Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

 

Publisher: Corvus 43812429._sy475_

Publishing Date: 22nd August 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 336

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover

 

 

 

Synopsis:

From the bestselling, multiple prize-shortlisted novelist Catherine Ryan Howard comes an explosive story about a twisted voyeur and a terrible crime…

PLAY
Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE
Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

REWIND
This is an explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

Rating: two-stars

 

Audrey is a reporter desperate for a “real” story – and when one day something happens, she’s frantic to cover it, no matter what. A famous instagrammer, Natalie O’Connor, has disappeared and nobody knows where she is, not her friends, not her husband. However, all that she did is left a note that nobody has found and rented a cottage to clear her mind. She doesn’t know that in the bedroom she’s staying in, the manager of the Shanamore Holiday Cottages has installed a hidden camera. One night Andrew watches as a person appears in the cottage, stabs the person sleeping in bed and then destroys the camera. Who was this and how did they know about the camera? Do they know Andrew’s other secret as well?

So I was very intrigued by this book, however the more I read, the more confused I felt. The chapters were labelled Rewind, Pause and Fast Forward and while at the beginning I paid attention to them, in reality they’ve made me feel even more confused and so I stopped paying attention to them as they’ve never helped me to understand what actually happens in Rewind, or Pause, Play or Fast Forward and the read was therefore difficult for me and I wasn’t able to stay focused. Moreover, the characters weren’t well developed and because of the lack of sequence I didn’t feel any connection to them. They didn’t feel likeable, their actions felt too forced and the only likeable character was probably Natalie, though she also felt too weak.

There was potential, there was idea but for me there was no execution and the structure of the book simply didn’t work for me.

It was a creepy, dark, depressing and unsettling psychological thriller about woman’s quest to be with a man she fell in love with, about obsession and the influence of social media, with a compelling mystery and with some twists along the way, throwing suspicions at different characters.

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

 

43884245Publisher: Headline

Publishing Date: 30th May 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeonhole in return for an honest review, thank you!

Number of pages: 480

Genre: Historical Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover (out on 05.09.2019)| Paperback (out on 20.02.2020)

 

Synopsis:

The gripping new novel by Sunday Times Number One bestseller Victoria Hislop is set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.

Athens 1941. After decades of political uncertainty, Greece is polarised between Right- and Left-wing views when the Germans invade.
Fifteen-year-old Themis comes from a family divided by these political differences. The Nazi occupation deepens the fault-lines between those she loves just as it reduces Greece to destitution. She watches friends die in the ensuing famine and is moved to commit acts of resistance.

In the civil war that follows the end of the occupation, Themis joins the Communist army, where she experiences the extremes of love and hatred and the paradoxes presented by a war in which Greek fights Greek.

Eventually imprisoned on the infamous islands of exile, Makronisos and then Trikeri, Themis encounters another prisoner whose life will entwine with her own in ways neither can foresee. And finds she must weigh her principles against her desire to escape and live.

As she looks back on her life, Themis realises how tightly the personal and political can become entangled. While some wounds heal, others deepen.

Rating: four-stars

 

“Those Who Are Loved” follows the life of Themis, from childhood up to an old age. It was life full of events, love, loss and grief. Raised by her matriarch grandmother, Themis grows in a family that is full of disharmony, especially when it comes to politics. First living under Nazi occupation in Athens and then, when the war was over and everybody thought the worst is already behind them, the communist start to rule Greece, there are civil wars and there are many, many challenges to be faced by Themis and her family. You are going to learn that for sure she was not an ordinary woman.

I must admit, for a long time I had a feeling that it is simply a random read, that the author simply wanted to bring us closer to historical period that I, personally, didn’t know about. I didn’t feel engaged too much in the story, and I think that this time reading with Pigeonhole didn’t help – you need to get into the heart of the story in your own tempo, you need to have the possibility to read as much as you want to understand where the story is taking us. It took me a long time to finally start to appreciate the novel and to “get” it, and when I’ve eventually hit this point, there was nothing holding me back and there was probably nothing that could mend my broken heart. And in the end I can say that it was a powerful, incredibly important book.

