Book Review – Sister by Rosamund Lupton

Book Review – Sister by Rosamund LuptonSister by Rosamund Lupton
Published by Crown/Archetype on June 7, 2011
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Suspense, Mystery & Detective, Women Sleuths, Psychological
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
four-stars

I really enjoyed Sister by Rosamund Lupton. I read this in paperback format (and realised I had become far too comfortable with my kindle and that I had missed reading physical books), mostly at home in bed and in the bath.

I was lucky enough to find this book in my street library and I really feel the need to either take it back or pass it on to a friend to share it, so it can be enjoyed by others. One of the most important things about reading for me is the joy of sharing the story. Whether it is just shared by talking about it, blogging a review, recommending it to a friend or lending it to someone – it’s such a great gift to give I think. I’m going to give Sister to my friend Lisa I think (hopefully she hasn’t already read it!).

I don’t know about this being a particularly “on the edge of your seat” thriller. I did get into the story and was engrossed in it pretty quickly, but I think it was the relationships I liked the most. One of my favourite aspects of the book was not the suspense, but the relationship between the sisters, Tess and Beatrice. I loved that throughout the book when Beatrice was telling the story about Tess’s disappearance and murder, she was telling it to Tess, talking to Tess as she would normally. I also loved how she would recount moments between them, emails, conversations and shared jokes. It’s what sisters do and I could relate to the moments shared between them.

Both Tess and Beatrice were likeable characters and I think this also helps. It was clear they were very different – like chalk and cheese – but I really like both of their personalities and traits. Of course, Beatrice’s relentless hunt for her sister’s killer was fantastic and made me want to keep reading to know the outcome.

I’d love to read more of Rosamund’s books (she has three more and another coming out in August) so definitely another author I need to be on the lookout for. If you are fairly new to the thriller genre, I think this would be a good book for you – it isn’t really the scary kind of thriller and I don’t think there is anything particularly shocking or different about the story – but it’s a great read, great characters and is well written.

Synopsis

When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered.  Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess’s apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister’s life–and all its secrets. 

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficultly with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong.  As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder–and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

A thrilling story of fierce love between siblings, Sister is a suspenseful and accomplished debut with a stunning twist.

four-stars

About Rosamund Lupton

Rosamund Lupton is the author of four novels.

Rosamund Lupton graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. After reviewing books for the Literary Reviews and being invited to join the Royal Court Theatre, she won a television play competition and subsequently worked as a screen writer. Her debut novel Sister, was a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller and a bestseller in Europe. Sister has been translated into over thirty languages and has international sales of over 1.5 million copies. It was the fastest-selling debut of 2010 by a British author, a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime and was winner of the Richard and Judy Best Debut Novel of 2011 Award and the Strand Magazine Critics First Novel Award. Film rights of Sister are currently under option.

Lupton’s critically acclaimed second novel Afterwards also went straight into the Sunday Times bestseller lists and was the No. 2 Sunday Times fiction bestseller of 2011, with UK sales alone of more than 200,000 copies.

The Quality of Silence her third novel was a Sunday Times best seller and a Richard & Judy bookclub pick

Book Review – Bully Brother by Craig M Dial

I received this book for free from the author, Craig M Dial, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you to the author for the opportunity.

Book Review – Bully Brother by Craig M DialBully Brother Published by Independently Published on May 24, 2018
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Family Life
Pages: 258
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
three-stars

I had been meaning to read Bully Brother for quite a while. The author sent me a copy a long time ago. I misplaced it and he was kind enough to send me another copy. I’m glad he did.

I always make this disclaimer, but as with any memoir or personal story, I’m particularly sensitive to the fact that this is someone’s life and story – who am I to say what I think of that? I always feel terribly responsible and cautious when reviewing.

For me as a reader, Bully Brother was like exploring an era. I really like the fact that Craig asks readers to play the music mentioned throughout the book whilst reading to evoke that sense of being in the 60’s and 70’s. I thought it was a great concept and really gave me an idea of the mood and tone. The 60’s and 70’s being slightly before my time, I think this helped set the scene. I loved the music (most was familiar to me) and found myself waiting for the next mention of a song whilst I was reading.

I found the descriptions about Craig’s childhood and his relationship with his siblings familiar. Despite the fact that I grew up in the 80’s. Some of his stories were funny, some were a little worrying. The bullying by Craig’s brother David, was not as extreme as I expected it to be, but, I am used to reading things a little darker and more disturbing (so maybe it’s me and my dark mind?) and, once again, who am I to comment on someone’s experience? I’m sure it was horrible for Craig at the time.

