Contemporary

All posts in the Contemporary category

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Published May 24, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Eleanor Oliphant has learned how to survive – but not how to live

Eleanor Oliphant leads a simple life. She wears the same clothes to work every day, eats the same meal deal for lunch every day and buys the same two bottles of vodka to drink every weekend.

Eleanor Oliphant is happy. Nothing is missing from her carefully timetabled life. Except, sometimes, everything.

One simple act of kindness is about to shatter the walls Eleanor has built around herself. Now she must learn how to navigate the world that everyone else seems to take for granted – while searching for the courage to face the dark corners she’s avoided all her life.

Change can be good. Change can be bad. But surely any change is better than… fine?

What did I think?:

If you haven’t read this book yet and have been umming and aahing about picking it up, please finish your current read and read it next! I put off reading this book for the longest time, even after it won the Costa Award for Best Debut Novel and even still when it was long-listed for The Women’s Prize For Fiction this year. I have heard so many rave reviews and sometimes all the hype can make me steer clear of a book rather than gravitating towards it. After all, what if it isn’t as good as everyone says? What if I’m the lone wolf in a sea of popular opinion? I’m delighted to tell you, I’m most definitely a sheep. I ADORE THIS BOOK. Janel from Keeper Of Pages (please follow her, she’s one of my blogger bezzies and a wonderful reviewer!) finally convinced me to pick this novel up in our second buddy read this month and like The Fireman last month, we both can’t speak highly enough of it. Please check out her awesome review HERE. This novel has the strange accolade of being heart-breaking and heart-warming at the same time. It made me laugh, it brought me close to tears and finally, now I see what all the fuss is about.

Gail Honeyman, author of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

So, is Eleanor Oliphant Completely Fine? Well, no she’s not. You know that very British thing that most of us do when we’re feeling rubbish and yet someone asks us how we are and we say: “Fine, thank you,” when we’re clearly not?! This is poor Eleanor. Her life consists of working nine to five, five days a week in an accounting firm in Glasgow. She barely interacts with anybody except to do her job and her social awkwardness and blunt way of speaking does not endear her to her co-workers. In fact, she becomes quite the figure of fun. As soon as Friday hits, Eleanor grabs a couple of bottles of her favourite vodka, shuts herself up in her house and doesn’t speak to another living soul until Monday morning when the whole cycle starts again. This is until she meets Raymond who works in IT at her company and they both help a stranger when he falls ill in public. From here on, Eleanor’s life changes dramatically and will never be the same again. She begins to realise she is not in the slightest “fine,” and never wishes to be so miserable or lonely again.

Glasgow, Scotland where our story is set.

I can’t even deal with how many emotions this book evoked from me. I felt an instant connection when I realised it was set in Scotland, as my veins do run blue with Scottish blood but besides the setting, this is such a stunning piece of debut fiction that it took my breath away. Beginning in quite a melancholy way, where we see the loneliness and hopelessness of our female lead’s life was gut-wrenching to say the least. However, then it changes and the story is so very uplifting that it made me cheer silently multiple times as I got to know Eleanor, broke my heart for her, rooted for her and at the end, felt real and definite hope for her future. Eleanor is a complex character that really gets under your skin. Because of her past, she is not aware of the intricate niceties of interacting with other people and can come across rude, abrupt and brutally honest.

I couldn’t believe some of the things that she came out with sometimes, there were plenty of laughs but I remember at the same time shaking my head in disbelief and sadness at her naivety when facing the modern world. Things like smartphones, going to gigs and getting her nails done are big deals for Eleanor and as she continued to force herself into new, sometimes scary situations, I couldn’t help but smile at the endearing nature of it all. You don’t find out what has happened in Eleanor’s past until quite late on in the novel and although Janel and I desperately wanted to know what had gone on with her, I completely believe this was the perfect way to structure the book. You fall in love with Eleanor first as a character and it only makes it more heart-breaking when the trauma of her past is finally revealed in full, horrific detail.

Please do me a favour and read this book if you haven’t already. Eleanor is such a special character and both her and her story will play on my mind for a long while to come.

Thank you once again to Janel for an amazing buddy reading experience!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

 

Advertisements

Savages: The Wedding – Sabri Louatah (Les Sauvages #1)

Published May 23, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A Saturday in May. Paris.

