Friday, 16 August 2019

Review - The Chernobyl Privileges by Alex Lockwood

The Chernobyl Privileges by Alex Lockwood
Publisher: Roundfire
Release date: 29 March 2019
Rating: What is the half-life of a secret? Arriving at midlife with a string of failed jobs behind him, Anthony Fahey knows he's lucky to be given a last chance as a radiation monitor at Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde, where Britain's Trident nuclear weapons are kept. Already struggling to keep his marriage together after the death of his wife's father,Anthony finds himself at the centre of an emergency when an accident on a Trident submarine throws the base into crisis. But as the situation worsens old memories and buried secrets from his childhood reach into the present, and Anthony begins to understand that it isn't only radiation that has a half-life. Inspired by real events, The Chernobyl Privileges is a searing psychological drama that depicts the traumatic experience of surviving disaster. Both heart-warming and tragic, it explores the consequences of decisions we are forced to make and that shape our lives.

The Chernobyl Privileges may seem like an odd title for a novel inspired by the devastating nuclear disaster of the 1980s in Chernobyl. But then, this is by no means an ordinary novel.

Set in the present day, Anthony Fahey is lucky to be working at Her Majesty's Naval Base Clyde, where Britain's Trident nuclear weapons are kept. His expertise is valued over his complicated personal life and chequered employment history.

Anthony's life begins to unravel, following an incident at the naval base. For obvious reasons, due to the nature of the work, he is unable to talk to his wife about the incident, but their marriage is already rocky following the death of her Father, and Anthony having to behave in a secretive manner is not helping.

Anthony also believes that he knows better, and is more concerned about the incident than his superiors, so begins to challenge and defy orders, landing him in hot water on more than one occasion.

No matter how much Anthony wants to believe that he is not defined by his past, it is inescapable, and influences all he does.

Back in 1986 Anatolii was just a child living in Ukraine when the nuclear incident took place in Chernobyl. First hand he witnessed the impact of the fallout on the first responders, including his Father.

Anatolii didn't much want to leave Ukraine, but he wasn't given a choice, and was enforced into a new life in the UK, and a new identity 'Anthony Fahey'.  Anthony believes that he can make a difference in his profession, and prevent something like Chernobyl happening again, but he does not understand that you cannot act against the government.

Several chapters are interspersed with letters from Anatolii/Anthony's sister, and these are where we really get a first hand view of how those still living in Chernobyl have been affected. This is a very thought provoking novel, for those on both sides of the nuclear weapon/energy argument, and a highly recommended read.

The Chernobyl Privileges is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to who sent me a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Review - How It Was by Janet Ellis

How It Was by Janet Ellis
Publisher: Two Roads Books
Release date: 8 August 2019
Back cover blurb: Marion Deacon sits by the hospital bed of her dying husband, Michael. Outwardly she is, as she says, an unremarkable old woman. She has long concealed her history - and her feelings - from the casual observer. But as she sits by Michael's bed, she's haunted by memories from almost forty years ago . . . Marion Deacon is a wife and mother, and not particularly good at being either. It's the 1970s and in her small village the Swinging 60s, the wave of feminism, the prospect of an exciting life, have all swerved past her. Reading her teenage daughter's diary, it seems that Sarah is on the threshold of getting everything her mother Marion was denied, and Marion cannot bear it - what she does next has terrible and heart-breaking consequences for the whole family. Janet Ellis writes of the exquisite pain of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the complexity of family and a mother-daughter relationship that is as memorable as it is utterly believable.

How It Was is what I would describe as a 'complex' novel, in that it required (from me at least) a certain level of concentration that I perhaps wasn't expecting. Fans of Janet Ellis' previous novel, will still enjoy this novel. But it is very different as it is not historical fiction.

How It Was centres around Marion Deacon who is practically living in the hospital at the bed side of her dying husband. Through her memories we learn how they met, how they married, how their children arrived etc.

It should be idyllic, but Marion's life has been far from perfect, mostly by her own doing. I have to say that Marion isn't a particularly likeable character, and I found it difficult to warm to her, but then perhaps that it is the point...

Marion's daughter Sarah, is also pivotal to the story as it unfolds, as Marion begins to read her teenage diary behind her back, thinking that her daughter is growing up too fast, and becoming jealous of her life ahead of her.

Theirs is an interesting relationship, as are most of the relationships explored in this novel, many of which are dysfunctional. How It Was is a fascinating insight into these relationships and how a split second decision can change the course of your life forever.

How It Was is available from Amazon online.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Review - The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney
Publisher: Quercus Books
Release date: 8 August 2019
Back cover blurb: "There's something I have to explain, my love," he says, taking your hand in his. "That wasn't a dream. It was an upload." Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he's her husband. He's a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley's most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she's a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve. But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband's motives - and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together for ever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

The Perfect Wife is a unique novel. Focusing on the world of Robotics, Autonomy and real life relationships, it might sound a little scientific, but I think this is a novel for any fan of a gripping thriller.

Five years after a mysterious accident, Abbie wakes to find her husband Tim at her bedside. She is confused about what has happened, but ecstatic to be alive. Until Tim tells her that she isn't actually alive.

Abbie died five years ago, and genius Tim has spent all this time perfecting her replacement - or replica self.

