Book Reviews 2014

Look Behind YouSibel Hodge

This is the first of Sibel Hodges’ books that I have read so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The description of a fast paced psychological thriller was just what I was in the mood for, so I set myself up for a night curled up on the sofa with a vodka-coke and novel in hand.

At the start of the novel, Chloe a teacher leading a normal life is left trapped and bound in a dark underground chamber, she manages to escape and is taken to hospital by a passer by. No one believes that Chloe was abducted and they offer her a plausible explanation as to the series of events she describes (I don’t want to give too much away!).

However the justification that is offered to Chloe does not sit well with her and so she sets out to piece together the events leading up to the ‘abduction’.

A nice absorbing read that kept me up until the small hours of the morning, I thought early on within the novel that I had solved what had really happened to Chloe, only to be filled with doubt as the story continued. I assume that this was the author’s intention and it kept me wanting to know what Chloe was going to discover next.

An interesting look at psychological abuse and the effects it can have, it also made me wonder how well a person actually knows their own mind as Chloe was at times doubting her own behavior and was prepared to rely on the opinions and accounts of others.

A good read for these dark winter nights.



This Mirror in Me – Denis Fitzpatrick

After reading the synopsis for this novel I was intrigued to discover how this story would develop. This Mirror in Me is centered on Tonia, a mathematics professor, who wishes her home were a social hub. Unfortunately this desire of Tonia’s never seems to materialize and so Tonia undertakes a ritual every Saturday for a twenty-four hour period called ‘The Ever Presence’. This ritual involves utilizing her imagination whilst sitting in front of her dressing table mirror conversing with people from her everyday life.

The premise of this book is imaginative and Fitzpatrick has a unique writing style, which works well throughout this novel. The individual characters have depth and are easily identified throughout the dialogue by Fitzpatrick’s clever way of attaching a specific detail or mannerism to the character.

As the book progress’ it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between what is reality and Tonia’s imagination, which I assume was Fitzpatrick’s intent. You can tell that the author has researched subjects such as mathematics and psychosis thoroughly and this comes through in the characters dialogue and the authors writing style.

It was possibly a little lengthy for my tastes with some conversation that did not necessarily move the plot forward, therefore I appreciate that this novel may not appeal to everyone’s tastes, however I feel that this is an original and extraordinary novel with a unique charm.



JADED (Nirvana Series 1) – by Kristy Feltenberger Gillespie

Jaded is a young adult dystopian novel set within a secluded commune in Virginia, America. The commune system has its own set of strict laws and rules, which revolve around eye colour. Career roles within the community are also associated with this. Each individual in the community is defined by their eye colour and therefore the choice of ‘life path’ they are able to choose. Eye colour is temporary until a child comes of age and then it is permanently changed to reflect their chosen ‘life path’.

Our heroine Jade is a sixteen-year-old girl about to have to make the decision as to which ‘life path’ she will take prior to her seventeenth birthday. However shortly before Jades birthday, Jades Grandmother leaves her a journal to read, making her promise to keep it a secret. What is contained within the journal changes Jades perception of Nirvana and sets in motion forces beyond Jades control.

I decided to read this as I enjoy YA dystopian fiction and this did not disappoint. It is not dissimilar to Divergent in that it revolves around ‘life path’ choices and careers associated with those choices. However where this novel triumphs over Divergent is the depth of character and the ability to relate easily with Jade.

Typical YA themes run through this novel such as a complex relationship with her parents, falling in love and teenage rebellion. However the suspense that the author manages to create throughout this book means you are left wanting more and unable to stop turning the pages.

Very well written, descriptive and full of feeling. A must read for any young adult in your life. I’m looking forward to the next installment.



Warrior Lore – Ian Cumpstey

A collection of Scandinavian Folk Ballads translated into English by Ian Cumpstey. This would not usually be a book I would pick up to read however I was intrigued and decided to give it a try.

This book did not disappoint, a nice easy read over two nights with a description of each ballad prior to the actual translation. Although I do not speak Scandinavian and therefore cannot comment on the translation, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book, with the flow of the Ballads easy and entertaining. This book is full of exciting stories about warriors, love, and Thor cross dressing as a bride, (possibly my favourite ballad of the book).

A book to read on cold nights by the fire, preferably out loud, in a dramatic voice. I look forward to more work from Ian Cumpstey.