It’s the eve of the French presidential elections – ‘The Election of the Century’ say the newspaper headlines – and Chaouch, the nation’s first Arab candidate, has victory in his sights. It has been a long campaign, and with his wife Esther and daughter Jasmine by his side, he spends the remaining hours with close advisors in a hotel in Nimes. Much of the dinner table chatter revolves around Jasmine’s boyfriend; Fouad Nerrouche, a well-known actor with the same Algerian origins as her father, who has just publicly endorsed Chaouch’s candidacy. However shallow it may seem, it’s difficult to ignore the influence of celebrity support in this complex and unpredictable race . . .

The same day. Saint-Etienne.

The Nerrouche family is frantically preparing for a grand wedding, and Fouad himself is there to help out. But younger cousin Krim – who has recently lost his job – is becoming increasingly agitated, and no one knows why. As the day goes on, it becomes clear that the cousin’s problems go far deeper than unemployment. Krim has been stealing from a local gang leader and after being discovered, found himself indebted to his powerful cousin, Nazir – Fouad’s brother. Nazir is a very shady figure, and is heavily involved in a dark underworld of crime. Together, their plans will cause Fouad’s two very different worlds to meet in a way no one would have dared to imagine. Within a few hours, the threads start to unravel, and the collision between the destiny of a family and the hopes of a country becomes inevitable.

With the pacing of a thriller, Louatah melds the tense atmosphere of a family saga with the gripping suspense of a political drama into one breathtaking read.

What did I think?:

I was really pleased to receive this book through my letterbox from Corsair Publishers in exchange for an honest review, thank you so much to them. I’m a huge thriller/crime fiction fan and love reading books set in different countries so initially I was quite intrigued to get started. Plus, at 256 pages in its paperback form, I knew it wouldn’t take me long to read so I packed it in my hand luggage on my recent holiday to Mexico and read it in its entirety on the plane journey over there. Now I feel like I’ve been writing a few more critical reviews recently and when I realised this was unfortunately, not the book for me, my heart sank a little bit. I would never want to offend an author, after all, they’ve put metaphorical blood, sweat and tears into their work, who am I to be so negative about it? But, there’s times when you just have to realise that each book speaks individually to the reader and what somebody may not get on with, another person is going to love. I feel I have to be honest when I’m given a book to review and I’m in no way saying this is a bad book, not at all. I just personally didn’t connect with the plot or the characters I’m afraid.

Sabri Louatah, the author of The Savages: The Wedding.

The Savages can be described as a family drama and also a political thriller. It follows the Nerrouche family on the day of a wedding, more specifically, a member of the family called Krim who has become embroiled in some shady business with a gang leader and is constantly terrified that his misdeeds will catch up with him. His family are mostly unaware of the huge hole that Krim has got himself into and are becoming increasingly worried for his state of mind as he is in obvious turmoil. Meanwhile, another member of the family, Fouad has recently began a serious relationship with Jasmine, daughter of the first Arab candidate for the French presidential elections. As tensions rise on both sides of the family, the two stories are brought together in a dramatic cliff-hanger of a finale that could change many of our characters lives forever.

St-Etienne, France where part of our story is set.

There is so much more going on in this narrative then what I’ve just mentioned before. In fact, the whole story is very complex and there always seems to be something going on, you could never say the pace is dull. I do enjoy an intricate plot of course, but for some reason this story just felt far too busy for me. There was almost too much going on and at times, I just wanted the author to slow down and get some clarification on a few things which I was confused about. It almost felt like there was a sub-text of hidden things below the surface of the novel that the reader was just expected to understand and perhaps this is my own fault, being quite ignorant of parts of the culture explored in this novel. I don’t necessarily need everything spelled out for me but sometimes, I just felt like this was a party I didn’t have an invite to.

There are occasional great parts of this novel that I do want to highlight. First of all, the pace which I’ve already mentioned. Secondly, I quite enjoyed the character of Slim, the groom of the wedding as he struggles with his sexuality and the attention of a young transvestite. I would have loved to see more of his story explored but who knows? This is a four part saga and there’s plenty of times for the reader to get to know the characters a bit better. Personally, it was just unfortunate that I never felt fully invested in either the plot or the characters to get excited at any level and sadly, there’s not much chance of me ever continuing with the series.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 2):

1194984978279254934two_star_rating_saurabh__01.svg

Mini Pin-It Reviews #20 – Four YA Novels

Published May 22, 2018 by bibliobeth

Hello everyone and welcome to another mini pin-it reviews post! I have a massive backlog of reviews and this is my way of trying to get on top of things a bit. This isn’t to say I didn’t like some of these books – my star rating is a more accurate reflection of this, but this is a great, snappy way of getting my thoughts across and decreasing my backlog a bit. This time I’ve got four YA novels for you – please see my pin-it thoughts below!

