Elizabeth Is Missing

Elizabeth Is Missing

Elizabeth Is Missing by Emma Healey
Published by Penguin
Paperback
Published 1 January 2015
275 pages
Owned

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I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘a book with a red spine’.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

‘Elizabeth is missing.’ Maud keeps finding notes in her pockets with this message scrawled on it, but she can’t remember writing it. That said, she can’t remember much these days: the time of day, whether she’s eaten lunch, if her daughter’s come to visit, how much toast she’s eaten. Still, the notes about Elizabeth nag at her. When was the last time she spoke with her best friend? It feels like ages ago…

Frustratingly, no one seems willing to help Maud find her: not the police nor Elizabeth’s son – not even Maud’s own daughter or granddaughter. It’s like they’re hiding something.

Maud resolves to take matters into her own hands, and begins digging for the truth. There are many clues, but unhelpfully, they all seem to point to another unsolved disappearance: that of Maud’s sister Sukey just after the war.

Could the mystery of Sukey’s disappearance lead Maud to the truth about Elizabeth? As Maud’s mind retreats into the past at a frightening pace, alienating her from her family and carers, vivid memories of what happened over fifty years ago come flooding back to give her quest new momentum. 

EXTRACT 

‘You know there was an old woman mugged around here?’ Carla says, letting her long, black ponytail snake over one shoulder.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I’m not completely sure how I feel about Elizabeth Is Missing. I was wavering between giving it a three or star but went with four stars in the end because it made me cry a little. This book isn’t what I was expecting and I didn’t like some of it. One issue I had is the way the book handles dementia. Maud’s dementia is quite far advanced. I felt she was at the stage when she couldn’t be left on her own. She was wandering out of the house and could easily have come to harm because she was so confused. I felt her family were neglectful of her at first. I thought Maud, however, was a great character, very realistic of someone with dementia. My gran, who’s been dead for sixteen years, had dementia. She came to live with my family when neighbours told my mum she was wandering the streets in her night-dress, looking for her dog that had died ten years before. Maud reminds me a lot of her. She’s a well written character. I found the narrative confusing at times. I didn’t mind that it moved back and forth in time. I like this structure in novels. It just wasn’t always clear what time we were in. I suppose this helped to convey Maud’s confusion but it could have been handed a bit better. The title is a misnomer – Elizabeth is not missing, it’s just Maud’s memories of her are missing and confused in her head with her sister’s disappearance thirty years before. I felt a little bit cheated. Never mind, Elizabeth Is Missing does involve a mystery, just now what I was expecting. There is a lot of misdirection, caused by Maud’s memory and I suppose it’s good the author went in an unexpected direction. I ended up really liking Elizabeth Is Missing and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Dead Certain

Dead Certain

Dead Certain by Adam Mitzner
Published by Thomas & Mercer
Ebook
Expected publication 1 June 2017
348 pages
Kindle First

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Ella Broden is living a double life.

By day, Ella works as a buttoned-up attorney on some of the city’s most gruelling cases. By night, she pursues her passion for singing in the darkest clubs of Manhattan.

No one knows her secret, not even Charlotte, the younger sister she practically raised. But it seems she’s not the only one in the family with something to hide. When Charlotte announces she’s sold her first novel, Ella couldn’t be more thrilled…until she gets a call that her sister’s gone missing.

Ella starts investigating with the help of Detective Gabriel Velasquez, an old flame in the NYPD, and what she finds is shocking. If art imitates life, then her sister’s novel may contain details of her real-life affairs. And any one of her lovers could be involved in her disappearance.

Desperate to bring Charlotte home, Ella works through her list of suspects, matching fictitious characters with flesh-and-blood men. But will it be too late to save the sister she only thought she knew?

EXTRACT

 I have news!

For someone who fancies herself as a writer, Charlotte’s texts are extremely heavy on exclamation points.

WHAT I THOUGHT

I really enjoyed Dead Certain. I liked the way the novel was structured, littered with extracts from Charlotte’s novel in progress, providing links to her disappearance. I liked the use of novel-within-a-novel in this book. I thought the characters were excellent, well written and very real. I liked Ella the most. Her bond with her baby sister was very touching. Dead Certain has fantastic pacing. I liked the chapters from the killer’s point of view which take place towards the end of the novel. His indifference to the woman he’d killed as chilling, especially when his real identity is revealed. I love the ending of Dead Certain. I really enjoyed this and would recommend it.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Fall In One Day ARC

Fall In One Day ARC

NETFall In One Day by Craig Terlson
Published by Blue Moon Publishers
Ebook
Expected publication 16 May 2017
327 pages
NetGalley

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I was given an ARC of this book by the publisher via NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

In the summer of 1973, fifteen-year-old Joe Beck lives in a small Canadian city near the U.S. border where he watches dark-suited politicians lie on TV during something called Watergate. So when his best friend Brian goes missing, Joe has a hard time believing that adults ever tell the truth.