Even in Death – Kristy Gillespie Feltenberger

A fantastic collection of short stories, which contains an eclectic mix meaning that there is something for everyone. All stories have their own style and leave you thinking about them afterwards. My particular favourites are the story of a haunted house and the young couple who move in, and the story of the young man who visits his girlfriend’s grave. This is an excellent book to pick up when you haven’t got time for reading a long novel. I thoroughly enjoyed dipping in and out of this book during my hectic schedule. All the characters are well formed and despite the stories being short they work well and are well developed. Another great book by a fantastic author.



Praise Her, Praise Diana – Anne Rothman-Hicks and Ken Hicks

Well, I’m not quite sure where to start with this review. I am not usually a big fan of co-author novels as I find that they often feel disjointed due to two separate and distinct writing styles, so I approached this book with a little trepidation. However any preconceived notions I had were rapidly dispelled as I was drawn into this novel from the first few chapters and I simply could not put it down.

Maggie a successful author is being forced to write a story about ‘Diana’ a woman taking revenge for all violent acts against women perpetrated by men. However soon the police are involved as ‘Diana’ appears to be a real woman mimicking the fictional acts from Maggie’s story and terrorizing the men of New York. Maggie is hiding a secret of her own, a secret that someone is using to force her to keep writing, despite the nightmare that begins to unfold.

This book is hard hitting and graphic, which caused some uncomfortable reading at times and yet the writing needed to be bold in order to do justice to the story and allow the reader to experience the full horror that the victims know. The characters are well thought out, have depth, and develop during the story. Very well written with twists throughout the novel that kept me guessing right until the very last page. This isn’t a book I would usually pick up to read due to the disturbing themes, however I am glad that I did. My thoughts kept returning to the novel long after I put it down, I could understand ‘Diana’s’ motives and the horrific acts she was undertaking due to the suffering many women have experienced at the hands of men. What would the world be like for men if they felt as vulnerable as women do regarding the fear of being the victim of a sexually violent crime? A thought provoking novel and one of the best books I’ve read this year. I’d recommend this novel to male and female adults however only if you have a strong enough constitution to cope with graphic physical and sexually violent scenes, as undoubtedly this may be a little distressing for some readers.


The Hunt for the Dingo –Paul Morris

A fantastic crime thriller set in Australia. The author really managed to set the scene and has obviously spent time in Australia as you could almost imagine you were there along side police officer James an ex British officer.

I was initially slightly confused by the characters in the first few pages as there were a number introduced, however that quickly passed as I became engrossed within the story. The characters are all well developed and the authors writing style allows for the fast paced exciting story progression that is suited to a novel of the crime/thriller genre. Once I started this book I did not want to put it down, a real page-turner, which leaves you wanting more. I will be looking out for more books from this author.



Triage ‘The Diary of a Celestial Social Worker’ -Paul Morris

A retired headmaster Ronnie finds himself lingering between life and death after being victim of a bomb attack in Northern Ireland, in order to move on he must assist others in need.

I loved this book; throughout it I regularly put it to one side, as it was extremely thought provoking and left lingering questions as to what happens when we die. I found this book tremendously touching and moving with the characters strong and easy to relate too.

I would recommend this book to anyone, I’m still thinking of it a few days later.

Another great book by a fantastic author.


With Love from Libby – Shirley Ford

I read this book fairly quickly as it was such a lovely sweet read. The story is centred on Libby’s life, and follows her development from child to adult woman with grandchildren of her own.

Without giving too much away Libby does not end up leading the life she had hoped for and is very much controlled and disrespected by her family, so eventually Libby decides to do something for herself, instead of putting her family’s needs before her own for once and so begins writing. It is Libby’s secret and it helps her escape from the monotony of her daily life.

The character of Libby is a gentle woman who allows herself to be a bit of a doormat due to the fear her husband instills in her, there were times throughout the story when I did want to give Libby a shake and stop her from putting up with her family’s nastiness, however I respect the themes of psychological abuse that runs through this book prevent Libby from doing so. I’m not sure if a real person would have as much patience as Libby did. Likewise Libby’s daughters and husband were very unpleasant to the extreme.

However it was nice to see Libby develop a bit of gumption towards the end of the book and stand up for her own needs for a change.

Not a book to read if you want complicated thrills and excitement, but a lovely solid book to while a way a few hours and understand what control and abuse can do to a person.


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