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Irish Book Awards 2018

APIBA-Websafe-Logo
Irish Book Awards is running its yearly event – to use their own words, “a national campaign which celebrates the value and joy of reading and encourages everyone to pick up more books, more often.”
An Post has become the main sponsor for the next three years.
Titles of the shortlisted books for this year are due to be published on their website on the 25th October at 7 PM. Winners will be selected on the 27th November.

https://www.irishbookawards.irish/

Victim

 

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I was very curious when I picked Our House by Louise Candlish. It was promising intrigue. Fi is coming back home one day to see someone else moving in. Another family, complete strangers in her house. All of their belongings are gone and are being replaced. She does a double take, checks if it is in fact her house, just like you might in a nightmare. There is no doubt, she has not made a mistake. It is her place or it used to be. However the book did not deliver what I was expecting. I was bored for a good part of it. Not much was happening for a good while. I think the reason for it was that pretty much the whole story was given away at the beginning and then we were just walked through the events in detail, which was not that exciting.

I couldn’t feel much compassion towards Bram, one of the main characters. He was being blackmailed into selling his family home. He felt horrible for causing the accident that allowed the blackmailer to have something on him. I had the impression however that he felt more sorry for himself than for the victim. He seemed to have exonerated himself by placing the blame on the other driver. Bram wasn’t let back into his lane after he tried to overtake a car, and while it is clear that this wasn’t his fault, he should not have been speeding in the first place, engaging in a race with the other vehicle. I think the horrifying outcome of the accident didn’t let me turn a blind eye on this fact, like Bram seemed to have done.

Bram tells his story through a lengthy written confession. I didn’t think that form was very convincing and suitable for his state of mind, a letter might be; not sure about a manuscript.

After experiencing moral distaste towards Bram, we are also presented with a character of his wife Fi, whom the author is describing as seeing the word in black and white, being morally unscarred. Yet what she does at the end of the book has thrown me off, even given the circumstances. She seems to view her act as understandable and even forgivable. Even though it weights on her conscience she is able to quickly move on. Another morally ill character.

What saves the book is the very ending. It sends a message that no crime of this caliber is left unpunished. It is clear, strong an powerful. Finally gives the reader what the book has been missing.

I cannot say it was a good read, I really thought it was going to be better, so two 1490616952 1490616952house keys bunches, car horns or wine glasses.

 

House keys buches, car horns or wine glasses rating:

14906169521490616952149061695214906169521490616952 – one of the best books I read
1490616952149061695214906169521490616952 – charmed
149061695214906169521490616952 – good read
14906169521490616952– disappointed, I thought it was going to be better
1490616952– don’t waste your time

Secrets from you

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I picked The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena in a haste at the airport bookshop for my sun holiday. It was a quick and easy read but not much more. Anne and Marco go to a dinner party next door and leave their six month old baby daughter sleeping in her cot alone in the house. They take the baby monitor with them and agree to take turns to check on her every half an hour. All is fine throughout the dinner but on their return home, they find the door unlocked, the cot empty and the baby missing. They call the police, feeling guilty for leaving her alone in the house.

After that both parents become suspects in the eyes of the detective investigating the case, although he has to be very tactful as these are only suspicions and the parents may in fact have nothing to do with her disappearance. He even offers, that she might have been taken even if the parents were sleeping in their bedroom next door. Detective quickly finds out that Anne suffers from postpartum depression, for which she
has been prescribed medication and she has been drinking that night. The husband jumps with an idea that they should offer a handsome ransom, even though no call has been made asking for it and it has not been established that the baby has been kidnapped by anyone. He suggest that his wife should ask her wealthy parents for the money and they should issue a statement in the press.

I didn’t enjoy the all knowing narrator, I found it made the plot over discussed,
the reader could have easily reached some of the conclusions on their own. The plot itself  was a little predictable in some places. I wasn’t convinced by the ”deal” the police have offered at the end (I don’t want to give away too much), I didn’t think that the person to whom the deal was offered had enough leverage for that.
I did enjoy the final twist at the very end, it made the book come to life a bit more again and run a chill through my spine, when all the dramas were coming to and end.

It won’t be the best book or the best thriller if you choose to read it but you will be turning the pages quickly.
So, overall 3 rg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.pngdoors, baby blankets or kitchen knives.

 

Doors, baby blankets or kitchen knives rating:

rg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.png – one of the best books I read
rg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.png – charmed
rg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.png – good read
rg1024-Door.pngrg1024-Door.png – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better
rg1024-Door.png – don’t waste your time

Sunny Days

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In The Family Next Door by Sally Hepworth we visit Melbourne suburbs. We get to know a few of the families who live in the neighbourhood, which makes the book interesting and lively from the start. Essie is a mother of two girls, a toddler Mia and a baby Polly. Her husband Ben together with her mother Barbara who leaves near by, are keeping a close eye on Essie, as she went through an episode of a postnatal depression after her first daughter was born.

