Forgive Me – A Review

Fuel scarcity is a very real and rather startling phenomenon here in Nigeria. Last Saturday, I decided it was time to join the queue for fuel. In preparation for what was undoubtedly going to be an hour plus wait, I bought myself snacks and three novels; one of the novels was Forgive Me by Lesley Pearse.

forgive meAs titles go, Forgive Me is certainly alluring. There is the promise of tragedy, of mystery, of drama. And the tagline ‘Her mother’s dying words…’ further added to the tone. It’s a title that pulled me in, though simple, it spoke to me; and for this reason I shall give the title 8/10.

The main character, Eva Patterson, discovers her mum, Flora, dead in the bath; and she spends the rest of the story trying to figure out the why behind her mother’s actions. Only the secrets she discovers are greater than her wildest imaginations (although I’m proud to announce that I figured out the twist before the heroine did). The plot didn’t strike me as being particularly unique, but it was engaging and I was eager to find out the secrets of the woman who had taken her own life. 7/10 for the plot.

As for the characters, they were well-rounded, they were flawed. Pearse paid special attention to even the secondary characters of which there were a few. Her love for Flora shone through her writing and I came to also love this woman whose actions I would never had endorsed and whose character swung from noble to heartless far too easily. I did find Eva trying at times, but she was a likeable character and one you could empathize with. 6/10 for the characters.

Pearse’s attention to detail is enviable and I could see the pictures that she was trying to paint. I was in England in the dreary rain, with the flowers, with the sounds and the smells…

In the picture the cottage looked charmingly dilapidated, with straggling roses over the arch, the front door in need of a coat of paint, and a weed-strewn path leading from a sagging gate. But it wasn’t like that now; it was painted a soft pale pink, the door glossy white, as was the latticework arch. Although it was late in the summer, there was purple clematis scrabbling through the carefully trained rose which still had many pink blooms.

Beautiful, isn’t it? 8/10

If you like mystery, hidden secrets, family drama, this is definitely, definitely the book for you.

29/40

It’s The Little Things – A Review

It’s The Little Things

By Erica James

I bought this book as a birthday present for my sister, because I have realised these are the sorts of stories she liked. However, as fate would have it, I ended up reading it first (No, I am not one of those people who buy things for people so that they can make use of it themselves; at least I am not usually this way), and I am now thoroughly convinced that she will love it.

its the little thingsAs titles go, It’s the Little Things does not impress me. It seems obvious somehow; but it is also a title that immediately alerts the reader to the genre of the book – which I would tentatively say is Romance. It certainly achieves what it set out to achieve, so I will give it a 5/10.

We follow three, and then four characters – Dan, Sally, Chloe and Seth, as they navigate the minefield that we call being in a relationship/ being in love. I can’t say the plot is anything I haven’t come across before, or that it is particularly ingenious, but it is certainly a well woven tale. It is a story about normal people, living normal lives and making mistakes that change what would perhaps have been the natural course of their lives. I would give the plot 7/10.

I have read Erica James before – The Queen of New Beginnings (which is a title I love, probably because it reminds me of the song – King of Wishful Thinking…). James certainly has a knack for creating real characters. They are characters that do things that exasperate you and have you wanting to give them a knock on the forehead. Their struggles are struggles you may very well have experienced yourself. You can hate them or love them but you are forced to empathise with them. So I would give the characters a good 8/10.

‘She pitied anyone who had never experienced even a fraction of what she was feeling. At the oddest times, she would catch herself looking at people around her – in a meeting, in a shop – and wonder how they could bear their safe, dull little lives.’

The writing of James and the way the story unfolds is engaging. She draws you in without you even realising. I didn’t think it would turn out to be a book I was loath to put down, but I was reading it at every opportunity at work. I needed to know what would happen to the characters – especially Sally; I needed to know. 9/10 for the writing that is also so superbly British.

All in all James, is a writer to take the time out to read.

29/40

The Abomination of Mrs Rochester

It occurred to me today that I have a blog now.

This was a very important rediscovery because several years ago I read a book and this book made me ANGRY; unfortunately I had no way of expressing this anger except to my family (who really couldn’t have cared less.)

I have never forgiven the author for writing this book and I probably never will.

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Thyme Out – A Review

THYME OUT

Katie Fforde

This is the second book I have read by Katie Fforde and I was not disappointed. She writes such charming romance books, and this coming from someone who only reads romance if she is bored and/or depressed.

thymeI think Fforde likes corny titles which is completely alright. The first book I read was titled Artistic Licence. This book is named Thyme Out, referring to the fact that the main character is a Gardner who provides vegetables and herbs to companies; also it is a play on the word ‘time’, which is cute. Otherwise it is not a title that would ordinarily lead me to select the book. So I’m forced to give it a 3/10. But no worries, she will pick up lots of points later!

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Dead Simple – A Review

DEAD SIMPLE

Peter James

 

DeadSI haven’t read a novel in weeks and I was getting desperate; so when I picked Dead Simple, all I knew was that it was crime fiction (you can rarely go wrong with crime) and the name Peter James rang a bell.

Four men are dead, one is missing and the sixth is not telling. The plot was engaging enough that I read the book in two sittings. In the first sitting, I read chapter one – two; in the second, I read chapter two to the very very end, including the excerpt from the next novel in the series. Needless to say, this novel is unputdownable! I haven’t been so tempted to skip to the end of a chapter in a long time, perhaps this is due to the fact that the position the victim was in, is my number one on my list of ‘worst ways to die’. He handled his situation a lot better than I would have done (screaming).