1.) Gathering Blue (The Giver #2) – Lois Lowry

What’s it all about?:

Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue continues the quartet beginning with the quintessential dystopian novel, The Giver, followed by Messenger and Son.

Kira, an orphan with a twisted leg, lives in a world where the weak are cast aside. She fears for her future until she is spared by the all-powerful Council of Guardians. Kira is a gifted weaver and is given a task that no other community member can do. While her talent keeps her alive and brings certain privileges, Kira soon realizes she is surrounded by many mysteries and secrets. No one must know of her plans to uncover the truth about her world and see what places exist beyond.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

2.) Rebel Belle (Rebel Belle #1) – Rachel Hawkins

What’s it all about?:

Harper Price, peerless Southern belle, was born ready for a Homecoming tiara. But after a strange run-in at the dance imbues her with incredible abilities, Harper’s destiny takes a turn for the seriously weird. She becomes a Paladin, one of an ancient line of guardians with agility, super strength and lethal fighting instincts.

Just when life can’t get any more disastrously crazy, Harper finds out who she’s charged to protect: David Stark, school reporter, subject of a mysterious prophecy and possibly Harper’s least favorite person. But things get complicated when Harper starts falling for him—and discovers that David’s own fate could very well be to destroy Earth.

With snappy banter, cotillion dresses, non-stop action and a touch of magic, this new young adult series from bestseller Rachel Hawkins is going to make y’all beg for more.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

3.) Evertrue (Everneath #3) – Brodi Ashton

What’s it all about?:

Now that Nikki has rescued Jack, all she wants is to be with him and graduate high school. But Cole tricked Nikki into feeding off him, and she’s begun the process of turning into an Everliving herself… which means she must feed on a Forfeit soon — or die.

Terrified for her survival, Nikki and Jack begin a desperate attempt to reverse the process using any means possible. Even Cole, who they expected to fight them at every turn, has become an unlikely ally — but how long can it last? Nikki needs to feed on Cole to survive, Cole needs Nikki to gain the throne in the Everneath, Jack needs Nikki because she is everything to him — and together, they must travel back to the Underworld to undo Nikki’s fate and make her mortal once more. But Cole isn’t the only one with plans for Nikki: the Queen has not forgotten Nikki’s treachery, and she wants her destroyed for good. Will Nikki be forced to spend eternity in the Underworld, or does she have what it takes to bring down the Everneath once and for all?

In this stunning conclusion to the Everneath trilogy, Brodi Ashton evokes the resiliency of the human spirit and the indomitable power of true love.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

4.) Into The Still Blue (Under The Never Sky #3) – Veronica Rossi

What’s it all about?:

The race to the Still Blue has reached a stalemate. Aria and Perry are determined to find this last safe haven from the Aether storms before Sable and Hess do—and they are just as determined to stay together.

Within the confines of a cave they’re using as a makeshift refuge, they struggle to reconcile their people, Dwellers and Outsiders, who are united only in their hatred of their desperate situation. Meanwhile, time is running out to rescue Cinder, who was abducted by Hess and Sable for his unique abilities. Then Roar arrives in a grief-stricken fury, endangering all with his need for revenge.

Out of options, Perry and Aria assemble an unlikely team for an impossible rescue mission. Cinder isn’t just the key to unlocking the Still Blue and their only hope for survival—he’s also their friend. And in a dying world, the bonds between people are what matter most.

In this final book in her earth-shattering Under the Never Sky trilogy, Veronica Rossi raises the stakes to their absolute limit and brings her epic love story to an unforgettable close.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

COMING UP NEXT TIME ON MINI PIN-IT REVIEWS: Four Random Books.

One – Sarah Crossan

Published May 20, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

What did I think?:

I’ve been a little bit worried about writing this review. I’ve written a couple of more critical reviews recently and to be honest, I find those a bit easier to write as I find you can really focus on the aspects you found more difficult in a novel and discuss them more extensively. Sometimes I feel there’s only so many times you can say the words: great, amazing, touching, beautiful etc, etc before they become meaningless and don’t adequately convey the depth of emotion that you felt about a book. One is a book just like this. Told entirely in free verse, this story made my heart swell, burst rather painfully and moved me beyond the point that I ever thought I could be moved. I wasn’t sure I was going to connect with it at all considering I haven’t had that much experience (if any!) with novels told in this style but boy, was I wrong!