When a new person rents a house in their vicinity Essie is strangely drawn to her. She thinks she may even be attracted to Isabelle, and wants to know more about who she is and where she came from. Isabelle doesn’t seem to share much about herself but wants to know everything about Essie.

Ange is an estate agent who helped to find the house that Isabelle now occupies. She is a perfectionist and is not happy when she finds out that some of the personal information Isabelle has provided doesn’t check out. Despite having two wild boys of her own, Ollie and Will, Ange keeps her house tidy and her appearance immaculate in order to keep her husband Lucas close.

Fran doesn’t stop running, she is jogging any time she can. There is something weighting heavy on her conscience. Something she cannot share with her husband Nigel. He is a great dad to Rosie and baby Ava, but he was depressed after the little one was born, leaving Fran on her own, having to look after all of them.

Despite leaving so close, the women are keeping their secrets to themselves, until the problems just grow too much and start leaking out.

A lively book, an interesting read worth 3 mokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflower sunflowers, telephone cords or pizza slices. A few errors that the proofreader has missed.

 

Sunflowers, telephone cords or pizza slices rating:

mokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflower – one of the best books I read
mokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflower – charmed
mokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflower – good read
mokush-Sunflowermokush-Sunflower – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better
mokush-Sunflower – don’t waste your time

Let down

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I think that what kept me distanced to the Friend request by  Laura Marshall was the protagonist Louise. As a teenage girl she chooses to stick with the popular girls and abandons two others that nobody else whats to be friends with,
Esther and Maria. For a young girl, the school is pretty much her whole life,
so as a reader you are inclined to show her some sympathy at this point.
However the choices she makes later in her adult life make you care about her even less.
Louise enters adulthood with a heavy concience. She is frightened, ashamed and feels guilty about something. Something that has happened twenty five years ago at a school party, after which the new girl Maria disappeared, never to be found again.

Louise grows up and leaves her hometown. She gets married and has a child.
Then one day just before a school reunion, she gets a message on Facebook.
The message is from a girl whom she thought to be dead for a long time.
Louise doesn’t know what to think. Is it possible that Maria is alive after all?

Parts of the book seemed to drag along, especially towards the end.
It was hard to justify some of the decisions that Louise was making.
She acted more like a silly teenager rather than an adult woman. She thought she has changed for the better just because she was nicer towards others, but her moral spine was in fact still rather weak.

Overall, I am afraid just two envelopes antiFlash-icons-env-300px antiFlash-icons-env-300px, car tyres or apples.

 

Envelopes, car tyres or apples rating:

antiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300px– one of the best books I read
antiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300px – charmed
antiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300px – good read
antiFlash-icons-env-300pxantiFlash-icons-env-300px – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better
antiFlash-icons-env-300px – don’t waste your time

 

 

Skeleton in the closet

 

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The Other Woman by Laura Wilson was a quick read. Sophie struggles with the everyday life, with her husband often away on business she divides her time between her busy household that she runs with the help of an au-pair and between a shop she has opened with her friend Melissa.

Each Christmas she meticulously sends letters to family and friends updating them on the main events in her life. Someone anonymously returns one each year with nasty comments. This year the message reads that the person has been having an affair with her husband and that Paul is going to leave her. She is determined to find out who the mysterious woman is and then confront her without letting her husband know what she has learnt. The confrontation doesn’t go exactly as planned, there is some pushing and shoving and as a result the mistress ends up dead. This is where the book becomes interesting. Sophie’s next decision changes everything. She fears that in light of her knowledge about the affair, neither the police nor her husband would ever believe her that the death has been an accident and she decides not to inform the authorities and to get rid of the body.

The book is a page turner after that. Slightly comic in a black humour kind of way, an ordinary busy housewife in a respected neighbourhood hiding a body in her freezer.

Will she have to pay for what she has done? Find out for yourself. Overall 3 1283789192 12837891921283789192arrows, freezers or cars.

 

Arrows, freezers or cars rating.

12837891921283789192128378919212837891921283789192 – one of the best books I read

1283789192128378919212837891921283789192 – charmed

128378919212837891921283789192– good read

12837891921283789192 – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

1283789192 – don’t waste your time

Watched

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The Girl Before by JP Belaney introduces us to a young couple Emma and Simon who are struggling to find a decent place to rent within their budget. What they can afford is scruffy looking. The cosy and clean are beyond their reach. What makes the hunt even harder is the security features that Emma scrutinises, she has been burgled and the experience is still fresh in her mind.

