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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Burnt Paper Sky by Gilly Macmillan..

bps

Blurb:

Rachel Jenner turned her back for a moment. Now her eight-year-old son Ben is missing.

But what really happened that fateful afternoon?

Caught between her personal tragedy and a public who have turned against her, there is nobody left who Rachel can trust. But can the nation trust Rachel?

The clock is ticking to find Ben alive.

WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Review:

I’ve heard a tremendous amount of accolade over the past few months about Gilly Macmillan’s debut novel, unsurprisingly I was intrigued not only by the synopsis of the story but also I was curious to learn what sort of angle this particular novel would take. Burnt Paper Sky has been on my TBR list for a while now and I finally had the pleasure of recently reading it. As a debut, the novel was brilliant and my only regret was not reading it sooner.

A missing child is a parent’s worst nightmare. Too often the guilt becomes overbearing and spins our life out of control. This is exactly what our protagonist, Rachel Jenner feels when a momentary mistake costs her, her eight year old son. Missing for a year, Rachel is plagued with grief and is being publicly slaughtered by the media over her lack of supervision and the role she played in the disappearance of her child. Overwhelmed by her experience and those around her, Rachel yearns for her son and the impact his disappearance has is devastating but is Rachel truly to blame or just an innocent pawn in an otherwise brutal world where deception surrounds its claws around the vulnerable.

I loved this book! It’s so difficult for me to put into words just how much of an emotional impact this novel had on me; I’m not the type of reader who cries easily but I came incredibly close to doing so whilst reading this highly charged novel. The missing child plot is one that has been recently portrayed quite a bit in various genres, from television shows to movies. However, what I liked about Burnt Paper Sky was that although following the same outer sphere of the other genres, this novel had much more depth to it and so much rising from beneath the surface than a simple ‘whodunnit’. The deception, betrayal and overall precision of just how incredibly devastating this incident is makes for a perfect recipe for psychological thriller fans and definitely peaks the curiosity of even the hardest cynic.

The media angle was what sold the book for me. Highlighting the flaws in our media today was a perfect reflection of just what our society, in general, represents in today’s generation. How judgmental we’ve become as a nation is emphasised greatly in this superb debut. How as individuals we strive to be as open-minded as the next person but as soon as a story breaks out in the news and makes national headlines, we instantly assume the worst of the person or people involved. The idea that we are as flawed as the person in front of us is realistically portrayed and makes you question just how judgmental you are.

Rachel was a tragic character, in the sense that her story leaves you feeling saddened and sympathetic of her situation, to such a great extent. Her pain is evident from the very first page to the last and there are a few times when I had to stop to just get over the lump in my throat. Some moments were truly heartbreaking and I know for a fact that for any readers with children, this would have been very difficult to read. As such, Gilly does an incredible job of allowing the plot to progress sensitively to its climax. Her writing flows seamlessly throughout the novel and for me, it definitely didn’t feel like a debut novel.

Very few books have the potential to keep me reading well into the morning hours but this was one such book that I could not put down. So cleverly written and emotionally charged that you’re left feeling despondent for the characters within the novel. Thought-provoking from beginning to end, this novel is a perfect recipe for any psychological thriller readers. One of my favourite, if not the favourite, books of 2015! I look forward to reading more of Gilly Macmillan books in the future.

Overall Rating: 10/10

More information about Gilly and her debut book can be found in the following places:

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The Sisters by Claire Douglas..

the sisters

Blurb:

When one sister dies, the other must go to desperate lengths to survive..

After a tragic accident, still haunted by her twin sister’s death, Abi is making a fresh start in Bath. But when she meets siblings Bea and Ben, she is quickly drawn into their privileged and unsettling circle.

When one sister lies, she must protect her secret at all costs..

As Abi tries to keep up with the demands of her fickle friends, strange things start to happen – precious letters go missing and threatening messages are left in her room. Is this the work of the beautiful and capricious Bea? Or is Abi willing to go to any lengths to get attention?

When the truth outs, will either sister survive?

Review:

I recently came across this novel on a fellow book blogger’s site and was intrigued instantly. The Sisters by Claire Douglas is a novel that surprises, frightens and intrigues the reader beyond recognition. Perfect for fans of psychological thrillers.

Although the novel isn’t incredibly long like say some Karen Rose novels, I still found myself slowing down in the last few chapters to just enjoy and embrace the brilliant storytelling by Claire. Fair warning though, once you’re gripped, it’ll be hard to put the book down for several hours.

The story revolves around two of our protagonists, Abi and Bea. Abi has recently lost her twin sister and torn with grief and guilt she escapes to Bath where she meets Bea who is also a twin. Abi, after connecting on some level with Bea, moves in with Bea and her twin brother Ben, in their lavish home. At first things seem to be going well until Abi starts noticing strange things. Certain incidents start to occur, some more apprehensive than others, leading Abi to question her decision of moving in with the new housemates. Is something more sinister going on with Bea? Or is Abi’s emotional state breaking down beneath the overwhelming grief of her sister’s death?

This novel is predominately plot driven and so cleverly interwoven with twists and turns that it entices you from chapter to chapter. I loved every aspect of the narrative. The push and pull perspectives of Bea and Abi had my head spinning, for all the right reasons. Claire’s writing style is so evocative and has you literally begging for more as you turn the page. Claire’s writing came across as effortless to me and is quite reminiscent of some of my favourite suspense authors.

What I particularly enjoyed was the family dynamic. I love reading stories about siblings, especially as I have three of my own and books that engage with a sisterly relationship are always high on my list to read. The Sisters is innovative in it’s plot as well as storytelling, as such it doesn’t begin or end like a lot of psychological thrillers. Instead it paves its own way into the genre by depicting a story that throws you off base at every turn and leaves you gasping and wanting more.

As plot driven as the novel is, the characters are the ones that completely sold the novel for me. Abi and Bea are two of the most complex characters I have read in a while. The feelings and emotions that their stories elicit are simultaneously sympathetic and shocking. As protagonists, they were two perfectly (or perhaps imperfectly) crafted characters that make you yearn for the truth. The dynamic between the two creates quite a stir in the story and makes the suspense factor that much better. The tension and suspense escalates as we learn new things about each of the two character’s past lives and how they have irrevocably changed their present. There’s not much you can say about these two women without giving away the story but I will say this, sometimes insanity can be found in some of the most sane individuals.

Possibly one of the best psychological thrillers I have read this year. For fans of this genre, The Sisters gives thrills and chills in spades. Claire Douglas has written an astounding novel that has definitely made a home for itself on my bookshelf.

Overall Rating: 10/10

More information about Claire and her books can be found from the following places:

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