Irish author, Sarah Crossan, author of One.

One is the story of conjoined twins, Grace and Tippi, both very much individuals mentally speaking, but physically, from birth they are forced to share vital organs in their body, keeping each other alive in the process. Life isn’t easy for Grace and Tippi. All they want is just to be like any other teenager, going to school, hanging out with friends and having relationships with boys. However, as their bodies are permanently entwined, there are obvious difficulties of them doing these things alone which makes life highly stressful. Coupled with this is the stares they get just from walking down the street and the hungry media at their door, particularly when the girls decide they’ve had enough and they want to be separated. This is the tale of their daily struggles with their rare condition, of two very different girls with such a special sisterly bond it will not fail to break your heart.

American conjoined twins Abby and Brittany Hensel.

Wow, this book. It made me feel so many emotions that I never ever thought I could experience from this particular style of writing. For it is the free verse that makes this book so incredibly unique. Sarah Crossan manages to say so many things with so little words and each word appears to have been chosen so methodically that it reads like a dream., smooth, unfaltering and utterly gut wrenching. I fell completely in love with the characters of Grace and Tippi, especially in the way they faced their struggles head-on independently and bravely. Obviously they don’t have any idea of what it’s like to be apart, they’ve been joined together their whole lives so have got pretty used to their situation. However, you can see their frustration and upset when they realise how their condition may prevent them from having a “normal” life like other girls of their age. I don’t want to say too much more for fear of giving something away but if you like YA fiction, you’re interested in trying something a bit different and you’re in the mood to be emotionally torn apart, you simply have to give One a try. I’d love to know what you think!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger

Published May 18, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn’t stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships.

Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals—steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

What did I think?:

I’ve mentioned in a recent post that I’ve started doing a new “thing.” I am currently trying to make my way through a humungous TBR by reading one fiction book, one non fiction book and an old favourite (because the books on my favourites shelves are becoming sadly neglected for all the new, shiny ones!). The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my all-time favourite reads that I gave five stars on when I first read it and was curious to find out if it still remained a favourite or whether I would have to send it on its merry way to the charity shop. Luckily, I adored it and it still remains a firm favourite with that five star rating fully intact, however it came with a host of problems that I had forgotten about and not anticipated. I’m about to get a bit personal now so if that isn’t your bag, you don’t have to keep reading, I won’t be offended, I promise!

Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler’s Wife with a quote from the novel that really resonates with me.

Urrrgh, okay. Here we go. So I’ve alluded in past posts that it’s been one hell of a year. Well, actually one hell of an eighteen months and that’s because in the past nine months alone, I’ve had two miscarriages, three surgeries, a scare when they thought I had a brain tumour (I’m fine!) and now, there will be further investigations in the hospital as this brings my total miscarriage count to three. That’s a very brief summary but things have been absolutely mental and obviously quite traumatic, I haven’t had the easiest time physically or emotionally and my second one was particularly horrific. Is there a point Beth? Does this relate to the book in any way, shape or form? Oh dear, I do love a bit of rambling in my reviews don’t I?! We’ll get to the point in the next paragraph.

Sad but true. And we NEED to start talking about it. 

If you haven’t managed to get round to this gorgeous book yet, let me give you a quick summary. It’s essentially a love story between Henry and Clare. I know, I know, I don’t normally “do” romance but this one captured my heart completely. Henry is a time traveller which he discovered from a very young age. He jumps backwards and forwards in his lifespan and always arrives naked, which as you can imagine, can be quite tricky depending on the location he arrives in! Henry meets Clare as a child during one of his journeys and immediately recognises her as the woman he is married to in the future. Audrey Niffenegger then tells their story which jumps about as Henry travels, from their very first meeting, to when they fall in love and begin a physical relationship, to their marriage and life together as husband and wife. Obviously during this time, Henry is still time travelling but each journey becomes more and more dangerous as they fight to find a doctor that will firstly believe them and secondly attempt to find a cure. Added to this is their desperate fight to have a child which is hampered by Clare suffering multiple, very traumatic miscarriages that makes them think the “time travel” gene is preventing them from having a family of their own and a happy, “normal” ending.

Rachel McAdams and Eric Bana as Clare and Henry in the 2009 film.