Abbie is a Cobot (A Collaborative Robot) - and yes, I did have to look that up to see what it meant! A Collaborative Robot is one that is intended to physically interact with humans in a shared work space (as opposed to a normal 'robot' that are designed to operate autonomously).

Abbie has been 'uploaded' with software to give her Abbie's memories and personality, so that her still grieving husband can continue his life with his 'wife' by his side.

It's a touching story, and one that Abbie initially finds difficult to believe. Until she 'remembers' how determined her husband is, and what a scientific breakthrough 'she' is.

As Abbie begins to gather more 'memories' she begins to really question her husbands motives for creating her, and his version of events surrounding her mysterious 'accident'. Can she trust the man who bought her to life, or should she be fearful that he is trying to end it? 

The Perfect Wife is available from 8 August 2019.

You can pre-order it now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 26 July 2019

Review - Looker by Laura Sims

Looker by Laura Sims
Publisher: Tinder Press
Release date: 25 July 2019
Back cover blurb: The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan left her when she couldn't have a baby. All she has now is her dead-end teaching job, her ramshackle apartment, and Nathan's old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn't even like. The Actress lives a few doors down. She's famous and beautiful, with auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She's got children - a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves her windows open, even at night. There's no harm, the Professor thinks, in looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family, fantasizing about them, drawing ever closer to the actress herself. Or is there?

The Professor has separated from her husband. Her inability to bear a child for them to love and cherish, has torn the once happy couple far apart.

The Professor is about to embark on a dangerous journey with one of her students.

The Professor is totally obsessed with The Actress.

The Actress is blissfully unaware that she is being constantly observed by one of her neighbours.

Both of their lives are about to be turned upside down...

Looker is quite an unusual novel, in that we don't really find out the infinite detail of our two main characters (i.e. their names), but we know every other little detail of their lives.

I would say that Looker is an intriguing novel.

And, although the novels pace and narrative keep it gripping, I wouldn't describe it as a thriller, psychological or otherwise, nor is there any police involvements for it to be a procedural - or even a mystery. 

It is more of an enigma. A novel on it's own. As it should be.

A very clever, quite twisted and dark novel it is too!

Looker is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Review - Stop At Nothing by Tammy Cohen

Stop At Nothing by Tammy Cohen
Publisher: Transworld Digital
Release date: 18 July 2019
Back cover blurb: A mother’s job is to keep her children safe. Tess has always tried to be a good mother. Of course, there are things she wishes she’d done differently, but doesn’t everyone feel that way? Then Emma, her youngest, is attacked on her way home from a party, plunging them into a living nightmare which only gets worse when the man responsible is set free. But what if she fails? So when Tess sees the attacker in the street near their home, she is forced to take matters into her own hands. But blinded by her need to protect her daughter at any cost, might she end up putting her family in even greater danger? There’s nothing she wouldn’t do to make it right . . .

When Tess' teenage daughter Emma is attacked on the way home from a party, Tess is determined that the perpetrator be bought to justice.

But Emma fails to identify the attacker in a Police line up, and both Tess and Emma are distraught that the attacker is still roaming free.

Then Emma believes that she sees her attacker, one day when she is coming home from school and Tess is willing to do anything she can to ensure that he ends up behind bars.

Even if she has to break the law herself.

She will stop at nothing....

Meanwhile, both Emma and Tess are finding comfort in their new found friendship with Frances, who stopped the attack before it became any worse, and bought Emma home to her Mother on that fateful night.

As someone who was caught up in the events of the night, Frances perhaps has a biased opinion when she encourages Tess who is thinking about taking matters in to her own hands as the police don't seem to be getting anywhere.

But Tess will do anything to keep her daughter safe.

No matter what the consequences.

Stop At Nothing is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publishers who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Review - Beneath the Surface by Fiona Neill

Beneath the Surface by Fiona Neill
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Release date: 11 July 2019
Back cover blurb: After a chaotic childhood, Grace Vermuyden is determined her own daughters will fulfil the dreams denied to her. Lilly is everyone's golden girl, the popular, clever daughter she never had to worry about. So when she mysteriously collapses in class, Grace's carefully ordered world begins to unravel. Dark rumours swirl around their tight-knit community on the edge of the Fens as everyone comes up with their own theories about what happened. Consumed with paranoia, and faced with increasing evidence that Lilly has been leading a secret life, Grace starts to search for clues. Left to her own devices, ten-year-old Mia develops some wild theories of her own that have unforeseen and devastating consequences for the people she loves most. Beneath the Surface explores the weight of the past upon the present, the burden of keeping secrets and what happens when children get caught in the undercurrents of adult relationships.

I have to be honest that this was a slightly different novel to the one I was originally anticipating, but an enjoyable read nonetheless.

Beneath the Surface focuses on family relationships, and the fact that no matter how well we think we may know our parents, children, friends etc, there is always something new to discover. 

Everyone lies, even if they appear to be the most honest person on the outside.

Lilly is everyone's golden girl, beautiful, bright and popular. When she collapses in an English lesson, her friends and family are distraught, their world turned upside down.

But this is only the beginning of their nightmare.

Told from alternate characters points of view, this is a novel that requires concentration, and I'm not sure the ending will satisfy all, but it's a good character driven novel nonetheless.

Beneath The Service is available now via Amazon online and all good book shops.

Thank You to the publisher who approved my request via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.