Review of Day Four by Sarah Lotz

 Published in Hardback on 21st May 2015 (UK) by Hodder & Stoughton

After reading The Three by Sarah Lotz and throughly enjoying it (see my review here ) I really couldn't wait to read the follow up Day Four, and let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed.

Whilst I found The Three to be unsettling at most and at times creepy, Day Four takes the scary/creepy factor to a whole new level. Set on a cruise ship, Beautiful Dreamer, the story gets creepier and more claustrophobic in each chapter. Everything starts off fine on days one to three, but on the fourth day aboard, the ship suddenly stops moving. There is no radio or wifi signal and no clear idea of why the ship has stopped. As the days progress, passengers start to panic, food runs low, the toilets stop flushing, their is no electricity and people start to behave increasingly erratic as their panic grows.  A virus breaks out causing people to be very sick which makes things much worse considering they are stuck on a boat with no sign of rescue.Then both passengers and some crew members start to see strange things, apparitions, and when they find the body of a murdered woman in her room, things go from bad to worse.

The characters


Throughout the story there are some key characters whom we follow in the story. There is Maddie, (The Witch's Assistant) the assistant to the famous medium aboard the ship, Celeste, who knows she is a fake but can't get a better job because of her past. Celeste is the medium who has an organised event aboard the cruise but is running away from a scandal back at home.Two elderly women known as the 'Suicide Sisters', Helen and Elise who have come on the cruise for their own private reason you can probably guess from the name they are given. Then there is one of the maids on the ship, Althea (The Devil's Handmaiden) who secretly hates most of the passengers and her colleagues but has to pretend to be nice in order to keep her job. Then there is the doctor, Jessie  (The Angel of Mercy) who has a secret past and fights a daily battle to keep his demons at bay. Gary is known as the 'Condemned Man' and he does very bad things which are about to catch up with him. There are more characters, many more, but the chapters are each split by the person narrating, which is usually one of the characters I have mentioned.

Things start to get very strange when the medium Celeste starts to act increasingly odd and not her usual grumpy drunken self. Her readings become a daily event and she is unnervingly correct about everything she says about her fellow passengers. She doesn't seem to need sleep or eat or use the bathroom which makes her assistant Maddie extremely perturbed.Slowly but surely she starts to take over the ship as more people get ill or go slightly mad, around her is an oasis of calm and cleanliness, almost like a cult following.

My thoughts....


I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and after finishing the novel you can see the link with The Three as certain bits in the book cleverly link back to the first novel. The feeling of society aboard the ship falling apart and people acting like animals feels extremely real as does the claustrophobic nature of the story. I found it to be extremely creepy  and could easily imagine it being a terrifying movie that I would have to watch behind a huge pillow ( I know my scary film limitations).
If you read The Three and enjoyed it I would say that this novel is written completely differently and the story does not follow on from what happens in The Three except for a few character references from the first novel. I would say you don'y HAVE to read The Three first to get Four Days but it would help to understand the deeper meaning of the book and the things that happen aboard the ship. What a page turner! Phewf!


Review of Unravelling Oliver by Liz Nugent


Unravelling Oliver is a tense, suspenseful, psychological thriller which I devoured in two sittings.The  very first line tells you an awful lot about the book:

"I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her"

The story centre's around the main character Oliver, who we very quickly learn has hit his wife Alice and that this is not something he has ever done before. Later the same day he does something even worse and here begins the complete unravelling of Oliver. We learn about different times of his life and things which happened to him from narrators that knew him from childhood, or at certain points in his life and and from himself describing certain events himself. This is brilliantly written and all the characters really come alive in their parts of the book. They also give a rounded view of what Oliver was like and what he did from their point of view. This also gives us the reader a much better understanding of Oliver and why he is the way he is.

The only character that we really never get to know in the narratives is his wife, Alice. She is always described by other people and we never get to hear her side of the story, due to Oliver's actions. Although I did feel sorry for her and her fate, I do think she let him get away with treating her badly with his cheating and not letting her have children.Letting him send her brother Eugene away also irritated me, stand up for yourself woman I was inwardly screaming at her whilst reading.

Irish thriller


The novel is set in Ireland and spans many years, from Oliver as a child to the present day.There is also a great deal of the novel set in France after Oliver spends one summer there before college. This is a very important part of the narrative and things that happen here reflects on most parts of Oliver's life thereafter.

I found the book to be thoroughly gripping, certain events are rather harrowing, sad and disturbing and what brings the story to life is how well it is written, sometimes with a humour needed during dark events. Liz makes the characters come alive from the pages, I felt like I had a very clear idea of everyone who was in the book, their characters and personalities. I don't want to give anything away but I would definitely give it a read if you like a gripping thriller that is very well written and unputdownable.