Then we meet Jane, who is also having a hard time finding a place to leave. Both are presented with an unusual option. The same option, just not at the same time.

There is a place, not available for viewing to anyone, but the estate agent feels that it might be exactly what they need. It has been designed by a famous architect, a minimalist. Clean, sharp lines, no clutter, no throws or cushions, no pictures. Very modern and self sufficient, generating its own electricity, even returning some to the supplier thus cutting the bills down significantly.

The rent is surprisingly cheap but there is a catch though, as one may say. The architect’s requirements are peculiar if not outright weird. He asks any prospective tenant to fill in an extensive application form with questions resembling a psychology questionnaire more than a tenancy agreement. The owner refuses to lease unless the prospectus clients meet his strict requirements. There is a set of rules to follow, the house has to be inhabited as is, no clutter can be added, no picture frames hung on the wall, no fluffy carpets or even clothes dropped on the floor. Everything is controlled through a smart phone, sensors all over the place allows the system to know when to turn the light on and off, you can adjust them accordingly to your needs.

Jane took the tenancy after Emma and Simon. They never met one another, but we as readers get to see both of their lives. The lack of clutter suits Jane, she finds it liberating. She packed only the essential things, and left everything else behind. She took a bag she packed full with baby clothes, one she won’t need but couldn’t part with and hid it in the closet with cleaning products. She is grieving her stillborn child.

After briefly meeting the architect Jane feels attracted to him, they start seeing each other, though he states that his relationships only last for as long as they bring him happiness, he seems as equally eager to declutter his emotional life as his surroundings.

She becomes more and more intrigued by the previous occupants. She finds flowers which Simon leaves at her door and after finally speaking to him, she learn that Emma has died in the house in a strange accident, and that at one point the architect has been questioned by the police about his whereabouts on the day of the incident. She also finds that that the architect’s wife and child have also died in here before Emma. Jane becomes suspicious and feels watched. Is she really safe in the isolated and wi-fi controlled building?

Good thriller, involving modern times’ technology and its challenges. Overall 3 pearls one-pearl one-pearl one-pearl , wine glasses or lilies.

 

Pearls, wine glasses or lilies rating.

one-pearlone-pearlone-pearlone-pearlone-pearl – one of the best books I read

one-pearlone-pearlone-pearlone-pearl – charmed

one-pearlone-pearlone-pearl – good read

one-pearlone-pearl – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

one-pearl – don’t waste your time

Golden Girl

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In Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell Ellie Mac goes missing. She was a bright and a happy girl, studying for her exams. She left the house one morning, said she was going to the library and never returned. Her mother Laurel and father Paul split up some time after her that. Laurel felt that she couldn’t carry on as normal. They have two more kids, another daughter and a son but Ellie has been her mother’s golden girl.  Laurel saw Paul’s ability to move on as a kind of betrayal, or at least as something she was not capable of doing herself, so she let him go. He met somebody else after that.

Years after, Laurel is finally ready to build a new relationship with somebody. Her kinds are now grown ups who flew out of the nest. She is quickly drawn to the man she meets by chance in a cafe. He has a young adult daughter called Sarah-Jane, who is living with her mother and a nine year old child, a step sister to Sarah-Jane,  whom he has been raising on his own. Laurel is refusing to admit how striking resemblance the younger girl bears to her missing daughter. Poppy is an odd child. Smart and restrained, not interested in mingling with other kids her age, home schooled and wearing sensible clothes; but she seems to like Laurel and wants to spend time in her company. Laurel suspects she might be missing a mother figure. Floyd doesn’t speak of her mother highly and avoids the subject altogether, the child seems to share his views on the matter.

Laurel goes behind Floyd’s back and tries to reconnect Poppy with her mother’s side of the family. After she has learnt that the mother has gone missing at the same time as her daughter Ellie, she cannot shake the feeling that somehow the two cases are connected. She is determined to learn how, hoping that she will finally uncover the secret of her daughter’s disappearance.

Author herself mentioned that when she has finished and reared the book, she thought it was bizarre and I have to agree. It was capturing but strange. I found Floyd a very conflicting character, lacking integrity.  Towards the end he reveals a completely different face, a bit odd and I am not sure if that believable.

Overall a gripping tale. 3 142598405714259840571425984057 pencils, math books or backpacks.

 

Pencils, math books or backpacks rating.

14259840571425984057142598405714259840571425984057 – one of the best books I read

1425984057142598405714259840571425984057 – charmed

142598405714259840571425984057 – good read

14259840571425984057 – disappointed, I thought it was going to be better

1425984057 – don’t waste your time