Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Beach Hut by Cassandra Parkin

It is autumn time and on a peaceful Cornish beach, Finn and his sister Ava defy planning regulations and achieve a childhood dream when they build themselves an illegal beach hut. This tiny haven will be their home until Ava departs at midwinter for a round-the-world adventure.

In the town, local publican Donald is determined to get rid of them. Still mourning the death of his wife, all he wants is a quiet place where he can forget the past and raise his daughter Alicia in safety. But Alicia is wrestling with demons of her own.

As the sunshine fades and winter approaches, the beach hut stirs old memories for everyone. Their lives become entwined in surprising ways and the secrets of past and present are finally exposed.

This lyrical novel traces all manner of love and loss, and the complicated ties that bind us to family. From the moment I started reading, I couldn't put it down. The characters were wonderfully drawn- fragile and full of life, wrestling with the realities of life and death decisions. Donald's anger at the world was almost painful, as was Alicia's desperate effort to find love and acceptance in the wake of her mother's death. Finn and Ava were quirky and wonderful, yet they soon revealed their own demons through the sad tale of their past. The tension was palpable as the story built to a powerful conclusion. I confess I never saw the twist in Donald's story coming, yet once I read it, I knew how true to the story it was. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Point of Control by L.J. Sellers

In her personal life, FBI agent Andra Bailey works hard to control her sociopathic tendencies. But on the job, her cold logic comes in handy.

Now two world-renowned scientists have disappeared, and the bureau assigns Bailey to find them and hunt down the kidnapper. The agent soon suspects that a rare-metal shortage may be the link between the disappearances and that the motive is far more dangerous than she imagined. With the market in turmoil and prices sky-high, electronics companies and their power-hungry CEOs are ready to do anything—even kill—to keep production lines going.

When a third scientist disappears, Bailey throws caution aside to track the crimes to their source. But by immersing herself so deeply in the case, she risks letting down the defenses she’s built to contain the sociopath inside her.

I picked up this book with no previous exposure to the author because the plot sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the blurb about the book proved more enjoyable than the book itself ever did. There is no mystery here- you know from the start who the villains are and why they do what they do. I was intrigued by the idea of a sociopath FBI agent, but never connected with Bailey as a character. I would also greatly prefer to have the character gradually reveal her problem through her actions rather than through her internal monologue; Bailey worked being a sociopath into every thought she had. It was too much- I got it the first time, I don't need her to remind me of it constantly. I wanted this book to be a real page turner but instead found myself struggling to finish. After reading this one, I'm unlikely to see out another book by this author.