Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The One Memory of Flora Banks

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Published by Penguin
January 2017


I look at my hands. One of them says FLORA BE BRAVE.

Flora has anterograde amnesia. She can't remember anything day-to-day: the joke her friend made, the instructions her parents gave her, how old she is. Then she kisses someone she shouldn't, and the next day she remembers it. It's the first time she's remembered anything since she was ten.  But the boy is gone. She thinks he's moved to the Arctic. Will following him be the key to unlocking her memory? Who can she trust?

This is Emily Barr's first novel for children, and after finishing it in less than 24 hours I think I can safely say that it won't be her last.  Our central character is a 17 year old girl called Flora Banks who suffers from anterograde amnesia.  She has zero memory.  Everything she knows about herself is written in a journal, through notes left all over her house by herself and her family and by what she writes down on herself.  She lives with her mother and father in Cornwall and her best friend is called Paige.  One night she goes to a party and ends up on the beach kissing a boy called Drake (who is actually Paige's boyfriend but that's another part of the story).  The next day Flora wakes up and can actually remember kissing Drake - this is her first actual memory since she fell ill at the age of 10.

And so the book continues.... Flora is delighted at both remembering, and kissing Drake.  Paige is furious with her. Drake is off to the Arctic to study so Flora will see him no more.  At the same time as all of this is happening, Flora's brother Jacob, who we learn lives in Paris, is taken seriously ill and her parents have no option but to fly out to be with him.  They decide that due to Flora's condition the best thing that they can do is to leave her behind in Cornwall with Paige to look after her.  What they don't know, as they board their plane, is that Flora and Paige are no longer talking to each other, due to 'the kiss' and that Flora is seemingly on her own for the first time in seven years.

What continues is how Flora copes with this situation.  I don't want to give the plot away so won't reveal much more but suffice to say it involves heartbreak, travel and a breakthrough though not necessarily in that order.  Yes there have been some reviews that say that parts of this book are repetitive but I think that's the point - Flora has memory loss so when she remembers something she keeps referring to it again and again.  It didn't bother me one bit. 

If you like YA books, or have read any other of Emily Barr's books then I can't see why you wouldn't want to read this.  I was rooting for Flora throughout, she's a great character.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

They All Fall Down

They All Fall Down by Tammy Cohen
Published by Black Swan
July 2017

Hannah had a normal life – a loving husband, a good job. Until she did something shocking.

Now she’s in a psychiatric clinic. It should be a safe place. But patients keep dying.

The doctors say it’s suicide. Hannah knows they’re lying.

Can she make anyone believe her before the killer strikes again?

This is the second Tammy Cohen book I've read since Dying for Christmas and I have to say I really enjoyed it.  It's principally set in a mental institution where our main character Hannah is residing after a breakdown.  As the story begins the second of Hannah's friends dies, both seemingly suicide attempts, though Hannah is not so convinced that either of friends actually wanted to die. No one else believes her theory though; this is a mental hospital and both women were suffering from serious issues so it is thought of as unfortunate and the deaths are overlooked.  Hannah though cannot stop worrying that something isn't right.

All Fall Down is told through three perspectives, that of Hannah, from her mother Corinne and through Laura, a member of staff at the hospital.  I have to admit, I got a little confused with who everybody was at the beginning but I'll put that down to not concentrating enough in the first place.  Through each of these characters we get to see a different perspective of life at the hospital, but is there actually a killer or is it all in Hannah's head, and what exactly did she do to end up in there?

Lots of twists and turns throughout with a dramatic final chapter.  I've got another of Tammy's books to read and I'll be heading toward it with haste.  Fancy a book to grab you by the pool this summer then you can't go far wrong with this one!

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Monday, 31 July 2017

The Girls

The Girls by Emma Cline
Published by Vintage Books
May 2017

If you’re lost, they’ll find you…Evie Boyd is fourteen and desperate to be noticed. It’s the summer of 1969 and restless, empty days stretch ahead of her. Until she sees them. The girls. Hair long and uncombed, jewelry catching the sun. And at their centre, Suzanne, black-haired and beautiful.  If not for Suzanne, she might not have gone. But, intoxicated by her and the life she promises, Evie follows the girls back to the decaying ranch where they live.

Was there a warning? A sign of what was coming? Or did Evie know already that there was no way back?

Loosely based on the killings in 1969 by Charles Manson and his group of followers, Emma Cline's novel shows just how easy it can be to fall into a cult setting such as the one Manson created.  Evie Boyd has a mother who is more interested in her new boyfriend than in Evie herself, so it is easy for her to say she is staying at best friend Connie's house when in fact she isn't.  Evie meets Suzanne in a local store and is drawn in by her beauty and state of apparent bohemia.  This girl is not like her or Connie, and Evie is immediately drawn to her.  Suzanne takes her 'home' to meet Russell, and the other people she lives with.  What occurs there is seedy and uncomfortable but Evie is strangely drawn to being there amongst them. 

The book weaves through that extraordinary summer and now in the present day, as 50-something Evie recollects whether she could have prevented the tragic events that occurred, or whether in fact she had been protected by Suzanne all along. 

I can see why the book has been so raved about.  I liked it, but I didn't love it but I think it's a personal choice.  I certainly would say to read this though as it is both dark but intoxicating at the same time, and an eye opener to the world for some of the summer of 1969.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Before You Were Mine

Before You Were Mine by Em Muslin
Published by HQ Digital
May 2017

Sometimes hope has a way of changing everything…

Just hours after giving birth, Eli Bell is forced to give up her newborn baby daughter for adoption. Devastated, she tries desperately to rebuild her shattered life.

