4 stars

‘He Said/She Said’ by Erin Kelly #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

he said

Amazon.co.uk   Amazon.com

In the hushed aftermath of a total eclipse, Laura witnesses a brutal attack.

She and her boyfriend Kit call the police, and in that moment, four lives change forever.

Fifteen years on, Laura and Kit live in fear.

And while Laura knows she was right to speak out, she also knows that you can never see the whole picture: something is always hidden… something she never could have guessed.

Kit is an eclipse chaser, something he’s been doing since he was a child. In 1999, he attends a festival in Cornwall with new girlfriend Laura to see an eclipse, which they watch together. Returning to the campsite, they see what Laura assumes is a rape. This incident impacts the rest of their lives together, and they become embroiled in a situation where no one really knows who’s telling the truth. And Beth, the alleged victim, won’t leave them alone.

The story flips between what happens at the festival and its aftermath and the present day – 2015. Laura and Kit are living under assumed names, terrified of their past catching up with them. Laura is pregnant with twins and Kit is about to set off to the Faroe Islands to see a last eclipse before fatherhood. We hear the story from both Laura and Kit, which works really well to set up the tension and to create an atmosphere where the reader doesn’t really know what, or who, to believe.

I did really enjoy reading this book. It’s a clever plot with a twist that is genuinely surprising. The characters are well-drawn and, unlike some other reviewers, I did warm to them, particularly Laura, and could definitely understand her motivations. It was a real page-turner.

However, there were a couple of things that didn’t really work for me. Laura and Kit keep referring to an incident in Zambia, after the alleged assault. It is hinted that something major happened. When this was revealed it was a real let down. And they also refer to a video online that is terribly upsetting for Laura. Again, it isn’t, and this is another let down. If things are built up like this, then the reader deserves something worthy of all that tension.

That said, this is a really good read. The author understands how to build tension and how to keep a reader engaged. I’d definitely recommend it.

4 stars

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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‘Inside of Me’ by Hazel McHaffie #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview #RBRT

#RBRT Review Team

I read ‘Inside of Me’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

inside

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India Grayson is a happy 8-year-old girl, adored by her father, cherished by her mother. She’s devastated when her beloved father, Victor, suddenly disappears, leaving nothing but a neatly folded pile of clothes on a windy beach in Scotland. She bargains with God: no more chocolate … roast potatoes … packed lunch … if you send my daddy back.
Now 15 and in the grip of anorexia, she’s convinced she heard his voice on a crowded London station and is determined to find him.
Isolated and overwhelmed, her mother, Tonya, succumbs to gnawing doubts about the man she thought she knew. Where was he on the night two teenage girls went missing? What was he really doing when he was away for two days and nights without explanation? Who exactly was he? What dark secrets were haunting him?
A third teenager goes missing in London in the same week India thinks she heard his voice. Can he be involved? Should Tonya share her secret suspicions with the police? Will India ever forgive her if she does? And how far will India go to be reunited with him?
The revelation when it comes is much more challenging than Tonya ever dreamed of.
Body image issues and identity crises trouble us all at times; this gripping story reaches to the core of what makes us ourselves and how we live with our doubts and conflicts.

This is a very interesting novel, with an intelligent and thoughtful storyline and some well-crafted and believable characters. The subject matter covers many areas of body image, identity, gender and family relationships, in a very sympathetic way. The dynamics of family are well-portrayed and the prejudices, preconceptions and misconceptions we have about others, even those we are closest to, are well-drawn and feel authentic.

India has many of the attributes of a typical teenage girl, by turns angry, confused, needing her parents but needing her independence too. There were times however, when I wanted to feel more sympathy for her, but found this difficult because of the way she treated her mother. And while I appreciate that many girls of this age have conflicts like this with their mothers, there seemed to be no connection at all, which spoiled things a little for me.

Victor was drawn very well and in a very non-judgemental way, which was refreshing and valuable in the current climate. I found his storyline to be the most interesting of all the characters.

I felt very sorry for Tonya and felt she was treated rather unfairly. I would have liked things to have gone better for her – she seemed to have been left with all the issues, all the conflict, all the drama and difficulty and was expected to get on with it – which she did. There wasn’t a lot of sympathy here for her, or for the mistakes she made (which we all do). However, this portrayal was probably more realistic in the circumstances, and the author has stayed true to her story, and to her characters.

There were a few little details in the plot that I felt were a little too contrived, a little too coincidental, but on the whole this is a well-written, well-researched and enjoyable novel.