Mystery and plot twists galore! Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

When Libby Day was seven years old her mother and two sisters were darkplacesmurdered in their sleep. Libby was so certain that her 15 year old brother, Ben, committed the gruesome murders she even testified against him in court. But when she is approached by the head of a group of amateur crime sleuths to help solve the crime she begins to wonder if perhaps they are right and Ben is innocent after all.

The novel is told from the perspectives of Libby in the present day as well as Ben and their mother, Patty, on the day of the murders. I love novels told from multiple points of view when it is done as well as in Dark Places.

The premise of Dark Places drew me in instantly. I was dying to find out what actually happened the night of the murders from the very beginning of the novel, and it was certainly worth the wait. There was no way I could have guessed the final plot twist!

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A bonus Instagram photo of Zeus who thought I should be taking photos of him instead of books!

 

Description:

Libby Day was just seven years old when her evidence put her fifteen-year-old brother behind bars.

Since then, she has been drifting. But when she is contacted by a group who are convinced of Ben’s innocence, Libby starts to ask questions she never dared to before. Was the voice she heard her brother’s? Ben was a misfit in their small town, but was he capable of murder? Are there secrets to uncover at the family farm or is Libby deluding herself because she wants her brother back?

She begins to realise that everyone in her family had something to hide that day… especially Ben. Now, twenty-four years later, the truth is going to be even harder to find.

Who did massacre the Day family?

Details:

Title: Dark Places

Author: Gillian Flynn

ISBN: 0307341569 (ISBN13: 9780307341563)

Published: Published June 10th 2010 by Phoenix (first published January 1st 2009)

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Pages: 424

Source: I purchased my copy

My Rating: 4/5 stars

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Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

Emotional, raw, and unapologetically realistic. It’s no wonder Olive Kitteridge won the Pulitzer Prize.

Olive Kitteridge is a former math teacher with a tough and bristly exterior. Like most people who come across this way, Olive has her own demons to battle in private and an incredible understanding of human nature. olive

Each chapter tells a separate story involving people who live in Olive’s hometown, Crosby Maine. Sometimes Olive plays a central role, other times she is just hovering somewhere on the periphery. Each chapter weaves together to tell an incredible story of love, life, death, and the human condition.

I absolutely loved this book. I found myself identifying so many times with Olive. Her insights into human nature and life were incredibly profound at times. Even though she comes across as such a tough cookie, I feel as though she could very well be a creative free spirit trapped in a mundane and disappointing world.

It took me quite a few days to read Olive Kitteridge. I needed to stop and let each chapter sink in before I was able to move onto the next one. If you decide to check it out, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster.

olivez
Even my cat loved Olive Kitteridge!

Best Quotes:

“You couldn’t make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn’t go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind.”

“Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it.”

“She didn’t like to be alone. Even more, she didn’t like being with people.”

“Olive’s private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as “big bursts” and “little bursts.” Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee’s, let’s say, or the waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts who knows how you like your coffee. Tricky business, really.”

“Traits don’t change, states of mind do.”
“Don’t be scared of your hunger. If you’re scared of your hunger, you’ll just be one more ninny like everyone else.”
Description:
At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town of Crosby, Maine, and in the world at large, but she doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance; a former student who has lost the will to live; Olive’s own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and her husband, Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life–sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition–its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

Details:
ISBN: 140006208X (ISBN13: 9781400062089)
Published:  March 25th 2008 by Random House (first published September 30th 2007)
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Pages: 270
Source: I bought my copy
My Rating: 5/5 stars

Future Perfect by Katrina Mountfort #bookreview

futureperfect

Future Perfect is a terrifying glimpse of what our future may hold.

The year is 2181 and 17 year old Caia is beginning her first job with the Ministry of State 11 which used to be called London. But State 11 is very different to the London that we know today. The citizens live in isolated Citidomes, marriage and sex are outlawed, and people are discouraged from becoming too attached to each other, asking too many questions, or feeling any kind of intense emotion. There is no such thing as religion and children are created by artificial methods. The citizens of State 11 are all striving to reach BodyPerfect status— which is tall, anorexic and androgynous— and anybody who is not considered BodyPerfect is bullied and humiliated. Information, particularly about the world outside, is limited and controlled by the government. Anybody who doesn’t toe the line is labelled as a ‘subversive thinker’ and disappears and couples who do have sex will catch the TJB virus and break out in red marks on their skin.

