Book Review: Paranoid.

A review of: Paranoid – By Lisa Jackson.

Source: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42191274-paranoid

TITLE:

Paranoid

AUTHOR:

Lisa Jackson

GENRE:

Thriller/ Mystery

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

368

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

Luke Hollander was killed by a gunshot wound to the chest, 20 years ago in the town of Edgewater. And his half-sister, Rachael, has been living with the guilt of it ever since.

What was meant to be a silly teenage game, turned deadly in a heartbeat, and Rachael still doesn’t know who replaced her soft pellet gun for a real one.

Rachael continues to blame herself for shooting Luke, and regardless of the relationships her guilt erodes, she can’t seem to move on and forget the horrors of that night. And judging by the whispers of everyone else in Edgewater, they haven’t forgotten either.

My Thoughts:

Paranoid, by Lisa Jackson, was a quick and easy read. Her writing flows well and leaves the reader wanting more. Jackson writes a compelling mystery – giving the reader enough of the past and present tense to keep up the guess-game, right to the very last page.

I was actually one of the many readers who seemed to think everything was all tied up, I knew who the culprit was and the story was done – when the last piece of the puzzle came along and whacked me in my silly, proud face.

My only qualm was that the shock ‘twist’ happened so late in the book, I felt I had already had closure and was ready to move on to a new book. Although there were a couple of telling clues, there probably could have been a few more, in order to make the ending seem more ‘complete’ rather than a tacked-on last thought.

My Rating: 3/5

Book Review: Pet Sematary.

A review of: Pet Sematary – By Stephen King.

Source: https://www.boffinsbooks.com.au/books/9781529378313/pet-sematary-film-tie-in-edition-of-stephen-kings-pet-sematary

TITLE:

Pet Sematary

AUTHOR:

Stephen King

GENRE:

Horror/ Fiction

PUBLISHED:

1983

PAGES:

480

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

Doctor Louis Creed moves his family to Maine – a quiet, sleepy town with rolling hills and trees as far as the eye can see. A perfect spot for his children, Ellie and Gage, to grow up.

A perfect spot. The only sure danger is a busy highway where the trucks blaze by, on their way to the big cities. But nothing scary to worry about. Not even the ‘Pet Sematary’ in the woods, where countless generations of children have buried their beloved companions.

Nothing to worry about. A perfect spot. For a perfect little family.

My Thoughts:

Stephen King’s ‘Pet Sematary’ made my skin crawl the moment I saw the book on the shelf. And that feeling simply became more pronounced as I made my way through the pages.

The way King can give you a sense of growing unease, just from words on paper, is a talent very few authors have. Pet Sematary was full of (dark) colour and characters that seemed to form in your head and appear right in front of your eyes, like you’d known them for years.

All of this character and scene building makes the story come to life – pun intended.

I won’t write any more, for fear(!) of ruining the experience for you. But you’ll certainly be sleeping with one eye open after you finish this one!

My Rating: 5/5

Book Review: The Wife and The Widow.

A review of: The Wife and The Widow – By Christian White.

Source: https://www.google.com/search?q=the+wife+and+the+widow+book+cover&rlz=1C1CHBF_en-GB&sxsrf=ACYBGNQZG-vD6l6NBHT0NvziNVg6pO0PkA:1579939548785&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwipism8pZ7nAhXPV30KHVj6ChEQ_AUoAXoECA0QAw&biw=1242&bih=524#imgrc=3rBlZ5AolU-_sM:

TITLE:

The Wife and The Widow

AUTHOR:

Christian White

GENRE:

Mystery

PUBLISHED:

2019

PAGES:

384

GET IT HERE:

christian-white.com

Overview:

The Wife and The Widow is White’s (author) second novel, following the spectacular release of his debut novel, ‘The Nowhere Child‘.

The Wife and The Widow follows two stories: one of a wife named Abby, and the other of a widow – Kate. Both women find themselves on the island of Belport, searching for a murderer, and answers to questions they haven’t even thought of yet.

But as they search, they uncover things best left buried, with their stories becoming dark and increasingly intertwined.

My Thoughts:

Christian White’s second book really proves that the first one wasn’t just ‘beginner’s luck’. The Wife and The Widow is an extraordinary book following an incredibly intricate series of events – but White pulls it off stunningly well.

Although it is hard to write a detailed plot review without too many spoilers, The Wife and The Widow reminded me of ‘The Silent Patient‘ in some respects, by creating suspense by containing more than one point of view of the same incidents. It is hard to flaw this novel, as it is so precisely written, in order to keep the reader captivated until the very last word.

Christian White is truly someone to keep an eye on – he is currently working on his third novel, which will no doubt be much anticipated by his growing fan-base (myself included). I would 100% recommend reading this one!