The story was so immaculately researched and there was so much love to Greece and its history. The author has painted here a real, raw, genuine and fascinating picture, an motional journey full of pain and tears but also small acts of joy. There were many historical facts intertwined into the plot but it never felt like reading a history book – because the author has an incredible talent to mix them with so many personal touches and making the characters feel human and real.

Themis’s voice is distinctive and gentle, and even though she has experienced so much loss, pain and suffering she still finds it in her heart to be as objective as possible. The author was able to get into her character’s head so intensively that I had a feeling I was living and breathing with Themis. You don’t have to agree with her but you are still going to keep everything crossed for her. It was great to accompany her on her journey to adulthood, seeing how she grows up, how feisty and determined and full of passion she becomes in her life that was so full of turmoil and disharmony.
Actually, the author brings all the characters to life, and you could either agree with them or not, you could warm to them or not but they were very well drawn and significant and all them played a role in this story.

It was not only a historical fiction but an engrossing and rich family saga, a great picture of family dynamics, going deep into the feelings and emotions of all the characters, making you suffer and experience everything with them. I personally can’t imagine my family torn so heavily because of politics but the author has made it very believable in the story, showing how much and how badly it has affected the characters. It was also done so realistically, the real struggle of Themis to find her own way and her own beliefs. It was fascinating read with a difference about standing for yourself, fighting for your beliefs, not giving up but also knowing when it’s time to surrender, to realise your priorities, about bravery and determination, story about life versus death. A compelling novel about heartbreak, loss, regret and hope, full of significant moments that stay with you till the end. Victoria Hislop brings back the trauma of not only the repercussions of WWII in Greece, but she digs deeper and further, shedding light on the community divided by politics, on the cruelty and difficulties that Greek had to face after the war. Recommended!

 

Night by Night by Jack Jordan

Night by Night by Jack Jordan

 

42935574Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 2nd May  2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeonhole, thank you!

Number of pages: 366

Genre: Thriller, Suspense

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

‘If you’re reading this, I’m dead.’

Rejected by her family and plagued by insomnia, Rose Shaw is on the brink. But one dark evening she collides with a man running through the streets, who quickly vanishes. The only sign he ever existed – a journal dropped at Rose’s feet.

She begins to obsessively dedicate her sleepless nights to discovering what happened to Finn Matthews, the mysterious author of the journal. Why was he convinced someone wanted to kill him? And why, in the midst of a string of murders, won’t the police investigate his disappearance?

Rose is determined to uncover the truth. But she has no idea what the truth will cost her…

Rating: four-stars

 

Rose Shaw has been suffering with insomnia since the birth of her twin daughters 10 years ago. It’s no wonder that she’s quickly irritable and feels like letting her children and husband down. One day, on their way home from football training, a tragic accident happen, accident that is going to change all their lives for ever.
Rose is now a broken woman. Her daughter Lily resents her and her husband can’t look her in the eyes. She takes to walking the streets after dark and one night a running man crashes into her and Rose is left with a notebook. She reads it at home . it turns out to be a diary of Finn, a young man and journalist who is convinced that he’s being stalked and that his stalker is going to kill him. Rose is determined to find the young man before it’s too late – but what if it is too late? And why do the police and her family warn her to stop looking into the case?

This novel opens with probably the most intriguing and most used sentence in literature: “If you’re reading this, I’m dead”, and so I though, uh huh, either the story is going to live up to this promising start or it’s totally going to go downhill. I haven’t read the blurb before starting this book so the story totally took me by surprise – I didn’t know what to expect and there were a lot to be expected. The author touches upon many heavy and difficult issues making his novel very realistic and emotional. It was brutally honest and there were moments that I wanted to close my eyes, so raw it was, but well, I couldn’t have read further with eyes closed, right?