Through the ‘truth exchange’ and her secret conversations with her subversive new colleague, Mac, Caia slowly begins to piece together the truth about State 11. She also develops her very first crush. When Mac and Caia are sent outside the Citidome on a work mission they are finally able to act on their mutual feelings and decide that they have to hatch a plan to escape and live together in freedom.

I found many parallels between Future Perfect and George Orwell’s 1984, particularly since I have only recently completed a rather intense essay on Orwell and the collapse of the private and public spheres. I think that we really do need to start thinking about the way the world is heading and how privacy is becoming an increasingly elusive concept.

I loved Future Perfect and wait to read the next installment.

Description:

The Blueprint trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. Following a bio-terrorist attack, the population now lives within comfortable Citidomes. MindValues advocate acceptance and non-attachment. The BodyPerfect cult encourages a tall thin androgynous appearance, and looks are everything. This first book, Future Perfect, tells the story of Caia, an intelligent and highly educated young woman. In spite of severe governmental and societal strictures, Caia finds herself becoming attracted to her co-worker, Mac, a rebel whose questioning of their so-called utopian society both adds to his allure and encourages her own questioning of the status quo. As Mac introduces her to illegal and subversive information she is drawn into a forbidden, dangerous world, becoming alienated from her other co-workers and resmates, the companions with whom she shares her residence. In a society where every thought and action are controlled, informers are everywhere; whom can she trust? When she and Mac are sent on an outdoor research mission, Caia’s life changes irreversibly. A dark undercurrent runs through this story; the enforcement of conformity through fear, the fostering of distorted and damaging attitudes towards forbidden love, manipulation of appearance and even the definition of beauty, will appeal to both an adult and young adult audience.

Details:

Title: Future Perfect (Blueprint Trilogy #1)

Author: Katrina Mountfort

Published: September 19th 2014 by Elsewhen Press

ASIN: B00NE4A8JM

Genre: YA, Dystopia, SciFi

Pages: 285

Source: I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 5/5 stars

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The Edge of Dark by Pamela Hartshorne #BookReview

the_edge_of_dark

The Edge of Dark is mysterious time slip novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. The novel is centred around the enigmatic Elizabethan home, Holmwood House, in York in the 1500s and present day.

In the 21st century Holmwood House is being meticulously restored to its former glory by the pompous Sir Adrian, whose family is descended from the home’s original owner. The story begins when he hires London based Events Director, Roz Acclam from London, to oversee the grand opening and future events.

Roz has no memories of her tragic childhood history in York and jumps at the chance to work at such a beautiful historic home, despite her Aunt’s warnings to stay away from the area. She has been having relationship problems and thinks some time apart from her partner is just what she needs.

Things start to get strange as soon as Roz arrives in York. She begins to have vivid dreams about Jane, who lived at Holmswood House in the 1500s. At first Roz thought she was having some kind of adverse reaction to being back in York, but she eventually comes to believe that Jane is real and has been trying to send her an important message.

But what is Jane really trying to tell her? Will the dark forces of Holmswood House claim another victim? And what really happened to Roz’s family when she was a child?

The answers to these questions and more are skilfully revealed, and I was certainly surprised by the climatic ending. Pamela Hartshorne has mastered the art of the time slip novel and I’m looking forward to reading more of her work.

Details

Title: The Edge of Dark

Author: Pamela Hartshorne

Published: January 27th 2015 by PAN MacMillan Adult (first published November 1st 2014)

ISBN: 1447278534 (ISBN13: 9781447278535)

Genre: Historical Fiction, Time Slip

Source: Library

Rating: 5/5 stars

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Book Review: ‘Chasing Chris Campbell’ by Genevieve Gannon

Title: Chasing Chris Campbell                                         gen

Author: Genevieve Gannon

ISBN: 9781460704714

Published: June 1st 2015 by HarperCollins Publishers Australia

Genre:  Romance, Chick Lit

Source: I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Description:

The hilarious and charming second novel from the author of Husband Hunters. For fans of The Rosie Project, Forgetting Sarah Marshall and all good rom-coms.