Joe learns that Brian left town with his father after Brian’s mother ended up in the hospital. He listens to the news reports for information, but nothing is being said. Eventually, Joe launches his own investigation, using a tape recorder—just like the American president—to help sift through the clues. Feeling that everything is up to him, Joe embarks on a perilous and enlightening journey to decipher a mental institution diary full of secrets about a drug called LSD, and uncover the truth about Brian’s father and save his best friend.

OPENING 

‘Out of sight’ was a thing Karl said when him and Dennis thought something was extra cool.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I thought Fall In One Day was great. Joe’s got a great voice and he narrated the story really well. I really enjoyed the elements of mystery that are woven through the storyline. Why did Brian’s dad take him? Where to? Why did he hurt Brian’s mother? Does Brian really want to be found? Will Joe be able to make something of the meagre clues left behind? I thought Joe’s search for Brian, aided by his brother was really well written. The characters are all well written and really come to life on the page. Brian’s father is a very sympathetic character once it’s clear what’s happened to him to cause his behaviour. Fall In One Day is well written. I loved the descriptions and detail that brought everything so vividly to life. This is an engaging, enjoyable mystery novel and well worth a read.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

The Killing Bay

The Killing Bay

The Killing Bay by Chris Ould
Published by Titan Books
Ebook
Published 21 February 2017
352 pages
Review copy

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I was given a copy by the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it.

WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

When a group of activists arrive on the Faroe Islands to stop the traditional whale hunts, tensions between islanders and protestors run high. And when a woman is found murdered, circumstances seem designed to increase animosity. To English DI Jan Reyna and local detective Hjalti Hentze, it becomes increasingly clear that evidence is being hidden from them, and neither knows who to trust, or how far some people might go to defend their beliefs.

OPENING 

HE WORKED ON HIS KNEES NOW, AS IF PRAYING.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

I enjoyed The Killing Bay a little less than its predecessor, The Blood Strand. I really like the setting. Faroe is brought to vivid, memorable life. Faroe reminds me a lot of the setting for Camilla Lackberg’s novels. I really liked the characters. They were well-written, interesting and in some ways mysterious. The plot has some good elements. A lot happens and questions are left unanswered. I felt the novel is bit bogged down in the middle and could have done with some chapters being cut that seemed like fodder and didn’t drive events. The novel is so enjoyable that this wasn’t as much as an issue as it could have been. I love the setting and the intriguing characters. I look forward to the trilogy’s conclusion. What I like about The Killing Bay and The Blood Strand is that despite the often grim subject matter neither book gets too dark or depressing and there is a lot of fun to be had reading both books. The Killing Bay is well worth a read if you want something different from the usual blood and guts crime novels with interchangeable urban settings.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

My Sunshine Away by M.O Walsh REVIEW

My Sunshine AwayMy Sunshine Away by M.O Walsh
Published by Viking
Hardback
Published 2 July 2015
320 pages
Library book

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

“It was the summer everything changed….”

My Sunshine Away unfolds in a Baton Rouge neighbourhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom. But in the summer of 1989, when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson–free spirit, track star, and belle of the block–experiences a horrible crime late one evening near her home, it becomes apparent that this idyllic stretch of Southern suburbia has a dark side, too.

In My Sunshine Away, M.O. Walsh brilliantly juxtaposes the enchantment of a charmed childhood with the gripping story of a violent crime, unravelling families, and consuming adolescent love. Acutely wise and deeply honest, it is an astonishing and page-turning debut about the meaning of family, the power of memory, and our ability to forgive.

EXTRACT 

There were four suspects in the rape of Lindy Simpson, a crime that occurred directly on top of the sidewalk of Piney Creek Road, the same sidewalk our parents had once hopefully carved their initials into, years before, as residents of the first street in the Woodland Hills subdivision to have houses on each lot. It was a crime impossible during daylight, when we neighbourhood kids would have been tearing around in go-carts, colouring chalk figures on our driveways, or chasing snakes down into storm gutters. But, at night, the streets of Woodland Hills sat empty and quiet, except for the pleasure of frogs greeting the mosquitoes that rose in squadrons from the swamps behind our properties.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

