Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Mini Reviews: Little Lies by Liane Moriarty | The Lost and the Found by Cat Clarke | The Lie by C.L. Taylor | The Sleeper by Emily Barr



The second book I’ve read by popular Australian author Liane Moriarty, following on from 2013’s The Husband’s Secret, Little Lies released to much acclaim in 2014.  Admittedly, this one has been on my bookshelf since I received it for review way back then, but I finally got around to reading it in anticipation of its TV adaptation, which is coming to the small screen in February 2017. The last thing I need is another TV show, I know, but the cast for this one is stellar (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley), so I’ll definitely check it out.

Little Lies revolves around a trio of friends, mothers with young children, and we know right from the off that some tragedy has befallen them. What that tragedy is, and who it affects, unfolds over the course of the story. It’s a compelling read, light-hearted and funny at times, serious and disturbing at others.  Moriarty’s characters are always uniquely well-drawn and her signature engaging style makes this a book worth curling up with.

Adult Fiction. Rating: 4/5.

Up Next From Liane Moriarty:  No upcoming releases on the horizon just yet, but Truly Madly Guilty released in 2016.

*****




A 2015 release from one of my UKYA favourites, Cat Clarke, The Lost and the Found tells the story of Faith and her older sister Laurel, who was abducted when she was six, resulting in a high-profile , headline-dominating missing persons case. Years later, Faith’s life is just starting to return to normal. She’s got good friends, she’s getting serious with her boyfriend, and overall her life is going pretty well. Of course she’d love if her sister returned, but Laurel’s disappearance is no longer something that preoccupies Faith’s every waking moment.

One day, right out of the blue, Laurel does come back.  Faith is initially overjoyed to have her sister back in her life, and the two work hard on re-forming the bond they once shared. However things are not the same as they used to be.  With Laurel’s return, Faith’s life is once again turned upside down, and soon it becomes clear to Faith, that her life was a whole lot better without Laurel in it.  Faith begins to have dark thoughts towards her sister; dark, suspicious thoughts that lead her to the conclusion that maybe Laurel is not all that she seems. But is this just plain jealously on Faith’s part? Or is there something more to it?

The Lost and the Found is a riveting read with a heartbreaking conclusion. Read this if you enjoyed The Missing on BBC One and Now You See Me by Emma Haughton.


Young Adult Fiction. Rating: 4/5.

Up next from Cat Clarke: Girlhood releases May 2017.


*****




On finishing this book I noted in my Goodreads reminder-to-self to describe it as Mean Girls on speed meets Alex Garland's  The Beach if I ever got around to reviewing. So, there you go.  That's C.L. Taylor's The Lie in a nutshell, but let me expand  on that just a bit. 

 Take four friends who love to hate each other and send them to a retreat in Nepal. What do you get? A recipe for disaster, that’s what. Ah, toxic friendships, one of my favourite subjects. I’ve read a lot of books about toxic friendships, and let me tell you, the toxic friendships in this book are right up there with the worst of them. Take protagonist Emma and posh-girl Daisy, for instance. These two are, for all intents and purposes, best friends. It soon becomes clear though, that their friendship only works when it’s going Daisy’s way, by which I mean, their friendship only works when Daisy gets the guy.   Daisy is a truly awful character – and the rest of the girls are not much better. I didn’t even feel sorry for them when they ended up at a retreat run by a guy called Isaac, who I pegged for a Charles Manson type right from the off. *Shudders*

What happens at the retreat is a mystery that unfolds over the course of the book, but we do know that five years later, Daisy is no longer around (Yay!) and Emma is so traumatised by the events surrounding her disappearance that she’s changed her name to Jane, and is now living a quiet life back in the UK where she works at an animal sanctuary. It’s a quiet life, that is, until her past, as pasts tend to, comes back to haunt her.

A fast-paced page-turner, The Lie by C.L. Taylor is a mystery wrapped in a horror, wrapped in, you guessed it, a lie.   This one is perfect for fans of  The Long Fall by Julia Crouch  and Alex Garland’s The Beach.


Adult Fiction. Rating: 3.5/5

Up next from C.L. Taylor: The Escape releases April 2017.


*****





To her friends and family, Lara Finch’s life is perfect. She lives an idyllic life in Cornwall with her husband, Sam, a man who truly loves her. Problem is, Lara is bored. She never wanted this life of hers. That was all Sam’s idea.  So, when she’s offered a job in London, Lara jumps at the opportunity to escape.  Working in London will mean taking the sleeper train twice a week, and Lara is fine with that. After all, everybody needs some alone time now and again. And Sam is the clingy type. He may be her husband, but sometimes, all Lara wants to do is shake him off.

You’d probably hate Lara if you met her.

You’ll hate her even more when I tell you that soon after she befriends a male passenger on the sleeper train she starts sleeping with him, and soon after that, he turns up dead. Lara is the prime suspect, but our gone girl is nowhere to be found. And it’s left to poor old Sam to clear up the mess his duplicitous wife has left behind.

The Sleeper gets off to a great start, but after the main event, the narration switches from the compelling Lara to her acquaintance Iris (a character we barely know) and I feel that Barr made a misstep here. There were other characters in this book that could have carried the story far better than Iris, and it shows, because as the book progresses Barr relies on some far-fetched and often pretty crazy twists to carry the story to its conclusion.

Still, the first half of the book is a gem.

Adult Fiction: Rating 3.5/5.

Up next from Emily Barr: Barr’s debut YA The One Memory of Flora Banks releases January 2017.


******


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