Review of The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault


Firstly, the book itself is very pretty indeed and looks lovely on my bookshelf. I do judge a book by it's cover, I can't help it I'm afraid. This is the story of a postman called Bilodo who lives and works in Montreal, Canada and the novel has been translated from French to English.. Bilodo is a very isolated character, he doesn't have any real friends to speak of and he doesn't like to socialise with anyone. His only 'friend' is another postman Robert, who is mean and crude to him, always trying to get him to go out getting drunk, going to strip clubs and meeting women.

Bilodo's very favourite pastime is to steam open other people's letters and read the contents, something he knows he should not be doing, but he likes to live his life through the words of strangers. His favourite letters to read are between a woman called Ségolène from Guadeloupe and a man called Gaston Grandpré who is a published poet. and lives in Montreal. They write single Japanese Haiku to each other which although Bilodo doesn't really understand them , he finds her words beautiful. He begins to fall in love with Ségolène and her touching poetry.

During a normal working day, Bilodo is witness to an awful accident where Gaston Grandpré is run over in the street. He is clutching a letter he wanted to post to Ségolène . Bilodo tries to retrieve the letter but it goes into the gutter before he can get hold of it. This begins the downward spiral of Bilodo and his obsession with the woman he has never met. He eventually manages to move into the apartment that Gaston Grandpré lived in, with all his belongings and writings still there. he begins to write haiku himself and starts to correspond with Ségolène, pretending to be the deceased poet.

My thoughts


If you are a fan of Japanese fiction when tends to mix reality and symbolic, metaphysical elements then you will probably like this. If you like poetry, especially haiku, then this would be a very interesting read as Bilodo begins to learn the art of haiku and immerses himself in the practice. He becomes obsessed with perfecting it so that his beloved will not realise he is an impostor. The novel is written beautifully and you really sense the overwhelming obsession that overtakes Bilodo as well as learning all about haiku. I really liked the ending and it certainly brought a supernatural element to the novel which I normally expect from Japanese fiction. I have to admit that I am not a big poetry fan and some parts with lots of haiku I did glance over and turned the page. It is a very unusual novel and there is something very special about it and I am glad I had the opportunity to read it.


Review of The Farm by Tom Rob Smith


Having never read Child 44 or any other of Tom Rob Smith's books, I picked this up after reading the back of the book, and yes, I liked the cover and it reflects the story perfectly. This psychological thriller has a very simple, gripping premise. Daniel lives in London with his partner Mark, he has just been shopping when he gets a disturbing phone call from his father. His parents have recently retired to Sweden where they bought a farm. His father is crying and tells Daniel there is something wrong with his mother, that she has had some sort of mental breakdown and is imagining awful things.He tells Daniel she is in a mental hospital in Sweden. Daniel is completely baffled by the phone call, having never heard his father cry and believing everything was going well for his parents in Sweden prior to the phone call. He decides to book a flight to Sweden the next morning, but whilst he is at Heathrow he gets a phone call from his mother....

"Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad... I need the police... Meet me at Heathrow."

Therein begins a gripping tale where Daniel is caught between his parents, who to trust and ultimately who to believe. He must listen to his mother's story and evidence before deciding if it is true, if a crime has been committed and even more difficult, is his father a criminal?

I couldn't stop reading (cliche I know)


From the very beginning of the book the tale of Daniel and his parents is gripping, it clings to you,  you think about it when you can't read it and try to work out what is happening, what the ending will be and ultimately who Daniel will believe. The book is written in short chapters, often with his mother's narrative, Daniel's thoughts and their mother and son interactions as she lays down the evidence for her only child. The story is about secrets, lies, family, child abuse, sexuality and mental health. There are some truly shocking twists to the story and the ending was both sad and thoroughly absorbing. Out of all the characters I found it hard to feel very much either way towards Daniel until towards the end of the book, but the family relationship with himself and his parents remains strong throughout, especially when reflecting on Daniel's childhood. His mother Tilde is the stand out character and I really did feel for her even not knowing if what she was saying was true. I would throughly recommend The Farm if you are a crime/thriller lover or even if you like a good meaty story which at times can be disturbing yet enthralling.



Review of The Perfectionists by Sara Shepard


Sara Shepard has graced us with another book series very much like Pretty Little Liars, with a dash of the TV show Revenge thrown in for good measure. The Perfectionists is a slightly darker, edgier version of PLL and the main female characters not so glamorous (no Kate Spade in sight!), not so perfect looking and with many issues of their own.