My Rating: 5/5

Book Review: Firestarter.

A review of: Firestarter – By Stephen King.

Source: https://www.stephenking.com/library/novel/firestarter.html

TITLE:

Firestarter

AUTHOR:

Stephen King

GENRE:

Horror, Fiction, Thriller

PUBLISHED:

1981

PAGES:

416

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com

Overview:

Charlie McGee is no ordinary child.

But when you haven’t got ordinary parents, it’s only to be expected.

Charlie’s parents (Andy and Vicky) took part in a Government-run college experiment in the 60’s, when scientists were trying to find a link between psychedelic drugs and psychic abilities. Their experience was something they tried to brush off, but strange things begin to happen to them.

Andy and Vicky try to live a normal life, in a normal neighbourhood, eventually having a child – Charlie. But Charlie is not normal. At an early age, Charlie shows signs of extraordinary talent – drawing power from seemingly thin air.

But the Government isn’t done experimenting yet. ‘The Shop’ – a firm of secret Government agents – is determined to detain Charlie and her father, and continue studying Charlie and her father’s abilities.

Andy and Charlie go on the run, trying to evade and expose The Shop, in order to live out their lives in peace. But keeping one step ahead of The Shop is harder than they first thought…

My Thoughts:

This was the first Stephen King novel I have read – so I went into it with an open mind. Usually I steer clear of Sci-Fi and stick to historical fiction and story-lines based on facts, so this was a little out of my comfort zone.

That aside, the story was great to follow – filled with suspense and anticipation for what was going to happen next. The role of Andy being a father who simply wanted to make sure his daughter had a normal life is very relatable and also quite heartfelt at times.

Although the ending left me with some unanswered questions, I felt like that was all part of the intrigue of this sort of genre, and still thoroughly enjoyed the book.

My Rating: 4/5

Book Review: The Woman In The Window.

A review of: The Woman In The Window – By A. J. Finn.

Source: https://www.amazon.in/Woman-Window-J-Finn/dp/0008294372

TITLE:

The Woman In The Window

AUTHOR:

A. J. Finn

GENRE:

Mystery/ Thriller

PUBLISHED:

2018

PAGES:

449

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

‘The Woman In The Window’, by A. J. Finn tells the story of Anna Fox, a reclusive ex-psychologist who is afraid to leave her up-town, New York home. Diagnosed with Agoraphobia, Anna spends her days drinking wine and spying on her neighbours.

Anna’s only glimpse of the outside world is through her windows, where she keeps track of her neighbours movements. When the Russells family move in across the street, Anna becomes excited – but as she spirals into her depression and medicated delusions, she begins to question the strange things she sees from her upstairs-window.

With no-one to turn to, let alone believe her, Anna begins to investigate further.

My Thoughts:

‘The Woman In The Window’ is fast-paced and dripping with mystery from the get-go. The novel gives the reader a glimpse into the sufferings of someone so afraid of the outside world, they cannot leave their own home.

Anna is grasping at reality most of the time, struggling with loneliness, medicated sleep and a drinking habit she relies on to pass the time. The reader must decide if Anna is reliable and her account of the happenings in her street truly happened. Was she hallucinating? Dreaming? Drunk? Panic-stricken?

There are moments where the story takes dramatic turns, and the reader falls easily into the whirlwind of Anna’s confusion, fear and frustration, making the novel a true page-turner.

It is definitely worth the read, if you’re into fast-paced and page-turning, with a small dose of cliche to go along with it.

My Rating: 3.5/5

Book Review: All The Light We Cannot See.

A review of: All The Light We Cannot See – By Anthony Doerr.

Source: https://www.readings.com.au/products/18759436/all-the-light-we-cannot-see

TITLE:

All The Light We Cannot See

AUTHOR:

Anthony Doerr

GENRE:

Historical Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2014

PAGES:

531

GET IT HERE:

amazon.com.au

Overview:

‘All The Light We Cannot See’, by Anthony Doerr, is an incredibly moving story of a blind French girl (Marie-Laure) and a German boy (Werner) whose paths collide during the second World War.

Both Marie-Laure and Werner have very different struggles as the war begins to devastate Europe. Marie-Laure re-locates to her Uncle Etienne’s house in Saint Malo from Nazi-occupied Paris, while Werner escapes his poverty-stricken orphanage in Germany by securing himself a place in a Hitler-Youth Academy.

Marie-Laure begins to go blind at a young age, and has to learn to navigate the world in a completely different way, with the help of her father, who works at a museum. Young, determined and capable, she finds solace in the wonder of the outside world – feeling her way through sounds, smells and miniature models of the city, made by her father.