I will say that the book was an easy read, but, I often wondered where it was going. I was waiting for the inevitable tragedy, but I found this was very close to the end of the book. I think I would have liked a hint of it at the beginning.

If you enjoy reading memoire you will enjoy this book. Particularly if you are interested in the 60’s and 70’s and family types of genres.

three-stars

About Craig M Dial

Craig grew up in Marin County in the late 1960’s and 1970’s where he experienced the hippie love culture from a child perspective. He is married and now lives near Sacramento, CA.

Book Review – Educated by Tara Westover

Book Review – Educated by Tara WestoverEducated by Tara Westover
Published by HarperCollins on February 20, 2018
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Women, General
Pages: 400
Goodreads
five-stars

A little change of pace here…I read this book a week ago but I’ve struggled to find time to write a review and I want to do it justice. I have wanted to read this book for quite some time. I feel quite strongly about biographies and memoirs and I tend to read and review them with a different lens. I acknowledge that the story is personal, it actually happened and should be respected.

Educated is a memoir about the author, Tara’s, childhood, continuing into her adulthood. Tara’s upbringing was challenging, she grew up in an environment whereby her parents had extreme beliefs about healthcare, education and the government. Tara, her parents and siblings are mormons, but Tara makes it clear from the outset that the book is not about mormonism.

As always, I’ve done my research, I watched some interviews with Tara on You Tube and she stresses that mormonism was not responsible for the views of her parents and the events that occurred for her and her siblings. There are plenty of practising mormons who still attend school and access healthcare. Rather, her father’s declining mental health heavily influenced his actions and paranoia about the world.

Tara’s situation is extraordinary, she entered university education at the age of 17, despite having no formal education previously. Tara’s family members suffered injuries and illness as a result of her father’s belief about medical treatment. Due to Tara’s lack of exposure and awareness of how other families and children live, the home life she experienced was normal. The beliefs were not questioned by her, until much later.

The book is such an intriguing read. It reminded me of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It is about more than just Tara’s formal education, it is primarily about her home life, family, relationships and struggles. Tara’s home life was sometimes abusive and often neglectful. Tara and her siblings were often in very dangerous situations as a result of her father’s actions. I know a lot of people have feelings of anger towards Tara’s parents after reading her book. Tara does not mirror these feelings towards her parents and her siblings. Tara still expresses gratitude for some aspects of her upbringing, which is so admirable.

I had mixed feelings towards Tara’s father whilst reading the book. At times I was shocked, other times angry, but there were times when his responses made me giggle a little. Tara is successful in portraying her father honestly, without degrading him. Tara also acknowledges at the end of the book that she and some of her siblings have different accounts in relation to several events in the book.

You’ll enjoy this book if you love memoirs, or stories where people have overcome hardship in their lives. Tara is certainly admirable and her accomplishments speak for themselves.

five-stars

About Tara Westover

Tara Westover is an American author living in the UK. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom, and after that first taste, she pursued learning for a decade. She graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.

The gift that keeps on giving

I’ve talked about it before, very recently, that it is such an honour to be sent books to review and I really appreciate it when authors ask me to review a book, even it’s not really my preferred genre.

Even more lovely, is receiving the physical copy of a book in the mail, all the way from the US. I’ve also said that I enjoy reading books on my kindle rather than physical books, but there is something about reading the physical copy of a book when it is gifted to you. This is the first actual book I have been sent and it is rather exciting.

I’m looking forward to reading Craig M Dial’s Bully Brother. Memoires and biographies is another of my favourite genres (aside from thrillers). At the moment I’m reading Educated by Tara Westover, which is also a memoir. So I might need a break from the genre before reading Bully Brother. It’s also such a personal experience and I think when an author is sharing that much of themselves, I need to give it my full attention. To be honest, Educated is almost taking it out of me emotionally. I’ll be reading a thriller next. Not sure which one yet…that will be a suprise.

Books really are a gift. When you recommend them, lend them buy them or borrow them. I think that’s what I love most about books and reading. The ideas and stories can be shared and through the sharing comes enjoyment. I enjoy the book and I want everyone else to read it and know what I know. It’s like a shared secret. Except I have the opportunity to share that secret with you. 😉

Book Review – The Affair – Sheryl Browne

Book Review – The Affair – Sheryl BrowneThe Affair by Sheryl Browne
Published by Bookouture on August 10, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Thrillers, Psychological, Suspense
Pages: 383
Format: eBook
Goodreads

four-half-stars

Ok, this was not what I expected, although I wasn’t disappointed. 