Revenge


The novel centres on five girls (Caitlin, Parker, Mackenzie, Ava and Julie) who have one thing in common, they all have very private and personal reasons for hating the richest, most popular boy in town, Nolan Hotchkiss. When he turns up dead at his own party after the girls plot revenge, they realise someone is out to frame them for the murder of Nolan...but who?

Got to be perfect or else...


The title of the novel refers to the fact that in all the girls lives, wether it be being the best musician, the perfect soccer player, the best popular person, they all struggle to be perfect and to hide their own insecurities and secrets. The novel is written in the same fashion as PLL, unanswered questions, being watched, followed, tricked and manipulated. Sara plays with the readers just as she always does, and I have to admit I really enjoyed it.

I was a fan of the Pretty Little Liar books, even as they got increasingly ridiculous, I just couldn't stop reading them. In my mind they are light relief, easy to read and entertaining, just as The Perfectionists is so far. I am looking forward to the next in the series (The Good Girls) out June 2nd.







Review of the Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins


Heralded as the new 'Gone Girl' and 'Before I Go to Sleep' this thriller for me topped both of these books, there I have said it.The similarity between this novel and S J Watson's Before I go to Sleep is the use of an unreliable narrator. Where memory loss is the issue in Before I Go To Sleep, alcohol abuse is the main factor in this gripping tale.

What happens in the book?


The novel centres around a lonely commuter called Rachel, who gets the same train morning and evening in and out of London. At one particular stop she can see into the backs of a row of houses and regularly sees one couple in particular. In her mind she has given them both names, jobs and daydreams about their perfect idlilic lives. That is until one day she sees something that shatters this illusion and when a police investigation unfolds, she has to decide wether she should tell the police what she saw.

This is the main story of the book but so much more happens, of course I don't want to spoil it for you. Rachel has her own demons to bare, she is still hung up over the loss of her marriage and has taken to drinking too much. Sometimes she blacks out and can't remember what happens which is one of the main factors in the novel. We question what she says and does, has she remembered correctly? What happened the night before when she woke up bleeding from the head? The story of Rachel unfolds as the story goes along.

The characters in the book are brilliantly written, there are so many twists and turns, you literally cannot put the book down.Whilst in Gone Girl both characters were wholly unlikeable and ridiculous (in my opinion), I did feel a lot of sympathy for Rachel and the things she was going through, although at times I felt she went a little Bridget Jones (Not a bad thing necessarily). If you did enjoy the novels I have mentioned, or just like a really gripping thriller I would definitely read this.


Review of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell


I have read a lot about this book before deciding to finally read it. The push was reading Landline by Rainbow and really enjoying it.After finishing Eleanor and Park I felt like it sucked me in so deeply I was left feeling short of breath.I fell in complete and utter love with it.It is the story of Park, a half Korean teenager who is into music and comics but also does martial arts with his dad and brother once a week. One day on the school bus he saves new girl Eleanor from complete embarrassment as no one will give her a seat. After that they sit together on the school bus everyday and he realises that she is also reading his comics. He starts to bring in more comics for her to borrow and tapes for her to listen to until finally they talk to each other.Eleanor doesn't fir in, she wears oversized mens clothes, has wild red curly hair and doesn't conform in the slightest. The other people at school give her the title 'Big Red', charming eh.Eleanor holds so much back that it's only towards the end of the novel Park learns of what has happened to her and the truth about her home life. 

The reasons I loved it


Although it is written for young adults it doesn't take the reader to be an idiot or need to be spoon fed information. It is beautifully written and much is said but not written if that makes sense.Eleanor is such an interesting female character, it isn't just a love story, it is about a girl utterly scared to death, hopeless that anyone could love her or care about her, and unable to reveal the secrets that are holding her back from really living or ever being happy.I really felt sorry for the situation she was in at home and I found it so interesting and lovely to see Eleanor through Park's eyes. How amazing and beautiful he found her. I also adored Park, and it's not often I like both leading characters so much, but he isn't your typical Jock, or sulking bad boy. He is unique, has a quiet confidence and learns to accept himself. during the novel 

Without giving any spoilers, the story is so well told, so believable, you get completely drawn into the story of both characters and really get behind them. I also found it heart wrenching for a number of reasons, her home life when it finally erupts and what this means for Eleanor and Park. But wether you are a young adult or adult, I would thoroughly recommend reading this book. It has everything a good solid fiction book should, it isn't cheesy in anyway. It is tenderly written, the characters wholly believable and is one of those special books that stays that little bit in your heart.

I love this digital painting by Simini Blocker of Eleanor and Park kissing....