Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Clever Girl, by Tessa Hadley

Stella grows up in post-WWII England.  She lives through the tumult of the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  Along the way she falls in love a few times, makes friends, becomes a mother, works a variety of jobs, and pursues her education.

I have to say I found this book terribly boring.  It started off strong, when Stella was a child being raised by a single mother.  The anecdotal stories from her youth were engaging, and in their own ways, beautiful.  All of this changes when Stella's mother remarries, and Stella develops into a bit of a brat.  She begins acting out and rebelling, and ends up, quite predictably, in trouble.

The rest of the book is so unremarkable.  It simple outlines the remainder of Stella's life, all the poor decisions she makes, the few redeeming choices she has, and basically a summary of an dull, ordinary life.  I found myself wholly unable to care about Stella as a character.  She seemed flat and undeveloped from a literary character standpoint.  The plot was also very plain, and nothing about it grabbed my attention in the least.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

The Deepest Secret, by Carla Buckley

Eve's son Tyler has a deadly condition.  Any contact with sunlight could literally kill Tyler.  As a result, Eve's family has learned to survive in a somewhat locked down existence.  Air tight and light tight rooms, Tyler only leaving the house at night.  But the strain has gotten worse as Tyler has gotten older.  Now his sister is acting out, his dad works out of town, and Eve has just about reached her limit.  When a tragedy occurs, the very existence of this family's situation is held in delicate balance.

This book?  Explosive.  This is not just your run of the mill thriller.  I mean, sure, there is the typical aspects of a thriller, with a crime being committed and consequently covered up.  But the aspect of Tyler's rare medical condition literally casts shade over the entire story.  And as we all know, everything looks spookier in the shadows.  

I thought the character development was superb in this story.  Eve and Tyler have a very complex relationship, one that totally dominates the family situation.  Eve really tugs on your heartstrings, you see the desperation in her, the extreme love she feels for her son.  And Tyler is absolutely smothered, between his condition and her love.  

I particularly like the aspect of the book that details Tyler's nighttime treks around the community.  In the dark, Tyler sees that everyone has secrets, and he alone is privy to them.  It makes the book so much more interesting, knowing that there are layers upon layers of mystery.  It made this one of the most intriguing thrillers I have read in years.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The Fixer, by T. E. Woods

Lydia is a successful psychologist. She begins treating a mysterious new client, a woman named Savannah. Savannah is a tough nut to crack, playing by her own rules and making enigmatic statements about people in her life getting hurt. Savannah has put up walls of steel to protect herself, and Lydia wonders if she will be able to break through them enough to do any good for her client. It becomes apparent that Savannah feels responsible for some recent murders, so Lydia joins forces with the detectives to learn the truth, when nothing is as it seems.

I thought this was a pretty fantastic novel. I like a good crime thriller, particularly one that keeps me guessing, as this one did. I really enjoyed the development of the characters Lydia and Savannah. I did not anticipate the direction the book was going to take, in regards to their characters. I liked that the focus of the book was on strong women taking control, even if their methods were highly illegal.

The writing was sharp, and kept me glued to the pages. I thought the plot was solid, and the ending was a real shocker. The story took just the right amount of twists and turns to keep me guessing, without seeming confusing. The only thing I thought lacked a slight bit of credibility was the detective allowing Lydia to get so involved in the case without him questioning it more from the beginning. But, readers are willing to suspend disbelief when the story is good enough, and in this case, it certainly was good enough.

I received a review copy courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest review.  See the rest of the tour here.