Friday, January 23, 2015

THE BOY THAT NEVER WAS



THE BOY THAT NEVER WAS by Karen Perry
 
Pages: 350
Date: 23/01/2015
Grade: 3
Details: Reading Group Monthly read
Own

The blurb:

“Three-year-old Dillon vanished in the middle of the night. His father Harry can't forgive himself for not protecting his only child. Yet Harry isn't blamed by his wife Robin: she bares her own secret guilt.
Five years later, thousands of miles away, Harry spots an eight-year-old boy in a crowd - a boy he is convinced is Dillon.
Desperate to find his missing son, Harry's obsession tears apart his marriage, exposing shameful secrets and shattering the one thing he and Robin had left - trust.
Why won't Robin believe Harry? What is she hiding? Can the boy really be Dillon? And how far will Harry go to find their lost son?
The Boy That Never Was is a deeply atmospheric and masterfully crafted tale of love and loss that will chill you to the bone. Fans of Rosamund Lupton and Sophie Hannah will fall in love with this debut from Karen Perry.”

My thoughts:

I’m always disappointed when a book doesn’t live up to my expectations but this time it hits me a little bit harder than normal. I bought nine copies of this book just before Christmas and gave one to each of my reading group members. The blurb sounded exciting and the endorsements on and in the cover were more than glowing:

“Truly remarkable” - Jeffrey Deaver
“ Gripping...this tense, unpredictable novel blends a thriller with an intimate family story to produce a most compulsive read” - John Boyne
“A beautifully written mystery is gripping stuff” - Tana French

I don’t usually pay a lot of attention to endorsements by other authors but these caught my attention since I’m both a fan and admirer of each of those writers. Buying ‘The Boy That Never Was’ appeared to be a very safe bet. Except that it wasn’t and I now find myself in the strange situation where I fervently hope my reaction to this book was personal and mood or genre related.  

I had more than one issue with this book.

For starters I had the twist – at least I think it was supposed to be a twist or a surprise – worked out before I reached the half way mark of this story. I hoped the author would pull an unexpected rabbit out of her writing-hat and prove me wrong, but that didn’t happen.

I couldn’t get involved in the unravelling Robin and Harry’s relationship because I never saw their bond as being tight. Watching love die is not that hard when you never quite believed the love was there to begin with. What’s more, I didn’t like either of them; not the way they were before they lost Dillan and not the way they were portrait afterwards. As a result I wasn’t really invested in whether or not they would manage to hold it all together.

And finally, and I know this is a very personal pet peeve, the frequent use of the words ‘in that moment’ got on my nerves very early on.

Overall I liked the basic idea behind this story and, apart from the repetition mentioned above, the writing was quite good, especially for a debut. Unfortunately neither was enough for me to lose myself in the story or care about the characters or outcome. Fingers crossed my reading group members enjoyed it more than I did.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

THE LIVES OF STELLA BAIN



THE LIVES OF STELLA BAIN by Anita Shreve
 
Pages: 264
Date: 18/12/2014
Grade: 4
Details: Reading Group Read
Library

The blurb:

“Hauled in a cart to a field hospital in northern France in March 1916, an American woman wakes up from unconsciousness to the smell of gas gangrene, the sounds of men in pain, and an almost complete loss of memory; she knows only that she can drive an ambulance, she can draw, and her name is Stella Bain.

A stateless woman in a lawless country, Stella embarks on a journey to reconstruct her life. Suffering an agonising and inexplicable array of symptoms, she finds her way to London. There Dr. August Bridge, a cranial surgeon turned psychologist, is drawn to tracking her amnesia to its source. What brutality was she fleeing when she left the tranquil seclusion of a New England college campus to serve on the Front; for what crime did she need to atone – and whom did she leave behind?”


My thoughts:

“Can a man possibly care for a woman who is not herself? A woman who, with any luck, might change into someone else? Can a woman who is not herself truly care for another?”


I’m a bit ambivalent about this book. On the one hand I loved the story. I liked the idea of exploring the horrors of World War One through the eyes of a woman. We tend to forget they too played important and often horrific roles in this conflict and it’s about time it was given attention. I also appreciated the various layers in the story and the slow unravelling of Stella’s story and life.

Anita Shreve is a good and accomplished storyteller and The Lives of Stella Bain held my interest from start to finish. Having said that, I also found myself a bit underwhelmed with The Lives of Stella Bain. From the moment I started this book I had problems losing myself in the story. Stella’s tale is told in a detached manner and as a result I felt removed what was happening to her.

Initially I hoped the detachment would diminish as Stella’s memory returned. And, if the tone of the narration had shifted from impersonal to more personally involved as Stella returned to who she was and remembered why she found herself in the situation she was in, I would have considered it a masterful stroke of storytelling.

As it was, I felt I never got the opportunity to connect with Stella. She started off as and remained a rather one dimensional character in an interesting but rather flat story. It is quite possible I missed something but to me this felt like a missed opportunity. On the other hand, I can’t deny the story almost read itself and despite my lack of involvement in the story, I had no problem staying with it and finishing this book.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

WELCOME TO THE SERPENT'S KISS BLOG TOUR






Title: Serpent’s Kiss
Genre: Erotic Romance BDSM
Author: Sherri Hayes
Release Date: Dec 4, 2014


SYNOPSIS


After losing her husband unexpectedly, Katrina Mayer decided to open Serpent’s Kiss. She wanted it to be a place where she and her fellow kinksters could play and socialize.

Five years after the doors opened, the club is everything she’d hoped it would be. On Friday and Saturday nights, Serpent’s Kiss is filled with men and women who share a similar desire to explore the pleasures BDSM has to offer. The club has continued to grow, and over the years, many of its members have become friends.

The one thing Katrina didn’t expect when she’d decided to open a club was the human drama that came with it. Learning to balance her life as the club mistress has taken some getting used to, but she wouldn’t change a thing.


BUY LINKS


AUTHOR: 

Sherri spent most of her childhood detesting English class. It was one of her least favorite subjects because she never seemed to fit into the standard mold. She wasn’t good at spelling, or following grammar rules, and outlines made her head spin. For that reason, Sherri never imagined becoming an author.
At the age of thirty, all of that changed. After getting frustrated with the direction a television show was taking two of its characters, Sherri decided to try her hand at writing an alternate ending, and give the characters their happily ever after. By the time the story finished, it was one of the top ten read stories on the site, and her readers were encouraging her to write more.
Six years later, Sherri is the author of six full-length novels, and one short story. Writing has become a creative outlet for Sherri that allows her to explore a wide range of emotions, while having fun taking her characters through all the twists and turns she can create. She is most well known for her Finding Anna series about a young woman rescued from being a sex slave by a wealthy Dominant. The third book in that series, Truth, released July 25, 2013.

SOCIAL LINKS


GIVEAWAY


REVIEW:

Welcome to the Serpent’s Kiss is not a full length novel. This is an introduction to the club, its owner Katrina Mayer, the people who work there and some of the members. It is meant to arouse your curiosity and does so in a very effective and appetizing way. After these forty pages I’m curious about Katrina and what she will or won’t do about Ryan. I want to see if Beth will get over her misfortune and how new member and newbie to the scene Drew gets along.

Having a female BDSM-club owner and Domme spearheading the stories makes a nice change from the usual fare of Male dominated novels (pun intended). Sherri Hayes obviously has a good understanding of the BDSM world and makes sure to share her knowledge with her readers without it ever feeling as if she’s giving us a lecture.

If this prequel is anything to go by, The Serpent’s Kiss will be a welcome addition to the world of BDSM romance and erotica. I’m looking forward to finding out what will be happening next.