Then, over thirty years later, Eli catches sight of her daughter. And she knows that she must do everything to find a way back into her life. Even if it means lying…While her husband Tommy must grow to accept his own part in the events of her early life, he can only try to save her before her obsession with the young woman ruins them both.

Eli Bell gets pregnant at 14.  Refusing to name the father, she is shunned by her family and forced to give up her precious daughter, never to see her again.  However Eli has never forgotten her and dreams of one day being reconnected with the child she was made to leave behind.  One day whilst out shopping, Eli bumps into her daughter.  She instinctively knows that it is her, as only a mother could.  However this once-in-a-lifetime sighting cannot be left to remain so, and Eli finds herself returning to the same place time and time again in order to once more reconnect with her child.  She doesn't discuss this with her husband Tommy though and finds herself making excuses as to where she is spending her time during the day.  Tommy also has his own issues, and one day makes a decision that he will find Eli's daughter for her.  He too decides this must be kept secret and both begin a path that will see them separate from each other despite their common aim.

Em Muslin's book is set in rural America where bigotry still remains. Eli's mother is one such character and boy did I long to slap her, she is a vicious woman and one well written to make me feel this way.  Tommy is such a sweet character and I adored him.  At the start of the book I didn't feel that Eli's skin was white and I'm not sure why this is, I think it is because her best friend Daisy (whom I didn't much like either) is described as being so fair; it makes no difference to the story but I just felt that she was from an African American background only to realise she was not.

Before You Were Mine is a story of love and hope, of a mother's longing to see her child again, and of a man who will do anything to protect those he loves.  A great debut.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Friday, 21 July 2017

The Good Daughter

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
Published by HarperCollins
July 2017

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…
Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville's notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.
Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case which can't help triggering the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried for ever…

I'll just start by saying that this is so different from Karin's previous book The Kept Woman which I've just finished listening to on audiobook.  For one thing, there is hardly any swearing in it!!!!  But seriously, it's sort of like reading a completely different author so maybe if you have read her books before and decided that they are not for you, this might be the one to change your mind.  Anyway, I digress so back to the book in hand....

The book flits back and forth, from the past to the present day of our two main characters, sisters Charlotte (Charlie) and Samantha.  When we first meet them they have just moved house due to a fire at their old property which has possibly been linked to their father Rusty's career as a lawyer, he often defends the prosecuted, and in many trials, gets them off from the crimes they have been charged with committing.  On a warm summers day the two girls are at home with their mother Gamma when two men enter the property.  Things don't go according to their plan though and Gamma is killed in front of her daughters; Samantha is left for dead, and Charlie runs for her life.

Twenty eight years later and the sisters become reunited after a series of events lead to a high-school shooting and a family injury forces them to work together.  Neither of the girls have ever really talked about what happened on the night Gamma was killed and as the case against schoolgirl Kelly Wilson builds, the sisters begin to realise that they cannot continue their lives without some sort of dialogue as to what they experienced.

There is a whole host of characters in this book and each is vital to the story itself, there are no real bitty characters here but there are lots of questions to be answered.  Did meek and mild Kelly kill two people at school?  Can Rusty get her off the charges she faces?  What happened when Charlie ran on that horrific evening?  Karin Slaughter keeps the tension up throughout the book, with some real twists in the plot throughout.  I really enjoyed reading this, though it may not be for the faint hearted.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Monday, 17 July 2017

Ask No Questions

Ask no Questions by Lisa Hartley
Published by Canelo
July 2017

After an operation goes badly wrong, undercover specialist Detective Caelan Small leaves the Metropolitan Police for good. Or so she thinks. Then the criminal responsible is seen back in the UK.

Soon Caelan is drawn back into a dangerous investigation. But when the main lead is suddenly murdered, all bets are off. Nothing is as it seems. Everyone is a suspect - even close colleagues.
Someone in the Met is involved and Caelan is being told to Ask No Questions. That isn't an option: Caelan needs answers… whatever the cost.

This is the first in a series of books featuring Detective Caelan Small - a woman so used to being undercover she no longer knows how to be herself.  We meet Caelan on holiday in Egypt when a former colleague, Richard Adamson, is sent to ask her to return to the UK to come back to the job she has just resigned from. A kidnapped child and a police officer died during her last operation and a killer is on the loose; the Met feel that the only person who can bring him down is Caelan.  

Ask No Questions has many twists and turns and Lisa Hartley weaves together a whole team of characters so well that you are never sure who is on Caelan's side, and who secretly wants her dead!  I really enjoyed this book and it certainly kept me gripped, particularly the twist at the end!  I will be checking out the following books in the series if this introduction is anything to go by.

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Small Great Things

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
April 2017

When a newborn baby dies after a routine hospital procedure, there is no doubt about who will be held responsible: the nurse who had been banned from looking after him by his father.
What the nurse, her lawyer and the father of the child cannot know is how this death will irrevocably change all of their lives, in ways both expected and not.

Despite that fact that we have had abolition laws passed in both the UK and the US, I think it is safe to say that there are still some states where the colour of your skin is still an issue and in Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult brings this to the forefront of her storyline. 

Ruth Jefferson is a maternity nurse in a Conneticut hospital and has a pretty much unblemished record, that is until she delivers and cares for baby Bauer.  Both parents are white supremacist and tell Ruth that they don't want her handling their baby boy.  Ruth is removed from his care, and later, whilst she is in the same room as him, the baby dies - is Ruth somehow responsible for his death?  His father, Turk, seriously seems to think so.

Picoult then takes us through the impending court case as we see Ruth try to defend her career and race, whilst Turk sets out to ruin her in every way he possibly can.  The white supremacist movement still has many members and it is a shocking thought that the issues Picoult raises here are so truly valid today.  As with all of her books, there is a twist coming at the end, but can you guess what it wil be?

Happy Reading

Miss Chapters x