My Sunshine Away is fantastic and I loved every page. The novel has just the right amount of light and dark moments in it. Despite the fact the central event in the novel is the rape of a teenage girl; My Sunshine Away is not depressing or filled with descriptions of the crime. This is a novel about how what happens to Lindy affects everyone around her. She is not alone in her pain and rage. Her father feels helpless because he failed to completely protect her. Her mother wonders if her broken daughter will ever heal. The other kids in school watch with morbid curiosity as the once golden girl falls spectacularly to pieces in front of them; dressing like a Goth, dating a series of losers, drinking to numb her pain and threatening suicide. My Sunshine Away is narrated by one of the four suspects who experiences all-consuming teenage love for Lindy and wants to save her but is helpless to take away the pain she is clearly in. This book made me cry at many points. Bold and brilliant, My Sunshine Away depicts how easily everything can fall apart. I loved the ending of the book and how the narrator makes everything worse by exposing who he believes is the rapist. He thinks Lindy will feel better if she has a name for the person who destroyed her. Lindy makes it clear that it doesn’t help at all and reveals that she remembers everything even though she’s let people assume she had no memory of the event. My Sunshine Away is heart-breaking. Highly recommended.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

Betrayal by Karin Alvtegen REVIEW

Cover image for Betrayal: Betrayal by Karin Alvtegen
Published by Canongate Books
Ebook
Published 16 June 2011
305 pages
Library book

Author website

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

SOMEONE IS WATCHING EVA

In the trees at the edge of her garden, a figure lurks in the dark.

In the hospital, Jonas watches over his girlfriend, who is in a coma. But what, or who, has put her there?

Through a chance meeting, Eva and Jonas’s lives will become disturbingly entwined. And Eva will discover that sometimes, in order to survive, you must betray the ones you love the most . .

EXTRACT 

‘I don’t know’

Three words.

Each by itself or in some other context completely harmless. Utterly without intrinsic gravity. Merely a statement that he was not sure and therefore chose not to reply.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

My head is sore and my flesh is crawling after reading Betrayal. This is a great read full of dark undertones and twists that make your stomach hurt. Betrayal is the theme that weaves a dark line through this book, people betray the ones they love, over and over. Eva’s husband betrays her. In her quest to seek revenge she betrays him and their marriage and sets herself down a dark path. If only she’d made different choices. If only her husband had made different choices. If only whacked-out, nut-job Jonas had walked in front of a bus….. This was a quick read and I was glued from start to finish. The author knocks how to build suspense and punch you in the gut. Jonas comes across as a nice guy at first, quite a sad figure refusing to leave his comatose girlfriend’s side. Just under halfway through the novel, something happens that winded me. A dark truth is revealed and shivers crawled down my spine. My jaw actually hit the floor. Revenge is also a big theme in this novel. Eva wants revenge on her husband for his affair and acts out of anger, without thinking and makes some terrible mistakes. Jonas wants revenge for imagined wrongs and takes steps that bring Eva’s world crashing around her. I was riveted from start to finish. Betrayed is recommended as a great suspense novel.

RATING

4 STAR RATING

Into The Light (The Light Series #1) by Aleatha Romig REVIEW

Into the Light (The Light, #1)Into The Light (The Light Series #1) by Aleatha Romig
Published by Thomas & Mercer
Ebook
Published 14 June 2016
354 pages
Kindle owner’s lending library

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WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT

Sara Adams awakes blind, unable to remember the most basic details of her life, but her darkness seems a blessing when she discovers the terrors of The Light.

Stella Montgomery investigates the news on the mean streets of Detroit, where she’s noticed a disturbing trend: young women are vanishing. When her best friend disappears, Stella investigates—despite warnings from her police detective boyfriend—following a twisted trail that leads her through the city’s most dangerous and forsaken precincts. There she uncovers something more sinister than she could have imagined: a shadowy organization known as The Light, led by the enigmatic Father Gabriel.

As Sara struggles to understand her place in the strange world she’s awakened to—an oppressive cult demanding unquestioning obedience—and her feelings for Jacob, the husband she can’t recall and whose harsh and tender attentions confuse and beguile her, Stella risks all to discover the truth. But enlightenment always comes with a price…

OPENING 

An impenetrable fog cloaked the woman’s thoughts, seeping into her being, blinding and erasing everything she’d ever known.

WHAT I THOUGHT 

Into the Light messed with my head. Seriously. I need therapy after this and a lot of hugs and some chocolate and maybe a shotgun or two. I am extremely creeped out and unsettled after reading this book. It will stay in my head for a long time. Into the Light has all the ingredients for a brilliant read – creepy cult, brainwashing, car crash that may not be an accident, domestic violence, creepy cult, creepy cult – did I mention the creepy cult and how the wives need to obey their creepy husband’s or they need to be corrected (aka beaten up) and all the creepiness? Mixed in with all this crazy stuff is a police investigation into several missing women which seems set to have shady connections with the creepy cult. Into the Light is one twisted, brilliant book. I need to read the sequel to get all the answers. I can’t wait. The characters are well written and I liked the fact you get the story told from different viewpoints. Sara is the best character. I really felt for her, losing her memory in the possibly staged car accident, discovering just what being a member of the cult means and struggling with her conflicting emotions. I’d highly recommend Into the Light.

RATING

5 STAR RATING