Friday, 21 September 2018

If He Wakes by Zoe Lea

I discovered after reading this that it’s the author’s debut novel. Quite an entrance, Ms Lea!

Despite a teensy bit slow and repetitive start (compelling for all that), it eventually picks up pace and turns into a very confident, virtually unputdownable novel.

Rachel’s heart sinks when she unwittingly falls on a Twitter message on her laptop, arranging a romantic rendez-vous. Assuming it can only be her husband, she follows him to confirm her worst fears. What she sees, though, is much worse: his car involved in a hit and run. Did she really just witness her husband deliberately run someone over?

Her best friend and business partner, Suzie, has her own worries: her fiancĂ©…whom Rachel never seems to be able to meet…appears to have gone awol, won’t answer her calls, and her credit card is being refused everywhere. And why is that very unpleasant man threatening her?

There are enough clues fairly early on to put two and two together. But your journey to four is truly gripping.

A very accomplished debut by Lea, and I hope to read more by her. I would recommend she gets herself a new editor, though. Missing ‘was sat’ and ‘was stood’ is very naughty...

I'm a Little Brain-dead by Kimberly Davis Basso

It doesn’t feel quite right to say this was hilarious. An account of a forty-four-year-young woman’s experience of a stroke shouldn’t be funny, should it? Shouldn’t it be sad, unfortunate, hopeful, informative, inspiring? Well, it’s all those things. But, BUT…Basso has a wicked, wicked sense of humour which she injects into this diary of her unpleasant experience. Hilarious yes, but you laugh WITH her, not at her.
I don’t read many books like this…so, not only to be persuaded but then actually enjoy them means they must be special.

Once you get over the shock of someone so young (a fact shared by pretty much all the medical staff who treated Basso) having a stroke, you sit very comfortably by Basso as she relates the months from her post-breakfast trauma and her journey through treatment and recovery.

She shrouds virtually the whole thing in a veil of comedy but puts her serious hat on at the end to spell out what such an event entails and what you can learn from it.

Basso writes very articulately, but at the same time, there's an endearing chattiness in her narrative ,and you almost feel Basso is there beside you telling you all about it.  She's wonderfully witty...I'd love to meet her.
This really was a pleasure to read.


Thursday, 6 September 2018

In the Blood by Ruth Mancini

This was a very compelling crime thriller. Totally unputdownable.

Sarah Kellerman, a criminal defence lawyer, is to defend, Ellie, accused of abuse and attempted murder of her young baby. All the evidence points to her guilt, but Sarah has trouble joining the dots in the case and is determined to find out what really happened, despite having to juggle the needs of raising her mentally disabled five-year-old son and the demands of a job that she desperately needs to provide for her and her son.

Despite my enjoyment of this book…and I really did enjoy it…I felt that the present tense narrative didn’t work. I also felt the first-person POV didn’t work: there were a couple of complex characters who needed their own POV, I thought.

But, this was an extremely competently written novel, and Sarah was brilliantly portrayed, with passion and conviction by the author. I didn’t find it hard to guess the role of two of the major players quite early on, but wow, it was a gripping roller coaster of ups, downs, twists and turns before we got to the end.

A thoroughly satisfying, well-written thriller. I’m very definitely going to read more by this author.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

MadamTulip by David Ahern

This is a book crammed with improbability, non-credibility,  silliness and a bit of nonsense. Totally, totally delightful. 

Derry O'Donnell is an American actress living in Ireland, struggling to find work. Needs must…and so Madame Tulip is born, fortune-teller for hire. Derry assumes she’ll walk away from her first engagement at a celebrity-attended charity ball with nothing more than a happier bank balance and a healthy name-dropping list. But when one of the attendees, a famous rapper, dies, she has to get her Miss Marple boots on.

This is very much a perma-smile book, enjoyable because of its aforementioned silliness. There are some lively and colourful characters in Jacko and Vanessa, Derry’s estranged parents, Bruce, her gay friend, Bella, her also-out-of-work actress friend, as well as those celebrities whose lives aren't quite as deserving of idolatry as you’d think…who’d have thought it!

This could have very easily flopped, but in Ahern's hands, it triumphs: an intelligent, articulate, witty and funny writer. It’s all great fun and I’m eagerly anticipating smiling through book number two.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Paloma's Dream by Paloma Rambana

I don’t normally read books like this…but something grabbed my attention when I was given the opportunity to read it. Paloma Rambana co-wrote and self-published a book about how she lobbied Floridian legislature for funds for blind and visually impaired youngsters. What I was smitten by was the fact that Paloma is twelve years old and was born with Peters Anomaly. Peters Anomaly is a rare eye condition in which the central part of the cornea (that’s the transparent front part of the eye) is hazy, thereby considerably reducing vision. Aware that the financial help for visually impaired children was seriously lacking, Paloma takes enormous strides (for someone so very young) to secure a million-dollar funding.

Being British, a lot of the processes, legal bodies, etc., were totally unfamiliar to me, but the purpose and the cause are shared by many countries. Typically, there are glaringly insufficient funds for children/adults with special needs. 

I hoped this wasn’t going to be a ‘aren’t I a wonderful person, dealing with my disability so valiantly’ kind of book. It’s the absolute opposite. Paloma is an intelligent, well-adjusted, non-self-pitying young girl who does her utmost to lead a normal life (and all credit to her parents and sister who never indulged her disability but helped her embrace it) and it has to be said, a very determined and courageous one.

This a seventy-nine page account written by a very charming girl who will go far.