The Affair started with a bang and it really didn’t slow down or stop, which made for a very quick, gripping read.

Each chapter spoke from a different character’s perspective, which was interesting and could have been why it felt so fast paced. I haven’t seen this before….usually it’s one or two characters, but I really liked that we heard from most of the characters in the book. I will say that didn’t feel particularly attached to any of the characters and perhaps because we heard snippets from all of them my attachment to any one of them was minimal.

My initial feelings about the characters, their motivations and drivers, were correct. The book wasn’t overly twisty or turny (professional literary speak right there)  in my view…but perhaps this is because I guessed several of the outcomes. Again, this is not a bad thing. I thoroughly enjoyed this read.

I’ll be honest, I was expecting more affair and less thriller, but the book is so much more a thriller and very much focused on family. It was a surprise. I liked the relationship between Justin and Alicia very much because despite any difficult situations and misunderstandings – they really loved each other.

He was always attentive in that way, making sure she was safe.

The theme of safety crops up throughout the book and the importance of family is emphasised. Justin is a very admirable character in this respect.

The events occur so quickly in this book that I think it would be hard not to enjoy for most readers.

Synopsis

The moment she opened her eyes, she knew everything had changed. The stale taste of alcohol; her uneasy stomach. She looked at her husband sleeping peacefully, and knew she would never tell anyone what happened last night.

You will think you know what happened to Alicia that night.

You will see a desperate wife, lying to her husband.

You will watch a charming lover, trying to win her back.

You will judge her, just like everyone else.

You will assume you know what happens next. But everything you think you know about the past, the relationships, what drives Alicia and her husband to lie… is wrong.

About Sheryl Browne

I’m a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I have several books published, along with two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies where I completed my MA in Creative Writing, finally. It took me some while. Please see above. Undertaking my MA was something I’d put off due to life commitments, as we sometimes have to. When I managed to make the time, I had to summon up a huge amount of courage to walk through those university doors. What if I failed? Where was my confidence? Well, the road to publication being paved with rejection letters, as it sometimes is, my confidence wasn’t much in evidence. The MA course didn’t offer any magical solutions to my writing dilemmas but it did expand my knowledge and confirm my belief that, no matter how bumpy the road, I needed to continue to write. To quote the title of one of the university anthologies, “I am a writer, therefore I am”. I wouldn’t know how to be any other way. I’ve also recently completed a forensics course which I undertook as necessary fuel for my thriller writing. I’m relieved to say I passed that with flying colours and found it totally inspiring, which brings me to a question I’m often asked: What gives you inspiration for your books?

The short answer is people, and the whole gamut of emotion that comes with them. I’ve always been fascinated by what shapes people and whatever genre I write in I like to strip away the layers and, hopefully, share with readers a little of what lies beneath the surface. A writer’s mind thrives on exploration. Every scenario, every place, every face tells a story. I see people as not all good or all bad, more opposite sides of the same spectrum with some crossover in between. I can’t resist exploring what might push someone over the line. I hope you will continue to join me on my journey.

About Sheryl Browne

I’m a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I have several books published, along with two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies where I completed my MA in Creative Writing, finally. It took me some while. Please see above. Undertaking my MA was something I’d put off due to life commitments, as we sometimes have to. When I managed to make the time, I had to summon up a huge amount of courage to walk through those university doors. What if I failed? Where was my confidence? Well, the road to publication being paved with rejection letters, as it sometimes is, my confidence wasn’t much in evidence. The MA course didn’t offer any magical solutions to my writing dilemmas but it did expand my knowledge and confirm my belief that, no matter how bumpy the road, I needed to continue to write. To quote the title of one of the university anthologies, “I am a writer, therefore I am”. I wouldn’t know how to be any other way. I’ve also recently completed a forensics course which I undertook as necessary fuel for my thriller writing. I’m relieved to say I passed that with flying colours and found it totally inspiring, which brings me to a question I’m often asked: What gives you inspiration for your books?

The short answer is people, and the whole gamut of emotion that comes with them. I’ve always been fascinated by what shapes people and whatever genre I write in I like to strip away the layers and, hopefully, share with readers a little of what lies beneath the surface. A writer’s mind thrives on exploration. Every scenario, every place, every face tells a story. I see people as not all good or all bad, more opposite sides of the same spectrum with some crossover in between. I can’t resist exploring what might push someone over the line. I hope you will continue to join me on my journey.