I’d give the plot an 8/10. I am keeping the remaining two points because I actually got a little less engaged towards the end. In James’s effort to up the pace and tension, I think the plot got a little weaker. But just a little.

Regarding the title, Dead Simple is ‘dead simple’. The word ‘dead’ does the job of informing the potential reader of the genre and the phrase was used a number of times in the novel. Other than that, the title is not particularly unique or outstanding – 5/10.

The characters in Dead Simple were vivid and I was invested in what went on with the detective in his private and public life as well as what was happening to the victims. There was, however, a certain character who did a sudden turnabout in the narrative and it seemed surreal but it in no way sullied the plot. 8/10.

“Maybe I’m the Man With No Name.”

“Listen, Davey, this joke’s gone on too long, OK? Too fucking long. Please get me out here.”

“You gotta be impressed with two hundred rabbits, right?”

Michael stared at the walkie-talkie. Had everyone gone totally insane? Was this the lunatic who had just taken out the breathing tube? Michael tried desperately to think clearly.

James flits between past and present and several different scenes within the present in his narrative. As tough as this no doubt is to achieve and still maintain simplicity and ease, James manages it beautifully. Sometimes it is hard to recognize beauty in the storytelling of a crime novel, because you are usually too caught up in the thrills to pay much attention (and I suppose that’s clue enough). I would have to give his style a 9/10.

I will certainly be reading more of the books in this series.

 

30/40

The Snow Child – A Review

THE SNOW CHILD

Eowyn Ivey

I picked this book off the shelf because the title suggested itself, and the navy background with white shadowy images of a girl and a fox appealed to me. Every once in a while you score and I certainly reaped the benefits of my choice.

the snow childThe Snow Child is a tale about a childless couple who relocate to the barrenness of Alaska to begin anew. The lives of Jack and Mabel are shaken by the appearance of a mysterious snow child – a young girl who floats in and out of their home and finds a place in their hearts.

I’ll give the title a 10/10. The title simply states what the book is about. Though the main characters are really Jack and Mabel, the inciting incident  takes place when the snow child enters their lives, and the entire story revolves around their interactions and reactions to the girl. What else could Ivey have called it? The white haired girl? Jack and Mabel’s almost daughter? (actually I kind of like that).

There was something distinctly fairytale-like about the story, possibly because Ivey drew inspiration for the plot from a children’s picture book. I found the tale enchanting; it was magical and real, soothing and chilling. It’s the kind of book you want to read by the fireplace, especially as Ivey’s descriptions were so acute that I could feel the Alaskan wind in my bones. Though the plot is derived from another tale, I would still give it an 8/10. After all, there are no really new stories, just new ways of telling them and Ivey found a deliciously new way.

Mabel is a woman haunted by the memories of her still born child and the reality of her barrenness:

 

‘I need peace and quiet, she’d told him more than once. She had withered and shrunk in on herself, and it began when they lost that baby.’

‘He remembered the little girl who had tugged at Mabel’s skirts and called her ‘Mama’, mistaking her for another woman, and Mabel looking as if she had been backhanded.’

Jack on the other hand is a man plagued with the need to provide for is wife in a land that is seemingly as barren as her womb. Ivey’s words reveal the naked needs, fears and desires of her characters. I could relate to and sympathise with the pain and longings of the couple, though they were married and middle-aged. The character of the snow child was unique and engaging and Ivey managed to do justice to the secondary characters in the novel. I would have to give her a 9/10.

Any writer that can make their words flow in the way that Ivey does can count themselves lucky. I have to give the writing 9/10. I loved the ending and it’s a book I know I will be reading again soon.

36/40

The Story Of Beautiful Girl – A Review

THE STORY OF BEAUTIFUL GIRL

By Rachel Simon

This was a book I picked in a hurry from the shelf. I believe I bought it with Snow Child (review coming soon); but it took me a while to read it because when I was almost halfway, my sister took the book and didn’t return it till she was done. Then the book was back in my hands but I had already come to the conclusion that it was a spectacular novel and I wanted to do the review justice so I started the reading again from the beginning.

story of beautiful girlI love the title. It was why I picked the book. If the title had been The Story of A Beautiful Girl or The Story of the Beautiful Girl, it would not have stood out so much. What difference the inclusion or exclusion of an article makes! 10/10

Martha is a retired schoolteacher, Lynnie is the beautiful girl who does not speak and Homan is the black man who cannot hear; together the three of them defy the odds and an institution that attempts to strip them of their basic rights as human beings. The story begins in 1968 and addresses the treatment of people who are ‘different’ from us. There is nothing rudimentary or mediocre about this story. I would have to give it a 9/10. I have kept the 1 because I would have ended the story much sooner, but I suppose Simon’s ending was realistic.

The characters are real, honest and true to their limitations. This is reflected best with Homan, who is known as Number Fourty- Two or Buddy because he cannot tell them his name and whose point of view is determined by the senses he can use:

‘But what if hearing made him forget how to listen with his eyes, and skin, and nose, and mouth?’

‘I couldn’t sign to Buddy with the baby in my hands, so I made a sound of happiness and set my lips on Buddy’s, and he made his voice move up and down until we met at the same sound, and then we held that note, the baby between us, our bodies humming together.’

I would give the characters 10/10. As for the writing, it was flawless:

‘For a long time, in Lynnie’s mind, where word-shapes drifted about, sometimes finding form, sometimes not, she’d thought of it as simply the bad place.’

9/10 for the writing.

Read this book.

 

38/40