desk). But with my numbers on your phone bill I saw that I wasn’t considerate at all. I was conscientious about the minutiae of life but in the important things I was selfishly cruel and neglectful. 

Out of context it probably doesn’t hit home as hard as it does when woven into the excellently written story. And it really is excellently written, it is a story based on one person’s desire to find the truth about the death of her sister, about her need to prove that she knew her sister and that their connection was real. It exposes a lot of emotions and touches on hidden family frailties while still being an engaging crime thriller. I don’t use the ‘a real page turner’ words lightly, but it was one. I loved it.

I don’t want to give away any of the story, as that would spoil it for you, but I do urge you to read it; even if you read it as I did – fully prepared to be scathing! I am quite confident that you will love it within the first few pages.

Tuesdays With Morrie by MitchAlbom

Tuesdays With Morrie

by Mitch Albom

I bought Tuesdays With Morrie because I was so touched by The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

It is another tiny little book which rips through your defences and leaves you blubbing – I read most pages with a running internal monologue of ‘I will not cry, I will not cry’ I failed miserably.

Don’t let that put you off it, it is a fabulous book.

I don’t know how Mitch Albom manages to put some much genuine emotion into his words but boy do they pack a punch.

A book that makes you look at yourself and not always like what you see, but then shows you how easy it would be to change the view.

Go read it!

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

The Gargoyle

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

This is an astounding book.

I wouldn’t have bought this book, it was bought for me, and I’m so glad it was. I really need to get out of my comfort zone with books, I tend to go for crime dramas time after time so I love it when someone plonks something new in front of me; especially when the book then turns out to be as good as this one.

There is a scene where one of the main characters is burnt in an accident, it is incredibly descriptive, captivating yet revolting. A terrifying and believable insight into how horrific it must be.

The story seems to weave between fantasy and fiction but in a very engaging way. I can’t even begin to do it justice in this review. I can’t peg it in a genre, I can just say that I loved it.

I loved the madness and passion of the female character, her story on its own was fabulous and a wonderful concept. I yearned to have her drive when I read it.

I made me cry, cringe and keep on reading. Lovely book, very long, a bit odd at times but absolutely steeped in romance.

As ever, I’m not telling you the story; you need to read the book and discover it for yourself ;)

The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom

 

The Five People You Meet In Heaven

by Mitch Albom

Tiny little book.

I bought my copy in New York because I loved the rough unfinished edges on the pages. I didn’t know anything about it, just liked the feel of the thing.

When I read it I was blown away by how much it affected me.

This book takes you on a short but soul enhancing journey.

You HAVE to read it. That is all.