Violet is saving money: living on rice and beans and denying herself chocolate eclairs all in the name of saving for a home deposit. Once they save enough, she and Michael can buy a house, settle down and live happily ever after. But when Michael does the unthinkable, Violet is forced to rethink her life choices.

A chance encounter with Chris Campbell (first love, boy-next-door, The One That Got Away) spurs her into travelling to exotic locations she never dreamed she’d explore – Hong Kong, Vietnam, Varanasi – on a quest to catch up with Chris and lead a life of adventure. Armed with hand sanitiser and the encouraging texts of her twin sister Cassandra, will Violet find true love before it’s too late? Or will the nerve-wracking experience of travelling send her back to Melbourne in search of safety and stability? Can she work out what she really wants before she is left with nothing?

My Thoughts:

Chasing Chris Campbell is Genevieve Gannon’s second novel which is just as fun to read as her debut novel, Husband Hunters. When Violet breaks up with her penny-pinching fiance`, Michael, her life seems to be at a bit of a cross-roads. She hates her job and doesn’t really seem to know what to do next. Until her high school sweetheart, Chris Campbell, enters the scene again.

Violet decides to follow Chris on his never-ending overseas adventures, but she needs to catch in the right country first. He always seems to be one step ahead of her and incredibly vague about making arrangements. Nevertheless, Violet decides to put aside her fussy germophobe tendencies to follow Chris from Hong Kong to Vietnam, and then to Varnassi, all in the name of love.

Chasing Chris Campbell is a fun, lighthearted read and I particularly enjoyed reading about all of the different places that Violet and Chris visited. This is the perfect novel to take along and read at the beach. Yay for Summer and sunny days ahead!

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Genevieve Gannon wrote a particularly interesting article Executive Style titled Chick lit: men might just love it which challenges male readers to give the chick lit genre a try sometime. I know that there are lot of male readers and writers here on WordPress so I’m wondering, how many male readers are out there who enjoy a good chick lit novel?

http://www.executivestyle.com.au/chick-lit-men-might-just-love-it-gjx6uo

 

 

 

Book Review: ‘Love at First Flight’ by Tess Woods

Title: Love at First Flight                                                   tess

Author: Tess Woods

ISBN: 1460705416

Published:  April 1st 2015 by HarperCollins Australia

Genre:  Romance, Chick Lit

Pages: 336

Source: I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 5/5 stars

Description:

Looking back on it now, I can see it was instant. The second we locked eyes. Boom. Just like that. The me I had spent a lifetime perfecting began its disintegration from that moment. And despite the carnage it brought to all our lives, I still don’t regret it.

What would you risk to be with the love of your life? And what if your soul mate is the one who will destroy you?

Mel is living the dream. She’s a successful GP, married to a charming anaesthetist and raising a beautiful family in their plush home in Perth. But when she boards a flight to Melbourne, she meets Matt and her picture perfect Stepford life unravels as she falls in love for the first time ever.

What begins as a flirty conversation between strangers quickly develops into a hot and obsessive affair with disastrous consequences neither Mel nor Matt could have ever seen coming. Mel’s dream life turns into her worst nightmare.

Love at First Flight will take everything you believe about what true love is and spin it on its head.

My Thoughts:

Love at First Flight is the thought provoking debut novel of Australian author, Tess Woods. To an outsider, Mel appears to have the perfect life. She has a successful career as a doctor, an attractive husband, two kids, and a beautiful house near the beach in Perth. But when she crosses paths with a handsome stranger on the way to Melbourne for a girly weekend with her best friend, she embarks on an obsessive affair which has the potential to ruin her perfect life.