The characters, while not very likeable – maybe it was because you couldn’t trust anybody – literally! – came truly alive. Rose was a very special character. No, I didn’t feel much connection with her but my heart went out to her and all the things she must have gone through – I’d probably gave up already, and she kept going. On the other hand, would you, after finding a random diary, set on single – handedly finding a killer? I found her behaviour rash and destructive, to be honest, but I also could understand where she was coming from with this quest to find justice for all the missing men.

The tale is basically told from Rose’s point of view but it’s interspersed with some chapters narrated by – you could think at the beginning, random voices – of young men, and also the Finn’s diary entries. I could never be sure where the story is going to take me and what’s going to happen, and there were some truly shocking moments that made me hold my breath. On the other hand, there were also moments that made me roll my eyes, as somehow they simply didn’t sound very realistic.

Altogether, I haven’t expected that this book is going to be so dark, but it was also addictive, intriguing and hooking. It was a fast – paced, very emotional rollercoaster ride mixed with some terrifying moments. The author writes how it is, without pussyfooting around his chosen topics, and it’s brutally honest, realistic and terrifying at the same time. There were moments that felt too exaggerated for my liking, things happening too easy and too conveniently but it was also eye – opening and thought – provoking. “Night by Night” was a novel dealing with grief and guilt, full of secrets, hidden truths and understatements. A very important story with lessons to learn and raising awareness around mental health and corruption. Recommended!

 

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

Ayesha at Lat by Uzma Jalaluddin

 

40133941Publisher: Corvus

Publishing Date: 4th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeonhole, thank you!

Number of pages: 352

Genre: General Fiction

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

A big-hearted, captivating, modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice, with hijabs instead of top hats and kurtas instead of corsets.

AYESHA SHAMSI has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been overtaken by a demanding teaching job. Her boisterous Muslim family, and numerous (interfering) aunties, are professional naggers. And her flighty young cousin, about to reject her one hundredth marriage proposal, is a constant reminder that Ayesha is still single.

Ayesha might be a little lonely, but the one thing she doesn’t want is an arranged marriage. And then she meets Khalid… How could a man so conservative and judgmental (and, yes, smart and annoyingly handsome) have wormed his way into her thoughts so quickly?

As for Khalid, he’s happy the way he is; his mother will find him a suitable bride. But why can’t he get the captivating, outspoken Ayesha out of his mind? They’re far too different to be a good match, surely…

Rating: three-stars

 

Ayesha is a substitute teacher though what she really wants to do is write poetry. Ayesha is single and happy, she’s not interested in arranged marriages, accompanying her younger cousin on this way will suffice. But then she meets Khalid… But she hasn’t met his mother yet…

The book had a great potential, and I appreciated the humour very much but there were moments (in the end, too many moments) when I had a feeling that the author simply tried too hard and overdone it. The book started very promising, and I found myself smiling at the characters’ antics but then it only went downhill for me, I found my interest slowly fading and I started to skip some parts of it, with the many subplots and the action that was almost like in a gangster movie, and a) it was too much for me, too hard tried on making the story hilarious, b) the subplots were not developed enough for my liking, they were not properly addressed, just like that left hanging.

The romance between Ayesha and Khalid was humorous and also head – banging – on – the – wall desperate. When one of them finally got to their senses, the other was not interested and other way round. It was for sure a rocky way but altogether I liked that it was not so straightforward and obvious, and the problems they had were for sure different to the problems that the characters in other books usually have.

The characters could be better drawn, I think, because they were either brilliantly good or awfully bad, and this made them feel a little too exaggerated and too obvious in their behaviour. Sheila and Khalid’s mother are the best example here, but also Hafsa, the spoiled, judgmental and shallow one who actually wasn’t charming but only annoying. I am also not so sure about Khalid himself – on one hand we can say that his character saw development, on the other hand I’m not so sure because well, he changed, but did he really want to change?

