Monday, 6 July 2015

Blue by Kayce Stevens Hughlett / Singled Out by Julie Lawford / The Pit Stop by Carmen DeSousa

Blue by Kayce Stevens Hughlett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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I received a copy of Blue from its publishers, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. The novel is due to be published on the 10th of September and Amazon are taking pre-orders now.

I was attracted to Blue by its bright cover art which really stood out amongst the other books on offer. Hughlett uses colour extensively throughout her prose especially on Daisy's fantastical island and also more subtly in Monica's Seattle and on Izabel's Orcas Island. We are introduced to these three very different women via their individual chapters and I initially found it difficult to keep track of their disparate stories as there seemed to be no links. Of course, the uniting of their threads is the main thrust of the story and, once this gets going, it is a humorous and entertaining read.

I was concerned that we might head too far into chick-lit territory for my tastes when we uncovered Monica's shoe fetish. If you're a fashionista, you will probably love the details, however my favourite shoes are North Face boots. I got by ok!

I loved the whimsical inventiveness of Daisy's island which strongly contrasts with Monica's grim daily life. The device of physically isolating the women on islands worked well with the story. Hughlett has a lovely turn of phrase and I felt she really understood her characters and their emotions. There are a couple of odd plot jumps, but overall I very much enjoyed this novel.


Singled Out by Julie Lawford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my Top Ten Books for IndiePrideDay 2016.

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Author Julie Lawford and I got chatting originally on twitter where I was envious of her new bookshelves! She had tweeted a photo. On discovering that she had published her debut novel earlier this year, and because I am always nosey where books are concerned, I took a look at its reviews and decided that Singled Out might well be a read for me. I was right - it's a really good book!

Set on a singles holiday in Turkey, Singled Out is much more than a light beach read. In the very first chapter we meet an anonymous man who is preying on women. We soon learn that he is part of the holiday group, but not which male character he is or which of the female characters are at risk. Lawford deftly presents her story from two perspectives - a straightforward third-person recounting of the tale is interspersed with chapters from the point of view of The Man - and this creates a chillingly creepy atmosphere. I enjoyed trying to pick up clues and then discovering they could be applicable to multiple men. Great writing!

My favourite character is our heroine Brenda with whom I found it easy to empathise. She has a degree of the obligatory tortured soul persona, but is also warm and caring. She loves her food and the frequent descriptions of Turkish cuisine had my mouth watering and almost a plane ticket booked! It is refreshing to read about a woman who is not a stick insect and also not desperately trying to become one, and I liked that she is portrayed as strong, independent and desirable. Jack's existence is nicely veiled and explored in an intriguing sub-plot.

Lawford's presentation of people and places makes it easy to envisage what is going on and I know people just like Adele and Veronica. Singled Out is a good crime mystery read that is more about the participants than just the chase. The writing and plot have an interesting splash of originality and this book is definitely a cut above the identikit mainstream norm.


The Pit Stop: This Stop Could be Life or Death by Carmen DeSousa
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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I discovered Carmen DeSousa on twitter and followed links through her website to Amazon where a couple of her short stories, including The Pit Stop, can be downloaded for free as a taster of her writing style.

The Pit Stop has a good storyline: a vintage unsolved murder is suddenly mirrored in the present day and our protagonist, Gino, whose grandparents were the first victims, gets involved in attempting to deduce a solution. Due to the story's brevity we don't get deep characterisations and there are a couple of plot leaps, one of which almost left me behind! However I enjoyed reading this tale. DeSousa has a good way with concise description, probably honed by her '500 words' exercise which she discusses at the beginning of this book and which led to the existence of The Pit Stop in its current form. I would definitely like to read more of her work and am planning to buy a longer novel in the future.


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