I’m not normally a big fan of instant love stories, however, Love at First Flight is much more than a typical ‘girl meets boy, there is some barrier keeping them from being together, but it all works at in the end’ kind of love story. The author explores the relationships and consequences of Mel’s affair in a way that allowed me to understand each and every character’s perspective.

I particularly enjoyed the fact that Love at First Flight was a uniquely Australian novel without being too over the top about it. The description of Perth made me remind myself that I need to add Perth onto my list of places that I need to visit and the author clearly loves our hometown of Melbourne just as much as I do. I’m looking forward to reading Tess Woods’ next novel already!

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Book Review: In Ark: A Promise of Survival by Lisa Devaney

Title: In Ark: A Promise of Survival (Mya and Ark) in ark

Author: Lisa Devaney

AISN: B00JHJAVPE

Published:   April 4th 2014 by Lisa Devaney Publishing

Genre:  Cli Fi, Climate Change Fiction

Pages: 190

Source: I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Description:

In the year 2044, Mya Brand lives in New York City and pursues her passion—trying to digitally save the life story of every human on the planet before climate change makes Earth un-liveable. Recovering from a failed marriage, she stays laser-focused on her mission. With support from her actress best friend and bartender buddy, she is rebuilding her life and trying to heal her hard shell.

Fraught with daily hardships of survival in the face of climate change, she struggles to obtain food, maintain resources and protect her delicate skin from the harmful rays of the sun. With little funding for her digital archiving project, she struggles to keep her dreams going, but wonders how much more she could accomplish if she had more resources.

Then, one day she is abducted by an eco-survivalist community— Ark— that promises to make her dreams come true.

Finally able to focus on her mission, she begins to thrive in her new, sheltered, life. Gone are the hardships she faced from the outside world and climate change. Gone are her money struggles.

But Ark proves not to be the utopia she expects.

My Thoughts:

“In Ark: A Promise of Survival” is set in New York in the not too distant future. Mya Brand is struggling to get funding so that she continue her life mission to digitally save the life story of every human on earth because she fears that many wont survive ‘the change’. The entire planet is struggling to cope with climate change and by 2044 when the story is set people are already being forced to wear heat protective clothing every time they step outside and eat artificial food. Life is pretty grim for Mya and her friends until she is kidnapped by an eco-survivalist community called Ark. Ark seems to provide everything that Mya needs at first, real food, protection from ‘the change’ and the technology that she needs to complete her digital project but eventually she begins to realise that things aren’t all as they seem in Ark.

This was my very first Cli Fi (Climate Fiction) novel and I found it a really interesting concept. It made me wonder what would happen if the weather did become as extreme as it was in “In Ark”. I definitely would not be keen to eat artificial food all of the time, that’s for sure! I also thought the idea of digitally saving the life story of every human being on the planet an interesting idea. Maybe I should go through and delete all of those awful drunky photos from my 20s from my Facebook just in case!!

“In Ark: A Promise of Survival” was very well written and Lisa Devaney has written about climate change in both a factual way as well as exploring in-depth the day to day effects that climate change could have on ordinary people. I will be looking out for the sequel.

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Book Review: Candyfloss Guitar by Stephen Marriott

Title: Candyfloss Guitar candyfloss guitar

Author: Stephen Marriott

ISBN: 1505448050

Published:   Published March 2nd 2015 by Createspace (first published August 11th 2014)

Genre:  Novella, Travel Novel, Fiction

Pages: 60

Source: I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Description:

Diego is coasting. He has been content with living his life in a sun scorched pueblo that lies on the route of the pilgrim path: The Way of Saint James. But one stormy night, change is forced upon him when his father, Eduardo, the local candyfloss man, unexpectedly catches him entertaining a captivated crowd with flamenco guitar rhythms. At that moment, Eduardo relinquishes the hold from the ghosts of his past and realises it’s time for Diego to confront his fate. Eduardo arranges for Diego to live and work on a farm and sends him on his way with the gift of his old Spanish guitar.

Candyfloss Guitar is a story about taking the first steps on a journey towards shrouded dreams and searching for meaning.