The story touched upon many, many issues and probably this was the problem, maybe the author should focus on less than relationships, family ties, arranged marriages, family disownment, politics, stereotyping, racism at the workplace, theft and many, many more. It was simply too much. I had a feeling that if the story stuck to tell a romance, without all the other mosque and conference issues, it would be enough. I adored getting to know the colourful Muslim traditions, even the arranged marriages and the arguments that people involved in them had, their pros and cons, and I really got it all, it was really great to see the close – knit community and I’d really love it if the book focused more on this part of the characters’ lives.
There were too many moments that felt too drawn out and exaggerated for my liking. But altogether, it was a feel – good, funny and light story that had it moments. The writing style was lovely, so chatty and eloquent and the author is a great story – teller, that’s for sure, and she lets her imagination run wild.

 

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

The Dangerous Kind by Deborah O’Connor

 

31930640Publisher: Zaffre

Publishing Date: 11th April 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via Pigeonhole, thank you!

Number of pages: 448

Genre: Mystery, Crime

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover (out on 16.05.2019)

 

Synopsis:

What if the people we trust are the ones we should fear? The breakout thriller of 2019 that will make you second-guess everyone you meet.

We all know them. Those who exist just on the fringes of society. Who send prickles up the back of our neck. The charmers. The liars. The manipulators. Those who have the potential to go that one step too far. And then take another step.

Jessamine Gooch makes a living from these people. Each week she broadcasts a radio show looking into the past lives of convicted killers; asking if there was more that could have been done to prevent their terrible crimes.

Then one day she is approached by a woman desperate to find her missing friend, Cassie, fearing her abusive husband may have taken that final deadly step. But as Jessamine delves into the months prior to Cassie’s disappearance she fails to realise there is a dark figure closer to home, one that threatens the safety of her own family . . .

Set over a long, dark winter in London and perfect for fans of HE SAID/SHE SAID, THE DANGEROUS KIND is at once a gripping thriller and a stunning portrayal of the monsters that live among us.

Rating: three-stars

 

Did you know that 1 in 100 people fall into the category of “potentially dangerous”? It means that they’re very likely to commit a crime. Do you know who could this be? Your neighbour? Who, of the people that surround you, might be a potential danger?
“The Dangerous Kind” explores this topic. It starts with an encounter that turns into something dangerous. We then follow the BBC presenter Jessamine, who is asked to look into a disappearance of a young woman, and the story of Rowena, a thirteen – year – old girl, a very dark und unsettling tale of her life.

It was hard for me to get into this book. There were many characters introduced to us and I really wasn’t sure on whom I should focus. The author has also chosen to minusculely and meticulously describe everything – how the characters looked like, what they wore, the colour of the sky and how many leaves there were on the trees, and to be totally honest it was too much for me.

Jessamine was a character that stood out. She was feisty and was not afraid to break the rules to find the truth. She was honest and determined and often wasn’t afraid to put herself in danger. All the other characters were impressively well written, adding tons of tension and making you ask questions. They were all flawed, they made many mistakes, were troubled. Rowena’s story was heart – breaking, literally, reading about her life was incredibly sad and also made me feel so angry – because those things really happen. Jitesh’s narration, however, and I know his character has a purpose in the story, but it was still somehow strange, I wasn’t sure of its purpose and I’d be able to live without this subplot.

I must admit that while some of the subplots and reveals were not surprising for me, there were also some that took me by surprise indeed – I don’t want to tell here which is which as I don’t want to write any spoilers here but let me just tell you that there were moments that the author truly pulled the wool over my eyes. I liked how all the threads eventually start to come together.

As much as it was an important book, touching upon some very, very important and controversial issues, I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I’ve already read many novels like this and not much could surprise me here. Sure, please don’t get me wrong, it was shocking and I gasped more than once when reading it, and it tugged at my heartstrings, and it was sad and brutally realistic but there weren’t many things that I haven’t read before. However, it was a thought – provoking thriller. It could be – you must be aware of this – upsetting for some, as it explores children sexual abuse or domestic violence however with sensitivity and without being too graphic, and thanks god for it. The writing style is assured and I had a feeling that the author really knows what she’s writing about – the research was done brilliantly and you can see that O’Connor cares deeply about the things she writes about, that they’re important to her. Hats off to the author for writing about such hard hitting storyline, about discussing uncomfortable truths. Recommended!