So for some reason, when I first decided to re-read my old favourites, I had completely forgotten about what the character Clare goes through regarding the miscarriages and the struggle to have a child. As soon as I realised and remembered whilst reading, I automatically had a feeling of dread. Could I handle this? Everything was so raw at the time with my own situation, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be strong enough. Happily, I coped just fine and although it was an emotional reading experience and I did shed a few tears, it actually made my re-read even more memorable and special as I could really sympathise with the female lead. Aside from this, The Time Traveler’s Wife is just such a fantastic, exciting and moving read where you become instantly invested in the characters, their story and just hope against all hope for a happy ending for them. I’m not going to give away the ending for those who haven’t read it yet but I think it was pretty damn perfect in my opinion. There was love, there was hope and there was sadness. Everything wasn’t wrapped up with a neat little bow but I definitely felt optimistic for our characters future. Please read this if you haven’t so far, it’s a stunning story that took my breath away both the first and second time I read it and it’s one I’ll certainly be reading again in the future.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

Talking About The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans with Chrissi Reads

Published May 17, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The Wildflowers by Harriet Evans is the spellbinding new novel from the Top 5 Sunday Times bestselling author of A Place for Usand The Butterfly Summer. Fans of Kate Morton’s The Lake House or Santa Montefiore will delight in this book. 

Harriet Evans is ‘perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Maeve Binchy’ Best

Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.

They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.

But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.

My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.

This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: What were your initial impressions when you looked at the cover of this book?

BETH: I thought it was pretty, I liked the night sky and the hint of wild flowers (which are mentioned quite a lot in the novel as well as being the surname of the family). However, I don’t think it gave you much idea of what the story within contained. Sometimes this can be a good thing and you are pleasantly surprised by what you find but generally speaking, I like my covers to have a tiny hint of connection with the narrative.

BETH: This novel is told from multiple perspectives. How did you find this worked for the story?

CHRISSI: I have to admit that I often struggle with multiple perspectives. It can be really hard for a writer to engage every reader with every perspective. I did find it hard to enjoy one particular perspective. I do think this somewhat hampered my enjoyment of the book, because I found myself skimming the parts of the perspective that I didn’t enjoy that much. That’s not a reflection on the author’s writing, it’s just that one perspective didn’t work for me… tricky! However, I do think it worked to have multiple perspectives for this story to really delve into the plot.

BETH: What did you make of Madeline’s relationship with the Wilde children, Ben and Cordelia?

CHRISSI: Ooh, I thought Madeline’s relationship with them was fascinating. Madeline made such an impact in their lives right from the get go. I thought her relationship was particularly obsessive, bordering on stalker-like. It was interesting to read her diary entries to see just how much she picked up on about Ben and Cordelia. It did leave me feeling a little uneasy though. I feel like we really got to know who Madeline really was through her diary entries.

CHRISSI: To be born with exceptional talent can be a blessing and a curse. How are the characters in The Wildflowers affected and afflicted by theirs?

BETH: Good question. The Wildes are an infamous family in the small town on the Dorset coast where they have a country home. Both Tony and Althea, the mother and father in the equation are both actors. Tony, at first is the most popular and incredibly sought after for work in London but Althea comes into her own during the story. The daughter, Cordelia is at times, transfixed by her parents success and in the end, she becomes a famous singer and the brother, Ben a respected director. For all parties concerned, their fame and fortune has a detrimental effect on family life, their health, their relationships with each other and with people outside the family circle and leads to multiple secrets and betrayals.

BETH: There are unlikeable characters in this novel. How did you enjoy reading about them?

CHRISSI: Some unlikeable characters are awesome to read about. I love it when I hate an unlikeable character. It means the author has really got under my skin and I think that’s quite a talent. I wasn’t a fan of Ben and Cordelia’s parents. I thought they were incredibly self-obsessed. This is one of those stories though, that as it progresses, you begin to somewhat understand why the characters have behaved in the way that they did. Madeline, however obsessed she was, fascinated me!

CHRISSI: If Aunt Dinah’s letter had been found when it was written, how would it have impacted Tony’s life? Which events might have played out differently? And why?

BETH: It would have completely turned Tony’s life upside down – in a good way. Unfortunately it is not found until a long time later when Tony is unable to do anything about what Aunt Dinah says in the letter. By then, he has made countless mistakes, wrecked his close relationships which has led to certain members of the family becoming estranged. He would have been comforted by what he found in the letter I think and his whole life, including his relationship with his wife would have been very, very different.