Stephen Marriott, the soulful travel novelist, brings a subtle tenderness to this traveler’s tale that traverses the spiritual and physical worlds.

“A Gabriel Garcia Marquez-style tale of self-discovery kissed by the supernatural. Short, lovely and satisfying.” – Acclaimed spiritual fantasy author Laura K. Cowan, author of Music of Sacred Lakes & Thin Places: Supernatural Tales of the Unseen

My Thoughts:

Candyfloss Guitar is a delightful novella by Stephen Marriott who is a traveler as well as a wonderful author. When Diego’s father sends him off to make his own way in the world with his trusty old guitar a series of unplanned circumstances have him decide to walk the pilgrim path, The Way of Saint James (Carmina de Santiago) rather than head off to work on his cousin’s farm as he planned. Diego’s journey becomes not just a physical one but a quest to find his destiny in life and he meets many interesting characters along the way.

The author’s descriptions of Spain are beautifully done and I can tell he holds a great love for the country and the people there. While reading Candyfloss Guitar I was very tempted to pack my bags and embark on a pilgrimage myself until I remembered how rubbish I am at  walking long distances!

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Book Review: Sing a Mournful Melody by Juli D. Revezzo

Title: Sing a Mournful Melodysing a mournful melody

Author: Juli D. Revezzo

AISN: B00PF0IQWY

Published:   November 8th 2014 by Raven Queen Publications

Genre:  Gothic, Short Story

Pages: 18

Source: I received my copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 4/5 stars

Description:

At the turn of the 20th century, tragedy has left Maribelle grief-stricken. After her beloved husband is murdered, his body disappears from his crypt. Worse, ghostly voices call from the widow’s Graphophone. Is she losing her mind, or does something wicked this way come?

My Thoughts:

‘Sing a Mournful Melody’ is a spooky short story with a real Gothic feel to it. I enjoyed the suspense which kept me wondering right up until the very last page whether Maribelle was simply out of her mind with grief at the loss of her husband or were the voices that she could hear coming out of the Grapaphone really coming to get her. It was a very cold and stormy almost winters afternoon here in Melbourne today and ‘Sing a Mournful Melody’ was the perfect short story to read over a coffee.

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Book Review: The Girl in the Photograph by Kate Riordan

Title: The Girl in the Photograph the girl in the photograph

Author: Kate Riordan

ISBN: 1405917423

Published:   January 15th 2015 by Penguin Books

Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Gothic

Pages: 448

Source: I received my copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

My Rating: 3/5 stars

Description:

The Girl in the Photograph is a haunting and atmospheric novel that tells the tales of women in two different eras – the 1890’s and 1930’s – and how their lives seem to be entwined by fate. Kate Riordan’s novel is a beautifully dark and beguiling tale which will sweep you away. It will appeal to fans of Kate Morton and Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.

My Thoughts:

‘The Girl in the Photograph’ by Kate Riordan began with great promise but I thought the pace a little bit too slow and that it wound up fizzling out a bit towards the end. The story is told by two women, Alice in 1933 and Elizabeth in 1898, who both live at the Gothic and secluded English country estate, Firecombe Manor. When Alice became pregnant to her married boyfriend her mother sent her away to stay with her childhood friend, Edith Jelphs, who works as a maid at Firecomb Manor.

Alice soon discovers Elizabeth’s old diaries and begins a quest to discover all of the mysteries that Firecombe Manor holds. Even though Edith worked for Elizabeth she is reluctant to speak about the past, so Alice is left to do most of the investigating on her own, with a bit of help from a local historian.

I particularly enjoyed the chapters of ‘The Girl in the Photograph’ which were told from Elizabeth’s perspective. They had a real mysterious and Gothic feel to them and I was really interested to find out what happened to her and her children. I did feel though that Alice’s chapters dragged on a  bit and that the ending was rather anticlimactic, but these are all very likely just a matter of my own personal preferences. The story was well written and the mysteries are subtly, although slowly, revealed in a way that will appeal to readers who enjoy Gothic mysteries.

The Girl in the Photograph was published in the USA under the title Firecombe Manor.

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