Monday, 16 November 2015

Redemption Road - Lisa Ballantyne

The crash is the unravelling of Margaret Holloway. Trapped inside a car about to explode, she is rescued by a scarred stranger who then disappears. Margaret remembers little, but she's spent her life remembering little - her childhood is full of holes and forgotten memories. Now she has a burning desire to discover who she is and why her life has been shrouded in secrets. What really happened to her when she was a child? Could it have anything to do with the mysterious man who saved her life?
Flitting effortlessly between past and present, this is a suspenseful, gritty and emotionally charged journey of an estranged father and daughter, exploring the strength of family ties and our huge capacity for forgiveness.

I have to admit that the title of this book put me off reading it for a while. It was on my to be read list and it came around to the top so I decided to read it. Straight away I thought - why did I not read this sooner! I was gripped from the beginning, both by the plot and the wonderful writing.

The story flits between 2013 and 1985 with two very different tales, which you deduce must somehow tie together. There are a few red herrings along the way which meant I didn't quite get the ending right.

Although I could see where the story was going, I kept reading as the characters are brilliant and I really want to know what happened to them in their respective timelines. One thing I think that is hard for a writer to do is write a character's accent. Lisa Ballantyne pulled this off - I could hear the Scottish accent but it wasn't written so precisely that I couldn't understand what it meant.

Yet another book I've read where the tale is told from two different sides - what the papers and public think have happened and what actually happened, a really clever plot device. We also get to meet well developed characters from very different walks of life,  gangland families, a mechanic, and a journalist who is a devout man of God.

I have only one gripe with the book - and that is perhaps due to my having a fairly good knowledge of places and their location in the UK. A drive from Newcastle to York even by back roads would not take the time given in the book. To arrive in the Black Country and then be at Mam Tor in the Peak District is a little weird and any bus that goes from Leek, to Ashbourne, Buxton and then Hanley is going a very long way round and back on itself - to many it probably won't be spotted, but when you know the area it is annoying and spoils the reading.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars, despite the bad route planning!

My thanks go to netgalley for a free e copy of the book to review.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

The Rosie Project - Graeme Simsion

I'm not sure there is a product description for this book, and having read it on my kindle, I don't know what the "back page cover" said. This is a book from my personal bookshelf, which I decided to read mainly because of all the hype surrounding it. It's taken me a while to get around to it mainly because I wasn't sure what it was about and also the lobster on the cover put me off!
So, what is it all about? Don Tillman is a genetics professor who views the world very logically due to him I believe having Aspergers Syndrome. To me he comes across as Spock meets Roy Cropper (Coronation Street). 

He has reached the age of 40 and the research he has read points to married men living longer and happier lives. So he decides to tackle the acquisition of a wife in the same way he would his research. He formulates a questionnaire to garner suitable candidates to be his wife.

Alongside this is his friend, Gene, who is also a professor and collecting women from each country to add notches to his bedpost, albeit being married to Claudia. 

Don begins his research project but meets Rosie - thrown into the mix by his friend Gene. What follows is a tale of how he and Rosie interact - very unconventionally given Don's OCD approach to the world. 

My favourite part of the book was when they were cooking and the meal was going to be late. Rosie suggests putting the clock to the time it would have been, which ensures that Don is able to let go of the his OCD and cook the meal.

I found this a strange book, certainly different to anything I have read before. It did make me laugh out loud and there are some fabulous observations in this book. If you find it difficult to suspend disbelief, then this is probably not the book for you.

I'm giving it four out of five stars. 

There is a sequel book out now - I am intrigued by what happens next.........

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

What Milo Saw - Virginia Macgregor

  •  A BIG story about a small boy who sees the world a little differently
  • For fans of The Rosie Project, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Wonder, comes this spellbinding and generous-hearted tale about a small boy who just wanted his gran to come home.
The description of what this book was about was very vague, as you can see from the blurb above. So in deciding to read it,  I went on the premise that I had enjoyed the other books cited and I wasn't disappointed.

Milo is a 9 year old boy - but this book is not a children's book. Although the tale is told through Milo's eyes some of it is very grown up material - like when he catches his Dad with his "tart". 

Basically the book is about Milo's Gran who goes into Forget Me Not Nursing Home, whereas he wants her to continue to leave with him and his Mum at home. Milo doesn't think she is being cared for properly and sets about investigating behind the scenes at the home.

As the story is told through Milo, at times I did wonder if this was just a small boy not understanding the ways of the world. In fact when he goes to tell a policeman his concerns, this is what he is told, he needs to see the bigger picture. Ironic when Milo has a disease that means he can only see a pin point of the world at a time.

All of the characters are so believable and drawn so well that I felt like I knew them. Because of that most of the time I became so engrossed in what was happening that I forgot I was reading a book. I just saw the whole story unfolding before me. I found myself gasping out loud the storytelling was so realistic and at times unexpected in events.

I'm giving this book 5 out of 5 stars.

My thanks go to Netgalley and Sphere for a free e copy of this book to review.