When I was asked to join the blog tour for the debut by Jane Bailey I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it sounded like a good little mystery so I agreed. I’m very glad I did, it was a great mystery but it was also so much more.
Sorry Isn’t Good Enough is told from the perspective of Stephanie. As a 9 year old she lives with overly strict parents. Stephanie is a bit of an outcast unable to live up to her parents demanding standards. Her only friend is Dawn, a manipulative little girl who is jealous of anyone else that Stephanie might talk to. As an adult she is haunted both by events in her childhood and by tragedy in her family. The dual timelines go backwards and forwards before merging in the final pages.
This was a stunning read. Part mystery, part family study, part coming of age tale, I found it utterly compelling.
This was a novel that at times made me laugh, times made me cringe and at times was heart-breaking. The relationship between Stephanie and her mother was terribly sad, yet throughout you get the sense that it is not all it seems. The fact that it is all told from the viewpoint of one person gives it almost a voyeur feeling to the reading. You can sense how Stephanie is feeling but also have an external perspective on events that makes it such an absorbing read.
I really enjoyed the style of writing, I tend to read quite quickly and can be guilty of skim reading books (apologies to all authors out there) but this was just not possible with this book. So much of the action and reaction was that subtle it would easily be missed. The story jumps about all over the place and changes direction here there and everywhere yet personally I found it easy to follow. I was lucky enough to be able to read this over a couple of evenings away on my own as it really was impossible to put down.
To say I enjoyed it would be an understatement, however it would also seem to be the wrong word. It was desperately sad in places, but also had a sense of lightness.
I would thoroughly recommend this novel if you are after something a bit different from the norm that is full of emotion.
The Long Weekend is sadly not a description of a nice few days away, instead it’s the focus of the latest blog tour that I was lucky enough to be invited on to.
The Long Weekend by Gilly McMillan starts with three friends arriving for a weekend away at an isolated farm house in the middle of the Moors. When they arrive they find a note that has been left telling them that one of their husbands is going to be murdered. As a storm hits they are stranded in the farm house with no phone signal and no way of contacting their families to find out what is happening. As the three friends become increasingly desperate to find out what is going on their friendship starts to fracture and the tension boils over.
The Long Weekend was a good story that I read over a weekend. What started off as a seemingly ‘run of the mill’ wild weekend story soon became something more intriguing as the stranded wives start to fear for their husbands and you start to find out about their backgrounds and their relationships.
The characters were not particularly likeable, in fact other than the daughter they are all pretty unpleasant. However I felt that this gave the story a different edge. You weren’t really rooting for any of the main characters, yet still I was compelled to see how it all played out. The story is told from multiple points of view not only the main characters but also a mysterious third voice who is clearly unhinged. There was also a third strand to the story which was that of the farmer and his wife trying to make a living against the odds which was quite moving.
I found this quite a clever twisty story. The numerous unreliable narrators did get a little confusing at the start, but it soon became clear. I have a read a few of the novels by Gilly Macmillan and have always found them to be very enjoyable and this was no exception.
To find out what others thought of The Long Weekend look out for the next stops on the blog tour.
I always look forward to the new Lisa Gardner book being released, so it’s even more exciting when I get to read an advance copy.
One Step Too Far is the second in her new series starring missing person hunter Frankie Elkin. Years ago, a young man went missing whilst on a camping trip for his stag do. His father and friends have never stopped looking for him and each year they go out on a camping trip to search the area where he disappeared. This time Frankie has decided to join them after hearing about the search via an online forum, so she heads off into the Wilderness with the group. However, what starts off as a simple hike and search soon become a race for their lives.
One Step Too Far is not your standard mystery novel. Jack Reacher meets Famous Five springs to mind. This is a fun, if a little far-fetched, story that I read over a few days during the Christmas break.
As with all of Lisa Gardner’s novels they include a great range of characters. I like the main protagonist Frankie, she’s a smart loner who isn’t bothered by the trappings of a settled life. She goes from case to case picking and choosing the cases that she takes and always moving forward despite the majority of her cases not having a happy ending. The other searchers included a big foot hunter, and my favourite one Daisy the cadaver dog. All of them have their secrets to hide and their own reasons for returning to search for their friend. As things go rapidly downhill these secrets start to come tumbling out.
The mystery part of the story is interesting, and it wasn’t one where I guessed the ending. I do think you have to slightly suspend belief in parts but as I often say this is fiction and fiction is allowed to push the boundaries of reality. I really like the style of writing in this book. It was an easy read with descriptions that made the story leap off the page as you follow the misfit group up into the mountains and eventually down again.
I very much hope we get to hear more about Frankie Elkin again soon. Find out what others thought on the blog tour below:
I enjoy a good ‘ScandiNoir’ and have read and enjoyed a number of Gunnar Staaleson previous novels from his impressive back catalogue therefore I was lucky to get a place on the Orenda blog tour for his latest novel Bitter Flowers.
Bitter Flowers sees main character PI Varg Veum returning to work after a stint in rehab. His first job is offered to him by his physio Lisbeth. It should be a simple case of house sitting but on his arrival at the house he is met with a dead body in the swimming pool, and Lisbeth goes missing. As Varg starts to investigate he finds a tangled web of lies involving shocking environmental crimes, big business and protestors. It’s not long before there are links to the disappearance of a little girl eight years ago who was never found and Varg is thrown headlong into his most challenging case yet.
Bitter Flowers was another great novel from prolific Norwegian author Gunnar Staaleson that I really enjoyed. The story is just as twisty as you would expect from Gunnar with some great characters that you’ll both love and hate.
Although this is part of a series the books most definitely work as stand alone novels and I have not read them in any order (I believe this is the first time that Bitter Flowers has been translated into English) One of the things I like about these is that the life of Varg is not the central element of the book. The focus of the story is the mystery of the dead and missing, with just enough of Varg’s life to make him an interesting character but not take over.
This story was set in the early 80’s which I’ll admit to not really realising at first but as soon as I worked that out things started to click into place. I enjoy stories set in different cultures and the fact this was set over twenty years ago in Norway gave it an added dimension.
I found Bitter Flowers a good read that was a slow burner but one that will draw you in and keep you guessing until the end!
To find out what others thought of Bitter Flowers visit the other stops on the blog tour.