The Visitors by Catherine Burns

the visitors

Story Outline:

With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces.

Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door…and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side.

My Review:

Book reviewed for Netgalley and Hachette Australia

As a reader, I love stories that other people tend to steer away from, with subject matters that they are uncomfortable with. When I read the description of The Visitors, something told me that this would be one of those books and I was correct. The subject matter will not be to everyone’s liking but those that do read this gem of a book will find them fascinated by John and Marion’s lives.

Whilst I did not connect with any of the characters on a personal level as I find myself doing when I read books I did feel some compassion towards Marion. A woman who as a child had nothing, no love from her family, no friends at school and a brother who was both abusive and controlling. The way she was treated as a child shaped her into an adult that knew little of the world and therefore she let others do things for her. John controlled her as a child.  Now he also controlled her as an adult making her believe that she was incapable of doing more than cooking his meals and looking after him. But a fateful accident makes her realise that she is not as useless or stupid as everyone in her life had led her to believe she was. But she is damaged goods no matter what angle I look at her from. My heart had sympathy for her but my head had none. She was largely an innocent party to all that was going on around her but she was also guilty. Guilty for turning a blind eye to her brother, guilty from inaction. This is one thing the author has captured clearly and presented so cleverly. A character you want to feel something compassion for even though they are not worthy of compassion when all is said and done.

A beautifully written story that flows well.  Keeping the reader engrossed in this dark, gritty and inviting tale that explores the darker side of human nature, then look no further than this debut novel from Catherine Burns

 

The Pool House by Tasmina Perry

the pool house

 

Story Outline:

Someone lied. Someone died…

This dark, twisting novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author Tasmina Perry will keep you on the edge of your seat. Perfect for everyone who’s been gripped by Showtime TV’s The Affair, Adele Parks’ The Stranger In My Home and J. P. Delaney’s The Girl Before. ‘Gripping… Great pace and brilliantly written. I loved it’ Daily Mail on The House on Sunset Lake

When you’re invited to spend summer in the Hamptons with a group of new friends, you agree – who wouldn’t? But then you realise you’re taking the place of another woman, a woman who died in mysterious circumstances, just the summer before. Your housemates tell you her death was an accident. But which of them has something to hide?

 

My Review:

Book reviewed for Netgalley and Hachette Australia

The story starts the night of Alice’s death from that moment I was hooked. When reading a book I try to relate to one of the characters, I was drawn to Jem because like her I wanted to know what happened to Alice. The reader knows from the start Alice was not alone when she died. Someone was there whether they were responsible for her death or if it was just an accident and who was it are questions left hanging in the air.

I was totally enthralled in the storyline trying to figure out who had been with Alice on the night she died as the evidence came to light. As it unfolded I kept going backward and forwards from one character to the next thinking, they were the one but each time I was incorrect. In the finish, I had no idea who the person was that had gone to speak to Alice. I was surprised by who but not why when the killer was finally revealed.

I really enjoyed switching from Jem’s summer at the beach house to Alice’s time at the house. It gave an even more interesting angle from the different perspectives of both women. The story itself flows well keeping a steady pace throughout, I was kept intrigued and enthralled till the last page. I loved the authors’ ability to convey human nature at its best (Michael and Jem) and at its worst (Nat, Paul, and Joel). She was able to show that when people leave their morals at the door, let their egos take over; they are capable of doing whatever it takes to get what they want. In, a world of money and power anything or anyone can be bought for the right price. Seduction power and greed and make a dangerous combination. Only those that can see past all the glitz and glamour will see that world for what it really is. One of danger and deceit.

 

Alex by by Pierre Lemaitre (Translated by)Frank Wayne.

Alex

Story Outline:

Who really knows Alex? She is beautiful. Exciting. Is it for this that it was taken away, sequestered, given over to the unimaginable? But when the police finally discovered his prison, Alex disappeared. Alex, more intelligent than his executioner. Alex who forgives nothing, who forgets nothing, nobody.

An icy thriller that juggles the codes of murderous madness, a diabolical and unpredictable mechanics where one finds the extraordinary talent of the author of Robe de marie.

 

My Review:

Reviewed for The Reading Room (Bookstr)

When I first received this book, I was not sure if I would enjoy it so I put it off time and time again. I have read a few Crime Thrillers before and enjoyed them but they were not my thing. So imagine my surprise when this book turned out to not only be my favourite for the year. It’s one of the most cleverly written books that I have read in a long time.

Written almost in a movie script style; I am not sure if that is the intention of the author or whether it is the way the story is translated. I like quirky books so I did not mind this style of storytelling at all. The author tells us what the characters are thinking, how they are moving and how they interact with each other. There are no hidden messages, it is a case of what you read is what you get.

The story itself is one of the most clever and well thought out plots that I have read in a long time. At the start, the reader is drawn in and feels sorry for Alex and what is happening to her. As things change and the plot slowly twists and turns to reveal itself, you start feeling like the victim doesn’t deserve your sympathies. Then as you go even deeper into the characters and the plot twists a little more, you start to feel that you were right all along to feel pain for this woman. The writing flows along never missing a beat; it goes back and forth between Alex and the police officials that are trying to find her. As I mentioned above, there are multiple twists and turns that will leave you wondering what will happen next.
A totally enjoyable read, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves Crime Thrillers and anyone else in between.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

gone girl

I have to be honest for the first time since I started reviewing books, I do not know how to write a review, so I will just write what I feel about the book, if you like it, then thank you in advance.

I am so conflicted with the way I feel about the characters in Gone Girl. I love them and I love the story, I think the plot is extremely clever, the writing witty. I decided to read it after seeing the movie, which for me personally does not do the book justice, but is a great movie.

The thing that I keep coming back to is, do these characters deserve each other, or would they be better off being apart? Amy is a character that I love, she is so beautifully written in her all complexities. I can understand why she is like she is, with parents who tell her she was named Amy because, all the other babies before her were named Faith, but by the time she was born they had lost faith. That in itself would scar any child, but then to use her as a product to push the children’s books called Amazing Amy, it is easy to see why she is the way that she is.

When I read a book I try to put myself in the position of at least one of the characters and when I was looking at the world through Amy’s eyes, I can see why she exhibited the behaviour she does. I think what I like about Amy, is how clever and dedicated she is, when she sets her mind to something she sees it through to the end. Only a really dedicated person could do what she does with all the planning involved. She takes the reader where it is uncomfortable to go, into the mind of someone who wants revenge, whether it is deserved or not. Characters that take the reader out of their comfort zone have always appealed to me and Amy has all that and more.

Her husband Nick is another story completely. I wanted to like him, but I just couldn’t. He seems to be like a plane stuck in a holding pattern, he wants to land but he seems unable to. He doesn’t want to hurt anyone but he doesn’t want to be where he is. As Amy’s past becomes known to him, I held out hope that he would be able to claw back his dignity and put her in her place. Unfortunately, he seems powerless against her and in the end is starting to become like her. Here is where the dilemma with the book starts with me, do they deserve each other or not? He says in the book that what would he be without Amy, would any other woman be able to take her place in his mind or would he always want to come back to her.

What ever your take on Gone Girl is, whether you embraced these weird and sadistic characters, or held them at arms length, one thing is for sure, I will most likely still be pondering what they mean to each other for years to come.