Eventually, Marie-Laure and her father must flee to her reclusive Uncle’s house, who lives in a tall building on the coast of Saint Malo.

Across the border, Werner lives in an orphanage with his younger sister Jutta. Inquisitive and exceptionally bright, Werner tinkers with old radios, fixing an old one up to listen to with Jutta. They listen to a nightly science program together, which inspires Werner, who writes down his many questions about the universe in a small journal.

Werner’s talent with fixing radios soon makes him popular in the village, and his skills in math eventually win him a spot at a coveted Hitler-Youth Academy – where he can escape an otherwise gloomy life of coal mining in the village.

Eventually, Werner finds himself amidst the action, helping Germany locate radio signals from the enemy, where he sees first hand just how damaged the country has become.

My Thoughts:

‘All The Light We Cannot See’ is a true work of art. The parallel lives of Marie-Laure and Werner are wonderfully written – it is teeming with detail and single moments that took your breath away. The back and forth story-telling by Anthony Doerr provides a stark insight into how utterly different the lives of two young people can be.

The story-telling in this novel was incredibly detailed, reminding the reader that there is an unseen world all around us, filled with love and loss and everything in between.

Although heart-breaking at moments, this novel was beautiful and truly moving to read. This novel writes in a way that made it easy to see just how easily our fates can be woven and unwoven, without ever knowing what could have been.

My Rating: 5/5

Book Review: The Book Thief.

A review of: The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak

TITLE:

The Book Thief

AUTHOR:

Markus Zusak

GENRE:

Historical Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2005

PAGES:

552

GET IT HERE:

ebooks.com

Overview:

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, is narrated by ‘Death’ himself. The story follows Death’s memory of a person he is particularly fond of: Liesel Meminger.

The book begins in 1939, when Liesel Meminger and her brother are sent to live with a foster family in Molching, Munich, after tensions begin rising in Nazi Germany. However, Liesel’s beloved brother dies on the journey, and she is forced to bury him in a graveyard beside the train-tracks.

While fare-welling her brother in the snow, little Liesel finds a book, dropped by one of the men who dug his grave. She doesn’t know how to read, but tucks it away anyway, to remember him by.

At first, Liesel is hesitant of her new Mama and Papa (Rosa and Hans Hubermann). Worried about the whereabouts of her mother, and haunted by the death of her brother, she tries her best to fit in. Liesel is picked on at school for not knowing how to read or write and feels lost in a land where her only friend is an annoying, blonde-haired neighbour named Rudy Steiner.

As time wears on, her new Papa gains her trust and begins to teach Liesel how to read – starting with the book she pocketed from her brother’s grave-site: ‘The Gravedigger’s Handbook’. Slowly, Liesel learns to read and write, finding solace in the words and a special liking of thieving books with her friend Rudy.

The story of Liesel Meminger is one of friendship and tragedy, hopeand pain, and the importance of the words we say, write and read in the defining moments our lives.

My Thoughts:

This novel is as much devastating as it is life-changing. The narration from ‘Death’ is an important and interesting factor in the novel, providing character depth where there usually is none. This depth gives the reader a glimpse into the ‘souls’ of those who Death knows, and is portrayed in a way that is truly heartbreaking.

The Book Thief is the sort of story that shows that the truth is not always right, or what we want or even what we need, and that where there is darkness, there will surely be light too. The novel lays bare the suffering of so many, in so many different ways – from the Jews, the poor communities and even the Mayor’s wife – everyone hurts over something.

The Book Thief was gut-wrenching, painful and beautiful to read, and should be on everyone’s list of ‘to-read’. This novel truly shows the power of words in the hands of the right people, and also the power of words in the wrong hands. A masterfully written piece, with the ability to unsettle and affirm, all at the same time.

My Rating: 5/5

Book Review: The Nowhere Child.

A review of: The Nowhere Child – By Christian White.

TITLE:

The Nowhere Child

AUTHOR:

Christian White

GENRE:

Mystery/Crime, Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2018

PAGES:

374

GET IT HERE:

eBooks.com

Overview:

Kim Leamy lives a quiet life – teaching photography in Melbourne, Australia, and keeping to herself. That is, until an accountant from America approaches Kim one day before class, convinced she is not who she thinks she is at all. The accountant believes Kim is actually Sammy Went, a child who went missing from Kentucky 26 years earlier.

Kim brushes the accountant off, unable to see how her (now deceased) mother – a caring, loving social worker – could ever have had a role in an international kidnapping. But Kim can’t seem to shake the encounter from her mind, and decides to meet with the American again, if only to prove him wrong.

As Kim delves deeper into the mystery that is Sammy Went, based on information from the accountant, she decides to travel to America to unravel what could, after all, be hers (or Sammy’s) mysterious past.

