Saturday, January 21, 2017

Book review: Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

Title: Behind Her Eyes
Author: Sarah Pinborough
Release date: 26th January 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Thriller (supernatural)
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Description: Louise: Since her husband walked out, Louise has made her son her world, supporting them both with her part-time job. But all that changes when she meets...
David: Young, successful and charming - Louise cannot believe a man like him would look at her twice let alone be attracted to her. But that all comes to a grinding halt when she meets his wife... 
Adele:  Beautiful, elegant and sweet - Louise's new friend seems perfect in every way. As she becomes obsessed by this flawless couple, entangled in the intricate web of their marriage, they each, in turn, reach out to her. But only when she gets to know them both does she begin to see the cracks...Is David really the man she thought she knew and is Adele as vulnerable as she appears? Just what terrible secrets are they both hiding and how far will they go to keep them?

My thoughts: Going in to this book, I wasn't sure what to think. I'd heard the first couple of pages at an event and didn't want to read another thriller centred around an unhappy or abusive relationship. Then I heard there was a slight 'weird' or fantasy element to it - a very subtle one, but enough to make it not just a normal thriller. If you're familiar with Ms. Pinborough's work, this shouldn't surprise you, as it's sort of her calling card. I decided to give the book a try.

It's an awkward book to review, because so much of the impact comes from the little twists, and I don't want to give anything away. There were a few times where the pace didn't quite go fast enough for me, but just as I was on the verge of giving up, something would be revealed, sometimes a thing which changed my perception of events so far, and I'd be hooked again.

Adele and David were childhood sweethearts from very different backgrounds, and Sarah Pinborough uses flashbacks and diary entries to show how happy their relationship was at that time. It contrasts dramatically with the present, where something is (or in fact several somethings are) wrong with their relationship. As Louise tries to puzzle out what's going on, the amount of manipulation going on between the three of them seems to get deeper and deeper. It's not a happy story. Told across several different points of view, you never quite know which narrator to trust, or if what they are guessing at is true. With Behind Her Eyes, Sarah Pinborough has redefined the unreliable narrator, and it's great.

The hashtag for Behind Her Eyes is a bold #WTFthatending, which is what caught my attention, and when I finally got to the end, I think my eyes were as wide as saucers as I read. I loved it - it was a twist that I completely didn't guess and I do want to reread the whole book knowing the full story. Overall, I did very much enjoy the book, so I'm giving it 7 out of 10. If you're looking for a thriller and are prepared for a tiny fantastical twist, this is absolutely the book for you.


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Beyond Surrender by Kit Rocha

Title: Beyond Surrender
Author: Kit Rocha
Genre: Dystopian/Romance
Series: Beyond #9
Release date: December 13th 2016
Source: Review copy from the authors

Description: She’s the heart of O’Kane liquor.
For years, Nessa has been focused on work. She keeps the whiskey—and the money—flowing, and life is sweet. Sure, she’s tired of being everyone’s baby sister, and she longs for a man who can stand up to her overprotective O’Kane brothers. But she never thought she’d meet him in the middle of a war.

He’s the brains of the revolution.
War is all Ryder knows. He was raised with one goal: to ensure the sectors’ successful rebellion against Eden. His father and his mentor both died for freedom, and nothing will stop him from securing their legacies with victory. He doesn’t have time for distractions—especially beautiful, impulsive ones like Nessa.

Opposites don’t just attract, they combust. Together, Nessa and Ryder have a chance for something more than the lives they’ve always known. But this is war—deadly, bloody war—and the only way to happily-ever-after is straight through Eden.

My thoughts: From the early days of this series, I've been a fan,  and the authors (two women collaborating under the pen name Kit Rocha) have grown with each book. It makes sense then that this one, the final part of the Beyond series, is one of their strongest. If you're new to the series, don't start here, but go to the beginning safe in the knowledge that it's a series with a well written ending. If you've kept up, then you probably don't need much encouragement to read Nessa's story. Just in case, here are my favourite things about this book.

1) Nessa. Like many people, I've been waiting for Nessa's story pretty much since she was introduced. And which guy was going to be enough for her, and able to stand up to her many honorary dads & brothers? Nessa is sassy and knowledgeable, and even with the scary wartime backdrop of the story, it was a lot of fun to read from her point of view.

2) They don't pull punches. This is war. It would be unrealistic if everyone on the O'Kane side made it through with little to no harm, and I wouldn't have as much respect for the story. Make sure you have tissues close to hand, because you're going to need them, I cried a lot reading certain parts of this book!

3) New points of view! One thing I've enjoyed through the whole series has been that you don't just see through the eyes of the main characters for that book; you get different snapshots of what else is going on through the eyes of a few others as well. And here, we get a whole host of new people. My favourite is Penelope, a hacker who works in Eden. I can't wait to see more of her in future books.

4) The 'bonding time' between Ryder & the O'Kane men. Any time Ryder was hanging out or working alongside O'Kanes, was just fun to read, regardless of the situation they were in. That's especially true once a couple of them know something is going on between him & Nessa. I loved the group interactions, how they're always teasing each other but still clearly caring a lot.

5) How satisfying the ending is. All the big points get wrapped up, you see (I think) every couple from the rest of the series and several favourite characters who haven't had a story yet, and enough is set up for the next arc of the Eden/Sectors story that I can't wait for the new series to come. That new series is called Gideon's Riders, and the first book is out in the spring.

How could I not give Beyond Surrender 10 out of 10? Brilliant, emotional, and very satisfying.