Eyes Like Mine by Sheena Kamal #BookReview

About this book…

It begins with a phone call. Fifteen years ago Nora Watts gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. Now Bonnie has vanished and when the police don’t seem to care, her desperate parents turn to Nora as a last resort.

Nora knows only too well what happens to missing girls, especially when they aren’t blonde or white enough. Despite herself, she sets out to find the daughter she’s never known protected only by her instincts and a freakish ability to detect truth from lies.

As she plunges into her own dark past, Nora uncovers a violent conspiracy on a grand scale that will take her from the rain-soaked streets of Vancouver, to the icy mountains of the Canadian wilderness, and ultimately to a remote island where she will face her most terrifying demon. All to save a girl she wishes had never been born.

My review…

Now this is an interesting one. I don’t think comparisons to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo do this book many favours and may put a few readers off trying it. I thought Nora, a feisty but ultimately damaged protagonist, was far more intriguing than I was expecting from the comparison and quite unlike any heroine I have come across in a while. It actually took me a while to “get” her but once I did I also found her to be much more likeable than I had anticipated.

It was the blurb on the cover that attracted me to Eyes Like Mine. I thought it was a fresh and intriguing idea for a plot which was well conceived and followed through with the storyline opening up to the reader at the same time as Nora. Coming face to face with her daughter’s adoptive parents would have been difficult enough for Nora but having them approach her in her capacity as a private investigator gave a interesting twist to what could have been a straight forward “missing girl” plot. Indeed when Nora does investigate further it looks like what happened to her in the past may be hindering her search more than she realises. Can the past ever stay hidden when there are secrets to be laid bare?

I loved Nora and how, even though she thinks she’s not good enough and her strength of personality may be hidden from most, the little things in her life were obviously really the big things. And although she prefers not to have attachments, shutting out the world never quite works when you let a dog into your life, especially one with a better “social life” than you.

This has a claustrophobic, dark and gloomy feel right from the start, there isn’t much joy to spread around as the finale looms with it’s twists and turns but it doesn’t feel disheartening and actually left me feeling rather uplifted and full of hope for the future. In fact the ending was handled far better than expected. As in real life, sometimes not all ends can be tied. A stunning debut!

Many thanks to Zaffre for my review copy of Eyes Like Mine.

Eyes Like Mine: As dark and gripping as THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is out on February 9th and available to purchase from Amazon UK

About the author…

Sheena Kamal was born in the Caribbean and immigrated to Canada as a child. She holds an HBA in political science from the University of Toronto, and was awarded a TD Canada Trust scholarship for community leadership and activism around the issue of homelessness. Kamal has also worked as a crime and investigative journalism researcher for the film and television industry— academic knowledge and experience that inspired this debut novel. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.

This Last Kiss by Madeleine Reiss

About this book…

As original as One Day and as heartbreaking as Me Before You, This Last Kiss is the perfect emotional and romantic read.

Rora Raine is finally coming home to Hastings, twelve years after she left her grief-stricken father, and fled the love of her life, Carl.

Struggling to support her bright but troubled daughter, Rora has convinced herself she’ll never love again.

When she meets a bumblingly charming stranger, Rora’s heart begins to thaw.

But, try as she might, she can’t run from true love forever.

Funny, warm-hearted and soaringly romantic, This Last Kissis the redemptive story of two star-crossed lovers, told through each and every kiss they share.

My review…

I’m probably not alone in remembering how Madeleine Reiss became a published author when she beat some very stiff competition on The Alan Titchmarsh Show to win a publishing deal. It was based on writing the first few chapters of a novel and I remember watching all the finalists on the show reading their work. I was so pleased that Madeleine won that I bought Someone to Watch Over Me as soon as it came out. And then she seemed to disappear from the limelight and it was only when I saw something on Facebook recently that I realised she had probably been hiding away writing as I saw she had another book out. Now this is a very difficult book to pigeon hole and its a different genre from her previous work but I knew that if written with the same beautifully flowing prose, then I was in for a treat. And I was!

Right from the start I knew I was going to be an emotional wreck. The way the story is told is quite unlike anything I have read for a long time, each chapter being told has a kiss as its pivotal point. And not every kiss is a romantic one but one that defines that particular relationship at that one point in time. This is inspired mainly by a book that is shared with Rora by her grandmother, and a stunning book it sounded with pictures of historical and fictional famous kisses. Rora has returned home after many years to reconcile with her father who is dying. There are flashbacks to Rora as a teenager and to the relationships that have shaped the adult she has become, the non-communicative one with her father but mainly with her mother and her first love Carl.

I found the relationship between Rora and her mother to be the hardest to read. The affects of mental illness spread so much further than people realise and my heart just ached as the author explored their mother/daughter bond and how it rippled throughout their family. Would Rora and Carl have become so dependent on each other if her home life had been different? The kiss in that chapter was the most heartbreaking for me even more so than the kiss that you are expecting from the moment you realise where the plot is going.

I loved the characters of Krystof and, even more so, Ursula as they provided a different perspective into the adult Rora has become. Ursula was such an adorable child but again I was desperate for her to be just a happy little girl and not to be affected by the adult relationships around her. I have read some reviews that say this is a depressing book. Yes it is very sad in places, it is after all a book about loss after all, but I found it to be realistic, poignant and ultimately uplifting. It isn’t a traditional romance, it’s far more than that, it’s a journey through relationships that are complex and recognisable to us all. The “last kiss” of the title may not be the one that you are expecting and yes, it made me cry but it also left me feeling enriched by the whole reading experience. Just a gorgeous book!

This Last Kiss: You can’t run from true love for ever is published by Bonnier Zaffre and is available to buy now from Amazon UK.

Many thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of this book so that I could write an unbiased review.

About the author…

 Madeleine Reiss was born in Athens. She worked for some years in an agency for street performers and comedians and then as a journalist and publicist. She has two sons and lives in Cambridge with her husband and her younger son. This Last Kiss is her second novel.