My Thoughts:

This story was a unique twist on a ‘cliche’ story line, telling the tale of little Sammy Went and her family of secrets. For a debut novel, this was quite a good read! The author, Christian White, manages to find a way to keep you guessing about Sammy’s past, filled with kidnapping, secrets and religious conspiracies.

I really enjoyed reading this novel. Funny story – I bought it at the airport when I had a few hours to spare, and read about three quarters of it during that time. But I LOST IT! But I enjoyed what I had read so much, that as soon as I had a chance, I went out and bought the book for a second time, just so I could finish it.

I would definitely recommend this book!

My Rating: 4/5

Book Review: The Girl From Munich.

A review of: The Girl From Munich – By Tania Blanchard.

The Girl from Munich

TITLE:

The Girl from Munich

AUTHOR:

Tania Blanchard

GENRE:

Romance, Historical Fiction

PUBLISHED:

2017

PAGES:

352

GET IT HERE:

eBooks.com

Overview:

It’s 1943, and the war is turning against Germany.

Charlotte (or Lotte), has grown up in Hitler’s Germany, living a life of privilege in her upper-class family. Loyal to her country, she has plans for her future – just like everyone else. She dreams of a fairy-tale wedding to her childhood sweetheart, and working as a photographer. But as the war begins to ramp up, the life Lotte once knew begins to crumble around her, and she is forced to question everything she thinks she knows about love, freedom, her leader and her country.

Lotte is just a girl, with dreams of a career in photography that are cut short by her parent’s disapproval. She instead settles into her position as secretary for the the Luftwaffe (Aerial Warfare Branch).

As Germany falls to the Allied Forces, Lotte is forced to flee, not knowing whether she will ever see or hear from her family again. Her old life gone, Lotte is forced to create a new one, but has tough decisions to make in the process.

My Thoughts:

The story of Charlotte (or Lotte), by Tania Blanchard, is an incredible insight into what life was like amidst the chaos of World War II – from a German Civilian’s perspective.

When we are first introduced to our main character, Lotte, it seems she is a somewhat naive girl, sheltered by the world by her privileged upbringing. She dreams of travel and a lavish wedding to her childhood sweetheart, and making a living with her photography.

But as the war rages on, Lotte is forced to find work elsewhere, ending up at the Luftwaffe, while her fiance is sent to the front-line. As her story unfolds, Lotte is forced to grow up, accept reality and learn a new way of living in order to survive.

Blanchard shows us the ways in which war changed people and took away the normalcy of life and replaced it with unimaginable scenarios. She describes in detail the sacrifices people were forced to make, from a civilian perspective, proving that no-one was left untouched by the war.

Blanchard shows us, through the character Lotte, that there was so much lost and so much to rebuild, even in the years after the war. It is a sad reality, but one that encapsulates so much history, in such a meaningful way – shining light on the small triumphs and moments of happiness, and proving that even in the darkest of places, there is hope for a better life.

My Rating: 4.5/5

Book Review: The Tattooist Of Auschwitz.

A review of: The Tattooist of Auschwitz – By Heather Morris.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

TITLE:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

AUTHOR:

Heather Morris

GENRE:

Historical Fiction, Romance, Holocaust

PUBLISHED:

2018

PAGES:

352

GET IT HERE:

eBooks.com

Overview:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is based on interviews with Holocaust Survivor and Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov.

The novel follows the journey of Lale, as he finds himself transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. His ability to speak multiple languages works in his favour, with his captors putting him to work as the ‘Tätowierer’ (tattooist).

Lale’s story finds him permanently marking his fellow prisoners over the two and a half years he is there. Using the perks of being the ‘Tätowierer’, he finds ways to help the people around him as best he can, including a young woman named Gita, who he falls madly in love with.

Lale’s story is one of incredible resilience, bravery and sadness. The account of his time as a prisoner is chilling and his survival is truly remarkable and of course a reminder of the horrors of World War II.

My Thoughts:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz was a novel that saddened me deeply. There truly are no words to describe how horrendous it must have been for the millions of people affected then, and still to this day, by the Holocaust.

Although the story of Lale as the ‘Tätowierer’ is one that is definitely worth reading, there were times in the novel where the author (Heather Morris) seemed to brush over some of the finer details, making the story seem rushed and perhaps not as deep or emotional as it could have been, had there been more description. I almost feel like a separate novel was required for the second half of the book, in order to give more details to the reader.

This aside, the story was still incredibly moving. The author describes in her ‘Author’s Note’ about how she had to gain Lale’s trust, and the struggle of untangling so many years worth of memories – which in itself would have been an incredibly hard task.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz is a story of love and of loss, and above all else, survival – a story worth being read.

My Rating: 3.5/5