CHRISSI: Did this book surprise you in any way?

BETH:  A little bit, yes. I anticipated some big twists and turns and there were certainly plenty of those. Unfortunately, I did have a little inkling of what was to come so I wasn’t completely surprised with one of the big reveals. My biggest surprise was probably an incident with Tony as a young man and his Aunt Dinah’s friend Daphne. I couldn’t quite work out why this event was in the novel and I wondered if it was entirely necessary?

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I have read a few books by Harriet Evans before and I would do again in the future. I used to be quite the fan but my reading tastes have changed over time. It was nice to go back to her writing after quite a break from it!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH:  Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

 

Our Kind Of Cruelty – Araminta Hall

Published May 12, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

This is a love story. Mike’s love story.

Mike Hayes fought his way out of a brutal childhood and into a quiet, if lonely life, before he met Verity Metcalf. V taught him about love, and in return, Mike has dedicated his life to making her happy. He’s found the perfect home, the perfect job, he’s sculpted himself into the physical ideal V has always wanted. He knows they’ll be blissfully happy together.

It doesn’t matter that she hasn’t been returning his emails or phone calls.
It doesn’t matter that she says she’s marrying Angus.

It’s all just part of the secret game they used to play. If Mike watches V closely, he’ll see the signs. If he keeps track of her every move he’ll know just when to come to her rescue…

A spellbinding, darkly twisted novel about desire and obsession, and the complicated lines between truth and perception, Our Kind of Cruelty introduces Araminta Hall, a chilling new voice in psychological suspense.

What did I think?:

I started writing this review saying that I didn’t believe I’d read any Araminta Hall before, then did the “right thing” and checked on Goodreads where I was stunned to discover that I’ve read her debut novel, Everything And Nothing in my pre blogging days. I rated that book three stars – a good read but not one I was blown away by and I remember being slightly disappointed by the ending. Almost in complete contrast, I had a wonderful time reading this book and I was slightly taken aback, as it felt like a very different author that I hadn’t read before. Hence the mistaken thinking that I’d never read her previously! Thank you so much to Century Press for giving in to my pleading and sending me a copy of this amazing thriller, in exchange for an honest review. As soon as I read the synopsis, I knew I had to have it and I’m delighted to report that I was one hundred percent gripped until the very end.

The author of Our Kind Of Cruelty, Araminta Hall. 

Our Kind Of Cruelty is not for the psychologically sensitive. This is a story of a very odd, occasionally warped relationship between Mike Hayes and Verity Metcalf and the games that they play with each other. When they are together, there seems to be no-one else but the two of them and they appear hopelessly, deeply in love. Then Mike has to go to New York for work, leaving Verity behind in London and things start to fall apart. Mike is a bit of a naughty boy and when he admits his transgression to V, they break up. Here begins a twisted, obsessive narrative where Mike cannot accept that their relationship is over, even when V tells him she is marrying another man, inviting him to the wedding. Mike believes that V is still playing their old game – “Crave,” and this is merely the most extreme chapter of the game they have ever played. In order to take him back, he must be punished and Mike is determined that he will beg, grovel, go anywhere and most importantly, do anything to end the game and get Verity back.

What do YOU crave?

What a fascinating read this was! I felt this novel was very much a psychological experiment into the mind of a very troubled man, in this case, our character Mike. What I haven’t mentioned is that Mike had a very traumatic upbringing with an alcoholic, neglectful mother and her string of physically abusive boyfriends. He was put into care at quite a young age and was placed with a foster family who still love him dearly. He becomes dangerously obsessed with his ex, Verity to the point where he becomes quite frankly, delusional. Or is he? The interesting thing about Our Kind Of Cruelty is that we never hear from Verity’s point of view. The entire narrative is directed from Mike’s perspective so we only see what he is suggesting. This was such a clever tool used by the author and I loved the frustration of never knowing if Mike is mentally unhinged or if Verity really is playing quite a sadistic little game. Araminta Hall is also adept at never giving the reader too many clues as to what the real story really is. There are tiny little hints here and there but by the end, I was none the wiser and I adored that!

For me, this was such a skilfully written novel and although I could see the direction it might be going in, I haven’t been as excited (and occasionally shocked) by two such absorbing, sometimes intensely unlikeable characters for a little while now. The plot never lets up with a fast pace and multiple unexpected moments and it’s definitely a read you’ll find difficult to put down.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Our Kind Of Cruelty by Araminta Hall was the twenty-eighth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge.