Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Blog Tour and Review : The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Very Pink Notebook is thrilled to be part of Shari Lapena's new crime thriller,
The Couple Next Door, blog tour this week.  With much thanks to Becky Hunter, at Transworld Press for involving me in the tour and for a copy of the book, in exchange for an honest review. 

Product Details 

Published by : Bantam Press
14 July 2016
Copy : Received in exchange for a fair and honest review

The Blurb

You never know what's happening on the other side of the wall.

Your neighbour told you that she didn't want your six-month-old daughter at the dinner party. Nothing personal, she just couldn't stand her crying.

Your husband said it would be fine. After all, you only live next door. You'll have the baby monitor and you'll take it in turns to go back every half hour.

Your daughter was sleeping when you checked on her last. But now, as you race up the stairs in your deathly quiet house, your worst fears are realized. She's gone.

You've never had to call the police before. But now they're in your home, and who knows what they'll find there.

What would you be capable of, when pushed past your limit?

The Very Pink Notebook Review

There has been a huge buzz about this novel so I was thrilled to get my hands on an early copy.  During the first chapter or two I wasn't sure about the style or tense of writing being used, I think it being third person and a thriller is quite unusual, but I quickly realised that it was helping hugely to keep the suspense, tension and pace going at a rate of knots, so swiftly got my head around it. 

Thrown into the thick of the action from the very first pages, the reader is taken on the heart-wrenching journey of a child going missing from their home, with parents Anne and Marco.  Shari Lapena flawlessly conveys all the emotions expected, shock, anger, guilt, fear, determination to catch the criminal.  I didn't automatically like the parents, or, in fact any of the characters.  This was cleverly done by the author because I was willing to suspect foul-play from any of them and soon discovered secrets were being hidden here, there and everywhere...

I was pleased that the plot wasn't inundated with police procedure, the story really is tracked through the eyes of baby Cora's parents and merely has the detective on the case, Rasbach, as a secondary character to help keep facts on track, which was quite helpful.  Taken through multiple trails of discovery by the parents, I happily followed after the scent of the missing baby without once guessing what the ending would be - and personally, I thought it was a fantastic finish to the novel. 

Throughout, I was kept engaged and enthralled, with no idea of what was going to transpire next.  I didn't know who the bad guy was or wasn't, who was a reliable narrator or who was lying through their teeth.  With a pacey, twisting plot and well developed characters this has 'killer thriller' stamped all over it.

Follow The Tour

Be sure to check out what other reviewers thought of the book


Friday, 8 July 2016

Review : Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe

Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life
Published by : Penguin
Date : 3 April 2014
Copy : Reviewer Purchased

The Blurb

In 1982 Nina Stibbe, a twenty-year-old from Leicester, moved to London to work as a nanny for a very particular family.  It was a perfect match : Nina had no idea how to cook, look after children, or who the weirdos who called round were.  And the family, busy discussing how to swear in German or the merits (or otherwise) of turkey mince, were delighted by her lack of skills.

Love, Nina is the collection of letters she wrote home gloriously describing her 'domestic' life, the unpredictable houseguests and the cat everyone loved to hate.

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Love, Nina - and I honestly do love Nina!  I purchased this book after attending a workshop at the Festival of Writing in which this book was used via audio-book.  I loved the snippets we heard and bought my copy as soon as I could.  When I saw they had adapted it for a TV programme, I knew I must read the book before I set out to watch the show.
A collection of letters, written by Nina Stibbe to her sister back in Leicester after she moves to the bright lights of London to become a nanny, are entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable.  The simplicity of the letters are what I loved the most.  The snippets of conversation between her two charges, Mary-Kay and the cast of people who become her world had me laughing out loud on many occasion.  It also gives a good dose of nostalgia for the 1980's in the good old south, when polytechnics were everywhere.

I love the bluntness of the letters to her sister, it's lovely that there is clearly no censorship.  I didn't care that there was no replies back with answers to the questions because that is just not what the book is about, it doesn't need them. 

I was able to dip in and out of this book as I pleased and able to read other novels alongside it.  Each letter was its only little story in itself.  With the wonderfully colourful characters that Nina lived alongside she didn't need to do anything to embellish life as she told it.  It was just, life.  And I am glad she told it.

Love, Nina gets


Sunday, 3 July 2016

Review : Blood Wedding by Pierre Lemaitre

Product Details
Published by : MacLehose Press
Date : 7 July 2016
Copy : Received from Real Readers for honest review

The Blurb

Sophie is haunted by the things she can't remember - and visions from the past she will never forget.

One morning, she wakes to find that the little boy in her care is dead.  She has no memory of what happened.  And whatever the truth, her side of the story is no match for the evidence piled against her.

Her only hiding place is in a new identity.  A new life, with a man she has met online. 

But Sophie is not the only one keeping secrets...

The Very Pink Notebook Review

Billed as 'The New Noir' - this book is certainly noir...

From the very first pages Lemaitre had the hairs on my neck standing up and I raced through this novel.  I was taken on a journey of murder, revenge, obsession, mental illness and battle of psychological wits.

I am not usually a lover of very dark plots, and this one certainly is, but Blood Wedding is so well written and balanced I didn't feel it was ever superfluous in its death count or details.  It is just so very clever... and chilling.

Lemaitre has created amazing depth in the two main characters, Sophie and Frantz.  Both damaged and devious it is difficult to either like or hate them because they are so well presented to the reader.  Written in three parts; Sophie, Frantz and then a combination of the two, the book is well structured and what could be a very complicated plot is deconstructed very clearly.  The pacing of the plot is excellent, with key and significant discoveries made often enough to keep you satisfied, but never so much that it spoils the mystery.

I think what makes this novel work well, because at times some of the bigger events could be seen as a little far-fetched, is that for the most part the things that happen are so very believable, subtle and real.  Sophie calls herself 'mad' but as you start to unravel why she started to think this, it is quite un-nerving - I mean who hasn't mislaid a birthday card or present, or sworn you put something in one place for it to turn up in another...

This book is nothing short of brutally brilliant and the ending of this book, for me, was satisfactory. However, it did pull at my moral conscience somewhat after I put it down.  Although some form of 'justice' is served on the perpetrator in one respect, I was left knowing the trail of victims and their families would never know the truth or have closure.  On the other hand it is made very clear why this can not be so.

I highly recommend this book if you want a gritty, twisted and dark psychological thriller and as such I award Blood Wedding :